Savvy Selections wine of the month club
features Strewn Winery
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep
This time last year, Ontario’s winemakers were absolutely elated because the grape growing season began with ideal weather conditions. The days were warm, the nights were cool and there was just the right amount of rain. What a difference a year makes! This year, our spring has been marked with unseasonably cold temperatures and record breaking rainfall.
When it comes to weather, winemakers and grape growers in California, Australia or Chile have it much easier because the growing conditions are consistent year over year. These consistent growing conditions lead to consistently crafted wines. In Canada, the year-over-year variation in the weather associated with our growing season makes grape growing and winemaking more of a challenge.
However, having said all of this, it is Ontario’s growing conditions that inspire people like Joe Will. Joe is one of the owners and winemaker at Strewn Winery.
For the month of May, we are delighted to feature in the Savvy Selections wines from Strewn Winery – an Ontario wine industry pioneer. Our Savvy Sommelier Derek Vollrath, chatted with Joe for hours one Sunday afternoon, in order to understand his philosophy on wine and winemaking. On the following pages, read Derek’s interview and learn about the diverse path of Joe’s life that lead to the creation of Strewn.
For May the Savvy Selections Tasting Panel chose to feature the following wines from Strewn’s high end collection called ‘ Terroir’:
·Pinot Blanc VQA 2009 Terroir
·Meritage VQA 2008 Terroir
·Merlot VQA 2007 Terroir – a special Savvy price!
As always in the Savvy eZine, we have included the tasting notes from our Savvy Sommeliers along with recipes that Derek specifically chose to pair with the selected wine.
If there is a particular wine from Strewn that you enjoyed (Derek is betting that you will particularly like the Pinot Blanc!) feel free to contact me and I would be more than happy to arrange a delivery of additional bottles to be sent to you. Same holds for previously featured wines, just give me a call to arrange a special shipment of your favorite wines.
Cheers & Enjoy!
Debbie & Savvy Team
Presented by Sommelier Derek Vollrath
One of the amazing benefits of being part of the Savvy Team is the opportunity each month to take part in sampling wonderful Ontario wines for the Savvy Selections wine of the month club. In addition, I have the chance to talk with some of this province’s top-notch winemakers. It’s discussions with the winemakers that give wine geeks like me (!) insight into what went on behind the wine that is being delivered to your door.
For this month’s Savvy Selection, I spent a few hours one Sunday morning talking with Joe Will, Strewn’s long standing winemaker. Like most winemakers, making the “gift of the Gods” has always been one of Joe’s interests. He didn’t start out as a “professional” winemaker per se, rather he has been making wine since high school!
Joe grew up on the Canadian prairies, so he began making wine using choke cherries or crab apples since they were plentiful. It’s a pretty safe bet that the Savvy Selections subscribers will not receive a choke cherry or crab apple wine in their monthly delivery, however, the technique used in making an alcoholic beverage from fermented fruits is quite similar to making grape wine.
Before turning that experimental interest into a day job, Joe started a journalism career with the Canadian Press, then was lured to British Columbia’s Okanagan. In 1989 Joe moved from Alberta to the Okanagan where he worked as a “cellar rat” in a small winery.
A leap of faith later landed him in Australia, enrolled in a one year graduate degree program in winemaking. Being a student a second time around helped immensely because Joe wanted to be there: Joe’s studies were interesting and he was very keen and eager to learn all aspects of the winemaking process.
One of the up-shots of being a foreign student in Australia was the opportunity to audit any course offered. Being the keen student he was, Joe took advantage of this opportunity and sat-in on a number of viticulture courses (winespeak: grape growing courses).
After graduation, Joe stayed a year and worked at the internationally known Australian winery of Yalumba. To put things into perspective as to the size of Yalumba, the year that Joe spent working in Australia they crushed as many grapes as all of the wineries in Ontario combined. The Ontario industry continues to grow, yet it is still small when compared to other wine regions - even in those considered “New World” like Australia.
In 1992, when he returned to Canada, Joe landed the job as the winemaker at Pillitteri Estates where he spent five years before breaking out on his own and opening Strewn.
Joe explained to me that makes Strewn wines that are Old World in style so that the terroir of the Niagara region is richly expressed in each wine.
Old World Style vs. New World Style
Wines made in the Old World Style have a tendency to rely on traditional production methods with the final product gaining its flavours from the surrounding terroir and the affect of the climate, soil and winemaker’s decisions on harvesting on the grapes. Old World Style wines develop great complexity over time making them perfect for cellaring – especially the reds that we have chosen for your Savvy Selections. Strewn wines also wines made with the understanding that great wine is even better with good food, and come ‘alive’ in your mouth when paired properly.
Conversely, wines made in a New World Styles tend to be immediately appealing as they are more fruit forward, both on the nose as well as the palate.
Terroir – What is that you say?
Terroir is a French term that includes the soil, topography and microclimate of a grape growing area. All these elements integrate themselves into the grapes that then create the distinctive character of each wine. The French wine region of Burgundy is famous for what the ‘terroir’ imparts to the grape and to the wine.
In addition to crafting wines that are expressive of the terroir of the Niagara Region, Strewn has some other interesting things going on in the winery. One of these unique features is that there is a cooking school attached to the winery for as Joe told me, “it is so that our visitors can fully experience food and wine matching”.
If you are planning on heading to Niagara this summer Strewn Winery should definitely be on the list of wineries to visit. Cheers!
~ SAVVY SOMMELIER TASTING NOTES ~
Pinot Blanc VQA 2009, $15.95
Pinot Blanc is a French white wine variety and, as the name suggests, is part of the Pinot family alongside with Pinot Noir – noted as the most popular family member. According to Jim there is not a “tremendous” amount of Pinot Blanc grown in the Niagara region, so it is a treat to be offered as part of this month’s Savvy Selection. Enjoy!
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A bright pale-lemon colour with a hint of green on the rim. The nose is exceptionally expressive and complex displaying aromas of cool-climate fruit such as pear and green apple with undertones of cut grass. The wine is dry, light to medium bodied with refreshing acidity that helps maintain a long citrus finish.
Suggested Food Pairing: This is definitely a food wine and would match well with grapefruit salad or grilled scallops with a herbed lemon sauce. The Savvy Selections tasting panel recommends mussels Provençale – recipe is on the following pages.
Cellaring: This wine is drinking really well now so stock up for the summer months. It could also keep in your cellar for 6 to 12 months.
Merlot VQA 2007 $26.95 (reduced from $32.00)
From a winemaking perspective, 2007 was one of the three best years of the decade; and for the curious to know, 2001 and 2005 were the other two notable years according to Joe. Joe made this Merlot in a New World style (i.e. fruit forward), which is difficult to achieve in Niagara because of the inconsistency of our summer weather. To fully enjoy this Merlot we recommend decanting it 30 minutes to an hour before serving
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: The wine has a wonderful ruby red core that fades ever so slightly to a garnet-coloured rim. This colouring is an indication that the wine is beginning to show its age. Initially the nose was muted (winespeak: faint aromas) but after about 15 minutes the wine opened up with aromas of dark fruits, cherry, red currant along with some earthy notes such as leather and pencil shavings. This medium-bodied dry wine has well-integrated tannins and a noticeably long complex peppery finish.
Suggested Food Pairing: A charcuterie platter of flavourful meats along with artisan cheeses is definitely an excellent pairing suggestion. Derek offers the recipe for striploin roast with wild mushrooms on the following pages.
Cellaring: This wine can be opened and enjoyed now or if you wish it could cellar for another 2 years.
Meritage VQA 2008, $18.00
The 2008 Meritage was the first of its kind produced by Strewn. In keeping with other Meritage wines this is a blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Medium ruby red in colour, the wine displayed aromas of green pepper, pencil shavings and dark fruit (black berries to be exact). On the palate the wine was dry, but the presence of ripe red fruit and vanilla made it appear slightly-off dry. The wine had a silky mouth feel with integrated tannins and medium length vanilla (i.e. oak) finish.
Suggested Food Pairing: This Meritage is definitely a “red meat” wine and the Savvy Selections Tasting Panel suggests that you pair this wine with a flat-iron steak accented with herbed butter. It is an easy meal to prepare and is a great excuse to use the barbeque. The recipe for this dish is on the following pages.
Cellaring: This Meritage is drinking now or could cellar it for 2 or 3 years.
~ RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH YOUR SAVVY SELECTIONS ~
With Strewn Winery Pinot Blanc…
FromHeart Smart, the Best of HeartSmart Cooking, Bonnie Stern
Makes 8 servings as an appetizer; 4 as a main course
4 lbs (2 kg) mussels
1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 can (28 oz / 796 mL) plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 cup (250 mL) dry white wine, stock or water
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh tarragon, or 1 tsp (5 mL) dried
1 tsp (5 mL) cracked black peppercorns
¼ tsp (1 mL) salt
Pinch of pepper
3 tbsp (45 mL) chopped fresh parsley
2 whole wheat or regular baguette, sliced
1.Clean mussels and discard any that have broken shells or do not close when lightly tapped
2.Heat oil in a large Dutch oven on medium-high heat. Add shallot and garlic. Cook for a few minutes until fragrant and tender, but do not brown. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil.
3.Add mussels and turn to coat well. Add wine and bring to a boil. Sprinkle with tarragon, salt and pepper.
4.Cover and cook mussels for 5 minutes, or until mussels open. Discard any that do not open after another minute of cooking.
5.Transfer mussels to large bowls. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with lots of bread to soak up juices.
With Strewn Winery Meritage…
Flat Iron Steak with Herb Butter
From Foodies: Simple, Fresh & Inspired
Herbed Butter Ingredients
½ lb. Butter, Softened
½ bunch Parsley, Chopped
½ bunch Tarragon, Chopped
½ bunch Chives, Chopped
4 - 7 oz. Flat Iron Steaks
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper, To Taste
Method - Butter
1.Place the herbs in a food processor with 1 pound of softened butter and a pinch of salt. Mix until well incorporated and light green in colour.
2.Remove from mixer and form into a log using plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm
Method – Flat Iron Steak
1.Oil and season the steaks. On an indoor grill, cook to medium rare and rest.
2.Slice the steaks across the grain and top with a couple of slices of herb butter. Reheat quickly and plate. Serving suggestion: Plate with steamed seasonal vegetables.
With Strewn Winery Merlot…
Striploin Roast with Wild Mushrooms
From Heart Smart: The Best of Heart Smart Cooking
1 tbsp (15 mL) Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp (15 mL) pepper
1 tbsp (15 mL) Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh rosemary or ½ tsp (2 mL) dried
4-lb (2 kg) striploin roast, well trimmed and tied
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
1 tsp (5 mL) olive oil
12 shallots peeled and quartered
2 tbsp (30 mL) balsamic vinegar
2 cup (500 mL) dry red wine
1 lb (500 g) wild mushrooms (we recommend a combination of Portobello,shiitake or oyster), chopped
⅓ cup (75 mL) oyster sauce
2 tbsp (30 mL) coarsely chopped fresh parsley
1.In a small bowl, combine mustard, garlic, pepper, Worcestershire and rosemary. Pat roast dry and rub mustard mixture into roast. Marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature or longer in refrigerator. Just before cooking sprinkle roast with salt.
2.Heat oil in a large, deep non-stick skillet on medium-high heat. Brown roast well on all sides; this should take about 10 minutes. Transfer roast to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Discard all but 1 tbsp (15 mL) fat from skillet.
3.Roast meat in a preheated 375° F (190°C) oven for 45 to 60 minutes, or until meat thermometer inserted in thickest part of meat registers about 135° F (57°C) for medium-rare. Allow roast to rest for 10 to 20 minutes before carving. Remove fat from surface of pan juices.
4.Meanwhile, return skillet to heat. Add shallots, vinegar and any defatted pan juices. Cook, stirring, until vinegar evaporates and shallots begin to brown. Add wine. Cook on medium-high heat, scraping pan until wine reduces to about ½ cup (125 mL) and shallots are tender.
5.Add mushrooms to skillet and cook for about 10 minutes, or until wilted and browned. Add oyster sauce and cook for 5 minutes. Add parsley and taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
6.Remove string from roast and carve into slices. Top with mushrooms, shallots and juices.
Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!