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Savvy Selections wine of the month club
features Southbrook Vineyards
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep


It’s a natural fit to feature Southbrook Vineyards as our Savvy Selection this month. April 22nd marks Earth Day and Southbrook’s owners Bill and Marilyn Redelmeier have established their winery in Niagara to be a great example of how to “tread lightly on the land”. Bill proudly explained to Savvy Sommelier Susan Desjardins during an interview, “Our goal is for this winery to promote Ontario’s role as a producer of some of the world’s best wines, and create a destination as compelling as wineries in Napa or Tuscany.”

For our longtime Savvy Selections subscribers, you may recognize Southbrook’s name and novel wine label design.  We featured this winery two years ago to support the grand opening of the winery’s new location in Niagara.  For the launch and our Savvy Selections feature, winemaker Ann Sperling had just released some of the first vintages (winespeak: first release of wine) made in their state-of-the-art and now LEED Gold award-winning facility designed by celebrated architect Jack Diamond.


Much has been achieved at Southbrook in the last few of years and so much more is planned. To start, the new facility is an environmental showcase. When you plan your visit to Niagara, Southbrook is a must visit location.  The building itself is an eye-catching design with highly aesthetic interior features. The tasting room has a beautifully designed table of natural oak and maple preserved from trees on Southbrook’s original property located in Richmond, Ontario. The building is also an incredibly environmentally friendly structure with highly efficient electrical and mechanical systems, glazing and roof that reduce its energy consumption by about 45% compared to standard construction. Environmentally friendly bioswales, ponds and wetlands capture rainwater or handle water treatment and runoff while native plant species adorn the landscape and reduce the need for irrigation.


It is easy to see that everyone working at Southbrook is proud of their roots. Grape growing and winemaking have been transformed to follow organic and biodynamic processes.  Ann describes biodynamics as “extreme organics”. She follows the principles of organic agriculture and very specific processes in winemaking and cellaring based on the theory established by Rudolf Steiner in 1924 – read on in the following pages to learn more! One example of their commitment, Southbrook released the industry’s first certified biodynamic wine – Cabernet Rosé VQA 2008.  This delicious rosé was launched on Earth Day in 2009. The wine impressed several people including our Sommeliers that we wanted to make sure that we timed our Savvy Selections feature to coincide with Southbrook’s release of this year’s rosé wine. 


You are the first!

The white and rosé wines in this month’s Savvy Selections are pre-released – just for to you to enjoy.  The 2009 Fresh White VQA and 2009 Cabernet Rosé VQA will be launched later in the month on Earth Day – April 22nd. They are both biodynamically produced, and are packaged in new environmentally friendly bottling.  In addition, they can be served to vegan and vegetarian friends. And we’re featuring the fabulous 2006 Triomphe Cabernet/Merlot VQA – just released a few weeks ago.  We are confident that you will be impressed with month’s Savvy Selections.


Cheers & Enjoy!

Debbie & the Savvy Team





Presented by Sommelier Susan Desjardins


Winery owners Bill and Marilyn Redelmeier are the driving force behind the winery’s organic and biodynamic practices and certification. They are fundamentally, agriculturalists. “We were drawn to biodynamics as a way to more fully express the vineyard’s character in our wines. Together, everyone at the winery underwent the certification process to authenticate our commitment to sustainable practices.”, proudly explains Bill.

If biodynamic is a new wine term for you, Southbrook’s winemaker Ann Sperling, puts it simply: ‘extreme organics’.  Biodynamic agricultural promotes the ecological self-sufficiency and internal harmony of the property while taking into account the cycles of nature and a certain philosophical/spiritual aspect. Growing practices are quite similar to organic agriculture, but a specific calendar is followed and helps determine when such activities as pruning, fertilizing and other operations are undertaken. In addition, a variety of treatments are applied to the soil, generally using ingredients that are derived from plants and/or animals that are integral to the property. Other approaches, include planting cover crops between the vines that attract beneficial insects and using sheep or goats to ‘mow’ these areas. Ann explains, “Biodynamics says the farm is an entire ‘living system’. The resulting practices are about quality – quality in the bottle and quality of life.”

Biodynamic certification is granted by Detemer International. Southbrook is the first biodynamic winery in Canada.  They keep company of other well-known wineries including Chapoutier and Domaine Leflaive of France. While Southbrook wine labels do not herald their biodynamic certification, there have been a variety of occasions where in blind tastings, wine critics have rated the quality of biodynamic wines higher than comparable standard wines. Those biodynamic winemakers are converted and convinced that this approach to growing grapes and making wines leads to healthier and more disease-resistant vineyards and fruit, wines which are a better representation of their terroir, a healthier environment to raise their families all the while a positive contribution to environmental sustainability. Ann explains, “There’s one thing we have learned – amazing, vibrant wines come from grapes raised biodynamically.”

Ann is a child of the wine industry. Raised on a family vineyard in British Columbias’s Okanagan, she took her hands-on experience to University of British Columbia, where she completed a B.Sc. in Food Science. Over two decades, she has built an impressive reputation in the Canadian wine industry, winning numerous accolades from peers, a gold medal at the prestigious International Wine and Spirit Competition and was named Ontario Winemaker of the Year in 2004. Prior to her current role at Southbrook, she was winemaker at Cedar Creek Estate Winery in BC, then moved to Niagara taking the winemaking reins at Malivoire (featured in Savvy Selections in April 2009).  It was at Malivoire where she first started working with organic vineyards and grapes.

Ann has had extended her talent to many start up wineries as a consulting winemaker and continues to work with her family in their Okanagan vineyard. When asked how she came to organic and biodynamic viticulture and winemaking, “during my career ‘growing’ wine, I observed that conditions of the vintage predominated and revealed the unique aspects of the vineyard and terroir. It’s not so much about what I do as the winemaker, rather about the vineyard. This left me open to new and better ways of doing things.”

Ann found that by following biodynamic practices and principles, even in adverse and difficult vintages, the grape maintains its health and integrity, veraison (winespeak: ripening of the grapes) occurs at the appropriate time in the season and the grapes are healthy with “a substance and a character unique to their terroir.” The winemaking process begins with this substantial fruit, uses natural indigenous yeasts (which have consistently produced excellent fermentation), and minimizes additions. Through this experience, Ann has also found that following the natural rhythms of the biodynamic calendar optimizes many of the winemaking processes.

“The Southbrook property was purchased with a long-term view. We, and the vines, are setting our roots down. Well-situated vines are better able to derive their true character from a healthy soil. Organic and biodynamic culture create the environment. From this source, we can ‘grow’ a more unique and specific wine.”



Fresh White 2009 VQA, $16.95

Organic and Demeter-certified biodynamic wine, Ann’s goal was to ‘produce a new and different wine’ – this has certainly been achieved!


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Made with Vidal grapes, the color is tinged with a hint of apricot, and an expressive nose of sweet stone fruit and honey. The initial impact is of fresh peaches, apricots and pears, followed by bright tangy acidity—think juicy red grapefruit. The wine is light, appealing and has a refreshing mid-length finish.


Suggested Food Pairing: Best said by one of the Savvy Selections panelist, “Just lie in a hammock and sip away!” Or pair it with dishes featuring spring’s bounty—like the Risotto with Asparagus below.

Cellaring: No need to wait – drink this spring


Winemaker’ s Note: It has been noticed that if this wine is chilled at low temperature (in your fridge for a long time) “wine diamonds” may form. These are clear crystals that are in fact crystallized tartaric acid. They are natural and are not harmful if consumed. In fact, wine diamonds are often considered a sign of high quality. At Southbrook, we process our wine as minimally as possible in order to maintain flavour and balance. If this white wine stored at a temperature colder than during the winemaking process – diamonds may precipitate. Have diamonds in your bottle? Simply stand the bottle upright prior to drinking, allow the crystals to fall to the bottom and then decant and enjoy.


Cabernet Rose 2009 VQA, $18.95

Produced from a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon – a Bordeaux-style rosé! Grown in Southbrook’s organic and biodynamic certified vineyard, the grapes were fermented in stainless with indigenous yeast, with the wine produced primarily by the saignée method (winespeak: pronounced say-NAY, it is derived from the French verb ‘to bleed’. Referring to the process used to make rosé wines where red skinned grapes are left in a stainless steel vat for several hours. During this time, the grapes are naturally crushed by their own weight and a light red juice bleeds from the tank then collected to use for making rosé wine. The remaining grapes are often used to make red wine.)


Suggested Food Pairing:  This is another great wine to enjoy on its own with friends on the patio.  Or pair with a strawberry spinach salad – recipe below – grilled rainbow trout or light menu fare.


Cellaring: Designed to be enjoyed this spring and summer – it’s so appealing, we are confident that you will want to stock up on this wine for the summer season to come. Just call Debbie to arrange for additional bottles of this special rosé.


Triomphe Cabernet Merlot 2006 VQA $26.95

In traditional Bordeaux style, this blend is Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The grapes were harvested from the estate vineyard, which was in its second year of transition to organic certification. The wine was fermented in one-tonne totes and barrel aged for 16 months. In addition to this 2006 vintage, Southbrook also has available the 2001 and 2002 Triomphe Cabernet Merlot. With a collection of these three, you have a vertical (winespeak: same wine from different vintages). TIP: have a mini wine tasting – open them together to taste the difference in the vintages and ageing.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Our Savvy Selections tasting panel was impressed with the balance and fine texture of this elegant wine. Deep red with a slight garnet hue, the wine was layered with aromas of dark fruit, spice and a whiff of cedar. It’s mid-weight and earthy with subtle flavours of currant, cherries and berries. Balanced with fresh acidity and supple tannins. The persistent finish displays fruit with pleasant notes of roasted peppers.

Suggested Food Pairing: Enjoy with lamb, beef (recipe below), or a fricassé of chicken in a red wine sauce.

Cellaring:  Drinking well now, this lovely blend has the structure to age for another 2-3 years.




With Southbrook Fresh White…

Risotto with Asparagus
From LCBO’s Food & Drink Magazine
Serves 4-6

¼ cup butter, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ cup sliced asparagus
½ cup slivered red pepper
1 cup Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine

4-6 cup chicken stock (approx.)
½ cup whipping cream

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan

2 Tbsp minced parsely, dill or basil

Freshly ground pepper


Melt half of the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in chopped garlic; sauté until softened. Stir in asparagus, red peppers; cook until vegetables are crisp-tender and still brightly colored. Transfer vegetable mixture to bowl. Set aside.


Add remaining butter to same pan. Add rice; stir to coat rice with butter. Cook two minutes. Add wine; cook and stir until wine is absorbed by rice. Add 1 cup stock; cook uncovered over medium heat, stirring often, until stock is absorbed. Continue to stir, adding stock 1 cup at a time, allowing each cup of stock to be absorbed by rice before adding the next cup. Cook and stir until rice is tender and mixture is creamy. This takes 30-40 minutes.   


Stir asparagus mixture into rice, along with remaining ingredients. Serve immediately.   


With Southbrook Cabernet Rosé….

Strawberry and Spinach Salad
From Cooking with BC Wine, Troy & Cheryl-Lynn Townsin
Serves 6-8

1 cup white or rosé wine
1/3 cup shallots
1/3 cup liquid honey
1 Tbsp raspberry vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
¼ C vegetable oil
12 oz. fresh baby spinach
2 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
8 button mushrooms, sliced
Salt to taste

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine wine and shallots. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 12-15 minutes or until reduced to syrup-like consistency.  

Transfer wine mixture to a small bowl and whisk with honey, vinegar, mustard and salt. Slowly add the oil while you whisk until mixture is well-combined and thickened.  


In a large salad bowl combine the spinach, strawberries and mushrooms and toss with the dressing.


Serve with crusty bread and artisan cheeses.


With Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Merlot…

Beef Filet and Rack of Lamb with Red Wine Sauce
Recipe adapted from Executive Chef Hector Diaz, Hilton Lac-Leamy
Serves 1-2

1 portion beef tenderloin, 6 oz.
1 portion rack of lamb (2 ribs)
Salt & pepper ground coarse
2 Tbsp + 4 Tbsp butter, divided
1 tsp shallots, chopped
½ cup red wine
½ cup cream (35%)
1 cup red wine
1 cup veal or beef stock

Preheat oven to 375F.

Season meats with salt, coarse pepper. Melt 2 Tbsp butter in heavy frying pan and sear beef, lamb 2 minutes on each side. Remove meat from pan. Add shallots, briefly sauté, then add ½ cup wine and deglaze the pan, sautéing until liquid is almost completely evaporated.  

Add cream and reduce by half, then add red wine and reduce by half. Add stock, simmer to reduce liquid by half, then pass sauce through a sieve to remove any lumps, particles. While sauce is still hot, but not on the burner, add remaining butter 1 Tbsp at a time, whisking vigorously after each addition to complete the rich sauce.


Bake lamb 30 minutes, beef 20 minutes for medium rare, or to desired doneness. Serve with risotto and vegetables with the wine sauce drizzled on top. (You may wish to begin cooking the meat as you are finishing the sauce.)




Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!



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