Posts Tagged ‘Julie Stock Accredited Sommelier Savvy Company’

Reminder: you need to pick up a Mother’s Day gift!

Posted by Julie

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

In most parts of the world, the second Sunday in May is celebrated as an opportunity to express joy and gratitude to our Mothers. So it is timely that the May 7 release at the LCBO Vintages will WOW some mothers out there. While flowers, chocolates and cards are popular gifts to symbolize one’s love and appreciation; I can’t imagine anything nicer than sharing a lovely bottle of wine with my Mom.

Which ones to pick? Here’s my shopping list!

There are many new Rosés in this release and considering that I am the ‘Rosé Queen’, I‘d like to take more than 3 home. Like sparkling wine, Rosé makes a fabulous appertif and a great sipper on its own. Many are at a popular price point (under $17) so you might want to try a couple of different bottles to see which one could become a spring-summer favourite. Tawse Winery Rosé, a perennial favourite, is also back on the shelf, but I want to expand my Rosé palate.

In this release there is also a fantastic array of Australian reds. One wine I wrote about last year when it made its debut, “Ladies Who Shoot their Lunch Shiraz 2010”, now returns with a Gold Medal from the 2013 Sydney International Wine Competition on its label.  At $35.95 it is truly worth the splurge for this big bold beauty. The label itself of a woman with a hunting rifle and her dog is a great conversation piece. The wine is polished and memorable.

Finally, for those of you who like Chardonnay, this is your time to shine. It was difficult to not fill my shopping list with ONLY Chards. For my $100 budget, it is still the number one best selling grape and whether you like a big buttery taste or a unoaked one, this release offers something for everyone.

Enjoy, cheers…and Happy Mother’s Day!



Domaine d’Orfeuilles Brut Vouvray

AC, Méthode Traditionnelle du Val de Loire, France
$18.95  (Vintaages #319954) 12.5% alcohol

Hands down, my #1 pick! An elegant slightly pale pink tinge to this bubbly wine, it is sure to impress. Beautiful mousse (winespeak: fine bubbles) delicious creamy texture with tastes of apricots, peaches, orchard fruit, bone dry with a long fruity finish. It is an absolute beauty to have for a luncheon or before dinner or just on its own. Although I frequently write and rave about sparkling wine, this one was over the top and is on my agenda to pick up a couple of bottles. I would pair this with just about anything – sheer yum.

Greenlane Estate Unoaked Chardonnay 2011

VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, Niagara Peninsula
$17.95 (Vintages #329409) 12.5 % alcohol

This is the first Chardonnay I have sampled from the Lincoln Lakeshore area and for the price point, it is fantastic – so much going on from the intial sip. First, it’s fresh; dry and because it is unoaked there is no butter taste or cloying mouthfeel. Lots of tree fruit, green apples, peaches with an underlining seam of minerality that one often associates with a Niagara Riesling. Very mouthcoating and medium bodied with a delectable fruit finish. This Chard would be great with summer salads and grilled chicken or fish. It’s a very versatile food wine.



13th Street Pink Palette Rosé 2012

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$14.95 (Vintages #275834) 12.5% alcohol

A beautiful pale pink colour with aromas of fresh spring air and raspberries. It is light-bodied, slightly off-dry with vibrant strawberry flavours; clean crisp acidity that coat the palate with just a hint of rhubarb. For some reason, this rosé reminded me of the red fruit pies that come from the bakery located next to the winery, but I know that is my vivid imagination and there could not possibly be any connection, or could there?


Chateau Tananda Grand Barossa Shiraz  2010

Barossa, South Australia
$22.95 (Vintages #311365) 14.5% alcohol

A deep purple, aromas of gorgeous dark fruit, mouth-coating and full bodied with layers of plums and black currant, blueberry flavours and a touch of sweet spice on the long finish.

Bone dry, soft tannins but how sweet it is! With a rack of lamb, this would be fabulous.



San Polo Auka Torrontes 2012

La Consulta, Mendoza, Argentina
$13.95 (Vintages#322842)  13.5%

Don’t let the price fool you; this is a great new wine at Vintages. Soft white in colour, very aromatic floral notes with an energetic and fresh lemony taste. It has lots of zingy acidity but it’s not over the top and offers a fairly hefty weight for a fruity crisp wine with a mouth-watering finish. It would be great with any seafood or salad, or just sitting on your patio.


Grand Total: $ 88.75


What to buy with the $11.25 in change?

I have enough for a bottle of one of my favourite general list products, Cono Sur Viognier from Chile $9.95  – one of the best kept secrets in the LCBO.   And I still have a toonie left over!




Southern Hemisphere picks at LCBO Vintages

Posted by Julie

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Having raved about Ontario wines throughout September, it is now time to have a look at the southern hemisphere. The 13th October release at LCBO Vintages focuses on “Artisanal Aussies”  as well as premium Chilean sites. I don’t think there is any purposeful connection between the two countries except they both harvest their grapes in January or February and rely on favourable big heat conditions with little risk of frost or harvest time rains- lucky for them! Consequently, their wines can be big, ripe and luscious and this release certainly has some of those.

There are also some bottles well worth a pick-up from California, many are above my budget, but if a special occasion happens to be in the near future or you’d just like to splurge on a couple of bottles for the cellar, the Ravenswood Teldeschi Single Vineyard Zinfindel 2008 at $44.95 is rich and stunning as well as the Grgich Hills Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 at $74.95. The latter, made from biodynamic grapes with silky solid flavours is memorable and beyond. Both of these would cellar well and I would be ecstatic to come across one tucked away in 3-4 years.

Also, thanks to this release, I was reminded of an Ontario winery I have yet to explore called Coffin Ridge; Grey County’s first winery overlooking Georgian Bay. This release features their “Back from the Dead Red 2010” which I have included in my $100 dollar basket. This wine is made from the Maréchal Foch grape (pictured on left), which is something of an Ontario specialty.  I think of it as our Ontario “Beaujolais” as it has similar characteristics: light to medium bodied, fruity with lively acidity. The Maréchal Foch grape has been described as a vigorous, work-horse grape that is resistant to cold, ripens early, is frequenty used in blends, but not very often on its own. Both Malivoire and Coffin Ridge produce wines made from 100% Marchel Foch – bravo for our little known Canadian grape.

Halloween wine anyone?

For anyone hosting a Halloween party, with names like “Bone Dry Riesling, Resurrection Rosé and the above, they’d be “hallowed” on any tasting bar. Coffin Ridge also won two Double Golf/Best in Categories at the 2012 All Canadian Wine Championships for their 2011 l’Acadie Blanc and 2010 Marguette. So all to say, this is a winery to watch for and it’s already on my radar for next year’s Ontario journey.

So, the wines are picked. With minimal effort, I could put together a Halloween party; I just have to find a grape costume.


Oakridge Over the Shoulder Chardonnay 2011

Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia
$24.95 (Vintages #285759)  12.3% alcohol

I am sometimes suspicious of a Chardonnay that is not golden yellow. This baby is very pale straw in colour and has many of the traditional Chard. flavours of pineapple, apricots and a  little pink grapefruit. It is wonderful to feature a dry, clean, crisp and refreshing Chardonnay that is smooth and subtle, medium bodied with a little toast and butter at the end of a very rich and delicious finish. I had the pleasure of tasting other products from the Oakridge winery and if anyone has a trip to Australia planned, it would be well worth seeking them out. I found all their wines to be complex and memorable.


Coffin Ridge Back from the Dead Red 2010

VQA Ontario
$17.00 (Vintages #260463)  12% alcohol

The Marchel Foch grape was formerly grown in the Loire, France, but because it is a hybrid (the crossing of 2 or more grape varieties) its’ cultivation is restricted by the European union. The grape was brought to Canada in 1946 by Brights Wines winemaker, Adhemar de Chaunac. How’s that for trivia?

The wine is a surprisingly deep plum in colour with aromas of mocha, sour cherry, plums, forest floor and a tad dusty smoke. It is bone dry (no pun intended!) light bodied, the above flavours follow through on the palate with a fair punch of acidity. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but with some fatty sausages to soak up all this Ontario grape – it would be magic.


Willy Gisselbrecht Tradition Gewurztraminer 2010

Alsace, France
$18.95 (Vintages #928390) 13% alcohol


There is no wonder that this was a Gold Medal winner at Concours Général Agricole 2011 in Paris.

I was going to say if only these aromas could be bottled but that is what Willy has done.  This lovely pale straw coloured wine is extremely floral with fragrances of red roses, white blossoms and lychee. While swirling this wine in the glass, I could not wait to taste it. Medium bodied, luscious, a little spice on the finish and all I could think of was enjoying this with some turkey curry (most of us have left overs) Pad Thai, spicey spring rolls or just a little chilled on its own – delicious.


Maquis Lien 2006

Colchagua Valley, Chile
$19.95 (Vintages #292250)  15% alcohol

An elegant silky beauty made from 42% Syrah, 30% Carmenere, 12% Cabernet Franc, 9% Petit Verdot, and 7 % Malbec; how could you not love it?  The Winery is located at the convergence of two rivers in the Colchagua Valley of Chile that benefits from a Mediterranean climate. Dark delicious ripe berries come forward on the palate, a little leather with just enough tannicky pucker to make an exqusite melange. Medium bodied mouthfeel but rich with a little spice on the end. Would be fabulous with any grilled meat.


Sasso Al Poggio 2006

IGT Toscana, (Piccini) Italy
$18.95 (LCBO #134809) 14 % alcohol

A dark ruby red that just glistens in the glass. Aromas of ripe cherries and a hint of licorice that follow through on the palate. Medium to full bodied; woodsy tastes with with a bit of chocolate and spice at the end of a long finish. Soft and rich in texture, an absolutely lovely smooth mouth feel; and I can’t count the dishes this could accompany, but lasagne and pasta bolognese certainly come to mind.

Grand Total: $99.80

whew – that was cutting it close !


Add bottles of Ontario wines to your Thanksgiving table

Posted by Julie

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

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

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

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

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

From my glass to yours – Happy Thanksgiving!

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

2011 Sketches Rosé

Tawse Sketches of Niagara Rosé 2011

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

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


Closson Chase Vineyard Chardonnay 2009

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

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


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

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

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

 G. Marquis The Silver Line Pinot Noir 2010

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

Bouchard Aîné & Fils Beaujolais Superieur

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

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

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


Fielding Estate Winery

Posted by Julie

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Fielding Estate Winery
– August 2012 –


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

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

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

In your Savvy Selections, you will find:

Fielding Estate Sparkling Riesling VQA – joy in a glass!

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

Fielding Estate Meritage VQA 2007 – stunning is an understatement

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

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

Outstanding wine & prices

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

Save the date: Thursday November 8th

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

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

Cheers & Enjoy!

Debbie & Savvy Team


Fielding Estate Winery

Presented by Savvy Sommelier Julie Stock


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

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

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

Ritchie works his magic!

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

The Vineyards

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

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

Hot enough for ya?

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

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

Discoveries in the cellar

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



Sparkling Riesling Brut VQA Ontario, $27.95

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

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

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

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

Fielding Estate Rock Pile 2011 Pinot Gris VQA, $24.95

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

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

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

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

Fielding Estate Meritage 2007 VQA Niagara Peninsula, 

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

With Fielding Sparkling Riesling …

Parmesan Crisps

From the kitchen of Savvy Sommelier Julie

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

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

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

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

With Fielding Rock Pile Pinot Gris …

Arugula & Hazelnut Salad

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


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

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

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

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

Tear prosciutto and scatter overtop. Sprinkle with hazelnuts.

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

With Fielding Meritage …

Recipe #1 – To serve with the Main Course

Rib Roast with Garlic Mustard Rub

Bonnie Stern’s Friday Night Dinners 

Serves 10

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Individual Yorkshire Puddings

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


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

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

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

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


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

Bittersweet Chocolate Terrine

From the kitchen of Savvy Sommelier Patti

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy your Savvy Selections!



East to West

Posted by Julie

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

The August 18 Vintages release takes you from east to west or vice versa depending where you live. We are tasting wines from the Rhone in France to Sake, that originated in Asia to the western coast of North America: Washington, Oregon and British Columbia. Sounds like a travel plan to me.

Just in time for the August 11th Ottawa’s largest South Asian Festival is a splendid assortment of sake. I did some reading on sake and learned that it is basically a wine made from pearl or short grain rice with other ingredients such as lemon or lime juice and yeast and the finer sakes are consumed cold. Like wine, it can be made at home without difficulty and the longer the sake ferments, the smoother the taste. I’m not certain sake will become the new wine, and I believe it’s an acquired taste, but it’s worth picking up a bottle for something totally different. While sushi seems to be the food of choice to serve with sake, I learned it is also is a great accompaniment with melon, seafood and soft cheeses.

In this release, there are two sakes both under $10.00 a bottle so I could not help but include one in my $100.00 shopping list. Don’t want to cook on a hot night? Pick up some sushi and have a bottle of chilled sake – talk about a refreshing surprise. The real splurge is a Japanese sake called “Kontei Pearls of Simplicity Junmai Daiginjo” at $39.95, but I thought the Canadian sake called “Izumi of the North Genshu Junmai” sake at $14.95 had lovely citrusy aromas and flavour that will awaken the taste buds.

As the winter season approaches, oh, oh I said the “w” word, there is nothing like the rich Rhone valley wines to accompany a pot roast or meaty stew.  Much as I love summer food, easy grilling, juicy field tomatoes, there is something infinitely satisfying about the smell of a roast simmering in the oven. And the wines to match- dark fruity heady aromas, dense in colour, flavours reminiscent of ripe berries with a mouth-coating velvety texture. Sheer yum. In this release there are an abundance of Rhone valley beauties. For those of you that feel like the red wine splurge for a special occasion or gift, I would recommend the Domaine De Saint Siffrein Chateauneuf-Du-Pape 2010 at $39.95. This full bodied wine just explodes on the tastebuds of deep plums, cassis, a touch herbaceousness with sure tannins and a long delicious finish.

Cheers and Enjoy,

Fielding Pinot Gris VQA 2011

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$21.95 (Vintages # 251108) 12% alcohol
A slightly pinkish pale golden colour layered with aromas of Niagara fruit: peaches, pears and apricots with crisp minerality. Definitely complex for a pinot gris with a delicious mouthfeel of soft fruit flavours that carry to the finish. I sometimes think there is not much in Pinot Gris but this one proves me wrong. A medium bodied fresh wine that would carry through as an appertif to desert, not to mention a great sipper on its own.

Domaine Grandy Vacqueyras 2010

La Cave Les Coteaux du Rhone, France
$18.95 (Vintages #287532) 14% alcohol
This won a Gold Medal at the Concours des Vins Orange 2011 and you’ll taste why. A dense deep purple that bursts with dark berries, a little pepper with noticeable tannins and a long fruity finish. Robust notes of blackberries and blueberries with a little hint of spice, it’s just perfect for a grilled steak. There is so much in this body that it could be put down for a few years or this winner can be enjoyed now.

Famille Perrin La Gille Gigondas 2010

Rhone Valley, France
$29.95 (Vintages #906073) 14.5% alcohol
A brilliant deep ruby red colour, big cherry chocholately flavours, this is wine candy! Bone dry with succulent velvety tanins and a pinch of sweet spice, with almost some floral notes. The wine has mouthcoating delicious flavours of rich fruity preserves and is mature right through to the end of its lengthy finish. I’d be delighted to sip this on its own but it would be fabulous with beef stew and some rustic French bread.

Bosman Adama White 2010

WO Western Cape, South Africa
$18.95 (Vintages #282764) 14 % alcohol
I did not recognize the name and wondered what made this wine taste so good. With a blend of Chenin Blanc (60%), Chardonnay (20%), Pinot Gris (10%), Viognier (6%) and Semillon (4%) the aromas just waft from the class and no wonder it tastes so good. All I can think of is peaches and cream in a bottle with a beautiful floral aroma of white flowers and good acidity. It is bone dry elegant, a great sipper on its own and you could pair it with any chicken or fish dish.

Hwa Rang Junmai Daiginjo Sake

South Korea
$9.70 (Vintages#225516) 14% alcohol
Pale golden in colour, with citrusy aromas. According to Winefox, in 2006 this was named Korean’s number one sake and was served at the G20 and APEC meetings in Seoul in 2008. Tastes slightly off-dry and you can almost get a little rice on the palate. It has nutty and fruity flavours and definately “not your regular white wine”. Medum bodied with good acidity and I plan to try this with some hot and spicey sushi. Don’t forget the wasabi.

Grand Total: $99.50

And if you happen to find a twenty dollar bill in the bottom of your purse or pocket, there is a Gold-Medal winning bubbly (2011 Concours des Burgundia) that I tasted called Cave de Lugny Cuvée Millésime Brut Crémant De Bourgogne 2009. A delicious refreshing sparkling wine at $18.95 with a lovely mousse (tiny bubbles) of toast and nuts. Everyone should have a sparkler for a rainy day.


Vintages Customer Favourites

Posted by Julie

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

Several times a year Vintages puts out “Customer Favourites”.  I confess I never really asked how they were chosen but I assume these are the wines that consistently sell the most.

I have read many articles from wine writers offering an opinion on the best buys for $10 and the best ones for $15-20 and so on. Of course, it all comes down to what you as a consumer like to drink. We all have our popular price point. I confess mine has gone up a little since doing pre-release tastings & having the opportunity to taste different wines I may not have otherwise tasted. But having said that, even I have my $10-$12 dollar go-to favourites, & often try different wines at that price point. I think of the Chilean Cono Sur Riesling & Viognier as an example, as well as Montalto from Italy as another. In sparkling wine, the Spanish Cava Frexienet & Italian Prosecco are great values under $15 & finally you can even find some lovely Ontario late harvest wines around that price. I’m not sure these are “LCBO customer favourites” but they are definitely some of mine, at prices where you can have an extremely elegant dinner party & not having blown your budget on wine.

In this release however, I have forecast wines that were included in the Vintages customer favourites as well as a couple I think are really good value.  Perhaps some of these are your favourites too?

Cheers and Enjoy!

Carpene Malvolti Cuvee Brut Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore

DOCG, Veneto, Italy
$14.95 (Vintages # 727438) 12% alcohol
Pale, light crisp white bubbles, who could not love the freshness of Prosecco on a hot summer day? This to me is always a “go-to” sparkling wine at a popular price. Always festive with hints of orange & lemon & a perfect match with salty antipasto. I always describe Prosecco & fresh and fruity & very food-friendly from appetizers through to dessert.

Flat Rock Nadja’s Vineyard Riesling 2011

VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula
$19.95 (Vintages #578625) 11.6% alcohol
I adore the family stories behind the Niagara Peninsula wineries & this one is no exception. Winemaker, Ed Madronich, made his mother proud naming this lovely wine after her. Doug (my husband & also a sommelier) & I visited this winery last June & was told that there is the absolute minimum influence from the winemaker that goes into this lovely Riesling. Consequently it highlights the unique features of the soil in which the grapes are grown. I have bottle tucked away & remember aromas of blooming white flowers & flavours of lime, green apple, delicious minerality, a bit of tropical like pineapple with a zesty finish. Sip after sip brings you more delicious fruit flavours – it’s really easy drinking.

Momo Sauvignon Blanc 2011

Marlborough, South Island
Seresin Estate, New Zealand
$17.95 (Vintages #9167) 13.5 % alcohol
If I had to choose only one varietal to drink the rest of my life, it would be the beautifully polished looking & clean mouth-feel of a Sauvignon Blanc. And that is not to make it sound like mouthwash. Pale gold in colour, aromas of tropical fruit but with grassy & wet stone minerality flavours. Finishes crisp, a little gooseberry (well it is from New Zealand!) & just plain tantalizing. It squirts saliva from the tastebuds & works them into getting ready for dinner.

L.A. CETTO Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Guadalupe Valley, Baja California, Mexico
$11.95 (Vintages 114066)  13.5 %alcohol
I’ll bet you did not know that Mexico is the oldest wine producing country in North and South America? All this, thanks to the Italian family of Don Angelo Cetto, who in 1924 came to Mexico from Italy. Their various Cabernet Sauvignon’s have won international awards & this dense ruby-coloured beauty demands some grilled meat to enjoy with it’s grippy tannins & dark fruit flavours. Concentrated & an amazing price for the quality. One of the LCBO’s best kept secrets.

Grant Burge Barossa Shiraz 2010

Barossa Valley, South Australia
$18.95 (Vintages#738567) 13.5 % alcohol
A deep plum colour full of dark berry favourites; black currants, blackberries, hint of blueberry with a mouthcoating velvety texture. A medium-full bodied wine that reminds me of Christmas cake spices such as cinnamon & allspice with medium tannins, acidity & a little peppery on the long finish. Absolutely perfect for a butterflied leg of lamb.

Chateau D’Angles La Clape Classique Syrah/Grenache/Mourvedre 2007

AC, Langedoc, France  Famille E. Fabre
$14.95 (Vintages #286484)  14% alcohol
This is without a doubt the classic blend of great French wines. There are so many great flavours that sift from the glass & carry on to the finish. Chocolate, leather, deep plums & blueberry, a little earth & just plain delicious with anything from a peppery steak to an assorted cheese platter. A great value, truly representative of the wines that give France its’ reputation.

Grand Total: $98.70

Well folks, I only have $1.30 left and I can’t even buy a gelato or a decent box of crackers for that price, oh I guess I could try the dollar store. But having spent my $100 on 6 great wines, much as I dislike the expression “getting a lot of bang for the buck” – I think that’s exactly what I got. Here’s hoping your dollar goes as far. Julie


Oz keeps it cool!

Posted by Julie

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

How can you not be drawn into Vintages with a caption theme of “Oz keeps its cool” showcasing hot new wines from cool-climate Victoria (Australia) and “Why we love the Loire”. I have to admit I was a tad skeptical when I saw cool-climate Victoria because I always think of Australia as having big heavy wines, or rather, grapes that have been so richly ripened under the hot Aussie sun that frequently lead to high alcohol, heavy duty wines. So this release held great interest for me.

Australia has traditionally been known for its Chardonnay and Shiraz but as we can we see from this release, they are stepping out of the traditional and into new varieties such as Pinot Noir and Tempranillo not to mention a few great blends. There are two new Pinot Noir’s, one from the Yarra Vally (Windy Peak) and another from Mornington Peninsula (Kooyong Massale) plus a zippy new wine called “Tar and Roses Tempranillo 2011” from Heathcote/Alpine Valleys in Victoria that can easily be cellared a few years.  Well bring it on, us Canadians are ready – and that’s not to say we didn’t like the traditional grapes or methods.

I would also mention that Debbie Trenholm of Savvy Company is planning a “Tour of Australia” in March 2013, so if you have ever thought of visiting the down-under, do have a look at the Savvy website  for just a snippet of what Debbie has planned. Everything from first class wine tours to cooking demo’s to staying in some fabulous cities with great scenery and itinerary. I know, I have been there. So this release has been timely to advertise some of Australia’s great wines and perhaps entice you to further explore Victoria and such places as Murray Darling, Swan Hills, the Yarra Valley and Gippsland – oh names like that just make me want to jump on a plane. Finally and speaking of names, the front cover of the Vintages has two Shiraz’s, both of which I highly recommend; one I write about below. The other is called “Ladies who Shoot their Lunch”. If you are in the mood to splurge on a special bottle of wine at $35.95, this is a blend of Shiraz and Viognier, very rich, intoxicatingly lovely with a long blackberry finish. It has a gloriously fun label and I guarantee it will definitely create some dinner conversation if you put a bottle on this on the table. To my mind, if you create a fabulous picture or label for the bottle, there is bound to be something memorable inside. This does NOT disappoint.

For those of you who have visited the Loire valley in France, the beautiful garden countryside with the Loire river meandering it’s way through this west-central region is truly memorable. The soft and easy sipping white wines and classic reds are reminiscent of stone cottages and checkered tableclothed country buffets nestled amongst beautiful shady trees. The Loire valley is romantic, the wines delicious, reasonably priced and new babies are soon on the shelf in this release. I hope you can make it out to pick up a couple of my recommendations.

Cheers and Enjoy,

Julie Stock

Tahbilk Museum Release Marsanne 2007

Nagambie Lakes, Central Victoria, Australia
$22.95 (Vintages # 276980) 12.5 % alcohol
Light straw in colour, this white wine is such a surprise. I often think of Marsanne as being a Rhone varietal used in blends but this wine is so generous in the aromas and flavours that I wonder why more winemakers have not used it on its own. There is just a hint of minerality reminding me of some grapes grown in Ontario soil. Obviously these grapes achieve the same flavour from the soil in the Nagambie Lake. Orange blossoms, ripe fruit, pineapple caught my attention and I even got some honeysuckle and peachy/pear flavours on the palate. Bone dry with a perfect acidity – it really stands out and commands attention. Every sip gave me new rich exotic flavours. It is a lovely sipper on its own but if you are going to have it for dinner – make something really nice to match this – it is worthy of more than just chicken or if chicken it is, add some pineapple or a fruit salsa.

Vincent Raimbault Les Terrages Demi Sec Vouvray 2010

Loire Valley
$17.95 (Vintages #271973) 13% alcohol
Do not be put off when you see the term “demi-sec” on the label of this Chenin Blanc. This elegant little white summer patio taster is just off-dry with fragrances of orange, quince and pear but with a hint of citrus at the end, just to keep you guessing. It hails from the Vouvray wine region located in the Loire valley, western France. Chenin Blanc is known to be a green-grape variety so that should dissuade anyone who thinks it might be too sweet for their palate. It is refreshing would be lovely for a luncheon, a spinach and strawberry summer salad, toasted almonds, a little baguette……who could want for more on a sunny afternoon?

Featherstone Sauvignon Blanc 2011

VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$19.95 (Vintages #089011) 13% alcohol
I always include a Niagara wine in my “if I only had $100.” blog. I guess if truth be told, I always discover such great Ontario wines that for the most part, I could be happy “drinking Ontario”. However, as variety is the spice of life I really enjoy a tart Sauvignon Blanc that makes the saliva squirt at the back of my mouth. This lovely pale straw white wine made me salivate when I caught a whiff of  green apples. Classic goosebery, a bit of lemon, something grassy, beautifully balanced can best sum it up. At Featherstone winery, herds of goats nibble at the grape vines which in turn help ripen the grapes as they are exposed to the sun. The grapes are also hand-picked so lots of tender loving care goes into this crisp delicious nectar. It’s simply a great wine!

Tyrrell’s Rufus Stone Shiraz 2010

Heathcote, Victoria, Australia
$19.95 (Vintages #091488)  14% alcohol
Instead of saying it is a classic Shiraz, for those of you who like rich fruit forward wines of peppery juicey black fruits, a touch of leather and tar with a rich and delicious full mouthfeel, this has your name on it. The summer BBQ season is still in full force and for those of us who like big juicy lamb chops, steak or sausages, this plummy dark wine would be a real hit at your next outdoor dinner.
I found it simply delicious like a bitter but rich dark chocolate and and an elegant black currant finish.

The Show Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

California, U.S.A.
$17.95 (Vintages #140715) 13.9% alcohol
This deep dark cherry splendour literally kicks horse (as the label demonstrates) with aromas of dark fruit, blackberries, a little leather and cassis often found in a great Cabernet Sauvignon. This rich and delicious baby really does put on a show loaded with ripe dense fruit, a little vanilla and earth, backed by medium tannins. Finishes fruity and simply yummy. Enjoy this with any grilled red meat or pork. It is pretty nice on its own too, with a little cheese if there is any left over after dinner – ummm.

Grand Total: $98.75  (whew!)

I sometimes choose an optional wine, just in cases someone is feeling rich, but since these ones came so close to $100.00 I decided not to press my luck. My pocket book only goes so far and I am useless when trying to budget for wine. So for now, if I only had $100.00 these are what I would purchase and hope they last longer than a week!

Here is wishing you delicious sipping.  Julie Stock


For Wine Lovers in Ontario, our own backyard is well stocked..

Posted by Julie

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Cherry and peach trees, grapevines – miles of them, wineries galore dotted with the odd golf course, farmhouses, B and B’s are the memories of the past week in the Niagara Escarpment. When Holly suggested I write a guest blog on Doug’s and my recent travel, I immediately responded positively although it’s hard not to write a journal, so much to see and taste!

For wine lovers, the Niagara Escarpment, Twenty Valley, Niagara-On-the-Lake locales are an oenophile paradise. While the wineries offer the usual vitis vinifera varietals: Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir etc., many have ice-wine and their own rose.  Between sipping and sampling en route, as dedicated sommeliers and wine nuts, we visited over 20 wineries, as well as attending the Cool Climate Chardonnay event held at the Tawse Winery (July 23) where 56 wineries featured their “Chards.”  For the ABC folks (anything but Chardonnay), Chardonnay still remains the most widely produced VQA in Ontario.

Every winery we visited left something memorable; whether it was the enormous stainless steel tank named Budda, at Creekside Estate Winery, or the labels on the Organized Crime Wines, telling a pictoral story of Mennonites feuding over an organ (catch the play on the word?)  Or the new Colaneri winery, 37,000 square feet, the largest winery in the region still under construction, shaped like a Roman coliseum in a hugely impressive “C” representing the Italian family and their winemaking heritage.

The viticulture was amazing at Featherstone Winery where we witnessed sheep chomping away at the grape leaves so the grapes will be exposed to sunshine which in turn, speeds up their ripening. These little sheep meander up and down the rows of vines, and it was quite humorous watching them chew the leaves. Needless to say I took pictures.

The most valuable members of the team.

Many of the wines at these boutique wineries are unavailable at the LCBO so we brought a few home. One purchase was a Featherstone rose and have since found it to be a great patio to table “spirit”.  An enchanting cranberry colour, all the ripe berry flavours, bone dry with tart acidity that practically jumps out of the glass. We have since enjoyed this with grilled shrimps, zucchini and our always tomato basil salad which makes a divine summer supper.

Sheep: appreciated for their usefulness & whimsy.

We have previously traveled the Twenty Valley and the sense of anticipation with old and new wineries never ceases to amaze and never disappoints. The people are friendly, knowledgeable and their eagerness to share the harvest makes for a magnetic welcome. We’re already talking about the wineries that we plan to visit next year. I’ve always said, you never have to look further than your own backyard in Ontario to find great wine.

Cheers, Julie


What REALLY should be on the label?

Posted by Julie

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

This year, my husband (and Savvy Sommelier) Doug Dolinski and I completed the Beer course at Algonquin College. On one of our field trips out of the classroom, we visited Heritage Brewery located in Ottawa and learned about the information that the LCBO considers acceptable (and required) to place on a label.  At this time, Heritage Brewery was applying for approval for their bitter brown ale now called Corporal’s Bitter Brown Ale. 


Beer maker and owner of Heritage Brewery, Donna Warner (and her husband Ron), explained that when the beer was first submitted to the LCBO, it was returned three times, for having an unacceptable label. Looking at the original design, I can only assume that it was too inhibiting a design as it showed a stern looking Corporal holding a cricket stick and the beer was named “Corporal Punishment”. A picture of this beer with the original label still appears on the Internet however it has now been re-named to Corporal’s Bitter Brown Ale.


This brought back to my mind a symposium I attended at the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival in April, entitled, “What’s in your wine? Truth in Labeling.”  I found the seminar to be educational and somewhat entertaining when I listened to the facilitators, winemakers, lawyers and educators debate the value of placing all the ingredients on the back of the wine bottle.  I wondered if I wanted my wine bottle to look like the back of a box of dried scalloped potato mix and if as a consumer, I would be interested in reading the label before purchasing a bottle of wine. Or would the list of ingredients dissuade my purchasing a bottle of my favorite wine? Really, does the consumer want to know that the wine was refined by egg white or particles from a sturgeon’s stomach?  Yes you read that correctly and I don’t think so. (these are winemaking techniques thought)


While labeling can lead to more consumer confidence, I’m not sure it guarantees or provides more quality control in giving one label (or wine for that matter) more credence over another. Having said that, the number of governance bodies that would have to agree on labeling is a hiatus that would make winemakers go ‘arggh if this was to be in their future.


Months ago I read an article in the Ottawa Citizen entitled “Information Overload on a Wine label” written by wine columnist and educator Rod Phillips, (who also attended the same seminar with me in Vancouver). He reported that in a five ounce glass of wine, it contains something like 7 mg of sodium, 140 mg of potassium, 4 g carbohydrate, a gram of protein and traces of calcium, niacin, vitamin B6, etc, etc. All of this information raises the nutritional awareness of the ingredients.  He cautioned however, against terms typically used on the front of a wine label such as “Reserve” which are unregulated and said that labeling is complicated depending on the law in force, where it is made and that basically there must be more consistency on labeling before regulations are imposed.


As we know, marketing or labeling does not tell the whole story. Most consumers eyes draw to the country of origin of a wine before checking out the percentage of a particular grape varietal and after that, in my opinion, wine is largely cost driven.  Do we want (or for that matter, need) to know how much yeast goes into a barrique? When it states aromas of cherry fruit, to my mind, it makes the product seem so one dimensional although even I max out when I have more than a few descriptors to read.


Interestingly enough, what prompted this blog was a trip to Prince Edward County last month when Doug and I stopped at Bergeron Estates Winery, to meet up and chat with owner Dave Bergeron. Once again the topic of labeling came up. Dave shook his head when explaining that he wanted his new cider called ‘County Point Cider’ to have a small pistol on the label (an illustration of a Loyalist artifact he found in his apple orchard). The report back from the LCBO: not a chance. Baffled, Dave said, “How come its okay for the bottlers of Captain Morgan Rum to have a swashbuckler with a sword hanging from his waistband, on that label, but I can’t have a pistol on a bottle of hard cider?”


We are all guilty of purchasing a product based on clever marketing. Who cannot be lured by cute little animals and little black dresses. It also reminds me of an instructor of mine from the Sommelier program Algonquin College who said her husband would buy anything with a horse on the label.


All this to say that whether the grapes are organic or aromatic or if the beer smells like skunk or caramel, albeit with a rewarding label, what is placed on the back of a bottle, be it wine or beer, where real estate is of prime importance, for now remains in the hands of the maker.


For those of us who truly savour and enjoy their every day table wine or beer – do we really care what’s on or behind the label?



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!