Posts Tagged ‘Matos Winery’
The New Festival of Wines Prince Edward Island is a signature springtime event on the Island. Now in its 19th year, this is the first time the PEI Liquor Control Commission has hired a private event management company, Versatile Management Group, to manage the Festival. Versatile has pulled out all the stops to make this a high-end event.
This year, there are 39 booths providing samples of 225 wines from twelve different countries. Many of these wines are new to PEI and are not currently sold in local liquor stores. These wines will, however, be available for sale at the onsite Wine Boutique during the Festival. The New Festival of Wines also includes a juried wine competition where six judges, blind testing, chose the top wines and runners-up in five categories. These wines are also available for sampling during the event.
If you are a wine connoisseur, or simply a lover of fine wines, you will not want to miss this premier event. The Grand Tasting event allows patrons to explore and sample new wines and learn more about them. For wineries or their agents, it’s a chance to introduce and present their wines. Says Jennifer Caseley of Versatile Management Group, “depending on sales at the event’s Wine Boutique, those wines may eventually be listed products at local liquor stores“.
Yes, even Sangria made an appearance at this year’s Grand Tasting event! In addition to samples, Verano Wines also shared their recipe for this tasty Spanish drink.
Look for attractively displayed booths at the event.
Each year, a wine-producing country is selected to have its wines featured for the event. This year, it is France, one of the oldest and most renown wine-producers in the world. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be wines from other wine-producing countries – they are there too.
On PEI, it’s almost inconceivable to have an event of any kind without food! There is a whole new food element to this year’s Festival. As you walk into the event, you are greeted with a Raspberry Point oyster from the PEI International Shellfish Festival and along with a glass of champagne.
Be sure to hang on to the wineglass and carry it with you throughout the evening as you will need it to sample wines as you tour the booths.
Each evening, there are food stations set up inside the venue. These stations serve four different appetizers. Last evening, Chef Andrew Smith of “Top of the Park” Restaurant at the Red Shores Racetrack and Casino created BBQ Pulled Chicken Bruschetta, House Spiced Turkey Meatballs, Seafood Fritters, and Lemon Curd Filled Phyllo Cups for patrons. This evening, Chef Jane Crawford from the Red Water Rustic Grille will tempt palettes with four tasty appetizers as well.
What would wine be without cheese! The Dairy Farmers of Canada along with PEI’s award-winning Cows Creamery, are serving samples of their fine cheeses that pair so well with wine. This afternoon, there is an ancillary event (separate tickets required) sponsored by the Dairy Farmers of Canada and PEI’s Rossignol Winery that will focus on the art of wine and cheese pairings.
Be sure to also check out Blossoms’ booth. Blossoms is a new local business on the Island that specializes in making fresh fruit bouquets. Their colourful and tasty offerings of chocolate dipped strawberries and other fruits were making a hit at the Festival last evening.
Organizers have thought of all the details! They even offer a wine check so patrons do not have to carry around heavy bottles of wine they have purchased at the Wine Boutique. Their purchases may be shipped for pick-up at any one of the PEI Liquor Control Commission’s 18 corporate retail outlets across the Island.
This two-day extravaganza is held at the Charlottetown Civic Centre on Kensington Road on May 24-25, 2013. Tickets to the Grand Tasting event are $44. per person (taxes incl) – note you must be 19 and over to attend the Festival. The event can accommodate over 1000 guests per evening and tickets are also available day-of at the Civic Centre box office. The Festival’s hours of operation today are from 7:00pm – 11:00pm. The Wine Boutique, run by the PEI Liquor Control Commission and from which wines may be purchased, operates from 3:00pm – 10:30pm today. Tickets are not required to enter the Wine Boutique.
A complimentary shuttle service is available to transport patrons between the Civic Centre and the downtown area. This service runs from 6:00pm – 11:00pm this evening. Please enjoy the Festival but do drink responsibly and use the provided shuttle service or a designated driver or taxi.
Thank you for visiting “the Bistro” today. If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe to my feed by entering your email address in the subscribe box in the upper left-hand sidebar. That way, you will receive an email notification whenever I add a new posting to this blog. Be sure to also follow me on twitter @PEIBistro and on Pinterest at “Island Bistro Kitchen”
The farmers on PEI are busy with their various harvests these days and taking full advantage of the great weather we have been having. I stopped by Matos Winery in St. Catherines, PEI, last Wednesday as they were picking the grapes. I had visited the winery in early September and toured the vineyards but delayed posting the story until harvest time because I wanted to visit the winery when the grapes were being picked and processed.
When I first met Jim and Heather Matos on an early September Saturday afternoon, Jim had just finished the painstaking work of netting all the grapevines in an effort to keep the birds at bay. Despite Jim’s best efforts and the addition of noise maker squawkers, the birds did pose a problem this fall as they figured out a way to still get at the grapes despite the netting. This meant a loss of some of the grape crop.
Matos is a new winery in its second year having opened for business on June 24, 2011. The Matos’ bought the St. Catherines property near Cornwall and prepared the soil in 2006. They then did their first vine planting in 2007 followed by three years of labour-intensive work that culminated in their first grape harvest in October, 2010.
I asked Heather what brought them to PEI to open their winery as the Island is not known as a wine-making region (we currently have only three wineries operating on the Island). She tells me they came to PEI on a holiday in 2004 and fell in love with the Island. When they decided to open a winery, they looked at locations as far away as Europe and the United States but were still drawn back to PEI. In fact, after hearing about the harsh, cold winters (often with a lot of snow) on the Island, Jim came to PEI for a visit in the dead of winter to see if the conditions would be conducive to grape-growing. Finding them suitable, the couple settled on a property in St. Catherines that had a certain slope, angle, and close proximity to a waterway – all conditions Jim was looking for in a location for a vineyard. Jim says grapes require good sandy soil and they do well in hot, dry summer conditions like we had in 2012.
The vineyard itself covers 11 acres and is home to 16,000 grapevines imported from France. The species of grapevines are vitis vinifera which means they are not as hardy as hybrid vines. Vinifera vines are more susceptible to disease and require more care but Jim maintains they produce a better quality of wine than hybrids.
Two varieties of grapes are grown in the vineyard – Chardonnay and Gamay.
From these grapes, Matos produces five kinds of wine – Chardonnay, Gamay-Noir, Rosé, Wildberry Gamay, and Strawberry Chardonnay. The Matos tell me they produced approximately 18,000 bottles of wine last year.
Jim is no stranger to winemaking. He comes from a long history of vintners. His family had a vineyard and made wine in the Acores, Portugal. After coming to Canada, the Matos ran a U-brew business importing wine-making supplies in Ontario for 20 years before deciding to start their own winery.
Walk with Jim through the precise, neat, and meticulously cared for rows of grapevines in the vineyard and it is easy to see and hear his passion for winemaking and dedication to high quality. A perfectionist, he is more concerned about producing quality products versus quantity. The Matos also have a keen eye for different products so much so that they are also distilling a couple of unique spirits, too. Using the skins of the grapes left over from winemaking, Matos is producing Bagaço which is a Portuguese version of Italian Grappa, sometimes referred to as moonshine. They are also producing Anisette, a licorice-flavoured liqueur that is a popular drink in France.
On a beautiful warm October 17th, a small crew was assembled in the vineyard and busy hand-picking the clusters of grapes.
Large blue bins of the grapes were seen throughout the vineyard before being gathered up by the tractor and trailer moving carefully amongst the rows of carefully-tended vines.
After transport to the winery, the grapes were put through the grape crusher destemmer, a machine that uses an auger to remove and discard the stems from the grapes then drops the fruit into the crusher where the grapes are crushed.
Using a peristaltic pump, the crushed fruit is then pumped through a hose into a membrane bladder press which extracts the juice but doesn’t harm the seeds or break the skins of the grapes.
The juice is then transported via hose into the large unoaked stainless steel fermentation tanks and the fermentation process starts with Jim controlling the temperature in the tanks and monitoring the sugar content and status and progress of the fermentation.
Jim tells me the white wine will ferment for 14 days and the red for 7 days but the entire processing and filtering of his white wines take 4-5 months before they are ready for bottling and the red wines take about 6-8 months.
Wine-making is a lengthy process that takes a lot of time, patience, labour, and attention to detail and that’s only after all the painstaking pampering and pruning that has gone into the growing and care of the grapevines and grapes.
Matos wines are fine quality products. After only one year in production, Matos’ Gamay-Noir won the prestigious silver medal at the 2011 Canadian Wine Awards, chosen second from among 1117 entries. Most recently, in October 2012, the Gamay-Noir won bronze at the 2012 Canadian Wine Awards, ranking third out of 1260 entries. Matos Winery was competing with wineries from all across Canada, including the well-known Canadian wine-producing regions of Niagara, ON, and several in BC. That’s not only impressive but a validation of the high quality product the winery is producing in its young days.
The Matos wines were also recently featured at the “Savour Victoria” event which was part of the PEI Fall Flavours Culinary Festival (see my blog entry of October 4, 2012, on this event).
Matos’ Chardonnay is a very versatile wine that pairs well with chicken, seafood like PEI lobster, pastas with cream sauces, or vegetarian dishes. The Gamay-Noir goes well with steak and tomato-based dishes, including pizza. The Rosé is a lovely compliment to either turkey or chicken and the Wildberry pairs particularly well with dark chocolate.
The Matos wines are competitively priced between $14.95 – $16.95 and are sold onsite in the winery’s gift shop, in Island liquor stores, and are served in many PEI restaurants.
Tours and wine-tasting are available at the winery which is located at 3156 West River Road, St. Catherines PE, C0A 1H0. Cost is $5.00 per person. In the summer months, the winery gift shop is open seven days a week. During the fall months, the gift shop is open on Saturdays from 10am-5pm and Sundays 1pm-5pm (Oct – Dec).
While the heavens opened and poured rain on Victoria-by-the-Sea, PEI, on Saturday, September 29th, it didn’t dampen the enthusiasm that was evident at “Savour Victoria” or the great local food that diners enjoyed throughout the evening. As Richard LaGrange of the Orient Hotel says, “Victoria hospitality really can make up for a little rain” (well, okay, it really was a LOT of rain!).
This was the last signature event of “Fall Flavours”, PEI’s annual Culinary Festival. The small seaside village of Victoria on the Island’s south shore proved to be an ideal venue for the event. Pam Beck, Tourism Development Manager for Central Coastal Tourism Partnership, says Victoria was chosen because of its special qualities and quaintness. In the summer, Victoria swells with tourists who leisurely stroll around the tiny village of less than 200 year-round inhabitants, visiting local shops and restaurants and watching the lobster fishing boats unloading their day’s catch. Pam says organizers wanted to make the event “a celebration of Victoria, our Island, and all its beauty and bounty”. I’d say mission accomplished on that front!
The village is small and neatly laid out in a square shape. Everything is within easy walking distance and that is a good thing given the inclement weather and the fact that there were five venues for diners to visit during the evening – four for appetizers and drinks and one for dinner. Victoria does not have any really large restaurants and the ones it does have only operate seasonally. Some of the Fall Flavours events elsewhere on the Island have used big tents on location but organizers of “Savour Victoria” devised a plan that would use and promote establishments that already exist so that, when people come back to Victoria in the future, the venues will still be there for them to return to.
“Savour Victoria” was produced by Central Coastal Tourism Partnership, a new (2011) organization dedicated to promoting tourism development in the central part of the Island. Because “Savour Victoria” was classed as a signature event, it meant a celebrity chef was part of the activities. Bob Blumer, cookbook author (several times over) and creator and host of his own TV shows on the Food Network “Glutton for Punishment”, “Surreal Gourmet”, and “World’s Weirdest Restaurants”, spent the weekend in Victoria overseeing and participating in the Savour Victoria event. Bob was actively engaged in the preparations for the dinner which featured as much locally produced food as possible and was presented in unique and creative ways that Bob is known for.
Here is how the evening worked. Everyone first checked in at the Victoria Playhouse where they picked up a gift bag that contained an engraved “Savour Victoria” souvenir wine glass and a map of the Village. From there, people headed out, donned in raincoats and carrying umbrellas, to the different venues that were serving appetizers and pre-dinner drinks.
Four venues opened for the “Wandering Appetizers with Wine & Beer Tastings” portion of the evening which began at 6:00pm. These included Coach House Antiques, By-The-Sea Kayaking, Red Sand Jewelry, and Island Chocolates.
Four local eating establishments then opened to serve a sit-down dinner at 7:30pm. These were the Victoria Village Inn, Landmark Café, Lobster Barn Pub & Eatery, and the Orient Hotel. When diners purchased their ticket, they selected which of the four venues they wished to go to for the sit-down dinner.
Each of the restaurants served exactly the same meal. Local chefs from the restaurants prepared the meal and were assisted by chef support from the Culinary Institute of Canada, Charlottetown, PEI. The featured wines of the evening were all local and came from nearby Matos Winery in St. Catherine’s, PEI. Just take a look at this great menu that was collaboratively chosen by the local chefs and Bob Blumer:
Wandering Appetizers with Wine & Beer Tastings
Coach House Antiques:
Smoked Ham from Island Taylored Meats & COWS Creamery Cheese.
PEI Brewing Company Beer Tastings.
Raspberry Point Oysters.
Matos Vineyards Wine Tastings.
Red Sand Jewelry:
Cajun-seared Atlantic Scallops, Carmelized Onions & Cream Cheese on Baguette
Matos Vineyards Wine Tastings.
Roasted sweet peppers on chocolate crostini with goat cheese and a dusting of cocoa .
Matos Vineyards Wine Tastings.
Seated Dining Menu
Course 1: Kim Dormaar’s Medallion Smoked Salmon
Course 2 – Bob Blumer’s Fire-roasted Corn Chowder with sweet corn and garlic from nearby fields, local cream, and Island Taylored Meats double-smoked bacon. Fresh-baked bread.
Matos Vineyards wine pairing.
Course 3 – Bob Blumer’s Lobster-Filled Cupcake topped with creamy, buttery superior organic potatoes, seasoned with fresh local herbs and served with a medley of greens from Just a Little Farm on the Appin Rd, and dressed with balsamic and black truffle oil vinaigrette.
Matos Vineyard wine pairing.
Course 4 – Panna cotta made with white and dark chocolate from Island Chocolates, served with an almond lace cookie.
Matos Vineyard wine pairing.
After sampling the appetizers, it was off to the venue of choice for the sit-down dinner. I dined at the Orient Hotel. The Hotel does not operate a restaurant but does open a tea room in the summer months. In fact, the Orient Hotel had closed its tearoom doors for the season and re-opened especially for this event. Just look how elegantly this cozy dining room was dressed!
Throughout the evening, Bob circulated amongst the venues, chatting with patrons, and signing copies of his cookbook. He says he hasn’t been on the Island since a memorable bike trip in his teens so he jumped at the opportunity to come back. Says Bob, “During my too-short stay, I fell in love with Victoria-by-the-Sea, and with all of the incredible/eccentric/gregarious people who live there. Dinner was a real community effort (with some imported talent from Charlottetown) – and the community really rocked it.” Asked what the most memorable thing is that he will take away from his Island experience, Bob tells me, “the camaraderie, the lobster and, of course, the incredible beauty of the land.” Great endorsement, Bob!
Pam Beck says organizers aimed for a reasonably-priced event ($85/pp) for sampling four appetizers, drinks, a four-course sit-down dinner, and wine. The event was sold out – all 150 tickets — and Pam says it was about 50/50 split between Islanders and tourists.
This was a very enjoyable evening and it really makes me appreciate the wonderful foods we produce right here on PEI. I asked Richard LaGrange what, from the perspective of a host restaurant, he thought made the event so successful – it was, after all, a huge undertaking to carry out this kind of event using eight small venues, none of which have large kitchens. Richard says, in his view, the event’s success was due to the team effort that went into it, the entire community coming together, and the attitude and professionalism shown by members of the Culinary Institute of Canada. Richard says the most memorable aspect of the “Savour Victoria” experience for him was watching the chefs and the other food staff working together so seamlessly and guiding the rest toward a common goal.
I think this event may be a catalyst for Victoria to consider hosting similar events in the future. They proved they can do it! Richard LaGrange sums it up best when he says: I would hope that the Islanders who attended and who hadn’t been to our village for a while will have been reminded of all the reasons people flock to Victoria, and that those who were visiting us for the first time had their appetites whetted and will be back for seconds.” Hmmmm, “seconds” are good – yes, I’ll have another one of those yummy, savory lobster cupcakes, please!
Tucked away in the tidy little rural community of New London, PEI, on the Island’s north side, a new culinary adventure awaits you. Housed in the former, and now decommissioned, New London United Church which has been repurposed and transformed, Annie’s Table Culinary Studio offers unique, hands-on cooking classes for all culinary skill levels.
On Saturday, June 30, 2012, I was privileged to be invited to attend the official opening of Annie’s Table Culinary Studio. Guests were treated to a wonderful afternoon hosted by owner, Annie Leroux. Guests sipped Island-produced wines from Matos Winery of St. Catherine’s, Rossignol Estate Winery, Little Sands, and from Newman Estate Winery, of Murray Harbour, PEI, as well as the Island’s newest produced beer, Beach Chair Lager or, for the teetotalers, a refreshing Ginger Cordial.
Located right beside the beverage bar was a huge tub of fresh PEI Oysters that were being shucked, ready for guests to savour. Throughout the afternoon, we sampled delightful offerings from Chef Norman and his staff that included such savories as mushroom-stuffed and seafood spring rolls, tasty bite-sized meat pies, and divine mussel-stuffed mushroom caps.
Following the brief speeches, Annie arranged for a culinary challenge – men against women – seated at the 12’ culinary table. The names of six men and six women were randomly drawn and yours truly ended up in the challenge! We started off with some short snappers of culinary trivia and then down to the business at hand. As each competitor completed his/her food challenge, s/he had to dash to the head of the table to ring the bell. My challenge was to chow down three huge, bacon-wrapped scallops which I did not do so well on! Others had such challenges as declawing and eating two lobster claws, peeling a turnip, drinking Beach Chair lager or wine through a straw, making a kebob, making a salsa, and you get the idea! While we women might hate to admit it, the men did win the challenge as first over the finish line!
Many small rural Island churches have been demolished over recent years and it is so nice to see one that has been preserved and repurposed. Annie has done a great job at maintaining the façade of the church, built in 1953, and incorporating several elements of the church’s interior into the architectural design for her studio. For example, the pulpit makes a wonderful focal piece for the loft seating area that overlooks the huge harvest table in the center of the building.
A tasteful selection of carefully gathered and preserved antiques lend themselves well to the ambiance of the studio. The small tower of the church has been preserved and is reachable via a circular staircase.
On the main level, you will find a 12’ table that has been crafted from old attic boards from the house which Annie recently restored in New London also. At the rear of the church, is the kitchen where students attending the classes can learn various cooking techniques.
I asked Annie where the idea came from for Annie’s Table Culinary Studio. She tells me it is a combination of her passions – she likes to interact and socialize with people, she has a love of the Island and local foods, and has a passion for collecting antiques. Annie says “I wanted to create a beautiful venue for people to come and experience Island foods - not to just sit in a restaurant and enjoy lobster, etc., but learn all about them (huge educational component here) and then learn different methods of preparing them in a fun, social atmosphere and then be able to sit and enjoy what they have been taught.” Annie’s hope is that people will leave the table and say “I had a ball and I met some new friends and I learned lots about the Island and, wow, would I love to live here….” ”That to me would say that I’ve offered them hospitality, knowledge, and a desire for more of the same”, says Annie. As to why she chose the New London location, Annie says it has access to so many locally-produced or available foods nearby – oysters, mussels, lobster, and the list goes on, it’s the perfect location for her business.
While Annie’s is not a restaurant, students who register and attend one of her cooking classes do get to sit together at the big harvest table at the end of the class to enjoy their cooking creations. Classes are available on a number of subject areas and are by reservation only. Classes are small and intimate, generally restricted to 15 students although some events, such as the Oyster Extravaganza, can accommodate up to 40 people who want to learn how to shuck oysters. While I am going to direct you to Annie’s website for a full listing of her 2012 classes, you can expect to find classes that focus heavily on traditional Island foods such as clams, oysters, mussels, lobster, artisan bread, and apple pie. With a professional sommelier on her team, look for class offerings on wine tasting. From time to time, classes will be offered on specialized cooking such as Thai and Latino culinary delights. Annie is supported by Chef Norman, a talented Red Seal Chef who brims with personality and culinary knowledge. From time to time, look for special guests leading culinary workshops at Annie’s.
Of particular interest to “Anne of Green Gables” fans is the “Food Trip Down Memory Lane” class that recreates a meal similar to what would have likely been found on Lucy Maud Montgomery’s table in the late 1800s or early 1900s. Included in this class is a tour of the nearby home where the famed author of the Anne of Green Gables series of books was born. Also included is a private viewing of Annie’s own home across the street from the Birthplace of L. M. Montgomery which was the home of the mid-wife who delivered Lucy Maud. So, if you are a Lucy Maud Montgomery fan, this day-long (10am – 3pm) class is for you. Price for the day is $139./person.
Classes in the Culinary Studio or other food events offered by the Studio range from 1.5 – 5 hours in length and are priced between $20. and $139. Some are offered during the day while other classes are scheduled for evenings. Annie’s Table Culinary Studio operates seasonally from June to October so, whether you are a local Islander or a tourist, this is a unique culinary experience. Gather together a family group, co-workers, or friends who like to cook and head out to beautiful New London, PEI, for a fun and learning vacation experience.
You can find Annie’s Table Culinary Studio in picturesque New London, PEI, at 4295 Graham’s Road on Route 8 (902-886-2070) – just look for the little white church!