Posts Tagged ‘Pelee Island Winery’

If I had $100 I would buy these wines at LCBO Vintages…

Posted by Julie

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

No surprise that the LCBO Vintages release of Oct. 3 focusses on LINK wines for Thanksgiving. Regardless of whether it’s turkey, ham, fish or pork, the wines I have chosen will accompany them all. Now how’s that for a scoop?

LCBO Vintages Magazine Oct 3I recently read that the planting of grape vines for winemaking in Ontario dates back to 1811 and were planted on the Credit River in Cookeville, just west of Toronto. However, the first winery in Ontario was established on Pelee Island and to this day the Pelee Island winery offers some great general list products. And while I am offering some trivia, did you know that you can buy a wine holder for a bicycle that clasps to the bike frame? Talk about pedal power… but enough.

Whatever you’re cooking this Thanksgiving all these wines are saying “pick me” and I guarantee they will be good to the last drop.

Give thanks and count our blessings,


If I had $100, I would buy these wines at LCBO Vintages…
Saturday October 3, 2015

Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noir sparklingGloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs

Carneros, U.S.A.
$29.95 (Vintages #925735) 12.5% alcohol

THE SCOOP: The pale pink, copper colour alone is enchanting. Fine sparkling mousse in a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Creamy and delicate flavours of stone fruit and a hint of brioche, a little fruity. Delicate stone fruit flavours, a hint of brioche and almost a mineral flint in the aftertaste. It’s one beautiful sparkling wine that will take you from start to finish of any meal.


Pierre Sparr Lieu Dit Altenbourg Riesling 2010Pierre Sparr Lieu Dit Altenbourg Riesling 2013

AC Alsace, France
$16.95 (Vintages #906016) 13% alcohol

 THE SCOOP: I suppose lip-smacking good does not tell you very much about a wine but that is exactly what describes this aromatic wine. The term “lieu dit” on the bottle is used to describe a small vineyard site within a larger appellation. The grapes must come from that particular village or appellation to have this term on the bottle. Lots of fruit flavours; green apples and a pinch of honey but bone dry and smooth. A simply delicious white wine.


Gassier Sables d'Azur Rose 2014Gassier Sables DAzur Rosé 2014

Cotes de Provence, France
$15.95 (Vintages #33621) 13 % alcohol

THE SCOOP: If anyone is having salmon for Thanksgiving, this lovely pale pink colour is bound to match. Floral aromas, ripe red berry flavours on the palate, some citrus on the finish and a great seam of acidity that keeps you coming back for more. It’s a dry, classy and elegant rosé wine, again from start to finish, no one will be disappointed.


Rosewood Select Series Pinot Noir 2012Rosewood Select Series Pinot Noir 2012

VQA Niagara Escarpment
$21.95 (Vintages #112177) 13% alcohol

THE SCOOP: Soft aromas of red berries and a tinge of forest floor in this red wine. It fills the palate with tastes of sour cherries but smooth and satiny. It’s well balanced with gentle tannins integrating with the fruit flavours. Good typicity of Pinots made in the Niagara region, soft and delicious.


In Situ Reserva Carmenere 2010In Situ Reserva Carmenère 2012

Aconcagua Valley, Chile
$14.95 (Vintages #37952) 14.5% alcohol

THE SCOOP: This was a Gold medal winner at the 2014 Concours Mondial de Bruxelles. Although Carmenère is originally from Bordeaux, it has become Chile’s iconic grape. Loads of blueberries on the palate, full bodied and rich with plums, liquorice and a little menthol in the mouth. Delicious and easy possessing soft tannins and finishes on cocoa and spice. I can’t believe the price point of this red wine. Alright, it might not be first choice to accompany fish, but it’s a sure crowd pleaser for those red wine drinkers.


GRAND TOTAL – $ 99.75



The drumroll please….2014 wine winners

Posted by Amanda

Monday, November 3rd, 2014


The winners of this year’s Ottawa Wine Challenge – the wine competition associated to the annual Ottawa Wine & Food Festival – have been announced.  We are thrilled that for the first time in ever that the Best of Show winning wines are all made in Canada!  Move over France, Australia & Italy…Canadian wines are taking top marks and the owning the podium at this challenge.

Ottawa wine challenge
The Savvy Team seizes every opportunity to wave the Canadian flag & we are excited that several of the wineries that we feature in our Savvy Selections wine-of-the-month-club as well as our Taste & Buy events won medals in this wine competition.  <Insert big round of applause!>.

Those Canadian wineries we have featured are highlighted.  Be sure to visit the winemakers & winery owners at this weekend’s show or subscribe to Savvy Selections to have award winning wines delivered year round!

Best of Show…

WHITE WINE – Strewn Winery Cottage Block Riesling 2012 – Ontario, Canada
RED WINE – Southbrook Vineyards Triomphe Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 – Ontario Canada
SWEET WINE – Domaine Pinnacle Ice Cider 2012 – Quebec, Canada

Gold Medal Winners…

Konzelmann Estate Vidal Icewine 2010 – Ontario, Canada
Konzelmann Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine 2012 – Ontario, Canada
Palatine Hills Estate Prestige Sparkling Wine – Ontario, Canada
Oyster Bay Sparkling Rose Cuvee Brut Hawke’s Bay/Marlborough – New Zealand
Sideroad Twenty Cellars Red Tractor Cabernet Franc 2012 – Ontario, Canada
Rosewood Estates Origin Cabernet Franc 2012 – Ontario, Canada
Rosewood Estates Sussreserve Riesling 2013 – Ontario, Canada
Strewn Winery Cottage Block Riesling 2012 – Ontario, Canada
Southbrook Vineyards Triomphe Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 – Ontario, Canada
Domaine Pinnacle Ice Cider 2012 – Quebec, Canada

Silver Medal Winners….

Wither Hills Wairau Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2013 – New Zealand
Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc 2014 – New Zealand
Viticoltori d’Acqui Brachetto de’Acqui Sparkling Rose NV – Italy
Konzelmann Estate Special Select Late Harvest Vidal 2013 – Ontario, Canada
Mission Hill Family Estate Diabolica Red 2012 – British Columbia, Canada
Cantina Negrar Amarone 2010 – Italy
Domain Martin Plan de Dieu 2011 – France
Family Wine Merchants Sangre de Toro 2013 – Spain
Rosewood Estates Select Merlot 2012 – Ontario, Canada
Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 – Canada
Alpine Valley Alpine Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2013 – New Zealand
Loosen Brothers Villa Wolf Riesling 2013 – Germany
Pelee Island Winery Alvar Pinot Noir 2012 – Canada
Konzelmann Estate Shiraz 2013 – Canada
Rancourt Winery Merlot 2009 – Canada (a new winery that we have not featured yet!)

Bronze Medal Winners…

Konzelmann Estate Unoaked Chardonnay 2013 – Ontario, Canada
Palatine Hills Estate 1812 Unoaked Chardonnay 2013 – Ontario, Canada
Lailey Vineyards Old Vines Chardonnay 2012 – Ontario, Canada
The Wine Group Chloe Chardonnay 2012 – USA
Oyster Bay Marlborough Chardonnay 2013 – New Zealand
Mission Hill Reserve Chardonnay 2012 – Canada
Bodgas Santa Julia Santa Julia Chardonnay 2013 – Argentina
Stoneleigh Chardonnay Malborough 2013 – New Zealand
Vina Santa Rita Reserva Chardonnay 2013 – Chile
Coyote’s Run Red Paw Vineyard Pinot Gris 2013 – Ontario, Canada
Pondview Estate Winery Bella Terra Pinot Gris 2013 – Ontario, Canada
Sandbanks Winery Pinot Grigio 2013 – Ontario, Canada
Mondo del Vino Barone Montalto Pinot Grigio 2013 – Italy
Oyster Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2014 – New Zealand
Babich Wines Sauvignon Blanc 2013 – New Zealand
Brancott Estate Letter Series B Sauvignon Blanc Malborough 2012 – New Zealand
Sacred Hill White Cliff Sauvignon Blanc 2013 – New Zealand
Veramonte Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2013 – Chile
GA Schmitt Clean Slate Riesling 2013 – Germany
Rosewood Estates Mima’s Block Riesling 2012 – Ontario, Canada
Konzelmann Estate Canada White Riesling 2011 – Ontario, Canada
Lailey Vineyards Late Harvest Riesling Dry 2013 – Ontario, Canada
Konzelmann Estate Pinot Blanc 2012 – Ontario, Canada
Sandbanks Winery Dunes White 2013 – Ontario, Canada
Laroche Laroche de la Chevaliere Viognier 2013 – France
LGCF Chateau Cleray Muscadet 2012 – France
Willm Gewurztraminer 2013 – France
Torres Vina Esmerelda Moscatel Gewurztraminer 2013 – Spain
Diamond Estates 1914 Honour White 2013 – Ontario, Canada
Fuzion Wines Fuzion Alta Torrontes Pinot Grigio 2013 – Argentina
Brumont Gros Manseng Sauvignon Blanc 2013 – France
Coyote’s Run Estate Winery Black Paw Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012 – Ontario, Canada
Konzelmann Estate Pinot Noir 2012 – Ontario, Canada
Konzelmann Estate Reserve Pinot Noir 2012 – Ontario, Canada
Gnarly Head Cellars Pinot Noir 2012 – USA
Don Sebastiani & Sons Aquinas Napa Valley Pinot Noir 2012 – USA
Rosewood Estates Origin Pinot Noir 2012 – Ontario, Canada
Lailey Vineyards Syrah 2012 – Ontario, Canada
Deakin Shiraz 2013 – Australia
Lailey Vineyards Unfiltered Merlot 2012 – Ontario, Canada
Palatine Hills Neufeld Vineyard Merlot 2012– Ontario, Canada
Oyster Bay Hawke’s Bay Merlot 2013 – New Zealand
Irony Wines Merlot 2011 – USA
Noble Vines 181 Lodi Merlot 2012 – USA
Pelee Island Winery Vinedresser’s Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 – Ontario, Canada
Pondview Estate Winery Bella Terra Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 – Ontario, Canada
Torres Gran Coronas Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 – Spain
Gnarly Head Cellars Gnarly Head Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 – USA
Don Sebastiani & Sons Smoking Loon Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 – USA
Fuzion Wines Fuzion Alta Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 – Argentina
Bodgas Santa Julia Reserva Cabernet 2012 – Argentina
Rodney Strong Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 – USA
Wente Vineyards Southern Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 – USA
Maison Louis Latour Gamay 2011 – France
Bodegas Trivento Fair Trade Malbec 2013 – Argentina
Fuzion Wines Fuzion Alta Reserva Malbec 2013 – Argentina
Campo Viejo Tempranillo 2012 – Spain
Coyote’s Run Rare Vintage Cabernet Franc 2012– Ontario, Canada
Pondview Estate Winery Bella Terra Cabernet Franc 2012 – Ontario, Canada
Sandbanks Winery Reserve Baco Noir 2012 – Ontario, Canada
Torres Coronas Tempranillo 2011 – Spain
Costa Mediana Valpolicella Ripasso 2011 – Italy
Southbrook Vineyards Triomphe Cabernet Franc 2012 – Ontario, Canada
Bodegas Portia Faustino VII Rioja 2011 – Spain
Don Sebastiani & Sons Smoking Loon Old Vine Zinfandel 2012 – USA
Coyote’s Run Rare Vintage Cabernet Syrah 2012 – Ontario, Canada
Konzelmann Estate Family Reserve Cabernet Merlot 2012 – Ontario, Canada
Konzelmann Estate Heritage Red 2012 – Ontario, Canada
Lailey Vineyards Impromptu 2012– Ontario, Canada
Pelee Island Winery Singing Moon Cabernet Merlot 2012 – Ontario, Canada
Sandbanks Winery Shoreline Red 2013 – Ontario, Canada
Sandbanks Winery Mouton Noir 2013 – Ontario, Canada
Torres Infinite Red 2011 – Spain
Diamond Estates 1914 Valour 2013 – Ontario, Canada
Palatine Hills Estate Cabernet Merlot 2012 – Ontario, Canada
Rancourt Winery Meritage 2009 – Ontario, Canada
Mondo del Vino Barone Montalto Nero d’Avola Cabernet 2013 – Italy
Bodegas Piqueras Castillo de Almansa Reserva 2010 – Spain
Fuzion Wines Fuzion Shiraz Malbec 2013 – Argentina
Fuzion Wines Fuzion Organico Malbec Cabernet 2013 – Argentina
Distell Inception 2011 – South Africa
Rosewood Estates Lock, Stock & Barrel 2012 – Ontario, Canada
Southbrook Vineyards Connect Red 2012 – Ontario, Canada
Cellier des Dauphins Cellier des Dauphins Rouge 2012 – France
Palatine Hills Estate Gamay Noir Rose 2013– Ontario, Canada
Chivite Chivite Gran Feudo Rosado 2013 – Spain
Konzelmann Estate Sparkling Riesling NV – Ontario, Canada
Konzelmann Estate Sparkling Rose NV – Ontario, Canada
Pelee Island Winery Secco 2012 – Ontario, Canada
Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut Cava NV – Spain
Henkell Cavas Hill NV – Spain
Segura Viudas Segura Viudas Cava NV – Spain

Now how is that for a shopping list!!

Debbie & the Savvy Team




Premium wines from Pelee Island Winery

Posted by Susan

Friday, January 7th, 2011


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

As you head into the holiday season, you may be thinking of offering a gift of wine or perhaps a subscription to Savvy Selections. The Savvy Team takes great pleasure in visiting wineries and meeting with the individuals whose dedication and foresight have ensured we have access to some of Ontario’s outstanding wines. We are delighted to once again feature Pelee Island Winery, and make available to our subscribers a selection of its well-crafted and lesser known wines.



Located in Lake Erie and occupying its own viticultural area, Pelee Island is Canada’s most southerly land mass, at 42 degrees north, the same latitude as such well-known wine-growing areas as Burgundy and California’s Napa Valley. This region has the highest heat units in Canada – ideal for ripening delicate Vitis vinifera (winespeak: common grape varieties) – and the longest frost-free growing season in Ontario recorded at 196 days. The island has its own unique microclimate, influenced by its location 25 km offshore and the fact that most of the island is in fact below lake level. The vineyards are located in the centre of the island, where somewhat deeper soils ensure the root systems can become effectively established. The vines on the island are often planted in an east-west direction, taking advantage of the high winds which blow consistently across the vineyards, limiting humidity and associated fungal diseases. Grapes are grown according to the World Wildlife Fund’s strict sustainable vineyard practices, and over 100 acres are certified organic. With over 550 acres under vine, the winery is the largest private estate in Canada.


Pelee Island Winery builds on a long tradition of grape-growing and winemaking dating back to the late 1860s. The original grapes were imported from Ohio in 1866 by a settler family from Kentucky. With the help of an enterprising Ontarian, J.S. Hamilton, wines from the Vin Villa winery on Pelee Island were common through eastern Canada and the northeastern states in the late 1800s. The winery garnered widespread fame when one of its wines won a bronze medal at a competition in Paris. Changes in agriculture caused the industry to disappear from the area for many decades.

In the late 1970s, as interest in grape growing and winemaking surged in Ontario, Austrian Walter Strehn re-established the wine industry on Pelee Island. Vines were imported from Germany and, in 1984, the Pelee Island Winery was built just east of Kingsville. Walter Schmoranz joined the winery in 1985. A native of Germany, Walter was educated and developed his winemaking skills in the Rheingau. He came to Canada for a visit and was captivated by the country, as well as by the opportunity in southern Ontario. After 25 years, he is still passionate about the property and the winery. In the vineyard and in the cellar, he is ably supported by Bruno Friesen, viticulturalist, and Martin Janz, winemaker


This month we are featuring whites from Pelee Island’s 2008 vintage:
a crisp
Private Selection Sauvignon Blanc
the delectable Pinot Gris Vendange Tardive
as well as the velvety 2003 Vinedresses Meritage.

You won’t find these wines at the LCBO!

To have more wine from Pelee Island or any of the featured wineries in the Savvy Selections, call me to make the arrangements for a special delivery. And if you are planning to visit the beautiful Lake Erie North Shore, stop for a tour at the Kingsville winery, or take the M.V. Jimaan to Pelee Island Winery’s Pavillon!


Cheers & Enjoy!

Debbie & Savvy Team


Pelee Island Winery
Presented by Sommelier Susan Desjardins

There’s something remarkably similar among the privately-owned wineries of Ontario, regardless of size, and that’s the enthusiasm and commitment you find, not only among the family members themselves, but among their staff. At Pelee Island Winery, for instance, President and Winemaster Walter Schmoranz has been making wine and directing the operation for 25 years, Martin Janz, winemaker, joined right out of university in 1996, and Bruno Friesen, viticulturalist, has been with the winery since returning to Canada from Brazil 12 years ago.

What inspires this kind of commitment and enthusiasm? In Bruno’s case, it’s the opportunity to work in a unique agricultural environment and to work with an organization whose owners and leaders are very open to new ideas. “Here, we want people to be happy in what they’re doing—then they put their all into it. And that comes back to the vines as well.”

Bruno is a resident of Pelee Island, with his own garden and greenhouse. He started working with grapes in Vineland as a teenager, went on to obtain a B.Sc. in Agriculture from University of Guelph and then spent several years working in his field, including promoting organic agriculture and grape growing, in his home country of Brazil. When he returned to Canada, he studied various areas of the country that might be of interest, and found Pelee Island particularly attractive – “I wanted to go as far south as I could but still be in Canada” he says humorously! In addition to this, Bruno says he was fascinated by the unique climate, geology and growing conditions on Pelee Island. “It’s one of the best places in Canada to grow grapes, so when the opportunity came up, I was excited to take it.”

For an agriculturalist, each season brings a new growing challenge, and Bruno finds intrinsic reward in his profession. “Putting a seed in the soil and seeing it sprout in the spring . . . that new life gives you great hope. Once you’ve had that experience, you’re hooked.”

As Pelee Island’s viticulturalist, Bruno is at the heart of many of the initiatives taken to maintain the health of the vines and the soils, to experiment with new methods and different crops. The approach is to assess the attributes of the environment, experiment with specific elements, analyse the results, and then implement those practices which are most promising. For instance, a substantial investment has been made in organic agriculture. A variety of crops have been grown to create natural compost to be used on the vineyards. Bruno has learned that the island has a mineral quality that provides ideal nutrition for the vines. Through experimentation, he has discovered that alflalfa is an ideal compost ‘crop’ as it concentrates a variety of nutrients that can be returned to the vineyard soils, optimizing the health of the vines and the quality of the fruit. Similarly, he has 6 acres of Riesling, Cabernet Franc and Bianca under organic cultivation in order to learn how the vines grow under these conditions. And with the first organic crop, there is also experimentation in the cellar with wines from those organic grapes.

In discussing the 2008 vintage, Bruno indicated that the growing conditions in the latter part of the summer of 2008 were quite dry, but that there was rain later in August and a warm fall which gave the grapes a longer period to mature. “We had a good crop and great quality”. Each season is unique, and each varietal offers its own challenges. As an example, Bruno discussed Pinot Gris. “It’s very unpredictable and a bit unstable because it’s a clone of Pinot Noir. It often has difficulty getting started, but once it gets going, it’s fabulous. Depending on the vintage, some years we let it hang, others not.”

Bruno also provided a preview of this year’s harvest: “Dry weather with that perfect August rain has created smaller berries with more concentration. It will be a good vintage.”  We look forward to it – Cheers & enjoy your Savvy Selections!


 ~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~

Private Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2008 VQA, $12.95

This Sauvginon Blanc is a treat for the senses, with an intensity and depth of flavour attributed by the winemaker to a brief period of aging in oak casks.

We are excited to bring to you this particular wine as it is one that the winery makes available only to restaurants. During the Savvy Selections panel tasting, our Sommeliers couldn’t believe the price & its quality. We hope that you enjoy it too.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Clear and the palest of straw, this wine has an enticing breadth of aromas—grass, herbs, citrus, minerality and a whiff of orchard fruit. Light-medium bodied and nicely balanced, the aromas replay on the palate, with grapefruit and peel lingering on the finish

Suggested Food Pairing: It’s a lovely sipping wine, but would also pair well with classic matches such as grilled white fish or soft cheeses.

Cellaring: Why wait? Enjoy it now!



Pelee Island Pinot Gris Vendange Tardive 2008 VQA, $15.95

Vendange Tardive translates to late harvest & typically you would expect a sweet wine, yet this one is certainly not that, it is crisp & dry. The extended hang time on the vines long after the typical harvest period delivered more intensity of aromas and flavours in the fruit which creates more weight on the palate.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Golden in colour (reminiscent of the colour of peach skin), this wine is as appealing as it is unexpected. Richly aromatic and complex—think of luscious honeyed stone fruit, tropical notes and a hint of nuts—it’s medium bodied with a silky, round texture. Spicy orchard fruit and some hints of heat on the mid palate carry through on the velvety full-flavored finish. Notes of marzipan and nougat linger. Delicious!  

Suggested Food Pairing: We recommend to definitely have at least one glass of this wine on its own to enjoy its texture and flavors. It will pair well with lobster salad, roast chicken with a honey-lemon glaze or chicken tagine. Your tasting panel enjoyed it with the chicken and pear salad provided below.

Cellaring:  Enjoy over the next year or two.


Vinedressers Meritage 2003 VQA $24.95

A classic blend of Bordeaux varietals – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot & Cabernet Franc – this wine was crafted from hand-selected fully ripened grapes of fifteen year or more old vines, and aged in French and American oak for sixteen months. It joins other premium Vinedressers wines, such as the Shiraz and Cabernet/Petit Verdot that we offered as an optional wine as it received rave reviews when we featured Pelee Island in 2008.


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Clean mahogany tones characterize this mellow blend of the Cabernets and Merlot. Lifted aromas of leather, plum, kitchen spice and cedar, as well as alluring earthy autumnal notes drift from the glass. Medium-full bodied and dry, the texture is silky and the palate is awash with dark berry, plum, smoky spice and white pepper. Fine acidity delivers freshness while the pepper and spice provide warmth on a lingering finish. Deftly balanced.


Suggested Food Pairing: Serve with rare prime rib or herbed rack of lamb, or enjoy with hard cheeses.


Cellaring:  Drinking well now.




~ Recipes to enjoy with Savvy Selections ~

With Private Selection Sauvignon Blanc…

Smoked Trout Rosti with lime-flavored sour cream
From Weekend Cooking, Ricardo Lacroix
Serves 4

3 parsnips, peeled & grated
2 potatoes, peeled & grated
6 Tbsp butter
1/3 C sour cream
1 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp fresh chives, minced
Tabasco sauce, to taste
salt & pepper
¼ lb smoked trout or other smoked fish, thinly sliced
Chives for decoration



1.    In bowl, mix parsnips & potatoes, for a total of 4 cups of vegetables. Season with salt & pepper.


2.    Divide vegetables into 4 even parts. In a non-stick skillet, melt half the butter over low-medium heat. Add 2 parts vegetables, shaping them into 5” circles. Brown for 10 minutes, flattening well with spatula. Flip over carefully & brown for another 10 minutes. Transfer cooked rösti to plate or serving dish & keep warm. Cook remaining rösti in remaining butter.   


3.    In a small bowl, mix sour cream, lime juice, chives & Tabasco. Season with salt & pepper.


4.    Place each rosti on a plate. Add a little flavored sour cream & a few slices of smoked fish to each. Decorate with chives & season to taste with salt & pepper. Serve & sip!  


With Pinot Grigio Vendange Tardive….

Baby Greens with Chicken, Dried Cherries, Pears & Pecans
From Fine, Lori Longbotham
Serves 4

1 medium clove garlic
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
Freshly ground kosher salt & pepper
1 medium firm-ripe pear, peeled, cored & cut into 1/2” dice
1/3 cup dried tart cherries
8 oz. package mixed baby greens
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
½ C pecan halves, toasted


1.  Chop the garlic, sprinkle with ½ tsp salt & mash to a paste with the flat side of a chef’s knife. Put the paste in a large serving bowl & whisk in olive oil, vinegar, thyme and ¼ tsp pepper.


2.  Gently stir in the pear & cherries. Add the greens, chicken, pecans and toss to coat.  


3.  Season to taste with salt & pepper and serve immediately with crusty bread.



With Vinedresser’s Cabernet Sauvignon…

Bison Bourgignon
Adapted from Derek Benitz, Benitz Bistro (Ottawa restaurant)
Serves 4

2 Tbsp canola oil
2 lbs. bison stewing meat, or other red stew meat, diced 1”
1 medium cooking onion, diced
2-3 medium carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 C mixed fresh mushrooms, sliced
¼ cup dry porcini mushrooms
3 Tbsp flour
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves only
8 juniper berries (optional)
2 bay leaves
1/3 C + 2 Tbsp Madeira wine, or equal parts port & sherry
1 C red wine
3 C beef stock
salt & pepper to taste
Handful tender baby mixed greens


1.  In a hot, heavy Dutch oven, heat canola oil & brown bison well in batches, making sure not to overcrowd (remember Julia Childs!). Transfer meat to a colander placed over a dish to drain & catch juices while browning the remaining meat.

2.  In the same Dutch oven, sauté onions, carrots, celery, garlic & sliced mixed and porcini mushrooms. Return meat to Dutch oven and sprinkle with flour. Add herbs & spices in order listed.  

3.  Deglaze pot with Madeira, blending well. Add wine, stirring, then add beef stock. Gently bring to simmer, then cover & bake in preheated oven at 325F for 2 hours or until meat is tender.


4.  Remove stew from heat and rest 30 minutes before serving. Just before serving, fold in mixed baby greens. Serve with a medley of roasted root vegetables.





Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!



Savvy Selections e-Zine featuring Pelee Island Winery

Posted by Susan

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

January 2009
Savvy Selections – featuring Pelee Island Winery
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep

Happy New Year!

We are starting 2009 with a well-established, yet unique Canadian winery, Pelee Island Winery. You may recognize the winery for its well-known labels, featuring natural rare animals of the area.  However, with this month’s Savvy Selections we will introduce you to some of Pelee’s lesser known wines. 

As friends and I set sail on the M.V. Jimaan ferry from Leamington last summer, I felt like an intrepid explorer traveling to a new world.  The Jimaan (the word means ‘big canoe’ in Ojibway) is the principal method of transport for residents of and visitors to Pelee Island.  Not only does it carry people, it carries supplies, trucks, tractors and, during harvest time, hundreds of containers of ripe wine grapes.

The Pelee Island Winery vineyards are located on the island, yet winemaking takes place in Kingsville – on the mainland.  The vineyards, over 550 acres, amount to the largest private estate in Canada.  During our travels, we learned that the island is inhabited by about 150 families, most of whom are involved in agriculture or service industries.  We met two local families and learned of the challenges and the pleasures of living on the island. For instance, families still have to ‘stock up’ supplies for the winter.  In the early 1900s, the only way to the mainland in winter was on sleighs over the ice; today, the only method of winter travel is by air.  It is clear that while things have changed since the island was first settled over 100 years ago, many things haven’t – and one of them is the local enthusiasm for grape growing!

After the 1 ½ hour cruise to the island, we took a short road trip to the Pelee Island Winery Pavillon, where we learned more about the history of winemaking on the island, and tasted a wide range of Pelee Island wines.  The winery builds on a long tradition of grape growing and winemaking dating back to the late 1860s.  Local history records that the original grapes were imported from Ohio in 1866 by a settler family from Kentucky!  With the help of an enterprising Ontarian, J.S. Hamilton, wines from the Vin Villa winery on Pelee Island graced the tables of eastern Canada and the northeastern states by the late 1800s, and were successfully exported to Europe and the Caribbean.  In fact, one of these early Pelee Island wines won a bronze medal at a competition in Paris.


Other agricultural crops replaced grapes in the 1920s, but in 1979, an enterprising Austrian named Walter Strehn began the renaissance of the wine industry on the island.  Vines were imported from Germany and, in 1984, the Pelee Island Winery was built just east of Kingsville.  So began a new era of winemaking on Pelee Island (now established as its own viticultural area).  And from this new era, we are pleased to feature three of Pelee Island Winery’s premium wines – Barrique Chardonnay, Shiraz and a Cabernet Sauvignon/Petit Verdot blend from the Vinedressers series.  Notice the Vinedressers label which features a photo dated in 1891 of the founding fathers of the original Pelee Island Wine and Vineyards Company, posing before the winery and the cellar.


We are certain you’ll enjoy these premium wines.  To order more Pelee Island wines or wines from previous Savvy Selections, simply call on us to organize a shipment for you.

– Debbie & the Savvy Team
Debbie Trenholm  









Pelee Island Winery
presented by Sommelier Susan Desjardins

 Location of Pelee Island

Pelee Island, the southernmost inhabited landmass in Canada, is about 10,000 acres in size – 6000 acres of which is arable land.  At 42 degrees north latitude, Pelee is at the same general level as other famous winegrowing areas of the world, such as Napa Valley, Burgundy, and parts of Spain and Portugal.  It has the highest heat units in the country (another words – great for ripening delicate Vitis vinifera grapes), and interestingly, the longest frost-free growing season in Ontario at 196 days.  The island has its own microclimate, influenced by its location 25 km offshore.  When rainstorms move in from the southwest, they tend to break up and flow around the island.  For instance, last summer, when the rest of Ontario was enduring rain through much of July and August, the island was enjoying wonderfully warm and sunny growing conditions.

The island is mostly below the level of Lake Erie, which becomes evident from the elevated road that circles the island.  The vineyards are located in the centre of the island, where somewhat deeper soils ensure the root systems can effectively establish themselves.  The vines on the island are often planted in an east-west direction, in order to take advantage of the high winds that blow consistently across the vineyards, limiting humidity and associated fungal diseases.  The winery has chosen to grow its grapes according to the World Wildlife Fund’s strict sustainable vineyard practices.  They are committed to making their own compost and recently achieved organic certification. 

Walter Schmoranz, the President and Winemaster and I spent time together when I visited the winery in Kingsville.  A native of Germany, Walter was educated and developed his winemaking skills in the Rheingau.  He came to Canada for a visit and was captivated by the country, along with the opportunity in southern Ontario.  He joined the Pelee Island Winery in 1985, just after the winery was built and as the Ontario wine industry was beginning to come to life.  Says Walter, “I have been very fortunate that the owners and investors are quite hands off.  As long as the financials are satisfactory, I have the latitude to implement creative viticultural strategies and new vinification techniques.”

And experiment he has, over the 23 years he has been with Pelee Island Winery.  Not satisfied to produce wines from varieties that are known to grow well in Ontario, Walter is constantly experimenting with new grape varietals.  To our benefit, this experimentation has led to the Vinedressers Shiraz and the Cabernet Sauvignon/Petit Verdot blend that we are showcasing in this month’s Savvy Selections.  Although Petit Verdot ripens even later than Cabernet Sauvignon, it is doing amazingly well in the island microclimate.  Other varietals such as Tempranillo and Malbec are also being experimented.  Along with Bruno Friesen, Pelee’s viticulturalist, Walter has tried a range of pruning techniques and has even experimented with biodynamic farming, which he studied while in university.  Not content with just expanding the range of varietals used and wines produced, Walter and Bruno harvested their first crop of lavender this year, and are growing sea-buckthorn, whose berries are used in the cosmetics industry and are recognized for their antioxidant properties.

As his role expanded, Walter recruited Martin Janz to work with him as winemaker.  “It’s a bit of a funny story.  My twin brother, who is also a winemaker, and I worked for Martin’s father when we were young.  I managed to entice Martin to Canada, and he’s been working with us now for over 10 years.”  Pelee’s philosophy of winemaking is simple:  produce a valued product that is as Canadian as possible. Walter explains, “It’s really about growing the best grapes, and then ensuring that we have excellent balance in the wines – this is very important.”

We think you’ll agree that the wines we’ve selected reflect the philosophy and commitment of Walter Schmoranz and Pelee Island Winery.  Enjoy these robust wines in the heart of winter!


~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~  


Pelee Island Barrique Chardonnay VQA 2005, $14.95
The grapes for this wine were harvested late in October to optimize the sugar content.  The juice was clarified and then aged sur lie (winespeak: aged for a couple of months with coarse sediment and inactive yeast cells – known as ‘lees’– allowing the flavours to gain complexity) for 10 months in French oak barriques.  The result is a round, dry & well balanced white wine.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A lovely golden color, aromas of sweet spices – apple pie and vanilla waft from the glass.  Enjoy the rich mouth feel (winespeak: texture) of the wine, with flavors of ripe pears, toffee apple (the kind from a country fair), complemented by pleasant acidity.  The finish is long, warm and delicious.

Suggested Food Pairing: Serve this wine well chilled and enjoy it with a hearty chicken, veal or pork dish – as Susan offers below.  

Cellaring: No need to wait…this wine is ready to drink now.


Pelee Island Vinedressers Shiraz VQA 2005, $19.95
The Shiraz grape varietal is a relative newcomer to the Pelee Island vineyards, introduced in 2000.  The long, hot growing season of the island’s climate favors this grape – you can taste the sunshine in the wine!

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A favorite of the Savvy Selections tasting panel, this deep ruby colored wine has aromas of forest fruits – imagine fresh blueberry pie – char (think BBQ), and a hint of black olive tapenade. A full-bodied and robust Shiraz, the palate is characterized by well-integrated ripe fruit, soft tannins and crisp acidity.  Enjoy the hint of smoky roasted peppers on the long finish. Yummy!

Suggested Food Pairing: This wine pairs well with hearty casseroles and roasted meat.  We also felt it would be a lovely sipping wine – try it with some Spanish Manchego cheese or the Carmelized Onion Tart recipe on the next page.

Cellaring: At 3 years of age, this wine is drinking well now, but could certainly cellar for another couple of years.


Pelee Island Cab Sauv/Petit Verdot VQA 2007, $19.95
This blend was just released in October 2008 (perfect timing to be featured in the Savvy Selections!), this Cabernet Sauvignon/Petit Verdot once again demonstrates the advantages of the climate and terroir of the island.  Petit Verdot grapes are not often grown in Canada – making this particular wine a special treat.  Verdot is late ripening with an erratic yield, yet it brings depth, intense color with a floral aroma to the wine or blend that it graces.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: “I can’t help rhapsodizing about the aromas of this bright but dense red”, explains Susan.  She recommends to let your glass sit for a minute, swirl, then enjoy a nose full of perfumed floral scents (red roses and violets – can you find them?) as well as aromas of dark cherries. The wine is medium-bodied, silky and dense.  Simply put – raspberry pie in a glass! The tannins are firm and drying, lingering through the long warm finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: This is a great wine to pair with boeuf bourgignon or prime rib, as well as grilled meats (such as the lamb loin recipe that follows). This could be enjoyed with hard cheeses.

Cellaring: This wine is wonderful paired with food and served now. 2-3 more years in the cellar would certainly soften the tannins.


 ~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~

With Barrique Chardonnay…
Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Recipe from Aartje denBoer, Pickle Patch Farm
Serves 4

2 pork tenderloins, trimmed
4 sweet potatoes, split lengthwise
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp dried thyme
Salt & pepper to taste

For seasoning:
1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
Salt & pepper to taste

Mix the olive oil, thyme, salt & pepper in a small bowl.  Brush the cut sides of the sweet potatoes with the mixture and lay on a baking sheet, cut side down.  Roast for 35-45 minutes at 350F, depending upon size of potatoes.

Mix the seasoning ingredients together, and then brush them onto the pork tenderloins.  Place them into a roasting pan and place the pan in the middle of the oven, uncovered,  Roast at 350F for 35-40 minutes, or until the meat is slightly pink.  (I find that I can usually cook the meat and potatoes concurrently, but they might require a few minutes longer).

Remove the pork from the pan and let it sit on a cutting board for 5 minutes before slicing and serving with the sweet potatoes and a mesclun salad garnished with sun-dried tomatoes.


With Vinedressers Cabernet Sauvignon/Petit Verdot…
Grilled Lamb Loin
Recipe from Sebastien Centner
Serves 4

4 lamb loins
Salt & pepper to taste
12 or 16 large grape or cherry tomatoes
4 or 8 small carrots, with 1” greens attached
4 Tbsp olive oil
Aged Balsamic Vinegar – preferably 15 year old

Lightly season the lamb with pepper and a touch of salt.  Peel and halve the carrots and toss with tomatoes in olive oil, salt & pepper.

Pre-heat the grill to 400F.  Grill the cherry tomatoes and carrots until soft, then set aside and keep warm.

Grill lamb on medium to desired doneness, approximately 7-9 minutes for medium rare.

Slice each lamb loin in 2 and stack in the centre of the plate, then top with cherry tomatoes and carrots.  Drizzle about 1 Tbsp of balsamic vinegar directly in front of the lamb. 

Serve with roasted potatoes.  

A simple meal for a great wine!


With Vinedressers Shiraz…
Caramelized Onion Tarts
Recipe from A Matter of Taste, L. Waverman & J. Chatto
Makes about 24 tarts

Cream Cheese Pastry
2 cups all-purpose flour
pinch salt
¾ cup butter, diced
6 oz. cream cheese, diced

2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
6 cups thinly-sliced sweet onions
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup red wine
½ cup chicken stock
1 tsp granulated sugar
¾ cup whipping cream
1 tsp dried thyme
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 cup grated Pecorino or Asiago cheese

Place flour, salt, butter and cream cheese in a food processor and pulse until mixture just begins to form a ball. Turn out mixture and press into a flat disc. Wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes. Roll pastry out thinly on a floured surface. Cut 3” circles to fit 2” muffin or tart tins. Fit pastry into tins, prick and refrigerate for 30 minutes. (Pastry can be formed into 1” balls and patted into tins.)

Heat butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and salt them immediately to help remove water. Sautée for 5 minutes or until softened.

Add wine, stock and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 30-35 minutes, or until onions are very soft and liquid has almost evaporated. Season well with salt & pepper.

Add cream & thyme and cook for 5 minutes, or until onions are a creamy mass. Remove from heat & stir in parsley and cheese.

Preheat oven to 375F.  Fill tart shells with onion mixture.  Bake for 20 minutes or until pastry is crisp and filling heated through.  Serve warm or at room temperature, as you sip your Vinedressers Shiraz!


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