Alex Molitz, the chef who helped turn Farmhouse Tavern into a Toronto food destination, is taking his talents to the real-life countryside. Molitz recently left Farmhouse and took a new job as head of culinary operations at the Hinterland winery in Prince Edward County. He’s got big plans for the project. “It’ll change the face of Prince Edward County,” he said. “If everything goes right, this is going to be a game-changer.” Despite the grand plans, he’s taking things one step at a time. Right now, that means developing a simple lunch menu for guests at the winery. The food will be familiar to anyone who’s enjoyed Farmhouse Tavern’s mammoth meat boards and foraged herbs. “It’s going to be rough and rugged, cool-looking food. Food that has a story to it,” Molitz said. He’s looking forward to roughing it a little, although he suspects some things may take a little getting used to. “I have to learn to shovel pig shit,” he said.
Gamay is often known as the grape that makes lowly beaujolais nouveau, the gassy juice that’s sold only weeks after the grapes are picked. However, top-notch gamay can be silky, fruity and rich, yet light—the perfect red for late-summer evenings. The best ones in the world come from 10 cru villages strung out along the slopes of Beaujolais, where 99 per cent of the vineyards are devoted to gamay. The 2009 and 2010 vintages from these appellations are excellent, and the LCBO has released some great buys under $20 at Vintages. Here in Ontario, winemakers plant gamay because it ripens early and ought to be a winner in our short growing season. In a tasting of gamays from Beaujolais, Niagara and Prince Edward County, however, I found our local editions were thin and joyless by comparison, likely due to cooler temperatures. The trick to buying good Ontario gamay, then, is finding a hot vintage; luckily, 2010 was warm and long, and it’s on LCBO shelves now. Here are my favourites, from France to Niagara.
$35 | Prince Edward County | 90 points
Gerry Spinosa and his family planted their first vines behind an old cheese factory in 2004. Their ethereal chardonnay has already won two gold medals at the Ontario Wine Awards. The texture is delicate and silky; spicy oak, nutmeg and resin need a year of aging to integrate with the ripe peach and honey flavours. 1106–1112 Royal Rd., Milford, 613-476-1052.
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