A friend in Canada is getting ready to sell his home, so he invited some people over for dinner before he moved. One forgets how much bother it seems to be to cross the border, when for years it was a piece of cake. Now it can be burdensome, but that is another story. When we looked up what we could take to his home, the website we went to was not very clear and I did not want to end up loosing a good bottle of wine or two, so we went to the Duty Free Shop in anticipation of getting some wine. What a joke, in regards to the selection, so we bought a bottle of Chevas Regal to take as a gift; after all a good bottle of Scotch will never go to waste. We went out to his house and he is actually out on the way to Kingsville, which was a place I went to for years as a kid for our summer holidays, so even after all of these years, I still kind of remembered where I was going. He had a beautiful rambling ranch with an in ground pool and enclosed gazebo dining area in the back yard. His property was large and it was getting to be too much upkeep as he is retired.
He was the perfect host and he began the afternoon with a large assortment of appetizers and cheeses. Our hosts then served a salad, and then there was a pause as dinner was being made, so we continued with more of the appetizers. Dinner was being done on the grill. A huge selection of vegetables was being grilled and at the same time, some of the largest filets that I have ever seen were also being grilled. The filets must have been close to a pound a piece and when he was finished the vegetables and the meat were perfectly cooked and the six of us enjoyed the meal with relish. I was impressed with how well the filets came out considering the size of them.
Thankfully our host had gone to the Liquor Control Board store and had purchased some wines for the evening, because if he had depended on what I could have bought at the Duty Free Shop it would have been a sad story to relate. Now in Ontario, the provincial government has a virtual monopoly on the sale of all alcoholic beverages and you must go to one of their stores; when I was a kid I remember that the state of Michigan at one time was the retailer for liquor as well, but that had changed years ago. Our host had served us three different wines that afternoon that he had purchased, and he told me that his criteria for buying them was that they were red Italian wines. He did a fine job without much guidance from the LCB. The first bottle that he opened was an Antiche Terre Valpolicella Ripasso 2012 from the Veneto district. I have had many Valpolicella wines, but this wine was unique in that it was a Ripasso, the wines are re-fermented and are tannin rich from coming into contact for a second time with the skins of the grapes. This wine came from the Classico section of Valpolicella according to DOC regulations and normally has the three classic varietals of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara, but by law four other varietals can also be used and they are Rossignola, Negrara Trentina, Barbera and Sangiovese. This was a wonderful wine to start the afternoon off with. The next wine that we opened was Casa al Vento “Aria” Chianti Classico 2011 from Tuscany. Chianti is the oldest established Viticultural area and the policing of the rules have gotten stricter after some problems that are now history. This wine is made from the Sangiovese varietal, though it sometimes seen by the native names of Canaiolo or Colorino. This wine was a perfect follow up to the Valpolicella and it was very smooth and drinkable. The final wine that was opened in time for the filets was Casale dello Sparviero Chianti Classico Riserva 2010. This wine while following the regulations required for Chianti Classico, because it was a Riserva must be aged at least twenty-four months at the winery, before it can be released. Not only was the conversation and the food wonderful and a great way to spend the afternoon, I was amazed that the selection of wines that our host had picked were great and that they were even served in a crescendo style of quality and taste that I would have done myself, if I had to choose the order.
After a wonderful time at his house, plans were made for us to reciprocate dinner for everyone at a later time this year. The only false note of the day, and it had nothing to do with our hosts, the other couple or us, was getting back into the United States. The traffic at the bridge was not bad, but our luck in choosing a line was, and we encountered a self appointed martinet at customs that asked rather inane questions about friendship, and then finally allowed us back, after he ascertained that the bottle that was purchased at the Duty Free Shop was in Canada, as it was given as a gift (and I think he had a problem understanding that we would give a gift of that nature), but as I said that is another story.