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Posts Tagged ‘LCBO’

Looking for a job in the importing wine, beer & spirits business?

Posted by Debbie

Saturday, March 15th, 2014
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Since I began Savvy Company 10 years ago, there are two questions that I am constantly being asked:

“I was away on vacation in ‘wherever you’ve just been’ and found this outstanding wine. Is there a way that I can order more & have it shipped to Ontario?
The winery owner said that they would do it no problem!”

“I would like to get involved in the wine industry.  How do I become a wine agent?”

If I had a loonie…no, make that a toonie….for each time these questions come up in a conversation while I have a glass of wine in hand, I would be drinking Champagne every day!


The wine industry is fascinating.  I have found that the people involved are typically interesting, well-traveled and have a joie de vivre that is contagious. There are so many wine events for the genereral public, such as the Gourmet Food & Wine Show in Toronto or recently-hosted in Ottawa, County in the City where winemakers from Prince Edward County were showcasing their wines  - white wines, red wines, sparkling wines, you name it they make it.

While you are at these events to enjoy wines, the winemakers are often looking for people to help them sell their wine.  Becoming a representative of a winery while holding down your day job or starting a wine agency from the ground up are two ways to be a part of the rapidly growing wine industry.

 


Let’s crunch the numbers…

During 2011-2012 fiscal year, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) reported sales of over $3.2 billion worth of imported alcoholic beverages – a 6% increase over the previous year – even in a challenging economic environment. More than any other consumer product, the alcoholic beverage industry has the ability to weather periods of slow or negative economic growth. There is the saying that ‘people will drink in the good times and they will need a drink in bad times too.’

Statistics Canada recently reported on April 11,2013 that net income among the provincial and territorial liquor authorities rose 3.6 per cent to $6.1-billion. More than half this amount is from the sale of imported wine, beer & spirits.

There is no ‘how to’ manual about working in the wine industry.  In fact, there are rarely job postings on Workopolis or Craig’s List either.  Those who know of wine jobs are often ‘in the biz.’ In fact, just last week two wineries contacted me asking if would recommend an agent to sell their wines.

So how to get a jump start on a job in the wine industry? 

Each year we host 3 seminars (2 dates in Toronto & 1 takes place Ottawa) entitled ‘Importing Wine for Pleasure and Profit’ by renowned industry expert Steven Trenholme.  Steven he knows everything AND everyone in the wine industry.

The next seminar will take place in Toronto on June 7th , 2014.  For more details & to register, click here >>

In his 30+ year career, Steven has been a wine agent, a brand manager for Mosel wines (of Germany), the Canadian representative for South African Wines, a ‘head hunter’ for numerous wine companies to recruit people as wine agents and to top it all off, manager of a national wine agency.  Steven has the ‘how tos’ for the above two questions that I am always asked!

“As Canadian’s thirst for more diversity in the alcoholic beverages that they consume, this presents a very real opportunity for new agents & importers,” states Steven Trenholme.

If you are intrigued about the wine industry or are already an agent, you will find Steven’s day-long seminar invaluable.  Many of Ontario’s top wine importers and agents started their careers after attending this seminar. Several Savvy Sommeliers on my team – myself included – have gained valuable insight to importing wines, as well as learning the ins and outs of the operations and processes of the LCBO & the SAQ in Quebec.

“There are still hundreds of wine suppliers around the world actively looking for importers to represent them in Canada, so there are certainly opportunities to develop a full or part-time career in the wine industry”, reports Steven.

Rest assured that your head will be spinning from all of the information you collect at his seminar, yet Steven is only a few clicks away to help you get started or answer additional questions. He is a wealth of knowledge and THE man to know if you are curious about working in the wine industry or importing your favorite wines back after a trip abroad.

“I have taken a few courses where ‘the business of wine’ has been a required component, but NOTHING has compared to the relevancy of Steven’s content. If you are considering a career in the beverage alcohol business in Ontario, you need this information. Steven is experienced, professional and he offers sound advice delivered succinctly in one day,” offers  Alyson Carmichael, LCBO Manager & Product Consultant in Oakville.

 

Interested in taking this seminar?  The next seminar will take place in Toronto on June 7th , 2014.  For more details & to register, click here.

Have more questions about importing wine, spirits & beers, we will gladly help.  Simply email cheers@savvycompany.ca. Cheers!

 

It’s that time of year…dinner party season!

Posted by Debbie

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014
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Whether you have cabin fever or mid-winter blues, warm your house with the delicious smells wafting from the kitchen & the constant ringing of the doorbell as friends & neighbours arrive. Here’s an article Debbie wrote that appeared in the latest issue of Ottawa at Home Magazine. 

Pondview Rose with foodHosting a gathering of any kind – dinner party, potluck or cocktails – can be hectic & unnerving even for the best prepared host.  Having the evening fully catered definitely takes the weight off the menu but really part of the fun is planning the menu & cooking for your guests.  With this underway, you are then faced with the looming question – what drinks to serve and should it be white wine or red wine –  or something else entirely?

“I have been called on numerous times for suggestions of crowd pleasing wines that won’t break the bank…yet will impress”, says Debbie Trenholm, Sommelier & founder of Savvy Company.  “I even had someone call me from the Spanish wine aisle at the LCBO & couldn’t decide which ones to buy.  So they texted me photos of what was on the shelf & we shopped ‘virtually’ together!”

 Debbie’s tips for your next fun wine & food filled evening:

wine_tasting_sparklingPop the corks!  Greet your guests with a glass of bubbly – it is a great way to kick off the evening.  Italian Prosecco or Spanish Cava are sure fire bets of sparkling wines priced under $20.

The 30-70 rule – buy 30% white wine & the rest red wines, especially in the winter when it is natural to want a glass of heavier wine

Chill your wine in the snow!  No need for bags of ice when there is lots of snow around. Shovel the white stuff into a wine bucket or place bottles in the snowbank at the front door or on your back deck.

Have a mini wine tasting.  Give each guest or set each place at the table with 2 or 3 wine glasses and a sampling (2 oz or so) of different wines in each.  Throughout the evening ask your guests which wine they think is best with the food.  Guaranteed that this will become a lively conversation!

A quick Wine & Food Pairing 101

grapes Niagara-on-the-Lake Sept 2013 low res“Stay close to your roots. Or, rather, stay close to your wine’s roots. Wines are always best matched with foods from the regions where they are made”, says Debbie about pairing wine and food. “Uncork a bottle of wine from Italy with a meal of Italian cuisine – afterall, both the wine and food from this country were meant to go together.  Same with French, German, Spanish fare…and Canadian too!”

White or red wine? Toss out the idea to match your wine with the meat. Fish, chicken and meat is the canvas — what matters is flavour. Make your choice on the spices, marinade or sauce—choose the wine that will make your meal sing. Debbie offers these ‘rules of thumb’:

Wine and…

…spicy food – look to the hard-to-pronounce white wine
If you’re tucking into an Indian curry, Thai dish or Mexican dinner, uncork a bottle of Gewürztraminer – the light and naturally sweet wine will play with the exotic spices and ingredients that will add WOW to your meal.

…salad – go bone dry
Think dry and crisp when matching to salads. The acidity of the vinegar in the dressing can play havoc with the wine, making it taste more acidic or ‘tinny’. Pinot Grigio from Italy or Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand are always safe bets.  Or Debbie suggests to simply skip serving wine with this course to take a break and cleanse the palate for the rest of the meal to come.

…grilled fish – smell the flowers & roses
With grilled fish you can swing both ways by serving a glass of a medium bodied floral white wine like Viognier (pronounced vee-oh-NYAH) that complements the flavours of the fish or a light bodied red wine such as Gamay or Pinot Noir – one that has notes of red roses – to amplify the charred flavours.

…heavier meats – need heat & smoke
Warm spice (think cinnamon and cloves), smoke and plum aromas and tastes in a red wine go superbly with the marinade on lamb chops, saucey spareribs or a herb encrusted roast beef.  Add to your shopping list a bottle of Carmenère from Chile (pronounced car-men-EHR) or a red Zinfandel from California.

Looking for a shopping list of wines?

Savvy Company’s Sommeliers give ‘must buy’ recommendations every two weeks in their blog ‘If I only had $100, I would buy at Vintages…’. 

Cheers & bon appétit!
-Debbie

 

 

 

Let the wine do what the wine wants to do…at Casa-Dea

Posted by Eva

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013
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Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Casa-Dea Estates Winery

-  October 2013 -

It is harvest time! Wineries across Ontario – for that matter across Canada – are all abuzz with harvest.  “Half of the grapes are in” explained Paul Marconi who is one of the principals of this month’s featured winery: Casa-Dea Estates. Visiting wineries during harvest will give you a glimpse of this exciting time of the year & helping with the harvest will give you an even better glimpse.  Getting your hands right into the winemaking process can give you a whole new appreciation that there is little glamour in making wine and a lot of back-breaking work!

Grape-growing pioneers of Prince Edward County

Breaking ground in a new wine region is even more hard work.  Casa-Dea Winery was one of a trio of wineries who pioneered the Prince Edward County wine region.  And since they first opened, the property has switched owners and names too.  The name, Casa-Dea means, “House of the Goddess” and Dea is also the wife’s name of one of the current owner’s.  Casa-Dea is often mispronounced, sounding more like “quesadilla” when, in fact, Dea is properly pronounced as Day-ya.  It is the largest vineyard in Prince Edward County with 65 acres on the property that includes La Pergola restaurant & banquet hall that has been the romantic place for several weddings!

Our Savvy Sommelier Eva Nagy visited Casa-Dea to interview winemaker Paul Battilana & taste through his portfolio of wines to decide which wines to put to the test of the Savvy Selections tasting panel.  In this month’s issue of the Savvy eZine Eva shares with you her conversation with Paul and how winemaking is in fact his 2nd career.  He began as a butcher. Talk about food & wine pairing!

In your Savvy Selections, you will find:

Dea’s Rosé Sparkling VQA 2012 - This stunning dry bubbly is perfect to sip on while you baste the turkey or with appetizers before you bring out the ham

Pinot Gris Reserve VQA 2010 -  Not your typical Italian Pinot Grigio! This medium to full bodied white wine has a delicious texture with aromas & tastes of cooked apple, roasted nuts with a delicious long finish. Perfect with roast turkey or turkey left overs! TIP: be sure to open & let this white wine breathe before serving

Cabernet Franc Reserve VQA 2009 -  Rather have red with turkey or ham? This is your wine! Medium red wine bodied with aromas & tastes of cranberry, overripe raspberries with black & white pepper finish.  One of our Savvy Sommeliers – Patti – does not like Cab Francs, but this one blew her away…she bought a case!

OPTIONAL WINE:  -  The winemaker is particularly proud of his Riesling VQA 2011 as it JUST won Gold Medal at Intervin – and you are the first to know!  Zippy & refreshing, this Alsatian style Riesling (aka – not sweet at all) makes this a great white wine to serve before dinner with cheese, light hors d’oeuvres or chilled on its own.

Similar to other wineries we have featured in Savvy Selections, some Casa-Dea wines are on the LCBO shelves. However, there are many of their wines that are not.  If you would like additional bottles of your favourite Casa-Dea wine – or other featured Ontario wineries – just give me a call on 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or send me an email to debbie@savvycompany.ca to arrange an additional delivery for you. It is always my pleasure to introduce you to wonderful new Ontario wines!

Cheers & Happy Thanksgiving! 

Debbie & Savvy Team

 

Introducing…

Casa-Dea Estates Winery
Presented by Savvy Sommelier Éva Nagy 

 

Rarely does a day go by at the Savvy Company office without someone making mention of Prince Edward County – affectionately known as “The County”.  Some County wines find their way to the LCBO but many are still only available at the wineries & through Savvy Company – either at our Taste & Buy events or with Savvy Selections.

I have visited The County three times this summer – sometimes for just a day, other times for a weekend.  On each trip I discover new wines, wineries and restaurants.  And I have only just got started – there are so many country roads to wander on & shops to stop in.

The County wineries are different from those in Niagara.  There is something special about the minerality from its limestone terroir. With each sip of County wine, this uniqueness makes its way to your nose & palate, you will see what I mean when you uncork this month’s Savvy Selections.

From butcher to…winemaker 

Growing up in an Italian household, wine was always on the table.  After 15 years as a trained butcher, Paul Battilana (left) was fed up with this trade, so back to school he went!  Paul enrolled in the first graduating class at Niagara College.  However, he claims his real education was gained at his first job at Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery where winemaker Jean-Pierre Colas (transplanted from Burgundy, France) was his first mentor… they remain great friends to this day.  Other winemaking mentors Rob Powers & Craig McDonald from Creekside Estate Winery also had a great influence on Paul’s winemaking career. 

In 2009 everything changed! Paul moved to The County to take on the position of head winemaker at Casa-Dea.  As I mentioned earlier, Paul finds something special about The County’s characteristic limestone soil that creates a unique minerality in the wines.  “Oddly, there is phenolic ripeness (winespeak: physiological ripeness in terms of phenolics – i.e. Tannins – in grape’s skin, seeds & stems) usually before sugar ripeness (the measure of sugar accumulation & breakdown of unpalatable acids)”, explains Paul.  If you are lost in all of this winespeak…be sure to ask for Paul when you visit the winery or at an upcoming Savvy Event. 

Paul is a wealth of knowledge. With each year, he learns even more about what to do as well as what not to do in Casa-Dea’s vineyard. The learning process never stops!  He does not over-think or over-work the wine.  He says,   “My wines are not over-manipulated.  I let wine do what it wants to do.” 

What’s in a wine?

While touring his cellar, Paul explained that yeast selection is important in his winemaking.  And oak is never the dominant characteristic in any of his wines.  “Why hide the flavours of the wine with lots of oak?” 

Paul is very proud of all of his wines.  I put him on the spot asking him to choose is favorite.  “It would be my Cabernet Franc. Cab Franc flavours shine without even a hint of the typical characteristic of green pepper”.  When Savvy Sommelier, Patty Petty, visited Casa-Dea this summer, she told Paul quite frankly, “I don’t like Cabernet Franc because of the green pepper taste.”  After tasting Paul’s Reserve Cabernet Franc – that is included in this month’s Savvy Selections – her opinion has completely changed! And Patti has bought 2 cases of this wine and is on the hunt for more Cab Francs.

Appassimento – the Italian winemaking technique 

And to do something completely different, Paul honoured the Italian connection at the winery (the owners are Italian too), by making the first appassimento-style wine in The County using Cab Franc (winespeak: Italian winemaking technique using partially dried grapes to concentrate sugars & flavours.  Amarone & Ripasso wines are made in this fashion).  Paul put 5 cases aside before he went away for a week.  Upon his return, they were all gone!  Now completely sold out, Paul admitted that he will continue to use this winemaking technique with other grape varieties. 

Loving every moment

It took a number of years for Paul to realize that his father was right in saying, “do what you enjoy doing.”  Paul now enjoys going in to work.  Every Monday, he tastes through the wine in the barrel to see how it has evolved.  He jokes that “this is the tough part of the job!”  Rest assured, he has many offers of help…even I offered my assistance when I visited Paul at the winery! 

Tomato vines to grape vines

When I interview winemakers, I make a point to ask for their favorite story about visitors to the winery.  Paul explained that one summer he gave a tour of the winery & vineyard to a grandfather, father & son with ages ranging 14-90.  As a boy, the grandfather recalled that his job was to pick rocks from a property that is now Casa-Dea’s vineyard. At the time, the site was a tomato farm – with rows of tomato plants as far as the eye could see.  The grandfather explained that the farming had dried up but he was now overjoyed to see the farm land being used again as a vineyard.

Cheers & enjoy your Savvy Selections! 

 

~ SAVVY SOMMELIER TASTING NOTES ~ 

 

Dea’s Rosé VQA 2012 $24.95

This unique sparkling rosé is made with 100% Gamay grapes.  The colour is a beautiful coral pink.  The aromas & flavours will remind you of the days of summer.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:   On the nose & in the taste, this crisp & dry bubbly exudes sweet aromas of citrus (pink grapefruit perhaps?), white flowers, minerality (I told you that it is a County characteristic!), juicy berries & rhubarb. There is lovely mousse (winespeak: tiny bubbles) with a long yet delicate finish. 

Suggested Food Pairing: This is a great sipping wine & can be enjoyed on its own after being chilled for 30 minutes in the fridge.  Pair with oysters or sushi.  For something a little different, match with Beet Risotto (recipe follows). 

Pinot Gris Reserve VQA 2010 $24.95

The characteristics of grapes grown in their vineyard shine through in this Pinot Gris Reserve. Enjoy!

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Delightful aromas of floral, sweet ripe apple go hand in hand   with a waft of something a bit smoky. On the palate, you will find tart citrus, green apple, minerality (there it is again!), nuttiness & spice (ginger perhaps?). Our Sommelier tasting panel noticed that aromas changed as the wine breathed in the glass.  Give it a swirl & see if you notice any difference from sip to sip!

Suggested Food Pairing:  Wondering what to do with leftover Thanksgiving turkey?  Why not try turkey quesadillas?!  I simply could not miss the opportunity to play on the oft mispronunced winery’s name – Casa-Dea – with ‘quesadilla’.  

Cabernet Franc Reserve VQA 2009 $24.95

Fun Fact: this wine was featured at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival!  A signature wine at Casa-Dea, Paul is very proud how this wine is evolving

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A beautiful garnet coloured Cabernet Franc. Concentrated aromas & flavours of ripe red fruit & raspberries leading to a lovely jamminess without a trace of Cab Franc’s usual green pepper characteristic.  The ripe red fruit replays on the palate with a hint of spice & tartness. The long finish keeps you coming back for more.

Suggested Food Pairing: Cabernet Franc pairs well with earthy dishes made with wild game or lamb.  Here is a recipe that will be delicious: Lamb Chops with Moroccan Barbeque Sauce. 

Cellaring: This wine is ready now, or can be cellared for 2-4 years

 

~RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH YOUR SAVVY SELECTIONS~

 

With Dea’s Rosé VQA 2012 …

Beet Risotto

From Food & Wine
Serves 8 

Ingredients

7 cups chicken stock
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oi
l
1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
2 large beets (12 ounces each), peeled and coarsely shredded, plus thinly sliced beets for garnish
3 cups arborio rice
1 1/2 cups young pecorino cheese, freshly grated
2 teaspoons poppy seeds, plus more for garnish 

Note: “Beets give this creamy risotto stunning colour & delicate sweetness. Grace Parisi suggests wearing rubber gloves and shredding the beets directly into a stainless steel bowl to avoid staining hands and countertops.” 

Method

In a saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer; cover and keep warm.

In a medium enameled cast-iron casserole, melt the butter in the oil. Add the onion and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until softened, 5 minutes.

Add the shredded beets and cook, stirring, until the pan is dry, 12 minutes. Spoon half of the beets into a small bowl.  Then add the rice to the casserole and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of the warm stock to the rice and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the stock is nearly absorbed. Continue adding the stock 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly, until the rice is al dente and a thick sauce forms, about  22 minutes.

Stir in the cooked beets, cheese and the 2 teaspoons of poppy seeds. Cook, stirring, until heated through; add a few tablespoons of water if the risotto is too thick.

Spoon the risotto into bowls. Garnish with sliced beets and poppy seeds and serve. 

VQA With VQA Pinot Gris Reserve 2010…

Turkey Quesadillas

Star-tested by Jennifer Bain, thestar.com
Serves 8 (24 pieces) 

Ingredients

4 cups shredded, cooked turkey
1 red or green bell pepper, finely diced
35-g package fajita seasoning mix
1/4 cup (60 mL) water
8 large tortillas (each about 9 inches/23 cm), preferably whole grain
2 cups (500 mL) shredded cheddar cheese
Salsa (optional)
Sour cream (optional) 

Method

In large non-stick skillet, combine turkey, bell peppers, fajita mix and water over medium-high heat. Simmer, uncovered, 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently until turkey is warm and peppers soften slightly.

Evenly divide turkey mixture over top half of each tortilla (about 1/2 cup/125 mL per serving). Sprinkle each serving with 1/4 cup (60 mL) cheese. Fold over to make half-moon shape, pressing lightly to evenly distribute turkey and cheese.

Wipe out skillet. Return to medium heat. Cook quesadillas, in batches, 3 to 4 minutes per side or until tortilla is browned and crisp and filling is hot. Let stand 2 minutes before cutting each into 3 wedges.

Serve with salsa and sour cream for dipping, if desired.

 

With Cabernet Franc Reserve VQA 2009 …

Lamb Chops with Moroccan Barbeque Sauce

From myrecipes.com

Ingredients

8 lamb loin chops (each about 1 in. thick and 4 oz.), fat trimmed
Mint chutney (recipe follows)
Salt & pepper

Moroccan barbecue sauce (recipe follows)

Method

Photo credit: myrecipes

Rinse lamb chops; pat dry. Place chops in a bowl with about 1/4 cup mint chutney; turn to coat. Cover and chill at least 4 hours or up to 1 day.

Lift lamb chops from bowl (discard any chutney in bowl) and sprinkle all over with salt and pepper. Place on a grill over a bed of medium-hot coals or medium heat on a gas grill (you can hold your hand at grill level only 3 to 4 seconds); close lid on gas grill. Cook chops, turning once, until browned on both sides but still pink in the center (cut to test), 9 to 12 minutes total. 

Place chops on plates and drizzle with Moroccan barbecue sauce; offer remaining chutney and sauce alongside. 

Mint chutney 

In a blender, whirl 1 cup lightly packed rinsed fresh mint leaves, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup chopped green onions (white and pale green parts), 3 tablespoons parsley leaves, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 peeled clove garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon curry powder, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne until smooth. Makes about 1 cup. 

Moroccan barbecue sauce 

In a 2- to 3-quart pan, combine 3/4 cup honey, 1/2 cup fresh cilantro sprigs, 1/3 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup rice vinegar, 1/4 cup ketchup, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1 clove garlic, 1 whole star anise, 1 cinnamon stick (3 in. long, broken into pieces), 3/4 teaspoon black peppercorns & 1/4 teaspoon each ground ginger, ground cardamom, whole cloves, hot chili flakes & salt. 

Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat; cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is reduced to about 1 1/4 cups, about 15 minutes. Pour through a fine strainer into a bowl. 

Makes about 1 1/4 cups. 

Enjoy your Savvy Selections!

Prince Edward County wineries are coming to Ottawa!

Posted by Debbie

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013
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Wine enthusiasts in Ottawa will be the first to taste and buy wines made in Prince Edward County with grapes from the stellar 2012 harvest.  “2012 was remarkable, similar to the highly acclaimed 2007 and 2010 vintages in Ontario.  The 2012 grape growing season had an unusually early spring with a hot and dry summer with little rain during the harvest months.” explains Glenn Symons, winery owner and winemaker of Lighthall Vineyards.  “In fact, at several wineries across the province, grapes were harvested a record-breaking 3 to 5 weeks earlier than typical.  The result of this impressive vintage can now be tasted in the wines, as wine is made in the vineyard.”

Back by popular demand, Ottawa based business, Savvy Company, is hosting the 2nd annual County in the City Taste & Buy wine tasting on Thursday April 18th at 7pm in the Panorama Room on the 2nd floor of the National Arts Centre, Ottawa.  This is the only event in Ottawa where a broad range of Prince Edward County red & white & sparkling wines can be sampled and purchased directly from the winemaker. 

Prince Edward County is Canada’s fastest growing wine region with over 30 family run and small boutique wineries.  Known as ‘The County’, the majority of the wines produced are not available at the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO).  Exclusively at this event, all of the feature wines will be available to order, providing event goers the opportunity to purchase any combination of wines from any of the County wineries.  As an extra bonus, free shipping by courier will be offered for orders of 12 bottles (a case) – a great way continue to enjoy the newly released wines from 2012 vintage.

County in the City Participating Wineries:

…and even more wineries will be announced.

Tickets are available in advance only and are $55.00 per person when purchased before April 12, 2013 and will be $65.00 after that date.  Groups of 4 people are $200.00. Ticket prices include HST.  Click here to purchase tickets.

 

What is a Taste & Buy event?

Consumers can sample any number of the featured wines and order directly from the winery.  Exclusive at this event, orders can be ANY combination of wines from ANY of the wineries and the wines will be delivered by courier to an Ontario address.   And Savvy Company’s Sommeliers will be on hand to share wine recommendations and guide event goers to ‘must try wines’ based on their personal preferences.

 

Media Contact:
Debbie Trenholm
President & Sommelier
Savvy Company
613.SAVVYCO (613.728.8926)
cell: 613-851-1785
@savvydebbie

 

You’re invited to a Wine & Cheese with a TWIST

Posted by Debbie

Thursday, January 10th, 2013
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Shake off the winter blues & join our team of Savvy Sommeliers for a fun wine tasting the “coolest” wines from Niagara & Prince Edward County boutique wineries.

These back to back events will take place in small & intimate venues so that you can spend the evening chatting with the winemakers & winery owners about their vineyard, winemaking styles & all the goings on at the winery during the winter months….and stock up on your favorite wines too!

 

ROCKCLIFFE PARK

Tuesday January 29 @ 7pm
Rockcliffe Community Hall – 380 Springfield Rd

BUY TICKETS > >

~ OR~

WESTBORO

Wednesday January 30 @ 7pm 
Exposure Gallery
– 1255 Wellington St West (2nd floor of Thyme & Again)

BUY TICKETS > >

 

What is the TWIST?  

At these Taste & Buy events, there will be a wide selection of hard-to-find wines that are not available at the LCBO.  This gives you the unique opportunity to a taste a variety of sparkling, white, red & dessert wines that you can order your new favorite wines that will be delivered directly to your home or office – within a week!


Feature wineries include:

Casa Dea Estates Winery (Prince Edward County) – one of the first wineries in The County will showcase their new range of wines.

Fielding Estates Winery (Beamsville Bench – aka Niagara Escarpment)  – from sparkling to reds, their wines are fantastic!

Lighthall Vineyards (Prince Edward County) – one of the newest boutique wineries in The County…and their wines are turning heads!

Palatine Hills Estates Winery (Niagara-on-the-Lake) – one of the oldest vineyards in the region makes spectacular reds, whites & bubblies

Pondview Estates Winery (Niagara-on-the-Lake) – they’ll be serving their Bella Terra Reserve wines

Rosewood Estate Winery & Meadery (Beamsville Bench) – outstanding white wines & a lovely Pinot Noir awaits…and meads too (winespeak for wine made with honey)

Sue-Ann Staff Winery (Beamsville Bench) – international winemaking star will charm you with her vivacious personality & her impressive wines.

 

You can purchase your favorite artisan cheese too!

And as wine & cheese is a classic pairing, Vanessa – our Cheese Sommelier - will be on hand at the Artisan Cheese Bar serving handcrafted cheeses from Ontario & Québec that may be purchased to take home with you that night.

ADVANCE TICKETS ONLY

HELD OVER! $55 per person before January 25 (regular $65)

$200 for a group of 4 people (save $15 per person)

Only 50 tickets available per event.  Click to buy yours …

ROCKCLIFFE PARK event on January 29 >>

WESTBORO event on January 30 >>

Price includes wine tasting, cheeses, HST & a special Savvy wine tasting glass

Share this invitation with your friends – everyone is welcome.

 

These events are hosted in partnership with:

 

 

 

 

le beaujolais nouveau est arrivé

Posted by Julie

Friday, November 16th, 2012
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Beaujolais Nouveau is a ritual in the wine world which always takes place on the third Thursday of every November. The production of Beaujolais Nouveau is a race from grape to glass, bottled just a few weeks after the grapes have been hand picked. Beaujolais grapes are picked ONLY by hand before being fermented.

As it is a young wine, it tastes better chilled. It is known for its cherry and green leaf flavours and high acidity but I find it clean and fresh. I had to laugh when I read that it is better “quaffed” like juice rather than sipped. While I do not think of Beaujolais Nouveau as a red wine with “fine bones”, throughout France and in many other parts of the world this is a time for celebration.

Georges Duboeuf, one of the largest and best known wine merchants in France, is famous for his Beaujolais. His bottles are inexpensive and have beautifully coloured labels that on any table could start a Beaujolais party. Have each of your guests bring an appetizer and let the celebration begin. I also think Beaujolais Nouveau is a great match for turkey but the French no doubt pair it with hearty Burgundian foods. The French say it must be consumed before New Year’s Eve but I know mine won’t last that long.

Try it and see what all the hype is about!

Ewald Gruber Hundspoint Gruner Veltliner 2011

Weinviertel, Neiderosterreich, Austria
$17.95 (Vintages #298299)   13.2% alcohol

The Gruner Veltliner grape is Austria’s liquid gold and takes a dominant position in the total vineyard surface area. I find it fresh and crisp, aromas of stone fruit, great acidity but not too lively, a light to medium bodied white wine it delivers tastes of green apple, lemon lime and a little green pepper on the palate but I think that is the minerality from the soil. It has a reputation for being a perfect match to those hard to match foods such as artichokes or asparagus. if you are looking for a change from your Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling, this will not disappoint.

 

Featherstone Rosé 2011

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$14.95 (Vintages #117861) 12% alcohol

I visited Featherstone winery a couple of years ago and was so taken with sheep roaming around chewing on grape leaves to help expose the grapes to the sun and come to fruition. I love Rosé and this one is no exception. A beautiful cranberry colour, ripe red berry aromas that follow through on the palate: raspberry and strawberry flavour and  just slightly off dry. Always food friendly and just a great sipper on its own.

 

Villa Ponciago La Réserve Fleurie 2011

AC, France
$21.95 (Vintages #299917)  13% alcohol

Perhaps unlike the Nouveau Beaujolais, this Beaujolais Cru Gamay is to be savoured and enjoyed.

Fleurie is one of the most renowned of the 10 Beaujolais Crus, it’s vineyard has 30 year old vines. A pale purple colour in the glass with dark fruit aromas of blackberries and blueberries. It has that tangey acidity that only a well made Beajolais can offer with ripe berry fruit flavours, and lots of them on the palate. There is enough in the body that it could be put away for a couple of years but I would be inclined to bring it out when you have some friends over for a pre-Christmas get together. It’s an elegant example of Beaujolais at its best.

 

Ruffino Serelle Vin Santo Del Chianti 2008

DOC, Italy
$24.95 (Vintages #1008)  15.5% alcohol

Vin Santo is also known as holy wine in Tuscany since it is used in communion. It is also known as a “straw wine” since traditionally it is made from grapes left out on straw mats to dry and shrivel up. This concentrates the flavours of the grapes which similarily to our ice-wine in Canada can be labour intensive and price indicative. This Vin Santo, released just in time for Christmas is rich amber in colour, has ripe aromas of oranges, almonds and caramel with some stone fruit like apricots on the palate, a pinch of honey on the finish. It is just perfect for dessert with some biscotti for dipping. This is a drier (than some) Vin Santo and would also be nice with some old cheddar.

 

Howling Moon Old Vine Zinfandel 2009

Lodi, California, U.S.A.
$18.95 (Vintages #57356)  13.5% alcohol

A deep dark purple with luscious aromas of vibrant berries and on the palate is sheer richness of black berries, a little coffee and chocolate, all giving an almost creamy mouthfeel and a big blast of flavour like only a Zin can provide. This is a big wine and I also detected aromas of coffee, chocolate even a little caramel and finishes with a little heat and black pepper. With a portobello and sirloin stew this would be magic.

Grand Total: $ 98.75

 

 

Ask a Savvy Sommelier!

Posted by Debbie

Thursday, November 1st, 2012
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Recently, I organized a private bus tour to Prince Edward County for a corporate client where we spent the day touring the back roads of ‘The County’ – Canada’s fastest growing wine region.  I was asked many interesting questions that I am sharing with you in a ‘Dear Abby’ style.  If you have a wine related question that you have always wondered about, send me an email to cheers@savvycompany.ca and I will publish it here.
Cheers!
-Debbie

 

Dear Debbie….
Ooops! I put a bottle of white wine in the freezer section AND forgot it. Is it still OK to drink?

From Accidentally Frozen

Dear Accidentally Frozen,
I have done this several time myself when I was in a rush to chill a bottle of white wine.  Not the best way to do it, yet rest assured that while slushy, the wine is still drinkable. I recommend to let it thaw out in the fridge, then enjoy!  If your glass frosts up, then the wine is still too cold. Let it warm up at room temp for a bit.

-Debbie
PS – it is neat to take a sip every once in a while to taste how the wine changes as it warms up. My experience is that the wine initially tastes watery, then starts to take on flavours, aromas and then acidity arrives.

 

Dear Debbie….
I have seen at wine tastings that some people spit their wines.  Why?

From Shy Spitter

Dear Shy Spitter.
Sommeliers do it all the time!  By spitting, it allows you to taste more wines without the alcohol taking its toll. When you go to the Ottawa Wine and Food Festival, taking place at the Ottawa Convention Center (Nov 9-11th),  at each booth, wineries will always provide a spittoon or bucket. If it is not there – don’t be shy & ask for it!
-Debbie

 

Dear Debbie…
What is a Taste & Buy event?


From Curious Shopper

Dear Curious Shopper,
Wine – red wine or white wine – is one of the few products that you don’t often have the opportunity to taste at the store (LCBO or other) before you to purchase. You can try on a sweater or flip through a book before for a quick read before you go to the cash register.  Savvy Company frequently hosts Taste & Buy events where numerous wineries are offering samples of their wines and you can order directly from the winery.  Your order will be delivered to your home or office in a matter of a few days.  Savvy Company’s next Taste & Buy features Ontariowineries & craft breweries on Thursday November 8th.  Join us! For more details & to buy your ticket, go to www.savvycompany.ca/events
-Debbie 

 

Dear Debbie
What is a cooper?

From Wooden Head

Dear Wooden Head,
It is the name for a trades-person who makes barrels.  This craft is truly an art combining different shapes of wood staves, heat and humidity to create an air tight vessel to age wine, beer, grappa or other spirits like rum or bourbon and wine vinegars too.  The only cooper that I have met in my travels so far is Pete Bradford (here he is in his workshop), who is a self-taught cooper and owner of Carriage House Cooperage.  Pete is a dynamic person and obviously passionate about his woodworking.  Make him a definite ‘must ‘visit next time you go to The County for a getaway.
-Debbie

 

End of summer? Say it isn’t so!

Posted by Julie

Thursday, August 30th, 2012
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Wines for an end-of-summer soirée is just one of the themes in the September 1 release at the LCBO Vintages. Lots of wines are highlighted as BBQ wines and outdoor entertaining. How we loathe to think about the end of summer!

I am envious for those of you who BBQ all year around, but I don’t think it’s the same, waiting bundled in a winter coat waiting to flip the chops. For this If I had $100 list, I focused on wines that I think are great with BBQed meat. Heavy duty reds to match the steaks, ribs and lamb as well as a pretty nice Chardonnay for chicken or salmon. There are lots of Chardonnay’s in this release and I did have trouble narrowing it down.

There is also a new selection of Champagne and sparkling wines from France, Italy and Spain. It’s always nice to start a party with some “fizz” and I don’t know anyone who does not like sparkling wine. Since Champagne is a little out of my budget, I would go for the “Jean Geiler Rose Brut Cremant D’Alsace” to have on hand at $18.95. A great alternative to Champagne.

Of course, there was one new wine that was too memorable for words. “Waterstone Study in Blue” from the Napa Valley is Nirvana, so is the price at $54.95 but upon tasting, I thought I had passed into another kind of existence. The blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot was a powerhouse of taste; fruit forward originality, generous and full-bodied. Ah, maybe for my birthday.

Here’s to you enjoying your end of summer soiree’s and looking ahead to the leaves changing colour.

Cheers and Enjoy – Julie

Chateau de Manissy Tavel Rosé 2011

Southern Rhone,  France
$15.95 (Vintages 276469) 13% alcohol
This was a Gold Medal winner at the 2012 Concours General Agricole, in Paris. Need I say more? A beautiful tangerine pink that would brighten any table. This bone-dry clean and refreshing rosé has aromas and flavours of watermelon, peaches and pears and is a lovely sipper on its own. Would be beautiful for lunch with a summer salad – delightful!

Quail’s Gate Chardonnay 2010

VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
$21.95 (Vintages #377770) 14 % alcohol
Pale golden yellow that is clean and polished in the glass. Aromas of soft tropical fruit; pineapple and peaches that follow through on the taste, just a hint of vanilla making it smooth with lovely crisp acidity and one of the nicest chard’s I have tasted in some time – rich but light. Everything about this is just delicious. Would marry perfectly with some salmon or buttermilk chicken.

Irony Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Napa Valley, California, U.S.A.
$19.95 (Vintages # 025106) 14.5% alcohol
Everything wonderful about a Cabernet Sauvignon is right here. Aromas of blackberries, ripe cherries and raspberries, an intense dark garnet colour with soft tannins and a long finish with a hint of leather and tobacco. It is perfect for the big steak or ribs slathered in a great sauce.

Small Gully Mr. Black’s Concoction Shiraz 2008

Barossa Valley, South Australia
$24.95 (Vintages #222059) 15.9% alcohol
There is nothing like a big flavourful fruit-forward Shiraz. The wine has a bouquet of raspberries, black currants and cherries. There is a little sweet spice, pepper and a pinch of chocolate on the palate with a mouth coating texture and lengthy finish. Try this with a butterflied leg of lamb or chops.

Ribota 2009

La Mancha, Spain
$15.95 (Vintages #280628) 14% alcohol
This 100 % Tempranillo is deep ruby red with plum and cherry flavours. It is smooth, with soft tannins. There’s some leathery and earthy flavours on the palate and it has a pleasing depth and personality. Would be fabulous with spicey grilled sausages and a tomato feta salad.

Grand Total: $98.75

Go on – Uncork a bottle of Malbec today!

Posted by Debbie

Monday, April 16th, 2012
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Today marks Malbec World Day - how to celebrate you ask. . .

Shall we start the day with a glass or Malbec with a bowl of breakfast cereal or a hearty plate of eggs & bacon?  And another glass (or maybe upgrade to a bottle) served with lunch, then finish off by uncorking a bottle of Malbec to accompany a BBQ steak dinner?  This idea of around the clock Malbec drinking, made many giggle & come up with wild & crazy ideas to celebrate.  To kick the festivities off & to learn first hand more about Malbec in Argentine, I attended in a tutored tasting last week with Ottawa Citizen’s wine writer& author Rod Phillips.

My place setting awaited 18 glasses of various wines from Argentina – Torrontes & Chardonnay (white wines) along with 5 Malbecs with prices ranging from $12 to $27 a bottle.  Then we had a taste of Shiraz/Syrah, Bonarda, Pinot Noir & red wine blends to give the tasting a POW at the end.  The 2 hours flew by & my mind was buzzing with Malbec facts that I looked forward to share.

For the past two years, Malbec World Day has marked the calendars on April 17th.  To celebrate in Argentine style, there are festivities all around the world hosted by Wines of Argentina.

I know no other grape that has a dedicated day that shines the spotlight on it.  Malbec  began its history as a grape variety grown in Cahors, France, then was uprooted because of the phloxerra insect that decimated many vineyards in Europe in the late 1800s.  Luckily, the Malbec  rootstock that the European immigrants brought with them on their journey to Argentina, were not infected by the bug that attacked the roots of grape vines.

Today, Malbec is Argentina’s iconic grape variety, although, it is now grown in many vineyards throughout the world – even as close to home as Niagara-on-the-Lake!  There are over 564, 000 acres of vineyards dedicated to Malbec stretching along the Andes Mountain Range from 22 to 42 degrees latitude. This region has great ripening conditions with its continuous stream of sunshine during the day (ideal for ripening) , then cooler nights (perfect to produce acidity in the grape clusters).  This combination of ripe red & black fruit in the aromas & taste coupled with soft tannins with underlying acidity, makes for a crowd pleasing wine.

The wines we sampled during this tutored tasting certainly pleased me!  Here are my tasting notes about the various Malbec we discovered:

Manos Negras Malbec 2008, $14.95
(LCBO part number #271295)
A basic Malbec with juicy aromas on the nose (cherry, raspberry jam). There is good structure in this Malbec with a taste of cinnamon hearts candy.

Catena Malbec 2009, $19.95
(LCBO part number 478727)
Big juicy with loads of aromas of damsom plum boysenberry + pomegranate that continue into the taste.

Dominio del Plata Ben Marco Malbec 2009
(only available on request from winery representative, $27.00)
My hands down favorite.  A BIG wine.  Dry with loads of tannins, aromas that remind me of a big bouquet of red roses.  Layered onto the wine is licorice + plums that continue into their taste.  Too bad this wine is not readily available at the LCBO.

Zuccardi Q Malbec 2009
(LCBO part number #723478, $19.95)
From the infamous Fuzion fame, Zuccardi family has made a slightly lighter styled Malbec  compared to the others I savoured. On your first sip, there is evidence that the wine has light tannins, black pepper aromas with a refreshing acidity that ends with black pepper finish.

Rutini Malbec 2009
See for yourself if you like this style of Malbec wines. Lighter again in weight compared to the other Malbecs that we sampled in this tasting.  The glass wafts of cherry & red berry aromas with light tannins & shorter finish.

After all of these Malbec wines, plus the other wines that were included in the 18 wines we sampled, no doubt our lips & teeth were ‘naturally coloured’ a shade of deep purple.  Want more info Malbec tips?  Contact me + I will offer you more Argentine recommendations from this delicious wine tasting.

However you celebrate it, Happy Malbec World Day.

Salud! – Debbie

Savvy Sommelier Debbie sheds some lights on bubbly

Posted by Debbie

Thursday, May 12th, 2011
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Spring is bursting forth with much to celebrate! That hazy green glow around the trees, the flirty chirping of birds & the return of BBQ parties. Let’s celebrate the shedding of winter with the excitement of spring by popping open a bottle of bubbly!

Think that sparkling wine is too sweet, too expensive or too much of an affair for any day of the week? Think again! Have you ever had a sparkling shiraz? Or a sparkling dry rosé? They exist, and Savvy Company’s Debbie Trenholm loves how the mousse (winespeak: bubbles) cleanses your palate and refreshes the senses readying for delicious dishes of spring like risotto or BBQed plank salmon.

Bubblies are made using various methods, and available at several price points. No need to wait for a special occasion, after all, spring has arrived.

Pop a bottle open & cheers!

Taltarni Brut Taché 2008, Australia $20.40 (on sale – regular $24)
Crafted using the same grape varieties used in French champagne – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Pinot Meunier, this crisp & dry sparkling has elegant aromas of rose petals, pear & apricots. The persistent mousse leaves a refreshing taste with every sip.

Food Pairing Suggestions: Serve chilled on its own, pack for a picnic or serve with sushi.

Hardy’s Oomoo Sparkling Shiraz 2004, Australia $19.95
This sparkling red wine has an oooh ahhh factor. This wine is striking with its racing car red colour concentrated aromas of plums, boysenberry, red licorice combined with a juicy texture & refreshing acidity.

Food Pairing Suggestions: I recommend to chill it in the fridge for 10 minutes then serve on its own, or with a meal of BBQed meats. Last weekend, I popped it open to enjoy with a Sunday meal of prime rib & all the trimmings. Save a splash to enjoy with dark chocolate cake!

Enrico Serafino Moscato d’Asti, Italy $15.95
Now here is a wine that definitely smells & tastes like spring! Swirl the glass to enjoy the concentrated aromas of apricot, orange blossom, marmalade that continues into the taste.

Food Pairing Suggestions: Light in alcohol (5.5%) this is a great wine to serve at a springtime brunch or with fresh fruit.

Nicolas Feuillate Brut Champagne, France $42.50
It’s impossible to write about bubblies without including French champagne. If you’re going to splurge then get this gorgeous Champagne as it is priced less than its competitors. The fine mousse is a surefire sign of premium quality. This champagne has yeasty aromas of biscuit (think shortbreads or Arrowroot cookies) with a touch of citrus & crunchy apple.

Food Pairing Suggestions: Steamed lobster is a classic match with champagne, grilled chicken brochettes & oysters.

Let’s toast to the arrival of spring!

 

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