Wine & Matzo Balls

22701_ 274 Those who know the best Canadian wines, know that when Osoyoos Larose has a new release, we simply have to taste it. Nourished in high altitude sunshine and rain, these are some of the most voluptuous wines coming out of the Okanagan Valley.

Recently Osoyoos Larose announced a wine pairing at popular Toronto restaurant, Nota Bene. The menu reflected the versatility and imagination of Chef David Lee. While crispy duck with cashews and papaya slaw tempted me; on a cold winter’s night, nothing warms the soul better than matzo ball soup. I have to admit, I was surprised to see it on the menu, but all the more reason why I had to order it.

NotaBeneMatzohBall My Dad liked matzo balls to be hard. My Mom likes them fluffy. I’m somewhere in the middle. I like them to have some integrity. This was a richly flavoured chicken broth with shaved perigord truffles and parmigiano–not typical, but very tasty–and the matzo balls were perfect. But pairing it with red wine…? Could it work? A debate ensued.

Pétales d’Osoyoos 2009 is a velvety blend of Merlot, Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Malbec and Petite Verdot. It totally envelopes my palate with soft chewy tannins, dark cocoa, raspberry and deep violets. Silky and well structured, it lingers with elegance. What makes it work with the soup is the earthiness of the truffles and the subtle salty tang of the parmigiano.

NotaBenenoodle Staying within the earthy comfort food theme I follow with cavatelli pasta–al dente nubbins of pasta enlivened in a woodland mushroom Bolognese with shaved perigord truffles. Le Grand Vin 2009 is a well rounded, fruit-forward Bordeaux style wine with notes of dark chocolate, caramel, ripe berries and a touch of licorice, layered and textured with inky, chewy tannins. Again, the earthiness of the dish pairs well for me. Of course, the obvious match for this bold wine would be a juicy strip-loin, or even the sea bass or Cornish hen, but I preferred the warm comfort of pasta. The point is, this is indeed a versatile wine that can be enjoyed on its own or with a variety of bold flavours.

The new man behind the wine, harmonizing Old World wisdom and New World terroir, NB1 is Mathieu Mercier from Cognac, France. At Osoyoos Larose Mercier nurtures these two wines of high fruit concentration, complexity, and tannin structure. La Grand Vin undergoes longer extraction and aging for its long-term potential, while Pétales d’Osoyoos has shorter extraction and aging for lighter tannin structure, and is ready to drink now. Both are available at the LCBO, and both pair well with matzo balls.

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