Sustainably farmed natural wines are on the menu at Primal Pasta, which has always been a leader in progressive, sustainable food. Head chefs Christie Peters and Kyle Michael work exclusively with Saskatchewan heritage grains, whole meat butchery, and local produce (most of which they grow themselves) to create an Italian-focused menu ripe with talent and a clear sense of place.
A carefully curated cocktail program that uses local, seasonal ingredients
Head Sommelier and General Manager Adrian Chappell have been known for her carefully curated cocktail programs in the same fashion. You may also know her from Blind Feline Bar, a cocktail pop-up business which she co-founded.
She uses locally sourced and seasonal ingredients to create her juices, syrups, and tinctures in all her work, resulting in unique and delectable cocktails.
And if you haven’t yet, try one of her Twisted Teas, and you’ll know exactly what I mean. One of her latest creations is a Cinnamon Pear Twisted Tea that uses local pear syrup, brewed English breakfast tea, vodka, citric acid, and cinnamon tincture.
However, her cocktail program was mostly manifested through their sister restaurant, The Hollows, and its late-night spot, The Wildebeest Room. But with its accelerated closure, a new focus has arisen: the wine list at Primal Pasta.
“Before, at the Hollows, everything we did was high-quality, seasonal, and sustainable. I created a cocktail program to match that, but I struggled to find a wine program to do the same. I searched for small producers, sustainable farming practices, different wines, unique wines, and I was coming up short,” says Adrian.
Leading Saskatoon’s wine scene with sustainably farmed natural wines from around the world
With fellow Sommelier Matthew Lapointe at her side, the team is on a mission to bring sustainably farmed and naturally made wines to the list at Primal Pasta.
“Once Matt started working with us, about two years ago, that when it really cemented, we could really focus on bringing in these wines,” mentions Adrian.
In doing so, they are one of the first establishments in the city to realize and push this narrative. The practices behind the wines are as important as the practices behind their food. Meaning, the wines are farmed sustainably, either organically or biodynamically, are made without additives, and are a true representation of the place in which they are made.
Matthew exudes, “The thing with natural wine is you know that it’s going to be authentic and challenging and surprising all in this awesome way. For the wines we choose to put on the list, there has to be some connection to small production, and it has to have those values that we’ve always found important.”
Before joining the team at Primal Pasta and The Hollows, Matthew worked as a sommelier at places such as Ingredients Artisan Market, Carver’s Steakhouse, Co-op Liquor, and Little Grouse on the Prairie. Now he’s teamed up with Adrian as the assistant manager at Primal Pasta.
A year ago, the pair started to test the market with the wines they were excited about. Beginning at The Hollows, they offered natural wine flights and by-the-bottle only offerings, but it wasn’t until this year that they really saw their customers get on board.
“The tipping point was Covid. We offered flights and a few smaller focused dinners before that, but it never fully caught on. The Hollows wasn’t a wine-centric place; it was a cocktail place. Not only that, but Covid paused our lives enough that we could realize what was inspiring and interesting to us and gave us the time to focus on it,” mentions Adrian.
With forced time off due to the initial shut-down this year, Matt had the time to do a deep dive into sourcing new and exciting wines that fit the bill.
He mentions, “I just started ordering direct from wineries and buying from a few shops around here that we’re starting to carry them. I’d drink the wines, research them, and then I’d come and visit Adrian every day to share.”
After Hours Wine evenings at Primal Pasta feature sustainably farmed natural wines
Now, the wine list is finally coming together as they want. Not only that, but the newly introduced After Hours Wine evenings have been wildly successful.
If you’ve had the chance to attend one of these evenings, you immediately understand why the pair are so passionate about these wines and why they deserve a place at the table.
Throughout the evening, you will have the opportunity to taste things such as a sparkling wine from BC made by ancient methods, a riesling from the Czech Republic, an Italian wine fermented and aged in clay vessels, or even a Chilean wine made from 200-year-old vines. It’s something that Saskatoon has never seen before.
If this piques your interest, and you want to match your enthusiasm of enjoying the best that comes from the land with the best that comes off the vine, run, don’t walk to Primal Pasta.