These BIG wines win the hearts of our subscribers

Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Kacaba Vineyards
–  January 2013 –


Kacaba Vineyards sits on top of a Niagara Escarpment with a ravine on both sides, overlooking other nearby farmland. On a clear day you can even see Lake Ontario from this boutique winery. The escarpment naturally provides drainage of water and protection of frost that obviously have a negative impact on the vineyard. The spring and summer are always the best times to visit the vineyard as the winery is all abuzz with activity of barbeques, special wine and food events, festivals and not to mention the wine tours and the ‘regulars’ stopping in to pick up their favorite Kacaba wines.

I can’t help but wonder if Michael Kacaba knew when he bought and saved 25 acres from the “subdivision bulldozer” back in 1997 that instead of massive homes, he would grow vineyards that would produce award winning wines. With each sip of this month’s Savvy Selections wines, I am certain that you too are glad of Michael’s decision.

Kacaba is focused on producing small lots (winespeak – small quantities) in order to ensure that every step of the grape growing and winemaking remains largely done by hand; from harvesting the grapes to the lifting of tanks to hand selecting the wines that are ready to be released. Attention to every detail is engrained into each person on the Kacaba team – and it shows!

It is interesting to note that Kacaba is one of the original members of the Wine Council of Ontario’s Sustainable Winemaking Group. What does this mean? Turn the pages of this month’s Savvy eZine and our Savvy Sommelier Julie Stock will give you a snapshot of this new group’s objective & endeavours.

This summer Julie visited the winery with her husband Doug & in the following pages shares with you stories & the Savvy Selections tasting panel’s tasting notes along with cozy winter recipes she has pulled from her favorite cookbooks to serve with the wines our Sommeliers selected for you this month.

In your Savvy Selections delivery you will find:

We always have the tough job of choosing just three wines for each month’s Savvy Selections and this month was certainly no exception. To help you kick off  2013 with outstanding wines, we selected the following for you to enjoy:

Barrel Fermented Chardonnay VQA 2011  – classically styled rich & absolutely elegant

Reserve Cabernet Franc VQA 2010  – this gold medal winning wine is juicy & layered

Cabernet Sauvignon VQA 2009 be ready for a big complex red  wine

OPTIONAL WINE: Single Vineyard Syrah VQA 2009  – this wine was so good, we didn’t think it should be optional, we practically had to vote – yikes!

These great prices & great wines only from us!

The Kacaba wines are not available at the LCBO.  And the winery owner is offering special prices exclusively for Savvy Selections subscribers (and your friends too).  If you would like to re-order any of your favorites, simply email me debbie@savvycompany.ca or give me a call at 613-SAVVYCO (613-728-8926) and I will gladly make the arrangements of more Kacaba wines for you.

Cheers & here’s to delicious wine discoveries in 2013!

Debbie & Savvy Team



Kacaba Winery

Presented by Savvy Sommelier Julie Stock


This past June, during our annual pilgrimage to the Niagara region, my husband Doug (also a Savvy Sommelier) and I visited Kacaba Vineyards. I knew this visit would be in part to prep for this month’s Savvy Selections feature. While the notes I scribbled during my delightful chat with winemaker John Tummon (above) are hardly legible now, the memory of us driving up the gravelly road, lined with beautiful sugar maple trees, crossing the silver bridge, remain vividly in my mind.

It is like driving into a picture.  On the other side of the bridge, there is a huge ravine with trellises of Syrah grapes. On the other side of the ravine are numbered posts marking the rows of mostly Bordeaux style red grapes (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc). Colourful roses are planted at the end of each row. Aside from how beautiful they look roses have a functional role being planted at the end of these rows. Since they grow similarly to vines, if the roses come down with a disease such as a powdery mildew fungus, a winemaker can immediately detect if there is a disease that could affect the grapevines. So aside from their elegance, the roses act as an ‘early warning system’ against serious plant disease similar to when coal miners used to take canaries into a mining shaft. If the canary started to show signs of stress, the miners would be warned of an early sign that gases were building and they had to get out fast.

It was a blistering hot day when we drove to Kacaba but the setting was so idyllic that it practically had a cooling effect. Once inside the winery, we were treated royally to tastings and shown the barrels in the back portion where wine was fermenting and staff were working away.

What struck us when we entered the wine shop were the number of medals hanging on bottles. Kacaba has amassed so many awards that I could fill the page with the list and not talk about the wines or winery. However….

The winemaker & the vineyard

In 1999, the first grapes were planted: Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot. John had flown to California to buy some of these grapes and if you can believe it, Air Canada lost them!  Thankfully for us they were eventually located and the first harvest in 2005 was anticipated and welcomed. He also pioneered the first Syrah grown in Ontario and quite possibly in Canada.

John began making wine in university.  By 1988 he had completed the German Wine Academy Course in Germany. Ten years later, he won the “Wine Taster of the Year” award at the Amateur Winemakers of Ontario (AWO). I can almost say the rest is history but John has acquired an incredible list of wine and other credentials before his winemaker status at Kacaba. In 2010 alone, Kacaba wines received over 20 medals. I’ll bet he sleeps at night.

Kacaba is an original member winery of the Wine Council of Ontario’s Sustainable Winemaking Group whose goals are to improve the environmental performance of the wine industry in Ontario and continually improve the quality of grape growing and winemaking in an environmentally responsive manner. At Kacaba one of the main goals is to encourage sustainable agriculture which ensures good husbandry in the protection of the grapes.

The vineyards at Kacaba adhere to environmental practices to ensure the longevity of the vines. As an example, John explained that the vine roots go down about 30 feet into the soil, so in the heat of this past summer, while in some other parts of Ontario the grapes had shriveled, John did not have to worry about the grapes obtaining enough moisture to come to fruition. It also means that if they happen to get a killer frost, it still won’t kill the vines. No wonder these wines are so good!

All Kacaba wines are rigorously approved and labeled Vintner Quality Alliance (VQA). While this is a mark that confirms the origin of the grapes used in the wine (VQA Ontario means grapes from anywhere in Ontario, VQA Niagara Peninsula refers to wine is made with grapes grown in the Niagara region or VQA St David’s is a new sub appellation in Niagara between the Bench & Niagara-on-the-Lake.)

Cheers & enjoy your Savvy Selections!




Barrel Fermented Chardonnay VQA 2011 $22.95

Chardonnay is one of the most versatile grapes grown in Ontario. It can grow ferociously in warm climates and be just as happy in the micro-climate that Ontario offers with the cooling and moderating effect from Lake Ontario. Although the tastes will vary from year to year depending on the length and heat of the summers, the Kacaba Chardonnays are consistently rich, complex with layers of flavour.

Sommelier Tasting Notes: Rich golden yellow with aromas of vanilla, pineapple, baked pears that follow through on the palate. It has buttery toasty coconut flavours, very smooth on the palate and beautifully full bodied with a long finish. It is typical of a classic Chardonnay that has spent some time in an oak barrel but has refreshing acidity to balance the richness.

Suggested Food Pairing: Our Savvy Selections tasting panel agreed the list of pairings for this wine is endless. We all offered different suggestions from roasted cauliflower soup, cheese fondue, shrimp casserole, desserts and just on its own. A truly elegant wine, for Chardonnay lovers out there, I’m confident this will become a favourite!

Julie suggestions a unique Cauliflower Soup recipe to warm you up this winter as you sip on this Chardonnay, .

Cellaring: Great to drink now, but would hold for 3-5 years.

Reserve Cabernet Franc VQA 2010 – Savvy price $34.95

Cabernet Franc grapes are small and thin-skinned, blue-black in colour  and are traditionally blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot especially in Bordeaux, France. The grapes are known to contribute some pepperiness and hints of tobacco to the wine which is why it is frequently used in blends. In Ontario this varietal grows well and is known to be quite robust.

The Savvy Team thought this Cabernet Franc was pretty spectacular on its own and the 2012 InterVin International Wine Awards panel crowned it with a gold medal – so we weren’t the only ones who loved it.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This deep purple robust beauty really grabbed us. Ripe rich berries, chocolately and chewy layered with flavour after flavour after… It is silky smooth on the palate with soft and subtle tannins, a pinch of vegetal and pencil shavings and a long velvety finish.  A classy elegant wine awaits you.

If you can go beyond sheer yum, this is it!

Suggested Food Pairing: We went wild with food pairing ideas; veal chops, roasted chicken, vegetarian bean casseroles, even chocolate cake.  No end of possibilities and we even savoured it with some blue cheese. For this wine, we pulled out Lucy Waverman’s recipe for Cabernet Chicken.  Enjoy!

Cellaring: Drink now or easily 3-5 years


Kacaba Cabernet Sauvignon VQA 2009 –Savvy price $22.95

Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the popular red wine varieties in the world. The grape berries are small, thick with very tough skin making it resistant to disease and spoilage.  It’s DNA origins indicate that it is the offspring of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. It is no wonder that with that pedigree it sometimes has aromas of pencil shavings and grassiness, both typical of its respective parents.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Talk about tasting BIG! Dark ripe blackberries, currants, plums, strawberries with a seductive nose all balanced into a delicious mélange with hints of pepper, licorice and even a little soya sauce comes through on the palate. We detected some sweet spice and raisins reminiscent of Christmas cake. It is powerfully ripe but dry and smooth layered in complexity and soft tannins that balance out the ripe fruit flavours on the long sweet finish.

Suggested Food Pairing:  We all agreed enthusiastically that this powerhouse would mostly marry with red meat such as lamb, porterhouse steak, beef grills, Chateaubriand, veal osso bucco or classic beef bourguinon – Julie Child’s recipe no less is written out for your below.

Cellaring: Ready now or before 2017.

OPTIONAL WINE: Single Vineyard Syrah VQA 2009 – Savvy price $24.95

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  How does deep dark opaque plum sound to start?  Aromas of black stewed fruit (think figs, dates & prunes), a little peppery on the nose and palate with flavours of ripe raspberry and cedar shavings. One Savvy Sommelier detected a faint taste of red licorice amongst the juicy red fruit flavours, layered with flavour. Finishes long and juicy with a touch of menthol and smoke.

Suggested Food Pairing: This wine is begging for a rack of lamb or roast of lamb with all of the trimmings.

Cellaring: Drink now or could easily cellar a few years.



With Kacaba Barrel Fermented Chardonnay VQA 2011…

Cauliflower Soup with Cheddar, Bacon and Maple Pecans
Restaurant Les Fougères –  Chelsea, Quebec

Makes 4 to 6 servings


1/4 cup (50mL) butter
2 Tbsp (25mL) extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 large cauliflower (about 3 lbs/750g), cut into chunks
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 potato, chopped
3 cups (750mL) chicken stock or more
1 tsp (5mL) fresh thyme
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper


1 cup (250mL) grated aged Cheddar
8 oz (250g) bacon, cut into sticks and cooked until crisp
1/2 cup (125mL) chopped maple pecans (see below)
2 tbsp (25mL) chopped fresh parsley


Heat butter and olive oil in a large deep saucepan. Add onion, cauliflower and garlic. Cook gently, covered, 15 to 20 minutes until caramelized, checking every 5 minutes.

Add potatoes and thyme and enough stock to just cover vegetables. Simmer until very tender 15 to 20 minutes. Purée. Return to heat and add additional stock to make a medium thick soup. Season to taste.

Garnish with cheese, bacon, pecans and parsley.

For maple pecans, toss 1 cup (250mL) pecans with 1/4 cup (50mL) maple syrup. Spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in a preheated 325F (160C) oven approximately 15 minutes, tossing every 5 minutes, until candied.  Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp (2mL) Maldon salt.

With Kacaba Reserve Cabernet Franc VQA 2010…

Cabernet Chicken

From Lucy Waverman
Serves 4

This method of roasting chicken produces a juicy, golden bird with a marvelous sauce. If you use seedless grapes, slice them in half. If the grapes have seeds, slice them in half and flick out the seeds with the point of a knife. The taste and colour of the sauce will change depending on what grapes you use. Serve with crushed red potatoes, French filet beans and garnish with Champagne grapes.


3 lb (1.5 kg) chicken
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 Tbsp (15 mL) butter
1 cup (250 mL) sliced leeks
1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped carrots
1/4 cup (50 mL) chopped celery
1 Tbsp (15 mL) fresh chopped tarragon or oregano
1 cup (250 mL) Cabernet Franc  (I would buy a less expensive Cabernet to use in this recipe)
1/2 cup (125 mL) red grapes, halved
1/2 cup (125 mL) red grapes, whole


Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Truss chicken to help it keep its shape. Heat butter in ovenproof casserole on medium heat. Brown chicken, breast-side down, until golden, about 3 minutes. Turn on its side and brown another 3 minutes. Brown remaining sides. Remove chicken and drain off all but 1 tbsp (15 mL) fat.

Add leeks, carrots and celery into casserole and sauté 2 minutes or until softened. Add tarragon and wine. Bring to boil and reduce by half, about 5 minutes. Stir in halved grapes. Return chicken to pan breast-side up. Cover and bake for 55 minutes, basting occasionally.

Remove chicken from pan to carving board and cover with tea towel to keep warm. Skim fat from casserole. Strain sauce into a skillet, pressing down on the solids. Add whole grapes, bring to boil and simmer 1 minute or until flavours are combined. Season with salt and pepper. Carve chicken and serve with sauce. Garnish with sprigs of chervil.


With Kacaba Cabernet Sauvignon VQA 2009…

Classic Beef Bourguignon

By Julia Child

This recipe is worth the prep time of easily over an hour. Best if made ahead to let the flavours blend and I’ve always had rave reviews.  Don’t let the method deter you from this fabulous dish – it comes together quite nicely.  Serves 6


1  6 ounce piece chunk bacon
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds lean stew beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
1  onion, slicedSalt and pepper
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups red wine, young and full bodied     (I used a Cotes Du Rhone)
3 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1  bay leaf, crumbled
20 small white onions
3 1/2 tablespoons butterherb bouquet (4 parsley sprigs, one-half bay leaf, one-quarter teaspoon thyme, tied in cheesecloth)
1 pound fresh mushrooms, quartered


Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Remove bacon rind and cut into lardons (sticks 1/4-inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and lardons for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts water. Drain and dry then sauté lardons in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a flameproof casserole over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to side dish with a slotted spoon.

Heat fat in casserole until almost smoking. Dry beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Add beef, a few pieces at a time, and sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the lardons. In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the excess fat.

Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat again and return to oven for 4 minutes (this browns the flour and coves the meat with a light crust). Remove casserole and turn oven down to 325 degrees.

Stir in wine and 2 to 3 cups stock, just enough so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs and bacon rind. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove. Cover casserole and set in lower third of oven. Regulate heat so that liquid simmers very slowly for 3 to 4 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with one and one-half tablespoons of the oil until bubbling in a skillet. Add onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling them so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect them to brown uniformly. Add 1/2 cup of the stock, salt and pepper to taste and the herb bouquet. Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but hold their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet and set onions aside.

Wipe out skillet and heat remaining oil and butter over high heat. As soon as you see butter has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add mushrooms. Toss and shake pan for 4 to 5 minutes. As soon as they have begun to brown lightly, remove from heat. When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan.

Wash out the casserole and return the beef and lardons to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms on top. Skim fat off sauce in saucepan. Simmer sauce for 1-2 minutes, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons stock. Taste carefully for seasoning.

Pour sauce over meat and vegetables. Cover and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in casserole, or arrange stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles or rice, and decorated with parsley.

With Kacaba 2009 VQA Syrah… 

Gordon Ramsay’s Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb

From The F Word – Series


2 large racks of Lamb cut in half with 3 bones per serving
Salt, Pepper, Olive Oil

For the Crust

4 slices of stale bread made into crumbs
7 Tbsp. grated parmesan (roughly 1/2 a cup)
Sprigs of parsley, thyme, coriander and rosemary
2 Tbsp English mustard (or sub with dijon)Splash of olive oil


Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place lamb on cutting board fat side up. Lightly score the fat layer with a sharp knife. Next, generously sprinkle the lamb with salt and pepper. Ensure it’s thoroughly coated.

Heat some olive oil in an oven safe pan. Seal the lamb by holding each side in the oil long enough to develop color (careful not to burn your hands). Gordon Ramsay says, “it’s simple mathematics, no color, equals no taste”. Quite simple indeed! Make sure you brown that lamb.

Transfer the pan with the lamb into the oven and bake for 7-8 minutes. Prepare the crust while the lamb is cooking.

Preparing the Crust

Place  all of the ingredients for the crust except the mustard into a blender and pulse several times until it looks nice and green. Make sure you don’t over do it with the olive oil, just a splash.

Pour the mixture into a deep dish (bowl or plate) and set aside.

Putting it All Together

Remove the lamb from the oven and brush generously with mustard. Dip the lamb into the crust mixture coating it completely. Dip several times to ensure an even coating. Allow meat to rest for a bit.

Place it back into the oven for 3-4 minutes when you’re ready to serve.

I think this lamb would be great with any of the above Kacaba reds!

Enjoy your Savvy Selections!

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