Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Lighthall Vineyards
– April 2016 –
The “To Do” list at a winery is long at this time of the year. Even though the vineyards look bare, winery owners & winemakers like Glenn Symons at Lighthall Vineyards are working flat out. Bottling white wines, blending the reds, dusting off the tasting bar after hibernating during the winter, hiring labour for the season, de-hilling the vines (a technique primarily used in Prince Edward County), attending events and most of all…selling wine! These are just a few of the items on the never ending list.
I am delighted to introduce you to a gem of The County…Lighthall Vineyards, or should I say now Lighthall Vineyards & Dairy. Our long time fried & Savvy fan Glenn Symons is the owner, winemaker, vineyard manager & one-man-show at this boutique winery. He has an interesting backstory that you can read while you enjoy a glass of his wine from your Savvy Selections.
In your Savvy Selections you will find….
An easy drinking sparkling wine to enjoy now…along with a bottle of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to cellar….if you can wait! Rest assured that the wines are all ready to be served, yet Glenn recommends, “the Chardonnay is delicious now and will continue to get even better with time. Same goes for the Pinot Noir. Both wines have so much promise.” If only you have the willpower to leave them alone.
Lighthall Progression VQA 2013 – fun & fresh. Mark my words that you will wish that we sent you 2 bottles.
Lighthall Chardonnay VQA 2014 – Glenn declares that it is the best one he has made…yet!
Lighthall Pinot Noir ‘Quatre Anges’ VQA 2014 – complicated & elegant. One of the best made in The County
Debbie & Savvy Team
Presented by Sommelier Debbie Trenholm
All of us have 24 hours in our day. It amazes me how people like Glenn Symons (in photo at right – photo credit Edible Ottawa) does it– he spends 1.5 hours roundtrip commuting from his home to the winery, tends to 16 acres of vines year round, manages a team of vineyard workers from Thailand, cares for his 100+ chickens, ducks, turkeys all the while making top rated wines & chops wood from the forest on his 100 acre property.
Oh and just last year he took on the challenge to learn how to make artisan cheeses turning this into a new business, renovated his building to accommodate cheesemaking equipment and for fun, he began growing hops too. And Glenn is a father of four – including twin boys – he has all of the typical ‘Daddy duties’ too.
Being a one man show for the past 8 years, he has built an amazing reputation for Lighthall’s quality of sparkling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines. All of his grapes are grown in the vineyard that he has expanded from 8 to 16 acres. Glenn’s winemaking talent is recognized by his peers in The County as several winemakers call on him to help finish and bottle their wines.
“Some days there is just enough coffee or beer to keep me going”, Glenn laughs.
It all started with a heart attack
It’s an unfathomable beginning. “I remember that day so clearly”, recalls Glenn. “I turned 36 and I was running a busy pharmacy on Elgin Street in downtown Ottawa. The day began normal, then the perfect storm hit.” One of his long time staff members resigned, his largest client – a nursing home – called with complaints and CRA (yes – Canadian Revenue Agency) did a surprise audit. While these fires raged, Glenn remembers downing 2 double double coffees to help with the situation.
“After work I took my daughter to her final ringette game of the season. We inadvertently went to the wrong arena. Miraculously we made it to the right place before the whistle blew. It was a special season closer where parents played against the girls.” When Glenn tied up his skates, he felt the tell-tale sign of tightening of his chest and he had a heart attack on the ice. “The doctors at the Heart Institute told me that it was the type of attack where 50% survive”, Glenn remembers with a punctuated sigh.
After his heart attack, Glenn decided to make changes to his lifestyle. He had been experimenting with winemaking since he was 19 and he was constantly intrigued by its chemistry. Still a busy father and businessman, he enrolled in the Sommelier Program at Algonquin College to specifically learn more about the world of wine.
He raised my eyebrows!
Coincidentally, this is where I met Glenn. I was an industry judge for his final Sommelier service exam. While his classmates were white knuckled as they role played a restaurant scenario of patrons ordering wine with their meals, Glenn breezed through the exam with confidence & ease. He also served a bottle of Huff Estates Lighthall Vineyard Chardonnay while his classmates were using Fat Bastard & Mouton Cadet for practicing the professional 21-step bottle opening etiquette. Struck by the fact that Glenn was using a $40 bottle of wine to showcase his serving skills, I commented, “Interesting choice of bottles to practice on.” He replied with a huge smile, “I bought this vineyard last week.”
Glenn considered only 2 vineyards when deciding to get involved in the wine industry. A developed vineyard of 8 acres in Prince Edward County already called Lighthall Vineyards or a well-established vineyard in Chateauneuf-de-Pape France. “Had I gone to France, I probably would have been creamed & out of business by now. I have learned so much on the fly here, that I doubt France would have been that forgiving!”
“I learned everything about winemaking from Frederic Picard. He taught me the basics and gave me the confidence to refine these skills into my own style. I am also indebted to Dave Frederick who was my assistant winemaker in the early days. Both men are friends, my mentors and my go-tos.” Fred Picard is the chief winemaker at Huff Estates Winery who came from Burgundy, France to The County. Dave Frederick has been an assistant winemaker at several wineries in the region and is soon to open Strange Brewing Co near Picton.
And to pair with the success of his winery, last year Glenn ventured into making artisan cheese. Will he ever stop?
Here’s to Glenn & his adventures at Lighthall.
~ SAVVY SOMMELIER TASTING NOTES ~
“This is the wine that I can’t stop drinking”, says Glenn with a giggle. And the Savvy Team agrees!
Glenn planted Vidal vines with the full intention (like many Canadian winemakers) of making the grapes into icewine and exporting into China. The Chinese connection fell through and we was stuck experimenting what he can do with these grapes. Luckily he concocted Progression!
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: So easy to drink, uncomplicated, fun & refreshing. There’s a dry delicious refreshing acidity with aromas of citrus, pear & crunchy green apple with a nicely balanced crisp finish.
Suggested Food Pairing: Served well chilled, this wine is lovely on its own, with runny cheese like Brie, fresh oysters, or paired with light appetizers or even pizza with Pear, Carmelized Onion & Brie (recipe to follow). Simply put – keep a bottle in your fridge for any occasion to pop off the cap!
This is Glenn’s best Chardonnay yet. “It is exactly what I want to be making. I fermented one third in oak barrels with the remaining two thirds in stainless steel.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau certainly thinks so! Enjoyed before he hit the campaign trail, Glenn told me that he received a cheque in the mail from Sophie Grégoire for the amount to pay for 2 cases of this Chardonnay. “There was no note, no shipping instructions, just the cheque!”
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Elegant with delicate limestone minerality that a typical characteristic of The County, combined with a judicious amount of oak. There`s aromas and tastes of apples & Asian pear. It’s rich & buttery with a little nip of acidity on the tongue that lures you to have another sip.
Suggested Food Pairing: “Sweetbreads with this Chardonnay is mind-numbing”, declared Glenn. Pan seared scallops, wild mushroom risotto or Turkey Meatballs topped on a creamy lemon pasta (recipe follows).
Cellaring: This wine is ‘nervous’ explains Glenn. Although delicious now, this wine will relax and mellow with time – approximately 5 more years.
The Quatre Anges (4 Angels) refers to Glenn’s 4 children. Each have been involved in the winery in some way as they have grown into teenagers. Each harvest they get together to help with the crush. You can imagine siblings during the chaos of harvest – oh my! Now with the eldest in university, this is quite possibly the last time the foursome will be involved in the making of this wine.
2014 was an epic growing season with incredible ripening that shows through in the fruit.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Deep coloured for a Pinot Noir, this one is rich & full of red & black cherry tastes. Barrel aged for over a year adds in notes of rosemary, leather with a warm smoke characteristic that rounds off the mouthfeel. An amazing wine that will only get better with some more time.
Suggested Food Pairing: One pairing – Duck! “I am raising duck at the winery, simply because I love the pairing with Pinot,” states Glenn. A favorite duck recipe includes Black Truffles. Be on the lookout for fresh or frozen in a gourmet food shop.
Cellaring: This is ready to enjoy, yet it will benefit from being untouched for another 10 years…if you can wait that long.
With Lighthall Progression…
Recipe & photo credits: Dinner with Julie
Canola or Olive oil – for cooking
1 large onion, halved & thinly sliced
1 ripe but firm pear, thinly sliced
4 oz Brie, sliced salt & freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
1 package (2 tsp) active dry yeast
pinch of sugar
2 ½ to 3 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp (or a good glug) olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Put 1 cup warm water into a large bowl, add the sugar and sprinkle the yeast overtop; let stand for 5 minutes, until it gets foamy. Add 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, the olive oil and salt and stir until you have a shaggy dough. Let rest for 20 minutes, then knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if you need it – the dough should be tacky, but not too sticky.
If you like, place the dough in an oiled bowl and turn to coat all over. Cover with a tea towel and set aside in a warm place – if you’re in a hurry, it only needs to wait for about an hour, until it’s doubled in bulk. If you have time, leave it. When it gets too big, punch it down. If you’re going out or to bed, cover it and put it in the fridge, which will slow the rise. Or freeze it. Take it out to thaw or warm up before you use it.
When you’re ready for pizza, heat a generous drizzle of oil in a medium skillet set over medium-high heat and sauté the onion for 5 minutes, or until soft and turning golden. Preheat the oven to 450F.
Divide the dough in half and roll or stretch each out into a 9-inch circle or oval. Place each on a parchment-lined or floured baking sheet and top with half the caramelized onions, half the pear slices and half the Brie. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until deep golden. Let rest for a few minutes, then drizzle with honey before slicing.
Lighthall Chardonnay VQA 2014…
Recipe & photo credits: Jessica Alba
2 lbs ground turkey
1 cup bread crumbs (Japanese Panko crumbs are ideal)
1/4 cup carrots, shredded
1/4 cup onion, shredded
1/4 cup zucchini, shredded
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1 Tbsp sea salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
¾ cup low sodium chicken stock
Your favorite pasta
1/3 to ½ cup goat cheese
Zest & Juice of 1 lemon
¼ to ½ of white wine – use something other than Lighthall Chardonnay!
In a large bowl, mix turkey, panko, carrots, zucchini, onion, eggs, Italian seasoning, and salt until well combined; form into 1-inch balls.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add meatballs and cook, turning, until browned, about 7 minutes.
Add ½ cup chicken broth, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook until liquid is almost completely absorbed, about 7 minutes.
Add remaining ¼ cup broth and increase heat to medium; cook, uncovered, until liquid is absorbed.
In a separate pot, cook your favorite pasta. Once al dante, drain the water & place pasta back into the pot on low heat. Crumble in goat cheese & stir until melted. To help the melting, add white wine periodically until a creamy consistency similar to cream sauce that coats the pasta.
To finish the sauce, squeeze the juice of one lemon into the sauce, toss in zest & gently stir.
Plate with a mound of pasta topped with turkey meatballs.
With Lighthall ‘Quatres Anges’ Pinot Noir VQA2014…
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 ½ pounds chicken wings
1 cup diced peeled carrots
1 cup diced celery
2 ¼ cups beef broth
2 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 ounces fresh black truffles or frozen, unthawed
3 boneless duck breast halves
2 Tbsp (1/4 stick) butter, divided
¼ cup finely chopped shallots
1 cup apple juice
Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken wings and sauté until deep brown, about 15 minutes. Add carrots and celery to skillet; sauté 5 minutes. Add both broths; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 1 hour. Strain, reserving broth and discarding wings and vegetables. If necessary, return broth to skillet and boil until reduced to 1 cup; reserve for sauce.
Using small brush, scrub fresh or frozen truffles under cold running water. Using sharp thin knife, remove peel from truffles and reserve for sauce. Thinly shave truffles using V-slicer or truffle shaver; cover and set aside.
Pat duck breasts dry with paper towels. Cut off any sinew from breast meat. Place breasts on work surface. Using fingers or small sharp knife, pull or cut skin with fat away from meat from both long sides of duck breast almost to center, leaving 1-inch-wide strip of fat attached to meat in center (do not cut through center strip). Lift up flaps of duck skin and fat and arrange sliced truffles over breast meat under fat on each, dividing equally. Press skin flaps down over truffles to cover completely. Using sharp knife, score top of duck skin in 1/2-inch diamond pattern, being careful not to cut through fat. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover broth, duck, and truffle peel separately and chill.)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Heat heavy large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle duck breasts with salt and pepper. Place duck, skin side down, in skillet. Cook until skin is deep golden and crisp and fat renders, occasionally pouring off accumulated drippings from pan, about 10 minutes. Turn duck breasts over; place pan in oven and roast just until duck is cooked to desired doneness, about 8 minutes for medium. Transfer duck to platter; cover and let rest 10 minutes. Reserve skillet. Finely chop reserved truffle peel.
Drain remaining fat from skillet. Add 1 tablespoon butter to skillet and melt over medium-high heat. Add shallots; sauté until golden, about 2 minutes. Add juice and boil until almost evaporated, about 4 minutes. Add reserved broth and any accumulated juices from duck; simmer until mixture is reduced to 1 generous cup. Strain mixture into small saucepan; add reserved chopped truffle peel. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon butter.
Thinly slice duck breasts crosswise. Arrange duck slices on plates; drizzle with sauce and serve.
Bon appetit & enjoy your Savvy Selections.