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Archive for ‘Wine’

“Dad…Dad…buy a winery!”

Posted by David Loan

Monday, March 13th, 2017

When you have generations of winemakers in your family tree, the word “tradition” takes on a new meaning. This month in Savvy Selections, we feature fabulous wines from Niagara’s  Di Profio Wines. A family run operation that specializes in small batch, hand-made wines, Di Profio has quickly built a reputation for their excellent products. You can read all about their approach to winemaking in our Di Profio profile, below.

 

Get ready to uncork & enjoy your Savvy Selections…

In your Savvy Selections you will find 3 of our favourite Di Profio picks. We love how they offer a variety of flavours and styles!

2015 Sparkling Aromatic Gamay Rosie Light and lively are the key words for this bubblegum pink sparkling wine.

2015 Kitchen Zinc – Blended from seven grape varieties, you’ll love how pretty and well-balanced this white wine is.

2013 Zinc-tastic – Here’s an example big red wine Fred Di Profio has become famous for: Cab-Merlot in perfect harmony!

 

Wines with power & elegance

Di Profio is making wines that will entice the most discerning of palates. Each one is unique, offering flavours and aromas that you would expect only from much more expensive products. These wines are read to drink, though most of them can handle cellaring for a few years, too. Our Savvy Sommeliers know you’ll love them as much as we do!

Call on us at anytime you would like additional bottles of your favourite Di Profio wines – or other wineries we have featured in Savvy Selections.  Your Canadian Wine Hotline is 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or send me an email to debbie@savvycompany.ca.

Cheers!
-Debbie & Savvy Team

 

 

Introducing…

Di Profio Wines
presented by Sommelier David Loan

“Traditional” is a word we like to use a lot in the wine industry. It calls to mind the ancient history of winemaking, and connects the New World to the Old. But only a few Ontario wineries have the family roots to show that winemaking is a family legacy, a true tradition that forms part of the winery’s heritage.

Deep Roots

At Di Profio Wines, the winemaker’s roots go as deep as his vineyards. “My father’s family for generations were farming in a well-known region of Italy called Abruzzi,” Di Profio’s winemaker Fred Di Profio remembers. “My grandfather, Giuseppe, left and they eventually sold off their vineyards, but he continued making wine as many Italian immigrants do, in his cellar.” Fred’s father, Joseph, watched his own father make wine, but didn’t have much interest in the process when he grew up.

Fred, however, decided to study winemaking and began to work as a “cellar rat” at a variety of wineries in Niagara and elsewhere. He eventually took over as winemaker at Pondview Estates Winery (the winery we featured in Savvy Selections just 3 months ago – December 2016). 

Family Business

That’s when his dad, Joseph, got interested, too. “My father saw how gratifying it was for me to make wine and he thought, I should rekindle my childhood memories of MY father making wine,” Fred said. “He had a great time and learned something new and together we naturally found our family roots.” With Fred’s advice, Joseph bought some vineyards near Jordan Station in the Niagara Escarpment. Of course, he immediately enlisted Fred to run the operation.

Building Up

Joseph spearheaded building a new winery and tasting room. One of his biggest concerns was the bar. “Fred was looking for an interesting material for the tasting bar top,” Joseph said. “And he found a wine bar in Italy with a zinc countertop. Zinc oxidizes in a really neat way. Spilled wine produces a really nice patina – the older and more used, the more personality it develops. Joe got some zinc sheets and used them to cover our beautiful tasting bar.”

Joseph liked the material so much, in fact, that the tasting room is called The Zinc. And some of the wine labels playfully use the word, too.

Ready for Reds

Fred has developed a reputation for making big, bold red wines.  In the cool climate region like Niagara, Cabernet Sauvignon can be challenging for those grapes. Fred explained to me that extra time spent in the vineyard makes all the difference. “We always adapt to the climactic conditions. Even in the cooler growing seasons, there are a number of tools we can use in the vineyard to accommodate to any climate, which can vary from year to year,” he said. “Crop thinning to give the vines a helping hand, canopy management to vary the shade levels – more leaves in hot seasons, less in cooler seasons. The secret is patience and good vineyard practices.”

We’re Convinced!

Since Di Profio Wines opened in 2012, the father and son duo (and mother Carollynn had her hand in it too running the B&B next to the winery), Joseph and Fred have quickly built a reputation for high-quality wines. Dedicated to small batch production, and producing only wines from estate vineyards, they are leading a new movement in Niagara winemaking, one that looks to the future while embracing, yes, the traditional.

We are proud to offer you our favourite picks from the Di Profio portfolio. We’re confident that every bottle in the Savvy Selections that you open will leave you wanting more!

~ SAVVY SOMMELIER TASTING NOTES ~

For your Savvy Selection this month, we’ve chosen three wines that demonstrate the powerful elegance of Di Profio wines.  We know that you’ll love the subtle flavours of these stunning wines, along with some delicious recipes that will perfectly match food and drink.

 

2015 Sparkling Aromatic Gamay Rosie (VQA Creek Shores)
$25

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Named for Joe’s mother, Rosie (and bearing her image on the label), this Gamay sparkler is perfect for a romantic evening! There’s so much going on here: candied citrus, cherry gumdrops, pink marshmallows. It’s dry and refreshing, and finishes on the palate with watermelon and strawberry notes. The mousse is light, with fine bubbles.

Suggested Food Pairings: Our tasters agreed that this will go well with fish and seafood. We think a nice Trout Almandine will be a perfect pairing. (Recipe below.)

Cellaring:  Drink at 8ºC within a year.

 

2015 Kitchen Zinc (VQA Ontario)
$18

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Want to know what grapes this is made from: Chardonnay Musque (a cousin of the Chardonnay we know and love); Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat, Chardonnay, Vidal, and Pinot Gris.

Pretty and aromatic, it has fresh floral and orange notes, with flavours of rose and honey. Medium acidity balances the light sweetness.

Suggested Food Pairings: Off-dry wines pair beautifully with spicy food, and this is no exception. We suggest a chipotle black bean chili. Recipe follows.

Cellaring: Ready to drink now, this could be cellared for up to 2 years. Serve between 10-14ºC.

 

2013 Zinc-tastic (VQA Niagara Peninsula)
$23

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Sixty-four per cent Cabernet Sauvignon and Thirty-six per cent Merlot, the Zinc-tastic showcases Fred Di Profio’s talent with making big red wines.

With loads of dark fruit flavours and aromas of cigar box, coffee, and chocolate, this has medium, elegant tannins and medium acidity. Our tasters all thought that this is a steal at the price!

Suggested Food Pairings: We want to pick up on the fruit and smoky flavours of the Zinc-tastic. So, we turned to one of our favourite culinary regions – Provence – and a very old stew recipe: Daube de Boeuf Jeannette.

Cellaring: Drinking well now, this can cellar 3-5 years. Serve at 14-16ºC.

 

 

~ RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH YOUR SAVVY SELECTIONS ~

 

With Di Profio Sparkling Aromatic Gamay Rosie…

Trout Almandine

Recipe & Photo credit: MarthaStewart.com
Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup milk
4 trout fillets
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

 

Method

Lightly toast the almonds in a saute pan. Reserve. Combine the flour, salt, and cayenne pepper in a small, flat dish. Pour the milk into another one. Place the trout fillets in the milk.

Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and butter. Dredge the fillets in the flour mixture on both sides. Add to the pan and increase heat. Put the garlic cloves in the pan and swirl it around.

Turn the trout after 2 minutes and remove the garlic (you don’t want it to brown). Cook until the fish is cooked through and lightly golden brown, about 1 or 2 more minutes. Scatter the almonds over top. Serve immediately.


With Di Profio Kitchen Zinc…

Chipotle black bean chili

Recipe and photo: MyRecipes.com
Serves 4

Ingredients

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained
2 (14.5-ounce) cans whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped
1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
Cilantro sprigs (optional)

 

Method

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.

Add onion and garlic; sauté 3 minutes or until tender. Add chili powder and next 6 ingredients (chili powder through green chiles); bring to a boil.

Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Ladle chili into individual bowls, and garnish with cilantro sprigs, if desired.

Serve with corn chips or corn bread.

 

 

With Di Profio Zinc-tastic…

Daube de Boeuf Jeannette

Recipe: Chicago Tribune
Photo credit: SAQ
Serves 5-6

Ingredients

8-10 canned anchovy fillets, optional
3 1/2 pounds lean beef stew, preferably top round, cut into 1-inch cubes
6 ounces lean bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced
3 garlic cloves, mashed

Peel from an orange, dried
1 onion, studded with 3 cloves
2 1/2 cups dry red wine
Beef broth, or water and bouillon cubes
3 Tablespoons tomato paste
Large bouquet garni (2 small celery ribs tied with a bunch of parsley sprigs, a few thyme stalks, and a bay leaf between)
Salt, pepper to taste
4 ounces tiny Nicoise olives, pitted
1 Tablespoon minced basil or parsley

 

Method

If you choose to use the anchovy fillets, insert a small piece in each beef cube, using a pointed knife, then set aside. Plunge the bacon into rapidly boiling water for 6 to 7 minutes, rinse under cold water, then drain and dry on paper towels.

Heat half the oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet. When very hot, add the diced bacon and stir until it begins to brown, then remove and let drain on paper towels.

Without crowding the pieces, add the beef cubes to the hot oil. Turn the pieces when nicely browned. When all sides are evenly browned, remove the beef with a slotted spoon, and reserve. Add more oil and the sliced onions, and cook slowly, stirring, until tender but not browned.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Return the meat and bacon to the skillet, and add garlic, orange peel, onion with cloves and wine. Heat to boil, then add broth to cover, stir in tomato paste, place bouquet garni in the middle, and season with more pepper than salt, as the olives will provide salt.

When the mixture begins to simmer, cover with parchment paper and the lid. Bake until the meat is tender, at least 1 1/2 hours. Turn the beef cubes halfway through cooking. A few minutes before serving, remove the onion with cloves; add olives, taste and correct the seasoning. Serve in a warmed shallow serving dish, accompanied by boiled potatoes or rice, sprinkled with minced basil or parsley.

 

Enjoy the season with your Savvy Selections!

Fall in Love with these Okanagan wines & cheese

Posted by Susan

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

I can’t get enough! I’m in the south Okanagan again, remembering why I fell in love with its unique landscape, the changing hues of the fruit trees and the vineyards, the outstanding wines created by established growers and newcomers. On this trip, I discovered new places that I wanted to share with you…

Upper Bench Winery & Creamery

Four years ago, I headed up to the Naramata Bench to check out a couple of new wineries, including Upper Bench. At the time, they had just opened, many of their wines were sold out, and there was a limited selection of their delectable cheeses. But what I tasted was very good and I decided to stop in this year on my way from Kelowna to Osoyoos.

As luck would have it, Shana, the ‘Big Cheese’ – half of the duo responsible for this small family-owned winery (husband Gavin Miller is the winemaker) – was in the tasting room. So, we were treated to her expertise and enthusiasm as we tasted three of their unique cheeses, along with several wines.

I make no claim to any cheese expertise like our cheese Sommelier Vanessa, mark my words, the Brie seemed wonderfully creamy to me, with a lovely soft yet textured rind. The Gold offered a firmer texture, a golden washed rind and a slightly nutty flavor. The Grey Baby, named for her cat, had a lovely bloomy grey rind, almost no typical blue cheese veining but an absolutely melt-in-my -mouth texture and delicate flavours. Yes, I found cheese heaven!

The U&Brie was paired with their 2015 dry Riesling – they’re already into the 2015 wines due the fast pace of sales. Light-mid weight, the nose is floral and fruity with underlying mineral notes, the palate crisp and bright offering flavours of orchard fruit and lemon zest, the finish tart and tangy yet fruity.

The 2015 Chardonnay continues to be made with an emphasis on purity of fruit, half the wine aged only 3 months in French oak, the balance in stainless, so that the delicate notes of spice and warm pastry garnish the aromas and flavours of tropical fruit, melon and juicy pear, while a hint of pithy grapefruit adds tang to the creamy finish. It provided a great pairing with the Oka-like Gold cheese.

The Grey Baby cheese was a perfect complement for the 2014 Pinot Noir red wine – an elegant, silky wine with lifted floral notes, bright red fruit and hints of earth and spice. Medium bodied, it’s intensely flavourful, subtly structured, the flavours of ripe red fruit interwoven with delicate notes of spice and mineral.

The Yard Wine is a signature wine, a Bordeaux-style red wine blend of co-fermented Merlot and Cabernets (mainly Franc) that’s medium-full bodied, full of aromas and flavours of sweet black and red fruits, hints of chocolate-coated caramel and spice as well as complementary undertones of tomato leaf and earth. Underpinned with ripe tannins and fresh acidity, it’s a very approachable, gulpable wine!

While the small production of Upper Bench wines means that they won’t be found in the LCBO, you can always join their wine and cheese clubs.

 

Painted Rock Winery

Another sunny day found us winding our way along the east side of Skaha Lake from OK Falls toward Penticton. We made our way up the bench to Painted Rock, where we once again struck gold, as proprietor John Skinner was at the tasting bar.

John worked in the financial industry in Vancouver for many years, all the while developing his fascination with fine wines and the wine industry. In 2004, he and his wife Trish purchased a former fruit orchard on the bench that had lain fallow for almost 2 decades. About 25 acres were planted to a variety of vitis vinifera clones in 2005 and 2006. As a result of his interaction with the nursery from which he sourced his clones, John was contacted by wine consultant Alain Sutre (who also consults with Don Triggs’ Culmina estate winery), who continues to work with Painted Rock to this day. As an example of the valuable input he provides, during the extremely hot 2015 vintage, Alain counselled John and his team to allow the vine canopy to grow to ensure shading of the grapes from the sun and to prevent scorching. This allowed for a longer hang time, good maturation of the fruit and retention of acidity.

John’s commitment to premium winemaking and his delight in his property and the local trails was evident as he interspersed our tasting with anecdotes of the recent vintages and photos of local pictographs he has found on the granite outcroppings.

The 2015 Rosé wine is a Saignée, an assemblage of his red grapes, including Merlot, the Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Francs, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Syrah. A lovely salmon hue, it shows some residual sugar and warmth from the hot vintage, aromas and flavours of strawberry/rhubarb compote, dried cherry and dried herbs, and a lovely silky, fruity finish.

The 2013 Merlot, aged 18 months in a combination of new and second fill French oak, is dry, full bodied red wine with tangy, showing rich lifted aromas and flavours of black cherry, plum and raspberry, warm sweet spice and hints of menthol and herbs, underpinned by ripe tannins and a fresh texture.

The 2014 Cabernet Franc was a particular favorite, seducing with its lifted floral notes of red rose and violet, the sweet hints of baking spice, cocoa and plummy fruit, and a subtle whiff of graphite. Dry and firmly structured, it’s loaded with flavours of black currant garnished with notes of herbs and cracked pepper. Finishing long and dry, this red wine shows great cellaring potential.

Once again, none of these wines are on the LCBO website, but John also offers a wine club.

Nk’Mip Winery

Nestled on a bench just above Lake Osoyoos, the Nk’Mip Cellars is as much a part of the land as its owner/operators, the Osoyoos Indian Band. In a partnership with the then-Canadian wine conglomerate, Vincor, the band established the first indigenous-owned winery, and winemaker Randy Picton was engaged in 2002, just in time for the first harvest.

Located on a small campus that includes the Desert Cultural Centre, the Sonora Dunes Golf Course and Spirit Ridge Resort (where I stayed), it was inevitable that I would wander over to Nk’Mip to see how the 2016 harvest was progressing (slowly due to a very cool fall and an early killing frost) and to taste a few wines from recent vintages. It felt like a celebration to be there, as Nk’Mip has recently been named 2016 Winery of the Year, having been in the top 10 in the last four years, and the recent purchase of Constellation Brands Canadian wine properties (including its investment in Nk’Mip) by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Fund means that the winery is now fully in Canadian hands once again.

The view from the winery is idyllic, rows of golden-leaved vines marching down the sloping vineyard to Lake Osoyoos, the small resort town of Osoyoos rising from the lake to a backdrop of rugged Sonoran desert mountainscapes.

Randy has honed his craft so that no matter the level of wines tasted, you can expect deftly crafted high quality wines made to his exacting standards. To quote Randy, “My approach is to focus on every detail in the vineyard in order to bring the best possible grapes to the winery. The vineyard is expressed in the bottle.” He’s assisted in the winery by Justin Hall, an Osoyoos Indian Band member who has studied viticulture and oenology in Canada, as well as New Zealand, and worked in the industry in Australia as well as at Nk’Mip.
You see his experience in cool climate winemaking in the vibrant, fresh 2015 Pinot Blanc, a great value white wine that offers subtle aromatics of citrus and orchard fruit, with a clean, crisp flavours of lemon, pithy grapefruit mineral through a zesty finish.

The 2013 Merlot is an easy-going crowd pleaser, a dry mid-weight red wine aged 12 months in a combination of French and American oak, offering flavours of cherry and plum, herbs, spice and cocoa through a nice lively finish.

The 2014 Syrah from the signature QwAm QwMt tier is produced from estate fruit, the wine aged 18 months in French oak. It’s a complex, full bodied deep purple wine with layers of flavours–dark berry fruits, exotic spice, Okanagan sage, cracked pepper with notes of dark chocolate and coffee bean wrapped in a firm structure. It’s a great value and worthy of cellaring.

The Nk’Mip Qw’Am Qw’Mt Chardonnay 2013 is listed on the LCBO website (#391813), and for other wines you can always contact the winery about their wine club.

 

There you go…3 more reasons to pack your bags and head to British Columbia wine region!

 

Kicking 2017 off with Kacaba Vineyards

Posted by Velma

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

To kickstart this year, we’re so pleased to offer you three outstanding wines this month from Kacaba Vineyards & Winery. The Pinot Gris was a best seller at our Outstanding in their Fields Taste & Buy event last month, and the two Syrahs are award-winning wines that showcase just how exceptional Kacaba is at producing cold-climate reds.

Kacaba does Syrah particularly well! It was the first winery in Ontario and the second in Canada to plant syrah grapes, some 20 years ago, and its experience shines through in every bottle!  It is also the only Ontario winery to have competed and won a medal in the table wine category at the Syrah de Mode Competition in Northern Rhone, the birthplace of syrah and where the only grape grown is syrah.

The Syrah wines we are featuring this month are special in many ways – they are both from the same vintage produced from grapes grown on two different blocks of land on the Kacaba property, each with very different terroir. The Proprieters Block syrah is from the oldest vineyard on the property, and the Silver Bridge from the newest. Why not taste them side by side to challenge yourself to see if you can notice any differences…let us know which one is your favourite!

Both wines were produced following techniques that support a philosophy of environmental sustainability, which is explained in more detail in this month’s e-zine. The e-zine features Vadim Chelekhov (in photo) – the 28-year-old assistant winemaker at Kacaba – who shares his passion for Kacaba, its philosophy, and its outstanding wines. Enjoy!

Our Savvy Sommeliers selected for you:

2015 Jennifer’s Pinot Gris – a beautiful, rich, and flavouful pinot gris named after one of the three daughters of owner Michael Kacaba.

2013 Proprietors Block Syrah – a delightful, well-balanced red wine that recently won a silver medal at the 2016 WineAlign National Awards of Canada.

2013 Silver Bridge Syrah – a scrumptious red wine with an aging potential up to 7 years, that was also a silver-medal award winner at the 2016 WineAlign National Awards of Canada.

You definitely won’t find these wines at the LCBO

Every month, our Savvy Sommeliers seek out wines with you in mind. We take into consideration wines to enjoy with the seasonal cuisine, interesting wine experiences (like 2 syrahs from same vintage yet different terroirs) and interesting grape varieties…as starting examples.

As you enjoy the wines in your Savvy Selections, at any time you find a new favorite wine and would like to stock up, call our Savvy Team any time at 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) for additional bottles. Also call us even if you have a yearning for wines from other wineries we have featured in previous Savvy Selections.

Cheers & wishing you the very best for a fantastic 2017!
Debbie & Savvy Team

 

Introducing…

Kacaba Vineyards & Estate Winery
presented by Sommelier Velma LeBlanc

Passion. It’s the word that comes immediately to mind when talking with Vadim Chelekhov, the 28-year-old assistant winemaker at Kacaba (pronounced “ka-sa’-ba) Vineyards and Winery. Passion for his chosen profession, passion for the winery’s commitment to be environmentally sustainable and, most of all, passion for the wonderful award-winning wines ultimately produced.  “We are a small-batch winery that produces hand-crafted premium wines,” says Vadim, who has worked at Kacaba since 2011 and as the assistant winemaker since 2014. “Only two people are involved in production – me and the wine maker – which makes us go the extra mile. We give all of our attention to every single tank, every single barrel, every single wine we produce.”

His early years

Vadim’s passion and appreciation for wine was sparked at an early age. He was born in Russia, in the republic of Kazakhstan, which was the last of the Soviet republics to declare independence. With independence, came the freedom to travel, and he accompanied his family on many trips to some of the oldest wine-making regions in the world: Germany, France, Italy, and Spain.

“Although I was very young, it was on those trips that I fell in love with the everyday life and culture of vineyards and winemakers.”

One memory in particular stands out. “I was stunned by the centuries-old cellars of the Loire Valley. The French don’t often do cellar tours, but as a little kid, they were much softer on me, so they let me into some of the oldest cellars in the world. They let me see the barrels, the olds casks, the old fermenters.”

Becoming part of the Kacaba team

Vadim arrived in Canada in 2002, completed high school in Hamilton, Ontario, and attended the University of Western Ontario, faculty of Health Sciences. Rather than pursue a doctorate, the path taken by many family members, his love of wine and winemaking beckoned. He joined the vineyard crew at Kacaba in 2011 and, in 2012, enrolled in the two-year Viticulture and Oenology program at Niagara College, while continuing to work at Kacaba as a cellar hand. In 2014, he was offered the assistant winemaker position and, since then, has worked alongside industry-respected winemaker, John Tummon (in photo on right).
“John has over 40 years of experience in winemaking and competing. He has a refined palate, is an advocate in the wine industry and also a wine judge. I was drawn to him because I want to learn from the best and learn about all aspects of the industry, not just one. For me, he is an inspiration.”

An environmentally sustainable winery

Vadim has also been inspired by the vineyard’s owner and namesake, Michael Kacaba, and his vision and philosophy. “Since Michael Kacaba first started growing grapes, in the mid-1990s, he has had a philosophy of being an environmentally sustainable and minimalistic vineyard and winery, and he has never deviated from that vision.”

Sustainability involves everything from carefully managing the vineyard’s water usage to energy conservation to pesticide use. “We use water sparingly; we minimize the use of heaters; and we use things that are found naturally in the vineyard to prevent disease. Sulphur or chalk, for example, is dissolved in water and sprayed on the plants, versus using harsh pesticides.”

The vineyard crew also tries to minimize the use of tractors and other heavy machinery, which means the majority of work in the vineyard – such as tying, pruning, leaf removal, shoot positioning and cluster removal – is done by hand. (Note: By removing leaves from the vines, more nutrients can travel to the prized grapes rather than the foliage. Similarly, by removing clusters of grapes, flavour is concentrated in those remaining on the vine. Although less wine is ultimately produced, this practice yields higher quality and more robust and flavourful wines.)

About the vineyard

Kacaba is located on a slightly elevated 32-acre property on the Niagara Escarpment; 26 of those acres are dedicated to growing grapes. The unique microclimate of the Escarpment means that winters are relatively mild and arrive later than in other parts of Ontario; as a result, the red grapes can remain on the vines much longer, making it possible to produce much bolder red wines than are typically associated with colder climates. In 2016, the cabernet sauvignon grapes were harvested on November 21st; in 2014, on December 3rd.

“In this amazing little microclimate, the treeline on the Escarpment captures the wind and brings it down to ground level, which is what warms up the environment around the vines.”

Syrah – the signature, award-winning grape of Kacaba

Although Kacaba grows a variety of grapes – including cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, and viognier – its signature varietal is syrah. Kacaba, in fact, was the first vineyard in Ontario to plant syrah, some twenty years ago, and has since become known for producing high-quality Northern Rhone-style wines. Kacaba is the only Ontario winery that has competed and won (in 2016) a medal (Silver) for a table wine in the Syrah de Mode competition in Northern Rhone (France). (Note: Northern Rhone is believed to be the birthplace of syrah and where the only red grape allowed to be grown is syrah.)

The same syrah clone is planted in three different Kacaba vineyards, each with a distinct terroir and each producing very different wines. In this month’s Savvy Selections, subscribers have the chance to taste and compare syrah grapes grown in two of the vineyards: the Silver Bridge vineyard (Kacaba’s oldest vineyard, planted in 1997); and the youngest vineyard – the Proprietor’s Block – planted in 2007, and which Vadim cites as being very promising.

The whites are great too 

Kacaba also produces incredible, approachable white wines (including the pinot gris in this month’s Savvy Selections). The only white grape actually grown on its property, however, is viognier, which is used to add softness to its syrahs, making them more consistent with those from Northern Rhone.

The growing of its other white grape varietals – including pinot gris, chardonnay, and riesling – are contracted to local craft wine growers. These partners grow the grapes in accordance with Kacaba’s stringent specifications, adhering to the philosopy of sustainability (e.g., no pesticides or herbicides). Kacaba then turns these grapes into beautiful white wine on the Kacaba site.

In years when it is cold enough, Kacaba also produces icewine.  Although Ontario regulation allows grapes for icewine to be picked when temperatures hit -8 degrees Celsius, Kacaba prefers to wait until the mercury plummets to -14 degrees Celsius. “We prolong picking to much lower temperatures, which gives us lower volumes, but concentrates the flavour,” says Vadim. “The flavours of strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are amplified at lower temperatures.”

If you are planning to go to this month’s Niagara Icewine Festival be sure to visit the Kacaba team and be treated to a sampling of the 2013 Cabernet Franc icewine which will be paired with Cajun-lime buttered jumbo prawns. That is an interesting pairing!  This two weekend festival is also a great opportunity to taste many of Kacaba’s other great wines and to meet Vadim. The Festival runs over three weekends (January 13-15, 20-22, and 27-29).  Be sure to tell Vadim, John and others at the winery that you are a Savvy Selections subscriber….they will probably roll out the red carpet for you!

 

~ SAVVY SOMMELIER TASTING NOTES ~

2015 Jennifer’s Pinot Gris

$17.95

Savvy Sommelier Tastings Notes: This approachable Pinot Gris is an easy sipping wine, with fruit forward grapefruit, floral, lychee and tropical characteristics. The finish highlights notes of apple and citrus.

Suggested Food Pairings: This white wine would pair extremely well with light seafood and shellfish dishes; creamy pastas; and cheese-based appetizers. A baked brie topped with a fig spread would be particularly lovely, as would be a hot artichoke or crab dip, or a cheese fondue (see recipe below).

Cellaring:  To be enjoyed now, with the opportunity to cellar for up to two years.

 

2013 Proprietors Block Syrah

$27.95 (special Savvy price.  Regular $29.95)

Savvy Sommelier Tastings Notes: This award-winning Syrah is rich, soft, and velvety on the palate, exuding notes of black pepper, licorice, and raspberries. It is a wonderful example of a cool-climate Syrah, similar in structure and taste to its Northern Rhone cousins.

Suggested Food Pairings: This lovely Syrah works well with many dishes, including lamb, Mediterranean dishes, and even Indian curries. Vadim likes to use it to marinate lamp chops – together with tomatoes, black pepper, onions, a bay leaf, and a sprinkle of cumin – for a day or two before cooking the chops over a medium hot BBQ.

Cellaring: Drinking well now. Can cellar up to 5 years.

 

2013 Silver Bridge Syrah

$27.95 (special Savvy price.  Regular $29.95)

See the silver bridge in the photo below??

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This medium-bodied Syrah boasts big flavours of black pepper, blueberries and blackberries. Smooth and rich-tasting on the palate, it is an easy sipping wine with lovely tannins on the finish.

Suggested Food Pairings: This Syrah is able to stand up to big proteins, including steak, ribs, and even such game meat as duck, elk, and deer.

Cellaring: Enjoy this now or save it for a special future occasion. It’s aging capacity is 6-7 years.

 

 ~ RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH YOUR SAVVY SELECTIONS ~

With Kacaba Pinot Gris…

Classic Cheese Fondue

By Gourmet Magazine, February 2005
Photo credit: Vanessa Simmons, Savvy Company
Serves 6

Items to use for dipping

Cubes of French bread
Slices or cubes of apple and pear
Roasted potatoes
Julienned raw red bell pepper
Blanched broccoli florets

Ingredients

1 garlic clove, halved crosswise
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons kirsch (optional)
1/2 pound Emmental cheese, coarsely grated (2 cups)
1/2 pound Gruyère, coarsely grated (2 cups)

Method

Rub inside of a 4-quart heavy pot with cut sides of garlic, then discard garlic. Add wine to pot and bring just to a simmer over moderate heat.

Stir together cornstarch and kirsch (if using; otherwise, use water or wine) in a cup.

Gradually add cheese to pot and cook, stirring constantly in a zigzag pattern (not a circular motion) to prevent cheese from balling up, until cheese is just melted and creamy (do not let boil). Stir cornstarch mixture again and stir into fondue. Bring fondue to a simmer and cook, stirring, until thickened, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to fondue pot set over a flame.

 

With Kacaba Silver Bridge Syrah…

Boeuf Bourguinon

By the Canadian Living Test Kitchen, Canadian Living Magazine, December 2004
Serves 8

Ingredients

1 pkg (14 g) dried porcini mushroom
3 lbs boneless beef cross rib pot roasts
4 oz thickly sliced bacon chopped
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion chopped
1 carrots chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 bottle (750 ml) red wine (such as Pinot Noir or Merlot)
1 1/2 cup beef broth
3 fresh parsley
2 fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 pkg (10 oz/284 g) pearl onions
1 Tablespoon butter
3 cups button mushrooms
2 tablespoons brandy
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Method

Click here to see step-by-step instructions with photographs. 

Soak dried mushrooms in 1/2 cup (125 mL) hot water for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, trim fat from beef; cut meat into 1-1/2-inch (4 cm) cubes and set aside.

In Dutch oven, sauté bacon over medium-high heat until crisp; transfer to paper towel-lined plate. Drain fat from pan.  Add 1 Tbsp (15 mL) of the oil to pan; brown beef, in 3 batches and adding remaining oil as necessary. Transfer to bowl. Drain fat from pan.

Add chopped onion, carrot, garlic, salt and pepper to pan; cook over medium heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with flour; cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Reserving soaking liquid, remove mushrooms and chop; add to pan along with soaking liquid, wine and broth. Bring to boil, scraping up any brown bits. Tie parsley, thyme and bay leaves together with string. Add to pan along with bacon, beef and any juices. Cover and braise in 325°F (160°C) oven until meat is fork-tender, 2-1/2 to 3 hours.

Meanwhile, in pot of boiling water, boil pearl onions for 3 minutes; drain and chill in cold water. Peel and trim, leaving root ends intact. In skillet, melt butter over medium heat; brown pearl onions, about 5 minutes. With slotted spoon, transfer to bowl.

Add mushrooms to skillet; fry until browned, about 5 minutes. With slotted spoon, remove beef to separate bowl. Add pearl onions, mushrooms and brandy to liquid in Dutch oven; bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until thickened and onions are tender, about 25 minutes. Discard herbs. Return beef to pan and heat through. Sprinkle with parsley.

 

With the Kacaba Proprietors Block Syrah…

Grilled Leg of Lamb with Rosemary, Garlic & Mustard

By Sisi & Wil Carroll, Bon Appétit, April 2010
Serves 10-12

Ingredient tip: Start with a boneless 7-pound leg of lamb. When all fat and sinew are trimmed, it will weigh about 6 pounds.

Ingredients

1 well-trimmed 6-pound boneless leg of lamb, butterflied to even 2-inch thickness
8 garlic cloves, peeled, divided
1/2 cup whole grain Dijon mustard
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
Fresh rosemary sprigs and fresh Italian parsley sprigs

Method

Open lamb like book on work surface. Using tip of small knife, make 1/2-inch-deep slits all over lamb. Thinly slice 4 garlic cloves. Insert garlic slices into slits in lamb. Combine remaining 4 garlic cloves, mustard, olive oil, white wine, rosemary, and lemon juice in processor. Blend until coarse puree forms. Spread underside of lamb with half of puree. Place lamb, seasoned side down, in 15 x 10 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Spread remaining puree over top of lamb. Cover lamb with plastic wrap and chill overnight.

Let lamb stand at room temperature 2 hours. Coat grill rack with nonstick spray and prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Sprinkle lamb generously with salt and pepper on both sides. Grill lamb to desired doneness, about 17 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer lamb to cutting board; let rest 10 to 20 minutes.

Thinly slice lamb against grain. Overlap slices on platter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh herb sprigs.

 

Enjoy your Savvy Selections!

If I only had $100, I would buy….wines from Argentina!

Posted by Julie

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

This time last year, my husband and I spent a month in Buenos Aires, so when I saw that this release focused on Argentina, I was VERY excited to see what new wines would come into LCBO’s Vintages. Here are 3 wines from Mendoza (Argentina’s largest wine region) since it is the leader in quantity and quality of Malbec wines.

Three interesting facts Argentina & their wine:

Fact #1 – 80% of the country’s wine production is centered in this desert region located sandwiched between the Andes Mountain range (that borders Chile) and about 650 miles west of Buenos Aires. The region rarely sees challenges of insects, fungi or mould due to the high altitude and low humidity. And honestly, the daily temperatures ranged between 26C to 30C…that is certainly sounding pretty good right now as we suffer through a cold snap.

Fact #2 – In 2010, the Argentina government declared wine as Argentina’s national liquor. Tuck that one away for trivia night!

Fact #3 – Canada is the 3rd largest market for Argentina wines…behind England & the US.

As they say in Argentina ‘Salud’,

-Julie

 

If I only had $100, I would buy…
LCBO Vintages Release for Saturday January 21, 2017

 

Joseph Cattin Brut Rosé Crémant D’Alsace

Méthode Traditionnelle, AC, France
$19.95 (Vintages #264572)

Before I get into the Argentina feature, I must shine the spotlight on this sparkling wine.  Often found gracing the Vintages shelves, this beautiful pale cranberry coloured bubbly is always an elegant crowd-pleaser. For those of you who like sparkling wine and Rosé, it is a first class choice.

Made entirely from the Pinot Noir grapes, it’s characterised by cherry and currant flavours. It’s dry, creamy and refreshing. A perfect aperitif, celebration wine or even served with dessert – a strawberry cheesecake or fruit torte it could be magical. I’m definitely going to give it a try!  Now if I could only find juicy strawberries in January…

 

Colome Torrontes 2015

Calchaqui Valley, Salta, Argentina 
$15.95 (Vintages # 357913) 13.5% alcohol

Whenever I serve Torrontes wine to guests, people always ask what wine I am serving, where it comes from, where they can buy it. It is a great find! Often there are one or two Torrontes wines available in the Vintages section of the LCBO. While not common, Torrontes has become the signature white wine of Argentina.

Dry as Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio, there’s a little lanolin or honeyed taste that coats the palate while many soft citrus flavours explode. Mandarin oranges, lemons, apricots with lingering finishes of savory and grass.

It’s a great tapas wine: sardines, almonds, olives, chips or just on its own.

 

Fabre Montmayou Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 

Mendoza, Argentina  
$18.95 (Vintages # 261891) 14.5% alcohol

Although Christmas is long gone, that heavenly aroma of traditional fruit cake and Christmas pudding loaded with dark ripe dried fruit and nuts reminded me of how great wine aromas like this one can trigger memories & fill your senses.

Medium bodied and dry, dark red/blackberry flavours dance on the palate and your senses are filled with some divine vanilla in the aftertaste.  It’s a great on its own or with the usual grilled fare.  Absolutely. Delicious.

 

Zuccardi Q Malbec 2013

Uco Valley, Province of Mendoza, Argentina
$19.95 (Vintages #723478) 14% alcohol

This is a classic expression of Malbec. Deep and dark in colour, violet aromas tantalize and blueberry blackberries and savoury play on the palate. Tannins are soft and smooth with a little mocha and tar on the finish.

Last month, Savvy Sommelier Debbie Trenholm spent a day at the new Zuccardi Winery and was WOWed by the setting, the vineyards,  the hospitality & of course…the wines.  “What impressed me is that the winery is using concrete tanks rather than the typical stainless tanks commonly used.  And there are only a few oak barrels in the cellar….the winemaking team at Zuccardi focuses on creating wines to bring out the natural flavours without the help of oak. That is incredible and the result is pure and outstanding.”

Uncork this red wine to enjoy with a herb encrusted pork tenderloin or Sunday roast beef. Guaranteed that there will be smiles around the table.

 

Susana Balbo Signature Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Uco Valley, Province of Mendoza, Argentina
$19.95 (Vintages #260919) 14% alcohol 

With over 20 years as a consultant winemaker for national and international wine companies, when Susana decided to build a winery, she did in style and with much panache.  In 1981, she was the first woman in Argentina to receive a degree in enology, and in 2012, she was recognized as one of the most influential women winemakers by The Drink Business Magazine.

This Cabernet Sauvignon is one charmer from start to finish. Full-bodied, ripe currants, herbal notes, tobacco, savoury – loads of complexity and backbone. This red wine overflows with character and strength.  Roasts or grill meats & vegetables would be fabulous.

 

Grand Total – $ 94.75

Premium wines from Pondview Winery

Posted by Susan

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

When I last wrote about Pondview Estate Winery, it was 2011 and Lou Puglisi and his family had just opened a tasting room to showcase their first vintage as winemakers. The family had been growing and selling grapes for 30 years; in fact, in 2008 Lou had been crowned Grape King, a highly acclaimed industry award provided by Ministry of Agriculture to recognize the finest grape growers in Ontario. As a prize, Lou was offered an all expense paid trip to the Okanagan British Columbia, where he visited a number of small, family-owned wineries.  This trip sealed the deal – it convinced him that the time had come to take the next step, and to begin making wine.

Lou invited Fred DiProfio, whom he knew from his work at Pillitteri Winery, to be consulting winemaker. The first vintage was small – only 2800 cases.  Lou (wearing black in photo below), Fred and his brother-in-law, Joseph Barbera (wearing red shirt in photo), did just about everything. “It was the three of us in the cellar, doing punch downs, bottling, labeling – we were doing it all. At this time, there were only three wines, a rosé, a Gewürztraminer and a Gewürztraminer Riesling blend. Most sold out in just a few weeks,” Joseph reminisces.  He was always concerned that they didn’t have a red wine. “Lou, Fred and I talked about this and agreed we had to find a way to make one. Lou had put aside one barrel each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc for the family’s consumption; Fred’s contacts in the industry allowed him to secure a barrel of Merlot. Those guys worked their magic, and we were able to present a Cabernet/Merlot blend ….but those 75 cases sold out as quickly as the others! Mama Mia, what a time!”

Since then, Lou’s expertise as a horticulturalist, the family’s dedication to quality and the unique contribution of gifted winemaker Fred DiProfio, have built Pondview’s reputation, driving demand among consumers and securing a long list of awards of recognition. Pondview expects to produce 12,000 cases of their wine this year, and has entered into a partnership with Marcel Morgenstern, their Director of Sales, to produce the virtual brand, Burnt Ship Bay. Facing limitations on their shelf space in Ontario, Lou and Marcel are turning to exports, introducing their wines to select European and US markets. The initial response in Europe has been very positive, considering, as Lou says, “there is no lack of wines to choose from!”

Given the high demand for their wines, we’re especially delighted to feature three of Pondview’s small lot and premium portfolio Bella Terra wines.

Bella Terra Pinot Gris 2013 – a creamy, complex and flavourful white wine
– Bella Terra Cabernet Franc 2012 – a fragrant, succulent and well-structured red wine ready to enjoy or be cellared
– Bella Terra Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 – the supple, full bodied, intensely flavoured Cab Sauv like no other from Niagara

You can order extra bottles through us or stop in for a warm welcome at Pondview on your next visit to the Niagara area! You’re bound to find Joseph, Lou, or his wife Adriana behind the tasting bar.

Cheers & Enjoy!
Debbie & Savvy Team
debbie@savvycompany.ca

 

Pondview Estate Winery
Presented by Sommelier Susan Desjardins

I’ve visited Pondview several times since we first featured them in 2011.  And Lou, Marcel & Joseph are often at our Savvy Taste & Buy Events so we have quick chats while sampling their latest wine. When the opportunity for me to be the lead for this issue of the Savvy eZine came up, I jumped at the chance as it gave me a way to spend time with Lou and Joseph, and get into more depth about what has been happening at their winery over the past 5 years.

Lou (in photo) is as busy now as he was then, but in a different way. “For our first vintage, 2009, the wine was selling out, and we were on top of the world! We figured, we’ll go to 5,000 cases and sell the remaining grapes to our partners, as we’d done before. But then, the winery took on a life of its own.” While I am interviewing him, he is dealing with the harvest and getting ready for another trip to China, where he will be educating his import partners and promoting Pondview icewine in Shanghai and Beijing.

Hard to believe that in five short years, Lou is now discussing the burgeoning wine market in China and talking about how young professionals and members of the expanding middle class have a particular interest in red wine, while his icewines are in increasing demand with premium wine purchasers. In this context, he talks about the steps that Pondview has taken to guarantee the authenticity of their icewine. Developed in Bordeaux, ‘Proof Tags’ now appear on the neck of every bottle of ice wine. The tag can be scanned using a smartphone app, allowing the consumer to track the bottle from the point of purchase back to the originating winery, right to the vineyard. “It’s an additional cost to do this, but we want our customers, whether in China or right here in Canada, to be secure in the knowledge that the wine in the bottle was truly produced by us.”

He also talks about his satisfaction with Pondview’s entry into a few select European market – Denmark, the Netherlands, Austria and England. And he’s building the business in these foreign markets with the same patient approach used to begin producing wine in Niagara – one customer at a time, one pallet of wine at a time, slowly building awareness and credibility. And this can be done now because of the family’s ongoing investment in Pondview. “You can’t sell what you don’t have”.

Over the last five years, a 10-acre plot adjacent to the existing winery estate has been purchased. It was planted 2 years ago with Viognier, Malbec and more Pinot Gris vines. More recently, 12 acres at the juncture of the Four Mile Creek and St. David’s appellations have been purchased specifically for icewine with Vidal and Cabernet Franc vines.

The core team remains in place – Lou, Fred (winemaker), Joseph and Adriana, along with a variety of well-qualified professionals have been brought in to support the growth in the business, including Marcel Morgenstern as head of sales, whom Lou has known since he was selling grapes to Pillitteri Estates Winery years ago.

Despite the work of identifying and entering new markets, and the amount of travel associated with it, Lou continues to be laser focused on the vineyards. He talks about the 2016 vintage as one of the most challenging in recent memory. “We had a warm winter, and the snow melted early, so we went into the growing season in a drought. Not ideal.  Then we waited for rain that didn’t come.”

The Pondview name reflects the estate – there is a small pond onsite, but it isn’t large enough for ongoing irrigation of the vineyard. Fortunately, the family had purchased water rights to a creek that runs along the edge of the property, and water is regularly released into it – so irrigation during this past summer’s drought kept the vines alive and growing. But the desiccation of the soil was so profound, the vines struggled with nutrient uptake. Lou had to initiate new practices, such as using non-toxic foliar sprays of nutrients to help maintain vine health.

Irrigation and other interventions, like the foliar spraying, ensured the vines didn’t get overly stressed and were able to produce fruit with good concentration of sugars and flavours. “Over the last five years, we’re seeing more weather extremes – really cold winters, then two short crop years back to back. I don’t remember that happening before” Lou explains. “It looks like 2016 will go down as the hottest Niagara summer in recent memory. With changes in climate, farming practices will have to change as well, and early attention to vine health and continued monitoring will be required through the entire growing season.”

As our conversation draws to a close, Lou talks about his close partnership with Fred diProfio, and reveals much of his own philosophy. “I’ve known Fred for a long time. We respect each other and work very closely together, bouncing ideas around. We’re always willing to try something new.” And he says, with a smile in his voice, “Every day is a school day!”

 

 

~ SAVVY SOMMELIER TASTING NOTES ~

Bella Terra Pinot Gris 2013 VQA

The unique white wine is from a small lot (only 300 cases), produced from estate-grown fruit, barrel fermented and aged nine months in seasoned French and Hungarian oak. None of this wine was produced in 2014 or 2015 due to the effect of the very difficult winters of 2014 and 2015 on the vines. So you’re getting a ‘limited edition’ here!

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: There’s real complexity here – the aromas and flavours are a basket of lush Ontario orchard and pit fruits entwined with notes of fruit custard, sweet citrus and spiced caramel. Elegant and well balanced, the wine has a vibrant yet creamy texture and lingering spicy notes through the smooth lasting finish.

Suggested Food Pairing:  This has the weight and depth to pair with holiday turkey, with smoked salmon canapes, or with a creamy artichoke risotto.

Cellaring: Enjoy now.

 

Bella Terra Cabernet Franc 2012 VQA

The hot 2012 vintage, considered a good one for Bordeaux varieties, provided good sugar levels and flavour intensity, while vineyard management ensured sufficient acidity was maintained. Unfiltered, aged eighteen months in French oak, this wine shows Lou’s dedication to the fruit and the vineyard, cropped at very low yields to ensure concentrated flavours.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Rich, ripe and fragrant on the nose, this warm, full bodied wine is bursting with aromas of spiced rose, succulent black fruit, licorice and earth. It’s refined, clean structure is a great counterpoint to the concentrated fruit flavours and it finishes with a lingering note of chocolate-coated coffee bean.

Suggested Food Pairing: Winter warming meals of prime rib or tortière would be a great match.

Cellaring: Drink now or cellar a further 3-5 years.

 

 


Bella Terra Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 VQA

The 2013 vintage was a challenging one, with a late spring, heavy summer rain combined with intense heat. Lou’s vigilance in the vineyard and strategy to use the long, warm fall weather to allow further ripening and concentration in the fruit ensured a wine of quality and great flavour. With a November harvest, the fruit for this opulent wine really benefited from that extended hang time, while in the cellar it was aged eighteen months in French oak and left unfiltered.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: There’s great intensity to the aromas of cassis, mingling with underlying notes of compost and tobacco, delicate dried herbs and spice. The purity of the cassis flavours combines with blueberry garnished with a dash of dark chocolate and hints of vanilla. This full bodied wine offers a round rich supple texture, a spicy, warm palate and a sumptuous long-lasting finish.

Suggested Food Pairing:  Serve with braised short ribs or beef tenderloin.

Cellaring:  This wine may be enjoyed now or aged a further 2-4 years.

 

~ RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH YOUR SAVVY SELECTIONS ~

With Pondview Bella Terra Pinot Gris…

Risotto with Artichoke

Photo Credit: Food & Style Magazine
Recipe Credit: Chef Hector Diaz (then at Hilton Lac-Leamy)

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp shallots, chopped
1 ½ Tbsp each, small-diced carrots & celery
1 tsp minced garlic
1 c Arborio rice
½ c white wine
3 c hot chicken stock
¼ c heavy 35-per-cent cream
2 Tbsp diced, cooked artichoke heart (bottled or canned is fine)
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
2 Tbsp Padano or parmesan cheese, grated

Method

In a medium saucepan, heat oil on medium-high heat and sauté shallots & vegetables until shallots are translucent but not browned. Stir in garlic, then rice to coat with oil.

Reduce heat to medium and add wine, half the chicken stock. Stir constantly until liquid is absorbed, then add remaining stock and continue to cook, stirring, until liquid is absorbed a second time. Add cream, artichokes, and cook 5 minutes longer. Rice should be al dente; if it’s too hard, add just a little hot liquid & cook until it is.

Remove from heat, whip in butter & grated cheese; season to taste & serve.

 

With Pondview Bella Terra Cabernet Franc

Grilled Vegetables with Buffalo Mozzarella

Photo credit: Broil King BBQ
Recipe Credit: Modified from on a dish served at the River’s End Restaurant & Inn located in Jenner, California
Serves 6

Ingredients

4 each red and yellow bell peppers, quartered lengthwise & seeded
2 large zucchini, cut into 12 thin diagonal slices
6 medium Portobello mushrooms, peeled, gills carefully scooped out
3 large fresh Buffalo mozzarella
6x 4” rosemary sprigs, leaves removed from lower half

Marinade

1/3 c balsamic vinegar
1/3 c olive oil
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves

Method

Whisk together marinade ingredients, then marinate peppers for about 15 minutes. Add mushrooms, tossing with peppers & continue marinating for a further 15 minutes.

Remove vegetables from marinade (reserve marinade), cook in batches on heated grill, 8-10 minutes for peppers (or until lightly charred), 7-8 minutes for mushrooms. Brush with marinade during cooking.

Remove veggies from grill. Place mushrooms upside down on flat surface. Layer with a piece of red pepper, a slice of cheese, zucchini, yellow pepper, a slice of cheese and another slice of zucchini. Poke the rosemary sprig through the middle of each stack with leaves at the top.

Place veggie stacks on a heat-proof dish and return to grill (turned off) so that cheese can soften, then serve with fresh French bread.

 

 

With Pondview Bella Terra Cabernet Sauvignon…

Mustard-glazed Standing Rib Roast with Pan Gravy

Recipe Credit: Lucy Waverman & James Chatto, A Matter of Taste Cookbook
This recipe is also online at Globe & Mail Newspaper
Serves 8

Ingredients

1/3 c Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp chopped garlic
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 Tbsp coarsely ground pepper
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary or thyme, or 1 tsp dried
1 standing rib roast (~7 lbs)
Salt to taste

Method

Combine mustard, oil, soy sauce, garlic, parsley, pepper & rosemary. Brush over roast, including bones. Let sit for 2 hours, or refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 450F. Turn on oven broiler. Place roast fat side up on a rack in a roasting pan & broil for about 4 minutes or until fat is crispy. Turn off broiler, reheat oven to 450F & roast for 30 minutes.

Reduce heat to 350F & roast for about 1 ½ hours longer for rare.

Remove roast to a carving board & let rest 15 minutes to allow juices to retract while you make gravy. Remove roast from bones & carve into thin slices. Serve with gravy, roast potatoes & green beans.

 

Enjoy your Savvy Selections!

TOP PICKS: 7 wines for under $15

Posted by Julie

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

This Vintages release is guaranteed to  be pick-up for anyone with holiday hangovers & January blahs. The LCBO often kicks off the new year with a “Smart Buys 2017” edition with a fabulous assortment of tried and true wines for every palate and budget with great tastes around the $15 price point.

I vowed I would not go to the ATM before mid-January, but this is better than Boxing Day or Black Friday.Too many values to risk the miss. (try saying that after a few glasses !)

For the Scotch lovers, Robbie Burns Day is around the corner, but you don’t need expensive Scotch when you’ll find something delicious in my “budget-conscious” recommendations.

It is not often that I can offer you 7 wines with my $100 budget… so go wild.

Smart Buys here we come!

-Julie

 

 If I only had $100, I would buy…
LCBO Vintages Release for Saturday January 7, 2017

 

Marynissen Estates Chardonnay 2013

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$15.00 (Vintages #907683) 13% alcohol

Introducing a white wine with pale golden colour, light body, fresh and clean with soft blossom aromas. Must have been fermented in stainless as it’s almost flinty with minerality, baked pears, almonds a lingering touch of pineapple on the finish.

Perfect for lighter foods or would stand up to grilled cheese and simple salad – sounds like one great lunch to me!

 

Budureasca Feteasca Regala 2015

DOC Dealu Mare, Romania
$11.95 (Vintages #416800) 12% alcohol

I know we are in January, but this is what I’d call the perfect summer white wine. At this price point, I’ll be picking up a bunch of bottles!

Light and citrusy, loads of soft lemon flavours and one easy sipping wine. There’s little savoury notes on the finish (perhaps from the vineyard soils?). It’s fresh with a really easy mouthfeel that has lots of appeal at this rock bottom price tag.

 

MAN Free-Run Steen 2015

WO Coastal Region, South Africa
$13.95 (Vintages #126847) 13% alcohol

Does the grape variety Steen have you wondering what this wine is all about?  It is the name that the South Africans use for Chenin Blanc grapes.

Fresh, clean and crisp, this free-run style white wine is packed with fruit flavours.  There is no usual pressing of grape skins in the making of this beautiful wine.  The grapes are left intact to allow the weight of the bunches naturally crush to create juice and ferment for 3-4 months before bottling. A very hands-off winemaking approach that magically makes great wines like this one.  Open a bottle of this wine and you will enjoy a balanced full bodied white wine with lingering acidity.  Great on it’s own or it would hold up to chicken pot pie or even a spicy curry. Another great buy.

 

Heartland Stickleback Red 2013

Langhorne Creek, South Australia
$14.95 (Vintages #116574) 14.5% alcohol

Simply put, you cannot go wrong with a red wine blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Grenache and Merlot.  Unbelievable that it is under $15!  Black fruit flavours, plums and blueberries play on the palate and some savory pepper on the finish. Matured in oak which lends richness and texture to this dark delight.

Another easy sipping red wine on a cold wintery evening or to enjoy when you go under cover to fire up the BBQ in the winter for a feast of spicy ribs or steak!

 

Michelle Chiarol Barbera D’Asti Superiore 2014

DOCG, Italy
$13.95 (Vintages #265413) 13.5% alcohol

Some wines are just meant for the easy spaghetti night.  You know what I mean…those evenings when you just want to open up a jar of tomato sauce to smother on fresh pasta, then sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan cheese and open a bottle of easy drinking red wine.  This one has lots of red berry fruit – think raspberries & strawberries – it’s neither huge nor bold in taste and the finish is short, but it’s a great table wine for the simple nights where we can just enjoy an uncomplicated dinner.

And Mama Mia! Another wine under $15

 

The Goatfather 2014

WO Coastal Region, South Africa
$14.95 (Vintages #11072) 14% alcohol

You just have to love a South African wine (not to mention the name) that is made from various Italian grape varietals: Sangiovese, Barbera, Nebbiolo and Cabernet Sauvignon (the latter) from Stellenbosch. It’s a deep ruby red, hints of violet on the nose, loads of red fruit flavours, noticeable tannins that offer backbone to the wine.

It’s an easy going wine. I’d serve it up with cheeses, burgers, charcuterie.

 

Santa Carolina Reserva Estate Pinot Noir 2015

Leyda Valley, Chile
$12.95 (Vintages #480574) 13.5 % alcohol

It is no surprise that I selected this red wine from the 140 year old Santa Carolina vineyard wines especially with it being awarded Winery of the Year 2015. (I really like their whites too!). At this unbelievable price point, you have a Pinot Noir that offers a smooth, velvety mouthfeel, sweet and sour tart cherries, with noticeable ripe acidity and soft tannins that meld into a long fruity, earthy ending.

This is a delicious red wine that is hearty enough to stand up to a beef and mushroom stew or some sautéed salmon with dab of pesto.  A beaut of a wine!

 

Grand Total – $ 97.70 …and that is for 7 wines!

If I only had $100…I would buy at Vintages

Posted by Julie

Saturday, December 10th, 2016

Over the tree-top fitting that the mid-December Vintages release would be titled “Holiday Gatherings”. For many, December is the busiest month for entertaining. It’s a time to bring out all the bells and whistles and splurge on fine delicacies, stock up on great and extra wine to give and share.

december-vintagesThe LCBO helps with filling their store shelves with wines & spirits that will get you into the holiday mood.

There’s nothing nicer than enjoying a great bottle over late afternoon conversation with friends and family when they pop around.

This release has no shortage of fabulous wines, Champagnes, (I love bubbles!) and spirits to bring everyone comfort. My suggestions offer you a shopping list for your holiday gatherings.

As the song goes…”It is the most wonderful time of the year!”

Wishing you a Happy Festive Season,

Julie

 

If I only had $100, I would buy…
LCBO Vintages Release for Saturday December 10, 2016

 

elevationVineland Estates Elevation Riesling

St. Urban Vineyard, VQA Niagara Escarpment
$19.95 (Vintages #38117) 9.9% alcohol

Vineland has a handful of wines in the LCBO. This 30+ year old winery has many reasons to visit – its fine wines, a restaurant in a 1845 farmhouse surrounded by vineyards, a helicopter pad and even accommodation. Definitely a must visit.

The Riesling grapes in the St. Urban vineyard have been growing since 1979 so they’ve had lots of time to reach their identity. Pale, light and crisp white wine with a touch of effervescent on the palate, it offers loads of citrus and a hint of minerality, wonderfully acidic and well balanced. An afternoon delight on any occasion or with lighter fare, another lovely expression of one of Niagara’s signature grapes.

 

dandelion-vineyards-lionheart-of-the-barossa-shiraz-2014Dandelion Vineyards Lionheart of the Barossa Shiraz 2014

Barossa, South Australia
$21.95 (Vintages #167189) 14.5% alcohol

Inky dark, fruit driven, this bold beauty stands out in flavour. This red wine has loads of ripe blueberries, blackberries, noticeable tannins make for an award winning wine. It did win Platinum at the 2015 Critics Challenge International Wine Competition.

Incredibly well-structured with a woody spice box on the finish. Full-bodied and rich, it would be the perfect partner for a rack of lamb. Absolutely delicious.

 

zuccardi-serie-a-malbec-2014Zuccardi Serie A Malbec 2014

Mendoza, Argentina
$16.95 (Vintages #167619) 13% alcohol

Dense dark purple, aromas of violets and cherry pie, makes for a pretty nice introduction. Bone-dry and a little brambley but lots of fat rich dark berry flavours. Medium-bodied red wine with soft tannins makes it a real easy sipper. There’s a whiff of savoury in the soft textured body, yet the finish is long with hints of mocha.

It’s a great Malbec worthy of spicy ribs or hot fennel sausages.

 

San Pedro 1865 Unique Edition Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Maipo Valley, Chile
$21.95 (Vintages #469254) 14.5% alcohol

One powerful personality, the good old dark and intense Cabernet Sauvignon. Rich blackberries, dark currants, ripe blackberries lots of fruit and structure.

If Cabernet Sauvignon is one of your favourite varietals, you will love it. Soft tannins with a lingering cigar box, pencil shaving lengthy finale. This red wine is a beauty.

 

Puklus Pinceszet Tokaji Aszu 3 Puttonyos 2012hungarian-wine

Hungary
$20.95 (Vintages #980805) 12% alcohol

Expressive aromas of honeyed floral blossoms introduce you to this unusual nectar. Reminiscent of a Ontario late harvest wine, it’s delightfully honeyed but not overly sweet and creamy flavours of baked pear envelope the palate leaving you a little tangerine on the finish. It’s different, attractive and a better price point than icewine or other spirits.

Wonderfully festive for the season.

 

Grand Total – $101.75

Oops…just over a bit!

If I only had $100…I would buy at Vintages

Posted by Julie

Monday, November 28th, 2016

As we move towards the holiday season, Vintages always features “Our Finest” and it is a magnificent release. Everything from single malts to brandies, Grappa, Champagne and all delicious new delectable fine wines.

vintages-nov-26th

The only thing that I am complaining about is my measley $100 budget for this blog.  There are so many incredible luxuries in this release that a much bigger budget is required.  Note to self…I should talk to my editor about a ‘raise’.

Whether you are on a budget or like to splurge, there are still some tried and true wines that I always love to see.  The new styles are calling, like new shoes…like wine, you can never have too many shoes!
Enjoy,
– Julie

 

If I only had $100, I would buy…
LCBO Vintages Release for November 26, 2016

domaine-de-vaugondy-brut-vouvray

 

Domaine de Vaugondy Brut Vouvray

Méthode Traditionelle, AC
$17.95 (Vintages #154567) 12.5 % alcohol

 In 1936 the Village of Vouvray was created as an Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC). Located along the right bank of the Loire river, Chenin Blanc is the dominant and almost exclusive grape of Vouvray.

Vouvray produces more than a million cases of wine a year. This straw coloured sparkling offers fine moussey bubbles that release alluring aromas of tropical fruit, toasted almonds, green apple and apricot. They also replay on the taste buds. Dry, medium bodied, it captures the senses with fruit flavours and a honey’d note towards the end. It’s a divine and elegant sparkling wine as an apperitif or to accompany grilled fish.

 

gerard-bertrand-la-clapeGerard Bertrand Grand Terroir La Clape

Syrah/Carignan/Mouvedre 2013
France
$18.95 (Vintages #370262) 13.5 % alcohol

I have become a fan of Bertrand wines, fantastic quality at great price points. This rich, sexy blend has aromas and tastes of dark cherries, plums and currants. A medium bodied red wine with soft tannins, some mocha and a savoury spice on the finish. Would be a perfect match to a hearty stew or lamb shanks.

 

san-felice-chianti-classico-2013San Felice Chianti Classico 2013

DOCG, Tuscany
$19.95 (Vintages #282996) 13% alcohol

Expressive wafts of floral red cherries introduce you to this classic Chianti. It’s an easy drinking red wine as sweet cherry and raspberry fruits explode on the palate. Bone-dry, medium weight and offers some earthy, leather notes on the finish. With a spicy lasagna, you’ve found yourself a great dinner party.

 

union-forte-2012Union Forte 2012

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$17.95 (Vintages #361758) 19.5%

This fortified port style wine is deep mahogany in colour with aromas of Christmas cake, dried fruit, roasted almonds and berries. The mouthfeel is smooth, creamy and mouthwatering. A range of layered fruit flavours on the palate, medium bodied and a deliciously sweet with a long dried blackberry finish.

Serve on ice as an aperitif or it would make a superb after dinner drink with some stinky blue cheese – a classic!

 

georgian-hills-bartlett-frozen-to-the-core-2014Georgian Hills Bartlett Frozen to the Core 2014

Blue Mountains, Ontario
$19.95 (Vintages #347401) 8.5% alcohol

Deliciously sweet but not cloying with intense aromas and flavours of ripe pear.

Georgian Hills produces other desert icewines: a Frozen to the Core Ida Red, a Vidal and Baked Apple all of which embrace fruit farming in the cool climate of the Georgian Bay wine region. Less expensive than other icewine their nectars are fruit driven and refreshing, deliver good acidity and plain delicious. Another reason to showcase our Ontario wines.

 

Grand Total = $94.75

No need to go all the way to Italy when Niagara has Vieni Estates

Posted by David Loan

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Vieni Estates Winery
–  November 2016 –

Where in the world would you find wine that offers ripe fruit flavours, food-friendly reds, and traditional winemaking techniques? If you answered “Italy”, you’d certainly be correct.  But if you answered “Vieni Estates in Niagara”, you’d prove that you really know your stuff!

This month in Savvy Selections, we feature the Italian-style wines of Vieni Estates.  A newcomer to the Beamsville Bench, Vieni has imported the techniques and grape varieties from their founder’s homeland of southern Italy.  You can read all about their take on the Italian winemaking tradition in our Vieni profile, below.

Get ready to uncork & enjoy your Savvy Selections…

In your Savvy Selections you will find 3 of our favourite Vieni wines. We chose these as the best examples of Vieni’s blend of Ontario fruit with Italian-style!

2013 Momeni Extra-dry a Prosecco-style sparkler, loaded with fine bubbles and citrusy fun-
2012 Cabernet Franc Private Reserve – rich and ripe, this Cab Franc explodes with flavour
2011 Aglianico Al Passo – made with air-dried fruit from Canada’s only Aglianico planting, this is a stellar example of an Italian wine made right here in Ontario

Traditional techniques and Niagara fruit

Vieni Estates may be new, but they are producing some unique and very good wines.  After all, they’ve been growing grapes for other wineries for decades – and the grapes make the wine!  These wines are ready to drink, though most of them can handle cellaring for a few years too.  Our Savvy Sommeliers know you’ll love them as much as we do!

Call on us anytime you would like additional bottles of your favorite Vieni Estates wines – or other wines we have featured in previous Savvy Selections.  Your Canadian Wine Hotline is 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926), or you can just drop me a line at debbie@savvycompany.ca.

Cheers & Enjoy!
Debbie & Savvy Team

 

Introducing
Vieni Estates
Presented by Sommelier David Loan

Pasquale Raviele wanted one thing; to bring the flavours from his family’s roots in Naples to his new winery in Niagara. That required not only reproducing the techniques of Southern Italy, but introducing some of their grape varieties, too. “We combine Old World traditions with a New World locale,” said winery manager, Steven Dimola.

Breaking Ground

Pasquale already owned 120 acres of vineyards in the heart of the Beamsville Bench (in photo on right)  He had been selling high quality grapes to a number of wineries in the region.  But in 2013, he decided it was time to undertake his own project; a winery and distillery making Italian-style wines and grappas (called “graspas” at Vieni to avoid trademark issues). This would be a first for Niagara – while there are a number of Italian-influenced wineries, no one had been making grappa, the fiery spirit made from grape skins leftover from the winemaking process.

Another first: Pasquale imported Aglianico vines, the only plantings of this most ancient of grapes in Canada.

Sun Worshiper

It is widely believed that Aglianico was the first wine grape grown in Italy, brought there by the ancient Greeks.  The grape is black, producing a dark red juice with big fruit flavours and high tannins and acidity.  A staple of the Naples region Pasquale’s family comes from, it enjoys that area’s long growing season and Mediterranean climate. Bringing a heat-loving vine to Niagara was a challenge, but Pasquale and winemaker Mauro Salvador – another Italian import(!) – overcame the obstacles with careful hillside plantings that maximized the amount of sun the grapes would get each day.

They also brought with them an Italian winemaking tradition that ensured the grapes would produce the wine they wanted.

Cut and Dried

Appassimento is an Italian winemaking technique in which whole clusters of grapes are cut off the vine and then placed carefully onto custom-made racks.  The racks are designed to allow good airflow across the grapes so that the fruit begins to dry and shrivel. Drying the grapes concentrates the sugars and the fruit flavours.  Appassimento style wines – Amarone is the best known example – are richly flavoured with notes of figs, raisin, and leather.
Other Ontario wineries have applied the Appassimento technique, with most of them drying the fruit in repurposed tobacco kilns.  At Vieni, the grapes are dried in the traditional method, in an open air shed with a few fans helping blow air across the grapes. The grapes are left on the racks from six weeks to four months, depending on the winemaker’s preference.

Vieni’s Appassimento-style Aglianico is full-bodied, with huge fruit flavours and terrific balance.  It really is a taste of Italy, made in Ontario.

We’re Convinced!

In addition to the Aglianico and grappa, Vieni produces Prosecco-type sparkling wines, wines that feature such well known varietals as Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Chardonnay, and a range of ice wines.

The biggest challenge, according to winery manager Steve, is convincing Canadians how amazing Ontario wines are.  “Many Canadians still don’t believe that we’re producing world-class products in Niagara,” he said.  We know that when you try our Savvy Selections picks from Vieni, you’ll agree: these are absolutely world-class wines!

 

 

 

~ SAVVY SOMMELIER TASTING NOTES ~

For your Savvy Selection this month, we’ve chosen three wines that beautifully showcase Vieni’s stunning fusion of Italian technique and Niagara fruit.  We know that you’ll love the remarkable flavours of these unique wines, along with some delicious recipes that will perfectly match food and drink. 

Momenti Extra-Dry VQA Ontario 2013, $14

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This lovely sparkling wine is made in the tradition of Italy’s famous Prosecco, but from Ontario Vidal and Pinot Grigio grapes.  Like Prosecco, it is light (11% alcohol), frothy, and tangy.  Flavours of green apple, ripe melon, grapefruit, and apricot are detectable at first, but give it a minute in the glass and you’ll find pretty floral notes come through, especially honeysuckle. Debbie, who loves sparklers, calls this “an unwinding wine” – perfect for relieving the day’s stresses!

Suggested Food Pairing: This bubbly treat will pair nicely with an Italian flatbread topped with Fontina and Prosciutto.  Recipe below.

Cellaring:  Drink at 8ºC within a year.

 

Cabernet Franc Private Reserve VQA Vinemount Ridge 2012, $23

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Winner of a number of international wine awards, this rich and ripe Cab Franc was aged in oak for eighteen months!  The medium tannins and acidity are perfectly balanced with the notes of black cherries, fragrant spices, mint, and raspberries.  2012 was an excellent vintage for Ontario Cabernet Franc, allowing it to come to full ripeness without any of the green vegetable aromas that sometimes mar the grape. If you want an excellent example of Ontario Cab Franc, here it is!

Suggested Food Pairing: The richness of this wine and the cool autumn weather makes us think of Chicken Chasseur, a hearty stew of chicken braised with mushrooms and tomatoes.  Perfect November fare!  Recipe follows

Cellaring: Ready to drink now, this could be cellared for up to 3 years.  Serve between 15-16ºC.

 

Aglianico Al Passo VQA Vinemount Ridge 2011, $30

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  The beautiful silver-on-black image on the bottle is of a Greek ship.  It’s a fitting homage to the ancient roots of this wine, which came to Italy from Greece.  The name, which comes from a corrupted word meaning “Greek”, is pronounced “al-YAN-i-ko”.

This wine is made using the Appassimento technique, in which ripe clusters of grapes are carefully placed on custom racks to dry.  The results are rich, concentrated flavours of dark berries, figs, mint, and boysenberry. This is a juicy wine, with lots of stewed and dried fruit notes.  David calls it a “November pleaser”, ready to warm you up on a chilly day.

Suggested Food Pairing: One of our favourite cookbooks is David Rocco’s “Dolce Vita”.  His fun Drunken Spaghetti recipe will go perfectly with this Southern Italian-style wine.

Cellaring: Drinking well now, this can cellar 3-5 years.  Serve at 14-16ºC.

 

 

~ RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH YOUR SAVVY SELECTIONS ~

With Vieni Momenti Extra-Dry…

Italian Flatbread (Piadina) with Fontina and Prosciutto

Recipe & Photo credit: CookingChannelTV.com
Serves 4-6

Ingredients

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus extra for seasoning
1 stick butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, at room temperature
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound whole milk ricotta cheese
2 teaspoons lemon zest (from about 2 small lemons)
Freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces Fontina cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
4 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped fresh basil

Method

Combine the flour, baking soda and 1 teaspoon salt in the bowl of an upright mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until incorporated, about 2 minutes.  With the machine running, slowly add 10 to 12 tablespoons water until the mixture forms a dough around the hook.  Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes until smooth.  Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces.  Form into disk shapes and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out each piece of dough into an 8-to-10-inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick.  Brush each circle with the extra-virgin olive oil and grill for 4 minutes each side.  Remove the piadina from the grill to cool slightly.

Combine the ricotta cheese and lemon zest in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.  Spread each piadina with 1/2 cup of the ricotta mixture.  Sprinkle the fontina cheese evenly over the ricotta cheese.  Arrange 2 prosciutto slices on top of the cheeses.  Cut each piadina into 8 wedges and transfer to a serving platter.  Garnish with the chopped basil. 

 

With Vieni Cabernet Franc…

Chicken Chasseur

Recipe and Photo credit: BBCGoodFood.com
Serves 4

Ingredients

4 chicken legs
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 onions, thickly sliced
1 cup whole button or chestnut mushrooms
1 rounded tbsp tomato purée
1 ¼ cup white wine
1 ½ cup chicken or beef  stock
3-4 tomatoes , quartered and deseeded
sprinkling tarragon leaves and chopped parsley

Method

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a lidded sauté pan or shallow casserole. Pan-fry the chicken over a medium-high heat, turning, until golden on both sides. Remove from the pan and keep to one side.  You will need about 2 tbsp fat left in the pan for cooking the onions, so if the legs have released a lot of fat, drain off the excess.

Add the onions and mushrooms to the pan, stirring occasionally until they have a little colour and are beginning to soften, 6-8 minutes. Stir in the tomato purée and white wine, then pour in the consommé or stock.

Return the chicken to the pan and bring to a simmer. Place a lid on the pan and continue to cook, allowing the sauce to just simmer for about 1 hr, or until the meat is completely tender.

To finish, skim the sauce of any further excess fat, then add the tomatoes, if using. Simmer, without the lid, for a further 2-3 minutes to soften them, then scatter over the herbs.

 

 

With Vieni Aglianico…

Drunken Spaghetti

Recipe & Photo credits: David Rocco, FoodNetwork.ca
Serves 4

Ingredients

1 lb spaghetti
3 to 4 anchovy fillets, chopped
3 cup red wine
½ cup freshly grated pecorino cheese
Small bunch of Italian parsley, finely chopped
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 dried chile peppers, crushed (optional)
Salt to season

Method

Bring salted water to boil in a large pot. Add spaghetti and cook for 7 to 8 minutes, pasta should still be a little firm in the middle (just before pasta is al dente).

In a skillet or large sauté pan, heat extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, anchovy fillets and chile peppers. Cook until garlic is golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add spaghetti to the pan. Toss to combine with olive oil. Add the red wine. Cook until wine has reduced slightly and spaghetti has finished cooking.

Sprinkle parsley and grated pecorino cheese. Toss to combine and remove from heat.

 

Enjoy with your Savvy Selections!

If I only had $100…I would buy at LCBO Vintages

Posted by Julie

Friday, November 11th, 2016

About this time every year LCBO Vintages showcases ‘Star Quality’ as a feature of the release. We all know what this also means…’star prices’.   Icewine, French Champagne and sparkling wines flow prominently on the pages. I wish I could buy one of each however with my blog budget of $100, I’ll have to leave the Champagne for another time.

vintages-nov-12However, there are some star quality wines that I’d recommend to stock up on.

Also, there are several great wines coming out in large sized 1500 mL bottles. It sounds like a lot of wine, but if you are having a dinner party or a holiday feast, they are super easy to decant at the table and good value too. In particular, I’m thinking of the J. Lohr Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 at $44.95 or Catena Malbec 2014 at $39.95.  Both red wines are heavy duty crowd pleasers and great accompaniments to lasagna, roasts or ribs.

No shortage of star quality in this release.

Enjoy,
-Julie

 

 

If I only had $100, I would buy…
LCBO Vintages Release for Saturday November 12, 2016

 

dog-point-sauvignon-blanc-2015Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand
$24.95 (Vintages #677450)  13.5% alcohol

I wouldn’t recommend wines with animals in the name unless it was star quality and this white wine is definitely one that gets top marks. Any easy sipping white wine that is pale in colour but packs a punch in taste and texture.  Aromatic white flowers start the senses with peachy apricots, tree fruit on the palate and a crisp lemon lime finish. It is a light-bodied Sauvignon Blanc with gentle finesse and one mouthwatering taste. Enjoy it on its own, with appetizers or light meals.

 

 

clayhouse-cabernet-sauvignon-2015Clayhouse Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Paso Robles, California
$17.00  (Vintages #057869) 13.5% alcohol

Paso Robles is known for its abundance of olive oil, hot springs, almond orchards and wineries.  Mid-way between Los Angeles and San Francisco the landscape is mainly dry grassland. Roughly 24 miles from the Pacific Ocean, the climate is almost Mediterranean with long hot summers and brief cool winters. This landscapes allows the grapes to reach their absolute maximum potential which we then can enjoy in such vintages as the above. It tastes much richer than its’ terrific price point. Dark and opaque, black currant and plum flavours, smooth as silk with a some pencil shaving oak on the finish. Fruity but structured makes for easy drinking red wine. I’d pair it with any grilled meat or a prime rib roast. Delicious.

 

clos-de-los-siete-2013

Clos de los Siete

Mendoza, Argentina
$23.95 (Vintages #622571) 14.5%

Since returning from a trip to Argentina this past February, a wine from Mendoza always makes its way to my shopping basket. This red wine blend nearly reaches nirvana for me. Predominantly Malbec (57%) with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah in the follow up. Dark ruby with aromas and flavours of ripe blueberries, black cherries, currants with some mocha on the finish. This nectar  integrates soft tannins with fabulously smooth intensity and depth. Pair with the usual red meat suspects but worthy of a veal chop splurge.

 

reif-vidal-icewine

Reif Vidal Icewine 2014

VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake
$24.95  (Vintages #544791) 10% alcohol

Reif Estate Winery has been a long time producer of fine Canadian icewine. This one is harvested from a 12 acre block planted in 1981. Those grapes have had lots of time to think about their future! The average picking temperatures range from -10 to -12 C and this vintage was harvested in January 2014.  Lusciously sweet with honey, toffee, apricots and peaches fill the senses with a memorable creamy mouthfeel. There is a little marmalade on the finish and it is a divine expression of icewine.  With some soft blue cheese it would be over the top.

 

Grand Total = $90.85