Posts Tagged ‘Peninsula Ridge Estate Winery’

13th Street Winery awakens your “13th sense”

Posted by Julie

Thursday, November 15th, 2012


Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring 13th Street Winery
–  November 2012 –


Sometimes you never know what to expect when you visit a winery – a visit to 13th Street Winery definitely awakens your all of senses as there is so much to enjoy – fine wines, delicious gourmet foods, immaculate grounds and stunning original art. It is very hard to just ‘pop in’ to the winery – a few hours is definitely a must.

The Savvy Team always has the tough job of choosing just three wines for each month’s Savvy Selections and this month was certainly no exception. In fact, one of the Savvy team member made the comment after having tasted all of the 13th Street wines from the sparkling wine to the dessert wine that once again, she’d have all the wines needed for a delicious dinner party.

In your Savvy Selections you will find:

Premier Cuvee Sparkling VQA 2008 $34.95 – this will rival any French Champagne!

Viognier VQA 2011 $19.95 – almost sold out at the winery & I made sure that they kept enough for us to include in this month’s Savvy Selections. If you would like more, be sure let me know quickly

Cabernet Merlot VQA 2010 $21.95 – a steal for this great quality medium bodied red wine

OPTIONAL WINE: 13 Below Zero Riesling VQA 2011 $19.95 – I think this is liquid apple crisp

In the following pages of this Savvy eZine, Julie shares stories about her visit to 13th Street along with the Savvy Selections tasting panel’s tasting notes and autumn inspired recipes to serve with the wine selection.

And Julie shares with you one of her favorite Latin proverbs: “It is well to remember that there are five reasons for drinking: the arrival of a friend, one’s present or future thirst, the excellence of the wine, or any other reason.”

We are turning the big 1-0!

Where does time go? This month we embark on our 10th year in business.  It has been an incredible decade of opportunities, fascinating people and outstanding adventures.  Many thanks to you for your un-ending support to our growing business and for making Savvy Selections become Ontario’s largest wine of the month club featuring Ontario wines not available at the LCBO.

Cheers & enjoy your Savvy Selections!

Debbie & Savvy Team



Introducing . . .
13th Street Winery

Presented by Savvy Sommelier Julie Stock 


This past June, during our annual pilgrimage to the Niagara region, my husband Doug (also a Savvy Sommelier) and I visited 13th Street Winery. I knew this visit would be in part to prep for this month’s Savvy Selections feature, yet I easily became side-tracked away from the wine & enjoyed the exquisite original Canadian art, the farm fresh garden produce, artisan cheeses and charcuterie, and handmade treats in the café housed in the converted barn.  An hour easily slipped away and I hadn’t even tasted any wine yet! When you next visit Niagara, be sure to include 13th Street on your must visit list to wander through the statue collection on the grounds, learn more about the experimental vineyards and enjoy lunch on the patio. You will definitely have a farm to table experience – just as the winery owners had envisioned.

You will find when you uncork this month’s Savvy Selections that 13th Street wines are outstanding.  The people involved at winery are equally outstanding. Peter Bodnar Rod, Director of Sales, Marketing and Hospitality is one of the dynamic people involved the Canadian wine industry. In addition to working at the winery, Peter is one of Canada’s top sommeliers, he was recognized by the industry with the prestigious VQA Promote the Promoters Award for Education and his current project is developing an International Sommelier Guild (ISG) masters level specialization course – a busy man indeed!

During our visit, Peter took us on a tour of the fields and gardens. With each step, he reminded us that the importance of the land is fundamental to the philosophy at 13th Street. “Great wine starts with great grapes; next comes the talent of a winemaker who knows how and when to harvest”, explains Peter. “Whether it be Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Gamay or Syrah, if the grapes are exceptional along with the well-honed skills of the winemaker – something extraordinary is going to transpire.”

Peter explained that 2009 was a benchmark year for them yet it was also somewhat risky, since they waited long into November to harvest. But in the end as he says, “we won  and ended up with some impressive reds at 14% alcohol with great depth, layered with complexity.”             

The winemaker & the vineyard

Winemaker Jean-Pierre Colas is a man in demand as he is the primary winemaker at 13th Street as well Vignoble Rancourt Winery, located in the Niagara Lakeshore sub-appellation which follows the shorelines of Lake Ontario.

Jean-Pierre has a long winemaking career of over 45 years – the past 9 years was at Peninsula Ridge Estate Winery in Niagara. Years prior, he spent decades in the notable Domaine Laroche in Chablis, France.  In 1998, he was awarded a rare score of 99 points for the Wine Spectator’s White Wine of the Year (for his Domaine Laroche Grand Cru Les Clos 1996). And shortly after his move to Ontario, he was awarded Winemaker of the Year 2006 at the Ontario Wine Awards. He has also worked in Chile and New Zealand, throughout the United States and Québec. It is no wonder that 13th Street is making world class wines.

The grapes of distinction grown on the 40 acres vineyards include Riesling and Chardonnay, Gamay, small parcels of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Syrah. The grapes are always hand harvested because it ensures Jean-Pierre to have complete control of the quality of the fruit as well as the grapes are sorted on tables that further refine the selection of the fruit. Jean-Pierre also believes in experimentation to enable him to expand his artistry of winemaking.

The Gallery

Fine wine can be a complement to fine art.  Within the renovated turn of the century farmhouse houses the spectacular Gallery Room. It is breathtaking with its focal point being the 18 foot, 1300 lb table made from one piece of Indonesian hardwood. This room is graced by original Canadian artwork.

The large windows overlooks the gardens and shady hillsides where throughout the years over 40,000 trees have been planted in the valley. The property could almost be a heritage site with its natural habitat being home to numerous birds, wild life and the natural beauty surrounded by acres of well tended vineyards.

Enjoy & enjoy your Savvy Selections! 



Premier Cuvée Sparkling VQA 2008, $34.95

Sparkling wines are 13th Street’s signature. They typically craft 3 to 4 different styles each year with varying blends of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Savvy Sommelier Debbie selected 13th Street’s Sparkling Rosé to be served at a private luncheon for HRH Queen Elizabeth II when her royal tour stopped in to Ottawa for the opening of the Museum of Nature two years ago.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Your glass will be filled with lively and fine mousse (winespeak: bubbles) with elegant aromas of fresh bread, light floral & refreshing tastes of citrus and apple that dance on your tongue leaving a delightful mouthfeel. There’a little grapefruit pith which gives the tastebuds a squirt of acidity. We all “mmmed” as we sniffed, swirled and savoured this blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – the primary ingredients of Champagne.

Suggested Food Pairing: There was no end of ideas to match with this bubbly. Cheeses such as brie, goat cheese or parmesan, sushi, paté and even creamy soups…or simply enjoy sipping on its own.

Cellaring: Great to drink now. As its ages, more nut tastes & aromas will prevail.

Viognier VQA 2011, $19.95

Viognier is indigenous to France’s Rhone Valley, where it is regionally known as ‘Condrieu’. Only recently, wine regions in other countries began experimenting with Viognier in the vineyards.  Argentina, Australia, California and now Canada are producing outstanding Viognier wine.  When Savvy Sommelier Debbie visited 13th Street this past August, this Viognier was just released.  After a few sips and without hesitation, she requested that the wine is set aside until November to ensure that there was enough bottles for all of our Savvy Selections subscribers to enjoy this delicious wine.  Heads up – there are only a few cases left at the winery.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: The Savvy Team was very impressed with what the winemaker did to make this beautiful wine. Aromas of pears, apricots, almonds, beeswax, pineapple waft from the glass. Rich flavours burst on the palate giving a luscious, creamy texture but with a pinch of acidity that balances the fruit flavours with each sip. We found that the wine opens up the more it sits and we recommend not serving it too cold; you want to enjoy all those flavours and aromas! A classy elegant wine awaits you!

Suggested Food Pairing: The Savvy Team went wild with
food pairing ideas; roasted chicken with various fruit marinades, blackened tuna, pork tenderloin with mango chutney, white fish with a lemon sauce.  With such a flavourful, it will be an easy food match.

Cellaring: Chill & enjoy – no need to wait!

Cabernet Merlot VQA 2008, $21.95

13th Street often strives to be different.  Their signature red wine is Gamay, yet when the Savvy Sommeliers tasted the variety of red wine candidates for the Savvy Selections feature, this Cabernet Merlot was a hands down favorite.  A one off at the winery, this classic red wine blend is great value for the price tag.  It certainly tastes like a $30 wine. Enjoy!

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  A classic Bordeaux blend with firm tannins of the Cabernet Sauvignon mixed with the soft tannins and complexity of Merlot. Dark ruby in colour, with aromas of violets, ripe berries, plums, cassis, dark fruit cake and sweet warm spices (think cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg) with tastes of ripe dark berries, green pepper, ground pepper & soft tannins that balance out the ripe fruit flavours making this a big juicy red with a little campfire or woodsy taste, beautiful long dark finish.

Suggested Food Pairing:  We continued lively conversations around the table about pairing this wine with beef stir fry, hearty meatloaf, roast beef, braised rabbit with rosemary and garlic, beef stew, leg of lamb, tenderloin wrapped in bacon. How’s that for a wine to go with everything?

Cellaring: Ready now or before 2015.

OPTIONAL WINE: 13 Below Zero Riesling VQA 2011, $19.95 

A unique light bodied sweet wine that is made after the first frost has kissed the Riesling grapes that are still hanging on the vine.  The result is a wine that with a velvety mouthfeel (not cloying like icewine) with light sweetness.  One of our Sommeliers declared that it was ‘liquid apple crisp’.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  A beautiful medium golden colour has concentrated aromas and tastes of apricot, marzipan with tastes of ripe peaches and pears, almonds, warm spices (cinnamon & nutmeg) with a little acidity at the end. It would be a fabulous desert match with any fruit crisps or cobblers.




With 13th Street Premier Cuvée Sparkling

Smoked Salmon Tortilla Spirals

From Bonnie Stern’s Appetizers
Makes approximately 32 spirals

8 oz. cream cheese
2 tbsp Russian-style mustard
1 tbsp mayonnaise or sour cream
4 9-inch (23 cm) flour tortillas
12 oz. smoked salmon, thinly sliced
2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
2 tbsp chopped fresh chives
8 leaves Boston lettuce or spinach


Cream together cream cheese, mustard and mayonnaise.

Arrange tortillas on counter and spread evenly with cheese spread then arrange smoked salmon on top of cheese, be sure to leave about 1 inch border at top covered just with cheese so that the rolls will adhere better. Lastly sprinkle salmon with dill and chives and arrange lettuce or spinach on top.

Roll tortillas up tightly, pressing firmly to seal.Wrap well and refrigerate until ready to serve. Trim off ends of rolls (eat them!) and then cut each roll into 8-10 slices. Serve spiral side up.

With 13th Street Viognier VQA 2011…

Cajun Blackened Fish Steaks

From the Kitchen of Jamie Oliver
Serves 4

This is a spicy dish! Basically it’s a bold rub that fragrantly flavors fish and goes dark when it cooks, thanks to the paprika and garlic. Also a great rub with chicken, pork, lamb and even steak.

4 x 1/2-lb white fish fillets – such as seabass, snapper, haddock (approx. 2cm thick). Skin on, scaled & pin boned
1 lemon

For the rub
10 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves picked
4 sprigs of fresh oregano, leaves picked
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 level Tbsps moked paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp sea salt
1 level Tbsps finely ground black pepper
2  Tbsps olive oil
1 lemon


To make the rub

Bash up your fresh herbs and garlic in a pestle and mortar until you’ve got a nice coarse paste. Mix in the spices, salt, pepper and olive oil, then squeeze in the juice of half the lemon, making sure not to let any pips get in there, and stir well.

To prepare the fish

Lightly score the skin of your fish in lines about 3/4-inch apart. Using your fingers, smear the rub all over both sides of the fish and into the cuts you’ve made.

Put a non-stick pan or grill pan over a medium-high heat and let it get nice and hot. Place your fish in the pan, skin side down, and let it cook for 3 to 4 minutes. It will get quite smoky, so you might want to open a window!

Turn the heat down to low, then, very carefully, flip your fish over and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes on the second side. Cut your remaining lemon half and your second lemon into wedges for squeezing over.

Serve them with your fish, a nice salad and boiled or steamed new potatoes dressed in good olive oil or butter. 


With 13th Street Cabernet Merlot VQA 2010

1770 House Meatloaf

Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa – Food Network
Serves 8

1 pound ground veal
1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground beef
1 Tbsp chopped, fresh chives, plus 1 teaspoon for the sauce
1 Tbsp chopped, fresh thyme leaves, plus 1 teaspoon for the sauce
1Tbsp chopped, fresh Italian parsley, plus 1 teaspoon for the sauce
3 large eggs
1 1/3 cups finely ground Panko ( ground with a few pulses in the food processor)
2/3 cup whole milk
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
2 stalks of celery, finely diced
1 large Spanish onion, finely diced
2 cups chicken or beef stock
8 to 10 cloves roasted garlic
3 Tbsps butter, at room temperature



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the veal, pork, beef, chives, thyme, parsley, eggs, Panko, milk, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl.

Heat a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat and film it with extra-virgin olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the celery and onion to the pan and cook, stirring, until softened then remove the celery and onion from the pan and let cool.

When the mixture is cool, add it to the mixing bowl with the other ingredients.  Mix the ingredients until well combined and everything is evenly distributed.

Put a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan (it should have sides at least 1 1/2 inches high to prevent grease runoff from the pan) and place the meat on the sheet pan and pat it and punch it down to remove any air pockets. Shape the meat into a loaf (about 14 1/2 inches long by 5 inches wide by 2 inches high) and put in the oven and bake 50 minutes (convection) or until a meat thermometer indicates an internal temperature of 155 to 160 degrees.

Remove the meatloaf from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes.

If you would like to serve with a sauce (optional), combine the broth, roasted garlic and butter over medium-high heat and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until lightly thickened. Add 1 teaspoon of each of the chopped thyme, chives and parsley. Slice the meatloaf into serving portions and spoon the hot sauce over the meatloaf and serve.

Enjoy your Savvy Selections!



Beets, Wines & Terroir?!?

Posted by Debbie

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009


Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep


Autumn is one of my most favourite times of the year – bright coloured leaves, crisp air, country fairs and harvesting my vegetable garden in preparation for a Thanksgiving feast with family and friends.  In the days leading up to the long weekend, like most of you, I play around with the menu to include many family favorites. New at my table this year will be a dish of colourful beets that I grew as part of an experiment to illustrate the wine term – terroir.


What do beets have to do with wine you ask? Well…when I lead wine tastings, I am often asked about the word terroir. Explaining the significance of the soil, climate, growing, pruning, weather – all of the components that go into grape growing – often is met with glazed over eyes.  Frankly, few of us grow grapes, so terroir is something that has to be imagined.  Enter in the beets (and I did the same thing with tomatoes last year). Figuring that I could illustrate terroir with a vegetable that people are familiar with growing, there would be a direct association and greater learning experience. To get the ball rolling, I invited three other wine and food loving friends to take part in this project – all living in different areas of Ottawa.  The beet growers were Ron Eade, Food Editor of the Ottawa Citizen, Chef André Sanché from Epicuria Fine Foods & Catering, Caroline Ives, Producer of News at Noon for CTV Ottawa and me.


After periodically checking in with each other throughout the summer, we dug up our beets, steamed them and got together to compare.  We were instantly amazed at the difference in size, texture, taste and colour of our beets. This was particularly remarkable since all of the beet seeds came from packets supplied to us by Stuart of Bryson Farms!  We grew three varieties: White Mangel, Yellow Mangel and Red Chioggia (candy cane striped). In addition to the beets, we brought a handful of the soil that the beets were grown in. This too was interesting to see the variance of the composition of the soil. Ron grew his in MiracleGrow, while André’s garden was 100% nature compost.  Caroline and I had noticeable amounts of sand in our soil. All of this illustrates the significance of the wine term terroir. Read Ron’s blog (with great photos).


If you would like to join us next year in my terroir experiment, let me know.  We are thinking about growing cucumbers.


A winery who highlights the importance of terroir is Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery located on the Beamsville Bench in Niagara. Increasingly, they are crafting wines using the grapes from a single vineyard.  For example, Peninsula Ridge has three Sauvignon Blanc wines – each using grapes exclusively from the designated vineyard. With each sip of the different wines, you can taste the differences in soil, climate, etc…When this distinction is not made, then the grapes are sourced from a number of vineyard properties.


For October’s Savvy Selections, we offer you these wines to serve at your Thanksgiving dinner:

2007 Viognier VQA

2005 Beal Vineyards Reserve Merlot VQA

2007 Meritage VQA 

2005 Ratafia – on special request


Read on to discover the recent developments at Peninsula Ridge as well as our Savvy Sommelier tasting notes and favourite recipes, specifically chosen to pair with the selected Peninsula Ridge Estates wines.  As always, when you would like more Peninsula Ridge wines or bottles from other previously featured Savvy Selections, contact me directly to make the arrangements for you.


Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!   

Debbie & the Savvy Team


Introducing Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery

Presented by Sommelier Gina Wohlgemuth


October has arrived.  For the past month, many of us have been busy getting back into our routines – kids are back in school, evenings are filled with meetings and committees and most of us (sadly) have finished our vacations.  At the wineries across Ontario, they too are getting into their own routine around harvest – preparing everyone for the busiest time of the year.


In last month’s Savvy e-Zine Debbie touched on some of the many tasks required in the vineyard in preparation for harvest.  Right now, at Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery, they are in the middle of a “bottling blitz” as reported by Sales Director Jonathan Kuhling (some of our Savvy Subscribers met Jonathan at our Savvy Supper event this past June).  The winery staff are transferring the finished wine from the large stainless steel tanks to the bottles, making room in the tanks to receive this year’s harvest.   By the time you read this e-Zine, Jonathan anticipates that the Sauvignon Blanc and possibly the Chardonnay grapes will be ready for picking, if not already harvested off the vines. 


Sauvignon Blanc has become Peninsula Ridge’s “signature grape” and they have it growing in three different vineyards, producing three separate wines from the fruit of each distinct site.  The grape grows well for the winery and with it they’ve produced award winning wines such as the 2007 Sauvignon Blanc Wismer Vineyards and the 2006 Fumé Blanc which tied for 1st place at this year’s Cuvée – the “Oscars” of the Ontario wine industry.


Looking Back and Moving Forward


Peninsula Ridge Estate Winery opened in August 2000 and for the first seven to eight years, the focus was on growing fewer different grape varietals.  In the past few years they have “branched out”, by planting some Pinot Noir vines and adding to their portfolio is a small amount of Dry Riesling and Gewürztraminer wines (the highly anticipated Gewürztraminer was not considered ‘Ready’ by the winemaker to be included in this month’s Savvy Selections.  Instead, it will be released later in October. If you would like some, let us know and we will make the arrangements to ship bottles to you). 


Other news at the winery is the arrival of winemaker Jamie Evans.  He has been involved in the wine industry since 1997, working as Cellar Master then Assistant Winemaker at Strewn Winery and then moved to Stonechurch Estate Winery in 2007 to be Head Winemaker.  He is a graduate of the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute at Brock University, with a reputation in the Ontario wine industry for making excellent red wines – noted by numerous awards.  


Norm Beal, the winery owner and president explains, “Like our wines, Jamie is a product of Ontario.  He was raised in Ontario and his education in the wine program at Brock combined with over 13 years of home grown experience means that he has an intimate understanding of our unique Niagara terroir and winemaking.  He has an excellent reputation as one of the province’s best winemaking talents.” 


Given that Jamie only just recently started with Peninsula Ridge and that it is harvest time – he has hit the ground running. With several harvest experiences, it will be interesting to taste his 2009 wine creations.


Pinning down any winery staff for a chat at this time of year is simply put – a miracle.  There is a long TO DO list in preparation for harvest time.  I am very grateful to Jonathan for taking the time for an interview. 


Jonathan has been with Peninsula Ridge for eight years and during this time has witnessed first hand the positive changes in Ontario winemaking.  “The quality of Ontario wines is ever improving, which I think is directly related to the incredible influx of winemaking talent grown here in Canada and with winemakers coming to us with international experience. Combined with maturing vineyards and increasing investment in the wine industry, Ontario and Canada for that matter is growing rapidly.” 


In addition to leading the sales section of the winery, Jonathan is frequently found in one of Peninsula Ridge’s vineyards, in the cellar or barrel room, following the progression of the wines.  Like so many in the wine industry that I have interviewed in the past, Jonathan affirms that, “it’s fun to have a hand in the making of our wine – overall just be a part of it”.


Food & wine – need more reasons to visit?


For those who have yet to visit Peninsula Ridge, the winery is located near the town of Beamsville and sits on 80 acres on the Niagara Escarpment’s Beamsville Bench.  Peninsula Ridge offers gourmet food and wine experiences in their recently re-opened restaurant, The Kitchen House. Chef Ross and his wife Wendy look forward to your visit.  One look at their menu and you’ll be sure to include a stop on your wine trip.


Here’s to what is in store for the harvest of 2009 – good luck Jamie and the Peninsula Ridge team! 

Cheers & Enjoy!




~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~

Viognier VQA 2007 $14.75

Pronounced vee-on-yeah, very few wineries in Ontario produce wine with this grape variety that I consider is a ‘hidden gem’.  All of us at Savvy Company enjoy Viogniers from around the world.  We take every chance to showcase this unique grape variety. The perfect weather in 2007 with its abundant sunshine helped Viognier grapes ripen to its fullest – and this sunshine shows through each glass of the wine.


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This aromatic wine will fill your nose with sweet scents of floral, apricot, honey and a touch of spice (nutmeg or pepper perhaps?).  There is a silky feel in the mouth with the flavours of apricots and honey coming through in a pleasantly dry style. Yummy!


Suggested Food Pairing: We selected this wine as it would be perfect to serve with your turkey because it will equally complement the white and dark meat as well as the sweetness of the fresh vegetables.  Additionally, this Viognier would go very well with mildly to moderately spicy Indian or Thai curry dishes – one of my easy chicken curry recipes is below. 

Hint from Gina: Be weary not to over-chill the wine or you will miss out on some of its aroma characters and flavours.


Cellaring: This wine is ready to drink now.



Beal Vineyards Reserve Merlot VQA 2005 $15.75

Jonathan explained that the harsh winter of 2004-2005 was cruel to Ontario vineyards, creating a severe grape crop shortage.  Picked from the vineyard directly behind the winery sloping upwards to the top of the Niagara Escarpment (aka Beamsville Bench), Peninsula Ridge only had enough grapes to produce two hundred cases of this Merlot.  We are lucky to be able to have access to this delicious wine.


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  The inviting aromas of black cherry, raspberry, vanilla and sweet smoke replay themselves beautifully into on the palate (winespeak: in the taste).  This medium bodied wine shows light tannins and with a long, slightly sweet finish.


Suggested Food Pairing: Look no further for a red wine to serve this Thanksgiving weekend.  In addition to turkey, this well aged Merlot would pair nicely with roasted poultry, duck or goose or leg of lamb – either  roasted or grilled.  If you have a favorite recipe for a braised beef dish – this wine would be a perfect match. Below is a recipe that I use all the time.


Cellaring: The winery has aged this wine for you already.  We think that it is at its prime.  Enjoy now!


A remarkable price! This could easily become your house wine. Call on us to arrange more for you – remember it is in limited supply. 


Meritage VQA 2007, $22.95

Meritage (pronounced to rhyme with heritage) is a term that the North American wine industry created to call a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot.  These same grapes are the ‘ingredients’ of a Bordeaux blend, however winemakers outside of France were looking for their ‘own’ term…hence the name Meritage.  The percentages of each grape will vary (sometimes quite dramatically) as the winemaker works to showcase the most desirable characteristics of each grape in that specific vintage.  In this case, however, the proportions are identical.  Perhaps it is a reflection of 2007 – the best year to date in Ontario winemaking history.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: The wine’s dark cherry colour promises of good things to come – rich aromas and flavours of dark cherry, black currant, stewed plum, vanilla and a touch of cigar box.  Its tannins are soft and its finish is long and delicious.

Suggested Food Pairing:  Where to start?!  Hearty, full flavoured beef dishes like casseroles and stews, roast beef with a rich wine-reduction gravy, grilled steak.  Lamb ragout and more leg of lamb.  Game such as wild boar and venison stew.  Cheesy lasagna and osso buco would also be delicious with this wine. 

Cellaring:  Drink now or cellar for 3-5 years

2005 Ratafia VQA (optional addition to Savvy Selections wines) $30.80

Popular in Burgundy, this wine is made from 100% chardonnay grapes whose fermentation is stopped halfway through by the addition of plum brandy.  With fermentation arrested, much of the sweetness of the grape remains.  It is then aged in French oak to create a rich and flavourful treat.


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  This wine offers sherry-like aromas of caramel, citrus peel (marmalade perhaps?) and ripe yellow plums.  It is full bodied and luscious in the mouth with flavours of sweet fruit, caramel and a light almond touch.  The finish is warm and sweet.


Suggested Food Pairing: Serve very cold as an aperitif or digestive, with blue cheese, fresh apple or pumpkin pie or drizzle over a bowl of vanilla ice cream.


Cellaring: No need to wait – ready to enjoy now. It can be kept for a few more years.


~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~

With Peninsula Ridge Viognier…

Quick and Easy Chicken Curry

Serves 4

Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine.  This is amazingly easy!  Put on a pot of rice on and by the time it is done, this chicken dish is ready.  I like to include a side of steamed green beans.



3 tablespoons butter

4 boneless chicken breasts cut into one inch chunks

4 teaspoons curry powder

3 tablespoons brandy

2 teaspoons flour

½ cup chicken broth

½ cup sour cream

3 tablespoons mango chutney




Melt butter in a heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Season chicken with salt and pepper and sauté until just cooked through.  Transfer chicken to plate.


Pour off all but 1 tablespoon drippings from skillet.  Add curry powder and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.


Add brandy and cook until almost evaporated, standing back in case brandy ignites. 


Mix in flour.  Add broth, sour cream and chutney and stir until smooth.


Increase heat and boil 2 minute, stirring constantly until sauce coats spoon lightly.


Return chicken and any collected juices to skillet.  Cook just until chicken is heated through, about 2 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.


With Peninsula Ridge Merlot…

Braised Lamb Shanks

Serves 6
From The Girls Who Dish! Cookbook.  Okay – this recipe is not as quick as the above chicken curry but it is very rewarding and can be prepared ahead.  Simply reheat and serve with freshly mashed potatoes.


¼ cup vegetable oil

6 lamb shanks, about 1 pound (454 grams) each

salt and pepper to taste

2 medium white onions, cut into ¼ inch dice

2 stalks celery, cut into ¼ inch dice

1 large carrot, peeled and cut into ¼ inch dice

4 ounces (113 grams) pancetta or bacon cut into ¼ dice

6 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, seeds removed and cut into ¼ inch dice

¼ cup olive oil

3 cloves garlic, chopped

3 anchovies, chopped

2 cups dry sherry

6 cups unsalted chicken broth

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1 cinnamon stick, about 4 inches (10 cm) long

3 whole cloves

1 orange, cut into quarters



Preheat oven to 350F.


Heat vegetable oil to smoking hot in large pan.  Season lamb with salt and pepper and brown on all sides.  Do a couple at a time to make sure all sides are brown.  Place shanks in an ovenproof dish or roasting pan large enough to hold them in one layer.


Heat olive oil in large pot.  Add the chopped onions, celery, carrots, pancetta and garlic.  Cook over medium heat, stirring until the vegetables begin to turn brown.  Add the chopped anchovies and tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes longer.


Stir in the sherry and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add the chicken stock, bay leaf, thyme, cinnamon stick and cloves.  Squeeze the juice from the orange quarters into the sauce and then add the pieces.  Bring to a boil and pour over the lamb shanks. 


Cover with foil and place in oven for about 2 hours or until the meat falls off the bone.  Turn the shanks after 1 hour so they cook evenly.


 Remove the shanks from the sauce and keep warm.  Strain the sauce and keep the vegetables but discard the orange pieces, cinnamon stick and cloves (if you can find them).  Bring the sauce back to a boil and reduce until it thickens slightly.  Pour the vegetables and sauce over the meat.





With Peninsula Ridge Meritage…

Beef Tenderloin with Double-Smoked Bacon and Porcini Mushrooms

Serves 6 to 8
From The Lesley Stowe Fine Foods Cookbook.  This recipe will impress any beef-loving dinner party guest!



1 cup (250ml) dried porcini mushrooms

1 beef tenderloin, 3 to 4 pounds (1.5 to 2 kg)

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

6 tablespoons olive oil

5 strips double-smoked bacon, cut into ¼ inch pieces

1 cup shallots, sliced

4 cloves garlic, sliced

½ sprig fresh rosemary

4 cups dark veal stock

1 cup port

2 tablespoons cold butter



Preheat oven to 375F.


In a bowl, pour 1 cup boiling water over the porcini mushrooms and let stand until softened, about 20 minutes.


Remove the thin membrane and any fat on the outside of the tenderloin.  Season the meat with salt and pepper.  In a heavy skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat and brown the tenderloin on all sides for about 1 minute per side.  Transfer to a roasting pan.  Pour off all the fat from the skillet. 


In the same skillet, cook the bacon until almost crisp.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Drain off the bacon fat and discard.


Drain the mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid.  In the same skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the remaining oil over medium heat.  Sauté the mushrooms until soft and golden.  Remove from the pan, season with salt and pepper and set aside.


Add the remaining oil to the pan and sauté the shallots, garlic and rosemary until shallots are soft, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the bacon, veal stock, port and reserved soaking liquid from the mushrooms.  Simmer over medium heat until liquid is reduced by half.  Set aside.


Roast the tenderloin in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes.  Transfer the meat to a cutting board and any juices in the roasting pan to the reduced liquid from step 6.  Heat this liquid over medium-high heat and simmer until reduced by one third.  Whisk in the cold butter, a bit at a time until smooth.  Add the mushrooms and stir gently.


Slice the tenderloin and arrange on warm plates.  Spoon the mushroom sauce over top and serve immediately.




Cheers & Enjoy your October Savvy Selections