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Food & Drink

Treadwell: A Father and Son Match

Many chefs and sommeliers talk of food and wine matching, but it’s always a joy to walk into a restaurant where chef and sommelier actually talk together—and then deliver outstanding matches at the table. Even better when they are a father and son with a genetically linked sense of flavour, and where the chef father has instilled passion for wine in son. It happened Sunday at Treadwell in Port Dalhousie, Niagara as James Chatto and I, along with group of 30 merrymakers, wound up our annual Tour of Niagara. Treadwell was the bon voyage lunch after a 48-hour matching extravaganza, in which we savoured and poked our way through 20 different courses and 46 wines. (There were several other great dishes and wines, some of which are covered in Chatto’s Digest this week.)

But Chef Stephen Treadwell, formerly of Vintage Inn’s Queen’s Landing, and sommelier James Treadwell, who has worked at the Chewton Glen country hotel in England, took food and wine matching to a new level. Treadwell’s “farm to table” cuisine is all about purity and intensity of fresh local products so the wines needed purity and vibrancy as well. Treadwell’s wine list is chosen for flavourful not fanciful labels, some international but anchored in Niagara’s very best, including half a dozen Ontario rarities by the glass (Norman Hardie 2005 Riesling $11/six ounces, Malivoire 2004 Courtney Block Gamay $12/6oz , 13th Street Cabernet Rose $10/6oz).

First item on the menu was a tomato and beet salad, with organic produce from Dave Perkin’s Wyndym Farm. Tomatoes, with their high acidity, are a tough wine match, and James Treadwell called it perfectly, serving 13th Street Cuvee 13 Brut ***1/2 ($26, winery), a new youthful, very fine pinot chardonnay sparkler with only 18 months bottle age (as opposed to 36 for their Premier Cuvee Brut) and thus more fruit and less leesy character. The ripe heirloom tomatoes were lower in acidity than some, yet had just enough to meet the acidity in the wine and allow its delicate cherry and earthy fruit to rise up. A seamless match.

The tandem that sent a wave of audible excitement through the restaurant was Lake Erie pickerel served in a smoked bacon cream with chanterelle mushrooms and matched to Mountain Road 2002 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay ****1/2 ($15, sold out at the winery, $11/6oz at Treadwell). This wine has received raves and medals aplenty recently, an opulent, mature golden white wallowing in butter cream, cashew, spices and dried peach flavours. It was a textural and flavour liquid mirror to the pickerel recipe. One of the great matches of the year.

The main course was Cumbrae Farms pork belly with ginger apple puree and a sweet-and-sour sauce, matched to Coyote’s Run 2004 Red Paw Pinot Noir ****, ($30, winery), a single vineyard pinot with vibrant raspberry-cherry fruit and fine acid-alcohol tension. But, against the apple ginger puree, its fruit was diminished and its acidity elevated. So I left the puree aside and tried the pinot straight up with the wonderfully tender, savoury pork—and, voila, the raspberry fruit bloomed once again. It was terrific, proving there’s is no sense trying to have two fruits dueling over one dish, a scenario often repeated nowadays as chefs add all manner of fruit compotes and salsas to their main course plates, usurping wine’s role.

But fruit on fruit can work during dessert. We ended with a plate using Niagara peaches in a variety of renderings, including ice cream, served with Daniel Lenko 2002 Select Late Harvest Vidal **** ($15.95/375ml). This gorgeous, golden dessert wine was loaded with peach and mango flavours, standing as a beacon of fruit purity to the other peach flavours that scurried around trying to find themselves on the plate. A triumphant wine at an unbelievably good price, and yet another reminder of where Niagara’s greatest strength lies.

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