Posts Tagged ‘Roberto Didomenico’

“Reif for Life” is a story of 13 generations of winemakers

Posted by Debbie

Monday, October 27th, 2014
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Savvy Selections wine of the month club 
Featuring Reif Estate Winery

– October 2014 –

 

All of us in the Savvy Team hope your Thanksgiving was a great one!  To celebrate the bounty of this year’s harvest, this month’s Savvy Selections features a variety of wines from Reif Estate Winery.  Located in the heart of Niagara-on-the-Lake, this winery is one of the pillars of the Ontario wine industry. Reif PortfolioThere are many hidden gems at Reif – in particular those wines that are only available at the winery – or with your Savvy Selections!

There are so many to enjoy that Reif’s winemaker Roberto (Rob) DiDomenico says with a laugh, “I honestly have lost track of exactly how many wines we have in our portfolio!” Our Savvy Sommeliers specifically have chosen this trio of fine Reif wines for you to enjoy:

In your Savvy Selections, you will find:

Reserve Gewürztraminer VQA 2012– this refreshing wine will be delicious with appetizers before dinner or enjoyed with ham & your family’s favorite trimmings

Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon VQA 2012– you are the first to receive this red wine from the incredible 2012 vintage.  If you are taking a break from turkey this weekend, this red wine is ready for prime rib or a leg of lamb…or put away in your cellar for your next family feast!

The Magician VQA 2012 – This is our red wine pick for Thanksgiving turkey (yes red wines pair well!)

How does this year’s harvest look?

As the season changes, typical long weekend plans involve getting together with family & friends, tackling long to do lists to close down the cottage & pack away the pool.  Not so for winery owners and winemakers.  They are busy with one thing: the grape harvest.  With the warm September days we have enjoyed, 2014 harvest in Ontario has just started in the last few days and by all accounts looks promising.  “This spring was slow.  Then with the cool summer we had, we will give the grapes a long hang time so that they can ripen as much as possible with the autumn heat.

This extra time will show in the aromas & flavours of the final wine,” explains Rob.  And Rob knows.  He has over 30 grape harvests under his belt – all at Reif Estates. Read more about Reif and this year’s harvest in the following pages.  You will also find some delicious autumn recipes that our Savvy Team have chosen for each of the featured wines to consider including in your Thanksgiving feast (or enjoy with leftovers).

You won’t find these Reif wines at the LCBO

Reif Estate WinesEach month we delight in introducing you to new Ontario wineries & their hard to find wines. While Reif has a handful of wines available at the LCBO, call on us if you would like additional bottles of your favourite Reif wines – or other wineries we have featured in Savvy Selections – simply give me a call on 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or send me an email to debbie@savvycompany.ca.  It is always my pleasure to introduce you to new Ontario wines!

Cheers & Happy Thanksgiving to you & your family!

Debbie & Savvy Team

Introducing…
Reif Estate Winery

Presented by Savvy Sommelier Debbie Trenholm

‘Reif for Life’.  This great slogan showcases the longevity of the wines as well as a subtle reminder of the correct pronunciation of the name of the winery.  “We’ve heard it all,” says Rob DiDomenico (right in the photo) with a laugh & shaking his head.  “The best is when a visitor to the winery corrected me, stressing that the winery’s name is R-E-E-F.  He proceeded to tell me that he personally knows the winery owner.”

Reif Estates - Klaus and Roberto 2With over 200,000 visitors each year to the winery, everyone – including the winemaker – are all hands on deck in the tasting room to ensure that everyone has a memorable wine & food experience. “We put so much effort into making the tasting room a safe place to learn about our wines rather than feel like a store”, explains Rob.

“We have an interactive Sensory Garden full of herbs where people can go smell different aromas that they will find in our wines. We also have a Sensory Wine Bar to give our visitors the opportunity to enjoy our wines along with plates of artisan cheeses, charcuterie, even chocolate while watching all the-goings-on at the winery.”

Breaking new ground…

The Reif tradition of winemaking can be traced back to 1636 in Germany’s Rheinphalz region where winemaking is generations deep…to be precise, 13 generations. The story is told that as an agriculture student in Germany, Ewald Reif listened with great interest as one of his instructors spoke of his travels to Niagara.

Years later, in the 1960s, intrigued by Canada, Ewald followed his teacher’s footsteps & embarked on a trip to Niagara to specifically visit orchard fruit and grape growers. In 1977, Ewald was invited back to Niagara by Karl Kaiser (one of the founders of Inniskillin Winery & a forefather of the Canadian wine industry).  On this trip, Ewald bought a former fruit orchard on the fertile banks of the Niagara River.  Here, he planted select grape varieties, along with some French hybrids.

Then 6 years later, in 1983, Reif Estate Winery opened its doors to the first of its visitors. Ewald’s nephew – Klaus Reif – visited & spent the summer of 1978 planting some of those first vines with his uncle.  Fast forward to today, Klaus (left in the above photo) is now the President of this winery that now comprises of over 130 acres planted with more than 17 grape varieties.

Impressively small yet big

Reif logo“There are 5 of us managing everything in the wine cellar” explains Rob.  This is pretty impressive when you consider that their current portfolio amounts to over 50 wines. In the wine industry, a winemaker’s career often involves working at several wineries around the world.

In Rob’s case, he began his career at Reif on a co-op term while studying in University of Guelph.  “My eyes were opened to the Canadian wine industry by my prof at Guelph while I was studying Microbiology.  Keep in mind this was in the late 80s & there were not many wineries in Niagara nor specialized oenology programs that there are today.” His co-op experience evolved  into a job offer, and Rob has stayed ever since. “We continue to do research with my prof at Guelph University on many levels.

Recently, we worked on developing the appassimento method (winespeak: making wine with dried grapes – a method used in Italy for Ripasso & Amarone wines) using modified tobacco kilns from Southern Ontario.”  Now in addition to Reif, a handful of Ontario wineries are making wines using this new process.  You will taste & enjoy the fruits of their research with The Magician red blend wine in your Savvy Selections as it was made using the appassimento method.

An Italian at a Germany winery

Rob is first generation Canadian.  While his Italian roots are strong, he shares that, “the Reif wine business has existed for 13 generations. The Reif family have always treated me like one of the family. In fact, this carries on to the staff too – most have worked here for many years. I think that this speaks volume of our company.” Seems that the ‘Reif for Life’ applies to the business culture too!

What’s for dinner?

I always like to ask: If I came over for dinner, what would you make?  I have discovered that many winery owners & winemakers are good cooks too when they have time to take charge in the kitchen. Rob explained that Thanksgiving is not a big celebration in his Italian family, “It’ll be a feast of Italian proportions!  There will be 30 relatives with lots of food & wine.  For us, wine is food.  We have at every occasion; it’s not an alcoholic beverage.”

~ SAVVY SOMMELIER TASTING NOTES ~

Once our Sommelier Team chose the 3 wines for your enjoyment, Rob was delighted.  All of the wines are from the 2012 vintage. “2012 was one of the most impressive years we ever had.” 

Reserve Gewürztraminer VQA 2012 $19.95 

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:Gorgeous classic Gewurz.  Off-dry with concentrated aromas of lychee, pear, apricot, beeswax & flowers.  These aromas continue in the taste with a summer-is-not-over-yet refreshing zip of acidity & a lime (or is it white pepper?) finish.

Suggested Food Pairings: Gewurz is usually paired with spicy foods – Mexican, Indian curry (made with leftover turkey perhaps?) or Pad Thai (a great recipe follows).  The Savvy Selections tasting panel thought that it will be remarkable with a roast turkey feast & the trimmings.  Or take a break from the harvest laden fare and serve with garlic shrimp or BBQed pork tenderloin with mango chutney.  

Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon VQA 2012 $25.95
special Savvy Selections price (Reg $29.95)

Reif Charcuterie Red Wine Experience LRMark my words…you will thank me for including this in your Savvy Selections!  And if you don’t believe me, then hear it from Rob “just released, this is an absolutely beautiful wine – great texture, lots of cellaring ability.  I am blown away with it.” 

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  A BIG red wine that shows how incredible the 2012 vintage is.  You are the first to try this wine as it not even released yet. It is ready to be enjoyed now, or cellared for 5 years.  No real reason to wait! This is a complex wine with aromas of warm spices (nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon), black plums, blackberries & figs that carry through the taste.

Suggested Food Pairings: The smooth velvet texture will mellow even more with age or with food…like prime rib or as Rob says, “Lamb, lamb, lamb!”

The Magician VQA 2012 $29.95

You will be amazed with this wine as it is a one-of-a-kind blend of Shiraz & Pinot Noir.  It is an experiment that Rob tried in 2009 and turned A LOT of heads.  He was playing with blending & different drying techniques to create a unique appassimento style wine with concentrated aromas & flavours.  “Remarkably, Pinot Noir & Syrah seem to be feeding off each other.” The percentage varies each year depending on the grape harvest.  In 2012, the blend is 70% Shiraz & 30% Pinot Noir. 

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Warm aromas of campfire, field berries & smoke that provokes fall like weather.  When you have a sip, everything about it reminds me of black – black currants, blackberries, figs, even licorice.

Suggested Food Pairings: The jam like texture this medium bodied wine would be great with lamb burgers, bacon wrapped meatloaf or a pork tenderloin roast (recipe follows).  Looking for a red wine to serve with your turkey?  This is it!

~RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH YOUR SAVVY SELECTIONS~

 With Reif Reserve Gewürztraminer…

Pad Thai

From Debbie’s kitchen
Serves 4

A good friend of mine taught me how to make Thai food and now I always make sure that have the ingredients for Pad Thai on hand….including a bottle of Gewurztraminer like this one from Reif.

Pad Thai Sauce 

Ingredients

1 cup water
1 ½  cups sugar  (less if you rather not as sweet)
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 piece of tamarind (approx 1″ x 1″)
½ cup ketchup

Method

Combine ingredients in a saucepan, stir and bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer for approx. 30 minutes.

Strain sauce to collect remaining bits of tamarind (pits, skins etc).  Makes about 2 cups.

This sauce can be stored in the fridge for weeks.  Reheat when ready to make Pad Thai dish.

Pad Thai noodle mixture

Ingredients

1 package of rice noodles (medium width)
1 tablespoon oil
1 clove of garlic minced
2-3 teaspoons of fish sauce
1 lime
1-2 eggs
2 chicken breasts cubed (TIP: try with leftover cooked turkey too!)
a couple of handfuls of bean sprouts (washed)
2-3 green onions finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped peanuts or cashews
2-5 sprigs of fresh coriander (chopped – by scissors is easiest)

Optional
1 cup of cubed deep fried tofu
10-15 shrimp (cooked or raw)

Method

Soak noodles in warm water to soften. (approx 30 minutes or longer); this part of the assembly takes on 8-10 mins so have everything chopped and ready to go!

Heat wok. Add oil and garlic. Break eggs into oil and scatter fry then add chicken and stir until cooked.  If using raw shrimp add when chicken is almost done.

Drain water from noodles and add to wok. Toss continuously.

Pour Pad Thai sauce onto noodles.  Add green onions, tofu and cooked shrimp (if using) then add fish sauce to taste.

Keep tossing noodles until completely coated with sauce and food is really hot.

To Serve

Place a handful of bean sprouts on side of plate.

Mound noodles beside sprouts.

Sprinkle with chopped peanuts, coriander and squeeze lime juice over top.

Serve immediately with spring rolls.

Reif Estate Wines

 

Klaus Reif tending to the vineyard throughout the growing season

 

 

With Reif Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve…

Rack of Lamb with Chimichurri Sauce

From the kitchen of Chef Roger Weldon
Serves 2 or 3 people

Ingredients

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

Method

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

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 drizzled over the rack of lamb & serve.  

With The Magician…

Marinated Pork Loin Roast

From Fare for Friends Cookbook
Serves 10 (recipe can be halved)

Ingredients

4 to 5 pork tenderloins
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup sherry
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp dry mustard
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon thyme, crushed

Sauce

1 10 ounce jar of black currant jelly
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2  Tbsp sherry  

Method

Place meat in a plastic bag.  In the bag, add soy sauce, sherry, garlic, mustard, ginger & thyme. Seal bag & massage meat with sauce ingredients until completely covered. Marinate for 5 hours or overnight

When ready to cook remove from plastic bag & place meat in a roasting pan. Preheat oven to 325 F.

Roast uncovered with any extra marinade on the bottom of the pan for 1 hour basting frequently until testing shows the meat is done.

To make sauce, combine all the ingredients & heat for 2 minutes.  Drizzle over top of meat & serve with vegetables

TIP: try putting fresh apple wedges on the bottom of the pan while meat cooks.  Serve roasted apples with meat.  

 

Happy Thanksgiving & enjoy your Savvy Selections!

 

 

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