Savvy Selection for April: Pondview Estates Winery

Savvy Selections wine of the month club
features Pondview Estate Winery
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep

Following a trip to the Niagara Peninsula early last fall, we are pleased to introduce you to one of Ontario’s newest family-owned wineries, Pondview Estate Winery, located in the Four Mile Creek appellation (in the Niagara-on-the-Lake area). A family business honoring the memory of patriarch Giuseppe Puglisi, you’ll find Luciano (Lou) Puglisi in the vineyard and the barrel cellar; Adriana (Lou’s wife), and Paula (his sister) greeting visitors in the tasting room; while Joseph Barbera, (Lou’s brother-in-law), handles marketing and sales.

On the following pages of this Savvy eZine, read about the story of the Pondview expansion. Joseph recalls, “Lou had saved up enough money to buy a Camaro, his dream car. But his dad (Giuseppe) strongly recommended that he buy land instead . . .” And the rest is history!

The Puglisi family has been growing grapes for more than three decades and selling them to other wineries in the region. In 2008, Lou was crowned Grape King – a highly acclaimed recognition from the Ministry of Agriculture award for the finest vineyard & grape grower in Ontario. In addition to the ‘fame’, the award included a trip to British Columbia, visiting family-owned estates and meeting local winery owners. This experience was just what Lou needed to launch the move from grape grower to winemaker & winery owner. With the assistance from consulting winemaker, Fred di Profio, Lou set out to implement his vision – to offer quality wines from estate-grown fruit that is reflected in Pondview’s philosophy – “Great wine is a harmony of earth and vine.”

Savvy Sommelier Susan Desjardins visited Pondview in September last year – just a few weeks after the official opening of the tasting room. In true Italian tradition, visitors can enjoy Pondview’s food friendly wine with platters of local cheese and antipasto. Although a small winery (approx. 5000 cases produced last year), the quality and value of Pondview’s wines impress: the 2008 Cabernet blend sold out in three weeks, and the outstanding Cabernet Franc Rosé WOWed the buyers at the LCBO & they have bought it all (tip: be on the lookout for this wine in Vintages this spring).

To whet your palate, we are excited to feature the following wines in this month’s Savvy Selections:

Pondview Riesling VQA 2009 – elegant & fresh
– Pondview Bella Terra Barrel-Fermented Chardonnay VQA 2009 –
an award winner (and almost sold out!)
Pondview Bella Terra Cabernet Franc VQA 2009 – the deliciously intense red wine with cellaring potential.

Enjoy this new wine discovery as the days grow longer and spring flowers come into bloom. And if you’re visiting the Niagara area be sure to stop by & visit Lou, Adriana, Paula & Joseph for a taste of true Italian hospitality – let them know that you are a Savvy Selections subscriber!

Cheers & Enjoy!

Debbie & Savvy Team

Savvy Company


Pondview Estate Winery
Presented by Sommelier Susan Desjardins

In 1965, Pondview patriarch, Giuseppe Puglisi, left his native Italy for a better life Canada. He settled in Toronto, but would often drive to Niagara-on-the-Lake on the weekends to see first hand the landscape transforming into vineyards. His Italian roots in the family vineyards in Sicily were calling to him, so when the opportunity arose in 1974, he took the plunge & purchased a 12-acre parcel in Niagara-on-the-Lake (now named as the sub-appellation of Four Mile Creek). Giuseppe planted fruit trees as well as hybrid grape varietals, selling the grapes to local wineries and the fruit in local markets. By the mid-1980s, he decided to convert the hybrid vineyards to vitis vinifera, planting Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc vines as the demand for these varietals increased in the revitalized wine industry.

Over time the estate expanded. Today, the 60-acre property surrounds the winery and includes a broader range of grape varieties selected based on the terroir.

What is special about the terroir?
Situated on a former lake bed, Pondview’s soil has a clay loam base, with some deposits of limestone. Another unique advantage – the Four Mile Creek sub-appellation has the highest heat units in Niagara, ensuring that the Chardonnay and Bordeaux varietals thrive on the property, particularly evident in the notable 2009 vintage – several of the Savvy Selections wines are from this vintage..

What happened in 2009?
Grapes are a crop like any other – they are subject to the vagaries of nature. IN 2009, the weather was challenging, According to VQA Ontario reports, April gave grape growers endless rain while May brought dry yet cool temperatures with a slow steady start to bud break & flowering. June was fairly normal, but July, when farmers are looking for dry heat, was exceptionally rainy with temperatures 2 to 3 C degrees cooler than normal. The rain continued well into August, and as September approached, miraculously the sun and warmth returned ensuring a lengthy period for ripening. Grapes were left to hang longer than usual through the erratic weather in October and early November.

Wine is made in the vineyard
The weather conditions of 2009 were a significant challenge for grape growers and winemakers across Ontario. By mid-summer, Lou and the Pondview team realized that the cool weather and rain were putting the quality of the vintage at risk. With his extensive grape growing experience, Lou focused on low yields and strict canopy management to allow penetration of the sun’s warming rays. They thinned the crop prior to veraison (winespeak: when the grapes begins to change color) to ensure that the remaining grape bunches would ripen earlier, display greater concentration & have a longer period of ripening. These two aspects are critical to ensure optimal ripeness at harvest thereby better quality wine.

VQA Ontario reports the 2009 is a good vintage for all the white varietals at which Ontario excels. Conditions were right for Ontario’s signature Riesling with a clean balance of fruit and racy acidity. . . 2009 was a bit more challenging for the longer-ripening reds—Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. These varieties will have benefited from crop thinning & extra care in the vineyard to ensure the grapes were fully mature at harvest – exactly as Lou implemented.

Taste it for yourself!
With this month’s Savvy Selections, taste the natural impact of the 2009 vintage in the Riesling, the skills of the winemaker in balancing fruit and oak in the Chardonnay, and the experience and expertise of the viticulturalist and winemaker in the Cabernet Franc. ‘We are proud to share some of the Old World winemaking tradition in the New World setting’, states Joseph. ‘We are very proud of the unique fertile terroir (in Italian – Bella Terra) that flows through our wines’. From my visit to the winery, it was evident that the Puglisi family has attained a better life in Canada & they are keen to share it with us.

As they say in Italy – Salute!


Pondview Riesling 2009 VQA, $16.20

Cold fermented in stainless steel to dryness, a portion of the Riesling juice was set aside during the winemaking process, then added back after fermentation, creating a touch of residual sugar & intensifying the fruit flavours in the aromas & tastes.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A fine & subtle wine with lovely floral & stone fruit aromas (think peach, necatarines), mineral and tantalizing sweet citrus notes. Light to medium-bodied, there’s a taste of, green apple & zesty pink grapefruit that nicely balances a lively seam of acidity. “an absolutely elegant white wine“, states Savvy Sommelier Debbie Trenholm during the Savvy Selections tasting panel.

Suggested Food Pairing: Riesling is such a versatile wine – great sipped on its own, with hors d`oeuvres or a match for veal and pork dishes, spicy Asian cuisine (see Thai grilled shrimp recipe below), or seafood.

Cellaring: No need to wait, it’s delightful – you’ll enjoy it now!

Pondview ‘Bella Terra’ Barrel-Aged Chardonnay 2009 VQA, $24.20

Produced fromThe grapes for this classic Chardonnay were hand-harvested in November. Fermented in French and American oak, it was barrel aged for 9 months, providing great texture and weight on the palate. This impressive wine was a first place winner at the Cuvée Awards this spring (tied for first with Niagara Teaching College Winery – featured in Savvy Selections this past November). Not keen on oaked Chardonnay? Definitely give this wine a chance as the oak is elegantly woven into the taste of the wine.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Lovely aromas of butterscotch, pineapple and apple-cinnamon crisp waft from the glass. Medium-full bodied with a creamy texture, the flavours are of biscuit (Arrowroot or shortbread cookies perhaps!), exotic spice and baked apple with a dash of lemon rind. The finish is warm with notes of toasty oak and ripe apple.

Suggested Food Pairing: This weighty Chardonnay would pair nicely with the Easter ham, cheese-laden pasta, roast turkey or chicken. Susan offers a pork tenderloin with leeks & fennel to try your hand at with this wine.

Cellaring: Enjoy now or cellar for 3-5 years

Pondview ‘Bella Terra’ Cabernet Franc 2009 VQA, $28.20

Lou’s focus on quality and concentration of flavour, the Cabernet Franc grapes were hand-picked, then aged in new French and American oak barrels for 12 months & was bottled mid-February just in time to be showcased in this month`s Savvy Selections – you are the first to try this wine.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This is a young red wine with enticing aromas of spiced heritage rose, red licorice, plum, black cherry & toast. Dry, medium bodied & well structured, the fruit is vivid—raspberry and cherry. The acidity is vibrant, and the tannins are what Savvy Sommelier Susan Desjardins describes as “chalky“. The finish is dry & warm, with underlying notes of sweet exotic spice, espresso and chocolate. The Savvy Sommeliers all recommend that it is best to give this wine time to knit together.

Suggested Food Pairing: Serve with strongly flavoured meat dishes, such as rare prime rib or herbed rack of lamb.

Cellaring: We recommend holding this wine for a few months, or if you can’t wait to try it, decant for an hour before serving. It is designed to cellar for 3-5 years.


With Pondview Riesling…

Thai Grilled Shrimp

Serves 4 to 5


1 ¼ lbs. raw shrimp, peeled (about 40)
¼ C finely chopped onion

3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 Tbsp grated lemon rind
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp soy sauce or Thai fish sauce
1 tsp chili powder

½ tsp finely minced garlic
¼ tsp hot pepper sauce
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Skewers, soaked


· Peel and de-vein shrimp, leaving on tail. Place in a bowl.

· In a blender, combine all remaining ingredients except parsley. Pour over shrimp, add parsley and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

· Reserving marinade, thread 2 shrimp on each skewer and grill for 2 minutes, brush with marinade, turn and grill for 2 minutes or until shrimp is opaque.

· Savour this tasty appetizer with a glass of Pondview Riesling!

With Pondview Chardonnay….

Pork Tenderloin on a Bed of Leeks & Fennel
From A Matter of Taste Cookbook, by Lucy Waverman & James Chatto
Serves 4


1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
1 tsp cracked peppercorns
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 ½ lbs. pork tenderloin
salt & pepper, freshly ground
1 Tbsp butter
1 bulb fennel, trimmed & thinly sliced
3 leeks, trimmed & thinly sliced
¼ C chicken stock
¼ C white wine
2 Tbsp whipping cream
1 Tbsp lemon juice


· Preheat oven to 400F.

· Combine mustard, 2 tsp tarragon, peppercorns & 1 Tbsp oil. Reserve.

· Heat remaining 1 Tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season pork with salt & pepper. Add pork to skillet and brown on all sides, about 4 minutes in total.

· Transfer pork to a baking dish and spread mustard mixture over top & sides. Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until just a hint of pink remains in the pork.

· Prepare vegetables while pork is cooking. Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add fennel, leeks and remaining 1 tsp tarragon and sauté for 3 minutes, or until crisp-tender.

· Add stock, wine & cream. Cover and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.

· Uncover, increase heat and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until liquid is reduced and slightly thickened. Stir in lemon juice. Season with salt & pepper.

· Cut pork into slices ½” thick. Place overlapping slices on leek and fennel mixture.

With Pondview ‘Bella Terra’ Cabernet Franc…

Beef Stroganoff
From Cooking with BC Wine, by Troy & Cheryl-Lynn Townsin
Serves 4

¾ C red wine
4 Tbsp butter
1 lb. beef tenderloin, cut into strips
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbsp flour
½ C beef stock
¼ C sour cream
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 package egg noodles (8 oz.)
Salt & pepper to taste
¼ C fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish


· Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Season meat to taste with salt & pepper and then add to pan. Brown meat & then add onion & mushrooms. Sauté for another 5 minutes, then set aside.

· Prepare egg noodles according to directions on the package.

· In a separate large pan, mix remaining butter with flour over medium heat until well combined. Slowly stir in the stock and red wine. Bring to a boil, then add the beef & mushroom mix. Stir for 1 minute then add sour cream & mustard. Mix through. Remove from heat.

· When egg noodles are al dente, serve on individual plates topped with beef stroganoff mixture. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!

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