Posts Tagged ‘Frogpond Farm’

Jump into a new year with Frogpond Farm Winery

Posted by Susan

Thursday, January 7th, 2010
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Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Frogpond Farm Winery

Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep

 

With the increasing focus on fresh, local ingredients, the ‘100 Mile Diet’, and healthy food choices, what better way to launch into 2010 than with the wines of Frogpond Farm – Ontario’s only certified organic winery.  With a well-established reputation for well-made wines, Frogpond is leaping ahead with an expansion to their wine portfolio – new grape varieties from a newly purchased vineyard that has recently been certified organic.

 

Frogpond Farm is located on a quiet road near Niagara-on-the-Lake. Savvy Sommelier Susan Desjardins stopped in to visit with the enthusiastic owners, Jens Gemmrich and his wife Heike Koch. Heike recalls that she and Jens came to Niagara on a summer ‘holiday’ after Jen’s brother Martin bought property in Niagara to establish a grape nursery operation.  “I can remember helping graft grapevines in Martin’s basement”, recalls Heike.  Enchanted by Niagara, Jens came back for an extended stay to help his brother.  So began Jens’ dream of moving his family from Germany to Canada and establish his own winery.  Heike took some convincing but they eventually emigrated in 1994.

 

While working as a winemaker at a local winery, Jens kept his eye out for a farm that would suit his young family as well as fulfill his dream of his own vineyard and winery.  In 1997, he planted his first vines – Merlot and Cabernet Franc – on the 10-acre property. Soon afterwards, he planted Riesling – honouring his German roots.  With notions to break ground as a pioneer and commit his new business to both organic viticulture and viniculture is consistent with the couple’s commitment to their children, their terroir (property) and on a larger scale the environment.  With the release of their first vintage in 2001, they launched Frogpond Farm as a unique alternative for consumers seeking an organic choice among Canadian wines. We were proud to feature Frogpond Farm to Savvy Selections subscribers in 2006.

 

When Martin recently decided to stop farming, Jens and Heike had the opportunity to expand their business and production to include the new property named “Martin’s Vineyard”.  Since the land was already planted to vines, they began cultivating the property organically and in three years received organic certification. 

 

To get a taste of all of their hard work, we are delighted to feature wines from both properties:

·         2008 Vidal VQA

·         2007 Cabernet Franc VQA

·         2007 Cabernet/Merlot VQA

 

We hope you enjoy bringing in the New Year with these unique Savvy Selections.  Let us know how you enjoyed the Frogpond wines, as well as the recipes our Savvy Selections tasting panel picked to enjoy with the wines. 

 

Want more Frogpond wines? 
It is easy – simply call on us to arrange an order for you.
Heads up: the 2007 Cabernet/Merlot is in limited supply….it is anticipated to be gone by March.

  

Cheers & Enjoy!

– Debbie & Savvy Team



Frogpond Farm Winery
Presented by Sommelier Susan Desjardins


Jens and Heike are passionate and committed to their land as both grape growers and wine makers.  “As organic farmers, we’ve learned to move away from the approach of always being ‘in control’ of nature.  We consciously work on creating a healthy environment for the vines to flourish. With trust in nature and our patience, we have been awed by the ability of the natural environment to remedy imbalances and heal itself”, proudly explains Heike about their winery. 

 

At Frogpond Farms, they are pioneers and leaders of organic viticulture (winespeak: grape growing) and winemaking in Niagara. As their business has evolved over the years, they are pleasure to see other wineries in the region adopting organic practices.  Some wineries choose to proceed with certification while others simply use organic growing strategies to enhance the health of their vineyards.  Frogpond, however, is the only winery currently to vinify (winespeak: to make wine) its grapes organically.

 

What does being an organic winery mean?
There is a difference between wines made with organically grown grapes, and wine vinified organically with organically grown grapes.  The former wines are made with grapes grown following the principles of organic agriculture.  These include the use of only natural fertilizers (no synthetic herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers or chemicals of any kind), more labor intensive management, often including hand harvesting, and lower crop yields so the vines are not stressed.  In addition to using only organically grown grapes, the wines are vinified following very specific requirements defined by Canadian Organic Standards regulations.  The critical aspects of organic winemaking are:

– no synthetic additives, for instance in fining

– no genetically modified yeast, bacteria or enzymes

– restrictions in the levels of sulfites used to preserve the wine and then found in the completed wine

– use of only certain permitted substances in the winemaking process or for cleaning the winemaking facilities. 

 

For individuals who feel they may have a sensitivity or allergy to sulfur or to synthetic chemicals, organic wines are a great choice.

 

Confused yet!?!  As more ‘organic’ wine and food labels appear on the market, it’s often difficult to know what you are actually buying.  Certification is a provincial responsibility, so standards are not necessarily consistent across the country.  In Ontario, you want to look for products “certified organic” by an agency such as the Organic Crop Producers & Processors (OCPP) – which certifies Frogpond wines.  The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has stepped into the breach to some degree, establishing standards and requirements for wines sold across Canada.  To concur, Frogpond will be adopting the new CFIA designation on their labels. Look for this identity: biologigueCanadaorganic.

 

Always up for a challenge, Heike and Jens have expanded their organic winery business by tripling the size of their acreage under vine.  This allows them to broaden their portfolio of wines and enables them the ability to craft quite different styles of wine arising from the different terroir of their properties.  For instance, “Martin’s vineyard” has two definite sections. One area is composed of heavy clay soils and is situated near some thick bush that shelters the land and traps the heat in the summer. The soil keeps the vines in check, but the additional heat allows the fruit to ripen more and may possibly extend hang time (winemaker speak: ripening time on vine). In comparison, the other section comprises of lighter, sandier soils.  Here, the vine roots reach grow deep, drawing minerals into the grapes which, when vinified, create a vibrant, fruity and more elegant style of wine.  When you visit Frogpond Farm, sample the Cabernet Franc from the original vineyard and compare it to the wine made from Cab Franc grapes on the new property – they are remarkably different, although grown in the same appellation.

 

Want to try something completely unique?  You can even drink it before lunch!  Enjoy the same health benefits of red wines in the non-alcoholic, pure grape juice produced by Jen’s brother Martin Gemmrich at Niagara Juice Company.  Aptly named – Gesundheit (meaning good health) – can be ordered directly from Savvy Company.

 

As they say in Germany…Prost (Cheers)!


 

 ~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~


Frogpond Farm Vidal VQA 2008, $12.00

Vidal is a grape varietal usually associated with Ontario’s famous ice wines.  This particular dry crisp white wine is produced from 5 year old vines grown on heavy clay in ‘Martin’s Vineyard’.  The soil structure helps keep the vines in check and fruit yields low and optimizing the fresh fruit flavors.  

This wine was just released in December – perfectly timed to be included in the Savvy Selections. Enjoy!

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Pale gold, this bright wine has floral aromas and those of tree fruits (can you find yellow plums, peaches and ripe apple?). These fruit aromas carry through into the flavors, riding on a refreshing seam of acidity.  The finish is long, crisp and citrusy.

Suggested Food Pairing: This easy drinking wine will pair well with firm cheese, light appetizers, white fish, roast chicken or the Pork Chops with Herbes de Provence recipe Susan selected to enjoy with this wine.

Cellaring:  Made to enjoy now!


Frogpond Farm Cabernet Franc VQA 2007, $17.00

The grapes for this wine come from the lighter soils of Jens’ newly certified vineyard. Both this wine and the Cabernet/Merlot (the other Savvy Selections red wine) were aged in large oak casks, adding both body and flavor without overwhelming the aromas and flavour of the fruit. While visiting the winery, Susan found it interesting to compare the 2006 Cab Franc from Jens’ original vineyard side-by-side with a taste of this wine.  The 2006 vintage was more structured and robust, while Susan and the Savvy Selections tasting panel found the 2007 more fruity and delicate. 
Yin & Yang, perhaps!

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  A deep ruby red, the 2007 vintage beckons you with aromas of ripe berries, cherries, sweet spices and a hint of red licorice.  Medium-bodied, the wine balances sweet berries (raspberries and blackberries perhaps?) with fresh acidity and perceptible tannins.  It has a persistent finish with hints of toasty oak. Delicious! .  

Suggested Food Pairing:  This wine will pair well with chicken or veal dishes with a rich mushroom sauce or with roast salmon with autumn vegetables.

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


 

Frogpond Farm Cabernet Merlot VQA 2007 $16.00 (500ml)

From the outstanding 2007 vintage – considered by many winemakers as a Gift from Mother Nature – this red wine has been flying off the shelves at Frogpond Farm.  Susan wanted to make sure that there was enough of this wine for our Savvy Selections subscribers to enjoy!  Winning silver at the Royal Winter Fair, this blend of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Merlot is from Jen’s original vineyard, where the combination of sandy loam underlaid with heavy clay produces a wine of complexity and structure. 

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Our Savvy Selections tasting panel loved everything about this wine – the structure and its balance.  It’s opaque and inky appearance, plush fruit aromas with subtle hints of leaf and vanilla.  The bold flavors engulf the palate with tastes of blackberry, blackcurrant, dark fruit cake and cracked black pepper.  It is full bodied and velvety, with all the components in harmony on the long warm finish.  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 grilled fillet mignon with pan-fried mushrooms, charcuterie, or the Beef Fondue 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.

 

~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~


With Frogpond Farm Vidal…

Pork Chops with Herbes de Provence
From Call of the Flame, ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen
Serves 4

Ingredients
¼ C fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp finely chopped green onion or shallot
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
2 tbsp herbes de Provence, crumbled
¼ tsp salt
4 thick boneless pork loin chops

Method

1.      To prepare marinade, combine all ingredients except pork in a heavy zip-lock plastic bag.  Add pork and squeeze bag to coat pork with marinade; seal bag.  Let stand for 30 minutes.   

 

2.      Remove pork from marinade; discard marinade.  Grill pork over low heat on natural gas BBQ until done, about 20-25 minutes for ¾” thick chops.

 

3.      This recipe can also be made with pork tenderloin, which may be grilled or oven roasted.   

 

With Frogpond Farm Cabernet Franc….

Fragrant Chicken with Mushrooms
From The Globe and Mail, Lucy Waverman
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3 Tbsp flour, seasoned with salt & pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
2-4 cloves garlic, peeled & chopped
½ C carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
½ tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf

1 1” piece of orange peel
1-2 C dry red wine
1 C chicken stock
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp brandy (optional)
1 8 oz. package cremini mushrooms, sliced and sautéed in butter or olive oil
2 Tbsp chopped parsley

 

Method

1.   Trim fat from chicken & coat lightly with seasoned flour.  Heat oil in large skillet on medium heat.  Add chicken & fry 3-5 minutes each side or until golden.  Remove from skillet.  

 

2.   Add onion, carrot & fry until onions begin to turn color, about 3 minutes.  Then add garlic, stir in thyme, bay leaf & orange peel.  

 

3.   Add wine, stock, tomato paste & brandy to skillet.  Bring to boil & cook 3 minutes.  Return chicken to skillet.  Cover & simmer gently 20 minutes.  Add mushrooms & cook 5-10 minutes longer, until juices run clear.

 

4.   Remove chicken & veggies.  Raise heat to high and reduce stock for 3-5 minutes or until slightly thickened.  Season as desired with salt & pepper & pour over chicken.  Garnish with parsley. (Depending upon how much wine used, you may not have to reduce the stock.)

 

With Frogpond Farm Cabernet/Merlot…

Heart Warming Beef Fondue

Recipe from the kitchen of Savvy Sommelier Debbie Trenholm

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 C fennel, chopped (optional)

3 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed

5 C beef stock

2 C dry red wine

2 bay leaves

1/16 tsp powdered saffron (2-3 strands)

 

Suggested items to dip into the fondue:

Thinly sliced beef tenderloin, or fondue beef (ask your butcher for this cut), pre-cooked sausage cut into pieces, assorted mushrooms, green onions halved lengthwise, strips of red, green and/or yellow pepper cut lengthwise

Method

1.  In 3 quart sauce pan over medium-high heat, heat olive oil, then sautée onion, fennel and garlic until onion is soft.  

2.  Add broth, red wine, bay leaves and saffron.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer until vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes.  (Broth can be made the day before, covered and stored in the refrigerator).

 

3.  Add broth to the fondue pot, warm, and then spear beef on fondue fork, hold in broth for 2-3 minutes depending upon desired doneness.  Do the same with other dipping ingredients.

 

4.  Serve with crusty bread (another great dipping item).  Remaining broth can become tomorrow’s hearty soup – simply add cooked rice, lentils and more vegetables. 

 

 

 

 

Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!

 

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On the road again…to Niagara!

Posted by Susan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers!

Susan

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

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