Dinner Out: Dinner with Award-Winning Winemaker, Patrick Cantieni

Dinner Out: Dinner with Award-Winning Winemaker, Patrick Cantieni

By Scott Campbell

If you’ve read any of my articles before, you’ll know that I usually write about amazing culinary adventures I’ve had in restaurants here in the Valley and abroad. For this article I’m going to write about something a little different – I’m going to write about a meal I was invited to at a private home. After all, when Patrick Cantieni, an award-winning wine maker, invites you to dinner at his home and you happen to know his partner, Devon Koeller, is an accomplished cook in her own right, you just know that the experience is going to be something to write about. Imagine my surprise and thrill when I arrived for dinner to discover that well-known local sommelier and wine educator, Amy Savoury, was also on the guest list. I knew we were going to be in for an evening of great food and fine wine definitely worthy of writing about.

Patrick Cantieni is the vineyard manager at Grand Pré Wines, which was a recent recipient of the Lieutenant Governor`s Award for Excellence in Nova Scotia Wines. This prestigious award demonstrates the incredible level of accomplishment enjoyed by winemakers in the Valley. Patrick is a native of Switzerland and did most of his winemaking training in Europe.

As a special treat for our dinner he presented us with two wines from Austria – specifically from the Wachau district. Wachau wines are made from Riesling and Grüner Veltliner grapes and come in three classifications; Steinfeder, Federspiel and Smaragd. The first of these, the Steinfeder, is a light wine and rarely seen outside of Austria. The remaining two classifications we had the privilege of trying at Patrick and Devon’s house. Before I get into the wines in more detail, let me tell you about the incredible meal.

Devon worked her magic in the kitchen and presented us with a Swiss specialty – Filet Im Teig. This is pork tenderloin wrapped with Seranno ham, mustard and fleisch käse (imagine a very fine ground sausage). This delicious package is then wrapped in a delicate puff pastry and roasted to a golden brown perfection. The pastry helps keep the meat moist and the added spice of the fleisch käse and the tartness of the mustard blend perfectly to create a mouth-watering main event on the dinner plate. Devon served the Filet Im Teig with fresh carrots (from her garden) roasted in olive oil, fresh thyme and parsley. Also adorning the plate were green beans (also from her garden) sautéed in garlic and lemon. The freshness of the vegetables and the brilliant seasonings were the perfect accompaniment to the Filet Im Teig and made the whole dish pop with fresh garden flavour.

Now for the wines. As I’ve mentioned, we compared two Wachau wines – a Federspeil and a Smaragd. The former was made from a Grüner Veltliner grape. It was spicy yet with a little greenery. There were notes of minerals, herbs and a little lemon. It worked nicely both with a beginning salad of fresh-from-the-garden greens, and also carried us well into the pork course. Next was the Smaragd. This was a completely different wine experience. This one was a 2009 Franz Hirtzberger, also made from a Grüner Veltliner grape, and had lots of honey taste with a good deal of viscosity. Its alcohol content was 14.5%, yet it was still surprisingly smooth and sweet. The two wines, both made from the same grape, couldn’t have been more different.

However, not to be outdone by the Europeans, we also introduced two new wines to the dinner – a 2014 Riesling from our own local Planter’s Ridge Winery and a 2014 Riesling from Vineland Estates Winery in Ontario. The latter was created from vineyards planted in 1979.On the nose the wine had a definite petrol aroma but was pretty sweet. There was a distinct sparkling sensation but this is not a sparkling wine. Amy Savoury explained to me how the sparkling sensation has to do with acidity in the wine. The Planter’s Ridge wine also showed some petrol on the nose and displayed a light colour. Amy felt that the wine had evolved a great deal with aging. Both were brilliant wines and easily held their own next to their Austrian counterparts.

What an evening. We dined *alfresco* and enjoyed a fantastic meal accompanied by some of the rarest of wines. If you have an opportunity to try some of our great local wines, or if you have a chance to try wines that we usually can’t access locally, I would encourage you make an evening of it and pair them with your favourite food and friends. Cheers.

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