Posts Tagged ‘Biodynamic winemaking’

Tawse – Be Inspired!

Posted by Susan

Saturday, June 13th, 2015
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Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Tawse Winery

–  June 2015 –

In the 13 years since starting Savvy Company, I’ve met numerous fascinating people in the wine industry. Beyond their love of wine, the common thread is that everyone enters into the wine world from a different route. Each month we share these stories in the Savvy Selections eZine. The following pages hold tidbits that would start an interesting conversation at a cocktail party or around a dinner table.

My introduction to this month’s winery – Tawse Winery – would begin with the exciting news that they have been named ‘Canadian Winery of the Year’ by Canadian Wine Access Magazine in 2010, 2011 and 2012. And they are the only Ontario winery so far to achieve this acclaim.  The people that have built this reputation have interesting routes that make up the story that we are eager to share with you this month.  Naturally, Tawse’s beginning has not changed since we last featured the winery in 2011, yet the story of their growth and constant commitment to put Canada on the world wine map has evolved.

The story of Tawse Winery is all about a young man, Moray Tawse from Alberta, who worked at a resort where he ‘fell’ into the role of wine steward…and his route into the wine world.  Eventually in 1988, he co-founded (and continues today to lead) a financial services firm while dreaming of owning a vineyard in Burgundy, France. Luckily for the Canadian wine industry, fate kept this dream on Canadian soil.

Enamored with Burgundian wines, he was amazed by the outstanding Chardonnays made in Niagara (Sommelier tip: white Burgundy wine is 100% Chardonnay). After researching the Niagara wine scene, he purchased property in 2001 and his winery dream began to take shape.

Our Savvy Sommelier Susan Desjardins has a keen personal interest in organic and biodynamic wineries. She naturally gravitated to the Tawse story.  With all of the intricacies of the subject of organic and biodynamic, we’re sharing with you her interview with the Tawse team from our 2011 issue of the Savvy eZine because no one can eloquently explain organic like Susan can! Pop open the Spark bubbly or crack open the seal on the wines in this month’s Savvy Selections & enjoy the wines while you read more about Tawse.

In your Savvy Selections, you will find:

Limestone Ridge ‘Spark’ Riesling VQA 2013, $19.95 – Tawse’s signature sparkling wines – refreshing, dry bubbly that would is perfect enjoyed as you relax on your deck or your dock.

Quarry Road Vineyard Gewürztraminer VQA 2013, $24.95 – a BIG, beautiful, white wine loaded with concentrated aromas & flavours.  You’ll thank us for including this gem.

Gamay Noir VQA 2013, $18.95 – Medium bodied with warm smoke & red fruit flavours that would be perfect for simple BBQ fare like burgers, sausages & ribs.  At this price, they are giving this wine away!

All of the awards & recognition has drawn the attention of wine lovers like you & me to Tawse wines. At one time the price tags of their wines were untouchable (several wines still are!), yet recently, it appears that more of their wines are at an accessible price point.  We are confident that you’ll be impressed with this month’s selection.  At these prices, if you would like to stock up…simply give us a call on 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) to arrange a special delivery for you.

Cheers & Enjoy!

Debbie & Savvy Team
debbie@savvycompany.ca

Introducing….
Tawse Winery

 Presented by Sommelier Susan Desjardins

To visit Tawse is to be inspired. Their uncompromising commitment to the vines, the grapes and the soil, respect for the environment and their stewardship of the land will be rewarded with the excellence of outstanding wines.

When Moray TawseMoray Tawse (in photo) purchased the estate in 2001, he obtained existing vineyards – some with vines planted in the 1970s and 1980s. As he built his new winery with the old vines, he selected sites that offered unique terroir, for instance the Quarry Road site which is at the top of the Niagara escarpment, where the limestone in very accessible and minerality shines through. (try the Gewürztraminer we included to find these minerality notes)

As he was building the winery, he called on renowned winemaker Deborah Paskus to lead the winemaking team because her Chardonnay single-handedly changed his mind about establishing a winery in France and lay down his roots in Niagara instead. Paul Pender, fresh from Niagara College’s Winery & Viticulture program, joined as assistant winemaker. When Deborah decided to move to Closson Chase Winery in Prince Edward County, Moray then called on his long-time friend, internationally renowned consulting winemaker Pascal Marchand to assist with the 2005 vintage. With the French influence & more experience under this belt, Paul soon took the helm and brought in Rene van Ede from Australia with a palate extraordinaire. Paul and Rene are still the dynamic winemaking team today and the industry recognized their talent in 2011 when Paul was named Winemaker of the Year at the Ontario Wine Awards.

Known for his ‘non-interventionist as far as possible’ approach to winemaking, Paul has overseen both Tawse’s organic and biodynamic certification processes. His is a steward, watching over the vines and grapes, ‘keeping them safe and then letting the wine express its sense of place’.

Moray repeatedly explains in media interviews that the vineyard location is critically important. He is proud of the terroir that he has as it is similar to the region of Burgundy, France…and is one of the reasons he believes to invest in vineyards in Niagara.

Growing a Biodynamic Business

The state-of-the-art building is nestled into the Beamsville Bench along the Niagara Escarpment, housing an impressive six-level gravity flow winemaking operation. Underground cellars maintain the ideal temperature and humidity for barrel aging, while minimizing its impact on the environment. The geo-thermal energy system has reduced consumption of traditional energy by 80%, and the wetland bio-filter system ensures that all sanitary and winery waste water is recycled.

Biodynamic farming – as we explained in last month’s Savvy eZine featuring Southbrook Vineyards, is referred to as “extreme organics” – is the practice of ever increasing ecological self-sufficiency on the property (similar to last month’s featured winery – Southbrook Vineyards). The Tawse estate is farmed organically with everything done by hand. Biodynamic farming and winemaking techniques have been implemented – Ecocert and Demeter seals appear on all Tawse wines made from biodynamically cultivated fruit (note the Gewürztraminer).

The biodynamic approach has the principal focus on treating the vineyard as an ecosystem where all the components are a self-contained integrated whole, dependent upon each other for long-term health and vitality. Those components include biodiversity, soil fertility, crop nutrition and disease/pest control.  As an example, hedgerows are planted to attract specific insects, while cover crops are planted in the vineyard to prevent erosion and compete with the vines for nutrients, driving the roots down into the mineral layers of the soil. Various farm animals roam through the vineyards to eat weeds or excess vine foliage, their manure providing natural enrichment for the soil. And periodically horses are used for harvest to minimize soil compaction.

In the winemaking process, the guiding principal is to celebrate the terroir. With the changing weather of each vintage, Paul spends much of his time in the vineyard monitoring the health and quality of the fruit, sugar and acidity levels. Flexibility and quick reaction time is required, given the unpredictable climate – but this is what makes each vintage unique. In addition to the gentle process ensured by the gravity-flow system, wild yeasts are used wherever possible, and the same type of oak is applied in aging wines so that the unique qualities of the vineyard come through. The Tawse winemaking staff rejoices in the nature of cool-climate wines: ‘We’re an acidity-friendly winery,” states Rene, the assistant winemaker. Their goal: to create elegant, bright, pure ‘old world’ style wines.

And Moray’s dream of making wine in Burgundy is now coming to fruition as his friend Pascal Marchand has begun to operate a cuverie (winespeak: vat room) and cellars in Nuits-St-Georges, France.

 

 

 ~ SAVVY SOMMELIER TASTING NOTES ~

 

Tawse Spark Limestone Ridge Riesling VQA 2013, $19.9513_Spark_Limestone_Ridge_Riesling

Tawse was one of the first Ontario wineries to make a bubbly using Riesling grapes…and their sparkling wines grace many restaurant wine lists. Respecting the Riesling grape, Paul continues with his non-interventionist approach from hand harvesting the grapes to leaving the wine to create itself.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Zippy with notes & tastes of lime, white grapefruit, crab apple & minerality tied up with a brioche aroma (think raisin Danish pastry) makes this bone dry bubbly refreshing.  The persistent and elegant mousse makes you yearn for another sip…then another bottle!

Suggested Food Pairing: “All you need is a hot day”, remarked one of our Savvy Sommeliers.  Chilled down before popping the cork, this bubbly will be fantastic on its own, with summertime , sushi, oysters, lacey parmesan cheese crisps…or a picnic!

Cellaring: Pop the cork now or cellar for 2-3 years

 

13_QuarryRoad_Gewurz_LargeTawse Quarry Road Gewürztraminer VQA 2013, $24.95

We are excited to showcase this wine as not many wineries in Ontario grow Gewürz grapes nor make a good wine.  The vines are grown in an area where the soil is uniquely composed of both limestone & clay soils.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Bursting from the glass with absolutely delicious and pretty aromas tropical fruits (think mango, guava, pineapple), white flowers and juicy apricots.  These continue in the taste with loads of pear, honey (or is it marmalade?) and smooth mouthfeel.

Suggested Food Pairing:  A dish with heat will be softened with this wine. Fish tacos, Phad Thai, or Indian red curry.

Cellaring: No need to wait – enjoy now

 


Tawse Gamay Noir VQA 2013
,
$18.9513_Tawse_Gamay_Noir

In its 3rd vintage & only 5000 bottles made, mark my word that this wine could be sold out by the time you want more! Perfect for summertime enjoyment as Gamay grapes produce a light to medium bodied wine ready to pair with anything off the grill or slipped into a picnic basket.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Fire engine red in colour, this warm red wine, ‘reminds me of roasted red peppers’, stated Debbie during the panel tasting. There is a race between the tannins & acidity as you swirl it in your mouth while tastes of cherry, pomegranate & smoke develop. A medium bodied red wine with a long delicious finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: Fire up the BBQ! This is perfect with anything off the grill – vegetables, burgers, spicy sausages or saucy ribs. Rather than one BBQ recipe, we are giving you 10 rub recipes to try over the summer.

Cellaring: Enjoy now and stock up on several bottles…

 

~ RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH YOUR SAVVY SELECTIONS ~


With Tawse Spark Limestone Ridge Riesling…

Rosemary & White Bean Dipwhite bean dip - serious eats
From Serious Eats
Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients

1 (15 ½ ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 medium cloves garlic, peeled
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice and 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest from 1 lemon
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons finely minced fresh rosemary
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Photo credit: Joshua Bousel, Serious Eats

Method

Place beans, garlic, and lemon juice in the work-bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse until beans are roughly chopped

With motor running, slowly pour 1/4 cup of oil through feed tube. Process until mixture is smooth.

Transfer bean mixture to a small bowl. Stir in rosemary, lemon zest, and remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Serve with Greek pita wedges or pita crisps.

 

With Tawse Gewürztraminer

Firecracker Shrimp & Mango Avocado Dip

From the kitchen of Debbie Trenholm

Serves 4 to 6

This was served at a cocktail party and after the first bite, it of those “I got to have this recipe” moments. The exotic ingredients playfully complement each other and Gewürztraminer wine will enhance the flavours this appetizer to rave reviews!

Firecracker Shrimp – Ingredients

Freshly ground black pepper
Sesame oil
Sambal sauce (a Thai/Vietnamese red chili sauce – sold in bottles)
Salt
Sugar

Method

Quickly cook shrimp in boiling water and then cool under running water.  Remove shells.

Toss with sesame oil, pepper, salt, a sprinkle of white sugar and Sambal.

Taste and adjust seasoning. 

Ingredients – Mango & Avocado Dip

1 ripe mango, peeled and roughly chopped
1 ripe avocado, peeled and roughly chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
3 tablespoons of freshly grated ginger
1-2 tablespoons of liquid honey
Juice of 3-4 limes
1 teaspoon salt

Method

 In food processor combine grated ginger (or chop knob of ginger in food processor first), mango, jalapeno, honey, avocado and lime juice.

Add vegetable oil and salt.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

Chef Tip: Try to achieve a balance of ginger, acid (lime) and sweetness.

 

With Tawse Gamay Noir…

10 Top Rubs for BBQ-ingMemphis_style_Rib_Rub
www.aboutfood.com

Everybody has a favorite way to prepare meats for BBQing.  Many of these recipes aren’t written down, rather by feel. To break away from using your ‘tried and tested’ marinade or rub, in true Letterman style, here are the top 10 recipes that are consistently favorited on aboutfood.com’s web site:

  1. Kansas City Rub
  2. A Carolina BBQ Rub
  3. A Sparerib Rub
  4. Memphis Rub
  5. Best Odds Brisket Rub
  6. Magic Dust
  7. Memphis Style Rib Rub
  8. Basic Pork Rub
  9. Best Odds Pulled Pork Rub
  10. Brisket Brown Sugar Rub

Photo credit: Regarding BBQ Inc.

Check them out at http://bbq.about.com/od/rubrecipes/tp/aatp042607a.htm.
There is a recipe there for everyone!

Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!

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Southbrook has a ‘Dynamic’ story!

Posted by Debbie

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015
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Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Southbrook Vineyards

–  May 2015 –

I don’t know where to start… This month we are featuring Southbrook Vineyards of Niagara-on-the-Lake & they have quite a story to tell. I’ll admit that I was first introduced to Southbrook with a sip of their Framboise raspberry wine. Fruit wine you say – yes!  As the expression goes…’you have come a long way baby!’ Southbrook is now less known for their fruit wine and they are more recognized for their commitment to biodynamic practices at every level in their business. They are also the only winery that we have featured in Savvy Selections who has appeared on Dragon’s Den….more about that on the following pages!

What is Biodynamic you ask?
“It’s extreme organics!” explains Southbrook’s winemaker Ann Sperling.  Her vineyard & winemaking Southbrook winery at nightteam creates wines that express the story both of the grapes & the ground that nourishes them.  Mark our words, with each sip of any wine from Southbrook, you’ll taste their commitment to the biodynamic grape growing & winemaking practices. “We want people to taste the purity in the wines we make,” explained owner Bill Redelmeier.

In your Savvy Selections parcel  you will find an amazing assortment from Southbrook:

Triomphe Chardonnay VQA 2013, $22.95 – an absolutely easy drinking Chardonnay with the refreshing fruit showing through interlaced with oak

Triomphe Cabernet Franc VQA 2013, $21.95 – fire up the BBQ!

Whimsy! Married Young VQA 2009 – $34.95 – this 6 year old wine has aged at the winery & is now ready for you to enjoy.

This selection shows that organic does not need to be expensive.  Our Savvy Selections tasting panel were impressed with the quality & readiness of these wines.  No need to cellar or decant, just twist the cap or pull the cork to enjoy fine Ontario wine.  “I simply want people to say – these wines have character,” states Bill. Let us know what you think.

Read all about it in your Savvy eZine!
While you relax on your dock or deck chair waiting for your BBQ to warm up, flip through the following pages to learn more about biodynamic grape growing & winemaking (I promise not to get technical!), the winery’s fascinating architecture, our Savvy Sommeliers’ tasting notes & recipes provided from Southbrook’s kitchen.

Want more Southbrook wines?
You may have noticed a few Southbrook wines in the LCBO, yet there is so much more available through us or when you visit the winery.  To stock up on any of the Savvy Selections wines, simply call the Savvy Team on 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) to make a special delivery for you.

Cheers & Enjoy!

Debbie & Savvy Team

 

 

Introducing…
Southbrook Vineyards

Presented by Sommelier Debbie Trenholm

“I thinkBILL AND MARILYN of wine like a talking stick”, shares Bill (right in picture). “You buy the wine because there is a story that you are eager to share with friends.” Bill & I have known each other for many years, yet during our phone conversation we commented that most of the time spent together was seeing each other at wine shows, in meetings at the winery or when Bill flies in to participate in a Savvy Taste & Buy event.  “Let’s make a point to go out for beers next time we see each other”, we said in unison.  It is a well-known fact that the drink of choice by most in the wine industry is beer!

On Dragon’s Den…

After a few beers I will endeavor to real dirt about Bill’s experience on Dragon’s Den in 2012. He explained the audition process and how one hour of filming with 8 cameras was unnerving enough then boiled down into 5 quick minutes we see on TV.  “Over 9,000 people audition and 200 pitches were selected to go before the Dragons,” explains Bill. “I was really hoping that Arlene or Jim would say – I’m in!” While the winery was mentioned several times, Bill’s focus was on pitching Bioflavia –a health bioflaviaproduct used made from the dried and crushed skins of red grapes from their organic vineyards.  This ‘wine waste’ contains high levels of natural and powerful antioxidants.  Bioflavia can be added as an ingredient in smoothies, cooking or baking.  “With the snap of Jim’s fingers, the dough of every Boston Pizza made could be enriched with a teaspoon of our product.” What happened in the Den?  Click to watch the video>>

Biodynamics 101

Bill & Marilyn are the driving force behind the winery’s organic and biodynamic practices. They are the first to tell you that they are fundamentally agriculturalists. Bill explained that his grandfather had a Jersey dairy farm in Richmond Hill.  Growing up, he’d always been surrounded by farmers.  Initially, Bill wanted to start an ice cream company using the rich Jersey milk from his grandfather’s dairy.  grapesThe hurdle came when he discovered that his family’s milk could not be separated out from other Jersey farms – unlike a winery. Long story shortened, Bill shelved the ice cream idea and ventured into the winery business.  “I wanted people to taste the terroir – the exact place where the fruit was grown.”

“We were drawn to biodynamics as it is a way to fully express the vineyard’s character in our wines. I did not want to make low end wines. There is no appeal or talking stick in making 2 buck chuck!”

If biodynamic is a new wine term for you, Southbrook’s winemaker Ann Sperling, puts it simply: ‘extreme organics’.  Biodynamic agricultural promotes the ecological self-sufficiency and internal harmony of the land while taking into account the cycles of nature (ie. various stages of the moon) and there is a philosophical and spiritual aspect woven in too.

Our Sommelier Susan Desjardins (also a trained horticulturalist) explains more.  Growing practices are quite similar to organic agriculture, but a specific calendar is followed to help determine when activities such as pruning and fSouthbrook sorting grapesertilizing should be undertaken in the vineyards. In addition, a variety of treatments are applied to the soil, generally using ingredients that are derived from plants or animals that are integral to the property. Other approaches include planting cover crops between the vines that attract beneficial insects and using lambs to ‘mow’ these areas. Southbrook has 80-90 ewes in their herd.

Ann explained to Susan, “Biodynamics says the farm is an entire ‘living system’. The resulting practices are about quality – quality in the bottle and quality of life.”

Southbrook is the first biodynamic winery in Canada.  They keep company of other well-known wineries including Chapoutier and Domaine Leflaive of France. “Many of the wineries in the great wine regions of France are biodynamic”, Bill explains. “Like Southbrook, their wine labels do not herald their biodynamic certification.  You can tell just by the taste that the wine has soul.”

What is in Bill & Marilyn’s cellar?

There’s about 1800 – 2000 bottles mainly old Bordeaux, ports and Chardonnay. “Nothing fancy to look at but it is well organized with IKEA shelving and like most cellars, there are always cases of wine on the floor.”

 I’ll raise a glass to that! Enjoy your Savvy Selections.

 

~ SAVVY SOMMELIER TASTING NOTES ~

Since 2008, all of the yeast used in the winemaking process is natural yeast.  “We sold all of our commercial yeast and now use what is naturally in the air. Our vineyard is alive!” proudly explains Bill.

 

Triomphe Chardonnay 2013 VQA, $22.95southbrook chardonnay

Made with Chardonnay grapes picked at various times throughout October from 5 different organic vineyards in Niagara.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Our tasting panel raved about this lively Chardonnay.  Notes of fresh juicy peach, grapefruit & apples follow through into the taste with a hint of nutmeg & vanilla.  A rich wine that is beautifully balanced, laced with subtle oak with a zip of acidity.  The soul of the wine definitely shines through!

Suggested Food Pairing: This wine is simply delicious on its own (I am enjoying as I write this eZine!), with pork tenderloin, sushi, crabcakes or fish. The Savvy Selections tasting panel had so many good recipes to share and so did the winery, that we have not one…but three recipes that hit the mark! Peach Pizza, Sunshine Salmon & a unique recipe for Banana Leaf Tilapia with Lemon Beurre Blanc Egg Noodles.

Cellaring: Drinking well now or cellar 3-5 years.

Triomphe Cabernet Franc VQA 2013, $21.95triomphe cabernet franc

Ontario continues to impress us with Cabernet Franc wines.  And this one is a fine example of how a big red wine can be made in a cold climate wine growing region. This wine contains 95% Cabernet Franc with a splash (5%) of Merlot to give it finesse.

Winemakers Tasting Notes: The wine presents a nose of red currant with notes of raspberry, savoury herbs and cedar wood. The palate echoes the fruit aromas supported by medium toast and firm tannins. The finish is of medium length and is driven by both fruit and savoury notes.

Note: our Savvy Selections panel tasted a different vintage, so the above notes are provided by the winery.

Suggested Food Pairing: Fire up the BBQ!  Ribs, burgers or spring lamb chops would be a perfect pairing.

Cellaring: Ready now or can be cellared a further 3-5 years.

 

Whimsy! Married Young 2009 VQA $34.95Southbrook married young

As you might imagine, there is no end to experimenting at Southbrook. The Whimsy label is where Ann and the winemaking team stretches their talent and winemaking techniques to play!  Wines are made in small lot batches (so there are no big mistakes).  On the label, each dab of paint represents a different varietal in the Southbrook palette to make an interesting design element that is…simply whimsical.

Winemaker Notes: This blend is 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Cabernet Franc.  The juice of the two varieties were fermented separately, then blended prior to barrel aging (in French oak) in order to “marry” and create a wine of more complexity, depth and completeness.  Released in February 2015 after several years aging at the winery. 138 cases were produced….and Savvy Selections subscribers took many of them!

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Gorgeous! A smooth, delicious deep red wine that has blackberry, boysenberry, black licorice, leather, cedar and forest floor (think of walking in the woods after a rain). Tannins have mellowed with age, with a zip of acidity that will smooth out with food (we tried it with old cheddar), and long lingering smoky finish.

Suggested Food Pairing:  Beef, beef, and beef! If you are vegetarian, then grilled mushrooms will be delish!

Cellaring: Ready now, no need to wait any longer.

 

~ RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH YOUR SAVVY SELECTIONS~

 

With Southbrook Triomphe Chardonnay

Peach Pizza

From Southbrook’s Kitchen
Serves 4

Ingredients

flatbread
fresh peaches – from Niagara of course!
goat cheese
2 tbsp organic honey
½ tsp balsamic vinegar
olive oil
fresh basil

Method

Combine balsamic vinegar and organic honey with olive oil to taste. Stir until combined.

Half peaches and lightly brush with oil, to prevent sticking on the BBQ.

Place flesh side down on BBQ on medium heat for 5 minutes.

Brush flatbread with olive oil and kosher salt. Put on BBQ on medium heat for a couple minutes.

Remove peaches and flatbread.

Cut peaches onto the flatbread and sprinkle cheese onto pizza. Drizzle balsamic honey dressing on top.

Cook on top rack until cheese is melted. Remove and sprinkle chopped basil on top.

Cut and enjoy!

 

Another recipe to serve with

Southbrook Triomphe Chardonnay

Sunshine Salmon

From Kitchen at Publix
Serves 4

Ingredientssunshine salmon - Publix

2 teaspoons garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped
2 oranges
½ cup sweet white wine (or chicken broth)
4 (6-oz) salmon fillets, skin removed
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 Tbsp orange marmalade
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp unsalted butter

Method

Cut ½ orange into ¼ inch-thick slices (rounds), then cut slices into quarters. Squeeze remaining 1 ½ oranges for juice (about ½ cup).

Place wine, orange juice, garlic, dill, and orange slices in large sauté pan and cover; bring to a boil on medium-high. Reduce heat to low; simmer uncovered 7 minutes.

Check fish for bones. Season salmon on both sides with garlic seasoning and pepper. Add salmon to wine mixture; simmer 3–4 minutes on each side or until salmon is opaque and separates easily. Transfer salmon to serving dish.

Add marmalade and mustard to wine mixture; cook and stir 1 minute or until marmalade dissolves and sauce thickens. Remove pan from heat; stir in butter (being gentle while stirring, so fruit stays intact). Pour sauce over salmon & serve.

 

Even more recipes to serve with Triomphe Chardonnay!

Spicy BBQ’d Banana Leaf Tilapia with Lemon Beurre Blanc Egg Noodles

From Southbrook’s Kitchen
Serves 4

 Ingredients for Tilapia

4 pieces of tilapia
4 pieces of banana leaves
¼ Spanish onion
3 cloves garlic
1 red chili
1 tsp tumeric
½ tsp sea salt & cracked pepper
2 stalks of lemon grass
1 Tbsp of vegetable oil
¼ cup butter
8 wood skewers

Ingredients for Lemon Beurre Blanc Egg Noodles

½ cup white wine
1 cup 35% cream
2 lemons – juiced
1 cup butter
4 pieces of baby bok choy
egg noodles
1 cup of sliced cherry tomatoes

Method for Banana Leaf Tilapia

Finely dice Spanish onion, garlic, red chili (seeds removed) and lemon grass. Add salt, pepper, tumeric, vegetable oil and butter. Mix well.

Place tilapia on the banana leaf and spread marinade over fish. Wrap the banana leaf around the tilapia and secure with skewers.

Heat one side of the BBQ to high. Place wrapped fish on direct heat. Sear 2 minutes per side and then move wrapped fish off direct heat and finish cooking for 10 minutes with BBQ closed. Should reach 375°F.

Method for Lemon Beurre Blanc Egg Noodles

In a large sauce pan, combine wine, cream and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer until ½ of the volume remains.

Add 1 cup of butter. Stir constantly. Sauce will thicken with the addition of butter. Continue stirring until desired consistency is reached.

In a separate pot, steam baby bok choy. At the same time, cook egg noodles. Drain noodles.

Add baby bok choy and uncooked, diced cherry tomatoes. Slowly add Beurre Blanc and stir. Serve with Banana Leaf Tilapia on top of the noodles.


With Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Franc

BBQ Smoky Pork Ribs with Asian Slaw

From: Regan Kapach – Southbrook’s Assistant Winemaker

Serves several rib lovers!

Ingredients for RibsWINERY

1 side pork ribs
1 onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, halved
1 to 2 litres beer
1 to 2 litres water
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp each salt & pepper
1 Tbsp Chinese five spice
1 tsp cloves
2 inches fresh ginger
1 cup homemade BBQ sauce

 Method for Ribs:

Portion ribs into ‘four-rib’ pieces for easier cooking and serving.

Parboil the ribs for 2 hours in mixture of half water/half beer (enough of each to just cover the ribs), plus the onion, garlic, ginger, bay leaf and spices. Remove from pot and refrigerate for half and hour.

Leftover boiling mixture can be strained and reduced to make an amazing beef/pork stew stock!

Fire up the barbie! Cook ribs until done to your liking.

Ingredients for Slaw

½ head of Chinese cabbage, shredded
1 good sized carrot, grated
1 handful of sweet peas, julienned
3 green onions, julienned
1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
fresh cilantro to garnish

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Toss with dressing.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

 Ingredients for Dressing

2 Tbsp mayonnaise
¼ cup olive oil
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
salt & pepper to taste
Whisk together the dressing ingredients and pour over slaw.

 

 Enjoy your Savvy Selections!

 

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In the Heat of Argentina’s moment

Posted by Susan

Thursday, April 12th, 2012
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To prepare for celebrating World Malbec Day next week (on April 17), LCBO Vintages showcases wines from Argentina – many made with Malbec grapes. Argentina continues to grow as one of the world’s largest producers, ranking 5th behind France, Italy, Spain and the U.S. and producing wines of quality and value.  History tells us that as early as the 16th century, missionaries from Europe brought vines with them, Mendoza being one of the first areas where vineyards were planted, with the wines improving in quality to the point that they were recognized across the region.

In the late 1800s, immigrants from Italy and Spain brought several European varietals, planting them in fertile valleys where the indigenous peoples had created, hundreds of years earlier, an extensive system of irrigation canals to support their food crops. The control of water to the vines through flood irrigation (which also controls the pest phylloxera), along with ideal hot days and cool nights, create almost ideal conditions for grape growing.  Malbec, a relatively minor grape in Bordeaux blends, thrives in the hot dry climate, and has become Argentina’s signature grape, while red varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Bonarda are developing a reputation. Torrontès is the most widely planted white varietal.

As Argentina’s attention shifted from domestic demand to interntional export, well-established descendents of the original European immigrants, such as Nicolas Catena, played a key role in shifting the focus to premium varieties planted on specifically selected terroir, quality over quantity, focused vineyard management, and the introduction of new technology in the cellar. Substantial European investment has also brought large international producers such as Lurton to the country.

For those who seek out organic wines, the second feature of this Vintages release is for you.  Organic grape growing follows certain principles including the use of only natural fertilizers, no pesticide or herbicide use, and more intensive vineyard management, often including hand harvesting and lower crop yields.  Organic winemaking requires the winemaker to follows a set of specified regulations, such as the absence of any synthetic additives in fining, restricted use of sulfites, etc.

Biodynamic wines are produced using organic methods, but also treat the farm environment in a wholistic manner and follow a specific regimen laid out by the Demeter calendar.  Many winemakers using these methods do so because of their conviction that biodynamic practices produce better wines while ensuring a healthy environment.  Among the organic wines, Argentina is again represented with a Zuccardi Rosé, the country’s hot dry climate providing ideal conditions for organic production. Our selection for this release includes 6 wines, including 2 from the Argentine feature and one from the Eco-friendly feature.

Cheers and Enjoy! – Susan

Babich ‘Fernhill Individual Vineyard’ Viognier 2010

Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
$16.95 (Vintages #269282) 14.0% alcohol

A lovely Viognier offering subtle aromas of stone and tropical fruit with a whiff of sweet spice and floral. Rich, generous fruit flavours provide substantial texture, a mineral character presents, appropriate citrusy acidity assuring lovely balance. Finishing long and fruity, this is a gutsy wine that would be a match for lamb curry.




Pierre Sparr ‘Réserve’ Pinot Gris 2009
AOC Alsace, France
$14.95 (Vintages #983395) 13.5% alcohol
Yet another great value from Alsace, this wine is golden! Lovely floral notes mingle with aromas of stone and orchard fruit and a scent of lemon curd. A clean tangy texture offers a frame for almost honeyed fruit and notes of candied citrus. There’s depth, good balance, and long tasty finish. The perfect match for mildly spiced Thai food or for duck à l’orange.


Chakana ‘Yaguareté Collection’ Bonarda 2010

Mendoza, Argentina
$12.95 (Vintages #3525)) 13.5% alcohol
What a great value, and an opportunity to try this lesser known yet very flavourful varietal that has found its home in Argentina after migrating from Europe. The aromas express sweet ripe dark berries, notes of vanilla and spice reflecting the well-managed oak aging. Dry, medium-full bodied, it’s well balanced, the ripe tannins and nice tangy texture matching the concentrated dark fruit and fine spices. Enjoy it with burgers or barbequed sausages. 



Fabre Montmayou ‘Reserva’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Mendoza, Argentina
$14.95 (Vintages #261891) 14.5% alcohol
Recipient of an international award, this inky wine is dry, medium-full bodied, and flows across the palate like satin. It’s concentrated and fruity, displaying subtle hints of herbs and cedar. The balance of supple tannins, fresh acidity and ripe dark berry fruit makes for an appealing taste experience, the lasting finish pleasantly dry and warm. Enjoy with full-flavoured meats or cellar medium term.

Bonterra Zinfandel 2009

Mendocino/Amador/Lake Counties, California
$19.95 (Vintages #530139) 14.5% alcohol
Bonterra has been using sustainable organic and biodynamic grape growing and winemaking methods for over 20 years. This award-winning organic wine is ripe and fruity on the nose, redolent with spice, vanilla and a slight floral note. Dry, medium-full bodied and focused, the core of dark juicy fruit is framed by fresh acidity and somewhat chalky tannins. Notes of char, pepper and spice garnish a lasting dry finish. Enjoy it with robust barbequed meats.




Torre Quarto ‘Bottaccia’ Uva di Troia 2008
IGT Puglia, Italy
$15.95 (Vintages #161737) 13.5% alcohol
There’s a spicy floral hint here, along with delicious berry fruit, earth and sweet herbs. Dry mid-weight, this is a very nicely balanced wine with a fine smooth texture, almost floral flavours and a bushel of dark berry fruit garnished with spice and vanilla. It finishes fresh and fruity. Step out of your comfort zone and try this lesser-known varietal!



Grand Total: $95.70

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Tawse is named Winery AND Winemaker of the Year

Posted by Susan

Friday, June 10th, 2011
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Savvy Selections wine of the month club
features Tawse Winery
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep

Venturing to Alberta as a young man, Moray Tawse worked at a resort where he ‘fell’ into the role of wine steward, further developing his interest in wine, in particular Burgundian-style wines. In 1988, he co-founded and continues to lead a financial services firm while combining his dream of owning a vineyard in Burgundy, France. Luckily for the Canadian wine industry, fate wanted to keep this dream at home. Moray was enamored with an outstanding Chardonnay from Niagara and saw the potential for his beloved Burgundian wines in Ontario. After researching the Niagara wine scene, he purchased property in 2001 and his winery dream began to take shape.

The uncompromising attention to quality, environmental stewardship and landscape is evident as you approach the Tawse Winery. Opened in 2005, the state-of-the-art building nestles into the Beamsville Bench (aka Niagara Escarpment), boasting a six-level gravity flow vinification system that uses the naturally sloping terrain for gentle handling, assuring the exquisite bouquet and flavours of the finished product. Underground cellars maintain the ideal temperature and humidity for barrel aging, while minimizing environmental impact. The geo-thermal energy system has reduced consumption of traditional energy by 80%, and the wetland bio-filter system ensures that all sanitary and winery waste water is recycled. Biodynamic farming, sometimes referred to as “extreme organic”, is the practice of ever increasing ecological self-sufficiency on the property. The estate is farmed organically with everything done by hand. Biodynamic farming and winemaking techniques have been implemented—Ecocert and Demeter seals appear on all Tawse wines made from biodynamically cultivated fruit.

Frequently receiving accolades, the piece de resistance is undoubtedly the prestigious Canada’s Winery of the Year from Wine Access Magazine presented at the 2010 Canadian Wine Awards. Interestingly, Tawse was the first Ontario winery to receive this honor and also won an unprecedented 5 gold, 3 silver and 10 bronze medals for their wines. In addition, they won the White Wine of the Year award for its 2008 Robyn’s Block Chardonnay. And to top it all off, Tawse winemaker Paul Pender was named Ontario’s Winemaker of the Year 2011 at the Ontario Wine Awards.  Congrats to the Tawse team!

We are delighted to introduce you this month’s Savvy Selections:
Sketches of Niagara Rosé VQA 2010 – a crisp, dry & delicious Rosé perfect for sipping on your patio
Riesling VQA 2010 – just released in time to be included in Savvy Selections
Laundry Vineyards Cabernet Franc VQA 2009 – you are the very first to get your hands on this wine. It is not yet released at the winery.
Optional wine: Riesling Ice Wine VQA 2009 – subtle, elegant, and beautifully balanced

As always in the Savvy eZine, we have included the tasting notes from our Savvy Sommeliers along with recipes that Susan specifically chose to pair with each of these wines ideal for summertime entertaining.

If there is a particular wine from Tawse that you enjoyed, feel free to contact me and I would be more than happy to arrange a delivery of additional bottles to be sent to you. And if you would like to stock up on your favorite Savvy Selections wines, just give me a call to arrange a special delivery.

Cheers & Enjoy!
Debbie & Savvy Team

Tawse Winery
Presented by Sommelier Susan Desjardins

To visit Tawse is to be inspired. Here is uncompromising commitment to the vines, the grapes and the soil, respect for the environment and trust that stewardship will be rewarded with the excellence of outstanding wines.

When Moray Tawse purchased this estate in 2001, he purchased existing vineyards, some of them with vines planted in the 1970s and 1980s. He selected sites that offer unique terroir, for instance the Quarry Road site which is at the top of the Niagara escarpment, where the limestone in very accessible and minerality shines through. He called on renowned winemaker Deborah Paskus, whose Chardonnay had changed his mind about establishing a winery in France and establish roots in Niagara instead. Paul Pender (appears in photo below), fresh from Niagara College’s Winery & Viticulture program, joined as assistant winemaker. When Deborah decided to move to Closson Chase Winery in Prince Edward County, Moray called on his long-time friend, internationally renowned consulting winemaker Pascal Marchand to assist with the 2005 vintage. Paul soon took the helm and acquired his own assistant; Australian Rene van Ede who is a lab expert and has an extraordinary palate.

Known for his ‘non-interventionist as far as possible’ approach to winemaking, Paul has overseen both Tawse’s organic and biodynamic certification processes. His approach to winemaking is that of a steward (or a guardian angel), watching over the vines and grapes, ‘keeping them safe’, and then letting the wine express its sense of place. Moray Tawse has repeatedly explained in various publications the importance of the vineyard location. he is proud that the terroir at his winery is much like the region of Burgundy, France & being one of the reasons to invest in Niagara.

Growing a Biodynamic Business
The biodynamic approach used by Tawse is natural and holistic with the principal focus on treating the vineyard as an ecosystem where all the components are a self-contained integrated whole, dependent upon each other for long-term health and vitality. Those components include biodiversity, soil fertility, crop nutrition and disease/pest control – as an example, hedgerows are planted to attract beneficial insects, while cover crops are planted in the vineyard to prevent erosion and compete with the vines for nutrients, driving the roots down into the mineral layers of the soil. Various farm animals roam through the vineyards to eat weeds or excess vine foliage, their manure providing natural enrichment for the soil. And horses may be used for harvest to minimize soil compaction.

In the winemaking process, the guiding principal is to celebrate the terroir. With the changing weather of each vintage, Paul spends much of his time in the vineyard monitoring the health and quality of the fruit, sugar and acidity levels. Flexibility and quick reaction time is required, given the unpredictability of the climate – but this is what makes each vintage unique. In addition to the gentle process ensured by the gravity-flow system, wild yeasts are used wherever possible, and the same type of oak is applied in aging wines so that the unique qualities of the vineyard come through. And Tawse winemaking staff rejoices in the nature of cool-climate wines: ‘We’re an acidity-friendly winery,” states Rene, the assistant winemaker. Their goal: to create elegant, bright, pure ‘old world’ style wines.

In a interview by wine blogger Michael di Caro,  Paul was asked what he would plant were he given a few acres. Ever the pragmatist, his choices were Riesling and Chardonnay, since he feels that he could reliably produce outstanding wines from these varietals every vintage; but he’s still irresistibly drawn to Pinot Noir, because in a great Ontario vintage, it’s fantastic!

And Moray’s life long dream of making wine in Burgundy is now coming to fruition as he partners with friend and business associate Pascal Marchand to operate a cuverie (winespeak: vat room) and cellars in Nuits-St-Georges France. We look forward to featuring Marchand & Tawse labeled wine in Savvy Selections.

Cheers & Enjoy!
Susan

~ SAVVY SOMMELIER TASTING NOTES ~

Tawse Riesling VQA 2010, $19.95
Representing what’s considered a great vintage in Niagara, the fruit for this Riesling is from a single vineyard in the Vinemount Ridge appellation, known for delivering grapes with an outstanding combination of sweetness and acidity.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Almost transparent, this is a clean zesty wine. Lovely floral, sweet citrus, stone fruit and mineral aromas beckon. Vibrant acidity and mineral notes complement the bright long lasting flavours of kiwi, lime, mandarin and white peach.
Suggested Food Pairing: To quote one of our tasters “This pairs nicely with not much to do!” But we’ve included a salmon recipe to help finish the bottle!
Cellaring: Refined and flavourful, enjoy it now and cellar a few bottles to savour over the next few years.

Tawse ‘Sketches of Niagara’ Rosé VQA 2010, $14.95
This outstanding rosé was featured a few weeks ago in Vintages, yet it’s almost gone. Being a great way to kick off summer with its juicy aromas and tastes, we made sure that the winery had enough of this Rosé to include it in this months’ Savvy Selections. Enjoy!
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Watermelon pink, this blend of Gamay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and a selection of white grape varietals, this wine is appealing from the fresh fruity nose, straight through to the flavourful palate of red berry and pink grapefruit, with a lasting fruity finish that hits you with a dash of white pepper. Plain and simple – it’s delicious!
Suggested Food Pairing: Rosé is incredibly versatile – enjoy chilled as you chill out on the patio, match to light meat dishes, serve with appetizers and grilled fish.
Cellaring: Enjoy now and stock up on several bottles . . .

Tawse Laundry Vineyards Cabernet Franc VQA 2009 $31.95
Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, this not-yet-released Cabernet Franc is produced from fruit grown in an organically farmed vineyard located in the Lincoln Lakeshore appellation. You can tell from the texture and flavours that the fruit hung to optimal ripeness.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Offering depth and complexity, this is a dry, firmly structured, medium-full bodied wine with a wonderful velvety texture and enticing aromas of dried herbs, blackberry and raspberry, tobacco leaf and a hint of fresh mint. The rich fruit flavours flow across the palate and through the lengthy finish, notes of roasted peppers, espresso and a dash of pepper adding allure. Irresistible!
Suggested Food Pairing: Fire up the BBQ. This is a wine to be enjoyed with simply prepared bison, beef or lamb.
Cellaring: Drinking well now, this wine will cellar for 3-5 years.

~ RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH YOUR SAVVY SELECTION ~

With Tawse Riesling…

Gingery Grilled Salmon
From ‘Eating Well Magazine’
Serves 4

Ingredients
¼ C nonfat plain yogurt
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp freshly grated lime zest
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp canola oil
½ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
4 4-5 oz. pieces salmon fillet, ~ 1” thick

Method
1. Whisk together marinade ingredients.

2. Place salmon in a shallow glass dish and pour marinade over it, turning to coat all sides. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator fro 20-30 minutes, turning once or twice.

3. Heat grill. Using long-handled BBQ brush, coat grill rack with oil. Place salmon, skin-side up, on grill. Cook for 5 minutes. Using 2 metal spatulas, carefully turn the salmon pieces over and cook just until opaque in the centre, 6-8 minutes longer. With 2 spatulas, remove salmon from grill and slip off skin.

4. Serve over mixed greens with a simple lime, canola oil and honey dressing.

With Tawse Sketches of Niagara Rosé

Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Maple Rhubarb Coulis
Adapted from Gay Cook
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 ½ lb pork tenderloin
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 Tbsp wine or cider vinegar
2 tsp maple syrup
A dash or two of Tabasco or 1 tsp chopped canned jalapeno
½ tsp each salt & freshly ground pepper
1 Tbsp light soy sauce
2 C sliced rhubarb
1 small onion, chopped
¼ C water
1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
3 Tbsp maple syrup or to taste

Method
1. Trim any fat or membrane off pork tenderloin.

2. To make marinade, whisk together garlic, zest, oil, vinegar, maple syrup, Tabasco, soy, salt & pepper. Thoroughly turn meat in marinade & refrigerate for 1 hour. Slice tenderloin into ¾” medallions.

3. Place rhubarb in saucepan with water, onion, ginger, and maple syrup. Bring to a boil & cook gently for 8-10 minutes. Purée if necessary.

4. Grill or pan sautée the pork on medium-high heat until done, about 3 minutes each side.

5. To serve, place the rhubarb coulis on a platter or plate and place the medallions slightly overlapping down the centre.

With Tawse Laundry Vineyard Cabernet Franc…

Steaks Balsamico
From Susan’s own kitchen
Serves 4

Ingredients
¼ C oil
¼ C balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp basil, crumbled
¼ tsp each salt & freshly ground pepper
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 strip loin steaks, 1” thick (or filet mignon)

Method
1. Combine all marinade ingredients in a heavy zip-lock bag. Add meat and squeeze bag to coat steaks with marinade. Seal bag. Let stand for 30 minutes.

2. Remove steaks from marinade; discard marinade.

3. Grill steaks over medium heat on gas BBQ to desired doneness.

4. Let the wine shine through with this simple preparation.

Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!

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What’s red, white & pink AND green all over?

Posted by Susan

Friday, April 9th, 2010
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Savvy Selections wine of the month club
features Southbrook Vineyards
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep
 

 

It’s a natural fit to feature Southbrook Vineyards as our Savvy Selection this month. April 22nd marks Earth Day and Southbrook’s owners Bill and Marilyn Redelmeier have established their winery in Niagara to be a great example of how to “tread lightly on the land”. Bill proudly explained to Savvy Sommelier Susan Desjardins during an interview, “Our goal is for this winery to promote Ontario’s role as a producer of some of the world’s best wines, and create a destination as compelling as wineries in Napa or Tuscany.”

For our longtime Savvy Selections subscribers, you may recognize Southbrook’s name and novel wine label design.  We featured this winery two years ago to support the grand opening of the winery’s new location in Niagara.  For the launch and our Savvy Selections feature, winemaker Ann Sperling had just released some of the first vintages (winespeak: first release of wine) made in their state-of-the-art and now LEED Gold award-winning facility designed by celebrated architect Jack Diamond.

 

Much has been achieved at Southbrook in the last few of years and so much more is planned. To start, the new facility is an environmental showcase. When you plan your visit to Niagara, Southbrook is a must visit location.  The building itself is an eye-catching design with highly aesthetic interior features. The tasting room has a beautifully designed table of natural oak and maple preserved from trees on Southbrook’s original property located in Richmond, Ontario. The building is also an incredibly environmentally friendly structure with highly efficient electrical and mechanical systems, glazing and roof that reduce its energy consumption by about 45% compared to standard construction. Environmentally friendly bioswales, ponds and wetlands capture rainwater or handle water treatment and runoff while native plant species adorn the landscape and reduce the need for irrigation.

 

It is easy to see that everyone working at Southbrook is proud of their roots. Grape growing and winemaking have been transformed to follow organic and biodynamic processes.  Ann describes biodynamics as “extreme organics”. She follows the principles of organic agriculture and very specific processes in winemaking and cellaring based on the theory established by Rudolf Steiner in 1924 – read on in the following pages to learn more! One example of their commitment, Southbrook released the industry’s first certified biodynamic wine – Cabernet Rosé VQA 2008.  This delicious rosé was launched on Earth Day in 2009. The wine impressed several people including our Sommeliers that we wanted to make sure that we timed our Savvy Selections feature to coincide with Southbrook’s release of this year’s rosé wine. 

 

You are the first!

The white and rosé wines in this month’s Savvy Selections are pre-released – just for to you to enjoy.  The 2009 Fresh White VQA and 2009 Cabernet Rosé VQA will be launched later in the month on Earth Day – April 22nd. They are both biodynamically produced, and are packaged in new environmentally friendly bottling.  In addition, they can be served to vegan and vegetarian friends. And we’re featuring the fabulous 2006 Triomphe Cabernet/Merlot VQA – just released a few weeks ago.  We are confident that you will be impressed with month’s Savvy Selections.

 

Cheers & Enjoy!

Debbie & the Savvy Team

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Introducing…

SOUTHBROOK VINEYARDS
Presented by Sommelier Susan Desjardins

 

Winery owners Bill and Marilyn Redelmeier are the driving force behind the winery’s organic and biodynamic practices and certification. They are fundamentally, agriculturalists. “We were drawn to biodynamics as a way to more fully express the vineyard’s character in our wines. Together, everyone at the winery underwent the certification process to authenticate our commitment to sustainable practices.”, proudly explains Bill.

If biodynamic is a new wine term for you, Southbrook’s winemaker Ann Sperling, puts it simply: ‘extreme organics’.  Biodynamic agricultural promotes the ecological self-sufficiency and internal harmony of the property while taking into account the cycles of nature and a certain philosophical/spiritual aspect. Growing practices are quite similar to organic agriculture, but a specific calendar is followed and helps determine when such activities as pruning, fertilizing and other operations are undertaken. In addition, a variety of treatments are applied to the soil, generally using ingredients that are derived from plants and/or animals that are integral to the property. Other approaches, include planting cover crops between the vines that attract beneficial insects and using sheep or goats to ‘mow’ these areas. Ann explains, “Biodynamics says the farm is an entire ‘living system’. The resulting practices are about quality – quality in the bottle and quality of life.”

Biodynamic certification is granted by Detemer International. Southbrook is the first biodynamic winery in Canada.  They keep company of other well-known wineries including Chapoutier and Domaine Leflaive of France. While Southbrook wine labels do not herald their biodynamic certification, there have been a variety of occasions where in blind tastings, wine critics have rated the quality of biodynamic wines higher than comparable standard wines. Those biodynamic winemakers are converted and convinced that this approach to growing grapes and making wines leads to healthier and more disease-resistant vineyards and fruit, wines which are a better representation of their terroir, a healthier environment to raise their families all the while a positive contribution to environmental sustainability. Ann explains, “There’s one thing we have learned – amazing, vibrant wines come from grapes raised biodynamically.”

Ann is a child of the wine industry. Raised on a family vineyard in British Columbias’s Okanagan, she took her hands-on experience to University of British Columbia, where she completed a B.Sc. in Food Science. Over two decades, she has built an impressive reputation in the Canadian wine industry, winning numerous accolades from peers, a gold medal at the prestigious International Wine and Spirit Competition and was named Ontario Winemaker of the Year in 2004. Prior to her current role at Southbrook, she was winemaker at Cedar Creek Estate Winery in BC, then moved to Niagara taking the winemaking reins at Malivoire (featured in Savvy Selections in April 2009).  It was at Malivoire where she first started working with organic vineyards and grapes.

Ann has had extended her talent to many start up wineries as a consulting winemaker and continues to work with her family in their Okanagan vineyard. When asked how she came to organic and biodynamic viticulture and winemaking, “during my career ‘growing’ wine, I observed that conditions of the vintage predominated and revealed the unique aspects of the vineyard and terroir. It’s not so much about what I do as the winemaker, rather about the vineyard. This left me open to new and better ways of doing things.”

Ann found that by following biodynamic practices and principles, even in adverse and difficult vintages, the grape maintains its health and integrity, veraison (winespeak: ripening of the grapes) occurs at the appropriate time in the season and the grapes are healthy with “a substance and a character unique to their terroir.” The winemaking process begins with this substantial fruit, uses natural indigenous yeasts (which have consistently produced excellent fermentation), and minimizes additions. Through this experience, Ann has also found that following the natural rhythms of the biodynamic calendar optimizes many of the winemaking processes.

“The Southbrook property was purchased with a long-term view. We, and the vines, are setting our roots down. Well-situated vines are better able to derive their true character from a healthy soil. Organic and biodynamic culture create the environment. From this source, we can ‘grow’ a more unique and specific wine.”


 

 ~ SAVVY SOMMELIER TASTING NOTES ~

Fresh White 2009 VQA, $16.95

Organic and Demeter-certified biodynamic wine, Ann’s goal was to ‘produce a new and different wine’ – this has certainly been achieved!

 

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Made with Vidal grapes, the color is tinged with a hint of apricot, and an expressive nose of sweet stone fruit and honey. The initial impact is of fresh peaches, apricots and pears, followed by bright tangy acidity—think juicy red grapefruit. The wine is light, appealing and has a refreshing mid-length finish.

 

Suggested Food Pairing: Best said by one of the Savvy Selections panelist, “Just lie in a hammock and sip away!” Or pair it with dishes featuring spring’s bounty—like the Risotto with Asparagus below.

Cellaring: No need to wait – drink this spring

 

Winemaker’ s Note: It has been noticed that if this wine is chilled at low temperature (in your fridge for a long time) “wine diamonds” may form. These are clear crystals that are in fact crystallized tartaric acid. They are natural and are not harmful if consumed. In fact, wine diamonds are often considered a sign of high quality. At Southbrook, we process our wine as minimally as possible in order to maintain flavour and balance. If this white wine stored at a temperature colder than during the winemaking process – diamonds may precipitate. Have diamonds in your bottle? Simply stand the bottle upright prior to drinking, allow the crystals to fall to the bottom and then decant and enjoy.

 

Cabernet Rose 2009 VQA, $18.95

Produced from a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon – a Bordeaux-style rosé! Grown in Southbrook’s organic and biodynamic certified vineyard, the grapes were fermented in stainless with indigenous yeast, with the wine produced primarily by the saignée method (winespeak: pronounced say-NAY, it is derived from the French verb ‘to bleed’. Referring to the process used to make rosé wines where red skinned grapes are left in a stainless steel vat for several hours. During this time, the grapes are naturally crushed by their own weight and a light red juice bleeds from the tank then collected to use for making rosé wine. The remaining grapes are often used to make red wine.)

 

Suggested Food Pairing:  This is another great wine to enjoy on its own with friends on the patio.  Or pair with a strawberry spinach salad – recipe below – grilled rainbow trout or light menu fare.

 

Cellaring: Designed to be enjoyed this spring and summer – it’s so appealing, we are confident that you will want to stock up on this wine for the summer season to come. Just call Debbie to arrange for additional bottles of this special rosé.


 

Triomphe Cabernet Merlot 2006 VQA $26.95

In traditional Bordeaux style, this blend is Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The grapes were harvested from the estate vineyard, which was in its second year of transition to organic certification. The wine was fermented in one-tonne totes and barrel aged for 16 months. In addition to this 2006 vintage, Southbrook also has available the 2001 and 2002 Triomphe Cabernet Merlot. With a collection of these three, you have a vertical (winespeak: same wine from different vintages). TIP: have a mini wine tasting – open them together to taste the difference in the vintages and ageing.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Our Savvy Selections tasting panel was impressed with the balance and fine texture of this elegant wine. Deep red with a slight garnet hue, the wine was layered with aromas of dark fruit, spice and a whiff of cedar. It’s mid-weight and earthy with subtle flavours of currant, cherries and berries. Balanced with fresh acidity and supple tannins. The persistent finish displays fruit with pleasant notes of roasted peppers.

Suggested Food Pairing: Enjoy with lamb, beef (recipe below), or a fricassé of chicken in a red wine sauce.

Cellaring:  Drinking well now, this lovely blend has the structure to age for another 2-3 years.

 

 

~ RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH YOUR SAVVY SELECTIONS ~


With Southbrook Fresh White…

Risotto with Asparagus
From LCBO’s Food & Drink Magazine
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
¼ cup butter, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ cup sliced asparagus
½ cup slivered red pepper
1 cup Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine

4-6 cup chicken stock (approx.)
½ cup whipping cream

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan

2 Tbsp minced parsely, dill or basil

Freshly ground pepper

 

Method
Melt half of the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in chopped garlic; sauté until softened. Stir in asparagus, red peppers; cook until vegetables are crisp-tender and still brightly colored. Transfer vegetable mixture to bowl. Set aside.

 

Add remaining butter to same pan. Add rice; stir to coat rice with butter. Cook two minutes. Add wine; cook and stir until wine is absorbed by rice. Add 1 cup stock; cook uncovered over medium heat, stirring often, until stock is absorbed. Continue to stir, adding stock 1 cup at a time, allowing each cup of stock to be absorbed by rice before adding the next cup. Cook and stir until rice is tender and mixture is creamy. This takes 30-40 minutes.   

 

Stir asparagus mixture into rice, along with remaining ingredients. Serve immediately.   

 

With Southbrook Cabernet Rosé….

Strawberry and Spinach Salad
From Cooking with BC Wine, Troy & Cheryl-Lynn Townsin
Serves 6-8

Ingredients
1 cup white or rosé wine
1/3 cup shallots
1/3 cup liquid honey
1 Tbsp raspberry vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
¼ C vegetable oil
12 oz. fresh baby spinach
2 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
8 button mushrooms, sliced
Salt to taste

Method
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine wine and shallots. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 12-15 minutes or until reduced to syrup-like consistency.  

Transfer wine mixture to a small bowl and whisk with honey, vinegar, mustard and salt. Slowly add the oil while you whisk until mixture is well-combined and thickened.  

 

In a large salad bowl combine the spinach, strawberries and mushrooms and toss with the dressing.

 

Serve with crusty bread and artisan cheeses.

 

With Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Merlot…

Beef Filet and Rack of Lamb with Red Wine Sauce
Recipe adapted from Executive Chef Hector Diaz, Hilton Lac-Leamy
Serves 1-2

Ingredients
1 portion beef tenderloin, 6 oz.
1 portion rack of lamb (2 ribs)
Salt & pepper ground coarse
2 Tbsp + 4 Tbsp butter, divided
1 tsp shallots, chopped
½ cup red wine
½ cup cream (35%)
1 cup red wine
1 cup veal or beef stock

Method
Preheat oven to 375F.

Season meats with salt, coarse pepper. Melt 2 Tbsp butter in heavy frying pan and sear beef, lamb 2 minutes on each side. Remove meat from pan. Add shallots, briefly sauté, then add ½ cup wine and deglaze the pan, sautéing until liquid is almost completely evaporated.  

Add cream and reduce by half, then add red wine and reduce by half. Add stock, simmer to reduce liquid by half, then pass sauce through a sieve to remove any lumps, particles. While sauce is still hot, but not on the burner, add remaining butter 1 Tbsp at a time, whisking vigorously after each addition to complete the rich sauce.

 

Bake lamb 30 minutes, beef 20 minutes for medium rare, or to desired doneness. Serve with risotto and vegetables with the wine sauce drizzled on top. (You may wish to begin cooking the meat as you are finishing the sauce.)

 

  

 

Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!

 

 

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On the road again…to Niagara!

Posted by Susan

Saturday, October 3rd, 2009
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A recent week-long trip to the Niagara area offered not only great golfing weather, but an opportunity to take in Wainfleet’s Marshville Heritage Festival before visiting a few of my favorite wineries,  all of which will be featured in our Savvy Selections wine of the month club over the next few months.

The Marshville Heritage Festival celebrated its 20th anniversary this year.  Organized entirely by volunteers, the Festival celebrates the 1829 founding of a small Ontario village associated with the construction of the first Welland Canal.  The volunteer society has restored 17 buildings, including a one and one-half story limestone house built in 1790, a sawmill built in 1891 (at the Festival, it was being run by the 70-year-old grandsons of the founder – how neat is that!?), an outdoor oven (where women in period dress were baking fabulous cornbread), and a cabinet-maker’s shop which once belonged to J.W. Overholt, a prominent abolitionist who sheltered escaped slaves.  A wide range of artisans and food vendors vied for space with the historical buildings.  The Festival is the Society’s primary fundraiser and is a great educational and entertainment event for all ages.  If you’re in the Niagara area in early September next year, don’t miss it this festival.

After an enjoyable couple of days at the Festival and on the golf links, I got down to the serious business of wine tasting!  My first stop was Reif Estate Winery, where I met with Klaus Reif, President and Oenologist, and Andrea Kaiser, who is responsible for the winery’s retail operations and promotion.  We had a great chat about Klaus’ early years, the evolution of the winery, as well as some the new challenges he has set himself.  This includes the innovative use of tobacco kilns for creating temperature-controlled environments to dry grapes for passito-style wines and to produce botrytis-affected grapes for Sauternes-style wines.  Reif Estate has some great wines, including some outstanding Bordeaux-style blends.  More to follow in the Savvy Selections  this November.  Consider subscribing for an opportunity to try some of the hard to find Reif wines along with the recipes we recommend! 

For those of you who know me, I am a strong proponent of organic wines, so my trip included a visit at Frogpond Farm  and Southbrook Vineyards, both of which will be featured in spring issues of the Savvy Selections. 

Frogpond Farm is the original certified organic winery in Niagara.  Jens and Heike are excited about their expansion onto a new certified organic acreage in the peninsula, and are now producing wines in 750 ml bottles as well as their traditional 500 ml format.  We tasted a range of wines, including the 2006 Cabernet Franc from their original property and the 2007 Cabernet Franc from the new property.  This side-by-side tasting was a great opportunity to compare the significant differences terroir and vintage can make to a wine.  While the 2006 is brawny and robust, the 2007 is more fruity and delicate.  We laughingly decided that the former was more ‘masculine’, while the latter, more ‘feminine’!

I spent time with Elena Galey-Pride, Director of Customer Experience at Southbrook Vineyards, learning about their transition to biodynamic and organic viticulture and viniculture.  To quote their winemaker, Anne Sperling, “Biodynamics is like extreme organics!”  In effect, biodynamic producers have a profound respect for the influence of nature on their crops and products, and work to optimize, preserve and recycle the resources of their farmed land.  The biodynamic processes on site continue to evolve, with a decision made to establish their own herd of sheep next year, and the use of natural fermentation in winemaking.  Southbrook’s first biodynamic release was their Cabernet Franc Rose this summer – we sipped from one of the few remaining bottles.  In October, the winery will release their second biodynamic wine, the 2008 Triomphe Merlot, which offers strong fruity flavors with a great balance of acidity and tannins. 

Pillitteri Estates Winery was our last stop of the day, where we participated in a wonderfully informative tour of the winery, then tasted a wide range of their still and sweet wines.  The Pillitteri family story seems like a Canadian fairy tale.  Gary Pillitteri came to Canada in 1948, when his grandfather purchased their original 56-acre fruit farm off Niagara Stone Road.  A series of photos show the evolution of the farm from orchard to vineyard, and of the retail building from fruit stand to combined tasting room, retail shop and fruit stand.  When Gary won his first award as an amateur winemaker for his Vidal ice wine, a family decision was made to move beyond grape growing into winemaking.  Pillitteri Estates Winery has expanded to 100 acres and is a family affair involving Gary, his wife, their three children and the five grandchildren.  Fifty-five or more percent of their production is sweet wines, for which they have won numerous prestigious awards, including a recent gold for their Shiraz Ice Wine at the Syrah du Monde competition.  Yet, with all this success, staff at the winery speak with great affection about the work environment the family has created.  Said one individual, “Mrs. P (Pillitteri) often comes in and makes pizza for everyone on the weekend.  And the family usually gathers in the winery at the end of the day to share dinner.”  Not only does Mrs. P make pizza, as I noticed when we were in the tasting room, she also comes by and helps the staff wash tasting glasses! 

We toured Pillitteri’s barrel cellar, which is one of the largest in the Niagara at 6000 square feet.  In the barrel cellar, Gary Pillitteri has created a fascinating homage to his success in Canada.  He firmly believes that 23 is his lucky number.  He arrived in Canada on that date, and his wife and two of his children were born on that date.  The 42-foot-long single-pour concrete table in the cellar is surrounded by 23 chairs made from a single steel fermentation tank.  The table has 5 supporting legs (2+3) and 23 lights hand above it.  23 steps lead from the barrel cellar to the tasting room. 

After the extensive tour, we were thirsty, so up those stairs we went!!  We sampled the toasty 2007 Sur Lie Chardonnay, the aromatic 2008 Gewurztraminer/Riesling blend, and the Bottled Blond Bradshaw Reserve – Dr. Marc  Bradshaw, Pillitteri’s young winemaker from SouthAfrica, dyes his hair, hence the name!  Among the reds, we sampled both the 2007 Merlot and the 2002 Merlot, each reflecting its unique vintage and winemaker.  And the 2007 Cabernet Franc was a great hit, full-bodied and well balanced with a lingering finish.  One of my favorite sweet wines is Pillitteri’s Select Late Harvest Chambourcin, produced from a hybrid varietal – it has a beautiful balance of tart red fruit, rhubarb and honey.  The grand finale was a taste of the 2007 Sticky Beak Ice Wine, which includes a blend of the Cabernets, Sangiovese and Shiraz – the perfect ending to a beautiful experience.  Pillitteri Estates Wines has been a Savvy Selections feature in past years, and we look forward to showcasing their wines again soon. 

Our thirst sated, we were hungry!  On a recommendation, we headed to Olson Foods at Ravine.  This is the new home of Anna and Michael Olson’s gourmet bakery and deli, located in St. David’s adjacent to Ravine Vineyards.  Opened in the summer of 2008, the single-story rustic building looks like an old farmhouse with an inviting veranda surrounding it. The scarred wooden tables and mismatched chairs make the interior feel like you’re stepping into your grandmother’s kitchen.  Anna was welcoming guests and helping out at the cash, where she willingly signed copies of her recipe books.  The food was great  – sharing plates or modest main plates were freshly made with local ingredients, and very reasonably priced.  A wide range of fresh breads and pastries tempted us to stay for a lingering cup of tea.  And the wide range of condiments, oils, vinegars and kitchen necessities beckoned from the well-planned displays.  This is a must-visit spot whether or not you are visiting wineries!  

If you can’t make it to Niagara but are tempted by some of the great wines I’ve mentioned, contact me to order a selection of wines from Reif Estate Winery,  Frogpond Farm, Southbrook Vineyards or Pillitteri Estates – or any other winery featured in our Savvy Selections .   

Cheers!

Susan

PS – when you are heading to Niagara, contact me for the Savvy ‘must visit’ list of wineries and restaurants.  With over 90 wineries in the area, it can be difficult to figure out where to visit.  The Savvy team of Sommeliers have visited them all and offer you our insight to make your Niagara wine adventure memorable.

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