A Nuanced Take On The Amarone Style At Massimago

The delightful Camilla Rossi Chauvenet, the skilled Winemaker behind the wines at Verona's Massimago.

The delightful Camilla Rossi Chauvenet, the skilled Winemaker behind the wines at Verona’s Massimago.

The wines of Massimago were certainly amongst my favourites at this year’s Anteprima Amarone. There was something so delicate and nuanced about their wines that appealed so much to my palate. They also had a beautiful vibrancy that in my experience is relatively rare to find in the wines of the region. It would be fair to say that I found these delightful wines utterly fascinating, as I was thinking about them for days after my first tasting, and they really changed my opinion of just what an Amarone could be.

At the Anteprima Amarone grand tasting we managed to whisk Winemaker Camilla Rossi Chauvenet away from her busy tasting table to speak about her Massimago wines and what makes them the way that they are.

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Jamie DrummondEdinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And those wines were most impressive. Sorry about the background noise… comes with the territory.

In Conversation With The One And Only Martin Malivoire

A true Beamsville Bench visionary, the one and only Martin Malivoire.

A true Beamsville Bench visionary, the one and only Martin Malivoire, pictured here beside his new concrete tanks (and wearing a pretty sweet flying jacket).

I still remember meeting Niagara Vigneron Martin Malivoire for the very first time at Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar when working there as Wine Director. I vividly recall his very particular swagger and the way that he coupled this with a passionate, almost zealot-like belief in his winery’s wines.

I’ll admit that it did throw me a little at the time, and if the truth be told I was actually a little intimidated by this undoubtedly interesting character. Saying all that, through getting to know him much better over the years, I have come to have the utmost respect for the man, his palate, and all he does at his winery.

His steadfast zero-compromise pursuit of making the best wines possible from his Niagara vineyards is something to be much admired. And once you get to know him properly, he’s also got quite the sense of humour.

With this in mind, it was a real thrill to taste through all of Malivoire’s new bottlings alongside Martin and Winemaker Shiraz Mottiar, and then pin him down for a video interview at his vineyard home on the Beamsville Bench. And what a delight it was…

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Jamie DrummondEdinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And that was an incredibly windy day. You can actually hear the wind buffeting Martin’s home throughout the video.

Don’t Try This : G.Spirits Rum, Vodka, and Whisky

Yes. This really is a thing. Spirits that are allegedly poured over the chest of a supposed glamour model. That's the premise of G.Spirits. Jeez.

Yes. This really is a thing. Spirits that are allegedly poured over the chest of a supposed glamour model. That’s the premise of G.Spirits. Jeez. I had to check in case it was April the 1st.


G.Spirits G.Rum #1/G.Vodka #1/G.Whisky #1, bottled in Germany $357/$330/$385 (order online)

Just when I thought I had heard and seen it all, a friend pointed me in the direction of G.Spirits. And… well… as they say, there seriously is a sucker born every minute.

“G.Spirits stands for excellent taste, gorgeous women, intricate design and a quality experience. By exemplifying these things, we believe that any bon vivante will appreciate and love our great liquors.
Every drop of G.Spirits has been poured over the breasts of a Top Model and is then directly bottled into a specific and personalized glass bottle.”

Let’s just let that sink in shall we… think about it for a second…

What is wrong with people? Seriously.

Have you ever heard of anything so pathetic? What kind of utter idiot would ever buy something like this? Talk about the last days of bloody Rome.

Now I haven’t tasted the stuff, but it’s the whole rancid idea that I take issue with. And whilst some may say that it’s just a bit of harmless fun, there’s something here that I find particularly offensive. And remember, these are going to make for some seriously pricey joke gifts.

I mean, where do you go from here? I wonder if they are going to branch into a line for the ladies or men who like men, with spirits poured down the hairy arse crack of a Ryan Gosling/Tom Hardy/Tom Hiddleston lookalike?

Watching the painful “Making of…” video, I find myself moved to violence, such is the passion with which I feel to connect my fists with the smug faces of the two “brains” behind this (thankfully) unique concept. Their inane grins as they speak with pride about their products and the process involved…

I wonder how much of this rubbish they have actually sold. Perhaps it’s just some ill-conceived prankster’s art project?

Zero apples out of a possible five apples for being one of the most tasteless marketing concepts I have ever encountered.


Jamie DrummondEdinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And he is, for once, lost for words. Almost.

An Instant Noodles 101 With Mandom Hui AKA “You’ve Been Doing It All Wrong”

There's a dizzying array of instant noodles available out there, as a trip to any Chinatown supermarket noodle section will prove. It's all a matter of finding out which brand and flavour works best for you.

There’s a dizzying array of instant noodles available out there, as a trip to any Chinatown supermarket noodle section will prove. It’s all a matter of finding out which brand and flavour works best for you.

After heartily recommending some inexpensive instant noodles (Ibumie Penang White Curry Mee -Peris Kari Putih) a few weeks back, I was contacted by my Facebook friend Mandom Hui who suggested that we cook some noodles together.

Never one to turn down a new culinary adventure, we arranged a date for him to swing by my place and give me a 101 in instant noodle preparation, and oh my goodness, I was to discover that I had been doing it seriously wrong for all these years.

I find these kind of eye-opening experiences most enjoyable, and don’t in any way mind showing my ignorance about any subject matter when under the tutelage of someone who obviously knows their stuff. My afternoon with Mandom cooking instant noodles was one of those wonderful moments.

Up until this moment I had been making instant noodles in the laziest way possible. You know, the way that most people do it: Boil water, add noodles and sachet(s) of stuff and then serve. I’ve only once taken a foray into tarting my instant noodles up, but for the most part that’s exactly how I do it.

So here’s what I learned after an afternoon preparing instant noodles with Mandom:

1: There are so many different brands and varieties of instant noodles on the market. As they are so inexpensive it is easy to experiment and find the ones that you enjoy the most.

2: Although in Canada we tend to think of instant noodles as junk food, in Hong Kong they are seen as more like Kraft Dinner, and when augmented make up an entire meal.

3: Not all noodle bowls are born alike, and the better ones have a raised bottom allowing one to pick up and hold even when full of hot soup.

4: It’s a good idea to purchase some flank steak, cut into thin slices against the grain (they need to be thin enough to cook in the hot broth just before you pour over the cold noodles), and then put in a zip-loc bag with some light and dark soy sauce, a pinch of sugar, and finally some sesame oil. These strips will keep refrigerated for a week or so, and can also be quickly fried up for a quick and tasty snack. The same can be done with pork tenderloin.

5: Preserved vegetables are your friends. Cheap and with a long shelf life even after opening, preserved turnip and cabbage are really quite delightful. Just be sure to give them a good rinse first as they can be seriously salty.

6: Another cheap addition to your instant noodles can be dried seaweed. Just remember that a little goes a long way, so be careful unless you want your entire dish to taste of seaweed.

7: THE GOLDEN RULE – Always cook your noodles in a separate pot from your broth. It’s one extra step and you dirty one extra pot, but it makes a world of difference to the eventual outcome. If you actually go to the trouble of reading the instructions on the side of the packets most of them ask you to do this, and to rinse the cooked noodles in cold water once they are done. If you use the same water you cooked the noodles in you’ll find yourself with a murky, sullen, dull broth. If you cook the noodles and rinse them you’ll find your broth to be brighter, more flavoursome and aromatic, and your noodles with have quite a bit of a spring to them after their cold water bath.

8: Use your bowl to calculate the amount of water required for your pot of broth.

9: As you heat up the water for the broth feel free to add some greens, scallions, pickled vegetables, seaweed, and/or enoki mushrooms to add to the flavour of the soup. Chinese broccoli is particularly good for adding a lot of punch to the eventual broth. Add the beef/pork just before you pour the broth over the noodles and paste (see #9).

10: Place the contents of your flavour sachet(s) in the bottom of your serving bowl and add a few tablespoons of your hot broth liquid. Stir to “melt” and turn into a paste.

11: Many of these flavour sachets contain a shedload of salt, so if this really concerns you feel free to use half a sachet.

12: All of the flavour sachets also contain a shedload of MSG. The trick is not to allow the MSG to boil, hence “melting” the sachet contents in this manner is a good thing. Many believe that heating MSG brings about those compounds that cause adverse reactions in some (headaches, difficulty sleeping etc.)

14: Once you have “melted” the sachets’ contents, place the cold cooked noodles on top of the paste. Now pour over the hot broth pot’s contents (greens, vegetables, seaweed, beef, mushrooms and all) to reheat the noodles. Stir and serve.

15: Give yourself a pat on the back for gussying up your instant noodles for the first time.

16: Mr. Noodles are utter rubbish. Don’t be cheap and spend that extra 40 cents on some decent instant noodles. My favourite would be the well-known Nissin brand.

17: Don’t read the ingredients list. Don’t ever read the ingredients. Ever.

18: It’s not unknown for Hong Kong families to have drawers completely stacked with loads of different types of instant noodles. I’ve been stockpiling them myself. And they last forever… probably something to do with those rather questionable ingredients.

19: Pretty much anything that is left in the fridge is fair game.

20: Fried cubed spam is a particular favourite addition. Great Wall brand being the best to track down as it’s quite a bit fattier.

Preserved turnip and cabbage. A tasty, inexpensive, and long lasting addition to your instant noodles. I'd recommend rinsing them for a bit before adding them though as they can be pretty damn salty.

Preserved turnip and cabbage. A tasty, inexpensive, and long lasting addition to your instant noodles. I’d recommend rinsing them for a bit before adding them though as they can be pretty damn salty.

Another nice touch is crumbling up a small piece of this inexpensive dried seaweed, although be aware that even a little goes a long way.

Another nice touch is crumbling up a small piece of this inexpensive dried seaweed, although be aware that even a little goes a long way.

If you are looking for a meat component, there are few meatier additions than some thinly sliced flank steak. On the right you can see some sliced and marinated in light and dark soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil. Add the sesame oil last as otherwise it will coat the meat and prevent the other ingredients from penetrating the meat. Keeps for around a week in the fridge, and is very handy for a quick midnight snack.

If you are looking for a meat component, there are few meatier additions than some thinly sliced flank steak. On the right you can see some sliced and marinated in light and dark soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil. Add the sesame oil last as otherwise it will coat the meat and prevent the other ingredients from penetrating the meat. Keeps for around a week in the fridge, and is very handy for a quick midnight snack.

Slicing the flank steak against the grain into thin slices that will cook quickly in the broth.

Slicing the flank steak against the grain into thin slices that will cook quickly in the broth.

A Tale Of Two Broths : On the left the murky broth that comes from using the same water that the noodles are cooked in. On the right we have taken that extra step with the noodles and used an extra pot of water to make the broth.

A Tale Of Two Broths : On the left the murky broth that comes from using the same water that the noodles are cooked in. On the right we have taken that extra step with the noodles and used an extra pot of water to make the broth.

"Melting" the flavouring sachets and taking the greens and mushrooms from the broth pot.

“Melting” the flavouring sachets and taking the greens and mushrooms from the broth pot.

The end result : certainly a few notches above the usual bland instant noodles I have been known to make previously.

The end result : certainly a few notches above the usual bland instant noodles I have been known to make previously.


Jamie DrummondEdinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And he’ll never look at instant noodles in the same way again.

Try This : A Gorgeously Nutty (And Affordable) Sherry

Gonzalez Byass “Nutty Solera” Sherry, Jerez, Spain (Alcohol 20%) LCBO Vintages $16.95

Although it’s oft been uttered that the only people who actually purchase and consume sherry are nerdy Sommelier-types and grannies, I’d like to draw your attention to this terrific value medium-sweet (72 g/l) offering from the historied Jerez house of González Byass. I’d go as far as saying that is possibly the best value wine (albeit fortified) on the LCBO shelves right now, and with its new packaging it’s looking rather slick too.

Coming from the first press of the Palomino grapes, the bulk of the must is fermented to 11% alcohol before being fortified to 20%, then it is aged in an Oloroso solera and allowed to fully oxidise, giving the sherry a very particular aromatic profile. The Pedro Ximenez grape is pressed separately in a fashion very similar to that used for olive oil production. It is fermented to 7%  and then fortified to 15% before being placed into the PX solera. Both parcels are then aged for around four years before blending. After this assemblage, the sherry is added to the “Nutty Solera” where it develops the distinctive nutty aromatics found in this bottling.

I sat down with a chilled bottle of this, a couple of hard cheeses, and a three hour long documentary. And it turned out to be the perfect pairing.

The nose is all about toasted nuts, mocha, caramel, clove and allspice. The palate, while decidedly sweeter than any Fino or Manzanilla, is nicely balanced by the acidity, making it the ideal sipping sherry. It’s not overly complex, but at this price point there’s more than enough going on to keep you occupied. It will also, once opened, keep for a couple of weeks in your fridge. So no need to finish it all in one sitting.
4 apples out of 5
(Four apples out of a possible five)


Jamie DrummondEdinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And he can get a little carried away with a bottle like this… as in, I almost finished a bottle in one sitting. It was good documentary.

Young Blood Sommelier : Jen Bolton

Jen Bolton, the charming lady behind the wines at Toronto's Oyster Boy.

Jen Bolton, the charming lady behind the wines at Toronto’s Oyster Boy.

In the fourth of an fourteenth (and wildly popular) series, we interview some of the most talented up-and-coming Sommeliers in Ontario (and occasionally from further afield). A few years back I was flicking through the pages of a locally published periodical and noticed that when it came to Sommeliers it was the same names that seemed to pop up over and over again. I was also becoming gradually cognisant of the fact that we more established wine folks were well and truly “losing our edge” to these young blood Sommeliers. Being well aware of the depth of new talent that was out there I finally decided to get together with a couple of fellow Toronto Sommelier “Old Guard” (Anton Potvin and Peter Boyd) to assemble a line of questioning that would give us an entertaining insight into the minds of these rising stars.

This month we have a chat with Jennifer Bolton, the lady behind the wine selections at Toronto’s top Oyster destination, Oyster Boy.


Good Food Revolution: So Jen, what is it that you are doing these days? (Your position, and what that role entails)

Jen Bolton: Right now I guess I’m considered the Front of House manager at Oyster Boy. I have the distinguished role of scheduling employees, ordering product, and keeping the peace

GFR: And what kind of experience and training did you have before doing what you do today?

JB: I’ve worked in the service industry my entire life, starting with Swiss Chalet when I was 18. I’ve been a hostess, bartender, server, manager, manager trainer, I run food, I bus tables, I’ve subbed in for the dishwasher; everything but cook your food.

GFR: How would you describe your role at Oyster Boy?

JB: Oyster Boy is a balancing act of personalities; Back-of-House, Front-of-House, owners, and guests.  I think of us as a little family. We take good care of each other. I would definitely be considered the mom. For one, I’m the oldest and have been there the longest, but I’m also a nurturer of sorts. 

GFR: You have worked in a number different types of places… how does Oyster Boy  compare?

JB: We are all so tight at OB.  There is no division between Front-of-House and Back-of-House. We all just work together to help each other out. The staff have all been there for years because no one wants to leave because of the relationships we’ve built. Guests comment all that we all work so well together and that they can feel the love. And the guests are beyond amazing! I think 80%-90% must be regulars or return clientele. It really proves that we’re doing something right.

GFR: How open do you find the clientele to trying new things when it comes to wines? Is there a specific style of wine that the demographic crave? And just what is that demographic?

JB: Oysters are obviously the showpiece at OB and people often step outside their comfort zones by experimenting with new varieties or taking our recommendations. I think they use up all their sense of adventure on the oysters and when it comes to wine, they want something they know and trust. We have a very hard time selling anything remotely esoteric. 

GFR: I’m aware that there does seem to be a lot of love for New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc at Oyster Boy? What’s the story there?

JB: Oh my goodness, the Astrolabe has been a cult favourite for years. So much so that when we attempted to list another Sauvignon Blanc from a neighbouring region there was an uproar! It wasn’t worth the grief we encountered so we switched it back on the next list. Who knew people would be so passionate about a producer?

GFR: Yes, I have to admit, that Sauvignon Blanc thing is a bit of a mystery to me!

Now, how do I word this? Have you drunk the “Natural Wine Kool Aid”? I’m just kidding, how do you feel about the scene?

JB: I have tried many ‘natural’ wines but I think there must be something about those pesticides that I prefer. 

Jen Bolton, the charming lady behind the wines at Toronto's Oyster Boy.

Jen Bolton, the charming lady behind the wines at Toronto’s Oyster Boy.

GFR: With Oyster Boy obviously being an oyster place, how much of your sales end up being white wines?

JB: White wines comprise the majority of our beverage sales. It’s such an obvious pairing but you still have those die-hard red drinkers.  Red wine sales also jump as soon as the weather cools. 

GFR: And are there many customers who insist on reds? I know that the proprietor enjoys red wine with everything?

JB: Ha!  Yes, we offered Malbec on our list once and it was the best selling red ever. I definitely wouldn’t consider it an ideal pairing with oysters, but who am I to judge. Typically we offer light-bodied reds like pinot noir and Beaujolais but the odd customer requests a big, in-your-face, jammy red and I’m grateful for Adam’s wine on the shelf because I have an option for them!

GFR: What makes for a good agent/supplier in your mind?

JB: My favourite suppliers seem to know what I need. They also don’t harass me! They reach out when they know something I might like surfaces. I appreciate their time because they’re not wasting mine. 

 GFR: And what makes for a bad agent?

JB: I hate when one of our wines is running low and there’s no communication. My agents always seem to have a good substitute in these cases, which I appreciate.

GFR: How do you feel about Canadian wines? Any current favourites?

JB: I love to support Canadian wineries but struggle sometimes with the reds. That’s why I’m happy to say right now I’m loving the Pinot Noir by Pearl Morrissette. It is quite honestly my favourite Canadian Pinot ever.

GFR: And how do the Oyster Boy clientele find Canadian wines?

JB: Our clientele are quite open to Canadian wines. I guess it doesn’t hurt that our décor screams Canadiana and we support mostly Canadian fisheries. There’s a local vibe happening for sure. I find the biggest help is when the wine rep comes in and educates the staff. The servers seem to have a better understanding of the product and a greater appreciation for it, and they’re more comfortable recommending it.

GFR: What do we do well in Ontario, in your mind, and for your palate?

JB: Sparkling wines for sure! There are so many beautiful options from so many wineries I can’t imagine why someone would drink a cheap, import bubbly when they could have a superior local product. 

GFR: And what do you feel we should give up on?

JB: I hate to say it, but Cab Franc. I just find the ones I’ve tried to be too jammy for my taste. 

GFR: I guess I know what you mean… there are quite a few from Ontario that I find to be really over-worked and extracted.

Just as there is from everywhere in the world, there is quite a lot of dreadful wine coming from Ontario also. How do you feel about the issue of people simply promoting something because of it being local, and not because of its quality?

JB: That’s a dangerous slope.  Just promote the best and your integrity will never be called into question. People constantly tell me that last time they were in I took good care of them and they loved my recommendations. I’m also a really crappy liar so I might as well just be honest. 

Jen Bolton, the charming lady behind the wines at Toronto's Oyster Boy.

Jen Bolton, the charming lady behind the wines at Toronto’s Oyster Boy.

GFR: How aware of wine were you whilst growing up? Were you around wine from an early age?

JB: My parents don’t drink very much and supposedly don’t appreciate fine wine. Although my dad always wants to drink what us kids bring at family dinners because he knows it’s likely delicious. My brother in law used to work in fine dining and always joked that I skipped the basic drinking steps and went straight to good red wine. 

GFR: Can you remember your first taste of wine?

JB: Unfortunately, no.  I do remember my first taste of Durango coolers though. 

GFR: I don’t actually know what those are!

When do you feel children should be introduced to the wonderful world of wine?

JB: We have to teach kids to respect alcohol and we want them to appreciate fine things so it shouldn’t be made to be a big deal if they want a taste of something when they’re growing up. I don’t think there’s a right age, but when my teenagers ask for a sip of what I’m drinking, I always let them try. Most times they scrunch up their faces in disgust anyway.

GFR: When did you first decide that you were kind of into wines, and choose wines for the list at Oyster Boy?

JB: I realized I was into wine after my trip to Europe when I was a teenager. I took my wine courses with the International Sommelier Guild and enjoy the wine education and culture. The wine buying job at OB started organically because I was interested, but I also had input into what the guests were asking for and what wasn’t selling. 

GFR: So who or what gave you your first insight into the world of wine?

JB: Honestly, I’d say my brother in law. Although he’s an Amarone drinker and I like a Pinot… it’s good for family dinners though. We bring the wines we like and don’t drink each others. 

GFR: Which wine regions have you had the opportunity to visit?

JB: Ontario and Sonoma are the only ones I’ve explored to great length. It’s top of my bucket list to spend time indulging in every region though!

GFR: Have you ever made your own wine?

JB: No.  I figure I can buy a decent wine for under $20 so I’m satisfied leaving it in the hands of the professionals. I’ve made my own Lemoncella, beer, Baileys, ginger beer, shrubs and syrups, and now I’m into kombucha so I’d never say never though.

GFR: And where would you like to make wine (in a pipe dream)?

JB: In Burgundy, for sure

GFR: So do you prefer to manage people or bottles and why?

JB: Well, bottles don’t have emotions so they’re easy to manage, but the answer is definitely people. I love my crew at OB so much and I know they love me back. You don’t get that from a Cab. 

GFR: What have been your career highs and lows?

JB: It was very cool to win ‘Server of the Year’ in the 2015 Now Magazine Reader’s Poll. 

A low would be when I was bartending in my early 20s. It was a lot of fun but could probably be considered wasted years. When you’re running late for work and it’s 2pm, that’s a problem. And stumbling out of booze cans into the sunshine in your work clothes every weekend. Not a crowning moment.

GFR: In your mind, who does a great job when it comes to Wine Agents?

JB: I love Maya from the Vine and Leslie from Rogers & Co.  Both amazing ladies and excellent at their jobs. 

GFR: Do you have nightmares about working with wines? I do… regularly… and it usually involves being unable to find bottles in a cellar… and the clock is ticking away And I haven’t been in the role for over seven years.!!!

JB: No, never. I sleep like a baby.  I have a clear conscience. Ha!

GFR: Sommelier/Wine Purchasers famously have their Sundays off… What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?

JB: Oh, I’d love a sleep in; then a coffee and a crossword; then putter around in the garden and kitchen the rest of the day. Make a big meal and sit down to eat with my family

GFR: Where are your favourite places to dine and drink.. perhaps tell us a hidden treasure of our city?

JB:  I have always loved Union on Ossington, even though it’s not a hidden gem. It’s so cozy and has delicious food, great wine and service  Another place I love is Roux, in the Junction. The steak frites jus and the collard greens. OMG, to die for. 

Jen Bolton, the charming lady behind the wines at Toronto's Oyster Boy.

Jen Bolton, the charming lady behind the wines at Toronto’s Oyster Boy.

GFR: Do you cook yourself? What’s your favourite dish to cook these days?

JB: I love to cook but I’m always in charge of veg because my husband takes care of the meat. There are only so many ways to roast vegetables. Right now my favourite recipe is a marinated flank steak. Oh, I also made a deep dish pizza in the cast iron skillet the other day that took pizza to the next level in our house. 

GFR: And have you had any cooking disasters recently?

JB:  If I’m cooking the meat there’s always the chance there’ll be a disaster but I think I have it mostly under control.  I have two active teenage boys that need to consume calories on a massive scale, so even if the meal is not so great they’ll eat it anyway. 

GFR: Do you feel that there is a good Sommelier/Wine Purchaser community in Toronto?

JB: Yes, from my experience I’d say it’s a strong community

GFR: Do you hang about with other wine business folks?

JB: No.  Not that I wouldn’t but most of my close friends aren’t in the industry

GFR: How do you feel about Toronto as a wine and cocktail city? Where do you go if you need to get your wine or cocktail on?

JB: Toronto has an amazing variety of wines and cocktails. We’re so fortunate to have so many cultural influences and inspired mixologists and sommeliers leading the scene. When I want a great wine I head to Bricco. Eric, the owner is a great person and a fantastic sommelier.

GFR: What would you be doing if you were not doing what you are doing today?

JB:  I would be living on a farm, growing my own food and hanging out with my chickens. Not too far from the city though. I couldn’t live without rotis, and pho, and tacos, and ramen, and…

GFR: What are your thoughts on music in restaurants?

JB: I like music as long as it’s not too loud. We always have good music at OB, thanks to Steph who curates our playlists. People are always complimenting her choices. Don’t tell her, but sometimes when she’s not working I put on a really cheesy playlist. One time there was a whole restaurant sing-a-long to Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing.  That was the best.

Jen Bolton, the charming lady behind the wines at Toronto's Oyster Boy.

Jen Bolton, the charming lady behind the wines at Toronto’s Oyster Boy.

GFR: Do you have a favourite food/wine related scene in a film/movie or show?

JB: Nope. Don’t get to watch movies unless its an action/adventure. So is the life with teen boys.

GFR: I can imagine!

I know that you have non-industry friends… how do they feel about what you do for a living?

JB: I think they’re in awe a bit.  The industry seems like it’s a constant party and I think they wonder how I can still run around for 12hrs and keep the hours I keep (because I’m old). Mostly a pain in the arse to them because we need to book everything two months in advance so I can book a weekend night off.

GFR: What are your thoughts on blind tasting wine?

JB: Fun! As long as you’re not with one of those pretentious arseholes you were referencing earlier. No one likes a know-it-all.

GFR: Are you a better blind taster with or without a bad hangover? I’m definitely the former…

JB: Oh God, I cannot look at a drink if I’m hung over. Unless it’s a chocolate milkshake, of course

GFR: What’s your current favourite wine region?

JB: Right now I’m favouring Tuscany, Italy. Only because I’m loving a 2014 Rosso di Montalcino that is fresh and delicious.

GFR: In your mind, as an Sommelier/Wine Purchaser, what is “hot” in the world of wine right now? And why?

JB: In my life, apparently it’s still Astrolabe from Awatere Valley NZ.  Ha

GFR: And what’s not so hot? What has fallen out of favour? I why do you feel that is?

JB: I’m going to have to say Pinot Grigio. For years it was the go-to wine because it was easy to drink and consistent. But, I find guests requesting it less and less these days. Maybe people are getting a bit more adventurous.

GFR: When it comes to wine is there anything that you feel is overrated?

JB: I still can’t wrap my head around the fuller styles of Chardonnay. I’ve honestly tried but I can’t do it.  People still love those big buttery Californian Chards. 

GFR: What is your favourite wine pairing right now, something nice and seasonal?

JB: Lamb, grilled veggies and a nice Merlot.  Mmmmm…

GFR: Okay… three pairings with me on the spot?… this time with… Oysters!

What would you suggest to pair for them wine or beverage-wise… and why? 


Colville Bay Malpeques?

JB: Colville Bay oysters (my fave) have a firm flesh, they’re briny with a hint of sweetness on the end. I’d love to drink this with a crisp, acidic Muscadet.  It’s a classic pairing for a reason. It’s works!

West coast Kusshi?

JB: Kusshis are creamy and sweet with a hint of cucumber.  They’re small but there’s a lot to chew. This oyster needs a wine with a bit more heft so it’s not lost on the generous flavours of the Kusshi.  Actually, I might do a Hendricks martini with a fresh cucumber garnish. 

3. Eel Lake specials?

JB: Balanced salt with a hint of earthiness. I might go with a stony, minerally Sancerre.

GFR: Do you often drink beers, ciders or spirits? What do you currently enjoy?

JB: I prefer vodka and gin mostly. I had an amazing grapefruit tonic from East Imperial out of New Zealand which pairs perfectly with both spirits and now I’m hooked. I need to figure out how to get more since they haven’t cracked the Canadian market just yet. 

GFR: What is your least favourite part of your job as a Sommelier/Wine Purchaser?

JB: I feel bad that I can’t support everyone. There are so many good wines out there and only so much room on my list

GFR: What is your weapon of choice when it comes to a corkscrew?

JB: Classic restaurant grade. It’s all I’ve ever used.

GFR: And your thoughts on the Coravin system… has it changed the playing field?

JB: I think it’s a genius advancement in technology and has hopefully improved the lives of all those hard working agents schlepping around the city

GFR: Speaking of which, where do you stand on the screwcap vs. cork debate? And how do your customers feel about that?

JB: I hate to say that I still think that screw caps are a bit cheap. I need to get over it. I honestly don’t think our customers even care because screw caps are so common now. We’re not a fine dining establishment and they just seem excited to be drinking and eating oysters. 

GFR: Due to us being around alcohol, many people in our industry often have quite the increased tolerance for wine/booze, or they develop issues. What is your limit and how do you keep yourself in check?

JB: I try not to drink too much anymore. I had many dumb years but now I’d hate to lose a day because I’m suffering from a hang over. Not that I don’t go nuts every once in awhile but maturing has helped me find a balance

GFR: Have you ever been “cut off”? If so, where and when was the most recent time?

JB: I haven’t been cut off but I should’ve been!  Last year I was in Dallas on Canada Day and all the mixologists had a contest to see who could make me the most Canadian cocktail. Fun that night but I was nursing that chocolate milkshake the next day. 

GFR: Speaking of which, do you have a good hangover cure?

JB: Sleep is the only true thing that works for me.

Jen Bolton, the charming lady behind the wines at Toronto's Oyster Boy.

Jen Bolton, the charming lady behind the wines at Toronto’s Oyster Boy.

GFR: How many wines do you taste in a week?

JB:  Personally or professionally?

GFR: When tasting with agents do you choose to spit or swallow?

JB: I swallow the ones I like and spit the ones I don’t.  No need to waste good wine!

GFR: What’s your “house” wine at home?

JB: I usually drink the Famille Perrin Cotes de Rhone Reserve.  It’s versatile and yummy and only $16.95 a bottle!

GFR: Most remembered glass of wine ever?

JB:  I was in Italy when I was 20 and my friend and l bought a magnum of ‘house red’ and sat down on a bridge with some new friends from the hostel and passed the bottle around and watched the sun go down over Rome.  There were no glasses to drink from but the memory is so sweet.

GFR: What is your perfect glass (or bottle) of wine at the end of a crazy day at work?

JB: I like white at work. I love the Muscadet.  So crisp and delicious. It’s almost refreshing after the marathon we run every night.

GFR: And now the cheesy question Jen… If you were a grape varietal which would you be? and why?

JB:  I’d definitely be a Sauternes; sweet like honey 😉

GFR: Thank you for taking the time Jen.


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Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution.

Peter Boyd has been a part of Toronto’s wine scene for over two decades. He has taught the Diploma level for the International Sommeliers Guild, and has been the sommelier at Scaramouche Restaurant since 1993. He also writes about wine, food and pop culture and raises show molerats for fun and profit. He’s also one of the most solid guys in the business.Trust this man. Seriously… he knows his shit and is slowly taking over this city. He just celebrated his 67th birthday!

A well-known and much respected figure on the Toronto food and wine scene for almost twenty years, Potvin has worked in many of the city’s very best establishments including Biffs, Canoe, and Eau. In 2004 Potvin opened his incarnation of the Niagara Street Café, a restaurant that has gone from strength to strength year after year, with universal critical acclaim. Anton spends much of his time traveling and tasting wine and has been ranked highly in consecutive years of the International Wine Challenge. Anton is now GM at DaiLo with Chef Nick Liu.

The Extraordinary World Of Ultra-Rare Whisky

The Dalmore makes a guest appearance in Kingsman : Secret Service, a jolly good film that understood a good whisky.

The ’62 Dalmore makes a guest appearance in Kingsman : Secret Service, a jolly good film that understood a good whisky. And a good tweed suit for that matter.

Over my 25 or so years in the booze business as both a Sommelier, purchaser, and writer I have had the opportunity to taste a plethora of extremely rare bottlings of the very best of Scottish whiskies. I am no stranger to amber thimblefuls of extravagantly-priced Caledonia-sourced distillate, and yet the current Dalmore offerings from the Constellation Collection did cause me to take a sharp intake of haughty breath.

Priced at $4,999.00 and $8,999.00 respectively, The Dalmore Constellation Casks 1 and 3 are currently on the shelves of the LCBO.

Or rather one 700ml bottle of each is.

It’s an extremely niche market… but this market exists.

It’s a thang.

Welcome to the extraordinary world of ultra-rare malt whisky.

So who on earth buys this stuff?

That is a very good question indeed.

These unusually rare Dalmores are bottles for the seriously well-heeled aficionado, the tipple trophy hunter, the canny booze-savvy investor (with their finite super-limited production, these things appreciate in value at a truly astonishing rate!), and the malt-educated bon vivant looking for a rather novel way to usher in the Chinese New Year.

Amongst the single-malt cognoscenti Dalmore has an enviable reputation for making some of the finest, most sought-after and collectible whiskies in the world. There’s a carefully scripted good reason the Dalmore 62 was name dropped with such amusing reverence in 2015’s über-violent (and immensely enjoyable) spy caper Kingsman : The Secret Service. Someone had certainly been doing their malt whisky research. Good work Dave Gibbons and Mark Millar, the creators of the graphic novel (née comic) that the film is (loosely) based upon.

The 12 point stag that adorns each bottle dates back to the heraldic emblem of Colin Mackenzie (neé Of Kintail) who according to the local rags of the time (1263 AD) saved the ascendant King Alexander The Third Of Scotland from the brutal charge of a Cervus Elaphus (read : enormous red deer) adorned with such impressively huge velvet-clad antlers.

Directly after this rumpus King Alexander granted Colin a fair bit of land up in Eilean Donan, along with the rights for using the 12 point stag as a brand logo.

Whilst this may seem like a bit of overkill, one must understand that a 12 pointer is a bit of beast and, if we are to be quite honest here, in retrospect, taking the bullet horn for good old Alex was a rather solid business decision by Colin, the enthusiastic young Highlander, as Eilean Donan is a pretty sweet spot.

Good Food Revolution's Jamie Drummond discovers that the Dalmore distillery at Eilean Donan is closed for the bank holiday.

Good Food Revolution’s Jamie Drummond discovers that the Dalmore distillery is nowhere near Eilean Donan castle, as he had previously been led to believe.

Speaking of Highlanders, the home of Dalmore sits up in Eilean Donan, and looks as romantically placed as any distillery of lore. My apologies, I was much mistaken here, and apologise for spreading “alternative facts”.

Established in 1839 by Alexander Matheson, the distillery now stands as Whyte and Mackay’s flagship brand, with one of the biggest personalities in the whisky biz, Richard Paterson in the role of Master Blender.

The castle of Eilean Donan you may recall from the original 1986 film Highlander, one of Scottish actor Sean Connery’s most mesmerising performances as the mysterious and flamboyant Egyptian/Spaniard immortal Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez. Despite passing through a number of mortal owners throughout the decades, Dalmore has retained an admirable independent spirit (pun intentional).

Dalmore is undeniably a very special distillery in a very special place overlooking the “Black Isle”, and I am very much looking forward to visiting the next time I am back home in Scotland.

In the meantime, if anyone fancies a pretty special bottle of whisky, I’d be more than happy to taste along with you… perhaps we could watch Highlander together?


Jamie DrummondEdinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And he is fascinated by each and every drop of this stuff. And he loves that film.