Savvy Selections wine of the month club
features Huff Estates Winery
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When a wine is complex, it opens up to you bit by bit and offers something new each time. I think that this is a fitting way to describe this month’s our feature winery Huff Estates Winery of Prince Edward County. This marks the third time that we have featured Huff in Savvy Selections. Why? Because as one of the flagship wineries of Prince Edward County – or PEC as it is often referred to - it is a complex winery with something new to offer each time we return. With the rapid growth of ‘The County’, I find it fascinating to see & taste how the region evolves each year. When I first visited the region six years ago, there were a mere 7 wineries. Now there are 23 wineries, with more opening this summer!
Prince Edward County was the center of the fruit canning industry in Canada & has transformed itself into the fastest growing wine region in Canada. In addition to the wine, The County is growing its reputation as a culinary weekend getaway with its gourmet restaurants, artisan cheese makers, artists & historic inns. The fertile limestone land bordering Lake Ontario once produced fruits & vegetables. The landscape continues to change, transforming into impressive vineyards – with Huff Estates as one of the wineries to watch & breaking new ground as this region grows.
While the winery opened in 2004, the roots of the Huff family lays claim to PEC back to the 1800s when they settled as United Empire Loyalists. In fact, the winery is located on what used to be an orchard called “Huff Corners” – at the intersection of County Road #1 & Highway 62.
On the following pages, our newest Savvy Sommelier Erin Bolling shares with her interview with Huff’s winemaker Frederic Picard & his impression of this year’s harvest.
Or watch our video!
On a recent visit to Huff, I spent some time with Frederic too. Watch us our chat in the vineyard on the Savvy Company YouTube channel at: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheSavvyCompany
Cozy up by the fire or celebrate the Chinese New Year with these Savvy Selections wines:
· Huff Estates Pinot Gris VQA 2009
· Huff Estates South Bay Vineyards Chardonnay 2008
· Huff Estates South Bay Vineyards Merlot-Cabernet VQA 2007
· OPTIONAL WINE: Huff Estates First Frost 2008
What did you think?
Our Savvy Team appreciates hearing from you about the wines we selected for your enjoyment. And if you plan to visit the County soon - be sure to consider taking in the annual Countyliscious festival that runs March 23 to April 16 featuring prix fixe menus for under $35 at renowned gourmet restaurants featuring local produce. Contact us in advance & we’ll be happy to arrange a tour of Huff Estates or give you our ‘must visit’ list of wineries to help you plan your trip.
Want more Huff Estates wines? It is easy – simply call on us to arrange an order for you.
Cheers & Enjoy!
- Debbie & Savvy Team
Winemaker Frederic Picard hails from Burgundy, France and has travelled from the famed vineyards of his homeland to Italy, Chile, California & France where he gained hands on experience in vineyards & wine cellars. When asked how his vast experience has helped him in the different cool climate growing region of PEC, he explains with a little tone of je ne sais quoi, “to me, all experience is positive. I have learned how to get the most out of what the land & terroir gives me to work with”. As the winery has rapidly grown in the past six years, Frederic now has 40 acres of vineyards to work with, bearing vines that are producing high enough yields & quality grapes for him to make wines that contain 100% County grown grapes. A sidenote: a new vineyard needs to grow 5 to 7 years before the grapes are worthy to use for making wine. During this time, to help PEC wineries get started, they can purchase grapes from Niagara & bring them to their winery to make wine that they can call their own. It is a true signal of ‘coming of age’, when the winery produces wine using grapes from their own vineyard. All of the wines in this Savvy Selections are made with County grown grapes.
Frederic has been with the winery since the opening in 2004 during this time has produced wines that are winning notable awards here at home and abroad. Last year, Frederic was part of a team of Ontario winemakers who traveled to London, England on a ‘mission’ to make an impression on the European wine media by showcasing Ontario Chardonnay wines. Huff’s South Bay Vineyard Chardonnay VQA 2007 garnered rave reviews from renowned wine critics including Oz Clarke & Jancis Robinson. Huff’s Chardonnay – made with grapes from their vineyard in PEC’s South Bay area - was touted as a ‘wine to watch’. Now that is impressive! This wine quickly sold out & we are excited to include the South Bay Chardonnay from the 2008 vintage for you to sip on now or cellar. We are sure that you too will be impressed with the outstanding quality of this wine.
Interview with Winemaker Frederic Picard
“Respect the grapes you’re making the wine from”, was the repeated message during my interview with Frederic. Luckily, I was able to catch him before he headed off to France. Given the short growing season & cold winters he explained to me that after harvest, he has to hill-up (winespeak: bury the vines). This technique is only practiced in PEC to protect the vines from the harsh winter conditions. By hilling up, the vines can produce quality fruit in the spring. As you can imagine, with the arrival of spring, he has to ‘hill down’ by removing the soil from the buried vines. According to Frederic, “the climate in PEC favours excellent ripening of cool climate grape varieties – Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Riesling & Pinot Gris.
You heard it here first!
While he experiments in the vineyard, Frederic also experiments in the wine cellar. He let me in on a secret that I am excited to share with you….Frederic has crafted a new wine that will be called Zero DeGris - a late harvest style wine that will be released this spring. That is all that he would divulge, so stay tuned! Frederic is also very excited about what he calls his “baby” – the sparkling wines he makes at Huff. In fact, he was the first winery in the area to make a bubbly. Frederic proudly recalled the story that acclaimed Canadian wine critic, Tony Aspler stated that he feels “sparkling wine can be something very special here in the County.” Huff’s Cuvée Peter F. Huff sparkling won gold at the All Canadian Wine Championship. Speaking of awards, check out the extensive list Huff has received so far:
The verdict of 2010 harvest? As Frederic claims with his charming French accent, “one of the best ever”. We anxiously await to taste the wines of 2010.
Plan a visit to Huff – its a year round destination
I plan to be enjoying a glass of Huff sparkling wine on the winery’s patio when I visit the winery as one of my stops along a cycling tour that I am planning of the County this summer. There are several other reasons to jump in your car to visit Huff – any time of the year:
The Inn – each of the impressive 21 suites are surrounded by vineyards.
Oeno Gallery - Art & wine are perfect partners, especially with PEC becoming a thriving artists’ community, Huff Estates added the gallery to its property in 2009. There are different exhibits featuring contemporary art & sculpture. Did you know that PEC has more artists per capita than Toronto does?
With the stellar 2010 harvest, I’m looking forward to what comes next from Huff. Until then, enjoy your Savvy Selections. As they say in France…Santé!
~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~
Pinot Gris VQA 2009, $19.95
This wine is a sure crowd pleaser. All the grapes in this award winning wine are from PEC, specifically the Southbay, East Lake, and Hillier vineyards. The Savvy panel agreed it is lovely on its own or as an aperitif.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This white gold wine is complex with intense aromatics of apple, pear, ripe guava and almonds. Savvy Sommelier Doug commented that, ’’there is a lot going on in this glass’’ to the agreement of all involved in the Savvy Selections tasting panel. With a quick sniff, you will find all the aromatic notes repeated on the palate in a medium-full bodied wine with a refreshingly tangy lime finish.
Suggested Food Pairing: As sommeliers we aim to help you find out what you love to drink & eat. This is a versatile wine that will pair with seafood, roast chicken, even porkchops with a chutney. For those of you who make a full meal out of our suggested recipes, we suggest to serve Asian Avacado Salsa. This wine will meld well with the avocado in this twist on traditional guacamole.
Cellaring: No need to wait! This wine is drinking well now.
South Bay Vineyards Chardonnay VQA 2008 $29.95
This was the Savvy Selections panel hands down favorite. Savvy Sommelier Julie coined this wine as the ‘Golden Baby’ & enthusiastically stated that “she could write all night about this delicious Chardonnay”. It’s a Chardonnay for any season with enough body that white wine lovers simply need to curl up in front of the fire with a glass. I’m already looking forward to my next glass of this County grown Chardonnay. Congrats Frederic for making such a fine wine!
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Shimmering gold coloured, this full bodied Chardonnay is a rich wine with notes of tropical fruit, toasted coconut, butterscotch & warm spices. As expected the palate does not disappoint with apple, toast other notes that follow the nose. Savvy Sommelier Debbie was impressed with the long “heavenly’’ finish. Aged in French oak barrels, this wine is a classic.
Suggested Food Pairing: This wine will pair well with rich foods such as: figs wrapped in prosciutto, salmon wellington, lobster alfredo or a hearty pasta carbonara – see recipe on the following pages.
Cellaring: Drinking well now, the wine could cellar for a couple of years
South Bay Vineyards Merlot-Cabernet VQA 2007 $
Made exclusively from the Huff vineyard in the South Bay area of Prince Edward County, this Bordeaux blend is a repeat favourite vintage after vintage. It is 70% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon & 15% Cabernet Franc, it spent 18 months in new French oak barrels. This is the 5th year its been released & this vintage, Frederic decided to lean heavily on Merlot (a perfect varietal for PEC region). Frederic considers this the best yet rendition of the blend.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Our Savvy Selections tasting panel had a lot to say about this pretty, balanced and medium bodied wine. It greets you with loads of red fruit, chocolate, plum, cedar and violets. The smooth mouth feel does not disappoint and it finishes with a dry cranberry taste that lingers just enough. This wine has limited availability…if you want more, be sure to call on us to help you stock up!
Suggested Food Pairing: Enjoy with tortiere, coq au vin, or the Boeuf Bourguignon recipe that we offer on the following pages.
Cellaring: You will definitely want to taste this wine now to determine if you want additional bottles to cellar for another 3-5 years as Frederic recommends.
OPTIONAL WINE: First Frost 2008 $19.95 (500 mL bottle)
Made with Vidal grapes that have been picked after they have been first ‘kissed’ by the first frost, the result is an elegant combination of sweet & acidity. This wine is only made at Huff Estates & is neither a late harvest nor an ice-wine. Our Savvy Selections tasting panel enjoyed this wine so much that we wanted to offer it to you as an optional wine to add to this month’s Savvy Selections delivery.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A clear honey gold coloured wine with a medium body. Delicious tropical notes of pineapple, mango & light white floral notes with a touch of clover & honey play in the taste.
Suggested Food Pairing: Savvy Sommelier Julie declared that this wine is ‘simply delicious’ & would be delightful served chilled on its own or with appetizers, fresh fruit desserts or mild cheeses. Savvy Sommelier Erin Bolling ooohhhed& ahhhed & remarked that First Frost would be a great wine with her spicy baked coconut shrimp hors d’oeuvre on the following pages.
~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~
With Huff Estates Pinot Gris VQA 2009…
Asian Avacado Salsa
From Bon Appetit Magazine
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)*
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
1 teaspoon wasabi paste (horseradish paste)*
2 cups coarsely chopped trimmed watercress (leaves and tender stems from 2 medium bunches)
4 green onions, thinly sliced on diagonal (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup 1/3-inch cubes asian pear
2 large avocados, halved, pitted, peeled, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
1. Stir sesame seeds in dry skillet over medium heatt until aromatic and golden. Transfer to a small bowl to cool.
2. Whisk next 6 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Add watercress, green onion, and asian pear; toss to coat. Gently stir in avocados & chill in the fridge. Note: this step can all be done ahead of time.
3. Sprinkle salsa with toasted sesame seeds and serve chilled with fried wonton triangles or chip of your choice.
With Huff Estates South Bay Chardonnay VQA 2008…
A personal recipe from Savvy Sommelier Erin Bolling & Epicurious.com
5 oz guanciale (unsmoked cured hog jowl), pancetta or bacon
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 lb spaghetti
3 large eggs
1 1/2 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated (3/4 cup)
3/4 oz Pecorino Romano, finely grated (1/3 cup)
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
Recipe online at http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Spaghetti-alla-Carbonara-107810#ixzz1CSBZnygr
1. Cut guanciale or pancetta into 1/3-inch dice, then cook in a deep 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until fat begins to render, 1 to 2 minutes. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden, about 10 minutes. Add wine and boil until reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes.
2. Cook spaghetti in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente.
3. While pasta is cooking, whisk together eggs, Parmigiano-Reggiano , Pecorino Romano (1/3 cup), 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl.
4. Drain spaghetti in a colander and add to onion mixture, then toss with tongs over moderate heat until coated. Remove from heat and add egg mixture, tossing to combine. Serve immediately.
With Huff South Bay Vineyards Merlot-Cabernet VQA 2007…
Classic Boeuf Bourguignon
Recipe from the Tracey Black – chef and co-owner of Epicuria Fine Food & Catering in Ottawa
5lb stewing beef (Chuck – well marbled)
1 spanish onion (cut into a ½ inch dice)
2 cloves garlic
½ lb side bacon – cut into lardon
1 cup red wine
1/4 bunch thyme
1 bay leaf
1.5 lbs button mushrooms – kept whole or halved
1 cups pearl onions blanched
cornstarch slurry to thicken
1. Cook off lardon in sauté pan until crisp. Reserve bacon fat.
2. Drain and pat dry stewing beef. Season beef liberally with salt and pepper. Brown beef in sauté pan, careful not to over crowd pan. Use just enough vegetable oil/bacon fat to coat bottom of pan. Place meat into braising pot. Note: flavour of stew is directly related to how well the meat is browned..
3. Saute onions in meat browning pan until softened. Add garlic and herbs and sauté until onions are caramelized. Deglaze with red wine.
4. Add bacon, onions and wine to braising pot and add enough stock to bring liquid level one inch below meat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until meat is fork tender – approximately 1.5 hours.
5. Sautée mushrooms and pearl onions, separately, and add to braising pot when meat is cooked. To thicken, bring stew to boil and add cornstarch slurry. Can also be thickened with a roux.
With Huff First Frost 2008…
Spicy Baked Coconut Shrimp Appetizer
A personal recipe from Savvy Sommelier Erin with a little help from www.Epicurious.com
3 cups shredded sweetened coconut (lightly toasted)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup panko* (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
Kosher salt, to taste
4 large egg whites
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails intact
Nonstick cooking spray
*NOTE: Panko bread crumbs can be found on the Asian aisle of most major grocery stores or in Asian markets.
3/4 cup apricot jam
1/4 cup mango chutney
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 to 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced, to taste
Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lime
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Spread the coconut evenly on an ungreased sheet pan and toast in the oven, stirring occasionally, until golden, 8 to 10 minutes.
3. Increase oven temperature to 400°F.
4. To prepare the shrimp, line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
5. In a shallow dish, whisk together the flour, bread crumbs, cayenne pepper, and salt. Place the toasted coconut in another dish.
6. Place the egg whites in a medium bowl and whisk until frothy. Pat the shrimp dry and dip first in the egg whites, then the flour, back in the egg whites, then roll in the coconut.
7. Arrange the shrimp on the prepared pan and spray lightly with cooking spray. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, until cooked through and golden.
Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!