Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Nyarai Cellars
– July 2014 –
In Vino Veritas, in wine there is truth… and truthfully Nyarai wines are to be experienced. Overlooking the Georgian Bay, lounging in an Adirondack chair that is bright red cherry colour reminiscent of Pinot Noir wines, while sipping on a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier or Veritas from Nyarai Cellars is just about as perfect as it gets! And our Savvy Sommelier Cathy Law did exactly this.
What is a virtual winery?
While the setting is absolutely glorious, you will not find any of Nyarai vineyards here. Not even a building with a sign stating Nyarai Cellars. Steve Byfield (left) is the owner and winemaker of a virtual winery. Never heard of that? It is essentially a winery within a winery.
In this case, Nyarai resides within the scenic Coffin Ridge Winery near Meaford, Ontario in the Georgian Bay area. In a co-operative manner, Steve uses the facilities at Coffin Ridge to produce his delectable wines. He is a part of a growing industry of winemakers ‘without walls’ who source their grapes from hand selected grape growers to ensure that Nyarai wines are made from the finest quality grapes available. Rather than draining the financial resources to erect beautiful buildings and tasting rooms, winemakers of virtual wineries lease, share or use the equipment and facilities of an already existing winery. No doubt this keeps their overhead low and creativity high.
Our Savvy Sommelier Cathy Law spent a lovely afternoon interviewing Steve who lives in Hamilton and makes a bi-weekly visit to Coffin Ridge to check on his wines. Steve surprised Cathy with a story about his musical background then serenaded her with Gleeful tales of his winemaking journey. Since his debut with Savvy Selections in 2008, Steve has delighted Ontario wine enthusiasts with a symphony of notable wines. You will see exactly what I mean when you open one of the bottles in this month’s Savvy Selections.
In your Savvy Selections you will find:
Sauvignon Blanc 20012 $19.95 – the flagship wine that was awarded Bronze Medal at the National wine Awards of Canada.
Viognier 2012 $21.95 – a hard to find grape variety in Ontario & we were so excited to introduce you to this elegant wine.
Veritas Reserve 2010 $26.95 – a highly sought after wine that we made sure that there was enough to include in the Savvy Selections. Now it is almost all gone!
Presented by Cathy Law
Nyarai (Nah-Rye) is a word from a South African dialect that means humility. This aptly named winery epitomizes Steve in every sense of the word. From my visit with him, I think that he exudes humility in all aspects of his winemaking journey.
Steve explained to me that he chose the name in consultation with his business partner Rod Ingram as it is an expression that encompasses all that he believes in. I can see it in Steve’s eyes that he is humbled by the land and how we should respect what we have by letting nature take its course. As an aside, Steve mentioned that Nyarai is often a name often given to first born girl in the African American community.
And all that jazz…
Steve’s passion for wine began with a part time summer job while he was studying music. He first worked at one of the “make your own” wine shops. It was there where he developed an interest in the process and the chemistry of winemaking. Completing his degree in music performanc, all the while beginning a teaching position as well as entertaining people with his jazz band did not diminish his desire to be part of the wine industry. Steve began a natural progression from entertaining people with music to tantalizing their palates with his burgeoning vintners ability.
In the fall of 2000, Steve joined Southbrook Vineyards (in their original location near Richmond Hill) as a consultant where he began his winemaking career. In 2006, he moved on to the Beamsville Bench region where he has since worked as Assistant Winemaker at Ridgepoint Wines, Calamus Estates Winery and as Winemaker at Thomas and Vaughn Estates Winery (now Wayne Gretzky Estate Winery. In 2008, through a chain of circumstance and chance meetings with the owners of Coffin Ridge Winery, Nayarai Cellars became a reality.
Creating a co-operative community
Steve is all about sourcing his grapes from conscientious growers who show respect for the vine and the land. The grapes are sourced from Redfoot Vineyards Beamsville and Watson Vineyards Niagara-on-the-Lake. Steve explains, “Everything happens in the vineyard. We simply extend the process in the cellar. The goal of Nyarai is to convey a sense of place.”
Steve believes in a minimal intervention from “bud to burst”. “Ninty percent of the winemaking journey takes place in the vineyard. From grape, to bottle, to your table, I want you to enjoy what the terroir -land, water, sunshine, region – has to offer. I strive to create a sense of place”, offers Steve.
Virtual vs. Reality
Steve’s virtual winery allows for an ever expanding exploration in creativity with regards to wine making techniques and varietals. He is striving to continue to grow his wine business in a sustainable way, cautiously without diluting the quality of his product. In the upcoming months, Steve will release Cadence VQA 2011 a delectable red blend. Cadence, a word showing the lineage to music indicates the tempo of song, everything coming together to act as one. Steve tips his musical hat by blending of 42% Cabernet Franc, 33% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Syrah grapes (different proportions than Veritas). “It is a bright and full bodied wine.” comments Steve. Hint: As with all Nyarai wines, this will be a small lot wine (aka limited stock). If you would like some of this wine, simply call the Savvy Team on 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) to arrange a shipment for you.
“My passions are music and wine”
One of the most exciting moments in Steve’s winemaking venture was finding out that he was congratulated on his product in the Wall Street Journal. As you would expect, Steve said with a smile, “Now, that was really cool”.
Here’s to Steve & his wonderful wines!
~ SAVVY SOMMELIER TASTING NOTES ~
This wine is the essence and flagship wine of Nyarai Cellars. Sauvignon Blanc is Steve’s favorite grape to make into wine. “Sauvignon Blanc is my passion.”
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:Beautiful aromas, good acidity with some mineral on the palate. This is a refreshing wine for summertime sipping. With its long citrus finish, it is a well-balanced and extremely well made wine.
Food Pairing Suggestions:Classic pairings with Sauvignon Blanc include asparagus, fresh-from-the-garden peasand white fish. Cathy offers a recipe of Grilled Lemon and Rosemary Chicken that would do the trick!
Cellaring: This wine is best served young …so open it up now to enjoy the crisp & refreshing tastes.
I have a love affair with Viognier, based on what Mother Nature has given us this year should be something special. This hard-to-find grape variety (in Ontario vineyards) was originally grown in France & is becoming increasingly popular around the world. Few Viogniers are made in Ontario…and when the Savvy Team finds them, they are shared & are usually met with a big smile. Once you like Viognier, you will be on the lookout for more – guaranteed.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Made with an interesting & artistic blend of Viognier grapes that 62% were fermented in stainless steel tanks while the remaining 38% was fermented in oak barrels.
The result we all agreed is a well balanced and elegant white wine. Orange peel, lemon and apricot aromas come to mind that continues through into the taste. “this is a humdinger” said our Savvy Selections tasting panel with a smile.
Food Pairing Suggestions: A versatile white wine is delicious on its own, with shellfish, chicken or with the summer classic of Cedar Planked Salmon with a ginger and fruit jam glaze – recipe follows.
“I love the anticipation and expectation just prior to the harvest, walking through the vines, looking at the grapes”, says Steve with a smile.
This one-of-a-kind blend is made with 40% Cabernet Franc, 20% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Syrah grapes. This wine showcases the amazing 2010 growing season that Mother Nature provided. “Oh WOW!” was said by everyone in the Savvy Selections Tasting Panel.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A full bodied red that is loaded with red and black fruit. A velvet & plush texture (aka tannins) with every sip. “Fire up the BBQ for this wine” suggested Amanda during the tasting.
Food Pairing Suggestions: “Anything with dark chocolate would be perfect” commented Debbie. Sunday Roast Beef dinner with all the trimmings, game meats, BBQed ribs or a thick rib eyed steak. Cathy offers the recipe of Mushrooms Stuffed with Parmesan Cheese and Almonds that would be a hit with this wine.
Cellaring: Ready to be enjoyed now or can be cellared for upwards to 5 years…but when it is this good, why wait?
~RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH YOUR SAVVY SELECTIONS~
Grilled Lemon and Rosemary Chicken
From the Canadian Living Light and Healthy Cookbook
Makes 4 servings
2 cups buttermilk (500 ml)or low fat yogurt
¼ cup lemon juice (50ml)
4 chicken quarters
2 ½ pounds-1.25 kg total
Fresh rosemary sprigs
In a heavy plastic bag, combine buttermilk and lemon juice; add chicken and a few rosemary sprigs. Close bag, pressing out as much air as possible. Refrigerate for at least 2 or up to 8 hours, turning the bag occasionally.
Remove chicken from the buttermilk mixture, scraping off excess. Place on greased grill over medium-high setting; cover and cook for 15 minutes.
Turn the chicken over; top each piece with 2 or 3 lemon slices and rosemary sprigs. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes longer or until juices run clear when chicken is pierced. Serve garnished with more lemon and rosemary.
Cedar Planked Salmon à la Cathy
From Savvy Sommelier Cathy Law’s Kitchen
Serves 4 to 6 (depending on size of filet)
1 fresh fillet of salmon
2 tbsp. fresh ginger chopped
Enough ginger infused peach or apricot jam to spread evenly over the salmon
Cracked pepper and salt fish to taste
Submerge your cedar plank in water with a little of the Nyarai Viognier (if you dare! Alternatively, use another white wine). Let the plank soak for about 2 hours. The longer the plank soaks the better as there will be less burning of the wood.
Heat your BBQ or Smoker to medium high.
Place the salmon on the plank skin side down. Set the plank on the pre heated grill and close the lid.
Grill salmon for 10 to 20 minutes until it starts to flake easily. Carefully remove the plank from the grill.
Serve with your choice of accompaniments and a luscious glass of Nyarai Viognier.
Mushrooms Stuffed with Parmesan Cheese and Almonds
The Wine and Food Lovers Diet Cookbook by Dr. Phillip Tirman, M.D
1/3 cup almonds finely chopped
1 ½ teaspoon olive oil plus more for brushing
¼ cup chopped yellow onions
½ cup freshly grated parmesan Cheese
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly ground pepper
8 large button or cremini mushrooms (about ½ pound total ), stems removed
Preheat oven to 350F
Lightly oil a baking sheet. In a small dry skillet over medium heat, toast the almonds, stirring constantly, until they just begin to turn light brown, about 3 minutes. Immediately pour them into a small bowl to allow to cool.
Chop the almonds finely and set aside.
In a skillet over medium high heat, warm the oil until it simmers. Add the onion and cook, stirring constantly, until softened and slightly brown around the edges, about 5 minutes. Remove to a bowl. Stir in the almonds, eggs, Parmesan, mustard, and nutmeg until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Brush the mushroom caps all over with oil. Spoon the cheese mixture into the caps, dividing evenly. Arrange the stuffed mushrooms stuffed side up, on the prepared sheet. Bake until the filling is lightly browned and the mushrooms are tender, about 20 minutes. Serve warm.
Enjoy these mushroom delights with a brilliant glass on Nyarai Cellars Veritas.
Have some Veritas in your glass left to enjoy with chocolate?
Good dark chocolate (from Belgium especially) is a perfect pairing with this fruit driven red blend. Also, play with this pairing with a chocolate infused with chilli or a cherry truffle filling – a unique pairing experience!
Enjoy your Savvy Selections!