Posts Tagged ‘Accredited Sommelier Susan Desjardins’

Premium wines from Pondview Winery

Posted by Susan

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017
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When I last wrote about Pondview Estate Winery, it was 2011 and Lou Puglisi and his family had just opened a tasting room to showcase their first vintage as winemakers. The family had been growing and selling grapes for 30 years; in fact, in 2008 Lou had been crowned Grape King, a highly acclaimed industry award provided by Ministry of Agriculture to recognize the finest grape growers in Ontario. As a prize, Lou was offered an all expense paid trip to the Okanagan British Columbia, where he visited a number of small, family-owned wineries.  This trip sealed the deal – it convinced him that the time had come to take the next step, and to begin making wine.

Lou invited Fred DiProfio, whom he knew from his work at Pillitteri Winery, to be consulting winemaker. The first vintage was small – only 2800 cases.  Lou (wearing black in photo below), Fred and his brother-in-law, Joseph Barbera (wearing red shirt in photo), did just about everything. “It was the three of us in the cellar, doing punch downs, bottling, labeling – we were doing it all. At this time, there were only three wines, a rosé, a Gewürztraminer and a Gewürztraminer Riesling blend. Most sold out in just a few weeks,” Joseph reminisces.  He was always concerned that they didn’t have a red wine. “Lou, Fred and I talked about this and agreed we had to find a way to make one. Lou had put aside one barrel each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc for the family’s consumption; Fred’s contacts in the industry allowed him to secure a barrel of Merlot. Those guys worked their magic, and we were able to present a Cabernet/Merlot blend ….but those 75 cases sold out as quickly as the others! Mama Mia, what a time!”

Since then, Lou’s expertise as a horticulturalist, the family’s dedication to quality and the unique contribution of gifted winemaker Fred DiProfio, have built Pondview’s reputation, driving demand among consumers and securing a long list of awards of recognition. Pondview expects to produce 12,000 cases of their wine this year, and has entered into a partnership with Marcel Morgenstern, their Director of Sales, to produce the virtual brand, Burnt Ship Bay. Facing limitations on their shelf space in Ontario, Lou and Marcel are turning to exports, introducing their wines to select European and US markets. The initial response in Europe has been very positive, considering, as Lou says, “there is no lack of wines to choose from!”

Given the high demand for their wines, we’re especially delighted to feature three of Pondview’s small lot and premium portfolio Bella Terra wines.

Bella Terra Pinot Gris 2013 – a creamy, complex and flavourful white wine
– Bella Terra Cabernet Franc 2012 – a fragrant, succulent and well-structured red wine ready to enjoy or be cellared
– Bella Terra Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 – the supple, full bodied, intensely flavoured Cab Sauv like no other from Niagara

You can order extra bottles through us or stop in for a warm welcome at Pondview on your next visit to the Niagara area! You’re bound to find Joseph, Lou, or his wife Adriana behind the tasting bar.

Cheers & Enjoy!
Debbie & Savvy Team
debbie@savvycompany.ca

 

Pondview Estate Winery
Presented by Sommelier Susan Desjardins

I’ve visited Pondview several times since we first featured them in 2011.  And Lou, Marcel & Joseph are often at our Savvy Taste & Buy Events so we have quick chats while sampling their latest wine. When the opportunity for me to be the lead for this issue of the Savvy eZine came up, I jumped at the chance as it gave me a way to spend time with Lou and Joseph, and get into more depth about what has been happening at their winery over the past 5 years.

Lou (in photo) is as busy now as he was then, but in a different way. “For our first vintage, 2009, the wine was selling out, and we were on top of the world! We figured, we’ll go to 5,000 cases and sell the remaining grapes to our partners, as we’d done before. But then, the winery took on a life of its own.” While I am interviewing him, he is dealing with the harvest and getting ready for another trip to China, where he will be educating his import partners and promoting Pondview icewine in Shanghai and Beijing.

Hard to believe that in five short years, Lou is now discussing the burgeoning wine market in China and talking about how young professionals and members of the expanding middle class have a particular interest in red wine, while his icewines are in increasing demand with premium wine purchasers. In this context, he talks about the steps that Pondview has taken to guarantee the authenticity of their icewine. Developed in Bordeaux, ‘Proof Tags’ now appear on the neck of every bottle of ice wine. The tag can be scanned using a smartphone app, allowing the consumer to track the bottle from the point of purchase back to the originating winery, right to the vineyard. “It’s an additional cost to do this, but we want our customers, whether in China or right here in Canada, to be secure in the knowledge that the wine in the bottle was truly produced by us.”

He also talks about his satisfaction with Pondview’s entry into a few select European market – Denmark, the Netherlands, Austria and England. And he’s building the business in these foreign markets with the same patient approach used to begin producing wine in Niagara – one customer at a time, one pallet of wine at a time, slowly building awareness and credibility. And this can be done now because of the family’s ongoing investment in Pondview. “You can’t sell what you don’t have”.

Over the last five years, a 10-acre plot adjacent to the existing winery estate has been purchased. It was planted 2 years ago with Viognier, Malbec and more Pinot Gris vines. More recently, 12 acres at the juncture of the Four Mile Creek and St. David’s appellations have been purchased specifically for icewine with Vidal and Cabernet Franc vines.

The core team remains in place – Lou, Fred (winemaker), Joseph and Adriana, along with a variety of well-qualified professionals have been brought in to support the growth in the business, including Marcel Morgenstern as head of sales, whom Lou has known since he was selling grapes to Pillitteri Estates Winery years ago.

Despite the work of identifying and entering new markets, and the amount of travel associated with it, Lou continues to be laser focused on the vineyards. He talks about the 2016 vintage as one of the most challenging in recent memory. “We had a warm winter, and the snow melted early, so we went into the growing season in a drought. Not ideal.  Then we waited for rain that didn’t come.”

The Pondview name reflects the estate – there is a small pond onsite, but it isn’t large enough for ongoing irrigation of the vineyard. Fortunately, the family had purchased water rights to a creek that runs along the edge of the property, and water is regularly released into it – so irrigation during this past summer’s drought kept the vines alive and growing. But the desiccation of the soil was so profound, the vines struggled with nutrient uptake. Lou had to initiate new practices, such as using non-toxic foliar sprays of nutrients to help maintain vine health.

Irrigation and other interventions, like the foliar spraying, ensured the vines didn’t get overly stressed and were able to produce fruit with good concentration of sugars and flavours. “Over the last five years, we’re seeing more weather extremes – really cold winters, then two short crop years back to back. I don’t remember that happening before” Lou explains. “It looks like 2016 will go down as the hottest Niagara summer in recent memory. With changes in climate, farming practices will have to change as well, and early attention to vine health and continued monitoring will be required through the entire growing season.”

As our conversation draws to a close, Lou talks about his close partnership with Fred diProfio, and reveals much of his own philosophy. “I’ve known Fred for a long time. We respect each other and work very closely together, bouncing ideas around. We’re always willing to try something new.” And he says, with a smile in his voice, “Every day is a school day!”

 

 

~ SAVVY SOMMELIER TASTING NOTES ~

Bella Terra Pinot Gris 2013 VQA

The unique white wine is from a small lot (only 300 cases), produced from estate-grown fruit, barrel fermented and aged nine months in seasoned French and Hungarian oak. None of this wine was produced in 2014 or 2015 due to the effect of the very difficult winters of 2014 and 2015 on the vines. So you’re getting a ‘limited edition’ here!

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: There’s real complexity here – the aromas and flavours are a basket of lush Ontario orchard and pit fruits entwined with notes of fruit custard, sweet citrus and spiced caramel. Elegant and well balanced, the wine has a vibrant yet creamy texture and lingering spicy notes through the smooth lasting finish.

Suggested Food Pairing:  This has the weight and depth to pair with holiday turkey, with smoked salmon canapes, or with a creamy artichoke risotto.

Cellaring: Enjoy now.

 

Bella Terra Cabernet Franc 2012 VQA

The hot 2012 vintage, considered a good one for Bordeaux varieties, provided good sugar levels and flavour intensity, while vineyard management ensured sufficient acidity was maintained. Unfiltered, aged eighteen months in French oak, this wine shows Lou’s dedication to the fruit and the vineyard, cropped at very low yields to ensure concentrated flavours.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Rich, ripe and fragrant on the nose, this warm, full bodied wine is bursting with aromas of spiced rose, succulent black fruit, licorice and earth. It’s refined, clean structure is a great counterpoint to the concentrated fruit flavours and it finishes with a lingering note of chocolate-coated coffee bean.

Suggested Food Pairing: Winter warming meals of prime rib or tortière would be a great match.

Cellaring: Drink now or cellar a further 3-5 years.

 

 


Bella Terra Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 VQA

The 2013 vintage was a challenging one, with a late spring, heavy summer rain combined with intense heat. Lou’s vigilance in the vineyard and strategy to use the long, warm fall weather to allow further ripening and concentration in the fruit ensured a wine of quality and great flavour. With a November harvest, the fruit for this opulent wine really benefited from that extended hang time, while in the cellar it was aged eighteen months in French oak and left unfiltered.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: There’s great intensity to the aromas of cassis, mingling with underlying notes of compost and tobacco, delicate dried herbs and spice. The purity of the cassis flavours combines with blueberry garnished with a dash of dark chocolate and hints of vanilla. This full bodied wine offers a round rich supple texture, a spicy, warm palate and a sumptuous long-lasting finish.

Suggested Food Pairing:  Serve with braised short ribs or beef tenderloin.

Cellaring:  This wine may be enjoyed now or aged a further 2-4 years.

 

~ RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH YOUR SAVVY SELECTIONS ~

With Pondview Bella Terra Pinot Gris…

Risotto with Artichoke

Photo Credit: Food & Style Magazine
Recipe Credit: Chef Hector Diaz (then at Hilton Lac-Leamy)

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp shallots, chopped
1 ½ Tbsp each, small-diced carrots & celery
1 tsp minced garlic
1 c Arborio rice
½ c white wine
3 c hot chicken stock
¼ c heavy 35-per-cent cream
2 Tbsp diced, cooked artichoke heart (bottled or canned is fine)
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
2 Tbsp Padano or parmesan cheese, grated

Method

In a medium saucepan, heat oil on medium-high heat and sauté shallots & vegetables until shallots are translucent but not browned. Stir in garlic, then rice to coat with oil.

Reduce heat to medium and add wine, half the chicken stock. Stir constantly until liquid is absorbed, then add remaining stock and continue to cook, stirring, until liquid is absorbed a second time. Add cream, artichokes, and cook 5 minutes longer. Rice should be al dente; if it’s too hard, add just a little hot liquid & cook until it is.

Remove from heat, whip in butter & grated cheese; season to taste & serve.

 

With Pondview Bella Terra Cabernet Franc

Grilled Vegetables with Buffalo Mozzarella

Photo credit: Broil King BBQ
Recipe Credit: Modified from on a dish served at the River’s End Restaurant & Inn located in Jenner, California
Serves 6

Ingredients

4 each red and yellow bell peppers, quartered lengthwise & seeded
2 large zucchini, cut into 12 thin diagonal slices
6 medium Portobello mushrooms, peeled, gills carefully scooped out
3 large fresh Buffalo mozzarella
6x 4” rosemary sprigs, leaves removed from lower half

Marinade

1/3 c balsamic vinegar
1/3 c olive oil
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves

Method

Whisk together marinade ingredients, then marinate peppers for about 15 minutes. Add mushrooms, tossing with peppers & continue marinating for a further 15 minutes.

Remove vegetables from marinade (reserve marinade), cook in batches on heated grill, 8-10 minutes for peppers (or until lightly charred), 7-8 minutes for mushrooms. Brush with marinade during cooking.

Remove veggies from grill. Place mushrooms upside down on flat surface. Layer with a piece of red pepper, a slice of cheese, zucchini, yellow pepper, a slice of cheese and another slice of zucchini. Poke the rosemary sprig through the middle of each stack with leaves at the top.

Place veggie stacks on a heat-proof dish and return to grill (turned off) so that cheese can soften, then serve with fresh French bread.

 

 

With Pondview Bella Terra Cabernet Sauvignon…

Mustard-glazed Standing Rib Roast with Pan Gravy

Recipe Credit: Lucy Waverman & James Chatto, A Matter of Taste Cookbook
This recipe is also online at Globe & Mail Newspaper
Serves 8

Ingredients

1/3 c Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp chopped garlic
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 Tbsp coarsely ground pepper
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary or thyme, or 1 tsp dried
1 standing rib roast (~7 lbs)
Salt to taste

Method

Combine mustard, oil, soy sauce, garlic, parsley, pepper & rosemary. Brush over roast, including bones. Let sit for 2 hours, or refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 450F. Turn on oven broiler. Place roast fat side up on a rack in a roasting pan & broil for about 4 minutes or until fat is crispy. Turn off broiler, reheat oven to 450F & roast for 30 minutes.

Reduce heat to 350F & roast for about 1 ½ hours longer for rare.

Remove roast to a carving board & let rest 15 minutes to allow juices to retract while you make gravy. Remove roast from bones & carve into thin slices. Serve with gravy, roast potatoes & green beans.

 

Enjoy your Savvy Selections!

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Have you been to the winery in the Ottawa Valley?

Posted by Susan

Thursday, October 20th, 2016
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Savvy Selections wine of the month club
KIN Vineyards
–  October 2016 –

Google Chris van Barr, and the first thing you’ll learn is that he is a successful lawyer specializing in intellectual property law, who also teaches in the subject at the University of Ottawa. But, dig a little deeper, and you’ll discover that he has roots on a farm in southern Ontario and has made his home in rural Ottawa. Chris is a man who has a passion for the land as well as interesting, elegant wines. This deep rooted passion led him to partner with Alan Krueger five years ago to establish KIN Vineyards, where together they have transformed part of Chris’ 50 acre property in Kinburn (west of Ottawa) into a vineyard. This property includes Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines, as well as hardy hybrid varieties Marechal Foch, Frontenac, Vidal and Muscat Ottonel. There is a twin site – a 50 acre Carp vineyard – that is being harvested for the first time this month. The Carp vineyard was planted exclusively for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines.

This summer while the vines took hold, the team constructed a modest facility for winemaking and wine storage on the Carp estate. Work is also underway to create a small retail store at the edge of the vineyards. Local architect Richard White, known for his focus on environmentally friendly buildings in harmony with the flow of the land, is working with Chris and his team to design the permanent facility planned for the site. It can be truthfully said that no grass grows under Chris & Alan’s feet!

Winemaker Brian Hamilton, a graduate of Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute, comes to KIN with prior experience as a winemaker at Malivoire, Southbrook Vineyard and Tawse Winery. These three wineries have been featured in Savvy Selections over the years and have grown their reputation for their focus on organic and biodynamic winemaking practices. Brian also has notable winemaking experience internationally, having worked a vintage in California, as well as one in New Zealand, where he further developed experience and expertise in the creation of cool-climate wines.

Alan, the KIN Viticulturalist, graduated from the University of Guelph, is an avid gardener and has taught at the Ottawa Waldorf School for many years. Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf schools, was also the founder of the holistic system of biodynamic farming, which significantly influenced the principles of current organic farming.

Chris and Alan both originally lived in Southern Ontario, and both worked on farms during high schools holidays, connecting when they coincidentally both moved to rural Ottawa. On cycling trips through the countryside, they talked about different types of environmentally friendly artisanal enterprises that they could partner in, including raising goats to produce cheese. But the idea that really struck a chord was the concept of growing grapes and producing wine organically. Alan said, “Given my experience with the Steiner philosophy at the Waldorf school, my ‘green thumb’, and my availability in the summer, I was the obvious choice to lead the work in the vineyards. Chris is great with all types of farm equipment, so he deals with anything mechanical, as well as being the guiding financial and management hand of the business. Before we made any decisions, we arranged a trip to Niagara to meet with winemakers producing organic wines.” It was during this trip that Chris & Alan met Brian at Southbrook Vineyards. Over subsequent visits and countless questions, four years ago, Brian became a winemaking consultant at KIN. As you can imagine, he has been an invaluable resource & winemaking knowledge…not twoman-and-wine-in-foregroundo mention all of his contacts in the industry.

“When I met with Chris and Alan during their visit at Southbrook, we spoke at length about organic and biodynamic production,” remembers Brian. Our common views on these philosophies really connected us as we established the principals for KIN Vineyards.” This spring, Brian took the plunge & moved to Ottawa to become KIN’s full-time winemaker as the team prepares for their first harvest on the Carp estate.

Given the very limited production available from the KIN vineyards (about 500 cases in 2015), the Savvy Team is delighted to offer our subscribers the opportunity to taste 2 wines produced from fruit from the Kinburn property, as well as 2 wines that Brian is producing from fruit harvested from a carefully selected vineyard in Niagara, while the vines on the Carp estate mature:

– KIN Chardonnay 2015 – released in time to be featured. This is a refined & silky smooth Chardonnay

Frontenac ‘Dark Horse’ 2015 – a medium-bodied red wine with juicy cherry & berry flavours

-‘Understory’ Marechal Foch 2015 (375 mL bottle) – a rare variety that offers a unique fresh & fruit-dominated tastes

– KIN Pinot Noir 2015 – just released and making impressions. A well-integrated cool-climate wine that shines Brian’s talent brightly

You can order extra bottles directly from us or visit the KIN team at the Carp or Westboro Farmer’s markets. As always, don’t hesitate to contact the Savvy Team if you have queries about this exciting new venture sprouting up in the Ottawa Valley.

Cheers & Enjoy!

  

Introducing…
KIN Vineyards
Presented by Sommelier Susan Desjardins

All these years I’ve been writing Savvy Selections features, I would never have guessed the opportunity would arise to introduce you, to a winery in my own backyard – in rural west Ottawa, no less!two-guys-and-barrel

The vineyard on Chris van Barr’s (right in photo) Kinburn property strategically sits between the house and the forested ridge. Alan (left in photo) is convinced that the trees on the Carp Ridge offer protection to the vineyard from the harsh winter winds and the killing spring frosts.

Brian is impressed with the site too with the constant amount of sunshine in the vineyard and in terms of the milestones for grape growing and ripening, the Carp vineyard is performing at the same level as, or only a couple of days behind, many vineyards in Niagara.

Alan came across this special protected property while ferrying his children to after-school activities. It seemed ideal given the slope of the land.

 

Bring in the firefighters!

There’s great laughter as Alan describes the process of planting the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, with local firefighters volunteering to dig the holes, while high school students were recruited to hand plant the vines.

I had the opportunity to spend time with Brian and Alan, walking the Carp vineyard to see the results of the KINfolks’ commitment to a challenging viticultural landscape. Planted only three years ago, the Carp vineyard slopes south and west immediately off the Carp Ridge, overlooking the farms of the Ottawa Valley. This block includes three different soil types, the upper slope characterized by loamy sandy soil, the mid slope showing exposed limestone and loam (the rocky soil has the potential to hold and radiate the sun’s heat), while the lower slope is largely clay loam over limestone bedrock.

The Kinburn estate lies between the Carp Ridge and the Carp River. Its soils are a darker clay loam, deposits from the ancient Champlain Sea, over the friable limestone bedrock. This site has plants of the vinifera vines of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, as well as hardier hybrid varieties – Marechal Foch, Frontenac, Marquette, Vidal and Muscat Ottonel.

The different soil types between the two sites, aspect and slope determined where each variety was planted. In a way, these vineyards are the experiment, the testing ground for the dream of vineyards in this part of the Ottawa Valley – setting out a range of different types of grape vines, doing the backbreaking work of planting the vines and burying the canes for the winter, then exposing them to the risks of frost each spring, testing their mettle and their ability to thrive in this unique environment.

 

Harvest 2016

While you read this, Brian is quietly bursting with excitement at the prospect of being onsite for the Carp estate harvest, and the opportunity to make the first KIN Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from their own grapes. The small facility is prepared for the event, and Alan will be recruiting his students to help with picking the grapes. There’s very close monitoring to ensure that the fruit achieves optimal ripeness and intensity. Brian expects that the yields will be low – perhaps as little as one tonne per acre – but that is part of the deal when working in a site on the ‘bleeding’ edge of winemaking.

The killing frost of May 2015 weakened some of the vines and killed others in the lower block of the property (replanted this spring), further limiting the size of the harvest this year, as well as for a couple more years. Brian explains, “This uncertainty, as well as the limitations on yield, are key reasons that we will continue the relationship with our grower in Niagara over the long term.” Their target for 2016 is to produce 1000 cases of wine, with the goal of doubling that in 2017. Oh and did we mention their yields might be down a bit more because of the wild turkeys eating the perfectly ripened Pinot Noir grapes? Ask Brian and Alan when you visit them at the winery…

 

Patience. Patience. Patience!

During my visit, Brian continuously talks about the importance of patience and a commitment to nurturing the grapes – as the raw ingredients – and to nurturing the process of winemaking to ensure the faultless expression of the terrior in the wine. He sees the KIN wines – the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – as a vehicle for cool-climate wine aficionados to experience pure flavours of the terroir, to learn about the personality of vitis vinifera in the Ottawa Valley and the ways in which organic and biodynamic practices deliver that unique experience.

Brian laughingly talks about his ‘job’ since joining KIN full time this spring. “I’m multi-tasking, marketing with restaurants, selling at farm markets, working in the vineyard and, oh, yes, I’ll be doing some winemaking soon as well!” But you can see from his expression that he is as excited as Alan and Chris, perhaps more so now that he is onsite for the Carp site’s first harvest.

And I think you’ll agree when you taste the wines that you’ll be lined up to taste the 2016 vintage when it’s released!

Cheers & enjoy your KIN wines!

 

 

 

~ SAVVY SOMMELIER TASTING NOTES ~

KIN ‘Dark Horse’ Frontenac 2015
$19.95kin-bottle-pouring

Never heard of Frontenac? Here’s a great opportunity to try a well-made wine, produced from the fruit of a vine that is a cross of a hybrid and the very cold hardy Vitis riparia, developed at the University of Minnesota and introduced in 1996. The grapes are quite small, which would suggest good flavour concentration, and wines from this grape generally show flavours of red fruits and good levels of acidity. Brian gave the must extended skin contact, resulting in intensely lovely dark colour. The wine was then aged it for several months in American oak to polish off the flavours.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Deep ruby, this offers intriguing aromas, combining perfumed notes of red rose, lifted red and black cherry notes and a subtle herbaceous character. Dry, medium bodied, you’ll note a touch of oak aging underlying the wash of tasty, juicy red berry and cherry flavours. There’s a roundness to the texture with a touch of warmth and oaky toast on the tangy finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: Bright, fresh and flavourful, this will pair well with meals such as turkey with cranberry or with duck with a cherry reduction.

Cellaring: Drinking well now or cellar for 2-4 years

 

KIN Vineyards ‘Understory’ Marechal Foch 2015 VQA
$12.95 (375 mL bottle)

Marechal Foch (or just ‘Foch’) is a French hybrid that ripens early and is a vine that is cold hardy. Foch was grown in many Canadian vineyards until the 1980s, when government incentives to plant vitis vinifera led many grape growers to remove it. Now still grown in a handful of vineyards across the country where winemakers excel at producing intensely flavoured wine from the grapes of old vines, as well as fortified wines of great depth and intensity.

This Marechal Foch was produced from grapes grown in the Kinburn vineyard, the wine lightly aged in American oak.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Deep purple, this wine offers intense aromas of sweet dark berries along with earthy notes and a whiff of graphite. Dry medium bodied, its clean, fresh flavours of blueberry and blackberry are garnished with a light kiss of spice and toast, the fruit dominating through the tangy finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: Serve with roast lamb, gourmet burgers or an early autumn stew.

Cellaring: Drink now or over the next 12-18 months

 

KIN Chardonnay VQA 2015
$29.95

Produced from the fruit harvested from an acre in the Lincoln Lakeshore appellation, grown specifically for KIN, this Chardonnay is aged in very lightly toasted French oak barrels, 50% of which are new. Given the very limited production available from KIN’s own vineyards (the first harvest of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir will take place this fall), Brian plans to continue to use this carefully selected fruit from Niagara.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Lovely restrained aromas of sweet vanilla, hints of melted butter, ripe tree fruit and citrus tantalize the nose. Dry, mid-weight, the wine shows real purity of fruit—crisp apple and juicy pear mingling with flavours of lemon-lime and a touch of grapefruit pith. It’s nicely balanced, clean and fresh in texture, showing notes of spice and white pepper on fresh finish. A true cool-climate Chardonnay!

Suggested Food Pairing: Serve with seafood pasta, coquille St-Jacques, or roast chicken.

Cellaring: The wine was recently bottled, so we recommend waiting a month or so before opening. This wine will age 5-7 years

 

KIN Pinot Noir VQA 2015
$29.95

Produced from fruit from the same vineyard as the Chardonnay, cropped at 2 tons per acre. Brian selected two clones of Pinot Noir for this wine, one which delivers more tannins, while the other offers more intensity of colour and fruit. The grapes were gently pressed in a small basket press, the wine aged 10 months in French oak using two different toast levels. Picking Pinot is fussy work – yet many hands make light work (see the photo below!)

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This is a classic, elegant cool-climate Pinot Noir, offering perfumed floral notes, subtle red fruit aromas, and hints of crushed leaves and earth. Dry, light-mid weight, nicely framed by lively acidity and light, fine-grained tannins, the wine also shows wonderful freshness of flavour with tangy red fruit—Morello cherry, raspberry and red plum skin to the fore. Brian’s light hand with oak is evident in the delicate notes of spice and vanilla on the finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: Serve with duck breast with a cherry sauce, or with grilled salmon or trout.

Cellaring: This wine was also recently bottled and will benefit if held a few more weeks. Consider keeping it for your Christmas turkey feast. It has the cellaring power to last 5-7 years.

kin-team

 

 

~ RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH YOUR SAVVY SELECTIONS ~


With KIN Chardonnay…

Braised Pork Tenderloin with Apples
Lucy Waverman, Dinner Tonight
Serves 4
Photo credit: The Ann Arbor News

kin-porkIngredients

2 Tbsp butter
1 lb. pork tenderloin
½ cup chopped onion
½ tsp dried rosemary (or 1 tsp fresh, if available)
½ cup apple juice
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
½ tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 Macintosh apples peeled, cored and coarsely chopped

Method

Heat butter in skillet on medium-high heat. When it is sizzling, add pork tenderloin. Sear meat for 2-3 minutes per side. Remove tenderloin, reserve & reduce heat to medium-low.

Add onion and rosemary to skillet & sauté for 5 minutes or until onion is softened. Add apple juice & vinegar, scraping up any bits in pan. Add mustard.

Raise heat & cook 2-3 minutes or until mixture is reduced by half.

Add apples & tenderloin to pan. Lower heat to medium & simmer gently for 20 minutes or until pork is firm & no longer pink. Slice & serve with roast potatoes, the apple mixture on the side.

  

With KIN ‘Dark Horse’ Frontenac…

Seared Duck Breast with Cherries & Port Sauce

Recipe & Photo Credits www.epicurious.com
Serves 2

duck-table-overview-kin-vineyardsIngredients

2 5-6 oz. duck breast halves, or one 12-16 oz. duck breast half
2 Tbsp chilled butter, divided
¼ cup finely chopped shallot
½ cup low-salt chicken broth
8 halved pitted sweet red cherries, fresh or frozen
2 Tbsp Tawny Port
1 Tbsp orange blossom honey

Method

Place duck breast halves between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Pound lightly to even thickness (~ ½-3/4”). Discard plastic wrap. Using a sharp knife, score skin in ¾” diamond pattern (do not cut into flesh.

Melt 1 Tbsp butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle duck with salt & pepper. Add duck, skin side down, to skillet & cook until skin is browned & crisp, about 5 minutes. Turn duck breasts over, reduce heat to medium & cook until browned to desired doneness, about 4 minutes longer for small breasts & 8 minutes longer for large breast for medium-rare. Transfer to work surface, tent with foil to keep warm & let rest 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour all but 2 Tbsp drippings from skillet. Add shallot to skillet & stir over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add broth, cherries, Port and honey. Increase heat to high & boil until sauce is reduced to glaze, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Whisk in 1 Tbsp cold butter. Season sauce to taste with salt & pepper. (With this tasty sauce, you may wish to double the recipe!)

Thinly slice duck. Fan slices out on plates. Spoon over sauce & serve with roast autumn vegetables.

  

With KIN ‘Understory’ Maréchal Foch’

Roast Sirloin Steak with Mushroom Sauce

Recipe & Photo credit: Lucy Waverman, Dinner Tonight
Serves 6

roast-strip-loin-kin-vineyardsIngredients

1 3½ lb sirloin steak, about 2” thick
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp paprika
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
3 Tbsp butter
8 oz. wild mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 cup red wine
1 ½ cup beef or chicken stock
2 Tbsp chopped parsley

Method

Trim fat from steak. Combine mustard, garlic, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, paprika and 1 Tbsp oil. Brush over both sides of steak. Season with salt & pepper. Marinate 4 hours or overnight in refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 450F.

Heat remaining 1 Tbsp oil in large ovenproof skillet on medium-high heat. Add steak & cook 3 minutes on each side. Place skillet in oven & bake for 15-18 minutes for rare, or until desired degree of doneness. Place on carving board & let rest while making sauce.

Heat 2 Tbsp butter in skillet on medium-high heat. Add mushrooms & sauté until limp. Add balsamic vinegar & wine & reduce until ¼ cup remains. Add stock & reduce by half.

Reduce heat & stir in remaining 1 Tbsp butter. Stir in parsley. Slice steak thinly & top with mushroom sauce.

 

With KIN Pinot Noir…

Balsamic Chicken with Mushrooms & Sundried Cherries

Adapted from Troy & Cheryl-Lynn Townsin, Cooking with BC Wine
Serves 6-8
Photo credit (as close to recipe as we could find!): Simply Recipes

balsalmic-chickenIngredients

1 cup red wine
1 cup chicken stock
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
4 Tbsp flour
½ lb. pancetta bacon
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped (or to taste)
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 cup dried cherries, chopped
¼ cup good quality balsamic vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste

Method

Dredge chicken in flour seasoned with salt & pepper.

Over medium-high heat, fry pancetta in olive oil until crisp. Remove from the pan & set aside. Brown chicken on both sides in bacon fat then remove from pan. Sauté onion, garlic & mushrooms until soft.

Add cherries, wine, vinegar, chicken stock, pancetta & chicken & simmer over medium-low heat for 30 minutes (add extra chicken stock if evaporation requires). Check the seasoning & adjust with balsamic vinegar if necessary.

Serve with frenched green beans, roasted cherry tomatoes and mashed potatoes.

 

 

Enjoy your Savvy Selections! 

 

 

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If I only had $100…I would buy at LCBO Vintages

Posted by Amanda

Friday, November 13th, 2015
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LCBO Magazine Nov 14The LCBO Vintages release on November 14 focusses on “Star Quality” and “Ports”. Neither feature needs explanation except to say the star quality wines featured in this release are too pricey for my budget.

But I thought it’s time we started stocking up for the Christmas season and putting a few gems aside that don’t get finished in one sitting. A nice variety of Ports never goes amiss and there’s some star quality here to finish not one but several dinner parties with panache.

Cheers,
Julie

 

If I had $100, I would buy these wines at LCBO Vintages…
Saturday November 14, 2015

 

Forté 2007Forté 2007

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$16.95 (Vintages # 361758) 18% alcohol

This was a delightful surprise to add to my basket for many “after dinners”. A pretty pale ruby, almost mahogany in colour, this light to medium bodied vintage port is nothing to scoff at. The grapes are a blend of Cabernet and Merlot with a pinch of Syrah thrown in.

Sweet but not cloying, dried cherry flavours, spiced nuts with a hint to toasted hazelnuts; it’s one nice sip. I always think of Portugal as “port” land where it is supposedly named after the city of Oporto harbour and for this price point it’s going to be a great new addition to my spirits cupboard.

 

Loosen Bros. Dr. L Riesling 2014Loosen Bros. Dr. L Riesling 2014

Qualitätswein, Germany
$13.95 (Vintages #599274) 8.5% alcohol

The Mosel’s steep, south facing slopes are the perfect climate for Riesling. Although generally cool conditions the vines are given full exposure to the sun. The grapes ripen slowly which offers bright acidity to the slightly off-dry white wine. The Dr. Loosen estate has been family owned and operated for over 200 years so they’ve had lots of time to get it right. Medium bodied and fruity, this white wine would be a great match for a spicy curry or an afternoon sipper.

Taylor Fladgate Fine White PortTaylor Fladgate Fine White Port

DOP, Portugal
$15.95 (Vintages #69856) 20% alcohol

This deep peach coloured wine must be the new “white”. It reminded me of a dry sherry but had flavours of rich baked apples. There is texture and the expression of toasted almonds and molasses in the long warm finish of this port, almost akin to a bittersweet honey. It makes for a great aperitif or a lovely drink on its own or over ice.

 

Lustau East India Solera SherryLustau East India Solera Sherry

DO, Spain
$24.95 (Vintages #342931) 20% alcohol

If you could purée creme brûlée and put it in a glass, it wouldn’t be a far notion from this creamy sherry. Dark golden in colour, it is delicious. Silky smooth with some Christmas spice and an underlying seam of acidity on the finish. It reminded me of butter pecan pie – rich and satisfying, especially for those who are prone to sweeter wines. I would serve this as a desert wine with any of the above possibilities or on ice for an afternoon delight.

 

Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Heredad CavaSegura Viudas Brut Reserva Heredad Cava

DO, Spain
$29.95 (Vintages # 558825)

This lovely Cava integrates a selection of Macabeo and Parallada grapes into an exciting sparkling white. Rich in flavour but not on sweetness, lots of fresh apples and apricot aromas and flavours from nose to palate to finish. In the LCBO Vintages publication for 14 November, another Savvy sommelier, Susan Desjardins, gave this 4.5 stars (out of 5) and wrote “Displays depth and lovely balance, intense aromas of pear, citrus and toasted butter pastry entice.. dry, bright and fresh….”   I couldn’t have said it better so thought I would quote Susan.

The bottle also offers great bling for the table with an attractive silver embossing on the bottle and a wine coaster cradling the bottom. It would make a fabulous gift since you get to enjoy the wine and have a decorative coaster for afterwards. Talk about 2 gifts in one, how much fun is that?

GRAND TOTAL – $101.75

 

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Backroad stops in Prince Edward County

Posted by Susan

Monday, October 19th, 2015
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I was visiting a friend near Wellington in Prince Edward County recently and discovered that the farmhouse in which we stayed was walking distance to a couple of wineries.

Hubbs Creek VineyardWe wandered down the road and up the drive of Hubbs Creek Vineyard, into the modest winery building that houses a small, well-staffed tasting bar, behind which are the fermentation tanks, barrel, and wine-making premises. John Battista Calvieri, joint owner, winemaker and viticuluralist with brothers Nick and Joe, was front and centre, radiating a warm welcome and pride in this family undertaking.

Of the 5 wines on the chalkboard, 2 are already sold out. We tasted his Pinot Gris 2014, Chardonnay 2014, and the Pinot Noir 2012. Get in your car now, drive to the County, and get some of these amazing wines – Hubbs only produces 800-1000 cases annually.

The Calvieri family has been growing grapes in the County for about 15 years. A few years ago, John Battista, an Electron Microscopist with the University of Toronto, won an amateur winemaking award for a wine he crafted from his County grapes. That’s when he and his brothers decided it was time to stop selling their grapes and to start making their own wines.

Ask John Battista about the wines and his passion shines through, as he says, ‘what I really do here is out there, in the vineyards’. He is a purist, using only his own estate-grown grapes to produce outstanding wines that show the character of the estate and the region. ‘I go to Italy regularly,’ says John Battista. ‘My family is from there, after all. I like to talk to the winemakers there – the really good ones tell you, you have to focus on your vineyards, your fruit, your winemaking if you truly want to make the best wines.’ Lessons well learned, as you’ll discover when you taste his wines.

Stache on MainWhile you’re in Wellington, visit Stache on Main, a quaint piano bar by night and gallery by day featuring local artists. It’s owned and run by Gloria Schmed, a native of Brooklyn, New York who came of age during the civil rights movement in the U.S., her Swiss husband Karl, a lithographer, and their daughter Kyla, who was a driving force behind the new venture. Until recently, Gloria was managing the career of her elder daughter, Shakura S’aida, an accomplished blues singer. It’s a relaxing venue with live jazz, radiating the warmth and elegance of its owners. We wandered in on a Monday evening, and by 7:30 p.m., every chair was taken as the local piano player charmed the patrons, and the family personally welcomed locals and tourists alike with fine local wines, craft beer and light ‘snack-ity snacks.’

Try these Hubbs Creek Estate Wines:

Hubbs Creek Pinot Gris 2014

VQA Prince Edward County $21.95 12.5% alcohol

Made in the Alsatian style, this dry, light-medium bodied wine offers enticing aromas of pear, citrus, melon and mineral. Produced from the fruit of 15-year-old densely planted vines, it’s crisp and bright, showing roundness and purity in the ripe fruit flavours, and the classic mineral character of County wines. Well structured, vibrant in texture, the clean finish seems never-ending. 

Hubbs Creek Pinot Noir 2012

Hubbs Creek wine labelVQA Prince Edward County $31.95 12.0% alcohol

From the wonderfully warm 2012 vintage, this Burgundian-style wine is a great find for Pinot-philes. Its sister wine, the now sold-out ‘Reserve’, won a silver medal in the All-Canada Wine Championships. The nose offers subtle, complex notes of red berries, Morello cherry, earth, mineral and a whiff of spice. Dry, medium bodied and beautifully silky in texture, the notion of cinnamon toast on the palate is witness to twelve months aging in seasoned French oak. Tightly wrought, the wine displays intensity in the ripe red berry, cherry and currant flavours, and in the well-defined structure of subtle tannins and bright acidity. Finely crafted and elegant, finishing long and dry, you’ll enjoy sipping this Pinot with a mushroom and Brie tart, or with grilled steelhead trout.

Hubbs Creek Chardonnay 2014

VQA Prince Edward County $27.95 12.0% alcohol

Fresh from the bottling line, this wine still needs a bit of time to come together. Produced from the fruit of seven-year-old vines, 20% fermented in seasoned French oak, the wine offers notes of apple and citrus, hints of pear and toasted nut. Dry, medium bodied, its tangy and pithy, flavours of grapefruit, lemon-lime and green apple to the fore. The texture is zesty, the finish long and dry. Hold the bottles for a few weeks, then enjoy with halibut with a lemon-caper cream sauce, or with seafood pasta.

There is so much to see & do (and drink) in Prince Edward County…why not taste your way along the County roads one winery at a time.

Happy travels!
Susan

 

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Ridgepoint Wines, a brother and sister team!

Posted by Susan

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015
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Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Ridgepoint Wines

–  April 2015 –

At Ridgepoint Wines, it’s a family affair of a brother and sister.  The division of labour between the siblings is clear with Anna recreating her mother’s home-style recipes for the restaurant. Mauro Scarsellone is focused on producing wines that honour his grandparents and his Italian heritage.

signHe laughed when I asked him about his family’s involvement in the making of Ridgepoint wines. ‘Actually, they stay as far away as they can from the whole process.  Anna though, insists on tasting the wines.’ As he hurried toward me in the tasting room, Mauro explained that he was late for our meeting because he was putting out fires.  He was trying to fix a fermenter that had gone into a funk, and was dealing with the issue of having to re-create some labels because his naming proposal to the AGCO had been rejected. “You know, I’m an accountant by training, but I really just want to be a farmer.’

What inspired Ridgepoint’s successful combination of winery and restaurant? Mauro and Anna grew up experiencing their grandparents’ passion for wine and food. “They made wine in Italy from the grapes they grew on a small parcel of land.  When they moved to Canada, they kept making wine. As kids, we were thrilled to help them. I’ll never forget my grandfather’s comments when he started making wine from local Niagara grapes – he couldn’t understand why the wine wamauro and annas so awful’, recounts Mauro. (A side note: Mauro was using Ontario grown Italian Labrusca grapes. Typically, these grapes have a ‘foxy’ taste that results in not the most enjoyable characteristic for a table wine!)

As for Anna, the recipes she uses were learned from her mother, passed down from her grandmother…and they are passing along one to you in this blog.  Eating at Ridgepoint is like going to a typical family-owned ‘trattoria’ in a small town in Italy. The aromas are mouthwatering, the dishes classics of simple, tasty Italian cuisine. Wine and food complement each other, as do Mauro and Anna.

The tasting I did at the winery this past autumn, followed by our Savvy Selections Sommelier panel tasting recently, made it clear we were going to share with our subscribers a selection of the fabulous reds that Mauro crafted from the outstanding 2010 vintage:

In your Savvy Selections, you will find:

Ridgepoint Merlot Cabernet Aglianico VQA 2010 – a unique blend resulting in a velvety Appassimento-style wine

Ridgepoint ‘Reserve’ Merlot VQA 2010 – supple with notions of chocolate-coated cherries

Ridgepoint ‘Reserve’ Meritage VQA 2010 – carefully crafted from the fruit of select low-yield vines

On your next visit to Niagara, be sure to visit Ridgepoint.  You’ll probably find Mauro roaming the vineyards or entertaining in the tasting room. Then wander into the restaurant to meet Anna as you enjoy a meal of her Italian pasta or pizza. You’ll think you were in Italy.

Cheers & Enjoy!

Debbie & Savvy Team

Introducing…
Ridgepoint Wines

Presented by Sommelier Susan Desjardins

For Mauro and Anna, it was a long road from the joy of helping their grandparents to make wine through their traditional business careers to being proprietors of their own winery and restaurant. ‘Our parents discouraged us from having anything to do with farming. They remembered how difficult it was in Italy, and the inevitable dependency on the whims of Mother Nature,’ remembers Mauro. This advice seems particularly prophetic this year, as we emerge from one of the most frigid winters on record.

Battling with Old Man Winter & Mother Nature

Brock University’s Cool Climate Viticulture program does annual assessments of bud survival, and the early results for the 2014/2015 winter are distressing, particularly in vineyards on the escarpment. Bud (on the vines) survival rates may be as low as 10% for some varieties, while others may reach 70-80%. ‘Our most significant challenge has always been trying to get our vines through the winter. While Ontario’s growing season is long enough and warm enough to ensure grapes ripen, the varieties that we most enjoy producing wine with, such as Nebbiolo and Merlot, are the ones with the lowest survival rates’, Mauro explains.

Ridgepoint wineryWith the many sleepless nights he experienced through this past January and February: ‘This year, Lake Erie is frozen, so the strong westerly winds are not moderated in any way as they make their way over the Niagara Escarpment. Those strong winds also make it difficult for us to use our wind machines, which are the usual defense against these conditions. So, sometimes, we just have to pray…’

As we discussed this winter’s impact, Mauro came back to his love of Niagara and winemaking. ‘My sister and I both graduated from York University with business degrees. I went on to become a Chartered Account with Price Waterhouse Coopers. I was on a business trip to the Niagara region when I first experienced the local wine industry. It was love at first sip! I was so impressed with the work being done to improve wine quality. After doing some research, we thought we could contribute something to the industry by planting varieties that we really enjoy drinking, including Nebbiolo.’

mapThe Ridgepoint property was purchased in 1995. ‘We were attracted to the Beamsville Bench partly because this area brings us back to our roots—the hillside vineyards of Italy, where the highest quality grapes are usually grown. We felt the bench offered the same potential.’ The vineyards were planted in 1997, about half of the 18 acres dedicated to Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, the balance to Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Franc and, of course, Nebbiolo.

The first to plant Nebbiolo

Ridgepoint has the distinction of being the first Ontario winery to produce a commercial bottling of Nebbiolo.  Says Mauro, ‘As an artisanal winery, we are passionate about what we do and are involved in every step of the process, from the vineyard to bottling to retailing, and to savouring our wine with typical Italian cuisine. True to our Latin blood, we’re stubborn in our belief that Ontario can make great red wines. To this end, we continue to innovate with the introduction of our Ripasso and Appassimento wines’ (using dried grapes in fermentation to add depth and intensity to the wine).

MauroandSteve2jpegIn this quest for great wines, Mauro has worked with a number of assistant winemakers and winemaking consultants. Steve Byfield, of Nyarai Cellars, worked with Mauro as assistant winemaker earlier in his career. Steve and Mauro re-established their winemaking partnership in 2013, with Steve acting as a consultant. What does Mauro look for in a winemaker? “We desire and appreciate the creativity that Steve offers, helping to research and use new techniques, yeasts and enzymes that will help us create wines with greater fruit, color, structure and balance. We value the opportunity to work with someone who shares our goals and winemaking style.”

Eat, Sleep & Dream about Wine

Mauro and Anna share the characteristics of all entrepreneurs – their absolute commitment to their endeavour, and their willingness to deal with disappointments and move forward. ‘We eat, sleep and dream about Ridgepoint. We are not focused on making wines that critics worship. Rather, we’re excited about making wines that can be enjoyed on any occasion and shared with friends and family. Our pride has taken a few bumps over the years, mainly from Mother Nature as she provides us with yet another harsh winter this year. But we persevere and keep bouncing back to continue to push the envelope.’

While Mauro’s goal may not be to create ‘worshipped’ wines, I know you’ll agree that the wines in this Savvy Selection are worthy of contemplation, cellaring and sharing with your friends.

Here’s to Mauro and Anna… and bring on those great reds!

 

~ SAVVY SOMMELIER TASTING NOTES ~


Ridgepoint Merlot Cabernet Aglianico 2010 VQA, $20.00

Ridgepoint bottlesThis small-batch wine is aged in aged French and American oak for up to 24 months. It’s predominantly Merlot, with a small portion of Cabernet Franc and fully air dried (almost to the point of raisins) Aglianico grapes added for depth and intensity in aromas and flavours.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Our tasting panel loved this unique wine, with its rich, ripe berry and plum notes, hints of dried fruit and spice. It’s full bodied, generous and velvety, the texture warm and spicy, the tannins supple, with a clean acidity that lifts the tasty fruit flavours.

Suggested Food Pairing: Serve this unique blend with classic Italian meat pasta dishes.

Cellaring: Drinking well now or cellar 2-3 years.

 

Ridgepoint ‘Reserve’ Merlot 2010 VQA, $25.00

Only in vintages that produce ‘super ripe’ grapes is this Merlot produced. Fermented on the skins for up to 2 weeks, the wine in then aged in French and American oak for up to 24 months. Each barrel is tasted, and only those meeting Mauro’s exacting standards are selected for this Reserve.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Aromas of red fruit, plum, cedar, spice and vanilla are predominant on the nose.  “Its outstanding!”, comments Velma during the panel tasting.  Dry, medium-full bodied, the wine shows great integration—supple tannins and fine acidity establish the framework for ripe plum and cherry fruit, notes of chocolate-coated cherry and spiced vanilla adding to the savoury taste experience. Reflecting the excellent vintage, the wine finishes warm, spicy and fruit filled.

Suggested Food Pairing: Serve with duck or pork roast.

Cellaring: This wine will cellar a further 3-5 years.

 

Ridgepoint ‘Reserve’ Meritage 2010 VQA $30.00

Equal parts of the Cabernets and Merlot were harvested at 2 tons/acre from specially selected rows, fermented together, then aged in new French oak for about 14 months to create this powerful, cellar-worthy wine.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: The special care taken with this wine has created a dry, full bodied wine with great complexity, a velvety texture and beautiful balance of fruit, supple tannins and clean acidity. Cassis, plum and red berry, floral and earth notes, vanilla and spice layer and mingle on the nose and palate. Warm on the finish, the ripe berry flavours shine through.

Suggested Food Pairing:  This wine will sing when it is served with a prime rib or roast with all of the trimmings.

Cellaring: Ready now, it will cellar 3-7 years.

 

~RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH YOUR SAVVY SELECTIONS~


With Ridgepoint Merlot Cabernet Aglianico…

Potato Cake with Soppressata

From www.bcliquorstores.com
Serves 12

Ingredients

4 large eggs
½ C homogenized milk
¼ C ricotta cheese
½ tsp dried oregano, crushed
4 lb. russet potatoes (about 6 large)
1 ½ C freshly grated Parmesano Reggiano, Pecorino or Grana Padano cheese
½ lb soppressata, prosciutto or salami, cut into 1” pieces
¼ C finely chopped flat leaf parsley
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
½ C fresh bread crumbs
¾ lb. fresh mozzarella, cut into ¼” slices

 Method

Preheat oven to 450F. In mixing bowl, lightly beat eggs. Add milk, ricotta and oregano, mix well and set aside. Boil whole potatoes until tender, 30-40 minutes. Drain & peel potatoes. While still warm, pass through a food mill or grate into large mixing bowl. Fold in Parmesan, then stir in soppressata and parsley. Gently mix in egg mixture. Do not over-mix or potato starch will make mixture tough.

Butter 9” springform pan with 2 Tbsp butter & dust with some bread crumbs. Transfer half potato mixture into pan and gently smooth I to edges. Spread mozzarella slices over potato mixture to within ½” of edge. Top with remaining potato mixture and carefully smooth over with wet spatula. Sprinkle with remaining bread crumbs dot with remaining 2 Tbsp butter. Bake until light golden brown on top, about 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to stand 15 minutes before unmolding. Serve in wedges with a green salad. Can be made the day before, covered and refrigerated. Reheat at 350F uncovered for 30 minutes.

 

With Ridgepoint ‘Reserve’ Merlot

Ridgepoint Bolognese

from the Chef at Ridgepoint WineryRidgepoint bolanese
Serves a crowd!

Ingredients

2.5 lbs each ground beef & pork
Canola oil for browning
1 lb. carrots, peeled and diced
2 small white onions, peeled and diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 Bay leaf
Salt & pepper to taste
1 ½ cup red wine
Quality Virgin Olive Oil
Balsamic vinegar reduction

Method

Using a large frying pan, heat canola oil on medium-high heat and brown meat, in portions if necessary, until cooked through about 80%.

Add vegetables and wine, reduce heat and simmer until wine is reduced and sauce achieves desired thickness.

Dress your choice of fresh cooked pasta with a light tomato sauce, spoon over the Bolognese, and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar reduction.

Steve & Mauro in the barrel room

 

With Ridgepoint ‘Reserve’ Meritage…

Garlic Prime Rib

www.allrecipes.com
Serves 8-10

Ingredients

1 10lb. prime rib roast
10 cloves garlic, minced (or to taste)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp dried thyme

 Method

Ridgepoint restaurantPlace the roast in a roasting pan with the fatty side up. In a small bowl, mix together the garlic, oil, salt, pepper and thyme. Spread the mixture over the fatty layer of the roast, letting the roast sit out until it is at room temperature, no longer than 1 hour.Preheat the oven to 500 F.

Bake the roast for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, then reduce the temperature to 325F and continue roasting for an additional 60-75 minutes. The internal temperature of the roast should be at 135F.

Allow the roast to rest for 10-15 minutes before carving, so the meat can retain its juices.

Serve with roast potatoes and a medley of roast vegetables.

 Enjoy your Savvy Selections!

 

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Savvy Elves are in the festive mood

Posted by Debbie

Friday, December 12th, 2014
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The countdown is on – ready or not, Christmas is next week. In the Savvy office, we’ve been singing holiday songs all month long to keep us in the festive mood while our phones ring off the hook! Here is the SAVVY version of The 12 Days of Christmas to make your Holiday Shopping easy…and bright!

On the 1st day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

A one-of-a-kind gift of a subscription to the new Savvy Hip Hops Craft Beer of the month club.  A Taste Case of beers from different Ontario breweries is delivered each month!

Savvy Company keep calmOn the 2nd day of Christmas…

2 cool red Keep Calm & Drink Canadian Wine T-shirts.  $25 each.  Call our Savvy Elves on 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) to wrap up a couple for you.

On the 3rd day…

3 Savvy gift certificates for tickets to upcoming Savvy Events in 2015. Order $100 gift certificate, we’ll increase it to $125 value – only during the holidays!

Savvy Selections iconOn the 4th day…

4 month subscription to Savvy Selections wine of the month club . Our #1 wine gift! Each month, three different hard-to-find Ontario wines selected by our team of Savvy Sommeliers conveniently arrive at your home or office. “It’s Christmas for adults. Wines arrive on my doorstep every month!” – Colleen

On the 5th day…

5 ‘Must Buy’ wines from the LCBO featured in our blog If I only had $100, I would buy at LCBO. Use this shopping list for great value wines at Vintages as chosen by our Savvy Sommeliers Julie Stock & Susan Desjardins

Savvy Hip Hops beer of the month clubOn the 6th day…

6 month subscription to Savvy Hip Hops  – Ontario’s largest craft beer of the month club. On the Friday closest to the 2-4 of the month, we hand-deliver an amazing assortment of beers from a featured Ontario brewery.  It’s different each month!

On the 7th day…

7 days a week you can contact us online with our Live Chat. Ask us any question about wine, artisan cheese & craft beer. Try it out now on www.savvycompany.ca “Operators are standing by”!

Savvy SommeliersOn the 8th day…

Our Savvy Elves are working over 8 hours a day & we’re online around the clock! Call our Savvy Team on 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) each day leading up to Christmas or reach us online anytime at cheers@savvycompany.ca

On the 9th day…

Wine & beer of course! We have Ontario’s largest wine AND craft beer of the month club. Give a subscription for 4, 6 or 12 months.  It’s THE perfect gift that keeps on giving!

wine_tasting_sparklingOn the 10th day…

Round up 10 friends, colleagues or clients for a private Savvy Sommelier led wine, artisan cheese or craft beer tasting – a fun way to entertain in your home or at the office. Call on us to create a fun & memorable event. You invite the guests – we do the rest.

On the 11thday…

11 fantastic years in business – thank you for your continuing support as Savvy Company grows. Here’s to what in store for us in 2015!

On the 12th day…

12 different bottles of incredible Ontario wines – you won’t find these wines at the LCBO – delivered to you to enjoy during the holidays.

 

The Savvy Holiday Hotline
613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or cheers@savvycompany.ca

 

Happy Ho-Ho-Ho Holidays from all of us at Savvy Company. Here’s to an exciting & delicious New Year together discovering wines, artisan cheeses & craft beers!

Debbie, the Savvy Team & Savvy Elves too!

 

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Discover Canada’s REAL Cranberry in The Muskokas

Posted by Susan

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014
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Looking for a getaway over the weekend?  Try visiting the Muskokas where there’s lots to see & do. Here’s something you might not have thought of….be sure to visit Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh & Muskoka Lakes Winery.  On our fall getaway, my husband & I hit a spot of bad weather & were drowned in over 100 mm of rain, which meant that our planned golf games were cancelled – greens were flooded, beaver dams were giving way there was water everywhere!

Johnston's CranberriesWhat to do when your planned game goes, literally, down the drain? Head for the small hamlet of Bala and find your way to Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh and Muskoka Lakes Winery.

The marsh is open year round and offers a fascinating walking tour that provides a great education into the production of cranberries, one of Canada’s few native fruits. No, they don’t grow in water.

The ideal cranberry marsh is dug from a peat-based soil with a stream or river nearby. The woody vines, growing low to the ground, are systematically flooded in spring to discourage insects and disease, then the berries grow dry through the summer, with the marsh flooded once again in the fall to float the berries for harvest.

Orville Johnston, who studied agriculture at my alma mater, McGill University, dreamed of a thriving cranberry industry, so he bought ideal land in the Muskokas and dug the first marsh in the late 1950s. His son, Murray, also studied agriculture (at Guelph University) and to this day carries on the cranberry marsh tradition with his family.

Muskoka LakesMurray and his wife (her family owned Gooderham and Worts Distillery and her fascination with wine led her to train as a sommelier) established Muskoka Lakes Winery in 2000, with a goal ‘to take locally grown fruit and use traditional methods to craft artisanal wine.’ Their Cranberry and Cranberry Blueberry wines, as well as the Red Maple dessert wine have won awards at the Canadian Wine Championships, and are available at the LCBO.

 

Cool Cranberry Wines

 

Muskoka Lakes Cranberry Wine 2013

Canada $15.95 (609701) 9.5% alcohol

Off-dry and fruit forward, this wine is true to its source, with aromas and flavours of lively fresh cranberry. Fermented in stainless to showcase the fruit, it’s light-medium bodied, tangy in texture and zesty through the refreshing finish. With turkey, of course!!

 

Muskoka Lakes Cranberry Blueberry Wine 2013

Canada $16.95 (609719) 10.5% alcohol

Equal proportions of cranberries and local wild blueberries are fermented together to produce a tangy, off-dry wine that offers a silky texture and fine berry aromas and flavours. It’s crisp and lively, the sweet fruit persisting on the palate, elusive notes of dried herbs and nut lingering on the finish. Slightly chilled this wine is a pleasant sipper but also a great match for roast turkey or chicken.

 

Muskoka Lakes Red Maple 2012

Canada $23.95 (50039) 15.0% alcohol (375ml)

A fortified wine, this dessert treat adds maple syrup to the cranberry wine after fermentation. The fruit shines through, with interesting notes of smoke, earth and spice. Lush and sweet, it’s fresh in texture, the purity of the cranberry and its zesty acidity shining through. A great marriage of the mouth-filling sweetness of maple and the crisp tartness of cranberry. Enjoy with a chocolate dessert.

Cheers & Enjoy these Muskoka Lakes cranberry wines!
Susan

 

 

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Tee off for a round of golf & wine at Rockway Vineyards

Posted by Susan

Monday, September 22nd, 2014
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 SS stamp lowest res

Savvy Selections wine of the month club 
Featuring Rockway Vineyards

– September 2014 –

 

If your passion is golf and you love to spend the 19th hole with a fine glass of wine paired with a delicious lunch, Rockway Vineyards is the place for you. This property has a fascinating history that starts with founder Bruce Strongman’s love of golf and wine.

Enter the entrepreneur…

Bruce started making paint in his family-run paint store in Toronto, and built the business into the largest paint and wallpaper chain in Canada – Colour Your World. Bruce had time for more golf when the company was sold, and like many entrepreneurs, he followed his dream. It wasn’t just about shooting a perfect round, his dream included owning a golf course.

Take one golf enthusiast…

Rockway VineyardsYears of travelling to his golf course through vineyards along the Niagara Wine Route, which was increasing in popularity, led Bruce and his son Reid to hatch the idea of establishing a golf course associated with a vineyard and winery. The current property – originally a Concord grape vineyard – was purchased and construction of the course began in 1982, with the official opening in 1984. The father and son team were convinced that many of the 25,000 golfers coming to the Niagara region would too be interested in purchasing a bottle or two of wine.

Buy grape juice…

In 2000, they set the wheels in motion, purchasing juice from Reif Estate Winery and gaining the helpful winemaking expertise of Klaus Reif.  Right from the get go, it paid off as their first ice wine was selected as the ‘best of the best’ on the menu at Royal York Hotel in Toronto. Now that is impressive!

Planting of the vines began on a 50-acre vineyard adjacent to the winery.

And last but not least, purchase the vineyard!

wine-hero1When the vineyard across the street was for sale, Bruce purchased it to provide a total of 150 acres. The rapidly growing business became the only 18-hole championship golf course with a fully functional estate winery in Ontario. Bruce is now 92, and can still be seen out at Rockway for his weekly golf game, followed by lunch and a glass of wine in the restaurant. Reid continues to be involved in the business, as are several other family members.

We’re delighted to have this opportunity to offer to you a collection of Rockway Vineyards wines, crafted by winemaker David Stasiuk’s signature ‘minimalist touch’.

In your Savvy Selections, you will find:

Small Lot Block 12-110 Wild Ferment Chardonnay VQA 2013 – a well-balanced wine with complex nose & flavours.  You are the first to receive this wine as it is not yet released at the winery.

‘The Outcast’ VQA 2011– a red Rhône-style blend that will intrigue you as it is Syrah blended with Riesling. Daring, peppery and flavourful

Small Lot Block 11-140 Cabernet Franc VQA 2011 – perfectly well-ripened, smooth, sauve & showcasing all that Cab Franc can be.

If you’re an avid golfer like our Savvy Sommelier Susan Desjardins, after visiting Rockway for both the winery and the golfing – you will make this a regular stop when you visit Niagara. Be sure to make time for a round, wines tasting, lunch or dinner at the excellent restaurant, then take a stroll through the Rockway museum, that includes a selection of authentic French winemaking antiques.

Cheers & Enjoy!

Debbie & Savvy Team 

Introducing…
Rockway Vineyards

Presented by Savvy Sommelier Susan Desjardins

 

Rockway Vineyards family photoAs I talked to Bryce Carruthers (far right in photo) – Rockway’s Sales Manager as well as Bruce’s nephew – he emphasized the recent transition that has taken place at Rockway. With tee off bookings at the golf course being steady and the banquet hall is regularly booked with weddings and golf tournaments, the family wanted to shift the focus to growing the winery and the creation of distinctive wines.

In 2009, the name was changed to Rockway Vineyards, and Bruce (centre with white shirt) instructed his then-wine consultant to find the best possible winemaker in the region. “If it’s not the best wine we can make, we’re not going to bottle it!”

Enter David Stasiuk . . . and the accolades keep coming. (David is middle of left group in photo)

David’s excitement at his role is palpable. A graduate of the Niagara College Winery & Viticulture program, he came to winemaking through the hospitality industry. “In the various roles I held in the restaurant industry, I met many winemakers, attended tastings and played a role in the selection and management of wines for the restaurants. I quickly realized that my passion for wine was too great to play second fiddle to opening a restaurant!”

Attracted to the practical components of the Niagara College program, he initiated his studies in 2007, soon realizing that the scope of a winemaker’s duties is broad.  At Rockway, David is a grower, a chemist, a taster, a people manager, a marketer, a media relations agent and, as he says, a life-long student.

Hands-on experience across Canada & beyond

During and after the College program, he ventured to gain hands on experience locally and around the world. At Le Clos Jordanne (in Niagara), he worked with Thomas Bachelder, learning the importance of site and terroir and how that translates into each wine. “Thomas was a great mentor. I learned so much—that passion for winegrowing is a must and plays a key part in the impression left on every wine crafted; the methods of wild yeast fermentation, barrel program design and so much more—I could go on forever”, explained David.

He wanted to experience winemaking in Canada’s other major winegrowing region, and was able to secure a position at Sumac Ridge. What better place for David to cut his teeth in the industry, than at this seminal Okanagan property, where Harry McWatters established his first vineyard by planting vines on what were the first few holes of his golf course! Through this experience, David worked with Sumac Ridge’s signature product –  sparkling wine – as well as still wines and developed an understanding of the BC wine industry.

Next, David moved on to Australia and New Zealand, staying true to his cool-climate roots, working at Moët Chandon in Australia’s Yarra Valley and with Villa Maria Estate in Marlborough, New Zealand. Here, he worked with grapes varieties such as Pinot Noir and Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay – all highly relevant to the Ontario wine industry.

Europe was his next destination, yet life and his wife’s career intervened, so he headed to BC to work with Darryl Brooker at Cedar Creek, before moving back to Niagara. “Darryl’s approached to winemaking really affected how I look at things—always a focus on the highest quality with an honest hands-off approach, and the determination to go the distance to achieve the best results, no matter what”, tells David. 

5 years and counting…

David Stasiuk - taken by Savvy CompanyWhen David joined Rockway Vineyards 5 years ago, he combined his love for food and golf with his passion for wine.

He was given a clean slate and the opportunity to re-define the style of Rockway wines. Asked what he feels gives his wines their unique style, he focuses on two keys factors: the site and state-of-the-art equipment.

“We are located on the furthest eastern border of the Twenty Mile Bench sub-apellation. We are farther away from the lake than the bench wineries (winespeak: wineries along the Beamsville Bench), yet still benefit from the lake-effect wind and temperature modulation. Because of the way the escarpment wraps around our site, we tend to have funneling winds that promote good air flow through the grapevine canopies.” David continues, “we have diverse soils and are on a gradual slope that, with the winds, helps reduce the risk of settling frosts. Most of our vines were planted 10-30 years ago, so we have some mature vines and are focused on Chardonnay and Riesling, as well as Cabernet Franc and Syrah.”

With the winery onsite, there is minimal time from picking to processing and the winemaking equipment includes state-of-the-art cooling tanks and processing equipment.

Making wines he likes

When I asked about his philosophy and the type of experience he would like you to have when you taste his wines, David is poetic. “We try to preserve the flavours developed in our vineyards by being gentle with the fruit and not obscuring the taste of the vineyard by over oaking. I want people who taste our wines to have the same experience I look for in a wine”. David shares his personal impression, “I want to be intrigued at the first smell from the glass. I want to sense depth and layers of aromas. Then I want the wine to have life on the palate. I want it to be fresh and approachable but firm, with a distinct personality.”

Let me ask you…what more could YOU want!?!

Cheers & Enjoy your Savvy Selections!

 

~ SAVVY SOMMELIER TASTING NOTES ~


‘Small Lot Block 12-110’ Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2013 VQA, $32.00

The fruit for this wine was hand harvested, a portion of the juice placed in a warm room to start a natural inoculant, then was tasted and added back to the barrels. The wine was aged in French oak for 7 months.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Attractive notes of butter, vanilla and toasted nut mingle with aromas of ripe orchard fruit. This dry, medium-bodied wine offers a tantalizing taste experience, showing complexity & verve with sound fruit flavours, good structure and a pleasant touch of buttery toast on the finish.

Suggested Food Pairing:  Enjoy the creamy texture  & lively acidity of this wine with roast chicken, pork or grilled salmon.

Cellaring: Drinking well now or cellar 2-3 years.

 

‘The Outcast’ 2011 VQA, $19.95

Move over Shiraz/Viognier blends, David is introducing his own creation: Syrah/Riesling. It’s common practice in Australia to add 5% Viognier to Shiraz for aromatics and minerality. David in turn, is adding 5% Riesling to this northern Rhône-style Syrah for the subtle acidity and residual sugar it brings to the texture.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:Dry, medium bodied, this unique blend has a firm structure and fresh texture, with a peppery nose, spicy floral notes and lovely red & black fruit.The spicy peppery notes mingle with a hint of earthiness and juicy ripe fruit, while a subtle note of coffee bean (resulting from the Syrah juice that spent 18 months in oak) lingers on the finish.

Suggested Food Pairing:Lamb is a classic pairing or enjoy with other roast meat are a perfect match.

Cellaring: This wine will cellar a further 2-3 years.

 

‘Small Lot Block 11-140’ Cabernet Franc 2011 VQA $24.95

The fruit for this wine benefited from ideal ripening conditions – warm days and cool nights heading into harvest, assuring depth of flavor and smooth tannins. Fermented with a native Bordeaux yeast, then aged 18 months in French barrels.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Here’s a well-ripened Cabernet Franc offering a fine nose of spicy chocolate, lavender, dried herbs, ripe berry and plum. Dry, medium-full bodied, it has great presence on the palate, a fresh yet rich texture, well-defined structure and flavourful fruit flavours. Attractive peppery notes & a hint of mocha persist on the finish.

Suggested Food Pairing:  Serve with Beef Bourguignon, Coq au Vin or leg of lamb.

Cellaring:  Ready now, it will cellar 3-5 years.

 

~ RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH YOUR SAVVY SELECTIONS ~


With Rockway Wild Ferment Chardonnay…

Salmon with Lemon Quinoa & Corn Salsa

From Radius Café, Hamilton Ontario
Serves 4

Ingredients

2 cups dried quinoa
2 lemons
6 Tbsp olive oil
½ C chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 cobs corn
½ red pepper, chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp cracked black pepper
4 portions fresh Atlantic salmon

Method

In 2 litres of boiling water, cook quinoa until tender, 8-10 minutes. Strain in a colander & transfer to large bowl. While it’s still hot, add zest & juice of 2 lemons & 2 Tbsp olive oil. Stir & let cool in refrigerator. Once cool, add 2 Tbsp parsley & set aside.

Husk corn & grill on high, rotating cobs until nicely charred on the outside. Stand corn upright on cutting board & run knife along cob to remove kernels. (alternatively, do the same process by boiling corn)

Transfer kernels to bowl. Add red pepper, shallot, remaining olive oil, white wine vinegar & remaining parsley. Season this corn salsa with half the salt & pepper & set aside.

Season salmon with remaining salt & pepper & brush lightly with oil. On hot grill, cook salmon for about 6 minutes per side or until moist & flakey.

Make a bed of quinoa on each plate. Lay grilled salmon on it & top with corn salsa. 


With Rockway ‘The Outcast’

Leg of Lamb with Syrah Marinade

Adapted from Cooking with BC Wine Cookbook, T & C-L Townsin
Serves 6

Ingredients

1 leg of lamb
1 cup Syrah
2 tsp minced horseradish
2 cup ketchup
2 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp oregano
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp shallots, minced
2 Tbsp parsley, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp rosemary, chopped

Method

David Stasiuk in cellar - taken by Savvy CompanyCombine all marinade ingredients in a large bowl or plastic container. Trim excess fat from lamb and marinate overnight for best results. There should be extra marinade to be saved for later.

Preheat oven to 350F. Remove lamb from marinade and sear on all sides in pan over medium high heat.

Transfer lamb to ovenproof dish, cover and roast for 45 minutes for rare or 1 hour for well done. Or grill on barbeque. Serve with baby roast potatoes and seasonal fall vegetables.

 

 

What a treat! David gave us a barrel tasting of his 2012 red wines of Syrah & Cabernet Franc. Not ready just yet, but they will be worth the wait!

 

With Rockway Cabernet Franc…

Grilled Hanger Steak with Smoky Corn & Tomato Salsa

From The Flavour Principle Cookbook, L. Waverman, B. Crosariol
Serves 6

Ingredients for Steak

2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tbp chopped garlic
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp honey
¼ cup olive oil
one 2 lb. hanger steak
salt & freshly ground pepper

Ingredients for Salsa

3 ears corn, shucked
3 plum tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
1 red pepper, cut in quarters
3 Tbsp olive oil
salt & freshly ground pepper
¾ cup chopped red onion

Ingredients for Dressing

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp coriander seeds
¾ tsp smoked paprika
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

 

Method for Steak

Combine mustard, vinegar, thyme, garlic, chili powder & honey in a small bowl. Whisk in olive oil. Pour marinade over steak & marinate in refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight. Remove steak from refrigerator 1 hour before grilling to bring it to room temperature.

Preheat grill to high. Season steak with salt & pepper & grill for 4-6 minutes per side for medium-rare (depending on thickness) or until desired degree of doneness.

Remove from grill & let rest for 5 minutes. Slice against grain & serve with Smoky Corn & Tomato Salsa.

Method for Salsa 

Preheat grill to high. Brush corn, tomatoes & red pepper with oil. Season with salt & pepper.

Grill corn for about 3 minutes per side or until kernels are golden. Also grill tomatoes until skin is shriveled and flesh is soft, about 2 minutes per side. Peel charred skin from tomatoes & discard; then grill peppers for about 4 minutes per side or until skin is blackened. Set aside & cool. Peel skin from pepper & discard. Dice pepper & transfer to medium bowl.

Slice corn from cobs & add to pepper with red onion.

Place tomatoes in food processor with oil, lemon juice, coriander seeds & paprika. Process until smooth. Stir in cilantro. Toss vegetables with dressing.

 

Enjoy your Savvy Selections!

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If I had $100…I would buy these wines at Vintages…

Posted by Susan

Friday, September 12th, 2014
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If you’re a lover of Ontario wines, as many of our Savvy Selections subscribers are, you’ll be delighted with the September 13 LCBO Vintages releases, which showcases the diversity of terroir and wines across the province.

Vintages magazine Sept 13 2014

State of the Art in Ontario

This billion-dollar industry has come into its own over the last 30 years, and we’ve been contributing to it! Most Ontario wine is consumed in Canada, and the shift in consumer tastes away from spirits to dry table wine can only accelerate the growth of the industry.

Old Vines, Part of Our Heritage

The province’s wine industry is located at approximately the same latitude as Burgundy, so we can ripen most Vitis vinifera grapes – Paul Bosc Sr. was one of the first to demonstrate this at Château des Charmes, where the first vines were planted in 1978 – and produce a range of wine styles, from crisp sparkling wines, such as The Grange of Prince Edward County Sparkling Riesling and Peller Estates Ice Cuvée Rosé, through off-dry and dry white or red wines to the iconic ice wine that reintroduced the Canadian wine industry to the world, represented in this release by Château des Charmes’  beautifully crafted ‘Estate Bottled’ Vidal Icewine.

Nature & Nurture

There’s a particular focus in this Ontario feature on the Cabernet Franc grape, which ripens particularly well in Niagara.  Used in Bordeaux blends, and produced as a single varietal wine in the Chinon and Bourgeuil appellations in France, Cabernet Franc has come into its own in Canada’s wine regions. The Ontario feature includes great examples from such producers as Peller Estates, Southbrook, Tawse and Thirty Bench (its Red is built around Cabernet the Cabernet grapes).

Taste the Place

I have visited Prince Edward County and Lake Erie North Shore several times, and usually make at least one annual pilgrimage to Niagara. It never ceases to amaze me how many new wineries are sprouting from the soil, how successful the well-established ones are, and how many wine lovers are stopping in to taste the wines, meet the winemakers, and take home a selection of wines. If your schedule doesn’t allow you to visit one of the regions in person, take advantage of this Vintages release to put together your own tasting party of Ontario wines!

Taste 2011For a real-life taste, come to TASTE 2014.  Come & meet some of the region’s finest chefs, winemakers, beer, spirits and cider masters. Sample the best gourmet food from top local restaurants and artisan food producers. Buy fresh produce and VQA wines in our farmer’s market. Come to Prince Edward County and see why TASTE Community Grown is Eastern Ontario’s most anticipated culinary event of 2014.

Tuscany’s Third Pillar – again

There’s always a secondary feature in the Vintages release, and this one will appeal to lovers of Sangiovese, specifically the Prugnolo gentile clone that is used in the production of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.  This wine is designed for aging and is known for its firm structure, dark fruit and earthy character. Five producers are represented in the release – take your pick!

And, of course, there are some great values to be had in the general release, a couple of which are included in the selection below.

Cheers,
Susan
susan@savvyselections.ca
Sources:  The Ontario Wine Industry: Provincial Policy at a Crossroads, Pelling & Hira

 

If I had $100, I would buy these wines at LCBO Vintages…

September 13, 2014 

 

Flat Rock RieslingFlat Rock Cellars Riesling 2013

VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Ontario
$16.95 (Vintages 43281) 11.0% alcohol

Fabulous aromas of peach, nectarine, pear, lime and some mineral notes lift from the class of this off-dry white wine. It’s a masterpiece of balance, showcasing a beautifully crisp texture juxtaposed to round, well-ripened fruit flavours and that subtle mineral character. It’s juicy and flavourful to the last drop! Sip well chilled paired with soft cheeses on a warm autumn afternoon.

 

Talmard Macon UchizyMallory & Benjamin Talmard Mâcon-Uzichy 2012

AOC Mâcon-Uzichy, France
$16.95 (Vintages 733956) 13.0% alcohol

This classic white wine of southern Burgundy combines stone and orchard fruit aromas with the scent of sweet woodruff and smoke. Dry, medium bodied, it’s ripe round texture is perfectly matched to a fine seam of acidity. Flavours of apple and lemon-lime dance on the palate, garnished with a touch of toasted nut. Well balanced and absolutely lovely, it’s a match for lemon roast chicken or your choice of seafood. 

 

13th Street Cabernet Merlot13th Street Cabernet/Merlot 2012

VQA Creek Shores, Ontario
$19.95 (Vintages 56598) 13.5% alcohol

Dense and inky, this red wine blend offers lovely aromas of ripe dark fruit, earthy notes and hints of lavender and dried herbs. Dry, medium-full bodied, it’s polished tannins and tangy texture harmonize with dark berry and plum. There’s depth and intensity here, spice and smoky toast complementing the fruit on the extended finish. Enjoy with grilled red meats.

 

Chakana Cabernet SauvignonCkakana ‘Yaguaraté Collection’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 

Mendoza, Argentina
$13.95 (Vintages #663161) 14.5% alcohol

Ripe aromas of black currant, spice, toast and licorice lift from the glass of this appealing, full-bodied varietal wine. It offers a warm welcome, round mouth feel, soft tannins and generous ripe fruit accented by spice and tasty notes of coffee bean. This red wine is a crowd-pleaser with a pleasantly dry finish, it’s a great value and made for barbequed meats.

 

Dominio Cepas Viejas MenciaDominio de Tares ‘Cepas Viejas’ Mencia 2009

DO Bierzo, Spain
$29.95 (Vintages #379891) 14.5% alcohol

Subtle aromas—cherry, berry, leather, meaty notes, spice and vanilla—tantalize the nose and offer a well-rehearsed intro to the velvety, round texture of this captivating old-vines wine. It’s produced from Mencia, a grape native to Spain’s northwest and shown, through DNA testing, to be related to a grape native to Portugal.

Dry, combining finesse and power, it showcases great intensity and depth of fruit, a well-defined, refined structure, and the complexity of French and American barrel aging. The dry finish offers warmth and great length. Just fabulous, treat yourself to a bottle and you’ll enjoy tasting this wine before a dinner built around rare grilled meats. 

 

GRAND TOTAL: $97.75

 

 

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Fresh Starts & Fine Wines in the Okanagan Valley

Posted by Susan

Monday, March 17th, 2014
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Each trip to B.C.’s Okanagan Valley is a new adventure – tasting wines from a new vintage, visiting old friends at existing wineries, or talking to individuals who have decided to turn their minds, hearts and hands to the cultivation of grapes and the vinification of unique wines. My recent visit was no exception, providing an exceptional opportunity to take an extensive tour of the Triggs’ family new venture, Culmina Family Estate Winery on the Golden Mile, and to visit Platinum Bench Estate Winery on the Black Sage Bench as well as Spierhead Winery in southeast Kelowna.

Culmina Winery

Donal TriggsThe Golden Mile bench in the south Okanagan, between Oliver and Osoyoos, is legendary, named not so much for the quality of the soil for tree fruits and grape vines, but rather for the gold mines that were worked in the area in the late 1800s. Don Triggs greeted us when we arrived, brimming with energy and enthusiasm for this new project.  After the sale of Vincor (which included Jackson-Triggs, co-founded by Triggs) in 2006, Don took a year off – ‘but I got bored, so I talked to Elaine and the family about starting a new winery. My youngest daughter Sara said she’d be interested, so here we are . . .’. In 2007, the Triggs family purchased an existing property which included some established vines.

Reaching for the peak

Don had a very clear notion of what he wanted to achieve: ‘Culmina means summit, and our goal is to reach for the peak in Bordeaux-style wines, producing premium wines that are the best that can be achieved from our estate. Culmina is also the root of the word culmination, and this winery is the ultimate expression of our family and its values in the wine business.’  The estate honors members of the Triggs family, the principle 48-acre vineyard named ‘Arise’ after the estate of an ancestor of Don’s who was awarded 10 acres in Barbados in the late 1600’s by the British monarch after serving as a ship’s purser. Margaret’s bench, a 10-acre vineyard which has to be one of the highest on the Golden Mile, is named after Don’s mother, while Stan’s bench, also 10 acres, is named after Elaine’s father.

 Taking the tour

Our tour of the property made it clear that the latest in technology has guided and continues to support the Triggs family’s focus on outstanding quality in its vineyards and wines. Don discussed the research that went into selecting and then assessing the site; how numerous soil test pits were dug in the vineyards, how water retention in the soils was measured, to the extent that the Arise vineyard is subdivided into 1.25 acre micro-sites, each planted with unique root stocks and clones of Syrah and the Bordeaux varieties. Degree days were measured, once again to ensure that the appropriate grape varieties were planted in the optimal temperature zones. The Arise vineyard has the highest overall number of degree days at 1500, Margaret’s bench, the lowest at 1280-1350 (look for Riesling, Chardonnay and Grüner on this property), while Stan’s bench offers an interesting dichotomy – a south-facing rock wall along a reach of this vineyard retains heat and drives up degree days to as much as 1800 (you’ll find the Malbec, Petit Verdot and Viognier here), while the part of the vineyard without the rock wall has degree days half way between the Arise vineyard and Margaret’s bench.

It’s all in the sun & the shade

Okanagan vineyard in fallSatellite imaging was used to assess the extent and impact of the afternoon shadows that slip down the mountain and across the vineyard, determining where the Merlot would be planted so that it benefits from the cooling effects of the afternoon shade. Small solar panels dot the vineyards, powering batteries that feed the environmental monitoring systems measuring soil moisture, temperature and other data.  Interested in the technology? Sara Triggs is not only a partner in this venture, but an outstanding tasting room hostess, and the brains behind the Culmina website, where you can find maps and diagrams of the ‘vineyard mapping’ undertaken by the family.

 Ever heard of dry-land farming?

Don has.  Recognizing the risk of water shortages in the coming decades, he has also initiated an experimental planting of dry-land farmed vines. Grafted to vigorous, drought-resistant rootstock that will send their roots up to 30 metres down in search of water, the 1000 vines of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Syrah have been planted 2×2 metres apart on a steep slope without disturbing the natural vegetation. Drip irrigation will be used for the first 3 years, with the intent to eliminate watering once the vines reach that stage. At maturity, the vines will be pruned to the goblet, or ‘bush vine’ shape to enhance their survivability in this desert landscape.

 Arts & Science at Culmina

culmina winery logoThe family’s prior experience and their appreciation of the arts and sciences manifests itself in all aspects of Culmina. The winery graphic is a fine and unique representation of the old bush vines found in such dry, windy climates as the east coast of Spain and the south of France. Displaying clean, modern lines and materials, the winery tasting room and outdoor patio is architecturally inviting and warm. The environmental monitoring system is the first major installation of this type in Canada. The initial research was extensive, and the data collection continues, providing an ongoing record that can be used to adjust and adapt as required. The technology is married to age-hold practices of hand-planting, hand-pruning and hand-picking the fruit. And there is a strong emphasis on sustainability, manifested in the cover crops between the rows, designed to attract beneficial insect populations and to manage the vigor of the vines, sourcing of local cow manure as fertilizer, the use of hand-split cedar posts or galvanized steel to eliminate chemical leaching, use of under-canopy irrigation to minimize water usage, as well as construction of the winery to optimize solar gain and energy efficiency.

 Drawing on expertise from Bordeaux

To produce his iconic wines, Don Triggs turned to Alain Sutre and Pascal Madevon, both sons of Bordeaux, whom he worked with in the early days of the Osoyoos-Larose joint venture. Pascal joined Culmina as winemaker in January of this year and, in this, his first vintage at the winery, was hovering between the sorting table and the de-stemmer as the Merlot made its way from vine to fermentation tank in the gravity-flow winery. As we talked about Culmina, he spoke passionately about this new venture and the potential of the fruit coming off the vineyards.

Taste the real fruit

The Triggs’ family have a flavour profile in mind for their wines. Says Don, ‘Let the fruit be uninterfered with as possible’. The fruit from each block goes into its own tank and goes through extended fermentation to soften the tannins. Fermentation is held to lower temperatures to ensure the sustainability of the aromatics. Grapes and fermenting wine are tasted, the wine created to match the desired profile. French oak is used in aging, the barrels specified by Alain Sutre, purchased from 5 coopers who use a mix of barrel staves from four renowned French oak forests. Literally no stone is left unturned, no detail too small to be addressed.

 Striving for perfection

To quote the Triggs family, their focus is on ‘three fundamental principles: first, their love and appreciation for art and design; second their understanding that by applying scientific principles, it’s possible to reach high calibre results; third, that only in striving for perfection is there the possibility of achieving excellence.’

 Tasting wines at Culmina…a Dilemma

Culmina opened in late August, 2013, offering tasting and sale of their initial vintage, 2011 Dilemma (Chardonnay) and Hypothesis (Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon), as well as their 2012 Saignée Rosé (Cabernet Sauvignon and Gamay). The wines deliver on the promise: the rosé a fine balance of lovely red fruit, floral notes and clean acidity, offering a silky yet crisp texture; Dilemma, produced from the original 20-year vines on the estate (after waiting 3 years to taste his own Chardonnay grapes at maturity, Don made the decision – it was a dilemma, says he – to tear out the old vines), fermented in new French oak and aged partly in barrel, partly in stainless, very expressive, with attractive minerality, hints of toasted nut, orchard fruit and tropical notes, showing an outstanding integration of oak and a creamy yet fresh texture; Hypothesis, the icon, described by Don as offering Cab Franc on the nose, Merlot through the mid-palate, with Cab Sauv securing the long finish, is an elegant yet full-bodied cellar-worthy wine with complex aromas and flavours—floral notes, earth, berries, spice and toast—with the lovely tension of clean acidity and fine-grained tannins married to well-ripened fruit.

Where to buy? Head to BC!

Alas, the wines are available only at Culmina or through the wine club, but we can look forward to on-line ordering in the future, perhaps when the 2013 vintage is released. Based on the conditions of the vintage and the fruit at harvest, Don is expecting ripe, elegant wines – the summer heat brought the sugars to an ideal level, then the cooler weather in September allowed the tannins to ripen, and October again brought warm temperature, allowing the fruit to mature.

If you travel to the Okanagan, don’t miss the opportunity to reserve your own tour and tasting at Culmina! Or get on Sara’s mailing list so that you’re the first to know about direct ordering from Culmina.

 

Platinum Bench Estate Winery

Pickers are in the vineyard and the warm scent of fresh-baked bread is drifting through the doorway as I arrive at Platinum Bench Estate Winery. Fiona Duncan is up to her elbows in flour and bread dough, a timer always in her pocket or on the counter – ‘If you can wait 5 minutes, the bread will be out of the oven and we can do a tasting’.

cheeses1I browse the wines, and the tiny fridge, which advertises artisanal cheeses from Poplar Grove and Kootenay Alpine Cheese Company (their Alpindon is a favorite). A young couple hangs out on the deck overlooking the hills behind the Black Sage bench, waiting for their soprasata and swiss cheese mini-loaf. They’re heading home to Vancouver, and couldn’t resist just one more taste of Fiona’s unique bread with their Platinum Estate Cab Sauv, once they get home, of course.

Outgoing and friendly, Fiona and her husband are the team that makes Platinum Bench work. He’s in the vineyard, she’s in the small kitchen, baking bread, and in the tasting room, insisting you try the entire flight of wines, with the bread, of course, and perhaps a taste of local cheeses. Their philosophy: ‘to achieve a great wine, one must first approach the land and vines with meticulous care, cropping, and respect . . .’

The winery & the bakery go hand in hand at Platinum

Originally from Vancouver via Winnipeg, Fiona decided a few years ago that she wanted to become an expert croissant maker. After a year and a half of experimenting, with mixed but generally satisfying results, she decided to formally enroll in a course. But she had to complete her ‘bread level’s first; consequently she became a qualified baker as well as a croissant expert! So when the couple decided they wanted to buy a vineyard and make wine in the Okanagan, the germ of an idea was born. How about a winery that is also an artisanal bakery, featuring local cheeses? And, then Fiona came up with these uniquely flavoured breads to taste with the wine:  Double cream brie and pear is paired with the whites; soprasata and swiss generally pairs with the lighter reds; gorgonzola and fig is reserved for the heavier reds.

 Taste the real fruit

Platinum Bench wineryWith the help of Harry McWatters, the couple patiently waited for a vineyard suitable for the style of wine they wanted to produce to come on the market. The property they eventually purchased is one of the first planted on the Black Sage Bench, with vines that are now almost 20 years old. They moved out to the Okanagan in 2011, after the purchase of the property. Says Fiona, ‘We were lucky, as the site had 15 acres under vine, as well as a winery building and a small apartment where the former vineyard manager lived. We moved right in and immediately started taking viticulture and viniculture courses. Our focus is really on quality fruit – we still sell some grapes, as well as producing our own wine.’

In between the beeps of the timer (I admit to having arrived right at opening), Fiona offers a tasting of their first vintage, as well as her delicious breads (they’re shaped like a chain of tiny stuffed buns). The 2011 Chardonnay was blended from wines aged in stainless, new French oak and neutral French oak. Showcasing a clean crisp texture, it offers lovely flavours of orchard fruit, a touch of spice and delicious honeyed butterscotch.

Due to the late bud break, the 2011 Merlot was cropped early, providing a better opportunity for the sugars to concentrate in the grapes, then the long warm autumn allowed the tannins to soften, creating a nicely balanced wine. Dry, medium bodied, there’s the lovely tang of red fruits, subtle oaky notes and a touch of pepper on the finish.

The 2011 Cabernet Franc offers attractive floral and herbal aromas, hints of roasted red pepper, ripe berries and a touch of peppery spice. The 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon is firmly structured, spicy, toasty, showcasing blackberry and red berry, finishing tangy and clean.

The 2011 Platinum Bench Red is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (60%), Merlot (35%) and Gamay (5%), displaying attractive floral notes, rich fruit aromas and a nicely balanced structure. Dry, medium bodied, the fine-grained tannins balance a rush of fresh, well-ripened fruit. Platinum Bench also releases two styles of  Gamay, one in the spring, described by Fiona as a white wine on steroids (unfortunately, it was sold out), and a fall version that’s small-batch fermented and aged 10 months in new French oak, described by Fiona as fuller, rounder, and very smooth. If you want the ultimate in on-site food and wine pairing, make tracks for Platinum Bench!

Spierhead Estate Winery

 Before catching my flight out of Kelowna, I headed to Spierhead Estate Winery, located above the lakeshore southeast of the city. The winery was established six years ago on an abandoned hiilside apple orchard that used to be part of the Turton family estate. The vines are now 4 years old, covering 20.4 acres and the winery has won numerous accolades: best winery in B.C. in 2012;  best Pinot Noir for their 2010 (a first vintage) at the 2012 Canadian Wine Awards; double gold for their Pinot Noir Rosé at the 2013 All Canadian Wine Championships; and gold for their Pinot Gris (unfortunately sold out) at the recent Okanagan fall wine festival.

wineryEstablished by a partnership of 3 individuals, including an Okanagan-based winery photographer, the estate is situated on sandy, rocky soil, produces about 3000 cases of wine and grows its own Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Noir. For its Pursuit and Vanguard Bordeaux-style blends, Spierhead sources its grapes from a south-Okanagan vineyard owned and overseen by one of the modern Okanagan wine industry’s best-known pioneers, Harry McWatters.

The 2011 Riesling has a lovely delicate nose of flowers, fruit and mineral, with a lively crisp lemon-lime texture. The 2011 Chardonnay is only slightly oaked (20% of the fruit spent 10 months in French oak), showcasing stone fruit, floral notes, mineral and a touch of passionfruit. It’s dry, fresh and tangy, balancing flavours of orchard fruit and citrus with a refined note of toasted nut.

The 2012 Pinot Noir and Pinot Noir Reserve were released 2 days before my visit (what luck!), both aged 10 months in oak, the latter crafted from select barrels. The Pinot Noir is light-medium bodied, tangy in texture, showcasing mineral, red berry and a touch of toast, while the Reserve is medium-full bodied, rich and silky in texture, perfumed with red and black fruits, spice and a hint of toast, finishing long and smooth.

okanagan red grapesThe 2011 Pursuit is primarily an equal blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon with a dash of Cabernet Franc, aged 18 months in oak. Dry, medium-full bodied, it offers complex lifted aromas, subtle structure and a clean texture, a basket of ripe red and black fruits garnished with notes of spice, herbs and red peppers.

The 2011 Vanguard is primarily Merlot, blended with equal shares of the Cabernets. There’s a subtle nose of black cherry and berries, vanilla and cedar. It’s dry, firm, full bodied, with a nice balance of fine-grained tannins, fresh acidity and ripe plum, cherry and berry mingling with notes of peppery spice. Spierhead wines are available at the winery, but may also be ordered directly through the wine club.

Enjoy these wonderful new BC wines!

Susan

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