Posts Tagged ‘Accredited Sommelier Derek Vollrath’

He saved for a sportscar…but bought a vineyard instead

Posted by Derek

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Pondview Estates Winery

–  September 2013 –

In Italian “Bella Terra” means beautiful earth and for this month’s Savvy Selections we are excited to be bringing to you a winery with some Italian heritage. Pondview Estates of Niagara-on-the-Lake is owned by Lou Puglisi & his cousin Joseph Barbera. Both are of Italian decent, Sicily to be exact. The Bella Terra term is reserved by Pondview for their premium brand wines which are only produced in exceptional vintages (wine speak for years). This month, we bring you two wines from the Bella Terra portfolio, both from 2010 – an exceptional vintage in Ontario.

Our Savvy Sommelier Derek Vollrath had the opportunity to talk with Lou who prefers to be called ‘Pondview’s Chief Wine Drinker’. Lou has been a long time friend of all of us in the Savvy Team and he keeps us in stitches with his down to earth humour. If you have not already met Lou from your visits at their winery or at our Savvy Events, rest assured that in 2014 we are creating many more ways for you to meet him…over a glass of their fine wines.

During Labour Day weekend, I visited the winery and was treated to a wonderful tasting in the barrel room (photo left). Lou & Joseph are wonderful gentlemen pulling out rare vintages, barrel samples & a gourmet antipasti spread to enjoy with their wines. During our conversation, they commented that they were grape growers first (the vineyards are 39 years old) and only since Lou was crowned Grape King was he inspired to open a winery….and we are glad that they did.

Shortly after they opened their doors, we featured them in Savvy Selections. We are delighted to shine the spotlight on them again and taste how far they have come. Especially with recent BIG news about their top end red wine – Bella Terra Meritage VQA 2010 – just won a GOLD medal in the National Wine Awards of Canada. We are thrilled that we can offer this to you as an optional wine before it all sells out.

As you read this month’s Savvy eZine, I hope you will get a chuckle when you learn about Lou’s brush with Royalty or how some fatherly advice steered him – pardon the pun – away from a sports car towards his future in the wine industry.

As with every month, the Savvy Selections tasting panel convened to undertaken the arduous task – it is a tough job! – of selecting the wines from Pondview that will shortly be arriving on your door step. As challenging as the work is, we find this is a great opportunity for all of us to learn more about Ontario wines and most of all about the winemakers.

In your September Savvy Selections you will find:

Pondview Cabernet Franc Rosé 2012 VQA – a refreshing summer sipper

Pondview Cabernet Merlot Reserve 2011 VQA – rich and wonderful

Pondview Bella Terra Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 VQA – big and bold red wine

OPTIONAL WINE: Pondview Bella Terra Meritage 2010 VQA – gold in a glass

Pondview are hard to find wines! Ordering additional bottles of this month’s selection or past Savvy Selections is easy. Simply e-mail me at or call the Savvy Team on 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926). We will make all of the arrangements for your special delivery. How is that for easy?!?

Cheers & Enjoy!

Debbie & Savvy Team


Pondview Estates Winery

Presented by Savvy Sommelier Derek Vollrath

“If I had bought the sports car, we would not be having this conversation”, that’s what Pondview owner Lou Puglisi (left) told me with a chuckle when we got into the part of the interview about how he ended up in the wine business. You see, Lou felt he could be doing better things with his time than sitting in school. So at the young age of 19 he decided that he would get a job in construction while continuing to work on his father’s farm.

After a few years of savings, Lou had some cash that was burning a hole in his pocket. He was thinking about getting a car when his father took him aside and let him in on a tip: the parcel of land beside the family farm was coming up for sale. Insightfully, Lou’s father explained to him that in 5 years the car would be worth nothing, whereas the parcel of land might double in value. After some reflection, instead of buying a Chevrolet Z28 Camaro, Lou opted for the 20 acre parcel of land.

Unbeknownst to him at the time, this was the first step to planting the seeds of what would become Pondview Estate Winery. Lou never did buy a Camaro. In 2008, he bought a silver Corvette for a few years. And now as a new winery & business owner, he owns a Honda CRV.

The story behind the name

I always love hearing the story of how a winery’s name comes about because picking the name is not an easy – it is like selecting a name for your child. A great deal of research goes into a name to make sure that it is not being used by another winery and that the name has meaning to the owners. How the name Pondview came about is no exception.

Lou told me that he and his wife Adriana (on left in photo) went through at least 18 possible names with all 18 being discarded for one reason or another. It was on attempt 19 that success was achieved. Just like many other evenings Lou and Adriana went for a stroll on their acreage. It was around the property’s pond that Lou looked and said to Adriana “what a great view of the pond’. After some toing & froing the name Pondview stuck.

The Grape King & Royalty

The Grape King” is a highly sought after title that is awarded annually by the industry association Grape Growers of Ontario. All of the grape growers in the province select one grower who maintains the best vineyard in the province. With rigorous criteria and being judged by your peers, this award is significant in the industry. In 2008, Lou was the recipient of this prestigious title and as part of his duties as “King of Grapes” he served as the ambassador for the industry.

During his reign Lou attended the opening of the post graduate certificate program in Wine Business Management at the Niagara College Teaching Winery. It was during this opening that Lou was to meet Prince Charles. When it came time for Lou to shake the Prince’s hand, Lou confidently said to Charles, “it’s an honour to meet you sir. You may be the Prince, but I am the King…of Grapes”. Lou definitely has a lively sense of humour! And with that Lou has pictures of more royalty on his wall of fame in his office along photos of him with the King of Hockey – Don Cherry and the King of Canada’s nightly news – Peter Mansbridge.

The Pondview Mantra…

“Great wine is a harmony of earth and vine”. Everyone at the winery operates under this mantra. Lou explains that, “you achieve harmony by balancing what is done in the vineyard, by not stressing the vines with excess pesticides or fertilizers. My team is always looking at the vineyard in order to determine what is required to be done of the vines. If things are healthy then we leave our vineyard alone. Overall let Mother Nature tend to her vines”. In Lou’s opinion a minimalist approach will allow for better quality grapes. This month’s tasting panel sure thinks that this approach works well.

So if you are in the Niagara-on-the-Lake area, I suggest that you stop by Pondview, stroll the grounds meet with Lou, have your picture taken with Royalty and try some of their award winning wines.

Cheers & Enjoy your Savvy Selections!



Cabernet Franc Rosé 2012 VQA, $14.95

For this Rosé wine, Pondview’s winemaker Fred Di Profio crushed and de-stemmed the fruit, then allowed the skins to remain in contact with the juice for 6 hours, thus creating its gorgeous colour and wonderful concentration of flavours.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Pink salmon in colour with refreshingly youthful aromas of cranberry and strawberry. The cranberry aroma also comes across on the palate along with pink grapefruit and a hint of rose petals. This medium bodied wine has great acidity along with a crisp mouth feel and a medium length cranberry finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: This wine will remind you that summer is not over! Enjoy on its own or pair this wine with a fresh salad tossed in a citrus vinaigrette dressing. The tasting panel is recommending pairing this wine with the Chicken Tarragon Salad – recipe follows.

Cellaring: Drink now!

Cabernet Merlot Reserve 2011 VQA, $19.95

This is a Bordeaux blend of 35% Cabernet Franc, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 45% Merlot grapes. Instead of opting to call it a Meritage, Lou chose to use Cabernet, to cover off both the Cabernet Franc and the Cabernet Sauvignon that are predominant in this red wine blend.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A bright and beautiful garnet red core (winespeak: middle of the wine) that fades to a ruby red colour as it approaches the rim of the glass. Great intensity of flavours with vanilla, cherry, cedar and prunes are discernible on the nose, while baked fruit, cedar and clover come through on the palate. This medium bodied wine has noticeable tannins, balanced acidity and a medium length red-fruit finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: This wine ain’t no chicken wine! commented Savvy Sommelier Doug during the tasting panel. This wine is a well rounded red that can be served with rare to medium rare red meats, with BBQed steak or roast beef, or event roast lamb with a peppercorn crust. Read on to discover this gem of a recipe.

Cellaring: The tannins are young and therefore need time to settle and integrate into the wine. This wine could easily cellar for 4 to 6 years and those that are patient will be rewarded.

Bella Terra Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 VQA $34.95

This is one wonderful wine. In fact, Derek awards this wine with his triple B rating…BIG, BOLD & BEAUTIFUL. As Pondview’s premium label that is only produced in exceptional years, which 2010 definitely has gone down in Ontario wine industry history, this single varietal wine is impressive.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: The colour is a stunning garnet red that extends out from the core to the rim. The nose is clean with aromas of red current, dried figs and wet stone all discernible. On the palate this full bodied dry wine has noticeable flavours of red current, oak and clover spice. It ends with a medium length red current finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: This red is not for the faint of heart. Pair this wine with bacon wrapped beef tenderloin in a red wine reduction. The tasting panel is suggestions you try it with roasted flank steak with parmesan panko stuff…OMG it’s a delicious pairing – read on for this wonderful recipe.

Cellaring: This wine can be cellared for 5 to 7 years.


OPTIONAL WINE: Bella Terra Meritage VQA 2010 $39.95

Meritage is the North American term for a Bordeaux blend made using any combination of Merlot, Cabernet Franc & Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Pondview Meritage is a blend of 50% of each of the best barrels of their Cabernet Franc & Cabernet Sauvignon wines.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A deep burgundy colour, this opaque wine has California Zinfandel like characteristics. Aromas of smoke, espresso, dark chocolate, black licorice & cedar (it was not heavily oaked) that transform into tastes of super juicy black plums, overripe blackberries & black cherries. Each sip warms you up with the heat, a zip of acidity (that will mellow out with cellaring) and the light tannins.

Well balanced, stunningly complex it is no wonder that this wine won gold in the National Wine Awards of Canada.
Congratulations to Lou & his Pondview team for achieving this highly acclaimed award.

Suggested Food Pairing: What did the September tasting panel suggest you pair with this wine? Well I will give you a hint…beef, beef and beef. Do you get the idea? Barbeque season still has a good 2 or 3 months left so barbequed sirloin steak with a smoky paprika rub or lamb chops with a rosemary mustard rub would both pair well. The tasting panel is recommending you try this wine with pan-fried sirloin steak with a Chianti butter.

Cellaring: This wine is enjoyable now or can be put down for up to 10+ years.



With Pondview Estates Cabernet Franc Rosé…

Tarragon Chicken Salad

From: Recipes for Healthy Heart Cooking – The Lighthearted Cookbook by Anne Lindsay
Serves 4


3 cups cooked cubed chicken
1 ½ cups sliced celery
¼ cup chopped chives or green onions
½ cup low-fat plain yogurt
¼ cup light sour cream or light mayonnaise
1 ½ tsp dried tarragon
2 tbsp toasted slivered almonds


In a large bowl combined chicken, celery, chives or onions, yogurt, sour cream or mayonnaise and tarragon; mix lightly
Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour up to 24 hours.
Just before serving add almonds season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pack your picnic basket with this salad and the Rosé


With Pondview Estates Cabernet Merlot Reserve…

Roast Lamb with Peppercorn Crust

From: The Silver Plate Cookbook, Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins
Serves 6 to 8


3 tablespoons crushed dried peppercorns, an equal mix of white, black and green
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves or 1½ tablespoons dried
½ cup fresh mint leaves
5 garlic cloves, crushed
½ cup raspberry vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce
½ cup dry red wine
1 boned but untied leg of lamb, about 5 lbs (weight after boning)
2 tablespoons prepared Dijon-style mustard


Combine 1 tablespoon of crushed peppercorns, rosemary, mint, garlic, vinegar, soy sauce and red wine in a shallow bowl; then marinate the lamb in the mixture for eight hours, turning occasionally.

Remove roast from marinade and drain: reserve marinade. Roll the roast, tying it with kitchen twine. Preheat oven to 350°F.

Spread mustard over meat and pat 2 tablespoons of crushed peppercorns into the mustard. Set the roast in a shallow roasting pan just large enough to hold it comfortably and pour reserved marinade carefully around but not over the roast.

Bake 1½ hours or 18 minutes per pound, basting occasionally for medium rare roast. Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes for well-done meat. Let roast stand for 20 minutes before carving.

Serve pan juices in gravy boat along with the lamb


With Pondview Estates Bella Terra Cabernet Sauvignon …

Roast Flank Steak with Parmesan Panko Stuffing

From Food & Drink Magazine Early Autumn 2010
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients – Steak

1.5 lbs flank steak
3 tbsp olive oil
½ cup finely chopped onion
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 cup panko bread crumbs
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup pine nuts
2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme or basil or a mixture
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
¼ cup all-purpose flour
Kitchen twine

Ingredients – Sauce

2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1½ to 2 cups beef broth or stock
½ cup dry red wine


Butterfly steak lengthwise using a horizontal cut (do not cut all the way through to opposite side). Open up on butcher paper; cover with plastic wrap and whack with smooth side of meat pounder until ¾ inch thick

Over medium heat, heat 1 tbsp oil in a medium frying pan, add onion and garlic; sauté 3 minutes or until softened. Toss panko bread crumbs with Parmesan, pine nuts, herbs, salt and pepper in a bowl & add onion mixture and toss until well-combined.

Preheat oven to 375°F & lay pounded steak so grain of meat goes left to right in front of you. Leaving 2 inches uncoated on far long side, pat filling over meat. Beginning near you, tightly roll up the steak forming a neat roll. Cut 5 pieces of twine, each about 20 inches long and beginning at the middle, tie roast, spacing ties evenly apart. Trim twine ends and discard then roll tied steak into flour until heavily coated – be sure to discard flour that does not cling to meat.

Heat 2 tbsp of oil (med-med/high heat)  in a large heavy frying pan capable of going into the oven & add steak to pan, turning 8 to 10 minutes in total until lightly browned on all sides. Turn roast seam-side down in pan. Place in oven for 30 minutes or until internal temperature is 130°F.

Remove steak to cutting board, cover meat with foil and let rest 10 to 15 minutes.

For sauce, add flour to hot pan; stir over medium heat 1 minute or until absorbed. Pour 1½ cups broth and wine; gently whisking, bring to boil. Sauce should be nicely thickened; if too thick add more broth as needed; add seasoning as needed. Strain into a warmed container.

Slice steak width-wise into 1/2–inch-thick slices, removing strings as encountered. Serve slices napped with a bit of sauce; garnish with additional chopped fresh herbs. Serve with roasted fingerling potatoes and steamed cauliflower florets tossed with bits of roasted red pepper.


With Pondview Estates Bella Terra Meritage 2010…

Pan-fried Sirloin Steak with Simple Chianti Butter Sauce & Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes

From Cook with Jamie My Guide to Making You a Better Cook
Serves 2

Ingredients – Mashed Potatoes

14 oz potatoes, peeled and halved
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
a small handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
a knob of butter

Ingredients – Steak

2 x 7oz sirloin steaks, 1 inch thick fat scored
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
a small handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 knobs of butter
2 shallots or 1 small red onion, peeled and finely diced
a few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves picked
1 large wineglass of Chianti
A few sprigs of watercress
Good-quality of extra virgin olive oil


Put the potatoes into a large pan of salted water, bring to a boil and simmer until soft and tender. Drain them in a colander and allow them to sit for 4 minutes to steam away any excess moisture. Return the potatoes to the pan and mash them up, stirring in a 2 glugs of olive oil, the Parmesan and butter. Taste, season and then transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place over a pot of simmering water to keep warm.

Heat a heavy frying pan, large enough to book both steaks at once without them touching. Season your steaks and brush them with olive oil. Using a pair of tongs, hold the steaks fatty-edge down in the frying pan to render and colour the fat. When the fat is golden, fry the steaks for 8 minutes in total for medium-rare, turning them every minute. Remove from the pan to rest.

Turn the heat down and add a knob of butter to the pan. Fry your shallots and thyme for 4 minutes, then add the wine and reduce by half. Pour in the resting juices from the meat, add the 2 remaining knobs of butter and take the pan off the heat. Stir around to emulsify and make a really simple red wine sauce.

Taste, season and serve with your steak and lovely olive oil mashed potatoes with a scattering of watercress and a drizzle of quality olive oil.

Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!


Watermelon & Black Olive Salad

Posted by Debbie

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

When watermelons are piled high at the supermarket ideas of summer picnics rush into my head. This unique recipe can be enjoyed as a side salad or I have thread watermelon cubes onto wooden skewers interchanging with black olives and the pour vinaigrette over top and serve as a kebab. Refreshing with a crunch and a zing!

Watermelon & Black Olive Salad

From Wish Magazine

For Salad:
4 cups seedless watermelon cut in ½ inch cubes
1/3 cup chopped black olives
1/3 cup chopped green onions


Place all ingredients in a large salad bowl & set aside.

For Vinaigrette
1 Tablespoon *garam marsala
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
¼ cup olive oil

* garam marsala: An East Indian spice mixture that generally includes coriander seed, black pepper, cumin, cardamom, tumeric, nutmeg, cloves & cinnamon. Purchase a package of this spice mixture at an Indian grocery or health food store.


  1. Mix together all ingredients for vinaigrette.
  2. Gently mix in vinaigrette to cover watermelon.
  3. Chill until ready to serve.

What bottle of wine to uncork?

There are many flavours in this recipe. Best with something light & refreshing like a Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris (same grape, different name depending on wine region made) or a dry Rosé from France.



A unique Italian wine crafted in Niagara

Posted by Eva

Friday, July 6th, 2012

Savvy Sommelier Derek, tells us that the first time he interviewed Betty Colaneri, he was so enchanted by her story that, “I found myself just listening, forgetting to take notes and ask questions.  The second time we talked, I was more prepared!”

The story of the Colaneri Estate Winery begins in 1967, when Joseph & Maria Colaneri came to Canada from Italy with their two sons Michele (Mike) and Nicola (Nick).  Several years after their arrival, one of the sons, Mike married Angiolina, while the other son Nick, married Liberina or Betty.  What is touching about this is that two brothers (Mike and Nick) married two sisters, (Angie and Betty).

The Colaneris have been growing grapes in the Niagara region for 34 years.  However, they did not become directly involved in the wine making business until 2003.  I chuckled as Betty told me that the family agreed to take advantage of an opportunity and replant their grape vines…”it was either grape vines or Christmas trees” she recalls. Now, having tasted their wines, I am glad that the family agreed on the grapes!

What makes Colaneri different is that the family made a decision to produce their own wines in a uniquely Italian style using the ‘appassimento’ technique where some or all of the grapes are kiln-dried to enhance the concentration & depth of the aromas & flavours.

Derek gives us a quick 101 on Italian Wine Styles

Italian wines are as diverse and as unique as the people and the country.  Given this, I thought I would dedicate a portion of this article to provide you with basic information about the styles you will be enjoying. 

Appassimento: A style of wine in which some or all of the grapes are partially dried before they are fermented into wine. By drying the fruit, there is more sugar, less water and therefore a greater concentration of flavour with the finished wine.

Ripasso (pronounced ree-PAH-soh):  In Italian ripasso literally means “re-passed”.  After the wine is fermented in the usual way, it is placed in casks containing the lees (winespeak for grape skins) from a prior batch of wine.  Usually, the lees of an Amarone wine are used. This process, which lasts from 2 to 3 weeks, adds colour, tannins, body and complexity of flavors to the new wine.

Cheers & Enjoy!

Colaneri ‘Corposo’ Cabernet VQA 2009


This wine is made similar to an Italian Ripasso, where the must from dried grapes used to produce Amarone-style wines are added to a wine, causing a second fermentation to add body & depth of flavour.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A blend of Cabernet Franc & Cabernet Sauvignon with aromas of dried cherries, white pepper, herbs & earth, with intense flavours of red & black plums & some tobacco – or is it fresh ground pepper? – on the finish.

Suggested food pairings: BBQ sausages, meat-based pasta or herbed encrusted roast lamb would be delicious!



Want to buy this wine?  Subscribe & it will be delivered!

  Colaneri has been a feature winery in our Savvy Selections wine of the month club. Read more about Colaneri & their wines in our Savvy eZine.  You won’t find this outstanding wine on the shelves at the LCBO.  Would you like this wine? Subscribe to our wine of the month club or call on us to make the arrangements for a special delivery to your home or office!


Über premium wines WOW our Savvy Selections subscribers

Posted by Derek

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012


Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Reif Estate Winery

– March 2012 –

March definitely came in “like a lion” & I hope that it leaves “like a lamb” because I am looking forward to touring wineries in Niagara and Prince Edward County this spring.

Since their debut in November 2009, we are delighted to feature Reif Estate Winery again in this month’s Savvy Selections.  In this Savvy eZine, our Savvy Sommelier Derek Vollrath interviews Andrea Kaiser, Reif’s Director of Retail Operations and Promotions to learn how this long established winery continues to grow.

While you may be familiar with Reif’s already, we are sure you will be more than please with this month’s choices of wines.  Looking back to 2009 when we previously featured Reif, the winery owner Klaus Reif & winemaker Roberto (aka Rob) DiDomenico were tempting us with rave reviews on the development of their 2007 vintage & in particular their First Growth Pinot Noir. While at the time back in 2009, the Pinot Noir was still in barrel.  Klaus & Rob gave us specific ‘instructions’ (aka wine tip) to be on the lookout when the Pinot Noir is released.  Well, guess what… The 2007 First Growth Pinot Noir is part of this month’s Savvy Selections! And to top it off, our subscribers are given a special Savvy Selection price of $35 (regular $50 per bottle). Derek & I know that you will be “wowed” by this outstanding Pinot Noir – we certainly were!

In your Savvy Selections wine delivery, you will find these premium wines from Reif Estate Winery:

  • Reif Estate Reserve Chardonnay VQA 2009 – a mix of tropical with ripe tree fruit aromas & tastes  
  • Reif Estate Meritage (White) VQA 2009 – food friendly
  • Reif Estate First Growth Pinot Noir VQA 2007 – an outstanding Pinot Noir!
  • OPTIONAL WINE: Reif Estate Vidal Ice Wine VQA 2005

Read on to find our Sommelier’s tasting notes for the selected wines along with Derek’s favorite recipes to try your hand at in the kitchen.

You won’t find these wines at the LCBO
If there is a particular wine from Reif Estates – some from this month’s Savvy Selections or other favorites – that you would like to have additional bottles on hand or for your cellar, simply contact me to arrange a shipment for you. Did I already mention that you might want to consider ordering another bottle or two of the First Growth Pinot Noir?

Cheers & Enjoy!

– Debbie & Savvy Team

Reif Estate Winery

Presented by Sommelier Derek Vollrath


As one of Ontario wine industry pioneers, we are excited to show you how Reif Estate Winery has grown over the years – both by their ever expanding winery & quality of their wines.

Even in March, it is a busy time at the winery.  Icewine is in production & attention is being paid to the most recent vintage of white wines that will be in the final stages of winemaking.  At the time of the interview, Klaus Reif – winery owner (in above photo) & winemaker Roberto (aka Rob) DiDomenico were busy in the cellar. I caught up to Andrea Kaiser – Director of Retail Operations & Promotions – who is at the heart of everything at the winery. I learned that frankly, Andrea runs the place!

An Estately Winery
I started off the interview (which turned into a friendly chat) by asking Andrea what Reif does differently then other wineries. “Our focus is on making estate wines”. In Ontario under the Vintner Quality Alliance (VQA) rules, wines that are labeled as “estate bottled” must come from wineries that have control over everything in the winemaking process – from the vineyard, all throughout production and then with the final bottling.  This is absolutely the case as 98% of the wines produced by Reif are labeled as ‘estate’. This means that Klaus, Rob & their teams control every aspect from growing & managing the fruit on the vine to bottling the wine as well as every step in between.  This approach ensures that Klaus & Rob can “produce a consistently exceptional product”, Andrea explains.  This is evident by the number of awards that Reif’s wines have won, especially the array of Canadian & international medals for their ice wines.

Über Premium
Andrea stressed the importance of Reif’s First Growth collection of wines (enjoy the Pinot Noir in your Savvy Selections).  “These wines are our über premium wines that showcase the terroir of the Niagara River sub-appellation”.  For wines to carry the distinctive First Growth label, Klaus & Rob established early on that the following criteria must be met:

1. The wines must be produced from fruit that comes from Reif’s older vineyards

2. The wines are only produced in exceptional vintages

3. The wines are made under stricter conditions and with greater TLC such as handpicked fruit.

“Reif’s First Growth collection of wines is one of Klaus’ & Rob’s dreams come true & it is something that they are completely proud of”, beams Andrea.

Go Local – Living the Mantra
Everything they do at the winery is based on local relationships with culinary groups within the peninsula.  Andrea explained to me that at Reif they have absolutely embraced the concept of “living local”.  “Our team really works hard to partner with local suppliers in order to showcase the culinary arts that have developed in the Niagara area, our Sensory Wine Bar is an excellent example of our commitment.”

Upcoming Events at Reif
If you are planning a trip to Niagara, Andrea proudly explains why Reif is a ‘must stop’ especially with the unique Sensory Wine Bar. “It is an amazing as our visitors can enjoy a flight of our wines with a selection of artisan cheese, charcuterie plates & even chocolate”.

If you happen to be in Niagara-on-the-Lake on April 21st,  join Rob as he hosts a luncheon where he will be giving visitors a sneak peek of the 2010 First Growth Collection.  This vintage marks the fourth time in which Klaus & Rob deemed the conditions ideal enough to create.

As our interview wraps up, Andrea’s parting words about the winery, “We work in a great place, people love coming to Niagara because it is Ontario’s wine country & what’s not to like about wine and food? When they come to visit they are in a great mood & that rubs off on all of us at the winery”.

Reif Estate Winery will definitely be on my list of wineries to visit this summer.

Cheers & Enjoy your Savvy Selections wines…especially the First Growth Pinot Noir!

~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes~

Chardonnay Reserve VQA 2009

The 2009 Chardonnay Reserve is made from some of Reif’s oldest Chardonnay vines, some dating back to 1982.  This wine has seen only oak – from fermentation all the way to barrel ageing & everything in between.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Bright gold in colour with notable aromas of banana & melon leap from the glass along with hints of vanilla & warm spice, (can you find cinnamon?).  The palate is exceptionally rewarding & complex with flavours of brown sugar, hazelnut, green apple & ripe pear.  This is a dry, full-bodied white wine with an incredibility rich & buttery mouth feel.  It is topped off with a long apple pie finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: Our Savvy Sommelier Debbie Trenholm simply stated that “this wine is gorgeous on its own”.  If you decide to serve with a meal, Derek offers a recipe for Roasted Salmon Salad Niçoise.

Cellaring: This wine can definitely be enjoyed tonight or it can be cellared for up to 18 months.

Meritage (White) VQA 2009

The wine term Meritage is usually reserved for red wines made with a Bordeaux blend of grapes outside of Bordeaux. However; in this case it is cleverly used for the white Bordeaux grape varietals of Sauvignon Blanc & Semillon.  For the 2009 vintage Sauvignon Blanc accounts for 56% of the blend, while Semillon makes up 44%.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Pale gold in colour with a brilliant luster & sheen.  On the nose there are definite aromas of cut grass & green apple courtesy of the Sauvignon Blanc while the Semillon provides honey & floral aromas.  Dry on the palate this white wine offers flavours of citrus, green apple & white pepper.  This full-bodied wine is well balanced with a medium length green apple finish.

Suggested Food Pairing:  This Meritage is definitely a food friendly wine as it would go well with spinach & goat’s cheese risotto or gnocchi in a gorgonzola sauce.  The Savvy Selections tasting panel immediately thought this wine would accompany seafood exceptionally well. Derek shares his Seafood Stew recipe is tasty & he says that the best part is that you only need one pot to make it!

Cellaring: Again, the wine is ready to enjoy tonight or you can cellar it for up to 12 months.

First Growth Pinot Noir VQA 2007
$35.00 – a special price for Savvy Selections subscribers. (Regular $50)

As explained earlier, Reif’s First Growth series of wines are ultra premium wines produced only during years of exceptional vintage.  To date only four First Growth wines have been crafted by Reif Estate’s (2001, 2002, 2007 & recently, 2010 has been named exceptional).

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  The core of this wine (winespeak: its centre) is bright ruby red in colour that gradually fades to a thin watery rim.  The nose is thoroughly enjoyable as aromas of cherries, raspberries, leather & pencil shavings waft from the glass.  The palate will totally blow you away with flavors of sour cherries, ripe raspberries & dark chocolate.  With a velvety mouth feel and a long lingering cherry finish, this incredible wine is a sure-fire crowd pleaser.

Suggested Food Pairing: Peking duck or barbequed lamb chops with a rosemary rub would pair very well.  Derek recommends to pair this Pinot Noir with a cherry sauce over pan fried pork tenderloin cutlets – a yummy recipe follows!

Cellaring: You can open it now or if you prefer you can hold onto this wine as it will be drinking well now through to 2015.

Serving Tip: To make this wine that more special, Derek recommends to decant for 45 minutes before serving.

~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~


With Reif Estate Winery Chardonnay Reserve…


Roasted Salmon Salad Niçoise
From Heart Smart – the Best of Heart Smart Cooking, Bonnie Stern
Serves 8

4 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary or ½ tsp dried
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
2 lbs baby potatoes, cleaned and halved
6 plum tomatoes cut in wedges or 2 cups cherry tomatoes
2 head garlic
1 lb asparagus, trimmed
2 lbs salmon fillet in one piece, skin removed
⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
8 cups mixed organic greens
2 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon or shredded basil or ½ tsp dried
4 hard-cooked egg whites, coarsely chopped
1 small bunch chives


  1. Combine 2 tbsp oil, rosemary, salt and pepper.  Toss potatoes with half this mixture
  2.  Arrange tomato wedges, skin side down and potatoes in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Cut top quarter off heads of garlic and wrap in foil.  Roast potatoes, tomatoes and garlic in a preheated 400° F oven for 40 minutes.  Remove baking sheet from oven and scatter asparagus over potatoes and tomatoes.  Roast for 10 to 15 minutes longer, or until potatoes and garlic are tender and asparagus is bright green.  Tomatoes should be browed on bottom.
  3.  Meanwhile, coat salmon with remaining oil/rosemary marinade.  Place salmon on another baking sheet lined with parchment.  About 20 minutes before vegetables are ready, place salmon in oven and roast for 15 to 18 minutes or until just cooked through.
  4.  To prepare dressing, squeeze roasted garlic into vinegar and whisk until pureed.  Whisk in remaining 2 tbsp of oil.
  5.  Arrange greens over bottom of a large platter.  Arrange potatoes down center and tomatoes and asparagus along sides.  With a large spatula, place salmon on top of potatoes.  Drizzle dressing over salad.  Sprinkle with tarragon and egg whites.  Cut chives into 2-inch lengths and sprinkle over top.


With Reif Estate Winery Meritage White…

Seafood Stew
From Love
Serves 4-6

Large pinch of saffron threads
4 tbsp almost boiling water
6 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 ½ tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
2 red bell peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 can (28 oz / 796 mL) canned & chopped tomatoes
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 cup fish stock
1 cup blanched almonds, toasted and finely ground
Salt and pepper
12-16 live mussels
12-16 live clams
1 lb 5 oz / 600 g thick boned hake or cod fillets, skinned and cut into 2-inch chunks
12-16 raw shrimp shelled and deveined
Thick crusty bread, to serve


  1. Place the saffron threads in a heatproof bowl with the water and let stand for at lease 10 minutes to infuse.
  2.  Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottom flameproof casserole over medium-high heat.  Reduce the heat to low and cook the onion, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until golden but not browned.  Stir in the garlic, thyme, bay leave and red bell peppers and cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes or until the bell peppers are softened and the onions have softened further.  Add the tomatoes and paprika and simmer, stirring frequently for an additional 5 minutes.
  3.  Stir in the stock, the saffron and its soaking liquid, and the almonds and bring to a boil, stirring.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until the sauce reduces and thickens.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Clean the mussels and clams, discard any with broken shells
  5. Gently stir the hake into the stew so that it doesn’t break up, then add the shrimp, mussels and clams.  Reduce the heat to very low, then cover and simmer for 5 minutes or until the hake is opaque the mussels and clams have opened and the shrimp have turned pink.  Discard and mussels or clams that remain closed.  Serve immediately with plenty of thick crusty bread for soaking up the juices


With Reif Estate Winery First Growth Pinot Noir…

Pork Tenderloin with Cherry Sauce
Serves 4

1-2 tablespoon cornstarch, depending on your desired thickness of the sauce
1 1/2 cups cranberry juice
2 teaspoonsDijonmustard
1 (1 1/2 pound) pork tenderloin, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons lemon-pepper seasoning
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup dried cherries
3 tablespoons cherry preserves


  1. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch, cranberry juice and mustard until smooth; set aside.
  2.  Sprinkle pork with lemon-pepper. In a large skillet, cook pork in butter for 4-5 minutes on each side or until no longer pink. Remove pork and keep warm.
  3.  Stir cornstarch mixture and add to the skillet. Bring to a boil.
  4. Add cherries and preserves; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Return pork to the pan; cook for 2 minutes or until heated through. Serve on a bed of rice with fresh vegetables or assorted grilled mushrooms.

 Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!


A Vino-Education: The Story of Strewn Winery

Posted by Derek

Monday, May 16th, 2011


Savvy Selections wine of the month club
features Strewn Winery
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep


This time last year, Ontario’s winemakers were absolutely elated because the grape growing season began with ideal weather conditions. The days were warm, the nights were cool and there was just the right amount of rain. What a difference a year makes! This year, our spring has been marked with unseasonably cold temperatures and record breaking rainfall.


When it comes to weather, winemakers and grape growers in California, Australia or Chile have it much easier because the growing conditions are consistent year over year. These consistent growing conditions lead to consistently crafted wines. In Canada, the year-over-year variation in the weather associated with our growing season makes grape growing and winemaking more of a challenge.


However, having said all of this, it is Ontario’s growing conditions that inspire people like Joe Will. Joe is one of the owners and winemaker at Strewn Winery.


For the month of May, we are delighted to feature in the Savvy Selections wines from Strewn Winery – an Ontario wine industry pioneer. Our Savvy Sommelier Derek Vollrath, chatted with Joe for hours one Sunday afternoon, in order to understand his philosophy on wine and winemaking. On the following pages, read Derek’s interview and learn about the diverse path of Joe’s life that lead to the creation of Strewn.



For May the Savvy Selections Tasting Panel chose to feature the following wines from Strewn’s high end collection called ‘ Terroir’:


·Pinot Blanc VQA 2009 Terroir

·Meritage VQA 2008 Terroir

·Merlot VQA 2007 Terroir – a special Savvy price!


As always in the Savvy eZine, we have included the tasting notes from our Savvy Sommeliers along with recipes that Derek specifically chose to pair with the selected wine.

If there is a particular wine from Strewn that you enjoyed (Derek is betting that you will particularly like the Pinot Blanc!) feel free to contact me and I would be more than happy to arrange a delivery of additional bottles to be sent to you. Same holds for previously featured wines, just give me a call to arrange a special shipment of your favorite wines.


Cheers & Enjoy!

Debbie & Savvy Team
Savvy Company



Presented by Sommelier Derek Vollrath

One of the amazing benefits of being part of the Savvy Team is the opportunity each month to take part in sampling wonderful Ontario wines for the Savvy Selections wine of the month club. In addition, I have the chance to talk with some of this province’s top-notch winemakers. It’s discussions with the winemakers that give wine geeks like me (!) insight into what went on behind the wine that is being delivered to your door.


For this month’s Savvy Selection, I spent a few hours one Sunday morning talking with Joe Will, Strewn’s long standing winemaker. Like most winemakers, making the “gift of the Gods” has always been one of Joe’s interests. He didn’t start out as a “professional” winemaker per se, rather he has been making wine since high school!



Joe grew up on the Canadian prairies, so he began making wine using choke cherries or crab apples since they were plentiful. It’s a pretty safe bet that the Savvy Selections subscribers will not receive a choke cherry or crab apple wine in their monthly delivery, however, the technique used in making an alcoholic beverage from fermented fruits is quite similar to making grape wine.


Before turning that experimental interest into a day job, Joe started a journalism career with the Canadian Press, then was lured to British Columbia’s Okanagan. In 1989 Joe moved from Alberta to the Okanagan where he worked as a “cellar rat” in a small winery.


A leap of faith later landed him in Australia, enrolled in a one year graduate degree program in winemaking. Being a student a second time around helped immensely because Joe wanted to be there: Joe’s studies were interesting and he was very keen and eager to learn all aspects of the winemaking process.


One of the up-shots of being a foreign student in Australia was the opportunity to audit any course offered. Being the keen student he was, Joe took advantage of this opportunity and sat-in on a number of viticulture courses (winespeak: grape growing courses).


After graduation, Joe stayed a year and worked at the internationally known Australian winery of Yalumba. To put things into perspective as to the size of Yalumba, the year that Joe spent working in Australia they crushed as many grapes as all of the wineries in Ontario combined. The Ontario industry continues to grow, yet it is still small when compared to other wine regions – even in those considered “New World” like Australia.


In 1992, when he returned to Canada, Joe landed the job as the winemaker at Pillitteri Estates where he spent five years before breaking out on his own and opening Strewn.



Joe explained to me that makes Strewn wines that are Old World in style so that the terroir of the Niagara region is richly expressed in each wine.



Old World Style vs. New World Style

Wines made in the Old World Style have a tendency to rely on traditional production methods with the final product gaining its flavours from the surrounding terroir and the affect of the climate, soil and winemaker’s decisions on harvesting on the grapes. Old World Style wines develop great complexity over time making them perfect for cellaring – especially the reds that we have chosen for your Savvy Selections. Strewn wines also wines made with the understanding that great wine is even better with good food, and come ‘alive’ in your mouth when paired properly.


Conversely, wines made in a New World Styles tend to be immediately appealing as they are more fruit forward, both on the nose as well as the palate.



Terroir – What is that you say?

Terroir is a French term that includes the soil, topography and microclimate of a grape growing area. All these elements integrate themselves into the grapes that then create the distinctive character of each wine. The French wine region of Burgundy is famous for what the ‘terroir’ imparts to the grape and to the wine.


In addition to crafting wines that are expressive of the terroir of the Niagara Region, Strewn has some other interesting things going on in the winery. One of these unique features is that there is a cooking school attached to the winery for as Joe told me, “it is so that our visitors can fully experience food and wine matching”.


If you are planning on heading to Niagara this summer Strewn Winery should definitely be on the list of wineries to visit. Cheers!






Pinot Blanc VQA 2009, $15.95

Pinot Blanc is a French white wine variety and, as the name suggests, is part of the Pinot family alongside with Pinot Noir – noted as the most popular family member. According to Jim there is not a “tremendous” amount of Pinot Blanc grown in the Niagara region, so it is a treat to be offered as part of this month’s Savvy Selection. Enjoy!

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A bright pale-lemon colour with a hint of green on the rim. The nose is exceptionally expressive and complex displaying aromas of cool-climate fruit such as pear and green apple with undertones of cut grass. The wine is dry, light to medium bodied with refreshing acidity that helps maintain a long citrus finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: This is definitely a food wine and would match well with grapefruit salad or grilled scallops with a herbed lemon sauce. The Savvy Selections tasting panel recommends mussels Provençale – recipe is on the following pages.

Cellaring: This wine is drinking really well now so stock up for the summer months. It could also keep in your cellar for 6 to 12 months.



Merlot VQA 2007 $26.95 (reduced from $32.00)

From a winemaking perspective, 2007 was one of the three best years of the decade; and for the curious to know, 2001 and 2005 were the other two notable years according to Joe. Joe made this Merlot in a New World style (i.e. fruit forward), which is difficult to achieve in Niagara because of the inconsistency of our summer weather. To fully enjoy this Merlot we recommend decanting it 30 minutes to an hour before serving

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: The wine has a wonderful ruby red core that fades ever so slightly to a garnet-coloured rim. This colouring is an indication that the wine is beginning to show its age. Initially the nose was muted (winespeak: faint aromas) but after about 15 minutes the wine opened up with aromas of dark fruits, cherry, red currant along with some earthy notes such as leather and pencil shavings. This medium-bodied dry wine has well-integrated tannins and a noticeably long complex peppery finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: A charcuterie platter of flavourful meats along with artisan cheeses is definitely an excellent pairing suggestion. Derek offers the recipe for striploin roast with wild mushrooms on the following pages.

Cellaring: This wine can be opened and enjoyed now or if you wish it could cellar for another 2 years.



Meritage VQA 2008, $18.00

The 2008 Meritage was the first of its kind produced by Strewn. In keeping with other Meritage wines this is a blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Medium ruby red in colour, the wine displayed aromas of green pepper, pencil shavings and dark fruit (black berries to be exact). On the palate the wine was dry, but the presence of ripe red fruit and vanilla made it appear slightly-off dry. The wine had a silky mouth feel with integrated tannins and medium length vanilla (i.e. oak) finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: This Meritage is definitely a “red meat” wine and the Savvy Selections Tasting Panel suggests that you pair this wine with a flat-iron steak accented with herbed butter. It is an easy meal to prepare and is a great excuse to use the barbeque. The recipe for this dish is on the following pages.

Cellaring: This Meritage is drinking now or could cellar it for 2 or 3 years.






With Strewn Winery Pinot Blanc…

Mussels Provençale
FromHeart Smart, the Best of HeartSmart Cooking, Bonnie Stern

Makes 8 servings as an appetizer; 4 as a main course

4 lbs (2 kg) mussels

1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil

1 shallot, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 can (28 oz / 796 mL) plum tomatoes, drained and chopped

1 cup (250 mL) dry white wine, stock or water

1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh tarragon, or 1 tsp (5 mL) dried

1 tsp (5 mL) cracked black peppercorns

¼ tsp (1 mL) salt

Pinch of pepper

3 tbsp (45 mL) chopped fresh parsley

2 whole wheat or regular baguette, sliced




1.Clean mussels and discard any that have broken shells or do not close when lightly tapped

2.Heat oil in a large Dutch oven on medium-high heat. Add shallot and garlic. Cook for a few minutes until fragrant and tender, but do not brown. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil.

3.Add mussels and turn to coat well. Add wine and bring to a boil. Sprinkle with tarragon, salt and pepper.

4.Cover and cook mussels for 5 minutes, or until mussels open. Discard any that do not open after another minute of cooking.

5.Transfer mussels to large bowls. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with lots of bread to soak up juices.



With Strewn Winery Meritage…



Flat Iron Steak with Herb Butter
From Foodies: Simple, Fresh & Inspired

Serves 4

Herbed Butter Ingredients

½ lb. Butter, Softened

½ bunch Parsley, Chopped

½ bunch Tarragon, Chopped

½ bunch Chives, Chopped

Steak Ingredients

4 – 7 oz. Flat Iron Steaks

Vegetable Oil

Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper, To Taste



Method – Butter

1.Place the herbs in a food processor with 1 pound of softened butter and a pinch of salt. Mix until well incorporated and light green in colour.

2.Remove from mixer and form into a log using plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm



Method – Flat Iron Steak

1.Oil and season the steaks. On an indoor grill, cook to medium rare and rest.

2.Slice the steaks across the grain and top with a couple of slices of herb butter. Reheat quickly and plate. Serving suggestion: Plate with steamed seasonal vegetables.



With Strewn Winery Merlot…



Striploin Roast with Wild Mushrooms

From Heart Smart: The Best of Heart Smart Cooking
Serves 4

1 tbsp (15 mL) Dijon mustard

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp (15 mL) pepper

1 tbsp (15 mL) Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh rosemary or ½ tsp (2 mL) dried

4-lb (2 kg) striploin roast, well trimmed and tied

1 tsp (5 mL) salt

1 tsp (5 mL) olive oil

12 shallots peeled and quartered

2 tbsp (30 mL) balsamic vinegar

2 cup (500 mL) dry red wine

1 lb (500 g) wild mushrooms (we recommend a combination of Portobello,shiitake or oyster), chopped

⅓ cup (75 mL) oyster sauce

2 tbsp (30 mL) coarsely chopped fresh parsley




1.In a small bowl, combine mustard, garlic, pepper, Worcestershire and rosemary. Pat roast dry and rub mustard mixture into roast. Marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature or longer in refrigerator. Just before cooking sprinkle roast with salt.

2.Heat oil in a large, deep non-stick skillet on medium-high heat. Brown roast well on all sides; this should take about 10 minutes. Transfer roast to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Discard all but 1 tbsp (15 mL) fat from skillet.

3.Roast meat in a preheated 375° F (190°C) oven for 45 to 60 minutes, or until meat thermometer inserted in thickest part of meat registers about 135° F (57°C) for medium-rare. Allow roast to rest for 10 to 20 minutes before carving. Remove fat from surface of pan juices.

4.Meanwhile, return skillet to heat. Add shallots, vinegar and any defatted pan juices. Cook, stirring, until vinegar evaporates and shallots begin to brown. Add wine. Cook on medium-high heat, scraping pan until wine reduces to about ½ cup (125 mL) and shallots are tender.

5.Add mushrooms to skillet and cook for about 10 minutes, or until wilted and browned. Add oyster sauce and cook for 5 minutes. Add parsley and taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

6.Remove string from roast and carve into slices. Top with mushrooms, shallots and juices.



Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!