Monday, January 29, 2007

Cave Spring Pinot Noir - With Apologies to Proust

Sunday, I came home from being away with one of my sons for the afternoon, and my wife, Dominique, was just starting to get busy in the kitchen. She heated up some olive oil, and diced small slices of garlic into the rippling pan. And then she added chicken cutlets, dipped in egg, and then doused with a mixture of bread crumbs, five salts, several peppers, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. As the cutlets sizzled in the pan, the smells of the kitchen brought me back to many a day in my childhood, in my mother's kitchen. As I recall it even now, in my head, a soundtrack of voices speaking in Italian runs in the background. I could not help but be reminded of Marcel Proust's Madelines and tea from A Remembrance of Things Past.

All of us were eager to eat. Dom made a pot of whipped summer squash, and I added a spinach salad covered with olive oil and fresh squeezed lemon, salt and pepper.

And what to have with this meal? I went down to the cellar and pulled out a favorite wine. A Cave Sring Pinot Noir.

Cave Spring Cellars was founded in 1986 by grape grower Leonard Pennachetti and wine maker Angelo Pavan. From the beginning, they have vinified vitis vinifera grapes - the noblest grape varieties of the Old World - from vineyards along Niagara's Beamsville Bench in Canada. Nestled at the heart of this narrow, fifteen kilometre shelf of the Niagara Escarpment, Pennachetti's Cave Spring Vineyard is one of Niagara's oldest vinifera plantings.

I have tasted three or four wines by Cave Spring, and I have never been disappointed. I consider them one of the better of Niagra's Canadian wineries, and one of the better east coast wineries in general.

Their Pinot Noir is 45% Cave Spring Vineyard; 5% other Beamsville Bench; 40% Twenty Mile Bench; 10% Creek Shores, and is composed of 90% Pinot Noir; 10% Gamay. The wine is barrel aged for 1 year in older French, American, and Hungarian oak.

The result is a medium-bodied Pinot with delicate cherry fruit and some vanilla. Maybe be some earth, as promised. It has nice tannins, and a dry finish with a slight touch of pepper.

I popped the cork and we sat down with the children to dinner. They had milk. Both the boys commented on how good dinner smelled, and I realized they someday would expereince the same memories, fueled by the smells of breaded cultlets being made in the kitchen. And I assumed, probably rightly, Mr. Pennachetti, who is also of Italian heritage, may have similar memories. Proust, somewhere, must have been laughing. We said a blessing as a family, and then we clinked glasses. It was a nice end to the week.

Visit Cave Sring at