Heavenly Wine From Angels Gate Winery of Niagara’s Beamsville Bench



Character and the landscape are two features that wine producers spend a lot of time deciding upon, not only for their wineries, but also for their wines. A visit to Angels Gate Winery on Mountainview Road at the base of the Beamsville Bench in Niagara, is the best way to see that where a wine comes from is just as important as how it is made. Not only are the views and the mission-style architecture breathtaking and eclectic, but very unique – a quality that can be experienced and appreciated in all of Angels Gate wines.

Phillip Dowell, the winemaker, is the planner, procurer, and producer of Angels Gate’s Devilishly Good Wines produced behind the walls of the mission-style winery that signifies Angels Gate. Coming from extensive winemaking experience in the Yarra and McLaren Vales of Australia, Philip is very aware of the importance of not losing your identity in the over-production of wines and is very thankful to be the driving force behind the viticulture (Wine Speak for growing of grapes), the viniculture (wine speak: making the wine) and the market profiles of all the wines produced at Angels Gate.

The group of wine lovers that established Angels Gate gave Phillip the creative power and the on-site responsibility needed to produce and develop unique wines on a unique property. “It’s like owning your own winery. I get to keep what is good and develop our future”, he explains.

Three of Phillip’s one-of-a-kind wines are profiled this month as Savvy Selections. Keeping in line with the unique character of Angels Gate, this month’s tasting panel of Wayne, Lorraine, Mitch and myself met on the deck of a sailboat to taste this month’s Selections offerings (Hey, where you are is very important to what you are tasting too!).

We are excited to introduce you to this month’s Savvy Selections – ready for summertime enjoyment:

·Angels Gate Old Vines Chardonnay 2006 – from the oldest Chardonnay vines in Niagara (planted in the ‘70’s)

·Angels Gate Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 – a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon that is aged to perfection

·Angels Gate Red III 2007 – a rich, elegant blend of Cabernet, Malbec (very rare in Niagara), and Merlot

·OPTIONAL WINE: Archangel Sauvignon Blanc Sparkling 2008 – the dry, tropical flavours in this elegant bubbly had the tasting panel wowed! 

Learn more about Phillip and the character and setting of Angels Gate wines in the following pages as well as some great matching recipes and our Savvy Sommelier tasting notes. We are confident that once you have a sip, you’ll be ordering the Archangel Sauvignon Blanc Sparkling! As you are well aware, the Savvy Selections wines are not available at the LCBO so to order more of this month’s or previous Savvy Selections simply call or e-mail me to arrange your delivery.

Your invitation to Savvy Events..

Mark your calendar for September 22-25. We are organizing the food & wine events in Ottawa’s Little Italy for La Vendemmia Harvest Festival. Stay tuned for all of the festival events to one of the best Italian celebrations of food and wine – outside of Italy! We hope to see you there.

Debbie & the Savvy Team

Angels Gate Winery

Presented by Sommelier Wayne Walker

Unique and Elegant
On the Beamsville Bench overlooking Lake Ontario, the Congregation of Missionary Sisters of Christian Charity erected a convent on the site that is now the setting for Angels Gate Winery. When the property was converted into a vineyard in 1995, the “missionary style” of construction was not lost on the group of entrepreneurs responsible for its conversion and development.

Retaining the character of the property has spilled over into the winemaking at Angels Gate as well. The people responsible for the production of wines still practice traditional winemaking techniques in an effort to produce great wine, but traditional approaches must produce unique wine that is elegant and memorable, not just something different. This mantra is especially true for the winemaker, Phillip Dowell.

Transplanted from Australia
Phillip comes to Angels Gate after extensive experience in Australia where he learned the value of using New World (wine speak: all wine-producing countries outside of the Mediterranean) technologies and traditional winemaking techniques. “The key is to integrate these two influences and create a style that is unique… in our case uniquely Angels Gate”, he explains. According to Phillip, that style centres on ‘elegance’.

He claims that, “not over-reacting… being patient with many of the natural processes of grapes grown on the property” allows wines of “delicate balance, finesse and distinct structure” to evolve.

No better example exists than the Sussriesling produced by Angels Gate, a spectacular, semi-sweet Riesling created with a combination of fermented and non-fermented juices. This gives an unique experience of light thirst-quenching wine at an extremely reasonable price, produced from some of the earliest Riesling vines planted in Ontario.

Under Phillip’s direction Angels Gate has been planting Malbec, used in the Angels Red III – one of your Savvy Selection this month. Presently, the growing of Malbec is rare in the Niagara Region, but it demonstrates the uniqueness and diversity of Angels Gate products.

As well, Selections subscribers were offered (and you can still contact us to arrange a special shipment) the unique Archangel Sauvignon Blanc Sparkling which comes highly recommended by the tasting panel. This is a bubbly made in the traditional method (wine speak: made in the same process as Champagne) that our Sommeliers thought that it tastes like a well-made Spanish Cava wine (a Spanish sparkling) with its dry, thirst- quenching, textured experience, which, like many other Angels Gate wines, makes it unique.

The Angels Gate team is constantly breaking new ground. In 2010, a significant planting of Pinot Gris is taking them directly into the groundswell of popular white wine drinkers who are enjoying Pinot Gris (aka Pinot Grigio).

A preview of the winery’s future success at producing white, creamy-textured wines can be experienced in this month’s Old Vines Chardonnay, a product of 40-year-old vines that have developed the ability to reach very deep into the clay and limestone soil for rich nutrients capable of yielding full flavours and textures.

Exporting Excellence
Both Phillip and A.J. McLaughlin (Angels Gate Sales and Marketing Manager) feel that the Ontario market is presently full of dynamism with plenty of expansion. They are looking to take the spirit and their wines beyond Ontario’s borders – across Canada and recently established their first exporting venture into the United States. They both feel they produce “great wine at exceptional value” and expansion will increase demand which will increase diversity and quality as long as they maintain the quality of winemaking. Keeping their eye on “elegance” of their wine and winery is a step in the right direction. Maintaining elegant wines will be the next challenge… one that they feel for certain will be met.

We’d like to invite you experience this ‘elegance’ for yourself as you sample this month’s Savvy Selections and compare your impressions with our Sommelier tasting notes on the following pages.

Cheers and Enjoy!


Angels Gate Old Vines Chardonnay VQA 2006 $23.95

100% Chardonnay grapes are used in this wine. The 40-year-old vines are hand-picked and the juices are both fermented and aged in barrels on the lees (wine speak: the yeast is left with the wine in the barrel as part of the winemaking process). All of this produces a smoothness and rich creamy texture.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:Butter is the first impression on the nose followed by tropical fruit. The palate is bathed in butterscotch, caramel popcorn, roasted nuts and a hint of herb. A warm, lingering mid palate produces a long coffee bean and roasted nut finish. Smooth and elegant. Savvy Sommelier Wayne Walker compared this to some good California Chardonnays and felt it would be very versatile, but wonderful with shellfish. What do you think?

Suggested Food Pairing:Seafood, and chicken dishes with white cream sauce would be great match. Brie and other soft, young white cheese will pair well too. There is enough tannic structure and acidity to make this a good choice for roasted pork as well. Its versatility would extend into creamy pastas and sticky rice dishes too. Grilled foods should be limited to white meats and fish.

Cellaring:Drink now at 12C to 15C. Cellar for 3 to 5 years to enrich the texture and enhance the elegance.

Angels Gate Cabernet Sauvignon VQA 2005 $19.95

Harvested from two properties on the Angels Gate estate, this wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon that has spent over 1 year aging in French oak barrels. Our Savvy Sommelier Debbie Trenholm loved the spice finish of this wine and declared ”this would be a hit with anything off the BBQ.”

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:Spices, dark fruit and cedar on the nose are deepened by chocolate and vanilla on the palate. Good tannins and a softened acidic structure bring up the fruit in the mouth and lead into a tobacco and spice finish that lingers.

Suggested Food Pairing:Hearty dishes like grilled red meats, beef and tomato pastas, aged cheeses, stews are good matches for this wine. Spicy poultry and beef, wild game, sausage, pate and blue cheese dishes are other possibilities.

Cellaring:Could be cellared for 3 to 4 years, but it tastes great now at 17C to 20C.

Angels Red III VQA 2007 $35.00

A smooth, elegant and unique blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (67%), Malbec (22%) and Merlot (11%). Blending is where winemakers showcase their artistic vision with consumers. This blend certainly does not disappoint! It is able to deliver intensity with finesse and still generate elegance. Fully aged varietals (wine speak: for grape types) are removed at the end of their own fermentation and aging processes so that grape specific techniques can be used to fully realize the potential of each separate wine. Then they are blended through trial and error to create the final wine.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:This release is almost everything anyone could want in a Red Blend. It is delivered with finesse, richness, balance and length. Dark berries and cherries, chocolate, vanilla, toast, and sweet peppers are part of both the nose and the palette in this wine. These experiences are completed by soft, sweet wood, honeyed texture and a long, sweet, smoky finish transported on a medium to full body. Good acidity and elegant tannins complement a very drinkable and memorable wine.

Suggested Food Pairings:Filet Mignon, Roast Lamb with Garlic and Rosemary, Teriyaki Beef and other grilled red meats are great choices for this gem. Popular choices might include Gourmet Thin Crust Pizza, Mushroom dishes and Gourmet Hamburgers. Bring on the Gorgonzola cheese!

Cellaring: Drink now or cellar for up to 5 years.

OPTIONAL WINE: Archangel Sauvignon Blanc Sparkling VQA 2008 $19.95

This wine is this month’s optional selection that can be ordered by calling Debbie at 613-SAVVYCO (613-728-8926) or debbie@savvycompany.ca. The tasting panel began by tasting this wine and had to remind themselves to move on to the other selections because it was so light and dry and summertime drinkable.

The Archangel Series are the first of the grapes to be harvested each vintage at Angels Gate. It is very unusual to find a sparkling wine made of 100% Sauvignon Blanc outside of New Zealand.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:A great palette cleanser and thirst-quencher, it is fruit forward, zesty and effervescent. Well-balanced, it can be drunk on its own and enjoyed for its melon, citrus, ripe apple and pink grapefruit notes that are tempered by the subtle sweetness of lime. It is balanced and, like all the other Angels Gate wines, elegant in its very delicate profile.

Suggested Food Pairings:Chill & enjoy.If you want to have with food, we would recommend fresh vegetable appetizers, green salads, Thai shrimp rolls or seafood would be delicious. Creamy cheeses like Havarti are perfect for this type of wine. Don’t forget everyone’s favourite… goat cheese!



With Angels Gate Old Vines Chardonnay…

Grilled Sweetbread and Chicken Thigh Skewers

Courtesy of Matthew Croncich – Angels Gate Chef
When you visit the winery, plan to nosh on the picturesque patio and say hello to Chef!

Serves 4


4 chicken thighs

1.5 lbs veal sweetbreads

2 cups white wine

2 cloves garlic

2 Tbsp canola oil

2 carrots

2 celery stalks

2 cups salt water

½ cup Dijon mustard

1 tsp sea salt

Fresh herbs (thyme, bay leaf, peppercorns, rosemary, majoram, sage)


1.Marinate thighs in white wine, crushed garlic, canola oil and thyme for 3-10 hours.

2.Roast the seasoned thighs in a 400F degree oven until internal temperature reaches 170 degrees.

3.Gently poach sweetbreads in salted water, carrots, celery, onion, bay leaf, thyme and peppercorns. They should appear pink, but opaque in the middle. Do not overcook or boil. Check frequently. Once done, plunge into ice water bath.

4.Once cooled, remove outer membrane and exposed veins with paring knife while breaking into chunks equal to size of chunks for chicken thighs..

5.On long metal skewers, alternate chicken and veal pieces so they are touching but not squashed together.

6.Brush the meat skewers with Dijon and sprinkle with favourite remaining herbs. Place finished skewers in refrigerator until grill is hot and ready. Season with sea salt and pepper. Cook on grill moderately until meats are coloured and opaque.

With Angels Gate Red III…

Bodacious Burgers
A family favorite recipe from the kitchen of Carly Khonmen Wayne’s daughter

Serves 8


2 lbs lean ground beef

½ lb bulk Italian Hot sausage

½ large red onion, chopped

2 Hot chili peppers

3 cloves garlic, minced

¾ lb Muenster Cheese

1 egg

1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp chili powder

Salt and pepper to taste


1.Preheat outdoor grill to medium-high heat and lightly oil the grate.

2.Mix ground beef, sausage, onion, chili pepper, Muenster cheese, egg, Worcestershire Sauce, and chili powder in a mixing bowl until evenly combined. Season with salt and pepper and mix again. Form the meat mixture into 8 patties.

3.Cook on the grill until burgers are no longer pink in the centre, about 7 minutes per side. Centre temperature should be about 70C.

4.Serve with Angels Gate Red III at 18C.

With Angels Gate Archangel Sauvignon Blanc Sparkling….

Sautéed Shrimp
A family favorite recipe from Wayne’s kitchen
Serves 4-6 as an appetizer


1 cup butter

2 large cloves garlic, minced

2 to 3 lbs raw jumbo shrimp, shelled and deveined

2 Tbsp dry sherry or white wine

1 cup heavy cream

Salt and pepper to taste

Chopped parsley


1.In skillet, heat butter, cook garlic over medium-low heat until soft.

2.Add shrimps and cook until they turn pink.

3.Add sherry (or wine) and simmer for another minute.

4.Add cream and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped parsley if you wish.

5.Serve with rice using toast or biscuits as edible spoons or just serve on the toast or biscuits themselves.


Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!



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