I’ve been contemplating a trip to Napa Valley, California. It’s been seven years since I went and remains, to this day, one of my favourite food and wine experiences, ever. Time keeps ticking, and I travel a lot, but it seems I can’t get anywhere near Napa. So, when you can’t go to Napa, one must take advantage when Napa comes to you.

The opportunity presented itself at a winemaker’s dinner on April 23 at the Royal Glenora Club where the exquisite food of Chef Steve Buzak was paired with the wines of Napa Valley’s Clos Pegase.



: a French vineyard; especially: one enclosed by a wall — often used prepositively in a compound naming such a vineyard or its wine 
The winery’s name refers to two things: 1) the French word clos to describe Mother Nature’s boundaries that close in the Appleton, Tenma, Mitsuko’s and Dunaweal Vineyards on all four sides, and, 2) mythological Pegasus, friend of the nine Muses who inspired literature, poetry and art. The name, Clos Pegase, symbolizes the geographical aspects of the vineyard plus art, which, to this day, remains an integral aspect of the winery since being founded in 1983 by Jan Shrem and his late wife, Mitsuko.
Winemaker dinners need to be about more than wine and food; they need to be about history, education, passion and love. Why ‘love’?  Because good wine and good food create the perfect romance and that romance should result in a life-long relationship with the product.
Thanks to Richard Sowalsky, I think Clos Pegase and I are going to have a long and happy life together.
Sowalsky is a gifted in two areas: winemaking and storytelling. He is an unequivocal master of his craft plus he has the ability to deliver the information concisely with just the right amount of humour and layman-speak to make people like me understand the technical aspects of the industry. Alluvial has never sounded sexier.
Winemaker, Richard Sowalsky

Winemaker, Richard Sowalsky

I’ll drink wine with anything, anywhere, and with anyone, but the marriage of Clos Pegase to Chef Steven Buzak’s food was a truly memorable and unique experience.
Starting out the evening with the 2012 Mitsuko’s Vineyard Chardonnay was blatant and unabashed seduction by the Clos Pegase team. They led off with a ringer, and we were smitten. I was impressed with aromas of Meyer lemon, pineapple and honeysuckle, and its deep, well-balance fruit flavour. Chardonnays don’t usually appeal to me as an aperitif; this one changed my mind.
2012 Mitsuko's Vineyard Chardonnay

2012 Mitsuko’s Vineyard Chardonnay

Chef Buzak’s first dish was an artful display of lake trout, delicate fennel and beet slices with silky emulsions. The wine pairing for this dish was Mitsuko’s Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc — an elegant elixir, full of citrus, nectarine and tropical fruit, with a lively yet polished minerality.

Citrus Cured Lois Lake Trout with Fennel Bavarois, Beet Emulsion

Citrus Cured Lois Lake Trout with Fennel Bavarois, Beet Emulsion

The second dish was a celebration of all things good and holy: pork belly in a jerk style, earthy black eye beans and a velvety yam puree. This was flavour, texture and art on the plate, and a surprisingly voluptuous Pinot Noir in the glass. Brilliant.


Jerk Pork Belly with Plantains, Black Eye Beans, Yam Purée. Pairing: Mitsuko’s Vineyard Pinot Noir

An obvious pairing for duck breast would be Pinot Noir, but Chef Buzak’s dish had some hearty components: rich duck with earthy purple potato, robust mole and a herbaceous succotash making the Napa Cabernet Sauvignon a thoughtful and proper choice.
Duck and Cabernet

Duck and Cabernet


The last food and wine pairing featured the big boys of the night: beef shank with arugula, wild mushroom, faro, and asparagus pickle in perfect partnership with the brawny Hommage Cabernet.
A light and airy dessert was the crowning glory to this perfectly executed celebration of wine and food.

Lemon Meringue with Rosemary-Scented Honey Lemon Curd, Cardamom Raspberry Jelly and White Chocolate

The Royal Glenora Club is lucky to have Chef Buzak at the helm. A graduate of NAIT’s culinary program, Buzak mastered his craft in regional cuisine before returning  to Edmonton. His food is progressive, honest and refined. He, along with Executive Sous Chef, Pawanjit Singh, and the entire culinary team at the Royal Glenora, consistently bring outstanding food to the table (literally).
Chef Steve Buzak

Chef Steve Buzak

Wine tastings at a winery or at winemaker’s dinner strikes deep in the heart. Wine tastes better when you meet the maker and look him/her in the eye. You hear of the wine’s story, connect with its people, its history, and every time you drink it thereafter, you remember how you felt at that moment of the taste. That’s powerful.

I can only imagine how these wines would taste under the California sun. Napa in September sounds perfect.