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.

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.


Mini Documentary: The Ins And Outs Of Cap Management

Southbrook's Winemaker Ann Sperling gives us a succinct lesson in cap management.

Southbrook’s Winemaker Ann Sperling gives us a succinct lesson in cap management.

So what exactly is cap management and what does it bring to a wine? We join Winemaker Ann Sperling at Southbrook for a short documentary about the three methods she uses for her red wines.

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

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 yes, he gets a little excited by such matters… he’s funny that way.

Sommelier to Lord Sabre himself… Olivier Zavattin, Carcassonne

Sommelier Olivier Zavattin vetting the wines for the visit of Lord Sabre AKA DJ Andrew Weatherall - All Rights Reserved © Ludo Charles

Sommelier Olivier Zavattin carefully vetting the wines for the third visit to Carcassonne of Lord Sabre AKA DJ Andrew Weatherall – All Rights Reserved © Ludo Charles

It’s not like your common-or-garden DJ to host a two day, late-summer micro-festival located in a fairytale castle in Carcasssonne, southwestern France with a Michelin-starred Chef in charge of the food, and a much-lauded local Sommelier/Bon-vivant presenting the local wines… but then Andrew Weatherall is anything but your common-or-garden DJ. From his early stints with the notorious Boy’s Own collective in the late 80’s/early 90’s, through his Sabres of Paradise/Two Lone Swordsmen/Asphodells “gangs”, to his current fecund and most fruitful production/remix schedule, Weatherall has been forever the renegade, “The Outsider”, a defiant stance epitomised through his Music’s Not For Everyone radio show sets. Seeing as Good Food Revolution will be in attendance at this week’s Convenanza Festival, we thought it only right to conduct an in-depth interview with Olivier Zavattin, the gregarious and passionate Languedoc Sommelier responsible for selecting the wines for the couple of hundred Weatherall acolytes descending upon Carcassonne for a weekend of esoteric, pulsating, shimmering rythyms, stellar food, and delicious vinous indulgence.

Good Food Revolution: So Olivier, please tell our readers about what you are currently doing in the southwest of France? Olivier Zavattin: Hello, my name is OIivier Zavattin, I’m 40 years old and after a career in Michelin starred restaurants and several important competitions that placed me amongst the top-rated French sommeliers of my generation, I wanted to slow down my way of life by buying a wine shop in Carcasonne, and it is called La Passion du Vin. I wanted to share my knowledge to help restaurants that don’t have a Sommelier to have good wine lists. I also consult with some larger châteaux to put in place wine tourism, like the Andrew Weatherall Festival, as well as Gérard Bertrand’s “Festival de l’Hospitality.” GFR: So in your wine store, La Passion du Vin, please tell us about your philosophy when it comes to the wines that you choose to carry? OZ: My philosophy is simple. Through my many vineyard visits, I have to find wines for my clients that are on the cusp of what is new. At home, I drink quite often “natural wines” that are made without sulphur, and we sell a few of them at my shop. For me, wine is all about love and sharing. GFR: Were you always interested in wine? When did you decide to make wine your career? OZ: I grew up in a village in the south of France, where all of my friends had Vignerons as parents. When I returned to hospitality school, after a stage at a Michelin starred restaurant, I discovered the career of Sommelier. Since that day, I knew that my career would be that of a Sommelier! It was there, where I met the French Sommelier elite, and the competitions started… 20 years of passion and it’s not finished! GFR: When it comes to the wines of the Languedoc, which particular appellations are exciting you these days? OZ: Today, the wines of the Languedoc region are very popular. It is a fabulous and complex terroir, one of the largest viticultural regions of the world, with all styles of wine: Crémant de Limoux, the whites of Picpoul, Boutenac, the terrasses of Larzac and the famous sweet wines named Vins Doux Naturels (VDN), and the wines of the Templars. GFR: And when it comes to producers, who do you feel is doing something truly extraordinary? OZ: As for the extraordinary producers of the Languedoc, they are Borie de Maurel, Gauby, Gérard Bertrand, Marlène Soria (Clos Syrah Léone), Rémy Pedreno, Marjorie Gallet (Roc des Anges), Olivier Jullien, as well as the natural vintners quite popular on social media like Jeff Coutelou, Domaine Léonine, Vincent Bonnal…. there are so many… GFR: We don’t see too much Languedoc white in our market. What do you feel Languedoc does well when it comes to white wines? OZ: To produce quality whites in Languedoc, sites need to be of high altitude and/or sanitarily clean. In my opinion, quality white wines of the South of France are Limoux (south of Carcassonne), magnificent Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc are produced by vintners like Gilles Azam, Franck Schisano and Cave Anne de Joyeuse (La Butinière). The region of Picpoul de Pinet produces a white wine ideal with oysters and other seafood, as it lies on the Étang de Thau, the largest of a string of lagoons south of Montpellier. GFR: For you, what is THE red grape of the Languedoc? And why? OZ: I adore Carignan, because it one of the emblematic varieties of the region. Once critized, it was torn out, but today, we realized that it is super, so the vintners replanted. The only issue however, is that the vines needs to be at least 40 years old in order for the wine to produce a magical wine. GFR: I still feel that the Languedoc is a vast, for-the-most-part untapped treasure trove of amazing wines. Why don’t you think that Languedoc doesn’t yet have the same recognition and/or prestige of so many other French regions? OZ: The reason is simple; we have, for too long been, producing blends and negociant wines. We didn’t start bottling until the end of the 60s, the best varietals didn’t start arriving until the 70s, like Syrah for example. The majority of independent vintners didn’t start to assert themselves until the end of the 80s. The paradox here is that the Romans planted grapes in this region over 2000 years ago, but the story of our vineyards, in the contemporary sense, started only 30 years ago. GFR: During my recent travels down there, although I tasted many superb wines, I was still quite shocked at how many wines I tasted had serious issues with brettanomyces. I was then further shocked when a few producers insisted that this full on funkiness was la garrigue or le terroir, when it was quite obviously some seriously bad hygiene in the winery. Whilst I do have a fair amount of tolerance for brett, especially when it is in balance with the rest of the wine, in a number of bottling this was the prevailing character. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic? OZ: To my despair, Brett has become a bit fashionable in the region, especially with natural wines, without sulfur. It is a fault and a lack of hygiene; we now need to educate the new wave of naturalists! That said, in general, our vintners work well and all in all, we find less of this problem. GFR: And on the flip side of that, I discovered a number of much more modern, international styles that had been hit with so much new oak that they were just too much. Does anyone in France actually drink this stuff or do they just slap a hefty price tag on it and ship it off to North America? OZ: There was the “oaky trend,” the trend where the wines tasted too oaky, but today most of the vintners of the Languedoc who sell to the domestic market calmed down. For the international market however, we do still find too many oaky wines. I like your question because we have found that tastes change and often improve the quality of the juice, and not the vinification techniques which often mask the true work of the vintner. GFR: Carignan is a grape that I have always had a serious soft spot for. I’m really happy to see a few producers really focusing upon making quality Carignan, and I tasted some wonderful, wonderful examples. How do you feel about this much overlooked varietal? OZ: Wow! Great question, it’s my favourite varietal. Please see above for my answer. Don’t forget #carignanday on June 8! GFR: It’s a lot easier to practice biodynamic viticulture down here in the southwest than it is in many other regions of France (due to the absence of much of the disease pressure that impacts, say, Burgundy). How do you feel about the biodynamic culture in your part of the world and the wines they produce? OZ: I am absolutely for biodynamics, it’s the real deal. I discovered this culture thanks to Nicolas Joly in the Loire Valley, with his famous Coulée de Serrant in Savenières. I am persuaded that this culture is the future, in the hope to preserve our ecosystem. GFR: Vin Nature (Natural Wine) is still a huge thing in North America. I’d be interested to hear your take on such ventures in the Languedoc? OZ: I am totally in favour, and I only drink natural wine at home,  however, today many customers are cautious with this type of wine because often one can find elements that one finds distasteful. In the Languedoc, as in other regions we have excellent natural winemakers who do a good job, however, the the role of alternative wine shops is important, we must educate customers, explaining that it takes a carafe to aerate wine correctly, to serve wines cooler, to have a little patience before tasting … “Education”! GFR: So you are responsible for the wine portion of the Andrew Weatherall Festival in Carcassonne this September… how did you become involved in that? It’s a dream come true for me… Weatherall + Wine + Food + A beautiful castle as a venue = An extremely happy Jamie Drummond. OZ: Bernie and Benjamin are friends, we share the same musical philosophy for many years as we are from this “electro” generation, we frequent the same spots… This Festival Research Excellence, quality around the Music, spot of tourism, our values ​​and the essence of our culture, history, gastronomy and wine… Since I’m striving for excellence every day for the sommelier, our collaboration was a natural thing… GFR: And what can festival goers expect by way of wine offerings at the castle? OZ: Last year we gave the  selection a “French Touch” with an array of local varietal wines, this year we are still in “selections and tastings” mode but we are leaning towards stylish wines with lots of freshness and some “fun” stuff from the terroir of Limoux… Stay tuned! GFR: Speaking of music, what are your thoughts on pairing wines with music?… how do you feel about music in restaurants? OZ: Music and wine work… and the program of the Convenanza Andrew Weatherall Festival, is in full symphony with my selection of wine… I also often combine much Jazz with wine. Restaurants should better choosing music programming… especially in France! GFR: I’m still not convinced about the Jazz/wine thing myself. One of my bugbears actually. Way too much dodgy Jazz in restaurants for my liking. However, I digress… The food at this festival sounds pretty special too. It’s quite a well-known Chef who is providing the catering, is it not? OZ: Jérôme Ryon is an excellent Chef… discreet, as he  respects the products and reflects a French cuisine through fashionable dishes, loving the excercise in synergies between the dishes and the wines… there is a natural fit between the work of this Chef and this festival. GFR: What kind of dishes are truly typical for the region? OZ: We are a region of “Land and Sea”, regional cuisine is really wide depending on whether one is near the sea or inland … In Carcassonne, we are in the cassoulet country… A magical food,  a friendly dish that represents the sense of sharing. GFR: And would you please give us your very favourite regional food and wine pairing? OZ:  With our Cassoulet, I recommend a Minervois, Corbieres, or Fitou. Oysters of Bouzigues with a Picpoul de Pinet, with our asparagus (seasonal) dry muscat with a bowl of Lisette (mackerel) a Clape White. A boar stew with Cabardès. A loup à l’étuvée (local sea bass) with leeks braised with Chardonnay de Limoux. GFR: Where are your favourite places to dine in Carcassonne, for both casual and fine dining? I believe that you have some rather good restaurants? OZ: In the city : La Barbacane – Chef Jérôme Ryon – * Michelin Le Comte Roger – Chef Pierre Mesa – L’Escargot – Tapas originaux – A very trendy place Le Créneau – Excellente Côte de Bœuf – Branch En Ville : Un Jardin En Ville, Chez Alban, A concept Restaurant that is nice and warm Le Parc – Chef Franck Putelat – ** Michelin Bistrot de Tantine – Produit Frais – A lovely setting Chai Moi – Bar à Vins, nicely relaxing on the bank of the Midi canal Chez Norbert – Le Paradis de la Viande – for a very French ambience GFR: And what do you see as being the future for Languedoc wines? OZ: Le Languedoc c’est l’Avenir, j’en suis persuadé, les vins ont beaucoup de succés, nous sommes en train d’écrire et de vous raconter cette histoire… The Languedoc is the future, I am sure, the wines will have a lot of success, we are currently writing the story of these wines and will see what happens … GFR: Olivier, we thank you so much for your time, and look forward to seeing you on the dance floor in the castle later this week! OZ: Un grand plaisir de répondre à vos questions et de partager ma passion pour les vins de notre région… Love & Share… It has been a great pleasure to answer your questions and share my passion for the wines of our region … Love & Share …

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 is so ever grateful to Bernard Stramwasser of Le Sommelier for assisting with the translation of this lengthy interview.


Try This: 2012 Beronia Tempranillo “Elaboracion Especial” Rioja, Spain

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 12.44.50 PM2012 Beronia Tempranillo “Elaboracion Especial” Rioja, Spain (14% alc.) $15.95 LCBO General List Whilst I am often banging on about just how much more there is to Spanish wines than Rioja, it has to be said that the region is capable of making some bloody good wines, and some wonderfully approachable and accessible wines too. Take this little cracker from Beronia for example, a very interesting take on Rioja, and an immensely enjoyable bottle for only $16. Following an extended maceration to extract additional aromatics and pigment, the must is both fermented and aged in new American oak barrels with a very particular low-and-slow toasting, adding a some serious coffee bean and dark chocolate elements to the bouquet. Left for eight months on its lees in these barrels, the end product is an extremely consumer friendly glass of red wine. Look out for ripe raspberries, black cherries, the aforementioned coffee bean and dark chocolate, and nice heady hit of wood spice. The palate is most pleasing with gentle, supple, well-managed tannins and a little hit of juicy acidity working in synergy with the red fruit core. Try with grilled lamb sausages. 4-apples (Four apples out of a possible five)… Superb value here.

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 this is great value Rioja, that is for sure.

The Prosecco Diaries Part 6: Mister Natural – Federico Giotto


As well as being a gifted Winemaker, Federico Giotto has a devilish sense of humour.

For this particular page in The Prosecco Diaries we spend some time inside the mind of one of the more colourful characters of Veneto, famed consulting Winemaker Federico Giotto. He is a truly fascinating character, and his enthusiasm and passion are undeniably infectious… a real romantic pragmatist, if ever there were one. We spent an afternoon with him at Sorelle Bronca, just one of the many, many spots where he consults. Following our video is a fascinating short film where Federico speaks to ‘the ingredients of wine”.

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


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 was a lovely way to spend an afternoon.

Young Blood Sommelier : Brie Dema

P2410507 In the third of a tenth (and wildly popular) series, we interview some of the most talented up-and-coming Sommeliers in Ontario (and occasionally elsewhere). A few years back I was flicking through the pages of a locally published periodical and noticed that when it came to Sommeliers it was the same names that seemed to pop up over and over again. I was also becoming gradually cognisant of the fact that we more established wine folks were well and truly “losing our edge” to these young blood Sommeliers. Being well aware of the depth of new talent that was out there I finally decided to get together with a couple of fellow Toronto Sommelier “Old Guard” (Anton Potvin and Peter Boyd) to assemble a line of questioning that would give us an entertaining insight into the minds of these rising stars. This weeks sees the turn of Ms. Brie Dema, one of the Sommeliers in the magnificent team at Langdon Hall.

Good Food Revolution: So Brie, what is it that you are doing these days? What is your role at Langdon Hall?

Brie Dema: I’m a Sommelier at Langdon Hall- we have a team of three.

GFR: And what kind of experience and training did you have before doing what you do today?

BD: I’ve worked in the service industry for about a decade – from slinging beers in pubs to fine dining. My role in wine really began about five years ago.

GFR: How many wine agents/merchants do you typically like to deal with when buying wine for an establishment?

BD: I don’t really think there is an ideal number. It’s more about the needs of your wine program. I would ballpark that we work with 10-15 agents- and several Ontario wineries directly as well.  It’s all about maintaining the list and sourcing the best product to do so.

GFR: What is your favourite part of the Sommelier role?

BD: I love working the floor… is that the typical Sommelier response? I’d bet that it is and for good reason. I got into this role because I genuinely love making guests happy. Part of that is also being able to broaden someone’s view or experience in the world of wine, and add a little fun while doing that.

GFR: What makes for a good agent/supplier in your mind?

BD: I really like agents that are familiar with your restaurant and wine program. They understand what fits well on your list, and get excited to share wines that they could see working well for you.

GFR: And what makes for a bad agent?

BD: Someone who doesn’t take the time to get to know your restaurant, or who lacks passion for the industry.

GFR: How do you feel about Canadian wines? Any current favourites?

BD: I’ve been loving Ontario Riesling and Gamay this summer… and every summer… year round really. So many great examples, and really diverse styles, but all have that Ontario signature.

GFR: There are so many Ontario wineries now. How do you choose who you are going to work with?

BD: There are certainly lots of fantastic Ontario wineries to work with, and choosing which to list is hard. We have some great longstanding relationships with wineries that have worked well with our cuisine and our philosophies. I think that maintaining a good representation of Ontario is important for us.

GFR: What could Canadian wineries do to help get their wines onto the wine lists of the best restaurants? Do you think that they give the restaurants enough support?

BD: I think that the great majority of Canadian wineries are very supportive of the restaurant scene. It’s always a plus when a winery can connect with your guests in person. We do a summer BBQ series that features Ontario chefs alongside Ontario winemakers. It’s a lot of fun for the guests to meet and put a face or story to the wines they are enjoying.

GFR: What do we do well in Ontario, in your mind, and for your palate?

BD: We do a lot of things really well here in Ontario. I tend to gravitate towards Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Cabernet Franc produced here. Why? They show well in different vintages, despite making different styles from warm to cool years.

GFR: And what do you feel we should give up on?

BD:  Well, Mother Nature is pretty good about showing us which sites work best for which varietals. I think it’s not so much about giving up on a particular varietal, but maybe just finding its ideal vineyard home. We have climate related challenges for sure here.

GFR: Just as there is from everywhere in the world, there is quite a lot of dreadful wine coming from Ontario also. How do you feel about the issue of people simply promoting something because of it being local, and not because of its quality?

BD: There is so much good Ontario wine out there that you don’t have to promote wine of lesser quality just because it is homegrown. Focus on the good!

Brie and her crew at Langdon Hall.

Brie and her crew at Langdon Hall.

GFR: How aware of wine were you whilst growing up? Were you around wine from an early age?

BD: Wine was not a major part of the dining table at home growing up. It was much more common for my family to enjoy beer, or Slivovitz- an Eastern European fruit brandy.

GFR: Can you remember your first taste of wine?

BD: Not particularly. I sure remember my first taste of Slivovitz- certainly not built for young palates. My dad probably had a good laugh at my reaction to it. It was my experience in restaurants that introduced me to wine. Pinot Noir and its ethereal aromas were one of my first loves in the world of wine.

GFR: When do you feel children should be introduced to the wonderful world of wine?

BD: I think that there are different cultural views on this topic that should be respected. At the end of the day this decision should be left up to the parents. We should also remember that tasting wine and drinking it to be intoxicated are totally different. I identify with the ‘European’ view, where a teenager might have a small taste of wine with the family at home. Again, it’s about what works for you and your family.

GFR: When did you first decide that you would like a career in wine?… and was it always with a view to being a Sommelier yourself?… or did you always want to be an agent?

BD: I’m so happy that I landed on a career in wine. Being a Sommelier came along first because of my hospitality background, and I’m loving it (cue McDonalds music). I love that there are so many roles one can play in the world of wine, and I’m not really sure which ones I’ll explore yet. For now, I’m beyond content.

GFR: So who or what gave you your first insight into the world of wine?

BD: The restaurant environment really gave me my first insights into wine. I also have an ex-boyfriend- now good friend- that worked for a wine agency and encouraged me to start the WSET program. I definitely owe him a bottle of bubbly for his role in me finding my path.

GFR: The Sommelier world is notoriously full of pretentious arseholes, and after seeing that film Somm I worry about the emergence of a new Bro culture… I’d love to hear your thoughts?

BD: Being down to earth and approachable are really good traits to have. It’s important to realize that there is a lot to know in our field of study, and if you are pretentious you might miss out on learning opportunities. Plus, it’s just not that fun to be around pretentiousness. Good thing I haven’t encountered it much in my experience in the Sommelier world.

GFR: Which wine regions have you had the opportunity to visit?

BD: France, Northern Italy, BC, and the Finger Lakes. Seems like a tiny list in comparison to where I’d like to visit, but the exploring I’ve done so far has been really eye opening.

GFR: Have you ever made your own wine?

BD: No, but that would be an amazing experience!!

GFR: And where would you like to make wine (in a pipe dream)?

BD: I fell in love with the rolling hills and amazing culture of Piedmont when I was there this summer. It would be a dream to make wine there.

GFR: So do you prefer to manage people or bottles and why?

BD: I love working with people, but I think I’d prefer to manage bottles. Less drama involved I guess.

GFR: What have been your career highs and lows?

BD: Career high is landing at Landgon Hall. Career low? We all have off days and low points, and its best not to dwell on them.


GFR: Always thinking in the positive… and admirable trait, Brie.

Who is, in your mind, a real role model for Sommeliers?

BD: You come to mind, Jamie. I like your down to earth, yet direct approach to wine. That paired with your, shall we say, joie de vivre, really shows the fun side of wine. There’s a wealth of great Sommeliers in Toronto who are very supportive of people starting out in the industry, like Bruce Wallner and Will Predhomme. Katy Moore is a very important role model for me, so full of knowledge and always willing to share it.

GFR: *blush*

And for Wine Agents?

BD: I’ve met a lot of great wine agents. Nicholas Pearce comes to mind, I really like his passion. Steven Campbell is a great role model as well.

GFR: Do you still have nightmares about working with wines? I do… regularly… and it usually involves being unable to find bottles in a cellar… and the clock is ticking away… in fact I had one last night!!! And I haven’t been in the role for over five years!!!

BD: That’s too funny, yes I have had work related nightmares. That running in sand feeling when you’re five steps behind during service, or I’ve had ones revolving around turning old corks to dust tableside. Do you think that accountants have accounting nightmares? Or that kindergarten teachers have bad dreams of being mobbed five year olds?

GFR: Sommeliers famously have their Sundays off… What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?

BD: I live in Kitchener-Waterloo, which is west of Toronto and close to some nice walking and hiking trails. I try to get out there as much as possible on days off. I also like down time that involves homemade meals, good wine, and hopefully friends and family to share it with.

GFR: Where are your favourite places to dine and drink.. perhaps tell us a hidden treasure of our Cambridge?

BD: My favourite after work spot is the White Rabbit in Waterloo. It has a great cocktail list and a fantastic spirits selection focused on whisk(e)y. Great menu as well, and who doesn’t love snacks and bourbon after a long work night? I know that we don’t have as big of a dining or bar scene as Toronto, but I’m super proud of the passionate small business owners in the area doing their thing. It’s not easy owning an establishment in a small dining scene, and as consumers we have to support that scene for it to grow. A must visit KW restaurant is Public Kitchen and Bar, which has delicious and creative small plates, and a fun cocktail list.


GFR: Do you cook yourself? What’s your favourite dish to cook these days?

BD: I love to cook, but working with people that have cooking talent is humbling. I’m really simple in what I like to prepare, but try new things when I’m feeling bold. I cook vegetarian dishes quite often, maybe because I haven’t mastered the perfect sear on a steak yet. I’ll leave that to the pros for now.

GFR: And have you had any cooking disasters recently?

BD:  Yes, and it usually stems from distraction. I like to cook with good music on and a glass of white or a cocktail on the go. Let’s just say that my favourite pizza place is saved in my phone.

GFR: Do you feel that there is a good Sommelier community in Ontario?

BD: Yes! I’ve gotten the chance to spend more time with some amazing Toronto based Sommeliers, and it’s a really great community there- super welcoming and fun. It’s nice to meet talented and passionate individuals that are so down to earth.

GFR: Do you hang about with other Sommeliers and/or Wine Agents?

BD: I do- west of the city is a smaller community of Sommeliers and agents, but still full of that same sense of camaraderie. I’ve met some lifelong friends through interests in wine, and have had many a great night tasting wine or just kicking back with like-minded friends.

GFR: When you come into Toronto, how do you feel about Toronto as a wine and cocktail city? Where do you go if you need to get your wine or cocktail on?

BD: I don’t get into the city as much as I’d like to, for social purposes anyways. I really like Archive 909, Bar Isabel, and Rush Lane. You guys are really lucky to have so many great options to choose from, and if anyone has a great suggestion for me I’m always open to checking out a place I haven’t been to.

GFR: What would you be doing if you were not doing what you are doing today?

BD:  Growing up I wanted to be an astronaut/ballerina/marine biologist (really?)/writer/artist/sunflower, so maybe one of those things. I was a bit of a dreamer as a child. Not much has changed I guess.

GFR: What are your thoughts on music in restaurants?

BD: Love it! As long as it’s in the background for dining, and suited to the vibe of the place. I think good, loud tunes at a late night spot can be a highlight of a night out.

GFR: Do you have a favourite food/wine related scene in a film/movie or show?


BD: A scene in a movie doesn’t come to mind, but this meme I found online made me spit out coffee from laughing so hard. I’m not even sure if its authentic but if so Jimmy Fallon gets it.

GFR: I’m know that you have non-industry friends… how do they feel about what you do for a living?

BD: My friends are happy that I do what I love, despite the sometimes antisocial hours. It’s hard to watch friends go to cottages or baseball games in the summer and not be able to go along, but the good friends understand why you can’t.

GFR: What are your thoughts on blind tasting wine?

BD: It’s one of the most humbling parts of tasting, and should be done at every opportunity when studying.

GFR: Are you a better blind taster with or without a bad hangover? I’m definitely the former…

BD: I’m not sure, but maybe I’ll put that one to a test.

GFR: What’s your current favourite wine region?

BD: It’s hard to choose! Piedmont and the Loire are consistent go-to regions for me.

GFR: In your mind, as an Sommelier, what is “hot” in the world of wine right now?

BD: I’ve found more and more people are gravitating towards wines that have unique qualities, and that speak to their sense of place. Guests are looking for a new experience, testing new waters so to speak. It’s so great to celebrate diversity.

GFR: And what’s not so hot? What has fallen out of favour?

BD: Homogenized cookie cutter wines. Not sure that they were ever ‘in’ in the first place.

GFR: When it comes to wine is there anything that you feel is overrated?

BD: Not particularly, I think that all quality wine has a place, purpose and audience that appreciates it.

GFR: What is your favourite wine pairing right now, something nice and seasonal?

BD:  Fresh Ontario peaches in a salad with fresh greens paired with an off dry but vibrant Riesling.

GFR: Okay… three pairings with me on the spot?… but this time with musicians who performed at the Collosioni festival

What would you suggest for them wine or beverage-wise… and why?


1: Sting

BD: I recall that Sting collaborated on a wine label. I haven’t tried it, but that wine maybe. His music certainly went well with the 2011 Marchesi di Barolo Cannubi that we enjoyed while watching his show.


2. Mark Knopfler

BD: Something super mellow, like Chamomile tea. Why? Because both make you feel a little sleepy.


3. Mick Hucknall

BD: I hear he’s an avid fan of Tennent’s Super Strong Lager.

GFR: Do you often drink beers or spirits?

BD: Yes for sure- I’m a big whisk(e)y fan, and have been known to enjoy a cocktail from time to time.

GFR: What is your least favourite part of your job as a Sommelier?

BD: It’s a bit of a fringe lifestyle in a way- working weekends and holidays. At the end of the day, I do it because I love it, but it’s just important to make sure you balance work and home life.

GFR: And as a Wine Agent?

BD: I haven’t worked as a wine agent, but I hear that ‘life on the road’ can be taxing.

GFR: What is your weapon of choice when it comes to a corkscrew?

BD: I have this inexpensive Pulltex corkscrew that I purchased in St Emilion that I just can’t bear to part with. It’s probably close to retirement. Time for an update, and my eye is on a Code 38.

GFR: And your thoughts on the Coravin system… has it changed the playing field?

BD: It definitely gives a freedom to pour high end wines at the restaurant, and I’ve heard that agents really enjoy working with them.

GFR: Speaking of which, where do you stand on the screwcap vs. cork debate? And how do your customers feel about that?

BD: It’s a hot debate, and guests that ask my opinion usually don’t realize how many wines are affected by oxidation or other issues under cork. I support both screwcap and cork for different reasons I guess.

GFR: Due to us always being around alcohol, many people in our industry often have quite the increased tolerance for wine/booze, or they develop issues. What is your limit and how do you keep yourself in check?

BD: I actually don’t have a high tolerance for alcohol for whatever reason.  It’s great to be able to reach for a Radler or a Kabinett Riesling, or a low alcohol drink when you don’t want to feel the effects of consuming booze. Remember, it’s a game of Chess, not Checkers.

GFR: Have you ever been “cut off”? If so, where and when was the most recent time?… I think I have witnessed you being cut off actually.

BD: I’ve been to some pretty rowdy weddings that I’m sure the bar staff were happy for last call. It’s always been in harmless good fun though.

GFR: Do you have a good hangover cure?

BD: A Jedi mindset- there is no hangover. Or pizza, Netflix, and the day off are also effective.


GFR: How many wines do you taste in a week?

BD: It can be hard being west of the city to taste frequently, but we taste a lot at work. I taste more with Bruce Wallner now, and that’s been amazing.

GFR: When tasting with clients do you choose to spit or swallow?

BD: Spit.

GFR: What’s your “house” wine at home?

BD: This summer has been an exploration of rosé and Cru Beaujolais. My go to at home ‘house’ wines definitely change often.

GFR: Most remembered glass of wine ever?

BD:  1924 Chateau Mouton Rothschild. A historically important bottling that was still showing good drinkability, and crazy complexities of age.

GFR: What is your perfect glass (or bottle) of wine at the end of a crazy day at work?

BD: I reach for Scotch or Bourbon after a tough service.

GFR: And now the cheesy question Brie… If you were a grape varietal which would you be? and why?

BD:  Loire Chenin Blanc maybe?  Fun and funky, and becomes layered with age? It’s funny to think of being a grape instead of a cheese.

GFR: Thank you for taking the time Brie!… and thanks for doing this.

BD: Thank you Jamie!!


Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution.

Peter Boyd has been a part of Toronto’s wine scene for over two decades. He has taught the Diploma level for the International Sommeliers Guild, and has been the sommelier at Scaramouche Restaurant since 1993. He also writes about wine, food and pop culture and raises show molerats for fun and profit. He’s also one of the most solid guys in the business.Trust this man. Seriously… he knows his shit and is slowly taking over this city. He just celebrated his 67th birthday!

A well-known and much respected figure on the Toronto food and wine scene for almost twenty years, Potvin has worked in many of the city’s very best establishments including Biffs, Canoe, and Eau. In 2004 Potvin opened his incarnation of the Niagara Street Café, a restaurant that has gone from strength to strength year after year, with universal critical acclaim. Anton spends much of his time traveling and tasting wine and has been ranked highly in consecutive years of the International Wine Challenge. Anton is now GM at DaiLo with Chef Nick Liu.