Posts Tagged ‘Savvy Company’s Sommelier Susan Desjardins’

20 Questions: The ‘dirt’ on Derek Barnett

Posted by Debbie

Monday, February 5th, 2018

All of us in the Savvy Team have been long-time fans of Derek Barnett. We were gung-ho to do our part when he launched his Meldville Wines by featuring Derek’s wines in Savvy Selections in July 2016. Since then, the wines and Derek as a new business owner have shone. The story about the winery in the beginning is the same! So, I asked Derek “20 Questions” about his career as a winemaker and threw in some personal ditties to get some ‘dirt’ on the man Derek Barnett. “But I don’t enjoy talking about myself”, said Derek. Here he is with the spotlight shining directly on him.

1. What do you take in your morning coffee or tea? Coffee is black, no sugar. Tea is milk, no sugar

2. What drink would you like right this minute? Malt Whiskey – it is 11pm right now afterall!

3. When you were 10, what did you want to be when you grew up? Always wanted to be a farmer – just like both of my grandfathers.

4. What was the very first winery that you ever visited? I have to think it was Stoney Ridge in Beamsville (Niagara).

5. What wine got you hooked? Oh my, I need two!! German Riesling – Jos.Jos. Prum Graacher Himmelreich 1976. Later on, it was Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc

6. Take a few minutes and jot down the path to becoming the winemaker you are today: Winemaking started for me at Southbrook Winery back in 1991 when it was located in Maple, sourcing fruit from Niagara Vineyards. In 2001 my wife Judith and I, moved to Niagara to begin Lailey Vineyard with Donna and David Lailey, Tonya Lailey and Yves Starrveld. Making small batch wines from the 23 acre vineyard that eventually was planted with 15 different vinifera grape varieties. In 2015, Lailey Vineyard and the winery were sold. Soon after, Judith and I started Meldville Wines, a virtual winery working from Legends Estate Winery in Beamsville – still making small batch wines from just a few less grape varieties!!

7. What is your winemaking style in 3 words: Rich balanced wines

8. Do you have music playing in the cellar while you work? No Music – can’t hear the wines talking!

9. Favorite thing about the local wine industry: I love it all. We are making great wines so getting together to taste and chat is pretty special.

10. Favorite thing about growing grapes: That answer is easy. Got to love the awakening in the vineyard each and every spring and looking forward to what is ahead.

11. What part of winemaking are you always trying new things? For me, it is always the fermentation

12. What is the unglamorous thing about winemaking? Getting in the tanks for remove the tartrates, getting in the press to scrub it clean at the end of the day……

13. Who have been your mentors throughout your winemaking career: There have been many people who have helped get me to where I am today, but none more than Bill Redelmeier – founder of Southbrook Vineyard.

14. What about personal mentors? That would be my brother Malcolm

15. What wine region do you want to visit next? Oregon

16. One surprising thing that I’m really good at: Winemaking! – he says with a giggle (photo credit:

17. When is your birthday (no year required!): Feb 20

18. My Birthday “Favorite Meal”: Risotto

19. What do you like to do when in you are not making wine? Golf. Long walks with my camera and bike rides with my wife Judith

And now for Question #20….

Since you are lucky to live & work in 2 wine regions – Niagara and The County – what are 2 of your favorite places that you’d recommend to take a break from tasting and touring to do? You know…the ‘local inside scoop’ 

In Niagara – I love to visit lock 3 of the Welland Canal – check the museum, soak up some history and watch the freighters going up and down the canal. The other place to get off the beaten track for a while is the DeCew Falls. Oh and if you are still thirsty – many local breweries with great patios.

In PEC – I don’t have a lot of time to when I’m in the County to explore but I love going to Lake on the Mountain – Lots to do (good beer and food), some great walks and almost always quiet.




Meldville Wines
By Savvy Sommelier Monique Sosa

July 2016

Derek has been a hands-on winemaker throughout his entire career since arriving in Canada. With the sale of Lailey Vineyards where he was one of the founding partners & long time head winemaker, sparked the new beginning in his life – the decision to start crafting wines under his very own label!

As he was getting ready to launch his virtual winery, Savvy Sommelier – Monique Sosa, caught up to Derek for August 2016 Savvy Selections feature. She taps into what motivates Derek, his pursuit to owning and operating his own winery, and of course, enjoy the inaugural release of Meldville wines. So here is her interview with Derek…

…who is Derek Barnett after all?

“Wow! I really dislike talking about myself.” After we both nervously chuckled, the ice cracked and Derek came to admit that he is simply a guy who loves to drink wine and loves being a winemaker.

“I feel lucky to have the opportunity to do what I do for work every day and I simply enjoy making wines for people who love to drink wine.”

Derek hails from a deep background in agriculture. Both his grandparents owned farms in rural central England where his first job in the business was milking cows. When Derek immigrated to Canada, he worked as a dairy farmer at Don Head Farms, north of Toronto. During the 1980s, Derek was proactive in the evolution of Don Head Farms from dairy farming to a thriving fresh local produce hub. By the early 1990s, as appreciation for local gourmet foods and fine wine spiked amongst Derek and his colleagues in the Greater Toronto Area, the owners of Don Head Farms seized the opportunity to obtain a license to operate a boutique winery. They sought to source the finest grapes from key quality producers in the Niagara Escarpment with Derek as their winemaker. In 1991, the doors to their winery – Southbrook Winery – opened with a small but proud inventory of 2000 cases of wine.

Visualizing what became the first breaths of Derek’s dream career path, I asked him if it was challenging for him to take on such a role? “Not really,” he responded. Derek is proud to admit that he nurtured his craftsmanship on the job. He may not have been educationally trained but he enjoyed drinking wine, he had a trusted palate, and he understood how to make table wine that people enjoyed drinking. Vintage after vintage, as his skills and reputation expanded, while Derek recognized that being a winemaker meant far beyond just turning grape juice into wine. He recognized that being a standout winemaker included growing grapes, making wine with those grapes, and successfully selling the wine made from those grapes. “To achieve these goals, you need to connect with people,” explained Derek.

“Understanding consumers, what they like and how to connect with them is what motivates a winemaker to make great wines.”

Welcome to Meldville Wines…

With several decades of experience in winemaking at Southbrook Winery and Lailey Vineyards – and currently Karlo Estates in Prince Edward County – Derek came face to face with another career first, owning and operating his own virtual winery.

Meldville was the name of his family homestead in Swinford, England. It was coined by his family from combining the first initials in each of their names:
• M for Malcolm (Derek’s brother)
• E for Edward (Derek’s father)
• L for Lucy (Derek’s mother)
• D for Derek

Ever since Derek committed this name to his imaginary winery, it became a constant twinkle in his eye.

What finally sealed the deal? “Well, after Lailey, I felt like it was too soon for me to retire. Suddenly, with an abundance of free time that fell on my plate, I thought to myself, there’s no time like the present,” Derek explained.

At present, Meldville Wines is a virtual winery producing wines under the license of Legends Estate Winery. The three grape varietals in this inaugural release are sourced from the Lincoln Lakeshore sub-appellation in the Niagara Escarpment. Derek chose to work with Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet France because he finds these wines to be very textural, flavourful and showcases attractive levels of acidity. Derek has had experience working with Legends Estate Winery during his years as the head winemaker at Lailey and he appreciates that he still has the support of his community and the opportunity to continue to work with such fine fruit.

What’s on the bottle?

Something to note about the wine, are the stories behind the labels. The front and back labels both depict symbols that are important to the conceptualization of Meldville Wines. The layout of the front label depicts the first page of the first edition of the Meldville Wines story. The symbolism behind the skeleton key represents an invitation to unlock a little bit of Derek into your glass. On the back label, you will find a photo of what once was the Meldville homestead in England. Altogether, it is a unique welcome symbolizing the inaugural release of Meldville wines.

This is just the beginning. Derek has many plans and ideas for his winery. Some that include plans to expand his portfolio of grapes to include Pinot Noir and Riesling. He also loves working with small lot vineyards so we can definitely expect to find rare reserve releases in the future as well.

So, is Derek really only about wine?

“Mostly!” says Derek with a grin. To which I asked, “what do you tend to keep in your cellar Derek?” Derek responds, “I am a huge fan of Riesling.” He lit up when he described all the enticing German Rieslings he grew up drinking. Chardonnay is another top grape for Derek along with Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region in New Zealand. As for red wines, Derek loves Northern Rhone reds. He says he has quite the coveted collection in his cellar. Aside from wine, Derek is a ‘mega fan’ of craft beer and whisky. He shared with me warm stories of how he enjoyed spending many hours touring the highlands of Scotland while tasting a dram or two along his journey.

Any last words?

We came full circle! When I asked Derek what he considers being his legacy, this topic took him right back to the “I hate talking about myself” moment. I admire Derek’s humility. Instead of listing off accolades and piecing together his proudest moments on a whim, Derek opted to reiterate his sincere appreciation of his journey so far. “It has been an amazing ride being a winemaker and I am simply proud of everything I have put in a bottle.”


· Derek’s wines are definitely WICKED! ·

For fun, here are 2 sets of tasting notes for Meldville Wines….one by Debbie Trenholm and the other by Susan Desjardins. Both are part of the team of Savvy Sommeliers and sampled these wines together other with others in the team.

Meldville 2nd Edition Chardonnay VQA 2016, $20

Debbie’s tasting notes:
Absolutely lovely with aromas that reflect into the tastes of apricots, pears, nectarine & warm apple crisp. Well rounded with light acidity & satin texture – oh my! I am so glad that I have a roast chicken with a trivet of root vegetables planned for dinner tonight. This wine would be a perfect pairing.

Susan’s tasting notes:
Found on Susan’ web site dedicated to reviewing Canadian wines
Hardly surprising this enticing medium-full bodied barrel-aged wine was a gold medal winner at Intervin. Lovely aromas of pear, apple crisp and citrus zest harmonize with delicate notes of spice and a whiff of smoke. There’s refreshing acidity complemented by a satiny texture from extended time on the lees. You’ll enjoy tasty flavours of pear and caramel apple, fresh pineapple and citrus fruit touched with nutmeg. Balanced and mouth-coating, the wine delivers a long spicy, pithy finish.

Meldville 2nd Edition Cabernet Franc VQA 2016, $27

Debbie’s tasting notes:
Medium to full bodied impressive red wine that is expertly made by Derek. “Always a tough grape to get 3ripe”, he explained. Yet he nailed it! Complex aromas of dried cherries combined with espresso, cocoa, with a hint of roasted red peppers on the taste that lingers forever. Great with stews, pulled pork & spicy sausages

Susan’s tasting notes:
Found on
This is a lovely expression of the character of ripe Niagara Cabernet Franc, offering notes of graphite, black plum and raspberry, cocoa and earth, with a light floral fragrance. Dry, medium bodied, there’s a savory character of roasted red pepper and dried herbs layered on ripe flavours of cherry and black berry, all underpinned by supple tannins and lively acidity. Hints of vanilla, cocoa and the earthy character of the wine replay through the extended finish.

Meldville Barrel Select Syrah VQA 2016, $27

Debbie’s tasting notes
At our last Taste & Buy event everyone….I mean EVERY-one was talking about this wine. Swiftly after this event, I made sure that Derek put a stash away you. Intense full bodied red wine that has deep aroma of red & black cherry, boysenberry wrapped up with a ribbon of campfire smoke. Each sip unveils a different taste of dark chocolate, cassis & a ‘dash of black pepper’ said Susan during our tasting panel. This is the wine to serve with your Sunday roast, or when you brave the cold to BBQ a steak.

Susan’s tasting notes:
Found on
Alluring aromas of rich ripe dark fruit – think blueberry and cassis – lift from the glass, garnished with notes of pepper and sweet spice, spiced rose and milk chocolate. Dry medium-full bodied, there’s a firm underpinning of ripe tannins and fresh acidity, the flavours replaying—cassis and black cherry garnished with cracked pepper, hints of cocoa and cedar. The mouthwatering fruit-filled finish leaves a lingering flavour of chocolate-coated dried berries.



· Tasting Notes for the other Meldville Wines ·

Meldville Canadian Oak Chardonnay VQA 2016, $27

Debbie’s tasting notes:
I sooooo wanted to include this wine, but was swayed by the other Sommeliers to include more red wines in this month’s delivery….to warm up your winter! This unique wine was left to age in barrels made from native Canadian oak trees, resulting in a taste of oak that is elegant with aromas of toasted coconut, warm spices, fresh ginger, brown butter & a gorgeous texture.

Susan’s tasting notes:
Found on
Tantalizing aromas of toasted coconut, stone fruit and citrus, oven-fresh brioche and browned butter lift from the glass of this classic ‘Barnett’ Canadian oak wine. Dry, medium-full bodied, the complex flavours include pear, musk melon and pineapple with hints of lime zest, ginger and buttered toast. Clean yet smooth in texture, the pithy finish is warmed by delicate spicy notes.

Meldville 2nd Edition Sauvignon Blanc VQA 2016, $20

Debbie’s tasting notes:
We did not pick this one only because it was ‘too summery’. That is not a bad thing! We just took into consideration that our subscribers were getting this delivery in the depths of January. Aromas & tastes of crunchy apples, lime & lemongrass, this wine has lots of verve & personality that will melt away all thoughts of windchills.

Susan’s tasting notes:
Found on
Fruit was harvested three weeks apart, providing for the yin and yang of fresh acidity and tropical fruit flavours, some of the wine fermented in neutral French oak barrels, the majority in stainless steel. The result is a highly aromatic, floral wine with notes of orange blossom and sweet woodruff, passionfruit and citrus, garnished with notes of exotic spice. The palate echoes the refrain, displaying notes of passionfruit, fresh-squeezed lime, lemon grass and sweet herbs. Dry, juicy and showing an elegant backbone and a lovely silky texture, there’s a tangy flourish on the lasting finish. Pair with grilled halibut or seafood with a squeeze of lemon.

Meldville 2nd Edition Pinot Noir VQA 2016, $27

Debbie’s tasting notes:
Intense earth & cherry aromas dominate this medium bodied Pinot Noir. There is a thread of cloves with soft silky tannins that’s no wonder everyone in the Ontario wine biz is talking about this wine. A classy wine, yet we thought you’d rather bolder reds this month. If you are a Pinot fan…you’ll want to get some of this wine!

Susan’s tasting notes:
Found on
Transparent ruby, this classic cool-climate Pinot Noir subtly seduces with a delicate nose of wild strawberry and dried cherry twined with hints of flowers and vanilla, sweet spice and forest floor. Dry, light-mid weight, the silky tannins and vibrant backbone of acidity frame tangy flavours of red berries, sour cherries and dried cranberries, the notes of clove, mineral and light toast adding depth and complexity. Balanced, elegant, the finish is long and juicy with a touch of spicy warmth. Serve with grilled venison tenderloin or salmon.


Enjoy these Savvy Wicked Wines!


If I had $100…I would buy at LCBO Vintages

Posted by Susan

Friday, March 20th, 2015

One of the sure signs of spring is when California rolls into town for their annual Wine Fair. Always a date on the wine event calendar, this year they are stopping in at Ottawa on April 10 and Toronto on April 13. Aligned with their arrival, the LCBO stocks some extra special California wines in Vintages with the latest release.

March 21 Vintages catalogueI was away on holidays (unfortunately not California!) so Savvy Sommelier Susan Desjardins did the hard job of tasting the wines before they hit the store shelves. Here are her wine tips that will put a spring in your step and some smooth reds – from California and further afield – that will keep you warm on those days when winter seems that it will never ever leave.

Here is our shopping list…if I only had $100 to spend at Vintages this week.




If I had $100, I would buy these wines at LCBO Vintages
March 21, 2015


March 21 Cotes du RhoneGuigal Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2013, France

AC Côtes du Rhône
$18.95 (Vintages #290296) 13.5% alcohol

Consistently and reliably tasty, this versatile white wine is wonderfully aromatic – spring time notions of white flowers, scents of peach, citrus and tropical notes drift from the glass. Dry, medium bodied, it’s smooth and ripe, notes of spice and a replay of luscious stone fruit bathing the palate. Well balanced, with a pleasing touch of bitterness on the finish, this is a great value. Enjoy with roasted spring chicken stuffed with lemon & herbs.


March 21 Chateau BellevueChâteau Bellevue la Forêt 2011, France

AC Fronton
$13.95 (Vintages #354134) 14.5% alcohol

This is an unbelievable price! Made primarily from Negrette grapes (an unusual grape variety), then blended with the Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Syrah, this red wine has an earthy note—reminiscent of freshly pulled beets—that drifts over the aromas of berry and plum, licorice and spice. Dry, full bodied, the concentrated dark fruit flavours wash across the palate, tinged with a replay of licorice and spice, while that that earthy note persists. Firm in structure, clean in texture, the wine offers a long-lasting and fruit-filled finish. Serve with duck confit and be wowed, or splash some into your glass with leftovers.



March 21 JoyaBisquertt ‘La Joya Gran Reserva’ Syrah 2012, Chile

Colchagua Valley
$16.95 (Vintages #325407) 14.5% alcohol

This Syrah is an excellent value red wine – period. Good complexity, a well-defined structure and great depth of fruit. On the nose, there are lifted aromas of spice and pepper, dark berries and cherry, with just a whiff of dried herbs. Dry, full bodied, it’s plush and warm, loaded with powerful fruit flavours, notes of chocolate and toast, and a warm, fruity finish. Want me to go on anymore? For this price, serve this as your house red while the snow melts.


March 21 YalumbaYalumba ‘The Guardian’ Shiraz/Viognier 2010, Australia

Eden Valley
$21.95 (Vintages #396499) 14.5% alcohol

How to warm up on a chilly night? Look no further for this plush wine with great concentration of fruit flavours. On the nose, cherry, berry, kirsch, spice and vanilla burst through. Dry, medium-full bodied, the intense berry fruit is balanced by a certain freshness to the texture and firm ripe tannins. Tasty, spicy and smooth, get into the habit of firing up the BBQ and enjoy this red wine anything off the grill.


I have a confession to make…

Being on a budget of $100, I wanted to make sure that there was some money in the bank to add a California wine to this shopping list.  No matter how hard I try, I sill came over budget by $8.  Hopefully you will forgive me and return enough empty wine bottles to make up the overage!


March 21 RidgeRidge Three Valleys 2012, California

Sonoma County
$35.95 (Vintages #652875) 14.2% alcohol

Principally Zinfandel, this blend is of both grape varieties and terroirs to showcase great depth and intensity of aromas and flavours. Opulent fruit is showcased—dark berry and black cherry—mingling with sweet notes of spice and vanilla, with a dash of cracked black pepper. Dry, big and bold, this red wine has polished tannins and plush texture that make it dreamy. Finishing long and warm, it will be a great match for barbequed ribs.


GRAND TOTAL: $107.75


Our discovery: Ridge Road Winery makes great wines under $20!

Posted by Susan

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Ridge Road Estate Winery
– June 2012 –

Ridge Road Estate Winery occupies a coveted position atop the north-eastern edge of the Niagara Escarpment, a designated UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.  Owners Jayne and Sean Douglas along with their four children, recognize the great value of this ecosystem and are committed to carrying on the family tradition of stewardship of the land, while offering unique small-lot hand-crafted wines.

Once you leave the QEW near Stoney Creek, the road to the winery winds up the Escarpment along switchbacks and through lush vegetation. The winery tasting room sits like an invitation in an attractive rural setting, the pond is loud with croaking frogs while offers water for the visiting deer. And the property is on a major raptor migration route, so you can expect to see birders sitting on the patio, glass of wine in hand, binoculars nearby focused on the raptors in the fruit trees. In fact, Jayne explained that her four children had the opportunity to watch peregrine chicks hatch last spring.

The creation of this winery is a story of the agricultural evolution of the region, of the unique environment in which the property is situated and of the life-long dream of this couple. The farm, comprising 60 acres, has been in Jayne’s family since 1875. In fact, E.D Smith was the original mortgage holder on the property and great-great-grandfather sold his fruit to this iconic Canadian food company.

While on a trip to France 25 years ago, Jayne and Sean caught the wine bug! With fulltime careers in Burlington, they dreamed of purchasing the family property, still a working fruit farm, and transforming part of it into a vineyard and winery. Their idea came into fruition with the purchase of the family property 16 years ago. Eager to get to work, Sean enrolled in winemaking and viticulture courses, while gradually building the structure which today is the winery tasting bar and barrel cellar. They developed their expertise in the 12-acre vineyard, selling their grapes to local winemaking hobbyists and Sean practiced as an amateur winemaker. After careful deliberation, they opened the winery in September 2009 and in 2010, they took the plunge to become full-time winery proprietors.

Our Savvy Sommelier Susan, found a meeting with Jayne and Sean is like a visit with friends or relatives that you don’t see very often. You can pick up the threads of the relationship in no time! After discovering Ridge Road shortly after they opened, we were eager to introduce them to our Savvy Selections subscribers. Our tasting panel selected the following wines for you to enjoy this summer:

Pinot Gris VQA 2011 – a lively, well-balanced white wine with honey notes

Pinot Noir VQA 2009
a dry, smoky classic cool climate Pinot
Merlot VQA 2010
– a subtle red wine offering chocolate notes as it dances on the tongue.

Stock up for the summer – all under $20

Being such a small winery, you won’t find Ridge Road wines at the LCBO. So, if you found a new favorite wine and would like additional bottles, give me a call and I will take care of ordering more for you.

Cheers & Enjoy!
Debbie & Savvy Team

613-SAVVYCO (728-8926)


Ridge Road Estate Winery

Presented by Sommelier Susan Desjardins

Jayne remembers the joy of her childhood visits to ‘the farm’. “My Gramma Verna Stuart owned the farm where we would have large family gatherings and pot luck picnics there on weekends. My brother, cousins and I would run wild through the 60 acre fields & orchards, chasing and trying to ride the poor cows! We would hike in the forested area along the Niagara Escarpment – it was a fabulous weekend getaway for us ‘city kids’. Today, my own 4 children enjoy the same open spaces, hikes and adventures discovering wildlife like bull frogs and salamanders, snakes, deer, raptors, lynx, coyotes—even a generation later, it’s still a great weekend getaway for city kids!”

The property offers a unique growing environment, with lake breezes flowing up and over the escarpment and clay loam soils. The ubiquitous Escarpment limestone offers a mineral component to the wines. Sean explains, ‘Although on average the temperature is 1°C cooler up here in the winter, it’s often warmer in the summer. The site benefits from consistent breezes that quickly dry the grapes after a rain, and that tend to push the late spring frosts up over the escarpment—fortunately, wind machines are redundant for us!”

The focus is on quality at Ridge Road, with hand harvesting and sorting in the production of their small-batch wines. Sean is the winemaker, with over 20 years’ experience both as an enthusiastic amateur winemaker and in his current role at the winery. Fifteen years of amateur winemaking, as well as valuable product knowledge gained through supplying grapes to other wineries and amateur winemakers, gave the couple the confidence to ‘go pro’ and create their first commercial vintage in 2007.

Jayne remembers, “Sean believes that the grape should shine through. Based on the climatic conditions of the vintage, yeasts are chosen to accentuate what the grape is projecting. Minimal fining and movement is practiced so as not to bruise the wines. And we’ve moved toward the Stelvin closure (winespeak: screwcap) to preserve the freshness of the wine and avoid microbial infection.”

After getting some initial advice on appropriate varietals, Sean and Jayne planted Chardonnay, Riesling and Cabernet Franc, along with Vidal and Baco Noir grape varietis. They’ve been experimenting with other varietals too, and recently added Pinot Noir, Syrah and Gamay Noir to their vineyard. In addition to these varietals, their property is the one of only three trial sites in Ontario for Traminette – a hybrid varietal created at the University of Indiana in 1965 by crossing Gewürztraminer with the little known varietal called Joannes Seyve. The cross was sent to Cornell for development and has produced a wine grape well adapted to a cool climate region like Niagara, displaying cold hardiness, good productivity and resistance to fungal diseases. When combined with Geisenheim and Vidal grapes in Ridge Road’s ‘Vineridge Blend’, it results in a zesty, fresh white wine with high-toned aromatics of floral, citrus and tropical notes, along with a mineral quality and a silky texture.

Sean and Jayne have purposely retained a large portion of the home farm as a fruit orchard and natural habitat for the varied local flora, birds and as Jane says…‘critters’. Working with the local conservation authority, they are planning to establish a walking trail through part of the property to a nearby waterfall. If you are a bird lover, Ridge Road invites you to their Raptor Festival, and spare binoculars are always available for the uninitiated wine-tasting birdwatcher!

Even with their short time in business, the quality of Ridge Road’s wines has been recognized with two gold medals for their 2009 Riesling and Vidal at the 2010 All Canadian Wine Championships. Jayne feels their approach accounts for this: “Our focus is to make hand-crafted wines that showcase our terroir. We create two blends each year— Call Me a Cab and Intersection White – and adjust our single varietal portfolio annually in response to the vintage. We’ve also found that our property produces very crisp, fruity sparkling wines, ideal for causal occasions. We plan to expand that part of our portfolio in the future.”

We are fortunate to feature Ridge Road early in the summer, as their wines are usually sold out by early fall. They are expanding to 4500 cases over the next two years, with a long-term plan to cap production at 10,000 cases. “We really believe that for us, that’s the maximum volume that will allow us to continue to put the care and effort we feel is required into each wine.”

Enjoy your Savvy Selections!


~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~

Ridge Road Pinot Gris 2011 VQA, $16.95

The first Pinot Gris produced at Ridge Road, this is a unique wine. The grapes were divided into two lots, the first given extended maceration to create a pinkish hue and then fermented in stainless. The second batch was whole cluster pressed, the fermented in new French oak, then blended with the first to create this mouth-filling wine.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Finely crafted and well balanced, this Pinot Gris offers great weight. texture and length. Honeyed fruit aromas dominate with pear, nectarine and crunchy Gala apple. Palate pleasing and silky, lively citrusy acidity balances the honeyed orchard fruit, while a nutty note persists on the long tangy finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: Enjoy this wine with a grilled chicken Caesar salad, or with shellfish. The recipe for Spaghetti with Shrimp is on the following pages for you to try your hand at with this wine.

Cellaring: No need to wait – enjoy it now!


Ridge Road Pinot Noir 2009 VQA, $19.95

2009 was a cool wet vintage, but produced attractive Pinot Noir like this one. The grapes were sourced from older vines from a neighboring vineyard as well as from Ridge Road’s first growth vines. Older French oak barrels were used to showcase the bright tangy fruit.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: There’s interesting complexity in the aromas—red cherry, hints of smoke and cedar, and a whiff of vanilla and tomato leaf. Dry, mid weight, the wine has a tangy texture, red fruit garnished with spice, notes of roasted red pepper and a lengthy peppery finish.

Suggested Food Pairing:  Grilled salmon, chicken alfredo, or warm Brie with red pepper jelly are ideal matches. Susan shares her recipe for Pork Chops to serve with this wine.

Cellaring: Enjoy the wine now or Sean remarks that it could be cellared for 3-5 years


Ridge Road Merlot 2010 VQA $18.95 

This Merlot was bottled as a varietal wine due to unique representation it offers of the vintage, the vineyards and Sean’s winemaking style. The wine is a blend of six specially selected barrels, predominantly new and older French oak, with one American oak barrel ‘making the cut’.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  From a great vintage, this Merlot displays aromas and flavours of black berry and plum, chocolate coated cherries as well as dried cherries with an underlying mineral note. Dry, mid weight, the subtle structure, round tannins and clean texture frame layered fruit flavours, recurring chocolate notes and sweet spice that lingers on the finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: Serve this wine with pork with a burgundy sauce or grilled veal chops.

Cellaring: Drinking well now, this wine will cellar 3-5 years.

~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~

With Ridge Road Pinot Gris …
Spaghetti with Shrimp

The Eating Well Cookbook
Serves 4

1 Tbsp olive oil
5 garlic cloves, minced (or to taste)
1 tsp tomato paste
1 ¼ C dry white wine
2-3 tsp grated lemon zest
1 ½ lb medium-sized shrimp, peeled & deveined
¼ C minced fresh parsley
Salt & pepper to taste
1 lb spaghetti
1/3 C fresh bread crumbs, toasted
Fresh grated parmigiano (optional)


  1. In a large deep saucepan, heat oil over low heat. Add garlic & tomato paste and sauté for 2-3 minutes, or until the garlic begins to stick to the bottom of the pan. Add wine and lemon zest. Increase heat to medium & simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until garlic has softened. Add shrimp & cook for about 3 minutes longer, of just until shrimp are pink. Add parsley & season with salt & pepper.
  2. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in a large pot of boiling, salted water until it is tender but still firm. Drain the spaghetti in a colander & transfer to a large, warm shallow serving bowl. Toss with shrimp sauce.
  3. Taste & adjust seasonings. Sprinkle with toasted bread crumbs (and parmigiano cheese) and serve immediately.


With Ridge Road Pinot Noir

Pork Chops with Fresh Tomato, Onion & Feta
Serves 4

1 large onion, halved & thinly sliced
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
4 pork loin chops, 1” thick
salt & pepper to taste
sliced garlic cloves
½ pint red grape tomatoes, halved
½ pint yellow grapes tomatoes, halved
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 Tbsp dried basil
2 ½ tsp balsamic vinegar
2 oz. crumbled feta, or to taste


  1. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion & cook until golden brown. Set aside.
  2. Add ½ Tbsp oil to skillet & heat. Season pork chops by rubbing garlic clove over, then sprinkling with salt & pepper. Cook to desired doneness. Set aside, keeping warm.
  3. Heat remaining oil in skillet. Return onions to skillet, stir in tomatoes, garlic and basil. Cook, stirring for 3-4 minutes, until tomatoes are tender. Mix in balsamic vinegar & season with salt & pepper.
  4. Top chops with the onion & tomato mixture & sprinkle with feta. Enjoy!


With Ridge Road Merlot…

‘Merloted’ Grilled Beef
Serves 4

4 filets of beef
½ C Merlot
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
4 cloves garlic (or to taste), minced
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp fresh-cracked pepper


  1. Stir together Merlot, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, brown sugar and pepper.
  2. Add beef fillets and marinate at least 10 minutes and up to 2 hours.  
  3. Place marinated meat on hot grill and cook to desired doneness. Serve with grilled veggies and rice.

Option: You can create extra marinade, bring it to a boil in a small saucepan, reducing by 1/3, then pour over the fillets.

 Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!