Posts Tagged ‘Niagara Ice Wine’

Deeply rooted Sue-Ann Staff & her wines

Posted by Susan

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012
Share

 

Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery

– January 2012 –

Cruise up the vine lined slopes above Jordan village, as I did last summer, and you’ll find Staff Avenue and Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery. My curiosity was piqued – what was the story behind Sue-Ann Staff’s newly opened winery, housed on her family’s historic farm? The dramatic white barn and family home come into view, a large cold-weather bell crafted in mid-1800s England gracing the entrance, ready to ring you onto the property. Exit the car and you will be greeted by a friendly, well-mannered Bernese Mountain dog named BRIX, who will lead you to the side entrance of the house. There you head into the relaxed, welcoming tasting bar that Sue-Ann and her family have set up in their farmhouse kitchen. Sue-Ann offers a warm welcome, sharing her passion for the wine, the vineyards and her family’s history.

Sue-Ann’s family emigrated from England in the late 1700s, her ancestor Robert Staff acquiring the current property over 2 centuries ago. The first vineyard was planted in 1898 by her great-grandfather comprising of 3.3 acres of Concord grapes located at the corner of Staff Avenue and 17th Street. This vineyard may be the oldest productive one in Niagara and continues to be retained by the family as a living legacy. You may in fact taste these grapes in Welch’s grape juice, as the fruit is shipped annually to the company’s processing plant in Pennsylvania. Through the generations, the Staff farming and agricultural operations have evolved. Historically, it was the largest private fruit-growing operation in Canada, with over 800 acres of grapes. And at one time, 5% of the estate was reserved for research by Jordan Wines.

Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery & Winemaker

 The prospect of a family-owned winery was often discussed at family gatherings, yet the idea became fruition one day while Sue-Ann was thinning crop with her father. ‘What are you doing?” her father asked. “I’m thinking,” replied Sue-Ann, “…I’m thinking there’s no reason I couldn’t start my own winery.” Soon after, in 2009, Sue-Ann Staff Winery opened. Sue-Ann describes the excitement as well as the terror of releasing wines under her name, aware of the significant investment she made while wondering how her wines would be received by the public. This was a fleeting moment now a couple of years later, as success has shown with several wines already sold out!

Our feature of Sue-Ann Staff Estate wines ensures Savvy subscribers have the opportunity to sample a unique selection of Sue-Ann’s wines:

      • – Staff Cabernet Franc VQA 2010the velvety, earthy laced with balsamic characteristics
      • – Megalomaniac Cabernet Frank VQA 2009 –  a BIG treat for our subscribers!
      • Megalomaniac Cabernet Sauvignon VQA 2008 – full bodied red that she made as a consulting winemaker for winery owner John Howard

OPTIONAL WINES:

Riesling Icewine VQA 2007a luscious, beautifully balanced honeyed fruit extravaganza,

– Pinot Gris VQA 2010previous vintages quickly sold out.  Given the quality of the 2010 vintage, it is anticipated that this wine will fly off the shelves

We are delighted to introduce you to Sue-Ann & her wines.  Be sure to visit the Staff farm to experience the warm welcome offered by Sue-Ann, her family & BRIX too!

Cheers!
Debbie & Savvy Team

Share

Tawse is named Winery AND Winemaker of the Year

Posted by Susan

Friday, June 10th, 2011
Share

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

Venturing to Alberta as a young man, Moray Tawse worked at a resort where he ‘fell’ into the role of wine steward, further developing his interest in wine, in particular Burgundian-style wines. In 1988, he co-founded and continues to lead a financial services firm while combining his dream of owning a vineyard in Burgundy, France. Luckily for the Canadian wine industry, fate wanted to keep this dream at home. Moray was enamored with an outstanding Chardonnay from Niagara and saw the potential for his beloved Burgundian wines in Ontario. After researching the Niagara wine scene, he purchased property in 2001 and his winery dream began to take shape.

The uncompromising attention to quality, environmental stewardship and landscape is evident as you approach the Tawse Winery. Opened in 2005, the state-of-the-art building nestles into the Beamsville Bench (aka Niagara Escarpment), boasting a six-level gravity flow vinification system that uses the naturally sloping terrain for gentle handling, assuring the exquisite bouquet and flavours of the finished product. Underground cellars maintain the ideal temperature and humidity for barrel aging, while minimizing environmental impact. The geo-thermal energy system has reduced consumption of traditional energy by 80%, and the wetland bio-filter system ensures that all sanitary and winery waste water is recycled. Biodynamic farming, sometimes referred to as “extreme organic”, is the practice of ever increasing ecological self-sufficiency on the property. The estate is farmed organically with everything done by hand. Biodynamic farming and winemaking techniques have been implemented—Ecocert and Demeter seals appear on all Tawse wines made from biodynamically cultivated fruit.

Frequently receiving accolades, the piece de resistance is undoubtedly the prestigious Canada’s Winery of the Year from Wine Access Magazine presented at the 2010 Canadian Wine Awards. Interestingly, Tawse was the first Ontario winery to receive this honor and also won an unprecedented 5 gold, 3 silver and 10 bronze medals for their wines. In addition, they won the White Wine of the Year award for its 2008 Robyn’s Block Chardonnay. And to top it all off, Tawse winemaker Paul Pender was named Ontario’s Winemaker of the Year 2011 at the Ontario Wine Awards.  Congrats to the Tawse team!

We are delighted to introduce you this month’s Savvy Selections:
Sketches of Niagara Rosé VQA 2010 – a crisp, dry & delicious Rosé perfect for sipping on your patio
Riesling VQA 2010 – just released in time to be included in Savvy Selections
Laundry Vineyards Cabernet Franc VQA 2009 – you are the very first to get your hands on this wine. It is not yet released at the winery.
Optional wine: Riesling Ice Wine VQA 2009 – subtle, elegant, and beautifully balanced

As always in the Savvy eZine, we have included the tasting notes from our Savvy Sommeliers along with recipes that Susan specifically chose to pair with each of these wines ideal for summertime entertaining.

If there is a particular wine from Tawse that you enjoyed, feel free to contact me and I would be more than happy to arrange a delivery of additional bottles to be sent to you. And if you would like to stock up on your favorite Savvy Selections wines, just give me a call to arrange a special delivery.

Cheers & Enjoy!
Debbie & Savvy Team

Tawse Winery
Presented by Sommelier Susan Desjardins

To visit Tawse is to be inspired. Here is uncompromising commitment to the vines, the grapes and the soil, respect for the environment and trust that stewardship will be rewarded with the excellence of outstanding wines.

When Moray Tawse purchased this estate in 2001, he purchased existing vineyards, some of them with vines planted in the 1970s and 1980s. He selected sites that offer unique terroir, for instance the Quarry Road site which is at the top of the Niagara escarpment, where the limestone in very accessible and minerality shines through. He called on renowned winemaker Deborah Paskus, whose Chardonnay had changed his mind about establishing a winery in France and establish roots in Niagara instead. Paul Pender (appears in photo below), fresh from Niagara College’s Winery & Viticulture program, joined as assistant winemaker. When Deborah decided to move to Closson Chase Winery in Prince Edward County, Moray called on his long-time friend, internationally renowned consulting winemaker Pascal Marchand to assist with the 2005 vintage. Paul soon took the helm and acquired his own assistant; Australian Rene van Ede who is a lab expert and has an extraordinary palate.

Known for his ‘non-interventionist as far as possible’ approach to winemaking, Paul has overseen both Tawse’s organic and biodynamic certification processes. His approach to winemaking is that of a steward (or a guardian angel), watching over the vines and grapes, ‘keeping them safe’, and then letting the wine express its sense of place. Moray Tawse has repeatedly explained in various publications the importance of the vineyard location. he is proud that the terroir at his winery is much like the region of Burgundy, France & being one of the reasons to invest in Niagara.

Growing a Biodynamic Business
The biodynamic approach used by Tawse is natural and holistic with the principal focus on treating the vineyard as an ecosystem where all the components are a self-contained integrated whole, dependent upon each other for long-term health and vitality. Those components include biodiversity, soil fertility, crop nutrition and disease/pest control – as an example, hedgerows are planted to attract beneficial insects, while cover crops are planted in the vineyard to prevent erosion and compete with the vines for nutrients, driving the roots down into the mineral layers of the soil. Various farm animals roam through the vineyards to eat weeds or excess vine foliage, their manure providing natural enrichment for the soil. And horses may be used for harvest to minimize soil compaction.

In the winemaking process, the guiding principal is to celebrate the terroir. With the changing weather of each vintage, Paul spends much of his time in the vineyard monitoring the health and quality of the fruit, sugar and acidity levels. Flexibility and quick reaction time is required, given the unpredictability of the climate – but this is what makes each vintage unique. In addition to the gentle process ensured by the gravity-flow system, wild yeasts are used wherever possible, and the same type of oak is applied in aging wines so that the unique qualities of the vineyard come through. And Tawse winemaking staff rejoices in the nature of cool-climate wines: ‘We’re an acidity-friendly winery,” states Rene, the assistant winemaker. Their goal: to create elegant, bright, pure ‘old world’ style wines.

In a interview by wine blogger Michael di Caro,  Paul was asked what he would plant were he given a few acres. Ever the pragmatist, his choices were Riesling and Chardonnay, since he feels that he could reliably produce outstanding wines from these varietals every vintage; but he’s still irresistibly drawn to Pinot Noir, because in a great Ontario vintage, it’s fantastic!

And Moray’s life long dream of making wine in Burgundy is now coming to fruition as he partners with friend and business associate Pascal Marchand to operate a cuverie (winespeak: vat room) and cellars in Nuits-St-Georges France. We look forward to featuring Marchand & Tawse labeled wine in Savvy Selections.

Cheers & Enjoy!
Susan

~ SAVVY SOMMELIER TASTING NOTES ~

Tawse Riesling VQA 2010, $19.95
Representing what’s considered a great vintage in Niagara, the fruit for this Riesling is from a single vineyard in the Vinemount Ridge appellation, known for delivering grapes with an outstanding combination of sweetness and acidity.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Almost transparent, this is a clean zesty wine. Lovely floral, sweet citrus, stone fruit and mineral aromas beckon. Vibrant acidity and mineral notes complement the bright long lasting flavours of kiwi, lime, mandarin and white peach.
Suggested Food Pairing: To quote one of our tasters “This pairs nicely with not much to do!” But we’ve included a salmon recipe to help finish the bottle!
Cellaring: Refined and flavourful, enjoy it now and cellar a few bottles to savour over the next few years.

Tawse ‘Sketches of Niagara’ Rosé VQA 2010, $14.95
This outstanding rosé was featured a few weeks ago in Vintages, yet it’s almost gone. Being a great way to kick off summer with its juicy aromas and tastes, we made sure that the winery had enough of this Rosé to include it in this months’ Savvy Selections. Enjoy!
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Watermelon pink, this blend of Gamay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and a selection of white grape varietals, this wine is appealing from the fresh fruity nose, straight through to the flavourful palate of red berry and pink grapefruit, with a lasting fruity finish that hits you with a dash of white pepper. Plain and simple – it’s delicious!
Suggested Food Pairing: Rosé is incredibly versatile – enjoy chilled as you chill out on the patio, match to light meat dishes, serve with appetizers and grilled fish.
Cellaring: Enjoy now and stock up on several bottles . . .

Tawse Laundry Vineyards Cabernet Franc VQA 2009 $31.95
Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, this not-yet-released Cabernet Franc is produced from fruit grown in an organically farmed vineyard located in the Lincoln Lakeshore appellation. You can tell from the texture and flavours that the fruit hung to optimal ripeness.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Offering depth and complexity, this is a dry, firmly structured, medium-full bodied wine with a wonderful velvety texture and enticing aromas of dried herbs, blackberry and raspberry, tobacco leaf and a hint of fresh mint. The rich fruit flavours flow across the palate and through the lengthy finish, notes of roasted peppers, espresso and a dash of pepper adding allure. Irresistible!
Suggested Food Pairing: Fire up the BBQ. This is a wine to be enjoyed with simply prepared bison, beef or lamb.
Cellaring: Drinking well now, this wine will cellar for 3-5 years.

~ RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH YOUR SAVVY SELECTION ~

With Tawse Riesling…

Gingery Grilled Salmon
From ‘Eating Well Magazine’
Serves 4

Ingredients
¼ C nonfat plain yogurt
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp freshly grated lime zest
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp canola oil
½ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
4 4-5 oz. pieces salmon fillet, ~ 1” thick

Method
1. Whisk together marinade ingredients.

2. Place salmon in a shallow glass dish and pour marinade over it, turning to coat all sides. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator fro 20-30 minutes, turning once or twice.

3. Heat grill. Using long-handled BBQ brush, coat grill rack with oil. Place salmon, skin-side up, on grill. Cook for 5 minutes. Using 2 metal spatulas, carefully turn the salmon pieces over and cook just until opaque in the centre, 6-8 minutes longer. With 2 spatulas, remove salmon from grill and slip off skin.

4. Serve over mixed greens with a simple lime, canola oil and honey dressing.

With Tawse Sketches of Niagara Rosé

Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Maple Rhubarb Coulis
Adapted from Gay Cook
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 ½ lb pork tenderloin
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 Tbsp wine or cider vinegar
2 tsp maple syrup
A dash or two of Tabasco or 1 tsp chopped canned jalapeno
½ tsp each salt & freshly ground pepper
1 Tbsp light soy sauce
2 C sliced rhubarb
1 small onion, chopped
¼ C water
1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
3 Tbsp maple syrup or to taste

Method
1. Trim any fat or membrane off pork tenderloin.

2. To make marinade, whisk together garlic, zest, oil, vinegar, maple syrup, Tabasco, soy, salt & pepper. Thoroughly turn meat in marinade & refrigerate for 1 hour. Slice tenderloin into ¾” medallions.

3. Place rhubarb in saucepan with water, onion, ginger, and maple syrup. Bring to a boil & cook gently for 8-10 minutes. Purée if necessary.

4. Grill or pan sautée the pork on medium-high heat until done, about 3 minutes each side.

5. To serve, place the rhubarb coulis on a platter or plate and place the medallions slightly overlapping down the centre.

With Tawse Laundry Vineyard Cabernet Franc…

Steaks Balsamico
From Susan’s own kitchen
Serves 4

Ingredients
¼ C oil
¼ C balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp basil, crumbled
¼ tsp each salt & freshly ground pepper
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 strip loin steaks, 1” thick (or filet mignon)

Method
1. Combine all marinade ingredients in a heavy zip-lock bag. Add meat and squeeze bag to coat steaks with marinade. Seal bag. Let stand for 30 minutes.

2. Remove steaks from marinade; discard marinade.

3. Grill steaks over medium heat on gas BBQ to desired doneness.

4. Let the wine shine through with this simple preparation.

Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!

Share