Posts Tagged ‘Accredited Sommelier Susan Desjardins’

On our podium – ‘Must buy’ wines for Olympic moments

Posted by Susan

Friday, February 14th, 2014
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Did you know. . . The LCBO is one of the largest purchasers of wine & spirits in the world! This latest release at the LCBO Vintages we benefit from an outstanding selection of ‘Buyer’s Picks’ from some of France’s best-known wine regions.  

LCBO Vintages Sat Feb 15There’s something for everyone. A selection of two Champagnes and numerous award-winning red wines representing such prestigious ‘appellation d’origine contrôlée’ or AOC (France’s designation of origin granted to specific geographical areas for wine, cheese and other products) from Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Côtes du Rhône-Villages, Cahors, Beaune and Bordeaux, to name a few. Among these, I found that there are some good values to be had, including Paul Zinck ‘Portrait’ Gewürztraminer, Domaine Gautheron Chablis and Domaine Gerard Charvet ‘La Réserve d’Amélie’ Moulin-a-Vent.

Also on the Podium: Award-Winning Ontario Wines 

The spotlight shines on several stars from Ontario:

Konzelmann Vidal Icewine 2010 – recognized with a 2013 Lieutenant-Governor’s Award for Excellence in Ontario Wine

Huff Estates ‘Cuvée Peter F. Huff’ 2007 named in honour for the late son of the winery owners.  This sparkling wine has won two of the coveted Lieutenant-Governor’s Award for Excellence in Ontario Wine

Pillitteri ‘Exclamation Reserve’ Cabernet Franc 2010 – a gold-medal winner at the 2013 Ontario Wine Awards, and recipient of the award for Best Red Wine of the Year

Malivoire Gamay 2012 and Malivoire Chardonnay 2011 – won Gold and Silver respectively at the 2013 Ontario Wine Awards.

And there are more winners!

The general release (winespeak: the wines always available at the LCBO 24/7) offers a great selection of wines from around the world that are ‘must buys on my wine shopping list’.

Top of the list is my favorite Crémant de Bourgogne – Louis Bouillot Perle d’Aurore

The very tasty and well-structured Benzinger Cabernet Sauvignon

The full-flavoured Zuccardi ‘Q’ Malbec (my tasting notes below)

Tuscany’s tasty Bibbiano Chianti Classico

The value-laden Monasterio de las Vinas ‘Gran Reserva’ from the Carinena region of Spain.

And if you’re a Riesling lover, I’d recommend these two: Tawse ‘Sketches of Niagara’ Riesling 2012 (of course!), Kilkanoon ‘Killerman’s Run’ Riesling 2012.

Among the Ontario wines in the general release, I’ve already mentioned the Tawse Riesling. If you are looking for an organic or biodynamic wine, try the very fine Southbrook ‘Triomphe’ Chardonnay (my tasting notes below). Among the red wines, I would add to my shopping cart the very intense, robust Château des Charmes ‘Paul Bosc Estate Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2010.  If you’re craving something sweet, you can’t go wrong with the Konzelmann Vidal Icewine.

Cheers and happy sipping with your Valentine,

Susan

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

 

Southbrook Triomph Chardonnay 2012Southbrook Vineyards ‘Triomphe’ Chardonnay 2012

VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
$22.95 (Vintages #172338) 12.5% alcohol

Enjoy the aromas of cinnamon toast, vanilla, tropical fruit, ripe pear and apple of this finely crafted dry, medium-bodied organic and biodynamic white wine. It’s wine is delightfully round and creamy, yet fresh, the pear and tropical fruit replaying on the palate, mingling with vanilla and toasted nut. The fresh yet subtle acidity brings balance and refinement to a rich fruity finish. Enjoy with a lemony roast chicken.

Zuccardi Q Malbec 2011Zuccardi ‘Q’ Malbec 2011

Mendoza, Argentina
$19.95 (Vintages #723478) 14.5% alcohol

Inky and opaque, this award winner delivers attractive complexity in aromas and flavours, balance of richness and structure. On the nose, lifted aromas of ripe black fruit, exotic spice, campfire smoke, licorice and vanilla dance. This red wine is dry, full bodied, the subtle underlying structure frames black berry and cherry fruit, toasty oak, sweet spice and hints of dark chocolate. Quite lush, it’s warm and deliciously fruity through the lasting, flavourful finish. A great choice on a cold winter’s night to pair with stew or meatballs in a mushroom sauce.

Domaine Gerard Charvet la Reserve d'Amelie Moulin a ventDomaine Gérard Charvet ‘La Réserve d’Amélie’ Moulin-à-Vent 2012

AP Moulin-à-Vent, France
$20.90 (Vintages #356741) 13.0% alcohol

An award-winner, this is really an outstanding example of a Cru Beaujolais Gamay. The nose entices with wonderful aromas of freshly-picked strawberry, red plum, sweet spice and a wisp of vanilla. Dry, medium bodied, the red fruit flavours are focused, the notes of spice and vanilla replaying. The defined yet refined structure of this red wine provides lovely balance, the texture is fresh and the finish is dry and flavourful. Enjoy this versatile red wine with duck confit, charcuterie, ham or beef bourgignon.

Tenuta Sant'Antonio Monti GarbiTenuta Sant’Antonio ‘Monti Garbi’ Ripasso Valpolicella Superiore 2010

Valpolicella Superiore, Italy
$17.95 (Vintages #29850) 14.0% alcohol

This ruby gem of a red wine has great depth of flavour, balance and refinement. Aromas and flavours of cherries and berries and dominate, mingling with spice and an earthy quality. Dry, medium-full bodied, the texture is clean and lively, a balance to the ripe red fruit, a touch of spice and the warmth of white pepper persisting on the long-lasting finish. Enjoy this with braised herbed chicken. 

Monasterio de las Vinas Gran REserva 2005Monasterio de las Viñas Gran Reserva 2005

Cariñena, Spain
$16.95 (Vintages #82024) 13.0% alcohol

Principally Garnacha, blended with Tempranillo and Cariñena, this evolved, balanced red wine was aged 2 years in oak and held 3 years in bottle prior to release. It’s opaque, with spicy fruit aromas, notes of vanilla and a whiff of leather. Dry, full bodied, there’s great depth of ripe fruit flavour, notions of sweet baking spice and a remarkably fresh texture to the wine. It retains good structure, flavour and depth of fruit flavour through the long dry finish. Enjoy with paella.

 

Grand Total: $98.70

 

 

 

 

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Stunning wines from Stratus Vineyards

Posted by Susan

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014
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SS stamp lo res

Savvy Selections wine of the month club 
Featuring Stratus Vineyards

– February 2014 –

 

Stratus Vineyards brings together the traditions of winemaking along with the values of innovation and commitment to environmental sustainability. The story of this unique winery caught the attention of our Savvy Sommelier Susan Desjardins who was eager to learn more the winery’s focus on precision design – in both the architectural design and in the vinification. When you visit Stratus – as Susan recently did – you will experience first-hand the importance of the honouring the environment at the winery’s estate, in the vineyard and in the cellar.

Being at the leading edge

The commitment to sustainable practices is noticeable at every turn when you visit Stratus. This winery is intentionally leading edge. On arrival, native plants grace the xeriscape (haven’t heard of this term before? It’s a style of sustainable garden with plants that do not have heavy reliance watering, fertilizer, etc.).

Stratus Vineyard exteriorThe dramatic glass, steel and wood structure sits lightly on the land and is the first building in Canada as well as the first winery in the world to be LEED certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design).  To achieve this first-of-its-kind status, the building that houses the winery, tasting room and cellar is constructed with a high percentage of recycled materials and super-insulation, the orientation of the windows optimize passive solar heat and light and there is a geothermal heating/cooling system. In the cellar, a pump-less wine-flow system assures gentle handling of the wine while the temperature and humidity in the 1000-barrel cellar are intricately managed through the geothermal system. But the genius behind Stratus wines lies with the winemaker: J.L. Groux.

As an aficionado of fine wines and CEO of Teknion, Stratus founder David Feldberg had a clear concept for the winery: “We had a vision to make wines of outstanding quality right in our own backyard in Niagara. We wanted a wonderful environment for people who visited our winery to taste our exceptional wines, so they would have a total experience that was out of this world. And we wanted . . . [everything] to operate in accordance with the most sustainable and environmentally friendly practices possible”. To bring this vision to life, David wooed J.L. who was at the time the winemaker at Hillebrand.  J.L. consulted with David on the winery concept and design, then joined Stratus in 2004 – a year before its official opening. In addition, J.L. brought to Stratus his expertise and passion for the art of assemblage – the synergistic blending of varietal wines to create unique, sophisticated and premium wines.

Taste the Talent

You will taste J.L.’s talent in this month’s Savvy Selections wines. Given the demand for Stratus wines, we are excited to showcase a fine selection from the 2011 vintage. Each wine represents one of the winery’s brands:

In your Savvy Selections you will find:

Stratus Gewürztraminer VQA 2011 – exotic & crisp – a classic Gewürztraminer loaded with aromas & flavour

Wildass Merlot VQA 2011 – ripe, fruity & lip-smackingly good red wine

Tollgate Red VQA 2011 (available only to restaurants) – mellow & earthy yet complex blend 

OPTIONAL WINE: Stratus Icewine Red VQA 2012 – not a typical icewine in so many ways – colour, acidity with savoury not sweet notes. Will create ooohs and aahs when you serve it at the end of a Valentine’s Day dinner. It’s alluring and luscious with a lively fresh finish! Like everything else that Stratus does…it is one-of-a-kind!

The cult following of Stratus wines

With excellent wines as the Savvy Selections, you will taste for yourself the reason why Stratus wines sell quickly.  Periodically their wines will grace the shelves at Vintages….but they sell out quickly. If you would like additional bottles of any of the Savvy Selections wines or other favorite Stratus wines, call on us to arrange a delivery for you. 

Cheers & Enjoy…and Happy Valentine’s Day!

Debbie & Savvy Team

 

Introducing…
Stratus Vineyards

Presented by Accredited Sommelier Susan Desjardins 

JL in Mesquite with Red_lowrezJ.L. (Jean-Laurent) Groux is a native of Loire, France who pursued oenology studies in Burgundy and Bordeaux before ‘touring the world’, stopping in a variety of places, including Niagara, to work in wineries and vineyards. He originally visited a family friend in Niagara in 1981, a time when the growth of the wine industry was just beginning. J.L. returned to Niagara several times, increasingly captivated by the changes he saw occurring.

Eventually, J.L. felt compelled to stay, joining Hillebrand, where he worked as winemaker for 15 years. His experience in Bordeaux was the inspiration behind Hillebrand’s highly sought after Trius Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc/Merlot blends. With these wines, his talent for assemblage began to show.

The Artist

Assemblage is the art of creating a unique blend of wine, selected from the best barrels, to deliver the elusive character of the vintage and the vineyards. “David gave me an irresistible opportunity to be in on the ground floor and be involved in the creation of Stratus. And to focus on creating premium wines by taking the art of the blended wine to another level using a wider array of grapes that bring their character to the glass”, explains J.L. Each vintage is unique as reflected in Stratus’ flagship wines: Stratus Red and Stratus White. Once the signature blends have been defined, J.L. turns his attention back to the wines he has sampled to then determine those that will be released as small-batch varietal wines.

Status Vineyard Savvy SelectionsJ.L. marshalls outstanding raw materials to craft his complex, layered wines and he is very clear about the ultimate source of excellent wine: “Le vin se fait dans le vignoble” (the wine makes itself in the vineyard). When acquired, the 62-acre Niagara-on-the-Lake property was focused on growing grapes for yield rather than quality. While a limited number of vines were retained by the Stratus team – providing fruit from some of the oldest vines in Niagara region – all hybrids and many acres of low producing vitis vinifera vines were ripped out to make way for varieties personally selected by J.L. to craft unique Stratus blends.

A total of 11 red and 7 white grape varieties are now grown on 55 acres of the Stratus estate, Bordeaux varieties joined by the less-commonly seen – Viognier, Marsanne, Mourvèdre, Tempranillo, Sangiovese and Tannat. Great attention has been paid to variations in soil and moisture, as well as the microzones (mini-microclimates in the vineyard) to determine where each will flourish on the estate.

Location. Location. Location

Stratus estate is located on the southeastern border of the Niagara Lakeshore sub-appellation where it benefits from some unique properties. The vineyards are far enough away from Lake Ontario that grapes requiring warmer summer temperatures consistently ripen well, yet, still close enough that the ‘lake effect’ protects the vineyard from early fall frosts. The clay loam sits over a limestone bed, is rich in organic matter and drains what limited rainfall occurs, so the Stratus vines reach deep for moisture in the soil, putting down roots that draw the true essence of the vineyard into the ripening grapes.

Recognizing that the site is conducive to prolific growth, J.L. ensures concentration and quality in the fruit through a variety of ‘low-yield’ practices. These include a modified open-trellis system, cluster management and aggressive fruit thinning. And Status commitment to the environment finds its way into the vineyard as well, with farm equipment run on bio-diesel, residue composted for fertilizer, and the vines grown free of herbicides.

The vines are hand trained and trimmed, the fruit hand picked and sorted by Stratus’ small team of vineyard workers. Once pressed, the wine begins its gentle journey through the pump-free and gravity-flow system into steel tanks and/or barrels. J.L. reiterated several times during the interview, “We are patient with our grapes”.

The story of the 2011 vintage

2011 was a difficult vintage. J.L. did not craft any of the Stratus signature red or white blends. The best grapes from the estate were used for varietal wines in the Stratus, Wildass and Tollgate brands – as you will taste with your Savvy Selections.

How does 2013 vintage look?

J.L. explains, “I was concerned about the rain during flowering and a cooler summer. We did some vigorous crop reduction in August and September, but the fall was long and warm, so we were able to begin harvest later and let the reds hang long into November. I am very happy with the results based on initial tasting.”

Be sure to visit Stratus next time you are in Niagara-on-the-Lake…the experience at the winery is like no other!

Cheers & Enjoy your Savvy Selections!

 

~ SAVVY SOMMELIER TASTING NOTES ~

Stratus Gewürztraminer 2011 VQA, $32.00

Stratus Vineyards Gwertztraminer postGreat care is taken in the vineyard to ripen to a higher sugar level that results is subtle aromas, then the wine is aged sur lie (winespeak: remains in contact with the yeast) in well-seasoned barrels. “The complex aromas of this wine really evolve in the bottle”, explains J.L.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Beautifully crafted and proffering tantalizing rose petal aromas, notes of tropical fruit, melon and exotic spice, this is a dry, spicy, juicy medium-bodied wine. The palate is silky with a touch of warmth, the rich, ripe tropical fruit complemented by clean, fresh acidity that flows through the long, cleansing finish. Absolutely lovely!

Suggested Food Pairing:  Classic matches are spicy Asian foods Phad Thai or curries. Susan suggests to enjoy with the roast chicken – with a twist.


Wildass Merlot 2011 VQA, $27.95

The fruit for this wine reflect the warm summer months of the vintage – full ripeness with concentrated sugar and displaying good tannins and acidity. This Merlot was aged 2 years in oak and is a blend of wines from the fruit of original and more recently planted vines.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Ripe fruit, sweet spice and hints of smoke waft from the glass of this attractive Merlot. Dry, medium bodied, it’s complex, with oodles of black cherry, black berry and plum notes, spice, vanilla and white pepper mingling with a touch of dried herbs. There’s underlying structure for balance and cellaring, well-integrated oak, and juicy acidity for verve at the finish.

Suggested Food Pairing:  Lamb or other roast meats will be a fine match. Susan selected a Lamb Shoulder recipe she enjoyed at a Tinhorn Creek winery on a recent BC wine tour.

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


Tollgate Red 2011 VQA, $26.00

This blend is a unique assemblage of separately vinified and aged Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Syrah and Malbec – all grown on Stratus estate. Aged 12 months in barrel, it is designed to be paired with food.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Here’s a wonderful red blend that offers intriguing aromas of woodsmoke, cherry/berry, earth and mineral. It’s dry, yet mellow on the palate, offering dark fruit, dried fruit, rich, toasty oak and notions of five spice and dried fruit. Subtly structured, it displays great balance, depth and impact, with a long, full finish.

Suggested Food Pairing:  Sip away, or serve with veal chops with a mushroom sauce.

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

Curious about the Stratus names?

The name Stratus is inspired by a high-atmosphere cloud, as represented on the premium label.

Wildass
is the second tier label, is a bit irreverent – as the back label says “full of personality and best enjoyed with friends”.

Tollgate
is the restaurant brand, was named for a tollgate historically operated near the winery’s property.

~RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH YOUR SAVVY SELECTIONS~

With Stratus Gewürztraminer…

Classic Roast Chicken with a Twist

A Matter of Taste Cookbook by Lucy Waverman & James Chatto
Serves 4

Ingredients

2 Tbsp butter, melted (or olive oil)
4 lb. chicken, butterflied
1 Tbsp chopped tarragon
1 tsp grated lemon rind
2 tsp kosher salt
3 tsp cracked black pepper

Gravy

2 C. chicken stock
21 tsp tomato paste
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
½ tsp chopped tarragon
2 Tbsp butter, diced

Method

Preheat oven to 400F and brush melted butter (or oil) over chicken skin.

Season both sides of chicken with tarragon, lemon zest, salt & pepper then lay chicken on a rack in a roasting pan, skin side up.

Bake for 1 – 1 ½ hours, or until skin is crisp and juices run clear. Transfer chicken to carving board to rest 10 minutes while you make the gravy.

Remove all fat from roasting pan. Add stock, tomato paste & tarragon to pan, scraping up any bits from bottom of pan.

Bring gravy to boil over medium heat & boil for 3-4 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat & stir in butter until absorbed.

Season with salt & pepper to taste. Cut chicken into 4 pieces & serve with gravy, roast baby potatoes & asparagus. 

 

With Wildass Merlot

Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder

From the kitchen at Miradoro Restaurant at Tinhorn Creek Winery located in British Columbia
Serves 6

Ingredients

1 large bone-in lamb shoulder
1 tin anchovies
3 cloves garlic
1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
½ C grainy mustard
½ C extra virgin olive oil

Method

In a blender, purée anchovies, garlic, parsley, mustard and oil.

Season lamb with the mixture, rubbing it all over. Place in a baking dish & cover with foil then bake 3-5 hours at 225F, or until the meat falls off the bone.

Serve with roasted root vegetables.

 

With Tollgate Red…

Roasted Veal Chops with Mushroom Sauce & Truffle Oil

A Matter of Taste Cookbook by Lucy Waverman & James Chatto
Serves 2
WOW your Valentine’s sweetie with this recipe!

Ingredients

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 French-cut Veal chops (about 1 ½” thick)
Salt & freshly ground pepper

Mushroom Sauce

2 Tbsp olive oil
6 oz wild mushrooms, trimmed & sliced
1 Tsp finely chopped garlic
¼ C mushroom or beef stock
½ tsp truffle oil

Garnish

½ C olive oil
12 fresh sage leaves

 

Method

Preheat oven to 450F. Heal oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Season veal with salt & pepper.

Cook chops for about 2 minutes per side, or until browned then transfer to a metal baking dish & bake for 8-12 minutes, or until just pink.

To prepare mushroom sauce (while veal is cooking), heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms & sauté for about 3 minutes, or until limp. Add garlic & sauté for 1 minute longer. Add stock & bring to a boil. Drizzle with truffle oil

Heat oil for garnish in a small skillet over high heat. Add sage leaves & sauté for about 30 seconds or until crisp. Drain on paper towels.

Serve chops with mushroom sauce & sprinkle with sage leaves.

 

Enjoy your Savvy Selections!

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Château des Charmes make Canadian wine history

Posted by Susan

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014
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Savvy Selections - Ontario wine of the month club

Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Château des Charmes Estates Winery

– January 2014 –

 

The impressive entrance to Château des Charmes Winery with the formal gardens and the classic façade are reminiscent of an ancient French estate. Hardly surprising, as Château des Charmes has a long history of winemaking, dating back seven generations to Alsace. In the 1840s, the Bosc family ancestors were granted land in Algeria, which at that time was a French colony.

Paul Bosc at Chateau des Charmes WineryPaul Bosc Sr. was born in Algeria and built his career in the wine industry, eventually working as General Manager of one of the country’s largest and most successful wine co-operatives. With the revolution that led to Algeria’s independence in 1962, the family was forced to leave all behind and start anew back in France. It was at this time that Paul Bosc Sr. uprooted his family (his son is pictured left) and started a new life in Canada, settling first in Montreal, where he worked at the SAQ. Eventually, he met a senior representative of Château-Gai wines, who invited him to move to Niagara to apply his knowledge as an oenologist.

Working as winemaker and the Director of Research & Development Château-Gai, Paul became convinced that Ontario had to transition from growing native grapes (Concord & others) to planting vitis vinifera (winespeak: common wine grape varieties grown in Europe) to create world-class wines. By the early 1970s, Paul was crafting Ontario wines that surprised many in the wine world. In 1978, he established Château des Charmes as a 60-acre estate winery and planted the first commercial Canadian vineyard growing only vitis vinifera grapes….this is truly Canadian wine history in the making.

We’re pleased to start the year with fine wines from Château des Charmes. For many of you, this winery is a household name, yet with Savvy Selections you will be treated to their wines that you probably have not yet discovered as they are not available at the LCBO.

In your Savvy Selections you will find:

St David’s Bench Vineyard Gewürztraminer VQA 2012 – a soft silky white wine that our tasting panel of Savvy Sommeliers oohed and aahhed over with each sip.

Paul Bosc Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir VQA 2010 – concentrated & highly structured red wine from an incredible vintage & the winery’s top vineyard.

St David’s Bench Vineyard Merlot VQA 2010 – an outstanding complex, round, full bodied red wine.

How does 2013 look?

Our Sommelier Susan Desjardins caught up to the ever busy Michèle Bosc before the holidays to find out how the 2013 vintage is coming along in the early stages. Michèle explains, “Every year Mother Nature throws something new our way. If you were to ask my father-in-law (Paul Sr), he would say no vintage is perfect, but that’s true anywhere in the world. Those like him, with years of experience, can draw on that experience to make the most of any situation.” The talent of the winery team will undoubtedly impress us as they have done in the past 20+ years. Until then, we are confident that you will enjoy the outstanding wines our Savvy Sommeliers have selected for you this month.

On the following pages read more about the Bosc family, find our tasting notes & recipes to use to enjoy when you uncork your Savvy Selections wines. You won’t find these Château des Charmes wines at the LCBO

There are a handful of Château des Charmes wines on the shelves at the LCBO. Yet, many of their wines are not.  If you would like additional bottles from Château des Charmes or other featured Ontario wineries – just give me a call on 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or send me an email to debbie@savvycompany.ca to arrange a special delivery for you. Here’s to a great year filled of delicious wine discoveries together!

Debbie & the Savvy Team


Introducing…
Château des Charmes Estate Winery

Presented by Savvy Sommelier Susan Desjardins 

Twenty years ago, Château des Charmes opened its current winery, creating a unique landmark in the Niagara. Paul Bosc designed the building with a green roof, to pay homage to Canadian landmarks such as the Château Laurier & the Château Frontenac, which embodied strength & perseverance to the young immigrant family.

Bosc Family - Savvy SelectionsA true pioneer of the Canadian wine industry, Paul Bosc Sr. (second from left in photo) was honored for his impact & vision with an Order of Canada in 2005.  Recently he was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012, recognizing his extensive contribution in putting the Canadian wine industry on the world wine map.

Château des Charmes is truly a family business in every sense of the word. Paul’s wife Andrée (far left) is the winery matriarch & ambassador, while son Paul Jr. (far right) is the president, daughter-in-law Michèle (second from right) is director of Marketing & the third generation – Paul & Michèle’s 7 year old son Alex – is often seen walking the vineyards with his grandfather & father. Everyone at the winery is focused on extending the warm Bosc hospitality to each guest that visits.

Akin to many family-owned businesses, there is always someone ready to help out wherever needed. During my interview with Michèle, she explains, ‘During harvest, Paul Sr. is in and out of the winery at all hours of the day. We’re farmers, after all. We all pitch in to do what has to be done’.

A taste of the place

The wines featured in your Savvy Selections are made with grapes harvested from two of the four vineyards within Niagara-on-the-Lake that comprise of the 280 acres owned by the Bosc family.

The founding property

Chateau des Charmes Vineyard Savvy Company wine of the month clubPaul Bosc Estate Vineyard caught Paul Sr.’s attention due to the land’s proximity to the Niagara Escarpment and the distance from Lake Ontario. He understood these were critical conditions in the area, and recognized that these characteristics were similar to those of the Rhône valley in Burgundy France where he studied oenology.

Spanning 60 acres of clay loam, the vines on this estate were initially planted in the early 1980s, with the first grape harvest in 1988. (Five to 10 years is quite typical for wineries to wait until the grapes grown are of quality to use in winemaking).

In this vineyard there are several classic French grape varieties, including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, producing wines described as earthy and masculine. This vineyard is also where Paul Bosc Sr. conducts his research of pioneering new grape varieties, as well as the location of the Bosc family home and horse farm.

And across the street…

St. David’s Bench vineyard is located on the other side of the road from the Paul Bosc Estate Vineyard.  Extending over 85 acres, its silky clay loam (‘Halimand clay loam’) provides excellent growing conditions for a broad range of grapes varieties including Château des Charme’s own Gamay Noir ‘Droit’, (the first vitis vinifera discovered & registered in Canada by Paul Bosc Sr), Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer along with other classic Bordeaux varieties. This property sits at a relatively high elevation – 145 to 150 meters above sea level. Its bluff shelters the north-facing vineyards from cool south-westerly winds that predominate in the spring. While the spring is somewhat warmer on this vineyard, the shelter of the Niagara Escarpment creates a tendency to slightly cooler weather during the late ripening season, providing an opportunity to grow fruit full of character that shows through finely crafted wines.

Several shallow, seasonal streams run through the vineyard that provides drainage for the escarpment ground water, bringing limestone-rich water to the roots of the vines and creating the more mineral character found in the wines from this site. To ensure appropriate drainage at the time the vineyard was planted in 1990, they installed the then most extensive under-vineyard drainage system in the world!

An extension of the family

The Vineyard Manager, Miguel Fontalvo, comes from a family of farmers in Columbia & has a distinguished degree in Agricultural Engineering. He comments, ‘The St. David’s Bench is an incredible site, while the Paul Bosc Estate vineyard has some rare south-facing slopes.’

Stewards of the land

Sustainable agriculture practices are extensively used as part of their commitment to be stewards of the land. These laborious practices include tilling under the weeds between the vines to provide additional nutrients (rather than using herbicides), hand-thinning & hand harvesting the grapes, using geothermal energy in the cellar, ensuring no air conditioning or heating is required.

Let’s raise a glass to pioneering spirit of the Bosc family!

~ SAVVY SOMMELIER TASTING NOTES ~


St. David’s Bench Vineyard Gewürztraminer 2012 VQA, $19.95

The grapes for this wine were hand harvested from vines planted in 1996 on the west side of the Château. This wine is vinified with a touch of residual sugar to, says Paul Bosc, ‘round the mouth feel’. Can you feel it when you sip on this wine?

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Flourishing that touch of residual sugar, this perfumed ‘Gewürz’ offers lovely floral notes, honey, tropical fruit and sweet spice. It’s silky, well balanced, tangy and slightly pithy, on the finish – as it should be! 

Suggested Food Pairing: Raclette, charcuterie or lightly spiced Asian & Indian foods are classic matches for Gewürztraminer wines.  Susan offers a recipe for Citrus Spiced Chicken to enjoy with this wine.

Cellaring: No need to cellar, uncork & enjoy!


Paul Bosc Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir 2010 VQA $35.00

Produced only in years in which the vintage warrants (2010 was considered a stellar vintage), this big, structured Pinot Noir also benefits from the sustainable practices in the vineyards & use of geothermal energy in the winery’s cellars.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Intensively aromatic and structured with the intention to lay down this wine, this red wine displays aromas and flavours of cherry, berry and blackcurrant matched to an underlying earthiness. The tannins make their presence felt, followed by a rush of ripe fruit mingling with notes of spicy toast and dried herbs that persist on the mouth-wateringly long finish. Elegant yet powerful. We recommend to decant for 2-3 hours before serving. 

Suggested Food Pairing: Michèle suggests pairing this with herb-crusted lamb (recipe below) or enjoy with a hoisin-glazed planked salmon. 

Cellaring: This wine will cellar a further 5-8 years. 


St. David’s Bench Vineyard Merlot 2010 VQA $29.95

Akin to the Pinot Noir, this wine is made only in the best vintages.  It is no wonder why this wine is award winning. Fermented in temperature-controlled conditions, aged 12 months in French oak and crafted for you to stash away in your cellar.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  This is a robust, complex wine with flavours of black cherry, plum, berries, black licorice, vanilla and a whiff of cedar. Dry, medium-full bodied, it’s round and fruity, yet well-framed by ripe tannins and fresh acidity. There’s a touch of mineral on the palate, clean juicy fruit, pepper and notes of toast and dark chocolate through the long dry finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: Try this with pepper steak (recipe below) or garlic & herb pork loin rack.

Cellaring: This wine is drinking well now & it will cellar a further 5-8 years. 


~ RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH YOUR SAVVY SELECTIONS ~

With St. David’s Bench Vineyard Gewürztraminer…

Citrus Spiced Chicken

Dinner Tonight Cookbook by Lucy Waverman
Serves 4

Ingredients

Grated rind & juice of 1 orange
Grated rind & juice of 1 lime
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp hot red pepper flakes
1 tsp ground cumin
3 Tbsp soy sauce
4 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander (optional)
2 lb. chicken thighs (may use boneless/skinless) or 4 boneless chicken breasts
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp butter

Method

Combine rind and juice of orange & lime, mustard, hot pepper flakes, cumin, soy sauce & 2 Tbsp coriander.

Place chicken in dish & pour half of marinade over chicken. Reserve remaining marinade.

Marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes to 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 375F & remove chicken from marinade, draining well and season with salt & pepper and discard marinade.

Heat oil in skillet on medium-high heat, then fry chicken, skin side down, for 3 minutes. Turn & fry second side for 3 minutes.

Place chicken in baking dish & bake for 15-20 minutes or until juices run clear. Combine remaining marinade, honey & balsamic vinegar in small saucepan and bring to boil on high heat & simmer 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low & whisk in butter, then stir in remaining 2 Tbsp coriander.

Pour sauce over chicken & serve on rice, couscous, or noodles. 

With Paul Bosc Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir

Herbalicious Rack of Lamb

The Flavour Principle by Lucy Waverman & Beppi Crosariol

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 ½ C fresh bread crumbs
¼ C finely diced seeded tomato
½ C chopped fresh thyme
½ C chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
Salt & freshly ground pepper
¼ C butter, melted
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 lamb racks (8 chops each), frenched
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

Method

Combine bread crumbs, tomato, thyme, parsley, rosemary, garlic, salt pepper and melted butter.

Mix well & transfer to a shallow dish then put aside. Preheat oven to 400F.

Heat a large ovenproof skillet over high heat & add oil. Season lamb with salt & pepper. Sear lamb, fat side down, for 2 minutes. Turn over & sear for 2 more minutes. Upend racks & sear meaty ends. Turn racks bone side down & place skillet in oven.

Roast racks for 7 minutes then remove from oven & brush mustard over meat. Roll racks in bread crumb mixture & return to pan, bone side down.

Roast for another 10-15 minutes or until just pink.Let lamb rest 5 minutes before carving.

 

With St. David’s Bench Vineyard Merlot…

Bistecca Fiorentina

The Flavour Principle Cookbook by Lucie Waverman & Beppi Crosariol
Serves 2-3 – Let the wine shine with this simple recipe!

Ingredients

1 porterhouse Steak (2 lb., 2” thick)
2 Tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper

Garnish: 1 Tbsp olive oil (optional) & Maldon, or other finishing salt

Method

Preheat grill to high and brush steak with oil & season with salt & pepper.

Grill for 7-8 minutes per side for rare, turning once then let sit for 10 minutes.

Carve off both the filet & the sirloin. Slice both the filet & the sirloin into ½” slices.

Drizzle a little olive oil on steak if desired & season with Maldon salt.

Bistecca can be finished as follows:
-served with lemon quarters
-drizzled with a drop of balsamic vinegar
-served with an arugula salad, or
-sprinkled with chopped garlic & parsley.

Roast vegetables would make an excellent side dish with this special steak & wine.

 

Enjoy your Savvy Selections!

 

 

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The 12 SAVVY Days of Christmas…

Posted by Debbie

Friday, December 20th, 2013
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Can you believe Christmas is tomorrow!?! Don’t despair…Be Savvy! Our team of Savvy Sommeliers are here to help! There is still time to wrap up these gifts:

Our #1 gift: Savvy Selections wine of the month club 3, 4 or 6 month subscription

Our ever popular Wine Appreciation 101 ‘Class’ with Savvy Sommelier Debbie Trenholm

NEW this year! Cheesey FUN-damentals ‘Class’ – a full day with our Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons


And don’t forget to stock up on wines!

Our Sommeliers have a special holiday assortment of Ontario wines that will WOW your family & friends. And be sure to have our special bubbly for $18.95 (regular $27.95) for New Years Eve!

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

 

The Savvy Elves are in the festive mood! We’ve been singing holiday songs in the office all month long. Here is the SAVVY version of The 12 Days of Christmas!

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

1 Wine Appreciation 101 ‘Class’ on January 18 with Savvy Sommelier Debbie Trenholm. Join Debbie for a full day of learning about wines from around the world, wine lingo, the importance of glassware & decanters, tricks for ordering wine at a restaurant . . . AND Debbie will even show you how to sabre a bottle of bubbly!

On the 2nd day of Christmas. . .

2 Back-to-Back weekends featuring Wine Appreciation 101 ‘Class’ (January 18) & Cheesey FUN-damentals ‘Class’ (January 25) by the Savvy ‘Teachers’ & dynamic duo: Debbie Trenholm (for wine) & Vanessa Simmons (for artisan cheese). Join us for one or come to both ‘classes’ for a true wine & cheese experience like you have never had before. Homework never tasted so good!

On the 3rd day. . .

3 Savvy gift certificates for tickets to upcoming Savvy Events in 2014. Ideal for those hard-to-buy-for friends . . . and as a thank you gift for colleagues & clients too.

On the 4th day. . .

4 month subscription to Savvy Selections wine of the month club . Our #1 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 like 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

On the 6th day. . .

6 month subscription to Savvy Selections – Ontario’s largest wine of the month club. The perfect gift for any wine lover . . . yourself included! Three bottles of wine that you won’t find at the LCBO are delivered directly to you each month – can shopping be any easier?

On the 7th day. . .

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

On 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. . .

$9 off sparkling wine from Niagara-on-the-Lake – so delicious you’d think it is French Champagne! Pop the cork when your friends drop in during the holidays or stock up for New Years Eve. ONLY $18.95 – and shipping is FREE when you order 12 bottles.

On 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 2014!

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. Order today & your wines will be delivered in time for Christmas.

 

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!

 

PS – Have you seen the articles showcasing Debbie & her festive ideas in the holiday issue of Ottawa at Home Magazine (page 42 & 43)? And be on the lookout for her in this coming Saturday’s Ottawa Citizen

 

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Festive fizz & must buy holiday wines

Posted by Susan

Friday, December 6th, 2013
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Corks are popping as the festive season kicks into full swing.  Appropriately, the focus in this weekend’s LCBO Vintages release (Saturday December 7) is ‘Making Merry’ with a selection of  wines for the holidays…along with a truckload of fabulous fizz…you know sparkling wines!

When shopping for sparkling wines, it is best to know the ABCs…

 

What is Méthode Traditionelle?

Champagne is of course, at the top of Santa’s list, each Champagne House creates a unique blend of wines that reflects its signature flavours and texture. If your palate wants that creamy crispness but your wallet is calling ‘Halt!’, try some of the unique sparkling wines featured in this weekend’s LCBO Vintages release. Many of these sparkling wines are made in the classic ‘Méthode Traditionelle’, that is to say, with the second fermentation in the bottle, as in French Champagne, an approach that creates fine, persistent bubbles. 

Try the Peller Estates ‘Ice Cuvee’ Rose and the versatile Megalomaniac Bubblehead from Niagara, Chandon Rosé and Roederer Estate Sparkling Brut from California, Simonsig ‘Kaapse Vonkel’ Brut Cap Classique from South Africa, Juvé y Camps ‘Cinta Purpura Reserva’ Cava from Spain, Pfaffenheim ‘Blanc de Blancs’ Brut Crèmant d’Alsace and Charles Duret Brut Crémant de Bourgogne.

Or what about Méthode Charmat?

The ‘Charmat’ method, which sees the second fermentation in tank, is known for preserving fresh fruit flavours.  Good & tasty examples are the Perlage Canah Brut Prosecco also available this Vintages release. 

If you’re confused about some of these designations, remember that sparkling wines can be made from white or red grapes (in France, these would be Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier or Chardonnay).  When the bubbly is made using only white grapes, it will state on the label ‘Blanc de Blancs’.  If made from red grapes, it will be state ‘Blanc de Noirs’. Now there is a tidbit to float during small talk at your next holiday party!

The Ho Ho Ho of White Wines…

In the Vintage release there’s a great selection excellent value wines.  Try such white wines as Trapiche ‘Finca las Palmas’ Chardonnay, Seresin Sauvignon Blanc (an organic product), Pierre Sparr Altenbourg Riesling or the concentrated Peter Zemmer Pinot Grigio.

…and Red Wines

LCBO Vintages release December 7 2013In terms for red wines, I would recommend Belle Glos ‘Meiomi’ Pinot Noir, Irony Small Lot Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Château Bertinerie Merlot/Cabernet, Domaine Beau Mistral ‘Vieilles Vignes’ Rasteau, Villa Medoro ‘Rosso del Luca’ Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Luigi Righetti ‘Campolietti’ Ripasso.

Unfortunately, there were few Canadian wines at this release tasting, but I would recommend both the Pillitteri Antagonist (a tasty, easy-drinking blend of the Cabs and Merlot) as well as the biodynamic wine from Southbrook, Triomphe Cabernet-Merlot, showing lots of character and balance, despite the difficult 2008 vintage.

…. and a Truly special finish

Finally, if you like a touch of fizz with a dessert tart, enjoy the off-dry Nova 7 from Nova Scotia’s Benjamin Bridge, a unique, absolutely delightful low-alcohol sparkler that offers lovely floral, fresh fruit and citrus aromas.

Buy it now, drink it later

If you want a holiday treat for your sweetie or to stash away in your cellar, here are my picks to pick up: Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon or the Burrowing Owl Meritage. For those who like a touch of sweetness, you can choose from the unctuous de Bortoli ‘Noble One’ Botrytis Semillon or the richly textured Burmester 10 Year Old Tawny Port.

Happy and Safe Holidays to all!

Susan

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

 

Juvé y Camps ‘Cinta Purpura Reserva’ Brut Cava 2009

Penedes, Spain
$17.95 (Vintages #352864) 12.0% alcohol

Generally produced from the indigenous Macabeu, Parellada and Xarel-lo grapes in the traditional method,  Cava sparkling wines tend to offer great quality and value – this sparkling wine is no exception!

Classic notes of white flower, ripe apple, pear, citrus and toast pop from the glass. It is clean and fresh, the mousse is fine, mouth-filling and long-lasting, framing tangy notes of citrus, green apple and yeast that persist through the tasty, refreshing finish. Offering poise and refinement, this is an excellent choice for any holiday gathering.

 

Vignobles Guilheim Le Viognier 2012

Pays d’Oc, France
$15.95 (Vintages #358507) 13.5% alcohol

A golden gem, this Viognier delivers! From the lifted aromas of tropical fruit, white flowers, sweet citrus and honey to the clean fresh texture and depth of flavour—mango, peach and lemon zest jump to the fore. Dry, medium-full bodied, this white wine offers a wonderful fullness and that characteristic pleasing touch of tangy bitterness on the finish. An excellent value, enjoy it with roast pork loin or lemon-herb chicken.

 

Château Bertinerie Cru Réserve 2009

Côtes de Bordeaux-Blaye, France
$18.95 (Vintages #244640) 13.5% alcohol

From one of the lesser-known Bordeaux appellation, this blend of Merlot and Cabernets is a remarkable value red wine. Cherries, plum and berries are layered with spice, cedar and vanilla. Dry, medium-full bodied, the fruit and spice replays, a sweet note of toasty oak and a hint of chocolate mingling with a whiff of dried herbs. Well structured and balanced, appealingly accessible and fruity, this is a great wine to cellar or serve with herb-crusted leg of lamb or with your favorite roast of beef.

 

Les Vignerons de Visan ‘Visan’ Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2011

Côtes du Rhône-Villages, France
$15.95 (Vintages #179234) 14.5% alcohol

There’s finesse to the structure of this intensely fruity medium-full bodied red wine. The nose offers lashings of sweet fruit, vanilla, spice and garigue. The palate is dry yet smooth, showcasing loads of luscious clean, ripe fruit, balance assured by well-integrated tannins and fresh acidity. The spice and herbs replay on the dry, tasty finish. An excellent value that will pair with roast beef au jus. 

 

Luigi Righetti ‘Campolieti’ Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2011

Valpolicella, Italy
$17.95 (Vintages #695890) 13.5% alcohol

I recommended the 2010 vintage of this wine earlier this year, and definitely feel the new vintage is worth purchasing as well! Crafted from fruit harvested in the original Valpolicella viticultural area, this dry, medium-full bodied wine displays added intensity and depth from the use of dried grapes in the winemaking process. There’s complexity of aromas and flavours—floral notes, berry, vanilla, notions of dried cherries, herbs and spice—on a subtle structure. Clean, fresh acidity frames bright tasty fruit, the lasting aftertaste offering notions of chocolate and pleasantly toasty oak. Cellar or serve this wine with beef tenderloin with a pinenut and sun-dried tomato stuffing.

Grand Total: $86.75

 

 

 

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Tuscany & Thanksgiving wines at Vintages – this shopping list is under $100

Posted by Susan

Thursday, September 26th, 2013
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Italy’s Tuscany wine region is the main attraction in this weekend’s LCBO Vintages release (beginning on Sept 28th). The classic ‘big three’ red wines crafted from the native grape variety, Sangiovese—Chianti Classico, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and Brunello—and a number of blended red wines, usually classified as IGT  (Indicazione geografica tipica), that bring to the palate the impact of classic French varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Sangiovese grapes, photo F. Sgroi

Explore the world of Super Tuscans

Some may know the story of how the Maremma, the coastal region of Italy on the Mediterranean, was the birthplace of what were called the ‘Super-Tuscans’. Mario Incisa della Rocchetta planted his first vineyard in the area with the intention of producing some Bordeaux-style red wines for his personal consumption. The wine he called ‘Sassicaia’, commercially released in 1968, along with Antinori’s Tignanello, launched the Super-Tuscan phemonema.

Over time, as this style of wine became more popular and spread more broadly through many Italian wine regions, the regulations were expanded to include the designation IGT to incorporate these unique wines into the standards of Italian wine law. These wines come from a specific geographic area, meet specified quality standards, and may also bear the name of the grape varieties from which they were produced. As an example of the longstanding presence of non-native varieties in Italy’s winemaking history, the Capezzana ‘Barco Reale’ di Carmignano (a great value) comes from a DOCCarmignano—which has always required the inclusion of Cabernet Sauvignon in its blends. To quote the September 28 LCBO Vintages magazine, the IGT style ‘embodies the interplay of tradition and innovation that has always been at the heart of Tuscan winemaking’.

Give Thanks with Great Wines 

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, this release brings a cornucopia of wines to choose from. There are Rieslings from Ontario, Alsace and Germany; Chardonnay from California and Australia.  If you are prepping your Thanksgiving feast early, here are my top picks at the table; a richly flavoured Merlot from Ontario’s Angels Gate; the fabulous ‘Goldeneye’ Pinot Noir from Duckhorn or the classic Mercury of Domaine Faiveley; and Cascina Gilli’s clean yet concentrated Barbera d’Asti. For a Canadian sweep at the Thanksgiving table, consider starting with Sumac Ridge Steller’s Jay Sparkling Brut, moving to a choice of Angel’s Gate Mountainview Merlot or Tawse ‘Sketches of Niagara’ Riesling for the main, and then consider the hedonistic pleasures of Château des Charmes’ Vidal Ice Wine for dessert!

From the general release, I’m putting a focus on cellarable wines, including Paul Hobbs’ always impressive, concentrated ‘Crossbarn’ Cabernet Sauvignon, a great value Bordeaux—Château les Hauts de Palette—and from the Okanagan, Burrowing Owl’s 2010 Merlot.

Cheers and Enjoy!

Susan

Nottola Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2009

Montepulciano, Italy
$19.95 (Vintages #184960) 14.0% alcohol

Absolutely delectable, this fine red wine shows restrained aromas of red fruit, spice, earth and delicate floral notes. Dry, medium-full bodied and satiny in texture, the wash of intense red fruit is nicely offset by a spine of lively acidity and subtle tannins. Elegantly integrated oak offers a spicy note that accents the earthiness that persists on the finish. Enjoy this red wine now and over the next few years.

 

Lapostolle ‘Cuvée Alexandre Apalta Vineyard’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Colchagua Valley, Chile
$24.95 (Vintages #947929) 14.0% alcohol

Deep purple, this powerful red wine produced from organic grapes offers great complexity and layers of aromas and flavours, including cassis, mint, spiced flowers, dried herbs and tobacco. Dry, full bodied, displaying gripping tannins and clean acidity, it has a firm base from which to showcase ripe, concentrated red and black fruits. Hints of sweet spice and pepper, along with a whiff of espresso linger on the finish. Cellar a further year or two, or decant and serve with rare red meats.

 

Graffigna ‘Centenario’ Late Harvest Malbec 2012

San Juan, Argentina
$14.95 (Vintages #322719) 12.5% alcohol

Deep ruby, this is a delightful incarnation of Malbec, offering tantalizing aromas of dried cranberries and black cherries, ripe dark berries and hints of smoke and spice. The jammy red fruit is attractively balanced with a backbone of clean acidity, notes of spice add interest, and there’s freshness on the finish. Serve this red wine with flourless chocolate almond cake.

 

Tawse ‘Sketches of Niagara’ Riesling 2012

VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$17.95 (Vintages #89029) 10.0% alcohol

Light-medium bodied and almost transparent, this is a fine value white wine bursting with aromas of nectarine, Japanese pear and lemon/lime. The sensation is one of subtly-wrought balance, the flavours suggesting the sweetness of lemon curd, along with lime, crisp apple and a touch of mineral.

 

Dry Creek ‘Heritage’ Zinfandel 2010

Sonoma County, California
$21.95 (Vintages #574491) 13.5% alcohol

Inky and deep, this absolutely fabulous Zin offers rich blueberry and currant aromas, exotic spice notes, vanilla, earth and savoury toasty oak. Dry, full and rich, the dark fruit is succulent and spicy, the oak well integrated. The subtle structure brings great balance and harmony to the whole and delivers a surprisingly clean freshness on the big, fruity finish. Wow! You’ll want to stock up on this red wine!

 

Grand Total: $99.30

 

 

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Shine the spotlight on Ontario wines

Posted by Susan

Friday, September 13th, 2013
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This weekend’s LCBO Vintages release celebrates Ontario wines, from the vineyards of Prince Edward County in the east, Niagara in south-central Ontario, and the north shore of Lake Erie in the west. Click to see a map. With so many great wines to choose from, our Savvy Sommelier Susan – who has visited all of these wine regions several times – gives you a brief history of the Ontario wine biz, so that you have a taste of how far we have come!

Early days for Ontario grapes

Not many realize there was a thriving wine industry in Ontario in the late 1800s & early 1900s, primarily in Pelee Island area. Settlers from the United States began growing grapes on the island in the mid-1860s. By the end of the 19th century, with the help of an enterprising gentleman, W.J. Hamilton, wines from Vin Villa Winery were being sampled across eastern Canada and the northeastern United States. The winery garnered widespread fame when one of its wines won a bronze medal at a competition in Paris. Changes in agriculture caused the industry to disappear from the area for many decades. 

Pioneers then move to Niagara…

As the prohibition era ended, a new wine business T.J. Brights was founded in 1874 with a substantial investment to improve the quality of Ontario wine, including the hiring of French-born winemaker and chemist, Adhemar de Chaunac, who imported a number of French hybrid grape varieties. Fast forward 100 years, by the 1970s, hybrids grapes were becoming more common in Ontario vineyards, yet consumer tastebuds were shifting to dry, low-alcohol tables wines rather than the slightly sweeter wines made with the hardy hybrid grapes. To go with the flow of this change, Ontario grape growers had already begun planting vitis vinifera vines (winespeak: the vine species that produces 99% of the grape varieties used in winemaking today – example: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot etc) and began to see a vibrant future for these classic varieties in Ontario vineyards.

At the same time, a number of the recognized pioneers of Ontario’s modern wine industry were moving to the Niagara area from Europe: Paul Bosc Sr., Karl Kaiser, Ewald Reif, Herbert Konzelmann, and others.  Still to this day, these gentleman are praised by the Canadian wine industry as the founding fathers of the Ontario wine industry.

First new winery since 1929

In 1975, Inniskillin, pioneered by the dynamic duo – Don Ziraldo and Karl Kaiser – was granted the first new winery license in the province since 1929.  Don harvested his first Riesling, Chardonnay and Gamay grapes in the fall of 1977.  In 1984, Karl Kaiser produced the first icewine from Vidal grapes grown in the Inniskillin vineyards.

The beginning of VQA

In 1988, Don Ziraldo was instrumental in establishing a team of grape growers and winemakers to develop VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) as an appellation of origin system and a method of setting standards for wines in Ontario. More recently, sub-appellations have been established in Niagara to recognize the unique terroirs across the region. Interesting to note that VQA is not a national standard, rather established for Ontario and recently adopted by British Columbia.  Nova Scotia currently has a different system in place.

Ontario wines win awards around the world

Ian d’Agata, a world renowned correspondent for International Wine Cellar stated in the September 14, 2013 Vintages magazine, ‘Ontario is one of the premier cool-climate viticulture areas of the world . . .’.  Pretty impressive don’t you think?

And the world has been watching the Canadian wine industry grow and recognizing that we are producing fine wines. In 1990, Ontario wines leaped onto the world stage, when Karl Kaiser’s 1989 Vidal Icewine won the Grand Prix d’Honneur at the prestigious Vin Expo – France.

Open your door to the discovery of spectacular Ontario wines

Today’s Ontario wine industry has rapidly grown and the quality has increased exponentially as winery owners, winemakers and growers focus on terroir, viticultural practices and excellence in winemaking. With just over 100 wineries in Ontario now, not all of their wines are on the LCBO store shelves.  Enjoy the ones in this Shine ON feature and continue your discovery by subscribing to Savvy Selections, which features all those wines not available at the LCBO or Vintages.

Wineries we recently featured included Lailey Vineyard, Daniel Lenko Estate Winery & Pondview Winery.  Next month we will showcase wines from Casa Dea  Estates of Prince Edward County.  A subscription to Savvy Selections is like having a personal Sommelier!

For this “If I had $100, I would buy at Vintages”, I have selected a variety of Ontario wines along with some from Chile & Italy too. And for the first time in a long time, my shopping list was not even close to $100. I’ve $12.25 spare.  With this extra, take advantage of your savings & Go Local to sample a few more Ontario wines! Let me know which ones you put in your shopping cart!

Are you on Twitter? Share your Ontario wine discoveries with others using #ShineON. 

Cheers and Enjoy!

Susan

 

Fielding Pinot Gris 2012

Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$21.95 (Vintages #251108) 12.0% alcohol
There’s a lovely hint of pink to the pale gold hue of this fragrant white wine. Aromas of ripe stone and orchard fruit mingle with melon and spiced floral notes. Dry, medium bodied and smooth, the clean fresh fruit and lively acidity build harmony, while hints of spice and a pithy note linger through the tasty, fruity finish. Enjoy it with roasted white meats or grilled sausages.

Miguel Torres ‘Santa Digna Reserva’ Sauvignon Blanc 2012

Curicó Valley, Chile
$13.95 (Vintages #342857) 13.5% alcohol
Brilliant yellow-green, there are pungent grassy and gooseberry notes mingling with tropical fruits, hints of lemon balm and other herbs. Dry, medium-bodied, the white wine replays focused flavours of gooseberry and herbs, underscored by vivid tangy acidity. Finishing long, clean and mouth-watering, this wine will work very well with pan-fried fish or a salad garnished with goat cheese and grilled peaches.

Tawse ‘Sketches’ Cabernet-Merlot VQA 2011

Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$20.95 (Vintages #130252) 13.0% alcohol
This well-crafted blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot results in a red wine to enjoy with late fall barbeques. A beautiful ruby tone, the wine marries ripe black cherries, berries, cassis, sweet spice and a whiff of milk chocolate with fine-grained tannins and lively acidity. It’s dry yet approachable, mid-weight and skillfully balanced, leaving a hint of well-integrated oak on the persistent, fruit-filled finish.

Zuccardi ‘Santa Julia’ Magna 2011

Mendoza, Argentina
$14.95 (Vintages #93799) 14.0% alcohol
Scoop up a few bottles of this outstanding red wine blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Syrah. Inky purple and alluringly rich in aromas of ripe dark fruit, mint, spice and vanilla, this is a subtly well-balanced wine. Supple tannins and fresh acidity underpin the full-flavoured, luscious fruit—cassis, blueberry and raspberry—while the well-integrated oak offers a long-lasting spicy, peppery finish. Serve it with grilled or roasted red meats.  

Emiliana ‘Novas Gran Reserva’ Petit Verdot 2011

Colchagua Valley, Chile
$15.95 (Vintages #325662) 14.5% alcohol
For well-made organic wines offering great value, it’s hard to beat this producer. Rich dark fruit melds with exotic spice and smoke on the intense nose. Dry and full bodied, this red wine showcases firm tannins and clean acidity, yet in harmony with the concentrated spicy dark fruit—blueberries and blackberries come to mind. Robust and flavourful, dry and persistent on the finish, it’s a great choice for lamb.

Grand Total: $87.75

 

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Daniel Lenko boasts Canada’s oldest Chardonnay & Merlot vines

Posted by Susan

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013
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Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Daniel Lenko Estate Winery
–  August 2013 –

 

A visit to Daniel Lenko Estate Winery is like a casual stroll over to your neighbour’s house, where you sit down at the kitchen table for a chat over a cup of coffee, tea or in this case, a glass of wine! Our Savvy Sommelier Susan Desjardins visited the winery to meet Daniel Lenko & hear the wonderful story of this boutique winery.

Daniel’s story

This is the tale of a Ukrainian family that emigrated to Manitoba in 1934 and established themselves as farmers, then moved to the Niagara Peninsula in 1947. Daniel`s family story began when his grandparents came to a wedding in Ontario and after one look at the fall colours, the flowers and the peach trees, his grandmother said “That’s it!! We’ve already had snow on the ground back home in Manitoba. I want to move here.” And so they did, purchasing property in Niagara where they established themselves as farmers growing tree fruit and some of the first grape vines in the region. And that’s how his family ended up on the Beamsville Bench.

Vines over 50 years old!

By 1959, Bill Lenko, Daniel’s father, was planting his first vitis vinifera vines, which provided the Chardonnay grapes for the wine included in your Savvy Selections. In the 1960s, he ripped out all his non-vinifera vines (winespeak: hybrid grapes) to make way for Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and other sought-after varieties. He continued to cultivate fruit trees until 1985, while selling his grapes to some of the best-known wineries in the area. 

Bill was honored Grape King in 1990 – a highly acclaimed award of top viticulturalists in Ontario. And in 2006, Bill was honoured with the Tony Aspler Cuvée Award of Excellence, the first grape grower to receive this recognition. A few years ago, Bill passed away at the age of 85. While he was a hard working farmer and a hands-on man, his son Daniel carries on the Lenko tradition in a similar manner. Like father like son. 

With this Savvy Selections arriving in the midst of summer, our Team of Accredited Sommeliers purposely chose wines that you can enjoy from  your deck chair or serve with anything off the BBQ. Daniel Lenko wines are available only from the winery, generally by the case (12 bottles), or at select restaurants. We are delighted to feature the wines this month to give you the unique opportunity to purchase these limited production wines by the bottle. 

In your Savvy Selections. you will find:

White Cabernet VQA 2011 – very aromatic and crisp Rosé wine – like you have never had before!

Old Vines Chardonnay VQA 2010 – a classic, finely-balanced Chardonnay barrel aged in French oak

Old Vines Merlot 2008 – a BIG fruit filled red wine. 

OPTIONAL WINES: There were many wines that impressed our Sommeliers. We also offered the 2008 Gewürztraminer for its satiny texture and medley of tropical fruits, and the 2009 White Merlot, which offers a crowd-pleasing balance of sweet fruit and fresh acidity. These optional wines are still available to you – just let me know & I will make the arrangements.  Don’t wait long as Daniel Lenko wines sell out quickly. 

These are hard to find wines!

Daniel Lenko wines quickly sell out at the winery and rarely you will find them at the LCBO.  Once you have been wowed by this month’s Savvy Selections & you would like additional bottles of your new favourite, let me know & I will arrange a special delivery for you.  Simply email me or call 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926).

Cheers & Enjoy!

Debbie & the Savvy Team

 

Introducing… 

Daniel Lenko Estate Winery

Presented by Savvy Sommelier Susan Desjardins 

As I sat tasting wines in the Lenko family farmhouse kitchen, Daniel made suggestions of what I should taste in the wines, his intense pride in his wines an almost palpable presence. He’s particularly proud to have the oldest Chardonnay and Merlot vines in Canada.  The Chardonnay was planted by his father in 1959 followed by the Merlot vines in 1974. 

Daniel grew up on the family farm, where the work ethic is strong and the passion for the land is high. What drew his grandparents to Niagara wasn’t just the more temperate weather, it was the opportunity to grow fruit. His grandparents were very excited about growing peaches. Around the kitchen table, Daniel shared stories about his grandparent’s move to Ontario: “When my grandfather told his friends he was selling his two large farms out in Manitoba, they told him he was crazy to leave. His response was that when they move to Ontario, they would have a paved road in front of their house.” And so it was and ever since then, the Niagara area has flourished, while on the other hand, the small town in Manitoba they left, has unfortunately not seen the same success. 

It started with Concord grapes, then Chardonnay

The Lenko family farm produced 50% soft fruit and 50% grapes, including table grapes such as Concord. Bill sold his grapes to the local processors and wineries of the time and eventually developed a relationship with the field manager at one of the wineries. This fellow suggested planting the experimental French vines (the Chardonnay), and committed that his winery would always buy them. So with this hand shake, Bill immediately planted five acres and the following year, another five. 

As the fruit industry became less financially viable and the demand for high quality wine grapes grew, the Lenko family had a major decision to make. In 1985, Bill Lenko (right) tore out all his tree fruit and planted more vines – this time all vitis vinifera varieties – such as Merlot & Chardonnay.  

The notion of a winery was in the back of Bill’s mind, but it was Daniel, the third generation grape grower, who realized that vision in 1999 with the opening of Daniel Lenko Estate Winery.  Daniel has lived on the farm most of his life. He worked as a mechanic for a while and has a large investment in machinery on the farm, for his own use and for his business, which includes installing drainage systems for other wineries. 

“My dad wasn’t too keen on turning over his farm to me” Daniel explained, “but I’m the oldest son, and all my brothers and sisters have followed other careers. I had a fairly major car accident that really gave my folks at jolt. Right after that, my parents said ‘We’re selling you the farm’. And that same year, I opened the winery.” 

No turning back…

Daniel’s efforts were rewarded with a Gold Medal at the Cuvée Wine Awards for his 1999 Old Vines Merlot. Then in 2002, following in his father’s footsteps, Daniel was named Grape King. 

What is his greatest achievement? “In 2006, Jancis Robinson (highly acclaimed international wine critic from England) blind tasted about 300 Canadian wines at George Brown College. She named our 2002 Syrah as the best red wine in Canada.” 

Small, but making a big impression

The winery operates on a small scale, each year producing about 3500 cases of wine from estate-grown fruit, grown by Daniel and his vineyard manager, Abraham Fehr – everything is bottled on site. When Daniel first opened the winery, he consulted with Jim Warren (renowned amateur and professional winemaker who co-founded Stoney Ridge Winery and was instrumental in initiating the winemaking program at Niagara College). Jim advised Daniel that ‘if you have good grapes, then you have at least a good chance of making good wine.’ Daniel has taken this to heart, focusing on viticultural management, low yields and a winemaking approach that lets the fruit quality shine through. 

“I’ve made 10-12 wines over the last 15 years. In some cases, the first attempt produced the results we wanted, in others we needed to experiment a bit, develop the process to create the style we were looking for. We’re artists, building a unique business that has value to it.”  Daniel is in and out of the tasting room on the weekends, chatting up customers while during the week, he’s managing the farm and his construction business. But at harvest time, he’s 100% dedicated to the vines and the wine: “You’re watching the pot all the time when you’re making wine.” 

Daniel is the now the primary winemaker with a winemaking consultant at his side.  As he says “from vine to glass, you know, when you uncork a bottle of Daniel Lenko wine, I’ve touched that bottle many times!” 

Cheers & Enjoy your Savvy Selections!

 


~ SAVVY SOMMELIER TASTING NOTES ~
 

 

Daniel Lenko White Cabernet 2011 VQA $23.15

“This is what we should do with our Cabernet in Niagara” says Daniel. Cold-fermented for 4 weeks, the wine is treated like a white to retain the wonderfully pure fruit flavours.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: An elegant, dry, medium-bodied salmon-hued wine, this is crisp and juicy with hints of dried herbs and flavours of cherries and berries. Smooth and silky, it finishes dry and tangy.   .

Suggested Food Pairing: Rosé wines are remarkably versatile, pairing with light meats, salads, charcuteries and cheese. Try this one with our beef & strawberry salad – recipe follows.

Cellaring:  Enjoy it now!


Daniel Lenko ‘Old Vines’ Chardonnay VQA $30.15 

And we mean old – the first vines were planted by Daniel’s father Bill in 1959. The vines were cropped back to 2 tonnes per acre to ensure highest quality fruit.  The wine was aged in French oak for 18 months. Stunning!

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Dry, medium-full bodied and beautifully balanced, this wine offers subtle alluring nutty aromas, notes of pear, ripe apple, vanilla and butter pastry. It’s warm, round and lush with a lovely toasty finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: An ideal match for seafood, pork or chicken.

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


Daniel Lenko ‘Old Vines’ Merlot 2008 VQA $30.15

From the cloudy, wet 2008 vintage, Daniel has managed to create an intensely flavourful wine. The vines are almost 40 years old, also cropped to 2 tons/acre, hand harvested and aged 12 months in French oak.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Ruby red, this is a tasty, dry mid-weight wine with loads of flavour. Black cherry, ripe red berries, vanilla, and hints of pepper, toast and dark chocolate mingle on the palate. It’s well structured with fine-grained tannins and fresh acidity pacing the ripe fruit. It finishes dry, toasty and fruit-filled.

Suggested Food Pairing: Serve with grilled meat, sausages or try your hand at our rib recipe on the following pages.

Cellaring: Drinking well now, it will cellar a further 2 years.

 

~RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH YOUR SAVVY SELECTIONS~


With Daniel Lenko White Cabernet…

Teriyaki Steak & Berries

Foodland Ontario
Serves 4

 

Ingredients 

Dressing

3 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
3 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp teriyaki sauce

2 tsp each finely minced ginger & liquid honey
Freshly ground black pepper 

Salad

12 oz. top sirloin grilling steak
4 C torn spinach leaves
4 C torn romaine leaves
3 C halved strawberries
2 C sliced brown mushrooms
2 green onions, diagonally sliced
4 tsp toasted sesame seeds 


Method

In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together dressing ingredients.

Sprinkle both sides of steak with pepper to taste. Place on greased grill over medium-high heat; close lid & grill for about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare or until desired doneness. 

Let stand for 5 minutes before thinly slicing across the grain. 

In large bowl, combine spinach, romaine, strawberries, mushrooms & green onions. 

Set aside 2 Tbsp of dressing; toss salad with remaining dressing. Arrange on platter or salad plates; toss with beef, drizzle with reserved dressing; sprinkle with sesame seeds.

 

With Daniel Lenko Old Vines Chardonnay

Steamed Lobster Tails

www.allrecipes.com
Serves 4

When the Savvy Selections tasting panel tried this wine, we all thought immediately that it would be perfectly paired with lobster.  Whether you cook the lobster yourself – whichever way you prefer – or use already steamed lobster tails, this wine will be delicious. 

Ingredients

1 Tbsp sea salt
4 (or more!) lobster tails
Butter & lemon juice to taste 

Method

Using kitchen shears, cut the lobster shell (only the shell) down the middle to the tail. Pull the shell up and away from the flesh.

Pour about 1” of water in a large pot & bring it to a boil.
Add the salt & place a steamer insert into the pot so it is just above the water level.
Put the lobster tails on the rack and cover the pot. Steam for 8-10 minutes, until the flesh is opaque.
Melt butter & squeeze in lemon. 

With Daniel Lenko Old Vines Merlot…

Baked Ribs with Whitehouse Sauce

Adapted from the White House Restaurant recipe, Winnipeg
Serves 6

From: ‘Flower of the Flames’ Rub
K. Putnam, Championship BBQ Secrets for Real Smoked Food 

Ingredients

Rub

½ C sweet Hungarian paprika
3/8 C fine kosher or sea salt
¼ C freshly ground black pepper
¼ C chili powder
¼ C ground cumin
¼ packed brown sugar
¼ C garlic powder
1/8 C granulated sugar
1/8 C ground celery seed (optional)
1 Tbsp ground oregano 

Ingredients

Rib sauce

1 C tomato ketchup
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt (optional)
¾ C brown sugar
½ tsp ginger powder
½ tsp cayenne
½ Tbsp chili powder

Method
Remove membranes from 2 racks baby back ribs. Cut the racks to fit a high-sided pan.

Mix all spices in the rub into a bowl.  Using as much of the mixture that you like, generously coat & rub both sides of the racks. Any remaining rub mix can be stored in a jar in the fridge.  Set ribs aside to tenderize for up to 1 hour. 

To prepare the sauce, whisk all ingredients in a small sauce pan & bring to a boil. Cover & simmer gently about 20 minutes. Cool. 

Preheat oven to 375F. Place ribs in the pan, in a single layer if possible. If not, overlap slightly. Cover tightly with aluminum foil & bake ribs 90 minutes in pre-heated oven. Allow the ribs to cool slightly, still covered. Cover the cooked ribs generously with the sauce. Ribs may be covered & refrigerated until ready to BBQ.

Barbeque the ribs on low heat, brushing generously with the sauce on both sides, for about 15 minutes, or until the ribs have a nicely-browned coating of sauce. Alternately, the ribs can be cooked under the broiler in the oven – watch carefully!

Enjoy your Savvy Selections!

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Raise a glass – Mondavi celebrates 100 years!

Posted by Susan

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013
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As a part of its centenary celebration, and recognizing the life and work of its founder, the Robert Mondavi Winery hosted a luncheon and tasting at the Fairmont Château Laurier in Ottawa.  I was delighted to be part of this special event to mark the major milestone.  The afternoon’s wine tasting was led by Mark de Vere, Mondavi’s Director and Master of Wine, who moved to Napa Valley California from the U.K. shortly after completing his WSET and Master of Wine certification.

The talented Chef Louis Simard of the Château Laurier created an innovative, intricate series of dishes featuring local produce and expertly paired with each wine:

Asparagus Salad with charred tomato, home-made ricotta, pickled egg, basil-mint vinaigrette
Smoked Salmon Rillette with grilled baguette on a bed of baby arugula
Duck Confit with Ermite blue cheese, brioche crostini, sherry-rhubarb reduction
Cardamom-Mushroom, Rubbed Lamb Sirloin & Aged Striploin  graced with lima bean cassoulet, red wine jus
Blueberry Goat Cheese Cake

Why not test out the menu yourself with these Mondavi wines – all available at the LCBO.

 

Considered as one of Robert Mondavi’s signature wines – Napa Valley Fumé Blanc (LCBO #221887, $22.95) – was first released in 1968 as an endeavour by Mr. Mondavi to redefine California Sauvignon Blanc from a sweet, unnuanced wine to one endowed with a rich, round texture complemented by a lively, fresh texture. The 2010 vintage served at the tasting certainly hit the mark, displaying beautiful aromas of tropical fruits, lime, a whiff of honeyed floral notes and a touch of nutty toast. The first sip brought out the concentrated fruit and round texture, while the crisp acidity ensured a juicy, finely balanced finish.

The wine continued to evolve in the glass, showcasing tantalizing aromas of crème brulée. The Fumé Blanc was followed by the 2010 Napa Valley Chardonnay (LCBO #310409, $25.95), a fruit-focused wine with attractive aromas of orchard fruit, pineapple and vanilla. Dry, bright and smooth, the wine again featured that fine balance of ripe fruit, well-integrated oak and fresh acidity, finishing with a touch of warmth and candied citrus.

 

The spotlight turned to the red wines featuring the Carneros Pinot Noir 2011 (LCBO #438697 $34.95), vinified to accent the ripe berry fruit, picked early to retain its freshness, then aged 10 months in French oak. Showcasing luscious cherry/berry fruit aromas, notes of smoke and spice, this is a warm, fleshy Pinot Noir, where the intensely flavoured ripe fruit is again balanced with lively acidity. Dry and spicy, it finishes with a touch of peppery warmth.

The 2010 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (LCBO #255513, $34.95, available to June 23 for $31.95) is inky purple and tantalizingly rich, offering complex aromas of dark fruit, vanilla, licorice, spiced chocolate and a hint of herbs. Blended with a touch of Cabernet Franc and Merlot, Mark described it as a ‘classic Napa Valley Cab’, a well-balanced dry wine with perceptible tannins framing tasty black fruit, replaying the notes of herb and licorice on a finish that offers a whisper of well-integrated oak.

The third red wine was the Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (the 2008 is available in the LCBO, 670463, $144.95), produced from fruit harvested from the To Kalon Vineyard. Designed for aging yet absolutely fabulous now, this is a deep, powerful wine characterized by plush, ripe black fruit, supple yet well-structured tannins, clean acidity and lovely nuances of spicy floral notes, chocolate, dried herbs and spiced vanilla. A rich, lush, harmonious wine.

The tasting closed with the Robert Mondavi Winery’s Moscato d’Oro 2009 (LCBO #687392, $17.95, currently available for $14.90), a wine with the winery’s classic intensity and depth of flavour, beautifully fragrant and crisp, Lovely notes of natural grape juice, fruit salad and honeyed peach are lifted by a gentle touch of spritz. Simply delightful! 

 

Here’s to 100 years of Mondavi wines…and many more to come.

Cheers!

-Susan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Say ‘Si’ to Argentina!

Posted by Susan

Friday, June 7th, 2013
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The spotlight is shining on Argentina’s Mendoza region – the country’s major grape-growing area – in the June 8 LCBO Vintages release. This is a great opportunity to stock up on value wines, many under $20. The selection includes a creamy Chardonnay from Alamos (only $13.95),  the country’s signature white grape – Torrontes – and a range of varietal red wines and blends showcasing classic red wine varieties such as Malbec and Bonarda. A good example of this red blend is Familia Mayol ‘Quatro Primos’. Look for loads of flavour, attractive complexity, warmth and balance in the wines.

Mendoza – The ‘Wine Capital’

Mendoza, the city, is known as Argentina’s ‘Wine Capital’ and anchors the wine region at the heart of Argentina’s wine production. Wines in Mendoza benefit from the intense sunlight of high altitudes, cool night temperatures that ensure retention of acidity, and dry air that mitigates against disease. Warm temperatures produce well-ripened grapes with plenty of sugar, leading to softer tannins and higher alcohol. The soils are sandy, and flood irrigation has been used for many years (although drip irrigation is making inroads), with the result that phylloxera has not posed a significant threat and many vines can be grown on their own rootstock.

Malbec is perhaps the best known grape of Argentina, a variety that was relatively insignificant as a part of Bordeaux blends in France but has come into its own in Argentina. The deep-coloured, flavourful Bonarda is increasingly making its presence felt in the export market, either in varietal wines or as a significant part of blended red wines.

Looking for a Father’s Day idea?

In addition to wines from Argentina, this Vintages release focuses on high-end Scotch and wines for Father’s Day, including a fine Chardonnay from Coyote’s Run, approachable red wines such as the deLoach Zinfandel, and wines to be cellared such as the Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. My personal choice would be the Duckhorn Cabernet Sauvignon, a wonderful wine at a very reasonable $29.95.

Rosé wines are here!

For those of us who love rosé for its versatility, and for sipping on a warm summer’s day, peruse the Local Talent feature for some delicious Ontario wines; two of my favorites—Château des Charmes ‘Cuvée d’Andrée’ Rosé and Pondview Cabernet Franc Rosé, appear in our selection at only $14.95!

More great value wines…

And to top it all off, there are more great values, several of which are included among the six wines I have selected below in my shopping list. And if you have some spare change, add to your shopping cart these extras: the full-bodied Côtes du Rhône blend, Les Halos de Jupiter, Rocca delle Macie’s  Chianti Riserva,  the Tedeschi Appassimento, and Lealtanza Crianza, a finely balanced Tempranillo from the Rioja.

Cheers and Enjoy!

Susan

 

Luigi Bosca Pinot Noir 2010

Mendoza, Argentina
$17.95 (Vintages #143420) 12.6% alcohol

With just six months in barrel, this is a very attractive mid-weight Pinot Noir showcasing vibrant red fruits, dried herbs, a hint of cedar and an elusive floral note. Dry and quite juicy in texture, the delicate tannins and lively acidity complement lovely red fruits—cranberry, raspberry and cherry. Touches of spice, toast and earth add complexity through a lengthy dry finish. A versatile wine offering great value, pair it with lighter meat dishes, grilled vegetables or salmon.

13th Street  Winery White Palette 2011

VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$14.95 (Vintages #207340) 12.5% alcohol

A blend of several perfumed grape varieties, the aromas of Gewürztraminer and Riesling shine through on the nose with notes of spicy tropical fruit, citrus and white flowers. Dry, medium bodied, the wine is fleshy yet fresh, fruity and spicy with a nice slightly pithy note on the vibrant, clean finish. Sip on the patio, or serve with salads or seafood.

 

Château des Charmes Rosé ‘Cuvée d’Andrée’ 2012

 VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
$14.95 (Vintages #333260) 12.5% alcohol

The depth and character of this Pinot Noir rosé is suggested to reflect the personality of matriarch Madame Andrée Bosc. An electric deep rose, it’s wonderfully fragrant with notes of apple blossom, red berry and cherry. Dry, vibrant and mid weight, notes of dried herbs and white pepper add complexity to the luscious red fruit—strawberry, red currant and raspberry. Tangy acidity offers a nice balance to a well-crafted wine that finishes crisp and fruity. A versatile choice that has the heft to pair with a range of foods from strawberry balsamic spinach salad to grilled meats. Stock up and enjoy!

 

Pondview Cabernet Franc Rosé 2011

 VQA Four Mile Creek, Ontario
$14.95 (Vintages #241802) 13.5% alcohol

Lou Puglisi has done it again, creating a salmon-hued beauty that offers amazing complexity—sweet cherry/berry aromas, honey and toasted coconut—as well as outstanding value. Just off-dry, medium bodied, this is a rosé with presence and a fine tension between crisp acidity and tangy, juicy red fruit. There’s a light touch of spritz on the palate, warmth and intense flavour through the extended finish. Savour it well chilled on the screened porch this summer.

 

Sileni ‘The Triangle’ Merlot 2010

Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
$16.95 (Vintages #586081) 14.0% alcohol

Aged in French and American oak, this is an impressive, value-laden wine serving up complex aromas and flavours. On the nose, dark and dried fruit, vanilla, dried lavender, sandalwood and cocoa. Displaying a firm yet subtle structure, it grabs your attention with a tangy peppery note followed by a rush of dark plummy fruit, notes of licorice and earth. Tasty, well crafted, and well worth cellaring, you’ll want to pick up a few bottles.

 

 

Les Vignes ‘Bila-Haut’ Côtes du Rousillon-Villages 2011

 AOC Côtes du Rousillon-Villages, France
$14.95 (Vintages #168716) 14.5% alcohol

This blend of Grenache and Syrah from Chapoutier is a remarkable value and consistently good from vintage to vintage. Deep ruby, fruit forward, with a kiss of spice and vanilla, it’s dry, round and full bodied. Very approachable, loaded with luscious dark fruit, notes of licorice, pepper and spice add interest and allure. There’s the structure to balance the fruit and a big lip-smacking finish that says ‘bring on the barbequed meat’.

 

Load up  your shopping cart!

Grand Total: $94.70

 

 

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