Posts Tagged ‘Julie Stock’

Savvy Selections for the Holiday Season: Ravine Vineyard

Posted by Julie

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

You probably hadn’t bargained for a history lesson with this month’s delivery yet Ravine Estates Winery offers an abundance of both wine and history. Julie and her husband, Doug (also on the Savvy Team) visited the winery in July and spent some time with winemaker, Shawna White, walking through the vineyards as little gold finches and swallows flew about making their acquaintance and giving them a warm welcome to the “ravine.”

Are you starting to think about holiday entertaining? We can make it easy for you with this month’s Savvy Selections. Ravine is well known for their premium wines and our Savvy Sommeliers are sharing with you their hands-down favorites:

  • Ravine Vineyard Estate Riesling VQA 2010 – simply outstanding!
  • Ravine Vineyard Estate Gewürztraminer VQA 2010 – the aromas that waft from the glass will melt all holiday stresses away – guaranteed!
  • Ravine Vineyard Estate Meritage VQA 2010 – WOW! A solid red wine

In the following pages of this Savvy eZine, Julie shares history about the winery along with the Savvy Selections tasting panel’s notes and recipes to pair with the featured wines.

Optional Wines: White & Red wines under $20

Perfectly timed for stocking up for holiday entertaining, Ravine just released 2 delicious wines that are under $20. Have a stash on hand as hostess gifts or when friends drop in.  Labeled as Sand & Gravel York Road VQA 2010 (white) and Sand & Gravel Redcoat VQA 2009 (red), the wines are blends of 3 different grape varieties…the results are impressive! Comments that were flying around the table when Savvy Sommeliers & subscribers sampled the wines:

These wines are definitely crowd pleasers.”

“ Easy to drink – on its own or with hors d’oeuvres.”

“ I’ll be getting some of these for hostess gifts!”

If you would like to order some of these wines or any of your favorite Savvy Selections, simply email me to make the arrangements for a special wine delivery.

Here comes January!

We are kicking off the new year with the Savvy Selections delivery date on Friday January 13th.

From all of us at Savvy Company, we thank you for being a subscriber to Savvy Selections this year.

Here’s to a fun filled holiday season & delicious wine discoveries together in 2012!

Debbie & the Savvy TeamSavvy Company

Ravine Estates Winery

Presented by Sommelier Julie Stock

The story of Ravine is deeply rooted in history.  The vineyard and Woodruff House (shown on left), which now houses the winery’s tasting room, have a cornerstone of Canadian history. The land on which the winery sits was originally purchased in 1867 by David Jackson Lowrey, the current owner’s great grandfather.  Norma Jane (Lowrey) Harber can still remember as a child, playing in the cherry, peach and pear orchards where five farming generations later, grapes are now flourishing. She and her husband Blair Harber, decided to plant European grape varietals and wonderful for us they made that decision. I know you’ll agree after tasting this month’s selections.

The house that is now the tasting room was originally built in 1802 by David Secord, a major in the 2nd Lincoln Militia. He later sold it to a William Woodruff who was a Member of Parliament in Upper Canada and the house has kept his name.

The Woodruff House tasting room is like walking through an early 1800’s time capsule. The paint colours have been resurrected all the way down to the original fireplace that was left from the Lowrey farm homestead after it burnt down in the war of 1812. It would not surprise me if next year we see the original Lowrey house in the news as Canada celebrates 200 years since the war that helped define our nation.

During the war of 1812, the buildings in St. David’s – a grist-mill, a blacksmith shop and a general store – were all demolished. The house however was rebuilt and remains an authentic example of Loyalist Georgian architecture. Norma Jane remembers how the people in the village affectionately called it the House of Nations as many families rented and lived here when they first settled in the country. The house was later sold to a Judge on the condition it remains in tact. He eventually sold it to someone who was going to restore and relocate it to the Caledon Hills area. The subsequent owner hired a Norwegian architect who numbered and labelled all the beams and posts as the house was dismantled but unfortunately, he did not see this relocation realized.

It was after Norma Jane and her husband decided to plant a vineyard that she got wondering what happened to the original farmstead. They eventually found the “boxed up” house in Port Hope and decided to bring it home to it’s original and final resting place where we sip wine today. Many descendants still remember the “House of Nations” which is a landmark of not just St. David’s village but of Canadian history.

The Winemaker and the Vineyard

Having a conversation with Shauna White, Ravine’s wine-maker, a master craftswoman in the vineyard, was kind of like talking to your local grocer. She knew everything about the produce and production: the soil, the slopes, the wines, the year’s harvest – as in any year’s harvest and I was soon wishing I had a tape recorder to catch all her dialogue; not to mention her infectious enthusiasm and love of the land. She knew when the vines would be ripe for harvest, spoke of harvesting the grapes to encourage botrytis and noble rot (winespeak: grapes that left on the vine, shrivel and hold the most precious of nectar) as well as Ravine Vineyard’s constant experimentation with brotritis effected grapes. Shauna explained they harvested four batches of Riesling infected with noble rot last year. When grapes get infected with noble rot, the same way a great sauternes does in France, it gives the wine an intense zippy flavour.

This unique, organic 34 acre winery is located in the sub-appellation of Niagara known as St. David’s Bench. It’s position on the Bench is at the highest elevation, making the soils a little lighter, and the airflow and water drainage more consistent than in other locations in the region. Their signature grape tends to be Merlot, confirmed by the wine awards it’s been receiving. If there is a wine-making philosophy or statement behind the Ravine Vineyard Estate winery, Shauna said “wine is made in the vineyard not the winery”.

I suppose that’s easy enough for a winemaker to say, when most of us are only familiar with the basic steps of winemaking, but when Shauna was walking through the vineyard, picking up handfuls of dried caked dirt, I sensed she knew exactly what was coming out of land. She pointed to the exact locations of where the 5 acres of Pinot Noir grew, the 6 acres of Chardonnay, the 5 acres of Merlot, 4 acres of Riesling and 2 rows of Petit Verdot.

There are three main sections to the vineyard – the upper bench (the top), the slope (the hillside) and the bottom, each having different soil compositions. Shauna explained that when she and wine consultant, Peter Gamble, initially sent soil samples to Brock University, they thought the lab had made a mistake since the soil compositions were so different not only in each area of the vineyard, but also different from other soils in the region. But no, the scientists from the university said they ran the tests twice since it even surprised them. Some areas in the vineyard are higher in clay and organic content, other areas are mostly sand and low organic content, all of which result in different grape varietals giving different flavours to the wines.

Shauna is passionate about their organic and biodynamic certifications; the first taking 3 years, and the latter one more year. Ravine Vineyards has been certfied organic by Pro-Cert Organic Systems, Canada’s foremost national certification agency for organic food products with some 1,700 procedures and processors from across Canada and the United States. Similar to VQA standards the agency is compliant and accredited by the Standards Council of Canada.

Shauna also explained that there are hundred of swallows that return every year to the barn to dine on the insects in the fields and vineyard. Their pest control presence is just one reason that they can farm 100 percent organically. Official biodynamic cetification is expected in 2012.

Much has happened since Ravine Vineyard produced it’s first vintage in 2006. At the end of our tour with Shauna, Doug and I stood in the Woodruff house sampling many delicious wines. We have visited many vineyards in our world travels and whether it was the cloudy day, the walk through the sloped ravine or the Woodroffe House itself, Ravine gave us a sense of longing and timelessness that we were someplace special.

Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections now knowing it’s rich history. Cheers!


Ravine Vineyard Riesling
St. David’s Bench, VQA 2010


Grapes typically become infected with noble rot or Botrytis when they are ripe, but when they are exposed to drier conditions the grapes become partially raisined and the form of infection brought about by the partial drying process is known as noble rot. Grapes when picked at a certain point during infestation can produce particularly fine and concentrated sweet wine. Some of the finest Botrytized wines are literally picked berry by berry in successive tries (French for “selections”). In the case of Ravine vineyards, the grapes effected by noble rot give a further dimension and complexity to the wine.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  This polished light straw coloured beauty surprised us with it’s lovely aromas of honey, sweet stone fruit, hint of floral, pinch of minerality and petrol that follow through in taste offering a silky and elegant mouthfeel with just a bit of spritz. The wine is slightly off dry and well-balanced with the right amount of acidity.

Suggested Food Pairing:  The Savvy panel had no difficulty coming up with food to match this gem. A lovely drink on its own, being low in alcohol, which also makes it a perfect match for everything from Mexican burritos and Thai curries, to lemon meringue pie. It was a hands-down winner.

Cellaring: Great for drinking now or lay down for 2-3 years.

Ravine Vineyard Gewürztraminer
Niagara Peninsula, VQA 2010


Gewürztraminer was first grown in Alsace around the 19th century and like many wines, the grape and the wine share the same name as the wine is a “single varietal”.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  This was another show stopper for the Savvy Panel and we had 10 tasters at our table! Fresh aromas of lychee, sweet spice, beeswax and roses. The palate has a mouth coating texture, medium bodied, with hints of honey and peach and a slightly herbal finish, tarragon came to mind as well as a bit of lemon and lime.

Suggested Food Pairing:  While traditional Asian dishes came to mind, we all agreed that with buttered chicken there would be a line up at the door- best to have a couple of bottles for that dinner party.

Cellaring: Drink now to enjoy the freshness or within 12 months.

Ravine Meritage, Niagara Peninsula, VQA 2010

A red Meritage is made from a blend of at least two or more of the following varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot or Carmenere, with no varietal comprising more than 90% of the blend. Although many people, including many wine experts, have a tendency to pronounce the word “Meritage” by pronouncing its last syllable with a “zh” sound, as in “garage,” the Meritage Alliance specifically states that the word should be pronounced to rhyme with “heritage.”

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  A stunning, clear, medium ruby just in time for Christmas. Dark red fruits, plum, cranberry, pencil shavings, pinch of pepper and sweet spice; aromas that make this Meritage exquisitely put together. The luscious aromas follow through on the palate with hints of licorice and black cherries. A medium to full bodied wine with a long slightly tannic finish.

Suggested Food Pairing:  Thoughts to pair the Meritage varied from grilled veal chops with herbs and garlic, to any grilled meat, osso bucco and spicy sausages also entered in the discussion.

Cellaring: Great for drinking now or cellar for 3-5 years.

WHITE: Sand & Gravel York Road VQA 2010

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  A dry crisp blend of 46% Chardonnay, 30% Sauvignon Blanc, 24% Gewürztraminer that results in a well-balanced light to medium bodied wine with refreshing aromas of yellow and green apples, almonds and fresh apricots that follow through in the taste. With each sip, there is a salivating citrus rush in your mouth that makes you want to drink more!

Suggested Food Pairing:  Great on its own, with hors d’oeuvres such as chicken satay, phyllo pastry, hard and soft cheeses, hummus or even with turkey and all the trimmings.

RED: Sand & Gravel Redcoat VQA 2009

“Red coat” is a historical term used to refer to soldiers in the British army because of their red uniforms, formerly worn by the majority of regiments during the War of 1812

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  A classic Bordeaux or Meritage blend of 46% Merlot, 39% Cabernet Franc, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, this too is an easy drinking medium-bodied wine with concentrated aromas and tastes of raspberry, ripe cherries, cocoa and cranberries.

Suggested Food PairingThe decent tannins make it a great wine to pair with hearty stews, classic holiday tourtieres, comforting shepherds pie, cheese laden pizza or saucy tomato and meatballs on pasta. 


With Ravine Vineyard Riesling…
Tortilla-Crusted Whitefish with Salsa

From Chef Michael Smith’s Kitchen, 100 of my Favourite Recipes Cookbook

Serves 4


1 cup (250 ml) of all-purpose flour

2 eggs lightly beaten

2 cups (500 ml) of hand-crumbled multi-coloured tortilla chips

sprinkle of salt and lots of freshly ground pepper

4 skinned fish fillets or any white fish (about 1-1/2 pounds/750 g in totaly) patted dry

For the Salsa

1/2 cup (125 ml)  of your favourite salsa

1/2 cup (125 ml) of cherry tomatoes halved

1/2 cup (125 ml) of ciltranto leaves and tender stems

1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) of minced halapeno

2 green onions thinly sliced

the zest and juice of 1 lime

1 tablespoon (15 ml) of olive oil


Preheat your oven to 400 (200 C). Lightly oil a baking sheet.

Put the flour, eggs and tortilla chips in 3 separate bowls. Season the flour. Working with one fillet at a time, dredge the fillet in flour, coating it evenly and shaking off the excess. Dip the fillet into the egg, coating it evenly and holding it up to drain for a few moments. Finally, dip the fillet into the tortila chips, turning, pressing and sprinkling as needed so the crust adheres. Place the fish on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining fillets. Bake until the fish is cooked through and crusty, 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, toss together the salsa salad In a small bowl, mix the prepared salsa with the tomatoes, cilantro, jalapeno, green onions, lime zest and juice and olive oil. Arrange the finished fish on serving platter and top with salsa.

With Ravine Vineyard Gewürztraminer…
Easy Butter Chicken

From Dairy Farmers of Canada and Prairies Milk Marketing Partnership

Serves 4-6


2 tbsp (30 mL) butter

2 tbsp (30 mL) tandoori or tikka curry paste

1 tbsp (15 mL) minced fresh ginger root

2 tsp (10 mL) minced fresh hot pepper

1 tsp (5 mL) ground cumin

1 tsp (5 mL) paprika

1 can (28 oz/796 mL) crushed (ground) tomatoes

1 cup (250 mL) 35 % whipping cream

1-1/2 lb (675 g) boneless skinless chicken, cut into chunks

1/2 cup (125 mL) plain yogurt

1/4 cup (60 mL) chopped fresh coriander

2 tbsp (30 mL) freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice


Preheat oven to 375 °F (190 °C). Place half of butter in a 13 x 9-inch (33 x 23 cm) glass baking dish. Place in oven for about 3 min or until melted. Swirl to coat dish; set aside.

In large deep pot, melt remaining butter over medium-high heat. Cook half of tandoori paste, the ginger, hot pepper, cumin and paprika, stirring, for about 2 min or until fragrant . Add tomatoes; bring to boil. Stir in whipping cream; return to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, stirring often, for 10 min or until sauce is thickened.

Meanwhile, in bowl, combine chicken, yogurt and remaining tandoori paste; toss to combine. Spread in single layer in prepared baking dish. Bake in oven for 10 min. Pour tomato sauce over chicken; bake for about 10 min longer or until sauce is bubbling and chicken is no longer pink inside. Sprinkle with fresh coriander and lime juice.

With Ravine Meritage…
Penne with Creamy Sausage Sauce

From The CKFM Bonnie Stern Cookbook

Serves 6



3 tbsp. (50 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 tsp hot red chili flakes (optional)

1 lb (500 g) sweet or hot Italian sausages, removed from casings and crumbled

1 cup (250 ml) whipping cream

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp (1 ml) freshly ground pepper

1/4 tsp (1 ml) nutmeg

1 lb (500 g) penne

3 tbsp (50 ml) unsalted butter

1/2 cup ( 125 ml) grated Parmesan cheese

2 tbsp (25 ml) chopped parsley or basil


Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic, red chili flakes and crumbled sausage meat. Cook until all traces of pink disappear, about 5 minutes

Add the whipping cream, salt, pepper and nutmeg and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 10 minutes or  until the cream reduces and the sauce thickens somewhat.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water. Drain the noodles well but do not rinse.  Toss the noodles with the sauce, butter, cheese and parsley. Taste and adjust seasons if necessary.


Happy Holidays from all of us at Savvy Company!



Earth to earth: Ontario soil’s effects on winemaking

Posted by Julie

Monday, October 24th, 2011

My interest in soil has come from writing about the Savvy wineries for the by-the-month delivery and visiting wineries such as Coyote’s Run located in St. David’s Bench in the Niagara Escarpment, Ravine’s Vineyard (for Savvy subscribers, December’s wine delivery) and frequently visiting Prince Edward County, also known as “the County” 3 hours west of Ottawa.

First, let me start by saying I am not a soil specialist or geologist or agronomist. I remember just scrapping through Grade 10 chemistry, which is why I find it amusing that I am now writing a blog on soil.

We all know that great wine starts in the vineyard, but the more I study wine, the more I realize that it is in mother earth where it really begins and who often points to which grape to plant where, for optimum results.

The soils that engulf the Niagara Escarpment, have been compared to those in Burgundy, France, where we also share a similar latitude at approximately 44 degrees. Thousands of years ago, huge glaciers carved out the Twenty Mile Bench leaving a literal bench for growing grapes. This bench protects the soil from harsh winds yet helps the warm breezes from Lake Ontario to circulate. It is the balance of heat and coolness combined with the minerality in the soil that lends acidity to the Niagara wines. This is the same micro-climate found in the County, where the breezes from Lake Ontario temper the climate and the soil.

Most winemakers that I have interviewed, have had their soil analyzed at universities such as Brock or Guelph where there are soil experts on site. In the case of Coyote’s Run, when the owners sent their samples to Brock, the results showed that the toledo clay loam soil in one vineyard is estimated at 15,000 years old and in another vineyard the Trafalgar clay loam soil is estimated at 450 millions years old. At Ravine vineyards, the soil samples were sent back twice because there was such complexity and diverseness of soil contained in such a small acreage. Gosh, for a winemaker, where would you start?

I think that’s one reason that would make growing grapes so much fun, the “wait and see” what they will do in different types of soil. I remember one winemaker saying that, “we threw some Riesling down there to see what would happen” and another winemaker planting a variety of grapes in a small plot of gravelly limestone to see how they grow. Another winemaker said to me that “Chardonnay will go to bed anywhere”, which amused me to no end.

Both the Twenty Mile Bench and the County are blessed with a bounty of limestone, shale and clay which allows for good drainage for the grapevines.

I recently did two seminars at the TASTE festival in Picton, Prince Edward County, on “Wines to Serve with Thanksgiving dinner” and in my preparation for this, I discovered there were over 10 different kinds of soil in the County ranging from various colours of clay loam that overlay limestone bedrock and shale fragments to various specimens of gravelly and fine sand. I also learned that grapes such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay thrive in this soil, although having tasted many other County wines, they clearly have a repertoire of success with other grapes.

The stony soils allow for good drainage and force the vines to grow deeper to look for moisture during the warm summer months. Believe it or not, the limestone also acts like a sponge and retains moisture that is in part why the grapevines are so successful growing in limestone fissures. On Doug’s (my husband and also a Savvy Sommelier) and my last trip to the County we visited several vineyards and could not believe when we looked at the earth that anything grows in this rocky looking clay.

Soil science is about classification and chemical properties. I also learned that one of the most important scientific discoveries was how soil forms spontaneously from rock. Under the influence of physical factors like deformation by heat and cold, assault by wind, rain, hail and ice, and the enormous levering forces of water expanding into ice, solid rock is shattered into smaller pieces and hence over time, becomes soil.

I’ve come to have a definite appreciation for what lies beneath and like faith, what is unforeseen in our eyes. Watching grapes through veraison (winespeak: grapes’ change in colour) is exciting. Perhaps being raised on a farm left me with images of my grandfather at harvest. To say I have a great respect for grape growers and winemakers is an understatement. Winemaking sounds sexy and fun but for the grape farmers, always anxious about what mothernature is going to deliver, it is very hard work.

Thanks to the earth that connects us. Every fall we celebrate harvest and the grapes that have come to fruition.

Earth to earth, from my glass to yours.



Outstanding Undercurrent wines from Creekside

Posted by Julie

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011


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


When you hear the names Winston, Garfunkel, Mrs. Robinson, Aristotle, Marilyn, Figaro and Socrates, the last thing that would probably come to your mind is wine, yet at Creekside Estate Winery located in Niagara, these names refer to the large steel tanks found in the cellar where wine is fermenting away. Not surprisingly, these “named” tanks have their own personality too.


The name game continues… 

Does emergence of an undercurrent conjure up an image in your mind of a gale force wind or swift moving water? At Creekside, “Undercurrent” is the name of a new series of small lot wines (limited quantities crafted) that are the expression of the passion, curiosity and skill in the Creekside winemaking team. We are excited to feature two Undercurrent wines this month, drawing from an already limited supply (35 to 50 cases) of premium wines made from the grapes of the remarkable 2007 vintage.  You are in for a treat! 


Savvy Sommelier, Julie Stock, recently caught up with Creekside’s award winning winemaker, Rob Power and Director of Sales and Marketing, Matt Loney while they were on tour in Ottawa.


Julie’s interview with Rob & Matt follows on the next page as well as the tasting notes of the Savvy Sommeliers who had the forever difficult job of deciding which three wines we would feature.  We had a hard time choosing between the Malbec and the Cabernet Sauvignon – Malbec blend. Since the Malbec grape is particularly uncommon in Niagara, we selected it in order to offer you the 100% expression of this grape variety. 


We are excited to introduce you to this month’s Savvy Selections wines:

·         Reserve Sauvignon Blanc VQA 2007

·         Undercurrent White Blend VQA 2008

·         Undercurrent Malbec VQA  2007

·         Optional Wine: Undercurrent Cabernet Sauvignon – Malbec VQA 2007


Continue reading on the following pages about Creekside’s approach to blending, experimentation and craftsmanship.


You won’t find these wines at the LCBO

If you would like more of these premium wines from Creekside, simply call on us to arrange an order for you.


Cheers & Enjoy!


– Debbie & Savvy Team


NEWSFLASH: At last weekend’s Cuvee Awards – considered the Academy Awards for the Ontario wine industry, Creekside took home three of the top honours awarded by their peers. One of these prestigious awards was for the Reserve Sauvignon Blanc that is included in your Savvy Selections.  Enjoy!


Creekside Estates Winery

Presented by Sommelier Julie Stock

In 1998, Laura McCain Jensen (of PEI’s famous McCain family) and her husband, purchased a 15 acre site on Fourth Avenue near Jordan, in the heart of the Niagara Escarpment. Their address is actually Jordan Station, but Matt and Rob laughed saying – small as it is, no one thinks of us in the town of Jordan, “we’re three quarters of a mile out”. Ggeographically, the winery sits north on a sixteen mile creek which runs through the vineyard – hence the winery’s naturally fitting name. Laura already had some winemaking experience having owned a vineyard in the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia. While there was some Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc grapes already growing on the property, the vineyard was replanted with additional Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz vines, then Riesling, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Viognier planted later.


Laura hired winemaker, Craig McDonald, formerly of the internationally acclaimed Penfolds Winery in Australia and Rob Power to oversee the vineyards and the vinification (winespeak: for grape growing) who had recently graduated from the Brock University Oenology and Viticulture program.  A couple of years later, Craig & Rob teamed to be a dynamic winemaking duo that in 2008, they won the distinguished Winemaker of the Year award at the Ontario Wine Awards. Just recently, Craig moved onto a different winery & Rob now heads up the winemaking with an assistant winemaker, Erin Harvey.


The winery coming together…

While the vineyards were growing, in 1999, Creekside began ramping up its farming equipment and nicknamed each one as they were put into use: “Beverley”the new crush/de-stemmer pad, “Barney”the big purple Must pump (winespeak: must refers to the mixture of grape juice, grape skins, seeds and pulp that is left over from the crusher and de-stemmer process) and “Mitsi” the harvest forklift. In 2000, the impressive barrel cellar housing 600+ barrels was built. This cellar has modern equipment, yet the charm of an old cave.


To expand, Laura purchased an additional 50 acre block on the St.David’s Bench in Niagara-on-the-Lake.  They named this property the Queenston Road Vineyard (QRV). The Signature Shiraz VQA 2002 was grown here & impressed many to wine an Ontario Cuvee award winner.


QVR is home for most of their premium red wine production – Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and the latest being the Malbec grape, with a couple of parcels of Chardonnay and Viognier vines. In fact the Undercurrent Malbec that we are featuring in this month’s Savvy Selections is called “Small Malbec Parcel” since it was grown on a small parcel of land and only produced 110 cases of wine. 


Name that Barrel!

Rob explains, “the numbering system typically used at wineries for organizing their barrels is very boring. Since tanks and barrels can be different sizes, we started to name the tanks depending on the row they are located in the underground cellar. Logic to some, Rob continues “For example, there are rows of tanks designated as the musical corner, some tanks are named after the Beatles. There is also a row of scientists. One tank is called Buddha on account of its rotund shape (not to mention it is a 600 litre barrel!). There are 3 voluptuous barrels named after, well never mind, you get the picture!”


It is obvious that the winemaking team has fun as it shows in the quality of the wine.  To use Rob’s words, the team is eclectic, but dedicated to experimentation, creativity and joie de vivre”.


While there are also parcels of grapes used in white wines such as the Reserve Viognier, Chardonnay and Muscat,  Rob considers the Sauvignon Blanc as Creekside’s flagship wine. And the wine critics believe the same! The Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2007 included in your Savvy Selections won Gold for Best Sauvignon Blanc at the 2009 Ontario Wine Awards. Interestingly, the grapes in this wine were harvested from the “Short Block” (older vines) and the remaining 47% from the “Long Block” on the eastern end of the vineyard. When looking at the label on the Uber Sauvignon Blanc VQA 2007, the word “uber” stumped me.  Was it a grape that I forgotten about during my sommelier studies? When I confessed this during our interview, Matt and Rob both laughed explaining that it is a German word which means superior or better. And with a sip of this wine, I certainly tasted why Sauvignon Blanc is their flagship – outstanding.


Definitely a place to visit…

Rob and Matt certainly don’t sit still very long.  “we’re all about wine”, comments Rob.  They shared with me plans to focus more on organic viticulture, new projects while changing their labels & web site.  To experience the buzz at Creekside, be sure to visit & have relaxed lunch at The Deck.  And who knows, if you mention that you are a Savvy Selections subscriber, you might even get a chance to meet and greet Marilyn, Buddha and the new Rhythm and Blues barrels called Aretha and Marvin.




Reserve Sauvignon Blanc VQA 2007, $26.95  

2007 was a Canadian winemaker’s delight with a mild winter that ensured the vines were healthy and productive during the 2007 growing season. The grape juice was 100% oak barrel fermented with a variety of yeast strains and aged for a further 10 months. Besides the oak and yeast selection, it aged on lees for 11 months which all contribute to highlighting the intense tropical character found in the grapes.


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A slight greenish tinge in this polished clean pale straw coloured wine. All of the Savvy Sommeliers were impressed with the smorgasbord of aromas that results in a complex and intense nose and it is certainly unlike other Sauvignon Blanc’s we have tasted. Aromas of pineapple, gooseberry, grapefruit, grass, nuttiness and passion fruit follow through on the palate creating an elegant and silky mouthfeel with an aftertaste reminiscent of baked apple or crème caramel. The slight smoke and tropical character is no doubt the result of its having aged in oak barrels.


Suggested Food Pairing: While this wine is delicious on its own, we thought it would pair well with a light cuisine. Vietnamese spring rolls and green mango salad came to mind, and a lemon roasted chicken or steamed mussels would be perfect too.


Cellaring: Best enjoyed now, or it can be cellared 3-4 years.


Undercurrent White VQA 2008
$14.95 (500mL bottle)

The production notes state that the Muscat fruit is from a tiny planting of Muscat d’Alsace at Creekside’s Butler’s Grant Vineyard. One barrel underwent natural wild fermentation, while the other barrel of Muscat was subjected to, as Rob puts it “a bizarre yeast trial” using a strain usually reserved for full-bodied red wines. The result is a unique wine of 91% Muscat, 4.5% Sauvignon Blanc and 4.5% Gewürztraminer aged 6 months in the barrel on the original ferment lees with no lees stirring. Of course, Rob adds that the undercurrent rationale was a quirky blend of “happenstance.”


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: There are few wines that conjure up the word “elegant” but this one receives the bouquet. The Savvy team all said, “WOW” after we swirled and sniffed. The wine is extremely aromatic of orange blossoms, rose petals, lychee, kiwi and apricot went to our notes. These beautiful aromas follow through on the palate creating a taste that reminded Savvy Sommelier Debbie Trenholm of “Turkish Delights” – medium bodied with just the right amount of acidity. One Savvy Sommelier coined the finish by saying “it has a delightfully long tangerine and peach finish.”


Suggested Food Pairing: Initially, we all wanted to embellish the aromas and sip the wine on its own, but then one Savvy member said – it would be great with a quiche, or cheese soufflé, then came suggestions of proscuitto and melon and blanched almonds. The food need not be a struggle since this wine is a classy aperitif on its own. Don’t wait til summer to enjoy this treat.


Cellaring: This wine drinks well now or up to the autumn of 2012.


Undercurrent Malbec VQA 2007, $32.95

Rob tells me that, “the Creekside team have an insane desire to always try something new and make their winemaking a blend of art and science”. The Malbec grape originated in southwest France and is known for its inky dark colour and intense plum flavours. It is more at home now in Argentina and Chile where the hot climate allows it to reach its concentrated flavours. This Malbec was harvested in Niagara during October 2007, the year the grapes finally were able to show their concentration. 21 months of ageing in 100% American oak barrels. Only 110 cases were produced.

The Undercurrent wines are rarities in their limited production.


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Deep purple, dark and definitely opaque.  Enormous concentration of blueberry, black plums, hints of licorice, cassis and sweet spice. This full-bodied beauty showcases silky soft tannins on the palate and is a stunning example of the Malbec grape – levels of richness, well balanced with a beautiful long finish of ripe dark berries.


Suggested Food Pairing: All the Savvy Sommeliers agreed to prime rib or steak with blue cheese, but any grilled red meat would be a match made in heaven.  


Cellaring: The wine drinks well now or up to 2016.



OPTIONAL PURCHASE: Undercurrent Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec VQA 2007, $32.95

Undercurrent wines show the winemaker’s penchant for experimentation. The wines are uniquely numbered and in extremely limited volumes – not to be repeated. They are advertised as being “highly collectible misfits” that won’t see the light of day for long.


The Savvy Sommeliers can understand why. Notice the word “dripper” on the label below. A “dripper” is a barrel filled from the last drops out of a red fermenter tank at the end of ferment. The free run wine is “run off” to another tank, but the skins remain in the fermenter. A hose is attached to the bottom valve of the tank and fed into a barrel and the gradual compacting of the skins as they settle squeezes out more wine which goes directly into the barrel. Due to the high skin to wine ratio and the extended contact, this “Dripper” portion tends to have a massive, but fine-grained tannic structure and enormous concentration.


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Another deep purple beauty, with aromas of black plums, dark berry jam, and black pepper. On the palate these flavours carry through with some hints of figs, molasses, and a little dustiness or smoke. The tannins are pronounced with a medium, dark fruit finish.


Suggested Food Pairing: Ribs came to mind along with bbq’d sausages which would be a great match to the tannins.


Cellaring: We enjoyed it now but can be cellared until 2020.



With Creekside Estate Reserve Sauvignon Blanc VQA 2007

Shrimp, Mango and Avocado Salad

From Good Friends Cookbook

Serves 4


Ingredients – Salad

2 avocados, cubed

2 mangoes, cubed

1 pound of large shrimps, cooked, shelled, deveined

1/2 pound mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

small head of Boston lettuce


Ingredients – Dressing

1 teaspoon ginger juice (press peeled ginger through a garlic press)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoons white vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon grainy Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill



Place avocados, mangoes, shrimps and mushrooms in a glass salad bowl.


To make dressing, combine all dressing ingredients and shake well. Toss salad with dressing just before serving. Toss salad with 1 head of Boston lettuce torn in bite-sized pieces.


Makes a nice starter or a luncheon dish with some artisan bread.



With Undercurrent White Blend VQA 2008

Cheese Straws
From Barefoot Contessa – Barefoot in Paris

Note from Julie: These are really simple, but from my experience, folks always inhale them!



2 sheets (1 box) of frozen puff pastry, defrosted in frig overnight

1 extra large egg

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup finely grated Gruyere cheese

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (I use dry)

1 teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.



Preheat oven to 375 degrees


Roll out each sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured board until its 10 x 12 inches.


Beat the egg with 1 tablespoon of water and brush the surface of the pastry. Sprinkle each sheet evenly with 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, 1/2 cup of the Gruyere, 1/2 teaspoon of the thyme, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and some pepper.


With the rolling pin, lightly press the flavourings into the puff pastry. Cut each sheet crosswise with a floured knife or pizza wheel into 11 or 12 strips. Twist each strip and lay on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.


Bake 10- 15 minutes until lightly browned and puffed. Turn each straw and bake another 2 minutes. Don’t overbake or cheese will burn – cool and serve at room temperature.



With Undercurrent Malbec VQA 2007

T-Bone Steaks with Herb Garlic Butter
From Canadian Living Magazine

Serves 4



1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup mixed minced fresh herbs (rosemary, basil, parsley)

1/4 cup vermouth or marsala (optional)

2 tablespoons minced shallots

2 teaspoon grated lemon rind

2 tablespoons lemon juice

4 t-bone steaks (3/4 inch thick) (rib steaks work well too)



In a food processor, blend oil herbs, vermouth if using, shallots, lemon rind and lemon juice. Brush over steaks and let stand for 30 minutes. Place steaks on greased grill over high heat, cook for 5 minutes on each side or until medium rare or desired doneness.


Remove steaks and top each with a pat of Herb Garlic butter (recipe below).



Ingredients – Herb Garlic Butter

3 tablespoons of butter softened,

1 tablespoon each minced basil, rosemary and parlsey

2 teaspoons of lemon juice

2 cloves of garlic minced  – and sprinkle of pepper



Combine, cover and chill for up to 3 days – makes about 1/3 cup


Or a delicious alternative if to combine desired amount of crumbled blue cheese with a tablespoon of horseradish, place on steaks after grilling – let it melt in and serve. Open the wine!




With Undercurrent Cabernet Sauvignon Malbec VQA 2007

Braised Lamb Shanks with Wine & Herbs
From Friday Night Dinners by Bonnie Stern

Serves 8



8 lamb shanks, trimmed

1 tablespoon of salt

2 tablespoon vegetable oil

3 onions, coarsely chopped

12 cloves garlic, peeled

2 cups dry red wine

2 lb fresh tomatoes, peeled chopped OR 1 28 oz. tin can plum tomatoes with juices

1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped parsely (optional)



Pat lamb dry and sprinkle with salt.


Heat oil in Dutch oven over med-high heat. Brown lamb well on all sides, in batches if necessary – remove from pan.


Add onions and garlic to pan and cook for a few minutes, add wine, bring to a boil and cook for 5-8 minutes, or until liquid is reduced by half.


Add tomatoes and thyme and bring to a boil, breaking up tomatoes with a spoon. Return shanks to pan. Place parchment paper directly on the surface of the lamb. Cover with lid and cook in preheated 350 degree oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until meat is very tender.


Remove shanks from pan, skim any fact from surface and discard, Puree sauce in a food process or blender and return sauce to pan.


Remove lamb from bones in large chunks and return to sauce and heat thoroughly, garnish with parsley.




Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!



The difference is in the dirt…

Posted by Julie

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

The coolest wine tasting room – a red caboose!

Posted by Julie

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

Savvy Selections wine of the month club
features 33 Vines Winery
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep


Owner and winemaker of 33 Vines Winery, Paul Minaker, says “there is nothing like the excitement of tasting fermented grapes straight from the barrel to have the first sip of new wine”. Making wine along with driving his tractor keeps him ‘close to the land’ – his vineyard that is located on the Loyalist Highway #33 in the north eastern part of Prince Edward County, or ‘The County’.


The Savvy Team is delighted to introduce you to 33 Vines this month as we have had a deeply rooted connection to this winery.  In 2006, Paul called on us to be the Sommeliers for a VIP event he was having for the winery’s ‘Founders Circle’ members – friends, family & wine enthusiasts who were watching this property transform from a corn field into a vineyard.  Members were invited to sample County wines, provide feedback on the 33 Vines label designs, plant vines and see the renovations of the heritage barn as it readies for the first harvest.  Then in 2008, the Savvy Team were involved in the grand opening of the winery complete with winery tours, Sommelier led wine tastings in the barrel room and the evening continued with a celebration private concert featuring the Jim Cuddy Band.  Now with the winery in its second year, the wines are turning heads and the winery has become a ‘must visit’ stop with its tasting room housed in the red CN caboose.


When not devoting his life to being a winemaker, Paul is a network designer in his spare time or maybe it’s vice versa?  Hard to tell depending on the season however there is no doubt that the lure of the land is embedded in his blood, his upbringing and as he says, where he calls home.


This month, your Savvy Selections includes:

– 33 Vines Pinot Noir VQA 2008 – take note how this wine evolves in your glass

– 33 Vines Merlot VQA 2007 – a crowd pleaser

– Red Caboose Rosé VQA 2008 – medium bodied with a natural sweetness that keeps you salivating & wanting another sip!


You won’t find these wines at the LCBO! 

33 Vines is the smallest winery that has been a Savvy Selections feature. With its limited supply 2000 cases of wines handcrafted each year, their wines are only available at the winery.  To stock up on more bottles of your favorite wine, simply call on us to arrange a special delivery for you.


Watch a Savvy video on 33 Vines!

Get a taste of 33 Vines and meet Paul by watching a video that I created on a recent tour to the winery.


Cheers & Enjoy!

Debbie & the Savvy Team


33 Vines Winery

Presented by Sommelier Julie Stock


Paul Minaker says he does not have a particular winemaking philosophy nor a magic formula, rather his challenge as a winemaker is basically to make a good quality wine. Sounds simple enough?


In 2003, Paul purchased his property just east of Adolphustown on Loyalist Highway 33 (near Glenora Ferry) and immediately planted Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc grapes. This was not a spur of the moment purchase. Rather, Paul spent years of researching, analyzing vineyard growth and wine history in the area, talking to other winemakers to find the right spot for planting his vineyard. While Paul had the advantage of being born in and growing up in Picton (aka The County), he says that he devised a checklist of all the pre-requisites required for the vineyard before endeavouring on such a purchase. His check list included such items as: first and foremost, the proper soil, secondly; being close to water, third; the land had to have the right slope and elevation, to name only a few. This brings to mind the concept of terroir, which aside from land and soil and which way the wind blows, is part and parcel of the heart and soul of the person who farms the land and harvests the crop.


Paul’s first harvest was in 2006 with and his first release of wine in 2007. On his 15 acres of premium clay loam soils – similar to the soils in Burgundy, France – this small boutique winery produces a zippy Riesling, an impressive Chardonnay, an award winning Cabernet Franc, a notable Pinot Noir.  In 2007, he added Merlot to his portfolio. While one of Paul’s favorites is his Chardonnay, he is also passionate about Pinot, and he laughs saying “it can sometimes take getting used to the aromas” but with conviction, “a velvety smooth Pinot is like no other wine”.


In 2008, the focal point for the winery’s grand opening was the private concert at Crystal Palace in Picton headlining Jim Cuddy Band (Jim is Paul’s cousin and the lead singer in the popular Canadian band Blue Rodeo). With celebrity status entertainment, coupled with first rate wines, the celebration drew attention to the new boutique winery and attracted more attention to already growing popularity of Prince Edward County.


Working in the vineyard

Despite its small size, Thirty Three Vines requires the same workhorse management as larger wineries. The Thirty Three team includes a full time vineyard manager, two workers on the land, a person with tasting room expertise and additional grape pickers during harvest.


“One of the advantages of a small winery is that during harvest, grapes can be picked in the morning and crushed in the afternoon – the winemaking process begins immediately.” How does Paul decide when the are grapes ready?  “Weather can be of influence, coupled with the Ph (acidity) in the grape, the brix (sugar levels) and ultimately the taste of the grapes. Pinot Noir grape ripens first, then typically followed by Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Franc and Merlot and by the time we’ve entered well into October, five to seven tons of grapes have been harvested.”


Grapevines usually have a 30 year lifespan. However, due to the harsh winter conditions in The County, unique to this wine region, winemakers must “hill up” whereby the grapes are literally buried down to the cordon – the main branch in a grapevine. Hilling up is often done by tractor, which can be pretty hard on the vines. The exact timing to hill up takes place is tantamount to their growth and success the following year since if the vines are hilled too early in November, any significant rain that follows causes rot and vines do not like to be wet. Subsequently, the vines are “hilled down” in the spring – meaning the protective soil is removed. This too is time sensitive because hilling down too early exposes the plant to frost or leaving too late could cause the vines to shoot branches too low.  Paul and other County winemakers will attest that winemaking is neither for the short-lived or faint of heart.


The love of winemaking is sometimes juxtaposed with issues of the Federal and Provincial rules, regulations and sales that ultimately dictate what is sold at the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO). While this may be considered as a disadvantage to wine enthusiastis, it also makes a visit to small wineries worth seeking out. Highway 33 also known as the Loyalist Parkway offers blue lake on one side and vast green country farmland on the other.  Stop in to say hello at the red CN caboose and sample the variety of 33 Vines wines. It’s not only worth the stop; it’s worth the drive. After all, finding a great new wine is in part, the journey. 


Cheers & Enjoy!


~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~

33 Vines Pinot Noir VQA 2008, $24.95
Paul is passionate about Pinot Noir and he laughs saying “with this one, give it some times to get used to the aromas.” Then he continues with conviction, “a velvety smooth Pinot is like no other wine.” With that type of determination, we are sure that Paul will indeed create a great Pinot Noir.  Take note how this wine changes and evolves in your glass.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This young light to medium bodied beauty has aromas of sour cherries, violets, raspberries, a hint of tobacco and sweet spice; all the delicious aromas often found in a well balanced pinot noir. With its medium tannins, acidity and slight peppery finish it makes a perfect summer pinot noir. 

Suggested Food Pairing: The Savvy Selections tasting panel all agreed that a vast selection of foods could accompany this easy drinking pinot from pork roast to salmon or turkey and we decided it was definitely a year round wine to have on hand.

SOMMELIER TIP: lightly chill your Pinot Noir wine (10-15 min in the fridge) for a different wine experience. As the wine warms up to room temperature, you will experience an array of aromas and tastes.

Cellaring: Best enjoyed now, or cellared for up to 2 years.

33 Vines Merlot, $19.95
The eyes of our Savvy Selections tasting panel lit up when we sampled this wine. It is no doubt that Sommeliers at some of Ottawa’s restaurants agree that this wine is a crowd pleaser.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Medium garnet coloured, this Merlot is polished and practically glistens in the glass. Juicy red fruits, cranberry and a hint of blueberry penetrate the nose and follow through with silky elegance on the palate. The medium tannins and acidity play into a lingering finish of plums and dusty dark chocolate. 

Suggested Food Pairing: We were all in agreement that this wine would be a great complement to BBQed burgers, game or pasta with tomato sauce. The wine is balanced, smooth and friendly. Anyone on for making a new friend? 

Cellaring: Best enjoyed now, or cellared for up to 2 years.

33 Vines Red Caboose Rosé VQA 2008, $16.95   
Savvy Sommelier Julie declares that this is my a favourite Thirty Three Vines wine for the summer. A unique blend of Riesling and Cabernet Franc – none of the Savvy Selections tasting panel had experienced anything like this before. While rosé wines can range from bone dry to sweet, this one falls somewhere in the middle. Perfect to sip on its own, serve before a meal or do as Paul does when tasting the range of Thirty Three wines at the tasting bar – serve this Rosé chilled after enjoying red wines.


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: It has a crisp clean strawberry and cranberry looking appearance that tastes great on its own or with everything from grilled fish to our featured watermelon and feta salad. It is light weight in body and aside from red berries, displays slight aromas of mineral and an earthiness that can only come from the soil in Lennox and Addington County. 

Suggested Food Pairing: The Savvy Selections tasting panel was unanimous that this was lunch or afternoon wine and by the time we agreed to brunch, it was unanimous that one glass is not enough to enjoy its refreshing characteristics! A great sipper not to mention a great match to food including roast turkey, grilled shrimp, BBQed pork chops or picnic fare.

Cellaring: Ready to drink now, ripe but not overly sweet.



~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~


With 33 Vines Pinot Noir … 

Peppered Pork Tenderloin with Cherry Salsa


Serves 2 

This is an easy but elegant summer dinner, can be served at room temperature.



1/2 pound dark sweet cherries, pitted and chopped (about 1 cup)

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest

1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion

1 teaspoon finely chopped seeded fresh jalapeño chili pepper (tip: wear rubber gloves while chopping)

1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh coriander

3/4 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of excess fat

2 tablespoons crushed black peppercorns

1 tablespoon olive oil



1.     Preheat oven to 425°F.


2.     In a bowl stir together cherries, lime juice, zest, onion, jalapeño, and coriander.


3.     Season pork with salt and press peppercorns into it. In a large heavy skillet heat oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and brown pork on all sides.


4.     Transfer pork to a shallow baking dish and roast in oven until a meat thermometer registers 155°F., about 20 minutes. Transfer pork to a cutting board and let stand 5 to 10 minutes. Slice pork into 1/2-inch-thick medallions and serve with salsa.


With 33 Vines Merlot …


Capellini (aka Angel hair pasta) with Tomatoes and Basil 

From: Barefoot Contessa

Serves 6 

A great celebration of summer – fresh basil and cherry tomatoes from the market!



½ cup good olive oil, plus extra for the pasta pot

2 tablespoons minced garlic (6 cloves)

4 pints small cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes

18 large basil leaves, julienned

2 tablespoons chopped fresh curly parsley

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

¾ pound dried capellini or angel hair pasta

1½ cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Extra chopped basil and grated Parmesan for serving



1.     Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add two tablespoons of salt and a splash of oil to the pot.


2.     Meanwhile, heat the ½ cup of olive oil in a large (12-inch) sauté pan. Add the garlic to the oil and cook over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, basil, parsley, thyme, two teaspoons salt, the pepper, and red pepper flakes.


3.     Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for five to seven minutes, tossing occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to soften but don’t break up.


4.     While the tomatoes are cooking, add the capellini to the pot of boiling water and cook for two minutes, or according to the directions on the package. Drain the pasta, reserving some of the pasta water.


5.     Place the pasta in a large serving bowl, add the tomatoes and Parmesan, and toss well. Add some of the pasta water if the pasta seems too dry. Serve large bowls of pasta with extra basil sprinkled on top and a big bowl of extra Parmesan on the side.



With 33 Vines Red Caboose Rosé …


Watermelon, Feta and Black Olive Salad

From Nigella Lawson’s Forever Summer Cookbook and her recipe web site

This is one great summer salad!



1 ½ kg sweet ripe watermelon

250 g feta cheese

Bunch of mint and parsley chopped

1 small red onion

2-4 limes depending on juiciness

3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

100 g black olives

Black pepper



1.     Peel and half the red onion, cut into fine half moon shapes and put in small bowl with lime juice.


2.     Remove rind and pips from the watermelon, and cut into triangular chunks (bite-size)


3.     Cut feta into similar sized pieces and put both into a wide shallow bowl.


4.     Tear off sprigs of parsley so that it is used like a salad leaf rather than a garnish; add to bowl along with the chopped mint.


5.     Sprinkle or tip the glowing onions along with the now pink lime juice over the salad in the bowl; add the oil and olives then using your hands toss the salad gently so that the melon and feta do not lose their shape.


6.     Add a grinding of black pepper and taste to see if any more lime is required, to taste.



Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!




Catching up with the winemaker at Rosehall Run

Posted by Julie

Sunday, March 14th, 2010



Savvy Selections wine of the month club
featuring Rosehall Run Vineyards
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep


Winemaker and winery owner of Rosehall Run, Dan Sullivan, laughs and shakes his head when Savvy Sommelier Julie Stock asked him about his philosophy to winemaking.  “The simple answer is…there isn’t one. Mostly because there is no such thing as a recipe for winemaking – every year is different in the vineyard and the grapes will tell you what kind of wine they will be.” He goes on to explain that winemaking is like shooting footage for a movie with the grapes as the directors – dictating what images to capture. At the core of it all, Dan like all the winemakers that we have featured in the Savvy Selections, he combines the classic fundamentals of Old World vinification methods and winemaking techniques, while farming New World grapes….in his own way.


Julie and her husband Doug (also a Sommelier and a member of the Savvy Team) caught up to Dan at a winemaker’s dinner during the Taste of Winterlude last month.  Dan never misses the opportunity to participate in these interactive dinner events.  In fact, Savvy Company has hosted three lunches and dinners spotlighting Dan and his wines.  “Food and wine events are a more interactive experience rather than the jewelry shop approach commonly taken when people visit a winery. I see it all the time – visitors come in to our winery, sample a taste of wine as if trying on a piece of jewelry and then decide whether to make a purchase. Frankly, you miss out on the opportunity to try and taste many wines and a variety of food that enhances the flavours. By combining wine and food, your taste buds become better educated and you expand your wine knowledge.”


The Savvy Selections tasting panel were provided a dozen Rosehall Run wines to consider for this month’s selection. A majority of the wines have yet to be released – another Savvy Selections subscriber perk! In your delivery this month, you will find:

Rosehall Run Riesling VQA 2008 – a pre-released wine Dan made with grapes from Niagara

Rosehall Run Pinot Noir Cuvée County VQA 2008 – you are the first to receive this wine!

Rosehall Run Cold Creek Cabernet Franc VQA 2007 – a hands down favorite wine


To further enhance your enjoyment of the Rosehall Run wines, in the following pages you will find recipes Julie and our Savvy Selections tasting panel suggested to enjoy with the wines as well as their tasting notes.


Want more wines from Rosehall Run?  It is easy – simply call Debbie to arrange an order for you.


Be part of the Savvy Selections Tasting Panel!

You are invited to join Savvy Sommeliers to sip & swirl premium wines from Kacaba Vineyards to help us choose the 3 wines to be featured in the May Savvy Selections. Kacaba is famous for their BIG red wines! 

Thursday March 18, 6:30pm

Thyme & Again Creative Catering Photography Gallery, 1255 Wellington St W

Space limited to 10 people – RSVP to Debbie by email


Cheers & Enjoy!

Debbie & Savvy Team

Rosehall Run, Prince Edward County
Presented by Savvy Sommelier Julie Stock

Dan recalled the August long weekend in 2000 when he and his wife Lynn were heading to Prince Edward County and nearly turned back to Toronto because of the heavy traffic on Highway 401. Thankfully for us they didn’t since that was the weekend they found the land on which now grows some award winning wines. Having a healthy regard for the gravelly limestone in the county, Dan knew instinctively this was Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grape growing country.

In the fall of 2001, Dan planted one acre of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the same year he learned to drive the tractor without killing himself, he said laughingly. Not long after, and on another acre he called his “toy box”; he planted Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurtztraminer, Pinot Gris, Gamay, Riesling and Baco Noir grapes.  


Dan and Lynn gradually left their home renovation business in Toronto and moved to the County. Grape vines can take four to seven years for fruition, and so by 2003 they had committed to preparing for their second harvest. In 2006, they opened their winery to visitors and they now grow grapes on 23 of their 155 acres.


Learning as you grow…

The large amount of rain presented an imposing challenge in 2006. However, their largest crop of many grape varietals was produced the following year.  Dan had tremendous success especially with the Cabernet Franc grapes. Leafy and busy, Dan explained that Cabernet Franc are the most vigorous plant in the vineyard and have to be cut back continually to expose the grapes to the sun thus regulating the grape production. The 2007 Cabernet Franc Cold Creek (included in this month’s Savvy Selections) with its dark berry flavours won the Silver in the Artevino Wine Awards. And yes, a little cold creek runs through the vineyard.  The ‘West Vineyard’ as Dan calls it, compromises of 8 acres, produced winners of the Artevino 2007 County Wine awards for the 2005 Chardonnay – gold medal and 2005 Pinot Noir St. Cindy – silver medal.  


It was also in 2007 that Prince Edward County received Designated Viticultural Area (DVA) status from the provincial government – putting the County firmly on the wine world map.  


Returning to his philosophy on grape growing, Dan said that some years the vines will behave in a certain manner and adjustments have to be made accordingly. Only in the County winemakers practice ‘hilling up’ after the harvest – burying the base of the vines with 2 feet of soil.  Then in the first week (or so) of April, the vines are ‘hilled down’ – pulled out from the covering soil, then pruning begins. At any given time there are 7 to 8 people working in Rosehall’s vineyards from April to November. When asked about the time to harvest, Dan said the flavour of the grapes will tell you when to pick and the logistics with weather means looking at forecasts and sometimes making a call.  You may recall that both 2008 and 2009 were cool summers, yet weather like that is then that is when grapes such as Riesling flourish.  


Dan has an affinity with Chardonnay.  As an amateur winemaker in Toronto, Dan experimented with making all styles of Chardonnay wines. Now with his own winery, Dan’s talent shows through, most notably with his best selling wine – Chardonnay Sur Lie (winespeak: “sur lie” means the grapes rest on yeast particles after fermentation for a creamier and more complex flavour).  “It is one of my favorites – a real crowd pleaser, with just a touch of wood (winespeak: which means it spent some time in an oak barrel) not to mention lots of fruit flavours,” proudly states Dan.


Rosehall’s name game…

When I asked Dan where the name St. Cindy came from that was attached to his award winning Pinot Noir he said it was named after his sister-in-law who, as Dan puts it, “she is truly is a saint”. Similarly, the fun tongue twisting name of Sullyzwicker, is a combination of his family name, Sullivan, and his wife’s family name Zwicker. The Sullyzwicker White is a delicate white wine made from the not common Ehrenfelser grape that is incredibly aromatic, blended with Riesling grown in both PEC and Niagara. A Savvy friend, Heather Maclaclan, owner of Epicuria Fine Food & Catering in Ottawa says that “Sullyzwicker takes you from porch to table regardless of the food being served”. In keeping with the same style of easy drinking wine, Dan crafts a Sullyzwicker Red & Sullyzwicker Rosé wines too.


How about the origin of Rosehall Run?  Dan smiled and with twinkling eyes told me about a little hamlet down the way called Rosehall that has a population of about 80 – animals included. “It runs into the forest that is now just behind our place” and hence the name Rosehall Run was born.  


What a joy this story has been to tell.



~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~

Rosehall Run Riesling VQA Ontario 2008, $17.95

It takes 4 to 7 years for vines to grow grapes that are worthy of using for winemaking.  This is a long time for a new business to wait! To help wineries in Prince Edward County get a jump start on producing wines (and business), the Ontario government allows winemakers to purchase grapes from Niagara, bring them to their winery in the County to craft their own wine.  This is exactly what Dan has done to make this Riesling. Note on the label it states: VQA Ontario (meaning grapes sourced in Niagara while the wine crafted in PEC)


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Polished and pale yellow in colour, this fruity light to medium bodied wine has lovely aromas and tastes of green apple, pink grapefruit, pear and a pinch of honey.  The wine has a citrus-y crisp finish that keeps you coming back for more.  


Suggested Food Pairing: It has low acidity and is slightly off day – making it an easy wine to enjoy on its own or with something spicy, or right off the grill with a dallop of fruit chutney on the side. Julie combines both in her recipe of Curried Skewered Scallops and Mango. Our tasting panel constantly came back to this wine – definitely it will be one of our springtime favorites.  What do you think?


Cellaring: Pop in the fridge and enjoy now. No need to wait.


Rosehall Run Pinot Noir County Cuvée VQA 2008, $21.95

Rosehall Run has a growing reputation of producing some of the best Pinot Noir wines in the County.  We are excited for you to be the FIRST to enjoy this Pinot Noir as this 2008 vintage has not been released into the market yet.  Made with Pinot Noir grapes that Dan has sourced from a variety of vineyards in the County along grapes from his own property, Dan’s masterfully talent for making Pinot Noir continues to impress with every sip of this wine.


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  A light ruby red colour that is characteristic of Pinot Noir, subtle aromas of strawberry, black cherry, black currant and a whiff of black liquorice waft from the glass (the tasting panel had a great discussion about whether it was Australian black liquorice or more reminiscent of Twizzler and Goodies brand – what do you think?  It is a dry medium bodied wine with just enough acidity and tannins to balance beautifully with tart cherry flavours that lingers into a velvety finish.  


Suggested Food Pairing: Another wine that the tasting panel could not put down! Pinot Noir classic pairings include grilled salmon, roasted duck (Julie offers a recipe below), and wild mushroom dishes.


Cellaring: Best enjoyed now, or can be cellared for 2 to 3 years.



Rosehall Run Cold Creek Cabernet Franc VQA 2007, $29.95

From the stellar 2007 vintage comes one of Dan’s signature wines.


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This Cabernet Franc shows a bright garnet red colour in the glass, bursting with aromas of ripe red berries, raspberry that packs an impressive punch of dark chocolate.   On the palate it is dry, medium bodied with soft tannins reminded the tasting panel of sour cherry and casis. Yummy!


Suggested Food Pairings: The lingering finish makes this wine a perfect match for hearty grilled sausages, lamb chops and one of the tasters offer a recipe for Moroccan Tagine. Save some of this wine to enjoy with dark chocolate cake or your daily dose of 70% cocoa.  Sky’s the limit for wine and food pairings


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



~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~


With Rosehall Run Riesling …



Curried Seared Scallops with Mango Salsa
The Canadian Living Test Kitchen



24 large scallops(for maximum flavour, cook scallops just before serving)
4 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp each cinnamon and ground coriander
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Mango Salsa
1/2 cup diced peeled ripe mango
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
2 Tbsp diced sweet red pepper
2 tsp lime juice
pinch of each salt and granulated sugar



Mango Salsa

In small bowl, combine mango, jalapeño pepper, red pepper, lime juice, salt and sugar. Set aside.


Remove muscle from side of each scallop; pat dry. Arrange on paper towel–lined baking sheet; cover with paper towel, then baking sheet. Weigh down with two 28-oz (796 mL) cans; refrigerate for 30 minutes.


In bowl, combine curry powder, cinnamon, coriander, salt and pepper. Uncover scallops; coat tops and bottoms with curry mixture.



In cast-iron or nonstick skillet, heat 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the oil over medium-high heat; cook half of the scallops, turning once, until opaque inside, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towel–lined plate. Wipe out skillet; repeat with remaining scallops. To serve, top each scallop with 1 tsp (5 mL) salsa.







With Rosehall Run Pinot Noir Cuvée County …


Grilled Duck Breast with Red Wine Reduction
Everyday Dining with Wine, Master Sommelier Andrea Immer

The key to this recipe are the dried cherries in the sauce which are a classic with duck and a great cherry flavor to match the silky-textured Pinot Noir.



1 cup chicken stock

1 cup pinot noir (or other left over dry red wine)

1 shallot finely chopped

1/3 cup of dried cherries

2 boneless duck breasts about 12 ounces each

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves



Combine the stock, wine, shallot, and cherries in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer until the sauce is reduced by half and thickened – 15-20 minutes. (The sauce can be made one day in advance and refrigerated, reheat before serving.)


Preheat the grill to medium-high. Split each duck breast into 2 halves. With a sharp chef’s knife trim away any overhanging fat so that only about a strip of skin about 2 inches wide attached to each breast. Sprinkle the breast halfs on both sides with salt and pepper, place on the grill skin side down and grill covered until well browned about 8 minutes. Turn and continue to grill covered about 3-4 minutes more for medium rare, or longer if desired, but be careful not to over-grill or it will be dry. This can also be done in a sauté pan but make sure the pan is very hot before adding a couple of tablespoons of oil so the breasts will brown.


Remove breasts from grill and cover loosely with foil, let stand 5 minutes to rest. Stir the sage and thyme into the sauce and re-warm. Slice each breast to fan out on a plate and serve with the sauce on the side or drizzle over top.



With Rosehall Run Cold Creek Cabernet Franc …


Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Spiced Pine Nuts
Gourmet Magazine – recipe by Farid Zadi, February 2008


For Tagine
1 whole chicken (about 3 1/2 pound)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 large shallots, finely chopped (1 cup)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon grated peeled ginger
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
Pinch of saffron threads (optional)
1 cup water
2 tablespoons blood-orange preserves or bitter-orange marmalade
1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick
1 thyme sprig
2 cilantro sprigs
6 dried apricots, chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley


For spiced pine nuts

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
Pinch of cayenne (optional)  Garnish: lemon wedges



Cut out and reserve wings and backbone from chicken. Cut breast in half through bone, then cut off legs and cut to separate into thighs and drumsticks (for a total of 6 serving pieces, not including wings and backbone). Pat chicken pieces dry and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then brown chicken breasts, skin sides down, without turning, 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Brown thighs and legs, turning once, 8 to 10 minutes, transferring to plate. Brown wings and backbone in same manner.


Cook shallots in butter with remaining tablespoon oil in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot over medium heat, stirring frequently, until soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, turmeric, and paprika and cook, stirring, 3 minutes.


Add chicken with any juices from plate, saffron (if using), and 1/2 teaspoon salt to shallot mixture and turn chicken to coat. Add water and bring to a boil, covered, then cook at a bare simmer, covered, 30 minutes.


Turn chicken and add orange preserves, cinnamon stick, thyme, cilantro sprigs, and apricots. Simmer, covered, 10 minutes. Uncover and simmer until chicken is very tender, 10 to 15 minutes more.


Brown pine nuts while chicken cooks:

Heat oil in a small heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then stir in pine nuts, turmeric, paprika, and cayenne (if using) and cook, stirring frequently, until nuts are lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes (watch carefully; they burn easily). Transfer to a small bowl.


To serve:

Transfer chicken to a platter and keep warm, covered. If sauce is not thick, boil it down, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about 1 cup. Discard herb sprigs, cinnamon stick, wings, and backbone. Stir in chopped cilantro and spoon sauce over chicken. Sprinkle with nuts.


Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!