There is a sigh of relief in the wine regions at this time of the year when all of the grapes have finally been harvested. This year with the wet summer weather and the warm autumn days, Ontario winemakers report that they have left the grapes on the vines longer than normal to maximize the ripening. Now that the vineyards are bare, the fun starts in the cellar!
One place that is be particularly busy with harvest is East Dell and its sister wineries – Birchwood Estates, Thomas and Vaughan and Lakeview Cellars. Operated under one company, Niagara Cellars Inc, these four wineries share many things including equipment and winemakers! We are delighted to feature East Dell wines this month. The Savvy Sommelier Wayne Walker and his tasting panel sampled all of the wines in the East Dell portfolio and selected this trio:
– East Dell Riesling VQA 2007
– East Dell Barrel Fermented Chardonnay VQA 2006
– East Dell Merlot Reserve VQA 2005 – this one is a keeper – for the cellar that is!
Below you can read about how East Dell’s Winemaker Scott McGregor ‘balances’ his work at East Dell and the sister wineries.
Travel tip – stay at East Dell to experience life at a winery
East Dell has a cabin that can be rented featuring a loft and a Jacuzzi where you can actually become a part of the ‘nature’ of the winery. Now that will be an experience!
What do you think?
Your feedback is always welcome, so please let us know how you enjoyed the Savvy Selections. We look forward to your comments on the wine/food matches and to hearing what other recipes you may have tried with these wines. If you would like to order additional East Dell wines or wines from other featured wineries in the Savvy Selections, it would be our pleasure to organize a shipment for you.
Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!
– Debbie & the Savvy Team
President & Accredited Sommelier
East Dell Estates
Presented by Savvy Sommelier Wayne Walker
In 1999, partners Susan O’Dell and Michael East purchased what was previously known as Walters Estate Winery on the Upper Bench near Beamsville. Susan and Michael were committed to making East Dell a unique property by enhancing and developing not only its grape growing and winemaking potentials, but by developing the beauty of its rolling hills and trails (part of The Bruce Trail meanders through the 50 acre site). Maintaining a connection with nature is important at East Dell Estates. This philosophy is evident across all aspects of the winery from its down to earth approach to managing the vineyards to the blue heron on its wine labels. As East Dell’s winemaker Scott McGregor, states “We are vine country casual.”
East Dell is part of a family of wineries known as Niagara Cellars. In 2005, East Dell and its sister winery in Niagara, Thomas and Vaughan, merged with Diamond Estates (a sales and marketing agency that owns Lakeview Cellars and Birchwood Estates, both also located in Niagara). At this time, the business – Niagara Cellars Inc. – was formed. Scott feels this gives East Dell a big advantage over other wineries. The winery has opportunities to share winemaking techniques with other partnering companies as well as share and exchange crop production. “When you can share crops, you have a great advantage blending wines because you have access to grapes grown in other terroirs (growing conditions) in Niagara as well as the expertise of the people who grow and process those grapes. You have more options when you go to blend the wines. You can produce some wines you couldn’t produce otherwise,” explains Scott. He also feels that with East Dell’s ‘Natural Philosophy’, the style of winemaking can be geared towards the specific grape variety in an open forum with three other winemakers, rather than be limited to one particular winemaking approach.
The 13 acres of vineyards on the 50 acre site boast Riesling, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Vidal amongst its plantings. And for Scott, its sloped, calcerous topography is one of its unique characteristics in the area that allows perfect drainage and great Summer sun exposure, even though it faces the Toronto skyline to the North. As well, it offers no real low spots for cold air pockets to form early in the spring or late in the fall. This results in uniform ripening conditions.
A rustic looking, renovated building that was part of Walters Estates houses the winery with a capacity to produce about 20,000 cases of wines. This, along with a popular retail restaurant appropriately called ‘The View’, are the center of East Dell.
The East Dell portfolio carries some very reasonably priced and quality wines. Award winning Riesling and Chardonnay lead the chapters of Whites. Of note there is ‘Summer Rose’, a light, fresh wine with notes of strawberry and citrus. Some interesting 375 mL dessert wines include award winning Vidal Icewine and Cabernet Franc Icewine. Pinot Noir and Merlot round out the Reds where one can find The Red and Black Cab wines. The Black Cab Scott considers to be East Dell’s signature wine because of its unique ‘Canadian Bordeaux Blend’ of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Baco Noir. Not only is it a unique blend, but it has the longest history with the winery which has allowed just the right tweaking for perfection.
East Dell – a uniquely natural property, ‘down home’ accessibility, an unpretentious style, a secure sense of future – “vine country casual”.
Enjoy your East Dell wine experience in this month’s Savvy Selections!
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes
East Dell Riesling VQA 2007, $14.95
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Transparent, reflective, brilliant and straw in colour, this Riesling offers fragrant orange blossoms and rose petal aromas on a canvas of ripe apple, peaches and pineapple. Off-dry flavours of apricot, peach, crisp green apple and soft lemon are delivered to the tongue and lead to a very pleasant medium finish of ripe fruit and citrus.
Suggested food pairing: White fish like halibut, haddock, tilapia or cod and smoked fish are good choices for this wine. vegetarian pasta, grilled veggies, sweet peppers, soft cheeses, fresh salads with vinaigrette, cold cuts, pates and surprisingly – sauerkraut. Spicy Thai and Mexican dishes can be quenched by this wine as well.
Cellaring and Service: Serve at about 10C to 12C. This wine is perfect for drinking now and shouldn’t be cellared for more than a year or so.
East Dell Barrel Fermented Chardonnay VQA 2006, $18.95
Sommelier’s Speak: Malolactic Fermentation
This is a process the winemaker puts the wine through after the fermentation process using yeast. That is why it is called ‘Secondary Fermentation’. It is not really fermentation because it is achieved by introducing lactic acid bacteria (not yeast) into the process and changing some of the malic acids in the wine into lactic acids. The effect on taste and flavour is that the biting acidity of malic acid is softened into the smoother acidity of lactic acid and results in a creamier, more full-bodied wine that will exhibit flavours like butter, honey, vanilla, butterscotch, toffee and ripe fruit. This East Dell Chardonnay has gone through extensive Malolactic Fermentation in oak barrels much to its benefit… and your pleasure.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A transparent, straw gold colour, bordered by a medium silver rim is supported by medium legs. Butter, toffee, vanilla, butterscotch and warm toasty aromas are blended with a hint of nectarine and tropical fruit. The palette experience is medium to full-bodied and elegantly balanced amid the warmth and toastiness of butterscotch and nectarine. A medium to long lingering finish of butterscotch, toast, vanilla and tropical fruit reflect the fullness of this wine.
Suggested food pairing: The flavour balance and texture of this wine make it a great canvas for certain foods. Certainly chicken in cream sauces should come to mind. Grilled vegetables, seafood with butter sauce, roast chicken, pasta with cream sauce, veal, turkey, ham and Gruyere cheese. Because of its creamy texture and buttery flavour, this wine matches best with dishes of similar texture and flavour.
Cellaring and Service: Store at 16C. Serve at 15C to 18C and allow it to warm up to show off its barrel complexity and full body. Drink right away to experience the buttery textures or age 2 to 3 years. Keep in mind the subtlety of the fruit will diminish with storage.
2005 Merlot Reserve VQA, $22.95
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This translucent deep, rich ruby red wine sports a narrow, silver rim and slow, serendipitous legs. Aromas of sweet spices and blossoms, raspberries, green pepper, leather and blueberries give this wine its initial profile. Red cherry, green plums, cranberries, tart fruit and tobacco accompany a good acidic structure; however, most noticeable are the young, grippy tannins which predominate the taste experience. Red fruit and tobacco characterize a medium finish dominated by a powerful tannic structure.
Suggested food pairing: This wine is definitely potable now, but one must accommodate its full tannic structure when pairing it with food. If drinking now, it is strongly recommended that this wine should accompany heavier meats and gravies, charred fish, ribs and chicken, full bodied stews, wild red meat game, mutton, dishes with butter and thick cream sauces and hard, older cheeses.
Cellaring and Service:
NOTE FROM WAYNE: The tannic structure of this wine begs to be cellared for up to 8 or 9 years to round out the tannins and allow the textures weights and barrel flavours to be appreciated. It doesn’t exhibit balance at present, but with the right food match it could be very pleasant. Cellar at 18C and serve at the same temperature. Four years will make this wine a very good drinking wine on its own….and in four years, you will wish that you had more!
Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections
With East Dell Estates Riesling…
Sweetly Stuffed in Peppers
4 medium bell peppers (green, red, yellow, orange)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 medium green apples
¼ c. raisins
1 medium zucchini, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/3 c. mixed bell peppers, diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
1 tbs. curry powder
2 cups cooked white rice
3 green onions, diced
Salt, pepper to taste
½ c. mayonnaise
Cut tops of bell peppers off. Remove seeds and ribs. Set aside.
Heat large sauté pan with Olive Oil until hot. Add apples, raisins, zucchini, celery, peppers (diced), carrots. Add curry powder. Cook until tender (Wayne’s tip – don’t overcook). Remove from heat.
Add cooked rice and green onions, season to taste and allow to cool. Add mayonnaise to mixture and stuff whole peppers.
Can be served cold or topped with favourite cheese and baked at 350F for 30 minutes until cheese is melted and rice is hot.
With East Dell Estates Chardonnay…
Paprika Roast Chicken with Mushroom Sauce
2 chicken breasts
1 tsp. olive oil
1 medium chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1-2 tbs. paprika
½ lb. mushrooms
¾ c. cream
1tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. corn starch
1 tbs. olive oil
Preheat oven to 450F
Cut each breast into 2 slices of equal portion. Season with salt and pepper and cover with paprika
Sauteé onion in pan with 1tsp. olive oil. Add chicken breasts to pan and fry each side 1 to 2 minutes.
Put chicken into an aluminum foil lined pan and sprinkle over sage leaves, thyme leaves and garlic. Cover with aluminum foil and cook in oven for 10 minutes.
Sauteé mushrooms in 1tsp. olive oil and salt and pepper until golden.
Add cream and soy sauce and continue cooking on medium-low. Cream butter and corn starch together and slowly blend in. Continue cooking the sauce for 5 minutes or until thick. Place breasts on serving plate and pour over sauce.
With East Dell Estates Merlot Reserve…
500 gms. round steak, cubed
2 gms. onions, chopped
6 gms. black peppercorns
1 tbl. red wine vinegar
1 tbl. East Dell Estates Merlot Reserve
3-4 tbl. Olive oil
3 tbl. celery sticks
½ c. plain flour
300 ml. beef stock
2 tbl tomato puree
2 tbl garlic cloves, crushed
175 gm. button mushrooms cut in half
400 gm. artichoke hearts, drained and halved
chopped fresh parsley and thyme to garnish
Place meat, onions, garnish bouquet, peppercorns, vinegar and wine in a bowl and marinate overnight.
Preheat oven to 320F.
Strain the meat, keeping the marinade, and pat dry. Heat oil in a heavy casserole dish and fry meat and onions in batches. Remove and set aside.
Add celery and fry until browned, then remove this and set aside with meat.
Sprinkle flour into the casserole and cook for one minute. Gradually add the reserved marinade and the stock, and bring to a boil, stirring as you go. Return meat, onions and celery to casserole, then stir in the tomato puree and crushed garlic.
Cover the casserole with a tight-fitting lid and cook in the oven for about 2 ¼ hours. Stir in mushrooms and artichokes and cover again and simmer until meat is tender (about 15 minutes)
Garnish with parsley and thyme and serve steaming, hot with creamy, butter-laden, mashed potatoes and fresh ground pepper. (This is after all an Irish dish!)
Cheers & Enjoy!