Chef Awards

2015

  • Chef: Marc Lepine
  • Restaurant: Atelier
  • Pairing: “Le Grand Clos” Jordanne Vineyard 2012 Chardonnay Niagara Ontario
  • Chef: Jon Svazas
  • Restaurant: fauna
  • Pairing: Norman Hardie Winery 2013 Chardonnay Unfiltered Niagara Peninsula Ontario VQA
  • Chef: Joe Thottungal
  • Restaurant: Coconut Lagoon
  • Pairing: Dominion City Brewing Company, Two Flags IPA, Ontario

James-Chatto-by-George-Whiteside-high-resCulinary Report by James Chatto

Ottawa is usually brumal and bitterly cold by the time Gold Medal Plates sets up there in November, but not this week! There was warmth in the sun that caught the last of the leaves in Confederation Park and put a smile on every face I passed. This is our second year in the spacious splendour of the Shaw Centre and the evening was once again totally sold out. The eager crowd loved the show (run as smoothly as butter by MCs Curt Harnett and Sylvie Bigras) and cheered like teenagers when the band began to play – Jim Cuddy, Anne Lindsay, Colin Cripps, Sam Polley and Devin Cuddy bringing the house down.

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2014

  • Chef: Patrick Garland
  • Restaurant: Absinthe Café
  • Paired Wine: Tawse , 2013, Gewürztraminer, “Quarry Road Vineyard”, Vinemount Ridge VQA, Niagara Ontario
  • Chef: Steve Wall
  • Restaurant: Supply and Demand
  • Paired Wine: Redstone Winery, 2013, Sauvignon Blanc ,”Limestone Vineyard”, Twenty Mile Bench VQA, Niagara, ON
  • Chef: John Morris
  • Restaurant: le café at the National Arts Centre
  • Paired Wine: Pondview Estates Winery, 2013, Dragonfly Pinot Grigio, Niagara Peninsula VQA, Ontario

2013

  • Chef: Marysol Foucault
  • Restaurant: Edgar
  • Paired Wine: Closson Chase ‘The Brock’ Chardonnay 2011 Niagara River, ON
  • Chef: Jonathan Korecki
  • Restaurant: Sidedoor Contemporary Kitchen + Bar
  • Paired Wine: Megalomaniac Wines Sparkling Pinot Noir 2012 Niagara Peninsula, ON
  • Chef: Katie Brown Ardington
  • Restaurant: Beckta Dining and Wine
  • Paired Beer: Cave Spring Cellars NV Brut Dolomite 2009 Niagara Escarpment, ON

2012

  • Chef: Jamie Stunt
  • Restaurant: Oz Kafe
  • Paired Wine: Ashton Brewing Company Somerset Special, Ashton Village ON
  • Chef: Jason Duffy
  • Restaurant: ARC Lounge.Dining
  • Paired Wine: Norman Hardie Winery and Vineyards 2010 County Pinot Noir, Prince Edward County ON
  • Chef: Jonathan Korecki
  • Restaurant: Sidedoor Contemporary Kitchen + Bar
  • Paired Beer: Kichesippi Beer Company  2012 Blonde Ale, Ottawa ON

2011

  • Chef: Marc Lepine
  • Restaurant: Atelier
  • Paired Wine: Hidden Bench Vineyards & Winery 2009 Chardonnay, Beamsville ON
  • Chef: Caroline Ishii
  • Restaurant: ZenKitchen
  • Paired Wine: Cave Spring Cellars 2009 Estate Bottled Chenin Blanc, Jordan ON
  • Chef: Charles Part
  • Restaurant: Restaurant Les Fougères
  • Paired Wine: Norman Hardie Winery & Vineyard 2009 Chardonnay, Prince Edward County ON

2010

  • Chef: Michael Moffatt
  • Restaurant: Beckta Dining and Wine
  • Paired Wine: Fielding Estates Winery
  • Chef: Caroline Ishii
  • Restaurant: ZenKitchen
  • Paired Wine: Angels Gate Winery

BRONZE

  • Chef: Ross and Simon Franser
  • Restaurant: Fraser Café
  • Paired Wine: Hillebrand Estates Winery

2009

  • Chef: Matthew Carmichael
  • Restaurant: Restaurant E18hteen
  • Chef: Michael Blackie
  • Restaurant: Le Cafe at the National Arts Centre
  • Chef: Ben Baird
  • Restaurant: The Urban Pear

2008

  • Chef: Charles Part
  • Restaurant: Restaurant Les Fougères
  • Chef: Matthew Carmichael
  • Restaurant: Restaurant E18hteen
  • Chef: Stev George
  • Restaurant: Olivea

2007

  • Chef: Michael Moffat
  • Restaurant: Beckta Dining & Wine
  • Chef: Matthew Carmichael
  • Restaurant: Restaurant E18hteen
  • Chef: Ben Baird
  • Restaurant: The Urban Pear

2006

  • Chef: Michael Blackie
  • Restaurant: Brookstreet
  • Chef: Hector Diaz
  • Restaurant: Arôme
  • Chef: Charles Part
  • Restaurant: Restaurant Les Fougères

Best Of Show 

2015

  • Bachelder 2012 Wismer Vineyard Chardonnay, Niagara Peninsula
  • Lot No. 40, Rye Whisky, Windsor Ontario
  • Chateau des Charmes St. David’s Bench Vineyard, 2012 Merlot

David Lawrason - Wine Advisor

David Lawrason, National Wine Advisor

Elite Ontario Chardonnays Storm the Podium

As we continue through the heart of the 2015 Gold Medal Plates season (Ottawa was event 7) it is becoming obvious that Canada’s chefs are “lightening it up”.  Sparkling and white wines are outnumbering reds as pairing wines, and the reds that are poured are more likely to be lighter pinots and gamays than heavier merlots, cabs or syrahs.  This likely has much to do with the fact that big reds are not as naturally or profusely generated in Canada’s cooler realms, with the exception of B.C.’s southern Okanagan Valley. In some way we are witnessing an evolution of Canadian cuisine, as defined by our wines.

There were no “big reds” at the chef’s stations in Ottawa, but who needs them when there is a who’s who of elite Ontario chardonnays in the room – complex, powerful yet impeccably balanced by Niagara’ naturally acidity. The Best of Show Wine Award went to the magnificent Bachelder 2012 Wismer Vineyard Chardonnay, a big wine of uncanny balance and show-stopping depth of flavour.  It generated strong accolades among the judges and guests alike, and I personally thought it was an exquisite match with the cured fish & squash by James Bratsberg of MeNa Food Drink Passion

Over at the culinary judges table it was Le Clos Jordanne 2012 Le Grand Clos Chardonnay that took gold with Atelier chef Marc Lepine.  Both the wine and the dish – smoked steelhead trout with miso-molasses glaze, cured pork belly –  bespoke incredible complexity and flavour intensity and nested so comfortably with each other.  I was also mightily impressed with Norman Hardie 2012 Unfiltered Niagara Chardonnay and its match with emu carpaccio topped by fermented plum, white soy and miso emulsion by “fauna” chef Jon Svazas.   This chardonnay was a rare Platinum Award winner at the WineAlign National Wine Awards in 2015. I personally ranked it second in the race for Best of Show

But there were two outliers that crept into the top three judging for Best of Show, by way of being tied for second.  In second place overall came a creatively rendered, glamorous, smoke and vanilla scented whiskey cocktail made with Lot No. 40 Rye Whisky.  It was the last beverage we judged, and everyone placed in their top five forcing us into recalibration.  In third place – served to some tables at the Celebration – came Chateau des Charmes 2012 St. Davids Vineyard Merlot, a wine of perfect ripeness and firm structure that will reward considerable ageing.

The Best of Show Award is designed to showcase all the wines donated to the event (a complete list is below).

In Ottawa, it is worth noting that four of the paired wines were from wineries in Prince Edward County – Ottawa’s backyard wine region – Closson Chase, Hinterland, Norman Hardie and Grange of Prince Edward.  Ottawa’s thriving craft brew scene was represented Dominion City Brewing Company which paired its excellent Two Flags IPA  with an exotic roasted lamb by bronze medal chef  Joe Thottungal of Coconut Lagoon.  And the capital regions first artisan distiller, North of 7 Distillery, created a fine cocktail with its Triple Beam Gin.

Other wines donated to the VIP Reception and Celebration included O’Leary 2013 Unwooded Chardonnay, Fielding Viognier,  Pillitteri 2013 Cabernet Franc and Henry of Pelham 2014 Baco Noir.

I was joined by two great Ottawa friends; both colleagues at WineAlign.com. Janet Dorozynski is a veteran judge at the WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada, and a regular contributor to this website.  Rod Phillips is wine columnist for the Ottawa Citizen.  We were joined this year,as guest tasters,by Beth McMahon of the Canadian Vintners Association and Dianne Willis, a wine enthusiast and graduate of the sommelier program at Algonquin College. All stayed the duration of the program to listen to the musicians, hear the athletes and enjoy the auctions.

It was a splendid night in Ottawa, and we look forward to seeing Le Clos Jordanne moving on the Canadian Culinary Championship in Kelowna.

Here are the wines, beers and spirits poured in Ottawa, in judges tasting order

Hinterland Wine Company 2014 Whitecap
O’Leary 2013 UnOaked Chardonnay
Norman Hardie Winery 2013 Chardonnay Unfiltered Niagara
Bachelder 2012 Wismer Vineyard Chardonnay
Le Clos Jordanne 2012 Le Grand Clos Chardonnay
Fielding 2014 Viognier
Grange of Prince Edward 2011 Estate Gamay Noir
Closson Chase K.J. Watson Vineyard 2013 Pinot Noir
Rosewood Estates 2013 Pinot Noir Select
Pillitteri 2013 Cabernet Franc
Chateau des Charmes 2012 St David’s Vineyard Merlot
Henry of Pelham 2014 Baco Noir
Dominion City Brewing Company, Two Flags IPA
North of 7 Triple Beam Gin
Lot No. 40, Rye Whisky

2014

  • Rosewood Estates Winery – 2013 La Fumee
  • Norman Hardie 2013 Riesling
  • Ashton Brewery Togarashi Brown

2013

  • Cave Spring Cellars NV Brut Dolomite 2009 Niagara Escarpment, ON
  • Tawse Winery 2010 Growers Blend Pinot Noir Niagara Peninsula, ON
  • Lailey Vineyard Wines Chardonnay Brickyard 2011 Niagara River, ON

 2012

  • Norman Hardie 2010 County Pinot Noir, Prince Edward County ON
  • Hidden Bench 2010 Estate Chardonnay, Beamsville Bench ON
  • Closson Chase 2011 Sans Chene Chardonnay, Prince Edward County ON

2011

  • Painted Rock 2010 Chardonnay, Penticton BC
  • Hidden Bench 2009 Chardonnay, Beamsville Bench ON
  • Château des Charmes 2007 Old Vines Riesling, Niagara-on-the-Lake ON