Midfield Wine Bar

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Weird and Wonderful: Natural wines, the funky punk-rock stars of the wine world, are coming into vogue

Purists will love the idea of natural wines. They’re made from grapes that are grown using organic practices, for starters, but they’re also unadulterated in the winemaking process. In a nutshell, the philosophy is to let the grapes do what they do, add nothing (or very little) and take nothing away. To me, the minimal use of sulphur dioxide is what defines “natural,” but it’s also the reason natural wines have only a tiny presence at the LCBO. Without sulphites, wines can easily oxidize, become vinegary or even overdevelop gamey flavours related to a yeast called Brettanomyces (a.k.a. brett). Poorly made natural wines can exhibit all of these flaws to varying degrees. Even the best are often judged as atypical because they fly in the face of today’s polished, cleansed, commercial wines. Like funky cheese, they’re an acquired taste. But they deliver penetrating fruit depth and exquisite textural lustre. The flavours can be authentic and expressive in a way that processed wines are not. My preconceptions cracked wide open after tasting dozens of offerings from importers like Nicholas Pearce, the Living Vine and Le Caviste at Archive Wine Bar, Toronto’s epicentre of the natural wine movement. Here are a few of my favourites and the restaurants that serve them.

Jonathan Poon's Chantecler on Queen West

Chantecler (Image: Dave Gillespie)

weird-and-wonderful-natural-wines-tawse-2014-unfiltered-quarry-road-chardonnayTawse 2014 Unfiltered Quarry Road Chardonnay
Niagara | 91 Points

Wineries can be coy about saying “natural” on labels, because definitions and perceptions vary. The fine print here says “produced without the introduction of sulphites.” The wine shows minimal oxidation, lovely pear and spice flavours and fine, creamy texture, with a mineral finish typical of the Quarry Road site. Look for it at Barque, Chantecler and Böehmer.

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The Dish

Neighbourhoods

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Reasons to Love Toronto 2014: #9. Because a Three-Block Stretch of Dundas West is Jammed with New Businesses

Reasons to Love Toronto 2014: #9. Because a Three-Block Stretch of Dundas West is Jammed with New Businesses

(Image: Peter Andrew)

Four years ago, Dundas west of Gladstone to Brock was still described as “up and coming.” Now, it’s a full-fledged hipster village. Flannel-clad couples eat artisanal fare under bare Edison bulbs, shoppers flock to vintage boutiques to buy pieces they earmarked on ­Instagram, and dark bars cater to the writers, designers and musicians who’ve moved into nearby houses and studio spaces. Residents have dubbed the area DuWest. Here, a tour of the new businesses in Toronto’s trendiest neighbourhood.

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The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Midfield Wine Bar, Dundas West’s laid-back spot for oenophiles

(Image: Gizelle Lau)

Midfield Wine Bar, which opened without much fanfare at the end of January, is the vision of two front-of-house vets: sommelier Christopher Sealy (Terroni, Mercatto) and Giuseppe Anile (Bar Italia and former owner of Marquee Video). Their shared passion for wine, food and hospitality brought the pair together to create a space that evokes old-world warmth on the rapidly gentrifying section of Dundas West around Dufferin.

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