Posts Tagged ‘Debbie Trenholm Accredited Sommelier Savvy Company’

Newsletter Dec 2013 – Savvy gifts just for you

Posted by Debbie

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

Are you looking for THE perfect gift?  We’ve got it! Savvy Selections wine of the month club is our most popular holiday gift.  The phone is ringing off the hook & our inbox is overflowing with new subscribers joining our discovery of hard to find wines made in Ontario.

 Savvy Selections is as easy to wrap as 1, 2, 3!

#1 –Select a subscription for our 3 months (our special holiday promo!) OR subscribe for 4, 6 or 12 months > >

#2 – When you subscribe for 6 months, you’ll receive 1 month FREE delivery by courier

#3 – Receive a special Savvy Selections gift enclosure card to put under the tree

 Savvy Selections is the gift that keeps on giving every month of the year!


 What is Savvy Selections all about?

Savvy Selections has become Ontario’s largest wine of the month ‘club’ featuring Ontario wines not found at the LCBO. Every month, our Savvy Sommeliers select 3 different wines from a different Ontario winery & arrange delivery directly to the recipient’s home or office.  The featured wines range between $15 to $35 per bottle.  In our monthly Savvy eZine, you’ll get to know the winemaker & winery owners, learn more about the wines with our Savvy Sommeliers tasting notes & recipes that we have chosen for each bottle of wine. It is like having your own personal Sommelier!

Savvy Selections is THE perfect gift for the hard to buy for person on your list or any wine lover . . .yourself included!

Here’s the line-up of featured wineries

Savvy elves are standing by!

It’s easy to subscribe online or to call our Savvy Team on 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926).


And there’s even more ways our Savvy elves can help . . .

Scratch ‘buying wine’ off your To Do list


We are all pressed for time in the holiday season, so why not order our TGIF – Wines for the Weekend to have an assortment of sparkling, white & red wines from across Ontario that are ready to be uncorked & enjoyed over the holidays! The total cost for this mixed case of 12 bottles is around $250 (December’s selection is $242.65 to be exact).

Order online by noon on Tuesday December 17th & the wines will be delivered to your home or office in time for the holidays.

Our gift to you: we’ll pay for the shipping.


Planning a New Years Eve party?


Ring in 2014 by popping the corks of an incredible sparkling wine at an INCREDIBLE price of $18.95 (regular $27.95).  This bubbly is top notch – you’d think it is French Champagne.  Our Savvy Team frequently pours this sparkling wine for private events we are called on to host & be Sommeliers.

At this incredible price, why not buy a case to have on hand whenever the moment strikes? After all it is the holidays!

ORDER 6 or 12 bottles of this incredible bubbly > >


Our Savvy elves are here to help you during the holidays!


Call on our Savvy Team anytime to help make your gift shopping & holiday entertaining a breeze. We are available around the clock during this festive season.  Put us on speed dial: 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or email us on

And after the hectic holidays, you can still call on us anytime to arrange special wine deliveries, or organize Sommelier led wine, artisan cheese & craft beer events for your home or office.  We even have a team building event that involves making wine – it is a riot!


Here’s to a fun holiday season!
Debbie & the Savvy Team



Free my Grapes – The Ontario Sequel . . .

Posted by Susan

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Bill C-311 states “…the importation of wine from a province by an individual, if the individual brings the wine or causes it to be brought into another province, in quantities and as permitted by the laws of the latter province, for his or her personal consumption, and not for resale or other commercial use.”

In June 2012, Bill C-311, presented by Dan Albas, MP for Okanagan-Coquihalla, received royal assent just before the House of Commons rose for the summer. Why do we care?  Laws governing the transport and sale of alcohol across provincial boundaries dated back to 1928 and the Prohibition Era. Until the passage of Bill C-311 by unanimous vote of the House, it was a criminal offence to take or ship wine across provincial boundaries. Talk to European winemakers about this and they just shake their heads – “How can this be? You are one country, are you not! In Europe there is no issue shipping wine across national boundaries. We don’t understand why there is an issue in Canada!”  The goal of Bill C-311 was to remedy this situation by making legal:

Free My Grapes, in the person of Shirley-Ann George, was a driving force behind the Bill and its successful passage by the House. So we’re celebrating, right! Not so fast, as Shirley-Ann explained at a recent presentation to the National Capital Sommelier Guild. Read that excerpt again—‘as permitted by the laws of the latter province’.  Manitoba and British Columbia have essentially moved to respect the spirit of the law, allowing ordering and shipping of wine across their boundaries. Credit for BC changing its laws within two weeks of the passage of Bill C-311 goes to the many BC wine lovers and wineries that ensured this issue was front and centre on the political agenda for more than a year. But monopolies such as the LCBO and SAQ, who actively lobbied against C-311, have yet to clarify their positions.  While provincial law in Ontario is silent with respect to the importation or possession of wine from other provinces, the LCBO has issued a ‘policy statement’ restricting wine imports to in-person transport only. While this policy statement probably has no legal effect, there are stiff penalties for violation of Ontario liquor laws – for the individual, fines of up to $100,000 and/or imprisonment for up to one year! Why should you have to take this risk?

This brings us to Bill 117, introduced as a Private Member’s Bill by Rob Milligan, Conservative MPP from Northumberland – Quinte West, to the Ontario Legislature at the end of August 2012. While the prorogation of the Ontario legislature means the bill has died, Milligan has committed to reintroduce the bill when the parliament resumes. So it’s still worthy of our consideration.  A summary follows:

“The Bill amends the Liquor Control Act to add a provision that permits individuals who are 19 years of age or older to import or cause to be imported wine into Ontario from another province if the wine is for their personal consumption and not for resale or other commercial use. The Liquor Control Board of Ontario’s powers do not apply to wine imported by an individual in accordance with that provision. The Government of Ontario is required to encourage the parties to the Agreement on Internal Trade to implement or amend measures to allow for the free movement of wine within Canada. A progress report must be tabled in the Legislative Assembly within three months after the Bill comes into force and every six months thereafter.

Similar provisions are added with respect to the importation of beer from other provinces. Those provisions only apply if the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act (Canada) authorizes the inter-provincial importation of beer. “

Free My Grapes is working with the Canadian Vintners’ Association, among other groups, to support the passage of this Bill. We need the same type of all-party unanimous support for this Bill as that given for Bill C-311 at the federal level. Given that MPP Milligan is a member of the opposition party, it may take even more support from Ontario wine lovers to win the day!  There’s nothing like concerned wine-consuming citizens making their opinions known to their MPPs to ensure the appropriate level of awareness, understanding and attention to this matter.

If you want the opportunity to order wine from British Columbia, Nova Scotia, or any other province into Ontario, Free My Grapes encourages you and your friends/colleagues to first and foremost write your MPP asking her/him to vote in favour of Bill 117 or a similar bill that makes it legal for Ontarians to buy and ship red wine and white wine across provincial borders for personal consumption.   A sample letter and links that will help you find your MPP’s address can be found at Free My Tweeters can get updates on progress by following @FreeMyGrapes. The website is also a good source of information on what is happening in both Ontario and across Canada on this important matter.

It’s time to put an end to the outdated prohibition era laws that punish Canadians for buying great Canadian wines.

Together we can finally Free My Grapes!




Add bottles of Ontario wines to your Thanksgiving table

Posted by Julie

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

By the time Thanksgiving rolls around this year, the grape harvest will be just about over in most parts of Ontario.  After the extraordinarily warm summer, our grape went through veraison 3 to 5 weeks earlier than previous years. What is veraison you ask? It is when the grapes change colour from green (all grapes start out as green) to the yellow gold or vibrant red or deep purple depending on the different grape variety. I can’t wait to taste what the winemakers will crafted with this year`s harvest as I have heard several winemakers predicting that this year`s grape harvest is remarkable – perhaps one of the best yet in Ontario.

While we patiently await for the 2012 wines, I have found some wines in this release at LCBO Vintages to serve with the turkey, duck, chicken, turducken (a chicken stuffed inside a duck which is then stuffed inside a turkey!), goose or whatever is going to be on your Thanksgiving table.

I love Thanksgiving. I love this time of year when the red leaves get are crispy during the morning walk, the air is fresh and chilly and the fireplace goes on. We glorify our Ontario bounty with freshly harvested grapes, beautiful root vegetables, pumpkins, fall mums and delicious aromas. My favourite recipe books scatter the kitchen counter and I think of the dinners I will prepare, the treats that I will bake and of course the wines I plan to serve. Like a squirrel collecting nuts, I am stashing away wines that I discover for the chilly fall nights ahead.

In my If I only had $100 I would buy at Vintages, my list includes again, a couple of Ontario wines because this is the time to celebrate and give thanks to our bountiful earth here at home.  I hope you manage to put at least one of my suggestions on your Thanksgiving table.

From my glass to yours – Happy Thanksgiving!

PS – if you are on Twitter, tell us about your favorite Ontario wine on #LCBOgoLocal

2011 Sketches Rosé

Tawse Sketches of Niagara Rosé 2011

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$15.95 (Vintages #172643) 12.5% alcohol

Once you visit Tawse you will understand why it was named Winery of the Year at the 2011 Wine Access Canadian Wine Awards. it really is a state of art winery. This deep watermelon colored favourite of mine is made from a blend of Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Gamay.  How can it not be splendid? Aromas of ripe red berries waft from the glass and just explode in your mouth in a fresh bone dry wine. It is crisp, refreshing and just plain juicy with a zesty finish. It makes a lovely appertif or to serve with a turkey dinner.


Closson Chase Vineyard Chardonnay 2009

Closson Chase Vineyard, VQA Prince Edward County
$29.95 (Vintages #148866) 12.5% alcohol

This golden hued baby has aromas of pure class and richness. What does that smell like? Vanilla, toast, a little nutty, some pineapple, peaches, pears and just a little soya all dance on the nose and follow through on the palate. It is well balanced with just the right acidity, medium to full bodied, dry but with a caramel-ly buttery finish. The wine is elegant and refined, a beautiful luscious treat. All the buttery flavours in this Chard would match all the trimmings in a “fowl” dinner, mashed potatoes, root vegetables – sheer yum. If there is any left over after dinner it would be splendid with the Fruit Ginger Crumble Pie in the Autumn 2012 LCBO magazine.


DOG POINT VINEYARD SAUVIGNON BLANC 2011Dog Point Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2011

Marlborough South Island, New Zealand
$21.95 (Vintages #677450) 13.5%

If you are a Sauvignon Blanc fan, this new release will not disappoint. Pale yellow in the glass, dry and very crisp on the palate. Loads of refreshing pink grapefruit and ripe melon with a little lime, slightly vegetal on the finish. Completely opposite to a Chardonnay, It would contrast beautifully, cutting through some of the richness of a Thanksgiving dinner. A great sipper on its own and definitely a splendid appertif (perhaps with a few shrimps?) to get those taste buds salivating!

 G. Marquis The Silver Line Pinot Noir 2010

VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake
$19.95 (Vintages #258673) 12.5% alcohol
A gorgeous plum coloured wine with aromas of fresh strawberry jam, cherry and raspberry flavours on the palate with a hint of tobacco. Medium bodied with a little forest floor on the finish that is typical of a great Pinot Noir from Ontario. This Pinot will go well with turkey because it is a light and flavourful wine without being high in alcohol or oak. For those guests who prefer a red with their turkey, this is a great pick.

Bouchard Aîné & Fils Beaujolais Superieur

Beaune, Cote D’Or, France
$11.95 (LCBO #9431) 12.5%

This Beaujolais is a general list product and not part of the recent September releases. I included it in my Wines to serve for Thanksgiving because it would be a delightful accompaniment. The fruity liveliness of the Gamay grape with its red cherry and strawberry flavours, refreshing acidity and low tannins is a fabulous match for a rich turkey dinner with dressing and gravy. It is a light-medium bodied fun wine that is not expensive and a dependable stand-by. I always have one in my wine fridge as it should be served slightly chilled.

Grand Total: $99.75 – phew…a quarter to spare!


An Ontario wine company with a baseball connnection…

Posted by Derek

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Diamond Estates
– September 2012 –


What an absolutely incredible summer we have had.  It’s hard to believe that it is September already!  In wine regions, September marks the ramping up to the busiest time of year – the grape harvest. This year, Ontario wineries reported that the grapes ripened literally overnight! Usually winemakers spend September patiently monitoring the brix levels (natural sweetness levels) of the grapes, watching the weather reports & waiting for the optimal time to harvest. Usually, they have until end of September to ready their equipment and staff … but not this year!  Some wineries in Niagara began harvest in mid August! Cattail Creek Winery (Savvy Selections featured winery in September 2010) sent the pickers into the vineyards on August 23 – the earliest since 1971!

By all accounts, winemakers across Canada report that the 2012 vintage looks like it is shaping up to be another outstanding vintage like the notable 2007 & 2010 vintages. Our Savvy Sommelier Derek Vollrath met up with Jason Roller – one of three winemakers at Diamond Estates. Never heard of Diamond Estates? Chances are you have had a bottle of their wine on your table from one of the many wineries in this unique company that comprises of many Canadian wineries & is an agent for numerous wineries around the globe. Read on in this month’s Savvy eZine to discover more about Diamond Estates, their portfolio of wines and how a baseball connection plays into the company name!

With a case of different wines from their various wineries, one summer evening, I rounded up the Savvy Team and some Savvy Selections subscribers to swirl, sip, savour and select the wines for you to enjoy.  After a grueling evening of wine tasting (yes, it can be hard work), we look forward to introducing you to wines from not one but TWO Niagara wineries from Diamond Estates portfolio.

In your Savvy Selections,You will find:

Lakeview Cellars Kerner Reserve 2009 VQA – an easy drinking end of summer sipping wine

Lakeview Cellars Syrah Reserve 2007 VQA – delectable, rich and simply awesome! There are only a few bottles left if you want more bottles, be sure to call me quickly!

East Dell Estates Reserve Cabernet Franc 2007 VQA – stunning!

And since great wines deserve great food, Derek shares these recipes to serve with these delicious wines.

Stock up on these wines!

We were amazed at the prices & quality of these wines.  Ordering additional bottles of this month’s selection or past Savvy Selections is super easy.  Simply drop me an e-mail at or give me a call at 613-SAVVYCO (613-728-8926)

Cheers & Enjoy!

Debbie & Savvy Team

The Diamond winemaking team (l to r): Scott McGregor, Tom Green & Jason Roller

Diamond Estates

Presented by Savvy Sommelier Derek Vollrath


I always look forward to the months in which Debbie asks me to “take the lead” and organize the Savvy Selections.  It starts from the moment the wine is delivered to me.  It’s like Christmas as I rush to open the case to see what treasures the Savvy Team will “have to” work its way through.  The tasting panel is always a fun experience but the greatest thrill for me is talking to the winery owners, the winemakers and their staff.  I learn so much about the people behind the wines that we feature in the Savvy Selections.

This month I had the opportunity to meet Jason Roller and Chevonn Cook at Diamond Estates.  Jason has been working at Diamond since 2001 where he apprenticed and completed a co-op placement while studying at Brock University`s Cool Climate Oenology & Viticulture program – while a big title, it boils down to Winemakers School at Brock University.

“Chevy” as the guys like to call her is one of Diamond’s “Group of Seven” members.  In this case, referring to the fact that she is one of seven original employees.  She has definitely seen the company grow!

Chevy and I traded numerous e-mails before we were able to agree on a time that we could actually talk over the phone.  When we did finally connect, Chevonn happily reported that “this is our first day of harvest and as we speak we are processing today Auxerrois, Muscat & Baco Noir grapes that will be used in the following brands: Lakeview, 20 BEES, FRESH, Seasons”.

Batter…Batter… Swing Batter!

Diamond is another Ontario wine industry success story.  The company was founded in 2000 by Murray Marshall and Andrew Green.  The two men had known each other for years through baseball.  You see Murray was a scout for the Toronto Blue Jays and had been a long time baseball coach of Andrew Green.  The name Diamond comes from the baseball diamond and the two friends love and involvement with the sport.

Diamond Estates is the second largest Canadian supplier of VQA wines to the LCBO.  When you stroll down the Ontario Wine section at any LCBO I guarantee that you will come across one of the nine brands that Diamond Estates produces.  These popular brands include: 20 Bees, Hat Trick NHL Alumni Wines, Lakeview Cellars, EastDell Estates, Sundance Wines, Dan Aykroyd Wines, De Sousa Wine Cellars.

When you are next in Niagara, you can stop into the Diamond Estates wine boutique located on Niagara Stone Road en route to the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake & sample any of the wines from all of these wineries.  There is no other place like it in Niagara!

Diamond Estates’ portfolio also includes international brands that you may recognize: Emiliana from Chile,  Andre and Francois Lurton, Rodet from France, Casa Girelli from Italy, Anciano from Spain, Long Flat, Kilikanoon and Angus The Bull from Australia…and the list of international wine brands continues to grow!

We’re big … yet we’re small!

Jason coined it best when he told me: “although we are a very large winery we have a small winery mentality.  By that I mean that we are able to spend more time with our wines making sure that it is the very best we can produce.  Our equipment is a huge help.  We have a state of the art facility with an enormous capacity.  During harvest season what would take most wineries to process in 7 days we can process in 2.  We can then spend the other 5 days making sure that the product is perfect”.  When you taste this month’s wine I think you will agree with Jason.

Once Every Ten Years

Most winemakers will tell you that the 2007 vintage for Ontario wines was a vintage that happens once every 10 years.  This month you have two wines from this vintage. May I suggest that you take this opportunity and order a few extra bottles for your cellar?  These are great wines at a phenomenal prices.

Cheers & Enjoy your Savvy Selections!




Lakeview Cellars Kerner Reserve 2009 VQA, $14.95

Kerner is a German grape variety that produces wines which are similar in nature to its more famous countryman…Riesling.  Kerner wines are relatively uncommon in Canada however as Jason and Chevonn explained to me Diamond Estates has been crafting wines from the Kerner varietal since 1996.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  A pale lemon colour with aromas of citrus, pear and honey-do melon accompanied with slight floral undertones (can you find lilac?).  The wine coats your palate with flavours of white grapefruit, sweet apple, key lime and white pepper.  The mouth feel is rich and fleshy with a medium length green apple finish.

Suggested Food Pairing:  This fresh and versatile wine would go well with a citrus salad or chicken breast with a mango chutney.  The tasting panel is recommending pairing this wine with Lime & oney Glazed Salmon with Warm Black Bean and Corn Salad.

Cellaring: This is an excellent sipping wine that could be enjoyed now or it could be cellared for up to 18 months.

Lakeview Cellars Syrah Reserve 2007 VQA, $19.95 (regular $29.95)

This wine has all of the hallmarks of a wonderfully crafted wine: the fruit was sourced from a single vineyard; the skins were left in contact with the juice for an extended period of time thus imparting the beautiful ruby red colour and to top it all off it was aged in American oak barrels for 3 years before being released.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Medium ruby red core that fades to a light garnet.  Dark cherry, cocoa, raisins, stewed prunes and hint of menthol all leap from the glass and carry through to the palate.  The tannins are soft and well integrated giving this medium bodies wine a velvety mouth feel.  The finish is equally as impressive as the complex palate lingers for a satisfyingly long time.

Suggested Food Pairing:  A wine as special as this Syrah should always be accompanied with a special meal.  At this price though, you can serve it often! Slow-roasted shoulder of lamb or flank steak with a honey-mustard sauce would be excellent choices.  Derek suggests that you pair this wine with beef tenderloin in a port, mushroom & stilton sauce – recipe follows.

Cellaring: It’s hard to believe that this vintage is already 5 years old. The wine will continue to mature and evolve in your cellar for another 5 to 7 years.

East Dell Estates Reserve Cabernet Franc 2007 VQA, $24.95

This is one of the premium red wines produced by Diamond Estates.  Only 110 cases or approximately 1,300 bottles of this wonderful wine were produced, so needless to say quantities are limited.  The September Tasting panel all agreed that the Cabernet Franc stole the show.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  A rich garnet-red colour with a captivating bouquet of ripe red fruit, warm spice and dark chocolate.  This medium-bodied, dry wine delivers flavours of Christmas cake, allspice and vanilla.  Well balanced and richly textured with a stewed cherry finish that seems to hang on and on.

Suggested Food Pairing:  This is a dynamo wine and would pair well with barbequed gourmet burgers or grilled lamb chops with wild mushroom risotto.  The tasting panel is recommending roast veal with braised vegetables.  Read on as the recipe for this wonderful dish is at the end of this month’s eZine.

Cellaring: This wine can be cellared for 3 to 4 more years.  However, no need to wait as it is already 5 years old so enjoy it tonight with that special someone.


With Lakeview Cellars Kerner Reserve…

Lime & Honey Glazed Salmon with Warm Black Bean and Corn Salad

From: Rachel Ray 365: No Repeats – A year of Deliciously Different Dinners
Serves 4

4 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic chopped
½ Tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 Tsp ground cumin
Juice of 2 limes
3 Tbsp honey
1 Tsp chili powder
4 6-ounce salmon fillets
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1 10-once cab of corn kernels
½ cup of chicken stock
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 to 3 Tbsp fresh cilantro
6 cups of baby spinach


Preheat a skillet over medium heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the onions, garlic, red pepper flakes, cumin, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.

While the onions are cooking, preheat another skillet over medium heat with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

In a shallow dish, combine the juice of 1 lime, honey, chili powder, salt and pepper.  Add the salmon fillets to the lime-honey mixture and toss to coat thoroughly.  Add the seasoned salmon to the hot skillet and cook until just cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side.

To the cooked onions, add the bell peppers and corn kernels and cook for 1 minute.  Add the chicken stock and continue to cook for another 2 minutes. then add the black beans and cook until the beans are just heated through. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the juice of the second lime, the cilantro and the spinach.  Toss to wilt the spinach and then taste and adjust the seasoning.

Serve the lime-honey-glazed salmon on top of the warm black bean and corn salad.


With Lakeview Cellars Syrah Reserve…

Beef Tenderloin with Port, Mushroom, Stilton Sauce

From: Land O Lakes Treasury of Country Recipes Cookbook
Serves 4

¼ cup butter
½ tsp. coarsely ground pepper
1 tsp. minced fresh garlic
2-3 lb. beef tenderloin, trimmed and tied
2 Tbsp butter
4 oz. crumbled Stilton cheese
1 cup beef broth
¼ cup Port
2 cup sliced mushrooms (I use small Cremini or a combination)
½ cup chopped pecans, toasted
½ cup pine nuts, toasted
1/3 cup green onions


Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a skillet melt ¼ cup butter until sizzling; stir in pepper and garlic. Place tenderloin in skillet and cook over medium high heat until browned on all sides (7 – 9 minutes). Remove from pan; reserve pan juices and browned particles in skillet.

Line a 13 x 9” baking pan with foil and place tenderloin in pan to bake for 35 – 50 minutes or until meat thermometer reaches 160 F (medium). Remove from oven and let rest, tented for 5 – 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt 2 tbsp. butter in same skillet with reserved pan juices and browned particles until sizzling; stir in blue cheese. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until cheese is melted (4 – 5 minutes). Stir in beef broth and wine; add mushrooms. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until mushrooms are tender. Stir in remaining sauce ingredients. Serve over carved tenderloin.


With East Dell Estates Reserve Cabernet Franc…

Roast Veal with Braised Vegetables

From: Food & Drink Magazine Early Summer 2009
Serves 6

3 lbs veal sirloin, tied in a roll
3 tbsp small rosemary sprigs
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 cup beef or chicken broth
4 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch lengths
12 fingerling potatoes halved lengthwise if thick
3 cups chicken stock
2 white turnips peeled and cut into wedges
1 bunch leeks, dark green leaves removed, cut lengthwise through the root
12 stalks asparagus, tough ends removed


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover meat with rosemary sprigs, tucking them inside if possible.  Season with salt and pepper.

Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over high heat until sizzling.  Add veal and brown on all sides, about 1 to 2 minutes per side then remove from skillet & place in a roasting pan.  Discard fat from skillet; add stock and garlic, scraping up all the bits on the base and bring to boil. Pour hot stock into roasting pan.

Place pan in oven and roast for 40 to 45 minutes (depending on thickness) or until medium rare.  If stock reduces too quickly in pan, add up to ½ cup of water.

While veal is roasting, place carrots and potatoes into a pot of cold chicken stock over high heat and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until slightly softened.  Add turnips and leeks and simmer for 7 to 8 minutes.  Add asparagus and cook for 5 minutes or until all vegetables are cooked through.  Reserve vegetables and cooking liquid and reheat when needed.

Remove roasting pan from oven, remove veal and let rest for 10 minutes.  Place pan over burner and add 1 cup of reserved vegetable cooking liquid and bring to boil stirring all the little pieces at the base of the pan.  Simmer 2 minutes to intensity the flavours.

Slice veal into ½ inch slices.  Served with braised vegetables and some sauce.

Enjoy your Savvy Selections!



People are talking…about Ontario Wines

Posted by Julie

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

It is no wonder that the world has started to notice Ontario wines. As seen in this week’s release at LCBO Vintages (September 15), we have much to be proud of. The recent count at the end of 2011, there were just over 130 wineries in Ontario.  And I noticed many new wineries in my recent trips to Niagara and Prince Edward County this summer.

And there is a great buzz amongst wine lovers across the province who are being constantly amazed with the wine made in their own backyard.  Read some of these discoveries on or on follow the tweets on #LCBOgoLocal

Most winemakers agree that great wine starts in the vineyard and it’s the soil content that places Ontario wines on the international map. We often see tasting notes on Riesling that mention the zippy minerality in the wine. This is largely due to the soil. Last fall, I spoke at a seminar at the “Taste” festival in Picton and I learned there were over 10 different soil types in Prince Edward County alone. Talk about a challenge for the winemaker.

Ontario wineries produce largely wines made from the Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. With these varietals, sometimes blended with other less known ones,  come some great sparkling wines. The Peller Estate Ice Cuvee Sparkling Rosé, (featured this month at Vintages $35.95) was a winner of a gold Medal at Wine Access 2011 Canadian Wine Awards. Hinterland Winery in Prince Edward County specializes in sparkling wines and most wineries feature a sparkling wine. I recently tasted the Fielding Estates and13th Street “sparklers” which I can only describe as “seriously yummy”.

Niagara’s Stratus Vineyards is the world’s first winery to be given the coveted LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green certification. Southbrook Winery’s  “Framboise” can be found at the prestigous Harrods in London, England. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth requested 6 bottles of icewine during her Jubilee Visit to Canada in 2002 from Canada’s Icewine Specialists at the Royal DeMaria Winery in Beamsville.  Ontario produces 75 % of all Canada’s ice wine which can be risky business since production requires the availability of a large enough work force to pick a whole crop within a few hours, often on a moment’s notice.

Niagara’s Sunnybrook Farm Estate Winery is Canada’s first fruit winery specializing in wines made from 100% Niagara Peninsula grown tree fruit and berries. We even have a winery that, thanks to its location on Pelee Island, offers a Bird Observatory and another winery that offers tastings in an old caboose, not to mention the one in a converted convent. Many Ontario wineries also have taste-rooms in original homestead barns some of which are architecturally signficant dating back to 1815.

Every year, the serendipity excitment of finding new wine takes me on the Ontario journey. We need not look further than our own backyard. The following wines illustrate that Ontario has it all. I hope you agree.

Cheers and Enjoy,

Cave Spring Estate Bottled Vineyard Chardonnay Musqué VQA 2009

VQA Beamsville Bench,Niagara Peninsula
$15.95 (Vintages #246579) 13% alcohol

This clean refreshing beauty just glistens in the glass. The Chardonnay Musqué is a clone of the Chardonnay grape which means a completely different taste from the latter. While it has aromas of white blossoms, the grapes were vinified in stainless steel that give the wine some grapefruit and green apple flavours. It is slightly off dry, smooth and supple all the way through to the minerally finish. It has solid medium body that could carry you from the appertif to desert, not to mention a thirst quenching sipper on its own.


2027 Falls Vineyard Riesling 2011

VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula
$18.95 (Vintages #294041) 11% alcohol


Pale in colour and almost watery in appearance, my first introduction to Falls Vineyard is a delicious one. I adore a light coloured wine. The Riesling is slightly herbaceous, lots of wet stone flavours that are typical in a Niagara Riesling with that pinch of lemon lime citrus that take your taste buds on a salivating roller coaster. It is light bodied, a lovely end of summer drink to enjoy with a field tomato salad, some coarse salt and a French stick. Get those taste buds moving !



 Lailey Vineyard Chardonnay 2010

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$19.95 (Vintages #193482) 13.5% alcohol

Winemaker Derek Barnett has created an elegant labour of love with this Chard. Think of ripe but crisp yellow apples, a pinch of lemon, a tad buttery but fresh, medium bodied with a slightly caramel finish.  Perfect for some baked or grilled tilapia and asparagus and a little soft artisan cheese to finish. It is a beautifully balanced wine, a good price point for this quality and I would be proud to serve this Chardonnay to anyone. A great all season Chardonnay.

Featherstone Cabernet Franc 2010

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$16.95 (Vintages #64618) 13% alcohol


Nothing like a bright ruby red wine that shows off aromas of sweet and sour cherries. Only 694 cases produced so do grab one while its on the shelf. It is slightly vegetal, red berry flavours, with a hint of green pepper and tobacco with grippy tannins (this is a good thing).  A fabulous bbq wine to have with meaty burgers or kebobs.


Henry of Pelham 2010 Reserve Baco Noir

VQA Ontario
$24.95 (Vintages #461699) 13.5% alcohol

I remember having a prof in Sommelier school that said Baco Noir was only good for making jelly. I wish I could find him now to prove him wrong. The wine is dark and inky with aromas of raspberries, cherries and wood smoke.  Slightly vegetal with ripe chewy tannins that lend interest to the wine and give it a  long lingering finish. Would be fabulous with some sausages or pasta to soak up the bone dry tannins.


Grand Total: $96.75

The Ontario wines from this release were a really hard pick. I could have listed all Chardonnay’s but knew that would be uninteresting for you as the shopper. Who besides me would like a basket of Chardonnay wine?  I also like to showcase as many Ontario wineries as possible and plan to do so again next month. Some may also be from this release to help talk “turkey”.

If you do however happen to win the lottery, I tried an Inniskillin Riesling Icewine ($69.95) that won the 2012 Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in Ontario Wines and a Gold Medal for Best Vinifera Icewine at the The Lieutenant Governor General’s Award for Excellence in Ontario Wines. The honeyed pear and baked apple flavours with just the perfect balance of acidity was really over the top. I’m trying to think of a special occasion that could warrant such a splurge but there are so many Ontario wines that I want to put in my basket, that one will have to wait.

Happy sipping on the remainder of our summer days and nights. Julie


Archer’s Hard Lemonade

Posted by Debbie

Friday, August 31st, 2012

A favorite summertime event is the Midsummer Herbfest. Each year Savvy Company is involved as the host of the ever popular Chef Cook-off where 3 restaurant chefs battle are put to the task of creating a dish featuring the International Herb of the Year. This year, the Rose, was the special ingredient.

The chefs made simple and elaborate recipes that can be found on Here is a new twist on a lemonade to serve as you unwind on the patio, on the cottage dock or when you fire up the BBQ.


Archer’s Hard Lemonade

Chef Chris Archer
Tennessy Willems – Ottawa’s popular wood oven pizza place

juice of six lemons
2 cups white sugar
3 cups water
1 vanilla bean


  1. Dissolve sugar in water and add to lemon juice.
  2. Split the vanilla bean length wise and scrape out the seeds and add to the lemonade.
  3. Put the empty pod aside.
  4. Whisk in the seeds in the lemonade and strain into pitcher.
  5. Chill until cold.

To make the drink, fill a tall glass with ice and add the following:

1oz Vodka
½ oz Lychee Liqueur
4 oz Lemonade
one half of the scraped vanilla pod to stir with
slice of lemon
half a dozen or so fresh Canadian raspberries
¾ oz rose water
then drizzle ½ oz Chambord into the lemonade


Fielding Estate Winery

Posted by Julie

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

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


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!



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, 

(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.




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!

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

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

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


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).

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


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.


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

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


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!



Fun bubbles from Oz

Posted by Debbie

Monday, August 20th, 2012

In my humble opinion, there is nothing better than a bottle of sparkling.  The sound of the cork popping & the floating bubbles sprinting up the glass, along with the wonderful rushing sound of the bubbles popping in my mouth. These things make me smile.  Sparkling wine is a fun wine to drink!

Sparkling wines are made everywhere around the world.  In Spain sparklers are called Cava, in Italy, they have several styles – Spumanti, Prosecco, Moscato d’Asti & in France they have the infamous Champagne, as well as bubbles spotlighting the different regions such as Cremant de Loire.  Then there are labels from bubblies around the world sport the terms is Blanc de Blanc (wine speak: made with 100% Chardonnay) & Blanc de Noir (wine speak: made with 100% Pinot Noir).

Wine countries like Australia are constantly trying different techniques, grape varieties, blends & closures too.  Here’s two sparklings that I discovered & featured in our Let’s go to Australia Sommelier led wine tasting a few weeks ago.

Emeri Sparkling Wines was a great way to start an evening. The story about the winery is that the De Bortoli family emigrated to Australia’s Yarry Valley in 1928, leaving behind the Northern Italian Alps.  Now three generations later & everyone in the family is involved. Grab a flute glass & let’s toast to a week of Australia wines!


PS – ever wanted to travel to Australia? Come with me on a once-in-a-time  tour as we sip & eat around Australia.  Hosted & organized by Ausssie Travel, for more details on this trip, click here.


Emeri Sparkling Pinot Grigio

LCBO 222224, 10.5% alcohol

Delicious refreshing acidity with aromas of citrus, pear & mandarin with a crisp refreshing finish.



Emeri Pink Moscato

LCBO 222190, 8.0% alcohol
Juicy nectarines, watermelon & strawberry aromas & tastes fills your glass.  Hard to stop sipping this one!




Want to go to Australia?

Come with me on Taste Your Way Around Australia trip that I will be co-hosting in March 2013 organized by Aussie Travel.  It’ll be a 23 day extravaganza of delicious Australian cuisine, winery tours, dinners with chefs, boutique hotels & unique cultural excursions. Warning: you may not come back!


Medal Mania! Fielding has a gold medal Merlot

Posted by Debbie

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Fielding Estates Winery
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep









You won’t have time to get the February blahs, as the days will fly by with the spirit and excitement of the Olympics. In the Canadian wine industry, their Olympics have taken place with the annual Canadian Wine Awards. 

Congrats to all of this year’s award winning winemakers and a special kudos to those top rated wines that have been featured in the Savvy Selections. Check out this impressive list of award winning wines – many winery names you will recognized as we have already introduced you to them or you might have some bottles of these award winning Savvy Selections wines in your cellar.

One of these notable wineries is Fielding Estates Winery of Beamsville.  At the time that our Savvy Selections tasting panel was deciding the three wines to feature this month, we received a call from Heidi Fielding, Hospitality Manager, excited that they had just received top medal standing for their 2007 Merlot. To share this big win, Fielding offered the not-yet-released wine to our subscribers.  What an overwhelming response we received!  A majority of you now have this wine in your hands to either open and decant while watching the Olympics or to put in your cellar for a few years.  (Note: missed this offer or want a few bottles more? This can still be arranged for you and your friends – simply contact me to arrange your order)


In this month’s Savvy Selections you will find

Fawnsbrook Gewurztraminer VQA 2008 – a perfect pairing with your favorite spicy dish

White Conception VQA 2008 – a blend of 5 white grape varieties

Cabernet Syrah VQA 2007 – an impressive big red wine

Optional Wine: Merlot VQA 2007 – indeed worthy of its medal!


The story of Fielding Estate Winery involves food and wine with a dash of ‘what if’.  As successful franchise owners of Subway Restaurants in North and Eastern Ontario, Ken and Marg Fielding were looking to expand their business ventures. Living in Muskoka cottage country, they enjoyed wines with friends and neighbours.  “Ken and Marg are always busy with their franchises. Their friends would jokingly tempt them – Why not build a winery and slow down?”, remembers daughter-in-law Heidi. “One thing led to another and now almost 10 years later since the idea was conceived, they own an impressive state of the art winery surrounded by 53 acre of vineyards.”


Building a winery was a family decision. Their son, Curtis left his career as a CASCAR racing car driver, to gain hands-on experience in the wine cellars at Vineland Estates. Curtis is now the General Manager and his wife, Heidi, left her job as a legal administrator to work at Jackson-Triggs Winery when it opened, then joined Curtis in his family’s business.


On the following pages, Savvy Sommelier Gina Wohlgemuth introduces you to another member of the Fielding family – award winning winemaker Richie Roberts.  And be sure to try the recipes Gina picked to serve with this month’s wines.


Anytime you would like more Fielding wines or previous Savvy Selections, simply contact me to arrange an order for you.   

Go Canada Go!

– Debbie & Savvy Team

Fielding Estates Winery
Presented by Savvy Sommelier Gina Wohlgemuth


It is easy to find people who are interested and enthusiastic about wine.  In my experience, there are few more passionate about the wine industry than winemakers and those who run the day to day operations at the burgeoning wineries.  This is exactly the case with Fielding Estate Winery in Niagara – the staff is always friendly, available to chat about their wines and eager to share their stories. 

Situated on the Beamsville Bench atop of the Niagara Escarpment, the main building, known as ‘The Lodge’ is an impressive structure made entirely of cedar post and beam design, with large windows overlooking the vineyards and a stone fireplace, creating a welcoming feeling.  The Fielding family wanted to make winery visitors feel ‘at home’ during their experience at their winery.  The large Muskoka chairs at the entrance of The Lodge are often occupied with people enjoying the view of the surrounding vineyard and tall treed forest. “Our friendly approach to enjoying wines and a cottage-like atmosphere is intended to be make our guests feel like they are relaxing on a lakeside deck or cozying up by the fire with a glass of wine in hand on a cold winter night. We wanted our visitors to feel like they are sipping extraordinary wine in the company of good friends”, explains Heidi Fielding, Hospitality Manager (another words: she runs the place!)

Winter months in The Lodge
You might wonder what goes on at a winery during the early part of the new year.  Fielding’s winemaker, Richie Roberts, reports that they are currently in the midst of tasting through all of the red wines in barrels from the 2008 vintage. Richie is faced with the job of deciding how each wine will end up – bottled on its own or blended?

In the cellar, the reds from the 2009 vintage have been moved from stainless steel tanks into oak barrels. At this point of the winemaking process, the wines are naturally going through malo-lactic fermentation (winespeak: the conversion of naturally present stronger malic acid into softer lactic acid – this process makes a wine appear softer feeling in the mouth). Meanwhile, the aromatic whites of 2009, such as Riesling and Pinot Gris, are being cold stabilized (more winespeak: the technique whereby harmless tartrate crystals – looks like sea salt – and small protein molecules precipitated out of the wine by quickly chilling the wine while in stainless steel tanks), then filtered before the wine is headed for the bottling line.

I asked Richie to comment on the cooler-than-normal and rain that we experienced this past spring, summer and fall and how it affected the grapes. Richie reported, “Fielding invested a substantial amount into their vineyards – we employed a variety of new horticultural techniques to control the crop yield.  The vineyard team were particularly attentive to the grape’s growth in order to help achieve the quality of fruit we were hoping for.”  And with the style of wines that Fielding makes, such as their dry, crisp Riesling, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and light to medium bodied Pinot Noir wines, summers like last year’s give them better results compared to exceptionally hot and dry years. 

Whatever the weather brings to the grapes, Richie, akin to many winemakers, feels that “wines should be true to the place and vintage that they came from – that wines shouldn’t try to emulate something they weren’t meant to be.”   He’s been following this practice at Fielding for over two years.  When asked of his favourite wines to make, he says without hesitation: Riesling.  “It can range in styles from incredibly dry to intensely sweet. We even have sparkling Riesling. Additionally, white blends are a personal favorite as Richie considers them a challenge. 

It is hard to believe, that this May marks Fielding’s fifth anniversary – and they have plenty to celebrate!   In addition to five years in business they have received numerous wine awards and most recently, best label design at the Ontario Wine Awards for their new label introduced 2007 – the one that you hold in your hands.  And just last month, Fielding’s Merlot 2007 VQA was declared Canada’s top Merlot at the prestigious Canadian Wine Awards.  

“I was absolutely ecstatic when I got this news”, remarked Richie, “I consider this the most important wine competition & I am thrilled to be recognized – and was proud that we scored higher than any Merlot from BC!”  Congratulations to everyone at the winery! 


 ~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~

Fielding Estates Fawnsbrook Gewürztraminer VQA 2008, $24.95

Tucked away in the slopes of the Beamsville Bench (aka Niagara Escarpment) is a small parcel of vines that produces grapes with exceptionally concentrated flavours.  The fruit was hand harvested and sorted, ensuring that only the best grapes were selected for this premium white wine.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Medium straw in colour, this fully fragrant wine fills the nose with sweet spice, lychee fruit, candied orange and dried apricot.  It has a rich and silky mouth feel with concentrated and lengthy flavours echoing the aromas.

Suggested Food Pairing: This excellent Gewürztraminer would go well with spicy ethnic dishes such as Indian curries – try your hand at Gina’s Tandoori Chicken recipe below, Thai dishes or even Mexican favourites.

Cellaring: Enjoy now or cellar for up to five years.


Fielding Estates White Conception VQA 2008, $18.95

This is the first white blend for Fielding Estate and a medal winner at the 2009 Canadian Wine Awards.  Crafted with five different aromatic grape varieties that were each vinified (winespeak: made) separately.  Richie experimented with several blends of varying proportions then had his team taste the candidates blind until this masterpiece was created.  The name of the wine was inspired by the winery’s Jack Rabbit Flats Vineyard which was once a very popular – as Richie puts it “parking spots” – among the locals. You know what he means – nudge nudge!

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: The complex nose offers a wide range of aromas from floral to fruit, white flowers, pears and citrus.  There are notes of sweet spice and toast.  It is rich and refreshing at the same time with a lingering, distantly sweet finish. 

Suggested Food Pairing: This wine would pair with many dishes.  Some to consider might include vegetable risotto, chicken with a cream-based sauce or if you don’t feel like fussing in the kitchen, uncork it with your favorite cheese pizza or Gina’s Deluxe Mac and Cheese recipe.

Cellaring: Best enjoyed now, but Richie predicts that it will cellar well up to four years.

Fielding Estates Cabernet Syrah VQA 2007, $24.95

From the stellar 2007 vintage comes this flavourful blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah with a splash of Cabernet Franc.

SOMMELIER TIP: Any sediment or particles noticed in the wine is normal as it was bottled without fining (winespeak for the process of clarifying wine by adding one or more particular agents to it prior to bottling.  As these agents slowly settle to the bottom, they carry with them unwanted yet harmless particles that are suspended in the wine) or filtration.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Concentrated aromas of blackberries, cassis and sweet smoke greet the nose with notes of leather and cedar.  It is medium bodied with smooth tannins and flavours of blackberries, cassis and vanilla.  These flavours fade gently in the medium to long finish.

Suggested Food Pairings: Enjoy this wine with almost anything beef or pork, roast, hearty stew and wintertime barbeque – to tempt you Gina shares with you her husband’s hands down favorite rib recipe.

Cellaring: This wine is drinking well now but can be cellared up to five years.


OPTIONAL WINE: Fielding Estates Merlot VQA 2007, $44.95

Savvy Selections Subscribers have the option to purchase this award winning wine FIRST!

To share the excitement of their medal standing as Canada’s top Merlot, Heidi & Richie have extended to Savvy Selections subscribers FIRST dibs on this award winning Merlot. The wine will not be available at the winery until later this summer.


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This is a BIG wine.  Dark cherry in colour with full, concentrated aromas & tastes of blackberry, plum, cherry, clove & vanilla. Soft tannins that linger into a smooth medium-long finish. A delicious wine that is easy to drink on its own – food not required.


Cellaring: This big red wine can be enjoyed now – Richie recommends to decant it for 3-4 hours before enjoying. Or cellar for up to 5 years.


Special Order Only: This wine is available to Savvy Selections subscribers (and your friends) at any time by ordering directly through Debbie.  Simply contact her or 613.851.1785 to make the arrangements for your special delivery.



~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections  ~

 With Fielding Estates Gewürztraminer…

 Tandoori Chicken
A favorite recipe from Gina’s kitchen.  She recommends to prep the ingredients the day before to allow the spices to work their magic.  The cooking time is quick and easy. 


6 chicken legs with thighs (or 12 boneless thighs if preferred)

1.5 cups plain yogurt

2 Tbsp. corn starch

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger

1 Tbsp. curry powder

¾ tsp. each ground coriander, cumin and tumeric

¾ tsp. each hot pepper flakes, paprika and salt

¾ tsp. packed brown sugar

½ tsp cayenne pepper



In medium bowl, combine all ingredients (except chicken) well.


Remove skin from chicken.  Cut 1/8 inch deep slits, 1 inch apart diagonally across meaty sides.  Arrange meaty side up in baking dish and pour marinade over.


Refrigerate 24 hours, turning occasionally.


Remove chicken from marinade and arrange on foil-lined baking sheet, leaving space between each piece and covering each piece with sauce.


Bake at 425 F for 35 minutes (less time for boneless chicken) or until golden and juices run clear.  Broil 6 inches from heat for about 2 minutes or until crisp.


Serve hot with steamed basmati rice and green vegetables.



With Fielding Estates White Conception…

Audrey’s Deluxe Mac & Cheese
From Rebar Modern Food Cookbook
Serves 10

This version of comfort food is loaded with garlic, fresh herbs and a crispy crust.  You can vary the 4 cups of cheddar with a mixture of Fontina and Mozzarella or Asiao and Monterrey Jack.



6 c. dry pasta such as rotini or penne rigate

¼ c. olive oil

1 large yellow onion, minced

2 tsp. salt

8 garlic cloves, minced

1/3 cup chopped fresh oregano

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme

½ c. chopped Italian parsley

¼ c. butter

3.5 c. milk

1/4c. unbleached flour

4 c. grated aged white cheddar

4 c. fresh breadcrumbs

1 c. grated Parmesan

½ c. pine nuts



Cook pasta in boiling, salted water until just done.  Strain and toss with a light coating of olive oil.  Set aside.


Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a small skillet and sauté onion for 5 minutes.  Add half the minced garlic, ½ tsp salt and sauté until the garlic turns golden.  Transfer to a small bowl and stir in half of the chopped herbs.  Set aside.


Next, make a roux for the sauce.  Gently heat the milk and keep it warm.  Set a saucepan over medium heat and melt the butter.  Sprinkle in flour and whisk constantly as the flour and butter turn golden.  Gradually add the warm milk and 1 tsp. salt and whisk thoroughly.  Heat until the sauce thickens.  Add the sautéed onion/herb mix, grated cheese and stir until the cheese melts.  Season to taste.


Finally, make the topping.  Combine the breadcrumbs with the remaining garlic, herbs, Parmesan, pine nuts, ½ tsp. salt, plenty of cracked pepper and the remaining 3 Tbsp. olive oil.  Mix thoroughly.


Pre-heat oven to 350 F.  To assemble, combine the noodles and cheese sauce in a large bowl and mix well.  Pour into an oiled 8 x 12 inch baking dish.  Scatter the topping over the entire surface, working some of it into the noodles.  Bake uncovered until golden and bubbly (about 45 minutes).  Serve hot.




With the Fielding Estates Cabernet Syrah…


Mike’s Barbequed Ribs

Gina’s husband Karl is a huge rib fan.  Two years ago, he came home with this recipe and all others were tossed aside.  He says these ribs are THE best!

Serves 4 to 6



4 lbs. pork rib racks (back ribs preferred but side ribs okay)

1-2 Tbsp. of your favourite dry rub or barbeque seasoning (we use “Club House La Grille Montreal Steak”)

12 thin slices fresh lemon




1 c. ketchup

½ c. red wine or balsamic vinegar

¼ c. packed brown sugar

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp. prepared mustard

1 tsp. chili powder

¼ to ½ c Frank’s Original or Durkees hot sauce (quantity based on desired spiciness – we’ve omitted it from time to time – sometimes too much heat for the kids – and even without the kick, the rib sauce is equally delicious.)



Preheat oven to 325 F.  Rub or sprinkle ribs with barbeque seasoning, if using.  Arrange ribs, meat side down or on edge, in a large roasting pan, overlapping as necessary to fit.  Place lemon slices on top of or (preferably) between rib racks.  Pour water into the pan to a depth of 1 cm.  Cover the pan with lid (or foil if no lid available) and roast in oven for 2 hours.


Meanwhile mix all sauce ingredients except the hot sauce in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook 20 minutes at a simmer.  Remove from heat and add the hot sauce if using.  Mix well.


When ribs are done, remove from oven and place on platter.  Brush liberally with the sauce and place on preheated barbeque grill at medium heat.  Excessive heat will cause the sauce to burn so reduce flame if necessary.  Cook for about 20 minutes, turning and brushing with the sauce every 3-4 minutes.  When done, ribs should be slightly charred but not burned.  Remove from grill, brush lightly with more sauce and serve.



Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!








Beets, Wines & Terroir?!?

Posted by Debbie

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009


Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep


Autumn is one of my most favourite times of the year – bright coloured leaves, crisp air, country fairs and harvesting my vegetable garden in preparation for a Thanksgiving feast with family and friends.  In the days leading up to the long weekend, like most of you, I play around with the menu to include many family favorites. New at my table this year will be a dish of colourful beets that I grew as part of an experiment to illustrate the wine term – terroir.


What do beets have to do with wine you ask? Well…when I lead wine tastings, I am often asked about the word terroir. Explaining the significance of the soil, climate, growing, pruning, weather – all of the components that go into grape growing – often is met with glazed over eyes.  Frankly, few of us grow grapes, so terroir is something that has to be imagined.  Enter in the beets (and I did the same thing with tomatoes last year). Figuring that I could illustrate terroir with a vegetable that people are familiar with growing, there would be a direct association and greater learning experience. To get the ball rolling, I invited three other wine and food loving friends to take part in this project – all living in different areas of Ottawa.  The beet growers were Ron Eade, Food Editor of the Ottawa Citizen, Chef André Sanché from Epicuria Fine Foods & Catering, Caroline Ives, Producer of News at Noon for CTV Ottawa and me.


After periodically checking in with each other throughout the summer, we dug up our beets, steamed them and got together to compare.  We were instantly amazed at the difference in size, texture, taste and colour of our beets. This was particularly remarkable since all of the beet seeds came from packets supplied to us by Stuart of Bryson Farms!  We grew three varieties: White Mangel, Yellow Mangel and Red Chioggia (candy cane striped). In addition to the beets, we brought a handful of the soil that the beets were grown in. This too was interesting to see the variance of the composition of the soil. Ron grew his in MiracleGrow, while André’s garden was 100% nature compost.  Caroline and I had noticeable amounts of sand in our soil. All of this illustrates the significance of the wine term terroir. Read Ron’s blog (with great photos).


If you would like to join us next year in my terroir experiment, let me know.  We are thinking about growing cucumbers.


A winery who highlights the importance of terroir is Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery located on the Beamsville Bench in Niagara. Increasingly, they are crafting wines using the grapes from a single vineyard.  For example, Peninsula Ridge has three Sauvignon Blanc wines – each using grapes exclusively from the designated vineyard. With each sip of the different wines, you can taste the differences in soil, climate, etc…When this distinction is not made, then the grapes are sourced from a number of vineyard properties.


For October’s Savvy Selections, we offer you these wines to serve at your Thanksgiving dinner:

2007 Viognier VQA

2005 Beal Vineyards Reserve Merlot VQA

2007 Meritage VQA 

2005 Ratafia – on special request


Read on to discover the recent developments at Peninsula Ridge as well as our Savvy Sommelier tasting notes and favourite recipes, specifically chosen to pair with the selected Peninsula Ridge Estates wines.  As always, when you would like more Peninsula Ridge wines or bottles from other previously featured Savvy Selections, contact me directly to make the arrangements for you.


Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!   

Debbie & the Savvy Team


Introducing Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery

Presented by Sommelier Gina Wohlgemuth


October has arrived.  For the past month, many of us have been busy getting back into our routines – kids are back in school, evenings are filled with meetings and committees and most of us (sadly) have finished our vacations.  At the wineries across Ontario, they too are getting into their own routine around harvest – preparing everyone for the busiest time of the year.


In last month’s Savvy e-Zine Debbie touched on some of the many tasks required in the vineyard in preparation for harvest.  Right now, at Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery, they are in the middle of a “bottling blitz” as reported by Sales Director Jonathan Kuhling (some of our Savvy Subscribers met Jonathan at our Savvy Supper event this past June).  The winery staff are transferring the finished wine from the large stainless steel tanks to the bottles, making room in the tanks to receive this year’s harvest.   By the time you read this e-Zine, Jonathan anticipates that the Sauvignon Blanc and possibly the Chardonnay grapes will be ready for picking, if not already harvested off the vines. 


Sauvignon Blanc has become Peninsula Ridge’s “signature grape” and they have it growing in three different vineyards, producing three separate wines from the fruit of each distinct site.  The grape grows well for the winery and with it they’ve produced award winning wines such as the 2007 Sauvignon Blanc Wismer Vineyards and the 2006 Fumé Blanc which tied for 1st place at this year’s Cuvée – the “Oscars” of the Ontario wine industry.


Looking Back and Moving Forward


Peninsula Ridge Estate Winery opened in August 2000 and for the first seven to eight years, the focus was on growing fewer different grape varietals.  In the past few years they have “branched out”, by planting some Pinot Noir vines and adding to their portfolio is a small amount of Dry Riesling and Gewürztraminer wines (the highly anticipated Gewürztraminer was not considered ‘Ready’ by the winemaker to be included in this month’s Savvy Selections.  Instead, it will be released later in October. If you would like some, let us know and we will make the arrangements to ship bottles to you). 


Other news at the winery is the arrival of winemaker Jamie Evans.  He has been involved in the wine industry since 1997, working as Cellar Master then Assistant Winemaker at Strewn Winery and then moved to Stonechurch Estate Winery in 2007 to be Head Winemaker.  He is a graduate of the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute at Brock University, with a reputation in the Ontario wine industry for making excellent red wines – noted by numerous awards.  


Norm Beal, the winery owner and president explains, “Like our wines, Jamie is a product of Ontario.  He was raised in Ontario and his education in the wine program at Brock combined with over 13 years of home grown experience means that he has an intimate understanding of our unique Niagara terroir and winemaking.  He has an excellent reputation as one of the province’s best winemaking talents.” 


Given that Jamie only just recently started with Peninsula Ridge and that it is harvest time – he has hit the ground running. With several harvest experiences, it will be interesting to taste his 2009 wine creations.


Pinning down any winery staff for a chat at this time of year is simply put – a miracle.  There is a long TO DO list in preparation for harvest time.  I am very grateful to Jonathan for taking the time for an interview. 


Jonathan has been with Peninsula Ridge for eight years and during this time has witnessed first hand the positive changes in Ontario winemaking.  “The quality of Ontario wines is ever improving, which I think is directly related to the incredible influx of winemaking talent grown here in Canada and with winemakers coming to us with international experience. Combined with maturing vineyards and increasing investment in the wine industry, Ontario and Canada for that matter is growing rapidly.” 


In addition to leading the sales section of the winery, Jonathan is frequently found in one of Peninsula Ridge’s vineyards, in the cellar or barrel room, following the progression of the wines.  Like so many in the wine industry that I have interviewed in the past, Jonathan affirms that, “it’s fun to have a hand in the making of our wine – overall just be a part of it”.


Food & wine – need more reasons to visit?


For those who have yet to visit Peninsula Ridge, the winery is located near the town of Beamsville and sits on 80 acres on the Niagara Escarpment’s Beamsville Bench.  Peninsula Ridge offers gourmet food and wine experiences in their recently re-opened restaurant, The Kitchen House. Chef Ross and his wife Wendy look forward to your visit.  One look at their menu and you’ll be sure to include a stop on your wine trip.


Here’s to what is in store for the harvest of 2009 – good luck Jamie and the Peninsula Ridge team! 

Cheers & Enjoy!




~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~

Viognier VQA 2007 $14.75

Pronounced vee-on-yeah, very few wineries in Ontario produce wine with this grape variety that I consider is a ‘hidden gem’.  All of us at Savvy Company enjoy Viogniers from around the world.  We take every chance to showcase this unique grape variety. The perfect weather in 2007 with its abundant sunshine helped Viognier grapes ripen to its fullest – and this sunshine shows through each glass of the wine.


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This aromatic wine will fill your nose with sweet scents of floral, apricot, honey and a touch of spice (nutmeg or pepper perhaps?).  There is a silky feel in the mouth with the flavours of apricots and honey coming through in a pleasantly dry style. Yummy!


Suggested Food Pairing: We selected this wine as it would be perfect to serve with your turkey because it will equally complement the white and dark meat as well as the sweetness of the fresh vegetables.  Additionally, this Viognier would go very well with mildly to moderately spicy Indian or Thai curry dishes – one of my easy chicken curry recipes is below. 

Hint from Gina: Be weary not to over-chill the wine or you will miss out on some of its aroma characters and flavours.


Cellaring: This wine is ready to drink now.



Beal Vineyards Reserve Merlot VQA 2005 $15.75

Jonathan explained that the harsh winter of 2004-2005 was cruel to Ontario vineyards, creating a severe grape crop shortage.  Picked from the vineyard directly behind the winery sloping upwards to the top of the Niagara Escarpment (aka Beamsville Bench), Peninsula Ridge only had enough grapes to produce two hundred cases of this Merlot.  We are lucky to be able to have access to this delicious wine.


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  The inviting aromas of black cherry, raspberry, vanilla and sweet smoke replay themselves beautifully into on the palate (winespeak: in the taste).  This medium bodied wine shows light tannins and with a long, slightly sweet finish.


Suggested Food Pairing: Look no further for a red wine to serve this Thanksgiving weekend.  In addition to turkey, this well aged Merlot would pair nicely with roasted poultry, duck or goose or leg of lamb – either  roasted or grilled.  If you have a favorite recipe for a braised beef dish – this wine would be a perfect match. Below is a recipe that I use all the time.


Cellaring: The winery has aged this wine for you already.  We think that it is at its prime.  Enjoy now!


A remarkable price! This could easily become your house wine. Call on us to arrange more for you – remember it is in limited supply. 


Meritage VQA 2007, $22.95

Meritage (pronounced to rhyme with heritage) is a term that the North American wine industry created to call a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.  These same grapes are the ‘ingredients’ of a Bordeaux blend, however winemakers outside of France were looking for their ‘own’ term…hence the name Meritage.  The percentages of each grape will vary (sometimes quite dramatically) as the winemaker works to showcase the most desirable characteristics of each grape in that specific vintage.  In this case, however, the proportions are identical.  Perhaps it is a reflection of 2007 – the best year to date in Ontario winemaking history.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: The wine’s dark cherry colour promises of good things to come – rich aromas and flavours of dark cherry, black currant, stewed plum, vanilla and a touch of cigar box.  Its tannins are soft and its finish is long and delicious.

Suggested Food Pairing:  Where to start?!  Hearty, full flavoured beef dishes like casseroles and stews, roast beef with a rich wine-reduction gravy, grilled steak.  Lamb ragout and more leg of lamb.  Game such as wild boar and venison stew.  Cheesy lasagna and osso buco would also be delicious with this wine. 

Cellaring:  Drink now or cellar for 3-5 years

2005 Ratafia VQA (optional addition to Savvy Selections wines) $30.80

Popular in Burgundy, this wine is made from 100% chardonnay grapes whose fermentation is stopped halfway through by the addition of plum brandy.  With fermentation arrested, much of the sweetness of the grape remains.  It is then aged in French oak to create a rich and flavourful treat.


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  This wine offers sherry-like aromas of caramel, citrus peel (marmalade perhaps?) and ripe yellow plums.  It is full bodied and luscious in the mouth with flavours of sweet fruit, caramel and a light almond touch.  The finish is warm and sweet.


Suggested Food Pairing: Serve very cold as an aperitif or digestive, with blue cheese, fresh apple or pumpkin pie or drizzle over a bowl of vanilla ice cream.


Cellaring: No need to wait – ready to enjoy now. It can be kept for a few more years.


~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~

With Peninsula Ridge Viognier…

Quick and Easy Chicken Curry

Serves 4

Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine.  This is amazingly easy!  Put on a pot of rice on and by the time it is done, this chicken dish is ready.  I like to include a side of steamed green beans.



3 tablespoons butter

4 boneless chicken breasts cut into one inch chunks

4 teaspoons curry powder

3 tablespoons brandy

2 teaspoons flour

½ cup chicken broth

½ cup sour cream

3 tablespoons mango chutney




Melt butter in a heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Season chicken with salt and pepper and sauté until just cooked through.  Transfer chicken to plate.


Pour off all but 1 tablespoon drippings from skillet.  Add curry powder and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.


Add brandy and cook until almost evaporated, standing back in case brandy ignites. 


Mix in flour.  Add broth, sour cream and chutney and stir until smooth.


Increase heat and boil 2 minute, stirring constantly until sauce coats spoon lightly.


Return chicken and any collected juices to skillet.  Cook just until chicken is heated through, about 2 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.


With Peninsula Ridge Merlot…

Braised Lamb Shanks

Serves 6
From The Girls Who Dish! Cookbook.  Okay – this recipe is not as quick as the above chicken curry but it is very rewarding and can be prepared ahead.  Simply reheat and serve with freshly mashed potatoes.


¼ cup vegetable oil

6 lamb shanks, about 1 pound (454 grams) each

salt and pepper to taste

2 medium white onions, cut into ¼ inch dice

2 stalks celery, cut into ¼ inch dice

1 large carrot, peeled and cut into ¼ inch dice

4 ounces (113 grams) pancetta or bacon cut into ¼ dice

6 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, seeds removed and cut into ¼ inch dice

¼ cup olive oil

3 cloves garlic, chopped

3 anchovies, chopped

2 cups dry sherry

6 cups unsalted chicken broth

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1 cinnamon stick, about 4 inches (10 cm) long

3 whole cloves

1 orange, cut into quarters



Preheat oven to 350F.


Heat vegetable oil to smoking hot in large pan.  Season lamb with salt and pepper and brown on all sides.  Do a couple at a time to make sure all sides are brown.  Place shanks in an ovenproof dish or roasting pan large enough to hold them in one layer.


Heat olive oil in large pot.  Add the chopped onions, celery, carrots, pancetta and garlic.  Cook over medium heat, stirring until the vegetables begin to turn brown.  Add the chopped anchovies and tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes longer.


Stir in the sherry and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add the chicken stock, bay leaf, thyme, cinnamon stick and cloves.  Squeeze the juice from the orange quarters into the sauce and then add the pieces.  Bring to a boil and pour over the lamb shanks. 


Cover with foil and place in oven for about 2 hours or until the meat falls off the bone.  Turn the shanks after 1 hour so they cook evenly.


 Remove the shanks from the sauce and keep warm.  Strain the sauce and keep the vegetables but discard the orange pieces, cinnamon stick and cloves (if you can find them).  Bring the sauce back to a boil and reduce until it thickens slightly.  Pour the vegetables and sauce over the meat.





With Peninsula Ridge Meritage…

Beef Tenderloin with Double-Smoked Bacon and Porcini Mushrooms

Serves 6 to 8
From The Lesley Stowe Fine Foods Cookbook.  This recipe will impress any beef-loving dinner party guest!



1 cup (250ml) dried porcini mushrooms

1 beef tenderloin, 3 to 4 pounds (1.5 to 2 kg)

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

6 tablespoons olive oil

5 strips double-smoked bacon, cut into ¼ inch pieces

1 cup shallots, sliced

4 cloves garlic, sliced

½ sprig fresh rosemary

4 cups dark veal stock

1 cup port

2 tablespoons cold butter



Preheat oven to 375F.


In a bowl, pour 1 cup boiling water over the porcini mushrooms and let stand until softened, about 20 minutes.


Remove the thin membrane and any fat on the outside of the tenderloin.  Season the meat with salt and pepper.  In a heavy skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat and brown the tenderloin on all sides for about 1 minute per side.  Transfer to a roasting pan.  Pour off all the fat from the skillet. 


In the same skillet, cook the bacon until almost crisp.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Drain off the bacon fat and discard.


Drain the mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid.  In the same skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the remaining oil over medium heat.  Sauté the mushrooms until soft and golden.  Remove from the pan, season with salt and pepper and set aside.


Add the remaining oil to the pan and sauté the shallots, garlic and rosemary until shallots are soft, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the bacon, veal stock, port and reserved soaking liquid from the mushrooms.  Simmer over medium heat until liquid is reduced by half.  Set aside.


Roast the tenderloin in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes.  Transfer the meat to a cutting board and any juices in the roasting pan to the reduced liquid from step 6.  Heat this liquid over medium-high heat and simmer until reduced by one third.  Whisk in the cold butter, a bit at a time until smooth.  Add the mushrooms and stir gently.


Slice the tenderloin and arrange on warm plates.  Spoon the mushroom sauce over top and serve immediately.




Cheers & Enjoy your October Savvy Selections