Posts Tagged ‘recipes paired with wines’

Premium wines from Pelee Island Winery

Posted by Susan

Friday, January 7th, 2011
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Savvy Selections wine of the month club
features Pelee Island Winery
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep
 

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

You won’t find these wines at the LCBO!

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

 

Cheers & Enjoy!

Debbie & Savvy Team

 


Pelee Island Winery
Presented by Sommelier Susan Desjardins


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

 ~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~

Private Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2008 VQA, $12.95

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

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

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

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

Cellaring: Why wait? Enjoy it now!

 

 

Pelee Island Pinot Gris Vendange Tardive 2008 VQA, $15.95

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

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

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

Cellaring:  Enjoy over the next year or two.

 

Vinedressers Meritage 2003 VQA $24.95

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

 

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

 

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

 

Cellaring:  Drinking well now.

 

 

 

~ Recipes to enjoy with Savvy Selections ~


With Private Selection Sauvignon Blanc…

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

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

 

Method

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

With Pinot Grigio Vendange Tardive….

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

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

Method

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

With Vinedresser’s Cabernet Sauvignon…

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

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

Method

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!

 

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School never tasted this good!

Posted by Derek

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010
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Savvy Selections wine of the month club
features Niagara College Teaching Winery
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep
 

My comments may have been lighthearted in past editions of the Savvy e-Zine, yet frankly, the truth is that selecting the wines to be featured in the Savvy Selections is a job that the Savvy Team of Sommeliers take very seriously.  The featured winery usually provides a choice of six or seven wines.  From there, our goal is to choose the best three wines that are sent to all of our subscribers across Ontario.  On some occasions, the range of wines are so impressive that it is hard to decide on just three wines.  Instead of settling the dispute over a good old fashioned arm wrestling competition, we let you make the decision by suggesting a fourth wine as an available option to add to your monthly delivery of wine.  November is definitely a different story.

 

 

 

This month Savvy Selections features wines from the Niagara College Teaching Winery.  The professional winemaking school opened its doors in 2000 and from this point onwards, the wine industry of Ontario took a quantum leap forward.  Steve Gill, the General Manager of the Winery and Viticulture program at Niagara provided us a selection of nine wines to sample. Selecting three wines from six is challenging enough, but selecting three wines to feature from nine was next to impossible (wink, wink).  Much discussion was had and the arm wrestle decision making technique was considered!

 

We are delighted to introduce you the following wines in your Savvy Selections:

·         Unoaked Chardonnay VQA 2009

·         Meritage VQA 2005

·         Cabernet Sauvignon VQA 2007

 

We couldn’t stop there. The wines crafted by the students were simply remarkable. A+ in fact. The wines were certainly more than a class project. When I emailed you to see if you would like optional wines added to your delivery, I was overwhelmed with the positive response. If after reading this Savvy eZine you would like more of these great (and hard to find wines), simply email or call me to make the arrangements for a delivery. The optional wines included:

·         Cabernet Sauvignon VQA 2006

·         Meritage VQA 2007

·         Savant Ice Wine VQA 2007

 

This month is unique in that we are able to offer two mini verticals (winespeak: two wines of the same variety from different years). Sampling the Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 & 2007 side by side will give you a taste of how the difference in weather during the growing season impacts the final product. Sampling the Meritage 2005 & 2007 at the same time will give you an idea of how the blend evolves as it ages. In the following pages, Derek spends some time describing vintage variation to further your enjoyment (and knowledge!).

 

If you are curious about the concept of vintage variation and did not order the optional 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon feel free to contact me so that I can arrange to have a bottle (or two) shipped to you or any of the other Savvy Selections featured wines for that matter.    

 

Cheers & Enjoy!

Debbie & Savvy Team

 


Introducing…

Niagara College Teaching Winery

Presented by Sommelier Derek Vollrath

 

When I finished high school, pursuing an education in the field of viticulture and winemaking was just not possible and pursing a career in that very field would have been out of the question.  In the famous words of Bob Dylan, “The Times they are a-Changin”. 

At Niagara College, Steve Gill is the main man on campus. He is the General Manager of Wine Operations at the College’s Teaching Winery.  I spent a few hours with him earlier this month to learn about the program and what the courses entail. 

A very cool school
The Niagara College program is dedicated to teaching the real life skills and developing the skills required to produce premium wine.  In addition, the program teaches its students the business side of the wine industry. 

The Teaching Winery is a state of the art and fully operational winery within Niagara College, but I found out that it was not always that way.  When it first began in 2000, the students would visit wineries throughout the Niagara Region in order to attain the required hands-on experience.  To strengthen the program, the College applied for and was granted a winery license by the Ontario Alcohol and Gaming Commission.  By having its own winery on premise the students now have direct and convenient access to a functional winery.

At anytime there are 55 to 60 students enrolled.  When the winery opened the College had 5 acres under vine.  In a few short years its vineyard has expanded to 38 acres, planted primarily with Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay vines.

Vintage Variation
Aside from the wine, one of the many benefits of belonging to the Savvy Selection club is the monthly Savvy eZine. One of my goals in writing these eZines is to provide you with insight & knowledge about selected wine.  November is an ‘educational’ treat in that two wine varietals are available that showcase the concept of vintage variation.  

In the wine world, Ontario is considered to have a marginal climate.  What does this mean?  Well, unlike California or Australia where the climate is consistent year over year, the growing climate in Ontario is relatively unstable as it is prone to significant climactic changes.  For example, in some years, an early frost can significantly damage the crop, whereas, in other years frost does not rear its cold ugly head.  These climatic swings will produce variations in the fruit both in quantity and quality.  This difference in the fruit will in turn produce noticeable differences in the final wine.  The term used to describe the changes in wine as a result of changes in the climate is known as vintage variation.  

The wines that display these climatic variations are the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon and the optional 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon. Both wines were harvested at roughly the same time and both wines were crafted in the exact same manner. Both wines were also aged in a combination of American and French oak for approximately the same period of time.  The only variation is the climate that the vines were exposed to.

2006 was a wet, relatively cold year which lacked a great deal of sun.  When these types of conditions occur the fruit (i.e. the grapes) are not able to achieve an ideal level of ripeness.  This is evident on both the nose as well as the palate as the wines will tend to be more herbaceous or earthy in nature.

2007 on the other hand was a fantastic year.  There was a great deal of sun and heat and just the correct amount of rain.  When these climatic conditions occur the berries tend to produce a wine that is fuller in body and more fruit forward in nature. 

If you don’t believe me, taste the differences between the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon. Both wines are well made, however it is just personal preference as to the style you prefer.  Which camp do you fall into?  The earthy herbaceous style or the fruit forward full body style? 

Cheers!

 

~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~

Unoaked Chardonnay VQA 2009, $14.95
The temperatures in 2009 were cooler resulting in a wine that is fresh and slightly herbaceous.  The 2009 vintages was estate grown as all of the fruit came from St. David’s Bench, a vineyard located on the grounds of the College.  This is the first wine produced by the College that has a Stelvin enclosure (winespeak: screwcap).

 

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  This wine is polished pale yellow in colour.  The nose has intense aromas of citrus, green apple and cut grass which carry through to the palate.  This medium-bodied dry wine has great acidity with a relatively short citrus finish.  As a result of the acidity and fresh flavours this wine could easily be mistaken for a Sauvignon Blanc.  The price of $14.95 is also impressive.

Suggested Food Pairing:  Seafood risotto or poached salmon are potential pairing partners with this wine.  The tasting panel is recommending seared chicken and green beans amandine, which accompanies this e-Zine.

Cellaring: In general white wines are not intended to be aged.  For the 2009 vintage we recommend keeping this for 12 to 18 months.

 

Cabernet Sauvignon VQA 2007, $18.95

2007 was a hot year with near draught conditions.  These factors will naturally ‘stress’ the vine.  As a result, the vine will produce berries with a greater concentration of sugars and acids. Better berries will help the winemaker in creating a wine that is richer and more-full bodied. 

 

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  This is a classic Cabernet Sauvignon with aromas of fruit cake and cocoa; accented with herbaceous notes of bell pepper, tobacco leaf and pencil shavings.  On the palate the wine is very fruit forward with flavours of black berry and plum.  The acidity, concentration of fruit flavours and length of finish make this a quality wine at a very affordable price.

 

Suggested Food Pairing:  Grilled bacon-wrapped beef tenderloin or pasta with bolognaises sauce would work well with this wine.  For something different but easy to prepare the tasting panel is recommending Moroccan Spice Beef prepared in a slow cooker – the recipe is on the following pages.

 

Cellaring: This Cabernet Sauvignon is drinking now or if you so desire you could cellar it for 2 to 5 years.

Meritage VQA 2005 $32.95 (special price for Savvy Selections subscribers.  Regular $39.95)
In keeping with other Meritage (pronounced Merry-tage) wines this is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.   

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  The 2005 Meritage is dark ruby red with a complex nose of dark fruit, dark chocolate and  to the palate as you experience black current, cedar and pepper notes.  This medium-bodied dry wine has soft tannins and a noticeably long complex peppery finish.

Suggested Food Pairing:  Peppercorn steak or pork tenderloin with fruit chutney and fingerling potatoes would be a great match.  However, try the Beef & Pears recipe provided.  I especially like the fact that the dish is easy to prepare.  In addition to that the variety of flavours and textures nicely complements this wine.

Cellaring: The wine is already 5 years and as such we recommend either enjoying the wine now or if you wish it could cellar for another 3 years.


~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes for Optional Wines~Cabernet Sauvignon VQA 2006, $15.95
The climatic conditions in 2006 were not stellar.  In fact, 2006 was a wet year that lacked sunshine and heat.  The resulting fruit tends to lead to wines that are earthy and more vegetal in nature.

 

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  This ruby red wine falls on the herbaceous side of the aroma wheel with notes of bell pepper, leather and wet earth.  On the palate, there are noticeable flavours of cherry and plum along with cedar and leather.  The wine is dry with a medium tannic finish.  It is an excellent example of a Cabernet Sauvignon that is made in the Bordeaux style.

Suggested Food Pairing:  This wine would pair well with grilled red meats such as steak or lamb chops.

Cellaring: This wine could easily be cellared for another 4 years as the tannins do need some time to soften.

 

Meritage VQA 2007, $47.95
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Almost opaque Ruby red in colour.  It has a great nose of Christmas fruit cake, dark chocolate and stewed fruit with slight undertones of bell pepper.  On the palate it displays flavours of blackberry, dark cherry complemented with notes of smoke and cedar.  This is a full-bodied dry red wine.  The finish is long as the fruit flavours hang in there.

 

Suggested Food Pairing:  The complexity on the nose and palate along with the body of the wine transpire to make this a powerful wine.  We recommend a charcuterie platter of flavourful meats along with artisan cheeses.  For something different; gourmet burgers with blue cheese or feta would also be a great pairing.

 

Cellaring: This Meritage is drinking well now or it could be cellared for up to another 6 years.  

Dean’s List Savant Ice Wine 2008 VQA $69.95
This is a blend of 44% Cabernet Franc, 25% Merlot, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8 % Pinot Noir.  All of the grapes for this wine were harvest from the St. David’s Bench appellation which is part of the College’s campus; therefore the students had direct control over the management of the vineyard as well as the harvesting of the fruit that goes into this wine.    

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Amber in colour this 2008 ice wine displays aromas of lychee, peach cobbler and honey.  The aromas on the nose come through on the palate as you will taste honey and peach as well as hints of strawberry.  The wine is well balanced with a long sweet finish held together with mouth-watering acidity. On our first sip, everyone on the Savvy Selections tasting panel was speechless.  Someone broke the silence with the comment, “OMG this is YUMMMMMMMY”.

Suggested Food Pairing:  This wine is absolutely stunning on its own.  Alternatively, it would be a great accompaniment to a selection of artisan cheeses from Ontario.

Cellaring: This would make wine can be enjoyed now.  As a result of the fruit and acidity in the wine it can easily cellar for 3 to 5 years.

 

~ Recipes to Enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~

With Niagara College Unoaked Chardonnay…

Seared Chicken and Green Beans Amandine
From LCBO Food & Drink Magazine, Holiday 2007

Serves 4

Ingredients
4 large skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

½ tsp (2 mL) salt

½ lemon

1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil

¾ lb (375g) thin fresh green beans

3 large plum tomatoes

4 oz (125 g) bacon or 4 to 6 slices

½ cup (125 g) slices or slivered almonds, divided

1 tbsp (15 mL) all purpose flour

½ cup (125 mL) chicken broth

½ cup (125 mL) dry white wine

½ tsp (2 mL) pepper

½ cup (125 mL) whipping cream

¼ cup (50 mL) chopped fresh parsley

Method

1.    Place chicken pieces between plastic wrap; flatten to ¾ – inch (2-cm) thickness using the flat side of a meat pounder or rolling pin.  Arrange in a single layer in a glass 9 x 13 inch (3-L) dish; sprinkle both sides with salt. Zest and juice lemon; sprinkle zest over chicken.  Whisk oil with squeezed juice; pour over chicken.  Let stand at 30 minutes at room temperature, turning once or twice.  (If making ahead cover and refrigerate for up to half a day.)

 

2.    Remove stems from green beans; cut tomatoes lengthwise, seed and dice.  Add 1 inch (2.5 cm) water to a medium saucepan or steamer; place over low heat.  Cut bacon crosswise into ¼-inch (5-mm) slices.  Have all ingredients ready before next step as this is a la minute cooking.

 

3.    Place almonds in a dry large frying pan over medium heat; shake frequently for 3 to 4 minutes or until almonds are golden.  Transfer to a bowl to cool; return frying pan to a heat.  Add bacon.  Fry for 5 to 8 minutes or until browned and crisp; remove bits for pan to a paper towel.  Do not drain fat from hot pan.

 

4.    Drain chicken and discard marinade.  Leaving all fat in pan, increase temperature to between medium and medium-high; add chicken.  Sauté 6 to 8 minutes per side or until golden and firm to touch.  Boil water in saucepan; boil or steam green beans for 4 to 5 minutes or until bright green and barely tender; drain and keep warm.  Remove chicken from pan; keep warm.

 

5.    Drain and discard all but 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of fat in pan.  Add flour to fat in pan; stir to mix.  Slowly stir in chicken broth and white wine; when smooth and just bubbling, add tomatoes and bacon bits.  Cook 1 minute; stir in pepper, cream, half of toasted almonds and parsley.  Let bubble for a minute or 2 or until slightly thickened.  Taste and add pinches of salt if needed.

 

6.    Arrange chicken and beans on warm serving plates.  Nap with sauce and garnish with remaining almonds and additional chopped parsley.  Serve with basmati rice or mashed potatoes.

 

With Niagara College Cabernet Sauvignon…

Moroccan-Spiced Beef
From 175 Essential Slow Cooker Classics 
Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients
1 tbsp (15 mL) vegetable oil

2 lbs (1 kg) stewing beef, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch (2.5cm) cubes and patted dry

2 onions, chopped

4 large carrots peeled and chopped

4 large parsnips peeled and chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp (5 mL) cracked black peppercorns

1 cinnamon stick piece

2 tbsp (30 mL) cumin seeds, toasted and ground

2 tsp (10 mL) coriander seeds, toasted and ground

2 tbsp (30 mL) all purpose flour

1 can (28 oz / 796 mL) tomatoes, drained and chopped

1 tbsp (15 mL) tomato paste

1 cup beef stock

½ cup (120 mL) dry red wine

½ tsp (2 mL) cayenne pepper

1 tbsp (15 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice

 

Method

1.  In a skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat for 30 seconds.  Add beef, in batches, and cook, stirring, adding a bit more oil if necessary, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes per batch.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer to slow cooker stoneware.

 

2.  Reduce heat to medium.  Add onions, carrots and parsnips to pan and cool, stirring, until carrots are softened, about 7 minutes.  Add garlic, peppercorns, cinnamon stick and toasted seeds and cook, stirring constantly for about 1 minute.  Add flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.  Add tomatoes, tomato paste, stock and red wine and bring to a boil, stirring.  Add salt to taste.

 

3.  Transfer to slow cooker stoneware.  Cover and cook on Low for 8 hours or on High for 4 hours, until vegetables are tender.  Dissolve cayenne in lemon juice and stir into mixture.  Garnish liberally with parsley before serving.

 

4.  Service with couscous or brown rice.  

 

Note: This dish can be partially prepared before it is cooked.  Complete Step 2, heating 1 tbsp (15 mL) oil in pan before softening the vegetables.  Cover and refrigerate mixture overnight.  The next morning, brown beef (Step 1), or it you are pressed for time, omit this step and add meat directly to stoneware.  Continue cooking as directed in Step 3. 


 

With Niagara College Meritage…

Beef and Pears in Wine

From Company’s Coming Weekend Cooking,
Serves 4

 

Ingredients
1 to 1 ½ (450 – 680 g) beef tenderloin roast

2 tsp (10 mL) cooking oil
4 tsp (20 mL) cooking oil
4 tbsp (60 mL) finely chopped onion

2 cup (500 mL) dry red wine

4 tbsp (60 mL) red currant jelly

4 tsp (20 mL) Dijon mustard
2 firm medium pear, peeled, cored and quartered

 

Method

1.     Place roast on greased wire rack in small roasting pan.  Drizzle with first amount of cooking oil.  Sprinkle with pepper.  Cook uncovered, in 350°F (175°C) oven for 40 to 45 minutes until meat thermometer reads 140°F (60°C) for medium doneness or until desired doneness.  Cover with foil and let stand for 10 minutes.

 

2.     Heat second amount of cooking oil in medium saucepan on medium-low.  Add onion.  Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft.  Add wine, jelly and mustard.  Heat and stir on medium until jelly is liquid.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low.

 

3.     Add pear to wine, jelly and mustard mixture.  Simmer, uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pear is soft.  Remove pear and keep warm.

 

4.     Strain wine mixture.  Discard solids.  Return wine mixture to same saucepan.  Boil, uncovered, on medium-high for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened.  Makes 1/3 cup (75 mL) sauce.  Drizzle sauce over sliced beef and pear on individual plates.

 

5.     Serve with seasonal vegetables and garlic mashed potatoes

 

 

 

 

Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!

 

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First a winery in Tuscany… now a winery in Niagara

Posted by Susan

Friday, June 18th, 2010
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Savvy Selections wine of the month club
features Alvento Winery
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep
 

On a warm day in March this year, a team of Savvy Sommeliers – Susan, Wayne, Julie & Doug – met up with Bruno Moos & Elyane Grenier, the friendly couple who are co-owners of Alvento Winery. While the foursome wandered through the vineyards on this spring-like day with Bruno, he expressed his concern about the vines due to the mild winter & early warm weather. Like all grape growers, he is constantly watching Mother Nature’s effect in his vineyard & experimenting at every stage of the growing season. When we visit wineries, we often hear winemakers say, “wine is made in the vineyard” – what happens in the vineyard is just as (or more important) than what happens during harvest & in the cellar.

 

This deeply rooted couple has a rich history that helps explain how their approach to viticulture & winemaking at Alvento. Elyane & Bruno met in Montreal in 1975. Bruno was trained as an architect, yet his wine connection is with his Swiss grandparents who were winemakers & his father was a wine connoisseur. When the couple tired of city living & the long Canadian winters, their thoughts turned to living a more rural lifestyle & to living ‘from the land’. In 1983, they moved to Europe, traveling through the wine regions of Spain & Italy looking for just the right location for a winery of their own. They found it in the hills of Tuscany, near Pisa, where Soiana Winery was born – on the site of an ancient fortress that had been destroyed during the war of 1498 between Florence & Pisa. Their 100-metre cellar was beneath the castle ruins, part of the original fortification.

 

The 1980s was a time of crisis in the Italian wine industry – vineyards were readily available, winemakers were challenged to find buyers for their product in a marketplace inundated with inexpensive & low-quality wine. Elyane & Bruno reminisce about the great fortune they had when they met the experienced & knowledgeable local viticulturalists & winemakers, who helped them establish their Soiana. “We learned the hard way, yet were also very lucky. We met Piero Salvadori, a retired winery owner & oenologist with generations of knowledge of viticulture & wine making. He agreed to share his knowledge with one condition: that we commit to work hard & make the best wine in Italy. In addition to this wealth of information, we were fortunate to live next door to Renzo Belcari, whose family had their own winery for generations & gained his skills from notable Professor Racca – a teacher at Pisa University who had developed specialized pruning methods & other very meticulous viticulture practices after the phyloxera crisis”, recalls Bruno.

 

Soiana wines first become known in Northern Europe, while Tuscan wines became an alternative to French wines. With the advent of Super Tuscans, which Soiana was producing using rigorously selected grapes & low yields, the winery gained international profile & a reputation for high quality wine. Their commitment to hard work was rewarded; soon their wines had a cult following & were sold out before they were released. Soiana is the pedigree of Alvento – read on to learn about Bruno & Elyane’s move back to Canada & the creation of Alvento.

 

We’re pleased to featured three unique Alvento wines (from different vintages):

§   Alvento Vio VQA 2007

§   Alvento Emilie VQA 2006

§   Alvento Elige VQA 2005

 

Enjoy these fine wines & matching recipes – one was provided by Elyane. We’re just a click away should you wish to order more Alvento wines or others featured in the Savvy Selections. If your travels take you to Niagara, Bruno & Elyane would be delighted to welcome you to Alvento.

 

Cheers & Enjoy!

Debbie & Savvy Team

 

 

ALVENTO WINERY
Presented by Sommelier Susan Desjardins

 

After much consideration, Bruno & his wife Elyane decided to move back to Canada, after selling Soiana in 1999. About 10 years earlier, they had met Morrie Neiss, a Montreal businessman, philanthropist & wine collector. Over a number of years, Morrie & his wife visited the couple & participated in the harvest at Soiana. When Bruno & Elyane decided to establish a winery in Niagara, he partnered with them.

They searched for a property where they could implement some of the techniques they had learned through their years in Tuscany. In 2001, they found a 5-acre fruit orchard on the current site in Vineland. Says Elyane, “The land was planted as an orchard with cherries, peaches, pears, apples and plums. Cherry & peach trees are an indicator of good land for vines, according to Tuscan wisdom. And the property is near Lake Ontario and takes advantage of the cool breeze in the summer, facilitating photosynthesis even on very hot days.”

Most of the vines were planted in 2001: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot & Vigonier – using tightly spaced planting techniques to reduce yields but increase the concentration of the fruit. In 2002, Bruno decided to plant Nebbiolo, as he felt this grape could do well in Niagara given that it grows at quite high altitudes in Piemonte, Italy. The winery was named Alvento (translation: facing the wind) since the wind is omnipresent in the vineyard.

The wind did seem to be blowing against them for a few years! Although the vines grew quickly, the cold winter of 2003 destroyed the buds on the vines. While the roots survived, the new growth demanded substantial pruning to control the vigorous growth and to shape the vines for future production. Hard to believe, but this happened again in 2004 & 2005. Despite these setbacks, they were more determined than ever to create the wines they dreamed of at Alvento. Like their neighbours, they invested in a wind machine to protect the vines from the cold.

Finally, in 2006, the weather co-operated & they were able to harvest their first grapes & produce their first commercial vintage.

Their focus is on three different styles of Bordeaux-type blends:

          Elige is in the style of Medoc (a wine region in France)

          Sondra in the style of Pomerol

          Emilie in the style of St-Emilion.

These three blends were aged 18 months in Burgundian-style oak barrels.

In terms of white wines, only Viognier is crafted. Viognier is a popular grape variety stemming from France that is now starting to grow in other countries. The 2007 Viognier included in your Savvy Selections is unoaked unlike the previous vintage (it was interesting to try the 2 vintages side by side to taste the difference). They expect to release the 2007 reds later this year or early next. As our subscribers know from other Savvy eZine reports, 2007 was an outstanding vintage in Ontario – we look forward to tasting Bruno’s reds!

Bruno explains, “We spend many, many hours in the vineyard taking care of the vines. What we learned in Italy is that you cannot make a great wine without excellent grapes. Many of the practices of oenology consist of adding substances to the wine that in reality imitate the qualities of grapes that are fully mature. To obtain that level and character, grapes have to be continuously attended to by hand to make sure that there is no rot or that there is no over production. It takes many hours of vineyard work and it can not be done by machine. While you cannot cut corners in the cellar, or use inadequate equipment, the most sophisticated apparatus & the use of the most recent oenological innovations cannot replace good mature grapes.”

While these wines come to you, the Alvento team – Bruno, Elyane & Greg, their assistant – continue to monitor the vines. Spring warmth was followed by a cold snap, but with the help of their wind machine, the vines were saved. Greg, who completes his diploma in Oenology & Viticulture this year & who will become a father in September, is convinced this will be a good vintage – he’ll be putting aside a few bottles to open on his child’s eighteenth birthday!

Cheers & Enjoy!

-Susan

 

~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~

Alvento Vio 2007 VQA, $25.95

Produced from hand-harvested grapes, this Viognier was fermented sur lie (winespeak: with the yeast) in stainless steel to retain the lively fruit aromas and flavours.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Pale gold & clear, the wine has a subtle & appealing nose of sweet stone fruit & light notes of white flowers & pineapple. It’s a dry mid-weight wine, with fresh vibrant flavours of ripe apricots, juicy nectarines & a hint of exotic tropical fruits with a splash of citrus. Lively acidity & fresh fruits linger on the finish.

Suggested Food Pairing:  Slightly chilled, this wine will pair well with fresh summer salads, grilled fish, or light appetizers.

Cellaring:  Drinking well now, this wine may be cellared for up to 2 more years.

 

 

Alvento Elige 2005 VQA, $24.95

A blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Cabernet Franc and 20% Merlot, this blend went through malolactic fermentation in stainless, followed by aging for 18 months in part new, part seasoned Burgundian barrels.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  A regal, semi-opaque ruby, this elegant wine offers rich & complex aromas of berries, vanilla, sweet spice and some underlying notes of cedar and exotic dried fruits. It’s dry, with ripe well-integrated tannins, fresh cherry and red berry fruit—raspberry and field strawberries—and underlying notes of toast and cocoa. Medium bodied, it has lovely balance and a lengthy finish.  . 

Suggested Food Pairing: Bring on the beef!  Elyane has shared one of her special recipes for this wine on the following pages.

Cellaring:  Designed to be aged, the wine would benefit from decanting for about an hour if you plan to enjoy it now.

 

 

Alvento Emilie 2006 VQA $23.95

Grown on the sandy loam of Alvento’s waterfront property, the grapes for this unique blend were tended by hand on the vine & hand harvested – as with all Alvento grapes. The blend includes 70% Cabernet Franc & 30% Merlot, fermented in similar fashion to the Elige, & aged 18 months in French barrels, a slightly higher proportion of them being new.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Displaying a well-defined garnet hue, this wine displays alluring aromas of chocolate, exotic spice, sweet kitchen herbs (bay and sage), black fruits, vanilla & toast. It’s dry, medium-full bodied, with silky round tannins, pleasant crispness & ripe fruity flavours of field berries underlaid with tangy hints of pepper. Well balanced, with well-integrated toasty oak notes, it delivers a full-flavoured and lingering finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: A classic match for this food-friendly wine would be grilled lamb or beef, or later in the year, a hearty vegetable and beef ragout .

Cellaring:  This wine will also age well and benefits from decanting. Our tasting panel noted that the wine changed dramatically in the glass!

 

~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~

With Alvento Vio VQA…

Grilled Chicken & Mushroom Salad

From LCBO Food & Drink Magazine

Serves 4-6

Ingredients
1/3 C extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 clove garlic, minced
2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
6 oz. oyster mushrooms, trimmed

4 0z. shitake mushrooms, stemmed
8 C mixed greens

1 Tbsp lemon juice

2 tsp Dijon or grainy mustard

Freshly ground pepper

 

Method

1.      In a large bowl, combine 2 Tbsp of the oil, mustard, rosemary & garlic. Add chicken and turn to coat. Place on greased grill over medium-high heat & grill chicken, turning once, for about 12 minutes or until no longer pink inside. Remove to cutting board & slice thinly.

 

2.      Toss mushrooms with 1-2 Tbsp oil & place on greased grill over medium-high heat. Grill, turning once, for about 5 minutes or until tender and golden. Remove to plate.   

 

3.      Place greens on large platter and top with sliced grilled chicken and mushrooms.

 

4.      Whisk together remaining oil, lemon juice, mustard and pepper to taste and drizzle over salad. Enjoy!

 

 

With Alvento Elige VQA …

Tagliata with Arugula

From the kitchen of Elyane Grenier, Alvento Winery

Serves 4

Ingredients
¼ C balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ lb. beef tenderloin
2 Tbsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 Tbsp coarse salt
2 C sliced arugula
1 lemon, halved

High quality extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling

Parmigiano Reggiano cheese shavings

 

Method

1.   Preheat oven to 350F. Whisk first 3 ingredients in a small bowl. 

 

2.   Place beef on platter, spoon marinade over and turn to coat completely. Let stand 1 hour. Sprinkle meat all over with salt & pepper. Heat olive oil in heavy large ovenproof skillet over high heat. Add beef and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes (the meat may be grilled on the BBQ) 

 

3.   Transfer beef to platter and let rest 10 minutes.

 

4.   Slice beef thinly and divide among 4 plates. Drizzle any juices from platter over beef. Sprinkle with salt & top with arugula. Squeeze lemon over, then drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

 

5.   Enjoy with Alvento Elige!

 

 

With Alvento Emilie VQA…

Peppered Beef with Balsamic Strawberry Relish

Serves 4

Ingredients
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp whole peppercorns, cracked
1 clove garlic, minced
1 ½ lb. grilling steak (~ 1” thick)

Strawberry Relish
1 ½ C chopped strawberries
3 Tbsp chopped red onion
2 Tbsp chopped sweet yellow pepper (optional)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 ½ tsp granulated sugar
Salt & pepper to taste

Method

1.  In a small bowl, combine mustard, cracked peppercorns, garlic; rub an even coating on both sides of meat. Grill steak over high heat or broil for about 4 minutes each side for medium-rare, or until desired degree of doneness.

2.  For the relish: In a bowl, combine strawberries, onion, yellow pepper, parsley, vinegar, oil, sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Slice steak thinly across the grain and serve with a dollop of the strawberry relish.  

 

Cheers & Enjoy!

 

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