Posts Tagged ‘Ontario wine of the month club’

Château des Charmes make Canadian wine history

Posted by Susan

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

Savvy Selections - Ontario wine of the month club

Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Château des Charmes Estates Winery

– January 2014 –


The impressive entrance to Château des Charmes Winery with the formal gardens and the classic façade are reminiscent of an ancient French estate. Hardly surprising, as Château des Charmes has a long history of winemaking, dating back seven generations to Alsace. In the 1840s, the Bosc family ancestors were granted land in Algeria, which at that time was a French colony.

Paul Bosc at Chateau des Charmes WineryPaul Bosc Sr. was born in Algeria and built his career in the wine industry, eventually working as General Manager of one of the country’s largest and most successful wine co-operatives. With the revolution that led to Algeria’s independence in 1962, the family was forced to leave all behind and start anew back in France. It was at this time that Paul Bosc Sr. uprooted his family (his son is pictured left) and started a new life in Canada, settling first in Montreal, where he worked at the SAQ. Eventually, he met a senior representative of Château-Gai wines, who invited him to move to Niagara to apply his knowledge as an oenologist.

Working as winemaker and the Director of Research & Development Château-Gai, Paul became convinced that Ontario had to transition from growing native grapes (Concord & others) to planting vitis vinifera (winespeak: common wine grape varieties grown in Europe) to create world-class wines. By the early 1970s, Paul was crafting Ontario wines that surprised many in the wine world. In 1978, he established Château des Charmes as a 60-acre estate winery and planted the first commercial Canadian vineyard growing only vitis vinifera grapes….this is truly Canadian wine history in the making.

We’re pleased to start the year with fine wines from Château des Charmes. For many of you, this winery is a household name, yet with Savvy Selections you will be treated to their wines that you probably have not yet discovered as they are not available at the LCBO.

In your Savvy Selections you will find:

St David’s Bench Vineyard Gewürztraminer VQA 2012 – a soft silky white wine that our tasting panel of Savvy Sommeliers oohed and aahhed over with each sip.

Paul Bosc Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir VQA 2010 – concentrated & highly structured red wine from an incredible vintage & the winery’s top vineyard.

St David’s Bench Vineyard Merlot VQA 2010 – an outstanding complex, round, full bodied red wine.

How does 2013 look?

Our Sommelier Susan Desjardins caught up to the ever busy Michèle Bosc before the holidays to find out how the 2013 vintage is coming along in the early stages. Michèle explains, “Every year Mother Nature throws something new our way. If you were to ask my father-in-law (Paul Sr), he would say no vintage is perfect, but that’s true anywhere in the world. Those like him, with years of experience, can draw on that experience to make the most of any situation.” The talent of the winery team will undoubtedly impress us as they have done in the past 20+ years. Until then, we are confident that you will enjoy the outstanding wines our Savvy Sommeliers have selected for you this month.

On the following pages read more about the Bosc family, find our tasting notes & recipes to use to enjoy when you uncork your Savvy Selections wines. You won’t find these Château des Charmes wines at the LCBO

There are a handful of Château des Charmes wines on the shelves at the LCBO. Yet, many of their wines are not.  If you would like additional bottles from Château des Charmes or other featured Ontario wineries – just give me a call on 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or send me an email to to arrange a special delivery for you. Here’s to a great year filled of delicious wine discoveries together!

Debbie & the Savvy Team

Château des Charmes Estate Winery

Presented by Savvy Sommelier Susan Desjardins 

Twenty years ago, Château des Charmes opened its current winery, creating a unique landmark in the Niagara. Paul Bosc designed the building with a green roof, to pay homage to Canadian landmarks such as the Château Laurier & the Château Frontenac, which embodied strength & perseverance to the young immigrant family.

Bosc Family - Savvy SelectionsA true pioneer of the Canadian wine industry, Paul Bosc Sr. (second from left in photo) was honored for his impact & vision with an Order of Canada in 2005.  Recently he was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012, recognizing his extensive contribution in putting the Canadian wine industry on the world wine map.

Château des Charmes is truly a family business in every sense of the word. Paul’s wife Andrée (far left) is the winery matriarch & ambassador, while son Paul Jr. (far right) is the president, daughter-in-law Michèle (second from right) is director of Marketing & the third generation – Paul & Michèle’s 7 year old son Alex – is often seen walking the vineyards with his grandfather & father. Everyone at the winery is focused on extending the warm Bosc hospitality to each guest that visits.

Akin to many family-owned businesses, there is always someone ready to help out wherever needed. During my interview with Michèle, she explains, ‘During harvest, Paul Sr. is in and out of the winery at all hours of the day. We’re farmers, after all. We all pitch in to do what has to be done’.

A taste of the place

The wines featured in your Savvy Selections are made with grapes harvested from two of the four vineyards within Niagara-on-the-Lake that comprise of the 280 acres owned by the Bosc family.

The founding property

Chateau des Charmes Vineyard Savvy Company wine of the month clubPaul Bosc Estate Vineyard caught Paul Sr.’s attention due to the land’s proximity to the Niagara Escarpment and the distance from Lake Ontario. He understood these were critical conditions in the area, and recognized that these characteristics were similar to those of the Rhône valley in Burgundy France where he studied oenology.

Spanning 60 acres of clay loam, the vines on this estate were initially planted in the early 1980s, with the first grape harvest in 1988. (Five to 10 years is quite typical for wineries to wait until the grapes grown are of quality to use in winemaking).

In this vineyard there are several classic French grape varieties, including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, producing wines described as earthy and masculine. This vineyard is also where Paul Bosc Sr. conducts his research of pioneering new grape varieties, as well as the location of the Bosc family home and horse farm.

And across the street…

St. David’s Bench vineyard is located on the other side of the road from the Paul Bosc Estate Vineyard.  Extending over 85 acres, its silky clay loam (‘Halimand clay loam’) provides excellent growing conditions for a broad range of grapes varieties including Château des Charme’s own Gamay Noir ‘Droit’, (the first vitis vinifera discovered & registered in Canada by Paul Bosc Sr), Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer along with other classic Bordeaux varieties. This property sits at a relatively high elevation – 145 to 150 meters above sea level. Its bluff shelters the north-facing vineyards from cool south-westerly winds that predominate in the spring. While the spring is somewhat warmer on this vineyard, the shelter of the Niagara Escarpment creates a tendency to slightly cooler weather during the late ripening season, providing an opportunity to grow fruit full of character that shows through finely crafted wines.

Several shallow, seasonal streams run through the vineyard that provides drainage for the escarpment ground water, bringing limestone-rich water to the roots of the vines and creating the more mineral character found in the wines from this site. To ensure appropriate drainage at the time the vineyard was planted in 1990, they installed the then most extensive under-vineyard drainage system in the world!

An extension of the family

The Vineyard Manager, Miguel Fontalvo, comes from a family of farmers in Columbia & has a distinguished degree in Agricultural Engineering. He comments, ‘The St. David’s Bench is an incredible site, while the Paul Bosc Estate vineyard has some rare south-facing slopes.’

Stewards of the land

Sustainable agriculture practices are extensively used as part of their commitment to be stewards of the land. These laborious practices include tilling under the weeds between the vines to provide additional nutrients (rather than using herbicides), hand-thinning & hand harvesting the grapes, using geothermal energy in the cellar, ensuring no air conditioning or heating is required.

Let’s raise a glass to pioneering spirit of the Bosc family!


St. David’s Bench Vineyard Gewürztraminer 2012 VQA, $19.95

The grapes for this wine were hand harvested from vines planted in 1996 on the west side of the Château. This wine is vinified with a touch of residual sugar to, says Paul Bosc, ‘round the mouth feel’. Can you feel it when you sip on this wine?

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Flourishing that touch of residual sugar, this perfumed ‘Gewürz’ offers lovely floral notes, honey, tropical fruit and sweet spice. It’s silky, well balanced, tangy and slightly pithy, on the finish – as it should be! 

Suggested Food Pairing: Raclette, charcuterie or lightly spiced Asian & Indian foods are classic matches for Gewürztraminer wines.  Susan offers a recipe for Citrus Spiced Chicken to enjoy with this wine.

Cellaring: No need to cellar, uncork & enjoy!

Paul Bosc Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir 2010 VQA $35.00

Produced only in years in which the vintage warrants (2010 was considered a stellar vintage), this big, structured Pinot Noir also benefits from the sustainable practices in the vineyards & use of geothermal energy in the winery’s cellars.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Intensively aromatic and structured with the intention to lay down this wine, this red wine displays aromas and flavours of cherry, berry and blackcurrant matched to an underlying earthiness. The tannins make their presence felt, followed by a rush of ripe fruit mingling with notes of spicy toast and dried herbs that persist on the mouth-wateringly long finish. Elegant yet powerful. We recommend to decant for 2-3 hours before serving. 

Suggested Food Pairing: Michèle suggests pairing this with herb-crusted lamb (recipe below) or enjoy with a hoisin-glazed planked salmon. 

Cellaring: This wine will cellar a further 5-8 years. 

St. David’s Bench Vineyard Merlot 2010 VQA $29.95

Akin to the Pinot Noir, this wine is made only in the best vintages.  It is no wonder why this wine is award winning. Fermented in temperature-controlled conditions, aged 12 months in French oak and crafted for you to stash away in your cellar.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  This is a robust, complex wine with flavours of black cherry, plum, berries, black licorice, vanilla and a whiff of cedar. Dry, medium-full bodied, it’s round and fruity, yet well-framed by ripe tannins and fresh acidity. There’s a touch of mineral on the palate, clean juicy fruit, pepper and notes of toast and dark chocolate through the long dry finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: Try this with pepper steak (recipe below) or garlic & herb pork loin rack.

Cellaring: This wine is drinking well now & it will cellar a further 5-8 years. 


With St. David’s Bench Vineyard Gewürztraminer…

Citrus Spiced Chicken

Dinner Tonight Cookbook by Lucy Waverman
Serves 4


Grated rind & juice of 1 orange
Grated rind & juice of 1 lime
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp hot red pepper flakes
1 tsp ground cumin
3 Tbsp soy sauce
4 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander (optional)
2 lb. chicken thighs (may use boneless/skinless) or 4 boneless chicken breasts
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp butter


Combine rind and juice of orange & lime, mustard, hot pepper flakes, cumin, soy sauce & 2 Tbsp coriander.

Place chicken in dish & pour half of marinade over chicken. Reserve remaining marinade.

Marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes to 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 375F & remove chicken from marinade, draining well and season with salt & pepper and discard marinade.

Heat oil in skillet on medium-high heat, then fry chicken, skin side down, for 3 minutes. Turn & fry second side for 3 minutes.

Place chicken in baking dish & bake for 15-20 minutes or until juices run clear. Combine remaining marinade, honey & balsamic vinegar in small saucepan and bring to boil on high heat & simmer 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low & whisk in butter, then stir in remaining 2 Tbsp coriander.

Pour sauce over chicken & serve on rice, couscous, or noodles. 

With Paul Bosc Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir

Herbalicious Rack of Lamb

The Flavour Principle by Lucy Waverman & Beppi Crosariol

Serves 4


1 ½ C fresh bread crumbs
¼ C finely diced seeded tomato
½ C chopped fresh thyme
½ C chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
Salt & freshly ground pepper
¼ C butter, melted
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 lamb racks (8 chops each), frenched
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard


Combine bread crumbs, tomato, thyme, parsley, rosemary, garlic, salt pepper and melted butter.

Mix well & transfer to a shallow dish then put aside. Preheat oven to 400F.

Heat a large ovenproof skillet over high heat & add oil. Season lamb with salt & pepper. Sear lamb, fat side down, for 2 minutes. Turn over & sear for 2 more minutes. Upend racks & sear meaty ends. Turn racks bone side down & place skillet in oven.

Roast racks for 7 minutes then remove from oven & brush mustard over meat. Roll racks in bread crumb mixture & return to pan, bone side down.

Roast for another 10-15 minutes or until just pink.Let lamb rest 5 minutes before carving.


With St. David’s Bench Vineyard Merlot…

Bistecca Fiorentina

The Flavour Principle Cookbook by Lucie Waverman & Beppi Crosariol
Serves 2-3 – Let the wine shine with this simple recipe!


1 porterhouse Steak (2 lb., 2” thick)
2 Tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper

Garnish: 1 Tbsp olive oil (optional) & Maldon, or other finishing salt


Preheat grill to high and brush steak with oil & season with salt & pepper.

Grill for 7-8 minutes per side for rare, turning once then let sit for 10 minutes.

Carve off both the filet & the sirloin. Slice both the filet & the sirloin into ½” slices.

Drizzle a little olive oil on steak if desired & season with Maldon salt.

Bistecca can be finished as follows:
-served with lemon quarters
-drizzled with a drop of balsamic vinegar
-served with an arugula salad, or
-sprinkled with chopped garlic & parsley.

Roast vegetables would make an excellent side dish with this special steak & wine.


Enjoy your Savvy Selections!




Wine made with honey? Only at Rosewood…

Posted by Wayne

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Savvy Selections wine of the month club
features Rosewood Estates Winery & Meadery
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep





We all know that wine is made with grapes, sometimes other fruits, yet did you know that wine can be made with honey too? This month’s featured winery Rosewood Estates Winery & Meadery located on the Beamsville Bench (Niagara Escarpment) wowed our Sommelier tasting panel with outstanding wines and meads (wines made with honey).  Savvy Sommelier Wayne Walker was eager to interview Rosewood’s winemaker Natalie Spytkowsky.  After they chatted on the phone for what seemed like an hour, Wayne quickly called me to share his new knowledge about mead. The first words out of his mouth was “Wow, Natalie is a really cool person”. It is fascinating people like Natalie who we like to introduce you to with your Savvy Selections each month and they look forward to meeting you when you visit their winery.


Natalie has been a long time friend of Savvy Company since she was one of the first winemakers we featured in a winemaker’s dinner event in 2005. At the time she was the winemaker at Angel’s Gate Winery making impressive aromatic white wines (Angel’s Gate was a Savvy Selections featured winery in January 2006). A few years later, she hopped the fence (literally – Rosewood is right next door to Angel’s Gate) to help professional beekeepers, Renata and Eugene Roman, build Rosewood Estates into a winery and a meadery.


In the attached Savvy eZine, Wayne gives you a Mead 101 (see page 8) as well as an interview with Natalie about her approach of making wine as naturally as possible – natural yeast is one of her secret ‘ingredients’.


In your Savvy Selections, you will find these delicious wines that WOWed the Savvy Selections tasting panel:

– Rosewood Gewürztraminer VQA 2008

– Rosewood Chardonnay Reserve VQA 2008

– Rosewood Pinot Noir VQA 2008

OPTIONAL: Ambrosia Grand Reserve Mead 2006


Enjoy honey? 

Rosewood’s honey is delicious and whenever I am in Niagara, I make a point to visit Rosewood to stock up on wine, mead & jars of their honey. If you would like to try their honey too, just let me know and I will arrange to have it…delivered!


You rarely find Rosewood wines at the LCBO

There is a cult like following of Rosewood’s wines and with their limited supply of 5000 cases, their wines sell out fast.  When you have a Rosewood favorite and you would like additional bottles, simply call on me to arrange a special delivery for you. Likewise if after reading all about Rosewood’s meads you would like to try them – Wayne HIGHLY recommends Ambrosia (see page 4), “It’s like nothing I have ever tasted before”, call on me to arrange a special delivery for you.


Cheers & Enjoy the rest of your summer!

– Debbie & the Savvy Team






Rosewood Estates Winery & Meadery

Presented by Sommelier Wayne Walker


Beekeepers & Winemakers Create a Sweet Deal
“Renata and Eugene Roman purchased 40 acres of land in 2000, which is now home of Rosewood Estates Winery and Meadery. Their goal was to start a small-batch artisanal winery and meadery. This property is located on prime Beamsville Bench terroir. At Rosewood, 15 acres makes up the planted vineyard; approximately 2 acres is for the apiary and the rest is part of the beautiful forested area of the Niagara Escarpment.”


This is how Rosewood Estates identifies itself – a   small-batch winery and meadery. As Winemaker, Natalie Spytkowsky tells it, wines and meads are all about “small and natural”. This philosophy is what allows selective hand harvesting of grape clusters, extensive sorting of grapes to get the best of crop and whole cluster pressing of grapes in gentle cycles. There is no crushing. Grape clusters go straight to the tank and are allowed to settle in cold temperatures. As much as is possible, Natalie naturally ferments the red varietals (winespeak: juice of single grape varieties) rather than introducing commercial yeasts. She explains that it takes more time to complete the winemaking process, but in six or seven months after fermentation, it is her opinion that “the wine opens up better and shows more richness and complexity”. Of course this winemaking approach takes passion, patience and commitment.


Small tanks (5,000 litres) and production around 5,000 cases allows for more care and more exacting monitoring of processes. The Chardonnay Reserve for example that is one of this month’s selections is part of a 4 barrel production. A great example of the Rosewood philosophy in motion!  (Rosewood Gewürztraminer, also a selection this month, just won a Gold Medal at the 2008 Cuvée Competition – considered as the Academy Awards of Ontario wines.


The meadery side of Rosewood takes on the same philosophical and practical approach. A second generation beekeeper, Eugene Roman realized a teenage dream by teaming up with Natalie to produce mead (honey wine). Mead is made by fermenting honey and water. There are three apiaries attended by the Romans that are positioned throughout the Beamsville Bench. As you might expect, the bees are busy travelling throughout the region.  Natalie explains to me that one bee will visit one million flowers to produce one pound of honey. It may fly a distance as far as 4 times around the world collecting the raw materials for honey. Just think of all the choices it has in the Niagara wine and fruit region?


Rosewood puts all its talents together when it makes meads like Mead Noir and Mead Blanc where the juices from grape varietals like Gewürztraminer and Pinot Noir are used instead of water with the honey. This is known as ‘pyment’ and it takes advantage of the properties of both the honey and the wine.


Savvy Selections is offering you what I consider is the ‘la crème de la crème’ this month by making Ambrosia (an ancient style mead) available on request. I hope you like it as much as the Savvy Selections tasting panel did.

Set on the natural clay loam of The Bench, Rosewood is on a wind protected site, good for the grapes and good for the bees. The Romans have just bought another parcel of land on 20 mile bench to expand its artisanal efforts.


As for the future?
Natalie says, “We are staying on track. We like where we are right now. Our size is fine. We have more control over our vineyard than larger operations and we grow 100% of our own grapes (and honey).


“None of our wines will be a clone of its former self. Everyone here is a piece of the puzzle that makes our wines and meads. For us this generates passion which in turn generates creativity”,explains Natalie. “The spirit of Rosewood is ‘Passion Grows Here!’”


And I think that passion is palpable and drinkable!


Here’s to Rosewood’s wines & meads.
Enjoy your Savvy Selections!



~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~


Rosewood Gewürztraminer VQA 2008, $18.00

The grapes for this wine were harvested from the Wismer vineyard near Balls Falls in Vineland. A state of the art Euroselect Destemmer equipment which destems with less vibration and trauma was used on the hand-harvested crop. Gently pressed then fermented in stainless steel tanks, the juice is soaked with the skins for 48 hours to extract colour, flavor and aromatics.


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  This wine establishes itself as very aromatic with very pleasant experiences of lychee, tropical fruit and rose dust. The aromas transfer to the same strong flavours on the tongue with the addition of stone fruits and sweet spice. All this is delivered in a honeyed texture characterized by subtle sweetness and balance. The long finish accentuates the power of this wine’s profile.


Suggested Food Pairing: This wine has the answer to some very difficult pairing problems! Hot dishes like Pad Thai and Indian curry – are spicy & have exotic ingredients that are best with a wine with low acidity and good fruit structure. This Gewürztraminer is perfect for exactly that reason! Moving away from spicy foods to cheeses – you may already experienced the difficulty of matching hard and soft cheeses with a single wine. Because of its texture and fruit profile, this Gewürztraminer easily handles with the hard and soft cheese matching issue: soft Boursin from France, the exotic hard Garrotxa from Spain or Wensleydale from England are all a perfect companion with a glass of this wine. Various ages of good old Canadian Cheddar shine! Fruit glazed ham and stuffed pork chop with bacon and Gouda are dynamite.


Cellaring: Drink now at 8C to 12C. Short term cellaring 12 to 18 months is possible, but you don’t want to loose the aromas or fruit flavours that will be compromised if you cellar this wine too long.


Rosewood Reserve Chardonnay VQA 2008, $25.00

The grapes for this wine were hand harvested and hand sorted in the winery – a lot of fingerprints involved in making this wine. An interesting note on the processing of these grapes is that they are picked and sorted and pressed in clusters. Battonage (winespeak: regular stirring in the tanks) is done to keep the yeast in suspension and add to the luxurious mouth feel and texture of the wine.


This is a special treat for our subscribers as only 4 barrels were produced of this wine.

Don’t wait too long to contact us if you want more.


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Elegant and sophisticated, this wine is both refreshing and creamy. It has all the characteristics of a modern-day Chardonnay with its yellow pear, ripe pineapple aromas with a long creamy finish that belies the French oak aging by offering up vanilla, nutmeg and coconut for barrel flavours instead of more woody offerings. The combination of fruit and texture makes it the perfect choice for white wine drinkers who need a choice for more full-bodied foods like steak or blackened dishes.  


Suggested Food Pairing: The freshness in this wine makes it a great wine to have with fish and pastry. Fish pies and fish cakes would be outstanding. Shellfish in white sauce or poached salmon along with chicken, pork or pasta in a creamy sauce would also match well. Cheese-based salads like Caesar or chicken salads with stone fruits or tropical flavours will explode in your mouth with this wine.


Cellaring: Could be cellared for 3 to 4 years, but it really begs to be enjoyed now at about 15C.

Rosewood Pinot Noir VQA 2008 $18.00

Another crop hand-harvested from the Wismer Vineyard, the grape clusters were lightly pressed after 4 days of cold maceration where the juices were naturally released from their own weight. To finish this process, a very light pressing was done, followed by 10 months of aging in French oak barrels.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  This wine was released just in time to be featured in Savvy Selections.  As Wayne stated during the Savvy Selections tasting panel, “This wine has almost everything anyone could want in a Pinot Noir.” It is delivered with finesse and femininity. Sweet cherries, ripe strawberries, spice, mocha and freshly picked morels are on the nose and the palate. These experiences are completed by a soft, sweet wood and red fruit finish transported on a light to medium body. Good acidity and soft tannins complement a very enjoyable wine.


Suggested Food Pairing: With its fruit and acidity, this wine would work well with creamy sauces and spicy seasonings. Leaner meats like veal, chicken, turkey or wild game bird would work well. Earthy flavours (truffles, wild mushrooms, mustards, coriander and horseradish), sweet spices (clove, cinnamon, nutmeg), sweet vegetables (beets, carrots, carmelized onions, bell peppers) and mild or creamy cheeses (Brie, Camembert, Havarti, Jack) as well as  natural stocks and sauces that include butter all work well with this wine. A medium rare rack of lamb rubbed with Rosemary is a great match!

Cellaring: Drink now or cellar for up to 5 years.

OPTIONAL WINE:  Rosewood Ambrosia Grand Reserve Mead 2006 $36.00 (375 mL)

Our Savvy Selections tasting panel sampled 3 of Rosewood’s meads and were blown away by Ambrosia.  Sommelier Wayne Walker sums it up: “Ambrosia was like nothing I have ever tasting before – an incredibly delicious smooth & unique wine.”


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Full bodied, rich & warm is the best way to begin to describe this unique wine. Straw yellow in colour, aroma and tastes of fresh ripe stone fruits (think nectarine, peach) orange marmalade, sweet spices, white flowers and clover. A honeyed texture with a long pleasant finish that lingers on the tongue with one of the sweetest wood flavours that you will ever experience.  “There is no other taste quite like it”, states Wayne.


Suggested Food Pairing: If you have a sweet tooth, you will enjoy this mead with aged cheeses, patés, foie gras and fruit or nut based desserts.  On the sweetness level it is only a 10 – compared to icewine that is usually in the 30’s


Cellaring: Already aged 4 years – it will continue to last in the cellar, but don’t resist the temptation – enjoy it now.











~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections~


Thai Red Lentil Curry
The kitchen of Loethe Khonmen (Wayne’s son-in-law)
Serves 4-6



2 cups red lentils

1 large onion, diced

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

2 Tbsp curry paste

1 Tbsp curry powder

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp white sugar

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp ginger root, minced

1 (14 oz) can tomato puree



Wash the lentils in cold water and place in a pot with water. Cover and simmer until lentils are tender. (add more water if needed)


In a large skillet or saucepan, caramelize the onions in vegetable oil.


Combine curry paste, curry powder, turmeric, cumin, chili powder, salt, sugar, garlic and ginger in a mixing bowl. When onions are cooked, add mixture to onions and cook over high heat 1 to 2 minutes.


Stir in tomato puree and reduce heat allowing curry base to simmer until lentils are ready.              


Drain lentils when ready. Mix curry base into the lentils and serve immediately.

































With Rosewood Estates Reserve Chardonnay….












Fish Pie
From Jamie’s Ministry of Food Cookbook, Jamie Oliver
Serves 4-6



Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 lbs. potatoes

1 carrot

2 sticks celery

150g good cheddar

1 lemon

½ fresh red chili

4 sprigs fresh flat leaf parsley

300g salmon fillets

300g undyed haddock fillets, skin off, bones removed

125g king prawns, raw, peeled

Olive oil

Handful of good spinach, chopped

2 ripe tomatoes, quartered



Preheat oven to 400F and bring a large pan of salted water to boil. Peel the potatoes and cut into 2 cm chunks.


Add potatoes to water and cook for about 12 minutes.


Into a baking dish or earthenware dish, coarse grate celery, carrot and cheddar. On fine side of grater, zest from the lemon, the chili and the parsley leaves and stocks.


Cut salmon and haddock into bite=sized chunks and place in tray with prawns. Add spinach and tomato. Mix well.


Drain potatoes, return to pan add good ‘lugs’ of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mash until smooth then spread evenly over top of fish and grated vegetables. Place in preheated oven for 40 minutes or until crispy and golden on top. Serve piping hot.



With Rosewood Estates Pinot Noir…

Creamy Pasta with Turkey, Mushrooms and Old Cheddar

Recipe from the kitchen of Dairy Goodness

Serves 4



2 cloves garlic finely chopped

1 8oz package of mushrooms

1 tbsp butter

½ cup white wine or chicken broth

1/3 cup 35% whipping cream

¼ cup milk

2 cups diced cooked turkey

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/3 lb Aged Canadian Cheddar, shredded

4 cups cooked long pasta

½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, cut in strips

3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

2 tbsp toasted pine nuts




1.  In a large frying pan, melt butter over medium heat and cook garlic and mushrooms 3 to 4 minutes. Set pan aside at this point.  

2.  Deglaze pan by adding wine and bring to a boil. Add cream, milk, mushrooms, turkey, salt and pepper. Simmer for a few minutes without boiling.


3.  Set aside 1 oz of cheese for garnish. Add remaining cheese to pan and melt over medium heat, stirring well.


4.  Add cooked pasta, tomatoes, parsley and pine nuts. Stir well, heat through and serve immediately sprinkled with cheese. 


Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!




More about Mead

Courtesy of Rosewood Estates website


What Is Mead?  

Mead (also known as Honey Wine) is made from the fermentation of honey and water. Honey is flower nectar collected by domesticated honeybees (apis mellifera). Honey is a remarkable product which contains a complex mixture of sugars, enzymes, proteins, organic compounds and trace minerals. These compounds give honey its distinctive flavor and aromas. These carry over into mead production and lend a distinctive flavor to the finished mead.  


Mead was the first fermented beverage enjoyed by modern mankind. Mead first showed up as a beverage almost 10,000 years ago. It is a deep part of human history and a link to our forefathers. In ancient Greece, Hippocrates used mead as a tonic. Vikings believed that honey and mead had magical properties and were a gift from the heavens (Valhalla). In Celtic tradition, no wedding was complete without a mead toast to the young couple…FOR A SWEET MARRIAGE. It has been claimed that the word honeymoon comes from a tradition where a newly married couple drank mead for a full moon to ensure a long life and a happy marriage. We find it an intriguing and historical product which links us to human history. 


Honey – Nature’s Original Sweetner 

At Rosewood, we produce and sell natural un-pasteurized honey on the Estate. Our busy bees Apis mellifera – fly the Beamsville Bench and Twenty Valley to gather nectar from the flowers to produce sweet golden honey for your enjoyment.  


Honey is known to provide us with many health benefits and provides instant fast burning energy. Honey can be used extensively in cooking from making smoothies to honey baked hams. 







First a winery in Tuscany… now a winery in Niagara

Posted by Susan

Friday, June 18th, 2010


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

On a warm day in March this year, a team of Savvy Sommeliers – Susan, Wayne, Julie & Doug – met up with Bruno Moos & Elyane Grenier, the friendly couple who are co-owners of Alvento Winery. While the foursome wandered through the vineyards on this spring-like day with Bruno, he expressed his concern about the vines due to the mild winter & early warm weather. Like all grape growers, he is constantly watching Mother Nature’s effect in his vineyard & experimenting at every stage of the growing season. When we visit wineries, we often hear winemakers say, “wine is made in the vineyard” – what happens in the vineyard is just as (or more important) than what happens during harvest & in the cellar.


This deeply rooted couple has a rich history that helps explain how their approach to viticulture & winemaking at Alvento. Elyane & Bruno met in Montreal in 1975. Bruno was trained as an architect, yet his wine connection is with his Swiss grandparents who were winemakers & his father was a wine connoisseur. When the couple tired of city living & the long Canadian winters, their thoughts turned to living a more rural lifestyle & to living ‘from the land’. In 1983, they moved to Europe, traveling through the wine regions of Spain & Italy looking for just the right location for a winery of their own. They found it in the hills of Tuscany, near Pisa, where Soiana Winery was born – on the site of an ancient fortress that had been destroyed during the war of 1498 between Florence & Pisa. Their 100-metre cellar was beneath the castle ruins, part of the original fortification.


The 1980s was a time of crisis in the Italian wine industry – vineyards were readily available, winemakers were challenged to find buyers for their product in a marketplace inundated with inexpensive & low-quality wine. Elyane & Bruno reminisce about the great fortune they had when they met the experienced & knowledgeable local viticulturalists & winemakers, who helped them establish their Soiana. “We learned the hard way, yet were also very lucky. We met Piero Salvadori, a retired winery owner & oenologist with generations of knowledge of viticulture & wine making. He agreed to share his knowledge with one condition: that we commit to work hard & make the best wine in Italy. In addition to this wealth of information, we were fortunate to live next door to Renzo Belcari, whose family had their own winery for generations & gained his skills from notable Professor Racca – a teacher at Pisa University who had developed specialized pruning methods & other very meticulous viticulture practices after the phyloxera crisis”, recalls Bruno.


Soiana wines first become known in Northern Europe, while Tuscan wines became an alternative to French wines. With the advent of Super Tuscans, which Soiana was producing using rigorously selected grapes & low yields, the winery gained international profile & a reputation for high quality wine. Their commitment to hard work was rewarded; soon their wines had a cult following & were sold out before they were released. Soiana is the pedigree of Alvento – read on to learn about Bruno & Elyane’s move back to Canada & the creation of Alvento.


We’re pleased to featured three unique Alvento wines (from different vintages):

§   Alvento Vio VQA 2007

§   Alvento Emilie VQA 2006

§   Alvento Elige VQA 2005


Enjoy these fine wines & matching recipes – one was provided by Elyane. We’re just a click away should you wish to order more Alvento wines or others featured in the Savvy Selections. If your travels take you to Niagara, Bruno & Elyane would be delighted to welcome you to Alvento.


Cheers & Enjoy!

Debbie & Savvy Team



Presented by Sommelier Susan Desjardins


After much consideration, Bruno & his wife Elyane decided to move back to Canada, after selling Soiana in 1999. About 10 years earlier, they had met Morrie Neiss, a Montreal businessman, philanthropist & wine collector. Over a number of years, Morrie & his wife visited the couple & participated in the harvest at Soiana. When Bruno & Elyane decided to establish a winery in Niagara, he partnered with them.

They searched for a property where they could implement some of the techniques they had learned through their years in Tuscany. In 2001, they found a 5-acre fruit orchard on the current site in Vineland. Says Elyane, “The land was planted as an orchard with cherries, peaches, pears, apples and plums. Cherry & peach trees are an indicator of good land for vines, according to Tuscan wisdom. And the property is near Lake Ontario and takes advantage of the cool breeze in the summer, facilitating photosynthesis even on very hot days.”

Most of the vines were planted in 2001: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot & Vigonier – using tightly spaced planting techniques to reduce yields but increase the concentration of the fruit. In 2002, Bruno decided to plant Nebbiolo, as he felt this grape could do well in Niagara given that it grows at quite high altitudes in Piemonte, Italy. The winery was named Alvento (translation: facing the wind) since the wind is omnipresent in the vineyard.

The wind did seem to be blowing against them for a few years! Although the vines grew quickly, the cold winter of 2003 destroyed the buds on the vines. While the roots survived, the new growth demanded substantial pruning to control the vigorous growth and to shape the vines for future production. Hard to believe, but this happened again in 2004 & 2005. Despite these setbacks, they were more determined than ever to create the wines they dreamed of at Alvento. Like their neighbours, they invested in a wind machine to protect the vines from the cold.

Finally, in 2006, the weather co-operated & they were able to harvest their first grapes & produce their first commercial vintage.

Their focus is on three different styles of Bordeaux-type blends:

          Elige is in the style of Medoc (a wine region in France)

          Sondra in the style of Pomerol

          Emilie in the style of St-Emilion.

These three blends were aged 18 months in Burgundian-style oak barrels.

In terms of white wines, only Viognier is crafted. Viognier is a popular grape variety stemming from France that is now starting to grow in other countries. The 2007 Viognier included in your Savvy Selections is unoaked unlike the previous vintage (it was interesting to try the 2 vintages side by side to taste the difference). They expect to release the 2007 reds later this year or early next. As our subscribers know from other Savvy eZine reports, 2007 was an outstanding vintage in Ontario – we look forward to tasting Bruno’s reds!

Bruno explains, “We spend many, many hours in the vineyard taking care of the vines. What we learned in Italy is that you cannot make a great wine without excellent grapes. Many of the practices of oenology consist of adding substances to the wine that in reality imitate the qualities of grapes that are fully mature. To obtain that level and character, grapes have to be continuously attended to by hand to make sure that there is no rot or that there is no over production. It takes many hours of vineyard work and it can not be done by machine. While you cannot cut corners in the cellar, or use inadequate equipment, the most sophisticated apparatus & the use of the most recent oenological innovations cannot replace good mature grapes.”

While these wines come to you, the Alvento team – Bruno, Elyane & Greg, their assistant – continue to monitor the vines. Spring warmth was followed by a cold snap, but with the help of their wind machine, the vines were saved. Greg, who completes his diploma in Oenology & Viticulture this year & who will become a father in September, is convinced this will be a good vintage – he’ll be putting aside a few bottles to open on his child’s eighteenth birthday!

Cheers & Enjoy!



~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~

Alvento Vio 2007 VQA, $25.95

Produced from hand-harvested grapes, this Viognier was fermented sur lie (winespeak: with the yeast) in stainless steel to retain the lively fruit aromas and flavours.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Pale gold & clear, the wine has a subtle & appealing nose of sweet stone fruit & light notes of white flowers & pineapple. It’s a dry mid-weight wine, with fresh vibrant flavours of ripe apricots, juicy nectarines & a hint of exotic tropical fruits with a splash of citrus. Lively acidity & fresh fruits linger on the finish.

Suggested Food Pairing:  Slightly chilled, this wine will pair well with fresh summer salads, grilled fish, or light appetizers.

Cellaring:  Drinking well now, this wine may be cellared for up to 2 more years.



Alvento Elige 2005 VQA, $24.95

A blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Cabernet Franc and 20% Merlot, this blend went through malolactic fermentation in stainless, followed by aging for 18 months in part new, part seasoned Burgundian barrels.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  A regal, semi-opaque ruby, this elegant wine offers rich & complex aromas of berries, vanilla, sweet spice and some underlying notes of cedar and exotic dried fruits. It’s dry, with ripe well-integrated tannins, fresh cherry and red berry fruit—raspberry and field strawberries—and underlying notes of toast and cocoa. Medium bodied, it has lovely balance and a lengthy finish.  . 

Suggested Food Pairing: Bring on the beef!  Elyane has shared one of her special recipes for this wine on the following pages.

Cellaring:  Designed to be aged, the wine would benefit from decanting for about an hour if you plan to enjoy it now.



Alvento Emilie 2006 VQA $23.95

Grown on the sandy loam of Alvento’s waterfront property, the grapes for this unique blend were tended by hand on the vine & hand harvested – as with all Alvento grapes. The blend includes 70% Cabernet Franc & 30% Merlot, fermented in similar fashion to the Elige, & aged 18 months in French barrels, a slightly higher proportion of them being new.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Displaying a well-defined garnet hue, this wine displays alluring aromas of chocolate, exotic spice, sweet kitchen herbs (bay and sage), black fruits, vanilla & toast. It’s dry, medium-full bodied, with silky round tannins, pleasant crispness & ripe fruity flavours of field berries underlaid with tangy hints of pepper. Well balanced, with well-integrated toasty oak notes, it delivers a full-flavoured and lingering finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: A classic match for this food-friendly wine would be grilled lamb or beef, or later in the year, a hearty vegetable and beef ragout .

Cellaring:  This wine will also age well and benefits from decanting. Our tasting panel noted that the wine changed dramatically in the glass!


~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~

With Alvento Vio VQA…

Grilled Chicken & Mushroom Salad

From LCBO Food & Drink Magazine

Serves 4-6

1/3 C extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 clove garlic, minced
2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
6 oz. oyster mushrooms, trimmed

4 0z. shitake mushrooms, stemmed
8 C mixed greens

1 Tbsp lemon juice

2 tsp Dijon or grainy mustard

Freshly ground pepper



1.      In a large bowl, combine 2 Tbsp of the oil, mustard, rosemary & garlic. Add chicken and turn to coat. Place on greased grill over medium-high heat & grill chicken, turning once, for about 12 minutes or until no longer pink inside. Remove to cutting board & slice thinly.


2.      Toss mushrooms with 1-2 Tbsp oil & place on greased grill over medium-high heat. Grill, turning once, for about 5 minutes or until tender and golden. Remove to plate.   


3.      Place greens on large platter and top with sliced grilled chicken and mushrooms.


4.      Whisk together remaining oil, lemon juice, mustard and pepper to taste and drizzle over salad. Enjoy!



With Alvento Elige VQA …

Tagliata with Arugula

From the kitchen of Elyane Grenier, Alvento Winery

Serves 4

¼ C balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ lb. beef tenderloin
2 Tbsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 Tbsp coarse salt
2 C sliced arugula
1 lemon, halved

High quality extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling

Parmigiano Reggiano cheese shavings



1.   Preheat oven to 350F. Whisk first 3 ingredients in a small bowl. 


2.   Place beef on platter, spoon marinade over and turn to coat completely. Let stand 1 hour. Sprinkle meat all over with salt & pepper. Heat olive oil in heavy large ovenproof skillet over high heat. Add beef and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes (the meat may be grilled on the BBQ) 


3.   Transfer beef to platter and let rest 10 minutes.


4.   Slice beef thinly and divide among 4 plates. Drizzle any juices from platter over beef. Sprinkle with salt & top with arugula. Squeeze lemon over, then drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.


5.   Enjoy with Alvento Elige!



With Alvento Emilie VQA…

Peppered Beef with Balsamic Strawberry Relish

Serves 4

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp whole peppercorns, cracked
1 clove garlic, minced
1 ½ lb. grilling steak (~ 1” thick)

Strawberry Relish
1 ½ C chopped strawberries
3 Tbsp chopped red onion
2 Tbsp chopped sweet yellow pepper (optional)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 ½ tsp granulated sugar
Salt & pepper to taste


1.  In a small bowl, combine mustard, cracked peppercorns, garlic; rub an even coating on both sides of meat. Grill steak over high heat or broil for about 4 minutes each side for medium-rare, or until desired degree of doneness.

2.  For the relish: In a bowl, combine strawberries, onion, yellow pepper, parsley, vinegar, oil, sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Slice steak thinly across the grain and serve with a dollop of the strawberry relish.  


Cheers & Enjoy!



What’s red, white & pink AND green all over?

Posted by Susan

Friday, April 9th, 2010


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


It’s a natural fit to feature Southbrook Vineyards as our Savvy Selection this month. April 22nd marks Earth Day and Southbrook’s owners Bill and Marilyn Redelmeier have established their winery in Niagara to be a great example of how to “tread lightly on the land”. Bill proudly explained to Savvy Sommelier Susan Desjardins during an interview, “Our goal is for this winery to promote Ontario’s role as a producer of some of the world’s best wines, and create a destination as compelling as wineries in Napa or Tuscany.”

For our longtime Savvy Selections subscribers, you may recognize Southbrook’s name and novel wine label design.  We featured this winery two years ago to support the grand opening of the winery’s new location in Niagara.  For the launch and our Savvy Selections feature, winemaker Ann Sperling had just released some of the first vintages (winespeak: first release of wine) made in their state-of-the-art and now LEED Gold award-winning facility designed by celebrated architect Jack Diamond.


Much has been achieved at Southbrook in the last few of years and so much more is planned. To start, the new facility is an environmental showcase. When you plan your visit to Niagara, Southbrook is a must visit location.  The building itself is an eye-catching design with highly aesthetic interior features. The tasting room has a beautifully designed table of natural oak and maple preserved from trees on Southbrook’s original property located in Richmond, Ontario. The building is also an incredibly environmentally friendly structure with highly efficient electrical and mechanical systems, glazing and roof that reduce its energy consumption by about 45% compared to standard construction. Environmentally friendly bioswales, ponds and wetlands capture rainwater or handle water treatment and runoff while native plant species adorn the landscape and reduce the need for irrigation.


It is easy to see that everyone working at Southbrook is proud of their roots. Grape growing and winemaking have been transformed to follow organic and biodynamic processes.  Ann describes biodynamics as “extreme organics”. She follows the principles of organic agriculture and very specific processes in winemaking and cellaring based on the theory established by Rudolf Steiner in 1924 – read on in the following pages to learn more! One example of their commitment, Southbrook released the industry’s first certified biodynamic wine – Cabernet Rosé VQA 2008.  This delicious rosé was launched on Earth Day in 2009. The wine impressed several people including our Sommeliers that we wanted to make sure that we timed our Savvy Selections feature to coincide with Southbrook’s release of this year’s rosé wine. 


You are the first!

The white and rosé wines in this month’s Savvy Selections are pre-released – just for to you to enjoy.  The 2009 Fresh White VQA and 2009 Cabernet Rosé VQA will be launched later in the month on Earth Day – April 22nd. They are both biodynamically produced, and are packaged in new environmentally friendly bottling.  In addition, they can be served to vegan and vegetarian friends. And we’re featuring the fabulous 2006 Triomphe Cabernet/Merlot VQA – just released a few weeks ago.  We are confident that you will be impressed with month’s Savvy Selections.


Cheers & Enjoy!

Debbie & the Savvy Team





Presented by Sommelier Susan Desjardins


Winery owners Bill and Marilyn Redelmeier are the driving force behind the winery’s organic and biodynamic practices and certification. They are fundamentally, agriculturalists. “We were drawn to biodynamics as a way to more fully express the vineyard’s character in our wines. Together, everyone at the winery underwent the certification process to authenticate our commitment to sustainable practices.”, proudly explains Bill.

If biodynamic is a new wine term for you, Southbrook’s winemaker Ann Sperling, puts it simply: ‘extreme organics’.  Biodynamic agricultural promotes the ecological self-sufficiency and internal harmony of the property while taking into account the cycles of nature and a certain philosophical/spiritual aspect. Growing practices are quite similar to organic agriculture, but a specific calendar is followed and helps determine when such activities as pruning, fertilizing and other operations are undertaken. In addition, a variety of treatments are applied to the soil, generally using ingredients that are derived from plants and/or animals that are integral to the property. Other approaches, include planting cover crops between the vines that attract beneficial insects and using sheep or goats to ‘mow’ these areas. Ann explains, “Biodynamics says the farm is an entire ‘living system’. The resulting practices are about quality – quality in the bottle and quality of life.”

Biodynamic certification is granted by Detemer International. Southbrook is the first biodynamic winery in Canada.  They keep company of other well-known wineries including Chapoutier and Domaine Leflaive of France. While Southbrook wine labels do not herald their biodynamic certification, there have been a variety of occasions where in blind tastings, wine critics have rated the quality of biodynamic wines higher than comparable standard wines. Those biodynamic winemakers are converted and convinced that this approach to growing grapes and making wines leads to healthier and more disease-resistant vineyards and fruit, wines which are a better representation of their terroir, a healthier environment to raise their families all the while a positive contribution to environmental sustainability. Ann explains, “There’s one thing we have learned – amazing, vibrant wines come from grapes raised biodynamically.”

Ann is a child of the wine industry. Raised on a family vineyard in British Columbias’s Okanagan, she took her hands-on experience to University of British Columbia, where she completed a B.Sc. in Food Science. Over two decades, she has built an impressive reputation in the Canadian wine industry, winning numerous accolades from peers, a gold medal at the prestigious International Wine and Spirit Competition and was named Ontario Winemaker of the Year in 2004. Prior to her current role at Southbrook, she was winemaker at Cedar Creek Estate Winery in BC, then moved to Niagara taking the winemaking reins at Malivoire (featured in Savvy Selections in April 2009).  It was at Malivoire where she first started working with organic vineyards and grapes.

Ann has had extended her talent to many start up wineries as a consulting winemaker and continues to work with her family in their Okanagan vineyard. When asked how she came to organic and biodynamic viticulture and winemaking, “during my career ‘growing’ wine, I observed that conditions of the vintage predominated and revealed the unique aspects of the vineyard and terroir. It’s not so much about what I do as the winemaker, rather about the vineyard. This left me open to new and better ways of doing things.”

Ann found that by following biodynamic practices and principles, even in adverse and difficult vintages, the grape maintains its health and integrity, veraison (winespeak: ripening of the grapes) occurs at the appropriate time in the season and the grapes are healthy with “a substance and a character unique to their terroir.” The winemaking process begins with this substantial fruit, uses natural indigenous yeasts (which have consistently produced excellent fermentation), and minimizes additions. Through this experience, Ann has also found that following the natural rhythms of the biodynamic calendar optimizes many of the winemaking processes.

“The Southbrook property was purchased with a long-term view. We, and the vines, are setting our roots down. Well-situated vines are better able to derive their true character from a healthy soil. Organic and biodynamic culture create the environment. From this source, we can ‘grow’ a more unique and specific wine.”



Fresh White 2009 VQA, $16.95

Organic and Demeter-certified biodynamic wine, Ann’s goal was to ‘produce a new and different wine’ – this has certainly been achieved!


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Made with Vidal grapes, the color is tinged with a hint of apricot, and an expressive nose of sweet stone fruit and honey. The initial impact is of fresh peaches, apricots and pears, followed by bright tangy acidity—think juicy red grapefruit. The wine is light, appealing and has a refreshing mid-length finish.


Suggested Food Pairing: Best said by one of the Savvy Selections panelist, “Just lie in a hammock and sip away!” Or pair it with dishes featuring spring’s bounty—like the Risotto with Asparagus below.

Cellaring: No need to wait – drink this spring


Winemaker’ s Note: It has been noticed that if this wine is chilled at low temperature (in your fridge for a long time) “wine diamonds” may form. These are clear crystals that are in fact crystallized tartaric acid. They are natural and are not harmful if consumed. In fact, wine diamonds are often considered a sign of high quality. At Southbrook, we process our wine as minimally as possible in order to maintain flavour and balance. If this white wine stored at a temperature colder than during the winemaking process – diamonds may precipitate. Have diamonds in your bottle? Simply stand the bottle upright prior to drinking, allow the crystals to fall to the bottom and then decant and enjoy.


Cabernet Rose 2009 VQA, $18.95

Produced from a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon – a Bordeaux-style rosé! Grown in Southbrook’s organic and biodynamic certified vineyard, the grapes were fermented in stainless with indigenous yeast, with the wine produced primarily by the saignée method (winespeak: pronounced say-NAY, it is derived from the French verb ‘to bleed’. Referring to the process used to make rosé wines where red skinned grapes are left in a stainless steel vat for several hours. During this time, the grapes are naturally crushed by their own weight and a light red juice bleeds from the tank then collected to use for making rosé wine. The remaining grapes are often used to make red wine.)


Suggested Food Pairing:  This is another great wine to enjoy on its own with friends on the patio.  Or pair with a strawberry spinach salad – recipe below – grilled rainbow trout or light menu fare.


Cellaring: Designed to be enjoyed this spring and summer – it’s so appealing, we are confident that you will want to stock up on this wine for the summer season to come. Just call Debbie to arrange for additional bottles of this special rosé.


Triomphe Cabernet Merlot 2006 VQA $26.95

In traditional Bordeaux style, this blend is Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The grapes were harvested from the estate vineyard, which was in its second year of transition to organic certification. The wine was fermented in one-tonne totes and barrel aged for 16 months. In addition to this 2006 vintage, Southbrook also has available the 2001 and 2002 Triomphe Cabernet Merlot. With a collection of these three, you have a vertical (winespeak: same wine from different vintages). TIP: have a mini wine tasting – open them together to taste the difference in the vintages and ageing.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Our Savvy Selections tasting panel was impressed with the balance and fine texture of this elegant wine. Deep red with a slight garnet hue, the wine was layered with aromas of dark fruit, spice and a whiff of cedar. It’s mid-weight and earthy with subtle flavours of currant, cherries and berries. Balanced with fresh acidity and supple tannins. The persistent finish displays fruit with pleasant notes of roasted peppers.

Suggested Food Pairing: Enjoy with lamb, beef (recipe below), or a fricassé of chicken in a red wine sauce.

Cellaring:  Drinking well now, this lovely blend has the structure to age for another 2-3 years.




With Southbrook Fresh White…

Risotto with Asparagus
From LCBO’s Food & Drink Magazine
Serves 4-6

¼ cup butter, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ cup sliced asparagus
½ cup slivered red pepper
1 cup Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine

4-6 cup chicken stock (approx.)
½ cup whipping cream

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan

2 Tbsp minced parsely, dill or basil

Freshly ground pepper


Melt half of the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in chopped garlic; sauté until softened. Stir in asparagus, red peppers; cook until vegetables are crisp-tender and still brightly colored. Transfer vegetable mixture to bowl. Set aside.


Add remaining butter to same pan. Add rice; stir to coat rice with butter. Cook two minutes. Add wine; cook and stir until wine is absorbed by rice. Add 1 cup stock; cook uncovered over medium heat, stirring often, until stock is absorbed. Continue to stir, adding stock 1 cup at a time, allowing each cup of stock to be absorbed by rice before adding the next cup. Cook and stir until rice is tender and mixture is creamy. This takes 30-40 minutes.   


Stir asparagus mixture into rice, along with remaining ingredients. Serve immediately.   


With Southbrook Cabernet Rosé….

Strawberry and Spinach Salad
From Cooking with BC Wine, Troy & Cheryl-Lynn Townsin
Serves 6-8

1 cup white or rosé wine
1/3 cup shallots
1/3 cup liquid honey
1 Tbsp raspberry vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
¼ C vegetable oil
12 oz. fresh baby spinach
2 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
8 button mushrooms, sliced
Salt to taste

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine wine and shallots. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 12-15 minutes or until reduced to syrup-like consistency.  

Transfer wine mixture to a small bowl and whisk with honey, vinegar, mustard and salt. Slowly add the oil while you whisk until mixture is well-combined and thickened.  


In a large salad bowl combine the spinach, strawberries and mushrooms and toss with the dressing.


Serve with crusty bread and artisan cheeses.


With Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Merlot…

Beef Filet and Rack of Lamb with Red Wine Sauce
Recipe adapted from Executive Chef Hector Diaz, Hilton Lac-Leamy
Serves 1-2

1 portion beef tenderloin, 6 oz.
1 portion rack of lamb (2 ribs)
Salt & pepper ground coarse
2 Tbsp + 4 Tbsp butter, divided
1 tsp shallots, chopped
½ cup red wine
½ cup cream (35%)
1 cup red wine
1 cup veal or beef stock

Preheat oven to 375F.

Season meats with salt, coarse pepper. Melt 2 Tbsp butter in heavy frying pan and sear beef, lamb 2 minutes on each side. Remove meat from pan. Add shallots, briefly sauté, then add ½ cup wine and deglaze the pan, sautéing until liquid is almost completely evaporated.  

Add cream and reduce by half, then add red wine and reduce by half. Add stock, simmer to reduce liquid by half, then pass sauce through a sieve to remove any lumps, particles. While sauce is still hot, but not on the burner, add remaining butter 1 Tbsp at a time, whisking vigorously after each addition to complete the rich sauce.


Bake lamb 30 minutes, beef 20 minutes for medium rare, or to desired doneness. Serve with risotto and vegetables with the wine sauce drizzled on top. (You may wish to begin cooking the meat as you are finishing the sauce.)




Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!




Reif Estates Winery: 25 years & still growing…

Posted by Susan

Monday, January 4th, 2010


Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Reif Estates Winery

Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep

Who could imagine that a wine tradition that began in Germany’s Rhine Valley half a millennium ago would cross the Atlantic to Niagara-on-the-Lake?  Such is the depth of tradition and expertise which characterizes our featured winery this month, Reif Estate Winery.


As a young agriculture student in Germany, Ewald Reif listened with great interest as one of his instructors spoke of his travels to Canada and to the vine-growing area of Niagara.  Years later, in the 1960s, he followed in his teacher’s footsteps and visited the Niagara area, talking with local fruit and grape growers.  In 1977, after a call from Karl Kaiser, he flew to Canada and purchased a former fruit orchard on the fertile banks of the Niagara River  He planted select vitis vinifera vines, as well as some French hybrids, and developed that plot of land so that 6 years later, in 1983, Reif Estate Winery offered its first commercial vintage. In fact, Klaus Reif, the current owner and President of the winery, spent the summer of 1978 planting some of those first vines with his uncle – more about Klaus & his pioneering grapegrowing in the following pages. 


Reif’s (pronounced ry-fe) vineyard is located in the Niagara River sub-appellation of the larger Niagara VQA appellation.  The soil is sandy, encouraging the roots of the vines to deeply penetrate the soil in search of reliable moisture.  And the influence of the nearby Niagara River moderates vineyard temperatures and extends the growing season.  Vineyards are planted on east-facing slopes, which contributes to the ability of Reif Estates to grow tender red varietals and produce some of the more full-bodied and intense red wines of the region.  In fact, at a Wine Council of Ontario event in February of this year, I had the opportunity to taste Klaus’ 2002 First Growth Pinot Noir which was a blockbuster, dark, muscular and intense, produced from vines planted in 1988 and aged 3 years in French and American oak.  When would he produce another wine like this his peers asked?  “2007 provided ideal conditions for the creation of another outstanding First Growth Pinot Noir”, replied Klaus.  Be on watch for this wine!


As Reif Estate Winery has grown, so has the range of varietals grown and the wine produced.  To the original varieties Pinot Noir and Merlot, as well as Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon have been added to their repertoire. 


In this month’s Savvy Selections, we are delighted to feature:

·         2008 Chenin Blanc VQA

·         2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve VQA

·         2007 Meritage VQA

·         2007 Silver Meritage VQA – on special request


We’re always pleased to hear from our Savvy Selections subscribers.  Let us know how you enjoyed these specially selected wines, as well as the matching recipes.  If you would like to order more of these wines, simply contact us.  For a great tasting experience, don’t forget to visit Reif Estate Winery on your next trip to Niagara.


Cheers & Enjoy!

Debbie & Savvy Team

Introducing Reif Estate Winery
Presented by Sommelier Susan Desjardins

The passionate commitment of Klaus Reif (left) to his vision and philosophy – purity, integrity, tradition – is clear in every word as we discuss how he and his team envision the future for Reif Estate Winery.

But first, how it all started for him….

As a young teenager, Klaus accompanied his father to Niagara in 1978 to visit his uncle Ewald’s new vineyard and winery. “I liked Canada”, said Klaus, “so I returned again in 1979 and 1980.” As he worked side by side with Ewald that first summer, he also had the opportunity to visit family friends working in some of the small number of local Niagara wineries.  These were the early days for the resurgent wine industry, and Klaus recognized tremendous opportunity to produce quality wines.  On his return home, he set a personal commitment to join his uncle in Niagara.  In 1982, the year the winery was licensed, he completed his emigration to Canada. He returned to Germany to complete his degree in Oenology and Viticulture at the famed Geisenheim Institute.  Then in 1987, he moved permanently to Niagara and purchased Reif Estate Winery from Ewald to become its President and Oenologist – and it’s driving force.

There’s an undenial energy and excitement in the air as Klaus Reif and Andrea Kaiser, Director of Marketing, talk about the Reif terroir and their wines.  With 127 acres, this winery is truly able to control the quality of their wines from vine to bottle.  The Reif crest on the bottle recognizes the 13th generation of winemaking in this family, while a focus on core varietals that benefit from the Niagara River sub-appellation speaks to the terroir.  While Klaus is actively involved in all aspects of viticulture and viniculture, he partners with Roberto diDomenico in winemaking.  Roberto came to Reif as a summer student from the University of Guelph, then in 1988 he joined the winemaking team.  Says Klaus with obvious pride, “There’s a saying in the local wine industry, that it’s ‘Reif for Life’ when you become a member of our team.”

With the strong belief that great wines start in the vineyard, over time Klaus and Roberto have focused on improving the quality of grapes in the vineyard, using such techniques as thinning and pruning of the vines.  This has led to a natural improvement of the quality of the fruit.  At the same time, Klaus has focused on select varietals which best express the Niagara River terroir.  The 1st growth wines, such as the Pinot Noir mentioned earlier, are the ultimate expression of Reif’s terroir. While maintaining traditional methods and winemaking techniques, Klaus has added new technology. He has gradually developed the estate and the winery over the last 25 years to include a refined tasting room and retail area surrounded by attractive flower and herb gardens.

Reif has a long history of innovation that continues to this day.  For instance, they produced the first Late Harvest wine in 1987. Late Harvest has now become wine style category in the Canadian wine industry.  “We are always on the edge of technology.” At present, in collaboration with the NRC, Klaus is experimenting with the use of tobacco drying kilns for 2 different processes.  In one kiln, grapes will be dried as they are for the passito-style wines of Italy.  In another, grapes will be introduced to conditions which should produce botrytis-affected fruit – such as that used to create Sauternes.  You can sense his excitement as he talks about these new projects!

So what’s next for a man who has taken a business from inception to its resounding success?   His eyes light up as he says, “I’m ready for a new challenge!”  He remembers the fun of the early days of the winery, when he was directly involved in everything from viticulture to harvest to winemaking, from bookkeeping to marketing. With the strong team he now has in place, Klaus has the energy and opportunity to focus on his passion – excellence in winemaking.  “As a mid-sized winery, we can be driven by the vineyards and the winemaking process – I might even experiment with some batches of my own!”  So be Savvy, stay tuned for more outstanding wines from Klaus and his team!



 ~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~

Reif Estate Chenin Blanc VQA 2008, $18.95

Chenin Blanc is a little-known and often underappreciated grape variety – best known as the great white grape of France’s Loire Valley. At Reif, the grapes underwent cold-controlled fermentation, then aged in stainless steel tanks to maintain its fruity character and excellent acidity.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Intense aromatics waft from the glass – hints of melon, pink grapefruit and white flowers. Enjoy the layers of fruit flavors on the palate.  Crisp on the attack, yet silky smooth, this well-balanced wine has a lingering pithy finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: Serve chilled, with poached or grilled scallops. White fish, or with the lemon risotto recipe that follows.

Cellaring:  No need to wait…this wine is ready to drink now. It can cellar for up to 2 years.



Reif Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve VQA 2006, $24.95

A well-made wine, this Cabernet Sauvignon was selected by Ontario’s MPPs as the VQA wine to be served at official functions. The grapes benefited from warm temperatures into mid-November, when it was harvested.  The added complexity comes from oak barrel fermentation as well as aging in French and Hungarian oak.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Linger over the aromas of sweet black currants and spices, along with hints of vanilla and coca.  A complex well-integrated wine, enjoy the sweet berry flavors complemented by refreshing acidity and ripe tannins.  Balanced and smooth, the wine has a spicy lingering finish.  

Suggested Food Pairing:  A versatile wine, serve with aged gouda, roasted meats or a Moroccan tagine loaded with dried fruit and sweet spices.

Cellaring: Drinking well now, the wine will could cellar for another 5 years.


Reif Estate Meritage VQA 2007 $26.95
From the outstanding 2007 vintage, this wine has just been released in time to be included in your Savvy Selections!  This blend is primarily Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon with a measure of Cabernet Franc.  The fruit was picked at optimum ripeness, fermented for 18 days in stainless steel tanks, then aged in French oak.     

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Our Savvy Selections tasting panel hands down agreed with the winemaker – this is a superior wine.  The aromas of ripe fruit, vanilla and cedar evolve and amplify as the wine relaxes in the glass.  Well structured and balanced, the wine displays layers of flavors – cassis, plums, dark berries, vanilla and dark chocolate.  The rich fruit is well supported by a seam of acidity and integrated tannins that linger on the finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: We have paired this wonderful wine with a simple roast beef tenderloin.  Other options – consider lamb tenderloin or a medley of grilled autumn vegetables.  Or, as the Savvy Selections tasting panel did, simply savour this wine with chunks of hard cheese.

Cellaring: This wine is designed for aging, and could certainly cellar for 7 or more years.  But if you can’t resist tasting it now, we know you’ll want to order a case to share with your friends!


~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~

With Reif Estate Chenin Blanc…

Lemon Risotto

Adapted from Cook at Home Cookbook by Anna Olson

Serves 2

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp minced shallot
¼ C Arborio rice
2 Tbsp white wine
1 ½ tsp finely grated lemon zest
pinch Spanish saffron
1 ½ C water or dilute chicken stock
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp honey

Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat and add onion, stirring until translucent. 
Add rice and stir for 3 minutes to coat rice with oil.  Add white wine all at once and stir until absorbed.  Stir in lemon zest and saffron.   

Add water (or stock), about ½ cup at a time, stirring aftere each addition and then stirring frequently, adding next addition of liquid only after the previous one has been fully absorbed.  Check doneness of rice by tasting.


Serve with pan fired scallops or filet of halibut.   



With Reif Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve….

Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Caramelized Shallots & Red Wine Sauce

Recipe from Susan’s friend Jennifer McLagan

Serves 6

2 ½-3 lb. piece centre-cut beef tenderloin
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt & freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 shallots, peeled & thinly sliced
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 C dry red wine
1 C beef stock


Preheat oven to 450 F.

Brush tenderloin with oil and place in a roasting pan lined with aluminum foil.  Season beef with salt & pepper to taste.   


Over medium heat, melt butter in a frying pan.  When hot, add shallots, thyme sprig & pinch of salt. 
Cook, stirring over medium heat until the shallots soften & begin to caramelize, ~10-15 minutes.


While the shallots are cooking, place beef in the oven & roast for 25 minutes for rare, 30 minutes for medium, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 120F for rare, 125F for medium.  When beef is cooked, remove it from oven, wrap it in aluminum foil & let rest for 10-15 minutes.


Pour the red wine into the frying pan with the caramelized shallots & bring to a boil to deglaze pan by scraping bottom.  Add stock & boil gently ~5-7 minutes or until you have about 1 of sauce.  Remove the thyme & season with salt or pepper as required. 


Unwrap tenderloin & place on carving board.  Add any juices from the meat to the sauce.  Slice the meat & spoon sauce over.


With Reif Estate Meritage…

Beef Filet Roasted with Mustard Peppercorn Crust

Recipe from Anne Lindsay’s Light Kitchen Cookbook

Serves 6-8

2 ½ lb.  beef tenderloin
¼ C Dijon mustard
2 tsp minced fresh garlic
2 Tbsp black peppercorns (or to taste)

Trim any fat or muscle covering from meat; place in roasting pan. (Or grill on the BBQ)

Combine mustard & garlic; spread over beef.

In food processor or with mallet, crush peppercorns; pat onto mustard coating.  Let stand for 1 hour.


Roast in 425F oven for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350F; roast for 25 minutes or until medium-rare. 


Remove & let stand for 8-10 minutes before carving.  Serve with new potatoes and sautéed mushrooms.




Cheers & enjoy this months Savvy Selections!