A new wine has wagged the Yellow Tail of the Australian wine industry to eke out its own spot in the Ontario market. Sourced from low-yielding cooler climate vineyards in New South Wales, John Casella of Casella Wines, has created premium wines that are accessible, full-flavoured and easy to enjoy: Lucky Penny.
Recently Toronto Chef Cory Vitiello created perfect pairings at Toronto restaurant The Harbord Room with which to sample Lucky Penny White and Red blends. The descriptors on the label inform of the dominant notes, with the idea being “to make it effortless for the consumer to understand what they’re getting in the bottle.” The task for Vitiello, admired for his flavour combinations, was to create easy, casual recipes to compliment them.
From the vibrant young Lucky Penny White blend of Viognier, Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay springs notes of apricot, pear and honey. Vitiello’s small-plate menu exemplified the versatility of this blend with his almond gaspacho with peeled grapes and sherry vinegar; pan-roasted halibut with warm faro salad, lima bean pesto and pickled pear; and milk and honey pudding with stewed apricots.
“What we really want to do”, shares Vitiello, “is take these basic flavours from the wine and mimick them. We don’t want to compete with them; we just want to gently back them up with our dishes.”
Lucky Penny Red blends Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot for a medley of berries, chocolate and vanilla. A salad of bitter greens with roasted walnuts, blue cheese, and warm cherry vinaigrette played off the berry notes; roasted chicken breast with pumpkin seed mole and queso fresco really brought out the chocolate; and rhubarb ginger and olive oil upside-down cake with cinnamon ice cream subtly married to the vanilla.
Versatile and accessible, these are delicious wines that are easy to pair and we can enjoy them casually. While Canada may have done away with its penny, we’ve only just begun counting our Lucky Pennys…