Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Black Prince Winery
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This month brings royalty to the Savvy Selections featuring Black Prince Winery from Prince Edward County. If you have not visited yet, ‘The County” is an easy weekend getaway 2 to 3 hour drive from Ottawa or Toronto, Ontario. With rolling countryside, large farms, quaint Loyalist architecture, orchards, vineyards and the white beaches of Sandbanks Provincial Park on Lake Ontario.
The County has become Canada’s fastest growing wine region boasting 17 wineries awaiting your visit. Hand in hand, more boutique inns and gourmet restaurants are opening with renowned chefs from the Toronto area moving from the bustle of the city to the leisurely pace of the towns of Picton and Bloomfield. The County has been settled for centuries and there is evidence of grape growing as early as 1850. In fact, local history notes that a winemaker from the County won a medal and diploma at the 1867 International Exhibition in Philadelphia.
Not surprising then, that wine lovers are flocking to build their dream of a winery in this picturesque area.
We are excited to feature one of County’s wine industry pioneers - Black Prince Winery. This is indeed a dream of wine die-hards that became reality when the winery opened its doors in 2003. In this month's Savvy Selections, we feature:
- Chardonnay VQA 2007 – a crisp, refreshing wine - perfect as a summer sipping wine
- Melon de Bourgogne VQA 2008 – a unique white wine that was just released in time to be included in the Savvy Selections
- Cabernet Franc Reserve VQA 2007 – an impressive red wine that is growing in popularity & winning awards!
Fire up your BBQ, set out the deck chairs, uncork a bottle of wine and read this Savvy e-Zine blog, about the winery’s connection with the Opimium Society, the story of the name and its crest. As always, you will find our Savvy Sommelier tasting notes and summer recipes chosen to pair with your wines.
Stock up for the summer…
Summer entertaining requires plenty of good wine on hand. Rather than fighting traffic to shop, have an assortment of wines delivered to your home or office by calling on Savvy Company to make the arrangements for more bottles of your favorite Black Prince wines or bottles from previously featured wineries in the Savvy Selections. It is that easy! Put us on speed dial! Savvy Company 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926)
Visiting wine country this summer?
Our Savvy Sommeliers continuously travels and we compile lists of ‘must visit’ wineries with wine recommendations and tips on restaurants to include in your trip. Let us before you head off to any wine regions across Canada, call on us to map out your trip and to arrange a special tour of the winery for you.
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Black Prince Winery
Presented by Sommelier Susan Desjardins
Standing on the sun-drenched deck of the Black Prince Winery, sipping a glass of Chardonnay (included in your Savvy Selections) and admiring the just-budded vineyards in the distance, the winery’s general manager Geoffrey Webb, pointed out to me that the warm temperatures of late April brought on bud break sooner than usual. Spoken like an avid gardener, “there’s still a risk of frost through to the full moon”. You can’t control the weather, yet, Geoff has taken all possible measures to produce 100% Prince Edward County wines that express the local terroir as well as the typicity of the varietal.
Originally from Montreal, Geoff attended Queens University and often visited Sandbanks Provincial Park to windsurf. He established a wine business in Toronto that led him to meet John Sambrook – the general manager of the Opimian Society.
Geoff was invited to get involved in several aspects of Opimian Society including finding a vineyard to invest in when the Society repatriated an investment it had made in a vineyard in Napa, California.
Formerly a horse farm, the 50-acre property is now the location of Black Prince Winery with a gently rolling south-facing slope where the vines are planted in deep sandy loam over limestone. The existing farm buildings were transformed into winery operations and there are have plans for new buildings in the near future.
As one of the pioneers in the County, much experimenting was required to figure out what grapes would grow best. When the vineyards were first planted in 2002, varietals included Pinot Noir, Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Marechal Foch, Vidal and Chambourcin. After a few years, it was decided to tear out the Pinot Noir and Riesling vines. “We just couldn’t get the quality of wine we wanted from these grapes”, explained Geoff.
In addition to grape varieties, weather plays a huge part in the winemaking. For many varietals, the County tests their hardiness. As we wandered through the vineyard, Geoff explained to me that all of the work in his vineyards is done manually, so that vigilance can be maintained during the growing season and the quality of the grapes can be maintained through harvest. Unlike other wine regions in Ontario, after harvest, winemakers have one more job to do before wine. The vines are “hilled up” (grape growing term: buried under a foot of soil) to protect them from the harshness of winter.
In an excellent vintage like 2007, when growing conditions throughout the spring, summer and fall, the grapes were healthy with high flavor concentration, and winemakers left the fruit hang on the vines to optimum sugar levels. In 2008, the warm dry late summer weather compensated for the wet conditions in spring and early summer. Winemakers are used to working with Mother Nature to grow the best wine possible in the vineyard before harvest.
Since inception, Black Prince had a consulting winemaker. Originally, from California, but more recently they have benefited from the expertise of a Niagara-based consultant, who is transferring knowledge to the local associate winemaker, John Fricker. John is an award-winning amateur winemaker turned professional involved in winemaking in the County for many years.
John monitors the Black Prince vineyards, and works closely with the growers who supply grapes for the other labels produced by Black Prince in their winery site - Harwood and Bella Vigne. This co-operative concept helps incubate new wineries. Geoff is enthusiastic with this approach as it provides the opportunity to showcase the terroir of other areas of the County with wines made from grapes of smaller growers who have yet to established their own wineries. “We get excellent quality from these partner vineyards, and our winemaker is actively involved in the management of their vineyards. We’re proud of our slogan – one winery, many terroir.”
Another addition to terroir, is the arrival of a cooper (winespeak: barrel maker) in the County. Excited to make wine with County grapes barrel aged in County oak, Black Prince purchased 5 of 6 available County oak barrels and are currently aging a reserve Chardonnay. Geoff offered me a barrel sample- mark my word, it promises to be a beautifully balanced wine. Be on the watch for it in a few years.
About the regal name…
Geoff explained that the owners wanted something linked to Prince Edward. After searching in the history books about all of the royal “Prince Edwards”, they settled on Edward the Black Prince, who was a successful military commander and ruled over a large section of Aquitaine, France – an area that included Bordeaux – a perfect wine connection!
You may be interested to know that the Black Prince winery escutcheon, like those of yore, depicts the history of its founders. In the top left and bottom right quadrants pertain to the Opimian Society, while the top right and bottom left quadrants recognize the founders and the families which have contributed to the success of Black Prince Winery.
Click here to watch Black Prince Winery's video
~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~
Black Prince Chardonnay VQA 2007, $14.75
The fruit was sourced from three County vineyards, including the Wicked Point vineyard. The fermentation in stainless steel tanks brings out the crisp minerality and zesty fruit, similar to the French styled unoaked Chardonnay - Chablis. Black Prince Winery is excited that this wine won a bronze at the “Chardonnay du Monde” in Burgundy, France.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A lovely pale gold, this dry wine has delightful aromas of ripe fruits, with a hint of pineapple and citrus. The fruit flavors are carried through on the palate with a refreshing acidity. The wine is well-balanced with a crisp finish.
Suggested Food Pairing: Served well-chilled, this medium-bodied wine will go well with smoked salmon, a chicken salad, or a light cream-based dish. Or, sip it on it’s own as you enjoy the lazy days of summer on your backyard or cottage deck!
Cellaring: No need to wait…this wine is ready to drink now.
Black Prince Melon de Bourgogne VQA 2008, $16.75
We are excited to hear what you think of this unique wine. To our ‘savvy’ knowledge, only two wineries in Ontario craft a Melon de Bourgogne – and both are from the County!
When we first tasted the 2007 vintage of Black Prince’s Melon de Bourgogne, we were impressed with this lush wine – and so was everyone else who tasted it, as it is now sold out. With some arm twisting and sweet talking (wink-wink), we convinced Geoff to release the just-bottled 2008 vintage first, to you, our Savvy Selections subscribers!
2008 was a challenging vintage all around, with heavy rain in the early summer, yet the winemaker has done an outstanding job creating this unique white wine.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Also known as Muscadet, Melon de Bourgogne is most commonly grown in the Loire Valley of France. However, it has found a home in Ontario, partly due to its winter hardiness, and to its ability to “let the terroir sing”, to quote Geoff Heinricks (author of A Fool and Forty Acres a great book about the history of the Prince Edward County as well as first-hand recounts of the trials and tribulations establishing a vineyard in this new region). Our Savvy Selections tasting panel found Black Prince’s Melon to be aromatic and fresh, with hints of honey, melon and citrus. Bright citrus and apple peel carry through on the palate of this medium-bodied wine. Hints of pithy grapefruit and minerality bring a cleansing and pleasant bitter note to the long finish.
Suggested Food Pairing: made from grapes grown by the sea in France, and in this case by the Lake Ontario in the County, this wine is ideally paired with seafood. To keep it local, enjoy the wine with the Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Cape Vesey cheese from the County, or a creamy Sauvagine cheese from Québec. During my tour of the County this spring, I enjoyed tasty crab cakes at the Merrill Inn, and the owners have kindly (yes, more arm twisting and sweet talking was involved…what we do for our subscribers!!) provided the recipe below.
NOTE! Since this wine was literally just bottled in late May, we recommend you don’t open it for 4-6 weeks so that it has a chance to recover from “bottle shock” (winespeak for the change in the wine having quietly rested in tanks for months then moved onto the bottling line & shipped from the winery). Chill & enjoy it this summer.
Black Prince Cabernet Franc Reserve VQA 2007, $15.75
To produce this approachable Cabernet Franc with softer tannins, the grapes were lightly pressed, the free run juice was captured separately and then blended back into the pressed juice. The result is a wine that was recognized with a Grand Champion award at the Royal Winter Fair, as well as a Bronze Medal at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition. Bravo!
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A bright ruby hue, this Cab was a favorite amongst our Savvy Selections tasting panel for its ripe cherry aromas and hints of red peppers, sweet herbs and spices. Made with 100% County grapes from the spectacular 2007 vintage, the flavors include red cherry, pepper…and even roasted red peppers! The wine is well-balanced, with moderate acidity and integrated tannins. The fruit and pepper notes carry through on the medium-long finish.
Suggested Food Pairing: This wine is ideally paired with barbequed or roasted red meat, such as lamb, or with herbed roasted pork. Enjoy with the exotic recipe we offer below: Lamb with Garlic & Dark Chocolate Sauce.
Cellaring: This wine is drinking well now, but could be appropriate for short-term (1 or 2 years) in the cellar.
Listen to CBC Radio interview about the award this wine won
~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~
With Black Prince Chardonnay…
Argentinean Garlic Chicken with Corn, Tomato & Parsley Salsa
Adapted from the Ottawa Citizen
For the salsa:
1 bunch (~2 C) Italian parsley leaves, chopped
½ shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ c white vinegar
1 tsp dried oregano, or to taste
5-6 drops Tabasco sauce
¼ tsp ground pepper
½ c olive oil
1 pint cherry tomatoes, roasted
2 c corn kernels (from can, drained, or cut from fresh cobs)
For the chicken:
1 tsp each pepper, dried oregano, finely chopped garlic, ground cumin (optional)
1 Tbsp olive oil
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1. First, cut the tomatoes in half, place on baking sheet cut side up, drizzle with olive oil, and roast in oven at 375F for about 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, to make the sauce, in a food processor, combine the parsley, shallot, garlic, vinegar, oregano, Tabasco, pepper. Process until finely chopped. With motor running, slowly add oil and process until well blended but with coarse texture. Pour into a bowl. Stir in the corn kernels. Once the tomato halves have cooled, add them and stir.
3. To prepare the chicken, combine the pepper, oregano, cumin, garlic and olive oil. Brush each chicken breast with these ingredients. Grill on BBQ 3-5 minutes each side, or until chicken is not pink inside.
4. Serve the parsley sauce on the side or spooned over each breast, along with small roasted potatoes. Enjoy with Black Prince’s summer crisp Chardonnay!
With Black Prince Melon de Bourgogne…
Merrill Inn’s Crab Cakes
Recipe kindly provided by Chef Michael Sullivan, Merrill Inn
Serves 6 (12 2 oz. patties)
Many thanks to Amy Shubert, owner and innkeeper at the Merrill Inn for providing
this delicious recipe which we enjoyed during our stay.
1 lb. crab meat
½ C white bread crumbs
1 stalk celery, diced
½ red pepper, diced
½ medium onion, diced
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp Old Bay Spice (or ½ tsp Cajun spice) cheese
pepper, to taste
Dash of lemon juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1. Sauté peppers, onion, celery and Old Bay Spice in 1 Tbsp oil until soft.
2. Stir in bread crumbs followed by crab meat. Add egg and mayonnaise, pepper and lemon to taste.
Chef’s tip: Don’t stir too much to avoid breaking down crab meat.
3. Refrigerate immediately for about 1 hour.
4. Form the mixture into 2 oz. patties (2 ½ ” wide by ¾” thick).
5. Preheat oven to 400F. Preheat a cast iron pan with a light coating of vegetable oil on medium heat until the oil just starts to smoke. Place patties in the pan. Add a small piece of butter and gently sauté for 1 minute. Place the pan in the preheated oven for 4-5 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven, turn over the patties, and brown the other side on the stovetop over medium heat.
6. Serve 2 patties over mixed dressed greens. Garnish with Cajun mayo if desired.
With Black Prince Cabernet Franc…
Peppered Lamb Loins with Garlic & Dark Chocolate Sauce
Recipe adapted from LCBO Food & Drink Magazine, Winter 2009
1 Tbsp freshly ground pepper (or to taste)
1 tsp herbes de Provence
2 boneless lamb loins (about 1 lb.)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp finely chopped garlic
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 c unsalted or low-salt lamb or chicken stock
½ oz. dark bittersweet chocolate (70-80% cocoa), chopped
1. Combine pepper, herbes de Provence and 1 Tbsp olive oil. Brush lamb loins with mixture.
2. Preheat oven to 200F. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a small pan on medium heat. Add chopped garlic, lower heat and cook until the garlic is just golden. Remove pan from heat. Add stock and return to heat. Bring stock to a boil and reduce to ¼ -1/3 C. Add chocolate, stirring until melted. Reduce heat to minimum.
3. While the stock is being reduced, grill lamb on BBQ 12-15 minutes, or until pink inside. Transfer to a dish and keep warm in the oven as you finish the sauce.
4. Once the sauce is ready, slice the lamb into thick slices and pour over a tablespoon of sauce. Timing is everything with this recipe, as you don’t want the chocolate sauce to overcook!
5. Taste your Black Prince Cabernet Franc alone, and then with the lamb. Do you notice a difference?
Cheers to the arrival of summer!
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We hope that you are enjoying the wines as much as our Sommeliers enjoy finding them for you. When you have found wines that you would like a few more bottles, simply contact the Debbie and she will gladly organize a special shipment for you.