A review of the Rotary Wine Premier by Aaron Winsor.

Wine Time with Aaron the Wine Guy

By Aaron Winsor


Hello Prince Albert! In case you missed it, the 16th annual Rotary Club Wine Premier took place at the Plaza 88 event center on Saturday, November 4th. This event brings together like-minded people who not only enjoy fine wine and food but also support and represent the many important businesses throughout our city. Events like this create funding for initiatives like the newly completed Rotary Adventure Park in Little Red (opened on September 15, 2023) and many other facilities and projects which enhance and enrich the people and families of Prince Albert. Here is a recap of what you may have missed!

As soon as guests arrive, they are greeted with a welcoming glass of Fiol Prosecco which bubbles lightly in the glass. This is the perfect opener with flavors of lemon, pears, biscuit and off-dry apples. Due to the lively acidity, this Italian bubbly pairs well with the pre-meal amuse-bouche (small tasty snack) of antipasto featuring fresh peas, pearl onions, mushrooms and peppers in a tangy sauce. While the initial wine is sipped and food is sampled, guests will often introduce themselves to the table and lively chatter ensues (aided somewhat by the tasty Prosecco). Appetites are whetted and everyone eagerly awaits the first course.

Speaking of Italian wines, it soon becomes apparent that this wine premier is Italian-themed with its red, green and white lighting, Italian-themed wine selections, Italian food pairings, and an opening opera performance of the classic song, “Time to Say Goodbye” performed by the talented Megan Fournier. No time is wasted after the beautiful opera song as sommelier Tahnee Fournier (yes, they are related) introduces the first wine of the evening, the Pasqua Pinot Grigio (2022). This white is light-bodied with a crisp character of peach, citrus and tropical fruit all elevated by medium-plus acidity. As the mouth waters from the wine, the accompanying dish of lobster tail, prawn and bay scallops is served on the half-shell with a luxuriously creamy butter and tarragon sauce. Everything was tender and it tasted amazing with the white wine.

After another brief introduction, the next course is announced: the Batasiolo Barolo (2019) paired with spinach and cheese ravioli resting upon a butternut squash puree with Parmesan flakes. I thought this wine was on the youthful side (the tannins were aggressive) but its understated nature of rose petals, tar, anise seed and spiced cherry did not overwhelm the pasta and the combination tasted quite lovely. Some at the table found the wine to be a bit too dry and something meatier on the plate may have alleviated this sensation but as a fan of Barolo, I thought it worked well. The subtle style of the creamy puree and delicate cheese/spinach filling of the ravioli were counterpointed by the sharp Parmesan shards scattered around the plate. The savory element of the dish was reflected and supported by the Barolo. What a great course, what else is next?

The third course is introduced as the Il Grigio San Felice Chianti Classico paired with field greens, peppercorn Roma tomatoes and a sun-dried tomato dressing/vinaigrette. I’m pleased to say that this course was a perfectly harmonious pairing. The bright acidity of tomato is tempered by earthy cheese and tangy bits of pepper. When a bite of food is followed by a sip of wine, the grapey, bright cherry flavor of Chianti elevates the tomato, cheese and pepper and the tangy flavors really pop. Either component of the dish was great by itself (food or wine) but when consumed together, the flavors took on an entirely different dimension. Impressive indeed!

The fourth course was probably the most anticipated around my table with descriptions of juicy beef tenderloin served in a demi-glace with garlic-mashed potatoes and a vegetable medley. The wine served alongside was equally as exciting and my first sniff and sip of the Bolgheri Bell’Aja red (2020) made my heart race with its jammy blackberry, dark fruits and full body. This incredible blend of Merlot, Cab Sauv and Petit Verdot brought some major tannins which had the potential to dry our mouths but one bite of the perfectly-cooked tenderloin with gravy mellowed those tannins right out. Savory, rich and meaty flavors with creamy skin-on mashed potatoes and a big, fruity red with gripping tannins to pair? Yes please!

Any great evening must come to a close but there’s always room (and time) for dessert, right? This course did not disappoint and the announcement of tiramisu with wine-infused pastry cream and its wine-pairing partner, the Batasiolo

Moscato D’Asti brought excited murmurs from my fellow tablemates. Talk about ending on a high note, this course was another harmonious combination where the flavors of wine enhance the textures and flavors of the food. The fruity sweetness (apricot, peach) and acidity of the wine beautifully lift the sweet cocoa, cream and coffee flavors of the dessert. Pairing wines with dessert can be tricky but this course hit the nail on the head as the matched sweetness levels allows the taste of this classic Italian treat to stand out.

I’m thankful I was able to attend and take notes at this amazing event and I’m also grateful for the work done by our local Rotary Club. Their motto is “Service Above Self”, and this is clearly demonstrated by the multiple projects around our city and the huge amount of work required to put on an event like this. We were all treated like royal guests and I encourage everyone to check this event out at least once in their life. I would also like to commend Randy Whitter and his team for their exceptionally well-prepared and thought-out food pairings along with their amazing preparation and service of the meal. This wonderful evening really brought the world to our city and table.

Cheers and thanks for reading!