Thoughts on Local Wine and Food

Now that it’s later in the summer and all that wonderful fresh produce is rolling in, we at Wine Journeys think it’s a perfect time to support local wine and food.  One way of doing that and helping farmers and local artisans directly is shopping at your Farmer’s Market.  It cuts out most of the supply chain putting more money into the pockets of the people who need it most.  Nothing benefits your local economy more than supporting neighboring businesses of all kinds.

The really wonderful thing is those artisans at the Farmer’s Market now included local wineries, brewers, cideries, and distillers plus vendors of local cheese, charcuterie, bread, jams and jellies, vegetables, and breads /baked goods.  One stop shopping for all the makings of a great local wine and food night!

In Barrie, Pilletteri Estates has been selling their wines at the Market.  Pillitteri is a family owned winery that found their way to making wine the same way as many Niagara families – they were fruit growers.  That evolved into a winery in 1993, but their fruit stand is still part of their winery site on Stone Road as you drive into Niagara-on-the-Lake.  Stop in and see them at their winery, but in the mean time, drop by and pick up some of their wines at the Saturday Farmer’s Market in Barrie or perhaps at a market even closer to you.  Please support local wine and food.

As usual, my ratings are based on a 5 star system developed by Michael Broadbent: 5 stars: Outstanding; 4 stars: Very good; 3 stars: Good; 2 stars: Moderately good; 1 star: Not very good, but not bad; No stars: Poor.

Lazzara Rosato Secco Sparkling NV ★★★½   $17.95 (LCBO)

Brought to you by Henry of Pelham’s Speck Brothers, this is an homage to their Italian great grandmother and made in the style of Prosecco. This style of wine’s strength is preserving the fruit aromas/flavours and this one delivers. This sparkler ticks a lot of boxes; it’s light, brightly fruity, fun to drink, good value, and readily available at the LCBO. Great by itself, with apps, or even some mains, especially fried foods. It would be a perfect local pour to celebrate summer!

Paul Jaboulet Aîné Ventoux Les Traverses 2018 ★★★½   $13.95 (Vintages)

The vineyards on the slopes of Mount Ventoux are not well known plus this white is made with less renowned grapes (Grenache Blanc, Bourboulenc, and Clairette). Both these contribute to a lower price point for this good value recommendation. Dry in style with plenty of body, fragrant with tropical fruits and grapefruit zest with a seam of stony minerality running through the wine. Match it with riper flavoured soft cheeses like Camembert, tabbouleh salad, or try it with richer seafood dishes.


Pillitteri Fusion Gewurztraminer Riesling 2019 ★★★½   $20.00 (Farmer’s Market or Winery)

Picked up at Barrie Farmer’s Market, this wine illustrates why blended wines that offer a melange of aromas and flavours can make such an attractive choice for your dinner or patio.  A white that’s nicely off dry and fruity with lemon, pear, yellow apple, peach, mineral, lime pith, and rosewater. Drinks nicely alone, but would also pair well with Thai food or mild curries.


Pillitteri Market Collection Lucia’s Rose 2019 ★★★+   $20.00 (Farmer’s Market or Winery)

One of the wines that Pillitteri developed specifically for sales at Farmer’s Markets, it’s a refreshing take on Rose.  This wine is made by blending Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Gewurztraminer resulting in a just off dry character. It’s a lighter bodied style showcasing watermelon, lemon, lime, herbs, and minerals with just a little candied red cherry on the finish.  Nice wine to chill with by the pool or to serve it with salads.


Gabriel Meffre Saint Ferréol Tavel Rose 2020 ★★★★ $21.95 (Vintages)

If you find most Rose light bodied for your liking, you need to try Tavel.  These vineyards on the west side of the Rhone River produce Roses that are full bodied and age worthy.  Darker pink than most, it shows ripe cherry jam, strawberry, red plum, red delicious apple, and lemon.  It’s mouth filling, dry, and excellent quality.  This is a Rose that will stand up to your full flavoured mains from the BBQ.  Try it with Italian sausage, pork chops, and/or grilled eggplant.


Basilica Cafaggio Single Estate Chianti Classico 2017 ★★★★ $19.95 (Vintages)

This single estate Chianti Classico made with 100% Sangiovese is a perfect food wine. It’s a very dry wine, bigger bodied than most of its brethren, presenting dark fruit, cherry, red currant jam, wood tinged vanilla, black olive, and licorice finishing with some tannic grip and wonderful acidity. You can hold it for at least another 4-5 years.  An excellent wine that would complement Tuscan styled steak grilled with garlic then finished with a drizzle of good olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt, and a squeeze of lemon or your pasta with a rich Ragu.

Stellenbosch Hills Shiraz 2017 ★★★★  $16.95 (Vintages)

When you want something different for dinner, try topping your burger (recommend Wagyu beef or veggie) with melted Brie, add on mayo, Dijon mustard, and a slice of tomato. Then pair it with this interesting dry, full bodied take on Shiraz from Stellenbosch in South Africa. More red plum, black pepper, and sour cherry than expected when first opened, but if you decant it for an hour, it will reveal more dark fruits and soften the tannins.


Château Le Grand Retour Plan de Dieu Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2018 ★★★★ $15.95 (Vintages)

For fans of Grenache, Syrah, Mouvedre blends from the Southern Rhone, you may want to buy this excellent, good value Cru wine by the case.  Deeply coloured, full bodied, and dry, it shows typical garrigue, woody sweet vanilla, blackberry jam, black plum, and strawberry united with ripe tannins.  It’s drinking beautifully now or it will hold in your wine racks for another 3-4 years.  This would make a marvellous accompaniment for grilled lamb or game.