Posts Tagged ‘Ontario wine’

What do Organic Wine Labels mean?

Posted by Debbie

Thursday, August 9th, 2018

These days, products labelled as “organic, green, gluten free or vegan” are often confusing and have different meanings depending on whether the item is eggs, apples or grapes. Personally, in general terms, I tend to think organic wine is one that has not had pesticides or other chemicals used in its vineyard or winemaking process. If that is indeed the case, I can’t help but wonder if this extra attention results in a difference in taste too.

My curiosity gets the better of me and nose dive into some ‘research’.

The David Suzuki Foundation offers some great explanations of terms that I have interchanged. For example, when the wine label states “made with organically grown grapes”, this means that the wine is made with a minimum of 70% organic grapes.  Turns out this is not the same as certified organic grapes.  The term Certified Organic means that the producers use 100% organic grapes and cannot use toxic pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers that would infiltrate both the soil and the grapes.

Biodynamic wine is defined by renowned winemaker Ann Sperling (of Sperling Vineyards, Southbrook Vineyards and Versado) as, “Uber organic”.  Biodynamic is organic but natural resources are used to cultivate grapes and must meet the standards imposed for organic-certified farming. This kind of wine production also takes into consideration the lunar calendar, astrology, plants, animals, insects;  it’s not just about the grapes.

I admit that I find the idea of the slant of the moon’s light on a vineyard making a difference in grape-growing a little mind-boggling. In order for a winery to declare itself as biodynamic, it must have achieved the highest level of certification through Demeter Canada and maintained it for a minimum of three years. It’s no wonder that there are only a handful of biodynamic wineries across the country.

Wine Country Ontario lists wineries in Ontario that sell organic, vegan, gluten-free, vegetarian and biodynamic wines. All these labels embrace sustainable winemaking or economical farming practices. Whether the wine tastes any different with these labels depends on your opinion.

The recent release at LCBO’s Vintages is promoting several organic wines. I have a couple of recommendations from this release and also suggestions in the general list of organic wines. Many LCBO stores have an organic wine section, so have a look the next time you are in one. You might find something new from this issue to impress your vegan friends!

From the August 4 release. 


Murviedro Luna Organic Brut Cava

$17.95 (Vintages #547224) 11.6% alcohol

Cava in Spain is akin to Prosecco in Italy and it never hurts to have one of these chilling in the fridge. This happens to be a Gold Medal winner at the 2017 Concours Mondial de Bruxelles. Whenever I see those gold labels, it’s never a risk to buy the bottle.

Cava is known for its light sparkling citrusy moussey bubbles, made from the Macabeo grapes and is always a delight for brunch, Happy Hour or to kick off a party.



Southbrook Triomphe Chardonnay 2016

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada
$24.95 (Vintages #172338) 12% alcohol

Southbrook Vineyards is known as the first winery in Canada to earn both organic and biodynamic certification in the vineyard. It is also one impressive winery to visit in Niagara. The architecture of this biodynamic winery is different from its neighbors and their elegant wines are always memorable.

During the release tasting, I did not get to sample this 2016, but previous Chardonnays made by Ann Sperling have been knock out delicious.

Enjoy a glass in the sunshine, unwinding while the sun goes down, with fish or chicken off the BBQ or a summertime salad.


Montes Alpha Syrah 2015

Colchagua Valley, Chile
$19.95 (Vintages #612) 14.5% alcohol

The label on the bottle of this dark blackberry nectar states “dry farmed”.  What does this mean? Basically the grapes are cultivated without any irrigation in regions where there is little rain. The grapes feed off any residual moisture in the soil which deeply extends their vine roots and consequently their flavour.

I really liked the leathery finish on this wine.  It would be great with any grilled chops.


Organic Wines available all year round at the LCBO


Lurton Piedra Negra Pinot Grigio Organic

$13.80 (Vintages #55674) 12.5% alcohol

This is a “pretty” soft white, dry, medium-bodied white wine. Luscious tropical and citrus flavours present loads of fresh fruit on the palate.

I picked this up on my lookout for general list organic wines at the LCBO (regularly available on the main store shelves) and it has easily become a favourite in my house.

It’s refreshing and delicious on its own or served with fish tacos, sushi, cold pasta salad.



El Abuelo Organic Tempranillo Monastrell

Almanzo D.O., Spain
$9.95 (Vintages #524520)  14% alcohol

Don’t let the price fool you. This great organic wine from Spain is full-bodied with loads of black fruit flavours.

Bone dry and smooth, it packs lots of punch at 14% alcohol but does not taste hot on the palate.

It goes well with burgers or spaghetti or just to sip in a glass.


Travel tip and wine stop in Hockley Valley, Mono, Ontario 


My husband and I recently returned from a trip to the Hockley Valley Resort (North of Toronto near Orangeville) and discovered the Adamo Winery Estate. The resort offers a shuttle to the winery, but if you prefer to walk, it’s a short distance but all uphill.

The resort and winery are family owned and operated, clearly taking great pride in both their wines and the upscale resort. Have a look at the pictures online, it is indeed as lovely as it looks.

The farming practices in the 25 acre winery are both organic and biodynamic. Shauna White, Vineyard and Winery Manager, uses thermal blankets in the winter to cover the vines so that they are insulated and protected from ice and snow. This method is done instead of hilling up vines (burying them in the earth), like they do in Prince Edward County.

At the winery, the Paddock Café offers small plates of local cheeses, olives and charcuteries overlooking the 23,000 vines. It is also a wonderful photo-op beside an amazing golf course. We visited the winery 3 times in 3 days to take in the ambience and sample more wines. The Rieslings and Viognier wines were favourites with many grapes being sourced from the Niagara region.

Coincidentally, 6 years ago, I had met Shauna when I interviewed her for our Savvy Selections wine-o-month club featuring Ravine Estate Winery.  Shauna was the winemaker. Needless to say, the surprise to see her again at Adamo was a delight and made for an over the top vacation.









The 3nd annual Great Canadian Cheese Festival gets bigger & better

Posted by Debbie

Friday, April 12th, 2013


Invitation to Media Launch in Ottawa

You are cordially invited to experience a taste of the upcoming Great Canadian Cheese Festival.   In its third year, the expanded Cheese Festival returns to historic Crystal Palace in Picton, in the heart of Prince Edward County, on June 1 & 2, 2013. This year there will be additional exhibitors, vendors and new features in the adjacent Prince Edward Curling Club.

The Cheese Festival is the only event in Canada to bring together cheesemakers from coast-to-coast. Cheese lovers, foodies and culinary tourists can meet to learn, talk, taste and buy the best in artisan and farmstead cheese—as well as sample fine Ontario wine, craft beer and a cornucopia of artisan foods. 

Join us at the Ottawa Media Launch to meet Festival founder and director Georgs Kolesnikovs who will provide a preview of this year’s Festival offerings. Also meet an artisan cheesemaker and other artisan producers as you sample their creations. You will enjoy sipping on wine from Casa-Dea Estates Winery from Prince Edward County and craft beer from Ontario’s Creemore Springs Brewery.

One of the leading attractions at this year’s Cheese Festival will be A Taste of Ottawa pavilion featuring members of the Ottawa Specialty Food Association, small-batch food producers who make high quality and delicious creations ranging from cookies to unique smoked salt products.

New this year, long-time Festival partner Savvy Company will introduce “Savvy Sip ‘n Shop. Now, Festival-goers will have the convenience of ordering any Ontario wines and craft beers at the Festival for home delivery within a week.

Media Launch Details

DATE: Thursday May 2nd, 2013
TIME: 2pm reception, 2:30pm remarks & presentations
LOCATION: The new Canada Agriculture & Food Museum at the Experimental Farm 861 Prince of Wales Drive, Ottawa (free parking onsite)
RSVP: or


About The Great Canadian Cheese Festival:

The Great Canadian Cheese Festival is produced by Cheese Lover Productions with the generous support of Celebrate Ontario. Dairy Farmers of Canada is Diamond Sponsor, Bay of Quinte Region is Gold Sponsor and Savvy Company is Presenting Partner.

Advance tickets are available online at


Festival contact:

Georgs Kolesnikovs, Festival Director
Cheese Lover Productions

Ottawa media contact:

Debbie Trenholm, President
Savvy Company
613.SAVVYCO (728-8926)




You can taste the soil in this wine

Posted by Eva

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

Pinot Noir is known by winemakers as the “heartbreak grape”.  This grape variety needs care & nurturing around the clock. Difficult to grow in the vineyard & always changing in the cellar, crafting a good wine of Pinot Noir is the pinnacle of any winemaker’s personal achievement.

There are two classic styles of Pinot – cherry or earthy.  Depending on the winemaker’s preference, the Pinot will be crafted to emphasize the terroir.  At Coyote’s Run Winery, they have a unique property of red & black soils.  They intentionally grow Pinot Noir vines on both & make the individual wines to taste the difference of their terroir!

Cheers & Enjoy!

Coyote’s Run Black Paw Pinot Noir VQA 2009


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A deep red colour with aromas of black cherry, black currant & a whiff of earthiness that reminds you have a walk in the forest.  It is a dry medium bodied red wine with subtle tannins that lingers into a velvety elegnat finish.  It’s a Pinot that is worth every penny!

Suggested Food Pairing: Pinot Noir is a versatile wine – it can be served chilled or at room temperature.  As the wine warms up, aromas, tastes & levels of acidity changes too. Classic matches with Pinot are roast duck, grilled salmon & mushrooms.



Want to buy this wine?  We can arrange for it to be delivered!

Coyote’s Run Estate Winery has been a feature winery in our Savvy Selections wine of the month club. Call on the Savvy Team (613-SAVVYCO) to arrange for this wine (and others from Coyote’s Run) to be delivered to your home or office.  Here’s another idea: Subscribe to Savvy Selections & you will always have outstanding Ontario wines on hand – none of them you will find at the LCBO!


A Rose wine like no other

Posted by Eva

Friday, July 27th, 2012

Prince Edward County is Canada’s fastest growing wine region with 25+ wineries awaiting your visit – only a three hour drive from Ottawa.  Housed in a heritage Loyalist barn, owner & winemaker Richard Karlo crafts outstanding white, rose, red & even port wines! Karlo Estates Winery is definitely a must visit on your next trip to “The County”.

Karlo Estates Frontenac Gris Rosé 2011

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Everything about this wine is watermelon – its colour, aromas & taste – with a splash of tangerine & ruby red grapefruit.  Crisp & refreshing, this medium bodied Rose feels delicious in your mouth.

Suggested Food Pairings: Unwind with a glass on the deck, at the cottage, or pack with a picnic – don’t you agree? Here’s to summer!

Cheers & Enjoy!


Want to buy this wine?  We can arrange for it to be delivered!

Karlo Estates has been a feature winery in our Savvy Selections wine of the month club. Call on the Savvy Team to arrange a couple of bottles or a case of this wine or others from Karlo Estates right to your door.  Better yet, subscribe to Savvy Selections & each month you will have outstanding Ontario wines that you won’t find at the LCBO delivered to your home or office!


Fire up the BBQ!

Posted by Eva

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Pondview Estate Winery is a family affair. The Puglisi family have been grape growers for over 3 decades. In 2008, Lou was crowned the distinguished title “Grape King’ & toured the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia where he met other small family owned wineries. Returned inspired, Lou & his extended family decided to establish Pondview to craft their own wines made with grapes from their well established vineyard.  More & more grape growers in Niagara are transforming their grape farming business to incorporate a winery as well. With a commitment to viticultural & winemaking excellence along with a welcoming tasting room offering traditional Italian cheese & antipasto, Pondview has become an overnight success.

Cheers & Enjoy!


Pondview Cabernet-Merlot 2010 VQA

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This wine is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc & Cabernet Sauvignon grapes harvested from the remarkable 2010 vintage. Aged in the cellar in a combination of American & French oak barrels for 12 months, this is a powerful Bordeaux style wine. This wine reminds Debbie of red & black – juicy red & black cherries, red & black plums, strawberries & blackberries even red & black licorice! The barrel aging adds warm spices with firm tannins & a lingering finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: Fire up the BBQ to serve with burgers, steak or serve with a hearty lamb stew.  See how the wine changes as you nibble on the Bleu D’Élizabeth or L’Apprenti Sorcier creamy cheeses.


Want to buy this wine?  We can arrange for it to be delivered!

Pondview Winery has been a feature winery in our Savvy Selections wine of the month club. Would you like some of this wine? Our Sommeliers will offer their recommendations of other Pondview wines to make a delicious selection for you. Call on us 613-SAVVYCO or

Or subscribe to Savvy Selections & wines like this one will be delivered to your home or office!


Celebrate Friday the 13th with this heavenly drink

Posted by Eva

Friday, July 13th, 2012

There is no better way to set the mood of a dinner party than with the pop of a cork of a bottle of bubbly!

This sparkler from Angels Gate Winery perched atop the Niagara Escarpment is made with 100% Pinot Noir grapes.  In the wine world, a sparkling of this type is referred to as ‘Blanc de Noirs’. Since the juice was left in contact with the skins of the Pinot Noir grapes for about 1 hour after the grapes have been crushed & pressed, the wine takes on a light pink colour.

This is the first sparkling wine made at Angels Gate by Australian winemaker Philip Dowell … now he makes 3 bubblies! And with the winery celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, I am certain that there will be lots of corks flying to mark the occasion!

Cheers & Enjoy!

Angel’s Gate Archangel Pinot Noir Rosé 2008

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Dry with fine mousse (winespeak: bubbles) elegant aromas & tastes of wild strawberries, rhubarb & even fresh baked bread.

Suggested Food Pairing: Absolutely anything or nothing at all.  Dry & crisp with a soft texture, this wine is simply delicious on its own.


Want to buy this wine?  We can arrange for it to be delivered!

Angel’s Gate Winery has been a feature winery in our Savvy Selections wine of the month club. Like this wine or others from Angels Gate? Call on our Savvy Team to arrange a delivery direct from the winery.  Or subscribe to Savvy Selections & outstanding Ontario wines will be delivered to your home or office!


Wrap your tongue around this grape variety

Posted by Eva

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

While visitors whose last name is Featherstone frequently visit Featherstone Estate Winery with curiousity that the winery might be owned by a long lost relative.  When owners David Johnson and Louise Engel explain the origins of their winery name, the visitors are eager to try their wines.  You see, long before the term ‘foodie’ was mainstream, David & Louise had a inherent passion for wine. They owned a specialty poultry business in Guelph (the feathers connection!).   They decided to move to Niagara and purchased a 23-acre property that is the site of their home and transformed into the winery and vineyard.  This property has a rock quarry behind it (hence the stones).  The name was born of their experience and their dreams for the future – Featherstone.

Savvy Sommelier Debbie, states that David & Louise have one of the most picturesque home offices in Niagara – a beautiful farm home with a wrap around porch surrounded by slopes of vineyards.  Heavenly!  And so are their wines.

Featherstone Gewurztraminer VQA 2011


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:David nicknames this ‘G Wine’ as more often than not visitors can’t wrap their tongue around the word Gewurtraminer – it is a mouthful!  It is a refreshing white wine with aromas & tastes of stone fruit (think pear, peach, apricot) along with some pineapple too with great acidity that makes this a easy drinking wine.

Suggested Food Pairing: Nice on its own or with spicy Mexican, Indian curry or Thai food.

Cheers & Enjoy!

Want to buy this wine?  We can arrange for it to be delivered!

Featherstone has been a feature winery in our Savvy Selections wine of the month club. Like to try this wine or order an assortment of wines from Featherstone? Contact the Savvy  Team on 613-SAVVYCO or to make the arrangements. Or better yet, subscribe to Savvy Selections & outstanding wines from across Ontario will be delivered to your home or office!


Unwind with a glass of red, white & rosé wines

Posted by Debbie

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

This weekend, the shelves at LCBO Vintages will be overflowing with light whites, dry rosés & bold red wines.  With Canada Day quickly approaching (is it July already?!?!?), there is a selection of wines from Niagara and British Columbia to toast our national holiday.  Also Canadians can raise a glass to toast the passing of Bill C-311 in Parliament that will soon make wines from coast to coast more accessible to all of us.

At this time of year, picnics and outdoor gatherings are on our mind (and our social calendars!), so we offer some wine recommendations that are crowd pleasers. Here are my wine recommendations that won’t break bank…and some extras worth considering as summertime sippers.

Cheers & Enjoy!



Featherstone Gewurztraminer VQA 2011, Ontario

Winemaker David Johnson, nicknames this ‘G Wine’.  It is a refreshing white wine with aromas & tastes of stone fruit (think pear, peach, apricot) along with some pineapple too.  Nice on its own or with spicy Mexican or Thai food.


Vrede en lust White Mischief, South Africa

A unique blend of 5 different grapes – Chenin Blanc, Semillion, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc & Viognier, create an easy drinking dry white wine that’s loaded with white grapefruit & cantaloupe aromas & tastes. The zippy acidity makes this an impressive wine from South Africa.  Enjoy with seafood, picnics or sip on its own.


Quail’s Gate Rosé VQA 2011, British Columbia

The light pink colour of this wine resembles a sunset in your glass. Light bodied with crisp, refreshing aromas & tastes of rhubarb, pink grapefruit with a kick of lime & mint.  As an easy drinking wine, don’t be surprised how quickly you’ll finish the bottle!


Alta Vista Premium Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Argentina

Fire up the BBQ! This BIG bold wine will accompany anything off the grill – steak, burgers, sausages, tenderloin & grilled veggies –  Loaded with pronounced aromas of vanilla, black licorice, black cherries & dark chocolate with light tannins that smooth out with each bite of food. And with this price tag, why not make it your house wine this summer?


Chateau Tanunda Barossa Tower Shiraz/Primitivo, Australia

The fact that this wine is from a chateau in Australia, will undoubtedly make it a conversation piece as soon as the bottle is placed on the table. Declared as Australian Producer of the Year in 2010, this wine is outstanding. Everything about this wine is black – almost black in colour with overripe blackberry, black plums, figs aromas & tastes with warm spices of black pepper, cinnamon and balsamic.  This wine won’t disappoint. Great with anything off the grill.

Like Australia wines?  Join us for ‘Unwind Downunder’ wine tasting featuring Australian wines.  Email us to be the first to receive an invitation.  Stay tuned as the event details are finalized!


 GRAND TOTAL: $88.75


Other wines worth the splurge:

Michele Chiarlo Nivole Moscato d’Asti, Italy

When a bottle of Moscato d’Asti is popped (it’s cork is not mushroom shaped like sparkling wine, but it does pop!) it is always one of my sure signs that summer has arrived.  At 5% alcohol, this refreshing medium bodied wine has light mousse (winespeak: bubbles) with aromas and tastes of honey, daisy and citrus.  A great wine to serve with brunch, as an aperitif or to relax with after a meal.


Nessa Albariño 2010, Spain

Looking for a different refreshing white wine? This one won’t disappoint.   Albariño wines are a signature of the Rías Baixas region of southern Spain.  From time to time, you will find one on the Vintages shelves.  Usually priced less than $20,  this style of wine is worth experimenting with.  Super light with lemon/lime, honeydew & fresh gingerroot aromas that continues into the taste.  The zippy acidity makes it perfect to serve with a picnic.


Lucien Albretch Reserve Pinot Gris 2010, Alsace France 

Not your typical pinot gris wine.  Light to medium bodied with beeswax aromas that turns into tastes of honey and floral with an edgy finish that smooths out and lingers forever.  Great with grilled shrimp or a big bowl of steamed mussles.


Zonte’s Footsteps Baron Von Nemesis Shiraz, Australia

LCBO #212936
This wine needs no food, just sit back & relax.  Notes of cherry pie filling, blueberry jam, a well balanced & easy drinking red wine.




A fun day in the country – Chefs Cook-off at Midsummer HerbFest

Posted by Debbie

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

The annual Midsummer Herbfest, an Ottawa Valley tradition returns for its sixteenth year. It is a fun one-day must-attend event for those interested in herbs, gardening, cooking and living a healthy lifestyle. Held on the grounds of The Herb Garden, a privately owned AGRI-tourist destination in an idyllic rural setting that provides for a unique rural ambience.

For the 8th year in a row, we are proud to be involved in the ever popular Chef Cookoff. As MC & Sommelier, I will present the dishes, offer wine & food pairing tips, as well as Ontario wines that will match perfectly with the chefs’ creations.

The popular Chef Cook-off, boasting three esteemed local chefs:
Cesare Santaguida, owner & chef at Vittoria Trattoria (located in the Byward Market as well as Riverside

Neil Mather, Executive Chef at Graffiti’s located in the Holiday Inn Kanata

Brian Vallipuram, Executive Chef at Grill 41 located in Lord Elgin Hotel

Each year, the chefs are challenged to create any recipe including the Herbfest’s themed herb – this year it is horse radish & showcase their talent by doing a cooking demo under the big top tent before 100s of people. Here is a sneak preview of the recipes. Try them before Herbfest, or join us to see the chefs in action on July 24 – see you there!  More about Midsummer Herbfest at

Horseradish & raisin risotto | pan seared Bison tenderlion

Chef Cesare Santaguida, Vittoria Trattoria

Serves: 4 persons

Beet Risotto
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 shallots (finely chopped)
2 tablespoons fresh horseradish (grated)
2 tablespoons Miso paste
1 cup Arborio rice
½ cup white wine
4 cups chicken stock
½ cup raisins
Parmigiano Reggiano

In a large sauce pan, heat olive oil and half of the butter over medium heat. Cook shallots for about 3 minutes until translucent, stirring occasionally. Add Arborio rice and continue stirring for another minute. Add wine horseradish and Miso paste stir for 2 minutes, or until wine has evaporated. Pour in 1 cup of the chicken stock and let reduce. Slowly add one ladle of chicken stock and stir until evaporated. Repeat this step until the risotto is al dente (16 to 20 minutes). Use remaining chicken stock to finish the cooking process. Remove from heat and mix in the remaining butter, raisins and parmigiano cheese.

Bison Tenderloin
1 ½ to 2 pounds Bison (or beef) tenderloin
2 teaspoons grape seed oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a saucepan on high heat, add 2 teaspoons of grape seed oil. Once the oil is hot, place meat in pan. Sear for 3 to 4 min per side.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Plating Directions
Place about ½ cup of risotto on plate, Place 1 piece of tenderloin

Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

Fitzroy Beef Tenderloin with salsify & bean salad in horseradish dressing

Chef Neil Mather, Graffiti’s

2x 3oz medallion of local beef tenderloin pan seared medallions med rare to medium

1 slice white bread cubed without crust
1/2 cup cream
grated horseradish root
ground clove
salt & pepper

bring ingredients to the boil & blend

1 shaved salsify
2 oz green beans blanched & sliced
1oz sesame oil
1 pinch sesame seeds
salt & pepper to taste
grated horseradish root

toss ingredients together

Plating: Plate salad with medallions of beef & horseradish sauce. Garnish with infused chive oil & tarragon sprig

Roulade of Salmon & Scallop with Tomato Horseradish Cream Sauce

Chef Brian Vallipura, Grill 41

8 ozs salmon
2 U-10 scallops
2 plum tomatoes – diced
2 tablespoon fresh horse radish – grated
½ onion (medium size) – diced
1 spoon pickled ginger
¼ cup oil
2 tablespoons garlic
1 cup 35% cream
75 ml rice vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Mixture of fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme & parsley chopped)

Slice salmon into four thin pieces and marinate with fresh herbs (thyme and rosemary), a teaspoon of garlic and a teaspoon of oil. Place scallops in the middle of salmon and roll into two rosettes and set aside (to hold together, use bamboo skewers).

– In a small sauce pan preheat and add three teaspoon of oil. Sautee onion, garlic and diced

tomatoes and stir while cooking for approximately 5 mins.

– Add vinegar, cream, and ginger, cover and simmer for 10 minutes on low heat. Remove from

heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add fresh horseradish.

In a non-stick frying pan, heat pan and add remaining oil. Fry bottom side of salmon rosette for about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and finish in the oven at 375 for 7-8 minutes. If no oven available, cover the frying pan with a dome cover and add a teaspoon of butter, a touch of water (to prevent from drying and sticking) simmer for 7 minutes.

Plating: Pour sauce on a warm plate. Place salmon rosette in the middle and serve. ENJOY!


Savvy Selections eZine featuring Creekside Estate Winery

Posted by Julie

Friday, March 6th, 2009


Featuring Creekside Estate Winery
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep

As the song goes…they were California dreamin’. While honeymooning in Napa, California, Peter Jensen and his wife, Laura McCain Jensen, fell in love with the wine culture. So much so that shortly after their honeymoon, they launched into the wine industry by purchasing an existing winery in Nova Scotia – Blomidon Ridge Estate (they since sold this winery).  In 1998, they turned their focus to the Niagara region and founded Creekside Estate Winery. They bought multiple acres of vineyards and two farms that they transformed into a state-of-the-art winery with one of Canada’s largest underground barrel cellars designed in a classic old-world style.  Their California dream has certainly turned into a winery that is making an impression in the Canadian wine industry.


In this month’s Savvy Selections, you will find a wide-ranging assortment of fine wines:
– Reserve Sauvignon Blanc VQA 2006 – made in the Fume Blanc style (lightly oaked)
– Laura White VQA 2007 – a delicious medium bodied white blend showcasing the spectacular vintage of 2007
– Laura Red VQA 2006 – a complex blend of Bordeaux varietals.


In addition, we couldn’t resist offering you two special features: Broken Press Shiraz and a small-batch Pinot Gris Select Late Harvest with a lovely balance of apple cider-like fruit flavors and refreshing acidity.

This past weekend at the prestigious Cuvee Awards & Gala – the Academy of Awards for the Ontario wine industry – Creekside was honoured with three awards including Gold for Best Shiraz/Syrah for the 2006 Broken Press Shiraz (one of the extra wines offered in this months Savvy Selections). There is a great story associated with the name and its unique blend that is not typical to Ontario. During the pressing of a batch of Viognier grapes, the small basket press broke.  Undaunted, Creekside’s winemaking team of Rob Powers and Craig McDonald creatively decided to create a northern Rhone-style wine by adding a small percentage of Viognier to the existing bins of Shiraz that were already awaiting fermentation. As I learned recently from another Australian winemaker, it is believed that a chemical reaction between the Viognier and Shiraz releases a range of subtle nuances in the wine. This spontaneous decision by Creekside’s winemakers produced a delicious, outstanding and award winning wine that rivals Rhone and Australian Shiraz made in the similar fashion.


We hope you enjoy your selections of wines.  Let us know if you would like to re-order Creekside wines or those from previously featured wineries. 


– Debbie & Savvy Team
Debbie Trenholm
Accredited Sommelier & President


Creekside Estate Winery
presented by Savvy Sommelier Susan Desjardins

When I visited Creekside Estate Winery last summer, the retail and wine tasting facilities were under renovation.  The original facility was bursting at the seams with visitors, yet the new architectural plans on display promises to double the space while retaining its casual comfortable character.  In addition, a deck welcomes you to stop by on a summer weekend to enjoy lunch with a glass Creekside’s wines.  And, you might just get a sip of Undercurrent – a new product line to be launched this year. 


Rob Power and Craig McDonald were named chief winemakers in 2001, after working as assistant winemakers to Marcus Ansems, Creekside’s original winemaker. Says Matt Loney, Director of Marketing at Creekside, “Rob and Craig’s palates are in sync.  Together they bring a complementary background and experience to making wines at Creekside.”


The Dynamic Winemaking Duo
Craig McDonald was training to be an accountant when he took a summer job at a winery.  That summer job sparked an interest in winemaking and soon turned into a permanent position. From there, the Australian’s career has spanned nine different wineries around the globe, including the highly acclaimed Penfolds Winery in Australia.  Rob Power’s early experience in the wine industry was as a sommelier.  He became so fascinated in wine, that he enrolled in Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute and was a member of its first graduating class.


Craig and Rob’s combined winemaking talent has been recognized with numerous awards and accolades including the prestigious award for Winemakers of the Year in 2008. Laura McCain Jensen asserts, “I’ve said all along that Creekside is committed to making the best damn wines in Ontario. I’m so proud of my team.” 


With this enthusiasm and commitment from the owners and a clearly understood philosophy by everyone in the Creekside team, crafting premium quality wine is achievable.  They winemakers start with careful vineyard management with a proactive approach to maintain the health of the vines and the grapes.  For instance, when rain is forecasted – water effects the concentration of sugar in the fruit – they consider thinning the crop in advance of the storms.


While the Creekside team uses unique estate-grown grapes such as Malbec and Viognier, they also have a number of contracts with grape growers in different Niagara microclimates and terroirs. These contracts give them access to unique opportunities too. For instance, the Pinot Gris Select Late Harvest wine (one of the additional wines offered) resulted from an unusual batch of grapes that a grower left on the vine late into the harvest.  Rob and Craig took hold of this opportunity and crafted a unique and delicious sweet wine that has received rave reviews…cult status some would say! 


While Peter and Laura, as owners, set overall goals for the winery, they have provided the winemakers creative freedom, as well as the resources and opportunity to undertake small-batch experiments.  Rob explains, “Craig and I, along with our incredible staff, put a lot of passion into our work and with the support of the owners who make sure we have the tools and the grapes we need, the result is consistently great wine that we are all proud of.”


There are many examples of experimentation by this team.  When they incorporated the remaining Viognier grapes into the Shiraz, scribbled on the barrel was “Rotie”.  With the combination of grapes similar to that of the Côte Rotie wines of the northern Rhone, they used this label until the wine was formally named after the story on page one – Broken Press Shiraz.  Another example is while the original style of Sauvignon Blanc produced at the winery was a crisp New Zealand style with fresh citrus and green characteristics (think herbs and freshly mowed lawn), for the 2004 vintage they decided to try a Fumé Blanc style by barrel aging the wine in French oak to create more tropical notes, while retaining the crisp acidity characteristic of Creekside’s white wines.  So successful was this experiment, it won a gold medal at the Challenge International du Vin, France’s oldest wine competition. 


We are excited to share with you the 2006 vintage of this wine in the Savvy Selections.

Experimentation will manifest with a new product line – Undercurrent – to be launched this year.  This will be unique small-batch wines that will be available only at the winery – now there is reason enough to visit!



~Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~

Creekside Estate Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2006 VQA, $18.95

A unique award-winning Sauvignon Blanc, this dry wine was produced with grapes sourced from several vineyards in the Niagara Peninsula.  A portion of the juice was fermented in French oak, while the balance was fermented in stainless.  The wines were then aged in barrel for 9 months.


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  A remarkable, aromatic wine with an intense nose with hints of sweet herbs, toasted coconut, a touch of smoke and citrus.  Medium-bodied, it has a refreshing acidity, bright citrus flavors and a pleasant slight bitterness on the long finish.


Suggested Food Pairing: Serve this wine chilled, with a goat cheese appetizer, seafood, or grilled white fish.


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


Creekside Estate Laura Red 2006 VQA, $19.95

Another signature wine from this winery, Laura’s Red assemblage (winespeak: blend) includes the typical Bordeaux varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec.  The wine was aged for a period of 18 months in a combination of American and French oak.


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Deep red, this wine displays aromas of smoke, plum, herbs and a whiff of cooca. Full-bodied, the bright red fruit was matched by tart acidity and firm tannins.  The long finish had notes of char, smoke and herbs.  TIP: Have a sip, then, leave it for awhile to notice how the aromas evolve & change!


Suggested Food Pairing: A food wine, it would be ideally paired with boeuf bourgignon, grilled bison or venison, or try Susan’s simple recipe for Italian meatballs in tomato sauce below


Cellaring: This may be enjoyed now, decanted, but the firm tannins will mellow as it cellars for 3-5 years.

Creekside Estate Laura White 2007 VQA, $17.95
2007 blessed winemakers with a growing season that was heralded by many as a ‘vintner’s dream’. This white wine is an unusual blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Viognier and Riesling. Each of the varietals were vinified separately – some were fermented or aged in old French oak barrels, others in stainless steel.  After 9 months of aging, the wines were assembled into this unique blend.  


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  “This wine reminds me of some southern Rhone white blends that I tasted a few years ago – beautiful body and fabulous flavors”, commented Susan during the tasting panel.  The wine has intense complex aromas of sweet citrus, flowers and exotic fruits. Generous and full-bodied, the luscious fruit flavors are well-balanced with fresh and lingering acidity. 


Suggested Food Pairing: The Sommeliers involved in the tasting panel felt that this wine would pair best with a good book!  Enjoy on its own, or with roast chicken, pork, seafood or slightly spicy dishes would work very well.


Cellaring: You’ll want to drink it all now.  Of course, if you have more than one bottle, you could hold it to see how the flavors evolve!


~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~

With Creekside Estate Reserve Sauvignon Blanc VQA…

Halibut with Lemon-Caper Sauce
Recipe from The Ottawa Citizen
Serves 4-6



1 ½ lbs halibut fillets, cut into 8 pieces (skin removed)
sea salt & freshyly ground pepper
½ C all-purpose flour
4-6 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp chopped shallots
¼ C small capers, rinsed & drained
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley



Season halibut well on both sides with salt & pepper.  Place flour in a pie plate.  Place 2 Tbsp oil in a 12” non-stick skillet of medium-high heat.


Dip 4 pieces of fish in flour & place in hot skillet.  Cook, turning once, until fish is opaque & edges are golden brown, 2-3 minutes.  Transfer to a warm platter (or place in warm oven).  Add more oil to skillet, if necessary, and repeat with remaining fish.


After fish is cooked, add remaining 2 Tbsp oil, shallots & capers to skillet.  Saute 1 minute, until shallots are golden.  Add lemon juice & zest, and bring to a boil.  Simmer 1 minute; add ¼ tsp salt & a pinch of pepper.  Remove from heat, swirl in butter & parsley.  Spoon over fish, serve & enjoy!   



With Creekside Estate Laura White VQA…

Crispy Pork Medallions
Recipe adapted from Oils & Vinegars, by Jean-Francois Plante
Serves 4-6



2 pork tenderloins, sliced diagonally approx 2” thick
¼ extra-virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 tsp herbes de provence
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard



Assemble the olive oil, shallot, herbs and mustard in a glass dish.  Mix well together.  Add the sliced pork and stir to cover with the marinade.  Refrigerate & marinate for 2-4 hours.


Heat oven to 400F.   


Place breadcrumbs in a bowl.  Stir each piece of marinated pork in the bowl to cover lightly with breadcrumbs.


Place the breaded pork medallions on a non-stick baking sheet.


Bake for approx 15 minutes, or until the medallions are just pink in the centre.  Remove from oven and serve with herbed roast sweet potatoes and green beans.


With Creekside Estate Laura Red VQA…
Polpettine Rifatte
Recipe adapted from My Tuscany Lorenza de’ Medici
Serves 6


1 ¼ – 1 ½ lbs lean ground beef
2 handfuls fresh, coarse country bread crumbs, soaked in milk for about 5 mins & squeezed dry
½ lb fresh sausage meat – approx 2 sausages, try mild Italian
1 finely chopped shallot
1 Tbsp chopped flat-leaved parsley
2 eggs
1 C dry breadcrumbs
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 28 oz can Italian tomatoes, pureed
Fresh basil leaves to taste, chopped
1 large mild onion, thinly sliced


In a bowl, mix beef with the soft breadcrumbs, sausage meat, shallot, parsley and egg until well blended.  Add salt & pepper to taste.  Form meatballs the size of extra-large eggs.  Coat well in dry breadcrumbs and place on a baking sheet.


Heat oven to 400F.  Cook meatballs for approximately 25 minutes.


Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and fry until barely golden.  Add the tomato puree and cook for a few minutes.  Add the chopped basil and salt or pepper to taste.  Add the meatballs.  Cover and cook for about 10 minutes on low heat, turning them delicately a couple of time.  If the tomato sauce becomes too thick, add a little water.


Arrange the meatballs on a platter and serve.  They may be accompanied by fresh Ciabatta bread and stir-fired or roasted vegetables (zucchini, onion, carrots, mushrooms).


Cheers & Enjoy!

When you would like to order additional Creekside wines or wines from other featured wineries in the Savvy Selections, simply contact the Savvy Team and we will organize a shipment for you.