Posted by DerekThursday, November 11th, 2010
Savvy Selections wine of the month club
features Stoney Ridge Estates Winery
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep
October brings with it a noticeable change in seasons as the leaves turn from green to vibrant reds, oranges and yellows. We experience shorter days and longer nights as October is the month our clocks fall back an hour. October is also the month were we enjoy a Thanksgiving meal with friends and family. To celebrate the change in season, the extra hour of sleep and the last long weekend before Christmas the Savvy Team is excited to present to you wines from the Stoney Ridge Estate Winery.
We are especially excited about this month’s Savvy Selections because Savvy Sommelier Derek Vollrath was able to meet and interview Jim Warren the original founder of Stoney Ridge and now is the General Manager of the winery. Many involved in the Canadian wine industry, Jim is a pioneer and mentor to aspiring winemakers. Jim & Stoney Ridge are celebrating a milestone this year as it is the winery’s 25th anniversary – all the more reasons to raise a glass of Savvy Selections wine!
The Savvy Selections tasting panel is thrilled to select the following wines crafted to commemorate the winery’s 25th anniversary:
· Excellence Sauvignon Blanc VQA 2009
· Excellence Pinot Gris VQA 2009
· Petit Verdot VQA 2008
Derek was telling me that the tasting panel was excited to include a Petit Verdot. This wine is unique because rarely is Petit Verdot produced as a single varietal. It is usually used as a constituent in a blended wine as it provides additional colour and structure. One of the many benefits of being a Savvy Selection member is that you get to experience different and unique wines such as this one!
As always, the Savvy eZine includes the panel’s tasting notes along with recipes chosen to pair with these wines. Check out the prosciutto asparagus chicken roulade - Derek swears by it as an easy way to impress your guests!
If you are in the Niagara area we encourage your to stop by Stoney Ridge. The winery is also known as the Garden Winery because of the beautiful gardens interlaced into the property. Visitors are encouraged to walk around and take in the beautiful gardens or check out the artisan cheeses in their cheese boutique.
You won’t find these wines at the LCBO!
Stoney Ridge does not have their wines on the store shelves at the LCBO, so feel free to contact me to arrange for additional bottles of your favorite Stoney Ridge wines or wines from any previous Savvy Selections. It’s easy to arrange and best of all - we do all the work.
Cheers, enjoy & Happy Thanksgiving!
- Debbie & Savvy Team
Stoney Ridge Estate Winery
Presented by Sommelier Derek Vollrath
Jim Warren’s entry into the wine industry started in a rather innocuous way when his wife bought him a home winemaking kit as a Christmas gift. The rest, as the saying goes, “is history” and a rather serendipitous history at that as Jim has gone onto become a godfather in the Ontario wine industry.
Stoney Ridge was opened in 1985 by Jim and a couple of business partners as a “fun thing to do”. At that time operations were rather rudimentary so much so that they did not even have running water. Despite the lack of some of the basic tools Jim and his partners persevered, guided by a simple principle of producing quality wines. In its first year of operations the winery produced only 500 cases of wine.
Stoney Ridge quickly gained a reputation for producing quality wines and as a result became one of Canada’s most awarded wineries.
When it opened back in 1985 Stoney Ridge was only the 18th licensed winery operating in Ontario. Twenty-five years later the wine industry in Niagara is flourishing in large part due to pioneers such as Jim.
An Industry Pioneer
Jim has all of the hallmarks of a pioneer. He was one of the first to enter the fledging Canadian wine industry and continues to remain a staunch supporter of it. He understood the need for a winery to produce quality products and the importance for a winery to consistently produce innovative products.
A Spirit of Innovation
Jim has enthusiastically experimented with bringing new products to the market. Some of Jim’s innovations include: Gewürztraminer Ice wine, peach wine and even a successful cranberry wine which the LCBO consistently carries. In the words of Jim “if it can be fermented I will try and make a wine out of it”.
Jim’s philosophy towards wine making is pretty simple and straight forward:
a) Quality begins in the vineyard as a healthy vineyard and well tended to fruit will produce good grapes which in turn help make good wine
b) The winemaker is the custodian of the vinification process (winespeak for winemaking). Therefore the wine maker must be proactive during the winemaking process by keeping an eye on the health of the wine.
c) “Keep your options available” as Jim told me during the interview. If you are going to make a blended wine make sure the blend is correct because once you blend a wine you can’t un-blend it.
Paying it Forward, a Lasting Impact
One of Jim’s forward thinking views was his involvement with Niagara College. By profession Jim is a teacher. As a result of being an educator before a winemaker, Jim saw a need to have an educational program specifically geared towards winemaking. He was instrumental in working with Niagara College to create the Winery and Viticulture program. (Coincidentally, next month’s Savvy Selections will feature Niagara College Teaching Winery)
The program at Niagara College is a lasting legacy as people now interested in becoming a professional winemaker can follow a formal educational training program.
Metaphorically speaking Jim has been involved in planting some of the important vines in the Niagara wine industry. These vines are now beginning to bear great fruit from which we are all benefiting from. Cheers.
Here’s to Jim & the winery’s 25 year milestone…
Cheers & Enjoy!
~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~
Excellence Sauvignon Blanc VQA 2009, $23.00
The Stoney Ridge Sauvignon Blanc presented in this months Savvy Selection is on par with Sauvignon Blanc that you would find from New Zealand. The grapes for the 2009 vintage were harvested at various times in order to capture different aspects of the grape which in turn provides the winemaker more options in crafting the wine.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This is a straightforward Sauvignon Blanc. It is wonderfully crafted with expressive aromas of gooseberry, cut grass and citrus peel. Dry on the palate the wine displays intensive flavours of green apple, grapefruit and citrus peel. It has a long zesty finish in which the fruit flavours continue to remain intense. What more could you ask for?
Suggested Food Pairing: It may seem a little complicated to make but following the tasting notes is a recipe for prosciutto asparagus chicken roulades. The richness of the lemon tarragon sauce will pair nicely with the crisp acidity of the Sauvignon Blanc.
Cellaring: Sauvignon Blanc is not known for aging that is why we recommend enjoying this wine in the next 6 to 12 months.
Excellence Pinot Gris VQA 2009, $23.00
When it comes to Pinot Gris, Ontario is beginning to garner some attention. This is attributed in large part to the quality that Stoney Ridge has crafted with their Pinot Gris grapes.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Pale lemon with a youthful nose of honeysuckle, peach and sweet spice. This medium-bodied wine is dry on the palate with expressive notes of green apple, peach and honey. The acidity, concentration of fruit flavours and length of finish transpire to make this a quality wine.
Suggested Food Pairing: The acidity and fruit characteristics in this wine would make it a great match with grilled shrimp or a charcuterie platter of artisan cheeses and meats. To hang on to the summer barbeque season we have attached a recipe for grilled white fish fillets with a cucumber dill sauce.
Cellaring: This wine could keep for 12 to 18 months but why wait enjoy it tonight chilled.
Petit Verdot VQA 2008 $28.00
Consumers rarely see a single varietal Petit Verdot due to the fact that the grape is challenging to produce as it requires a long hang time (wine speak for it needs to stay on the vine for a long time before it ripens). Savvy Selection subscribers are fortunate for two reasons #1: the growing season in Ontario in 2008 was such that it enabled the Petit Verdot berries to ripen #2: Stoney Ridge decided to craft a unique and different wine.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: The 2008 vintage offers a youthful bouquet of cloves, black current berries, vanilla and cedar. The bouquet carries over to the palate as you experience black current, cedar and pepper notes. This medium-full-bodied dry red wine has soft tannins and a decent length.
Suggested Food Pairing: This wine would be a wonderful match with barbeque pork ribs or beef stew. In keeping with the theme of “let’s hang on to summer” the tasting panel is recommending that you pair this wine with tenderloin steaks in a merlot sauce, the recipe for which follows.
Cellaring: This wine can be enjoyed with the Thanksgiving feast or can cellar for another 3 to 5 years.
~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~
With Stoney Ridge Excellence Sauvignon Blanc…
Prosciutto Asparagus Chicken Roulades
From Canadian Living, April 2004
16 asparagus spears
4 chicken breast (bone in skin on)
¼ cup (50 mL) loosely packed fresh tarragon leaves
8 thin slices of prosciutto
1 tbsp (15 mL) butter, melted
¼ tsp (1 mL) salt
⅔ cup (150 mL) chicken stock
⅓ cup (75 mL) dry white wine (or water mixed with 2 tsp / 10 mL white wine vinegar)
3 egg yolks
2 tbsp (30 mL) lemon juice
½ tsp (2 mL) cornstarch
¼ tsp (1 mL) pepper
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh tarragon
1. Snap off woody end of asparagus. In a pot of salted boiling water, blanch asparagus until colour brightens and still crisp, about 2 minutes. Drain and chill under cold water; drain again.
2. Starting at thick end of each breast and keeping knife angled towards bones, run knife between flesh and bones to remove bones. Place, skin-side down, between plastic wrap. With heavy pan or meat pounder, pound to flatten to generous ¼ - inch (5 mm) thickness.
3. With fingers, gently loosen skin from flesh; place one-quarter of the tarragon leaves under the skin of each breast. Turn and place 2 slices prosciutto over flesh. Place 4 asparagus spears along 1 edge of each breast; roll chicken around asparagus ensuring skin covers all around. Secure at edge with tooth pick. Place, seam side down, in small roasting pan; brush with butter and sprinkle with salt. Pour in stock and wine.
4. Roast in 375° F (190°C) oven until chicken is no longer pink in centre, about 30 minutes. Baste with pan juices. Broil until skin is golden and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to platter; keep warm.
5. Pour pan juices into measuring cup; skim off fat. If necessary, add more stock to make ¾ cup (175 mL). Pour into small sauce pan; bring to a boil. Meanwhile, in a heat proof bowl, whisk together egg yolks, lemon juice, cornstarch and pepper; stir in chopped tarragon. Slowly whisk in boiling juices. Return to sauce pan; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly and without boiling, until thick enough to coat spoon, about 3 minutes. Serve with chicken.
With Stoney Ridge Excellence Pinot Gris…
Grilled Fish Fillets with Cucumber Dill Yogurt
Serves 4 ,
Ingredients – Cucumber Dill Yogurt
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded if necessary and diced
1 cup (250 mL) plain yogurt
2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh dill
½ tsp (2 mL) grated lemon zest
2 tsp (30 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Ingredients – Fish
4 thin fish fillets (trout, tilapia, pickerel, halibut)
1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
2 tsp (30 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1. For the Cucumber Dill Yogurt, place a cucumber in a sieve and sprinkle with 1 tsp (5 mL) salt. Let stand for 15 to 30 minutes. Press out moisture and pat cucumber dry. Transfer to a bowl. Add yogurt, oil, dill, lemon zest and juice. Toss gently to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes or for up to 1 day. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
2. For the fish, preheat the grill to medium-high.
3. Cut 4 pieces of foil slightly larger than the fish fillets and fold up edges to create a rim. Place 1 fish fillet on each piece of foil. Combine oil and lemon juice and brush over fish (over both sides if skinless). Season with salt and pepper. Slide foil piece onto baking sheet and then onto grill, removing sheet. Grill fish, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on thickness, until just cooked through (or broil about 6 inches/15 cm away from heat).
With Stoney Creek Petit Verdot….
Tenderloin Steaks with Merlot Sauce
2 tsp (10 mL) cracked black pepper
4 beef tenderloin steaks, cut 1 inch thick
1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
½ cup (125 mL) finely chopped onion
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1 tbsp (15 mL) snipped fresh thyme or 1 tsp (5 mL) dried thyme, crushed
½ cup (125 mL) Merlot or other dry red wine or lower-sodium beef broth
2 tbsp (30 mL) lower-sodium beef broth or water
1. Use your fingers to press pepper onto all sides of the steak. In a large skilled heat oil over medium heat. Add steaks to skillet; cook until desired doneness, turning once. Allow 10 to 13 minutes for medium-rare doneness (145°F) to medium doneness (160°F). Transfer steaks to a serving platter; keep warm.
2. For sauce, add onion, shallot and dried thyme (if using) to drippings in skillet. Cook and stir for 4 to 6 minutes or until onion is tender. Add Merlot and broth. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Boil gently for 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture is reduced by about half. Stir in balsamic vinegar and fresh thyme (if using). Spoon sauce over steaks.
Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!