Chef Awards

2016

Chefs

  • Chef: Joe Thottungal
  • Restaurant: Coconut Lagoon
  • Pairing: Huff Estates 2015 Riesling

Best of Show

Benjamin Bridge 2009 Brut Sparkling

Chefs

  • Chef: Jamie Stunt
  • Restaurant: Soif bar à vin
  • Pairing: Benjamin Bridge, 2009 Brut

Best of Show

Southbrook Vineyards 2013 Estate “Witness Block” Cabernet Sauvignon

Chefs

  • Chef: Mark Doiron
  • Restaurant: town
  • Pairing: Stanners Vineyard 2014 Pinot Grigio

Best of Show TIE

Huff Estate 2014 South Bay Chardonnay
Chateau des Charmes 2012 Merlot

James-Chatto-by-George-Whiteside-high-resCulinary Report
by James Chatto by National Culinary Advisor

Some deep magic has been hovering over the Gold Medal Plates campaign trail this year, giving us warm autumnal sunshine in every city we visit. Phoebus blazed from a cloudless sky yesterday in Ottawa, dazzling the chefs as they set up their stations in the glass-walled Shaw Centre. It also put a spring in the step of our judging panel, led as always by our Senior Judge for Ottawa-Gatineau, author, editor and restaurant critic, Anne DesBrisay, whose latest book, Ottawa Cooks, is absolutely essential reading for anyone who eats in the Capital region. Judging with us was author, television star and Canadian culinary ambassador, Margaret Dickenson; author, stylist, educator and culinary maven Pam Collacott; industry leader and owner of Thyme and Again Creative Catering, Sheila Whyte; Chairman of the Canadian Culinary Federation and Executive Chef of the House of Commons, Judson Simpson; and of course last year’s gold medal winner, the only human being since the dawn of recorded history to have won the Canadian Culinary Championship twice, Chef Marc Lepine of Atelier.

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david-new-2014Edmonton Wine Report
by David Lawrason, National Wine Advisor

It’s no longer any secret that sparkling wine is becoming a national treasure – with fine examples now emanating from regions ranging from Nova Scotia to Vancouver Island.  And so it was fitting that the nation’s capital should host the best array of bubblies so far in the GMP Tour, and that one of them should dance off with the Best of Show Award.

Benjamin Bridge of Nova Scotia has been wowing Nova Scotians, Canadians and international critics for the past couple of years. So no surprise to this critic that Benjamin Bridge 2009 Brut carried the day in Ottawa – a wine of wonderful brisk tension, complexity and depth. No wonder it recently placed in the top 15 among over 300 in an European competition.

The other two sparklers – Hinterland 2013 Les Etoile Rose and 13th Street Cuvee Rose – also garnered votes from the judges but did not quite make the podium, in what was a close judging.

The Runner-Up for Best of Show went to a fine, new Niagara red – Southbrook’s 2013 Witness Block Cabernet, a blend a single vineyard organically grown blend of cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc.  It carried surprising depth for this lighter vintage.

And Second Runner-Up went to the very elegant, complex and structured Huff Estate 2015 Chardonnay from the maturing South Bay Vineyard in the south end of Prince Edward County.

In fact five different wineries poured their wines this evening in Ottawa – Hinterland, Huff, Rosehall Run, Stanners and Closson Chase – a great show of support from the National Capital’s back yard wine region.

The other theme that emerged was the strength of chardonnays in Ontario, with fine examples by Closson Chase, Huff, Malivoire, Cuddy by Tawse and Wescott Vineyards which poured their Lenko Vineyard, from Ontario’s oldest chardonnay vines.

The Best of Show judging exists to recognize and thank the wineries for their donations to Gold Medal Plates chefs.  But several wineries also donated to the VIP Reception and Celebration portions of the evening.

I want to thank Andrew Peller in particular for donating to Ottawa and many other cities on our tour. Canada’s largest family-owned wine company owns familiar brands like Wayne Gretzky and Trius. Ottawa guests also enjoyed Chateau des Charmes powerful 2012 St David’s Vineyard Merlot, Malivoire’s elegant 2014 Chardonnay, the fine Pillitteri’s 2015 Niagara Sauvignon Blanc.

This day I was joined by thee fine Ottawa wine authorities to taste and talk through the wines, and rank our favourites.   In seniority order: Rod Phillips, wine columnist with the Ottawa Citizen.  Diane Willis, a wine consultant and certified sommelier from Niagara College joined us again this year. And for the first time we welcomed Asha Hingorani, who recently joining the staff of the Ottawa-based Canadian Vintners Association.  She a certified sommelier at Algonquin College and a writer for Power & Influence magazine and Embassy News. The perfect Ottawa combination.

For insight into which wines took the podium with our winning chefs please read James Chatto’s Culinary Report. Meanwhile here is the complete list of wines and beers poured in Ottawa, in judge’s pouring order:

Benjamin Bridge 2009 Brut
Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia

Hinterland 2013 Sparkling Rose
Prince Edward County, ON

13th Street Winery Cuvée Rosé NV
Niagara Peninsula, ON

Pillitteri Estates 2015 Sauvignon Blanc
Niagara Peninsula, ON

Malivoire 2015 Chardonnay
Niagara Peninsula, ON

Cuddy by Tawse 2013 Chardonnay
Niagara Peninsula, ON

Huff Estates 2014 South Bay Chardonnay
Prince Edward County, ON

Westcott Vineyards 2014 Lenko Old Vines Chardonnay
Beamsville Bench, ON

Closson Chase 2014 The Brock Chardonnay
Prince Edward County, ON

Wayne Gretzky 2014 Riesling
Niagara Peninsula, ON

Huff Estates Winery 2015 Riesling Off-Dry
Ontario

Trius 2014 Gamay
Niagara Peninsula, ON

Rosehall Run Vineyard 2014 Pinot Noir
Prince Edward County, ON

Wayne Gretzky 2014 Cabernet Merlot
Niagara Peninsula, ON

Cuddy by Tawse 2013 Cabernet-Merlot
Niagara Peninsula, ON

Southbrook 2013 Wtiness Block Cabernet
Four Mile Creek, ON

Chateau des Charmes 2012 Merlot St. Davids Bench Vnyd
St. Davids Bench, ON

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