The Grape Hunter : Sumoll

Some ripe Sumoll grapes hanging around on the vine in Catalonia.

Some ripe Sumoll grapes hanging around on the vine in Catalonia.

If you are unfamiliar with the red Sumoll varietal then don’t get down on yourself. With less than 100 hectares planted in Catalonia today it’s certainly not a grape that many are familiar with, and until last week I had never tasted it myself.

Native to the Penedès region, the Sumoll is often viewed as being a particularly rustic varietal, but given the right care and attention is a grape capable of some rather wonderful things. Extremely versatile, the Sumoll can be used to produce white, red, rosé, and sparkling (Cava) wines.

Even with its inherent drought resistance and even-ripening within the bunch, yields are incredibly low. Despite this, Sumoll was a widely planted varietal throughout Catalonia both before and after phylloxera, covering more vineyard area than the mighty Garnacha. After Spain’s entry into the EU in 1986, many less-productive native varietals were tossed aside in favour of more heavy-yielding varietals, with the vast majority of Sumoll plantings being ripped out. It’s always the same story, isn’t it? Thankfully some producers are deciding to revisit this previously discarded grape.

The name Sumoll comes from the local Catalan slang word for maturing /withering (“sumollar”), and when it comes to wine made from the grape in bottle, good things certainly come to those who wait. Naturally high in acid, and with a distinct bitter finish, young wines are virtually undrinkable. It takes a good few years of the wines evolving in bottle before they are in any way drinkable, but given time they can mature into something quite spectacular.

Expect black fruits (cherry and blackberry) accompanied by (with age) seductive aromatics of leather, sweaty horse saddle, chocolate, animal, scrub herbs, and a very particular earthiness. The tannins and acid will still be up there, but with sufficient ageing perform like those of an aged Nebbiolo. An intriguing varietal, that is for sure.

Jamie Drummond

Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And that is certainly a grape I’d like to taste more of.

Try This : 2013 Pérez Cruz Cabernet Sauvignon “Reserva”, Maipo Valley, Chile

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2013 Pérez Cruz Cabernet Sauvignon “Reserva”, Maipo Valley, Chile  (Alcohol 13%) LCBO General List $14.95

It’s not very often that one finds a sub-$15 bottle of red wine that it capable of some pretty serious cellar time, and that’s exactly what we have here, with previous vintages dating back as far as 2003 tasting extremely well-developed and yet remarkably bright today.

At a recent Charton Hobbs vertical tasting of some seven back vintages with longtime Winemaker German Lyon, the assembled Sommeliers and Writers were quite frankly astonished at just how well this modest wine developed over time. Closer inspection revealed that the wine’s ageability was greatly increased in cooler vintages. Now that’s not to say that the warmer vintages didn’t age well, just that they evolved with a little less grace than those from the chillier years… well, for my palate anyway.

The nose is a classic one, composed of dense, ripe, black berry fruit with a good dollop of warm oak spice, and just a hint of mint. The palate is incredibly juicy, with a dark fruit core, but has a considerable tannic value… quite chewy actually, dependant upon vintage.
3.5 apples out of 5
(Three and a half apples out of a possible five)

Jamie Drummond

Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And he’s going to be laying a few of these down just to see what happens.

Deboning A Chicken Using Wüsthof’s Classic Ikon Boning Knife With Jesse Vallins (The Saint)

In association with Wüsthof Canada we present the very first of a new educational video series featuring a selection of Toronto Chefs showing us their knife skills using specific knives from the Wüsthof range in the home kitchen environment.

In episode one we have The Saint Tavern’s Jesse Vallins showing us how to take apart a chicken his way using the Wüsthof Classic Ikon Boning Knife.

Knife skills videos are something that we have looked to produce for quite some time at Good Food Revolution, and so we are delighted to partner with Wüsthof for this ongoing series.

And from deboning a chicken, we move on to breaking down a pig…

If you are having trouble viewing this video please click here.

Wüsthof are a Good Food Fighter. Please support the businesses and organizations that support Good Food Revolution.

Jamie Drummond

Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And he was most impressed by Jesse’s “dancing chicken” wing removal.

Tasting Terroni: 2013 Outis Etna Rosso, Sicily


Tasting the 2013 Outis Etna Rosso with Cavinona’s Gianna Sami at La Bettola di Terroni, Victoria Street, Toronto.

In the inaugural post of a brand spanking new monthly series we look at the wines, the food, and the people of the Terroni restaurants.

Perennially known and respected for having one of Toronto’s most exciting and forward-thinking Italian wine programmes, we felt that a monthly exploration of Terroni’s wine selections accompanied by specific dishes from their many different outposts would make for the basis of a most exciting ongoing series.

With this in mind, this month we sit down with Terroni cohort, Cavinona wine maven, and GFR regular Gianna Sami at La Bettola di Terroni to taste the 2013 Biondi “Outis” Etna Rosso DOC together. This particular wine, a real favourite of Gianna’s and mine, you’ll find at all Terroni locations as well as being available by the 6-pack through Cavinona.

Gianna has  intimate knowledge of both the winery and vineyards, having visited them on one of her numerous Italian trips over the years. She tells me that Ciro Bondi’s family have nurtured vineyards in the southeastern shadows of Mount Etna since the 1800s, first selling wine labelled with the family name just over a century ago. The current iteration of the Biondi estate consists of some three vineyards situated approximately 600 – 800m above sea level around the small town of Trecastagni, and is over seen by the aforementioned Ciro (originally an architect by trade) and his British wife, Stef. The vineyards are farmed organically, and always have been. The older gentlemen working the ungrafted 80 to 130 year old vines would have it no other way.

I cannot stress enough that these vineyards are located on the slopes southeast of Mount Etna, as these iron, sulphur, and manganese-rich soils bring something very particular to the wines produced there. Many of the Etna wines we see come from the northern slopes of the volcano, where the soils tend to produce wines that are darker, and noticeably more structured, with those of the southeastern vineyards more often being lighter, and as Gianna puts it, a bit more feminine in nature. Indeed, in order to add a touch more colour to the wine, a 20% portion of the darker Nerello Capuccio grape is blended into this Nerello Mascalese-dominant bottling.

Carpaccio di Funghi e Parmigiano - Raw King Oyster mushrooms w/ Parmigiano, walnuts & pink grapefruit

Carpaccio di Funghi e Parmigiano – Raw King Oyster mushrooms w/ Parmigiano, walnuts & pink grapefruit, a stunning match for the Outis Etna Rosso.

The name “Outis”comes from the Greek word for “nobody”, with the Italian word for the same, “Nessuno”, being placed below the Outis on the label. Outis refers to Odysseus’ run in with Polyphemus, the mythical Cyclops on Mount Etna. When asked his name by the fearful Cyclops, according to Homer the plucky Odysseus replied “Outis!”, and hence the wine found its name, Ciro Biondi wishing his wine to speak to the Etna vineyards from whence it came, and certainly not the Winemaker’s hand.

Upon nosing the wine Gianna finds red fruits with a bit of a balsamic note, to which I counter with a strikingly bright, red cherry component that I find follows through onto the palate. There’s a pleasant nutty aromatic there, one that no doubt has a little something to do with the wine’s ageing in older (read; neutral) 250 and 500 litre barrels.

Despite having a most attractive bouquet, it was the palate that I was particularly drawn towards… great acidity, undeniably minerally and earthy, with a delightful finesse in the mouth, soft and velvety tannins that are at the same time pleasingly assertive. The Outis Rosso really does have superb texture, particularly on the mid-palate. This wine is all about elegance and finesse, and that is most fitting seeing as Gianna earlier made mention of its similarities to the hallowed Pinot Noir, and I had just begun to find echoes of Nebbiolo contained within.

It is by no means a light wine, something that its appearance in the glass belies… it’s very much a medium-bodied wine, and one that undoubtedly screams for food, its equilibrial fruit/acid/tannin axis making it a seriously versatile dinner guest.

Papardelle Con Porchetta - Handmade pasta w/ slow roasted pork shoulder & Pecorino Romano

Papardelle Con Porchetta – Handmade pasta w/ slow roasted pork shoulder & Pecorino Romano, a hearty Autumnal dish that worked so very well with the chosen wine.

La Bettola di Terroni Chef, Costantino Guzzo, a Sicilan native, suddenly arrived bearing a couple of plates from his new menu: Carpaccio di Funghi e Parmigiano (Raw King Oyster mushrooms w/ Parmigiano, walnuts & pink grapefruit) and Papardelle Con Porchetta (Handmade pasta w/ slow roasted pork shoulder & Pecorino Romano… an occasional special at the restaurant). Having skipped lunch due to cramming a number of work commitments and deadlines, this was certainly turning into a rather pleasurable afternoon…

Gianna and I both found delightful harmonies between the nuttiness of the wine alongside the crunchy walnuts, a synergy between the velvety texture of the raw King mushrooms and the supple, pleasing fine-grained tannins present, the wine’s acidity balancing perfectly with the citric punch from the dish’s grapefruit component. To be honest, I could have sat there all afternoon enjoying this most fruitful of combinations.

With the Porchetta Parpadelle there were also many complimentary flavours and textures that we found: the wine’s inherent acid profile jamming side by side with the fattiness of the pork, the rosemary bringing out myriad complexities in the wine’s mineral, earthy profile. Again we had found another dish that was a more than worthy companion for this beguilingly delicious, and supremely versatile Etna wine.
4.5 apples out of 5
(Four and half apples out of a possible five)

Terroni and Cavinona are a Good Food Fighters. Please support the businesses and organizations that support Good Food Revolution.

Jamie Drummond

Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And expect to see Gianna featured as one of our next Young Blood Sommelier profiles in the coming months.

Affordable, Accessible, and Downright Delicious: The Sparkling Wines Of Limoux


Francois Antech-Gaseau holds court at Biff’s Bistro, Toronto, charming a table of local Sommeliers with her wines and her stories.

Last week I broke bread and clinked glasses with Francoise Antech-Gaseau of the sparkling house of Antech from Limoux, France. She was in town to meet with Sommeliers and introduce her range of delightful sparkling wines to Toronto.

After dinner we sat down and asked her a few questions about this fascinating region and her family’s wines.

If you are unfamiliar with the sparkling wines of Limoux then I recommend that you give them a try. You will be most pleasantly surprised.

Good Food Revolution: Hello Francoise… great to meet you… would you please tell us a little about the history of your family’s winery in Limoux?

Francoise Antech-Gaseau: Antech estate is a family-owned winery specialized in making A.O.C sparkling wines for more than six generations. All our wines are market under Terra-Vitis certifications, related to sustainable viticulture. I joined the company 20 years ago to work with my father and uncle and I’m just having a lot of fun doing this.

GFR: Now, for those of our readers who are unfamiliar with the region and its sparkling wines, would you care to explain the different wines that you produce?

F A-G: Well…

Blanquette de Limoux Méthode Traditionnelle with the main grape being the local Mauzac, 90% minimum

Crémant de Limoux White and Rosé Méthode Traditionnelle, mainly Chardonnay and Chenin, a little bit of Pinot Noir on some Cuvées when we want to give more body and always a little bit of Mauzac to remember that our wines comes from Limoux.

Blanquette Méthode Ancestrale Méthode Ancestrale (a natural restart of the fermentation without any added sugar). Naturally sweet and fruity with only 6% alcohol,  made with 100% Mauzac.

GFR: What differentiates the sparkling wines of Limoux from those made elsewhere in France and the rest of the world?

F A-G: We have an ancestral savoir faire, indeed it’s in Limoux in 1544 that the first Bubbles were invented.

We have a méditéranéan climate that brings to the wines many aromas, combined with some oceanic influences (giving the wines body) and a part of the vineyard is located up to 400m above sea level which brings a certain freshness and vivacity. Our wines are round, expressive and delicately refreshing.

GFR: And varietal-wise, what are you using?

F A-G: The main grape for the Blanquette is the Mauzac (typical idiomatic grape from Limoux) and for the Crémant, more classic cépages as Chardonnay, Chenin and Pinot Noir.

GFR: Now it is believed that way before Dom Perignon, you were making sparkling wines down in Limoux?

F A-G: The story is very old. During the Renaissance period the monks from a Benedictine abbey in Limoux discovered the sparkle, probably through the process with which we produce the Ancestrale today. That was 150 years before Dom Pérignon…

GFR: How do you feel the sparkling wines of Limoux are perceived around the world? Where are your largest markets?

F A-G: They always create interest (Bubbles always create the interest anyway !), because they are fresh, delicate and most of all very easy to drink.

We sell 50% of our production abroad mainly in northern Europe, America and Japan.

GFR: And if you want to expand people’s understanding of these wines, what would you see as your target demographic?

F A-G: it’s not a question of age, I would try meet all the people that enjoy life,  food ; conviviality and share. Life is too short to be sad, a day is much better with a glass of sparkling ! And remember : a glass of sparkling wines a day, keeps the doctor away !

GFR: Haha… I’ll remember that!

I believe that you have done many experiments with more natural styles of winemaking over the years?

F A-G: yes I’ve done many experiments and my philosophy is to keep the wines as natural as possible but also to use modern techniques when they improve the tasting of the wine.  

GFR: How do you feel about the whole Vin Nature scene as a whole?

F A-G: Nature or not I like the good wines that smell delicate !

GFR: So where do you see today’s palate leading… towards the super dry styles, or is that little bit of residual sugar still appreciated?

F A-G: Globally I have noticed a recent trend to go for less and less sugar.

Most of the people are looking for a good balance in mouth and the combination of a good dosage with the natural acidity offers very nice sensations in mouth. Of course this all depends on the acidity of the year, the grape (Mauzac is naturally round so you do not need to add so much sugar) and of course the palate of the consumer.

What I notice is that as the people taste more wines they tend to go for those with a lower dosage to discover the purity of the wine.

That is why I have created a range of Brut Nature (Zéro Doasage) where the wines are the same some have received dosage the other not !

GFR: Would you please give me your favourite food pairings with your different wines?

Blanquette de Limoux Réserve Brut : Apéritive with a foie-gras toast

Blanquette de Limoux Brut Nature : oysters and seafood

Crémant de Limoux Emotion Brut Rosé: scallops , salmon and asian food ; strawberries tart

Crémant de Limoux Expression : apéritive, goat cheese and honey

Crémant de Limoux Grande Cuvée 2010 Brut : scramble eggs with black truffles, chicken  in white sauce

Blanquette Méthode Ancestrale : Crêpes Suzette, Tarte tatin

GFR: Thank you so much for your time, Francoise!

Antech are represented in Ontario by Noble Estates. Noble Estates are a Good Food Fighter. Please support the businesses and organizations that support Good Food Revolution.

Jamie Drummond

Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And he’s really amazed at these superb wines.

Try This: 2013 Tabalí Viognier “Reserva” Limari Valley D.O. Chile

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2013 Tabalí Viognier “Reserva” Limari Valley D.O. Chile (Alc. 13.5%) LCBO VINTAGES $13.95 There was a while, maybe some 15 years ago, when I was somewhat gaga over this grape Viognier. I distinctly remember consuming countless gallons of a simple VDP over the course of one particular Toronto summer and perhaps it was this experience that led to me abstaining from anything made with the grape for the following decade or so. It could also have been the fact that at the height of the Anything But Chardonnay years there was a tonne of simply awful Viognier wine out there. With this in mind it was a really pleasant surprise to find this inexpensive Chilean Viognier in Vintages just the other week.

The Tabalí Reserva is an immensely pleasing wine that delivers a fair bit for its modest price tag. Rather than succumb to the clumsiness that seems inherent in most examples at this level, the Tabali really shines with delightfully bright acidity and lifted, expressive fruit.

The nose gives us bags of ripe Golden Delicious apple, with touches of peach and spice. The palate has a great lively core of orchard fruits, and a pleasingly snappy acid profile. Whilst not being the most complex of wines (and what do you expect for $14?), this bottling does bring the taster/drinker considerable amounts of Viognier-driven pleasure… and that’s always a good thing, non? Oh yes, and thankfully this wine sees nary a hint of oak… always a good thing when it comes to this particular varietal in my mind.

I’d actually eschew a food pairing with this bottling as it drinks so well by itself. Saying that, it’s just the thing for a traditional Thanksgiving turkey. There will certainly be some on my Thanksgiving dinner table this Monday. 4 apples out of 5 (Four apples out of a possible five)

Jamie Drummond

Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And after so many years out in the cold, he’s warmed to Viognier again.


Talking Cuisine And Hospitality With Frederic Guiraud of Restaurant d’Alibert, Caunes-Minervois

Frederic with Châteae Maris Robert Eden and friends at Restaurant d'Alibert.

Frederic with Château Maris’ Robert Eden and friends at Restaurant d’Alibert.

A few months back I happened upon one of the most delightful restaurants in France, hidden deep within the Minervois. So taken was I by the charm of the Patron, Frederic Guiraud, that I felt it only natural that we should conduct an interview with him about food, wine, and hospitality… subjects very close to his heart.

Good Food Revolution: Now how long your family been involved in the restaurant business?

Frederic Guiraud: We have had this family business for around about 120 years.

GFR:  What was your very first job in the business?

FG: When you are the son of the owner you take the job of anyone who is needed!

GFR: …and how would you best explain your establishment restaurant d’Alibert in Caunes-Minervois?

FG: We are still essentially a family Auberge, and so a little like an institution… we still have guests from my grandparent’s generation, so it is like a second home for the clients… we can certainly say that we are part of the village story.

GFR: …and where exactly are you located?

FG: Between Carcassonne and Narbonne in the Minervois wine region.

GFR: You pride yourself in serving regional specialities?

FG: We make traditional French food all the year round using seasonal products but with those found just around the village, like wild asparagus, regular asparagus, the mushrooms from the “black mountain”, and also black truffles from Cabrespine, the next village.

GFR: …and then of course we have the Languedoc’s myriad wines… what are your personal favourites?

FG: I do have a preference for my friends’ wines… like Olivier Mandeville du Chateau Vaissiere, Jean-Baptiste Sénat du Domaine JB Sénat , David Pamiès de Lauraire de Lys, Jean-Louis Béllido du Domaine des Murettes and of course Robert Eden from Chateau Maris and a lot of more… I can’t name them all.

GFR: What are the significant changes that you have seen in the restaurant business over decades?

FG: Can I make a significant joke? We all know the saying “before and after Jesus Christ” here in the south of France we now say  “before and after Ryanair “.

GFR: What in your mind makes for good service?

FG: Fun with the guest!

GFR: Over the years , where have you experienced the best service, whether in France or elswhere? FG: The best services I have experienced have been in my restaurant because it’s the theatre where I’ve played the most.

GFR:I was delighted to discover that you have quite strong relationship with the culinary community in Toronto?

FG: Many years ago I’ve met Libell Geedes here in Caunes , the owner of the restaurant The Fifth. In Toronto we became friends and she invite me to organise a wine tasting of my region’s wines. I went to Toronto , and I met Chefs Marc Thuet , JP Challet , Didier Leroy etc… then I came back with some French Chefs the Hithurriague brothers, from the Basque country and we organised a truffle dinner with the truffles from my village.

GFR: And what is your personal opinion of the dining scene of Toronto?

FG: I think Toronto is one of the best food places in Canada because the varietys of the possibility of type of cuisine you can find and of course the high level of the quality.

GFR: Do you have any particulary favourite spots that you visited?

FG: My two favorites restaurant are Didier, because the chef Didier make a fusion of the ancient French style cuisine with a north American touch, and for sure, the Fifth with my friend JP Challet and my friend Libell I think there the perfect team to present a beautiful cuisine in a wonferful place decorated by the great taste of Libell.

GFR: Canadian wines have come a hell of a long way since I arrived in Canada some 18 years ago. Have you had the opportunities to taste much on your visits to Toronto?

FG: I have a passion for sweet wines so I was impressed by the Icewines, the quality, the variety of grapes used for them, the sparkling Riesling one from Iniskilin ,the Cab Franc from some winery, I can’t mention all of them but there are all different and interesting. I was also very impressed by some other still wines I’ve found like some Vidal , some Zweigelt and more.

GFR: Do you have any plans to come back over to see us in Toronto anytime soon as we’d love to see you?

FG: No I have no plans , but I would like to come back to organise a typical southern french food and wine tasting, what we call here Cassoulet Party. If you have any ideas I’m ready!

GFR: Hmmmmm… that sounds good… let me think on that! What are your thoughts about music in restaurants?

FG: That’s a very good question, I think the music is one of the important elements of the party, but like that the wines and the food the music must be a strict selection with the music being the signature of the owner of the dining room… the music can be a good thing to break the ice and be a cement for what you asked me before, what it means to have good service.

GFR: I’d love to hear your opinions about on restaurant critics and how you feel about the legitimacy of guides like Michelin and there ilk?

FG: I think the best critics are your own opinions , sometimes it’s better to leave the stars in the sky and try to please your clients as much than you can I think the restaurant must be a social link but not a discussion on what we call here in France ” les reseaux sociaux”.

GFR: And then we have the democratization of food writting …bloggers, Instantgrammers, Twitter what do you think about all of that stuff?

FG: I can’t say, it’s like tools… you can make the pyramids or you can destroy them, so it’s a good thing but not in everyone’s hands, I know it’s not easy to control the river of publications , but what I can advise to any one it’s to made their own opinion and hallways think by yourself not through something not controlled.

GFR: Thanks so much for your answers!

Jamie Drummond

Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And Frederic’s little spot is truly a thing of beauty.