Posts Tagged ‘gift ideas’

Savvy gifts guaranteed to WOW!

Posted by Debbie

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016
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Santa’s elves & the Savvy Team are working around the clock arranging subscriptions to our of-the-month clubs & gift certificates for wine, craft beer & cheese lovers across the country! Our Holiday Hotline 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) is ringing off the hook & our web site is buzzing with last minute shopping.

Here’s our Top 3 Savvy Gifts….you can order with just one click!

 

CRAZY for Cheese!

Savvy Cool Curds is the new ‘whey’ to discover hard-to-find Canadian artisan cheeses. Each month, we deliver 4 to 5 wedges or rounds of ready-to-eat cheese from a featured cheesemaker. The assortment is always different – hard, soft, fresh & aged cheeses made using various milks – cow, goat, sheep….even buffalo!

Our Cheese Sommelier Vanessa introduces you to the cheesemaker in each issues of Curd on the Street Magazine along with cheese tasting 101 tips & cheese ladened recipes.

The 3 delicious wheys to order:
#1 – One time purchase: $60 + shipping
#2 – Subscribe for deliveries EVERY month: $55/month + shipping
#3 – Subscribe for deliveries EVERY OTHER month: $55/month + shipping

Special Subscription Promo
$55 per month (usually $60) & shipping>>

We’ll ship across Canada

 

PERFECT for craft beer fans

Give a subscription to our Savvy Hip Hops craft beer-o-month club featuring hard-to-find craft beers made across Ontario. Along with the beers, our Beer Backstory Magazine, will give you the skinny on the brewmaster, tasting tips & recipes with the featured beers.

There are 2 sizes of packages:
#1 – Quick Picks – a small assortment each month
#2 – Taste Case – the full selection from the featured brewery.

 

NEW! In addition to featuring a different brewery each month, we are including a Special Savvy Summer 2-4 in June & July AND back by popular demand our Hoppy Holidays Craft Beer Advent Calendar in Nov & Dec.

Wrap up a SUDS-cription for 4, 6 or 12 months>>

 

Wine lovers will LOVE this!

Our Savvy Selections wine-o-month club features an assortment of 3 Ontario wines that you won’t find at the LCBO – each handpicked by our Savvy Sommeliers.

Check out the 2017 line up of wineries we’re featuring >>

To further your enjoyment of the wines, you’ll receive our monthly online magazine with the inside scoop on the winery, neat stories about the people who make the wine, our Sommelier tasting notes & recipes paired with each wine.

Special Holiday Promo
Give a 3 month subscription>>

(regularly 4 month minimum)

 

Still can’t decide?

Here’s FREE Money!

You read that right! Buy a Savvy Gift Certificate to redeem for tickets to an upcoming Savvy Event & we’ll give you 25% more.

Order a $100 gift certificate & we’ll top it up to $125. Order $150, we’ll make it $190…you get the idea.

Give this gift >>

 

Savvy Elves are standing by…

The Savvy Team…errr…elves are at the ready to help you make your Christmas shopping a breeze. Call us each day leading up to Christmas on 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or email cheers@savvycompany.ca

 

Ho-Ho-Ho & have a wonderful holiday.
Debbie & the Savvy Team

Debbie Trenholm
Sommelier & Founder
Savvy Company
613-SAVVYCO (728-8926)
cheers@savvycompany.ca
www.savvycompany.ca

Keep in touch with us…
@SavvyDebbie
@SavvyCompany
@SavvyWines
@SavvyHipHops
www.facebook.com/SavvyCompany
Now on Instagram too! instagram.com/savvycompanyinc

We’ll be enjoying the holidays to the fullest. Savvy Company will be closed from December 25 to January 11 all set & ready for an exciting 2017.

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Savvy gifts guaranteed to WOW!

Posted by Debbie

Friday, December 16th, 2016
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Santa’s elves & the Savvy Team are working around the clock arranging subscriptions to our of-the-month clubs & gift certificates for wine, craft beer & cheese lovers across the country! Our Holiday Hotline 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) is ringing off the hook & our web site is buzzing with last minute shopping.

Here’s our Top 3 Savvy Gifts….you can order with just one click!

 

CRAZY for Cheese!

Savvy Cool Curds is the new ‘whey’ to discover hard-to-find Canadian artisan cheeses. Each month, we deliver 4 to 5 wedges or rounds of ready-to-eat cheese from a featured cheesemaker. The assortment is always different – hard, soft, fresh & aged cheeses made using various milks – cow, goat, sheep….even buffalo!

Our Cheese Sommelier Vanessa introduces you to the cheesemaker in each issues of Curd on the Street Magazine along with cheese tasting 101 tips & cheese ladened recipes.

The 3 delicious wheys to order:
#1 – One time purchase: $60 + shipping
#2 – Subscribe for deliveries EVERY month: $55/month + shipping
#3 – Subscribe for deliveries EVERY OTHER month: $55/month + shipping

Special Subscription Promo
$55 per month (usually $60) & shipping>>

We’ll ship across Canada

 

PERFECT for craft beer fans

Give a subscription to our Savvy Hip Hops craft beer-o-month club featuring hard-to-find craft beers made across Ontario. Along with the beers, our Beer Backstory Magazine, will give you the skinny on the brewmaster, tasting tips & recipes with the featured beers.

There are 2 sizes of packages:
#1 – Quick Picks – a small assortment each month
#2 – Taste Case – the full selection from the featured brewery.

NEW! In addition to featuring a different brewery each month, we are including a Special Savvy Summer 2-4 in June & July AND back by popular demand our Hoppy Holidays Craft Beer Advent Calendar in Nov & Dec.

Wrap up a SUDS-cription for 4, 6 or 12 months>>

 

Wine lovers will LOVE this!

Our Savvy Selections wine-o-month club features an assortment of 3 Ontario wines that you won’t find at the LCBO – each handpicked by our Savvy Sommeliers.

Check out the 2017 line up of wineries we’re featuring >>

To further your enjoyment of the wines, you’ll receive our monthly online magazine with the inside scoop on the winery, neat stories about the people who make the wine, our Sommelier tasting notes & recipes paired with each wine.

Special Holiday Promo
Give a 3 month subscription>>

(regularly 4 month minimum)

 

Still can’t decide? Here’s FREE Money!

You read that right! Buy a Savvy Gift Certificate to redeem for tickets to an upcoming Savvy Event & we’ll give you 25% more.

Order a $100 gift certificate & we’ll top it up to $125. Order $150, we’ll make it $190…you get the idea.  Give this gift >>

 

Savvy Elves are standing by…

The Savvy Team…errr…elves are at the ready to help you make your Christmas shopping a breeze. Call us each day leading up to Christmas on 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or email cheers@savvycompany.ca

Ho-Ho-Ho & have a wonderful holiday.
– Debbie & the Savvy Team

Debbie Trenholm
Sommelier & Founder
Savvy Company
613-SAVVYCO (728-8926)
cheers@savvycompany.ca
www.savvycompany.ca

Keep in touch with us…

Keep in touch with us…
@SavvyDebbie
@SavvyCompany
@SavvyWines
@SavvyHipHops
@SavvyCoolCurds
www.facebook.com/SavvyCompany
Now on Instagram too! instagram.com/savvycompanyinc

We’ll be enjoying the holidays to the fullest.  Savvy Company will be closed from December 25 to January 11 all set & ready for an exciting 2017.

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It doesn’t get any fresher than this!

Posted by Vanessa

Monday, August 15th, 2016
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At the height of summer, this month’s Savvy Cool Curds is inspired by my tour around Italy a few years ago as well as the empty place left in my heart (and stomach) for Italian homemade, melt in your mouth, soft artisan

Quality cheesecheeses. Mama Mia! After living on fresh cheese daily for almost a month, I was thrilled to return home to discover new finds by Quality Cheese in Vaughn, Ontario.   

Italy’s finest is made here with a touch of Canadian flair by three Borgo brothers who believe passionately in making cheese from the heart that reflects in their product. “Do it right or don’t do it at all” is the motto. Bellisimo!

 

In your Savvy Cool Curds you will find…

… the biggest and best assortment of cheeses yet! Very special and hard-to-find artisan cheeses including: savvy_coolcurds_Colour

– Ricotta 300g
– Burrata 250g
– Buffalo Mozzarella 125g
– Mascarpone 250g
– Fleur de Buffala 200g
– Triple Crème Brie 300g

 

Craving more cool Quality Cheeses?

Would you like more cheese from this month’s Savvy Cool Curds? Just call our Savvy Team & we’ll arrange a special shipment for you (if it is still available that is!). Put us on speed dial – Savvy Cool Curds Hotline 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or cheers@savvycompany.ca

Cheers!
Vanessa & the Savvy Team

 

 

Introducing…
Quality Cheese

by Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier

 

As soon as I entered the doors of Quality Cheese, I was struck by the warm, comforting aromas of fresh and cooked milk that instantly took me back to my vacation in Tuscany, Italy and it’s amazing landscapes, traditions, delicious food, artisans and history.

My visit and tour to Quality Cheese reminded me why I barely made it home from that vacation as I had spent three weeks at the height of sensory enjoyment, in awe and amazed by the simplicity yet flavorful impact of dishes made with love and only the finest and freshest of ingredients.

The Borgo family of Vaughn, Ontario – representing four generations behind Quality Cheese – manufacture, distributes and retail Italian specialty cheeses unlike any others made in Canada. Their first cheese was made almost 55 years ago. Quality Cheeses – particularly the ones in the fresh cheese category in your Savvy Cool Curds – are firmly rooted in Italian artisanal cheesemaking tradition and to this day are made with the same family recipes.

Innovative but firmly rooted…

The three Borgo brothers are actively involved in the business with Albert as the cheese salesman, Joe as the cheese scientist, and William (Bill) as the master cheesemaker. While traditional, these men are blazing new trails and innovating all the time.

Much applause and award-winning recognition has been given over the years to their delectable cheeses made with cow, buffalo and goat milk. When their Ricotta won the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix in 2013, it was an industry first. Never before had a fresh cheese, or an Ontario cheese won Grand Champion (best of the best) in the awards’ history. From the judges’ perspective, their Ricotta was a shining star, and truly the best example of a well-made artisan cheese at the ceremony, standing out among the crowd.

Even on the plant floor they’ve been innovating for over 17 years. From how milk is stored and piped, to various safety and sanitary processes, to finding ways to become more efficient at cheesemaking while retaining quality and artisan craftsmanship, their business is tweaked on a daily basis.

 

Experience in actionCHEESE FACTORY

The heightened energy and activity in the make room is akin to bees buzzing around a hive, almost organized chaos-like, but with the execution and precision that demonstrates years of experience and expertise. Albert, Joe and Bill continue to be very hands on, testing curd as they weave through equipment, tweaking machines, and providing guidance on texture and readiness.

A lot goes on in a ‘make day’. Fresh, tender mozzarella curd is cut and waits patiently in the vat to be transformed into multiple cheeses. Whey is drained from the fresh mozzarella and gets re-purposed into vats and heated to make fresh ricotta that is sold warm daily at the plant. Then the ricotta is hand scooped into forms or small tubs for immediate sale at retailers. Stretchy fresh mozzarella curd is hot water warmed, plied and kneaded into small oblong shapes, cut, hand stretched into pouches and filled with fresh cream/creamy curd as a delicious center. Chalky white buffalo mozzarella curd drains as cheesemaker Bill waits for the right texture before the next step – hand stretching.

Nothing says summer like the freshest, tastiest, juiciest and most flavorful of artisan and local foods ingredients. Dive into this month’s Savvy Cool Curds cheeses, grab good friends, and head for your backyard or cottage deck or dock for easy peasy entertaining during laziest haziest days of summer!

 – Cheese Tasting Notes – 

Below are Vanessa’s tasting notes and photos for each cheese in your Savvy Cool Curds, along with additional tidbits of interesting information, suggested food pairings & recipes to try too!

 

ricottaRicotta

Humble Quality Cheese Ricotta (ricotta means cooked again) reined supreme in 2013, winning Grand Champion against over 225 of Canada’s best cheeses, a first for both an Ontario and fresh category cheese.

Tasting Notes: Made with 100% Canadian whole cow or buffalo milk and the whey of from other brie-style and mozzarella cheeses, acidity and temperature levels are carefully monitored to ensure quality craftsmanship. Each Ricotta is hand-dipped and packed cool, resulting in a rich, luxurious, creamy, dense, full lactic and sweeter tasting product. Locally, the Ricotta is sold hot, straight from the vat for neighbors who appreciate the traditional Italian style.

 Suggested Pairing: “It is like fresh milk, you can do anything with it”, says Albert Borgo. “Eat it as a staple, some as food ingredient like with toast and jam.”  Try in cheesecake, fresh pasta, with fresh seasonal fruit, pancakes or dessert recipes or the Plum Salad with Ricotta and Prosciutto Twist recipe in the LCBO Food & Drink Magazine.

 

buff mozzBuffalo Mozzarella

 Experience the luxury of hand crafted silky artisan Mozzarella di Buffala as it’s meant to be. Made with 100% pure milk from local water buffalo (don’t be fooled with “cheater” buffalo mozzarella which is mostly cow’s milk with small percentage of buffalo milk mixed in!). A bit sweeter than it’s Italian cousin because salt is added during the make process instead of after in brine.

Tasting Notes: Enjoy the fresh, mild, buttery milky flavor and smooth silky texture of this small, soft and delicate but oh so versatile cheese.

 Suggested Pairing: Pairs perfectly with both sweet and savory accoutrements from your local farmer’s market.

  

QualityCheeseBurratabyVanessaSimmonsBurrata


Burrata is a rare breed of cheese in the fresh category, as a mix of mozzarella & cream, its name meaning, “buttered”.

 Tasting Notes: Burrata is part pasta filata (meaning stretchy) cheese as a combo of scraps of soft fresh mozzarella curd and cream center and curd that has been worked, heated and stretched it into little pouches around the exterior.  Enjoy flavors of rich, buttery, fresh milk and thick cream.

Suggested Pairing: Serve classically with ripened tomatoes, drizzled with oil, cracked black pepper & fresh basil. Try it with a twist, grilled plums drizzled with balsamic vinegar & small toasts.

 

mascarponeMascarpone

As far as fresh cheeses go, if ricotta was the humble man’s cheese, mascarpone is the “Gatsby” of the fresh cheese world. True to Italian culture, Bella Casara Mascarpone exemplifies passion, as a sexy and sinful artisan cheese.

Tasting Notes: As a description rich, luxurious and voluptuous come to mind along with butter as a main theme.  Caramelized butter-coloring appeals to the eye, while the lightest of sweet dulce de leche flavor melds with butter and cream on the palate. Even the consistency, density, smoothness are what one would find of the best quality hand churned butter.

 Suggested Pairing: IMHO Bella Casara Mascarpone is best eaten with a tablespoon, straight. Or, use in your favorite brownie recipe as an extra special secret ingredient for maximum cheesy goodness.

                                       

fleur de buffFleur de Buffala

Fleur de Buffala is a unique cheese for Ontario, just released onto the market, and aged for only a few weeks, made with local water buffalo milk.

Tasting Notes: These small, tender wheels of soft surface-ripened cheese have a rustic and delicate appearance from the light dewy crust of a rind. Feel the luxurious texture on your palate while enjoying both grassy and herbaceous aromas and flavors. Will be ripe and ready to best enjoy mid-next week.

 Suggested Pairing: Pair with a chilled Sauvignon Blanc and lazy summer afternoon.

 

 

triple cream brieTriple Cream Brie

Albert’s Leap Triple Cream Brie is a shining example of a fan favorite, made with only the 100% Canadian milk, delivered in the wee hours of the morning to ensure maximum freshness for cheesemaking.

Tasting Notes: Triple cream Brie follows French-style making processes, as a classic soft surface-ripened cheese with a velvety, downy rind and full on characteristic butter, cream and mushroomy aromas and flavors.

TIP: Save this cheese for another week or two to experience it at its peak as the inside becomes supple and runny.

Suggested Pairing: Try flipped on the grilled (indirect heat) warm with fresh grilled stone fruit or with any array of fresh homemade summer fruit jams.

 

– Recipes to enjoy with the featured cheeses –

 

With Burrata…

Burrata with Roasted Grapes & Figs

Recipe & Photo Credit: LCBO Food & Drink Summer 2016

 

Ingredientsburratta recipe

6 oz red seedless grapes
6 ripe black mission figs, quartered

2 tsp olive oil
Pinch of sea salt
1 Burrata at room temperature
2 tsp honey
1 Tbsp fresh purple thyme leaves
Toasted baguette or crackers (optional)

Method

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Place grapes and figs on a foil-lined baking sheet, trying to keep bunches of grapes together (for a lovely presentation). Drizzle with oil. Season with salt. Bake for 10 minutes

Place cheese on the middle of your serving dish, surrounded by warm fruit. Drizzle everything with honey and sprinkle with purple thyme. Encourage guests to take slices of cheese and roasted fruit onto their plates or you can plate it for them. Serve with slices of toasted baguette or your favourite crackers (such as Rosemary Raisin Pecan Raincoast Crisps) or oatcakes to make it more like a dessert.

 

With Ricotta…

Bella Casara Ricotta Cake with Lemon

Recipe & Photo Credit All You Need is Cheese

Ingredientsriccotta recipe

⅓ cup sugar
¼ cup flour
2 lemons
½ cup slivered almonds
1-⅓ lbs. Ricotta
4 eggs
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla abstract
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
½ cup all purpose flour
Dried cranberries for garnish

Method

Preheat oven to 325 °F (160 °C).

In a saucepan, dissolve sugar in water and bring to a boil. Boil 2 minutes to obtain a syrup. Cook lemon slices in syrup over medium heat for 10 minutes. Drain the syrup into a bowl and set aside to cool.

Spread almonds in an oven-safe baking dish and toast them for 7–10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat Ricotta with eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, lemon juice and zest and the reserved lemon-flavored syrup. Incorporate the flour.

Butter a 9-inch (23 cm) spring form pan and line bottom with parchment paper. Cover bottom of pan with toasted almonds and pour Ricotta mixture on top. Bake in the oven 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until cake is firm and lightly golden. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate at least 1 hour before removing from pan.

Decorate chilled Ricotta cake with candied lemon slices and dried cranberries. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Note: This cake can also be accompanied by a cranberry coulis, if desired.

 

 

With Buffalo Mozzarella…                    

Ombre Fresh & Roasted Tomatoes On Charred Bread

Recipe & Photo Credit: LCBO Food & Drink Summer 2016
This recipe substitutes Wasabi cream cheese for fresh buffalo mozzarella

Ingredientsbuff mozz recipe

1 round Buffalo Mozzarella
3 small beefsteak tomatoes
2 pkgs. mix of red and orange cherry and grape tomatoes
Olive oil – use the Unrefined Olive oil we included!
Sea salt and pepper to taste
4 slices sourdough bread (or an Italian crusty bread)
¼ cup crispy shallots (found in Asian markets, or fry your own)

Method

Slice buffalo mozzarella into 8 thin slices.

Slice beefsteak tomatoes into wedges, keep cherry and grape tomatoes whole.

Preheat broiler on oven.

Place foil on a baking sheet, add cherry and grape tomatoes and drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of salt. Broil until just starting to pop and blister, around 2-3 minutes. Remove from oven and lift foil from baking sheet. Refrigerate tomatoes to cool.

Place bread on baking sheet and toast until slightly charred.

Spread each toast slice with 2 slices of buffalo mozzarella, and sprinkle evenly with crispy shallots. Arrange fresh and broiled tomatoes in a colourful Ombre composition, moving from reds to oranges. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

 

With Mascarpone…

Melon and Mascarpone Salmon Tartare

Recipe & Photo Credit: Quality Cheese

 IngredientsMascarpone recipe

½ cup Bella Casara Mascarpone
2 Tbsp. milk
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1-2 Tbsp. fresh dill
10 oz. very fresh salmon
½ cup honeydew melon
½ cup cucumber

Method

Whip Mascarpone and milk together. Add lemon juice and dill. Season with salt and pepper. Chill.

Chop salmon, honeydew and cucumber into small cubes. Place salmon in a bowl with the remaining ingredients. Gently mix together, and let rest in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Divide tartare into 4 ramekins, then invert onto plates.

Top with Mascarpone and season to taste. Serve immediately with slices of bread.

 

 

With Fleur de Buffala…

Roasted Portabello Mushroom with Albert’s Leap Melted Brie

Recipe & Photo Credit: Quality Cheese

Ingredientsfleur de buff recipe

4 Portobello mushrooms
8 oz. Fleur de Buffala Brie
1 shallot
½ Tbsp. Dijon mustard
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup raspberry vinegar
Fresh tender lettuce or mixed greens


Method

Preheat barbecue to medium.

In a bowl, mix shallot with mustard. Add olive oil and whisk to mix. Add vinegar and season to taste. Set aside.

Gently clean mushrooms with a damp cloth. Remove stems, keeping only the caps. Stems may be used for another recipe.

Brush mushroom caps with a little dressing and cook them upside down on grill.

When mushrooms are tender, divide cheese slices between them so that interiors are filled. Let Fleur de Buffala melt and serve on a bed of lettuce, accompanied with remaining vinaigrette.

  

With Triple Cream Brie…

Choco Brie S’Mores

Recipe & Photo Credit: All You Need Is Cheese


brieIngredients

8 Graham Crackers
3 oz. Triple Cream Brie, sliced
1 ½ oz. of dark or milk chocolate, chopped
1-cup miniature marshmallows

Method

Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).

Arrange crackers on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Top each cracker with Brie, chocolate and finish with marshmallows.

Place in the oven and cook until nicely browned, 7–10 minutes. Serve hot.

 

Enjoy the summer with your Savvy Cool Curds!

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Celebrate with Award Winning Canadian Cheeses!

Posted by Vanessa

Thursday, June 30th, 2016
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This month’s Savvy Cool Curds selection pays tribute to the Canadian Cheese Awards, and the best artisan cheeses in Canada. Launched in 2014 by Georgs Kolesnikovs, founder of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, and staunch supporter of the Canadian artisan cheese industry, the Canadian Cheese Awards are the first of their kind, inclusive of all milk types and all provinces across our nation. AND Georgs is a Savvy Cool Curds subscriber too!

Judging for the Canadian Cheese Awards takes place every second year. Beyond many category winners there is one ultimate champion, named Cheese Of The Year. It was just announced that this year, Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar, from COWS Creamery in Prince Edward Island took home the of Cheese of The Year title. Our long time subscribers will remember Avonlea as we sent you 2 chunks of it in the Savvy Cool Curds February feature.

This month’s selection is from those cheesemakers who only have a few types of cheeses – not enough for a full feature in Savvy Cool Curds. The other award winners will be showcased in upcoming months. Stay tuned!

 In your Savvy Cool Curds you will find…

…hard-to-find and delicious award-winning artisan cheeses including:savvy_coolcurds_Colour

-Sabot de Blanchette (Natural)
-Le Paillasson de L’Isle D’Orléans
-Le Baluchon
-Old Growler
-Dragon’s Breath Blue

Crazy for more medal winning cheeses? 

Would you like more cheese from this month’s Savvy Cool Curds? Just call our Savvy Team & we’ll arrange a special shipment for you (if it is still available that is!). Put us on speed dial – Savvy Cool Curds Hotline 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or cheers@savvycompany.ca

Cheers!
Vanessa & the Savvy Team

Introducing…
Canadian Cheese Award Winners

by Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier

Canada is home to over 1500 different varieties and types of cheeses. While not all of them are considered artisanal, about half make that grade. There are also a handful of cheese awards through a number of industry organizations, recognizing the crème de la crème of cheeses in various categories, however The Canadian Cheese Awards is the first and only cheese competition in this country that considers all milk types such as cow, goat, sheep and water buffalo from all provinces. This means cheeses are made with 100% natural Canadian milk, with no artificial colors, flavours, preservatives and no modified milk ingredients.

Earlier this year, on February 18 & 19th, 12 judges (myself included!) gathered at the University of Guelph, Department of Food Science, for a two-day cheese tasting experience like no other, presided over by Dr. Arthur Hill.

So many cheeses…

vanessaA whopping 301 entries were submitted by artisan cheesemakers from British Columbia to Prince Edward Island, and all the provinces in between. There is an official process for cheese submission, which remains anonymous to both judges and the general public. Cheesemongers and cheese industry professionals manage the reception and storage of cheese to ensure secrecy and that quality is maintained during the judging process. Judges are recognized in the industry for their deep expertise in artisan cheese.

Overall the goals of The Canadian Cheese Awards are to determine and promote the best cheeses in Canada for all milks, to provide honest and constructive feedback to cheesemakers on their cheeses and create a symbol of excellence in Canadian cheese that consumers and the industry alike will recognize.

A winning recipe

Judging happens in teams of two in each of 17 categories, one person evaluating aesthetics and one evaluating the technical aspects of each entry. Both consider aroma, appearance, texture and flavor. Marks are given by the aesthetic judge for superior qualities of those 4 areas. Marks are deducted by technical judges for any faults noticed in the cheese. Both strive to uncover nuances of terroir, character, flavor profile, and differences that make the cheese standout and unique, worth of being best in it’s class. Not just any old cheese makes the grade. This is very similar to how we decide which cheeses and cheesemakers make it to Savvy Cool Curds – we want to WOW you! At the end of two days of tasting over 301 cheeses, 78 finalists rose to the top, in 31 categories including contenders for Cheese of the Year.

The who’s who of the Canadian cheese industry gathered in April at the Time Supper Club in Montreal for the Awards Ceremony, naming all category winners and Cheese of the Year –Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar, followed by a packed-house Awards Tasting Gala for the general public and media (we’ll make sure all Savvy Cool Curds subscribers get an invite for 2018!) and giant cheese tasting party!

CDN cheese awards

Put your tasting hat on!

We’re thrilled to bring you Fromagerie F.X. Pichet Le Baluchon (2014 Cheese of the Year winner) – born of a love story which dates back to when the owners Michel Pichet & Marie-Claude Harvey of Sainte-Anne-De-La-Pérade, Québec were high school sweethearts, and reunited later in life. Fromagerie La Suisse Normande’s Sabot de Blanchette (2016 Best Soft Cheese) is a stunning little goat milk pyramid from Lanaudière, Quebec (a quick stop off Hwy 40 on the way to Montreal). Old Growler and Dragon’s Breath Blue from That Dutchman’s Farm from Upper Economy, Nova Scotia are rare finds in Ontario. Le Paillasson de L’Isle D’Orléans, said to be the first cheese
produced in America, of Fromagerie de L’Isle D’Orléans, Quebec is a fun grilling cheese experience…it is no wonder it was awarded 2016 Best Grilling Cheese.


Cheese Tasting Notes

Below are Vanessa’s tasting notes for each cheese in your Savvy Cool Curds, along with additional tidbits of interesting information, suggested food pairings & recipes to try too!

Sabot de Blanchette

Sabot de BlanchetteBest Bloomy Rind Cheese 2016

Inspired by their European cultures (Swiss & French), this fromagerie’s products are a marriage made in heaven and leaving their mark in Québec.  Cheeses are made from goats raised on the farm, in true “fermier” (farmstead) fashion.

Tasting Notes: This soft-surface-ripened goat’s milk cheese has a unique pyramid shape, with a lovely, natural, slightly wrinkled, soft moldy rind, that on occasion displays spots of blue.  The paste is creamy, velvety & white, firm towards the center, & acidity and yeasty tang on the palate.

Suggested Pairing: Try with a crisp dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris. Enjoy spread on fruit & nut crackers, smeared with seasonal compote (rhubarb or strawberry).

 

Le Paillasson de l’Isle D’Orléans

Le Paillasson de l’Isle D’OrléansBest Grilling Cheese 2016

Paillasson is special cheese somewhat like an uncooked marshmallow, its unique character doesn’t fully shine until it’s fried or grilled, lending to its melty (but not melted) properties. Best always served warm.

Tasting Notes: This fresh, unripened semi-soft grilling cheese has milky aromas. When heated in a skillet or over a grill, flavors go from bland to boom becoming all melted butter and toasted nut, complete with the crispy bits we all love (just like your favorite grilled cheese without the bread!)

Suggested Pairing: Enjoy sliced wedges with spicy chorizo on a toothpick as a snack, wrap with prosciutto as an appetizer, serve as a side or centerpiece garnish to a local mixed green salad. 

 

Le Baluchon

Le Baluchon Best FarmsteadBest Farmstead Cheese 2016
Best Organic Cheese 2016
Cheese of the Year 2014

Le Baluchon is an example of organic products, created through systems and processes that are more sustainable and harmonious with their environments (soil, animals, people, and plants).  Generally lower tech operations and milk sourced from pasture-based farms (if not their own) is used where animals are free of hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers or chemicals.

Tasting Notes: Le Baluchon is a farmstead, washed-rind, certified “Québec Vrai” organic raw cow’s milk cheese aged for 60 days.  Notice harvest colors of apricot/orange/terracotta in the rind with a thin white dusty layer that develops as the cheese ages. Inside, a bright golden yellow semi-firm creamy paste showing small holes glistens in sunlight.  Made OKA-style, it has similar characteristics: a gritty textured rind, toasted hazelnut flavors, and pungent barny aromas.

 Suggested Pairing: Melted as Raclette or enjoyed with an oaky Canadian Chardonnay.

 

Old Growler

Best Gouda Cheese 2016Old Growler

Old Growler is a more mature (and the most popular) of The Dutchman’s Goudas.  Born of a surplus of older cheeses, they decided to name it, and sell it at eighteen months.

 Tasting Notes: Traditional aged Gouda characteristics starting to show – more pale gold hued open paste with eyes (pinholes) and crystals forming, firm to hardening texture, malty aromas developing with much stronger & lingering caramel flavor over milk with a bit of bite.

Suggested Pairing: A favourite pairing with this cheese is Michael Dolce Peach Cardamom Jam, or local stone fruit based marmalade. Enjoy with a Canadian Pinot Gris.

  

Dragon’s Breath Blue

Best Blue Cheese 2016dragons breathe blue

A rare find and multi-award winner, Dragon’s Breath Blue is a closely guarded family secret.

 Tasting Notes: Unique in shape and size, these small cylinders of blue cheese are aged only a few weeks then coated with wax for ripening another 2-6 months.  The flavor and texture varies by season, more buttery/creamy in the summer months with higher fat content in the milk.  Note sharp blue flavor, moist texture with fruity notes, and little blue veining depending on exposure to air. Tip: Pop a small slice of the top off and leave it uncovered for 24-48 hrs. to develop more blue veining.

 Suggested Pairing: Pair with a Canadian Gamay or Pinot Noir. Melt wedges into phyllo pastry squares and garnish.

 

 

 Recipes to enjoy with the featured cheeses

 

With Sabot de Blanchette

Spring Salad with Honeyed Rhubarb and Goat Cheese

The Ottawa Citizen’s Laura Robin

IngredientsSpring Salad with Honeyed Rhubarb and Goat Cheese

¾ lb. (340 g) rhubarb (about 7 slender stalks),
cut into ¾-inch (2-cm) pieces
¼ cup (60 mL) honey
½ cup (125 mL) walnut halves
2 Tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
2 Tbsp (30 mL) white balsamic vinegar
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 bunches arugula (about 12 cups/3 L), tough stems removed
1 small fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
½ cup (25 mL) goat cheese, crumbled
3 Tbsp (45 mL) fresh snipped chives (optional)

Method

Preheat oven to 450 F (230 C) with racks in upper and lower thirds. On a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil, toss rhubarb pieces with honey. Roast on upper rack until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, on another rimmed baking sheet, toast walnuts on lower rack until fragrant, about 5 minutes.

Let rhubarb cool on pan. Cool walnuts, and then chop coarsely.

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Toss arugula and fennel with the vinaigrette. Top the salad with the rhubarb, walnuts, goat cheese and chives.

 

With Le Paillasson de L’Isle D’Orléans…                    

Grilling Cheese with Cranberry & Pistachios

Dairy Goodness All You Need Is Cheese

IngredientsGrilling Cheese with Cranberry & Pistachios

1/4 cup (60 mL) unsalted shelled pistachios
3 Tbsp (45 mL) sugar, divided
1/2 cup (125 mL) frozen cranberries
1/2 cup (125 mL) cranberry juice
8 oz. (250 g) Canadian grilling cheeseLe Paillasson de L’Isle D’Orléans

Method

In a small skillet, toast pistachios on medium heat with 2 tbsp. (30 mL) sugar. Cook until sugar becomes golden brown and sticks to pistachios.

Transfer to a parchment-lined plate. Once pistachios have cooled, coarsely chop.

In a small saucepan, mix cranberries, cranberry juice and remaining sugar. Bring to a boil, cover and cook for 5 minutes or until cranberries are tender. Using an upright or hand blender, purée mixture until smooth.

Heat a non-stick skillet on medium heat. Grill cheeses for 3–4 minutes on each side. You can also place cheeses on a parchment-lined baking sheet and grill in the oven, preheated to 450°F (230°C), for 4–5 minutes on each side.

Serve hot on top of cranberry coulis, garnished with crispy pistachios.

 

With Le Baluchon…

Tartlets with Baluchon and Caramelized Onions

Les Producteurs de lait du Quebec – Our Cheeses

Tartlets with Baluchon and Caramelized Onions Ingredients

12 Tartlet Crusts (Store-bought)
250 ml (1 cup) Le Baluchon Cheese, rind removed, grated
2 eggs
250 ml (1 cup) of 15% cream
1 pinch of ground nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Caramelized Onions

45 ml (3 Tbsp) butter
250 ml (1 cup) pearl onions
30 ml (2 Tbsp) sugar
15 ml (1 Tbsp) balsamic vinegar
15 ml (1 Tbsp) fresh rosemary, chopped

Method

Preheat oven to 400° F (200° C).

Bake tartlets for 10 minutes or until crusts are golden.

Whisk cheese, eggs, cream and nutmeg in the food processor until the mixture is smooth. Add salt and pepper.

Fill tartlets with the cheese mixture.

Garnish with caramelized onions.

Bake for 10 more minutes or until the filling is golden.

 

Caramelized Onions

In a large frying pan, melt the butter and brown the onions for 5 minutes.

Add the sugar and the balsamic vinegar.

Continue cooking for 5 minutes until the onions are caramelized and add the rosemary.

 

With Old Growler

Gouda Asparagus Pesto

Dairy Goodness All You Need Is Cheese

IngredientsGouda Asparagus Pesto

¼ cup (60 mL) raw almonds
2 cloves garlic
1 bunch of asparagus (about ¾ lb. – 350 g), cut into 1˝ (2.5 cm) pieces
1 1/4 cup (60 mL) olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup (125 mL) Canadian Aged Gouda – Old Growler, finely grated

Method

In a food processor, chop almonds and garlic.

Add asparagus and process until finely chopped.

Continue to process while gradually pouring in oil.

Season generously with salt and pepper, and add cheese.

Transfer to a jar and seal with a lid. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

 

With Dragon’s Breath Blue

Marinated Hangar Steak with Dragon’s Breath Blue Cheese

Recipes4EveryKitchen

 IngredientsMarinated Hangar Steak with Dragon’s Breath Blue Cheese

Hangar steak (recipe works great with flank, skirt, tenderloin and any grilling beef you choose).

Marinade

½ cup red wine
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 tsp dry mustard
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp dried thyme or rosemary
2 tsp dried basil
3 large cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tsp freshly ground pepper

Salad

Romaine hearts, torn into bite sized chunks
1 sweet red pepper, seeded and cut into chunks
1/2 English cucumber, chunked
Dragon’s Breath Blue Cheese

Chef Craig Flinn’s Awesome Vinaigrette
3 anchovy fillets
1 shallot, very finely minced
1 clove garlic, minced to pulp
2 tsp Dijon mustard
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste
½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Method

For the vinaigrette:

Smash anchovy fillets in a bowl with a fork and add the shallot and garlic.

Add the mustard, lemon juice & zest, vinegar, salt & pepper and whisk until smooth. Add the oil in a slow steady stream while whisking until the vinaigrette is smooth and emulsified. Makes ¾ cup and will keep refrigerated for a couple of weeks.

For the steak/salad

In a large Ziplock bag, combine all the marinade ingredients and blend well. Add the prepared hanger steak (or whatever other cut you choose), coat well with the marinade and massage. You can let the meat marinate on the counter for a couple of hours before grilling or refrigerate for up to 48 hours. If refrigerating, bring the meat to room temperature before cooking.

To grill with bbq/ grill pan/ electric grill/ broiler… whatever you have – heat to high and grill for 3-4 minutes, turn the meat, lower the temp a bit and continue to grill for 4 minutes for medium rare. That’s how long for flank steak, but hanger steak being thicker will require more time. Turn the heat down to medium so it will not char, and turn every 4 minutes until done to your liking.

Remove from the grill and place on a plate, flipping the hot side (closest to the grill) on top and refrigerate for 5 minutes. Then slice on the diagonal, across the grain to serve.

While the steaks are grilling, place the torn romaine hearts and chunks of red peppers & cucumbers into a large serving bowl. Toss with vinaigrette.

Once the steaks are sliced, place them on top of the salad and crumble the cheese over top.

 

Enjoy your Savvy Cool Curds!

 

 

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Savvy Elves are in the festive mood

Posted by Debbie

Friday, December 12th, 2014
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The countdown is on – ready or not, Christmas is next week. In the Savvy office, we’ve been singing holiday songs all month long to keep us in the festive mood while our phones ring off the hook! Here is the SAVVY version of The 12 Days of Christmas to make your Holiday Shopping easy…and bright!

On the 1st day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

A one-of-a-kind gift of a subscription to the new Savvy Hip Hops Craft Beer of the month club.  A Taste Case of beers from different Ontario breweries is delivered each month!

Savvy Company keep calmOn the 2nd day of Christmas…

2 cool red Keep Calm & Drink Canadian Wine T-shirts.  $25 each.  Call our Savvy Elves on 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) to wrap up a couple for you.

On the 3rd day…

3 Savvy gift certificates for tickets to upcoming Savvy Events in 2015. Order $100 gift certificate, we’ll increase it to $125 value – only during the holidays!

Savvy Selections iconOn the 4th day…

4 month subscription to Savvy Selections wine of the month club . Our #1 wine gift! Each month, three different hard-to-find Ontario wines selected by our team of Savvy Sommeliers conveniently arrive at your home or office. “It’s Christmas for adults. Wines arrive on my doorstep every month!” – Colleen

On the 5th day…

5 ‘Must Buy’ wines from the LCBO featured in our blog If I only had $100, I would buy at LCBO. Use this shopping list for great value wines at Vintages as chosen by our Savvy Sommeliers Julie Stock & Susan Desjardins

Savvy Hip Hops beer of the month clubOn the 6th day…

6 month subscription to Savvy Hip Hops  – Ontario’s largest craft beer of the month club. On the Friday closest to the 2-4 of the month, we hand-deliver an amazing assortment of beers from a featured Ontario brewery.  It’s different each month!

On the 7th day…

7 days a week you can contact us online with our Live Chat. Ask us any question about wine, artisan cheese & craft beer. Try it out now on www.savvycompany.ca “Operators are standing by”!

Savvy SommeliersOn the 8th day…

Our Savvy Elves are working over 8 hours a day & we’re online around the clock! Call our Savvy Team on 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) each day leading up to Christmas or reach us online anytime at cheers@savvycompany.ca

On the 9th day…

Wine & beer of course! We have Ontario’s largest wine AND craft beer of the month club. Give a subscription for 4, 6 or 12 months.  It’s THE perfect gift that keeps on giving!

wine_tasting_sparklingOn the 10th day…

Round up 10 friends, colleagues or clients for a private Savvy Sommelier led wine, artisan cheese or craft beer tasting – a fun way to entertain in your home or at the office. Call on us to create a fun & memorable event. You invite the guests – we do the rest.

On the 11thday…

11 fantastic years in business – thank you for your continuing support as Savvy Company grows. Here’s to what in store for us in 2015!

On the 12th day…

12 different bottles of incredible Ontario wines – you won’t find these wines at the LCBO – delivered to you to enjoy during the holidays.

 

The Savvy Holiday Hotline
613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or cheers@savvycompany.ca

 

Happy Ho-Ho-Ho Holidays from all of us at Savvy Company. Here’s to an exciting & delicious New Year together discovering wines, artisan cheeses & craft beers!

Debbie, the Savvy Team & Savvy Elves too!

 

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If I had $100…I would buy these wines at Vintages

Posted by Julie

Friday, December 5th, 2014
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It’s the most wonderful time of the year, as the song goes, with friends, festivities, and family get togethers.  Vintages in the LCBO never disappoints.  In this weekend’s release (December 6) I wanted to buy one of everything….but remembering that I only have $100 and several dinner parties ahead of me I’m looking for value – for you and me.

LCBO Vintages magazine Dec 6First, there’s all kinds of divine “fizz” out there to tickle your tastebuds and reasonably priced sparklers such as the two new Cava’s in this release.  They are dry, snappy and the genesis to any dinner or party. To me, December is all about sparkling wine.  Served in a beautiful flute with 2 or 3 pomegranate seeds for panache, it’s as elegant as any champagne and no one knows or even cares if you spent $15 or $50. Bottom line, sparkling wine is festive and fun and everyone enjoys it. You can never have too much fizz!

When you are shopping for others, don’t forget about yourself. There’s one beautiful wine that I would recommend to everyone including the Queen: “Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch Shiraz 2012”  (LCBO #243592 $35.95) is the pinnacle of Shiraz’s. I have tasted hundreds of wines in 2014 and this one always rises to any occasion.

I love to showcase Canadian wines and this release offered so many great ones. Have fun shopping and don’t forget, if you find something delicious, go back and get a few bottles. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.  Sometimes even I forget my own advice!

It’s Christmas time, share your cheer and goodwill.

My best to you for the season,
Julie 

If I had $100, I would buy these wines at LCBO Vintages…

December 6, 2014

 

Summarroca Gran Reserva Brut Cava

Sumarroca Gran Reserva Brut Nature Cava 2009

DO, Spain
$18.95 (Vintages # 393504) 11.5% alcohol

Ever wonder what that “DO” means?  DO  stands for “Denominacion de Origen” similar to our VQA in Ontario.  It’s part of a regulatory classification system for the country’s highest quality products. It can be applied to everything from olive oil to honey to fruit.  This Cava is delicate, pale in colour, light bodied and totally refreshing. Reminiscent of toasted almonds and apricots with a little herbaceous-ness on the finish not often detected in a sparkling white.  I would recommend light or-d’oeuvres so not to crowd the tastes; perhaps some delicious little crackers, you don’t have to break the bank to be elegant. That old expression, “less is more”.

 

Featherstone ChardonnayFeatherstone Canadian Oak Chardonnay 2012

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$21.95 (Vintages # 149302) 13.5% alcohol

I hadn’t planned to feature a Chardonnay however I could not waste the opportunity to taste something new. This Chard. really wowed me. I can’t wait for the release. Aromas of creme caramel and layers upon layers of tropical fruits, soft, not overwhelming in oak so don’t let the “oak” in the name scare you off.  As you whirl it around the tongue this white wine is so soft in the mouthfeel, medium to full bodied and there are some wines, I can only describe as yummy.   A great sipper on its own but I think it would marry well with chicken in parmesan crust with a little white sauce, green beans, now its getting “yummier”.

 

De Sousa Seasons MeritageDe Sousa Seasons Reserve Meritage 2012

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$15.95  (Vintages #315911) 13% alcohol

Unbelievable to find a Meritage at that price point that tasted so delicious. Once again I am wowed by a Canadian winery. Red Meritage must be a blend of two or more of the five traditional Bordeaux grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet France, Petit Verdot or Malbec. Historically, Meritage wines are considered to be highly rated and the winery must be a member of the Meritage Alliance and adhere to the above regulation. Rich red fruits on the palate, medium bodied, light tannins with a little leather and dust on the finish. Layered with lots of berry flavours, a great sipper on its own but pot roast comes to mind, with lots of root veggies and don’t forget the “jus”.

 

Vineland Pinot MeunierVineland Pinot Meunier 2012

VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula
$17.95 (Vintages# 225508) 12% alcohol

Juicy, juicy, juicy….the aromas were almost like sticking your head in a bouquet of ripe cherries. Pinot Meunier is often used in blends such as Champagne, however it is an incredible grape just on its own and grown in our own backyard. Medium bodied with soft tannins with a fruity red berry finish, it is a red wine that would be agreeable to everyone. It is also versatile enough to marry with chicken to a beef stew and it’s just great on its own with a varietal cheese plate.

 

Alma Negra BlendAlma Negra Blend 2011

Mendoza , Argentina
$19.95 (Vintages #384297)  13.5% alcohol

This new to Vintages product is a blend of the Bonarda and Malbec grapes. Aromas of dark ripe plums and cherries carry through to the palate and make for a huge mouthfeel of lusciousness. Good acidity with soft tannins, beautifully balanced and a great new find. It’s dark and rich, served with any grilled meat from ribs to steak (not to mention its packaged in one sexy black bottle) I promise the folks around the table will comment.  It’s a gem of a red wine.

 

Grand Total: $ 94.75

 

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If I had $100…I would buy these wines at Vintages

Posted by Julie

Friday, November 21st, 2014
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While earlier this month, the LCBO Vintages release was on Star Quality, now for the November 22 Vintages release the focus is on  “Our Finest” and “Premium Spirits”. How to keep up? Hopefully I will make it a little easier with our budget of $100.

LCBO Vintages magazine November 22An advantage of Premium spirits is that they last a long time. Premium spirits you purchased last Christmas are still wonderfully aged for sipping a year later. One could start a “bar of spirits” collection. For example, the Camus Elegance XO Cognac, listed in the top 50 Spirits by The Wine Enthusiast will still be great next year and the $199.95 price tag only stings once.  You can also admire the beautiful bottle on your buffet; it looks like a decanter!

At this time of year, there is a variety of sparkling wine at popular price points that you do not see at other times during the year. You can stock up for December festivities or if planning ahead, even a spring party. Sparkling wine just never goes out of style.

Finally, although the 3rd week of November has passed, there is still lots of Nouveau Beaujolais on the shelves. It’s a great pizza and casual sipping wine, with a great price tag.

I hope you find something to brighten up the 11th month and I’d love to hear of any memorable purchases.

Julie 

If I had $100, I would buy these wines at LCBO Vintages…

November 22, 2014

 

Bailly Lapierre Reserve Brut Cremant de BourgogneBailly Lapierre Réserve Brut Crémant de Bourgogne

France, AC
$19.95 (Vintages # 991562) 12% alcohol

A beautiful crisp sparkling white wine with fine little bubbles bursting with flavours of toast and citrus.  It has more weight to it than other sparklers which gives it more clout when serving hors-d’oeuvres.  Although it’s hard to go wrong with a blend of Pinot Noir, Gamay, Chardonnay and Aligoté. Not surprising there’s lots going on with these fruity cherry flavours, and it has a nice crisp finish.

It would pair well with salty phyllo pastry appetizers like spankopitas. The saltiness would be perfect with the bubbles,. There ’s yummy frozen delicacies in the grocery store, so don’t fret about cooking; sit back and enjoy your guests, Sparkling wine is always a great starter to an evening.

 

Mission Hill SLC ChardonnayMission Hill SLC Chardonnay 2011

BC VQA Okanagan Valley
$24.95 (Vintages #144170)  13.5% alcohol

A few years ago, my husband and I lunched at the Mission Hills winery overlooking the beautiful vineyards in the Okanagan Valley. The Mission Hill Winery reminded me of a French Chateau; a first class act, very impressive and the wines contained therein just never disappoint. It is a beautifully made Chardonnay, crisp and layered with flavours of apricots, almonds, the usual tropical fruit culprits but integrated into such smooth full body, no doubt as a result of some time spent in American oak barrels. This white wine has a little citrus on the finish and worth every penny; elegant and refined.

 

Lena di Mezzo Ripasso Valpollicella SuperioreLena di Mezzo Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2010

DOC, Monte Del  Frá, Italy
$19.95 (Vintages #165662) 14% alcohol

Heavenly aromas of currants, cherries and ripe plums, begging to be sipped. Ripasso means a second fermentation where the grapes obtain their fullest expression being dried on mats. They turn into little raisins which intensifies the flavours of the Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes (the Valpolicella trio).Robust notes of dark berries that spark the tastebuds and leave a hint of sweet spice and smooth tannin in the aftertaste of this red wine. I always serve Ripasso with my signature Osso Buco dinner party dish. When you labour over preparation, it demands a great wine so I’m glad mine is chosen.

 

Winery of Good Hope Vinum Cabernet SauvignonThe Winery of Good Hope Vinum Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

WO Stellenbosch,  South Africa
$17.95 (Vintages #172973) 14% alcohol

I sometimes forget about South Africa when looking for a new wine, but having recently picked up a great Chenin Blanc, it reminds me how good they can be. This red wine is no exception. Good Hope is a spirit of optimism and that the early pioneers had good faith when planting vineyards several hundred years ago. This red wine is an easy sipper brimming with flavours of cassis and raspberry, some earthy overtones and a little leather on the finish, full bodied with easy tannins. For those of you who can still barbecue, its a great match for a hearty burger or grilled meat.

 

Quady Essensia Orange MuscatQuady Essensia Orange Muscat 2012   (dessert wine)

California, U.S.A.
$13.95 (Vintages #299552)   15.6% alcohol

Orange may be the new black in some spots but there’s nothing dark about this Muscat.  Golden orange in appearance, it shimmers prettily in the glass. I was so excited to find a new desert wine especially one at this price point. If you could imagine an ice wine that tastes of fresh tangerines, and makes your saliva buds just sparkle, this would be it. With great acidity it balances the orangey sweetness in this luscious nectar. It would be divine on ice or with some soda water. If you like oranges, citrus and something deliciously sweet, this one is for you.  A couple will be in my basket, for sure, a great ending to a dinner party.

 

 

Grand Total: $ 96.75

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If I had $100…I would buy these wines at Vintages

Posted by Amanda

Friday, November 7th, 2014
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The November 8 LCBO Vintages Release features Star Quality products and ports.  Just like a squirrel scurrying to store nuts for the winter, I’m collecting a few bottles from each release to keep for the winter months. My husband reminds me that the wine stores stay open in the winter, but it’s good to have a little stash for unexpected company. Unfortunately with star quality products come star quality quality prices, however I am so pleased and proud with my $100. shopping basket, that I hope you will be too.

LCBO Vintages Magazine Nov 8There is something compelling about Port, whether its because it hails from a timeless land where grapes have grown for centuries or that it is such a great match for strong deliciously stinky cheese. I could cheerfully enjoy a glass of port on just about any occasion. It also makes a lovely hostess gift instead of the usual bottle of wine and chances are a bottle of Port will last a lot longer. There are at least 6 in this release so I hope one finds its way into your shopping basket.

There’s something for everyone and don’t forget Beaujolais Nouveau arrives on our shelves November 20.

 

Happy shopping,
Julie 

If I had $100, I would buy these wines at LCBO Vintages…

November 8, 2014

 

Dow's Late Bottled Vintage PortDow’s Late Bottled Vintage Port 2009

DOC Douro, Portugal
$17.95  (Vintages #613927)    20% alcohol

First of all, its hard to argue with a Silver Medal winner at the 2014 International Wine Challenge. Deep ruby in the glass, this port is deliciously sweet with ripe berry aromas and tastes. It has just the right amount of acidity that helps promote the dark berry flavours – it is mouthwatering delicious. I think this would also make a lovely afternoon drink on ice with some toasted walnuts and cheddar, or with mincemeat tarts or do I dare say Christmas cake? It’s also an amazing price point.

 

Megalomaniac BubbleheadMegalomaniac Bubblehead 2011

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$28.95  (Vintages #363655)  12% alcohol

When the cradle was released (that’s the little crossed wire on the cork) it just burst with fine bubbles overflowing. I thought this sparkling wine was about as close to Champagne as it comes. The mousse (little tiny bubbles that tickle the nose) went on forever bursting with delicious cranberries and cherry flavours with just a little citrus on the finish.  It is a sheer “bubblehead” delight and not a bit of wonder it was awarded Overall Best in Show and Best in Show White at the 2014 Royal Wine Competition.  Well deserved, I shall serve it chilled on its own.

 

 

Menade VerdejoMenade Verdejo 2013

DO Rueda, Spain
$16.95 (Vintages #392159)  13% alcohol

This white wine is new to Vintages, made from 80-100 year old Verdejo grape vines. It’s very pale in colour, almost watery, but oh so fresh and it would be dynamite with seafood.  It’s quite aromatic and flavourful. Some folks may think it more of a summer wine being light-medium bodied but it has so much soft tropical fruit flavour that I wanted to feature it as a change from our usual grape varietals. After the release (when I can pick up a bottle or 3)  I’m planning to serve it with spaghetti and clams and an uncomplicated side salad,. Guess whose coming to dinner?

 

 

Casas del Bosque Reserva CarmeneraCasa del Bosque Reserva Carmenère 2012

Rapel Valley, Chile
$14.95 (Vintages #205872)  14.5% alcohol

Carmenere is Chile’s signature premium grape varietal. This wine displays characteristics of a great Carmenere being full bodied with depths of blackberry and spice flavours.

There is a hint of something vegetal or like a green leaf on the finish. It’s a hearty wine, not for sissies. I’m planning to enjoy it with a sausage and bean stew with some crusty bread. You just cannot beat that price point.

 

 

Layer Cake PrimitivoLayer Cake Primitivo 2011

IGT, Puglia Italy
$19.95 (Vintages #384065)  13% alcohol

I longed to have a big bowl glass and not just a sip. Inky in colour with tastes of jammy black cherries and plums,this red wine is rich and smooth. The wine was fermented in stainless steel to preserve the fruit flavours. The bottle label suggests that the wine should taste like a layered cake, with chocolate and mocha and spice and a little earth at the end. I couldn’t say it better. It’s layered with complexity and the fruit flavours go on forever. Primitivo is also known as Zinfandel in North America so if you are a fan of the latter, this beauty will not disappoint.

This wine also received the first-ever Certificate of Label Approval with Primitive and Zinfandel used as synonyms on the label. My signature winter dinner party dish is Osso Bucco;  a labour of love for my friends, so that’s where I’m going with this wine. I can’t wait for that December dinner party to wow them.

 

 

Grand Total: $ 98.75  (now that’s value !)

 

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If I had $100…I would buy these wines at Vintages

Posted by Julie

Friday, October 24th, 2014
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Look at all the new wines from Chile, Tuscany, Ontario…and around the world in this weekend’s LCBO Vintages release. By the time the end of October rolls around, everyone is into their fall schedules, programs, sports and school, but being retired I’m looking for a new travel destination.

LCBO Vintages magazine Oct25

Chile has always been on my bucket list and it is with renewed interest that this release features many new Chilean wines. Vintages is also featuring some wines from Tuscany and I better not get started on my love of Italy and Italian wines.

As much as we all love fall, we know what comes after so its no surprise that Vintages has started their “Gifting” for Christmas. Beautiful bottles, glossy packaging even ships containing liqueurs will start to decorate the stores (if not your mantle?). Even if you are not planning to purchase any gifts from Vintages, it is worth the stroll through your nearest store and you may find yourself changing your mind.

There are also some extravagant whiskey’s in this release as well as champagnes. While I cannot afford the Armand De Brignac Brut Gold Champagne at $299.95 a bottle (why do they add the .95 cents?), it would sure make for nice bling as a centrepiece.

I will be picking up a few of these new releases on the 25th of October and I hope you find something to sip while shelling out on Halloween… if only to keep the “bad spirits” away.
Julie  

If I had $100, I would buy these wines at LCBO Vintages…

October 25, 2014

 

Williams & Humber Oloroso SherryWilliams and Hunbert Walnut Brown Oloroso Sherry

DO Jerez-Xérèz-Sherry – Spain
$13.95 (Vintages #437467) 19.5% alcohol

I remember in Sommelier school, one professor saying that this only comes out once a year and he always picked up a few bottles.  I too, have purchased this year after year. Dark mahogany in colour, light and sweet, yellow raisins, Christmas cake, almonds a little bitter orange, toasted almonds and butterscotch flavours tantalize the tastebuds sending you back for another delicious sip. How could anyone not be enticed with such flavours AND at this price point.  It is a lovely afternoon sipper on ice or my favourite is to serve this sherry as a desert drink with apple/pear crisp and blue cheese.

Graham Beck Brut Sparkling WineGraham Beck Brut Sparkling Wine

WO Western Cape, South Africa
Méthode Cap Classique $18.95 (Vintages #593483) 12.% alcohol 

A lovely sparkling wine from South Africa, toasty, creamy smooth and citrusy tastes. Lots of fine mousse (bubbles) and a slight after taste of grapefruit.  The méthode classique (winespeak: the wine undergoes a second fermentation in the bottle which can offer a yeasty flavour to the wine.

I’m always looking for a new sparkler to serve for a brunch or pre-dinner drinks and this offers a fabulous change.

Montes Outer Limits Sauvignon Blanc 2013

Zapallar Vineyard, Aconcagua Valley, Chile
$19.95 (Vintages #389643) 12.5% alcohol

When a vineyard is located just seven kilometres from the sea, it is not a bit of wonder this Sauvignon Blanc tastes so clean and fresh. Pale gold, almost shimmery, the nose highlights white grapefruit and wet stone. There’s lots of fresh citrus, with a slight vegetal taste and a limey finish. It is absolutely mouth-watering good with great acidity. A fabulous white wine thirst quencher on its own or with any white sauced dishes to cut the “rich”.

Stratus Wildass RedStratus Wildass Red 2011

Niagara -on-the-Lake, Ontario
$19.95 (Vintages #86363)  14.8% alcohol 

I always try to include at least one Canadian wine in my shopping basket and this does not disappoint. While not new to Vintages, it is the first time I tasted it and talk about finding a new favourite. You have to love the name “Wildass”! I am guessing it is on account of a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Gamay and Sangiovese. Something for everyone? Deep ruby red, this red wine has great depth of ripe berry flavours, juicy and layered with taste, a little chocolate on the finish. Medium bodied and would pair everything from roast chicken to roast beef to a mocha torte- absolutely delicious.

Ruffino ModusRuffino Modus 2011

IGT Toscana, Italy
$29.95 (Vintages # 912956)  13.5% alcohol 

You are probably more familiar with the DOC or DOCG labels on Italian wines, but the “IGT”means that the rules for wine producers are not quite as strict and a little more generous than those other status labels. In other words, the geography for the grapes might be less reduced as well as the kind of grapes that go into the wine. But don’t let that fool you. Wines with IGT status can equally hold their own and this is a good example.

Dark ruby red, leathery, dusty aromas and brambly on the palate, almost prickly like only age old ripe vines can offer.  With strong tannins and a long dusty finish, this red wine would accompany a rare Tuscan steak with panache.  It won a Gold medal at the International Wine and Spirit Competition 2014. I would lay this down for a year or two – outstanding.

Grand Total: $ 102.75  

 

 

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