Fruit trees & a few hybrid grapes were once farmed along the Niagara Parkway by husband & wife team William & Nora Lailey. Following in their footsteps as farmers, their son, David (a school teacher) and his wife Donna purchased the family farm & after many conversations around the kitchen table, David & Donna decided to replace the fruit orchards with vitis vinifera grapevines. “The orchard is too much work’, Donna explained to me in an interview. “And a vineyard is easier?” I did not dare say aloud!
Now as grape farmers, David & Donna spent many years buying, processing & reselling grapes to the neighbouring wineries – many who are now considered the pioneers of the Ontario wine industry. Transforming the grape growing into a winery – Lailey Vineyard – was sealed with the granting of a winery license, followed by Derek Barnett joining them in 2000 as winemaker. And with Derek came along his wife Judith as a business partner. Derek’s talents were quickly recognized by the industry with the title of ‘Winemaker of the Year’ at the annual Ontario Wine Awards. This is quite a coup for any winemaker, especially interesting as Derek is a son of a brew master in England!
When you ask David about his wines, he still maintains that, “Our wines express the natural characteristics of the grape varietal and the vineyard they come from.” Over the years. the Lailey estate has grown in size while their wines have grown an outstanding reputation. With every year that the vineyard matures, the quality of the grapes improves and so does the wine. You are in for a treat as many of the Lailey vines are close to 30 years old. The richness & complexity of these wines can be tasted with one sip. And interesting to compare to last month’s Savvy Selections featured winery – DiProfio Estate – which just opened last summer and their vineyards are less than 10 years old.
A ‘must visit’ on your next trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake
The team at Lailey always has something going on at the winery. Their annual Barrel Burning BBQ on July 6th features an afternoon of sausages roasted over “de-commissioned” oak barrels enjoyed with newly released Lailey wines of course! And for dessert … S’mores! Click here to buy advance tickets or phone the winery at (905) 468-0503. This is just one of the many fun activities hosted by Lailey at the winery.
In your Savvy Selections, you will find:
Sauvignon Blanc VQA 2012 – zippy & fresh New World style ‘Sauv Blanc’ without being over-the-top
Canadian Oak Chardonnay VQA 2011 – a rare white wine that is uniquely aged in barrels from native Canadian oak offers enticing aromas of buttered popcorn & tropical fruit – a Lailey signature!
Cabernet Sauvignon VQA 2010 – this unfiltered beauty with loads of mouth-coating dark berry fruit tastes that you can enjoy now or to hide in your cellar
OPTIONAL WINE: Lailey makes a gorgeous Canadian Oak Meritage VQA 2010 – a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot & Cabernet Sauvignon. If you asked me to add a bottle or two of this multi award winning wine… you are in for a treat!
Similar to other wineries we have featured in Savvy Selections, a small selection of Lailey wines are available at the LCBO. If you would like additional bottles of your new favourite – or other featured Ontario wineries – just give me a call on 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange an additional delivery for you. It is always my pleasure to introduce you to wonderful new Ontario wines!
Cheers & Enjoy!
For over 40 years, David & Donna Lailey have farmed the land, converting the Lailey family fruit farm into a flourishing vineyard & grape growing business. Donna with her ‘roll up her sleeves’ approach to building the business, was a founding member of the Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) and in 1991 was named the very first “Grape Queen” – a highly sought after annual award designated by the Grape Growers of Ontario for the most impressive & well-maintained vineyard in Niagara – chosen by her peers. The family success lies in the vines telling them what needs to be done to them. With great care, everything is done by hand from grape to glass.
The main man behind the winery – Derek Barnett
Derek (left) began his winemaking career at Southbrook Vineyards originally located north of Toronto. During visits to Niagara-on-the-Lake, he was attracted to Lailey Vineyard when he saw small parcels of mature vines with potential to be a high quality production facility. Remember 20 years ago, there were not numerous wineries in Niagara as is the case today! Derek boasts that the success of the winery attributes to the wonderful location of the vineyard & the Lailey family’s commitment to grow only quality fruit. The estate is comprised of seventeen grape varieties and in the winery cellar Derek says he is always experimenting “with two barrels of this & that to keep things fun!”
With 22 years (and counting) in the industry as winemaker, Derek has a deep affinity for the growing Canadian wine industry. He appreciates how wonderful it is having a job you like to do. “Making wine & going out to meet the people who like wine gets me out of bed each morning.”
“The excitement of the growth of the Canadian wine industry generated within by the winemakers is now getting out to the consumers, wine reviewers and even the energy is seen on the retail store shelves”. In the last 10 years, a new generation of wine drinkers has helped proliferate the international message – that Canada makes impressive wines. Coupled with the grass root movement supporting local food & wine, social media is engaging more people to view Ontario & Canada as a wine & culinary destination. The bottom line beams Derek, “We have awesome wine! VQA & the Canadian wine industry is on its way up.” You heard it here first!
A fun bunch – and we’re not talking grapes!
The folks at Lailey are fun & passionate about their winery & wines. Quick to show you around, anyone jumps in to do a hands-on tour led – including Derek or the resident sommelier. In the tasting room, it is all about the wine; no trinkets nor t-shirts nor glassware for sale, as they do not want the Lailey team or the visitors to lose focus on the wine.
Considered “old school”, they do not interfere in their winemaking approach. Derek is hands-off, listening to what the wine wants to do. Romantic as it may sound, Derek maintains a hands-off approach, “I bottle wines when they are ready to be bottled”.
Favorites – vintages, wines & harvest
Which wines does Derek enjoy making? Well that changes every year. Currently, he has a passion for barrel-fermented Chardonnay, “Niagara’s white wine grape” as he calls it. Other varietals that intrigue & inspire him are German Riesling with its bright aromatics, Northern Rhone style Syrah & Ontario varietals too.
Favorite times of year? Derek has 2 favorite periods during the grape-growing season: The green tinge of spring signifies another year of winemaking. Harvest provides the next bottle of wine that he is going to produce. If he has to choose his favorite time of the year, “Harvest!”, he exclaims.
Winemaking for 13 years at Lailey has led to many awards. Derek is proud of the “stunning” 2007 Syrah and 2002 limited edition Chardonnay: “It was hard to top”. 2012 is a well-balanced vintage, comparing closely to 2002, one of his favourite vintages for good growing.
Derek mentions that there is no one particular ‘proudest moment’ –there are too many! Chardonnay excites him, as he describes it as “stunning”. Syrah, Cabernet Franc & Pinot Noir are great personal challenges too.
A Curious Mind
All of these proud moments led to the creation of Curious Mind label: one-offs available only to loyal Lailey customers. Derek explains that these wines are his ‘toy box’ – he experiments using the any of 17 grape varieties and 9 different barrel brands to play & create very interesting curiosities. These limited edition wines are an absolute steal at $20 – made to order, numbered & signed too. Are you curious to try these wines? Call us to arrange a special shipment.
Cheers & enjoy your Savvy Selections!
~ SAVVY SOMMELIER TASTING NOTES ~
Interestingly the history of Sauvignon Blanc is rooted in the ‘Old World” wine region of Bordeaux, France. Today though, it is planted around the world – New World & Old World, resulting in crisp, dry & refreshing white wine. Commonly referred to as ‘Sauv Blanc’, is the main component of the famous French dessert wines of Sauternes & Barsac. Have you had these wines?
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Zippy aromas & flavours of citrus (think lime & white grapefruit), floral, distinct minerality with a zingy tart gooseberry taste that when Eva had a sip, she immediately mentions ‘Oh my, this reminds me of mother-in-law’s gooseberry pie’.
Reminiscent of a New World style Sauvignon Blanc without being over-the-top. Mint makes an appearance on the palate resulting in a fresh & cleansing long finish. Delicious!
Suggested Food Pairing: A classic pairing is with goat’s cheese/chêvre, asparagus & sushi. Give the Spanakopita recipe a try on the following pages.
The vineyards feature some of the oldest plantings of Chardonnay in Ontario.
We are excited to include this wine as it has been a long favorite of Debbie’s to showcase at Savvy Events since the ‘what if’ story of making barrels with Canadian Oak has resulted in incredible wine. It is truly a Canadiana story…move over maple syrup!
The story goes… about 5 years ago, a handful of winemakers were ‘talking shop’ at a backyard BBQ. Conversation lead to wondering what a barrel made with native Canadian oak would do to their wines. After a lot of research, they found a cooper (barrel maker) in California who would make these one-of-a-kind barrels. Next step was to find native oak trees – luckily found in Brantford, Ontario. The wood staves were cut and shipped in hockey bags (brand new ones of course!). Their “what if moment” & hard work paid off when several Canadian Oak barrels arrived at the wineries. Today, there are fewer than 10 winemakers across Canada who barrel age some of their wines in this special oak…and now there is a cooper in Canada making the barrels. Derek is a big enthusiast with his Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meritage (an optional wine we offered) wines aged in Canadian oak and constantly receiving rave reviews.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: “This wine makes me think of buttered popcorn” suggested Eva. Golden straw colour with aromas of wildflower honey, tropical fruit (think coconut & sweet citrus) with some nuttiness – walnut perhaps?. Rich & round mouthfeel with flavours of lime, stone fruit & baking spice with minerality & a lengthy warm finish.
Suggested Food Pairing: Given the rich aromas & flavours of this Chardonnay try the Chicken & Farfalle with Creamy Walnut Sauce recipe that follows.
Expect loads of ripe fruit from this award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon. (Bronze Medal at Canadian Wine Awards 2012 & Bronze Medal at the Intervin International Wine Awards 2012). This wine is unfiltered meaning that small particles may be found in the bottle, leaving the wine’s aromas & flavours intact. No need to be alarmed if you notice this when you serve the wine. It is completely natural
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Verging on opaque in colour, this Cabernet Sauvignon has amazing aromas of ripe fruit – plum, figs, dates, dark berries – along with red roses, cranberry, rhubarb & vanilla. Flavours of tart red cherry, berry & cassis layered with smoke, earth & tobacco. The balancing acidity keeps the tannins in check in this beautifully structured full-bodied red wine. The long finish begs for another sip. Don’t you agree?
Suggested Food Pairing: Fire up the BBQ! Enjoy with a big steak or, for a change, grilled Portobello Mushrooms.
Cellaring: Ready to drink now or cellar for 5-7 years.
OPTIONAL WINE: Canadian Oak Meritage VQA 2010 $40.00
For all of you big red wine lovers – we did not want you to miss this special treat!
Meritage is the wine name that winemakers outside of France use to call their wines made in the French Bordeaux style. This is a blend of the best from the highly acclaimed 2010 vintage. It’s a big juicy red wine made with 45% Merlot, 33% Cabernet Franc, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon – all from the Lailey estate.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This is a big, bold, almost black coloured wine has aromas of molasses, tar, tobacco, smoke & blueberry with something that smells like “Chinese Five Spice mix”, says Debbie. Beefy with big tannins that will continue to mellow, the flavours of coffee, cocoa & black pepper with an incredible long finish.
Cellaring: Enjoy now or put away in your cellar to mellow for a few more years (5 to 7 years max).
~RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH YOUR SAVVY SELECTIONS~
From Chef in You
3 bunches of fresh spinach (about 2 lbs)
1 onion, chopped finely
6-8 spring onions (scallions), chopped
5 oz feta cheese, crumbled
3 oz ricotta cheese
1/3 cup freshly grated vegetarian parmesan
1 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped
1 generous pinch of nutmeg
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped (cilantro works well too)
12 sheets of phyllo pastry, thawed
3-4 Tbsp of unsalted butter, melted + some olive oil (or more if required)
Trim the stems of spinach & clean them well in cold water. Filling the kitchen sink with lots of water and then submerging & rinsing the spinach works well in cleaning out the mud and debris. Drain. Roughly chop & place in a steamer. Steam for 5-8 minutes or until the leaves are wilted. Drain. Squeeze out the excess water from the spinach. This step is extremely important to avoid a soggy filling. Set aside.
Take a skillet and heat 1 tsp of olive oil & sauté the onion until tender. Add the spring onions & cook for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat & add the spinach, herbs, cheeses & nutmeg. Season with salt & pepper (if required). You can taste it to see if it does not have enough salt from the feta cheese.
Preheat the Oven to 350°F (180°C). Place the 3 sheets of phyllo at a time (keeping others covered to avoid drying out). Mix the butter & 2 tbsp olive oil in a small bowl. Brush each sheet with butter mixture & lay on top of another. Cut into equal thirds lengthwise.
Spoon a little filling on an angle at the end of the each strip. You don’t want to be overzealous here with the portion since it will slip out later. Fold the pastry over to enclose the filling to form a triangle. Now take it upwards to form another triangle.
Repeat this process until you reach the end. You will have a small strip at the end which you can grease with little butter mixture & stick to the pastry. Brush the top lightly with butter mixture.
Grease two baking sheets. Bake the triangles for 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.
Chicken & Farfalle with Creamy Walnut Sauce
From Eating Well
1/3 cup walnuts
1 small clove garlic, peeled
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 cup reduced-sodiumchicken broth
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon walnut oil, or extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed of fat, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 ounces whole-wheat farfalle pasta
1 cup small broccoli florets
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
Put a large saucepan of water on to boil. Combine walnuts, garlic, salt, pepper & cayenne in a blender; pulse until finely chopped. Blend in broth, parsley & lemon juice until smooth & creamy.
Heat oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken & cook, stirring often, until it is no longer pink in the middle, 3 to 5 minutes.
Cook pasta for 5 minutes. Add broccoli & bell pepper, cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta & vegetables are just tender, about 4 minutes more. Drain, return to the pot.
Add the walnut sauce & chicken, then toss to coat.
Grilled Portobello Mushrooms
Serves 4 to 6 – depending on the size of meat
3 portobello mushrooms
1/4 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Clean mushrooms and remove stems, reserve for other use. Place caps on a plate with the gills up.
In a small bowl, combine the oil, onion, garlic and vinegar. Pour mixture evenly over the mushroom caps and let stand for 1 hour.
Grill over hot grill for 10 minutes. Serve immediately.
Enjoy your Savvy Selections!