Posts Tagged ‘premium Canadian VQA wines’

Savvy Selections e-Zine featuring Pillitteri Estates Winery

Posted by Debbie

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009


Featuring Pillitteri Estates Winery
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep

It certainly has been a chilly winter so far!  Over a glass of wine (no less!), my colleague Gina and I were talking about how we embrace the season by strapping on skis or lacing up skates…but we have to confess that the recent temperatures have defeated us once or twice already. When the wind chill dips below minus 30, we both have an urge to spend more time in the kitchen, stirring up some of our favorite comfort food – stews, hearty soups, oven roasted and braised meats.  These recipes fill our homes with the aromas of a home cooked meal, setting the stage to be accompanied with a heart warming glass of wine.


With this month’s Savvy Selections, we have a variety of wines from Pillitteri Estates Winery from light and medium bodied whites and a well aged red.  The Pillitteri family immigrated from Italy to Niagara where they have been making wines for over 20 years.  Their winemaking philosophy is simple: “To produce the finest wines possible from the highest quality Niagara Peninsula grapes.” With this approach, Pillitteri has been recognized around the world with their award winning wines and has become the largest estate icewine producer in the world. (winespeak: this title means that all of the grapes used for their icewine have been grown in the Pillitteri vineyards).  Visit to see the long list of impressive awards that they have accumulated over the years.


Your February Savvy Selections includes:

·         2007 Pinot Grigio VQA – a refreshing wine that will remind you of summer

·         2007 Sur Lie Chardonnay VQA – perfect to sip on as you prepare your hearty meal

·         2002 Merlot Reserve VQA – aged at the winery and ready to uncork and enjoy

·         2004 Sparkling Vidal Icewine VQA – optional wine on request…heaven in a bottle!


In this month’s Savvy e-Zine you can read about how Dr. Marc Bradshaw embarked on a personal trek from Australia to South Africa and several places in between. His visit to Canada was intended to be a short stop, yet several years later, he is now Pillitteri’s winemaster at a family run winery that is deeply rooted in its Italian heritage. Our Savvy Sommelier – Gina, enjoyed interviewing him to learn about his winemaking adventures…and I think she enjoyed listening to his Aussie accent too!


What do you think?

Your feedback is always welcome, so please let us know what you think of this months wine selection. If you would like to order additional Pillitteri wines or wines from other featured wineries in the Savvy Selections, just give me a call….it would be my pleasure to organize a shipment for you.


Cheers and keep warm!

Debbie & the Savvy Team



Pillitteri Estates Winery
presented by Sommelier Gina Wohlgemuth  

It is with great pleasure that we are once again showcasing wines from PiIlitteri Estates Winery in the Savvy Selections.  Since the first feature in March 2006, the winery has continued to impress the world wine stage with award-winning VQA wines, celebrated its 20th anniversary in business, expanded its production facilities at the winery and hired a new winemaker – the talented and enthusiastic winemaker Dr. Marc Bradshaw.  

Originally from Queensland, Australia, Marc had never considered entering the wine industry while pursuing his studies, yet once he experienced his first “crush” (winespeak: grape harvest), he was smitten.  Marc worked for wineries in his home country as well as South Africa and Germany before finding his way to Canada.  He had always hoped to visit and take on a various ‘small’ jobs at a Canadian winery for a couple of months.  Yet, when he was offered the position as assistant winemaker at Pillitteri, it evolved over time into winemaster, his plans of a short stay in Canada dramatically changed – three years later, Marc has not looked back.

Pillitteri is well known as the world’s largest estate producer of icewine so when I tried to pin down Marc in January – at the height of icewine production – for an interview, it took some persistent chasing on my part.  Marc reports that the crew started picking on December 22, 2008 and completed picking the icewine grapes in mid-January.  While teams of brave women and men are picking the grapes in the vineyards (really is entails snapping the bunches of grapes off bare vines), a team of people are on the crush pad located outside of the winery, pressing the grapes.  Marc reports that all of this activity continued even as the pipes in the pressing room froze!   Harvest is always a beehive of activity despite the cold.

Before coming to Pillitteri, Marc had little experience with icewine.  As assistant winemaker, it was “baptism by fire”. Now with several years under his belt, the Aussie says he “loves” making icewine because of its challenges and rewards. In particular, the frigid working environment (by government regulations, icewine grapes have to be picked when the outside temperature is below – 8 degrees Celcius or colder), frequently working throughout the night into the wee hours of the morning along with the constant monitoring of fermentation.

Pillitteri’s devotion to perfecting icewine has not gone unnoticed.  They have won hundreds of prestigious awards worldwide.  For Marc, the most coveted award was gold in 2008 for their 2006 Shiraz icewine at the “Syrah du Monde” competition in France’s Northern Rhone Valley.  This year, Pillitteri is producing more than ten different varietals of icewine including Semillon, Merlot, Gerwürztraminer and Sangiovese along with their Vidal and Riesling in both still and the one of a kind sparkling icewine.

When I pressed Marc to choose his favourite varietal to make wine, after some consideration Marc, stated, “I think it would have to be Pinot Grigio”. Why?  He has fond memories of Pinot Grigio wines in Australia and his travels. Although he explains that Pinot Grigio must be watched carefully throughout its production, he enjoys crafting the refreshing drink with it’s a slightly pinkish hue. As far as Marc’s favourite Pillitteri wine to drink, Sur Lie Chardonnay is his current pick.  Both of these white wines are included in this month’s Savvy Selections.  Yet, Marc boldly states that, even though a winemaker, he never turns down a cold beer!

Marc is thoroughly enjoying his time working at Pillitteri.  The Pillitteri family has given him leeway to create wines in a slightly different style than what had been created in the past, however, Marc repeatedly states that winemaking is a team effort.  With Niagara’s climate being so varied from year to year, he admits that winemaking can be very challenging and it keeps him on his toes.  Marc’s winemaking philosophies is “listen to the fruit and to go with the flow”. 

Cheers & Enjoy!


~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~

Pillitteri Estates Pinot Grigio VQA 2007, $15
Produced in the Old World Italian style, this 100% Pinot Grigio is classified as “dry” (winespeak: very little residual sugar following fermentation).  Dry  can also be rated as a ‘0’ on the sugar code.  Despite its crispness & refreshing acidity, it tastes lush because of all the natural fruit sweetness.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Marc specifically crafted this wine to have a pretty pale peach hue.  The aromas of citrus, melon and light floral notes are reminiscent of spring and the promise of warmth – good thoughts to have in the middle of a cold winter.  This is a light refreshing wine filled with spritzy fruit flavours and a clean finish.

Suggested Food Pairing:  This wine is easily enjoyed on its own or with appetizers – see the quesadillas recipe below, with roasted chicken or pork chops.

Cellaring:  Enjoy now or put away in your cellar until the summer to sip while sitting on your patio in the sunshine.


Pillitteri Estates Sur Lie Chardonnay VQA 2007, $15
The fruit for this wine was crushed, pressed and then fermented in stainless steel tanks.  No oak was used during its production.  The complex aromas and flavours were developed by leaving the wine on its lees (winespeak: the remnants of the yeast cells used for fermentation and coarse sediment) with periodic bâttonage (winespeak: daily stirring) for eight months. 

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Look for aromas and a palate of citrus and tropical fruits as well as pleasant nutty characteristics.  Lively acidity balances out the fruit in this flavorful chardonnay.

Suggested Food Pairing:  Serve with roasted chicken, poached salmon or comforting shepherd’s pie.

Cellaring:  2007 was a fantastic year for Niagara wines.  This one is definitely delicious now or it can be properly stored for another year or two.


Pillitteri Estates Reserve Merlot VQA 2002, $25
We are excited to offer this fine wine from the sensational harvest of 2002.  Following primary fermentation and malolactic fermentation (winespeak: the process by which stronger malic acid is converted into the softer, more desirable lactic acid), the wine was aged in a combination of brand new barrels French and American oak barrels as well as some barrels that were one or two years old and some that have been re-coopered (rebuilt and re-toasted).  All in all, the wine aged in the barrels for over 20 months to soften and integrate the flavours of this Merlot.  

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Gina and her tasting panel noted that the nose on this Merlot is reminiscent of black cherries and blackberries, chocolate and leather as well as earthy undertones. Generous acidity and mild tannins make it a food-friendly red wine.

Suggested Food Pairing:  Try this wine with a big plate of spaghetti and meatballs, a meaty casserole or your favourite winter comfort food.

Cellaring: “No need to wait – drink now!” comments Gina. Keep in mind that this wine has already aged 7 years. Consider decanting it to allow the wine to ‘breathe’. As it has aged, the wine has mellowed, transforming from a full bodied Merlot to one that is more medium bodied, complex and well balanced.  Enjoy!


~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~

With Pillitteri’s Pinot Grigio…
Grilled Quesadillas
These make a tasty appetizer, lunch or light supper.  A nonstick skillet works just as well as the grill so no need to wait for summer to enjoy.

Recipe from Anne Lindsay’s “New Light Cooking”
Makes 8

1 small avocado
1 tomato, diced
½ c. corn kernels (canned is fine)
¼ chopped canned green chilies or green onion
¼ tsp. salt
pinch of pepper
8 flour tortillas (8 inch)
1 c. grated part-skim mozzarella or cheddar cheese
1/3 c. chopped cilantro or parsley
Your favourite salsa


1.      Peel and pit avocado.  Place half in bowl and mash until smooth.  Chop remaining half and stir into same bowl with tomato, corn, chilies, salt and pepper.

2.      Spread mixture evenly over half of each tortilla.  Sprinkle cheese and coriander over mixture.  Fold uncovered half over filling and gently press edges together.

3.      In nonstick skillet or on grill over medium heat, cook quesadillas for 1 – ½ minutes until bottom is lightly browned.  Turn and cook for another 1- ½ minutes or until filling is heated through and cheese is melted.

4.      Serve with your favourite salsa.


With Pillitteri’s Sur Lie Chardonnay
Roasted Butterflied Chicken & Fennel Mash Potatoes
This easy technique makes for a whole chicken with crispy, golden skin and juicy meat that cooks in little time.  Serve with a creamy risotto or with my fennel mashed potato recipe.

Serves 4

1 3-4 lb. chicken
olive oil
coarsely ground black pepper and sea salt to taste
½ c. chicken broth 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place chicken on a cutting board and cut chicken up the back.  Open it up and lay it flat, skin side up.  Press down along centre to flatten even more.  Rub skin with olive oil and sprinkle with pepper and sea salt

Pour broth into roasting pan just large enough to fit flattened chicken snugly.  Place prepared chicken on top.  Roast uncovered for approximately 1 hour 15 minutes or until juices run clear.

Fennel Mashed Potatoes
Recipe from Margaret Chisholm, “The Girls Who Dish”
Serves 4

2 tsp. unsalted butter
1 small fennel bulb, stalks removed, chopped into ½ inch pieces
5 large Yukon Gold potatoes
2 tsp. coarse salt
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
¾ c. hot milk
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Melt the 2 tsp. butter in small frying pan over medium-low heat.  Add the fennel and cook stirring occasionally until tender, approximately 15 minutes.  Set aside.

Peel the potatoes and cut into pieces.  Place in medium saucepan and cover with cold water and the coarse salt.  Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat for approximately 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Drain in colander and return potatoes to the pot.  Place over low heat and toss the pan a few times to dry them out.  One or two minutes should be plenty.  Put the potatoes through a potato ricer or mash with potato masher.  Return them to the pot.  Beat in the 2 Tbsp butter with a wooden spoon.  Beat the hot milk in a bit at a time.  Stir in the fennel.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. 


With Pillitteri’s Merlot Reserve…
Braised Lamb Stew with Rosemary Dumplings
Recipe from John Bishop’s “Cooking at My House”
Serves 4

1 1/4 lbs. boneless leg of lamb
salt and pepper
1 cup flour
2 Tbsp vegetable oil for frying
½ c. finely chopped onion
½ c. finely diced carrot
½ c. finely diced celery
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 cup red wine
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 cups stock or water


Ingredients for Rosemary Dumplings 
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp chopped rosemary leaves
2 Tbsp olive oil
½ cup milk

Trim lamb and cut meat into 2- or 3-inch cubes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Dip each cube into the flour, coating all sides.

Heat vegetable oil in frying pan on medium-high heat.  Add the lamb chunks and sauté until all sides are sealed and browned.  Remove the lamb from the pan and place it in a casserole or baking dish.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Place the frying pan back on the burner on medium-high heat.  Add the chopped vegetables and sauté for approximately 5 minutes.  Add the tomato paste, red wine and fennel seeds.  Stir together well then pour it over the lamb.  Top up with the water or stock.  Cover the baking dish with a lid or aluminum foil and bake for 1.5 hours.

Just before the stew is ready, prepare dumpling mixture: Combine flour, baking powder, salt and rosemary in a bowl.  Add the olive oil and milk. 

Mix together to form a soft dough.  Divide the dumpling dough into six pieces.

Remove stew from oven.  Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.  Place dumplings on top of the stew.  Cover and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes.  The dumplings should be light and fluffy when they are ready.


Great wine & food ideas to warm you up on a cold February day.
Cheers & Enjoy!


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



Savvy Selections e-Zine featuring Pelee Island Winery

Posted by Susan

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

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

Happy New Year!

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

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

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

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


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


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

– Debbie & the Savvy Team
Debbie Trenholm  









Pelee Island Winery
presented by Sommelier Susan Desjardins

 Location of Pelee Island

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

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

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

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

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

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


~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~  


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


 ~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Serve with roasted potatoes.  

A simple meal for a great wine!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


























Savvy Selections e-Zine featuring Konzelmann Winery

Posted by Wayne

Monday, February 2nd, 2009



December 2008
Savvy Selections – featuring Konzelmann Winery
Canada’s Wineries delivered to your doorstep

As December is a month filled with family traditions we thought that it would be fitting to showcase Konzelmann Estate Winery. In this Savvy e-Zine, you will read how the winery in Niagara continues the family tradition of winemaking stemming back to Germany for four generations. The tradition is deeply rooted in heritage and respects the quality and winemaking styles of the Old World that shows through in the three bottles we selected for this month’s Savvy Selections:

Gewurztraminer Reserve VQA 2006 
Riesling Grand Reserve Classic VQA 2007 
  Barrel Aged Merlot VQA 2006 
Special Select Late Harvest Vidal VQA 2006 – optional item added on request

Our tasting panel of Sommeliers selected these particular wines as they are ready now and would be easy drinking wines to uncork during the holiday season. Keep them handy and ready to serve with hors d’oeuvres, to unwind after a full day of shopping or to simply sip on as you relax by the tree.

If you would like to order additional wines from Konzelmann or wines from other featured wineries in the Savvy Selections, simply contact us to organize a shipment for you.

Here’s to another great year together discovering Canadian wines with the Savvy Selections!  We look forward to continuing to share wines with you in 2009!

Happy holidays,
-Debbie and the Savvy Team


Konzelmann Estates Winery
presented by Savvy Sommelier Wayne Walker

In 1893, Friederich Konzelmann, restaurateur and winemaker, founded an Estate Winery near Stuttgart, Germany. Herbert, his great grandson, continued this tradition in Germany until the early 1980’s when he moved to Niagara, Ontario. In his travels, Herbert recognized that Niagara had an Alsatian-like micro-climate in the Lake Ontario area and saw the opportunity to continue the Konzelmann in the growing Niagara wine region.

The new Konzelmann property in Niagara was originally an orchid of 2500 plus peach trees.  Herbert recognized that there was potential in the soil to offer soft minerality and warm tropical flavour to wine grapes. Today, the 83 acres has been transformed into vineyards that boasts 17 different grape varieties producing upwards of 40,000 cases of award winning wines each year.

Herbert and his winemaking assistant, Eric Pearson, are focused on producing low yielding grapes (winespeak: low yields means that the grapes have concentrated flavours) and high quality premium wines. Old vines, thinned out three times a season, contribute towards achieving this goal. Vertical vine training (a method of trimming and growing vines in a more vertical linear fashion than in a bush-like design) helps to enhance sun exposure, ripening conditions and sugar and flavour intensities. These wines are proudly named “The Winemaster’s Collection”.

Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Vidal are some of the varietals that thrive at Konzelmann. As Bruno Reis, Director of Operations explains, “This is where our penchant for Alsatian and Burgundian styles of wines comes from. The natural growing conditions and grape varietals have a direct impact on our winemaking methods.”

Certainly Eric’s knowledge of Italian winemaking coupled with Herbert’s German background (including his expertise with Icewines) are a winning combination that is enjoyed in all Konzelmann wines.

This international expertise can be contributed to why Konzelmann wines have an international market, being sold not only in Ontario but extensively in California, Texas, New York, Japan and Korea.

Konzelmann’s signature wines are white. The Reserve Gewurztraminer and Grand Reserve Riesling – both are included in your Savvy Selections this month. As for red, Pinot Noir and Merlot lead the pack while Vidal Icewine is the coup d’etat in the dessert category.

Konzelmann wines can be placed in existing styles of winemaking, but the fact remains that wine from this Niagara estate on Lake Ontario struts character profiles of its own. Konzelmann whites show a fine acid balance while maintaining an unique, delicate, soft mineral and fruit flavour. Konzelmann reds show the effort that is spent enhancing textures and tannic structure on an existing fresh, elegant, fruity canvas. The result? – favour, flavour and balance. Extended fermentation time on the grape skins and in wood barrels assists in developing these signatures.

Bruno feels that if someone were to drink every wine in the Konzelmann portfolio, the Gewurztraminer would be the most memorable because “It tastes good, feels good and with its acidity, it matches well with food while showing no negative side effects. It is the role model of all the Estate wines. It’s a drink of integrity and character. Drink Konzelmann wine and everything is fine.”  

Now that is a great way to toast the holidays!


~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~

Konzelmann Gewurztraminer Reserve VQA, 2006  $17.00
Low yield and long ripening are evident with this wine. Considered as Konzelmann’s signature wine, it shows good weight and texture and solid aromatics. This wine is medium to full body and capable of carrying solid alcohol and good residual sugars, as evident in its delicious fruit flavours.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This straw gold, brilliant wine is very aromatic with stone fruits (can you find peaches, nectarines, apricots?), flower blossoms, lychee and other tropical fruit. Good acidity and fruit structure give balance to its elegant, long, stone fruit and tropical finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: Serve this wine chilled (about 8C) as a wonderful sipper or paired with a variety of white meats roasted or grilled, fish, soft cheeses or salty snacks. Try the Spiced Chicken Breasts with Pineapple and Grapefruit below to taste this wine come alive!

Cellaring:  No need to wait…this wine is ready to drink now. It can cellar for up to 2 years at 12C.

Konzelmann Riesling Grand Reserve Classic VQA, 2007 $22.00
Another great food wine with its thirst quenching acidity, its complex fruit profile and its delicate balance is enjoyed into the well-ripened creamy and elegant texture.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A favorite of the Savvy Selections tasting panel, this straw (with a greenish tinge – do you see this?) is a reflective wine with aromas of ripe pears, peaches and apricots on a canvas of ripe apple and lemon-lime. Full-bodied, the fruity flavors continue through onto the palate with tropical fruit, stone fruits and honey. A silky leather and green pear, apple aftertaste are connected by a subtle minerality on the finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: This wine is versatile and can be paired with many food styles. It shows very well with spicy Thai and Mexican cuisine because of its thirst quenching qualities. Even serve this wine with a fruit dessert, particularly a dessert featuring fruits found in the aroma and flavours of the wine. I offer (below) a luscious Roasted Pear recipe that would be perfect for holiday festivities. Enjoy!

Cellaring: Ready to be enjoyed now, yet will retain its intensity for up to 2 years if stored on its side in a cool location (12C-14C).

Konzelmann Merlot Barrel-aged VQA, 2006 $20.00
The dry summer and cool fall of 2006 resulted in excellent ripening conditions rendering this Merlot ideal fruit concentrations and colours. This wine was not only aged (for 18 months) in French Oak (in case you are interested: from coopers in the Allier and Nevers regions of France), but some fermentation took place in barrels as well.  This allowed the winemaker to enhance the tannic structure and the darker, riper fruit flavours of the wine during the active process of fermentation and the longer aging time. This contributes to its Bordeaux-style profile.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Dark ruby-red in colour, sporting the richness of blackberry jam, earth and oak, with a subtle bit of pepper, this wine is very soft and round with ripe berry fruit and spicy vanilla flavours on both the tongue and the medium finish. Good acidity gives it a surprising quality of thirst quench.

Suggested Food Pairing: Pasta, pasta and more pasta is what this wine screams out for! Make sure that the sauce is not overly creamy. Oven cooked beef (like roast beef, Beef Bourguignon) and chicken (Coq au Vin) would work well.  A feast of chili and crusty bread or homemade pizza are perfect to enjoy this easy drinking wine.

Cellaring: This wine is drinking well now, yet, could certainly be cellared for 3 years or so (18C). As it ages, the fruit character will diminish. You may think that this is an issue as it is such a large part of its profile. Watch for any significant lightening of colour in storage as this will indicate waning of fruit profile.


A Special Addition by Request of our Savvy Selections subscribers
Konzelmann Special Select Late Harvest VQA, 2006 $19.95

Late Harvest wines usually identify a grape that has been harvested around the first frost of the year in late October or early November. The Vidal grape (interesting to note it is a hybrid grape variety), is typically left on the vine to be naturally frozen, then harvested for Icewine.  Vidal is also a great grape for Late Harvest because of its thick skin and its ability to retain sugar and acidity against exposure to the harsh early winter elements.

The panel of Savvy Sommeliers was particularly impressed with this Special Select because its weight and texture gives you the impression of Icewine with its full bodied richness and long creamy finish.  We hope you like it as much as we did. 

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: The honey texture and colour of this luscious libation almost gives it an Ice Wine profile. Stone fruits and apple on the nose are consummated on the tongue with more honey, lychee, candied citrus and warm, ripe tropical fruit, leaving a ripe, fleshy peach, apricot and honey finish balanced by sweet lemon zest. 

Suggested Food Pairing: GREAT on its own. Sip by the fireplace munching on your favourite roasted nuts, cheese, chocolate or holiday treat. Also consider serving to complement and enhance sweet, full-textured desserts as well. 

Cellaring: With its great acidity this wine will store and please for quite a while, but Santa would be very disappointed if this gift lasted past January 1, 2009 – wink wink!


~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~

With Konzelmann Gewurztramniner Reserve…
Spiced Chicken Breasts with Pineapple & Grapefruit
Serves 2

2 chicken breasts
mixed spice (no anise)
ground cinnamon
cayenne pepper
clear strained chicken stock
fresh grapefruit juice
fresh pineapple juice
butter or olive oil

In a saucepan, combine two fruit juices, stock, and spices and boil to a thick sauce.
Add a pad of butter to the sauce to give it a shine.

Pan fry the chicken breasts in butter or olive oil until firm. Cover as required.

Test periodically they are cooked throughout by testing that juices run clear when cut.
Serve the chicken breasts with the fruity sauce smothered over them. Perfect on a bed of steamed rice.


With Konzelmann Riesling Grand Reserve Classic…
Festive Pear Pairs
Serves 4-6

4 firm ripe pears – pealed, sliced in half & cored
¼ c. brown sugar, packed
¼ tsp. ground ginger or ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup coarsely crumbled ginger snaps
1 cup havarti or old cheddar cheese, shredded
Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream

Preheat oven to 400F. Butter a shallow 8 cup square or oval baking dish.

Place pears cut side up in baking dish, sprinkle with sugar, ginger, lemon juice and toss to combine. Spread evenly. Roast for about 25 minutes or until pears are almost tender and starting to brown.

In a bowl, combine cookie crumbs and cheese. Sprinkle evenly over pears.

Roast for 10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted or pears are tender.
Serve warm topped with whipping cream or ice cream.  Serve yourself a glass of chilled Classic Riesling.

With Konzelmann Barrel-Aged Merlot…
Sweet Beef Curry
Serves 4

1 onion, sliced
curry powder
1 apple, peeled and sliced
1 banana, sliced
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp fig jam or orange marmalade
3 to 4 cups of lean roast beef cut into bite sized pieces
½ c. of water
1 beef stock cube

Fry onion in butter until softened.

Add curry powder and cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Add apple, cook for 2 minutes. Add banana, cook for 1 or 2 minutes.

Add sugar and jam and cook for 5 minutes. Add meat, water and crumbled stock cube and simmer, stirring until thick. May be served alone or on rice.

With Konzelmann Special Select Late Harvest…
Sweet Heat
Serves 4  

2 peaches, ripe, but not soft
2-3 Tsbp Butter
3 Tsbp brown sugar
dark rum
vanilla ice cream

Cut peaches in half. Melt butter over medium heat. Add brown sugar and stir.

Add peaches. Cook until fairly warm and starting to soften, about 1 minute. Flip and cook an additional 30 seconds.

Add rum to taste and swirl in pan.

Use a long lighting instrument, pass over the pan as alcohol evaporates and light contents of pan. Allow flame to die down and sauce to thicken, slightly.

Remove and serve over ice cream. Yum!


If you would like to order additional wines from Konzelmann or wines from other featured wineries in the Savvy Selections, simply contact us to organize a shipment for you.