Posts Tagged ‘Pinot Noir’

We’re now delivering BC wines!

Posted by David

Thursday, August 31st, 2017
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There was big news this past Canada Day – we announced that we’re going national! We now deliver wines from coast to coast to your doorstep.  Yes….you can now receive wines from Nova Scotia to British Columbia and all the wine regions in between delivered to your home or office.  Be Savvy and subscribe to Savvy Selections wine of-the-month club and our Sommeliers will introduce you to some amazing Canadian wineries, the owners and of course….outstanding wines.

This month in Savvy Selections, we feature our first BC winery – Noble Ridge Vineyards and Winery – a multiple-award winning winery from the Okanagan region. 100 per cent estate grown, Noble Ridge enjoys a micro-climate providing both north-facing and south-facing vineyards. Their full-bodied, richly flavoured wines will make you want to book a quick trip to BC!

 

Get ready to uncork & enjoy your Savvy Selections…

In your Savvy Selections you will find 3 of our favourite Noble Ridge picks. We love the elegant style and powerful flavours of these wines!

2013 Reserve Chardonnay –Lush tropical fruit and citrus flavours
2014 Reserve Pinot Noir – Supple and fruity with deep berry aromas
2014 Reserve Meritage – This powerful Bordeaux-style wine will knock your socks off!

 

Wines with style

Noble Ridge has a wide selection of wonderful red and white wines that will excite your palate and meet your budget. This is a great opportunity to try some fantastic wines that aren’t available at the LCBO!

Call on us at any time you would like additional bottles of your favourite Noble Ridge wines – or other wineries we have featured in Savvy Selections.  Your Canadian Wine Hotline is 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or send me an email to debbie@savvycompany.ca.

Cheers!
-Debbie & Savvy Team

 

 

Introducing…

Noble Ridge Vineyards and Winery

Presented by Sommelier David Loan

Imagine you’re on a family vacation, when your spouse announces that he wants to change the direction of his life and yours. That’s what happened to Leslie D’Andrea, Co-Owner and CEO of BC’s Noble Ridge Vineyards and Winery. “In 1998, Jim and I were on a three month sabbatical through the Mediterranean with our kids when Jim turned to me,” Leslie remembers. “He said he HAD to own a winery. And he wanted to make premium quality wine!”

Leslie continues by recalling, “We came home and started to look through Europe, Ontario, and the West. And after a few false starts, we found this property on January 1, 2001 and bought it a month later.”

 

Unique terroir

Jim and Leslie were impressed with the property’s unique situation. Winemaker Benoit Gauthier described it as, “a unique combination of everything: the land and the climate. It’s really good to have the two slopes of the ridge;  all of the reds are facing south where they get the heat and the sun, and all of the whites face north where they can develop acidity.”  Benoit explains, “The soil is sandy and drains well, meaning we get smaller, more flavourful berries.”

All about the curtain

It isn’t just about the terroir though. The team at Noble Ridge implemented a lesser-used trellis system, called the Geneva Double Curtain. It brings the shoots out into a double canopy so the fruit gets better airflow and sunlight. “We could get twice as much fruit with the Double Curtain,” Benoit said. “But I reduce the fruit to half so we can ripen the grapes really well per each vine.”

“By knowing the vineyard really well, I can select from the individual vineyards and ferment each batch separately, then do a high power blending,” he said. “That way they get the tannins and acidity I want.” Benoit said that he enjoys the end of harvest. “I get the best quality of fruit possible and I choose it for the most powerful and best quality wine,” he said.

 

Cross-border shopping

“One of the things we forget about is that we live in this very beautiful part of the world,” Leslie said. “We try to keep our guest areas close to the vines. We want our guests to walk through the vineyard and enjoy a picnic here. And we hire the very best staff to work here!” she said.

Leslie said that she likes the fact that interprovincial alcohol restrictions are slowly being lifted. “Direct to customer is our favourite way of selling,” she said. “It’s better for us and it’s better for the consumer. Working directly with our consumers is the smartest way and it’s growing.” All of us in the Savvy Team are ecstatic with the changes too because it means that we can broaden our scope to showcase even more hard-to-come by wines from coast to coast.

 

A day in the vineyard

Asked to describe his day at the winery, Benoit said he split into two parts. “Right now, it’s all about the position of the vines,” he said. “We’re positioning shoots and doing canopy management to ensure good airflow and exposure to the sun.  This afternoon in fact, we’re trial tasting our next vintage of The One,” he said, referring to Noble Ridge’s multi-award winning sparkling wine.

Leslie pipes in saying they have some exciting projects coming up. “We’ll have a sparkling rosé made from our Pinot Noir fruit in a couple of years. We’re working on it now from our 2016 vintage,” she said. “And we’ll be bottling some port in March, 2018!”

 

Let’s raise a glass to Leslie, Jim & Benoit and thank them for creating these special, fantastic wines!

 

 

~ SAVVY SOMMELIER TASTING NOTES ~

For your Savvy Selection this month, we’ve chosen three wines – one white and two red – which show the power and finesse of the Okanagan Falls appelation.  Each one demonstrates the micro-climate and terroir of this beautiful wine region, enhanced by talented winemakers.

 

2013 Reserve Chardonnay, $29.90

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Winner of a number of awards, including a Gold Medal at the prestigious 2016 Pacific Rim International Wine Competition, this full-bodied Chardonnay was was fermented in stainless steel tanks, then aged for 14 months in a mix of old and new French Oak. No malolactic fermentation took place, so the natural acidity remains.

This is a ripe, rich Chardonnay with flavours of lemon curd, green apple, peach and pineapple. The bright acidity balances the vanilla notes, leaving a long, soft tropical fruit finish.

Suggested Food Pairings: Perfect for your summer BBQ, this will pair beautifully with chicken or seafood. Try it with rainbow trout and a mango salsa. (recipe below).

Cellaring:  Drink at 8º C within two years.

 

 

2014 Reserve Pinot Noir, $29.90

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: To get the best flavours and ripeness from their Pinot Noir, Noble Ridge starts in the vineyard. They are one of the few wineries in BC growing Pinot with a trellis system known as the Geneva Double Curtain, which encourages more sunshine and fresh air to reach the fruit clusters. The wine was aged for fourteen months in French Oak barrels, 20 per cent new oak.

This is a complex, medium bodied wine which will stun your palate with candied fruit, red licorice, and sweet spice. The dark cherry flavours dominate, though, balanced with the soft, medium tannins and medium acidity. There’s a hint of balsamic here, too, and we finish long with black cherry and vanilla.

Suggested Food Pairings: There’s lots of oomph! flavour here and it will stand up well to red meats. Try it with beef shish-kabobs in a balsamic marinade (recipe below).

Cellaring: Ready to drink now, this could be cellared for up to 5 years. Serve between 14-16º C.

 

 

2014 Reserve Meritage, $34.90

This big Meritage was a hit at our recent Savvy Oh! Canada event, where guests lined up hoping to get a taste before we ran out (and we did!).

This Bordeaux-style blend is made up of 74% Merlot; 22% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Cab Franc, and 2% Malbec. It was fermented for 15 months in French (75%) and American (25%) oak, of which 40% was new. The wine was subsequently bottle aged for an additional 14 months prior to release.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Dry, powerful, graceful: the adjectives roll off the tongue as the wine races along it. Loads of dark cherry flavours with hints of Okanagan sage, dark chocolate, leather, and plum. The tannins are supple but big, balanced by the medium acidity.

Suggested Food Pairings: Roast beef or a rack of lamb would pair nicely with this, but we’d like to have it late in the meal, seawith smoked and aged cheeses and Sprucewood Handmade Cookie Co’s savoury shortbread, available with your Savvy Selections order.

Cellaring: Drinking well now, this can cellar 5-7 years. Serve at 17-18º C.

 

 

 

What a view!
Photo credit: The Okanagan Falls Winery Association

 

 

~ RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH YOUR SAVVY SELECTIONS ~

 

With Noble Ridge Reserve Chardonnay…
Rainbow Trout with tropical fruit salsa

Recipe and photo: Epicurious.com
Serves 4-6

Ingredients

6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
4 1/8 teaspoons Creole seasoning
1 cup diced pineapple, peeled and cored
1 cup diced peeled pitted mango
½ cup diced red bell pepper
½ cup diced red onion
5 cups mixed baby greens
4 rainbow trout fillets (5- to 6-ounce), skin on

 

Method

Whisk 4 tablespoons oil, lime juice, sugar, ginger, and 1/8 teaspoon Creole seasoning in small bowl to blend. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper. Combine pineapple, mango, bell pepper, and red onion in large bowl. Add half of vinaigrette; toss to coat. Toss greens in medium bowl with remaining vinaigrette.

Brush trout fillets with 1 tablespoon oil. Sprinkle with remaining 4 teaspoons Creole seasoning, about 1/2 teaspoon per side, then salt and pepper. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add trout fillets and cook until just opaque in center and browned, about 2 minutes per side.

Divide greens among 4 plates. Place trout fillets and salsa alongside.


 

With Noble Ridge Reserve Pinot Noir…
Beef Shish-kabobs with balsamic marinade

Recipe and photo: Melskitchencafe.com
Serves 4

Ingredients

3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
5 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2-3 pounds sirloin roast, cut into 1-inch cubes (or same amount of chicken breasts, cubed)
1 red onion, cut into squares (optional)

Method

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, mustard, garlic, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Measure out 1/3 cup of the mixture and set aside for basting later.

Add the rosemary to the remaining marinade. Place the beef or chicken in a large, gallon-size ziploc bag and pour in the marinade. Seal and refrigerate for 4-8 hours (or as little as 20 minutes, although the flavor won’t be quite as pronounced).

Preheat a grill to medium heat.

If using wooden or bamboo skewers, soak in cool water for 15-20 minutes. Thread red onion onto the skewer followed by meat and then a few red onions to finish off.

Whisk the reserved basting sauce to recombine. Grill the kebabs, turning every couple of minutes and basting with the sauce, until the beef is cooked to desired doneness (chicken should be cooked all the way through), 10-12 minutes.

Transfer the kebabs to a platter or plate and tent with foil to let rest for 5 or so minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

 

 

With Noble Ridge Reserve Meritage…
Rack of lamb with garlic and herbs

Recipe and photo: Epicurious.com
Serves 8

Ingredients

For lamb:
2 (8-rib) frenched racks of lamb (each rack 1 1/2 lb), trimmed of all but a thin layer of fat
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon vegetable oil

For herb coating:
1/2 head new garlic or 3 large regular garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Special equipment: an instant-read thermometer

 

Method

Brown lamb:
Heat a dry 12-inch heavy skillet over high heat until hot, at least 2 minutes. Meanwhile, pat lamb dry and rub meat all over with salt and pepper. Add oil to hot skillet, then brown racks, in 2 batches if necessary, on all sides (not ends), about 10 minutes per batch.

Transfer racks to a small (13- by 9-inch) roasting pan.

Coat and roast lamb:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.

Stir together garlic, herbs, salt, pepper, and oil. Coat meaty parts of lamb with herb mixture, pressing to help adhere. Roast 15 minutes, then cover lamb loosely with foil and roast until thermometer inserted diagonally into center of meat registers 120°F, 5 to 10 minutes more. Let stand, covered, 10 minutes. (Internal temperature will rise to 125 to 130°F for medium-rare while lamb stands.)

Cut each rack into 4 double chops. 

 

Enjoy your Savvy Selections!

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It’s that time of year…dinner party season!

Posted by Debbie

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014
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Whether you have cabin fever or mid-winter blues, warm your house with the delicious smells wafting from the kitchen & the constant ringing of the doorbell as friends & neighbours arrive. Here’s an article Debbie wrote that appeared in the latest issue of Ottawa at Home Magazine. 

Pondview Rose with foodHosting a gathering of any kind – dinner party, potluck or cocktails – can be hectic & unnerving even for the best prepared host.  Having the evening fully catered definitely takes the weight off the menu but really part of the fun is planning the menu & cooking for your guests.  With this underway, you are then faced with the looming question – what drinks to serve and should it be white wine or red wine –  or something else entirely?

“I have been called on numerous times for suggestions of crowd pleasing wines that won’t break the bank…yet will impress”, says Debbie Trenholm, Sommelier & founder of Savvy Company.  “I even had someone call me from the Spanish wine aisle at the LCBO & couldn’t decide which ones to buy.  So they texted me photos of what was on the shelf & we shopped ‘virtually’ together!”

 Debbie’s tips for your next fun wine & food filled evening:

wine_tasting_sparklingPop the corks!  Greet your guests with a glass of bubbly – it is a great way to kick off the evening.  Italian Prosecco or Spanish Cava are sure fire bets of sparkling wines priced under $20.

The 30-70 rule – buy 30% white wine & the rest red wines, especially in the winter when it is natural to want a glass of heavier wine

Chill your wine in the snow!  No need for bags of ice when there is lots of snow around. Shovel the white stuff into a wine bucket or place bottles in the snowbank at the front door or on your back deck.

Have a mini wine tasting.  Give each guest or set each place at the table with 2 or 3 wine glasses and a sampling (2 oz or so) of different wines in each.  Throughout the evening ask your guests which wine they think is best with the food.  Guaranteed that this will become a lively conversation!

A quick Wine & Food Pairing 101

grapes Niagara-on-the-Lake Sept 2013 low res“Stay close to your roots. Or, rather, stay close to your wine’s roots. Wines are always best matched with foods from the regions where they are made”, says Debbie about pairing wine and food. “Uncork a bottle of wine from Italy with a meal of Italian cuisine – afterall, both the wine and food from this country were meant to go together.  Same with French, German, Spanish fare…and Canadian too!”

White or red wine? Toss out the idea to match your wine with the meat. Fish, chicken and meat is the canvas — what matters is flavour. Make your choice on the spices, marinade or sauce—choose the wine that will make your meal sing. Debbie offers these ‘rules of thumb’:

Wine and…

…spicy food – look to the hard-to-pronounce white wine
If you’re tucking into an Indian curry, Thai dish or Mexican dinner, uncork a bottle of Gewürztraminer – the light and naturally sweet wine will play with the exotic spices and ingredients that will add WOW to your meal.

…salad – go bone dry
Think dry and crisp when matching to salads. The acidity of the vinegar in the dressing can play havoc with the wine, making it taste more acidic or ‘tinny’. Pinot Grigio from Italy or Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand are always safe bets.  Or Debbie suggests to simply skip serving wine with this course to take a break and cleanse the palate for the rest of the meal to come.

…grilled fish – smell the flowers & roses
With grilled fish you can swing both ways by serving a glass of a medium bodied floral white wine like Viognier (pronounced vee-oh-NYAH) that complements the flavours of the fish or a light bodied red wine such as Gamay or Pinot Noir – one that has notes of red roses – to amplify the charred flavours.

…heavier meats – need heat & smoke
Warm spice (think cinnamon and cloves), smoke and plum aromas and tastes in a red wine go superbly with the marinade on lamb chops, saucey spareribs or a herb encrusted roast beef.  Add to your shopping list a bottle of Carmenère from Chile (pronounced car-men-EHR) or a red Zinfandel from California.

Looking for a shopping list of wines?

Savvy Company’s Sommeliers give ‘must buy’ recommendations every two weeks in their blog ‘If I only had $100, I would buy at Vintages…’. 

Cheers & bon appétit!
-Debbie

 

 

 

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Wine class #3 – What’s the story behind these bunches of grapes?

Posted by Amanda

Monday, September 9th, 2013
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From working with the Sommeliers at Savvy Company, I have noticed that there seems to be a story behind every bottle of wine and history about the thousands of different grape varieties too.  In this Wine 101 blog, we share with you the background on some interesting wines & grape varieties.  These are tidbits that you can drop into any dinner party conversation!

In fact, over a glass of wine, Savvy Sommelier Debbie Trenholm told her friend Dale Morris of Ascribe Marketing about these 4 grape varieties.  Here are the notes Dale captured in her napkin!

Wine 101 – A few white grapes with a story

Viognier

Viognier (pronounced Vee-on-yeah!) is a grape variety that has a deeply rooted heritage in France. Debbie fell in love with this unusual white while at wine school (aka the Sommelier accreditation program). Expecting to find some while she touring France, Debbie was disappointed there was no Viognier to be had: it seems the French enjoy it so much they often keep it for themselves. Now that word has gotten out about this hidden gem, winemakers in Argentina, California, Australia and Canada are taking up the cause, growing and crafting elegant wines full of delicious aromas.

In Australia, Viognier is often blended with Shiraz to add a little body and sweetness to reds. Some winemakers have told Debbie that Viognier could become the next it white – “If only people could pronounce it correctly.”

Only a few wineries in Niagara are growing this varietal. Prepare to be WOWed by Fielding’s wine. But be warned: if you like it, you’ll be hooked!

TIP: Fielding Winery in Niagara currently has their Viognier wine on sale for $19.95 (that is $5 off per bottle). This special price is only available through our Savvy Bin Ends.  Click here to order >>

Sauvignon Blanc

Lailey Vineyard’s Sauvignon Blanc (pronounced So-veen-yon Blah-nk) – is a family affair – sort of. Created by winemaker Derek Barnett, the son of a brewmaster, from Kent, England, Derek is renowned throughout the Canadian wine industry for his innovative styles and impressive flavours.

To achieve them, Derek takes the unusual step of a ‘double-harvest’ of grapes. The first picking is done when the grapes are just ripe – this gives his wine its refreshing and crisp aromas and tastes. Derek then lets the remaining ‘Sauv Blanc’ grapes hang on the vines until they‘re well over-ripe – almost brown – before picking the bunch. This gives them nice tropical-fruit notes. Grown from the same patch of vines, these two diverse grapes are blended together for a very complex and delicious summer sipping wine.

 Wine 101 – A few red grapes with a story

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir (pronounced PEE-no Nwar) is often referred to as the “Prince of Grapes” or the “heartbreak grape.” Why? This grape varietal needs care and nurturing around the clock. It’s difficult to grow, and the wine it produces has a tendency to actively evolve in the cellar. As a result, crafting a good Pinot Noir is the pinnacle of any winemaker’s personal achievement.

In New Zealand, some winemakers go so far as to have helicopters hover over their vineyards to warm the air on cool nights! Many also babysit their barrels, 24/7.

There are two classic styles of Pinot – cherry or earthy. Depending on the winemaker’s preference, the Pinot can be crafted to emphasize the terroir.

For a classic combination, you can lightly chill a Pinot Noir and enjoy a glass with grilled salmon. 

Carmenère

Carmenère (CAR-men-yere) is a relative newcomer to North American palates. Recently, it was determined to be a long-lost grape varietal from Bordeaux, France, and not just a Merlot, as was previously believed. Grown only in Chile, it has quickly become the region`s signature wine, with winemakers using it to craft excellent, big and bold flavours. Once you’re exposed to Carmenère, you’ll be hooked.

This wine is begging to be served with something hearty off the barbecue – steak, lamb, burgers and grilled mushrooms come to mind.

Savvy Sommelier Debbie recommends you save your last sip for desert, to enjoy with some dark chocolate cake.

 

Reviewing the Week’s ‘Wine’101 Lessons

 

I hope you had a little fun with our 3 back-to-back Wine 101 ‘Classes’ in what can be a stressful time for everyone. You can consult our Wine 101 – Pairing Food & Wine to help you with some quick & easy meals all year long; check the rules & regs in Wine 101 – Tasting, Storing & Ordering Wine and lastly in Wine 101 – The Story Behind the Grapes you can now pass the test when it comes to grape varietals.

I hope you have enjoyed being back at school this week with Savvy Company– and perhaps learned a thing or two!

Cheers!

Amanda

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Bordeaux invasion at the LCBO

Posted by Julie

Thursday, October 25th, 2012
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There’s nothing like a new Vintages release to chase away the post-Thanksgiving blues. The left-overs are gone as are the rellies and friends that made it all so special. But the thoughts of new Bordeaux coming to town just perks me right up and makes me long for a huge wine cellar.

With approximately 7,000 châteaux and 21 appellations it is not surprising that the Bordeaux region of France is the world’s major wine industry capital. Appellations in France are similar to our wine regions in Canada. For those of you who have not been to France, the Bordeaux region is located in the southwest part of France on the Atlantic coast.

Bordeaux produces quality and quantity red and white wines. The red wines are mostly blends from grapes such as: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and even Carménère. White Bordeaux is made from Sauvignon blanc, Semillon and/or Muscadelle grapes. It’s hard to go astray in your choices with these crème de la crème grapes and your choices will be more price dependent than anything else-as the quality is always there.

This release made me think of some of my favorites that I had not picked up for a while so it was a wonderful reminder of how well some red Bordeaux pair with beef and lamb and the white’s with shellfish.

Well this is not the first time that reading about these new releases made me want to jump on a plane, but since it will not be for this year, I’ll have to be content with picking up some new bottles to stash away for when it gets really cold.  I hope you will join me.

Santé, Julie

 

Chateau Toumilon Blanc 2009 France
$16.95 (Vintages #314864) 12.5% alcohol
This is such a light easy sipper, pale straw yellow, mild citrusy aromas with light – medium soft textures in the mouth. I got some delicate flavors of pears in this bone dry white wine and it is just slightly acidic with some minerality on the finish.  If anyone is looking for a new “house” wine, I’d suggest you pick up a bottle of this. It slips down pretty easy and does not have a lengthy finish but it sure sends you back for more.  It also won a Silver Medal (Best in Class) at the International Wine & Spirit Competition, 2011. I was not the only one that liked this wine!

Three Saints Chardonnay 2009
Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara,U.S.A.
$20.95 (Vintages #297531) 14%
The “Three Saints” signify the three valleys were the Dierberg family grow their grapes. These Chardonnay grapes are grown in the coastal Santa Maria vineyard; the other vineyards are the Santa Rita Hills and the Santa Ynez Valley where Pinot Noir and Syrah are grown. The wine has inviting aromas of ripe melon, yellow apples and a little citrus that carry through leaving a little honey and roasted nuts on the aftertaste. A medium bodied white wine that is crisp and refreshing with rich tropical fruit flavors. Lovely on it’s own or with some turkey pot pie with flakey pastry, it would be scrumptious.

Angel’s Gate Mountainview Merlot 2010
VQA Beamsville Bench, Niagara Peninsula
$18.95 (Vintages #299172) 12.5% alcohol
Angel’s Gate Winery is on property that was once owned by the Congregation of Missionary Sisters and in 1995 the land was converted into a vineyard. I have found all of the Angel’s Gate selections to be pretty heavenly. The winery itself has historic, distinct gables and a tower reminiscent of a church. Think dark cherries in colour with tastes of violets, strawberries a little chocolate cake and a pinch of earth. Smooth and supple, rich in texture and tannins and all you need is some Prime Rib for a first class dinner.

 

Rolf Binder Heinrich Shiraz/Mataro/Grenache 2008
Barossa Valley, South Australia
$24.95 (Vintages# 90258) 14% alcohol

For those of you not familiar with the Mataro grape, it is also known as Mourvèdre and originated in Spain. A lovely dark rich violet color with aromas of sweet dark ripe berries, blueberries and plums that follow through with a fairly hefty mouth feel. It has lots of juicy sweet spice and peppery flavors that come through on the aftertaste. This red wine is smooth and complex and would pair it with any red meat but it’s a yummy sipper on its own.

Château Lalande Mausse 2009
AC Fronsac, Bordeaux, France
$16.95 (Vintages #303859) 14% alcohol
The Bordeaux in this release are in a class of their own and for the price this shows beautifully. Lovely dark cherry color, aromas of red berry fruits and a little tobacco. The flavors of this red wine follow through on the palette, medium bodied with decent acidity and a tad earthy.  Sheer class.

Grand Total: $98.75

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Lighthall Vineyard’s One Man Show

Posted by Erin

Saturday, October 20th, 2012
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Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Lighthall Vineyards
–  October 2012 –

 

We are heading to Prince Edward County this month to discover a boutique winery that typifies what is meant by a one man show. Lighthall Vineyards is owned by Glenn Symonns who is the winemaker, vineyard manager, Sommelier, chief marketer, distributor, tractor driver, creator and sometimes the delivery guy. It is a stark contrast to his previous career as a pharmacist. While both winemaker and pharmacist are connected through chemistry, it is the ability to create that Glenn enjoys the most. ‘I truly think that I have a great job. I get to play in the cellar and make interesting wines.’ And in this month’s Savvy Selections you will certainly taste exactly what Glenn means.

I first met Glenn not at his winery, but rather when he was serving me wine during his final exam for his Sommelier Accreditation. These role playing practical exams can be un-nerving for the Sommelier ‘students’, yet I succinctly recall that Glenn handled the mock situation with panache. When he began demonstrating the 23 step process and etiquette (or is it a ritual?) of opening a bottle of wine, I could not believe my eyes that in his hands was a bottle of Huff Estates Lighthall Chardonnay VQA 2007 from Prince Edward County. Glenn did not know that I was a huge fan of this wine. I was equally amazed the he was serving a $30 bottle of wine while other Sommelier hopefuls where uncorking sub $10 wines as the judges weren`t going to sip and savour the wine – afterall the exams took place at 10am!

Curious and impressed, I commented about his wine choice and Glenn smiled back and proudly announced, ‘I just bought Lighthall Vineyards and I will be building a winery.’ That is not something you hear every day! Intrigued, I kept a lookout for Glenn on my visits to Prince Edward County. This spring, I visited his winery for the first time and have been enjoying his wines ever since.

In your Savvy Selections, you will find:

Lighthall Progression Sparkling VQA 2011 – an easy drinking Spanish cava style sparkling wine made with Vidal grapes

Lighthall Gewurztraminer VQA 2011 – an absolutely remarkable aromatic white wine – get ready to be impressed

Lighthall Pinot Noir 2010 VQA – one word : Stunning!

OPTIONAL WINE : Lighthall Pinot Noir Reserve Particuliere – Les Grands VQA 2009 – Pinot lovers beware – you will fall in love again with every sip

Stock up on these wines!

Like the sparkling? Stock up because it is almost gone…
Lighthall produces an incredibly small amount of wine. You won’t find them in the LCBO. If you would like more, simply drop me an e-mail at debbie@savvycompany.ca or give me a call at 613-SAVVYCO (613-728-8926). Heads up – the sparkling is almost gone!

Cheers & enjoy your Savvy Selections!

Debbie & Savvy Team

 

Patrick after the crush

Introducing…
Lighthall Vineyards

Presented by Savvy Sommelier Erin Bolling

 

As a lover and student of wine I am excited to have an opportunity to be your Savvy Sommelier and introduce you to Lighthall Vineyards. I think conducting the Savvy Selections tasting panel is a pleasure of the taste buds as well as the mind while we put our heads together to determine recipes to pair with the feature wines. Each time the Savvy Team ‘has to’ work its way through many candidates for the Savvy Selections in order to chose the final selection. Once the wines are chosen, I have the honour to interview the owners and winemakers. This conversation allows me to learn first hand about the wines and am charged with a renewed appreciation for the people behind each bottle of wine.

This month I had the pleasure of meeting Glenn Symons of Lighthall Vineyards. Since 2008, Lighthall has been a one man show. Glenn is the owner, winemaker, field manager and marketing ‘department’. You name he does it! Hearing his story made me exhausted. I can only imagine how he feels each day! In all honesty though, Glenn is overflowing with passion and enthusiasm to be a winemaker.
Pharmacist to winemaker…

Glenn bought Lighthall in 2008 after he sold his Pharmacy – yes you read that right. As a graduate of the Sommelier program at Algonquin College and an amateur winemaker (in his own home), he learned more and more about the wines in Prince Edward County (PEC). Glenn’s temptation to buy a vineyard property in PEC became reality, he dramatically change careers.

Since 2008, Glenn has doubled the size of Lighthall’s property. In addition, he changed the business from a grape growing operation where he grows grapes for other wineries, to a winery in its own right. Since then, Glenn claims that there has been no time to look back!
Being September & October, it took Glenn and I a while to connect since it was in the height of harvest. And this year, harvest was 3 to 5 weeks early. When I did finally reach him, he explained that harvest is his favourite time of year. The last of his Vidal grapes were being picked ‘as we speak’ (these grapes are not for late harvest wines). The Chardonnay and Pinot Noir came in to the crush pad the week before.
There was no doubt in our interview that Glenn was enthused about this past growing season since it was the warmest since 1968. Glenn predicts that 2012 will be an exceptional year for PEC wines and for that matter Ontario too and even broader Canadian wines too.
Overflowing with passion!

As stated earlier Lighthall is a one man show. Other than some seasonal workers, for whom Glenn built a house, Glenn does all the work of vineyard management and winemaking by himself. For the past three seasons he has put in 12 to 18 hour days. In the winter, he can be found tending the 25 acre woodlot which he uses to heat the buildings on the premises. And what comes next? Glenn has plans to try his hand at planting vines. He has his eye on a vineyard of 1 acre of just Gruner Veltliner. This varietal is an Austrian staple and is one of Glenn’s favourite types of wine. While Gruner is not planted in PEC, Glenn explains that it would be well suited to The County’s clay soil and environment. We look forward to his results. Cross your fingers!

Lighthall tasting bar

His passion for his winery is obvious in its design. His tasting bar is located in the middle of his production area. This gives Glenn the ability to share and give his visitors the opportunity to ‘see’ all aspects of the winemaking process. What a terrific experience!
Glenn makes harvest a family affair by involving his children in the crush.
The wine Glenn is most proud of (to date!) is Lighthall Pinot Noir Reserve Particuliere VQA 2009 – Les Grands. Our Savvy Team was impressed too & we offered it as an optional wine. It is hard to believe that this wine was the first red wine that Glenn ever produced…and his two eldest sons helped too!
There is no doubt that Lighthall Vineyards is a small operation with big dreams. The purchase occurred in 2008, the winery was built in 2009, the first Lighthall Vineyard wine was produced in 2009 and last year it opened to the public. When you are next in The County, be sure make a visit.

~ SAVVY SOMMELIER TASTING NOTES ~

 

Lighthall Progression Sparkling 2011 VQA, $20.00

Vidal is a hybrid grape of Ugni Blanc and Rayon d’Or. It’s thick skin and hardiness in cold climates make it an ideal grape to grow in Prince Edward County and Niagara. This particular sparkling wine was made with 100% Lighthall grapes using Charmat method (winespeak: uses a tank second fermentation to create the bubbles).

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Very pale with aromas of white grapefruit and lime with an undertone of minerality. This dry, light sparkler has persistent light bubbles and flavours that mimic the nose with a bit of white peach and apricot thrown in. It is a refreshing wine with a pleasant mouth coating feeling and persistent zesty finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: This sparkling wine is a great starter wine on its own, or could be paired with seafood such as oysters. The tasting panel recommends it with a prosciutto and arugula pizza.

Cellaring: An excellent sipping wine that could be enjoyed now or it could be cellared for a year or two for a special occasion.

Lighthall Gewurztraminer 2011 VQA, $25.00

A classic Gewurztraminer made with high quality grapes sourced from Vineland. This is one of Glenn’s favourite grape variety.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This wine has hallmark Gewurz pale yellow with a hint of pinkish colouring. Its floral and exotic fruit aromas of lychee, rose petals, pineapple and hard candy. “I just want to keep my nose in the glass” stated one of the Savvy Sommeliers during the tasting panel. “I can’t help myself from swirling and sniffing again and again because it smells so good!”

Slightly effervescent, medium to full wine with a complex palate. You may detect lychee, honey and Turkish Delights taste as the finish lingers.

Suggested Food Pairing: This Gewurztraminer would be perfect with spicy foods such as Indian curry or Asian dishes. ‘Or even with smoked salmon’ commented one of the Savvy Sommeliers. It would also make a tremendous accompaniment to dessert. Enjoy with a pear & cream cheese tart – the recipe follows on the next pages.

Cellaring: This well structured wine is enjoyable now. You can cellar it, however the noteable vibrant aromas and tastes will tone down dramatically.

Lighthall Pinot Noir 2010 VQA, $25.00

Although Pinot Noir is known as the heartbreak grape, this red wine will only bring you joy, proudly stated Glenn.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A clear pale cherry-red colour with a typical Pinot bouquet of tar, earthiness ripe berries and warm spices. This medium-bodied, dry wine delivers sweet flavours of cherry, blackberries, white pepper and a hint a vanilla with a medium finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: This is a perfect fall food wine and would pair well with classic stuffed turkey, pork tenderloin or a selection of hearty cheeses. Savvy Sommelier Debbie discovered a new recipe of Roasted Califlower and Swiss Chard that she experimented with for her Thanksgiving feast. The recipe is on the following pages.

Cellaring: With 14.5% alcohol this wine is capable of aging another 3-5 years but drinks very well now.

OPTIONAL WINE: Lighthall Pinot Noir Reserve Particulière – Les Grands, 2009 VQA, $50.00

Glenn’s pride and joy. This rich Pinot Noir was part of an extremely low yield and as you can imagine the wine is in VERY short supply. Members of our tasting panel emailed me the following day after our Savvy Selections tasting telling me they were still dreaming about this wine so we had to offer it as an optional wine!

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A bright ruby colour with a pleasing earthy, smokey, cherry and mushrooms on the nose. The deep flavours give you tart yet ripe cherries, smoke and earthy mushrooms fill your mouth and leaves you with a pleasant woodsy, vanilla finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: Everyone agreed that this wine was a must include for October. It is versatile and would make a lovely ‘meditation’ wine on its own or a great food wine with brisket or game meat. Then when the mushroom risotto was suggested, there were many oohs and aaaahs of delight with this pairing.

Cellaring: This medium bodied wine still has time to develop so feel free to lay it down if you like.

~RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH YOUR SAVVY SELECTIONS~

 

With Lighthall Progression Sparkling VQA 2011…

Prosciutto and Arugula Pizza

From: Epicurious.com
Serves 4

Ingredients
1/2 cup small to medium arugula leaves
3 very thin slices prosciutto
2 ounces mozzarella (preferably fresh)
All purpose flour for dusting
Pizza Dough for one 9-inch pizza (click here for a good recipe)
1/2 cup Pizza Sauce – recipe below

Method for pizza sauce

Take a 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes in puree (about 3 1/2 cups) and mix with 3 Tablespoons of olive oilIn a large non-reactive saucepan bring tomatoes and oil to a simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, simmer for 20 minutes, or until sauce is reduces to about 2 1/2 cup

Season sauce with salt and cool to room temperature. This sauce keeps, covered and chilled in the fridge for 5 days and freezes well

Assemble the pizza

At least 45 minutes before baking pizza, put a pizza stone or 4 to 6 unglazed “quarry” tiles arranged close together on oven rack in lowest position in oven and preheat oven to highest setting (500°-550°F)

Trim any tough stems from arugula and thinly slice cheese.

On a lightly floured surface pat out dough evenly with your fingers, keeping hands flat and lifting and turning dough over several times, into a 9-inch round. Do not handle dough more than necessary and if dough is sticky, dust it lightly with flour.

Dust a baker’s peel or rimless baking sheet with flour and carefully transfer dough to it. Jerk peel or baking sheet once or twice and, if dough is sticking, lift dough and sprinkle flour underneath it, reshaping dough if necessary. Working quickly, top dough with sauce, spreading with back of a spoon to within 1/2 inch of edge. Arrange mozzarella slices evenly over sauce. Line up far edge of peel or baking sheet with far edge of stone or tiles and tilt peel or baking sheet, jerking it gently to start pizza moving.

Once edge of pizza touches stone or tiles, carefully pull back peel or baking sheet, completely transferring pizza to stone or tiles (do not move pizza).

Bake pizza 6 to 7 minutes, or until dough is crisp and browned, and transfer with a metal spatula to a cutting board. Scatter arugula over pizza and arrange prosciutto slices on top. 

With Lighthall Gewurztraminer VQA 2011…

Pear & Cream Cheese Tart

From: Desserts by Bonnie Stern
Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients
Base
½ cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all purpose flour

Filling
2 ripe pears (preferably Bartlett)
4 oz cream cheese
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
¾ cup cream
½ tsp vanilla
¼ cup sliced almonds

Method

Preheat oven to 425. Butter a 9 or 10” pie plate with removable sides.

For the shortbread base, cream butter and sugar together until light. Beat in flour and pat into pie plate – no need to roll it out.

Peel, halve and core pears and slice and arrange in circular rows on top of base. Stir cream cheese until smooth then beat in sugar, add eggs one at a time, beating mixture smooth after each addition then add cream and vanilla. Pour over pears & Sprinkle with almonds.

If there is any leftover custard, bake separately with any leftover pears or other fruit for a little treat for the chef.Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 and bake for 25 to 30 minutes longer, or until fruit is tender and custard is set.Serve warm or cold.

With Lighthall Pinot Noir VQA 2010 …

Roasted Cauliflower and Swiss Chard Salad

From: Long Nights and Log Fires Cookbook
Serves 4

Ingredients
1/4 cup olive oil
1 small head of cauliflower, separated into large florets
1 tsp ground cumin
6 large Swiss chard leaves, roughly chopped into 1 inch wide strips
1 red onion, cut into wedges
2 garlic cloves chopped
14 oz can chickpeas, rinses and drained
1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
2 Tbsps freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
sea salt

Method

Over high heat in a cast iron pan or large skillet, put in the oil. Add the cauliflower florets and cook for 8 to 10 minutes turning often (you will want some brown or burnt looking marks – this is a good sign!). Then add the cumin and cook stirring for 1 minute, add the Swiss Chard, onion and garlic to the pan and cook for a further 2 to 3 minutes. Add chickpeas and stir. Season to taste with salt.

In a separate bowl, combine the tahini, lemon juice and pepper. Add a little salt to taste. Whisk to combine. Transfer the vegetables into a bowl and drizzle the dressing over the top to serve.

Enjoy as a rustic vegetarian dish or a side accompanying pork cutlets, baked ham or turkey.

With Lighthall Pinot Noir Reserve Particulière – Les Grands VQA 2009 …

Mushroom Risotto

From: The Essential Rice Cookbook
Serves 4

Ingredients
2 Tablespoons dried porcini mushrooms
1 litre (32 fl oz) vegetable or chicken stock
2 Tablespoons butter
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 ¾ cups risotto rice
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
1 cup mushrooms, sliced (a variety of mushrooms would be good)
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 Tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Method

Soak the porcini mushrooms in 2 cups (500 ml/ 16 fl oz) boiling water for 30 minutes. Drain, reserving the liquid then chop the porcini and pass the liquid through a sieve. Pour the stock into a saucepan, bring to the boil and reduce keeping it at a low simmer.

Heat the oil and butter in a wide heavy saucepan to cook the onion and garlic until soft but not brown. Stir in the rice until it is well coated.

Add the fresh mushrooms and nutmeg; season and cook, stirring for 1-2 minutes. Then add the porcini and their liquid, increase the heat and cook until the liquid has been absorbed. Add ½ cup (125 ml/4fl oz) of the stock and stir constantly over medium heat until all the liquid has been absorbed. Continue adding stock a bit at a time until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender and creamy – which should take about 25-30 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan and parsley and serve

Enjoy your Savvy Selections!

 

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Winner of a Pinot Noir shootout!

Posted by Eva

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012
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Pinot Noir is known around the world 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.

Rosehall Run Vineyard has a growing reputation of producing some of the best Pinot Noir wines in Prince Edward County (aka ‘The County’). This past March, Rosehall won a gold medal in the international Pinot Noir shootout in San Francisco, California – now that is impressive!

Cheers & Enjoy!

Rosehall Run Pinot Noir County Cuvée VQA 2009

$21.95
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This Pinot Noir has delicious aromas & tastes of strawberry, raspberry & red licorice with a dash of vanilla on the long finish.

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 change too. Classic matches with Pinot are roast duck & mushrooms & grilled salmon too.

Want to buy this wine?  Subscribe & it will be delivered!

Rosehall Run has been a feature winery in our Savvy Selections wine of the month club. You won’t find this outstanding wine on the shelves at the LCBO.  Would you like this wine? Subscribe to our wine of the month club or call on us to make the arrangements for a special delivery to your home or office!

Food & Wine Pairing

Here’s a recipe our Savvy Sommeliers picked to enjoy with the Rosehall Run Pinot Noir.

Grilled Duck Breast with Red Wine Reduction
Everyday Dining with Wine

The key to this recipe are the dried cherries in the sauce which are a classic with duck and a great cherry flavor to match the silky-textured Pinot Noir.

INGREDIENTS
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup pinot noir (or other left over dry red wine)
1 shallot finely chopped
1/3 cup of dried cherries
2 boneless duck breasts about 12 ounces each
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves

METHOD
Combine the stock, wine, shallot, and cherries in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer until the sauce is reduced by half and thickened – 15-20 minutes. (The sauce can be made one day in advance and refrigerated, reheat before serving.)

Preheat the grill to medium-high. Split each duck breast into 2 halves.With a sharp chef’s knife trim away any overhanging fat so that only about a strip of skin about 2 inches wide attached to each breast. Sprinkle the breast halfs on both sides with salt and pepper, place on the grill skin side down and grill covered until well browned about 8 minutes. Turn and continue to grill covered about 3-4 minutes more for medium rare, or longer if desired, but be careful not to over-grill or it will be dry. This can also be done in a sauté pan but make sure the pan is very hot before adding a couple of tablespoons of oil so the breasts will brown.

Remove breasts from grill and cover loosely with foil, let stand 5 minutes to rest. Stir the sage and thyme into the sauce and re-warm. Slice each breast to fan out on a plate and serve with the sauce on the side or drizzle over top.

Enjoy!

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Go on – Uncork a bottle of Malbec today!

Posted by Debbie

Monday, April 16th, 2012
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Today marks Malbec World Day – how to celebrate you ask. . .

Shall we start the day with a glass or Malbec with a bowl of breakfast cereal or a hearty plate of eggs & bacon?  And another glass (or maybe upgrade to a bottle) served with lunch, then finish off by uncorking a bottle of Malbec to accompany a BBQ steak dinner?  This idea of around the clock Malbec drinking, made many giggle & come up with wild & crazy ideas to celebrate.  To kick the festivities off & to learn first hand more about Malbec in Argentine, I attended in a tutored tasting last week with Ottawa Citizen’s wine writer& author Rod Phillips.

My place setting awaited 18 glasses of various wines from Argentina – Torrontes & Chardonnay (white wines) along with 5 Malbecs with prices ranging from $12 to $27 a bottle.  Then we had a taste of Shiraz/Syrah, Bonarda, Pinot Noir & red wine blends to give the tasting a POW at the end.  The 2 hours flew by & my mind was buzzing with Malbec facts that I looked forward to share.

For the past two years, Malbec World Day has marked the calendars on April 17th.  To celebrate in Argentine style, there are festivities all around the world hosted by Wines of Argentina.

I know no other grape that has a dedicated day that shines the spotlight on it.  Malbec  began its history as a grape variety grown in Cahors, France, then was uprooted because of the phloxerra insect that decimated many vineyards in Europe in the late 1800s.  Luckily, the Malbec  rootstock that the European immigrants brought with them on their journey to Argentina, were not infected by the bug that attacked the roots of grape vines.

Today, Malbec is Argentina’s iconic grape variety, although, it is now grown in many vineyards throughout the world – even as close to home as Niagara-on-the-Lake!  There are over 564, 000 acres of vineyards dedicated to Malbec stretching along the Andes Mountain Range from 22 to 42 degrees latitude. This region has great ripening conditions with its continuous stream of sunshine during the day (ideal for ripening) , then cooler nights (perfect to produce acidity in the grape clusters).  This combination of ripe red & black fruit in the aromas & taste coupled with soft tannins with underlying acidity, makes for a crowd pleasing wine.

The wines we sampled during this tutored tasting certainly pleased me!  Here are my tasting notes about the various Malbec we discovered:

Manos Negras Malbec 2008, $14.95
(LCBO part number #271295)
A basic Malbec with juicy aromas on the nose (cherry, raspberry jam). There is good structure in this Malbec with a taste of cinnamon hearts candy.

Catena Malbec 2009, $19.95
(LCBO part number 478727)
Big juicy with loads of aromas of damsom plum boysenberry + pomegranate that continue into the taste.

Dominio del Plata Ben Marco Malbec 2009
(only available on request from winery representative, $27.00)
My hands down favorite.  A BIG wine.  Dry with loads of tannins, aromas that remind me of a big bouquet of red roses.  Layered onto the wine is licorice + plums that continue into their taste.  Too bad this wine is not readily available at the LCBO.

Zuccardi Q Malbec 2009
(LCBO part number #723478, $19.95)
From the infamous Fuzion fame, Zuccardi family has made a slightly lighter styled Malbec  compared to the others I savoured. On your first sip, there is evidence that the wine has light tannins, black pepper aromas with a refreshing acidity that ends with black pepper finish.

Rutini Malbec 2009
See for yourself if you like this style of Malbec wines. Lighter again in weight compared to the other Malbecs that we sampled in this tasting.  The glass wafts of cherry & red berry aromas with light tannins & shorter finish.

After all of these Malbec wines, plus the other wines that were included in the 18 wines we sampled, no doubt our lips & teeth were ‘naturally coloured’ a shade of deep purple.  Want more info Malbec tips?  Contact me + I will offer you more Argentine recommendations from this delicious wine tasting.

However you celebrate it, Happy Malbec World Day.

Salud! – Debbie

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Wines for fabulous Easter feasts

Posted by Susan

Thursday, March 29th, 2012
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Easter weekend follows this LCBO Vintages release & offers some excellent choices for a springtime brunch or dinner along with a small selection of Ontario wines to serve with your meal. For brunch, or just to celebrate, there’s a range of sparkling wines available, from a Grand Millésime Champagne, to an appealing South African Blanc de Blanc Brut and a classic extra dry Prosecco. Main courses at this festive time often include turkey, ham or lamb & there’s a choice of Chardonnay, such as First Press or Amayna, or Yalumba’s Viognier to go with your roast turkey or glazed ham, or split the difference with Zuccardis Chardonnay/Viognier blend.

If you’re a red wine lover, try the Oregon or Chilean Pinot Noir with these lighter meats. Should lamb be your choice, consider the range of red wines available, including Cabernet Sauvignon from California, a well-priced Merlot-dominated Bordeaux, a Bonarda from Argentina or a fine Tempranillo from Spain. Looking for something really special – choose Domaine Galevan’s outstanding Châteauneuf-du-Pape, or the Terre Nere Brunello di Montalcino.

And for dessert, don’t miss that unique Italian dessert wine crafted from air-dried grapes, aged years in barrel and released just in time for Easter, Sorelli Vinsanto del Chianti Classico. Want to ‘go local’ for your Easter celebration? On the lighter side consider a crisp, fresh unoaked Chardonnay from Fielding Estates or the versatile Tawse ‘Sketches’ Rosé. If you’re looking for a weightier offering, then choose the juicy structured Pinot Noir 2007 from Château des Charmes or the warm well balanced Vintage Ink Merlot-Cabernet.

Rejoice in the early spring weather, as the crocuses poke their heads up to take in those warm early rays of sunshine—and hope that the vines don’t start to leaf out just yet!


Cheers & Enjoy! – Susan




If I only had $100, I would buy …
LCBO Vintages Release as of Saturday, March 31, 2012


 

Tenuta S. Anna ‘Extra Dry’ Prosecco n/v

DOC Prosecco, Italy
$15.95 (Vintages #169128) 11.5% alcohol

Offering a fine frothy persistent mousse, this is a lovely crisp Prosecco that delivers an outstanding balance of crisp fresh fruit flavours—apple, pear and lemon-lime to the fore—and a bright invigorating texture. The finish is clean, long lasting and refreshing. Match this classic to another—prosciutto and melon. An excellent value, pick up a few bottles to enjoy with friends.



Tawse ‘Sketches’ Rosé 2011
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario

$15.95 (Vintages #172643) 12.5% alcohol
Charming salmon pink, this perennial favourite is produced from a blend of Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Gamay. An appealing fresh floral note and cherry/berry aromas rush from the glass. Dry, medium bodied, deftly balanced, it’s clean, fruity and lively on the palate, the red fruit and juicy texture offering a delightfully tasty, crisp and flavourful finish. Sip away! 



Zuccardi ‘Serie A’ Chardonnay/Viognier 2010

Mendoza, Argentina
$14.95 (Vintages #262097) 13.5% alcohol

This finely crafted award winner offers tempting aromas—floral, stone fruit, mineral and citrus. Dry, ample and round, it’s well balanced and flavourful, fresh acidity and minerality balancing orchard fruit and citrus zest, notes of spice-infused toast lingering on the extended finish. An excellent value and a good choice for Easter dinner.


Hecht & Bannier Côtes du Roussillon-Villages 2008

AOC Côtes du Roussillon-Villages, France
$22.95 (Vintages #142802) 15.0% alcohol


This blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignan and Syrah offers depth of colour and of flavours. There’s complexity on the nose—smoke, herbal and floral aromas, a mineral component and rich dark fruit. An intriguing wine that brings you back for another taste, it’s subtly structured and satiny in texture, showcasing dark fruit and enticingly complex flavours of herbs, toast and tangy pepper. It finishes dry and tantalizing. Pick up a few bottles to enjoy now and to sample over the next few years.



Finca Sobreño Crianza 2008

DO Toro, Spain
$17.95 (Vintages #40360) 14.5% alcohol


This Tempranillo is an excellent value, whether to enjoy now or in the future. Deep ruby garnet, it’s produced from hand-harvested grapes from the producer’s oldest vineyards and aged in American oak. It entices with aromas of cedar, balsamic, sweet ripe dark fruit and subtle floral notes. Dry, medium-full bodied, structured and robust, the perceptible tannins and lively acidity are a match for the ripe fruit, exotic spice and notes of espresso roast. The lasting finish is warm and spicy. Enjoy with roasted stuffed peppers, or a classic paella.


Grand Total: $87.75



Worth the splurge:
An outstanding cellar-worthy Châteauneuf-du-Pape . . .


Galévan Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2009

AOC Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France
$41.95 (251603) 14.5% alcohol

This is quite a striking Châteauneuf from winemaker Coralie Goumarre, whose Rhône blend ‘Paroles de Femme’ was featured in an earlier Vintages release. Grenache forms the base, with Mouvèdre and Syrah in support for this dry, full bodied and earthy wine. The nose is autumnal in character—forest floor, mushroom, herbs. The palate is structured with perceptible tannins, fresh acidity and compelling flavours of cherry/berry fruit, plum, herbs, spice and cocoa. Weighty yet fresh on the finish, it’s a match for rich roast meat dishes and will cellar medium term.

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Spanish Flavour Fiesta & Sparkling Wines

Posted by Susan

Thursday, March 15th, 2012
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Hola España! If you enjoy Spanish wines, you’ll want to pay particular attention to the March 17 LCBO Vintages release. Included are a range of styles and varietals, including vibrant Albariño from Rías Baixas on the Atlantic, lively Verdejo from Rueda, Mencia from Bierzo and Monastrell from the plateaux of Almansa and Jumilla. There are also Tempranillo-based wines from the classic denominations of Rioja and Ribera del Duero. Almost all of these wines are under $20, many of them aged several years, offering great value.

As an example, the Cerro Añon Reserva blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano is from the 2005 vintage, the Vega Sauco Adoremus Tempranillo from the 2004 vintage. A younger wine such as the Olivares Altos de la Hoya Monastrell is a steal at $13.95.

Pick up the Vintages catalogue for suggested food matches to some of Spain’s signature grapes! If you enjoy the classic style of dry sparkling wine, produced using Pinot Noir and/or Chardonnay in what is known as the ‘Traditional Method’ (a precise measure of still wine, sugar and yeast is added during bottling, kick-starting the second fermentation in bottle, after which the wine rests on the lees and acquires yeasty, toasty notes), the secondary feature will be of interest. The selection ranges from Heidsieck Champagne through the Okanagan’s See Ya Later Ranch Brut, to the very tasty South African Graham Beck Brut sparkling. If you’re into pink, choose the Lefèvre Rémondet Crémant Rosé from Burgundy, Mumm Napa’s Sparkling Rosé, or Niagara’s G. Marquis Ice Rosé kissed with a touch of Cab Franc ice wine.

There are some unique, iconic wines in this release, including the Chateau Montelena Chardonnay, the Bordeaux-style red blend Opus One by Mondavi and Baron Philippe de Rothschild, Concha & Toro’s Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvginon, Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and my absolute favorite, the Quintarelli Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2002. Released following the death of its legendary winemaker Giuseppe Quintarelli earlier this year, it’s not to be missed. Among the Canadian wines, Flat Rock’s Twisted white wine is always fresh and flavourful, Henry of Pelham’s Barrel Fermented Chardonnay is a well-crafted value, and the Aces Okanagan Seven Deuce Red is substantial and tasty—and entertaining!

Cheers and Enjoy,
Susan

If I only had $100, I would buy . . .
LCBO Vintages Release as of Saturday, March 17, 2012


See Ya Later Ranch
Brut n/v

VQA Okanagan Valley, B.C.
$20.95 (Vintages #271049) 12.5% alcohol
Here’s a very nice value from the south-central Okanagan, a well-crafted sparkler also produced using the traditional method. Dry, medium bodied, it’s fresh with aromas of grilled grapefruit, floral notes and a hint of nut. The nutty note replays on the dry, medium-bodied palate, fine mousse offering a clean fresh texture and carrying attractive flavours of citrus and orchard fruit through an extended, lively finish. Pick up a few bottles to celebrate spring!

Lefèvre Rémondet Crémant de Bourgogne Brut Rosé n/v
AOC Bourgogne, France
$15.95 (Vintages #265306) 12.0% alcohol
You can’t go wrong with this great value from Burgundy. The color of fresh cranberry juice, it offers appealing clean aromas of red berry fruit and lightly-grilled toast. The mousse is fine and delicate, fresh red fruit flavours crisp and bright—think cranberry, pie cherry and red currant. It finishes tangy, crisp and fruity. What’s not to like—stockpile a few bottles for casual gatherings.

Cerro Añon Reserva 2005
DOCa Rioja, Spain
$18.95 (Vintages #114306) 14.0% alcohol

Principally Tempranillo, this blend displays its lengthy oak aging with notes of vanilla, sandalwood and toast adorning red and black berries. Dry, medium-full bodied, plush and lively fruit wraps around still-perceptible tannins and fresh acidity, nuances of vanilla and sweet spice adding complexity. Charry toasty notes persist on the lasting dry yet fruit-filled finish. A substantial wine crafted for long-term cellaring, offering excellent value.

Wakefield Shiraz 2009
Clare Valley, Australia$17.95 (Vintages #943787)) 14.0% alcohol
From one of Australia’s first families of wine, this is a dry, substantial wine showcasing a subtle yet defined structure. Fragrant with ripe berries, spice, pepper and vanilla, the texture is tangy with fresh acidity, ripe tannins creating a clean frame for the spice-infused dark fruits washing across the palate and through the toasty finish. You’ll want a few bottles of this award-winning wine to enjoy now and to cellar medium term.

Quinta Nova Pomares 2009
DOC Douro, Portugal
$16.95 (Vintages #214007) 13.5% alcohol

Semi-transparent ruby, this attractive blend of classic Port grapes features high-toned aromas and flavours of red fruit, spice, dried herbs and vanilla. Dry, medium bodied, the impact on the palate is lively and fresh, the texture is appealingly silky, the tannins sleek and subtle, the finish tangy and refreshing. A well crafted wine that offers good value, drinking well now and cellarable short term.

Grand Total: $90.75


Worth the splurge: An iconic wine from a legendary producer …


Quintarelli Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2002

DOC Valpolicella, Italy
$79.95 (986117) 15.0% alcohol

Can a wine engender bliss? If so, this is the one! A decade old, released just after the death of its illustrious winemaker, Giuseppe Quintarelli, this fine garnet wine offers subtlty, elegance, depth and pure tasting joy. On the nose, whispers of leather, earth, evolved fruit, dried cherries, subtle spice and vanilla layer, mingle and merge on the palate. Pure silk, the texture is lush yet remarkably fresh, the tannins supple. There’s a sense of warmth and earthiness, of exquisite integration and balance, and a finish that lasts and lasts. Dinner out or this wine – no contest!

 

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Le Clos Jordanne – a fabulous Ontario Pinot Noir

Posted by Susan

Friday, December 5th, 2008
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Looking for a unique gift for the holiday season?  Don’t miss the LCBO Vintages Wine of the Month, Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve (#33894, $30), released December 6, 2008.  This Pinot Noir is an excellent value Ontario Pinot Noir, which can be cellared for 3-5 years.

I had the opportunity to participate in a tasting let by Thomas Bachelder, Le Clos Jordanne winemaker.  Thomas is a native Montrealer who developed his winemaking expertise in Burgundy, while pursuing a formal education in Viticulture and Oenology in Beaune.  He has tremendous enthusiasm for Le Clos Jordanne terroir, for the winemaking team, and for his wine. 

Le Clos Jordanne’s approach to the vines and the land is to allow the wine to express its ‘sense of place’.  In order to ensure this, the vines and fruit are tended and harvested by hand, and no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides are used.  In 2005, the winery received its first Ecocert Canada certification for organic farming.

Last summer, I had the opportunity of a private visit to Le Clos Jordanne winemaking facilities in Niagara,   This winery was established in 1998 as a joint venture between Vincor and the French firm, Boisset.  They were convinced that the Niagara property had similar characteristics of slope, climate, soil and terroir to the Cote d’Or in Burgundy.

The focus of Le Clos Jordanne is on premium Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The grapes are grown on several properties which are uniquely situated; they include La Petite, Talon Ridge, Claystone Terrace and Le Clos Jordanne vineyards.  The wine from each of its properties in unique, as I discovered during a barrel tasting.  For instance, Claystone East produces a fairly robust Pinot, which may be blended with Talon Ridge, along with deselected barrels of the other single vineyards, to produce Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve.

If you love fine Pinot Noir, as I do, visit the Vintages section of your LCBO, or contact us regarding the opportunity to purchase a case directly from Le Clos Jordanne. 

Happy holidays

Susan

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