The California experiment

Pearl Morissette is one of my favourite Canadian wineries, but until a month or so ago I didn’t know they were also producing wine in California. I found out when I saw an announcement about a dinner at hot new Toronto restaurant Alo, featuring these California wines from PM. It was such a hot ticket (and Alo is such a small restaurant) that the event sold out in minutes, but they scheduled a second seating and Nellie, Kaylea, and I got tickets.

Winemaker Francois Morissette was there to speak about each of the California wines, and a few surprise Ontario wines as well. All the wines were predictably delicious, but we were just so impressed with how he’s found a balance in the Californian wines: using all the advantages of the hot (but not too hot, based on their vineyard locations) without the overbearing, overwrought, over-oaked tendencies too often found in California bottles. These are California wines made with the restraint of a Burgundian winemaker.

The menu, as best I can remember provided by P-M…thanks Milt!:

  1. Pan au lait with fleur de sel
  2. Matsutake mushrooms, turnip, celery, chicken skin
  3. Carolina gold rice, foie gras, bonito
  4. Yorkshire rack of pork, romano bean, artichoke, mustard
  5. Beef brisket, king oyster mushroom, parsley, garlic
  6. White chocolate cremeux, toasted oats, quince (Note: Cori Murphy is a bad-ass pastry chef)

The rice + foie gras dish sounds like it should have been terrible, but it was goddamn delicious. And I hate foie gras.

The wines:

  • Blackball Riesling
  • 2012 Heintz Vineyard Chardonnay
  • 2012 Baranoff Vineyard Pinot Noir
  • 2012 Caldwell Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Niagara Viognier
  • I know I’m missing another Ontario wine. I just can’t remember what it was, goddammit.

All in all, an outstanding meal. I really want to go back Alo now, and we’ve already ordered some of the California wine.

After dinner we still wanted more wine, so we decided to meet up with more friends at Archive. The girls started drinking sparkling; I stayed on the Pearl Morissette with the 2012 “Dix-Neuvième” Chardonnay. I lost track of what everyone got, but after we shared a bottle of Cab Franc from Saumur I was out of there. The rest of the group partied well into the night.

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