Posts Tagged ‘Cabernet Sauvignon’

California Dreaming…

Posted by Susan

Thursday, March 30th, 2017
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How could you start a visit to the Sonoma/Napa area without a stop in San Francisco?

It was a brilliantly sunny day when we arrived, ever-present wisps of fog drifting over the hills as we gazed out across the Pacific Ocean. San Francisco offers endless delights, from Boudin’s unique sourdough bread to Tarantino’s fresh seafood at Fisherman’s Wharf. We did all the requisite things, riding the cable car up and down the hills downtown – several cars survived the great earthquake and fire of 1906, as we learned at the Cable Car Museum and operations centre. Fisherman’s Wharf swarmed with Labour Day weekend visitors, the sea lions oblivious, as they floated alongside docking fishing boats, hoping for scraps. We visited the Mission of San Francisco de Asis (guess where the city’s name originated), which opened in 1776, days before the American Declaration of Independence was signed, and also survived intact the great 1906 earthquake and fire. Muir Woods induced awe and reverence, the never-logged forest home to giant redwoods as much as 1000 years old. And everywhere we stopped for lunch or dinner, an endless range of California wines was available for sampling.

We made our way north to Sonoma County, and from our excellent B&B there, Mediterranea, visited a number of wineries in Napa Valley and Sonoma. We also spent a day travelling out to the Pacific coast, and had an absolutely amazing lunch at the River’s End Restaurant in the small town of Jenner. Don’t miss it if you are visiting the north California Coast!

 

 

Marimar Estate Vineyards & Winery

Born into the Torres wine family, Marimar Torres has been immersed in the industry all her life. With degrees in business, education in oenology and a facility for languages, she was the ideal ambassador for Torres wines in her early career. After establishing her home in California, she focused her energies on increasing awareness of Spanish wines in North America. Ten years later, the sale of Torres wines in the U.S. had grown ten-fold, and Marimar was ready for the new challenge of establishing Marimar Estate Vineyards & Winery.

The Don Miguel vineyard surrounds Marimar’s winery and tasting room, designed in the style of a Catalan farmhouse. Located in the cool climate Russian River Valley and named for her father, it was first planted in 1986 and now includes 81 acres of which 45 are planted principally to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, with growing plantings of Albariño, Syrah and Tempranillo. Marimar has also recently planted Godello, a white grape variety that grows in Galicia, like Albariño, and produces attractive dry white wines. The Doña Margarita vineyard, named for her mother, is located in the cool Sonoma Coast AVA, the 20 acres planted solely with Pinot Noir. Marimar describes the differences between the Pinot Noir from the two vineyards as follows: the Russian River Valley Pinot is more opulent, with intense flavours of black cherry and wild berry, while the Sonoma Coast Pinot has an earthier character, similar to Burgundian wines.

Marimar Estate vineyards are all certified organic, while biodynamic principles are applied in all phases of vineyard management and winemaking. According to Marimar, since the conversion to organic principles, the wines from each block have become more expressive of their unique terroir.

To ensure the quality of the fruit, thinning takes place right after fruit set; leaves are regularly removed to ensure access to the sun; vines are trimmed by machete to remove excess top growth; and at veraison, excess grape bunches are removed to further concentrate flavour in those remaining. Hand harvesting, with several passes through the vineyard, ensures that only ripe bunches are picked.

As part of its commitment to sustainability, the winery has recently completed investments that allow it to meet all energy requirements through solar power.

Marimar continues to direct activities in the winery, established in 1992, as well as the vineyards. She has not limited herself to viticulture and winemaking, but has also published two authoritative books on Spanish cuisine, The Spanish Table and The Catalan Country Kitchen. The Torres family history in the vineyard and in winemaking dates back many generations in Spain, and while responsibility for the business has traditionally passed from father to son, Marimar is setting new traditions in the U.S., where her daughter Cristina, who grew up in the vineyards and is currently pursuing an MBA at Wharton, is the natural successor at Marimar Estate.

Due to very limited production – ranging from 5,000-10,000 cases depending upon the vintage – some wines are only available to wine club members, with only a limited number finding their way to Ontario. The 2014 ‘Acero’ Chardonnay was recently released in Vintages. We had the opportunity to try the new 2015 vintage at the winery (see the notes below). The fruit for the wine comes from the Don Miguel vineyard and is especially selected for intensity and aromatics, the grapes fermented in stainless to retain the unique character of the fruit.

Several other wines were tasted during our visit to Marimar’s Russian River Green Valley estate. These included her Albariño 2015, which offers lovely floral aromas, stone fruit and citrus flavours and a lively, crisp texture; the ‘La Masía’ Chardonnay 2014, showing alluring aromas and flavours of stone and tree fruit, a refined, creamy texture, and finely honed acidity to balance the rich fruit; the ‘La Masía’ Pinot Noir 2013, where cherry/berry, sweet spice and a whiff of citrus are underpinned by fine tannins and clean acidity; and the ‘Mas Cavalls’ Pinot Noir 2013 from the Doña Margarita vineyard, where this more feminine Burgundian wine offers classic aromas of red cherry, mineral notes and underbrush, framed by subtle tannins and lively acidity.

 

Marimar Estate Don Miguel Vineyard ‘Acero’ Chardonnay 2015
Russian River Valley 13.5% alcohol

A lovely pale gold, this brims with fresh aromas of sweet woodruff, citrus, pear and quince. Dry, mid-weight, silky yet juicy and lively in texture, this unoaked Chardonnay freshens the palate with flavours of crisp apple, pear and lemon curd, delivering a lasting, tangy finish. Enjoy chilled on its own or with fresh seafood.

 

 

Rodney Strong Vineyards
Dedicated, Passionate Craftsmanship

Located just south of the quaint Sonoma County town of Healdsburg, the Rodney Strong Vineyards tasting room is surrounded by some of the founder’s extensive original vineyards. Not only can you take a self-guided tour, or taste flights of wines on the terrace, Chef Tara Watchee has developed a finely balanced wine and food pairing experience where both components shine. As an example, the lively red fruit flavours of the 2015 Rosé of Pinot Noir were complemented by a salad of watermelon, grilled corn, basil, Black Pig bacon, verjus and estate olive oil.

The winery was established in 1959 by acclaimed dancer and dance producer, Rod Strong, who had fallen in love with wine while working in Paris. Under his innovative direction, the winery thrived for over 40 years, achieving milestones such as the first single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon – Alexander’s Crown – which is still produced to this day. He was one of the first to plant Pinot Noir in the Russian River Valley, and the first to produce a ‘Chalk Hill’ Chardonnay. As Rod Strong was developing his wines and reputation in Sonoma County and beyond, Tom Klein was pursuing his education and subsequent career as a management consultant. With the long Klein family history and experience in farming, Tom must have seemed the ideal partner to Rod Strong when they established a consulting relationship.

Eventually, the Klein family purchased the winery in 1989, then set about acquiring additional vineyards, so that they now manage 14 outstanding estates encompassing in the order of 1400 acres, all in Sonoma County, ranging from the Alexander Valley in the north out to the Sonoma Coast. The range of vineyards and terroir ties into Tom Klein’s strong belief in the importance of place in winemaking – “Place isn’t the only thing, but place is the most important thing”. Rodney Strong wines are produced using only Sonoma County fruit and are made to Tom Klein’s exacting maxim – NO shortcuts.

With the goal of building a range of premium wines, David Ramey was hired as consultant and the ‘Artisan’ cellar was created, using smaller fermentation tanks to allow for fermentation of select rows of fruit, while additional investments were made in French oak barrels. Experimentation continues and has extended to the purchase of concrete Roman eggs for fermentation, and now to the creation of the square tank cellar, an extraordinary investment. Winemaker Justin Seidenfeld has worked with LaGarde Inox, a unique steel tank producer based in Quebec, to invent, design and produce special 6000 gallon square fermentation tanks. We’ve all seen the standard round steel tanks with dimpled cooling jackets. You may ask, why are these square tanks such an improvement? For one, they use space in the winery much more efficiently, and they have a variety of unique and highly beneficial features. As an example, autumn days are often quite warm in Sonoma County, so harvested grapes arriving from the vineyards may heat up and be at risk of spontaneous fermentation. These tanks were specified to provide more cool surface area to grapes, permitting the rapid cooling of grapes as they arrive from the vineyard – voila, reduced risk of spontaneous fermentation. A specially designed pump aperture ensures the pumped over wine covers the entire breadth of the tank, providing for better contact with the cap. Further, the shape delivers more surface area of juice to cap, providing for better extraction of colour and flavours, more softness and suppleness to the wine (as proven in blind tastings by the Rodney Strong winemaking team and owner Tom Klein). The special polishing process for the insides of the tanks, which was jointly developed by Justin and LaGarde’s engineering team, reduces water consumption for cleaning and sterilization by 50-70% (critical in drought-stricken California). Justin speaks with passion and excitement about the opportunities these tanks provide for him to enhance the quality of Rodney Strong wines, as well as the sustainability of the winery operations. It’s not surprising that this Rodney Strong innovation is now being adopted by numerous other highly reputable wineries in the U.S.

With his family background in farming, Tom Klein is strongly committed to sustainability in the vineyards and the cellar. Environmental protection is an integral part of the organization’s corporate values. Solar panels were installed as early as 2001, and along the way, Rodney Strong Vineyards has developed practices that allow them to be designated Fish-Friendly Farmers. Recently, they became Sonoma County’s first carbon neutral winery.

We’re fortunate that many Rodney Strong wines find their way through the Vintages program to the LCBO. Many of those wines were tasted during the visit, and I’ve included notes on a few of them below.

 

Rodney Strong ‘Chalk Hill’ Chardonnay 2014
Sonoma County $24.95 (LCBO# 275552) 14.5% alcohol

Notes of tropical fruit and butter, vanilla custard and hints of mineral grace the nose of this wine, produced from fruit grown on the unique volcanic white ash soil of this sub-appellation in the Russian River Valley. Dry, medium-full bodied, it’s rich and creamy in texture, yet retains freshness that is a perfect match for the lush flavours of lemon curd, sweet apple and pineapple. The mineral quality is subtly present on the palate, while nuances of warm baking spice linger on the tangy finish. Serve with pasta garnished with shrimp and scallops sautéed in olive oil and garlic.

 

Davis Bynum ‘Jane’s Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2014
Russian River Valley $ 39.95 (LCBO# 458893) 14.5% alcohol

Davis Bynum is recognized as the first winery to create, in 1973, a single vineyard Pinot Noir from Russian River Valley fruit. Rodney Strong maintains the tradition with this semi-transparent ruby gem. Notes of vanilla and sweet baking spice layer on aromas of ripe cherry/berry, complemented by earthy nuances. Dry, medium bodied, there’s a lovely freshness to the texture, well paired with the wealth of ripe red cherry and plum flavours. Delicate notes of warm spice, vanilla and cedar emerge and linger through the lengthy, tangy finish. Serve with a Provençal salad with duck confit.

Rodney Strong Pinot Noir 2014
Russian River Valley $25.95 (LCBO# 954834) 13.9% alcohol

Produced from a blend of fruit from the valley, this approachable wine offers lively aromas of red fruit, hints of earthy roast beetroot, and notions of spice and dried herbs. Dry, light-medium bodied, it’s bright with well-defined acidity and juicy with flavours of red cherry and plum, light hints of smoky oak and spice persisting through the vibrant finish. Serve with cedar-planked salmon.


Rodney Strong ‘Alexander Valley’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Alexander Valley $28.30 (LCBO# 226944) 14.5% alcohol

Showing powerful fruit while retaining a fresh texture, this deep ruby Cabernet offers intense aromas and flavours of black berry, plum and dark chocolate-coated cherry mingling with nuances of dried herbs and earth, while the extended aging in French oak layers on notes of cedar and spice. Dry, full and powerful, the wine is crafted with balance, the supple yet perceptible tannins paired with fine acidity, framing lush ripe dark fruit. Subtle notes of toast and dark chocolate drift across the palate through the lengthy finish. Enjoy now with herbed roast lamb or cellar. (Susan Desjardins)

 

Rodney Strong ‘Symmetry’ Meritage 2012
Alexander Valley $70.95 (LCBO# 641142) 14.5% alcohol

Principally Cabernet Sauvignon, blended with Merlot and small amounts of Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, each varietal is fermented separately with only the best wines used in this blend. Perfumed with floral notes and spice, offering intense fruit aromas, this is a robust well-structured wine designed for cellaring. The firm, defined tannins are a well-crafted foil for the big powerful flavours of cassis and blackberry. Luscious notes of dark chocolate-coated coffee bean and hints of spice and cedar add complexity, persisting through the lengthy dry finish. Cellar or decant the wine, to be served with rare prime rib. (Susan Desjardins)

 

 

 

E.&J. Gallo Winery Estates

We planned visits at two Gallo estates, and then made a quick stop at Louis M. Martini given its long history in the Napa Valley. Although the Gallo family has purchased a number of wineries and vineyards over the years, one of the themes that came through during our visits is their focus on retaining the unique character of the wines produced at each of the estates, while investing in the infrastructure and equipment that will honour and maintain the legacy of the original founders. E.&J. Gallo Winery remains a family business with goals of being a leader in the U.S. wine industry and a leading supplier of California wine internationally.

 

 

 

William Hill Estate Winery

After graduating with a degree in geology in his home state of Oklahoma, Bill Hill headed off to Europe. He fell in love with wine and headed to California on his return, to complete an MBA at Stanford, after which he began working in the Napa Valley. He arrived just after the 1976 Judgement of Paris had vaulted Napa Valley wines to global prominence. Given his interest in wines, he decided to purchase a 200-acre former cattle ranch on the bench lands of the Valley and in 1978, planted his first Chardonnay vines. Bill soon realized that the intense sun and heat on his property scorched the grapes; the initial vines were replaced with red Bordeaux varieties and for several years he sold his grapes to local wineries. In 1990, the winery was built and the first wines branded William Hill Estate Winery were created. Despite his success, Bill decided to sell the winery in 1992, and has since watched its evolution from his nearby home.

In 2007, the estate became a property of the Gallo family, with substantial investments made to upgrade the tasting room as well as the winery itself. Of the 200 acres, 125 are planted to vines, the bulk being Cabernet Sauvignon. William Hill wines are crafted with grapes from the estate on the Silverado Trail, as well as from fruit from vineyards in southern Napa, the Central and North Coasts.

The wines currently available at the LCBO include the Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 as well as the 2012 Chardonnay. Since then new 2013 vintage was tasted at the winery, and I expect these wines will be in a Vintages release in 2017, I’ve included my notes below. Tasted at the winery, but not available locally, were the 2015 Sauvignon Blanc, with lovely notes of white flowers and fine herbs, tropical fruit and citrus, wrapped in a vibrant texture; the lush ‘Bench Blend’ Chardonnay 2013, the creamy texture balanced with good acidity, infused with lovely flavours of pineapple, tree fruits and lemon vanilla custard; and the opulent ‘Benchland Series’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, a full-bodied powerhouse with robust dark fruit flavours layered on well-integrated oak and velvety tannins.

 

William Hill ‘Napa Valley’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Napa Valley $44.95 (LCBO# 212951) 15.2% alcohol

Deep purple, this Cabernet is aged in French and American oak, a touch of Petite Syrah and Merlot giving added depth and complexity. Perfumed with aromas of ripe red fruit and juicy black berries, it hints at vanilla and sweet spice. Dry, full bodied, the wine displays perceptible yet supple tannins, well-integrated oak that offers notes of cinnamon toast and vanilla and a fresh texture. Bright, lively raspberry, black cherry and berry are fresh on the palate, rushing through the dry, toasty finish. Serve with beef short ribs.

 

William Hill ‘Bench Blend’ Chardonnay 2013
Napa Valley 14.9% alcohol

Blended from fruit from several vineyards, aged in French oak, this elegant Chardonnay offers lifted aromas of tree fruit, citrus and pineapple, vanilla custard infused with sweet spice. Dry, on the full side of medium bodied, the palate is lush with flavours of pear, tangy apple and lemon zest, underpinned with a refined backbone of acidity. The creamy texture and spice bring to mind creme brûlée, while delicate notions of white pepper add warmth to the long finish. Deftly balanced.

 

 

 

Louis M. Martini Estate Winery

There’s an incredible story behind this long-lived winery. The Martini family emigrated to the United States and worked as fishermen on the west coast in the early 20th century. From tasting local grapes, and then making wine for consumption by the family, young Louis M. Martini developed an interest in winemaking and eventually returned to Italy to study winemaking at the University of Alba in Piemonte. By the time he returned to the U.S., Prohibition had come into effect, making it difficult for him to pursue his passion. Nevertheless, since the family had grape holdings, they found ways to use their grapes for the production of sacramental wine, for medicinal use and in legal home winemaking kits.

As it became clear that prohibition was coming to an end in the early 1930s, the family moved its operations from the Central Valley to Sonoma, opening their new winery near St. Helena in 1933, one of the 5 original Napa wineries to be founded after Prohibition. Within 2 years, they had more than doubled production and sales, and in 1936, pioneered the use of temperature-controlled fermentation. The St. Helena site continues to be the base of their operations, and is where Louis M. Martini passed on responsibility for winemaking to his son Louis P. Martini in 1953. Louis P showed great creativity, and has been credited with creating the first wind fan used in the vineyards, with bottling the first single varietal wine – a Merlot (previously, wines were simply blends of the grapes in any given vineyard), and with first experimenting with fermentation in steel tanks. His son, Mike Martini took on responsibility for winemaking in 1974, and continued as winemaker until 2015, seeing the family business through the transition in 2002 to ownership by their friends, the Gallo family. The Martini winery offers an incredible legacy, including vineyards of bush vine Zinfandel planted in the 1880s.

 

Louis M. Martini ‘Napa Valley’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Napa Valley $32.95 (LCBO# 232371) 14.5% alcohol

Opaque ruby with violet highlights, this offers captivating aromas of spiced rose, raspberry and blackberry, with a dash of spice and cedar. Dry, robustly full bodied, the wine offers great fruit intensity balanced by a fresh texture and soft tannins. Long and dry on the finish, this is an approachable, well-crafted wine offering great value.

 

 

J Vineyards

J Vineyards is the legacy of Judy Jordan, who grew up in her family’s vineyards in the Alexander Valley. Determined to travel her own road, she studied geophysics at Stanford University and, in 1986, bought an old prune factory and some surrounding acreage with the idea of making sparkling wine. Her first method traditionelle wine was released in 1991. Due to her success with sparkling wines – and despite the naysayers – she decided to beginning making still wines- Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – the first of which was released in 1994.

Unfortunately, the great Russian River flood of 1995 completely destroyed her entire operation and inventory. Determined to re-establish her business, she purchased the current property in Sonoma County in 1996, completing the winery in 1999. The site includes a remarkable ‘tear drop’ shaped vineyard which includes 20 clones of Pinot Noir on a half acre, allowing the winemakers to experiment with blending. The site also includes the Cooper vineyard, planted with Pinot Gris, and the Backdoor vineyard, home to Pinotage. The balance of the 200 acre estate properties are spread throughout the Russian River Valley.

After years of successful production, and having sold grapes for many years to the Gallo family, Judy retired from the business and took advantage of her established relationship to sell J Vineyards to the Gallo family in 2015.

At J Vineyards, we tasted the Brut Rose, composed of 66% Chardonnay, 33% Pinot Noir and 1% Pinot Meunier, a clean, fresh wine showing a delicate and persistent mousse and lovely subtle notes of red fruit. The Cuvée 20 is an almost equal blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, again with the 1% Pinot Meunier, offering nuances of butter pastry, fresh citrus and tree fruit, the characteristic creamy, lasting mousse, and a lovely touch of pithiness through the finish. The Russian River Valley Pinot Noir is composed from the fruit of 12 different clones from 4 vineyards. It’s a dry, mid-weight wine with classic cherry cola aromas and flavours complemented by attractive notes of warm spice and toast from French oak barrel aging.

 

The only wine tasted and currently available from the LCBO is:

J Vineyards Chardonnay 2013
Russian River Valley $31.75 (LCBO# 418236) 14.3% alcohol

Produced from estate grown fruit, aged in French oak (30% new) , this wine offers lovely tropical and tree fruit aromas, hints of citrus, sweet spice and vanilla. Dry, medium bodied, the creamy texture brings to mind vanilla custard, lemon curd with a dash of zest, and ripe tree fruit. The wine retains its freshness and offers a touch of warm spice through the flavourful finish. Serve with roast lemon rosemary chicken.

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Ole! Sommelier picks of Spanish wines at Vintages

Posted by Susan

Friday, January 18th, 2013
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Our Sommelier Susan Desjardins started her year off right – tasting an array of Spanish wines and was treated with some wines from BC too.  In this weekend’s LCBO Vintages release (January 19) features on the wines of Spain – a country that as Susan tells you in this blog – has a long history of winemaking, varied terroir, and winemakers who work with traditional native grapes while also creating powerful blends using international varieties.

History of Spanish wine making 101 . . .

Archeologists have found evidence of wine cultivation dating back to the 3rd and 4th millennia BC. And the tradition carried on through the Roman empire, with evidence of winemaking in this period to be found throughout the country. Much of Spain is barren plateau, where strong winds, scorching sun and limitations on irrigation led to the cultivation of bush vines. These can be seen, for instance, in Jumilla and Yecla, where one finds many vineyards displaying old, gnarled Monastrell vines. These conditions have led to widely spaced planting, making Spain the country with the largest amount of land under vine, although it traditionally falls behind France and Italy in volume of production.  However, since irrigation was officially permitted in the mid 1990s, vineyard owners and winemakers have also planted international grapes varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot using more common wire trellising and spacing systems. There’s great value to be had from Spanish wines, and a delightful range to choose from: finely crafted ‘methode traditionelle’ sparkling Cava, crisp tangy whites made from Albariño, full-bodied Tempranillo or flavourful native Mencía, tasty Garnacha blends, and the famed Sherry from Jerez.

All of these are on offer in the release, along with a small but focused selection of BC wines (I have visited all of these wineries and unreservedly recommend their wines, if your budget allows). Then, there is the main release . . . an opportunity to compare Henry of Pelham’s Riesling with that of Alsace’s Joseph Cattin, to sample Opawa’s well-priced New Zealand Pinot Noir, to enjoy the luxurious Cline Cellars Cashmere, or to select Les Hauts de Castellas Vacqueyras for the cellar. So many wines, so little time, but we hope you have the opportunity to appreciate the selection of 5 wines below.

Cheers and Enjoy!

Susan

 

Alvarez de Toledo Godello 2010

DO Bierzo, Spain
$13.95 (Vintages #308049) 12.4% alcohol

From an estate established in the XVth century, this straw-hued white wine offers richness and complexity of aromas and flavours. On the nose, a touch of slate, apple, ripe citrus and floral notes. Dry, mid-weight, it beguiles with a round, ripe texture, lightly spiced peach, citrus and mineral nuances riding a wave of fresh acidity through a flavourful, fruity finish. Enjoy now and add a few bottles for the short-term cellaring.

 

Gray Monk Gewürztraminer 2011

VQA Okanagan Valley, B.C.
$19.95 (Vintages #321588) 12.6% alcohol

Brilliant pale gold, this wine is fragrant with floral notes, lychee, stone fruit, citrus and spice. Off dry, lusciously fruity, the tropical aromas replay on the palate, the spice extending through the fruit-filled, delicately pithy finish. This pioneering Okanagan winery once again delivers a sumptuous wine to pair with lightly spiced dishes.

 

Borsao ‘Tres Picos’ Garnacha 2010

DO Campo de Borja, Spain
$19.95 (Vintages #273748) 14.5% alcohol

Produced from low yielding old vines, the inky dense color of the wine portends the weight and substance in the glass. First the sweet aromas—vanilla, cedar, leather, spice and berries ripe to bursting. Dry, velvety and full bodied, this wine delivers a mouthful of juicy ripe fruit garnished with exotic spice, dried herbs and subtle oak. Soft ripe tannins underpin the fruit, the richness of the flavours persisting through the lengthy finish. A great value to enjoy now or cellar medium term.

 

 

 

Jackson-Triggs ‘Niagara Estate Grand Reserve’ Shiraz 2010

VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$19.95 (Vintages #317941) 13.5% alcohol

Inky ruby, this is a substantial wine with alluring aromas of mint, pepper dancing over rich ripe red and black fruit. Dry, full bodied, the menthol comes through on the palate mingling with succulent spiced black fruit, a hint of coffee bean and a dazzling peppery note. Fermented in French and American oak for 12 months, the firm structure complements the ripe fruit, while the peppery garnish persists on the finish. A fine value to serve with rare roast beef, or cellar medium term. 

Château de Puisseguin Curat 2010

AOC Puisseguin St-Émilion, France
$19.95 (Vintages #307140) 14.5% alcohol

From a celebrated vintage, this is another award-winning wine that offers great value. Aromas include ripe black cherry, plum, spice and a whiff of smoke. Dry, medium-full bodied, the texture is very smooth, the red fruit ripe, the notes of spice and pepper building across the palate. Fine tannins and acidity along with subtly-integrated oak balance the rich fruit flavours, while the warm, spicy finish makes this a great wine to serve on a cold winter day. Or cellar medium term.

Grand Total: $93.75

 

Worth the splurge:

Mission Hill ‘Family Estate’ Quatrain 2008

VQA Okanagan Valley, BC
$44.95 (Vintages #218636) 13.5% alcohol

This blend of Merlot, Syrah and the Cabernets is composed from some of the estate’s best south-Okanagan fruit, fermented separately, aged in French oak. Highly aromatic and intense, the nose offers boysenberry, black cherry, spiced floral notes, and sweet cedar. Built on a firm frame, this dry, full-bodied blend delivers depth and complexity, flavours of cassis, black plum, spice and herbs with notes of toast carrying through the long finish. Serve with robust meat dishes; drink now to 2019.

 

 

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Two outstanding Chilean red wines

Posted by Susan

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012
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At a recent wine tasting featuring Chilean wines, Savvy Sommelier Susan Dejardins learned that the modern wine industry began in Chile during the 1980’s with the arrival of Miguel Torres from Spain. He introduced state of the art technology, including stainless steel fermentation tanks and French oak barrels, and began transforming the vinification process. Chilean winemakers soon followed suit and the wine export industry began to flourish.

Today, winemakers and viticulturalists are searching for new ways to create wines with a unique sense of place, matching vines to soils, introducing new techniques, and planting vines in more challenging areas such as the higher slopes of the Andes.

 

Cono Sur ‘Reserva’ Syrah 2011

Colchagua Valley
$13.95
LCBO#221820
14.0% alcohol

Blended into this deep purple Syrah are small amounts of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenère. Aged 12 months in French oak, the rich ripe aromas of berries and black cherries, sweet spice, vanilla and pepper lift from the glass. Dry, mid-full weight, the wine is loaded with ripe dark fruit and the tang of black pepper. Subtly structured and nicely balanced, this is a tasty, approachable, easy-drinking wine.


Arboleda Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Aconcagua Valley
$18.95
LCBO#606764
14.0% alcohol

Blended with small amounts of Cabernet Franc and Syrah, this delicious wine spent 12 months in a combination of French and American oak. Alluring aromas of rich ripe spice-infused fruit, dried herbs and floral notes, cedar and vanilla tantalize the nose. Dry, medium-full bodied, it’s satin smooth and mouthfilling. There’s good complexity to the flavours—raspberry and blackcurrant, toasty oak, herbs and spice and a hint of pepper—and a fine balance of round tannins and fresh acidity. On the finish, it’s dry with lingering flavours of spiced fruit. Savour now or cellar short term. This wine was a hit at the wine and food pairing created by Sidedoor’s chef Korecki’s Dry aged striploin with raspberry pepper.

 

Enjoy!
Susan

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Fielding Estate Winery

Posted by Julie

Thursday, August 30th, 2012
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Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Fielding Estate Winery
– August 2012 –

 

Outstanding Riesling, Pinot Gris and Meritage and down home hospitality are what come to mind when we think of Fielding Estate Winery located on the Beamsville Bench (Niagara Escarpment). Twelve years and countless awards later, the Fielding family is continuing to work their magic in the vineyards. It is no wonder that Fielding has been named among Canada’s Top 10 wineries.  In the following pages, Savvy Sommelier Julie will tell you some of the reasons why.

Julie caught up with Heidi Fielding when she was visiting Ottawa for an interview by CTV for the annual Graze the Bench that runs on June 9 & 10th to celebrate the growing season. Good wine paired with delicious hors d’oeuvres flowed all weekend. At Fielding, Pulled Duck Sliders with Warm Potato Salad created by August Restaurant was served at the winery paired with Fielding’s Sauvignon Blanc VQA 2011 and Cabernet Franc VQA 2010.

It’s only August but are you starting to think about a dinner party this fall with all of the fresh produce? We can make it easy for you with this month’s Savvy Selections. At the panel tasting, our Savvy Sommeliers easily agreed that Fielding Estates wines are top-notch & we are excited to introduce you to them this month.

In your Savvy Selections, you will find:

Fielding Estate Sparkling Riesling VQA – joy in a glass!

Fielding Estate Vineyard Rock Pile Pinot Gris VQA 2011 – refreshing & simply outstanding

Fielding Estate Meritage VQA 2007 – stunning is an understatement

OPTIONAL WINE: Fielding Estate Cabernet Sauvignon VQA $34.95 regularly $44.95

In the following pages of this Savvy eZine, Julie shares history about the family run business along with the Savvy Selections tasting panel’s notes with a dinner party in mind.

Outstanding wine & prices

Fielding Estates has offered us $35 off the regular prices of their featured wines in this month’s Savvy Selections.  Once you have opened them & would like to have additional bottles, contact me directly to re-order.  Heads up that there are only a few bottles of the Pinot Gris left and by the time I finish this sentence, they may all be gone!  In any case, contact me & I will gladly make the arrangements for additional Fielding or other Ontario wineries that we have featured to be delivered to your home, office…or even cottage!

Save the date: Thursday November 8th

You are the first to know! Our 5th annual Savvy Sip, Swirl, Savour & Selebrate wine evening will feature winemakers who we have showcase in the Savvy Selections. This fun reception style event will take place again this year at the National Arts Centre on Thursday November 8th.  This is our annual wine tasting party to celebrate our 9th year in business with you & our winery clients.  For now, pencil the date into your calendar…more details to come!

From all of us at Savvy Company, we thank you for continuing to be a subscriber to Savvy Selections.

Cheers & Enjoy!


Debbie & Savvy Team




Introducing…

Fielding Estate Winery

Presented by Savvy Sommelier Julie Stock

 

In year 2000, Ken & Marg Fielding, purchased 53 acres of peach & pear orchards.  While recently retired, their sole intention was to plant grapes & building a winery. Looking back 12 years later with their son Curtis (right), a former race car driver & his wife Heidi (left), the family have seen the vineyards have come to fruition. The winery is a family affair & most importantly, Ritchie Richards, whom the family had known for years prior to joining Fielding, is now the talented & highly awarded winemaker.

The property was first planted with Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah vines. In 2002, the harvest was small, but the results proved rewarding. In 2003, Mother Nature blasted Ontario with a harsh winter.  No doubt as an apology, 2004 was a fabulous year & the Fielding family produced their largest harvest of approximately 8000 cases of wine. At this point, they were well on their way to producing premium wines, not to mention winning impressive Canadian wine awards.

My husband, Doug, (also a Sommelier on the Savvy Team) & I met up with the whole family in June while doing our annual Niagara pilgrimage. We were toured around the nooks & corners of the winery like royalty.

Ritchie works his magic!

Educated at nearby Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology & Viticulture Institute, Ritchie honed his experience at other local Niagara wineries – one being Stratus Vineyards – before being hailed to Fielding. Mark my words that we will be reading about Ritchie’s talent for a long time to come. He believes in extrapolating the best of the unique characteristics of the soil & climate. With each sip, you will recognize his talent too. It is no wonder that Ritchie’s took home a motherload of medals at this year’s Cuvee (Ontario wine industry’s equivalent of Academy Awards) including Gold for his Estate Bottled Pinot Gris VQA 2010, Viognier VQA 2010 & Cabernet Franc VQA 2010. Congrats Ritchie!

The Vineyards


Fielding has two main vineyards – The Jack Rabbits Flats Vineyard on the Lincoln Lakeshore sub-appellation comprises 40 acres of stoney deposits in sandy loam soil which holds the warmth of sun exposure. Curtis & Heidi explained that the red grape varieties do really well on this parcel of land giving the wines a complexity of rich dark fruit flavours. From this vineyard, they won the Cuvee 2012 Gold medals for their 2009 Red Conception & 2012 Cabernet Franc. As well, they explained the white Pinot Gris grapes also develop very impressive flavours from this mature soil. As an aside, I asked where the name “Jack Rabbits” comes from & they laughingly said “well aside from there used to be the tons of jack rabbits in the vicinity, it used to be a “parking spot”, at which they smiled & left the rest to my imagination. Similar story for the reason the wine is called Conception.

The other 13 acres – called the Fielding Vineyard – are located on the eastern slope of the Beamsville Bench. The bench provides clay loam soil with a deep limestone base to promote good natural drainage. The growing season is a little longer & more suited to Riesling; the wine ultimately features the unmistakable crisp minerality of their birthplace. This seems like the right time to mention that in 2010 their Riesling was in named one of the top ten wines in Canada. Congrats!

Hot enough for ya?

The most asked question at wineries this summer is the impact of the unforgiving heat. As Heidi put it, “we are not committed to doing one particular method with any one varietal, rather we will do the best to showcase the grapes in any given year & see how it all turns it out.” That is the beauty of winemaking.

We had not been long at the winery before we start to feel like part of the extended family. Heidi’s infectious warm personality is so representative of the Fielding hospitality. From ‘The Lodge’, on a clear day, you can see Toronto beyond Lake Ontario, yet it is easy to feel like you are in the Haliburtons comfortably sitting in their infamous Muskoka chairs on the grounds as well as on their wine label – all in effort to depict a relaxed style of the Fieldings. Hiedi sums it up best, “when people come to visit our winery, we want their experience to be fulfilling & leave with a wonderful and memorable experience.”  I can assure Heidi, Curtis, Marg & Ken that a visit to their winery, left Doug & I with great memories & a closer connection to the Fielding family & their wines. Cheers!

Discoveries in the cellar

When touring the cellars at Fielding Winery, amongst the typial stacks of French & American oak barrels, Doug & I also saw something amazing, not before seen in our wine travels. Three stainless steel tanks on top of one another each containing about 26,000 litres of different wine. The picture does not do it justice but it was quite a sight!

 

~ SAVVY SOMMELIER TASTING NOTES ~

Sparkling Riesling Brut VQA Ontario, $27.95

We often see the term “charmat method” on bottles of sparkling white wine. Similar to the way that Champagne is made in France, the charmat method is basically taking the grape juice through two fermentations. The first one turns the grape juice into wine (without bubbles), the second fermentation takes place in large stainless steel pressurized containers or tanks which, when the winemaker adds yeast and sugar to the wine this create carbon dioxide (CO2) which in turn creates the bubbles. The tiny bubbles create a “mousse” and can give the wine a yeasty and toasty mouthfeel. The charmat method receives its’ name after a Frenchman named Eugene Charmat who invented the process.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: No doubt about it, all the Savvy Sommeliers were impressed with this “sparkler”. Pale gold, bright and clear with aromas of honey and pear, peaches and almonds. The aromas follow through on the palate with a pinch of minerality, petrol and lemon drop candies. The wine is dry and well-balanced. It has beautiful acidity with fruit flavours that linger in the aftertaste.

Suggested Food Pairing: The Savvy team had no difficulty matching this with all kinds of appetizers or just enjoying it on its own. Proscuitto wrapped melon, salty crisps, sushi, puff pastry bites, buttery lobster all came to mind.

Cellaring: No need to wait for a special occasion – uncork now!

Fielding Estate Rock Pile 2011 Pinot Gris VQA, $24.95

There is a distinct pile of stones in the Jack Rabbit Flats Vineyard that marks a mature block of Pinot Gris vines, planted nearly 20 years ago. Although the vines are low-yielding they are carefully hand-picked which results in a wine full of character.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This golden hued baby was reminiscent of tropical fruit; peaches, pears, bananas, pineapple and was unlike any other Pinot Gris’s we have tasted in the past.  There is alot happening in the medium body wine that sip after sip brought more to the surface and the crisp acidity brought out lemon-lime flavours. The wine is slightly off-dry with an aftertaste of butterscotch that reminded one Savvy sommelier of luscious icing covered Turkish delight candy on the finish. We urge you not to serve this beauty too cold since the flavours open up like a flower after it has sat for awhile. Take it from the fridge about 15 minutes prior to serving – simply yummy!

Suggested Food Pairing: There were umpteen food ideas that came to mind to the point we were all getting hungry!  There is enough body in the wine to handle grilled pork tenderloin with a fruit salsa, plank salmon, or a summer salad with seafood. The flavours make it so versatile that we even thought it would even be delicious with lemon meringue pie. Definitely a wine for all seasons.

Cellaring: Again…no reason to wait. Drink now or within the next two years.

Fielding Estate Meritage 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 
$34.95

(regularly $59.95 – a special discount for Savvy Selections subscribers)

A red Meritage is made from a blend of at least two or more varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, or Petit Verdot with no varietal comprising more than 90% of the blend. In this Meritage, the components of the final blend were vinified separately following eighteen months aging in barrels on lees (winespeak for the grape skins) then selected through a series of tastings and trial blends. It is no surprise this wine received GOLD MEDAL 2009 – Canadian Wine Awards (ranked best red blend in Canada).

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: After one sip, we all looked at each other and went “ummmmmm”, oh my where to start. This blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc sifts aromas of chocolate, warm spices, black plums almost reminiscent of Christmas cake. The velvety silky texture coats the inside of the mouth with fine tannins and luscious dark berry flavours. This full bodied wine is concentrated and complex that finishes with the above flavours plus a hint of coffee and caramel.

Suggested Food Pairings: Prime rib roast beef, beef tenderloin, baby back ribs, steak topped with blue cheese and horseradish all come to mind. It is definitely a red meat wine.

Cellaring: Enjoy now and will drink best 2012 to 2018. Decant in its youth.

 

~RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH YOUR SAVVY SELECTIONS~

 

For this month’s selection of recipes we decided to offer you something different …

When the Savvy Sommeliers finally decided on which wines to feature (it was a difficult decision), one said the selected wines would be ideal to serve at a dinner party.

Depending on the size of your dinner party you may want to have more than one bottle of each, but we all thought that the following recipes would make a fabulously elegant dinner party, many of the dishes can be prepared ahead.

We hope you agree and would be thrilled with your feedback.

With Fielding Sparkling Riesling …

Parmesan Crisps

From the kitchen of Savvy Sommelier Julie



There are so many versions of this recipe but nothing could be simpler, or more delicious to match with this sparkling wine. The fruity bubbles in the wine compliment the saltiness in the cheese and just send you back nibbling for more. I sometimes serve them a little red pepper jelly on the side.
A perfect hors d’oeuvres – beware, folks inhale these!

Ingredients
1-1/12 cups of grated Parmesan depending how many crisps you would like to make.
Should yield about 20 small crisps.

Method
Preheat often to 400 degrees and put a heaping tablespoon of the Parmesan onto a parchment lined baking sheet. I would space the spoonfuls about an inch apart.

Bake about 8 minutes or check them after 5 and they should be just slightly golden.

With Fielding Rock Pile Pinot Gris …

Arugula & Hazelnut Salad

www.chatelaine.com

Ingredients
2 Tbsp (30 mL) white-wine vinegar
1 tsp (5 mL) Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp (1 mL) each dried thyme leaves and salt
Pinch of granulated sugar
1/4 cup (50 mL) olive oil
1/4 cup (50 mL) snipped chives
3 pink grapefruits or tangerines
1 fennel bulb
12 cups baby arugula
6 slices of prosciutto (optional)
3/4 cup (175 mL) toasted hazelnuts

Method

In a bowl, whisk vinegar with Dijon, garlic, thyme, salt and sugar. Slowly whisk in oil and stir in chives.

Cut off the top and bottom of grapefruits then slice off and discard remaining peel, including all white pith. Carefully slice segments out, leaving membrane that separates them behind. Set segments aside and discard membrane.

Trim the feathery fronds from fennel and discard the core & slice fennel into thin strips.

Place arugula, grapefruit segments and fennel in a large bowl. Drizzle with dressing. Toss to mix. Divide between plates.

Tear prosciutto and scatter overtop. Sprinkle with hazelnuts.

If making ahead, prepare dressing, fennel and nuts. Dressing will keep well, covered and refrigerated, for up to 1 week. Cover and refrigerate grapefruit and fennel up to 1 day. Store nuts in an airtight container up to 1 week.

With Fielding Meritage …

Recipe #1 – To serve with the Main Course

Rib Roast with Garlic Mustard Rub

Bonnie Stern’s Friday Night Dinners 

Serves 10

TIP: Use a meat thermometer to make sure the roast is cooked to medium-rare. (Don’t take a chance after paying so much for such a gorgeous roast).

Ingredients
1/4 cup (50 mL) Dijon mustard
2 tbsp (25 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp (15 mL) finely chopped fresh rosemary; or 1 tsp (5 mL) dried
1 tbsp (15 mL) fresh thyme, or 1 tsp (5 mL) dried
1 tbsp (15 mL) kosher salt
1 tbsp (15 mL) pepper
1 6-lb (3 kg) standing rib roast, boneless rib boast or strip sirloin roast
2 shallots, thinly sliced
3/4 cup (175 mL) dry red wine
1 cup (250 mL) beef stock

Method

In a small bowl, combine mustard, oil, garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper and smear roast all over with mustard rub.  Then place in a shallow roasting pan, fast side up. 

Roast meat in a preheated 425 degrees F (220 degrees C) over for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) and continue to roast for 1 1/4 to 2 hours, or until a meat thermometer reaches 130 degrees F (55 degrees C) for medium-rare.

Transfer roast to a cutting board and allow to rest for 20 minutes before carving.

While roast is resting, place roasting pan on stove over medium-high heat and skim off fat.  Then add shallots and wine and cook until reduce to 2 tbsp (25 mL) and add stock and cook until reduced to a 1/2 cup (125 mL).

To carve, remove string from roast and cut off bones in one piece by cutting between meat and bones. Cut bones apart and serve with meat (to guests who want them the most!). Turn roast over on carving board so it is sitting boned side down and carve into slices. Spoon juices over roast when serving.

I would also serve some simple green beans or snap peas and mashed potatoes with the roast. To make it extra dressy, try the yorkshire puddings (below).

Individual Yorkshire Puddings

Yorkshire pudding is a traditional accompaniment for roast beef, and many people can’t do without it.

Method

Place muffin pan in oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

Meanwhile, combine 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) all-pupose flour and 1 tsp (5 ml) kosher salt in a large bowl.In a second bowl, whisk 11/2 cups warm milk (or soy milk) with 3 eggs and whisk into flour mixture. Do not overmix or worry about little lumps.

Brush hot muffin pan with roast dripping and spoon about 1/4 cup (50 mL) batter into each cup.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until puffed and browned. Serve hot. (You can also bake the batter in mini muffin pans. Use 2 tbsp / 25 mL batter per cup and bake for 25 minutes). Makes 12 puddings.

 

Recipe #2 – To serve with Dessert course along with a glass of Meritage …

Bittersweet Chocolate Terrine

From the kitchen of Savvy Sommelier Patti

Ingredients
14oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup    plus 2 tbsp. Unsweetened cocoa
5 tbsp.strong espresso coffee (cooled)
2 tbsp. brandy
6 large eggs, room temperature
½ cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream chilled

One loaf pan, 8½” x 4½” x 3”, greased and lined with baking parchment
Heat oven to 325 degrees

Method

Put the chopped chocolate into a heatproof bowl with the cocoa and coffee. Set over a pan of barely simmering water and melt gently, stirring frequently.  Once it has melted, remove the bowl from the heat, stir in the brandy and let cool.

Meanwhile put the eggs into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until frothy. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is pale and very thick.

In another bowl, whip the cream until it holds a soft peak. Using a large metal spoon, gently fold the chocolate mixture into the eggs. When combined, fold the whipped cream in.Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan, then stand the pan in a bain-marie.Bake in a preheated oven at 325 for about 1 hour to 1 ¼ hours or until a skewer inserted into the center of the mixture comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and let cool in the bain-marie for about 45 minutes, then lift the pan out of the bain-marie and leave until completely cold. Chill overnight then turn out.

Serve dusted with confectioner’ sugar or alternately prepare a bittersweet chocolate ganache and smooth over entire surface.Store, well wrapped in refrigerator.


Enjoy your Savvy Selections!

 

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Coffee on your steak?

Posted by Debbie

Monday, August 27th, 2012
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One summer while visiting Niagara, Charlie Pillitteri of Pillitteri Estates Winery invited me to a backyard BBQ where he served his guests steaks using this delicious dry rub. Now, the beginning of summer BBQ season is always marked in my house by making a ‘batch’ of this rub to ensure that I always have some on hand.  This recipe can easily be doubled & I’d recommend to store in a jar or Ziploc container in the fridge.

The coffee beans caramelize while BBQing, offering a rich earthy flavour that will be enhanced with a robust red wine.

Coffee Steak Rub


Ingredients

½ cup whole coffee beans
¼ cup black peppercorns
¼ cup Montreal Steak spice
4 juicy steaks – any cut

Method

  1. With an electric coffee grinder, whiz coffee beans and peppercorns lightly. The result should be a coarse mixture. In a bowl add ground mixture with Montreal Steak spice. Sprinkle mixture over steaks. Gently rub into the surface of the meat, patting down to secure the coffee bean mixture in place. Flip steaks over and repeat on other side.
  2. Cover steaks and place in fridge until BBQ is ready (The steaks can ‘marinade’ for a couple of hours or simply a few minutes).
  3. Serve BBQ steaks to your liking. Enjoy!

What bottle of wine to uncork?

Steaks are best with a big bold red wine. Try Carmenere from Chile, Cabernet Sauvignon from Australia or a Red Zinfandel from California.

Enjoy! – Debbie

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Fire up the BBQ!

Posted by Eva

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012
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Pondview Estate Winery is a family affair. The Puglisi family have been grape growers for over 3 decades. In 2008, Lou was crowned the distinguished title “Grape King’ & toured the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia where he met other small family owned wineries. Returned inspired, Lou & his extended family decided to establish Pondview to craft their own wines made with grapes from their well established vineyard.  More & more grape growers in Niagara are transforming their grape farming business to incorporate a winery as well. With a commitment to viticultural & winemaking excellence along with a welcoming tasting room offering traditional Italian cheese & antipasto, Pondview has become an overnight success.

Cheers & Enjoy!

 

Pondview Cabernet-Merlot 2010 VQA

$19.15
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This wine is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc & Cabernet Sauvignon grapes harvested from the remarkable 2010 vintage. Aged in the cellar in a combination of American & French oak barrels for 12 months, this is a powerful Bordeaux style wine. This wine reminds Debbie of red & black – juicy red & black cherries, red & black plums, strawberries & blackberries even red & black licorice! The barrel aging adds warm spices with firm tannins & a lingering finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: Fire up the BBQ to serve with burgers, steak or serve with a hearty lamb stew.  See how the wine changes as you nibble on the Bleu D’Élizabeth or L’Apprenti Sorcier creamy cheeses.

 

Want to buy this wine?  We can arrange for it to be delivered!

Pondview Winery has been a feature winery in our Savvy Selections wine of the month club. Would you like some of this wine? Our Sommeliers will offer their recommendations of other Pondview wines to make a delicious selection for you. Call on us 613-SAVVYCO or cheers@savvycompany.ca

Or subscribe to Savvy Selections & wines like this one will be delivered to your home or office!

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A virtual winery – What is that?

Posted by Eva

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012
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When you ask Nyarai Cellars (pronounced Ne-rye) owner & winemaker Steve Byfield where his winery is located, he will reply ‘nowhere’. It is one of the handful of virtual wineries in Ontario – a winery within another winery.  Steve sources fruit from nearby grape growers, while using the facility & equipment at an existing winery – in this case, DiProfio Winery – where he is the assistant winemaker. This approach alleviates the large startup investment of purchasing property, vineyard & winery.

Cheers & Enjoy!


Nyarai Cellars Veritas VQA

$24.95
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  2007 was a remarkable year for Ontario wines. This is a medium to full body wine blend of 33% Cabernet Franc, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon & 13% Syrah grapes. Concentrated aromas of dark fruit (plums, blackberries, figs), with tastes of cocoa, tobacco & spices with a smooth & long finish.

Suggested Food Pairing:  Fire up the BBQ!  This is begging to be enjoyed with steak, grilled mushrooms & roast leg of lamb.

 

 

Want to buy this wine?  We can arrange for it to be delivered!

Nyarai Cellars has been a feature winery in our Savvy Selections wine of the month club. Like this wine? Call on the Savvy Team (613-SAVVYCO) to arrange for bottles to be delivered to you home or office.  Or better yet,  subscribe to Savvy Selections & outstanding Ontaro wines will be delivered you to each month.

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Unwind with a glass of red, white & rosé wines

Posted by Debbie

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012
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This weekend, the shelves at LCBO Vintages will be overflowing with light whites, dry rosés & bold red wines.  With Canada Day quickly approaching (is it July already?!?!?), there is a selection of wines from Niagara and British Columbia to toast our national holiday.  Also Canadians can raise a glass to toast the passing of Bill C-311 in Parliament that will soon make wines from coast to coast more accessible to all of us.

At this time of year, picnics and outdoor gatherings are on our mind (and our social calendars!), so we offer some wine recommendations that are crowd pleasers. Here are my wine recommendations that won’t break bank…and some extras worth considering as summertime sippers.

Cheers & Enjoy!

Debbie

 

Featherstone Gewurztraminer VQA 2011, Ontario

LCBO#64592
$19.95
Winemaker David Johnson, nicknames this ‘G Wine’.  It is a refreshing white wine with aromas & tastes of stone fruit (think pear, peach, apricot) along with some pineapple too.  Nice on its own or with spicy Mexican or Thai food.

 

Vrede en lust White Mischief, South Africa

LCBO#280156
$16.95
A unique blend of 5 different grapes – Chenin Blanc, Semillion, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc & Viognier, create an easy drinking dry white wine that’s loaded with white grapefruit & cantaloupe aromas & tastes. The zippy acidity makes this an impressive wine from South Africa.  Enjoy with seafood, picnics or sip on its own.

 

Quail’s Gate Rosé VQA 2011, British Columbia

LCBO#275842
$17.95
The light pink colour of this wine resembles a sunset in your glass. Light bodied with crisp, refreshing aromas & tastes of rhubarb, pink grapefruit with a kick of lime & mint.  As an easy drinking wine, don’t be surprised how quickly you’ll finish the bottle!

 

Alta Vista Premium Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Argentina

LCBO#129957
$14.95
Fire up the BBQ! This BIG bold wine will accompany anything off the grill – steak, burgers, sausages, tenderloin & grilled veggies –  Loaded with pronounced aromas of vanilla, black licorice, black cherries & dark chocolate with light tannins that smooth out with each bite of food. And with this price tag, why not make it your house wine this summer?

 

Chateau Tanunda Barossa Tower Shiraz/Primitivo, Australia

LCBO#281048
$18.95
The fact that this wine is from a chateau in Australia, will undoubtedly make it a conversation piece as soon as the bottle is placed on the table. Declared as Australian Producer of the Year in 2010, this wine is outstanding. Everything about this wine is black – almost black in colour with overripe blackberry, black plums, figs aromas & tastes with warm spices of black pepper, cinnamon and balsamic.  This wine won’t disappoint. Great with anything off the grill.

Like Australia wines?  Join us for ‘Unwind Downunder’ wine tasting featuring Australian wines.  Email us to be the first to receive an invitation.  Stay tuned as the event details are finalized!

 

 GRAND TOTAL: $88.75

 

Other wines worth the splurge:

Michele Chiarlo Nivole Moscato d’Asti, Italy

LCBO#942888
$16.95
When a bottle of Moscato d’Asti is popped (it’s cork is not mushroom shaped like sparkling wine, but it does pop!) it is always one of my sure signs that summer has arrived.  At 5% alcohol, this refreshing medium bodied wine has light mousse (winespeak: bubbles) with aromas and tastes of honey, daisy and citrus.  A great wine to serve with brunch, as an aperitif or to relax with after a meal.

 

Nessa Albariño 2010, Spain

LCBO#282558
$15.95
Looking for a different refreshing white wine? This one won’t disappoint.   Albariño wines are a signature of the Rías Baixas region of southern Spain.  From time to time, you will find one on the Vintages shelves.  Usually priced less than $20,  this style of wine is worth experimenting with.  Super light with lemon/lime, honeydew & fresh gingerroot aromas that continues into the taste.  The zippy acidity makes it perfect to serve with a picnic.

 

Lucien Albretch Reserve Pinot Gris 2010, Alsace France 

LCBO#281394
$17.95
Not your typical pinot gris wine.  Light to medium bodied with beeswax aromas that turns into tastes of honey and floral with an edgy finish that smooths out and lingers forever.  Great with grilled shrimp or a big bowl of steamed mussles.

 

Zonte’s Footsteps Baron Von Nemesis Shiraz, Australia

LCBO #212936
$17.95
This wine needs no food, just sit back & relax.  Notes of cherry pie filling, blueberry jam, a well balanced & easy drinking red wine.

 

 

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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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Wines for fabulous Easter feasts

Posted by Susan

Thursday, March 29th, 2012
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Easter weekend follows this LCBO Vintages release & offers some excellent choices for a springtime brunch or dinner along with a small selection of Ontario wines to serve with your meal. For brunch, or just to celebrate, there’s a range of sparkling wines available, from a Grand Millésime Champagne, to an appealing South African Blanc de Blanc Brut and a classic extra dry Prosecco. Main courses at this festive time often include turkey, ham or lamb & there’s a choice of Chardonnay, such as First Press or Amayna, or Yalumba’s Viognier to go with your roast turkey or glazed ham, or split the difference with Zuccardis Chardonnay/Viognier blend.

If you’re a red wine lover, try the Oregon or Chilean Pinot Noir with these lighter meats. Should lamb be your choice, consider the range of red wines available, including Cabernet Sauvignon from California, a well-priced Merlot-dominated Bordeaux, a Bonarda from Argentina or a fine Tempranillo from Spain. Looking for something really special – choose Domaine Galevan’s outstanding Châteauneuf-du-Pape, or the Terre Nere Brunello di Montalcino.

And for dessert, don’t miss that unique Italian dessert wine crafted from air-dried grapes, aged years in barrel and released just in time for Easter, Sorelli Vinsanto del Chianti Classico. Want to ‘go local’ for your Easter celebration? On the lighter side consider a crisp, fresh unoaked Chardonnay from Fielding Estates or the versatile Tawse ‘Sketches’ Rosé. If you’re looking for a weightier offering, then choose the juicy structured Pinot Noir 2007 from Château des Charmes or the warm well balanced Vintage Ink Merlot-Cabernet.

Rejoice in the early spring weather, as the crocuses poke their heads up to take in those warm early rays of sunshine—and hope that the vines don’t start to leaf out just yet!


Cheers & Enjoy! – Susan




If I only had $100, I would buy …
LCBO Vintages Release as of Saturday, March 31, 2012


 

Tenuta S. Anna ‘Extra Dry’ Prosecco n/v

DOC Prosecco, Italy
$15.95 (Vintages #169128) 11.5% alcohol

Offering a fine frothy persistent mousse, this is a lovely crisp Prosecco that delivers an outstanding balance of crisp fresh fruit flavours—apple, pear and lemon-lime to the fore—and a bright invigorating texture. The finish is clean, long lasting and refreshing. Match this classic to another—prosciutto and melon. An excellent value, pick up a few bottles to enjoy with friends.



Tawse ‘Sketches’ Rosé 2011
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario

$15.95 (Vintages #172643) 12.5% alcohol
Charming salmon pink, this perennial favourite is produced from a blend of Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Gamay. An appealing fresh floral note and cherry/berry aromas rush from the glass. Dry, medium bodied, deftly balanced, it’s clean, fruity and lively on the palate, the red fruit and juicy texture offering a delightfully tasty, crisp and flavourful finish. Sip away! 



Zuccardi ‘Serie A’ Chardonnay/Viognier 2010

Mendoza, Argentina
$14.95 (Vintages #262097) 13.5% alcohol

This finely crafted award winner offers tempting aromas—floral, stone fruit, mineral and citrus. Dry, ample and round, it’s well balanced and flavourful, fresh acidity and minerality balancing orchard fruit and citrus zest, notes of spice-infused toast lingering on the extended finish. An excellent value and a good choice for Easter dinner.


Hecht & Bannier Côtes du Roussillon-Villages 2008

AOC Côtes du Roussillon-Villages, France
$22.95 (Vintages #142802) 15.0% alcohol


This blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan and Syrah offers depth of colour and of flavours. There’s complexity on the nose—smoke, herbal and floral aromas, a mineral component and rich dark fruit. An intriguing wine that brings you back for another taste, it’s subtly structured and satiny in texture, showcasing dark fruit and enticingly complex flavours of herbs, toast and tangy pepper. It finishes dry and tantalizing. Pick up a few bottles to enjoy now and to sample over the next few years.



Finca Sobreño Crianza 2008

DO Toro, Spain
$17.95 (Vintages #40360) 14.5% alcohol


This Tempranillo is an excellent value, whether to enjoy now or in the future. Deep ruby garnet, it’s produced from hand-harvested grapes from the producer’s oldest vineyards and aged in American oak. It entices with aromas of cedar, balsamic, sweet ripe dark fruit and subtle floral notes. Dry, medium-full bodied, structured and robust, the perceptible tannins and lively acidity are a match for the ripe fruit, exotic spice and notes of espresso roast. The lasting finish is warm and spicy. Enjoy with roasted stuffed peppers, or a classic paella.


Grand Total: $87.75



Worth the splurge:
An outstanding cellar-worthy Châteauneuf-du-Pape . . .


Galévan Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2009

AOC Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France
$41.95 (251603) 14.5% alcohol

This is quite a striking Châteauneuf from winemaker Coralie Goumarre, whose Rhône blend ‘Paroles de Femme’ was featured in an earlier Vintages release. Grenache forms the base, with Mouvèdre and Syrah in support for this dry, full bodied and earthy wine. The nose is autumnal in character—forest floor, mushroom, herbs. The palate is structured with perceptible tannins, fresh acidity and compelling flavours of cherry/berry fruit, plum, herbs, spice and cocoa. Weighty yet fresh on the finish, it’s a match for rich roast meat dishes and will cellar medium term.

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