Posts Tagged ‘Mushroom Risotto’

Wine-making and film-making at Long Dog Winery

Posted by Velma

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Long Dog Vineyard & Winery
–  December 2012 –


When IMAX filmmaker James Lahti, his wife Victoria Rose, and his good friend Steven Rapkin bought property in Prince Edward County in 1999, it was not with the intention of growing grapes or making wine. The purchase of one of the oldest deeds in the County was meant to be a weekend getaway from their hectic lives in busy Toronto.

Two years later, inspired by others in the region who were successfully growing grapes, they planted 1000 vines and, three years after that, produced their first vintage – three barrels of Pinot Noir. Although the vines were young, James produced a Pinot that reminded him of his first incredible taste of this grape 40 years before in Burgundy, France. His first thought, as he recalls the memory, was “Wow! If we can produce this kind of wine with three year old vines, what are we going to be making in 10 to 15 years?”  This was the seed that started Long Dog Vineyard and Winery.

Fast forward ten years, to 2012, and the Savvy Team can answer James’ question: James can make great wines! Five of us from the team conducted a tasting several weeks ago and, I have to say, we had a hard time selecting the wines to be named Savvy Selections from the four Pinot Noirs and two Chardonnays that James sent us to sample. It was a tough job, but what can I say – someone had to do it, and I’m awfully glad it was us!

Our Savvy Sommelier Velma Leblanc also talked with James about his first taste of Pinot Noir wine in the early 1970s, about the similarities between winemaking and filmmaking, and where the name “Long Dog” comes from. Read all of these stories in the following pages of this month’s Savvy eZine.

In the end, our tasting panel selected, for your enjoyment this holiday season, three wonderful wines that have been created, as all Long Dog wines are, with 100% of grapes grown on the property of this boutique Prince Edward Country vineyard.

In your Savvy Selections, you will find:

Bella Chardonnay Riserva 2008 – a medium-bodied, well-balanced, cool-climate white, with
just a hint of oak

Otto Pinot Noir 2009an aromatic, classic Pinot Noir with a cherry finish  

Top Dog Pinot Noir 2009 – a beautiful rich red Pinot Noir that one member of the panel described
as having a velvety Santa Claus finish and that others simply described as “yummy”

Ever tried a vertical?

Vertical is wine speak for having the same variety from one particular winery from consecutive years. Long Dog has Pinot Noir from 2007, 2008 & 2009 and our Savvy Sommeliers had a delicious vertical experience during the Savvy Selections tasting panel.  We selected our top favorites for you to enjoy, yet if you would like to order additional bottles to have a Long Dog vertical, just let me know & I will arrange for additional bottles to be sent to you.

OPTIONAL WINES – Long Dog Pinot Noirs:

Top Dog Pinot Noir 2008, $30 – in the glass it looks like a light red wine, but that is totally misleading.  The aromas & taste will surprise you & blow you away! Medium bodied with BIG aromas & tastes of ripe cherries, raspberries, blackberries with velvety tannins. Ready to drink now.

Otto Pinot Noir 2007, $36 – loads of black cherry aromas that follow into the taste with lots of acidity & tannins that should mellow as it is cellared for a few more years.  This Pinot is definitely well made & will continue to evolve as it ages.  Afterall, it was from the highly acclaimed 2007 vintage.

Cheers & have a wonderful holiday!
Debbie & Savvy Team 


Long Dog Vineyard & Winery

Presented by Savvy Sommelier Velma LeBlanc


It happened 40 years ago, but it was a moment James Lahti has never forgotten.  He was 19 years old, travelling across Europe on a motorcycle, and was in the heart of wine country: Burgundy, France. He had picked up a bottle of wine at a local store, a baguette and some cheese and had stopped by the side of a river to enjoy his purchases. He opened the bottle and – at a time when most Canadians back home were sipping Baby Duck – tried his first-ever Pinot Noir red wine.

“I couldn’t believe wine could taste so good,” he said.  “Pinot has been following me around ever since,” he laughed.

Today, James is a well-known and respected IMAX filmmaker who has been in the movie business for more than 30 years.  For the last 13 years, he’s also been in the wine business.

In 1997, James (left), along with his wife Victoria Rose (middle), also a filmmaker, and a good friend Steven Rapkin, a lawyer (right), bought a 300-acre property in Prince Edward Country as a vacation getaway. It housed eight buildings, including a 150-year old home, and was meant to be a place to retreat to on weekends.

Within a year, however, James and Victoria moved their film-making business to their new property and James caught the grape-growing bug.  Inspired by others in the County who were successfully growing grapes – and after much research, soil sampling, and consultation – they planted 1000 vines: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Gamay and Pinot Blanche.

Three years later they produced their first vintage: a Pinot that exhibited some of the characteristics of the great Pinot James had tasted in Burgundy 40 years before. His first thought, was “Wow! If we can produce this kind of wine on three-year-old vines, what are we going to be making in 10 to 15 years?”

Today, Long Dog is producing some excellent wines and the 1000 vines have expanded to 25,000. More than half are Pinot Noir. Seventy percent of the other half are Chardonnay and the remainder Pinot Gris and Gamay.

“Winemaking and film-making are both creative processes, which is why I think so many people in the film business end up owning wineries,” he explained.  “As a producer and film editor, a lot of stuff gets dumped onto my desk and I say ‘OK, let’s make a movie’.  Making wine is a similar process. You have 25,000 vines giving you different fruit from virtually every vine and you say ‘OK, how am I going to make the best wine out of this?’”

James believes that a great wine starts with great grapes and, as such, takes pride in producing the best grapes possible.  A lot of it has to do with terroir – the soil and environment in which the grapes grow. “You can take the exact same grape variety and grow it and ferment it the same way, but if one vine is grown in clay soil and the other in stony limestone, you get totally different wines.”

Winemaking is as easy as A, B, C & D 

The Long Dog Vineyard is divided into four blocks – A, B, C, and D – each with a different soil type. “I keep everything separate. All my blocks (wine speak: parcels of property) are separate. All my clones are separate. And, now with the progress of the vineyard, I’m actually down to keeping some rows separate.”

The reason?  It offers him flexibility and variety when it comes to blending those grapes to make the best wines possible.  “The science is the real fun of it.”

To also guarantee great grapes, James is a “real stickler” for picking and harvesting, ensuring that no more than 30 minutes go by from the time a grape is picked to when it reaches the cool room (monitored at 5 to 6 degrees Celsius). “The minute you pick the grapes, they start to break down. The quicker you can get them cooled, the better your chances of making a good wine like Chardonnay or Pinot Noir.”

James is also a great believer in a French expression that says “the road to a great wine starts with small footsteps in the vineyard”.  He takes this quite literally and, every night, at 6 p.m. with a glass of wine in hand, 10 legs go walking – his and those of his and Victoria’s two wire-haired dachshunds dogs: Bella and Flora.

Why the name?

“Bella” is the name on the label of one of the wines from this month’s Savvy Selections, as is “Otto,” the name of the dachshund that James and Victoria had when they first moved to Prince Edward County.

Their love of dachshunds inspired the name of “Long Dog” for the winery, which James says puts a smile on many peoples’ faces when they finally come to the end of the winding country road & lay their eyes on the quaint picturesque winery & historic buildings.

“And, that’s what it’s all about,” says James, “the satisfaction of putting a smile on someone else’s face and knowing they’re enjoying your wine and your labour.


It’s the satisfaction you get when they come up to you or send you an e-mail that says ‘Hey, we just had a bottle of your wine last night and it was fantastic.”

“And, from my experience in traveling, and tasting Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays from around the world, we are producing some fantastic wines here in Prince Edward County and Niagara. We can hold our heads high, and it’s only going to get better.”



Long Dog Bella Riserva Chardonnay 2008, $18.00

Savvy Sommelier & Savvy Company founder Debbie fondly remembers her first visit to Long Dog and walking through the vineyard with James on a cool summer day.  James repeatedly called the Chardonnay vines “his girls”. Tall, trimmed with a great canopy of leaves at the top like an umbrella shading the grapes from the harsh sun.  This ensures that the grapes are slow & evenly ripen.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A well-balanced, medium-bodied, cool-climate Chardonnay that offers classic hints of butterscotch, vanilla, and tropical fruit. Very rich, smooth, and warming, with a long finish, that could be enjoyed on its own or with food.

Suggested Food Pairing:  Delivered to you in time for the holiday season, this wine would be a lovely sipping wine and would pair exceptionally well with such appetizers as savoury shortbreads (see recipe below), spicy nuts, or parmesan crisps.

Cellaring: No need to wait – enjoy it now!


Long Dog “Otto” Pinot Noir 2009 $28.00

James has 3 tiers of his Pinot Noirs – Otto is the mid-tier with Top Dog being the premium – of course! Crafting a good Pinot Noir is considered by winemakers as the pinnacle of winemaking. Pinots are difficult to grow in the vineyards and in the cellar, the wine can change so fast – for the better or worse – as it ages in the barrel.

James does an incredible job each year with his multiple Pinot Noirs – very impressive undertaking!

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This aromatic, well-balanced Pinot Noir has aromas and flavours of dried and fresh cherries. Its tannins are velvety and its finish long.

Suggested Food Pairing: The Savvy Team imagined that mushroom risotto would be absolutely delicious with this wine.  Enjoy the recipe below, mushroom crêpes, and grilled salmon. All are classic food pairings with Pinot Noir wines and this Otto is definitely a classic!

Cellaring: Enjoy the wine now or cellar it for 2-3 years.


Long Dog Top Dog Pinot Noir 2009

$35.00 (special price for Savvy Selections subscribers)

Wines named as “Top Dog” are a blend of the James’ favourite barrels.  Each wine is vinified separately according to age, location, and clone. The result is the best wine possible – naturally.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Stunning red in colour, with hints of violet, cardamom warm spice and leather.  This earthy Pinot Noir has smooth tannins and a velvety finish. To enjoy it at its best advantage, we recommend to decant for 10-15 minutes.

Suggested Food Pairing:  Serve this wine with baked trout.

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



With Long Dog Chardonnay…

Savoury Parmesan Shortbread Rounds

Bon Appétit Magazine, December 2007
Makes 24


1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces)
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
½ small garlic clove, mincedPinch of cayenne pepper
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 


Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix flour, 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, salt, garlic, and cayenne pepper in processor. Add butter and, using on/off turns, process until dough begins to come together. Gather dough into ball. Divide dough in half. Roll each half into 12-inch log, and cut each log into 1-inch pieces.

Roll each piece into ball. Arrange dough balls on prepared baking sheet, spacing about 1 1/2 inches apart. Press each ball into 2-inch-diameter round. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese over.

Bake shortbread rounds until tops are dry and bottoms are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer shortbread rounds to rack and cool completely.

DO AHEAD: Shortbread rounds can be made 1 week ahead. Store rounds in airtight container at room temperature, or freeze up to 1 month.


With Long Dog ‘Otto’ Pinot Noir

Mushroom Risotto

Gourmet Magazine, April 2005 (Velma has edited slightly)
Serves 6


1 cup dried porcini – optional
3 ¾ cups hot water
5 ¼ cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped (approx. 1 cup)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 lb fresh cremini mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 lb Arborio rice (2 1/3 cups)
2/3 cup dry white wine
½ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


Soak porcini (if using) in 1 ½ cups hot water in a bowl until softened, about 20 minutes. Lift porcini out, squeezing liquid back into bowl. Rinse to remove any grit and coarsely chop. Pour soaking liquid through a sieve lined with a coffee filter or a dampened paper towel into a 3- to 4-quart saucepan, then add broth, soy sauce, and remaining 21/4 cups water to pan and bring to a simmer.

Meanwhile, heat oil with 1 tablespoon butter in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then sauté onion, stirring, until just softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and fresh mushrooms and sauté, stirring, until mushrooms are browned and any liquid they give off is evaporated, about 8 minutes. Stir in porcini and cook, stirring, 1 minute, then add rice and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add wine and cook, stirring, until absorbed, about 1 minute.

Stir 1 cup simmering broth into rice and cook, stirring constantly and keeping at a strong simmer, until absorbed. Continue cooking and adding broth, about 1 cup at a time, stirring frequently and letting each addition be absorbed before adding next, until rice is tender and creamy looking but still al dente, 18 to 20 minutes. Thin with some of remaining broth if necessary. (You will have about 1 cup left over.) Remove from heat. Stir in cheese, salt, pepper, and remaining 5 tablespoons butter until butter is melted.

If reserving some risotto to make one of the following recipes, set aside 3 cups and cool to room temperature, then chill, covered with plastic wrap.

Stir parsley into remaining risotto and serve immediately.

With Top Dog Pinot Noir…

Maple Salmon on Asian Inspired Greens

Canadian Living Magazine
Serves 8


1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
2 lb Pacific salmon
6 Tbsp vegetable oil
6 Tbsp soy sauce
2/3 cup rice vinegar
4 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 whole red onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp finely minced gingerroot
2 lbs assorted mushrooms
6 Tbsp teriyaki sauce
6 to 8 cups baby spinach
2 Tbsp sesame seeds



In a small bowl, mix the maple syrup, soy sauce, garlic, garlic salt, and pepper.

Place salmon in a shallow glass baking dish, and coat with the maple syrup mixture. Cover the dish, and marinate salmon in the refrigerator 20 minutes, turning once.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, mix oil, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, mustard, onion and gingerroot; set aside.

Place the baking dish in the preheated oven, and bake salmon uncovered 10 minutes, or until easily flaked with a fork.

Pile mushrooms in centre of large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Drizzle with teriyaki sauce. Fold edges and ends to seal well. Place in over for the last 10 minutes to which the salmon in cooking.

Warm up the dressing which was set aside earlier in a sauce pan just until boiling.

Divide baby spinach evenly among 8 dinner plates. Top with steaming mushrooms and drizzle with warm dressing. Place 1 of salmon piece over each plate of spinach. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds for presentation.

Cheers & enjoy your Savvy Selections

 Happy Holidays to you & your family!



Lighthall Vineyard’s One Man Show

Posted by Erin

Saturday, October 20th, 2012


Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Lighthall Vineyards
–  October 2012 –


We are heading to Prince Edward County this month to discover a boutique winery that typifies what is meant by a one man show. Lighthall Vineyards is owned by Glenn Symonns who is the winemaker, vineyard manager, Sommelier, chief marketer, distributor, tractor driver, creator and sometimes the delivery guy. It is a stark contrast to his previous career as a pharmacist. While both winemaker and pharmacist are connected through chemistry, it is the ability to create that Glenn enjoys the most. ‘I truly think that I have a great job. I get to play in the cellar and make interesting wines.’ And in this month’s Savvy Selections you will certainly taste exactly what Glenn means.

I first met Glenn not at his winery, but rather when he was serving me wine during his final exam for his Sommelier Accreditation. These role playing practical exams can be un-nerving for the Sommelier ‘students’, yet I succinctly recall that Glenn handled the mock situation with panache. When he began demonstrating the 23 step process and etiquette (or is it a ritual?) of opening a bottle of wine, I could not believe my eyes that in his hands was a bottle of Huff Estates Lighthall Chardonnay VQA 2007 from Prince Edward County. Glenn did not know that I was a huge fan of this wine. I was equally amazed the he was serving a $30 bottle of wine while other Sommelier hopefuls where uncorking sub $10 wines as the judges weren`t going to sip and savour the wine – afterall the exams took place at 10am!

Curious and impressed, I commented about his wine choice and Glenn smiled back and proudly announced, ‘I just bought Lighthall Vineyards and I will be building a winery.’ That is not something you hear every day! Intrigued, I kept a lookout for Glenn on my visits to Prince Edward County. This spring, I visited his winery for the first time and have been enjoying his wines ever since.

In your Savvy Selections, you will find:

Lighthall Progression Sparkling VQA 2011 – an easy drinking Spanish cava style sparkling wine made with Vidal grapes

Lighthall Gewurztraminer VQA 2011 – an absolutely remarkable aromatic white wine – get ready to be impressed

Lighthall Pinot Noir 2010 VQA – one word : Stunning!

OPTIONAL WINE : Lighthall Pinot Noir Reserve Particuliere – Les Grands VQA 2009 – Pinot lovers beware – you will fall in love again with every sip

Stock up on these wines!

Like the sparkling? Stock up because it is almost gone…
Lighthall produces an incredibly small amount of wine. You won’t find them in the LCBO. If you would like more, simply drop me an e-mail at or give me a call at 613-SAVVYCO (613-728-8926). Heads up – the sparkling is almost gone!

Cheers & enjoy your Savvy Selections!

Debbie & Savvy Team


Patrick after the crush

Lighthall Vineyards

Presented by Savvy Sommelier Erin Bolling


As a lover and student of wine I am excited to have an opportunity to be your Savvy Sommelier and introduce you to Lighthall Vineyards. I think conducting the Savvy Selections tasting panel is a pleasure of the taste buds as well as the mind while we put our heads together to determine recipes to pair with the feature wines. Each time the Savvy Team ‘has to’ work its way through many candidates for the Savvy Selections in order to chose the final selection. Once the wines are chosen, I have the honour to interview the owners and winemakers. This conversation allows me to learn first hand about the wines and am charged with a renewed appreciation for the people behind each bottle of wine.

This month I had the pleasure of meeting Glenn Symons of Lighthall Vineyards. Since 2008, Lighthall has been a one man show. Glenn is the owner, winemaker, field manager and marketing ‘department’. You name he does it! Hearing his story made me exhausted. I can only imagine how he feels each day! In all honesty though, Glenn is overflowing with passion and enthusiasm to be a winemaker.
Pharmacist to winemaker…

Glenn bought Lighthall in 2008 after he sold his Pharmacy – yes you read that right. As a graduate of the Sommelier program at Algonquin College and an amateur winemaker (in his own home), he learned more and more about the wines in Prince Edward County (PEC). Glenn’s temptation to buy a vineyard property in PEC became reality, he dramatically change careers.

Since 2008, Glenn has doubled the size of Lighthall’s property. In addition, he changed the business from a grape growing operation where he grows grapes for other wineries, to a winery in its own right. Since then, Glenn claims that there has been no time to look back!
Being September & October, it took Glenn and I a while to connect since it was in the height of harvest. And this year, harvest was 3 to 5 weeks early. When I did finally reach him, he explained that harvest is his favourite time of year. The last of his Vidal grapes were being picked ‘as we speak’ (these grapes are not for late harvest wines). The Chardonnay and Pinot Noir came in to the crush pad the week before.
There was no doubt in our interview that Glenn was enthused about this past growing season since it was the warmest since 1968. Glenn predicts that 2012 will be an exceptional year for PEC wines and for that matter Ontario too and even broader Canadian wines too.
Overflowing with passion!

As stated earlier Lighthall is a one man show. Other than some seasonal workers, for whom Glenn built a house, Glenn does all the work of vineyard management and winemaking by himself. For the past three seasons he has put in 12 to 18 hour days. In the winter, he can be found tending the 25 acre woodlot which he uses to heat the buildings on the premises. And what comes next? Glenn has plans to try his hand at planting vines. He has his eye on a vineyard of 1 acre of just Gruner Veltliner. This varietal is an Austrian staple and is one of Glenn’s favourite types of wine. While Gruner is not planted in PEC, Glenn explains that it would be well suited to The County’s clay soil and environment. We look forward to his results. Cross your fingers!

Lighthall tasting bar

His passion for his winery is obvious in its design. His tasting bar is located in the middle of his production area. This gives Glenn the ability to share and give his visitors the opportunity to ‘see’ all aspects of the winemaking process. What a terrific experience!
Glenn makes harvest a family affair by involving his children in the crush.
The wine Glenn is most proud of (to date!) is Lighthall Pinot Noir Reserve Particuliere VQA 2009 – Les Grands. Our Savvy Team was impressed too & we offered it as an optional wine. It is hard to believe that this wine was the first red wine that Glenn ever produced…and his two eldest sons helped too!
There is no doubt that Lighthall Vineyards is a small operation with big dreams. The purchase occurred in 2008, the winery was built in 2009, the first Lighthall Vineyard wine was produced in 2009 and last year it opened to the public. When you are next in The County, be sure make a visit.



Lighthall Progression Sparkling 2011 VQA, $20.00

Vidal is a hybrid grape of Ugni Blanc and Rayon d’Or. It’s thick skin and hardiness in cold climates make it an ideal grape to grow in Prince Edward County and Niagara. This particular sparkling wine was made with 100% Lighthall grapes using Charmat method (winespeak: uses a tank second fermentation to create the bubbles).

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Very pale with aromas of white grapefruit and lime with an undertone of minerality. This dry, light sparkler has persistent light bubbles and flavours that mimic the nose with a bit of white peach and apricot thrown in. It is a refreshing wine with a pleasant mouth coating feeling and persistent zesty finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: This sparkling wine is a great starter wine on its own, or could be paired with seafood such as oysters. The tasting panel recommends it with a prosciutto and arugula pizza.

Cellaring: An excellent sipping wine that could be enjoyed now or it could be cellared for a year or two for a special occasion.

Lighthall Gewurztraminer 2011 VQA, $25.00

A classic Gewurztraminer made with high quality grapes sourced from Vineland. This is one of Glenn’s favourite grape variety.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This wine has hallmark Gewurz pale yellow with a hint of pinkish colouring. Its floral and exotic fruit aromas of lychee, rose petals, pineapple and hard candy. “I just want to keep my nose in the glass” stated one of the Savvy Sommeliers during the tasting panel. “I can’t help myself from swirling and sniffing again and again because it smells so good!”

Slightly effervescent, medium to full wine with a complex palate. You may detect lychee, honey and Turkish Delights taste as the finish lingers.

Suggested Food Pairing: This Gewurztraminer would be perfect with spicy foods such as Indian curry or Asian dishes. ‘Or even with smoked salmon’ commented one of the Savvy Sommeliers. It would also make a tremendous accompaniment to dessert. Enjoy with a pear & cream cheese tart – the recipe follows on the next pages.

Cellaring: This well structured wine is enjoyable now. You can cellar it, however the noteable vibrant aromas and tastes will tone down dramatically.

Lighthall Pinot Noir 2010 VQA, $25.00

Although Pinot Noir is known as the heartbreak grape, this red wine will only bring you joy, proudly stated Glenn.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A clear pale cherry-red colour with a typical Pinot bouquet of tar, earthiness ripe berries and warm spices. This medium-bodied, dry wine delivers sweet flavours of cherry, blackberries, white pepper and a hint a vanilla with a medium finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: This is a perfect fall food wine and would pair well with classic stuffed turkey, pork tenderloin or a selection of hearty cheeses. Savvy Sommelier Debbie discovered a new recipe of Roasted Califlower and Swiss Chard that she experimented with for her Thanksgiving feast. The recipe is on the following pages.

Cellaring: With 14.5% alcohol this wine is capable of aging another 3-5 years but drinks very well now.

OPTIONAL WINE: Lighthall Pinot Noir Reserve Particulière – Les Grands, 2009 VQA, $50.00

Glenn’s pride and joy. This rich Pinot Noir was part of an extremely low yield and as you can imagine the wine is in VERY short supply. Members of our tasting panel emailed me the following day after our Savvy Selections tasting telling me they were still dreaming about this wine so we had to offer it as an optional wine!

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A bright ruby colour with a pleasing earthy, smokey, cherry and mushrooms on the nose. The deep flavours give you tart yet ripe cherries, smoke and earthy mushrooms fill your mouth and leaves you with a pleasant woodsy, vanilla finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: Everyone agreed that this wine was a must include for October. It is versatile and would make a lovely ‘meditation’ wine on its own or a great food wine with brisket or game meat. Then when the mushroom risotto was suggested, there were many oohs and aaaahs of delight with this pairing.

Cellaring: This medium bodied wine still has time to develop so feel free to lay it down if you like.



With Lighthall Progression Sparkling VQA 2011…

Prosciutto and Arugula Pizza

Serves 4

1/2 cup small to medium arugula leaves
3 very thin slices prosciutto
2 ounces mozzarella (preferably fresh)
All purpose flour for dusting
Pizza Dough for one 9-inch pizza (click here for a good recipe)
1/2 cup Pizza Sauce – recipe below

Method for pizza sauce

Take a 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes in puree (about 3 1/2 cups) and mix with 3 Tablespoons of olive oilIn a large non-reactive saucepan bring tomatoes and oil to a simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, simmer for 20 minutes, or until sauce is reduces to about 2 1/2 cup

Season sauce with salt and cool to room temperature. This sauce keeps, covered and chilled in the fridge for 5 days and freezes well

Assemble the pizza

At least 45 minutes before baking pizza, put a pizza stone or 4 to 6 unglazed “quarry” tiles arranged close together on oven rack in lowest position in oven and preheat oven to highest setting (500°-550°F)

Trim any tough stems from arugula and thinly slice cheese.

On a lightly floured surface pat out dough evenly with your fingers, keeping hands flat and lifting and turning dough over several times, into a 9-inch round. Do not handle dough more than necessary and if dough is sticky, dust it lightly with flour.

Dust a baker’s peel or rimless baking sheet with flour and carefully transfer dough to it. Jerk peel or baking sheet once or twice and, if dough is sticking, lift dough and sprinkle flour underneath it, reshaping dough if necessary. Working quickly, top dough with sauce, spreading with back of a spoon to within 1/2 inch of edge. Arrange mozzarella slices evenly over sauce. Line up far edge of peel or baking sheet with far edge of stone or tiles and tilt peel or baking sheet, jerking it gently to start pizza moving.

Once edge of pizza touches stone or tiles, carefully pull back peel or baking sheet, completely transferring pizza to stone or tiles (do not move pizza).

Bake pizza 6 to 7 minutes, or until dough is crisp and browned, and transfer with a metal spatula to a cutting board. Scatter arugula over pizza and arrange prosciutto slices on top. 

With Lighthall Gewurztraminer VQA 2011…

Pear & Cream Cheese Tart

From: Desserts by Bonnie Stern
Serves 6 to 8

½ cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all purpose flour

2 ripe pears (preferably Bartlett)
4 oz cream cheese
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
¾ cup cream
½ tsp vanilla
¼ cup sliced almonds


Preheat oven to 425. Butter a 9 or 10” pie plate with removable sides.

For the shortbread base, cream butter and sugar together until light. Beat in flour and pat into pie plate – no need to roll it out.

Peel, halve and core pears and slice and arrange in circular rows on top of base. Stir cream cheese until smooth then beat in sugar, add eggs one at a time, beating mixture smooth after each addition then add cream and vanilla. Pour over pears & Sprinkle with almonds.

If there is any leftover custard, bake separately with any leftover pears or other fruit for a little treat for the chef.Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 and bake for 25 to 30 minutes longer, or until fruit is tender and custard is set.Serve warm or cold.

With Lighthall Pinot Noir VQA 2010 …

Roasted Cauliflower and Swiss Chard Salad

From: Long Nights and Log Fires Cookbook
Serves 4

1/4 cup olive oil
1 small head of cauliflower, separated into large florets
1 tsp ground cumin
6 large Swiss chard leaves, roughly chopped into 1 inch wide strips
1 red onion, cut into wedges
2 garlic cloves chopped
14 oz can chickpeas, rinses and drained
1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
2 Tbsps freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
sea salt


Over high heat in a cast iron pan or large skillet, put in the oil. Add the cauliflower florets and cook for 8 to 10 minutes turning often (you will want some brown or burnt looking marks – this is a good sign!). Then add the cumin and cook stirring for 1 minute, add the Swiss Chard, onion and garlic to the pan and cook for a further 2 to 3 minutes. Add chickpeas and stir. Season to taste with salt.

In a separate bowl, combine the tahini, lemon juice and pepper. Add a little salt to taste. Whisk to combine. Transfer the vegetables into a bowl and drizzle the dressing over the top to serve.

Enjoy as a rustic vegetarian dish or a side accompanying pork cutlets, baked ham or turkey.

With Lighthall Pinot Noir Reserve Particulière – Les Grands VQA 2009 …

Mushroom Risotto

From: The Essential Rice Cookbook
Serves 4

2 Tablespoons dried porcini mushrooms
1 litre (32 fl oz) vegetable or chicken stock
2 Tablespoons butter
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 ¾ cups risotto rice
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
1 cup mushrooms, sliced (a variety of mushrooms would be good)
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 Tablespoons finely chopped parsley


Soak the porcini mushrooms in 2 cups (500 ml/ 16 fl oz) boiling water for 30 minutes. Drain, reserving the liquid then chop the porcini and pass the liquid through a sieve. Pour the stock into a saucepan, bring to the boil and reduce keeping it at a low simmer.

Heat the oil and butter in a wide heavy saucepan to cook the onion and garlic until soft but not brown. Stir in the rice until it is well coated.

Add the fresh mushrooms and nutmeg; season and cook, stirring for 1-2 minutes. Then add the porcini and their liquid, increase the heat and cook until the liquid has been absorbed. Add ½ cup (125 ml/4fl oz) of the stock and stir constantly over medium heat until all the liquid has been absorbed. Continue adding stock a bit at a time until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender and creamy – which should take about 25-30 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan and parsley and serve

Enjoy your Savvy Selections!