Posts Tagged ‘Favorite recipes with wine suggestions’

Celebrate with Award Winning Canadian Cheeses!

Posted by Vanessa

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

This month’s Savvy Cool Curds selection pays tribute to the Canadian Cheese Awards, and the best artisan cheeses in Canada. Launched in 2014 by Georgs Kolesnikovs, founder of The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, and staunch supporter of the Canadian artisan cheese industry, the Canadian Cheese Awards are the first of their kind, inclusive of all milk types and all provinces across our nation. AND Georgs is a Savvy Cool Curds subscriber too!

Judging for the Canadian Cheese Awards takes place every second year. Beyond many category winners there is one ultimate champion, named Cheese Of The Year. It was just announced that this year, Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar, from COWS Creamery in Prince Edward Island took home the of Cheese of The Year title. Our long time subscribers will remember Avonlea as we sent you 2 chunks of it in the Savvy Cool Curds February feature.

This month’s selection is from those cheesemakers who only have a few types of cheeses – not enough for a full feature in Savvy Cool Curds. The other award winners will be showcased in upcoming months. Stay tuned!

 In your Savvy Cool Curds you will find…

…hard-to-find and delicious award-winning artisan cheeses including:savvy_coolcurds_Colour

-Sabot de Blanchette (Natural)
-Le Paillasson de L’Isle D’Orléans
-Le Baluchon
-Old Growler
-Dragon’s Breath Blue

Crazy for more medal winning cheeses? 

Would you like more cheese from this month’s Savvy Cool Curds? Just call our Savvy Team & we’ll arrange a special shipment for you (if it is still available that is!). Put us on speed dial – Savvy Cool Curds Hotline 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or

Vanessa & the Savvy Team

Canadian Cheese Award Winners

by Vanessa Simmons, Cheese Sommelier

Canada is home to over 1500 different varieties and types of cheeses. While not all of them are considered artisanal, about half make that grade. There are also a handful of cheese awards through a number of industry organizations, recognizing the crème de la crème of cheeses in various categories, however The Canadian Cheese Awards is the first and only cheese competition in this country that considers all milk types such as cow, goat, sheep and water buffalo from all provinces. This means cheeses are made with 100% natural Canadian milk, with no artificial colors, flavours, preservatives and no modified milk ingredients.

Earlier this year, on February 18 & 19th, 12 judges (myself included!) gathered at the University of Guelph, Department of Food Science, for a two-day cheese tasting experience like no other, presided over by Dr. Arthur Hill.

So many cheeses…

vanessaA whopping 301 entries were submitted by artisan cheesemakers from British Columbia to Prince Edward Island, and all the provinces in between. There is an official process for cheese submission, which remains anonymous to both judges and the general public. Cheesemongers and cheese industry professionals manage the reception and storage of cheese to ensure secrecy and that quality is maintained during the judging process. Judges are recognized in the industry for their deep expertise in artisan cheese.

Overall the goals of The Canadian Cheese Awards are to determine and promote the best cheeses in Canada for all milks, to provide honest and constructive feedback to cheesemakers on their cheeses and create a symbol of excellence in Canadian cheese that consumers and the industry alike will recognize.

A winning recipe

Judging happens in teams of two in each of 17 categories, one person evaluating aesthetics and one evaluating the technical aspects of each entry. Both consider aroma, appearance, texture and flavor. Marks are given by the aesthetic judge for superior qualities of those 4 areas. Marks are deducted by technical judges for any faults noticed in the cheese. Both strive to uncover nuances of terroir, character, flavor profile, and differences that make the cheese standout and unique, worth of being best in it’s class. Not just any old cheese makes the grade. This is very similar to how we decide which cheeses and cheesemakers make it to Savvy Cool Curds – we want to WOW you! At the end of two days of tasting over 301 cheeses, 78 finalists rose to the top, in 31 categories including contenders for Cheese of the Year.

The who’s who of the Canadian cheese industry gathered in April at the Time Supper Club in Montreal for the Awards Ceremony, naming all category winners and Cheese of the Year –Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar, followed by a packed-house Awards Tasting Gala for the general public and media (we’ll make sure all Savvy Cool Curds subscribers get an invite for 2018!) and giant cheese tasting party!

CDN cheese awards

Put your tasting hat on!

We’re thrilled to bring you Fromagerie F.X. Pichet Le Baluchon (2014 Cheese of the Year winner) – born of a love story which dates back to when the owners Michel Pichet & Marie-Claude Harvey of Sainte-Anne-De-La-Pérade, Québec were high school sweethearts, and reunited later in life. Fromagerie La Suisse Normande’s Sabot de Blanchette (2016 Best Soft Cheese) is a stunning little goat milk pyramid from Lanaudière, Quebec (a quick stop off Hwy 40 on the way to Montreal). Old Growler and Dragon’s Breath Blue from That Dutchman’s Farm from Upper Economy, Nova Scotia are rare finds in Ontario. Le Paillasson de L’Isle D’Orléans, said to be the first cheese
produced in America, of Fromagerie de L’Isle D’Orléans, Quebec is a fun grilling cheese experience…it is no wonder it was awarded 2016 Best Grilling Cheese.

Cheese Tasting Notes

Below are Vanessa’s tasting notes for each cheese in your Savvy Cool Curds, along with additional tidbits of interesting information, suggested food pairings & recipes to try too!

Sabot de Blanchette

Sabot de BlanchetteBest Bloomy Rind Cheese 2016

Inspired by their European cultures (Swiss & French), this fromagerie’s products are a marriage made in heaven and leaving their mark in Québec.  Cheeses are made from goats raised on the farm, in true “fermier” (farmstead) fashion.

Tasting Notes: This soft-surface-ripened goat’s milk cheese has a unique pyramid shape, with a lovely, natural, slightly wrinkled, soft moldy rind, that on occasion displays spots of blue.  The paste is creamy, velvety & white, firm towards the center, & acidity and yeasty tang on the palate.

Suggested Pairing: Try with a crisp dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris. Enjoy spread on fruit & nut crackers, smeared with seasonal compote (rhubarb or strawberry).


Le Paillasson de l’Isle D’Orléans

Le Paillasson de l’Isle D’OrléansBest Grilling Cheese 2016

Paillasson is special cheese somewhat like an uncooked marshmallow, its unique character doesn’t fully shine until it’s fried or grilled, lending to its melty (but not melted) properties. Best always served warm.

Tasting Notes: This fresh, unripened semi-soft grilling cheese has milky aromas. When heated in a skillet or over a grill, flavors go from bland to boom becoming all melted butter and toasted nut, complete with the crispy bits we all love (just like your favorite grilled cheese without the bread!)

Suggested Pairing: Enjoy sliced wedges with spicy chorizo on a toothpick as a snack, wrap with prosciutto as an appetizer, serve as a side or centerpiece garnish to a local mixed green salad. 


Le Baluchon

Le Baluchon Best FarmsteadBest Farmstead Cheese 2016
Best Organic Cheese 2016
Cheese of the Year 2014

Le Baluchon is an example of organic products, created through systems and processes that are more sustainable and harmonious with their environments (soil, animals, people, and plants).  Generally lower tech operations and milk sourced from pasture-based farms (if not their own) is used where animals are free of hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers or chemicals.

Tasting Notes: Le Baluchon is a farmstead, washed-rind, certified “Québec Vrai” organic raw cow’s milk cheese aged for 60 days.  Notice harvest colors of apricot/orange/terracotta in the rind with a thin white dusty layer that develops as the cheese ages. Inside, a bright golden yellow semi-firm creamy paste showing small holes glistens in sunlight.  Made OKA-style, it has similar characteristics: a gritty textured rind, toasted hazelnut flavors, and pungent barny aromas.

 Suggested Pairing: Melted as Raclette or enjoyed with an oaky Canadian Chardonnay.


Old Growler

Best Gouda Cheese 2016Old Growler

Old Growler is a more mature (and the most popular) of The Dutchman’s Goudas.  Born of a surplus of older cheeses, they decided to name it, and sell it at eighteen months.

 Tasting Notes: Traditional aged Gouda characteristics starting to show – more pale gold hued open paste with eyes (pinholes) and crystals forming, firm to hardening texture, malty aromas developing with much stronger & lingering caramel flavor over milk with a bit of bite.

Suggested Pairing: A favourite pairing with this cheese is Michael Dolce Peach Cardamom Jam, or local stone fruit based marmalade. Enjoy with a Canadian Pinot Gris.


Dragon’s Breath Blue

Best Blue Cheese 2016dragons breathe blue

A rare find and multi-award winner, Dragon’s Breath Blue is a closely guarded family secret.

 Tasting Notes: Unique in shape and size, these small cylinders of blue cheese are aged only a few weeks then coated with wax for ripening another 2-6 months.  The flavor and texture varies by season, more buttery/creamy in the summer months with higher fat content in the milk.  Note sharp blue flavor, moist texture with fruity notes, and little blue veining depending on exposure to air. Tip: Pop a small slice of the top off and leave it uncovered for 24-48 hrs. to develop more blue veining.

 Suggested Pairing: Pair with a Canadian Gamay or Pinot Noir. Melt wedges into phyllo pastry squares and garnish.



 Recipes to enjoy with the featured cheeses


With Sabot de Blanchette

Spring Salad with Honeyed Rhubarb and Goat Cheese

The Ottawa Citizen’s Laura Robin

IngredientsSpring Salad with Honeyed Rhubarb and Goat Cheese

¾ lb. (340 g) rhubarb (about 7 slender stalks),
cut into ¾-inch (2-cm) pieces
¼ cup (60 mL) honey
½ cup (125 mL) walnut halves
2 Tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
2 Tbsp (30 mL) white balsamic vinegar
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 bunches arugula (about 12 cups/3 L), tough stems removed
1 small fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
½ cup (25 mL) goat cheese, crumbled
3 Tbsp (45 mL) fresh snipped chives (optional)


Preheat oven to 450 F (230 C) with racks in upper and lower thirds. On a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil, toss rhubarb pieces with honey. Roast on upper rack until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, on another rimmed baking sheet, toast walnuts on lower rack until fragrant, about 5 minutes.

Let rhubarb cool on pan. Cool walnuts, and then chop coarsely.

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Toss arugula and fennel with the vinaigrette. Top the salad with the rhubarb, walnuts, goat cheese and chives.


With Le Paillasson de L’Isle D’Orléans…                    

Grilling Cheese with Cranberry & Pistachios

Dairy Goodness All You Need Is Cheese

IngredientsGrilling Cheese with Cranberry & Pistachios

1/4 cup (60 mL) unsalted shelled pistachios
3 Tbsp (45 mL) sugar, divided
1/2 cup (125 mL) frozen cranberries
1/2 cup (125 mL) cranberry juice
8 oz. (250 g) Canadian grilling cheeseLe Paillasson de L’Isle D’Orléans


In a small skillet, toast pistachios on medium heat with 2 tbsp. (30 mL) sugar. Cook until sugar becomes golden brown and sticks to pistachios.

Transfer to a parchment-lined plate. Once pistachios have cooled, coarsely chop.

In a small saucepan, mix cranberries, cranberry juice and remaining sugar. Bring to a boil, cover and cook for 5 minutes or until cranberries are tender. Using an upright or hand blender, purée mixture until smooth.

Heat a non-stick skillet on medium heat. Grill cheeses for 3–4 minutes on each side. You can also place cheeses on a parchment-lined baking sheet and grill in the oven, preheated to 450°F (230°C), for 4–5 minutes on each side.

Serve hot on top of cranberry coulis, garnished with crispy pistachios.


With Le Baluchon…

Tartlets with Baluchon and Caramelized Onions

Les Producteurs de lait du Quebec – Our Cheeses

Tartlets with Baluchon and Caramelized Onions Ingredients

12 Tartlet Crusts (Store-bought)
250 ml (1 cup) Le Baluchon Cheese, rind removed, grated
2 eggs
250 ml (1 cup) of 15% cream
1 pinch of ground nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Caramelized Onions

45 ml (3 Tbsp) butter
250 ml (1 cup) pearl onions
30 ml (2 Tbsp) sugar
15 ml (1 Tbsp) balsamic vinegar
15 ml (1 Tbsp) fresh rosemary, chopped


Preheat oven to 400° F (200° C).

Bake tartlets for 10 minutes or until crusts are golden.

Whisk cheese, eggs, cream and nutmeg in the food processor until the mixture is smooth. Add salt and pepper.

Fill tartlets with the cheese mixture.

Garnish with caramelized onions.

Bake for 10 more minutes or until the filling is golden.


Caramelized Onions

In a large frying pan, melt the butter and brown the onions for 5 minutes.

Add the sugar and the balsamic vinegar.

Continue cooking for 5 minutes until the onions are caramelized and add the rosemary.


With Old Growler

Gouda Asparagus Pesto

Dairy Goodness All You Need Is Cheese

IngredientsGouda Asparagus Pesto

¼ cup (60 mL) raw almonds
2 cloves garlic
1 bunch of asparagus (about ¾ lb. – 350 g), cut into 1˝ (2.5 cm) pieces
1 1/4 cup (60 mL) olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup (125 mL) Canadian Aged Gouda – Old Growler, finely grated


In a food processor, chop almonds and garlic.

Add asparagus and process until finely chopped.

Continue to process while gradually pouring in oil.

Season generously with salt and pepper, and add cheese.

Transfer to a jar and seal with a lid. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.


With Dragon’s Breath Blue

Marinated Hangar Steak with Dragon’s Breath Blue Cheese


 IngredientsMarinated Hangar Steak with Dragon’s Breath Blue Cheese

Hangar steak (recipe works great with flank, skirt, tenderloin and any grilling beef you choose).


½ cup red wine
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 tsp dry mustard
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp dried thyme or rosemary
2 tsp dried basil
3 large cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tsp freshly ground pepper


Romaine hearts, torn into bite sized chunks
1 sweet red pepper, seeded and cut into chunks
1/2 English cucumber, chunked
Dragon’s Breath Blue Cheese

Chef Craig Flinn’s Awesome Vinaigrette
3 anchovy fillets
1 shallot, very finely minced
1 clove garlic, minced to pulp
2 tsp Dijon mustard
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste
½ cup extra virgin olive oil


For the vinaigrette:

Smash anchovy fillets in a bowl with a fork and add the shallot and garlic.

Add the mustard, lemon juice & zest, vinegar, salt & pepper and whisk until smooth. Add the oil in a slow steady stream while whisking until the vinaigrette is smooth and emulsified. Makes ¾ cup and will keep refrigerated for a couple of weeks.

For the steak/salad

In a large Ziplock bag, combine all the marinade ingredients and blend well. Add the prepared hanger steak (or whatever other cut you choose), coat well with the marinade and massage. You can let the meat marinate on the counter for a couple of hours before grilling or refrigerate for up to 48 hours. If refrigerating, bring the meat to room temperature before cooking.

To grill with bbq/ grill pan/ electric grill/ broiler… whatever you have – heat to high and grill for 3-4 minutes, turn the meat, lower the temp a bit and continue to grill for 4 minutes for medium rare. That’s how long for flank steak, but hanger steak being thicker will require more time. Turn the heat down to medium so it will not char, and turn every 4 minutes until done to your liking.

Remove from the grill and place on a plate, flipping the hot side (closest to the grill) on top and refrigerate for 5 minutes. Then slice on the diagonal, across the grain to serve.

While the steaks are grilling, place the torn romaine hearts and chunks of red peppers & cucumbers into a large serving bowl. Toss with vinaigrette.

Once the steaks are sliced, place them on top of the salad and crumble the cheese over top.


Enjoy your Savvy Cool Curds!




Hodge Podge – a summertime favorite!

Posted by Debbie

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

This is a family favourite in my house.  Both of my parents are from Nova Scotia and ask any Bluenosers about Hodge Podge and their reaction is usually – “yummy!” Loaded with any fresh veggies from the garden or picked up at the farmers market. Left overs (usually not much at my house!) are just good as the first time around.

It is important that the freshest veggies are used, so this is definitely a summer recipe. Use whatever you have on hand (that you would usually boil or steam) & tinker around by adding different vegetables and quantities … the bacon is a must!

Hodge Podge – Fresh Garden Vegetable Chowder

6 to 8 slices bacon – cooked until crispy
2 tablespoons butter
1 to 2 onions – roughly chopped

Any 4 to 6 of the following fresh vegetables:
12 small whole new potatoes – a mix of red & white are my favorite
1 head of cauliflower
1 1/2 cups baby carrots
1 cup fresh green or yellow beans, trimmed and snapped
1 cup fresh peas – use either snow peas or shucked peas
1 cup of yellow or green zucchini – cubed
2 or 3 cobs of corn – boiled & kernels cut off
salt & fresh ground pepper – to taste
1/4 cup butter – cubed
½ cup  to 1 cup 2% milk (or if you like – cream!)
1/2 cup water


Cook the bacon in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Crumble and set aside.

Wipe the skillet with a paper towel leaving just enough bacon fat to lightly fry the onions. Reheat skillet on medium heat & stir in the chopped onion. Cook until the onion has softened. Set aside.

In a large pot, bring 3 or so cups of water to a boil.  Keep in mind that you want to boil the vegetables in an order where those that need the most time in the water are done first, then staged to those vegetables that need just a few minutes.  There is nothing worse than over boiled veggies! My suggestion is to begin with potatoes for 5-6 minutes, then add cauliflower until tender, then beans & carrots for 2 mins.  By the time you add zuchinni, peas & corn, the potatoes should be perfectly done!

Drain off all but 1 cup of the water (can pour into a bowl & use as vegetable stock for another recipe).  Return to low heat. Add onions.  Pour in enough milk to cover all of the vegetables in the pot. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Watch out that you do not boil the milk…just want to heat it through.

Add butter to melt & crumble in most of the bacon (set a handful of bacon aside). Stir gently.

Serve into large bowls & top with more bacon.

What bottle of wine to uncork?

This recipe begs for a full bodied white wine like a buttery oaked Chardonnay.  For something a bit lighter with more acidity, uncork a bottle of Chenin Blanc or Vouvray.  On the flip side – for fun – serve with a bottle of sparkling wine to toast in the best things of summer!



Winemaking talent shows through in Nyarai wines

Posted by Debbie

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

Featuring Nyarai Cellars
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep

Is it me or are there more younger winemakers arriving on the Canadian wine scene? In the past couple of months, I have attended wine industry conferences – Society of Wine Educators in Sacramento, California and Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival – where talented winemakers from every corner of the world were celebrated. It was interesting to see that a large number of these winemakers were under the age of 40!


With aspirations of one day owning their own winery, some new-to-the-industry winemakers have been provided the unique opportunity to create a virtual winery with their own label while working in the cellars of their employer’s winery. In Ontario, there are currently five winemakers who are crafting their ‘own label’ in this virtual winery setting.  In this month’s Savvy Selections, we are proud to introduce you to Steve Byfield and his new wines – labeled Nyarai Cellars – that he crafts in the cellars of Calamus Estates Winery in Niagara (featured in Savvy Selections in June 208).


Steve launched Nyarai Cellars just last month in time to be featured in the Savvy Selections.  This is an opportunity for you to sample Steve’s talent as you open the bottles of:

– Sauvignon Blanc VQA 2008 – Steve’s favorite white grape to work with

– Cabernet-Merlot VQA 2007– an easy drinking red wine to have on hand with BBQ fare

– Syrah VQA 2007 – an outstanding red wine that is turning heads


In this Savvy e-Zine, read more about how Steve’s involvement at a brew your own place was the stepping stone for a winemaking career.  In nine short years, Steve’s career includes making wine at five different Niagara wineries. As always, below you will find our Savvy Sommelier tasting notes and recipes chosen to pair with the selected Nyarai wines.


These wines are hard to come by!

You will definitely not see Nyarai wines at the LCBO. When you would like more of the wines or other wines from previously featured Savvy Selections, simply call me to (613-728-8926) make the arrangements for a delivery. The wine can be sent to any Ontario address: to your home, office – even your cottage!


Be forewarned….there are VERY few cases of Nyarai wines available.  Steve is predicting that the Sauvignon Blanc (he only made 126 cases) & Syrah will be sold out by September so don’t wait too long to contact me if you would like to re-order extra bottles.  When the reviews for these new wines get published, the wines could sell out quickly.


Here’s to the launch of Nyarai Cellars! 

Debbie & the Savvy Team

Follow me:

Nyarai Cellars
Presented by Sommelier Debbie Trenholm

The word Nyarai (pronounced Na-rye) literally jumped off the page when Steve was searching for a name to for his own wine. “Typically a winemaker will use his name on the label, but that is not my style”, explains winemaker Steve Byfield. “I was looking for a name that was more subtle, yet, still had a personal connection.”


Born and raised in St Catherine’s, Steve became interested in wine while working at a ‘Brew Your Own’ store.  Here, he had a hand in both beer & wine making on a small scale. 


Trained as a jazz musician & music educator, Steve decided to put both on the back burner to devote his time to develop his skills as an amateur winemaker.


He launched into a wine career during the whirlwind activity of the harvest of 2000.  Hired on as product consultant at Southbrook Vineyards (featured in Savvy Selections May 2008), during the five years at this winery, he was exposed to all aspects of commercial winemaking as he apprenticed as a winemaker. “There is nothing like jumping in with both feet.” remembers Steve about his first day on the job. “I realized that my chemistry was a bit rusty, so after work, I enrolled in courses to brush up.”


While at Southbrook, Steve was involved in the development of all wines. Southbrook’s famous Frambroise wine – made with raspberries – was one of the products that Steve had a hand in crafting each year.


In 2006, two small boutique wineries opened on the Beamsville Bench (aka Niagara Escarpment). Steve jumped at the opportunity to be assistant winemaker at both Ridgepoint Winery and Calamus Estates Winery.  The two wineries shared the equipment and services of a consulting winemaker and Steve as the assistant winemaker. Talk about expedited learning!  “I prefer hands on learning.  Everyday I walked through the vineyards checking the progress of the vines & grapes.  The best part was that I was always learning because I had two different wineries to oversee,” recalls Steve.


Talented and in hot demand, Steve helped the owners at Thomas and Vaughn Winery (also located in Beamsville) during the 2007 harvest. This harvest has been considered by many as the best harvest of the century.  Again, Steve talent showed through in the wines that he crafted.


Throughout all of this time, Steve, like many young winemakers had the pipedream of owning his own winery.  “I think that it is natural that we all think about it at some stage.” The running joke in the wine industry is that to make a million of profit, you need to start with 10 million dollars. Start up costs & large capital expenditures is the common obstacle for new winemakers. “When the owners at Calamus provided me the ability to create my own wine at their facility using their equipment – this was a dream come true. Having my own label allows me to develop my own expression & allows me to experiment to fine tune my winemaking skills.”


Steve & other virtual wineries source premium fruit from local grape growers or their own vineyards.  They make the wine in the cellars using the technology & equipment available to them in their host winery. Now that you know that this style of winery exists, keep these young winemakers on your radar as their labels are making an impression in the Ontario wine industry: Charles Baker at Stratus Vineyard, Kevin Panagapka at Featherstone Estate Vineyard (featured in Savvy Selections in January 2008) & Wes Lawry at Five Roads Winery all located in Niagara.  Frederic Picard at Huff Estates (featured in June 2007) is located in Prince Edward County.


The story of Nyarai

No doubt that Steve will be constantly telling the story & correcting our pronunciation of the unusual word Nyarai.  “I wanted a name that honoured history & celebrated my African-Canadian roots”, explained Steve.  Nyarai means to be humble or humility in the language of the Shona tribe – native people of Botswana & Zimbawe. “The name is fitting as I think it is a humbling process & experience to take fruit from the land to make wine”, states Steve.  Throughout his research, Steve found that Nyarai is often used as a girl’s name.  Have you met a woman named Nyarai?  Steve hasn’t – yet!


Does Steve ever stop?

With two winemaking jobs on the go, does Steve ever take time to unwind? “I will sometimes pick up my sticks & play the drums or sit down to the piano”, states Steve.  “By far though, my favorite way to relax is in the kitchen cooking for family and friends. Being a winemaker, I have the opportunity to meet and work with many great chefs to pair my wine with their specialties.  I am always trying new recipes or creating my own.” Steve shares one of his recipes with you below. 


Cheers & Enjoy!



~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~

Sauvignon Blanc VQA 2008, $18


With many options of quality grapes available to him, Steve wanted to focus on his love of Sauvignon Blanc grapes.  “I absolutely love working with Sauvignon Blanc grapes.  It is my goal to make Sauvignon Blanc my signature wine for Nyarai”. 


“You can smell the freshness as soon as the cap is untwisted”, commented Debbie during the Savvy Selections tasting panel.   


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: As you swirl this crisp, dry wine, refreshing aromas of lime, green melon & white grapefruit jump out of your glass. These aromas continue into the taste with a zingy key lime pie finish that lingers forever. A well made, elegant wine has loads of acidity – perfect to brighten our soggy summer weather!


Suggested Food Pairing: Serve chilled (at about 11C) on its own or with food – perfect for a picnic.  Try with scallops in lemon butter, pasta dishes topped with goat cheese or fresh from the garden steamed green beans tossed with butter and toasted almonds. Try your hand at the Cashew Encrusted Halibut with this wine provided by Chef Glen “Skip” Sansome of Petit Bill’s Bistro in Ottawa.


Cellaring: No need to wait…just chill this bottle and enjoy this summer.



Nyarai Cellars Cabernet Merlot VQA 2007, $18

What timing to start a new label – during the 2007 vintage when ripe fruit is plentiful. Named ‘Mother Nature’s gift to winemakers’, the 2007 vintage has created some of Ontario’s best wines.


A blend of 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc & 15% Syrah that was aged for 13 months in French oak. Steve made this wine with the intention to have on hand and serve with any meal.


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Concentrated aromas of black fruit (think fresh juicy black cherries or wild blackberries) that then integrates with flavours of warm spices (can you find cinnamon, nutmeg or cloves?). “There is black licorice woven in through the aromas, taste and finish”, comments Debbie during the Savvy Selections tasting panel. Medium bodied with just enough tannins that will be softened with a few years in the cellar or why wait….simply serve with a burger to see how the tannins smooth out.


Suggested Food Pairing: This well made wine is a perfect ‘weekday wine’.  Why not have a few bottles on hand to serve with BBQ fare – burgers or lamb chops, pizza, pasta or a hearty stew when the cool autumn nights come around.  Steve shares his Louisiana Blackened Catfish recipe to enjoy with this wine.


Cellaring: This wine is impressive as is. Enjoy now or cellar for 2 years to soften the tannins. Serve at 12C to 14C.

Nyarai Cellars Syrah VQA 2007, $18
This wine is a work of art! Steve’s talent as a winemaker shows through in each glass.  Made with the same grape variety of Australia’s infamous Shiraz, the main difference is that Syrah style (rooted in France) is typically not as bold & in-your-face as the Australian blockbuster counterpart.  Syrah is only just coming onto Niagara’s radar with a few grape growers & wineries working together to produce an impressive red wine. Steve is devoted to Syrah as he sees that it will become Nyarai’s signature red wine.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: “The elegant aromas of dark fruit prepare you for a masterpiece wine.” stated Debbie during the Savvy Selections tasting panel.  This full bodied wine has flavours of freshly brewed coffee, dark chocolate & dried figs dance all over your palate with a lingering blackberry finish. 

Suggested Food Pairing: This outstanding wine has good tannins that will soften as you enjoy with food. This wine is begging to be enjoyed with BBQed steak, beef tenderloin or prime rib with all the trimmings grilled vegetables. Slow Food Chef Roger Weldon of Ballygiblin’s Restaurant offers his Rack of Lamb with (not so spicy) Chimchurri Sauce. 

Cellaring: This wine is ready to serve right now or if you choose, it could cellar quite comfortably for 5 to 7 years to soften the tannins. Serve at 16C to 18C. 



~ Recipes to enjoy with the Savvy Selections ~

With Nyaria Cellars Sauvignon Blanc…

Cashew Encrusted Halibut with Citrus Aioli

Serves 5
From the kitchen of
Chef Glen “Skip” Sansome of Petit Bill’s Bistro located on Wellington Street in Ottawa

The Petit Bill’s Bistro is named in honour of the co-owners’ father – “Little Bill” Fitzpatrick. The Westboro restaurant offers a unique menu marrying fine French food with “down home” comfort, “speaking French with a Newfy Accent”.  More about this fun restaurant at   



1 cup (250 mL) cornmeal

1 cup (250 mL) finely chopped cashews

Five 6-ounce (170-g) halibut filets

1 tablespoon (15 mL) plus 1 cup (250 mL) olive oil, divided

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 teaspoon (5 mL) orange zest

1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) each lime and lemon zest

1/4 cup (50 mL) fresh orange juice

1/4 tablespoon (7 mL) each lime and lemon juice

2 egg yolks

5 medium red and/or yellow beets, roasted, peeled and cubed

8 fresh mint leaves, chopped

1/4 small fennel bulb, shaved thin

3 oranges, peeled, cut into segments

1/2 cup (125 ml) balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup (125 mL) fresh orange juice




1. Mix cornmeal and cashews in small bowl. Lightly press filets in nut mixture to coat all sides evenly.


2. Heat 1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil in heavy skillet over medium heat until hot. Sautée fish on each side until golden brown, about 6 to 8 minutes.


3. Pulse garlic, zests, juices and yolks in food processor until combined; with motor running slowly, add 1 cup (250 mL) olive oil in continuous stream until mixture is thick. Set aside.


4. To make beet salad, combine beets, mint, fennel, orange segments, vinegar and orange juice in a shallow pasta bowl.


5. To serve, place fish on the salad topped with dollop of garlic aioli.



With Nyarai Cellars Cabernet Merlot…

Louisiana Blackened Catfish with Roasted Red Pepper Butter

Serves 4
From the kitchen of Nyarai Cellar’s winemaker Steve Byfield


Blackened Seasoning

3 Tbsp dried thyme

2 Tbsp each garlic powder, onion powder, paprika

1 Tbsp dried oregano

2 tsp each salt, black pepper

1 tsp each ground cumin, ground nutmeg


Roasted Red Pepper Butter

1 red pepper

¼ cup soft butter

½ tsp paprika

Salt and pepper to taste


3 Tbsp butter

4 catfish fillets




1.      To make seasoning, combine all seasoning ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.


2.      To make butter, set red pepper in oven or toaster oven. Roast until blackened, about 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool. Peel and seed. In a small bowl, mash red pepper into a puree. Add remaining butter ingredients. Whip by hand until well mixed. Set aside.


3.      Sprinkle seasoning on a plate, enough to cover bottom. Set aside.


4.      In a small pan, melt butter over low heat. Place a fillet in the pan, flipping over to coat both sides. Set fillet into seasoning, coating both sides. Repeat for each fillet. Use more seasoning if needed.


5.      Place fillets in pan. Increase heat to high and cook until blackened on both sides and slightly crisp, about 3 to 4 minutes each side. Use more butter if necessary.


6.      Serve hot with a dollop of red pepper butter.


With Nyarai Cellars Syrah…

Rack of Lamb with Chimichurri Sauce

Serves 2 or 3 people
From the kitchen of Chef Roger Weldon at Ballygiblin’s Restaurant located in Carleton Place

Located in the heart of Downtown Carleton Place, this dazzling, lively spot has the trappings of a pub-like atmosphere in the back and quaint dining in the front.  Savvy Company is proud to be the Sommeliers at this farm to table restaurant featuring an all-Ontario wine list.  More about the restaurant at 



1 frenched 6-rib rack of fresh local lamb (Chef Roger prefers Lanark County lamb)


For the chimichurri sauce:

1/4 cup (125 ml) olive oil

2 tablespoons (25 mL) fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon (15 mL) red wine vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

1 clove shallot, minced

1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) kosher salt

1 teaspoon (5 mL) crushed black peppercorns

1 bunch fresh spinach, well washed

1/2 bunch each fresh parsley, cilantro, mint and basil



1. Process sauce ingredients in food processor until minced. Let rest at least 2 hours before serving.


2. Place lamb rack on hot barbecue grill about 2 minutes per side to sear surface. Reduce heat or move rack to a cooler part of grill to roast about 10 to 15 minutes per side, using meat thermometer for rare (about 120 F/50 C) or medium (about 150 F/65 C). Serve with sauce.




Enjoy Nyarai wines while you can! 

You will definitely not see Nyarai wines at the LCBO. When you would like more of the wines or other wines from previously featured Savvy Selections, simply call me to make the arrangements for a delivery. 


Be forewarned….there are VERY few cases of Nyarai wines available.  It is anticipated that the Sauvignon Blanc (only 126 cases were produced) & Syrah will be sold out by September so don’t wait too long. Contact Savvy Company if you would like to re-order extra bottles. 


An eye popping wine discovery…

Posted by Wayne

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

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

Savvy Selections is all about discovering premium wines made by winemakers across Canada.  This month we have made an incredible – not to mention delicious – discovery when we opened top-of-the-line wines from Vineland Estates Winery of Niagara.


Seriously, our eyes popped out in amazement when we sampled these elegant, well balanced and well crafted wines. We wish that we could see your reaction of discovery when you take your first sip of the Elevation Series wines in this month’s Savvy Selections:

Elevation Series Riesling VQA 2007– a signature grape variety of Vineland Estates. This is the best of the best!

Elevation Series Chardonnay VQA 2007 – a white wine that any red wine lover will enjoy

Elevation Series Cabernet VQA 2007 – a blend that has won numerous awards recently that the winery has just relabled the bottle to accommodate all of the accolades!


Vineland Estates and its owners – the Schmidt family – are familiar to many Canadian households for quality wines. More importantly, they have leant a hand and their knowledge to grape growers, restaurants and start up wineries all in effort to help build a vibrant wine industry in Ontario and across the country.  Even Brian Schmidt, Vineland’s esteemed winemaker, helped by supporting an event that The Savvy Grapes was involved in during our early days of being business…and look at us now…showcasing his premium wines to our Savvy Selections subscribers.  Thank you Brian!


In this Savvy e-Zine, read more about Brian’s down to earth winemaking style that fascinated 0ur Savvy Sommelier Wayne Walker during his interview. As always, you will find our Savvy Sommelier tasting notes and summer recipes chosen to pair with the selected wines.


Visit the winery & stay for a meal…

When your travel plans take you to Niagara, be sure to include a visit Vineland.  Not only is it a stunning historic property, be sure to make time for a gourmet meal at the restaurant located in the 1845 circa farmhouse.  Pick a table outside under the shade of the large tree and be mesmerized by the view of the rolling vineyards while Executive Chef Jan Willem-Stulp and his team create an outstanding wine and food experience for you.  More at      


Stock up for the summer…

The Elevation Series wines will take your taste buds to new heights.  When you would like more of these wines or other wines from Vineland Estates, simply call me at any time to make the arrangements for a delivery. The wine can be sent to any Ontario address: to your home, office or even cottage.  Put us on speed dial! Savvy Company 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926).


Cheers, enjoy and most of all enjoy your summer!

Debbie & the Savvy Team


Vineland Estates Winery

Presented by Sommelier Wayne Walker

Off the beaten track, yet on a well traveled route, turn off the Q.E.W. at exit 57, head south on Victoria Avenue into the area known as Vineland. A quick right turn on Moyer Road will bring you to a remarkable landmark: a stone tower that marks the site of an 1860’s Mennonite homestead and now the home of Vineland Estates Winery. 


According to winemaker, Brian Schmidt, this is the site of the “fortunate happenstance” by Hermann Weis of Mosel, Germany in 1979. Weis attested that vinifera (winespeak: pure grape varieties – example Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, etc.) could not only survive, but flourish in the clay and limestone soils of Niagara. This brought about a “natural evolution” that Allan Schmidt (Vineland’s General Manager) and his brother Brian Schmidt have vigorously cultivated since assuming the direction and development of the winery in 1988.


Vineland Estates produces not just great wine, but a great wine experience. Its highly recommended restaurant, wonderful wine boutique, carriage-house facility for picturesque private events, phenomenal vineyards and unique wine cellar (a living record each of the 25 year history of the winery in bottle format) have all evolved from a natural sense of “working with all that we have,” as Brian explains


“Minimalist by nature” is how Brian expresses his approach to winemaking.But minimal doesn’t mean reducing to the bare bones. It means getting down to simple quality and enhancing the natural essence of the grapes.”


Brian’s insights into how he makes Riesling wine is almost a mantra for the character of the winery: “Our style is crafted from what we have been given from the vineyard. Acidity is the most consistent characteristic of grapes we can grow in Niagara. We don’t always have the conditions for high sugar and alcohol content in our crops. If we relied on those qualities for the basis of our Riesling wines we might only be successful 3 out of 10 years.” 


Brian goes on to explain, “For Riesling, we can typically get 18 to 18½ Brix (winemaker’s term for measurement of natural sugar content in grapes) consistently at each harvest. I stylize the winemaking so the acidity is adequate, yet not overpowering. It is this balanced approach that makes a great tasting wine like Elevation Riesling with only 8% alcohol and 20 grams of residual sugar.” With this explanation, our Savvy Selections tasting panel knew that it was a natural fit to include Vineland’s top end Riesling in this month’s selection.


Balance extends itself from winemaking into the vineyard. “To realize consistency of quality in the vineyard, our primary focus is to grow a healthy and balanced vine – one that is growing well considering the conditions of soil and the weather,” explains Brian in his down to earth manner. “Some wineries measure the number of tons per acre. To me, this is not as important as the sustainability of the vine and the methods we use to grow great grapes (viticulture). It’s a creative balancing act and I don’t want to handcuff our winery with expectations or quotas.”


For this reason, in some years, Brian does not craft particular wines in his portfolio. Simply put, due to rain or lack of sun hours or other natural affectations, he will not comprise quality or Vineland’s esteemed reputation with a sub-par wine. Vineland loyal customers and restaurants have expectations when they uncork a bottle of Vineland wines. Our Savvy Selections tasting panel were impressed with each of the four wines in Vineland’s Elevation Series, making it difficult for us to only pick three to showcase this month.


In addition to Riesling, Brian is inspired when he talks about Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc vineyards and the wines. In his opinion, both are very well suited to Niagara terroir resulting in complex wines.


“It is all about finding a balance. Like all pleasures, wine should not be complicated…simply enjoyed,” mentions Brian.  “Vineland Estates Winery is where great wine, fabulous food and beautiful surroundings embrace simple pleasures.”


Vineland Estates is very proud of the success of its Elevation wines in the marketplace and at wine competitions.


As a sommelier, I think that with every sip of Vineland’s wine you can taste the evolution of a winery that aims to create not only great wine, yet wine with unique character – its food friendliness, its winemaking philosophy and its sustainability. Cheers & Enjoy!




~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~

Elevation Riesling VQA 2007, $25

The fruit for these wines is harvested from the highest elevations on the property allowing them to take full advantage of temperature fluctuations (difference between day and night temperatures) that are generated by the Beamsville Bench – part of the Niagara Escarpment – along with the gentle breezes of nearby Lake Ontario. Combined, these help generate fresh acidity, ripe flavours and silky textured wines.


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Pale yellow, clear and reflective, tickles your nose with aromas of clover honey, ripe apple and apricot. A soft steely texture with apple and apricot integrated with pink grapefruit. The intensity of sweetness and acidity makes for a distinct crisp taste experience – perfect for summer sipping.


Suggested Food Pairing: Serve chilled (at about 11C) on its own or with food. Quiche, ceviche, curry dishes and ginger infused desserts.  With its intensity and natural sweetness of this wine, Japanese dishes like Sushi, Shabu-shabu, Tempura or Ootoro are especially tasty – try your hand at our rolled sushi recipe below.


Cellaring: No need to wait – this wine is ready to drink this summer.



Elevation Chardonnay VQA 2007, $25

Also produced with grapes grown on the Beamsville Bench, subtle barrel aging adds to the complexity of its ripeness and silky texture. This is a white wine that any red wine drinker will enjoy.


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A reflective pure straw colour, this medium-bodied wine presents good fruit aromas of crunch apple (spy apples in particular?), fresh nectarines, tangerine with a hint of pencil shavings (do you smell this?). Apple. herbs and lemon follow through on the palate and offer a balanced experience held together with good acidity and soft tannins. A medium aftertaste of apple and lemon-pepper leave a reflective impression. Delicious!


Suggested Food Pairing: This wine is like a cross-over vehicle when it comes to food pairings. It can match well with the lighter sides like fruit salads, Caesar salad, shellfish (raw and steamed). While it can also carry larger foods like honey-barbeque chicken wings, fish chowder and soft cheeses. In the meat category. oven-roasted pork, grilled chicken or white fish with garlic or citrus marinade.  Believe it or not a perfect complement with this wine is POPCORN – especially caramel corn!


Cellaring: Drinks like a dream right now. Cellaring shouldn’t exceed 2 years if you want to maintain present levels of fruit flavour. Serve at 12C to 14C.


Elevation Cabernet VQA 2007, $25
Another ‘Elevated’ experience, that takes advantage the micro-climate, it benefits from the experience and expertise of Vineland’s esteemed winemaker and friend of Savvy Company – Brian Schmidt. A blend of 70% Cabernet Franc (a very successfully nurtured grape in Niagara) and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, the sweet red bell pepper flavours of Cabernet Franc have been supported by the dark-fruit sweetness of Cabernet Sauvignon in an extremely well crafted and well-balanced wine. You are the first to receive this bottle sporting the new label that celebrates its string of recent awards – Savvy Selections membership has privileges!

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A rich, transparent medium-bodied wine with aromas of ripe red berries and cinnamon then after the wine breathes a bit, the aromas extend into sweet bell red pepper, dark fruit (do you find figs and plums) and dark chocolate. The flavours evolve too! Dark juicy black cherry, mulberry, warm spice, toffee and even lemon pepper, finish off with subtle dry tannins, good acidity and warmth. A balanced experience whose medium finish leaves reflections of spicy, dark fruit.   

Suggested Food Pairing: Certainly this wine qualifies for the BBQ season! Pork chops and ribs would match best, especially when dry rubbed with herbs and spices. Tomato-based pastas, lasagna and even smoked ham would be delicious. A meal of middle-eastern or Greek cuisine lend themselves to a great match too. BBQ foods aside, probably one of the best selections would be thin crust gourmet pizza – a favorite recipe is below.

Cellaring: This wine is great for drinking right now. It could cellar quite comfortably for 5 to 7 years which would bring out its structure even more. Serve at 16C to 18C


~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~

With Elevation Riesling…

Maki-zushi (Rolled Sushi)

Serves 6 or more


2 ½ cups Japanese short-grain rice (like Koshihikari)

2 ½ cups cold water

4 tablespoons rice vinegar

3 tablespoons superfine sugar

2 teaspoons salt

Your choice of cooked or raw seafood, chopped or minced

6 sheets of nori (edible seaweed)

Soy sauce

Gari (pickled ginger)

Wasabi paste




1.      Place rice in a colander. Rinse thoroughly. Drain. Put in cold water in saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover pan and turn heat to very low and cook for 15 minutes without lifting the lid. Turn off heat and allow to stand for 10 minutes more still covered, then spoon rice into large bowl.


2.      Mix together the vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl until sugar dissolves then drizzle mixture over the rice. Mix together gently to completely coat rice. Set aside to cool to room temperature.


3.      Toast each nori sheet very lightly by passing back and forth over hot stove burner. Don’t get it too close to the heat or it will quickly burn.


4.      Spread rice evenly on nori sheet on bamboo roller. Put seafood filling across centre of nori on top of rice. Roll up bamboo mat pressing forward to shape the roll. Press bamboo mat gently to shape and firm up sushi roll. Remove roll from bamboo and with a sharp knife that you wet with water, cut roll into 2 inch slices.



With Elevation Chardonnay…

Best ‘Barbie’ Chicken

Serves 6


6 chicken breast halves (preferably boneless, skinless)

1 cup vegetable oil

2 cups lemon-lime flavoured carbonated beverage

1 cup soy sauce

1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder



1.   In a medium bowl combine oil, lemon-lime beverage, soy sauce and garlic powder. Stir thoroughly.


2.   Put chicken and mixture together in sealed Ziploc bags or plastic container and marinate in refrigerator for 12 to 18 hours (6 to 9 hours if using boneless, skinless breasts). 


3.   Barbeque slowly — don’t overcook. Turn often and baste with mixture on each turn. Cook until meat is no longer pink in the center and juices run clear. Discard remaining marinade.


4.   Depending on marinating time and cooking method the amount of marinade consumed will vary.


With Elevation Cabernet…

Easy to Make Thin-Crust Gourmet Pizza
Serves 1 or 2 per pizza


Olive oil

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

Pinch of sugar

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

2 large flour tortillas (sandwich wraps)

1 cup shredded Asiago cheese

2/3 cup Ricotta cheese

6 to 10 Cremini (aka Button) mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced

3 Portobello mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced

½ cup spinach

½ thinly sliced red pepper



1.   Preheat oven to 450F. If using a stone for baking, allow oven and stone to heat for 15 minutes before cooking. Otherwise, use rimmed baking sheets and parchment paper and place racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven to preheat and cook.


2.   Heat one teaspoon of Olive oil in a sauté pan on medium heat. Add onions and stir until they soften. Add pinch of sugar and the Balsamic vinegar. Stir in mushrooms, spinach and red pepper slowly. Add more Olive oil if required. Cook until onions have softened and spinach is beginning to shrivel.


3.   Sprinkle some corn meal on your pizza wheel (or rimless cooking sheet) and place tortilla on top and brush with Olive oil. If you are using rimmed cookie sheets, put parchment paper on sheets, brush with Olive oil and put tortilla on top then brush tortilla with oil.


4.   Sprinkle each tortilla with ½ cup shredded Asiago cheese. Sprinkle with cooked onions, mushrooms, spinach and peppers then add bits of Ricotta cheese. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Brush lightly with Olive oil if you wish.


5.   Bake until crust is crisp and very brown (5-7 minutes if using a stone. Start with 10 minutes if using cookie sheet and check it for crisp brown texture from there.) Cut with a pizza cutter and serve.  



Cheers to “Elevating” your summer!


It’s summertime & the living is easy….

Posted by Debbie

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

As the saying goes – It’s summertime and the living is easy.  This is especially true when you have a glass of good wine in your hand!  To make your summer a breeze, here are five favorite refreshing summer recipes with suggestions of wines to uncork (or un-twist!). Cheers & enjoy your summer!


Coffee Steak Rub

While visiting Niagara last summer, Charlie Pillitteri of Pillitteri Estates Winery invited me to a backyard BBQ where he served his guests steaks using this unique dry rub. The coffee beans caramelize while BBQing, offering a rich earthy flavour that will be enhanced with a robust red wine. 


TIP: This recipe can be doubled and stored in a jar or Ziploc container in the fridge.


½ cup whole coffee beans
¼ cup black peppercorns
¼ cup Montreal Steak spice
4 juicy steaks – any cut


With an electric coffee grinder, whiz coffee beans and peppercorns lightly.  The result should be a coarse mixture. In a bowl add ground mixture with Montreal Steak spice. Sprinkle mixture over steaks.  Gently rub into the surface of the meat, patting down to secure the coffee bean mixture in place. Flip steaks over and repeat on other side.

Cover steaks and place in fridge until BBQ is ready (The steaks can ‘marinade’ for a couple of hours or simply a few minutes).

Serve BBQ steaks to your liking.  Enjoy!


Steaks are best with a big bold red wine.  Try Carmenere from Chile, Cabernet Sauvignon from Australia or a Red Zinfandel from California. Enjoy!


Watermelon & Black Olive Salad
From Wish Magazine, Summer 2006 issue

This can be enjoyed as a side salad or thread watermelon cubes on a skewer with black olives and pour vinaigrette over top and serve as a kebab.  Refreshing with a crunch and a zing!


4 cups seedless watermelon cut in ½ inch cubes
1/3 cup chopped black olives
1/3 cup chopped green onions

Place in a large salad bowl & set aside.

For Vinaigrette
1 Tablespoon garam marsala (An East Indian spice mixture that generally includes coriander seed, black pepper, cumin, cardamom, tumeric, nutmeg, cloves & cinnamon.  Purchase a package of this spice mixture at an Indian grocery or health food store).

1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
¼ cup olive oil


Mix together all ingredients for vinaigrette.  Gently mix in vinaigrette to cover watermelon.  Chill until ready to serve. 


There are many flavours in this recipe.  Best with something light & refreshing like a Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris (same grape, different name depending on wine region made) or a dry Ros
é from France.


Windsurfing Squares
Tip: Wait to make this recipe until the summer months when your (or your neighbour’s) garden is overflowing with zukes!

4 eggs, beaten
1 cup Bisquick mix
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
1 clove garlic
2 Tablespoons chopped parsley (fresh is preferable, but dried parsley will do)
½ teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3 cups thinly sliced zucchini


Add eggs to other ingredients and mix.  Fold in Zucchini.  Cook in a 9×13 greased pan.  350 degrees for about 45 minutes.  

Why is this recipe called Windsurfing Squares? 
The lore goes that friends of Debbie’s first nibbled on these savoury squares at the ‘Canadian Hole’ – a famed windsurfing spot in Cape Hatteras, North Carolina during a wonderful windsurfing trip.

Red or white wine is the question. Why not serve both?  Chill a lightly oaked Chardonnay or French Chablis (un-oaked Chardonnay) and pop the cork (or twist the cap) of a medium bodied red wine Gamay grapes – labeled as Gamay Noir in Niagara or Beaujolais if made in France.


Local Strawberry, Québec brie, pancetta, pistachio & rosemary pizza

Les Fougeres Restaurant & Gourmet Store, Chelsea Québec
Makes 1 large pizza

1 pre-baked thin pizza crust
1 cup cream cheese, softened
1 pint fresh local strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced
250 g Québec brie in chunks
1 red onion, thinly sliced and sautéed in olive oil until soft
250 g pancetta, friend until crisp and broken into pieces
½ cup pistachios, shelled
2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary, choppe
Freshly ground black pepper, Maldon salt and orange zest to taste


Spread crust with an even layer of cream cheese.  Arrange strawberries, brie, onion and pancetta evenly over crust. Sprinkle with pistachios and rosemary.  Grind a little black pepper over the pizza. Sprinkle with Maldon salt and orange zest.



Bake directly on rack in middle of oven at 425 F for 7 to 8 minutes or until crust is golden and crisp and toppings are sizzling.

This recipe says ‘Rosé’ all over it!  If red or white is more your preference, try a Sauvignon Blanc or slightly chilled Pinot Noir.  Enjoy!


Peppered Lamb Medallions with Garlic & Dark Chocolate Sauce

Our Savvy Sommelier Susan Desjardins selected this recipe to pair with June’s Savvy Selections – Black Prince Cabernet Franc.  Read Savvy e-Zine

Adapted from original recipe found in LCBO Food & Drink Magazine, Winter 2009
Serves 4

1 Tbsp freshly ground pepper (or to taste)
1 tsp herbes de Provence
2 boneless lamb loins, chops or medallions (about 1 lb.)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp finely chopped garlic
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 c unsalted or low-salt lamb or chicken stock
½ oz. dark bittersweet chocolate (70-80% cocoa), chopped

Combine pepper, herbes de Provence and 1 Tbsp olive oil.  Brush lamb loins with mixture.


Preheat oven to 200F.  Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a small pan on medium heat.  Add chopped garlic, lower heat and cook until the garlic is just golden.  Remove pan from heat.  Add stock and return to heat.  Bring stock to a boil and reduce to ¼ -1/3 C.  Add chocolate, stirring until melted.  Reduce heat to minimum.


While the stock is being reduced, grill lamb on BBQ 12-15 minutes, or until pink inside.  Transfer to a dish and keep warm in the oven as you finish the sauce.


Once the sauce is ready, slice the lamb into thick slices and pour over a tablespoon of sauce.  Timing is everything with this recipe, as you don’t want the chocolate sauce to overcook!


The trick with pairing this recipe is to make sure that the wine you serve does not overpower the chocolate sauce! Try a Syrah from France, or a Cabernet Franc from Niagara or red Zinfadel from California.



Cheers, enjoy these recipes & most of all have a great summer! 





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Savvy Selections e-Zine featuring East Dell Estates Winery

Posted by Wayne

Monday, December 29th, 2008

November 2008
Savvy Selections – featuring East Dell Estates Winery
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep

There is a sigh of relief in the wine regions at this time of the year when all of the grapes have finally been harvested.  This year with the wet summer weather and the warm autumn days, Ontario winemakers report that they have left the grapes on the vines longer than normal to maximize the ripening.  Now that the vineyards are bare, the fun starts in the cellar!


One place that is be particularly busy with harvest is East Dell and its sister wineries – Birchwood Estates, Thomas and Vaughan and Lakeview Cellars.  Operated under one company, Niagara Cellars Inc, these four wineries share many things including equipment and winemakers!  We are delighted to feature East Dell wines this month.  The Savvy Sommelier Wayne Walker and his tasting panel sampled all of the wines in the East Dell portfolio and selected this trio: 

– East Dell Riesling VQA 2007
– East Dell Barrel Fermented Chardonnay VQA 2006
– East Dell Merlot Reserve VQA 2005 – this one is a keeper – for the cellar that is!


Below you can read about how East Dell’s Winemaker Scott McGregor ‘balances’ his work at East Dell and the sister wineries.


Travel tip – stay at East Dell to experience life at a winery
East Dell has a cabin that can be rented featuring a loft and a Jacuzzi where you can actually become a part of the ‘nature’ of the winery. Now that will be an experience!


What do you think?
Your feedback is always welcome, so please let us know how you enjoyed the Savvy Selections. We look forward to your comments on the wine/food matches and to hearing what other recipes you may have tried with these wines.  If you would like to order additional East Dell wines or wines from other featured wineries in the Savvy Selections, it would be our pleasure to organize a shipment for you.


Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!

– Debbie & the Savvy Team


Debbie Trenholm

President & Accredited Sommelier



East Dell Estates

Presented by Savvy Sommelier Wayne Walker

In 1999, partners Susan O’Dell and Michael East purchased what was previously known as Walters Estate Winery on the Upper Bench near Beamsville. Susan and Michael were committed to making East Dell a unique property by enhancing and developing not only its grape growing and winemaking potentials, but by developing the beauty of its rolling hills and trails (part of The Bruce Trail meanders through the 50 acre site). Maintaining a connection with nature is important at East Dell Estates. This philosophy is evident across all aspects of the winery from its down to earth approach to managing the vineyards to the blue heron on its wine labels. As East Dell’s winemaker Scott McGregor, states “We are vine country casual.”


East Dell is part of a family of wineries known as Niagara Cellars. In 2005, East Dell and its sister winery in Niagara, Thomas and Vaughan, merged with Diamond Estates (a sales and marketing agency that owns Lakeview Cellars and Birchwood Estates, both also located in Niagara). At this time, the business – Niagara Cellars Inc. – was formed. Scott feels this gives East Dell a big advantage over other wineries. The winery has opportunities to share winemaking techniques with other partnering companies as well as share and exchange crop production. “When you can share crops, you have a great advantage blending wines because you have access to grapes grown in other terroirs (growing conditions) in Niagara as well as the expertise of the people who grow and process those grapes. You have more options when you go to blend the wines. You can produce some wines you couldn’t produce otherwise,” explains Scott. He also feels that with East Dell’s ‘Natural Philosophy’, the style of winemaking can be geared towards the specific grape variety in an open forum with three other winemakers, rather than be limited to one particular winemaking approach.


The 13 acres of vineyards on the 50 acre site boast Riesling, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Vidal amongst its plantings. And for Scott, its sloped, calcerous topography is one of its unique characteristics in the area that allows perfect drainage and great Summer sun exposure, even though it faces the Toronto skyline to the North. As well, it offers no real low spots for cold air pockets to form early in the spring or late in the fall. This results in uniform ripening conditions.


A rustic looking, renovated building that was part of Walters Estates houses the winery with a capacity to produce about 20,000 cases of wines. This, along with a popular retail restaurant appropriately called ‘The View’, are the center of East Dell.


The East Dell portfolio carries some very reasonably priced and quality wines. Award winning Riesling and Chardonnay lead the chapters of Whites. Of note there is ‘Summer Rose’, a light, fresh wine with notes of strawberry and citrus. Some interesting 375 mL dessert wines include award winning Vidal Icewine and Cabernet Franc Icewine. Pinot Noir and Merlot round out the Reds where one can find The Red and Black Cab wines. The Black Cab Scott considers to be East Dell’s signature wine because of its unique ‘Canadian Bordeaux Blend’ of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Baco Noir. Not only is it a unique blend, but it has the longest history with the winery which has allowed just the right tweaking for perfection.


 East Dell – a uniquely natural property, ‘down home’ accessibility, an unpretentious style, a secure sense of future – “vine country casual”.


Enjoy your East Dell wine experience in this month’s Savvy Selections!



Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes


East Dell Riesling VQA 2007, $14.95

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Transparent, reflective, brilliant and straw in colour, this Riesling offers fragrant orange blossoms and rose petal aromas on a canvas of ripe apple, peaches and pineapple. Off-dry flavours of apricot, peach, crisp green apple and soft lemon are delivered to the tongue and lead to a very pleasant medium finish of ripe fruit and citrus.


Suggested food pairing: White fish like halibut, haddock, tilapia or cod and smoked fish are good choices for this wine. vegetarian pasta, grilled veggies, sweet peppers, soft cheeses, fresh salads with vinaigrette, cold cuts, pates and surprisingly – sauerkraut. Spicy Thai and Mexican dishes can be quenched by this wine as well.


Cellaring and Service: Serve at about 10C to 12C. This wine is perfect for drinking now and shouldn’t be cellared for more than a year or so.



East Dell Barrel Fermented Chardonnay VQA 2006, $18.95

Sommelier’s Speak:  Malolactic Fermentation

This is a process the winemaker puts the wine through after the fermentation process using yeast. That is why it is called ‘Secondary Fermentation’. It is not really fermentation because it is achieved by introducing lactic acid bacteria (not yeast) into the process and changing some of the malic acids in the wine into lactic acids. The effect on taste and flavour is that the biting acidity of malic acid is softened into the smoother acidity of lactic acid and results in a creamier, more full-bodied wine that will exhibit flavours like butter, honey, vanilla, butterscotch, toffee and ripe fruit. This East Dell Chardonnay has gone through extensive Malolactic Fermentation in oak barrels much to its benefit…  and your pleasure.


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A transparent, straw gold colour, bordered by a medium silver rim is supported by medium legs. Butter, toffee, vanilla, butterscotch and warm toasty aromas are blended with a hint of nectarine and tropical fruit. The palette experience is medium to full-bodied and elegantly balanced amid the warmth and toastiness of butterscotch and nectarine. A medium to long lingering finish of butterscotch, toast, vanilla and tropical fruit reflect the fullness of this wine.


Suggested food pairing: The flavour balance and texture of this wine make it a great canvas for certain foods. Certainly chicken in cream sauces should come to mind. Grilled vegetables, seafood with butter sauce, roast chicken, pasta with cream sauce, veal, turkey, ham and Gruyere cheese. Because of its creamy texture and buttery flavour, this wine matches best with dishes of similar texture and flavour.


Cellaring and Service: Store at 16C. Serve at 15C to 18C and allow it to warm up to show off its barrel complexity and full body. Drink right away to experience the buttery textures or age 2 to 3 years. Keep in mind the subtlety of the fruit will diminish with storage.




2005 Merlot Reserve VQA, $22.95

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This translucent deep, rich ruby red wine sports a narrow, silver rim and slow, serendipitous legs. Aromas of sweet spices and blossoms, raspberries, green pepper, leather and blueberries give this wine its initial profile. Red cherry, green plums, cranberries, tart fruit and tobacco accompany a good acidic structure; however, most noticeable are the young, grippy tannins which predominate the taste experience. Red fruit and tobacco characterize a medium finish dominated by a powerful tannic structure.


Suggested food pairing: This wine is definitely potable now, but one must accommodate its full tannic structure when pairing it with food. If drinking now, it is strongly recommended that this wine should accompany heavier meats and gravies, charred fish, ribs and chicken, full bodied stews, wild red meat game, mutton, dishes with butter and thick cream sauces and hard, older cheeses.


Cellaring and Service:

NOTE FROM WAYNE: The tannic structure of this wine begs to be cellared for up to 8 or 9 years to round out the tannins and allow the textures weights and barrel flavours to be appreciated. It doesn’t exhibit balance at present, but with the right food match it could be very pleasant. Cellar at 18C and serve at the same temperature. Four years will make this wine a very good drinking wine on its own….and in four years, you will wish that you had more!



Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections


With East Dell Estates Riesling…

Sweetly Stuffed in Peppers

Serves 4 


4 medium bell peppers (green, red, yellow, orange)

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 medium green apples

¼ c. raisins

1 medium zucchini, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1/3 c. mixed bell peppers, diced

1 medium carrot, peeled and diced

1 tbs. curry powder

2 cups cooked white rice

3 green onions, diced

Salt, pepper to taste

½ c. mayonnaise



Cut tops of bell peppers off. Remove seeds and ribs. Set aside.


Heat large sauté pan with Olive Oil until hot. Add apples, raisins, zucchini, celery, peppers (diced), carrots. Add curry powder. Cook until tender (Wayne’s tip – don’t overcook). Remove from heat.


Add cooked rice and green onions, season to taste and allow to cool. Add mayonnaise to mixture and stuff whole peppers.


Can be served cold or topped with favourite cheese and baked at 350F for 30 minutes until cheese is melted and rice is hot.




With East Dell Estates Chardonnay…

Paprika Roast Chicken with Mushroom Sauce

Serves 2


2 chicken breasts

1 tsp. olive oil

1 medium chopped onion

2 cloves garlic

4 sprigs fresh thyme

1-2 tbs. paprika

salt, pepper


Sauce Ingredients:

½ lb. mushrooms

¾ c. cream

1tsp. soy sauce

1 tsp. corn starch

1tbs. butter

1 tbs. olive oil

Salt, pepper




Preheat oven to 450F

Cut each breast into 2 slices of equal portion. Season with salt and pepper and cover with paprika

Sauteé onion in pan with 1tsp. olive oil. Add chicken breasts to pan and fry each side 1 to 2 minutes.


Put chicken into an aluminum foil lined pan and sprinkle over sage leaves, thyme leaves and garlic. Cover with aluminum foil and cook in oven for 10 minutes.


Sauteé mushrooms in 1tsp. olive oil and salt and pepper until golden.


Add cream and soy sauce and continue cooking on medium-low. Cream butter and corn starch together and slowly blend in. Continue cooking the sauce for 5 minutes or until thick. Place breasts on serving plate and pour over sauce.




With East Dell Estates Merlot Reserve…

Irish Casserole

serves 4


500 gms. round steak, cubed

2 gms. onions, chopped

6 gms. black peppercorns

1 tbl. red wine vinegar

1 tbl. East Dell Estates Merlot Reserve

3-4 tbl. Olive oil

3 tbl. celery sticks

½ c. plain flour

300 ml. beef stock

2 tbl tomato puree

2 tbl garlic cloves, crushed

175 gm. button mushrooms cut in half

400 gm. artichoke hearts, drained and halved

chopped fresh parsley and thyme to garnish



Place meat, onions, garnish bouquet, peppercorns, vinegar and wine in a bowl and marinate overnight. 


Preheat oven to 320F.

Strain the meat, keeping the marinade, and pat dry. Heat oil in a heavy casserole dish and fry meat and onions in batches. Remove and set aside.


Add celery and fry until browned, then remove this and set aside with meat.


Sprinkle flour into the casserole and cook for one minute. Gradually add the reserved marinade and the stock, and bring to a boil, stirring as you go. Return meat, onions and celery to casserole, then stir in the tomato puree and crushed garlic.


Cover the casserole with a tight-fitting lid and cook in the oven for about 2 ¼ hours. Stir in mushrooms and artichokes and cover again and simmer until meat is tender (about 15 minutes)


Garnish with parsley and thyme and serve steaming, hot with creamy, butter-laden, mashed potatoes and fresh ground pepper. (This is after all an Irish dish!)







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


Cheers & Enjoy!