I drove to Port Dalhousie from Toronto, with a couple of stops along the way to my final destination of Treadwell – farm to table cuisine, where the father and son duo of Stephen (chef) and James (sommelier) run a restaurant that has been garnering quite its fair share of acclaim in the area. Many were surprised I had never been before, although I have met both James and Stephen quite informally on other occasions.
Tonight I was there for a dinner paired around Rosewood Estate (Niagara’s only winery and meadery) wines. In attendance was a small group of dedicated wine and foodies eager to sip and sample the wines and taste Stephen’s kitchen wizardry. Four people didn’t bother to show up, not even a phone call of warning (the rudeness of this is … well I am not here to pass judgment on people, just the wine and food). To those who missed it I can tell you that you missed an excellent dinner and lively conversation about things such as the LCBO, Ontario’s best grapes, favourite winemakers and wineries, the state of the wine world and finally, whether mushrooms with Pinot Noir is cheating or inspired cooking.
We started with a Torchon of Foie Gras on Toasted Brioche with Date Puree and Wild Honeycomb paired with the 2008 Gewurztraminer – a floral/soapy (in a Thrills gum kinda way … and that I like) number with a hint of sweetness and loads of spice on the palate. The Foie Gras has been poached in the Gewurztraminer and drizzled with Rosewood’s own honey and comb. Very nice.
2008 Semillon: Prociutto Wrapped Cod with “Kozlik’s” Mustard Remoulade and Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette … you know my thoughts on the 4.5 star wine – but it was elevated to five stars when paired with the food. The slight sweetness of the wine married well with the salty, and the acidity washed the mouth clean for the next bite.
The debate began on course number 3 (Spring Mushrooms “on Toast”)– with the wine flowing and jaws lubricated the round table discussion could begin. The question was put as to whether or not serving mushrooms with Pinot Noir is cheating. James called it a simple dish, and stated that we shouldn’t mess with a classic combination. The wine in question is the soon to be released 2008 Pinot Noir (the follow up to the highly successful and award winning 2007), which had been decanted approximately 24 hours. I did a comparison between a decanted and undecanted bottle. While the straight-from-bottle version was tight, closed and acidic, the decanted version exploded with fruit on both the nose and palate, yet retained beautiful acidity and tannins on the finish, though I found it to be a little short … I would have wanted the flavours to continue a little longer.
We had a sneak peak of the 2008 Merlot “Reserve” – it was another wine they decanted approximately 24 hours. The wine is made from all estate fruit and is naturally fermented (no cultured yeasts added), aged 13-and-a-half months in new oak. It truly was delicious – and had I not been driving back to Toronto I would have definitely taken James up on his offered seconds. The nose was raspberry, blueberry and vanilla with slight chocolate notes; palate proved to be spicy with red and black fruit and a strong-coffee note on the finish with silky yet very present tannins and a persistent medium-long finish. This wine was paired with Roasted “Cumbrae Farms” Beef Striploin (aged 36 days) with Celery Root Raviolo and Heirloom Carrots.
Being that I have a sweet tooth I really enjoyed the Honey Panna Cotta with Black Pepper Tuille and Rhubarb Consumme – truthfully it was not too sweet and finished the dinner off quite nicely. It was paired with the 2006 Grande Reserve Ambrosia – a sweet dessert honey wine (mead).
All-in-all it was a fabulous dinner, both the chef, the sommelier and the winery should be commended for jobs well done.