Welcome to Second Ferment! Wine pairs well with life ... and food, travel, people, work and play. Grab a glass and join me as I explore the wine scene in Ottawa, Canada, and beyond. Love hearing from my readers, so please leave a comment or drop me a line. Cheers! - Bethany

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Hubby Speaks! A Taste of Alan Doyle and City Winery NYC

A few times a year, Hubby gets sent off on business somewhere in the world (while yours truly pulls Single Mom Detail ™ at home). In between never-ending meetings, chats with bigwigs and the like, he ventures out to discover something new about where he is. This is his latest adventure ...

On a recent trip to New York, I made my way over to the trendy SOHO/West Village neighbourhood to visit City Winery NYC, the only fully functioning winery in Manhattan. It also doubles as a restaurant and live music venue. That night’s featured performer was Alan Doyle, former frontman of Great Big Sea, who was touring to promote his recently released solo album So Let's Go. I figured this was as good a place as any to have a full-fledged “New York moment” complete with celebrity cameos, strangers that become part of a one-night entourage, and a bone-deep contentment brought about by great food, great wine and great music.

Thursday, May 28, 2015


May was a long month. I ain't gonna lie.

Just in case you were wondering where I've been ... Hubby was in New York for a marathon session at the UN. From the end of April until just last weekend. A month. Me and the kiddies. Single Mom Detail™ of epic proportions.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Everything But The Chard

The California Wine Show was in Ottawa on its annual tour this week. This time around, I carefully studied and plotted a route on my map, checked the map against the list in the catalogue, checked the list against the layout at the door. Because this time I had a plan and I was sticking to it.

Whites. Everything but Chardonnay. (Ok, so I tried *one* Chardonnay, but it was so lively, zesty and fun it hardly qualifies in the same league as the over-oaked cedar boxes that usually dominate the market.)

And if I had time for reds, anything but cabernet sauvignon or pinot noir.  So what else does Cali do other than the Big Three? Here's what:

Thursday, April 09, 2015

County (at the top of) the Capital

Hang on, lemme wait until the room stops spinning ...
Wait. It's still spinning. WTF?

I was driving that night, so I knew that uncomfortable sense of vertigo wasn't from the wine. It was from the room itself - the revolving Summit Room atop Ottawa's Marriott Hotel.

I'm sure in its heyday revolving rooms were the thing, but it wasn't quite my thing. One minute I was standing perfectly straight (and sober); the next, I had lurched over sideways, spilling some of my wine in the process. I looked like a drunk. Except I wasn't! Really! (Well, this time at least ...)

I pushed aside the motion sickness and took in the ever-changing vistas of city skyline, rolling hills and still-frozen Ottawa River waning into dusk. And then I turned my focus back on the wine. All better.

Savvy's annual County love-in attracted many of PEC's mainstays including The Grange of Prince Edward, Rosehall Run and Lighthall, along with newbies Trail Estate and Traynor Family Vineyard. It drew in an impressive, sold-out crowd, many of whom took advantage of the "VIT" (Very Important Taster) early access to the soirée.

Plenty of favourites to swoon over, and some new finds for the cellar:

Trail Estate 2013 Unoaked Chardonnay (13.4% abv; $25.95) - This was the Estate's first vintage, already showing tremendous promise for more great things to come. Buttery nose, whiffs of pineapple and mango that follow through on the palate. The feel, however, is quite dry, with a moderate zing of acidity and hints of Granny Smith apple on the finish.

Traynor Family Vineyard 2014 Sauvignon Blanc Gris (13% abv; $24.95 at winery) - Wine of the Night! Complex aromas of lychee, mint, cedar and fresh-cut grass. Lemon-lime on the palate, then POW! Slap of acidity right upside the head (in a good way, of course.) Must. Buy. This. Wine.

Traynor 2013 Alta Red (12.7% abv; $19.95) - Fruit-forward blend of Frontenac Gris and Marquette with a nose of cranberries, strawberry and bubble gum. Tart and tangy with gobs of cranberry coming through. Wraps up juicy-sweet without being cloying, showing off the characteristics of each varietal with panache.

Devil's Wishbone 2013 Wicked White ($18) - Riesling, chardonnay and pinot gris come together in this fragrant bouquet of delicate flowers, perfume, toasted marshmallow (!) and lemon zest. A well-balanced crowd pleaser perfect for the patio.

Devil's Wishbone 2013 Incarnate Red ($18) - Raspberries, violets and cinnamon jump out of the glass, while the palate is gripped by chalky, dusty tannins and notes of leather, green pepper and blackberry jam.

Huff Estates 2013 Riesling Medium-Dry ($18) - This has all the great charm of Riesling without the off-putting petrol (ok, so there's a little hint of it there, but not much.) Orange blossom up front, then honeyed sweetness, tangy lemon zest and complex tropical fruit dominated by pineapple. Lingering, fragrant finish.

Barley Days Royal George Brown Ale - After all that wine, my poor tongue needed a break. The Royal George fit the bill perfectly: an enticing nose of coffee, caramel and coconut with more of the same on the palate, along with a creamy, smooth texture. Not too light, not too strong, but with flavour and character that makes it far too easy to drink.

Monday, March 30, 2015

La Girolle: Une grande folie de goût!

Two years is a long time between visits. Yet somehow when my BFF and I get together, it's as though time kindly waited for us to take a break in our crazy-busy lives. And then we pick up right where we left off.

Part of this most recent mini-vacation to Québec was spent at La Girolle, a small-ish, crowded French bistro on Chemin Ste-Foy (pronounced FWAH, if you please.) The noise is deafening, the proximity to other patrons' elbows a little too close for comfort ... but the food more than makes up for it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Beckta Two Point OMG that's delicious

We'd barely settled into our seats when Steven Beckta came over to welcome us to the "new" place. "It's been a busy week," he confessed. "Dealing with heating issues and then plumbing and all that ... do you have any questions about the menu? If so, I'll be sure to redirect you to someone who knows much more about food and wine than I do ..."

Wait ... what? Steven Beckta? Not know about food?

I guess when you're busy worrying about renovations, you might not have a chance to go through the menu of the week. But I wasn't concerned. Steve has absolute trust in his staff, from front-of-house to back. And they always deliver.
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