- Chef: Martin Ruiz Salvador
- Restaurant: Fleur de Sel, Lunenburg NS
- Pairing: Lightfoot & Wolfville 2013 Ancienne Chardonnay, Wolfville, NS
- Chef: Thomas Carey
- Restaurant: Fresh Twenty One
- Pairing: Avondale Sky 2013 Martock Select Late Harvest, Newport Station, NS
- Chef: Ardon Mofford
- Restaurant: Governors Pub & Eatery, Sydney NS
- Pairing: Domaine de Grand Pré 2014 Reserve Riesling, Grand Pré, NS
Culinary Report by James Chatto
With the remnants of Hurricane Patricia pushing us towards the Atlantic, the Gold Medal Plates team had a bumpy ride to Halifax but horizontal rain and a gusting gale couldn’t dampen the warmth of our welcome. Nor did it deter the jubilant crowd who filled the Cunard Centre last night, ready to taste, listen, bid, and finally rock with our brilliant house band of Jim Cuddy, Danny Michel, Anne Lindsay, Colin Cripps and Jim’s two sons, Devin Cuddy and Sam Polley. Curt Harnett and Nancy Regan shared the MC duties, keeping the mood merry and the energy levels high. Meanwhile we judges had our hands full with one of the strongest line-ups of Nova Scotian chefs we have ever brought together. Joining me were Halifax Senior Judge Bill Spurr, the restaurant critic for the Chronicle-Herald; chef, author and educator, the Kilted Chef, Alain Bossé; sommelier, educator and passionate culinarian Amy Savoury; chef and educator, currently the Hospitality chair at the Nova Scotia Community College, Ted Grant; chef and local gastronomy advocate Jason Lynch; and last year’s Halifax Gold Medalist, the Feisty Chef herself, Renée Lavallée of The Canteen.
- Chef: Renée Lavallée
- Restaurant: The Canteen
- Paired Wine: Tideview Cider Heritage Semidry Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia
- Chef: Mark Gray
- Restaurant: Brooklyn Warehouse
- Paired Wine: Boxing Rock Brewing Co., The Vicar’s Cross Double IPA
Shelburne, Nova Scotia
- Chef: Jason Lynch
- Restaurant: Le Caveau
- Paired Wine: Domaine de Grand Pré Winery 2013 Vintner’s Reserve Riesling Grand Pré, Nova Scotia
- Chef: Martin Ruiz Salvador
- Restaurant: Fleur de Sel (Lunenburg)
- Paired Wine: Mimosa with Benjamin Bridge Nova 7 (2012) & Ironworks Distillery Pear Eau de Vie
- Chef: Terry Vasallo
- Restaurant: Café Chianti
- Paired Wine: Vintner’s Reserve Castel 2012, Domaine de Grand Pré, Grand Pré, NS
- Chef: Jason Lynch
- Restaurant: Le Caveau Restaurant in Wolfville
- Paired Wine: Black Hills Estate
Best of Show
- L’Acadie Vineyards 2010 Prestige Brut Estate Zero Dosage
- Lightfoot & Wolfville 2013 Ancienne Chardonnay, Wolfville, NS
- Benjamin Bridge 2011 Rosé Méthod Classique, Wolfville, NS
David Lawrason, National Wine Advisor
The wind-blown but wonderfully effervescent Halifax edition of Gold Medal Plates was the first GMP event not to have a red wine paired with a chef’s dish. It was whites and bubblies all the way this night as Nova Scotia strutted its stuff. Indeed the two of the top three finishers for Best Wine of Show were sparklers, and a ground-breaking new white came third.
The Best of Show Award is designed to bring more exposure to Canadian wineries that donate so generously to Gold Medal Plates. The complete list of Halifax wines is below.
For those who may not be aware, Nova Scotians are flush with excitement about the development of very classy sparkling wines, that are increasingly being compared to French Champagne by pundits outside the province. This is thanks to the work of two wineries in particular – L’Acadie Vineyards and Benjamin Bridge – which pioneered traditional method (second fermentation in bottle) examples from champagne varieties like pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier, as well as local hybrid varieties like L’Acadie Blanc.
And it was L’Acadie Vineyards organic, just released 2010 Prestige Brut Estate Zero Dosage that captured the top wine of show, a 100% l’Acadie Blanc from ten year old vines nicely taking root on ancient seabed soils in the Gaspereau Valley. Brut Zero refers to the fact it was not sweetened by any dosage after spending five years ageing in bottle. And it showed great presence and complexity.
The runner-up was a firm, complex, equally riveting Ancienne 2013 Chardonnay by a new winery called Lightfoot and Wolfville that is turning heads with organically farmed vinifera varieties that include a very promising first start pinot noir.
The third runner-up was another sparkler and a personal favourite: the delicate, impeccably balanced Benjamin Bridge 2011 Rose Brut, made very much in the Champagne style with a grape called pinot meunier, plus pinot noir and chardonnay.
Four judges joined me in Halifax. Craig Pinhey, a leading beverage writer in Atlantic Canada and a long time friend and judge at the WineAlign National Wine Awards Craig, drove all the way from Saint John NB. Another very good friend Sean Wood has done more than any other writer to educate the through his books and articles on Nova Scotia wine. Mark De Wolf, an educator with the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers and wine contributor to the Halifax Chronicle Herald was also aboard, as well as Heather Rankin, of Halifax’s Obladee Wine Bar, also a National Wine Awards judge.
Out on the competition floor the Culinary Judges were passing judgment of the chefs, part of the criteria being how well they managed to match their dish to the wines.
Bronze medal chef Chef Mofford chose his rich pork belly and scallop combo to the racy acidity and citrus notes of the Domaine de Grand Pré 2014 Reserve Riesling. Chef Thomas Carey from Fresh Twenty One in Dartmouth took silver matching his exotic pork belly to the swwet but well balanced 2013 Martock Select Late Harvest Vidal from Avondale Sky Winery in Newport Station,
And Chef Martín Ruiz Salvador of Fleur de Sel in Lunenburg took a repeat gold matching his French based complex rabbit and snail based dish (Fast food-Slow Food) to the intracies of Lightfoot and Wolfville 2013 Ancienne Chardonnay. Lightfoot and Wolfville will now have a chance to show the rest of Canada what they are all about as they head to the Canadian Culinary Champonships in Kelowna in February.
The Wines, Beers and Spirits poured in Halifax
L’Acadie Vineyards 2012 Vintage Cuvee
L’Acadie Vineyards 2012 Vintage Cuvee Rose
L’Acadie Vineyards 2010 Prestige Brut Estate Zero Dosage
Benjamin Bridge Méthode Classique NV
Benjamin Bridge 2011 Rose Method Classique
Jost 2014 Tidal Bay
Luckett Vineyard 2012 L’Acadie
Jost 2014 Selkie
Lightfoot and Wolfville 2013 Chardonnay Ancienne
Domaine de Grand Pre 2014 Riesling Reserve
Domaine de Grand Pre 2014 Muscat Vintners Reserve
Avondale Sky 2013 Martock Select Late Harvest
Vidal Gimblet Glo (Jost Vidal Icewine and 1929 Gin)
Fortress Rhubarb and Rum Punch
Garrison Brewing Selection of Beers
- Domaine de Grand Pré Winery 2013 Vintner’s Reserve Riesling
- Tideview Cider Heritage Semi-Dry
- Jost 2013 Tidal Bay
- L’Acadie Vineyards 2010 Vintage Cuveé certified organic sparkling, NS
- Devonian Coast Wineries 2012 Mercator White, NS
- Avondale Sky Winery 2012 Lavender Rosé, NS