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My original good intention for my second "killer" wine "To Die For" in this blog series was going to be a highly revered white, probably from Chateau Montelena. But "the best laid plans o' mice and ... sommeliers ... "gang aft agley" after a visit to a private collector's wine cellar and the quaffing of "first growth fruit". The wine that is the inspiration for this change of heart is one of a group of wines grown in California that are known as "Cult" wines.
"Cult" wines refers to any of the "typically but not exclusively Cabernets" for which collectors, investors and highly enthusiastic consumers will pay very high prices. The producers of such wines in California include Araujo Estate, Bryant Family, Caymus, Colgin Cellars, Dalla Valle, Diamond Creek, Dominus Estate, Dunn Vineyards - Howell Mountain, Grace Family, Harlan Estate, Hundred Acre, Kistler, Saxum Vineyards, Marcassin, Ovid, Scarecrow, Screaming Eagle, Opus One, Shafer Hillside Select, Sine Qua Non and Sloan.These wines are generally very expensive and are in limited production (often fewer than 600 cases per year) and can command several times their "release price" upon release. This also generally means that the wine releases are allocated to certain customers who pay a substantial membership fee to the Winery for the privilege of purchasing these highly sought-after vintages. - courtesy of Wikipedia.
As loudly as any wine produced from Burgundian acreage or any Bordeaux bastion might claim product superiority - because of its Premier Cru status (this literally means "First Growth" and refers to the status of wines produced on these fields as "the best of the best") - the wine profiled in this entry proudly claims excellence in its own right as a product of its proprietor's intent: "To produce a California "First Growth" from the hills of Oakville (California)." - H. William Harlan
My Second “To Die For” wine …
Harlan Estate 2002, Napa (Oakville)
From an elevation of 225' to 1225', Harlan Estate Winery rises above the fabled Oakville Bench in the Western Hills of Oakville California. Sitting on both sedimentary and volcanic rock, the vineyard is planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot. It produces 2 wines: The Harlan Estate red blend and its Bordeax-style sibling, The Maiden.
Honed from the natural landscape of Oakville by its mentor and progenitor, H. William Harlan, it is staffed by a by a long-serving, talented team of winemakers and agriculturalists who have embraced the vision of producing a First Growth California wine from the location and terroir of the winery.
A Real Estate Developer and Resort Owner, Harlan purchased this 230-acre property, a forested area, with steep hillsides, multiple elevations and exposures, west of Martha's Vineyard in Oakville and cleared 30 acres for viticulture (wine grape growing).
Winemaker, Robert Levy has been working with Harlan since 1983 when Harlan took part in founding the Merryvale Winery. Since 1989 the estate has retained Michel Rolland as consultant oenologist. Construction of the current winery was completed in 2002.
Harlan Estate Winemaking
Perfection in wine does not occur happenstance.
Robert Levy, another UC Davis graduate, has been with Harlan almost since its inception and arrived on-scene with experiences at other Napa well-knowns like Merryvale, Rombauer and Cuvaison. Robert immediately bought into the "First Growth" philosophy from the start; however, it is not only his direction that has developed the inspiration of Harlan Estate.
Michel Rolland, World renowned Bordeaux Consultant, has made significant ongoing contributions to the Harlan Estate mantra. This collective, forward-moving approach to making fine wine has contributed to Harlan Estates being compared to Chateau Latour and Chateau Haut Brion (Michel Jamais).
What are these conditions capable of?
“Harlan Estate might be the single most profound red wine made not just in California, but in the world.” - Robert Parker on Harlan Estate Bordeaux Harlan Estate 2002 is one of those wines that can just be left with the expression, "Wow!", that everyone utters after experiencing it. Its powerful complexity and concentration and perfect balance navigate in a texture that is pure silk and elegance. When you drink, you don't wonder how it got to this level of satisfaction and pleasure, but you do wonder how other wines can ever achieve the same ... even its sibling vintages. It's a shame to analyze its components because the whole experience is greater than the sum of its parts - a status all winemakers strive to achieve.
(However, in an attempt to relay some of its quality), it is big, dark, concentrated and dense in pure, dark, ripe fruit. The oak has morphed into nuances of vanilla and dark chocolate that integrates very well with its typically earthy (almost black olive) quality of Oakville terroir.
Its texture is its greatest asset. After an hour or so in a decanter, its silkiness and complexity just improve.
Its finish? I don't know if you're ever finished with this wine once you've have it tattooed in your memory. As for the reality of the finish? Very long and reflective!
Restaurant Menu Matches for Harlan Estate 2002:
(Pairings courtesy of Bleu Provence, Naples Florida)
- Appetizer -
Seared Foie Gras with Raspberry Sauce
- Main -
Kobe Style Wagyu Beef Boneless Short Ribs in Red Wine with Mashed Potatoes and Baby Carrots
- Dessert Course -
Duo of Black and White Chocolate Mousse
The complexity, intensity and diversity of Harlan Estate 2002 makes wine choice simple as it will transport you through all course choices with complexity and depth, each pairing delivering a pleasant change in palette and aroma profiles.
Rackability (aka cellaring notes)
The only sources for this wine 10 years after its release would be from private cellars, the winery itself, high-end restaurants or wine exchange companies ... all will be difficult to access and be very expensive. The age it is at now would make it even more desirable than on release because of the positive effects that racking would have on its profile and availability.
A quick look at auction prices shows a range of purchase price from $675 US a bottle to $1200 US a bottle. Harlan Estate 2002 will accrue in value even at these prices. Its quality and longevity are not yet at risk. It is a safe investment for another 8 to 10 years.
Harlan's website www.harlanestate.com is worth a look.
If you ever get a chance to taste any Harlan Estate vintage, drop everything and find the nearest glass!
Cheers … and follow your dream wines!
- Wayne Walker
I think the more you learn about wine & the more you swim in the overwhelming waters of today's wine culture, the more you search for the beacons of "best choice", the wine areas & vintages that take the trepidation & guilt out of the simple act of choosing a bottle of great "vino".
Many of the realities of choosing wine, like quality, price, style, integrity...get down to the game of "Who do you trust?". Personally, I get tired of this game. That's when I start dreaming of wines I'd like to experience...the "killer" wines that my palette knows are out there, but that I've never had, don't know about, or can't afford.
Fortunately for me, I am in a position to experience some of these wines that come from California and Oregon & this is the purpose of my If I died & went to Napa blog - to share these experiences with you.
Twice a month, I will share one "dream" wine by featuring a Napa winery, their wines & winemaker. Along the journey, we will uncover some of the pleasures and mysteries of Napa and its neighbours.
Introducing my first "To Die For" wine...
CADE Estate Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Napa
At an elevation of 1700 feet, CADE Winery, located on the East side of the elusive Howell Mountain in Napa, produces 4 wines under the direction of Winemaker, Anthony Biagi, in its state of the art Organic facility: 3 Cabernet Sauvignons and 1 Sauvignon Blanc. Howell Mountain is one of, if not THE, altar for pilgrims in search of the Colossus of 'Cabs' to be found in Napa.
Cade was established in 2005 after its older sibling, Plumpjack Winery was born in 1992. The principals were three entrepreneurs:
Gavin Newsom - former Mayor of San Francisco
Philanthropist Gordon Getty
and its present General Manager - John Conover
Anthony Biagi (in photo), the Lead Winemaker, arrived on the scene making wines on Howell Mountain in 1995 as a Graduate of University of California (UC) Davis. Anthony’s philosophy of creating “… artisanal, dimensional wines … tasting like they could come from nowhere else”, combined with Cade’s mantra of creating wines that are “…dense, rich and ageworthy, but not rustic or tannic” spawned the pleasures of wines like Howell Mountain Estate 2008.
Napa's terroir has become legendary since Stag's Leap's 1973 Cabernet won the Judgement of Paris in 1976 . Weather conditions notwithstanding, Napa has been blessed with three geological conditions that contribute to the rich conditions of its soils: it has been on the floor of the ocean, the mouth of a river and the base of a volcanic mountain. What this means is that the soils are capable of providing good drainage and soil oxygen, an appropriate range of acidity to facilitate the availability of nutrients like P, K, Mg and Ca. As well, moderate to good water retention, moderate fertility and a reasonable rooting depth complete its almost perfect profile. Elevate this 1700 feet skywards toward the Sun Gods and you have an excellent foundation for creating World Class Wine.
What are these conditions capable of?
"A brilliant texture, stunning purity and great length (that) make for a fabulous wine to drink over the next 20 to 25+ years." - Robert Parker on Cade Estate Howell Mountain (Dec. 2010)
Dark, creamy, layered, intense and long are the essentials of Cade Howell Mountain Estate. Opaque dark purple, it exhibits a nose of blueberries, black raspberries, ripe plums, graphite and crushed rocks. These flavours are warmed and carried over to the palette, embellished by dark chocolate, vanilla and sweet smoke.
Restaurant Menu Matches for CADE Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 :
(Pairings courtesy of Ridgway Bar and Grill, Naples Florida)
Crisply Seared Pork Belly (with Cider Reduction, Apple and Fennel Slaw)
Coq Au Vin (Baby Root Vegetables, Rich Red Wine and Demi-Glace Sauce)
Braised Short Ribs (Pureed Celery Root, Cranberry Demi-Glace)
Rogue River Blue Cheese and Greens (Julienne Apple Salad, Olive Oil and Fig Jam, Focaccio Crostini)
Chocolate Opera Cake
The complexity, finesse and diversity of Cade HM Cabernet 2008 makes wine choice simple as it will transport you through all Course choices with elegance and satisfaction, each pairing delivering a different experience.
Rackability (aka cellaring notes)
This wine is drinkable on purchase. Its intensity and balance are in no way affected by its youth.
As Robert Parker has indicated, aging is not a problem so to consider it part of a collector's portfolio for future use is an easy decision to make, especially considering its desirabilty and limited production. The 2006 vintage which had a 98+ ranking like its heir the 2008, sold out quickly.
This all depends on Cade Winery's ability to move into the integrity level of Harlon or Chateau Montelena in the next 5 to 10 years. It presently retails for about $150 US/bottle. Certainly, the wine will accrue in value, but how much depends on continued levels of production, excellence and recognition.
Cade's website http://www.cadewinery.com is worth a look. Here you will find how it is linked to its sibling Plumpjack and how both wineries are linked to Shakespeare. More on Plumpjack later!
Cheers... and follow your dream wines!
When people refer to AVA's (American Viticultural Area) in Oregon, they usually think of two designations: Willamette and Walla Walla. But the Wine-Jedi would say, "There is another." It is designated as Southern Oregon and is comprised of Umpqua Valley, Red Hills Douglas County, Rogue Valley and Applegate Valley.
The modern era of grape growing in Oregon began in the Umpqua Valley just North of Roseburg in 1961 with the first planting of commercial vines. The complex topography of this area is marked by the convergence of three different mountain ranges. Where there's mountains, there's valleys and where there's valleys at this latitude with Oregon's potential for rich soil and greenhouse effect; there's wine! It is identified as having 2,001,430 acres. A good deal of the agricultural part of this is vineyards.
I headed South about 65 miles today to have a look and was very impressed by the size and development of the vineyards in this area. Rather than stop at 3 or 4 wineries, I decided to
let GPS take me on a tour. She decided we didn't have to get too far off the I-5 South. It was a very comfortable, scenic drive through the mountain ranges and valleys all draped in their cloaks of vines. Some vineyards are as large as in the Willamette, but for the most part, terroir-driven artisanal wines are predominant.
Of course, I couldn't go by every tasting room so I chose to stop at a winery called Abacela, which is an almost-obsolete verb meaning "to plant vines" in three Iberian based languages, Spanish, Portugese and Galician. My reasoning was to taste the Iberian wines they were growing: Albarino, Garnacha, Tempranillo and Port. I thought they would be the best way to test the stories I'd heard about the warmer micro climates in the South.
The winery and the vineyard are very impressive. Preparations were being made via nets for the
soon-to-be-arriving bird migrations, in particular the droves of Cedar Waxwings that come down from Canada and fill up on vineyard grapes on their way to the Baja Peninsula. In evidence were the rows of grapes covered with nets, one of the many deterrents used to save the harvest. Last year, Abacela served up 1/3 of its crop to the migrants.
As for the wines, they all had the aroma profiles you would expect of the same varietals grown in the Signature countries. They were all quite young and needed a bit more bottle aging. The Tempranillo was a good drink but lacked the texture of its Spanish twin and a Dolcetto that was made onsite showed some good promise but was a bit woody. The Albarino however was a winner with nice light body, great acidity, and lemon, pineapple, wild flowers, and honeysuckle all present and accounted for both on the nose and on the palate. I could hear the echo of Pacific white fish coming up the valley as I tried to capture it's fleeting finish.
Abacela boasts three different terroirs on their property: cool North Slopes where they grow Albarino, warm bench lands where they grow Tempranillo and hot South facing slopes where they grow Port (I assume that would be Touriga Nacional or Xarel-ho).
There is a great deal of difference between the heat needed for Port as compared to Albarino and since the Reds were good I think it shows the vineyards amazing micro climate diversity. I also tasted a Syrah that was quite good with a lot of potential to be part of a full-bodied red blend.
A return Northward with a brief respite for a coffee and a 6 inch Sub delivers me to Rancho Rustic for my last night in Oregon. Got some packing to do as I leave for my return to Seattle tomorrow and some King Size overnight comfort at Holiday Inn. Off to scale the Space Needle, but more importantly, to experience the Pike Sreet market, one of the best seafood markets in America. With that will come the occasional glass from Washington Vines. Then back to Victoria on the Ferry and to Vancouver on another Ferry to tell my friend Hugh how the Ducks played.
One of my overall goals was to visit a smaller production winery where wines are few in number, but high in quality. Hence my highly anticipated pilgrimage to The Witness Tree Vineyard, a 52 acre sight kneeling at the foot of the hillside pedestal where the real Witness tree has stood for over 200 years. It is owned by Dennis and Carolyn Devine.
It produces 6,000 cases of wine a year, primarily Pinot Noir; however, it does produce a very good Pinot Gris and a respectable Chardonnay. I tasted 7 wines including a very interesting dessert wine called Sweet Signe that is actually made by freezing the grapes then pressing them. The resultant concentrated slush is melted and becomes the must that is then fermented and aged into wine that tastes a lot like Late Harvest White Blends from Ontario.
My Pinot Noir experiences were:
"Chainsaw Pinot Noir" 2009 crafted from a field of Chardonnay that had been chainsawed to the stems and then had Pinot Noir grafted onto the trunks of the old vines (a la phylloxera grafting techniques that saved the wine industry in the 19th century from being wiped out in Europe). As well a 2008 Estate Pinot Noir that benefited from a very good harvest year. A 2007 Vintage Select that is the true expression of Witness Tree terroir and the 2008 Benchmark PN that needs a little more aging to give it the required PN finesse.
And for me the winner is...the 2007 Vintage Select whose grapes were selected from all around the Witness Tree, both upper and lower blocks and whose dark, ripe depth of flavor rode high on a balanced, intense, silky structure. Besides, it is fabulous with Wild Pacific Cedar Plank Salmon smothered in Maple Syrup!
CONFESSING TO ST. INNOCENT:
After my benchmark visit to the Eola Grail, I drove about 1/2 mile around the corner on Zena Road to the very baptismal-looking St Innocent and its impressive water fountain in the courtyard.
A very impressive, well-groomed, 72 acre vineyard that produces 8 to 10 thousand cases a year. Here, as almost everywhere in The Aeola Hills designation, Winemaker and President, Mark Vlossack is philosophically dedicated to having the terroir of the region reflected in the wines made here, particularly as they contribute to the pleasure of food.
Again, the focus is Pinot Noir with, again, a good Chardonnay and a very impressive Pinot Blanc. Temperance Hill, Vitae Springs, Zenith, Justice, Shea and Freedom Hill were all different Pinot Noirs I tasted from different sites and different vintages. My favorite? I have about 4, all for different reasons. But if you're going to corner me into a choice, I would say it was Shea over Justice by a nose. I'm a sucker for big, ripe fruits, floral hints and sweet spice all delivered on a caramel, creamy, layered finish. And to pursue Mark's raison d'être, this is a no-brainer match for one of my favorite full-on red meat dishes...lamb shanks with mint sauce served with green beans, caramelized onions and boiled potatoes smothered in creamery butter with fresh ground pepper!
DWARFED BY THE KING ESTATE:
One hour and 45 minutes South on the winding Territorial Road outside of Eugene, a sharp turn out of the foothills off a blind curve and King's Castle appears on a mountain above you. With 470 acres of vineyards, notwithstanding orchards, berry patches, vegetable gardens, flower and herb gardens, wetlands and oak savannah, driving up the mountain to the Winery is like leaving Lilliput and entering Brobdingnag! Big is everywhere.
With 1,033 Certified Organic acres, King Estate can produce anywhere from 120,000 to 200,000 cases of wine a year and all of it is naturally irrigated. This has all been achieved in 20 years (Founded in 1991) by the King Family who still own and run the property. Three winemakers with very different backgrounds collaborate to produce some very good wines despite the quantity of production. A busy restaurant that features foods using on site produce and a tasting room that puts you in mind of pilgrims at The Holy Grail, is also a part of a royal welcome at King Estate. Tours through and around the facility reveal that the production process is so large and successful that tastings, dinners and even weddings take place in the production and aging areas, much to the delight of the participants.
Despite its size, it produces some very fine wine. Sourcing grapes from lesser known areas in Southern Oregon where sun hours and heat is noticeably longer and warmer and also tapping the warmth of Walla Walla in Eastern Washington, King Estate produces some very good Cabernet blends and a very nice Syrah under the NxNW (North by Northwest) label. Of course their real winner is their Domaine Pinot Gris. Their Signature Pinot Gris is even better. Similar profile: more intensity.
I was fortunate enough to taste all of these as well as some Signature Pinot Noir and the more economical Acrobat wine series that are a great value for Oregon Pinot Noir. By this time in the Odyssey I was incapable of discriminating any one wine as better than another, but as I was leaving I saw a couple drinking a bottle of 2009 Signature Pinot Noir with a menu item called Grilled Chinook Salmon with Champagne Marinated Apricots. They looked satiated and the aromas coming from their table were amazing! You can find the recipe on King Estate website.
A phenomenal day today... so much so that I must create two entries because things developed in two directions...the wonders of wine and the magnificence of the Oregon Coastline.
A one hour and fifty seven minute ride led by my British tour guide, GPS, began to take on a disastrous character when her shortest distance programming (rather than shortest time) told me to leave I-5N and take secondary roads to get to my first destination, Domaine Serene, the winery Robert Parker refers to as the Chateau LaFite of Oregon Wineries.
What a great faux-pas, if that's what it was, because we took a trip through countryside I may never have seen and it let me discover things like the huge acreages of hops that are grown here in Oregon, as well as the row upon row of orchards dedicated to the growing of hazelnuts. The Babe and I also got to scale the Willamette River in a cable-powered ferry on Wheatland Ferry Road. Pretty awesome for $2.
To be quite honest, apart from the hazelnuts and the hops, the agricultural landscape in most of the area looks a lot like Southern Ontario except for the backdrop of the Cascade Mountains. Corn is in full swing as well as all the apple orchards, blueberry farms, market gardens and various mixed farm produce. There is one other big difference today, the Willamette was 86 to 92F depending on where you were. The harvesters were not happy.
Domaine Serene is what everyone dreams of when they fancy their winery dream: Hispanic architecture on the top of a mountain surrounded by rows of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah.
I tasted a very good Chard, two Pinots I was already familiar with (Yamil and Eventstad Blocks) and then a cross tasting of Rockblock Syrah, the 2007 and the 2008. This proved quite interesting as they showed the differences 2 different years of weather can make as well as 2 different blending styles. The 2007 was much creamier and more fruit forward with overtones of caramel while the 2008 shone in minerality and elegance and showed good acidity. Both were more than 14 per cent alcohol that provided a warm toasty impression and made both appropriate for some nice Lamb Shanks.
I was supposed to meet Grace Evenstad at the winery today, but she was suffering on a Mediterranean Tour so I left her message at the office to say I would see her this Winter.
Then a 45 minute ride to The Ponzi Vineyards with a brief lunch stop at Subway in Dundee.
As much as Domaine Serene is chiseled out of the landscape, Ponzi Vineyards is a pastoral function of the landscape, right down to the structural reality of being built on the side of an incline that feeds the harvested grapes in the high end of the facility and distributes the wine from the lower end of the facility so that gravity eliminates the need for pumping and cycling the must and the effluent.
Anything Pinot is what this tasting was all about... Blanc, Gris and Noir. All were creamy and delicious with good acidity and thirst quench and they screamed to be mated with some pan-fried Halibut steaks cooked in butter and seasoned with orange juice.
I was supposed to meet Maria Ponzi as well, but she was off site and the Tasting Ambassador assured me she had not vacated to the Med, at least not today.
I'm very disappointed in my ability to happen upon good food recipes to go with these great wines I'm experiencing although my next adventure for the day showed promise in that regard.
Since it was only 3:30 and my touring was complete, I decided I could trust my guide to take me on the legendary tour of Highway 101 down the coast of Oregon from Lincoln City to Florence...it was breathtaking...a drive everyone should put on their "Bucket List".
CANADA’S WINERIES DELIVERED TO YOUR DOORSTEP
Character and the landscape are two features that wine producers spend a lot of time deciding upon, not only for their wineries, but also for their wines. A visit to Angels Gate Winery on Mountainview Road at the base of the Beamsville Bench in Niagara, is the best way to see that where a wine comes from is just as important as how it is made. Not only are the views and the mission-style architecture breathtaking and eclectic, but very unique - a quality that can be experienced and appreciated in all of Angels Gate wines.
Phillip Dowell, the winemaker, is the planner, procurer, and producer of Angels Gate’s Devilishly Good Wines produced behind the walls of the mission-style winery that signifies Angels Gate. Coming from extensive winemaking experience in the Yarra and McLaren Vales of Australia, Philip is very aware of the importance of not losing your identity in the over-production of wines and is very thankful to be the driving force behind the viticulture (Wine Speak for growing of grapes), the viniculture (wine speak: making the wine) and the market profiles of all the wines produced at Angels Gate.
The group of wine lovers that established Angels Gate gave Phillip the creative power and the on-site responsibility needed to produce and develop unique wines on a unique property. “It’s like owning your own winery. I get to keep what is good and develop our future”, he explains.
Three of Phillip’s one-of-a-kind wines are profiled this month as Savvy Selections. Keeping in line with the unique character of Angels Gate, this month’s tasting panel of Wayne, Lorraine, Mitch and myself met on the deck of a sailboat to taste this month’s Selections offerings (Hey, where you are is very important to what you are tasting too!).
We are excited to introduce you to this month’s Savvy Selections – ready for summertime enjoyment:
·Angels Gate Old Vines Chardonnay 2006 - from the oldest Chardonnay vines in Niagara (planted in the ‘70’s)
·Angels Gate Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 - a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon that is aged to perfection
·Angels Gate Red III 2007 - a rich, elegant blend of Cabernet, Malbec (very rare in Niagara), and Merlot
·OPTIONAL WINE: Archangel Sauvignon Blanc Sparkling 2008 - the dry, tropical flavours in this elegant bubbly had the tasting panel wowed!
Learn more about Phillip and the character and setting of Angels Gate wines in the following pages as well as some great matching recipes and our Savvy Sommelier tasting notes. We are confident that once you have a sip, you’ll be ordering the Archangel Sauvignon Blanc Sparkling! As you are well aware, the Savvy Selections wines are not available at the LCBO so to order more of this month’s or previous Savvy Selections simply call or e-mail me to arrange your delivery.
Your invitation to Savvy Events..
Mark your calendar for September 22-25. We are organizing the food & wine events in Ottawa’s Little Italy for La Vendemmia Harvest Festival. Stay tuned for all of the festival events to one of the best Italian celebrations of food and wine – outside of Italy! We hope to see you there.
Angels Gate Winery
Presented by Sommelier Wayne Walker
Unique and Elegant
On the Beamsville Bench overlooking Lake Ontario, the Congregation of Missionary Sisters of Christian Charity erected a convent on the site that is now the setting for Angels Gate Winery. When the property was converted into a vineyard in 1995, the “missionary style” of construction was not lost on the group of entrepreneurs responsible for its conversion and development.
Retaining the character of the property has spilled over into the winemaking at Angels Gate as well. The people responsible for the production of wines still practice traditional winemaking techniques in an effort to produce great wine, but traditional approaches must produce unique wine that is elegant and memorable, not just something different. This mantra is especially true for the winemaker, Phillip Dowell.
Transplanted from Australia
Phillip comes to Angels Gate after extensive experience in Australia where he learned the value of using New World (wine speak: all wine-producing countries outside of the Mediterranean) technologies and traditional winemaking techniques. “The key is to integrate these two influences and create a style that is unique… in our case uniquely Angels Gate”, he explains. According to Phillip, that style centres on ‘elegance’.
He claims that, “not over-reacting… being patient with many of the natural processes of grapes grown on the property” allows wines of “delicate balance, finesse and distinct structure” to evolve.
No better example exists than the Sussriesling produced by Angels Gate, a spectacular, semi-sweet Riesling created with a combination of fermented and non-fermented juices. This gives an unique experience of light thirst-quenching wine at an extremely reasonable price, produced from some of the earliest Riesling vines planted in Ontario.
Under Phillip’s direction Angels Gate has been planting Malbec, used in the Angels Red III – one of your Savvy Selection this month. Presently, the growing of Malbec is rare in the Niagara Region, but it demonstrates the uniqueness and diversity of Angels Gate products.
As well, Selections subscribers were offered (and you can still contact us to arrange a special shipment) the unique Archangel Sauvignon Blanc Sparkling which comes highly recommended by the tasting panel. This is a bubbly made in the traditional method (wine speak: made in the same process as Champagne) that our Sommeliers thought that it tastes like a well-made Spanish Cava wine (a Spanish sparkling) with its dry, thirst- quenching, textured experience, which, like many other Angels Gate wines, makes it unique.
The Angels Gate team is constantly breaking new ground. In 2010, a significant planting of Pinot Gris is taking them directly into the groundswell of popular white wine drinkers who are enjoying Pinot Gris (aka Pinot Grigio).
A preview of the winery’s future success at producing white, creamy-textured wines can be experienced in this month’s Old Vines Chardonnay, a product of 40-year-old vines that have developed the ability to reach very deep into the clay and limestone soil for rich nutrients capable of yielding full flavours and textures.
Both Phillip and A.J. McLaughlin (Angels Gate Sales and Marketing Manager) feel that the Ontario market is presently full of dynamism with plenty of expansion. They are looking to take the spirit and their wines beyond Ontario’s borders – across Canada and recently established their first exporting venture into the United States. They both feel they produce “great wine at exceptional value” and expansion will increase demand which will increase diversity and quality as long as they maintain the quality of winemaking. Keeping their eye on “elegance” of their wine and winery is a step in the right direction. Maintaining elegant wines will be the next challenge… one that they feel for certain will be met.
We’d like to invite you experience this ‘elegance’ for yourself as you sample this month’s Savvy Selections and compare your impressions with our Sommelier tasting notes on the following pages.
Cheers and Enjoy!
Angels Gate Old Vines Chardonnay VQA 2006 $23.95
100% Chardonnay grapes are used in this wine. The 40-year-old vines are hand-picked and the juices are both fermented and aged in barrels on the lees (wine speak: the yeast is left with the wine in the barrel as part of the winemaking process). All of this produces a smoothness and rich creamy texture.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:Butter is the first impression on the nose followed by tropical fruit. The palate is bathed in butterscotch, caramel popcorn, roasted nuts and a hint of herb. A warm, lingering mid palate produces a long coffee bean and roasted nut finish. Smooth and elegant. Savvy Sommelier Wayne Walker compared this to some good California Chardonnays and felt it would be very versatile, but wonderful with shellfish. What do you think?
Suggested Food Pairing:Seafood, and chicken dishes with white cream sauce would be great match. Brie and other soft, young white cheese will pair well too. There is enough tannic structure and acidity to make this a good choice for roasted pork as well. Its versatility would extend into creamy pastas and sticky rice dishes too. Grilled foods should be limited to white meats and fish.
Cellaring:Drink now at 12C to 15C. Cellar for 3 to 5 years to enrich the texture and enhance the elegance.
Angels Gate Cabernet Sauvignon VQA 2005 $19.95
Harvested from two properties on the Angels Gate estate, this wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon that has spent over 1 year aging in French oak barrels. Our Savvy Sommelier Debbie Trenholm loved the spice finish of this wine and declared ”this would be a hit with anything off the BBQ.”
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:Spices, dark fruit and cedar on the nose are deepened by chocolate and vanilla on the palate. Good tannins and a softened acidic structure bring up the fruit in the mouth and lead into a tobacco and spice finish that lingers.
Suggested Food Pairing:Hearty dishes like grilled red meats, beef and tomato pastas, aged cheeses, stews are good matches for this wine. Spicy poultry and beef, wild game, sausage, pate and blue cheese dishes are other possibilities.
Cellaring:Could be cellared for 3 to 4 years, but it tastes great now at 17C to 20C.
Angels Red III VQA 2007 $35.00
A smooth, elegant and unique blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (67%), Malbec (22%) and Merlot (11%). Blending is where winemakers showcase their artistic vision with consumers. This blend certainly does not disappoint! It is able to deliver intensity with finesse and still generate elegance. Fully aged varietals (wine speak: for grape types) are removed at the end of their own fermentation and aging processes so that grape specific techniques can be used to fully realize the potential of each separate wine. Then they are blended through trial and error to create the final wine.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:This release is almost everything anyone could want in a Red Blend. It is delivered with finesse, richness, balance and length. Dark berries and cherries, chocolate, vanilla, toast, and sweet peppers are part of both the nose and the palette in this wine. These experiences are completed by soft, sweet wood, honeyed texture and a long, sweet, smoky finish transported on a medium to full body. Good acidity and elegant tannins complement a very drinkable and memorable wine.
Suggested Food Pairings:Filet Mignon, Roast Lamb with Garlic and Rosemary, Teriyaki Beef and other grilled red meats are great choices for this gem. Popular choices might include Gourmet Thin Crust Pizza, Mushroom dishes and Gourmet Hamburgers. Bring on the Gorgonzola cheese!
Cellaring: Drink now or cellar for up to 5 years.
OPTIONAL WINE: Archangel Sauvignon Blanc Sparkling VQA 2008 $19.95
This wine is this month’s optional selection that can be ordered by calling Debbie at 613-SAVVYCO (613-728-8926) or email@example.com. The tasting panel began by tasting this wine and had to remind themselves to move on to the other selections because it was so light and dry and summertime drinkable.
The Archangel Series are the first of the grapes to be harvested each vintage at Angels Gate. It is very unusual to find a sparkling wine made of 100% Sauvignon Blanc outside of New Zealand.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:A great palette cleanser and thirst-quencher, it is fruit forward, zesty and effervescent. Well-balanced, it can be drunk on its own and enjoyed for its melon, citrus, ripe apple and pink grapefruit notes that are tempered by the subtle sweetness of lime. It is balanced and, like all the other Angels Gate wines, elegant in its very delicate profile.
Suggested Food Pairings:Chill & enjoy.If you want to have with food, we would recommend fresh vegetable appetizers, green salads, Thai shrimp rolls or seafood would be delicious. Creamy cheeses like Havarti are perfect for this type of wine. Don’t forget everyone’s favourite… goat cheese!
~ RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH YOUR SAVVY SELECTIONS ~
With Angels Gate Old Vines Chardonnay…
Grilled Sweetbread and Chicken Thigh Skewers
Courtesy of Matthew Croncich - Angels Gate Chef
When you visit the winery, plan to nosh on the picturesque patio and say hello to Chef!
4 chicken thighs
1.5 lbs veal sweetbreads
2 cups white wine
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 celery stalks
2 cups salt water
½ cup Dijon mustard
1 tsp sea salt
Fresh herbs (thyme, bay leaf, peppercorns, rosemary, majoram, sage)
1.Marinate thighs in white wine, crushed garlic, canola oil and thyme for 3-10 hours.
2.Roast the seasoned thighs in a 400F degree oven until internal temperature reaches 170 degrees.
3.Gently poach sweetbreads in salted water, carrots, celery, onion, bay leaf, thyme and peppercorns. They should appear pink, but opaque in the middle. Do not overcook or boil. Check frequently. Once done, plunge into ice water bath.
4.Once cooled, remove outer membrane and exposed veins with paring knife while breaking into chunks equal to size of chunks for chicken thighs..
5.On long metal skewers, alternate chicken and veal pieces so they are touching but not squashed together.
6.Brush the meat skewers with Dijon and sprinkle with favourite remaining herbs. Place finished skewers in refrigerator until grill is hot and ready. Season with sea salt and pepper. Cook on grill moderately until meats are coloured and opaque.
With Angels Gate Red III…
A family favorite recipe from the kitchen of Carly Khonmen - Wayne’s daughter
2 lbs lean ground beef
½ lb bulk Italian Hot sausage
½ large red onion, chopped
2 Hot chili peppers
3 cloves garlic, minced
¾ lb Muenster Cheese
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1.Preheat outdoor grill to medium-high heat and lightly oil the grate.
2.Mix ground beef, sausage, onion, chili pepper, Muenster cheese, egg, Worcestershire Sauce, and chili powder in a mixing bowl until evenly combined. Season with salt and pepper and mix again. Form the meat mixture into 8 patties.
3.Cook on the grill until burgers are no longer pink in the centre, about 7 minutes per side. Centre temperature should be about 70C.
4.Serve with Angels Gate Red III at 18C.
With Angels Gate Archangel Sauvignon Blanc Sparkling….
A family favorite recipe from Wayne’s kitchen
Serves 4-6 as an appetizer
1 cup butter
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 to 3 lbs raw jumbo shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 Tbsp dry sherry or white wine
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
1.In skillet, heat butter, cook garlic over medium-low heat until soft.
2.Add shrimps and cook until they turn pink.
3.Add sherry (or wine) and simmer for another minute.
4.Add cream and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped parsley if you wish.
5.Serve with rice using toast or biscuits as edible spoons or just serve on the toast or biscuits themselves.
Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!
Savvy Selections wine of the month club
features Rosewood Estates Winery & Meadery
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep
We all know that wine is made with grapes, sometimes other fruits, yet did you know that wine can be made with honey too? This month’s featured winery Rosewood Estates Winery & Meadery located on the Beamsville Bench (Niagara Escarpment) wowed our Sommelier tasting panel with outstanding wines and meads (wines made with honey). Savvy Sommelier Wayne Walker was eager to interview Rosewood’s winemaker Natalie Spytkowsky. After they chatted on the phone for what seemed like an hour, Wayne quickly called me to share his new knowledge about mead. The first words out of his mouth was “Wow, Natalie is a really cool person”. It is fascinating people like Natalie who we like to introduce you to with your Savvy Selections each month and they look forward to meeting you when you visit their winery.
Natalie has been a long time friend of Savvy Company since she was one of the first winemakers we featured in a winemaker’s dinner event in 2005. At the time she was the winemaker at Angel’s Gate Winery making impressive aromatic white wines (Angel’s Gate was a Savvy Selections featured winery in January 2006). A few years later, she hopped the fence (literally – Rosewood is right next door to Angel’s Gate) to help professional beekeepers, Renata and Eugene Roman, build Rosewood Estates into a winery and a meadery.
In the attached Savvy eZine, Wayne gives you a Mead 101 (see page 8) as well as an interview with Natalie about her approach of making wine as naturally as possible - natural yeast is one of her secret ‘ingredients’.
In your Savvy Selections, you will find these delicious wines that WOWed the Savvy Selections tasting panel:
- Rosewood Gewürztraminer VQA 2008
- Rosewood Chardonnay Reserve VQA 2008
- Rosewood Pinot Noir VQA 2008
OPTIONAL: Ambrosia Grand Reserve Mead 2006
Rosewood’s honey is delicious and whenever I am in Niagara, I make a point to visit Rosewood to stock up on wine, mead & jars of their honey. If you would like to try their honey too, just let me know and I will arrange to have it…delivered!
You rarely find Rosewood wines at the LCBO
There is a cult like following of Rosewood’s wines and with their limited supply of 5000 cases, their wines sell out fast. When you have a Rosewood favorite and you would like additional bottles, simply call on me to arrange a special delivery for you. Likewise if after reading all about Rosewood’s meads you would like to try them – Wayne HIGHLY recommends Ambrosia (see page 4), “It’s like nothing I have ever tasted before”, call on me to arrange a special delivery for you.
Cheers & Enjoy the rest of your summer!
- Debbie & the Savvy Team
Rosewood Estates Winery & Meadery
Presented by Sommelier Wayne Walker
Beekeepers & Winemakers Create a Sweet Deal
“Renata and Eugene Roman purchased 40 acres of land in 2000, which is now home of Rosewood Estates Winery and Meadery. Their goal was to start a small-batch artisanal winery and meadery. This property is located on prime Beamsville Bench terroir. At Rosewood, 15 acres makes up the planted vineyard; approximately 2 acres is for the apiary and the rest is part of the beautiful forested area of the Niagara Escarpment.”
This is how Rosewood Estates identifies itself - a small-batch winery and meadery. As Winemaker, Natalie Spytkowsky tells it, wines and meads are all about “small and natural”. This philosophy is what allows selective hand harvesting of grape clusters, extensive sorting of grapes to get the best of crop and whole cluster pressing of grapes in gentle cycles. There is no crushing. Grape clusters go straight to the tank and are allowed to settle in cold temperatures. As much as is possible, Natalie naturally ferments the red varietals (winespeak: juice of single grape varieties) rather than introducing commercial yeasts. She explains that it takes more time to complete the winemaking process, but in six or seven months after fermentation, it is her opinion that “the wine opens up better and shows more richness and complexity”. Of course this winemaking approach takes passion, patience and commitment.
Small tanks (5,000 litres) and production around 5,000 cases allows for more care and more exacting monitoring of processes. The Chardonnay Reserve for example that is one of this month’s selections is part of a 4 barrel production. A great example of the Rosewood philosophy in motion! (Rosewood Gewürztraminer, also a selection this month, just won a Gold Medal at the 2008 Cuvée Competition - considered as the Academy Awards of Ontario wines.
The meadery side of Rosewood takes on the same philosophical and practical approach. A second generation beekeeper, Eugene Roman realized a teenage dream by teaming up with Natalie to produce mead (honey wine). Mead is made by fermenting honey and water. There are three apiaries attended by the Romans that are positioned throughout the Beamsville Bench. As you might expect, the bees are busy travelling throughout the region. Natalie explains to me that one bee will visit one million flowers to produce one pound of honey. It may fly a distance as far as 4 times around the world collecting the raw materials for honey. Just think of all the choices it has in the Niagara wine and fruit region?
Rosewood puts all its talents together when it makes meads like Mead Noir and Mead Blanc where the juices from grape varietals like Gewürztraminer and Pinot Noir are used instead of water with the honey. This is known as ‘pyment’ and it takes advantage of the properties of both the honey and the wine.
Savvy Selections is offering you what I consider is the ‘la crème de la crème’ this month by making Ambrosia (an ancient style mead) available on request. I hope you like it as much as the Savvy Selections tasting panel did.
Set on the natural clay loam of The Bench, Rosewood is on a wind protected site, good for the grapes and good for the bees. The Romans have just bought another parcel of land on 20 mile bench to expand its artisanal efforts.
As for the future?
Natalie says, “We are staying on track. We like where we are right now. Our size is fine. We have more control over our vineyard than larger operations and we grow 100% of our own grapes (and honey).
“None of our wines will be a clone of its former self. Everyone here is a piece of the puzzle that makes our wines and meads. For us this generates passion which in turn generates creativity”,explains Natalie. “The spirit of Rosewood is ‘Passion Grows Here!’”
And I think that passion is palpable and drinkable!
Here’s to Rosewood’s wines & meads.
Enjoy your Savvy Selections!
~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~
Rosewood Gewürztraminer VQA 2008, $18.00
The grapes for this wine were harvested from the Wismer vineyard near Balls Falls in Vineland. A state of the art Euroselect Destemmer equipment which destems with less vibration and trauma was used on the hand-harvested crop. Gently pressed then fermented in stainless steel tanks, the juice is soaked with the skins for 48 hours to extract colour, flavor and aromatics.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This wine establishes itself as very aromatic with very pleasant experiences of lychee, tropical fruit and rose dust. The aromas transfer to the same strong flavours on the tongue with the addition of stone fruits and sweet spice. All this is delivered in a honeyed texture characterized by subtle sweetness and balance. The long finish accentuates the power of this wine’s profile.
Suggested Food Pairing: This wine has the answer to some very difficult pairing problems! Hot dishes like Pad Thai and Indian curry – are spicy & have exotic ingredients that are best with a wine with low acidity and good fruit structure. This Gewürztraminer is perfect for exactly that reason! Moving away from spicy foods to cheeses – you may already experienced the difficulty of matching hard and soft cheeses with a single wine. Because of its texture and fruit profile, this Gewürztraminer easily handles with the hard and soft cheese matching issue: soft Boursin from France, the exotic hard Garrotxa from Spain or Wensleydale from England are all a perfect companion with a glass of this wine. Various ages of good old Canadian Cheddar shine! Fruit glazed ham and stuffed pork chop with bacon and Gouda are dynamite.
Cellaring: Drink now at 8C to 12C. Short term cellaring 12 to 18 months is possible, but you don’t want to loose the aromas or fruit flavours that will be compromised if you cellar this wine too long.
Rosewood Reserve Chardonnay VQA 2008, $25.00
The grapes for this wine were hand harvested and hand sorted in the winery – a lot of fingerprints involved in making this wine. An interesting note on the processing of these grapes is that they are picked and sorted and pressed in clusters. Battonage (winespeak: regular stirring in the tanks) is done to keep the yeast in suspension and add to the luxurious mouth feel and texture of the wine.
This is a special treat for our subscribers as only 4 barrels were produced of this wine.
Don’t wait too long to contact us if you want more.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Elegant and sophisticated, this wine is both refreshing and creamy. It has all the characteristics of a modern-day Chardonnay with its yellow pear, ripe pineapple aromas with a long creamy finish that belies the French oak aging by offering up vanilla, nutmeg and coconut for barrel flavours instead of more woody offerings. The combination of fruit and texture makes it the perfect choice for white wine drinkers who need a choice for more full-bodied foods like steak or blackened dishes.
Suggested Food Pairing: The freshness in this wine makes it a great wine to have with fish and pastry. Fish pies and fish cakes would be outstanding. Shellfish in white sauce or poached salmon along with chicken, pork or pasta in a creamy sauce would also match well. Cheese-based salads like Caesar or chicken salads with stone fruits or tropical flavours will explode in your mouth with this wine.
Cellaring: Could be cellared for 3 to 4 years, but it really begs to be enjoyed now at about 15C.
Rosewood Pinot Noir VQA 2008 $18.00
Another crop hand-harvested from the Wismer Vineyard, the grape clusters were lightly pressed after 4 days of cold maceration where the juices were naturally released from their own weight. To finish this process, a very light pressing was done, followed by 10 months of aging in French oak barrels.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This wine was released just in time to be featured in Savvy Selections. As Wayne stated during the Savvy Selections tasting panel, “This wine has almost everything anyone could want in a Pinot Noir.” It is delivered with finesse and femininity. Sweet cherries, ripe strawberries, spice, mocha and freshly picked morels are on the nose and the palate. These experiences are completed by a soft, sweet wood and red fruit finish transported on a light to medium body. Good acidity and soft tannins complement a very enjoyable wine.
Suggested Food Pairing: With its fruit and acidity, this wine would work well with creamy sauces and spicy seasonings. Leaner meats like veal, chicken, turkey or wild game bird would work well. Earthy flavours (truffles, wild mushrooms, mustards, coriander and horseradish), sweet spices (clove, cinnamon, nutmeg), sweet vegetables (beets, carrots, carmelized onions, bell peppers) and mild or creamy cheeses (Brie, Camembert, Havarti, Jack) as well as natural stocks and sauces that include butter all work well with this wine. A medium rare rack of lamb rubbed with Rosemary is a great match!
Cellaring: Drink now or cellar for up to 5 years.
OPTIONAL WINE: Rosewood Ambrosia Grand Reserve Mead 2006 $36.00 (375 mL)
Our Savvy Selections tasting panel sampled 3 of Rosewood’s meads and were blown away by Ambrosia. Sommelier Wayne Walker sums it up: “Ambrosia was like nothing I have ever tasting before – an incredibly delicious smooth & unique wine.”
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Full bodied, rich & warm is the best way to begin to describe this unique wine. Straw yellow in colour, aroma and tastes of fresh ripe stone fruits (think nectarine, peach) orange marmalade, sweet spices, white flowers and clover. A honeyed texture with a long pleasant finish that lingers on the tongue with one of the sweetest wood flavours that you will ever experience. “There is no other taste quite like it”, states Wayne.
Suggested Food Pairing: If you have a sweet tooth, you will enjoy this mead with aged cheeses, patés, foie gras and fruit or nut based desserts. On the sweetness level it is only a 10 – compared to icewine that is usually in the 30’s
Cellaring: Already aged 4 years – it will continue to last in the cellar, but don’t resist the temptation – enjoy it now.
~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections~
Thai Red Lentil Curry
The kitchen of Loethe Khonmen (Wayne’s son-in-law)
2 cups red lentils
1 large onion, diced
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 Tbsp curry paste
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp white sugar
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp ginger root, minced
1 (14 oz) can tomato puree
Wash the lentils in cold water and place in a pot with water. Cover and simmer until lentils are tender. (add more water if needed)
In a large skillet or saucepan, caramelize the onions in vegetable oil.
Combine curry paste, curry powder, turmeric, cumin, chili powder, salt, sugar, garlic and ginger in a mixing bowl. When onions are cooked, add mixture to onions and cook over high heat 1 to 2 minutes.
Stir in tomato puree and reduce heat allowing curry base to simmer until lentils are ready.
Drain lentils when ready. Mix curry base into the lentils and serve immediately.
With Rosewood Estates Reserve Chardonnay….
From Jamie’s Ministry of Food Cookbook, Jamie Oliver
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 lbs. potatoes
2 sticks celery
150g good cheddar
½ fresh red chili
4 sprigs fresh flat leaf parsley
300g salmon fillets
300g undyed haddock fillets, skin off, bones removed
125g king prawns, raw, peeled
Handful of good spinach, chopped
2 ripe tomatoes, quartered
Preheat oven to 400F and bring a large pan of salted water to boil. Peel the potatoes and cut into 2 cm chunks.
Add potatoes to water and cook for about 12 minutes.
Into a baking dish or earthenware dish, coarse grate celery, carrot and cheddar. On fine side of grater, zest from the lemon, the chili and the parsley leaves and stocks.
Cut salmon and haddock into bite=sized chunks and place in tray with prawns. Add spinach and tomato. Mix well.
Drain potatoes, return to pan add good ‘lugs’ of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mash until smooth then spread evenly over top of fish and grated vegetables. Place in preheated oven for 40 minutes or until crispy and golden on top. Serve piping hot.
With Rosewood Estates Pinot Noir…
Creamy Pasta with Turkey, Mushrooms and Old Cheddar
Recipe from the kitchen of Dairy Goodness
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 8oz package of mushrooms
1 tbsp butter
½ cup white wine or chicken broth
1/3 cup 35% whipping cream
¼ cup milk
2 cups diced cooked turkey
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/3 lb Aged Canadian Cheddar, shredded
4 cups cooked long pasta
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, cut in strips
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
1. In a large frying pan, melt butter over medium heat and cook garlic and mushrooms 3 to 4 minutes. Set pan aside at this point.
2. Deglaze pan by adding wine and bring to a boil. Add cream, milk, mushrooms, turkey, salt and pepper. Simmer for a few minutes without boiling.
3. Set aside 1 oz of cheese for garnish. Add remaining cheese to pan and melt over medium heat, stirring well.
4. Add cooked pasta, tomatoes, parsley and pine nuts. Stir well, heat through and serve immediately sprinkled with cheese.
Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!
More about Mead
Courtesy of Rosewood Estates website
What Is Mead?
Mead (also known as Honey Wine) is made from the fermentation of honey and water. Honey is flower nectar collected by domesticated honeybees (apis mellifera). Honey is a remarkable product which contains a complex mixture of sugars, enzymes, proteins, organic compounds and trace minerals. These compounds give honey its distinctive flavor and aromas. These carry over into mead production and lend a distinctive flavor to the finished mead.
Mead was the first fermented beverage enjoyed by modern mankind. Mead first showed up as a beverage almost 10,000 years ago. It is a deep part of human history and a link to our forefathers. In ancient Greece, Hippocrates used mead as a tonic. Vikings believed that honey and mead had magical properties and were a gift from the heavens (Valhalla). In Celtic tradition, no wedding was complete without a mead toast to the young couple…FOR A SWEET MARRIAGE. It has been claimed that the word honeymoon comes from a tradition where a newly married couple drank mead for a full moon to ensure a long life and a happy marriage. We find it an intriguing and historical product which links us to human history.
Honey - Nature's Original Sweetner
At Rosewood, we produce and sell natural un-pasteurized honey on the Estate. Our busy bees Apis mellifera – fly the Beamsville Bench and Twenty Valley to gather nectar from the flowers to produce sweet golden honey for your enjoyment.
Honey is known to provide us with many health benefits and provides instant fast burning energy. Honey can be used extensively in cooking from making smoothies to honey baked hams.
Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Chateau des Charmes Estate Winery
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep
December is now in full festive season. Our team of Sommeliers certainly know that December is here, our calendars are chock-o-block with private and corporate event bookings of Sommelier led wine tastings, lunches and dinners. And the phone is ringing off the hook with people arranging subscriptions to Savvy Selections as gifts.
Call on us anytime for a special wine event or gift of wine. Wine Gift Hotline: 613.SAVVYCO (613.728.8926)
This month’s Savvy Selections wines were selected in a different fashion. For the first time in 4 years (not sure why it took us this long!), we invited to all of our subscribers to participate in the Savvy Selections tasting panel. Many thanks to Julie, Denise, Ward and Doug who were up for the challenge of the hard work! One November evening this ‘Fab Four’ together with Savvy Sommelier Wayne Walker, sipped, swirled & spitted (did they really?) an assortment of wines this month’s featured winery - Château des Charmes. Reportedly, everyone had fun, yet they took their jobs seriously as they assessed all of the wines, discussed their attributes then selected the wines that were delivered to you. This time, starting with eight wines and deducting to only three – it was a tough job, but they were game to do it.
Watch for an email invitation to participate in the Savvy Selections tasting panel in mid-January.
In this month’s Savvy Selections, we are delighted to feature the new brand recently launched by Château des Charmes. They are a household name for many and we are showcasing some very special wines this month:
- Sauvignon Gris VQA 2008
- Viognier VQA 2007
- Cabernet Franc VQA 2005
- Equuleus VQA 2007 – optional wine on request
- Savagnin Icewine VQA 2006 - optional wine on request
We love to hear from you about this month’s selection. Let us know how you enjoyed the wines, as well as the matching recipes. If you would like to order more of these wines or others from previous Savvy Selections, simply contact us.
Looking for a special occasion to visit Niagara this winter?
Icewine Festival is just around the corner. During the weekends of January 15 to 17 and 22 to 24, Vintage Hotels and Château des Charmes have partnered to put together a fantastic line up of events and packages celebrating Icewine. More information at http://www.chateaudescharmes.com/Icewineact09.pdf
Cheers & Enjoy the holidays!
Debbie & Savvy Team
Château Des Charmes Winery
by Savvy Sommelier Wayne Walker
“New world excellence. Old world tradition.”
Directed and rewarded by this mantra since 1978, the Bosc family (Paul Sr and his wife Andrèe – on right, along with Paul Jr and his wife Michèle – on left) represents a winemaking tradition comprised of six generations. Started in the 1840’s in French Algeria, the Old World tradition migrated to ‘New World’ in the 1950’s when Paul Bosc Sr made Ontario his new home.
A graduate of winemaking school at the University of Burgundy - Dijon and an experienced Alsatian winemaker, Paul Sr began his quest in the New World working for a large winery in Niagara. In 1978, he began his own venture by growing grapes on 50 acres of the St. David’s Bench (located along the base of the Niagara Escarpment). The faith Paul Sr. had in Niagara’s climate became a significant turning point in the evolution of Niagara as a wine region. His expertise and influence on the growth of the area is remains highly regarded by new winery owners.
Château des Charmes carries on a vine breeding program focused on growing and selecting Noble grape vines from the winery’s designated nursery plots in their vineyards, constantly experimenting with Niagara growing conditions. Over the years. Paul Sr has developed fuller and hardier vines to assist in the production of fine Niagara wines. Gamay ‘Droit’, is a grape variety that discovered in his nursery. He noticed the rootshoots of one Gamay vine growing straight up (rather than branching out). Intrigued, he propagated the vines and ended up nurturing them for 20 years only to discover that he had ‘grown’ a new form of Gamay vine - one that the Château now has exclusive international plant breeder rights. This is heralded as Canada’s first vinifera (winespeak: native grape variety)
Château des Charmes has a large presence and a grounded history in Niagara, but according to Paul Jr. the winery “… is not just brick and mortar, it’s another member of the family. A lot of blood, sweat and tears created this impressive volume and space and this helps us to never lose sight of its human quality. My father and I make decisions for our immediate and extended families every day (120+ staff during the peak season). We never lose sight of our responsibility to consider Château des Charmes as a way of life for all of us. It has a central sparkle that we get up every morning to polish - like a diamond.
Like father like son, Paul Jr continues, “My father gave us a great advantage as a pioneer and a seminal figure in the development of the Niagara wine industry, yet I am weary that we have been in the New World (of Niagara) for more than four decades. We don’t rest on our laurels. We must be open to change and innovation.”
This side-by-side evolution of the ‘Old’ and the ‘New’ changed and shaped the new winery’s branding and labeling. The iconic architecture of the Château, Paul Jr explains, “now shares a regional terroir concept on the winery’s logo. It pays homage to Niagara by giving a better sense of place by using outlining the hillscape of St. David’s Bench in the background.”
And as for new innovations? You will see that on the back label, sports a square QR Code (Quick Response Code) near the barcode. This is leading edge technology. By using the decoding software on a new cell phone, the code will convert and reveal a website on your cell phone providing more information about the wine including winemaking processes, growing conditions, recipes, critiques, recent awards won and cellaring notes. If you want to try it, download the free software download for QR Codes on chateaudescharmes.com Château des Charmes is the first winery in North America adopting QR Codes technology. “But,” Paul Jr. humbly notes, “we won’t be the last.”
“New world excellence. Old world tradition.” A great mantra for a well rooted winery.
~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~
Château des Charmes Sauvignon Gris VQA 2008 $19.95
This unusual blend wine benefits from the citrus and mineral experience of Sauvignon Blanc grapes combined with the smooth texture and tropical flavours of Pinot Gris.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Straw to pale yellow in colour, the tasting panel enjoyed the pear, melon, citrus and sweet honeyed flavours of this medium bodied wine. As Ward put it, “this wine offered a comfortably sweet experience.”
Suggested Food Pairing: Serve this wine chilled at about 8 to 11C. It’s a wonderful sipper or can be paired with a variety of white meats - chicken or turkey. Shellfish, fish or soft cheeses will offer a delicious pairing.
Cellaring: No need to wait…this wine is ready to drink now. It can cellar for up to 2 years at 10C but be careful not leave it too long as it will lose its characteristically fruity flavour.
Château des Charmes Viognier VQA 2007, $25.95
Viognier is one of the noble grapes of the Rhône region renowned for its intense aromatics and flavours of stone fruit. Unlike in Europe where it is primarily seen as a blending grape, in North America it has become a favourite in its own right. Think you have seen this grape variety before? In October’s Savvy Selections featuring Peninsula Ridge we included their Viognier.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A hands down favorite of the Savvy Selections tasting panel, the peach, almond, floral and melon aromas of the nose are carried on a creamy texture of apricot, citrus and almond on the tongue. Viognier is one of Doug’s favourite wines and this one in particular impressed him with the added dimensions of warmth and complexity. What do you think?
Suggested Food Pairing: Ideally paired with lighter fare, it shows very well seafood pasta, sushi, grilled white meats (try the Porkchop, Apple & Butternut Squash recipe below), salmon in a cream sauce or a simple plate of Brie and crackers.
Cellaring: This should be enjoyed now. Like all Viogniers, aromatics and finish dissipate with time. Chill this white a little more than usual to 7C for serving and storage. This will help the flavours and aromas endure.
Château des Charmes Cabernet Franc VQA 2005, $25.95
The Old World Bordeaux style of this wine was immediately evident to the tasting panel. Denise, Ward and Julie noticed its pleasures were not lead by its fruit profile, but were more balanced by the texture and barrel flavours evident in the wine. Like Viognier, Cabernet Franc is typically a blending grape in Bordeaux-styled wines, yet in cooler climates, such as in North America, it flourishes and has become one of Ontario’s more prolific and desired wines. If you have a sweet tooth, Cabernet Franc crafts as a very tasty red icewine. Outside of Ontario, this grape variety can be discovered as a blending grape in Cabernets, Bordeaux, Meritage or Super Tuscans.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Ruby garnet in colour, Denise was impressed with its silky texture that brought with it not only the typical raspberry and spice, but licorice flavour as well. Ward noted how its barrel flavours were rounded into sweet smoke and vanilla. Doug commented on its subtle minerality and long finish.
Suggested Food Pairing: The Fab Four tasting panel all agreed that older cheeses, grilled, red meat and game would be great matches for this wine. Let’s not forget tomato based pasta dishes! Have fun with our festive Christmas Turkey Pasta recipe below - it’s another way to enjoy turkey over the holidays.
Cellaring: This wine is drinking well now, yet it will continue to develop in the bottle for 5 to 10 years. The panel tasted the 2007 Cabernet Franc too and realized the softening effect of the extra 2 years of aging in the 2005 vintage.
Optional additions to your Savvy Selections
If after reading these tasting notes you would like to order these special wines, simply contact Debbie on 613.728.8926 or firstname.lastname@example.org and she will make the delivery arrangements for you. We would not want you to miss out!
Château des Charmes Equuleus VQA 2007 $40.00
Just released last week (Debbie got the first bottle!) this is the Château’s signature red wine. Only crafted in spectacular years – 2007 certainly fit that bill – this wine honours Paul Sr’s passion for winemaking and Arabian horses. Named after the Little Horse star constellation that is visible in the night sky during harvest time, this blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc & 25% Merlot, simply an outstanding red wine.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This wine shows that Ontario can definitely make BIG red wines. Concentrated aromas and tastes of black plum, figs & black liquorice with notes of smoke and a long finish.
Suggested Food Pairing: Simply put, this wine is begging to be enjoyed with the finest cut of beef – whether you roast, BBQ or sear it, keep this wine for that special dinner with all of the trimmings….including candles!
Cellaring: This wine has just been bottled and may still be experiencing bottle shock. It is recommended to hold until mid December or cellar as it has robust aging potential and will evolve over the next 5 to 15 years.
Château des Charmes Savagnin Icewine VQA 2006
What is Savagnin? It is a rare grape, grown in the Jura region of France, where they make dry wines. The local specialty is Vin Jaune, a Sherry-style oxidized wine that can last upwards of 50 years. Back to Savvy Selections: the Bosc family originally made dry wines from this grape variety, but has now decided to produce the first ever Icewine.
The result? Medium to full body; it offers good amounts of fruit and acid, more along the lines of a refined Riesling Icewine rather than the typical Vidal Icewine.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Sumptuous and exotic! An incredible, complex marmalade, Mandarin orange, lemon and toffee experience that lasts forever. Evenly proportioned, intense, thick, sweet and opulent are the only superlatives the panel could generate. The fruit flavours, sweetness and acidity are well balanced on the palate. If you buy and try this wine, we’d like to receive your tasting notes! Drop us an e-mail so we have something to say besides Mmmm…
Suggested Food Pairing: ABSOLUTELY GREAT on its own. It has the capacity to stand up to and enhance sweet, full-textured desserts. Citrus desserts can render a rare bittersweet experience. Bring on the chocolate the tasting panel demanded!
Cellaring: This wine can be cellared, but Santa would be very disappointed if this gift weren’t very served soon!
As has become a tradition for the last couple of years, we offer you the option of including a dessert wine with your Savvy Selection in December. This signature wine is not only unique to Canada, but to the World. It left the tasting panel speechless! Ahhh…, ohhh… and Mmmm… were the only responses that could be heard. We soon learned why it has a 90+ rating by professional wine critics.
~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~
With Château des Charmes Sauvignon Gris…
Almond-Crusted Stuffed Chicken
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 oz. brie cheese, sliced
4 dried apricots (finely chopped)
½ c. sliced almonds
1 tsp minced fresh rosemary
1 tsp coarse salt
1 tsp freshly cracked pepper
½ c. fresh bread crumbs
1 egg lightly beaten
1 tsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
Preheat oven to 375F.
Cut each breast in half like an open book.Arrange brie slices over chicken, sprinkle with apricots, ½ of the almonds, rosemary, salt and pepper. Close each breast and press around the edges to seal.
In a shallow dish, combine bread crumbs and remaining almonds, dip chicken breasts in egg then dredge them in crumb mixture, pressing to coat completely.
In large oven-proof skillet, melt butter and oil over medium-high heat. Cook chicken about 3 minutes until golden brown, then bake in oven about 15 to 20 minutes to cook through.
Serve with seasonal vegetables
With Château des Charmes Viognier…
Porkchops with Apples & Butternut Squash
From Bravo! The Best of Bridge Cookbook
1 ½ cup of unsweetened apple juice or cider
1 Tbsp honey mustard
1 Tbsp maple syrup or liquid honey
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
4 pork chops
1 Tbsp butter
1 large leek (or onion) sliced thinly
½ small butternut squash, peeled & grated (or cut into match sticks) – about 2 cups
2 red apples (unpeeled), thinly sliced
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
In a medium bowl, whisk together apple juice, mustard, maple syrup, cider vinegar, salt and pepper. Sprinkle pork on both sides with salt and pepper.
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Cook pork for 4 to 5 minutes per side until browned and just a hint of pink remains inside, while juices run clear when pork is pierced. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.
In the same skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Sautée leek and squash for 2 minutes or untilsoftened. Add apples and juice mixture. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 5 minutes or until apples are softened not mushy.
Return pork to pan and bring sauce back to a boil. Remove from heat immediately and sprinkle with parsley
Serve over wild rice with generous spoonfuls of sauce.
With Château des Charmes Cabernet Franc…
Christmas Turkey Pasta
1 pound of turkey, ground or diced (pre-cooked or fresh)
½ cup chopped green onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp olive oil
2 14 ½ oz cans of tomatoes, undrained
½ cup red wine or chicken broth
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
Hot cooked spaghetti
½ cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
In a large nonstick skillet, cook the turkey, onions and garlic in oil over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. If using precooked meat, brown it, then drain.
Add the tomatoes, wine, basil and oregano. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes or until heated through.
Serve over spaghetti; sprinkle with cheese and enjoy with a glass of Cabernet Franc.
Cheers & the best of the Season from all of us at Savvy Company!
Featuring Vineland Estates Winery
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep
Savvy Selections is all about discovering premium wines made by winemakers across Canada. This month we have made an incredible – not to mention delicious - discovery when we opened top-of-the-line wines from Vineland Estates Winery of Niagara.
Seriously, our eyes popped out in amazement when we sampled these elegant, well balanced and well crafted wines. We wish that we could see your reaction of discovery when you take your first sip of the Elevation Series wines in this month’s Savvy Selections:
Elevation Series Riesling VQA 2007– a signature grape variety of Vineland Estates. This is the best of the best!
Elevation Series Chardonnay VQA 2007 – a white wine that any red wine lover will enjoy
Elevation Series Cabernet VQA 2007 – a blend that has won numerous awards recently that the winery has just relabled the bottle to accommodate all of the accolades!
Vineland Estates and its owners - the Schmidt family – are familiar to many Canadian households for quality wines. More importantly, they have leant a hand and their knowledge to grape growers, restaurants and start up wineries all in effort to help build a vibrant wine industry in Ontario and across the country. Even Brian Schmidt, Vineland’s esteemed winemaker, helped by supporting an event that The Savvy Grapes was involved in during our early days of being business…and look at us now…showcasing his premium wines to our Savvy Selections subscribers. Thank you Brian!
In this Savvy e-Zine, read more about Brian’s down to earth winemaking style that fascinated 0ur Savvy Sommelier Wayne Walker during his interview. As always, you will find our Savvy Sommelier tasting notes and summer recipes chosen to pair with the selected wines.
Visit the winery & stay for a meal…
When your travel plans take you to Niagara, be sure to include a visit Vineland. Not only is it a stunning historic property, be sure to make time for a gourmet meal at the restaurant located in the 1845 circa farmhouse. Pick a table outside under the shade of the large tree and be mesmerized by the view of the rolling vineyards while Executive Chef Jan Willem-Stulp and his team create an outstanding wine and food experience for you. More at http://www.vineland.com
Stock up for the summer…
The Elevation Series wines will take your taste buds to new heights. When you would like more of these wines or other wines from Vineland Estates, simply call me at any time to make the arrangements for a delivery. The wine can be sent to any Ontario address: to your home, office or even cottage. Put us on speed dial! Savvy Company 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926).
Cheers, enjoy and most of all enjoy your summer!
Debbie & the Savvy Team
Vineland Estates Winery
Presented by Sommelier Wayne Walker
Off the beaten track, yet on a well traveled route, turn off the Q.E.W. at exit 57, head south on Victoria Avenue into the area known as Vineland. A quick right turn on Moyer Road will bring you to a remarkable landmark: a stone tower that marks the site of an 1860’s Mennonite homestead and now the home of Vineland Estates Winery.
According to winemaker, Brian Schmidt, this is the site of the “fortunate happenstance” by Hermann Weis of Mosel, Germany in 1979. Weis attested that vinifera (winespeak: pure grape varieties – example Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, etc.) could not only survive, but flourish in the clay and limestone soils of Niagara. This brought about a “natural evolution” that Allan Schmidt (Vineland’s General Manager) and his brother Brian Schmidt have vigorously cultivated since assuming the direction and development of the winery in 1988.
Vineland Estates produces not just great wine, but a great wine experience. Its highly recommended restaurant, wonderful wine boutique, carriage-house facility for picturesque private events, phenomenal vineyards and unique wine cellar (a living record each of the 25 year history of the winery in bottle format) have all evolved from a natural sense of “working with all that we have,” as Brian explains
“Minimalist by nature” is how Brian expresses his approach to winemaking. “But minimal doesn’t mean reducing to the bare bones. It means getting down to simple quality and enhancing the natural essence of the grapes.”
Brian’s insights into how he makes Riesling wine is almost a mantra for the character of the winery: “Our style is crafted from what we have been given from the vineyard. Acidity is the most consistent characteristic of grapes we can grow in Niagara. We don’t always have the conditions for high sugar and alcohol content in our crops. If we relied on those qualities for the basis of our Riesling wines we might only be successful 3 out of 10 years.”
Brian goes on to explain, “For Riesling, we can typically get 18 to 18½ Brix (winemaker’s term for measurement of natural sugar content in grapes) consistently at each harvest. I stylize the winemaking so the acidity is adequate, yet not overpowering. It is this balanced approach that makes a great tasting wine like Elevation Riesling with only 8% alcohol and 20 grams of residual sugar.” With this explanation, our Savvy Selections tasting panel knew that it was a natural fit to include Vineland’s top end Riesling in this month’s selection.
Balance extends itself from winemaking into the vineyard. “To realize consistency of quality in the vineyard, our primary focus is to grow a healthy and balanced vine - one that is growing well considering the conditions of soil and the weather,” explains Brian in his down to earth manner. “Some wineries measure the number of tons per acre. To me, this is not as important as the sustainability of the vine and the methods we use to grow great grapes (viticulture). It’s a creative balancing act and I don’t want to handcuff our winery with expectations or quotas.”
For this reason, in some years, Brian does not craft particular wines in his portfolio. Simply put, due to rain or lack of sun hours or other natural affectations, he will not comprise quality or Vineland’s esteemed reputation with a sub-par wine. Vineland loyal customers and restaurants have expectations when they uncork a bottle of Vineland wines. Our Savvy Selections tasting panel were impressed with each of the four wines in Vineland’s Elevation Series, making it difficult for us to only pick three to showcase this month.
In addition to Riesling, Brian is inspired when he talks about Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc vineyards and the wines. In his opinion, both are very well suited to Niagara terroir resulting in complex wines.
“It is all about finding a balance. Like all pleasures, wine should not be complicated…simply enjoyed,” mentions Brian. “Vineland Estates Winery is where great wine, fabulous food and beautiful surroundings embrace simple pleasures.”
Vineland Estates is very proud of the success of its Elevation wines in the marketplace and at wine competitions.
As a sommelier, I think that with every sip of Vineland’s wine you can taste the evolution of a winery that aims to create not only great wine, yet wine with unique character - its food friendliness, its winemaking philosophy and its sustainability. Cheers & Enjoy!
~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~
Elevation Riesling VQA 2007, $25
The fruit for these wines is harvested from the highest elevations on the property allowing them to take full advantage of temperature fluctuations (difference between day and night temperatures) that are generated by the Beamsville Bench – part of the Niagara Escarpment – along with the gentle breezes of nearby Lake Ontario. Combined, these help generate fresh acidity, ripe flavours and silky textured wines.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Pale yellow, clear and reflective, tickles your nose with aromas of clover honey, ripe apple and apricot. A soft steely texture with apple and apricot integrated with pink grapefruit. The intensity of sweetness and acidity makes for a distinct crisp taste experience – perfect for summer sipping.
Suggested Food Pairing: Serve chilled (at about 11C) on its own or with food. Quiche, ceviche, curry dishes and ginger infused desserts. With its intensity and natural sweetness of this wine, Japanese dishes like Sushi, Shabu-shabu, Tempura or Ootoro are especially tasty – try your hand at our rolled sushi recipe below.
Cellaring: No need to wait - this wine is ready to drink this summer.
Elevation Chardonnay VQA 2007, $25
Also produced with grapes grown on the Beamsville Bench, subtle barrel aging adds to the complexity of its ripeness and silky texture. This is a white wine that any red wine drinker will enjoy.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A reflective pure straw colour, this medium-bodied wine presents good fruit aromas of crunch apple (spy apples in particular?), fresh nectarines, tangerine with a hint of pencil shavings (do you smell this?). Apple. herbs and lemon follow through on the palate and offer a balanced experience held together with good acidity and soft tannins. A medium aftertaste of apple and lemon-pepper leave a reflective impression. Delicious!
Suggested Food Pairing: This wine is like a cross-over vehicle when it comes to food pairings. It can match well with the lighter sides like fruit salads, Caesar salad, shellfish (raw and steamed). While it can also carry larger foods like honey-barbeque chicken wings, fish chowder and soft cheeses. In the meat category. oven-roasted pork, grilled chicken or white fish with garlic or citrus marinade. Believe it or not a perfect complement with this wine is POPCORN - especially caramel corn!
Cellaring: Drinks like a dream right now. Cellaring shouldn’t exceed 2 years if you want to maintain present levels of fruit flavour. Serve at 12C to 14C.
Elevation Cabernet VQA 2007, $25
Another ‘Elevated’ experience, that takes advantage the micro-climate, it benefits from the experience and expertise of Vineland’s esteemed winemaker and friend of Savvy Company – Brian Schmidt. A blend of 70% Cabernet Franc (a very successfully nurtured grape in Niagara) and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, the sweet red bell pepper flavours of Cabernet Franc have been supported by the dark-fruit sweetness of Cabernet Sauvignon in an extremely well crafted and well-balanced wine. You are the first to receive this bottle sporting the new label that celebrates its string of recent awards – Savvy Selections membership has privileges!
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A rich, transparent medium-bodied wine with aromas of ripe red berries and cinnamon then after the wine breathes a bit, the aromas extend into sweet bell red pepper, dark fruit (do you find figs and plums) and dark chocolate. The flavours evolve too! Dark juicy black cherry, mulberry, warm spice, toffee and even lemon pepper, finish off with subtle dry tannins, good acidity and warmth. A balanced experience whose medium finish leaves reflections of spicy, dark fruit.
Suggested Food Pairing: Certainly this wine qualifies for the BBQ season! Pork chops and ribs would match best, especially when dry rubbed with herbs and spices. Tomato-based pastas, lasagna and even smoked ham would be delicious. A meal of middle-eastern or Greek cuisine lend themselves to a great match too. BBQ foods aside, probably one of the best selections would be thin crust gourmet pizza – a favorite recipe is below.
Cellaring: This wine is great for drinking right now. It could cellar quite comfortably for 5 to 7 years which would bring out its structure even more. Serve at 16C to 18C
~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~
With Elevation Riesling…
Maki-zushi (Rolled Sushi)
Serves 6 or more
2 ½ cups Japanese short-grain rice (like Koshihikari)
2 ½ cups cold water
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons superfine sugar
2 teaspoons salt
Your choice of cooked or raw seafood, chopped or minced
6 sheets of nori (edible seaweed)
Gari (pickled ginger)
1. Place rice in a colander. Rinse thoroughly. Drain. Put in cold water in saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover pan and turn heat to very low and cook for 15 minutes without lifting the lid. Turn off heat and allow to stand for 10 minutes more still covered, then spoon rice into large bowl.
2. Mix together the vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl until sugar dissolves then drizzle mixture over the rice. Mix together gently to completely coat rice. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
3. Toast each nori sheet very lightly by passing back and forth over hot stove burner. Don’t get it too close to the heat or it will quickly burn.
4. Spread rice evenly on nori sheet on bamboo roller. Put seafood filling across centre of nori on top of rice. Roll up bamboo mat pressing forward to shape the roll. Press bamboo mat gently to shape and firm up sushi roll. Remove roll from bamboo and with a sharp knife that you wet with water, cut roll into 2 inch slices.
With Elevation Chardonnay…
Best ‘Barbie’ Chicken
6 chicken breast halves (preferably boneless, skinless)
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups lemon-lime flavoured carbonated beverage
1 cup soy sauce
1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
1. In a medium bowl combine oil, lemon-lime beverage, soy sauce and garlic powder. Stir thoroughly.
2. Put chicken and mixture together in sealed Ziploc bags or plastic container and marinate in refrigerator for 12 to 18 hours (6 to 9 hours if using boneless, skinless breasts).
3. Barbeque slowly --- don’t overcook. Turn often and baste with mixture on each turn. Cook until meat is no longer pink in the center and juices run clear. Discard remaining marinade.
4. Depending on marinating time and cooking method the amount of marinade consumed will vary.
With Elevation Cabernet…
Easy to Make Thin-Crust Gourmet Pizza
Serves 1 or 2 per pizza
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
Pinch of sugar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 large flour tortillas (sandwich wraps)
1 cup shredded Asiago cheese
2/3 cup Ricotta cheese
6 to 10 Cremini (aka Button) mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
3 Portobello mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
½ cup spinach
½ thinly sliced red pepper
1. Preheat oven to 450F. If using a stone for baking, allow oven and stone to heat for 15 minutes before cooking. Otherwise, use rimmed baking sheets and parchment paper and place racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven to preheat and cook.
2. Heat one teaspoon of Olive oil in a sauté pan on medium heat. Add onions and stir until they soften. Add pinch of sugar and the Balsamic vinegar. Stir in mushrooms, spinach and red pepper slowly. Add more Olive oil if required. Cook until onions have softened and spinach is beginning to shrivel.
3. Sprinkle some corn meal on your pizza wheel (or rimless cooking sheet) and place tortilla on top and brush with Olive oil. If you are using rimmed cookie sheets, put parchment paper on sheets, brush with Olive oil and put tortilla on top then brush tortilla with oil.
4. Sprinkle each tortilla with ½ cup shredded Asiago cheese. Sprinkle with cooked onions, mushrooms, spinach and peppers then add bits of Ricotta cheese. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Brush lightly with Olive oil if you wish.
5. Bake until crust is crisp and very brown (5-7 minutes if using a stone. Start with 10 minutes if using cookie sheet and check it for crisp brown texture from there.) Cut with a pizza cutter and serve.
Cheers to “Elevating” your summer!
As December is a month filled with family traditions we thought that it would be fitting to showcase Konzelmann Estate Winery. In this Savvy e-Zine, you will read how the winery in Niagara continues the family tradition of winemaking stemming back to Germany for four generations. The tradition is deeply rooted in heritage and respects the quality and winemaking styles of the Old World that shows through in the three bottles we selected for this month's Savvy Selections:
- Gewurztraminer Reserve VQA 2006
- Riesling Grand Reserve Classic VQA 2007
- Barrel Aged Merlot VQA 2006
- Special Select Late Harvest Vidal VQA 2006 – optional item added on request
Our tasting panel of Sommeliers selected these particular wines as they are ready now and would be easy drinking wines to uncork during the holiday season. Keep them handy and ready to serve with hors d’oeuvres, to unwind after a full day of shopping or to simply sip on as you relax by the tree.
If you would like to order additional wines from Konzelmann or wines from other featured wineries in the Savvy Selections, simply contact us to organize a shipment for you.
Here’s to another great year together discovering Canadian wines with the Savvy Selections! We look forward to continuing to share wines with you in 2009!
-Debbie and the Savvy Team
Konzelmann Estates Winery
presented by Savvy Sommelier Wayne Walker
In 1893, Friederich Konzelmann, restaurateur and winemaker, founded an Estate Winery near Stuttgart, Germany. Herbert, his great grandson, continued this tradition in Germany until the early 1980’s when he moved to Niagara, Ontario. In his travels, Herbert recognized that Niagara had an Alsatian-like micro-climate in the Lake Ontario area and saw the opportunity to continue the Konzelmann in the growing Niagara wine region.
The new Konzelmann property in Niagara was originally an orchid of 2500 plus peach trees. Herbert recognized that there was potential in the soil to offer soft minerality and warm tropical flavour to wine grapes. Today, the 83 acres has been transformed into vineyards that boasts 17 different grape varieties producing upwards of 40,000 cases of award winning wines each year.
Herbert and his winemaking assistant, Eric Pearson, are focused on producing low yielding grapes (winespeak: low yields means that the grapes have concentrated flavours) and high quality premium wines. Old vines, thinned out three times a season, contribute towards achieving this goal. Vertical vine training (a method of trimming and growing vines in a more vertical linear fashion than in a bush-like design) helps to enhance sun exposure, ripening conditions and sugar and flavour intensities. These wines are proudly named “The Winemaster’s Collection”.
Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Vidal are some of the varietals that thrive at Konzelmann. As Bruno Reis, Director of Operations explains, “This is where our penchant for Alsatian and Burgundian styles of wines comes from. The natural growing conditions and grape varietals have a direct impact on our winemaking methods.”
Certainly Eric’s knowledge of Italian winemaking coupled with Herbert’s German background (including his expertise with Icewines) are a winning combination that is enjoyed in all Konzelmann wines.
This international expertise can be contributed to why Konzelmann wines have an international market, being sold not only in Ontario but extensively in California, Texas, New York, Japan and Korea.
Konzelmann’s signature wines are white. The Reserve Gewurztraminer and Grand Reserve Riesling – both are included in your Savvy Selections this month. As for red, Pinot Noir and Merlot lead the pack while Vidal Icewine is the coup d’etat in the dessert category.
Konzelmann wines can be placed in existing styles of winemaking, but the fact remains that wine from this Niagara estate on Lake Ontario struts character profiles of its own. Konzelmann whites show a fine acid balance while maintaining an unique, delicate, soft mineral and fruit flavour. Konzelmann reds show the effort that is spent enhancing textures and tannic structure on an existing fresh, elegant, fruity canvas. The result? - favour, flavour and balance. Extended fermentation time on the grape skins and in wood barrels assists in developing these signatures.
Bruno feels that if someone were to drink every wine in the Konzelmann portfolio, the Gewurztraminer would be the most memorable because “It tastes good, feels good and with its acidity, it matches well with food while showing no negative side effects. It is the role model of all the Estate wines. It’s a drink of integrity and character. Drink Konzelmann wine and everything is fine.”
Now that is a great way to toast the holidays!
~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~
Konzelmann Gewurztraminer Reserve VQA, 2006 $17.00
Low yield and long ripening are evident with this wine. Considered as Konzelmann’s signature wine, it shows good weight and texture and solid aromatics. This wine is medium to full body and capable of carrying solid alcohol and good residual sugars, as evident in its delicious fruit flavours.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This straw gold, brilliant wine is very aromatic with stone fruits (can you find peaches, nectarines, apricots?), flower blossoms, lychee and other tropical fruit. Good acidity and fruit structure give balance to its elegant, long, stone fruit and tropical finish.
Suggested Food Pairing: Serve this wine chilled (about 8C) as a wonderful sipper or paired with a variety of white meats roasted or grilled, fish, soft cheeses or salty snacks. Try the Spiced Chicken Breasts with Pineapple and Grapefruit below to taste this wine come alive!
Cellaring: No need to wait…this wine is ready to drink now. It can cellar for up to 2 years at 12C.
Konzelmann Riesling Grand Reserve Classic VQA, 2007 $22.00
Another great food wine with its thirst quenching acidity, its complex fruit profile and its delicate balance is enjoyed into the well-ripened creamy and elegant texture.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A favorite of the Savvy Selections tasting panel, this straw (with a greenish tinge – do you see this?) is a reflective wine with aromas of ripe pears, peaches and apricots on a canvas of ripe apple and lemon-lime. Full-bodied, the fruity flavors continue through onto the palate with tropical fruit, stone fruits and honey. A silky leather and green pear, apple aftertaste are connected by a subtle minerality on the finish.
Suggested Food Pairing: This wine is versatile and can be paired with many food styles. It shows very well with spicy Thai and Mexican cuisine because of its thirst quenching qualities. Even serve this wine with a fruit dessert, particularly a dessert featuring fruits found in the aroma and flavours of the wine. I offer (below) a luscious Roasted Pear recipe that would be perfect for holiday festivities. Enjoy!
Cellaring: Ready to be enjoyed now, yet will retain its intensity for up to 2 years if stored on its side in a cool location (12C-14C).
Konzelmann Merlot Barrel-aged VQA, 2006 $20.00
The dry summer and cool fall of 2006 resulted in excellent ripening conditions rendering this Merlot ideal fruit concentrations and colours. This wine was not only aged (for 18 months) in French Oak (in case you are interested: from coopers in the Allier and Nevers regions of France), but some fermentation took place in barrels as well. This allowed the winemaker to enhance the tannic structure and the darker, riper fruit flavours of the wine during the active process of fermentation and the longer aging time. This contributes to its Bordeaux-style profile.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Dark ruby-red in colour, sporting the richness of blackberry jam, earth and oak, with a subtle bit of pepper, this wine is very soft and round with ripe berry fruit and spicy vanilla flavours on both the tongue and the medium finish. Good acidity gives it a surprising quality of thirst quench.
Suggested Food Pairing: Pasta, pasta and more pasta is what this wine screams out for! Make sure that the sauce is not overly creamy. Oven cooked beef (like roast beef, Beef Bourguignon) and chicken (Coq au Vin) would work well. A feast of chili and crusty bread or homemade pizza are perfect to enjoy this easy drinking wine.
Cellaring: This wine is drinking well now, yet, could certainly be cellared for 3 years or so (18C). As it ages, the fruit character will diminish. You may think that this is an issue as it is such a large part of its profile. Watch for any significant lightening of colour in storage as this will indicate waning of fruit profile.
A Special Addition by Request of our Savvy Selections subscribers
Konzelmann Special Select Late Harvest VQA, 2006 $19.95
Late Harvest wines usually identify a grape that has been harvested around the first frost of the year in late October or early November. The Vidal grape (interesting to note it is a hybrid grape variety), is typically left on the vine to be naturally frozen, then harvested for Icewine. Vidal is also a great grape for Late Harvest because of its thick skin and its ability to retain sugar and acidity against exposure to the harsh early winter elements.
The panel of Savvy Sommeliers was particularly impressed with this Special Select because its weight and texture gives you the impression of Icewine with its full bodied richness and long creamy finish. We hope you like it as much as we did.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: The honey texture and colour of this luscious libation almost gives it an Ice Wine profile. Stone fruits and apple on the nose are consummated on the tongue with more honey, lychee, candied citrus and warm, ripe tropical fruit, leaving a ripe, fleshy peach, apricot and honey finish balanced by sweet lemon zest.
Suggested Food Pairing: GREAT on its own. Sip by the fireplace munching on your favourite roasted nuts, cheese, chocolate or holiday treat. Also consider serving to complement and enhance sweet, full-textured desserts as well.
Cellaring: With its great acidity this wine will store and please for quite a while, but Santa would be very disappointed if this gift lasted past January 1, 2009 – wink wink!
~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~
With Konzelmann Gewurztramniner Reserve…
Spiced Chicken Breasts with Pineapple & Grapefruit
2 chicken breasts
mixed spice (no anise)
clear strained chicken stock
fresh grapefruit juice
fresh pineapple juice
butter or olive oil
In a saucepan, combine two fruit juices, stock, and spices and boil to a thick sauce.
Add a pad of butter to the sauce to give it a shine.
Pan fry the chicken breasts in butter or olive oil until firm. Cover as required.
Test periodically they are cooked throughout by testing that juices run clear when cut.
Serve the chicken breasts with the fruity sauce smothered over them. Perfect on a bed of steamed rice.
With Konzelmann Riesling Grand Reserve Classic…
Festive Pear Pairs
4 firm ripe pears – pealed, sliced in half & cored
¼ c. brown sugar, packed
¼ tsp. ground ginger or ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup coarsely crumbled ginger snaps
1 cup havarti or old cheddar cheese, shredded
Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream
Preheat oven to 400F. Butter a shallow 8 cup square or oval baking dish.
Place pears cut side up in baking dish, sprinkle with sugar, ginger, lemon juice and toss to combine. Spread evenly. Roast for about 25 minutes or until pears are almost tender and starting to brown.
In a bowl, combine cookie crumbs and cheese. Sprinkle evenly over pears.
Roast for 10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted or pears are tender.
Serve warm topped with whipping cream or ice cream. Serve yourself a glass of chilled Classic Riesling.
With Konzelmann Barrel-Aged Merlot…
Sweet Beef Curry
1 onion, sliced
1 apple, peeled and sliced
1 banana, sliced
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp fig jam or orange marmalade
3 to 4 cups of lean roast beef cut into bite sized pieces
½ c. of water
1 beef stock cube
Fry onion in butter until softened.
Add curry powder and cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Add apple, cook for 2 minutes. Add banana, cook for 1 or 2 minutes.
Add sugar and jam and cook for 5 minutes. Add meat, water and crumbled stock cube and simmer, stirring until thick. May be served alone or on rice.
With Konzelmann Special Select Late Harvest…
2 peaches, ripe, but not soft
2-3 Tsbp Butter
3 Tsbp brown sugar
vanilla ice cream
Cut peaches in half. Melt butter over medium heat. Add brown sugar and stir.
Add peaches. Cook until fairly warm and starting to soften, about 1 minute. Flip and cook an additional 30 seconds.
Add rum to taste and swirl in pan.
Use a long lighting instrument, pass over the pan as alcohol evaporates and light contents of pan. Allow flame to die down and sauce to thicken, slightly.
Remove and serve over ice cream. Yum!
If you would like to order additional wines from Konzelmann or wines from other featured wineries in the Savvy Selections, simply contact us to organize a shipment for you.