Niagara Wine Reviews

Culinary-wine delights at 13th Street Winery

Peter Bodnar Rod, 13th Street

Peter Bodnar Rod likes to shake things up. He’s is not what you would call a conformist. Oh no, quite the opposite.

Peter Bodnar Rod, 13th Street
Peter Bodnar Rod, at 13th Street Winery. Photo courtesy of the St. Catharines Standard

Bodnar Rod, sommelier and sales-marketing manager for 13th Street Winery, has become the face of the St. Catharines winery and has quickly established a reputation for the unexpected, a perfect match for 13th Street, which has seen a lot of changes in its short history.

With the outspoken Jean-Pierre Colas now in charge of winemaking duties at 13th Street and Bodnar Rod running the extra-curricular affairs you just never know what you’re going to get. Which is definitely a very good thing.

What has truly been fascinating is the series of dinners Bodnar Rod has designed called 13 Wine and Food Experiences, where a different chef is brought in to match with wines of Bodnar Rod’s choosing.

The starter plate at 13th Street feast.
The starter plate at 13th Street feast.

The culinary-vinous adventures have matched local chefs such as Erik Peacock of Wellington Court, Tony Deluca from Deluca’s Wine Country Restaurant and Stephen Treadwell of Treadwell Farm to Table Cuisine as well as Toronto chefs including the finger lickin’ good barbecue creations of Darryl Koster and Scott MacDonald of Buster Rhino’s (a meal that was served on paper plates), chef Oscar Turchi, a native of Piedmont and owner of Savoia Catering and an upcoming French dinner featuring chef Jean Pierre Challet, owner of Buchon restaurant in Toronto.

Bodnar Rod matches the wines to best show off the culinary delights cooked up by the chefs. But that doesn’t mean just 13th Street wines — if it’s an Italian meal from Piedmont, there will be some Piedmont wines served, if it’s a classic French meal, look for some classic French wines.
As Bodnar Rod explained at the Turchi dinner recently: “We make world class wines in Niagara and I’m not afraid to bring their (Italian) wines to our table.”

The whole concept of Bodnar Rod’s 13 nights of food and wine celebration is to show 13th Street wines in the “context of food.”

Duck and truffle risotto.
Duck and truffle risotto.

“There are so many great chefs out there. What is it that make these guys tick?” he asked the intimate gathering of 22 guests at the Turchi affair.

Bodnar Rod is a lover of wine and food, a self-confessed Burgundy and Champagne freak along with the wines from his own winery. But he wouldn’t think of matching a Piedmont-inspired dinner without some Piedmont wines. Even if it means he has to cross the border to get them.

The Oscar Turchi feast started with a plate of antipasto — roasted pepper in a garlic-anchovy sauce, poached veal, beef carpaccio and veal tongue in salsa verde.

This was matched to a wonderful Broglia La Meirana Gavi 2008 DOCG, with a subtle nose flowers, pear and almonds, delicate enough to match through the entire spectrum of flavours on the plate.

Next up with a sensational plate of black truffle (from Alba) and duck risotto paired with the 13th Street Gamay Noir 2009 (which won’t be released until the spring of 2011).

One of the Italian wines served at the dinner.
One of the Italian wines served at the dinner.

The sneak peak at this wine, from the famed Sandstone vineyard, was a delight with the truffle-laced risotto. The tightly woven cherry-smoke-vanilla flavours worked beautifully with duck.

Bodnar Rod offered up two wines choices, both vastly different, to go with the main dish, Barolo braised beef with polenta and roasted shallots.

The first wine was a very young 13th Street Syrah 2009 (released Dec. 4), a savoury and peppery style of Syrah that was an over-match for the slow-cooked beef but a wonderful preview of this firmly structured wine that will get better and better as it ages.

The better pairing was the Icardi Parej Barolo 2000, a New World style of Barolo drinking beautifully with jammy currant fruit and rich, mature flavours that integrated perfectly with the tender beef.

Turchi and Bodnar Rod finished the exquisite meal with a chocolate Bunet and amaretto pudding served with Banfi Rosa Regale Acqui 2009, a sweet red sparkler with blackberry-Kirsch, raspberry compote flavours. A sweet treat to end a great evening.


Two new treats from 13th Street Winery:

13th Street Essence Sauvignon Blanc 2009 ($35, winery only, 4.5 stars) — A signature wine from Jean Pierre Colas, and a variety he loves to craft, comes this late-picked, hand-picked, partially barrel-fermented beauty from grapes he sourced in Niagara-on-Lake. Very ripe tropical and grapefruit notes on the nose. It’s followed on the palate with flavours of gooseberry, melon, mineral with a vibrant blast of juicy citrus on the finish.

13th Street Essence Pinot Noir 2009 ($45, winery only, 4.5 stars) — Didn’t JP Colas say you can’t make Pinot Noir in Niagara? Yes he did (sort of) and he explains (sort of) what he meant by that on the back label of this wonderful Pinot Noir, his first made in Niagara. All the classic aromas to start — mushroom, barnyard, forest floor, tobacco — then followed by cherry, cranberry, strawberry with a hint of spice. Very feminine and delicate with finesse on the palate, fine texture, silky tannins and well balanced acidity.