Posts Tagged ‘2012 Stratus Merlot’

Stratus Vineyards – Toasting 10 Years

Posted by Monique

Monday, September 14th, 2015
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Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Stratus Vineyards Winery

–  September 2015 –

 

The kids are back in school, so folks we must accept it…our summer holiday has come to an end, yet the summer sun is still shining! The leaves have already begun changing colour and grape harvest has started in various regions, so there is no point in denying it…autumn is here. I promise not to mutter the W-word yet!

Stratus WineryThis month we are thrilled to introduce to you, Stratus Vineyards! It is a big year for Stratus as they are celebrating their ten year anniversary throughout 2015. Two key attributes that have stood out for Stratus throughout the past ten years are: being renowned as the world’s first fully LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) winery and for having the bold vision and track record of producing outstanding and age-worthy assemblage wines.

Suzanne Janke, Director of Hospitality & Retail, Stratus Vineyards explains assemblage:

“Assemblage is a centuries-old tradition in the a rt of combining several grape varieties to make a single wine. Not according to any preset formula, but through carefully selecting and balancing the best the vineyard has to offer each season – using taste, judgment and feel – to craft a wine that uniquely captures the essence of vintage and vineyard.”

Your Trio of Stratus wines…

Truth be told, it was not an easy job that our Savvy Team had when they sampled the wines. All of the choices impressed our Sommeliers. We took into account the change of seasons to determine this delectable trio crafted by Stratus’ gifted French-trained winemaker J-L (Jean-Laurent) Groux.

2011 Stratus Sémillon – A unique dry white wine that will prolong the days of patio season! This is a classic white grape variety from the Bordeaux region with loads character and is highly complementary to a world of dishes.

2012 Stratus Gewürztraminer – Luscious, floral and fun! With layers upon layers of character & flavours, wait until you try this wine with your fall food favorites.

2012 Stratus Merlot – A bold and robust red wine from one of the most sought after Niagara vintages and vineyards!

OPTIONAL WINE: 2013 Stratus Mosaic – this distinctive blend of Viognier and Gewurztraminer is neither icewine nor late harvest. Being somewhat sweet, but perfectly balanced, this will be a crowd pleaser.

You won’t find these Stratus wines at the LCBO

Our Savvy Sommeliers are always on the lookout for wines that you will enjoy absolutely every sip! AsStratus is a small-lot producer, they are rarely available outside of the winery. If you come across a favourite wine from Stratus, either in this month’s selection or in passing, call on us at any time at 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) for additional bottles. Also call us even if you have a yearning for wines from other wineries we have featured in Savvy Selections.

Raise a glass of Stratus to celebrate their 10th anniversary!

Debbie & Savvy Team

 

Introducing…
Stratus Vineyards

Presented by Sommelier Monique Ippolito

 

Ten years ago, Stratus Vineyards established themselves as a winery that respected time-honoured traditions while still managing a balance of ‘new traditions.’ This ideology was, and still is, present throughout every aspect their establishment.   From the vineyard management, to the innovative winemaking facility, to the chic resplendent tasting bar, Stratus Vineyards has done a remarkable job of mixing old with new…warm with cold… black with white…all to “make the best possible wine with the smallest possible footprint.”

The virtuoso himself… Stratus winemaker JL

J-L Groux (right) was recruited as chief winemaker for Stratus right from the get go. Originally from the Loire Valley, France, he practically grew up with wine in his veins. He studied oenology in Burgundy, meandered the globe, and then finally found himself captivated by the Niagara region by the late 1980s.

He had previously worked as a winemaker at Hillebrand, crafting Trius’ bold Cabernet blends. J-L’s artisanship for assemblage had transpired. The rest, as they say, is history.

Where does the magic start?

“In many ways, outstanding wines are grown, not made” explained J-L as we walked through the vineyard, “Currently we harvest 11 red grape varietals and seven white varietals. They were each planted in strategic blocs throughout the vineyard.” J-L is a hands on winemaker. He oversees everything – the planting, harvesting and sorting of all of the estates grapes.

Stratus handsortinTo contribute to the quality of their wines, Stratus employs techniques to provide their vines with the best possible mix of sunlight and earthly nutrients by training their vines vertical shoot positioning (winespeak: train the vines to grow upwards while the clusters of grapes hang below). Stratus also practices ‘low yield’ farming, limiting the number of fruit the vines produce to ensure higher quality grapes. All of the vineyards’ grapes are still tended, harvested and sorted entirely by hand.

What happens next…

After the wines are vinified and aged accordingly, the art of assemblage comes to play. When I asked how he prepares for such an arduous task, J-L reveals that he blind tastes twenty to thirty assemblage wines for two to three months almost daily trying to find the best characteristics for the flagship Stratus Red and Stratus White wines.

It is also quite interesting to see how this ancestral art of assemblage ties into the juxtaposed contemporary innovation theme of Stratus’ ideology. J-L explains that assemblage actually helps to overcome nature’s ups and downs by using the best varieties of each vintage. In turn, this actually helps in “keeping consistency in quality year to year even if the wine composition is not always the same.”

Once that task of assemblage is completed, J-L moves on to working on the single varietal wines – like the ones in your Savvy Selections trio – and other labels that Stratus offers: Wildass, Tollgate and Kabang. J-L affirms that while creativity, experience and attention to detail are all key traits of a great winemaker; “the vineyard actually makes the wine,” revealing a great respect for terroir (where the vines grow, breathe and live).

Where it all happens…

It is evident that Stratus exemplifies their commitment to sustainability from their blueprints. Their facility was Stratus barrelsconstructed with reclaimed materials boasting features such as a super-insulated roof and geothermal heating and cooling. They created a winery with a virtual hillside that allows the wine to move solely by gravity flow. Nothing is ever pumped and their only standby pump, which was never used, was sold soon after they opened in 2005.

Commitment to sustainability also extends beyond the winery itself. In the vineyards, Stratus employs innovative practices such as powering their tractors with recycled diesel fuel and using herbal tea blends instead of harmful pesticides to keep insects away from the grapes.

J-L himself was involved in the conception and consulted on construction of the winery, working daily with the engineer and consultant, Peter Gamble. He jokingly claims that, “if something quits working, I am on the hook!” Fortunately, the facility has been functioning excessively well and no major changes to the initial design have to come to pass.

Best part of it all….

J-L and the Stratus family all agree that the most rewarding part of the job is “establishing long lasting trust with their consumers.” After a decade of releases, customers know that they can count on Stratus wines to be consistently well crafted, with an innate respect for the land that is expressed in every glass.

Here’s to Stratus, J-L & the next 10 years!

 

~ SAVVY SOMMELIER TASTING NOTES ~

 

2011 Stratus Semillon $32.00

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This wine screams ripe orchard fruit (peaches, nectarine and yellow delicious apple). Lovely notes of baking spice (nutmeg), citrus blossom and touch of pine mingle very well with the fresh fruit also. On the palate, citrus, nectarine, nutmeg and white pepper stands out the most. Hold a sip of this Semillon on the tongue and you will feel a flush of luscious acidity along with a slightly oily mouthfeel and a medium long citrus-white-pepper finish.

This is a medium to full bodied dry white can absolutely stand up to a substantial meal. It pours with an attractive golden yellow hue and is pleasing to the palate when served at a slightly warmer temperature than most other whites.

Suggested Food Pairings: Roasted lemon herbed Cornish hens or even Thanksgiving turkey is one route if you plan to save this wine for your fall harvest table. Pan seared halibut, pickerel or mahi mahi with grilled vegetables in another route for enjoying now through your last days of summer.

Cellaring: Drinking well now. Can cellar for 1-2 years. Serve between 10⁰-12⁰C.

 

2012 Stratus Gewürztraminer $32.00

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:   At first glance, notice a lovely bouquet of fresh flowers, bees wax and honey gust Gwertz_post sign (2)from your glass. Soon after, tropical fruit aromas start to come through: honey dew melon, Asian pear, mango and lychee. These aromas – tropical fruit, honey and beeswax – copy directly onto the palate along finishing layers of baking spice and white pepper.

If you are familiar with old world versions of Gewürztraminers (German or French Styles), you will pin this wine as noticeably ‘Alsatian’ (French wine region) in character. This wine has rich yet luscious mouthfeel. It has ripe tropical fruit characters with noticeable (but balanced) acidity. It is medium to full bodied and it has a medium to long finish.

Suggested Food Pairings: This wine is quite substantial and would pair well with dishes that have a lot of flavours and textures. Moroccan chick pea salad or curried lentil (vegan) chili would make excellent vegetarian dish pairing with this wine. However, if protein is what you desire, try pairing it with a heart (and spicy) beef chili. If you do not wish to disturb the layer upon layers of flavours of this wine, pair with a simple dukkah spice mix (an Egyptian blend of toasted nuts, seeds and spices).

Cellaring: Drinking well now or can cellar for 1-2 years. Serve between 10⁰-12⁰C.


2012 Stratus Merlot $32.00

Stratus GrapesSavvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Rustic came to mind when my senses were first introduced to this Merlot. Lovely red berry fruit, cassis, ripe red plums, red roses and baking spice (cinnamon, clove and anise) notes billow from the glass. Tannins are smooth and acidity is well balanced. Notice a luscious mouthfeel as you take a sip. The red fruit and baking spice stands out the most on the palate with a little bit of sweet smoke presence veering towards a the long warm cinnamon clove finish.

This wine speaks volumes of the level of quality coming out of the Niagara Peninsula. It is sure to be a sure-fire crowd pleaser amongst red wine drinkers. Seeing that the temperatures are still in the double digits, pair with red meats coming off your barbeque!

Suggested Food Pairings: Bison burgers or steak skewers. Perhaps you fancy saving it for some fall comfort food dining, the try it with Beef Wellington.

Cellaring: Drinking well know or has the cellaring potential for up to 5-7 years. Serve between 16⁰-18⁰C. 


OPTIONAL WINE: 2013 Stratus Mosaic
$25.00 (375 mL bottle)

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A remarkably refreshing dessert wine! To be honest, there is no need to wait for dessert, serve as an aperitif or I would not even wait for dessert to be honest! There are loads of ripe tropical fruit notes in this wine. From guava, lychee and pineapple, to even passion fruit; this wine quite remarkable!

It is a late harvest wine from premium Riesling and Gewürztraminer varietals. It is more on the semi-sweet side, so not as cloying or syrupy as Icewine could be. Acidity is present and contributes to a luscious mouthfeel right through to a long semi-sweet citrus marmalade finish.

Suggested Food Pairings: Passionfruit crème brûlée, Mexican Flan or Pavlova

Cellaring: Drinking well know, can cellar for up to 3-5 years. Serve between 8⁰-10⁰C.

 

~ RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH YOUR SAVVY SELECTIONS ~

 

With Stratus Semillon…

Fish Tacos topped with Mango Pico de Gallo and Salsa Verde

From Monique’s Kitchen
Serves 3-4

Ingredients

For the fish

1 large pickerel fillet (about 500g)
1 tablespoon olive oil
juice from half a lemon
pinch of smoked paprika
pinch of ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
8 soft corn tortillas

For Mango Pico de Gallo

1 large Roma tomato
1 small-medium onion
1 green bell pepper (optional)
1 semi-ripe mango
2-3 limes, juiced
½ cup fresh chopped cilantro
¼ teaspoon of honey
salt and pepper to taste

For the Salsa Verde

6 tomatillos (green tomatoes)
1 medium onion
1 head of garlic
2 fresh jalapeños
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons red pepper jelly
½ cup fresh cilantro
1 lemon, juiced
1 lime, juiced

Method

Chop tomato, onion, bell pepper and mango into cubes for the Pico de Gallo. Finely chop the cilantro and marinade all the ingredients in juice from limes.

Mix tomatillos, onion, garlic, jalapeños and cilantro in a food processor for salsa verde. After ingredients are coarsely blended, pour into a bowl and stir in honey, red pepper jelly and juice from lime and lemon.

Pat pickerel with a damp paper towel and brush with olive oil. Then season with salt, pepper, smoked paprika and cumin.

Heat your skillet with olive oil on medium-high heat for a couple minutes, then sear fish in the pan. Let it cook on medium low heat from 3-4 minutes per side or until cooked through. After 8-10 minutes, remove fish and let it crumble.

Take your warmed corn tortilla and add cooked fish, Mango Pico de Gallo, and Salsa Verde and enjoy your taco!

With Stratus Gewürztraminer…

Pan Seared Trout with Orange Butter Pecan Sauce

From wickedspatula.com (recipe and photo credit)
Serves 2trout

Ingredients

1 large trout fillet (about 8-10 ounces)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon butter (or ghee)
1 orange, zested and juiced
½ cup chopped pecans
Parsley, for garnish

Method

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat.

Season the fillet with salt and pepper and place skin side up in the skillet. Sear for 3-4 minutes until the fish easily flips. Sear another 3-4 minutes until the skin is crispy and the fish flakes easily. Remove and keep warm.

In the same skillet melt one tablespoon of butter. Stir in the pecans scrapping any brown bits up from the bottom of the pan. Allow pecans to toast for about one minute. Stir in the orange juice and allow to reduce just a bit.

Season sauce with a bit of salt to taste and pour over the trout. Garnish with orange zest and parsley.


With
Stratus Merlot…

Steak Skewers with Chimichurri Sauce

From fitnessmagazine.com (recipe and photo credit)
Serves 4

Ingredientssteak skewers

For Chimichurri Sauce

½ cup finely chopped parsley
½ cup finely chopped cilantro
3 teaspoons finely chopped oregano
1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
1 small shallot, minced
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
¼ teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

For Steak

1 pound skirt steak, trimmed
2 teaspoons cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
8-10 soaked wooden skewers (soaked for at least 30 minutes)
nonstick cooking spray for grilling

 Method

Combine all ingredients for chimichurri sauce in a bowl and set aside.

Cut steak crosswise into two equal pieces, then cut each piece lengthwise into one-inch-wide strips (making 8 to 10 pieces).

Season steak pieces in a large bowl with cumin, cayenne pepper, chili powder, and salt and pepper, Then thread season steaks onto skewers.

Lightly coat your grill with cooking spray or line grill with foil. Light grill to high heat.

Place skewers on grill and cook for two to three minutes per side for medium rare or to your desired degree of doneness, depending on thickness. Transfer skewers to a plate and let it sit for five minutes, then serve with chimichurri sauce. 

*Chimichurri sauce can be refrigerated for 2-3 days or stored in freezer for up to 4-5 weeks.

 

Enjoy your Savvy Selections!

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