Savvy Selections wine of the month club
features 33 Vines Winery
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep
Owner and winemaker of 33 Vines Winery, Paul Minaker, says “there is nothing like the excitement of tasting fermented grapes straight from the barrel to have the first sip of new wine”. Making wine along with driving his tractor keeps him ‘close to the land’ – his vineyard that is located on the Loyalist Highway #33 in the north eastern part of Prince Edward County, or ‘The County’.
The Savvy Team is delighted to introduce you to 33 Vines this month as we have had a deeply rooted connection to this winery. In 2006, Paul called on us to be the Sommeliers for a VIP event he was having for the winery’s ‘Founders Circle’ members – friends, family & wine enthusiasts who were watching this property transform from a corn field into a vineyard. Members were invited to sample County wines, provide feedback on the 33 Vines label designs, plant vines and see the renovations of the heritage barn as it readies for the first harvest. Then in 2008, the Savvy Team were involved in the grand opening of the winery complete with winery tours, Sommelier led wine tastings in the barrel room and the evening continued with a celebration private concert featuring the Jim Cuddy Band. Now with the winery in its second year, the wines are turning heads and the winery has become a ‘must visit’ stop with its tasting room housed in the red CN caboose.
When not devoting his life to being a winemaker, Paul is a network designer in his spare time or maybe it’s vice versa? Hard to tell depending on the season however there is no doubt that the lure of the land is embedded in his blood, his upbringing and as he says, where he calls home.
This month, your Savvy Selections includes:
- 33 Vines Pinot Noir VQA 2008 – take note how this wine evolves in your glass
- 33 Vines Merlot VQA 2007 – a crowd pleaser
- Red Caboose Rosé VQA 2008 – medium bodied with a natural sweetness that keeps you salivating & wanting another sip!
You won’t find these wines at the LCBO!
33 Vines is the smallest winery that has been a Savvy Selections feature. With its limited supply 2000 cases of wines handcrafted each year, their wines are only available at the winery. To stock up on more bottles of your favorite wine, simply call on us to arrange a special delivery for you.
Watch a Savvy video on 33 Vines!
Get a taste of 33 Vines and meet Paul by watching a video that I created on a recent tour to the winery.
Cheers & Enjoy!
Debbie & the Savvy Team
33 Vines Winery
Presented by Sommelier Julie Stock
Paul Minaker says he does not have a particular winemaking philosophy nor a magic formula, rather his challenge as a winemaker is basically to make a good quality wine. Sounds simple enough?
In 2003, Paul purchased his property just east of Adolphustown on Loyalist Highway 33 (near Glenora Ferry) and immediately planted Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc grapes. This was not a spur of the moment purchase. Rather, Paul spent years of researching, analyzing vineyard growth and wine history in the area, talking to other winemakers to find the right spot for planting his vineyard. While Paul had the advantage of being born in and growing up in Picton (aka The County), he says that he devised a checklist of all the pre-requisites required for the vineyard before endeavouring on such a purchase. His check list included such items as: first and foremost, the proper soil, secondly; being close to water, third; the land had to have the right slope and elevation, to name only a few. This brings to mind the concept of terroir, which aside from land and soil and which way the wind blows, is part and parcel of the heart and soul of the person who farms the land and harvests the crop.
Paul’s first harvest was in 2006 with and his first release of wine in 2007. On his 15 acres of premium clay loam soils - similar to the soils in Burgundy, France - this small boutique winery produces a zippy Riesling, an impressive Chardonnay, an award winning Cabernet Franc, a notable Pinot Noir. In 2007, he added Merlot to his portfolio. While one of Paul’s favorites is his Chardonnay, he is also passionate about Pinot, and he laughs saying “it can sometimes take getting used to the aromas” but with conviction, “a velvety smooth Pinot is like no other wine”.
In 2008, the focal point for the winery’s grand opening was the private concert at Crystal Palace in Picton headlining Jim Cuddy Band (Jim is Paul’s cousin and the lead singer in the popular Canadian band Blue Rodeo). With celebrity status entertainment, coupled with first rate wines, the celebration drew attention to the new boutique winery and attracted more attention to already growing popularity of Prince Edward County.
Working in the vineyard
Despite its small size, Thirty Three Vines requires the same workhorse management as larger wineries. The Thirty Three team includes a full time vineyard manager, two workers on the land, a person with tasting room expertise and additional grape pickers during harvest.
“One of the advantages of a small winery is that during harvest, grapes can be picked in the morning and crushed in the afternoon – the winemaking process begins immediately.” How does Paul decide when the are grapes ready? “Weather can be of influence, coupled with the Ph (acidity) in the grape, the brix (sugar levels) and ultimately the taste of the grapes. Pinot Noir grape ripens first, then typically followed by Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Franc and Merlot and by the time we’ve entered well into October, five to seven tons of grapes have been harvested.”
Grapevines usually have a 30 year lifespan. However, due to the harsh winter conditions in The County, unique to this wine region, winemakers must “hill up” whereby the grapes are literally buried down to the cordon - the main branch in a grapevine. Hilling up is often done by tractor, which can be pretty hard on the vines. The exact timing to hill up takes place is tantamount to their growth and success the following year since if the vines are hilled too early in November, any significant rain that follows causes rot and vines do not like to be wet. Subsequently, the vines are “hilled down” in the spring – meaning the protective soil is removed. This too is time sensitive because hilling down too early exposes the plant to frost or leaving too late could cause the vines to shoot branches too low. Paul and other County winemakers will attest that winemaking is neither for the short-lived or faint of heart.
The love of winemaking is sometimes juxtaposed with issues of the Federal and Provincial rules, regulations and sales that ultimately dictate what is sold at the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO). While this may be considered as a disadvantage to wine enthusiastis, it also makes a visit to small wineries worth seeking out. Highway 33 also known as the Loyalist Parkway offers blue lake on one side and vast green country farmland on the other. Stop in to say hello at the red CN caboose and sample the variety of 33 Vines wines. It’s not only worth the stop; it’s worth the drive. After all, finding a great new wine is in part, the journey.
Cheers & Enjoy!
~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~
33 Vines Pinot Noir VQA 2008, $24.95
Paul is passionate about Pinot Noir and he laughs saying “with this one, give it some times to get used to the aromas.” Then he continues with conviction, “a velvety smooth Pinot is like no other wine.” With that type of determination, we are sure that Paul will indeed create a great Pinot Noir. Take note how this wine changes and evolves in your glass.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This young light to medium bodied beauty has aromas of sour cherries, violets, raspberries, a hint of tobacco and sweet spice; all the delicious aromas often found in a well balanced pinot noir. With its medium tannins, acidity and slight peppery finish it makes a perfect summer pinot noir.
Suggested Food Pairing: The Savvy Selections tasting panel all agreed that a vast selection of foods could accompany this easy drinking pinot from pork roast to salmon or turkey and we decided it was definitely a year round wine to have on hand.
SOMMELIER TIP: lightly chill your Pinot Noir wine (10-15 min in the fridge) for a different wine experience. As the wine warms up to room temperature, you will experience an array of aromas and tastes.
Cellaring: Best enjoyed now, or cellared for up to 2 years.
33 Vines Merlot, $19.95
The eyes of our Savvy Selections tasting panel lit up when we sampled this wine. It is no doubt that Sommeliers at some of Ottawa’s restaurants agree that this wine is a crowd pleaser.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Medium garnet coloured, this Merlot is polished and practically glistens in the glass. Juicy red fruits, cranberry and a hint of blueberry penetrate the nose and follow through with silky elegance on the palate. The medium tannins and acidity play into a lingering finish of plums and dusty dark chocolate.
Suggested Food Pairing: We were all in agreement that this wine would be a great complement to BBQed burgers, game or pasta with tomato sauce. The wine is balanced, smooth and friendly. Anyone on for making a new friend?
Cellaring: Best enjoyed now, or cellared for up to 2 years.
33 Vines Red Caboose Rosé VQA 2008, $16.95
Savvy Sommelier Julie declares that this is my a favourite Thirty Three Vines wine for the summer. A unique blend of Riesling and Cabernet Franc – none of the Savvy Selections tasting panel had experienced anything like this before. While rosé wines can range from bone dry to sweet, this one falls somewhere in the middle. Perfect to sip on its own, serve before a meal or do as Paul does when tasting the range of Thirty Three wines at the tasting bar – serve this Rosé chilled after enjoying red wines.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: It has a crisp clean strawberry and cranberry looking appearance that tastes great on its own or with everything from grilled fish to our featured watermelon and feta salad. It is light weight in body and aside from red berries, displays slight aromas of mineral and an earthiness that can only come from the soil in Lennox and Addington County.
Suggested Food Pairing: The Savvy Selections tasting panel was unanimous that this was lunch or afternoon wine and by the time we agreed to brunch, it was unanimous that one glass is not enough to enjoy its refreshing characteristics! A great sipper not to mention a great match to food including roast turkey, grilled shrimp, BBQed pork chops or picnic fare.
Cellaring: Ready to drink now, ripe but not overly sweet.
~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~
With 33 Vines Pinot Noir ...
Peppered Pork Tenderloin with Cherry Salsa
This is an easy but elegant summer dinner, can be served at room temperature.
1/2 pound dark sweet cherries, pitted and chopped (about 1 cup)
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
1 teaspoon finely chopped seeded fresh jalapeño chili pepper (tip: wear rubber gloves while chopping)
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh coriander
3/4 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of excess fat
2 tablespoons crushed black peppercorns
1 tablespoon olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
2. In a bowl stir together cherries, lime juice, zest, onion, jalapeño, and coriander.
3. Season pork with salt and press peppercorns into it. In a large heavy skillet heat oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and brown pork on all sides.
4. Transfer pork to a shallow baking dish and roast in oven until a meat thermometer registers 155°F., about 20 minutes. Transfer pork to a cutting board and let stand 5 to 10 minutes. Slice pork into 1/2-inch-thick medallions and serve with salsa.
With 33 Vines Merlot ...
Capellini (aka Angel hair pasta) with Tomatoes and Basil
From: Barefoot Contessa
A great celebration of summer – fresh basil and cherry tomatoes from the market!
½ cup good olive oil, plus extra for the pasta pot
2 tablespoons minced garlic (6 cloves)
4 pints small cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes
18 large basil leaves, julienned
2 tablespoons chopped fresh curly parsley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¾ pound dried capellini or angel hair pasta
1½ cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Extra chopped basil and grated Parmesan for serving
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add two tablespoons of salt and a splash of oil to the pot.
2. Meanwhile, heat the ½ cup of olive oil in a large (12-inch) sauté pan. Add the garlic to the oil and cook over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, basil, parsley, thyme, two teaspoons salt, the pepper, and red pepper flakes.
3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for five to seven minutes, tossing occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to soften but don't break up.
4. While the tomatoes are cooking, add the capellini to the pot of boiling water and cook for two minutes, or according to the directions on the package. Drain the pasta, reserving some of the pasta water.
5. Place the pasta in a large serving bowl, add the tomatoes and Parmesan, and toss well. Add some of the pasta water if the pasta seems too dry. Serve large bowls of pasta with extra basil sprinkled on top and a big bowl of extra Parmesan on the side.
With 33 Vines Red Caboose Rosé ...
Watermelon, Feta and Black Olive Salad
From Nigella Lawson’s Forever Summer Cookbook and her recipe web site
This is one great summer salad!
1 ½ kg sweet ripe watermelon
250 g feta cheese
Bunch of mint and parsley chopped
1 small red onion
2-4 limes depending on juiciness
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
100 g black olives
1. Peel and half the red onion, cut into fine half moon shapes and put in small bowl with lime juice.
2. Remove rind and pips from the watermelon, and cut into triangular chunks (bite-size)
3. Cut feta into similar sized pieces and put both into a wide shallow bowl.
4. Tear off sprigs of parsley so that it is used like a salad leaf rather than a garnish; add to bowl along with the chopped mint.
5. Sprinkle or tip the glowing onions along with the now pink lime juice over the salad in the bowl; add the oil and olives then using your hands toss the salad gently so that the melon and feta do not lose their shape.
6. Add a grinding of black pepper and taste to see if any more lime is required, to taste.
Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!