Posts Tagged ‘food and wine pairings’

Good food deserves good wine from Good Earth

Posted by Susan

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

Featuring Good Earth Food & Wine Co.

 Our Savvy Sommelier tasting notes for the wines in this month’s wine delivery

The Good Wine Chardonnay VQA 2009

Harvested from the Andrewes family vineyard in the Lincoln Lakeshore sub-appellation, known for its fertile sandy loam, this wine was barrel fermented as well as aged 10 months in French oak.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A well-balanced, elegant wine, there’s a notion of toasted hazelnut & spice on the nose, golden apple, melon and pear. Dry, substantial, smooth and fruity, the well-integrated oak offers a note of toast, the fine citrusy acidity adds a freshness to the lovely long finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: Pasta with a cream sauce, roast chicken, or try it with The Good Earth’s own recipe for  Chicken Saltimboca.

Cellaring: This wine is delightful now or can be kept for a couple of years!


The Good Wine Rosé VQA 2010

Rose wine in February?  The Savvy Selections tasting panel weighed the answer to this for a mere 5 seconds!  The verdict is that this wine is outstanding any time of the year.  This Rose was a hands down favorite of the tasting panel as well as the most popular wine ordered at our annual Sip, Swirl, Savour, Selebrate wine tasting in November.  All things combined, we know you too will love this refreshing wine whether you enjoy it now or wait until the snow melts. 

Principally Cabernet Franc grapes with a dash of Pinot Noir, this wine is produced from the estate’s own rocky, clay-based vineyards in the Lincoln Lakeshore sub-appellation, where proximity to the escarpment creates a unique microclimate that protects the vines from spring frosts.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Melt away the February blahs with this savoury rosé, the appealing color of a late winter sunset (spring really is just around the corner). Dry, medium bodied, it’s loaded with aromas—bright red fruit, sweet roasted red pepper, a nuance of spice & herbs. And the fresh yet silky texture, flavours of bright red fruit—pomegranate comes to mind & long juicy finish are pure delight.

Suggested Food Pairing:  Enjoy this wine with roast salmon with a raspberry coulis, or with herbed roast pork. Nicolette’s shares a favorite recipe to serve with this wine: Gnocchi with Sage Brown Butter Sauce & Toasted Hazelnuts.

Cellaring:  No need to wait…enjoy now!


The Good Wine Pinot Noir VQA 2009

Hand-harvested from vines planted in 1999 in the Ann Weiss vineyard of the Twenty Mile Bench appellation, this wine also spent 10 months in French oak.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Dry, mid-weight, this earthy wine entices with aromas of red fruit, vanilla, beetroot and campfire smoke. The flavours are complex—a hint of roasted coffee beans, underbrush, raspberry and pie cherry mingle. Framed by refined tannins and fresh acidity, substantial in the mouth, the wine finishes dry, toasty and nicely spiced.

Suggested Food Pairing: This wine cries out for bison bourgignon, slow-roasted pork shoulder or rack of lamb.

Cellaring:  Drinking well now, this wine will cellar for 2-3 years.


 ~ Our Sommeliers suggest these recipes to enjoy with the Savvy Selections ~

With The Good Chardonnay…
Chicken Saltimboca
The Good Earth Cooking School
Serves 3

6 boneless skinless chicken thighs

6 slices prosciutto
2 Tbsp capers
6 cloves garlic, minced (or to taste)
12 fresh sage leaves
12 kalamata olives, pitted
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes

2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

2 Tbsp chopped fresh sage
4 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp grapeseed oil
½ C white wine


  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. On a cutting board, place a chicken thigh between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet or heavy pan, gently pound chicken until it is an even ½ to ¼ “ thickness. Repeat with remaining thighs.
  3. Lay out all the pounded thighs. Season liberally with salt & pepper. Lay 2 sage leaves, 6 capers, 1 tsp garlic & 4-5 olives in the middle of each chicken thigh. Roll each piece from end to end to form a tight roll. Lay out the prosciutto slices. Place a chicken roll at the edge & roll tightly. Skewer with a toothpick in order to keep rolled.
  4. Heat a large oven proof frying pan over high heat. Add 1 Tbsp butter & the grapeseed oil to the pan. Add the chicken seam side down & sear, turning to brown all sides. Transfer the pan to the oven & bake for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven & transfer the chicken onto a plate. Drain off any excess oil & fat, making sure not to scrape out the tasty bits   
  6. Return the pan to low heat. Deglaze the pan with the wine, scraping the aforementioned tasty bits with a wooden spoon. Cook the wine for about 1 minute Add the tomatoes, herbs & any extra ingredients left from the chicken stuffing process. Cook for an additional minute. Add the remaining butter & cook for 1 minute. Return the chicken to the pan, turning the heat down to low & cook to reheat the chicken, about 2 minutes. Serve the chicken with wilted spinach. Spoon the sauce onto the chicken upon serving.


With The Good Rosé
Gnocchi Pillow with Sage Brown Butter Sauce
From The Good Earth Cooking School

Serves 6

2 C ricotta
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
½ C grated parmesan cheese
¾ C all-purpose flour
¼ tsp grated nutmeg
Pinch salt & pepper

Brown Butter Sauce
1 C + 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, cubed

1 shallot, diced
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
¼ C thinly sliced fresh sage
¼ C toasted hazelnuts, chopped
¼ C freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


  1. In a bowl, combine the ricotta, eggs, egg yolk, nutmeg, salt & pepper. Add the remaining ingredients, mixing well with a wooden spoon. The mixture will be slightly sticky.
  2. On a well-floured surface, section the dough into 8 equal parts & roll out into long ‘logs’ of approximately ¾ to 1” diameter. Create the gnocchi by cutting each log into ¾ to 1” pieces Bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil. Drop about a quarter of the gnocchi into the water When the gnocchi float, cook for an additional minute.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the gnocchi to a cold water bath. This will stop the cooking and ‘set’ the gnocchi Repeat until all the gnocchi are cooked. Strain, lightly oil, and lay out in a lightly oiled baking sheet.
  4. At this point you can refrigerate or freeze the gnocchi for future use. To reheat, simply bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add the gnocchi, cooking just long enough to heat through. Strain & serve.

 Method – Brown Butter Sauce

  1.  In a large frying pan, melt 2 Tbsp butter & add shallots. You pan needs to be large enough to accommodate all the gnocchi, or as many as you wish to cook. Cook butter for 2 minutes over medium heat. Add the remaining butter. Turn down the heat to a low setting & continue to cook for 8 minutes. The butter will begin to foam & take on a golden colour. Remove from heat.
  2. Carefully add the sage & hazelnuts. Add cooked gnocchi & toss gently. Garnish with Parmigiano-Reggiano


With The Good Pinot Noir…
Faux Duck Confit with Fresh Thyme
Laura Calder, Dinner Chez Moi

Serves 4

4 duck legs

2 garlic cloves, halved
salt & pepper
¼ C duck fat, cut into pieces
8 sprigs fresh thyme


  1. Cut around the end of the duck legs (like cutting around the wrapper at the top of a bottle of wine), going through the tendon so that the legs will self-French during cooking. Rub the legs well with garlic & season with salt & pepper.
  2. Heat the oven to 300F. Lay the duck legs fat side down in a large oven-proof frying pan Scatter the duck fat around them and tuck in the thyme sprigs Turn the heat to medium & render the fat on the legs, up to 15 minutes.  
  3. Once the fat is a pool around the duck, turn the legs skin side up. Cover the pan with a lid or foil, sealing tightly, and transfer to the oven. Bake 2 ½ hours, until the meat falls from the bone. Remove the legs from the fat and lay skin side up on a baking sheet.
  4. Turn the oven to broil, but leave the rack in the middle of the oven. Broil the legs until the skin is golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately, with thyme-infused roasted root veggies and wilted spinach. Sip and savour!  




A Vino-Education: The Story of Strewn Winery

Posted by Derek

Monday, May 16th, 2011


Savvy Selections wine of the month club
features Strewn Winery
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep


This time last year, Ontario’s winemakers were absolutely elated because the grape growing season began with ideal weather conditions. The days were warm, the nights were cool and there was just the right amount of rain. What a difference a year makes! This year, our spring has been marked with unseasonably cold temperatures and record breaking rainfall.


When it comes to weather, winemakers and grape growers in California, Australia or Chile have it much easier because the growing conditions are consistent year over year. These consistent growing conditions lead to consistently crafted wines. In Canada, the year-over-year variation in the weather associated with our growing season makes grape growing and winemaking more of a challenge.


However, having said all of this, it is Ontario’s growing conditions that inspire people like Joe Will. Joe is one of the owners and winemaker at Strewn Winery.


For the month of May, we are delighted to feature in the Savvy Selections wines from Strewn Winery – an Ontario wine industry pioneer. Our Savvy Sommelier Derek Vollrath, chatted with Joe for hours one Sunday afternoon, in order to understand his philosophy on wine and winemaking. On the following pages, read Derek’s interview and learn about the diverse path of Joe’s life that lead to the creation of Strewn.



For May the Savvy Selections Tasting Panel chose to feature the following wines from Strewn’s high end collection called ‘ Terroir’:


·Pinot Blanc VQA 2009 Terroir

·Meritage VQA 2008 Terroir

·Merlot VQA 2007 Terroir – a special Savvy price!


As always in the Savvy eZine, we have included the tasting notes from our Savvy Sommeliers along with recipes that Derek specifically chose to pair with the selected wine.

If there is a particular wine from Strewn that you enjoyed (Derek is betting that you will particularly like the Pinot Blanc!) feel free to contact me and I would be more than happy to arrange a delivery of additional bottles to be sent to you. Same holds for previously featured wines, just give me a call to arrange a special shipment of your favorite wines.


Cheers & Enjoy!

Debbie & Savvy Team
Savvy Company



Presented by Sommelier Derek Vollrath

One of the amazing benefits of being part of the Savvy Team is the opportunity each month to take part in sampling wonderful Ontario wines for the Savvy Selections wine of the month club. In addition, I have the chance to talk with some of this province’s top-notch winemakers. It’s discussions with the winemakers that give wine geeks like me (!) insight into what went on behind the wine that is being delivered to your door.


For this month’s Savvy Selection, I spent a few hours one Sunday morning talking with Joe Will, Strewn’s long standing winemaker. Like most winemakers, making the “gift of the Gods” has always been one of Joe’s interests. He didn’t start out as a “professional” winemaker per se, rather he has been making wine since high school!



Joe grew up on the Canadian prairies, so he began making wine using choke cherries or crab apples since they were plentiful. It’s a pretty safe bet that the Savvy Selections subscribers will not receive a choke cherry or crab apple wine in their monthly delivery, however, the technique used in making an alcoholic beverage from fermented fruits is quite similar to making grape wine.


Before turning that experimental interest into a day job, Joe started a journalism career with the Canadian Press, then was lured to British Columbia’s Okanagan. In 1989 Joe moved from Alberta to the Okanagan where he worked as a “cellar rat” in a small winery.


A leap of faith later landed him in Australia, enrolled in a one year graduate degree program in winemaking. Being a student a second time around helped immensely because Joe wanted to be there: Joe’s studies were interesting and he was very keen and eager to learn all aspects of the winemaking process.


One of the up-shots of being a foreign student in Australia was the opportunity to audit any course offered. Being the keen student he was, Joe took advantage of this opportunity and sat-in on a number of viticulture courses (winespeak: grape growing courses).


After graduation, Joe stayed a year and worked at the internationally known Australian winery of Yalumba. To put things into perspective as to the size of Yalumba, the year that Joe spent working in Australia they crushed as many grapes as all of the wineries in Ontario combined. The Ontario industry continues to grow, yet it is still small when compared to other wine regions – even in those considered “New World” like Australia.


In 1992, when he returned to Canada, Joe landed the job as the winemaker at Pillitteri Estates where he spent five years before breaking out on his own and opening Strewn.



Joe explained to me that makes Strewn wines that are Old World in style so that the terroir of the Niagara region is richly expressed in each wine.



Old World Style vs. New World Style

Wines made in the Old World Style have a tendency to rely on traditional production methods with the final product gaining its flavours from the surrounding terroir and the affect of the climate, soil and winemaker’s decisions on harvesting on the grapes. Old World Style wines develop great complexity over time making them perfect for cellaring – especially the reds that we have chosen for your Savvy Selections. Strewn wines also wines made with the understanding that great wine is even better with good food, and come ‘alive’ in your mouth when paired properly.


Conversely, wines made in a New World Styles tend to be immediately appealing as they are more fruit forward, both on the nose as well as the palate.



Terroir – What is that you say?

Terroir is a French term that includes the soil, topography and microclimate of a grape growing area. All these elements integrate themselves into the grapes that then create the distinctive character of each wine. The French wine region of Burgundy is famous for what the ‘terroir’ imparts to the grape and to the wine.


In addition to crafting wines that are expressive of the terroir of the Niagara Region, Strewn has some other interesting things going on in the winery. One of these unique features is that there is a cooking school attached to the winery for as Joe told me, “it is so that our visitors can fully experience food and wine matching”.


If you are planning on heading to Niagara this summer Strewn Winery should definitely be on the list of wineries to visit. Cheers!






Pinot Blanc VQA 2009, $15.95

Pinot Blanc is a French white wine variety and, as the name suggests, is part of the Pinot family alongside with Pinot Noir – noted as the most popular family member. According to Jim there is not a “tremendous” amount of Pinot Blanc grown in the Niagara region, so it is a treat to be offered as part of this month’s Savvy Selection. Enjoy!

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A bright pale-lemon colour with a hint of green on the rim. The nose is exceptionally expressive and complex displaying aromas of cool-climate fruit such as pear and green apple with undertones of cut grass. The wine is dry, light to medium bodied with refreshing acidity that helps maintain a long citrus finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: This is definitely a food wine and would match well with grapefruit salad or grilled scallops with a herbed lemon sauce. The Savvy Selections tasting panel recommends mussels Provençale – recipe is on the following pages.

Cellaring: This wine is drinking really well now so stock up for the summer months. It could also keep in your cellar for 6 to 12 months.



Merlot VQA 2007 $26.95 (reduced from $32.00)

From a winemaking perspective, 2007 was one of the three best years of the decade; and for the curious to know, 2001 and 2005 were the other two notable years according to Joe. Joe made this Merlot in a New World style (i.e. fruit forward), which is difficult to achieve in Niagara because of the inconsistency of our summer weather. To fully enjoy this Merlot we recommend decanting it 30 minutes to an hour before serving

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: The wine has a wonderful ruby red core that fades ever so slightly to a garnet-coloured rim. This colouring is an indication that the wine is beginning to show its age. Initially the nose was muted (winespeak: faint aromas) but after about 15 minutes the wine opened up with aromas of dark fruits, cherry, red currant along with some earthy notes such as leather and pencil shavings. This medium-bodied dry wine has well-integrated tannins and a noticeably long complex peppery finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: A charcuterie platter of flavourful meats along with artisan cheeses is definitely an excellent pairing suggestion. Derek offers the recipe for striploin roast with wild mushrooms on the following pages.

Cellaring: This wine can be opened and enjoyed now or if you wish it could cellar for another 2 years.



Meritage VQA 2008, $18.00

The 2008 Meritage was the first of its kind produced by Strewn. In keeping with other Meritage wines this is a blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Medium ruby red in colour, the wine displayed aromas of green pepper, pencil shavings and dark fruit (black berries to be exact). On the palate the wine was dry, but the presence of ripe red fruit and vanilla made it appear slightly-off dry. The wine had a silky mouth feel with integrated tannins and medium length vanilla (i.e. oak) finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: This Meritage is definitely a “red meat” wine and the Savvy Selections Tasting Panel suggests that you pair this wine with a flat-iron steak accented with herbed butter. It is an easy meal to prepare and is a great excuse to use the barbeque. The recipe for this dish is on the following pages.

Cellaring: This Meritage is drinking now or could cellar it for 2 or 3 years.






With Strewn Winery Pinot Blanc…

Mussels Provençale
FromHeart Smart, the Best of HeartSmart Cooking, Bonnie Stern

Makes 8 servings as an appetizer; 4 as a main course

4 lbs (2 kg) mussels

1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil

1 shallot, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 can (28 oz / 796 mL) plum tomatoes, drained and chopped

1 cup (250 mL) dry white wine, stock or water

1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh tarragon, or 1 tsp (5 mL) dried

1 tsp (5 mL) cracked black peppercorns

¼ tsp (1 mL) salt

Pinch of pepper

3 tbsp (45 mL) chopped fresh parsley

2 whole wheat or regular baguette, sliced




1.Clean mussels and discard any that have broken shells or do not close when lightly tapped

2.Heat oil in a large Dutch oven on medium-high heat. Add shallot and garlic. Cook for a few minutes until fragrant and tender, but do not brown. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil.

3.Add mussels and turn to coat well. Add wine and bring to a boil. Sprinkle with tarragon, salt and pepper.

4.Cover and cook mussels for 5 minutes, or until mussels open. Discard any that do not open after another minute of cooking.

5.Transfer mussels to large bowls. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with lots of bread to soak up juices.



With Strewn Winery Meritage…



Flat Iron Steak with Herb Butter
From Foodies: Simple, Fresh & Inspired

Serves 4

Herbed Butter Ingredients

½ lb. Butter, Softened

½ bunch Parsley, Chopped

½ bunch Tarragon, Chopped

½ bunch Chives, Chopped

Steak Ingredients

4 – 7 oz. Flat Iron Steaks

Vegetable Oil

Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper, To Taste



Method – Butter

1.Place the herbs in a food processor with 1 pound of softened butter and a pinch of salt. Mix until well incorporated and light green in colour.

2.Remove from mixer and form into a log using plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm



Method – Flat Iron Steak

1.Oil and season the steaks. On an indoor grill, cook to medium rare and rest.

2.Slice the steaks across the grain and top with a couple of slices of herb butter. Reheat quickly and plate. Serving suggestion: Plate with steamed seasonal vegetables.



With Strewn Winery Merlot…



Striploin Roast with Wild Mushrooms

From Heart Smart: The Best of Heart Smart Cooking
Serves 4

1 tbsp (15 mL) Dijon mustard

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp (15 mL) pepper

1 tbsp (15 mL) Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh rosemary or ½ tsp (2 mL) dried

4-lb (2 kg) striploin roast, well trimmed and tied

1 tsp (5 mL) salt

1 tsp (5 mL) olive oil

12 shallots peeled and quartered

2 tbsp (30 mL) balsamic vinegar

2 cup (500 mL) dry red wine

1 lb (500 g) wild mushrooms (we recommend a combination of Portobello,shiitake or oyster), chopped

⅓ cup (75 mL) oyster sauce

2 tbsp (30 mL) coarsely chopped fresh parsley




1.In a small bowl, combine mustard, garlic, pepper, Worcestershire and rosemary. Pat roast dry and rub mustard mixture into roast. Marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature or longer in refrigerator. Just before cooking sprinkle roast with salt.

2.Heat oil in a large, deep non-stick skillet on medium-high heat. Brown roast well on all sides; this should take about 10 minutes. Transfer roast to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Discard all but 1 tbsp (15 mL) fat from skillet.

3.Roast meat in a preheated 375° F (190°C) oven for 45 to 60 minutes, or until meat thermometer inserted in thickest part of meat registers about 135° F (57°C) for medium-rare. Allow roast to rest for 10 to 20 minutes before carving. Remove fat from surface of pan juices.

4.Meanwhile, return skillet to heat. Add shallots, vinegar and any defatted pan juices. Cook, stirring, until vinegar evaporates and shallots begin to brown. Add wine. Cook on medium-high heat, scraping pan until wine reduces to about ½ cup (125 mL) and shallots are tender.

5.Add mushrooms to skillet and cook for about 10 minutes, or until wilted and browned. Add oyster sauce and cook for 5 minutes. Add parsley and taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

6.Remove string from roast and carve into slices. Top with mushrooms, shallots and juices.



Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!


Savvy Sommelier Debbie sheds some lights on bubbly

Posted by Debbie

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Spring is bursting forth with much to celebrate! That hazy green glow around the trees, the flirty chirping of birds & the return of BBQ parties. Let’s celebrate the shedding of winter with the excitement of spring by popping open a bottle of bubbly!

Think that sparkling wine is too sweet, too expensive or too much of an affair for any day of the week? Think again! Have you ever had a sparkling shiraz? Or a sparkling dry rosé? They exist, and Savvy Company’s Debbie Trenholm loves how the mousse (winespeak: bubbles) cleanses your palate and refreshes the senses readying for delicious dishes of spring like risotto or BBQed plank salmon.

Bubblies are made using various methods, and available at several price points. No need to wait for a special occasion, after all, spring has arrived.

Pop a bottle open & cheers!

Taltarni Brut Taché 2008, Australia $20.40 (on sale – regular $24)
Crafted using the same grape varieties used in French champagne – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Pinot Meunier, this crisp & dry sparkling has elegant aromas of rose petals, pear & apricots. The persistent mousse leaves a refreshing taste with every sip.

Food Pairing Suggestions: Serve chilled on its own, pack for a picnic or serve with sushi.

Hardy’s Oomoo Sparkling Shiraz 2004, Australia $19.95
This sparkling red wine has an oooh ahhh factor. This wine is striking with its racing car red colour concentrated aromas of plums, boysenberry, red licorice combined with a juicy texture & refreshing acidity.

Food Pairing Suggestions: I recommend to chill it in the fridge for 10 minutes then serve on its own, or with a meal of BBQed meats. Last weekend, I popped it open to enjoy with a Sunday meal of prime rib & all the trimmings. Save a splash to enjoy with dark chocolate cake!

Enrico Serafino Moscato d’Asti, Italy $15.95
Now here is a wine that definitely smells & tastes like spring! Swirl the glass to enjoy the concentrated aromas of apricot, orange blossom, marmalade that continues into the taste.

Food Pairing Suggestions: Light in alcohol (5.5%) this is a great wine to serve at a springtime brunch or with fresh fruit.

Nicolas Feuillate Brut Champagne, France $42.50
It’s impossible to write about bubblies without including French champagne. If you’re going to splurge then get this gorgeous Champagne as it is priced less than its competitors. The fine mousse is a surefire sign of premium quality. This champagne has yeasty aromas of biscuit (think shortbreads or Arrowroot cookies) with a touch of citrus & crunchy apple.

Food Pairing Suggestions: Steamed lobster is a classic match with champagne, grilled chicken brochettes & oysters.

Let’s toast to the arrival of spring!


Great stuff from Huff!

Posted by Erin

Monday, February 28th, 2011

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

When a wine is complex, it opens up to you bit by bit and offers something new each time. I think that this is a fitting way to describe this month’s our feature winery Huff Estates Winery of Prince Edward County. This marks the third time that we have featured Huff in Savvy Selections. Why? Because as one of the flagship wineries of Prince Edward County – or PEC as it is often referred to –  it is a complex winery with something new to offer each time we return. With the rapid growth of ‘The County’, I find it fascinating to see & taste how the region evolves each year.  When I first visited the region six years ago, there were a mere 7 wineries. Now there are 23 wineries, with more opening this summer! 


Prince Edward County was the center of the fruit canning industry in Canada & has transformed itself into the fastest growing wine region in Canada. In addition to the wine, The County is growing its reputation as a culinary weekend getaway with its gourmet restaurants, artisan cheese makers, artists & historic inns. The fertile limestone land bordering Lake Ontario once produced fruits & vegetables.  The landscape continues to change, transforming into impressive vineyards – with Huff Estates as one of the wineries to watch & breaking new ground as this region grows.


While the winery opened in 2004, the roots of the Huff family lays claim to PEC back to the 1800s when they settled as United Empire Loyalists. In fact, the winery is located on what used to be an orchard called “Huff Corners” – at the intersection of County Road #1 & Highway 62.


On the following pages, our newest Savvy Sommelier Erin Bolling shares with her interview with Huff’s winemaker Frederic Picard & his impression of this year’s harvest.


Or watch our video!  
On a recent visit to Huff, I spent some time with Frederic too. Watch us our chat in the vineyard on the Savvy Company YouTube channel at:


Cozy up by the fire or celebrate the Chinese New Year with these Savvy Selections wines:

·         Huff Estates Pinot Gris VQA 2009

·         Huff Estates South Bay Vineyards Chardonnay 2008

·         Huff Estates South Bay Vineyards Merlot-Cabernet VQA 2007

·         OPTIONAL WINE: Huff Estates First Frost 2008


What did you think?

Our Savvy Team appreciates hearing from you about the wines we selected for your enjoyment.  And if you plan to visit the County soon  – be sure to consider taking in the annual Countyliscious festival that runs March 23 to April 16 featuring prix fixe menus for under $35 at renowned gourmet restaurants featuring local produce. Contact us in advance & we’ll be happy to arrange a tour of Huff Estates or give you our ‘must visit’ list of wineries to help you plan your trip.


Want more Huff Estates wines?  It is easy – simply call on us to arrange an order for you.


Cheers & Enjoy!

– Debbie & Savvy Team


Huff Estates Winery

Presented by Sommelier Erin Bolling


Winemaker Frederic Picard hails from Burgundy, France and has travelled from the famed vineyards of his homeland to Italy, Chile, California & France where he gained hands on experience in vineyards & wine cellars. When asked how his vast experience has helped him in the different cool climate growing region of PEC, he explains with a little tone of je ne sais quoi, “to me, all experience is positive. I have learned how to get the most out of what the land & terroir gives me to work with”. As the winery has rapidly grown in the past six years, Frederic now has 40 acres of vineyards to work with, bearing vines that are producing high enough yields & quality grapes for him to make wines that contain 100% County grown grapes. A sidenote: a new vineyard needs to grow 5 to 7 years before the grapes are worthy to use for making wine.  During this time, to help PEC wineries get started, they can purchase grapes from Niagara & bring them to their winery to make wine that they can call their own. It is a true signal of ‘coming of age’, when the winery produces wine using grapes from their own vineyard.  All of the wines in this Savvy Selections are made with County grown grapes.

Frederic has been with the winery since the opening in 2004 during this time has produced wines that are winning notable awards here at home and abroad. Last year, Frederic was part of a team of Ontario winemakers who traveled to London, England on a ‘mission’ to make an impression on the European wine media by showcasing Ontario Chardonnay wines. Huff’s South Bay Vineyard Chardonnay VQA 2007 garnered rave reviews from renowned wine critics including Oz Clarke & Jancis Robinson. Huff’s Chardonnay – made with grapes from their vineyard in PEC’s South Bay area – was touted as a ‘wine to watch’.  Now that is impressive! This wine quickly sold out & we are excited to include the South Bay Chardonnay from the 2008 vintage for you to sip on now or cellar.  We are sure that you too will be impressed with the outstanding quality of this wine.

Interview with Winemaker Frederic Picard
“Respect the grapes you’re making the wine from”, was the repeated message during my interview with Frederic. Luckily, I was able to catch him before he headed off to France. Given the short growing season & cold winters he explained to me that after harvest, he has to hill-up (winespeak: bury the vines). This technique is only practiced in PEC to protect the vines from the harsh winter conditions.  By hilling up, the vines can produce quality fruit in the spring.  As you can imagine, with the arrival of spring, he has to ‘hill down’ by removing the soil from the buried vines. According to Frederic, “the climate in PEC favours excellent ripening of cool climate grape varieties – Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Riesling & Pinot Gris.

You heard it here first!
While he experiments in the vineyard, Frederic also experiments in the wine cellar.  He let me in on a secret that I am excited to share with you….Frederic has crafted a new wine that will be called Zero DeGris – a late harvest style wine that will be released this spring. That is all that he would divulge, so stay tuned! Frederic is also very excited about what he calls his “baby” – the  sparkling wines he makes at Huff. In fact, he was the first winery in the area to make a bubbly.  Frederic proudly recalled the story that acclaimed Canadian wine critic, Tony Aspler stated that he feels “sparkling wine can be something very special here in the County.”  Huff’s Cuvée Peter F. Huff sparkling won gold at the All Canadian Wine Championship. Speaking of awards, check out the extensive list Huff has received so far:

The verdict of 2010 harvest? As Frederic claims with his charming French accent, “one of the best ever”. We anxiously await to taste the wines of 2010.

Plan a visit to Huff – its a year round destination
I plan to be enjoying a glass of Huff sparkling wine on the winery’s patio when I visit the winery as one of my stops along a cycling tour that I am planning of the County this summer. There are several other reasons to jump in your car to visit Huff – any time of the year:
The Inn – each of the impressive 21 suites are surrounded by vineyards.
Oeno Gallery – Art & wine are perfect partners, especially with PEC becoming a thriving artists’ community, Huff Estates added the gallery to its property in 2009. There are different exhibits featuring contemporary art & sculpture. Did you know that PEC has more artists per capita than Toronto does?

With the stellar 2010 harvest, I’m looking forward to what comes next from Huff.  Until then, enjoy your Savvy Selections. As they say in France…Santé!


~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~

Pinot Gris VQA 2009, $19.95

This wine is a sure crowd pleaser. All the grapes in this award winning wine are from PEC, specifically the Southbay, East Lake, and Hillier vineyards. The Savvy panel agreed it is lovely on its own or as an aperitif.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This white gold wine is complex with intense aromatics of apple, pear, ripe guava and almonds. Savvy Sommelier Doug commented that, ’’there is a lot going on in this glass’’ to the agreement of all involved in the Savvy Selections tasting panel. With a quick sniff, you will find all the aromatic notes repeated on the palate in a medium-full bodied wine with a refreshingly tangy lime finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: As sommeliers we aim to help you find out what you love to drink & eat. This is a versatile wine that will pair with seafood, roast chicken, even porkchops with a chutney.  For those of you who make a full meal out of our suggested recipes, we suggest to serve Asian Avacado Salsa. This wine will meld well with the avocado in this twist on traditional guacamole.

Cellaring: No need to wait! This wine is drinking well now.

South Bay Vineyards Chardonnay VQA 2008 $29.95
This was the Savvy Selections panel hands down favorite. Savvy Sommelier Julie coined this wine as the ‘Golden Baby’ & enthusiastically stated that  “she could write all night about this delicious Chardonnay”. It’s a Chardonnay for any season with enough body that white wine lovers simply need to curl up in front of the fire with a glass. I’m already looking forward to my next glass of this County grown Chardonnay. Congrats Frederic for making such a fine wine!

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Shimmering gold coloured, this full bodied Chardonnay is a rich wine with notes of tropical fruit, toasted coconut, butterscotch & warm spices. As expected the palate does not disappoint with apple, toast other notes that follow the nose. Savvy Sommelier Debbie was impressed with the long “heavenly’’ finish.  Aged in French oak barrels, this wine is a classic.

Suggested Food Pairing: This wine will pair well with rich foods such as: figs wrapped in prosciutto, salmon wellington, lobster alfredo or a hearty pasta carbonara – see recipe on the following pages.

Cellaring: Drinking well now, the wine could cellar for a couple of years

South Bay Vineyards Merlot-Cabernet VQA 2007 $

Made exclusively from the Huff vineyard in the South Bay area of Prince Edward County, this Bordeaux blend is a repeat favourite vintage after vintage. It is 70% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon & 15% Cabernet Franc, it spent 18 months in new French oak barrels. This is the 5th year its been released & this vintage, Frederic decided to lean heavily on Merlot (a perfect varietal for PEC region). Frederic considers this the best yet rendition of the blend.   


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Our Savvy Selections tasting panel had a lot to say about this pretty, balanced and medium bodied wine. It greets you with loads of red fruit, chocolate, plum, cedar and violets. The smooth mouth feel does not disappoint and it finishes with a dry cranberry taste that lingers just enough. This wine has limited availability…if you want more, be sure to call on us to help you stock up!

Suggested Food Pairing: Enjoy with tortiere, coq au vin, or the Boeuf Bourguignon recipe that we offer on the following pages.

Cellaring: You will definitely want to taste this wine now to determine if you want additional bottles to cellar for another 3-5 years as Frederic recommends.

OPTIONAL WINE: First Frost 2008 $19.95 (500 mL bottle)
Made with Vidal grapes that have been picked after they have been first ‘kissed’ by the first frost, the result is an elegant combination of sweet & acidity.  This wine is only made at Huff Estates & is neither a late harvest nor an ice-wine.  Our Savvy Selections tasting panel enjoyed this wine so much that we wanted to offer it to you as an optional wine to add to this month’s Savvy Selections delivery.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A clear honey gold coloured wine with a medium body. Delicious tropical notes of pineapple, mango & light white floral notes with a touch of clover & honey play in the taste.

Suggested Food Pairing: Savvy Sommelier Julie declared that this wine is ‘simply delicious’ & would be delightful served chilled on its own or with appetizers, fresh fruit desserts or mild cheeses. Savvy Sommelier Erin Bolling ooohhhed& ahhhed & remarked that First Frost would be a great wine with her spicy baked coconut shrimp hors d’oeuvre on the following pages.


~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~

With Huff Estates Pinot Gris VQA 2009…

Asian Avacado Salsa
From Bon Appetit Magazine
Serves 4


1 tablespoon sesame seeds

2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar

1 tablespoon mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)*

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil

1 teaspoon wasabi paste (horseradish paste)*

2 cups coarsely chopped trimmed watercress (leaves and tender stems from 2 medium bunches)

4 green onions, thinly sliced on diagonal (about 1 cup)

1/2 cup 1/3-inch cubes asian pear

2 large avocados, halved, pitted, peeled, cut into 1/3-inch cubes


1.    Stir sesame seeds in dry skillet over medium heatt until aromatic and golden. Transfer to a small bowl to cool.


2.    Whisk next 6 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Add watercress, green onion, and asian pear; toss to coat. Gently stir in avocados & chill in the fridge.  Note: this step can all be done ahead of time.


3.    Sprinkle salsa with toasted sesame seeds and serve chilled with fried wonton triangles or chip of your choice.   


With Huff Estates South Bay Chardonnay VQA 2008…

Spaghetti Carbonara
A personal recipe from Savvy Sommelier Erin Bolling &
Serves 4-6


5 oz guanciale (unsmoked cured hog jowl), pancetta or bacon

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 lb spaghetti

3 large eggs

1 1/2 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated (3/4 cup)

3/4 oz Pecorino Romano, finely grated (1/3 cup)

1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

Recipe online at




1.    Cut guanciale or pancetta into 1/3-inch dice, then cook in a deep 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until fat begins to render, 1 to 2 minutes. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden, about 10 minutes. Add wine and boil until reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes.

2.    Cook spaghetti in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente.

3.    While pasta is cooking, whisk together eggs, Parmigiano-Reggiano , Pecorino Romano (1/3 cup), 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl.

4.    Drain spaghetti in a colander and add to onion mixture, then toss with tongs over moderate heat until coated. Remove from heat and add egg mixture, tossing to combine. Serve immediately.

With Huff South Bay Vineyards Merlot-Cabernet VQA 2007…

Classic Boeuf Bourguignon
Recipe from the Tracey Black – chef and co-owner of Epicuria Fine Food & Catering in Ottawa
Serves 4-6


5lb stewing beef (Chuck – well marbled)
1 spanish onion (cut into a ½ inch dice)
2 cloves garlic
½ lb side bacon – cut into lardon
1 cup red wine
1/4 bunch thyme
1 bay leaf
1.5 lbs button mushrooms – kept whole or halved
1 cups pearl onions blanched
cornstarch slurry to thicken




1.     Cook off lardon in sauté pan until crisp. Reserve bacon fat.

2.     Drain and pat dry stewing beef. Season beef liberally with salt and pepper. Brown beef in sauté pan, careful not to over crowd pan. Use just enough vegetable oil/bacon fat to coat bottom of pan. Place meat into braising pot. Note: flavour of stew is directly related to how well the meat is browned..  

3.     Saute onions in meat browning pan until softened. Add garlic and herbs and sauté until onions are caramelized. Deglaze with red wine.


4.     Add bacon, onions and wine to braising pot and add enough stock to bring liquid level one inch below meat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until meat is fork tender – approximately 1.5 hours.


5.     Sautée mushrooms and pearl onions, separately, and add to braising pot when meat is cooked. To thicken, bring stew to boil and add cornstarch slurry. Can also be thickened with a roux.



With Huff First Frost 2008…

Spicy Baked Coconut Shrimp Appetizer
A personal recipe from Savvy Sommelier Erin with a little help from
Serves 4-6


3 cups shredded sweetened coconut (lightly toasted)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup panko* (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
Kosher salt, to taste
4 large egg whites
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails intact
Nonstick cooking spray
*NOTE: Panko bread crumbs can be found on the Asian aisle of most major grocery stores or in Asian markets.
Dipping Sauce
3/4 cup apricot jam
1/4 cup mango chutney
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 to 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced, to taste
Freshly squeezed juice of 1 lime
Kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste



1.     Preheat the oven to 350°F.


2.     Spread the coconut evenly on an ungreased sheet pan and toast in the oven, stirring occasionally, until golden, 8 to 10 minutes.


3.     Increase oven temperature to 400°F.


4.     To prepare the shrimp, line a sheet pan with parchment paper.


5.     In a shallow dish, whisk together the flour, bread crumbs, cayenne pepper, and salt. Place the toasted coconut in another dish.


6.     Place the egg whites in a medium bowl and whisk until frothy. Pat the shrimp dry and dip first in the egg whites, then the flour, back in the egg whites, then roll in the coconut.


7.     Arrange the shrimp on the prepared pan and spray lightly with cooking spray. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, until cooked through and golden.


Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!








Premium wines from Pelee Island Winery

Posted by Susan

Friday, January 7th, 2011


Savvy Selections wine of the month club
features Pelee Island Winery
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep

As you head into the holiday season, you may be thinking of offering a gift of wine or perhaps a subscription to Savvy Selections. The Savvy Team takes great pleasure in visiting wineries and meeting with the individuals whose dedication and foresight have ensured we have access to some of Ontario’s outstanding wines. We are delighted to once again feature Pelee Island Winery, and make available to our subscribers a selection of its well-crafted and lesser known wines.



Located in Lake Erie and occupying its own viticultural area, Pelee Island is Canada’s most southerly land mass, at 42 degrees north, the same latitude as such well-known wine-growing areas as Burgundy and California’s Napa Valley. This region has the highest heat units in Canada – ideal for ripening delicate Vitis vinifera (winespeak: common grape varieties) – and the longest frost-free growing season in Ontario recorded at 196 days. The island has its own unique microclimate, influenced by its location 25 km offshore and the fact that most of the island is in fact below lake level. The vineyards are located in the centre of the island, where somewhat deeper soils ensure the root systems can become effectively established. The vines on the island are often planted in an east-west direction, taking advantage of the high winds which blow consistently across the vineyards, limiting humidity and associated fungal diseases. Grapes are grown according to the World Wildlife Fund’s strict sustainable vineyard practices, and over 100 acres are certified organic. With over 550 acres under vine, the winery is the largest private estate in Canada.


Pelee Island Winery builds on a long tradition of grape-growing and winemaking dating back to the late 1860s. The original grapes were imported from Ohio in 1866 by a settler family from Kentucky. With the help of an enterprising Ontarian, J.S. Hamilton, wines from the Vin Villa winery on Pelee Island were common through eastern Canada and the northeastern states in the late 1800s. The winery garnered widespread fame when one of its wines won a bronze medal at a competition in Paris. Changes in agriculture caused the industry to disappear from the area for many decades.

In the late 1970s, as interest in grape growing and winemaking surged in Ontario, Austrian Walter Strehn re-established the wine industry on Pelee Island. Vines were imported from Germany and, in 1984, the Pelee Island Winery was built just east of Kingsville. Walter Schmoranz joined the winery in 1985. A native of Germany, Walter was educated and developed his winemaking skills in the Rheingau. He came to Canada for a visit and was captivated by the country, as well as by the opportunity in southern Ontario. After 25 years, he is still passionate about the property and the winery. In the vineyard and in the cellar, he is ably supported by Bruno Friesen, viticulturalist, and Martin Janz, winemaker


This month we are featuring whites from Pelee Island’s 2008 vintage:
a crisp
Private Selection Sauvignon Blanc
the delectable Pinot Gris Vendange Tardive
as well as the velvety 2003 Vinedresses Meritage.

You won’t find these wines at the LCBO!

To have more wine from Pelee Island or any of the featured wineries in the Savvy Selections, call me to make the arrangements for a special delivery. And if you are planning to visit the beautiful Lake Erie North Shore, stop for a tour at the Kingsville winery, or take the M.V. Jimaan to Pelee Island Winery’s Pavillon!


Cheers & Enjoy!

Debbie & Savvy Team


Pelee Island Winery
Presented by Sommelier Susan Desjardins

There’s something remarkably similar among the privately-owned wineries of Ontario, regardless of size, and that’s the enthusiasm and commitment you find, not only among the family members themselves, but among their staff. At Pelee Island Winery, for instance, President and Winemaster Walter Schmoranz has been making wine and directing the operation for 25 years, Martin Janz, winemaker, joined right out of university in 1996, and Bruno Friesen, viticulturalist, has been with the winery since returning to Canada from Brazil 12 years ago.

What inspires this kind of commitment and enthusiasm? In Bruno’s case, it’s the opportunity to work in a unique agricultural environment and to work with an organization whose owners and leaders are very open to new ideas. “Here, we want people to be happy in what they’re doing—then they put their all into it. And that comes back to the vines as well.”

Bruno is a resident of Pelee Island, with his own garden and greenhouse. He started working with grapes in Vineland as a teenager, went on to obtain a B.Sc. in Agriculture from University of Guelph and then spent several years working in his field, including promoting organic agriculture and grape growing, in his home country of Brazil. When he returned to Canada, he studied various areas of the country that might be of interest, and found Pelee Island particularly attractive – “I wanted to go as far south as I could but still be in Canada” he says humorously! In addition to this, Bruno says he was fascinated by the unique climate, geology and growing conditions on Pelee Island. “It’s one of the best places in Canada to grow grapes, so when the opportunity came up, I was excited to take it.”

For an agriculturalist, each season brings a new growing challenge, and Bruno finds intrinsic reward in his profession. “Putting a seed in the soil and seeing it sprout in the spring . . . that new life gives you great hope. Once you’ve had that experience, you’re hooked.”

As Pelee Island’s viticulturalist, Bruno is at the heart of many of the initiatives taken to maintain the health of the vines and the soils, to experiment with new methods and different crops. The approach is to assess the attributes of the environment, experiment with specific elements, analyse the results, and then implement those practices which are most promising. For instance, a substantial investment has been made in organic agriculture. A variety of crops have been grown to create natural compost to be used on the vineyards. Bruno has learned that the island has a mineral quality that provides ideal nutrition for the vines. Through experimentation, he has discovered that alflalfa is an ideal compost ‘crop’ as it concentrates a variety of nutrients that can be returned to the vineyard soils, optimizing the health of the vines and the quality of the fruit. Similarly, he has 6 acres of Riesling, Cabernet Franc and Bianca under organic cultivation in order to learn how the vines grow under these conditions. And with the first organic crop, there is also experimentation in the cellar with wines from those organic grapes.

In discussing the 2008 vintage, Bruno indicated that the growing conditions in the latter part of the summer of 2008 were quite dry, but that there was rain later in August and a warm fall which gave the grapes a longer period to mature. “We had a good crop and great quality”. Each season is unique, and each varietal offers its own challenges. As an example, Bruno discussed Pinot Gris. “It’s very unpredictable and a bit unstable because it’s a clone of Pinot Noir. It often has difficulty getting started, but once it gets going, it’s fabulous. Depending on the vintage, some years we let it hang, others not.”

Bruno also provided a preview of this year’s harvest: “Dry weather with that perfect August rain has created smaller berries with more concentration. It will be a good vintage.”  We look forward to it – Cheers & enjoy your Savvy Selections!


 ~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~

Private Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2008 VQA, $12.95

This Sauvginon Blanc is a treat for the senses, with an intensity and depth of flavour attributed by the winemaker to a brief period of aging in oak casks.

We are excited to bring to you this particular wine as it is one that the winery makes available only to restaurants. During the Savvy Selections panel tasting, our Sommeliers couldn’t believe the price & its quality. We hope that you enjoy it too.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Clear and the palest of straw, this wine has an enticing breadth of aromas—grass, herbs, citrus, minerality and a whiff of orchard fruit. Light-medium bodied and nicely balanced, the aromas replay on the palate, with grapefruit and peel lingering on the finish

Suggested Food Pairing: It’s a lovely sipping wine, but would also pair well with classic matches such as grilled white fish or soft cheeses.

Cellaring: Why wait? Enjoy it now!



Pelee Island Pinot Gris Vendange Tardive 2008 VQA, $15.95

Vendange Tardive translates to late harvest & typically you would expect a sweet wine, yet this one is certainly not that, it is crisp & dry. The extended hang time on the vines long after the typical harvest period delivered more intensity of aromas and flavours in the fruit which creates more weight on the palate.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Golden in colour (reminiscent of the colour of peach skin), this wine is as appealing as it is unexpected. Richly aromatic and complex—think of luscious honeyed stone fruit, tropical notes and a hint of nuts—it’s medium bodied with a silky, round texture. Spicy orchard fruit and some hints of heat on the mid palate carry through on the velvety full-flavored finish. Notes of marzipan and nougat linger. Delicious!  

Suggested Food Pairing: We recommend to definitely have at least one glass of this wine on its own to enjoy its texture and flavors. It will pair well with lobster salad, roast chicken with a honey-lemon glaze or chicken tagine. Your tasting panel enjoyed it with the chicken and pear salad provided below.

Cellaring:  Enjoy over the next year or two.


Vinedressers Meritage 2003 VQA $24.95

A classic blend of Bordeaux varietals – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot & Cabernet Franc – this wine was crafted from hand-selected fully ripened grapes of fifteen year or more old vines, and aged in French and American oak for sixteen months. It joins other premium Vinedressers wines, such as the Shiraz and Cabernet/Petit Verdot that we offered as an optional wine as it received rave reviews when we featured Pelee Island in 2008.


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Clean mahogany tones characterize this mellow blend of the Cabernets and Merlot. Lifted aromas of leather, plum, kitchen spice and cedar, as well as alluring earthy autumnal notes drift from the glass. Medium-full bodied and dry, the texture is silky and the palate is awash with dark berry, plum, smoky spice and white pepper. Fine acidity delivers freshness while the pepper and spice provide warmth on a lingering finish. Deftly balanced.


Suggested Food Pairing: Serve with rare prime rib or herbed rack of lamb, or enjoy with hard cheeses.


Cellaring:  Drinking well now.




~ Recipes to enjoy with Savvy Selections ~

With Private Selection Sauvignon Blanc…

Smoked Trout Rosti with lime-flavored sour cream
From Weekend Cooking, Ricardo Lacroix
Serves 4

3 parsnips, peeled & grated
2 potatoes, peeled & grated
6 Tbsp butter
1/3 C sour cream
1 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp fresh chives, minced
Tabasco sauce, to taste
salt & pepper
¼ lb smoked trout or other smoked fish, thinly sliced
Chives for decoration



1.    In bowl, mix parsnips & potatoes, for a total of 4 cups of vegetables. Season with salt & pepper.


2.    Divide vegetables into 4 even parts. In a non-stick skillet, melt half the butter over low-medium heat. Add 2 parts vegetables, shaping them into 5” circles. Brown for 10 minutes, flattening well with spatula. Flip over carefully & brown for another 10 minutes. Transfer cooked rösti to plate or serving dish & keep warm. Cook remaining rösti in remaining butter.   


3.    In a small bowl, mix sour cream, lime juice, chives & Tabasco. Season with salt & pepper.


4.    Place each rosti on a plate. Add a little flavored sour cream & a few slices of smoked fish to each. Decorate with chives & season to taste with salt & pepper. Serve & sip!  


With Pinot Grigio Vendange Tardive….

Baby Greens with Chicken, Dried Cherries, Pears & Pecans
From Fine, Lori Longbotham
Serves 4

1 medium clove garlic
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
Freshly ground kosher salt & pepper
1 medium firm-ripe pear, peeled, cored & cut into 1/2” dice
1/3 cup dried tart cherries
8 oz. package mixed baby greens
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
½ C pecan halves, toasted


1.  Chop the garlic, sprinkle with ½ tsp salt & mash to a paste with the flat side of a chef’s knife. Put the paste in a large serving bowl & whisk in olive oil, vinegar, thyme and ¼ tsp pepper.


2.  Gently stir in the pear & cherries. Add the greens, chicken, pecans and toss to coat.  


3.  Season to taste with salt & pepper and serve immediately with crusty bread.



With Vinedresser’s Cabernet Sauvignon…

Bison Bourgignon
Adapted from Derek Benitz, Benitz Bistro (Ottawa restaurant)
Serves 4

2 Tbsp canola oil
2 lbs. bison stewing meat, or other red stew meat, diced 1”
1 medium cooking onion, diced
2-3 medium carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 C mixed fresh mushrooms, sliced
¼ cup dry porcini mushrooms
3 Tbsp flour
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves only
8 juniper berries (optional)
2 bay leaves
1/3 C + 2 Tbsp Madeira wine, or equal parts port & sherry
1 C red wine
3 C beef stock
salt & pepper to taste
Handful tender baby mixed greens


1.  In a hot, heavy Dutch oven, heat canola oil & brown bison well in batches, making sure not to overcrowd (remember Julia Childs!). Transfer meat to a colander placed over a dish to drain & catch juices while browning the remaining meat.

2.  In the same Dutch oven, sauté onions, carrots, celery, garlic & sliced mixed and porcini mushrooms. Return meat to Dutch oven and sprinkle with flour. Add herbs & spices in order listed.  

3.  Deglaze pot with Madeira, blending well. Add wine, stirring, then add beef stock. Gently bring to simmer, then cover & bake in preheated oven at 325F for 2 hours or until meat is tender.


4.  Remove stew from heat and rest 30 minutes before serving. Just before serving, fold in mixed baby greens. Serve with a medley of roasted root vegetables.





Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!



You’ve come a long way – Stoney Ridge celebrates 25 years

Posted by Derek

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

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

October brings with it a noticeable change in seasons as the leaves turn from green to vibrant reds, oranges and yellows.  We experience shorter days and longer nights as October is the month our clocks fall back an hour.  October is also the month were we enjoy a Thanksgiving meal with friends and family.  To celebrate the change in season, the extra hour of sleep and the last long weekend before Christmas the Savvy Team is excited to present to you wines from the Stoney Ridge Estate Winery.   


We are especially excited about this month’s Savvy Selections because Savvy Sommelier Derek Vollrath was able to meet and interview Jim Warren the original founder of Stoney Ridge and now is the General Manager of the winery. Many involved in the Canadian wine industry, Jim is a pioneer and mentor to aspiring winemakers. Jim & Stoney Ridge are celebrating a milestone this year as it is the winery’s 25th anniversary – all the more reasons to raise a glass of Savvy Selections wine!


The Savvy Selections tasting panel is thrilled to select the following wines crafted to commemorate the winery’s 25th anniversary:

·         Excellence Sauvignon Blanc VQA 2009

·         Excellence Pinot Gris VQA 2009

·         Petit Verdot VQA 2008


Derek was telling me that the tasting panel was excited to include a Petit Verdot.  This wine is unique because rarely is Petit Verdot produced as a single varietal.  It is usually used as a constituent in a blended wine as it provides additional colour and structure.  One of the many benefits of being a Savvy Selection member is that you get to experience different and unique wines such as this one! 


As always, the Savvy eZine includes the panel’s tasting notes along with recipes chosen to pair with these wines.  Check out the prosciutto asparagus chicken roulade – Derek swears by it as an easy way to impress your guests!


If you are in the Niagara area we encourage your to stop by Stoney Ridge.  The winery is also known as the Garden Winery because of the beautiful gardens interlaced into the property.  Visitors are encouraged to walk around and take in the beautiful gardens or check out the artisan cheeses in their cheese boutique.


You won’t find these wines at the LCBO!

Stoney Ridge does not have their wines on the store shelves at the LCBO, so feel free to contact me to arrange for additional bottles of your favorite Stoney Ridge wines or wines from any previous Savvy Selections. It’s easy to arrange  and best of all – we do all the work.     



Cheers, enjoy & Happy Thanksgiving!

Debbie & Savvy Team



Stoney Ridge Estate Winery

Presented by Sommelier Derek Vollrath


Jim Warren’s entry into the wine industry started in a rather innocuous way when his wife bought him a home winemaking kit as a Christmas gift.  The rest, as the saying goes, “is history” and a rather serendipitous history at that as Jim has gone onto become a godfather in the Ontario wine industry.

Humble Beginnings
Stoney Ridge was opened in 1985 by Jim and a couple of business partners as a “fun thing to do”.  At that time operations were rather rudimentary so much so that they did not even have running water.  Despite the lack of some of the basic tools Jim and his partners persevered, guided by a simple principle of producing quality wines.  In its first year of operations the winery produced only 500 cases of wine.

Stoney Ridge quickly gained a reputation for producing quality wines and as a result became one of Canada’s most awarded wineries.

When it opened back in 1985 Stoney Ridge was only the 18th licensed winery operating in Ontario. Twenty-five years later the wine industry in Niagara is flourishing in large part due to pioneers such as Jim. 


An Industry Pioneer
Jim has all of the hallmarks of a pioneer.  He was one of the first to enter the fledging Canadian wine industry and continues to remain a staunch supporter of it.  He understood the need for a winery to produce quality products and the importance for a winery to consistently produce innovative products.  


A Spirit of Innovation
Jim has enthusiastically experimented with bringing new products to the market.  Some of Jim’s innovations include: Gewürztraminer Ice wine, peach wine and even a successful cranberry wine which the LCBO consistently carries.  In the words of Jim “if it can be fermented I will try and make a wine out of it”.


Quality Matters
Jim’s philosophy towards wine making is pretty simple and straight forward:

a)    Quality begins in the vineyard as a healthy vineyard and well tended to fruit will produce good grapes which in turn help make good wine

b)    The winemaker is the custodian of the vinification process (winespeak for winemaking). Therefore the wine maker must be proactive during the winemaking process by keeping an eye on the health of the wine.

c)     “Keep your options available” as Jim told me during the interview.  If you are going to make a blended wine make sure the blend is correct because once you blend a wine you can’t un-blend it.


Paying it Forward, a Lasting Impact
One of Jim’s forward thinking views was his involvement with Niagara College.  By profession Jim is a teacher.  As a result of being an educator before a winemaker, Jim saw a need to have an educational program specifically geared towards winemaking.  He was instrumental in working with Niagara College to create the Winery and Viticulture program.  (Coincidentally, next month’s Savvy Selections will feature Niagara College Teaching Winery)

The program at Niagara College is a lasting legacy as people now interested in becoming a professional winemaker can follow a formal educational training program.

Metaphorically speaking Jim has been involved in planting some of the important vines in the Niagara wine industry.  These vines are now beginning to bear great fruit from which we are all benefiting from. Cheers.

Here’s to Jim & the winery’s 25 year milestone…


Cheers & Enjoy!

~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~

Excellence Sauvignon Blanc VQA 2009, $23.00
The Stoney Ridge Sauvignon Blanc presented in this months Savvy Selection is on par with Sauvignon Blanc that you would find from New Zealand.  The grapes for the 2009 vintage were harvested at various times in order to capture different aspects of the grape which in turn provides the winemaker more options in crafting the wine.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  This is a straightforward Sauvignon Blanc.  It is wonderfully crafted with expressive aromas of gooseberry, cut grass and citrus peel.  Dry on the palate the wine displays intensive flavours of green apple, grapefruit and citrus peel.  It has a long zesty finish in which the fruit flavours continue to remain intense.  What more could you ask for?    

Suggested Food Pairing:  It may seem a little complicated to make but following the tasting notes is a recipe for prosciutto asparagus chicken roulades.  The richness of the lemon tarragon sauce will pair nicely with the crisp acidity of the Sauvignon Blanc.

Cellaring: Sauvignon Blanc is not known for aging that is why we recommend enjoying this wine in the next 6 to 12 months.


Excellence Pinot Gris VQA 2009, $23.00

When it comes to Pinot Gris, Ontario is beginning to garner some attention.  This is attributed in large part to the quality that Stoney Ridge has crafted with their Pinot Gris grapes.


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Pale lemon with a youthful nose of honeysuckle, peach and sweet spice. This medium-bodied wine is dry on the palate with expressive notes of green apple, peach and honey.  The acidity, concentration of fruit flavours and length of finish transpire to make this a quality wine.

Suggested Food Pairing:  The acidity and fruit characteristics in this wine would make it a great match with grilled shrimp or a charcuterie platter of artisan cheeses and meats.  To hang on to the summer barbeque season we have attached a recipe for grilled white fish fillets with a cucumber dill sauce.

Cellaring: This wine could keep for 12 to 18 months but why wait enjoy it tonight chilled.

Petit Verdot VQA 2008 $28.00
Consumers rarely see a single varietal Petit Verdot due to the fact that the grape is challenging to produce as it requires a long hang time (wine speak for it needs to stay on the vine for a long time before it ripens).  Savvy Selection subscribers are fortunate for two reasons #1: the growing season in Ontario in 2008 was such that it enabled the Petit Verdot berries to ripen #2: Stoney Ridge decided to craft a unique and different wine.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  The 2008 vintage offers a youthful bouquet of cloves, black current berries, vanilla and cedar.  The bouquet carries over to the palate as you experience black current, cedar and pepper notes.  This medium-full-bodied dry red wine has soft tannins and a decent length.

Suggested Food Pairing:  This wine would be a wonderful match with barbeque pork ribs or beef stew.  In keeping with the theme of “let’s hang on to summer” the tasting panel is recommending that you pair this wine with tenderloin steaks in a merlot sauce, the recipe for which follows.

Cellaring: This wine can be enjoyed with the Thanksgiving feast or can cellar for another 3 to 5 years.



~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~

With Stoney Ridge Excellence Sauvignon Blanc…
Prosciutto Asparagus Chicken Roulades
From Canadian Living, April 2004 
Serves 4

16 asparagus spears

4 chicken breast (bone in skin on)
¼ cup (50 mL) loosely packed fresh tarragon leaves

8 thin slices of prosciutto

1 tbsp (15 mL) butter, melted

¼ tsp (1 mL) salt

cup (150 mL) chicken stock

cup (75 mL) dry white wine (or water mixed with 2 tsp / 10 mL white wine vinegar)
3 egg yolks

2 tbsp (30 mL) lemon juice

½ tsp (2 mL) cornstarch
¼ tsp (1 mL) pepper
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh tarragon



1.  Snap off woody end of asparagus.  In a pot of salted boiling water, blanch asparagus until colour brightens and still crisp, about 2 minutes.  Drain and chill under cold water; drain again.


2.  Starting at thick end of each breast and keeping knife angled towards bones, run knife between flesh and bones to remove bones.  Place, skin-side down, between plastic wrap.  With heavy pan or meat pounder, pound to flatten to generous ¼ – inch (5 mm) thickness.


3.  With fingers, gently loosen skin from flesh; place one-quarter of the tarragon leaves under the skin of each breast.  Turn and place 2 slices prosciutto over flesh.  Place 4 asparagus spears along 1 edge of each breast; roll chicken around asparagus ensuring skin covers all around.  Secure at edge with tooth pick.  Place, seam side down, in small roasting pan; brush with butter and sprinkle with salt.  Pour in stock and wine.


4.  Roast in 375° F (190°C) oven until chicken is no longer pink in centre, about 30 minutes.  Baste with pan juices.  Broil until skin is golden and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes.  Transfer to platter; keep warm.


5.  Pour pan juices into measuring cup; skim off fat.  If necessary, add more stock to make ¾ cup (175 mL).  Pour into small sauce pan; bring to a boil.  Meanwhile, in a heat proof bowl, whisk together egg yolks, lemon juice, cornstarch and pepper; stir in chopped tarragon. Slowly whisk in boiling juices.  Return to sauce pan; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly and without boiling, until thick enough to coat spoon, about 3 minutes. Serve with chicken.

With Stoney Ridge Excellence Pinot Gris
Grilled Fish Fillets with Cucumber Dill Yogurt
From LCBO Food & Drink Magazine, Early Summer 2006,
Serves 4

Ingredients – Cucumber Dill Yogurt
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded if necessary and diced

1 cup (250 mL) plain yogurt

2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh dill
½ tsp (2 mL) grated lemon zest
2 tsp (30 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Ingredients – Fish
4 thin fish fillets (trout, tilapia, pickerel, halibut)

1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
2 tsp (30 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper


1.    For the Cucumber Dill Yogurt, place a cucumber in a sieve and sprinkle with 1 tsp (5 mL) salt.  Let stand for 15 to 30 minutes.  Press out moisture and pat cucumber dry.  Transfer to a bowl.  Add yogurt, oil, dill, lemon zest and juice.  Toss gently to combine.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes or for up to 1 day.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.


2.    For the fish, preheat the grill to medium-high.


3.    Cut 4 pieces of foil slightly larger than the fish fillets and fold up edges to create a rim.  Place 1 fish fillet on each piece of foil.  Combine oil and lemon juice and brush over fish (over both sides if skinless).  Season with salt and pepper.  Slide foil piece onto baking sheet and then onto grill, removing sheet.  Grill fish, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on thickness, until just cooked through (or broil about 6 inches/15 cm away from heat).

With Stoney Creek Petit Verdot….
Tenderloin Steaks with Merlot Sauce
From Eat Well, Lose Weight – Better Homes and Gardens,
Serves 4


2 tsp (10 mL) cracked black pepper
4 beef tenderloin steaks, cut 1 inch thick
1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
½ cup (125 mL) finely chopped onion
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1 tbsp (15 mL) snipped fresh thyme or 1 tsp (5 mL) dried thyme, crushed

½ cup (125 mL) Merlot or other dry red wine or lower-sodium beef broth

2 tbsp (30 mL) lower-sodium beef broth or water



1.     Use your fingers to press pepper onto all sides of the steak.  In a large skilled heat oil over medium heat.  Add steaks to skillet; cook until desired doneness, turning once.  Allow 10 to 13 minutes for medium-rare doneness (145°F) to medium doneness (160°F).  Transfer steaks to a serving platter; keep warm.


2.     For sauce, add onion, shallot and dried thyme (if using) to drippings in skillet.  Cook and stir for 4 to 6 minutes or until onion is tender.  Add Merlot and broth. Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Boil gently for 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture is reduced by about half.  Stir in balsamic vinegar and fresh thyme (if using).  Spoon sauce over steaks.





Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!









Who drinks Rosé wines? Women & smart men!

Posted by Julie

Monday, May 31st, 2010

A winemaker was recently asked who was drinking rosé and he replied “mostly women and smart men.”


As the curtain closed on Canada’s 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralymic Games, Canada’s largest wine festival, the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival opened up last month, with the emphasis on wines from New Zealand and Argentina as well as shining the spotlight on rosé wines.  There were 45+ wines from different countries, with varying styles showing a kaleidoscope of colour from copper to cranberry. As that could make yet another wine wheel, the genre was indicative enough to show that rosé is more than wines that are “just pink with tastes of strawberries” (my reaction to this overused comment: argg!).


Although rosé has long been associated with being born in the south of France and made largely from Grenache grapes, in the past year rosé it was reported that consumption in France has increased by 22%. Currently, every wine producing country now produces their own version. For every red grape varietal, a rosé is being made. I was amazed by the quantity and quality of many rosé’s at the Festival. Winemakers from Germany, Argentina, Spain, France, Canada, New Zealand, the U.S.A, Chile and Australia spoke of and promoted their respective rosés from how it was made, to the body of the wine and even to the time of day to drink it! 


When winemakers were asked when to serve their rosé, responses varied from breakfast to fore-noon, to afternoon to late evening; concluding that rosé was an any time of day refreshment and not just for the summer barbeque or picnic. Most agreed that rosé should be served just below room temperature as opposed to the boney cold which many, including myself are guilty.


On the pairing side with food, rosé frequently mates with the uninventive salmon along with an assortment of other seafoods that tend to put the mind in neutral, (depending of course on preparation). However, I experienced brilliant innovative pairings such as shredded lamb over polenta, and an orzo pasta with beets and greens, topped with a pink cotton candy – Executive Chef & Sommelier Tony Lawrence deserves kudos for this innovation – that complimented a myriad of dark cranberry coloured rosé’s especially those made from the Merlot, Pinot Noir and Shiraz grapes.


This year more noticeably than others, all you have to do is walk into the LCBO to be overwhelmed with the variety of rosé wines. Although being a rosé lover, I have no need of a sales pitch to try yet another delicious dry rosé wine. But to say that rosé has now found its way into the international genre of the serious wine world is an understatement. We can no longer assume that if it’s cranberry or pink, that it is sweet and without the complexity of a full bodied wine. 


The time has come for us to stop looking suspiciously at these vibrant, fresh coloured wines since it is obvious we can no longer judge a rosé by its cover and that’s not looking at the subject through rosey rim glasses. 


Some Rosé wines that I recommend to try this summer:

de Venoge Brut Pink Champagne

M. Chapoutier Tavel 2008

Bastianich Rosato 2008


Santé,  Cheers,  Cin cin, Salute !

Julie Stock

Accredited Sommelier & newest member of the Savvy Team


You are invited!

Join Julie & the Savvy Team of Sommeliers at Clink & Drink Pink – a Rosé wine tasting on Wednesday July 14th. Click for more details about this fun wine & food event

We look forward to having you join us!




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

Posted by Susan

Friday, April 9th, 2010


Savvy Selections wine of the month club
features Southbrook Vineyards
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep


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

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


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


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


You are the first!

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


Cheers & Enjoy!

Debbie & the Savvy Team





Presented by Sommelier Susan Desjardins


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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Fresh White 2009 VQA, $16.95

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


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


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

Cellaring: No need to wait – drink this spring


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


Cabernet Rose 2009 VQA, $18.95

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


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


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


Triomphe Cabernet Merlot 2006 VQA $26.95

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

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

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

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




With Southbrook Fresh White…

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

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

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

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan

2 Tbsp minced parsely, dill or basil

Freshly ground pepper


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


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


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


With Southbrook Cabernet Rosé….

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

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

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

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


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


Serve with crusty bread and artisan cheeses.


With Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Merlot…

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

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

Preheat oven to 375F.

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

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


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




Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!




Savvy Selections e-Zine featuring East Dell Estates Winery

Posted by Wayne

Monday, December 29th, 2008

November 2008
Savvy Selections – featuring East Dell Estates Winery
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep

There is a sigh of relief in the wine regions at this time of the year when all of the grapes have finally been harvested.  This year with the wet summer weather and the warm autumn days, Ontario winemakers report that they have left the grapes on the vines longer than normal to maximize the ripening.  Now that the vineyards are bare, the fun starts in the cellar!


One place that is be particularly busy with harvest is East Dell and its sister wineries – Birchwood Estates, Thomas and Vaughan and Lakeview Cellars.  Operated under one company, Niagara Cellars Inc, these four wineries share many things including equipment and winemakers!  We are delighted to feature East Dell wines this month.  The Savvy Sommelier Wayne Walker and his tasting panel sampled all of the wines in the East Dell portfolio and selected this trio: 

– East Dell Riesling VQA 2007
– East Dell Barrel Fermented Chardonnay VQA 2006
– East Dell Merlot Reserve VQA 2005 – this one is a keeper – for the cellar that is!


Below you can read about how East Dell’s Winemaker Scott McGregor ‘balances’ his work at East Dell and the sister wineries.


Travel tip – stay at East Dell to experience life at a winery
East Dell has a cabin that can be rented featuring a loft and a Jacuzzi where you can actually become a part of the ‘nature’ of the winery. Now that will be an experience!


What do you think?
Your feedback is always welcome, so please let us know how you enjoyed the Savvy Selections. We look forward to your comments on the wine/food matches and to hearing what other recipes you may have tried with these wines.  If you would like to order additional East Dell wines or wines from other featured wineries in the Savvy Selections, it would be our pleasure to organize a shipment for you.


Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!

– Debbie & the Savvy Team


Debbie Trenholm

President & Accredited Sommelier



East Dell Estates

Presented by Savvy Sommelier Wayne Walker

In 1999, partners Susan O’Dell and Michael East purchased what was previously known as Walters Estate Winery on the Upper Bench near Beamsville. Susan and Michael were committed to making East Dell a unique property by enhancing and developing not only its grape growing and winemaking potentials, but by developing the beauty of its rolling hills and trails (part of The Bruce Trail meanders through the 50 acre site). Maintaining a connection with nature is important at East Dell Estates. This philosophy is evident across all aspects of the winery from its down to earth approach to managing the vineyards to the blue heron on its wine labels. As East Dell’s winemaker Scott McGregor, states “We are vine country casual.”


East Dell is part of a family of wineries known as Niagara Cellars. In 2005, East Dell and its sister winery in Niagara, Thomas and Vaughan, merged with Diamond Estates (a sales and marketing agency that owns Lakeview Cellars and Birchwood Estates, both also located in Niagara). At this time, the business – Niagara Cellars Inc. – was formed. Scott feels this gives East Dell a big advantage over other wineries. The winery has opportunities to share winemaking techniques with other partnering companies as well as share and exchange crop production. “When you can share crops, you have a great advantage blending wines because you have access to grapes grown in other terroirs (growing conditions) in Niagara as well as the expertise of the people who grow and process those grapes. You have more options when you go to blend the wines. You can produce some wines you couldn’t produce otherwise,” explains Scott. He also feels that with East Dell’s ‘Natural Philosophy’, the style of winemaking can be geared towards the specific grape variety in an open forum with three other winemakers, rather than be limited to one particular winemaking approach.


The 13 acres of vineyards on the 50 acre site boast Riesling, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Vidal amongst its plantings. And for Scott, its sloped, calcerous topography is one of its unique characteristics in the area that allows perfect drainage and great Summer sun exposure, even though it faces the Toronto skyline to the North. As well, it offers no real low spots for cold air pockets to form early in the spring or late in the fall. This results in uniform ripening conditions.


A rustic looking, renovated building that was part of Walters Estates houses the winery with a capacity to produce about 20,000 cases of wines. This, along with a popular retail restaurant appropriately called ‘The View’, are the center of East Dell.


The East Dell portfolio carries some very reasonably priced and quality wines. Award winning Riesling and Chardonnay lead the chapters of Whites. Of note there is ‘Summer Rose’, a light, fresh wine with notes of strawberry and citrus. Some interesting 375 mL dessert wines include award winning Vidal Icewine and Cabernet Franc Icewine. Pinot Noir and Merlot round out the Reds where one can find The Red and Black Cab wines. The Black Cab Scott considers to be East Dell’s signature wine because of its unique ‘Canadian Bordeaux Blend’ of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Baco Noir. Not only is it a unique blend, but it has the longest history with the winery which has allowed just the right tweaking for perfection.


 East Dell – a uniquely natural property, ‘down home’ accessibility, an unpretentious style, a secure sense of future – “vine country casual”.


Enjoy your East Dell wine experience in this month’s Savvy Selections!



Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes


East Dell Riesling VQA 2007, $14.95

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Transparent, reflective, brilliant and straw in colour, this Riesling offers fragrant orange blossoms and rose petal aromas on a canvas of ripe apple, peaches and pineapple. Off-dry flavours of apricot, peach, crisp green apple and soft lemon are delivered to the tongue and lead to a very pleasant medium finish of ripe fruit and citrus.


Suggested food pairing: White fish like halibut, haddock, tilapia or cod and smoked fish are good choices for this wine. vegetarian pasta, grilled veggies, sweet peppers, soft cheeses, fresh salads with vinaigrette, cold cuts, pates and surprisingly – sauerkraut. Spicy Thai and Mexican dishes can be quenched by this wine as well.


Cellaring and Service: Serve at about 10C to 12C. This wine is perfect for drinking now and shouldn’t be cellared for more than a year or so.



East Dell Barrel Fermented Chardonnay VQA 2006, $18.95

Sommelier’s Speak:  Malolactic Fermentation

This is a process the winemaker puts the wine through after the fermentation process using yeast. That is why it is called ‘Secondary Fermentation’. It is not really fermentation because it is achieved by introducing lactic acid bacteria (not yeast) into the process and changing some of the malic acids in the wine into lactic acids. The effect on taste and flavour is that the biting acidity of malic acid is softened into the smoother acidity of lactic acid and results in a creamier, more full-bodied wine that will exhibit flavours like butter, honey, vanilla, butterscotch, toffee and ripe fruit. This East Dell Chardonnay has gone through extensive Malolactic Fermentation in oak barrels much to its benefit…  and your pleasure.


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A transparent, straw gold colour, bordered by a medium silver rim is supported by medium legs. Butter, toffee, vanilla, butterscotch and warm toasty aromas are blended with a hint of nectarine and tropical fruit. The palette experience is medium to full-bodied and elegantly balanced amid the warmth and toastiness of butterscotch and nectarine. A medium to long lingering finish of butterscotch, toast, vanilla and tropical fruit reflect the fullness of this wine.


Suggested food pairing: The flavour balance and texture of this wine make it a great canvas for certain foods. Certainly chicken in cream sauces should come to mind. Grilled vegetables, seafood with butter sauce, roast chicken, pasta with cream sauce, veal, turkey, ham and Gruyere cheese. Because of its creamy texture and buttery flavour, this wine matches best with dishes of similar texture and flavour.


Cellaring and Service: Store at 16C. Serve at 15C to 18C and allow it to warm up to show off its barrel complexity and full body. Drink right away to experience the buttery textures or age 2 to 3 years. Keep in mind the subtlety of the fruit will diminish with storage.




2005 Merlot Reserve VQA, $22.95

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This translucent deep, rich ruby red wine sports a narrow, silver rim and slow, serendipitous legs. Aromas of sweet spices and blossoms, raspberries, green pepper, leather and blueberries give this wine its initial profile. Red cherry, green plums, cranberries, tart fruit and tobacco accompany a good acidic structure; however, most noticeable are the young, grippy tannins which predominate the taste experience. Red fruit and tobacco characterize a medium finish dominated by a powerful tannic structure.


Suggested food pairing: This wine is definitely potable now, but one must accommodate its full tannic structure when pairing it with food. If drinking now, it is strongly recommended that this wine should accompany heavier meats and gravies, charred fish, ribs and chicken, full bodied stews, wild red meat game, mutton, dishes with butter and thick cream sauces and hard, older cheeses.


Cellaring and Service:

NOTE FROM WAYNE: The tannic structure of this wine begs to be cellared for up to 8 or 9 years to round out the tannins and allow the textures weights and barrel flavours to be appreciated. It doesn’t exhibit balance at present, but with the right food match it could be very pleasant. Cellar at 18C and serve at the same temperature. Four years will make this wine a very good drinking wine on its own….and in four years, you will wish that you had more!



Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections


With East Dell Estates Riesling…

Sweetly Stuffed in Peppers

Serves 4 


4 medium bell peppers (green, red, yellow, orange)

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 medium green apples

¼ c. raisins

1 medium zucchini, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1/3 c. mixed bell peppers, diced

1 medium carrot, peeled and diced

1 tbs. curry powder

2 cups cooked white rice

3 green onions, diced

Salt, pepper to taste

½ c. mayonnaise



Cut tops of bell peppers off. Remove seeds and ribs. Set aside.


Heat large sauté pan with Olive Oil until hot. Add apples, raisins, zucchini, celery, peppers (diced), carrots. Add curry powder. Cook until tender (Wayne’s tip – don’t overcook). Remove from heat.


Add cooked rice and green onions, season to taste and allow to cool. Add mayonnaise to mixture and stuff whole peppers.


Can be served cold or topped with favourite cheese and baked at 350F for 30 minutes until cheese is melted and rice is hot.




With East Dell Estates Chardonnay…

Paprika Roast Chicken with Mushroom Sauce

Serves 2


2 chicken breasts

1 tsp. olive oil

1 medium chopped onion

2 cloves garlic

4 sprigs fresh thyme

1-2 tbs. paprika

salt, pepper


Sauce Ingredients:

½ lb. mushrooms

¾ c. cream

1tsp. soy sauce

1 tsp. corn starch

1tbs. butter

1 tbs. olive oil

Salt, pepper




Preheat oven to 450F

Cut each breast into 2 slices of equal portion. Season with salt and pepper and cover with paprika

Sauteé onion in pan with 1tsp. olive oil. Add chicken breasts to pan and fry each side 1 to 2 minutes.


Put chicken into an aluminum foil lined pan and sprinkle over sage leaves, thyme leaves and garlic. Cover with aluminum foil and cook in oven for 10 minutes.


Sauteé mushrooms in 1tsp. olive oil and salt and pepper until golden.


Add cream and soy sauce and continue cooking on medium-low. Cream butter and corn starch together and slowly blend in. Continue cooking the sauce for 5 minutes or until thick. Place breasts on serving plate and pour over sauce.




With East Dell Estates Merlot Reserve…

Irish Casserole

serves 4


500 gms. round steak, cubed

2 gms. onions, chopped

6 gms. black peppercorns

1 tbl. red wine vinegar

1 tbl. East Dell Estates Merlot Reserve

3-4 tbl. Olive oil

3 tbl. celery sticks

½ c. plain flour

300 ml. beef stock

2 tbl tomato puree

2 tbl garlic cloves, crushed

175 gm. button mushrooms cut in half

400 gm. artichoke hearts, drained and halved

chopped fresh parsley and thyme to garnish



Place meat, onions, garnish bouquet, peppercorns, vinegar and wine in a bowl and marinate overnight. 


Preheat oven to 320F.

Strain the meat, keeping the marinade, and pat dry. Heat oil in a heavy casserole dish and fry meat and onions in batches. Remove and set aside.


Add celery and fry until browned, then remove this and set aside with meat.


Sprinkle flour into the casserole and cook for one minute. Gradually add the reserved marinade and the stock, and bring to a boil, stirring as you go. Return meat, onions and celery to casserole, then stir in the tomato puree and crushed garlic.


Cover the casserole with a tight-fitting lid and cook in the oven for about 2 ¼ hours. Stir in mushrooms and artichokes and cover again and simmer until meat is tender (about 15 minutes)


Garnish with parsley and thyme and serve steaming, hot with creamy, butter-laden, mashed potatoes and fresh ground pepper. (This is after all an Irish dish!)







When you would like to order additional East Dell wines or wines from other featured wineries in the Savvy Selections, simply contact the Savvy Team and we will organize a shipment for you.


Cheers & Enjoy!













Matching wine with egg dishes

Posted by Debbie

Sunday, October 26th, 2008

Matching wine with egg dishes is always a sommelier’s challenge!

Remember to be gentle — match a quiche or soufflé with a light-bodied Pinot Gris or unoaked Chardonnay to avoid overpowering the delicate flavours of your egg dish.

Cheers & Enjoy!