Posted by EvaTuesday, October 22nd, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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 ~
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).
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’.
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~
From Food & Wine
7 cups chicken stock
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oi
l1 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.”
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.
Star-tested by Jennifer Bain, thestar.com
Serves 8 (24 pieces)
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
Sour cream (optional)
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.
Lamb Chops with Moroccan Barbeque Sauce
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)
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.
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.