Malcolm Jolley learns about a rare wine tasting put on for a good cause.

The Living Vine’s Mark Cuff with the Ontario Wine Council’s Magdalena Kaiser at a tasting in 2016.

I have just heard about a fantastic event, which is a collaboration between two members of GFR’s Good Food Fighter community: The Living Vine wine agency and sommelier Jimson Bienenstock, who is hosting a special wine focused dinner at his Queen Street West coffee shop HotBlack on the evening of Saturday, May 5.

The Living Vine, founded and run by the venerable Mark Cuff who Jamie has profiled here, is something of a trade secret among the top fine dining sommeliers and restaurateurs in Toronto and Ontario. Mark started his agency with a singular mission to only represent wineries that were organic, bio-dynamic or natural or otherwise sustainable and demonstrably chemical free. When he struck out on his own in 2006 this was a bit of a radical move, but because he was a pioneer, over the last dozen years The Living Vine has amassed one Ontario’s most impressive portfolios. Making wine in a chemical free way is difficult and requires extra effort, but the kind of people who make that commitment are the kind of people who are willing to work very hard to make delicious wine. For this reason there is consistently a line up or a crowd around Mark’s table at any trade tasting, as he will undoubtedly be pouring interesting and delicious things.

One thing The Living Vine does not do is bring very much wine into the LCBO since what they have is in such demand by restaurants and serious collectors, so Jimson is rightly promoting the May 5th Wine Dinner as a chance to taste rare wines not available at the LCBO.

All proceeds from the event are going to support the The Walking Lead, the Glen Ames Senior Public School Robotics team, who are off to California to compete in the First Lego League Global Robotics Tournament. The goal is to help raise the $30,000 required to send the Glen Ames Public School Toronto team and their robot to compete in California. Jimson’s daughter Elsa is part of the team that came up with a brilliant way of eliminating lead from old pipes in school water systems. You can read about their invention in this article from The Toronto Star.

All the wines poured will be priced under $30 and available to order. Tastings are endless and the event will be set-up with walk around stations manned by top Toronto sommeliers and full of good local food, including beef and porchetta from John Maxwell’s Butchers of Distinction. It should be epic.

Click here for more information to buy your tickets now.