Posts Tagged ‘Savvy Sommelier Debbie Trenholm’

Another reason to visit The County!

Posted by David

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Broken Stone Estates Winery
–  July 2016 –

What motivates a family to start making wine? In the case of Tim and Micheline Kuepfer, the answer had as much to do with family growth as it did growing grapes. Broken Stone Winery is their new venture that has completely changed their family’s life and their family life…for the better.  

This husband and wife team (with their 3 daughters in tow) opened their doors only 2 years ago.  We are excited to introduce you to the family & their small batch wines. We are certain that you’ll enjoy the trio of wines just as much as our team of Sommeliers did!

Get ready to uncork & enjoy your Savvy Selections…

In your Savvy Selections you will find these SUPERB wines. Each one has been specially selected for its outstanding quality and food friendliness!

2015 Chardonnay Moderately oaked and balancing stunning fruit and acidity, this is a perfect match to summer fare.
2014 Pinot Noir – Classic County Pinot Noir, this  well-structured wine offers big fruit and earthiness.
2014 Reserve Pinot Noir – This is an eye-opener! So much flavour, beautifully tempered oak, and a richness we love to see in our Ontario reds.

Hand-crafted, hand-selected

Broken Stone Winery is one of those “off the beaten path” wineries that even visitors to The County seem to overlook.   We are certain that now you have discovered Broken Stone, you will want to visit Tim & Micheline to meet them & explore their boutique winery.

Call on us at anytime you would like additional bottles of your favourite Broken Stone wines – or other wineries we have featured in Savvy Selections.  Your Canadian Wine Hotline is 613-SAVVYCO (FB Savvy Selections bottle728-8926) or send me an email to  

Cheers & enjoy the sunshine!!

Debbie & Savvy Team



Broken Stone Winery

Presented by Sommelier David Loan


“Down to earth”. It’s a phrase you hear a lot when talking to Broken Stone owners Tim and Micheline Kuepfer. This husband and wife team use it to describe their winemaking philosophy and to talk about the impressive wines they make.

But it comes up most often when they discuss why they chose to get into the challenging – and sometimes heartbreaking – business of wine.

Simpler Things

Until 2009, the Kuepfer family were typical urbanites. Micheline’s marketing and demographics career was taking off, Tim was working in finance. They were raising their three daughters in Toronto and had the kind of active lives that comes with success and financial security.

But they felt something was missing. Tim had spent summers on his grandfather’s farm, stacking hay bales and enjoying the pleasures of a simpler life. Between school and swimming and hockey and soccer and everything else the city offers, were their daughters getting the same experience?

Micheline put it best: “We both wanted to go back to a simpler way of life and to show our girls that when you dream something you can make it happen if you put a lot of hard work into it.”


New Roots

Broken Stone family pixThe decision was made to buy three acres of fields on Closson Road in Prince Edward County. Tim immediately fell in love with the gravelly soil and they agreed to plant vineyards. The Kuepfer family continued to live in Toronto during the week and spent the weekends in The County, eventually planting rootstock for the three Pinots – Noir, Gris, and Meunier – and Chardonnay.

Tim took courses through UC Davis, one of the world’s best oenology schools, and in 2011 they broke ground and opened Broken Stone Winery.  From the beginning, Tim and Micheline’s daughters visited the vineyards to run in the fields, to help with farm chores, and to build their new tree house.

Heartbreak Grapes

It hasn’t all been fun and games. While the family business has developed well, with thousands of vines planted, a new winery and tasting room built, and rave reviews for their beautiful wines, there have been setbacks.

Each weekend, the Micheline & , Tim along with their daughters PLUS & Micheline’s mother along with the 3 girls,,  leave their home in the city home and head to The County to live in a trailer on the property. Tim recalls waking up in the middle of the night last year, feeling chilled and smelling smoke.

“I knew right away that we had frost,” he said. “I could smell the hay burning in my neighbour’s fields.” (winespeak: having bonfires in the vineyard is one technique winemakers use to increase the temperature of the surrounding air during frosty nights) That cold evening is burned into everyone’s mind who lives in The County: May 23, 2015. Most grape growers The County were hit hard. Tim estimates that they lost 90 per cent of their crop.

“We’ve always bought good quality fruit from other growers and other regions,” he said. “Last year, with the frost wiping me out, I had to buy more grapes from Niagara.”


What’s Next?

Fingers crossed, 2016 is shaping up to be a fantastic vintage, Tim reports, who recently left his finance job in the city and now works full time at the winery.

They’re playing with a few ideas, like branching into sparkling wine (“We’re not there yet,” warned Tim) or trying a Nouveau Pinot Noir, allowing customers to enjoy the wine shortly after it’s made. They’re also building a small cottage alongside the winery, replacing the Airstream trailer they’ve called home for the past six years.

More than anything, Micheline and Tim are proud of what their family has built.

“Each winery has its own personality,” Tim said. “We really want to focus on estate terroir-driven wines, hand-made. We think it’s important to stay down to earth and stay genuine with our lives and how we interact with other people.”  There is that phrase again!




Time to have a mini-tasting!

We picked two Pinot Noirs made with County fruit.  Take note, the two Pinot Noirs are the same vintage, yet have vastly different characteristics.  We recommend you taste them at the same time. Gather a group of friends, give each of them two tasting glasses, and be amazed at the distinctions between these two fabulous wines. Which one is your favorite?


Broken Stone Winery ChardonnayChardonnay VQA Niagara Peninsula 2015, $20 

Micheline prefers unoaked Chardonnay while Tim likes lots of buttery oak. They hit the perfect balance here by putting 25 percent of the wine in oak casks and then blending it with the rest.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This has lovely peach and apricot notes, with some red apple and minerality. There are hints of butter and coconut, with vanilla rounding out the long finish. Full bodied, and with above average acidity, this is a wine to enjoy with friends.

Suggested Food Pairings: We like this with a rich cream soup. Or take advantage of the harvest and make a thick corn chowder.

Cellaring:  Drink at 7-10ºC. Can be cellared for up to a year.

Broken Stone Winery Pinot NoirPinot Noir VQA Prince Edward County 2014, $25

“ Wow! Pow!” commented Savvy Sommelier Debbie after one sip.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: With a medium cherry colour and juicy, juicy sour cherry and smoke nose, this is the very definition of a County Pinot Noir. On the palate, it offers blackberries, red cherries and red Twizzler candy. Bracing acidity and medium tannins balance the fruit, with a lovely earthiness throughout.

Suggested Food Pairings: We like to pick up on Pinot Noir’s earthy notes and pair this with mushroom dishes. Wild mushroom risotto, anyone?

Cellaring: Ready to drink now, yet this could be cellared for up to 3 years. Serve between 14-16ºC.


Reserve Pinot Noir VQA Prince Edward County 2014, $35

Broken Stone Winery Reserve Pinot NoirThis is a surprisingly big Pinot with intense flavours. The winemaker notes that it was aged 12 months in French oak, and bottled without filtering.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Swirling & nosing the glass, we found sweet black cherries and caramel with lots of cedar. In the mouth, it’s plush with notes of red rose, dark cherries, cedar and vanilla. Medium acidity with medium-plus tannins. There’s a rustic quality that our Savvy Sommeliers fell in love with.

Suggested Food Pairings: “”This wine would pair well with…a bigger glass!”, chuckled David Loan (the newest member of the Savvy Team) Still, it could match to any of the big, red meat dishes you might ordinarily look to Cabernet Sauvignon with, such as BBQ rib eye or shish kebabs.

Cellaring: Drinking well now, this can cellar 3-5 years. Serve at 14-16ºC.


Broken Stone Winery Tim in the vineyard

All photos above credit to: Broken Stone Winery




With Broken Stone Chardonnay…
Summer Corn Chowder

Recipe & Photo credits CookingClassy
Serves 6

IngredientsBroken Stone Winery Summer Corn Chowder

 8 ears fresh sweet yellow corn, husked and silks removed and kernels cut from cob
3 Tbsp (45mL) butter
5 slices bacon, cut into 1/4 to 1/2-inch (0.75-1.5cm) pieces
1 medium yellow onion chopped
1/4 cup (65 mL) all-purpose flour
1 clove garlic, minced
5 cups (1 Litre) water
1 lb (450 g) Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch (1.5 cm) pieces
1/2 tsp (3 g) dried thyme
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (250 mL) half and half
1 Tbsp (15 mL) honey
2 – 3 Tbsp (28-42 g) chopped fresh chives
Shredded cheddar cheese, for serving (optional)



Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and bacon and cook, stirring frequently, until onion has softened and just starting to brown around edges, about 8 – 10 minutes.

Add in the flour and garlic and cook 1 1/2 minutes.

While whisking, slowly pour in 5 cups water.

Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly, then stir in corn kernels and potatoes.

Add in thyme and bay leaf and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Bring to a light boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

Remove bay leave then transfer 2 1/2 cups of the chowder to a blender and blend until smooth.

Stir the mixture back into the pot then stir in half and half and honey.

Sprinkle each serving with chives and optional cheddar.


With Broken Stone Pinot Noir …

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Recipe and photo:
Serves 4

IngredientsBroken Stone Winery Wild Mushroom Risotto

9 1/2 Tbsp (143 mL) butter, divided
1 1/2 pounds (675 g) fresh wild mushrooms
(such as porcini, hen of the woods, chanterelle, or stemmed shiitake); large mushrooms sliced, small mushrooms halved or quartered
7 cups (1.750 Litres)(about) low-salt chicken broth
1 Tbsp (15 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup (100 g) finely chopped leek (white and pale green parts only)
1 1/4 cups (231 g) arborio rice
1/4 cup (62mL) dry white wine
1/4 cup (62mL) dry white vermouth
1/4 cup (25 g) grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving (optional)



Melt 2 Tbsp (30 mL) butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/4 of mushrooms and sprinkle with salt.

Sauté mushrooms until tender and beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to medium bowl.

Working in 3 more batches, repeat with 6 tablespoons butter, remaining mushrooms, and salt and pepper.

Bring chicken broth to simmer in medium saucepan; keep warm.

Melt remaining butter with olive oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add leek, sprinkle with salt, and sauté until tender, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add rice and increase heat to medium. Stir until edges of rice begin to look translucent, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add white wine and vermouth and stir until liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute.

Add 3/4 cup (187 mL) warm chicken broth; stir until almost all broth is absorbed, about 1 minute.

Continue adding broth by 3/4 cupfuls (187 mL), stirring until almost all broth is absorbed before adding more, until rice is halfway cooked, about 10 minutes.

Stir in sautéed mushrooms.

Continue adding broth by 3/4 cupfuls (187 mL), stirring until almost all broth is absorbed before adding more, until rice is tender but still firm to bite and risotto is creamy, about 10 minutes.

Stir in 1/4 cup (25 g) grated Parmesan cheese, if using. Transfer risotto to serving bowl. Pass additional Parmesan cheese alongside, if desired.


With Broken Stone Reserve Pinot Noir…
Summer Beef Kebabs

Recipe & Photo credit:
Serves 4-6

IngredientsBroken Stone Winery Kebabs

Marinade Ingredients:

1/3 cup (850 mL) olive oil
1/3 cup (850 mL) soy sauce
3 Tbsp (45 mL) red wine vinegar
1/4 cup (62 mL) honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp (15 mL) minced fresh ginger
Freshly ground black pepper to taste


Kebab Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs (750 g) top sirloin steak, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1 large bell pepper
1-2 medium red onions
1/2 to 1 pound (227 g to 454 g) button mushrooms
About 20 bamboo or wooden skewers



Mix the marinade ingredients together in a bowl and add the meat. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, preferably several hours or even overnight.

Soak the skewers in water for at least 30 minutes before grilling. This will help prevent them from completely burning up on the grill.

Cut the vegetables into chunks roughly the width of the beef pieces. Thread the meat and vegetables onto double bamboo skewers. If you keep a little space between the pieces, they will grill more evenly. Paint the kebabs with some of the remaining marinade.

Prepare your grill for high, direct heat. Grill for 8 to 10 minutes, depending on how hot your grill is, and how done you would like your meat, turning occasionally. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.


Enjoy your summer with your Savvy Selections!


A gem in The County

Posted by Debbie

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

Savvy Selections Ontario wine of the month club

Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Trail Estates Winery
–  June 2016 –

Winery owners are reporting across Ontario, that their vineyards are growing vigorously. In fact, some wineries have already started trimming & pruning their vines (this typically happens at the end of June).FB Savvy Selections bottle  This month in Savvy Selections, we feature a relatively new small, family-run winery located just a few minutes outside of Wellington, Ontario – in the heart of the Prince Edward County wine region. Trail Estate Winery has an interesting background, and as you’ll soon read on, some very interesting wines too!

Get ready to uncork & enjoy your Savvy Selections…

In your Savvy Selections you will find a trio of absolutely DELICIOUS wines. Each one has been specially selected for its unique ability to pair with summer foods, patios, and friends!

2014 Riesling – A super fresh, aromatic wine that has an interesting mouthfeel that adds weight and body while keeping a light and crisp mouthfeel.

 2014 Pinot Noir Rosé – An aromatic and refreshing red, fruit-driven Rosé based on mostly Pinot Noir with just a hint of Gamay Noir thrown in for structure.

2014 Gamay Noir – This blend of grapes from Niagara and The County – resulting in THE perfect summer sipping red wine – light enough to enjoy with lighter summer fare, but structured enough to stand up to most BBQ’d meats.

You won’t find Trail Estate Winery wines at the LCBO

Trail Estates is a boutique winery boldly growing their portfolio of wines and inventory! Our Savvy Sommeliers are confident that you will enjoy each sip of the wines in your Savvy Selections. They are perfect summer time wines. Call on us at anytime you would like additional bottles of your favourite Trail Estate wines – or other wineries we have featured in Savvy Selections. Your Canadian Wine Hotline is 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or send me an email to

Debbie & Savvy Team


Trail Estate Winery

Presented by Sommelier Shawn McCormick

I’ve been writing tasting notes on Trail Estate wines since their first creations. I was really excited to author this month’s article as the wines have been getting consistently better each time I sample them….we hope that you will enjoy this month`s choice wines.

Trail Estate is one of the newer wineries to enter the scene in Prince Edward County, and they have wasted no time making a name for themselves! I had a chance to talk with their head of Marketing and Sales, Alex Sproll (left in family photo below) about the history and the future of the family business.

Wine Not?

When asked how the winery came to be, Alex explains that his parents, Anton and Hildegard Sproll (left centre & right in photo) had bought the winery property while on a weekend trip to The County back in 2011. With an existing, small (1.5 acre) vineyard on the property, they originally had no plans to start a winery. That idea is credited to the neighbouring wineries, including Jonas Newman of Hinterland Wine Company, who encouraged them to do something with the great property they had acquired. Being of the entrepreneurial spirit, Alex`s parents figured “Why not?”. They planned to do something “small and doable”. As anyone in the industry will tell you, “small and doable” quickly turns into a a mountain of work! 

Enlisting the help of their graphic designer son Alex and accountant daughter Sylvia (centre in photo), they just needed a winemaker. Enter Matthias Luck, a winemaker who was looking for a new opportunity. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Initial Wines & Standing Out

To get started, the family needed more juice than they could source from the vines on their small plot of land. So while they planted enough acreage of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to get them going, they sourced fruit from elsewhere in Ontario. Initially many of their wines have been made from Niagara fruit, relying on reputable growers such as Steve Kocsis and Ed Hughes. Not happy to be just another Niagara Riesling or Chardonnay, they have focused their portfolio on small lots and have experimented with different styles in order to stand out. “Small lots, done well” would be a great descriptor for the winery style.

Trail Estates MackenzieThe “Mack Effect” 

Last year saw a change in winemakers, with Mackenzie (Mack) Brisbois returning to her County roots. “Mack” has an amazing reputation for her winemaking skills, and they have been unleashed on the wines coming out of Trail Estate in the latest vintages. To wit, she produced 6 different Rieslings and 3 different Sauvignon Blancs, with the production sizes ranging down as low as 10 cases. These wines all had wide appeal with wine connoisseurs and the general public alike (myself included!) – a rare & impressive feat!

The Sprolls have handed a fair bit of control over to Mackenzie and her more natural winemaking techniques, and everyone is benefitting from that influence.

What’s Next?

This weekend marks a vine planting event at the winery, and they hope to plant about 2000 vines, increasing the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay plantings, as well as repairing some damaged vines from the previous winters.

The winery itself is growing too. The small Quonset hut is being expanded out the front to add a proper tasting room. Alex expects that the construction will be complete later this summer, hopefully to accommodate the large crowds that visit The County during harvest. Trail Estates all bottles

On growth of the region, Alex marvels at the new blood coming to the region – folks like Mackenzie, along with legendary Ontario winemaker Derek Barnett – whose reputation will draw new talent & experience will influence others. About changes in the wine biz, with wineries experimenting with wine varieties, wine styles, tasting room formats, Alex mentions , “It’s all about a rising tide floating all boats. The industry and all its players are definitely continually raising the stakes, and we, the consumers, are the key benefactors of these changes! “



With all of the wines we had to choose from, it was still easy to pick the wines for this month’s selections – after all, a white, a rosé, and a red make for the perfect summertime assortment! Our team of Savvy Sommeliers enjoyed the wines sipped on their own, yet you will find them all easy to pair with your favourite summer dishes. Trail Estate likes to keep their wines towards the drier side, and this combined with great cool climate acidity makes them the perfect match for summertime & picnic fare!

Trail Estates ReislingRiesling VQA 2014, $23.95

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Of the 3 white wines the Savvy Sommeliers sampled, this was the standout white wine. The nose exhibits steely minerality, citrus, beeswax, peaches, and ripe apple. There’s a hint of something creamy on the nose that gives a hint to the winemaking process. On the palate, honeyed peaches hit first, then that creaminess kicks in for a second before wet stone and lemony acidity cleanse the palate.

The winemaking notes indicate some extended lees contact (winespeak: this is what gives the wine that slightly smooth characteristic before the cleansing acidity kicks in). 

Suggested Food Pairings: Enjoy with spicy grilled shrimp, chicken satay, or Thai pizza.

Cellaring: Drink at 7-10ºC. Can hold for a few years.

Trail Estates RosePinot Noir Rosé VQA 2014, $21.95

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:Beautiful pale pink colour. Wild strawberry and an interesting clover flower notes on the nose give only an illusion of sweetness to come. There are hints of cherry vanilla, tangerine, and orange blossom, and a spice one taster thought was cinnamon. The palate starts slightly sweet vanilla-cherry, with a slight roundness before going to rhubarb and cranberry for a crisp finish. The 6% Gamay adds some nice structure to the 94% Pinot, and the neutral barrel ferment gives that roundness noticed.

Suggested Food Pairings: A very versatile wine that will work with many dishes including summer salads (grilled lettuce), light appetizers, and grilled salmon. Try it with the following recipe for Tomato, Cucumber & Feta bites.

Cellaring: Drink now. Serve between 7-12ºC.

Gamay NoirGamay Noir VQA 2014, $25.95

Gamay Noir is a wine of growing interest to winemakers and consumers alike. Cold-hardy, fresh, and fruity, #GoGamayGo is a call to action seen throughout social media for this grape.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A blend of 70% County fruit and 30% Niagara fruit, the colour shows a lovely medium ruby. The nose hits you with lovely cherry vanilla notes, a light white pepper spice, and lovely ripe red fruits. The palate hits both red and black cherry notes, fresh vanilla, and light spice notes before the cleansing acidity leaves you asking for another sip.

Suggested Food Pairings: Pair with simple BBQ fare like Italian burgers (see recipe below), sausages, or grilled vegetables.

Cellaring: Drinking well now, can cellar 3-5 years. Serve at 14-16ºC.



With Trail Estates Riesling…
Spicy Grilled Shrimp

Recipe & Photo credits
Serves 4

IngredientsAll Recipes - Spicy Grilled Shrimp

1 large clove garlic
1 tsp coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
8 wedges lemon, for garnish


Preheat grill for medium heat.

In a small bowl, crush the garlic with the salt. Mix in cayenne pepper and paprika, and then stir in olive oil and lemon juice to form a paste. In a large bowl, toss shrimp with garlic paste until evenly coated.

Lightly oil grill grate. Cook shrimp for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until opaque.

Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with lemon wedges, and serve.

With Trail Estates Pinot Noir Rosé …
Tomato, Cucumber, & Feta bites 

From Shawn McCormick’s family kitchen
Serves 4 (appetizers)

This is a recipe that my son Keiran whipped up in the kitchen and its amazing…and says summer all over it!


4 small Lebanese cucumbers
6 cocktail tomatoes (or 8-10 grape tomatoes)
4-6 oz. feta cheese (block style)
Olive oil
Dried oregano


Slice a thin slice of skin off one side of the cucumber (the full length of the cucumber) so it will sit flat on the chopping board. Slice the remaining piece into two and separate, leaving the “bottom” piece down.

Slice the feta cheese into equal thickness portions the width of the cucumber.

Slice the tomatoes thin.

Assemble in layers – cucumber, feta, tomato & top with the top layer of the cucumber.

Insert 6 toothpicks into each “assembled cucumber log” to hold the layers together. Slice into 6 equal bite size portions.

Arrange on a serving plate or platter.

Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with oregano (and salt and pepper if you want) and serve.

With Trail Estates Gamay Noir …
Grilled Italian Burgers

Recipe & Photo credit:
Serves 4-6

IngredientsBetty Crocker Italian Burgers

1 lb lean ground beef
½ pound bulk mild or hot Italian sausage – removed from casing
2 Tablespoons Italian-style bread crumbs
6 slices mozzarella cheese
12 slices Italian bread or panini buns
½ cup sun-dried tomato mayonnaise
1 cup shredded lettuce
1 medium tomato, thinly sliced


Heat coals or gas grill for direct heat.

Mix beef, sausage and bread crumbs in large bowl. Shape mixture into 6 patties, about 1/2 inch thick and 3 1/2 inches in diameter.

Cover and grill patties 4 to 6 inches from medium heat 12 to 15 minutes, turning once, until meat thermometer inserted in center reads 160º.

Top patties with cheese. Cover and grill about 1 minute longer or until cheese is melted.

Add bread slices to side of grill for last 2 to 3 minutes of grilling, turning once, until lightly toasted.

Spread toasted bread with mayonnaise; top 6 bread slices with lettuce, tomato and patties. Top with remaining bread slices.

 Enjoy your summer with your Savvy Selections!


Born to make fine wine

Posted by Melanie

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

Savvy Selections Ontario wine of the month club

Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring 13th Street Winery
–  May 2016 –

In Canada, the month of May means warmer weather, vines begin to bud, more time spent outdoors and most importantly, a glorious long-weekend Victoria Day (or, as most Canadian refer to it: “May 2-4”) is a federal statutory holiday celebrating Queen Victory’s birthday on the Monday before May 25th.  Queen Victoria has ruled the U.K. and British Empire for 63 years, and in her honour, we celebrate this long-weekend often with friends or family, possibly at a cottage (or someone’s backyard) with food grilling on the BBQ, enjoying delicious libations. This May 2-4, I encourage you to put beer aside for a moment and instead reach inside your Savvy Selections for a lovely bottle from 13th Street Winery.

A winemaker who knows what he likes

winemakerWhat was my favourite quote from 13th Street’s winemaker Jean-Pierre Cola when we recently spoke over the phone? When talking about using the wrong barrel for the wrong grape: “It’s like trying to put a nail in with a screwdriver.  It won’t work out.” And he’s right. I’m sure like me, you’ve all tasted a wine or two where the use of oak (whether too much, or too aggressive) just left you feeling sad.

Jean-Pierre has many beliefs and advice when it comes to winemaking, and his years of experience, his love and passion for the end result (that tasty wine in your glass!) shine through.  Here you’ll read about how and why he became a winemaker along with some of his core beliefs when it comes to making wine.

This month’s Savvy Selections from 13th Street Winery will no doubt leaving you wanting more. These wines are the perfect sidekicks for any upcoming family gatherings or BBQ’s with friends you may have planned leading up to the May long-weekend.

Our Savvy Sommeliers have shared their tasting notes with you, along with some pairing tips and recipes to help you enjoy each wine to its fullest:

2013 Pinot Gris– A medium body floral and fruity white wine.

2010 Essence Pinot Noir – Aged beautifully, smooth and ready to drink now.

2012 Meritage – A deliciously fruity Bordeaux blend perfect for BBQ season.

Most not at the LCBO

Your Savvy Selections, along with many other gems from 13th Street Winery, are not stocked at the LCBO. If you would like to order additional bottles or other Ontario wines, call me at 613-SAVVYCO (613-728-8926) or drop me a line at We’ll be happy to arrange a special delivery for you!

Enjoy your Victoria Day long-weekend with a glass of wine from your Savvy Selections.

Debbie & Savvy Team  

13th Street Winery

Presented by Sommelier Melanie Allen


13th Street Winery

13th Street Winery started out in 1998 on 13th Street in St. Catherine, Ontario.  By 2008, their business was booming and they moved to their current location on Fourth Street, with larger retail and production space.  As Sales and Marketing Manager, Ilya Rubin explained to me “In our first 10 years we were making roughly 2000-3000 cases/year and now we are making 10,000 to 12,000 cases depending on the vintage.  We needed space in order to grow.”

Winemaker will travel…

Jean Pierre Colas winemakerI spoke with Winemaker Jean-Pierre Colas over the phone and was excited to learn more about him, how his passion for winemaking came about and have him share specific details about his approach to making wines at 13th Street.

Jean-Pierre’s passion for wine has taken him all over the world, starting out first in Chablis (France) where he worked at Domaine Laroche for 10 years.  In 1996, his Chardonnay took top honours as Wine Spectator Magazine’s White Wine of the Year (it scored 99 points out of 100 in a blind tasting!). He has also spent time in Chile, and prior to joining 13th Street, he was winemaker at Peninsula Ridge (located in Beamsville, Ontario).

Born to follow this path…

jean pierre with tanksIt is by no accident that Jean-Pierre became a winemaker.  One could say that he was born to take this path in life.  His grandparents grew grapes in Chablis (France) and as Jean-Pierre explains “I learned to walk in those vineyards”.  At 5 and 6 years of age, he was learning to prune the vines, which then led later to him participating in the harvest as well as working in the underground barrel cellars.

Although grapes were a big part of his family history, it took some time for him to realize that his history would also become his future: “in University, I was into competitive sports, but it (the family business) was always there and I would help on weekend”.  He may even have occasionally skipped the odd class or assignment in order to help out with the vines.  He would share some of this wine with his fellow classmates and one day, I realized that he needed to follow this passion.  He had already gained so much natural experience in all aspects of winegrowing and winemaking that he decided to study oenology.  

Respect the varietal and the soil

13th_street_winery_harvest-5821__thumbJean-Pierre is very direct about his views on winemaking and his approach, “the wines are an expression of my tastes and preferences. I believe that the wines should speak for themselves”.

He is very passionate when describing the winemaking process and believes that above all else, a winemaker must respect the varietal as well as the soil in order to properly showcase a winegrowing region.  In comparison to working in France, Jean Pierre explains some of the challenges with working in New World wineries: “winemaking history is very different here.  It is still a baby, still in it’s infancy in North America, but I always try to work from the bottom, what nature is giving you”.

He does also recognize some similarities, and compares Ontario, Quebec and the East Coast of Canada as having more of an old-world feeling.  

New World grapes with Old World style

After having tasted several of 13th Street Winery’s wines, it’s evident that although the grapes were grown in Niagara, the end result has many similarities to wines from Burgundy.  Elegance, longevity minimal sweetness were words that Jean-Pierre repeated often when describing his wines, and the proof of this was in each glass.  As to his decision of becoming a winemaker: “I don’t know what else to do in life, I was made for this”.  And we should all be thankful that Jean-Pierre Colas is making beautiful and elegant wines for us all to enjoy.

As they say in France – A votre santé! 

Enjoy your Savvy Selections!

Barrel party




13th Street Pinot Gris VQA 2013 $19.95

“My background is Chablis and Sauvignon Blanc, so I was very interested in tackling this grape. It is not a classical style of Pinot Gris, but it is balanced, dry with good acidity and not a lot of sweetness”, Winemaker Jean-Pierre Colas.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Pale yellow and viscous, this complex Pinot Gris hit so many lovely notes: stone fruit, ginger, lime, beeswax, floral and white peaches (almost candied).  Medium acidity with a nice, long finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: Pinot Gris contains similar characteristics to Gewurztraminer (fruity and floral), so creamy dishes would work well here.  Pair this with a Seafood Chowder, a creamy Sheep cheese, or Coquille St Jacques (a creamy French dish made with scallops and cream).

Cellaring: This wine is beautiful and a delight to drink now but could also be kept for a few years. 


13th Street Essence Pinot Noir VQA 2010 $34.95 (regular $44.95)

essence“I was not originally confident about making Pinot Noir in Canada but I changed my mind when I made the first in 2009.  The 2010 is elegant, balanced, fruity, with little oak flavour. The key for this wine was to use the right barrels for the grape” Winemaker Jean-Pierre Colas.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Light medium ruby and oh so smooth.  Notes of cherries, strawberries, and cranberry are all there, followed by roses, pepper and a meatiness that just aches to be paired with grilled meat.  Medium body, with fruit and pepper on the finish.  A gorgeous Pinot Noir.

Suggested Food Pairing: Meat – and lots of it! Grilled lamb chops, roasted duck with a cranberry sauce or grilled pork tenderloin with cherry sauce (see recipe below).

Cellaring: Pinot Noirs often require a bit of time to soften (I prefer to drink most New World Pinot’s 5 years or so after bottling), and this one is ready to enjoy now.


13th Street Meritage VQA 2012 $34.95

“2012 provided intensity to the grapes due to warm weather and lots of tannins were extracted during maceration.  There is balance, freshness and richness in this blend, and this Meritage is very similar to a South American Bordeaux blend” Winemaker Jean-Pierre Colas.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A beautifully complex wine, dark ruby red with a purple hue, and tons of fruit.  Blackberry and blueberry on the nose followed by black plums, cassis and white pepper.  Vanilla from the oak ageing comes through but is not overpowering.  Medium + acidity and tannins, very round, full and well balanced.  A very well made wine.

Suggested Food Pairing: Another great wine to be paired with meat during this start of BBQ season.  Grilled leg of lamb, venison or other game meats would do very well, but I am a big fan of classics, so I suggest simple grilled steaks with great simple sides to showcase this wine (recipe below).

Cellaring: Can be opened now, but if you want to see how this will do with a bit more age, it could easily sit for another 2 to 4 years.



With 13th Street Winery Pinot Gris…

Coquilles St. Jacques

Recipe & photo credits: 

Ingredients for the mashed potatoes

2 cups Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons 35% cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for the scallop filling

2 tablespoons shallot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour½ cup of milk (2% fat or more)
¼ cup of white wine (preferably Pinot Gris)
11 oz. medium scallops (size 15-25) drained and patted dry
1 cup of grated Gruyère cheese
Salt and pepper to taste 


In a saucepan, bring the peeled and cubed potatoes to a boil in salted water and cook until tender.  Remove from heat and drain.  Add the butter and coarsely mash.  Using a mixer, puree the potatoes smooth while slowly adding the cream.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Transfer potatoes into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip and set aside.

Melt butter in a fry pan over medium heat.  Add the scallops and cook until softened.  Remove the scallops and set aside.  Add the flour and cook for 1 minute while stirring constantly.  Add the milk and wine and bring to a boil, whisking constantly.  Cook for 1 minute and add salt and pepper to taste.  Add the scallops back to the pan along with ½ cup of the cheese and stir to combine.  Remove pan from heat.

Spoon the scallop filling into four scallop shells or gratin dishes.  Garnish the rim of the dishes with the mashed potatoes. Sprinkle remaining cheese overtop of the filling.  Bake for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees and finish under the broiler until cheese and potatoes are golden brown.

Serve as an appetizer, or as a main course alongside a simple green salad and fresh French baguette. 


With 13th Street Essence Pinot Noir …

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Fresh Cherry Sauce

Recipe credit:
Photo credit:         

IngredientsRecipe for grilled pork tenderloin & cherry sauce

¾ cup cherry preserves (jam or fruit spread acceptable)
3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
¾ teaspoon ground allspice
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups fresh cherries, pitted
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 ¼ pound pork tenderloin 


Heat up your BBQ (medium heat).

While the BBQ is heating up, mix together the cherry preserves, vinegar, and allspice in a medium bowl. Set aside ¼ cup of this mixture in a separate bowl for glazing later.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion and sauté for 1 minute.  Add cherries, cayenne, and preserves mixture. Boil until thick, stirring often, for about 8 minutes.  Season with salt and set aside.

Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper and brush with some glaze.  Cook over hottest part of grill until brown. Move to coolest part and grill until thermometer inserted into thickest part of pork reaches 145°F, turning often and brushing with glaze, about 25 minutes total.

Transfer pork to a platter and let rest 10 minutes. Re-warm the reserved chutney.

Serve with wild rice & fresh vegetables (fiddleheads or asparagus anyone??)


With 13th Street Winery Meritage

Gary’s Best Steak Dinner

Recipe Source: Gary Allen (Melanie’s husband!)
Photo Credit:


2 of your favourite cuts of beef
2 medium to large Russet potatoes, scrubbed clean
Shaved Parmegiano Reggiano
Good quality olive oil (personal favourite: Arbequina)
Good quality balsamic vinegar
Extra-virgin olive oil

Tips for buying, prepping and cooking steak

Choose your favorite cut of meat.  At our house, the go-to favorite is a Rib steak.  Why you ask?  Fat.  Fat equals flavor.  Leaner steaks (like a Filet Mignon or Sirloin) must be cooked very carefully to ensure they don’t dry out.  Rib steaks are normally on the pricier side, but highly recommend as a “treat yo’ self steak!”  If your feeling adventurous and want a less expensive, but extremely flavourful cut, ask your butcher about flank steak and how to prepare and serve them (hint, cook them rare and cut in thin strips across the grain. Melts in your mouth!).

Nothing says tender steak like a relaxed steak.  Let it come to room temperature before cooking for at least an hour.  Sprinkle liberally with sea salt and freshly ground pepper and let them sit there under some plastic wrap for an hour.  For less expensive cuts, also add a splash a touch of Worcestershire sauce and Montreal Steak Spice to add some of the flavour.  Don’t be shy with the salt; it is very important to ensure that the outside of the steak dries out a bit, that’s going to help you get the nice crusty outside you’re looking for.

Time to Grill!

High heat, sear steak and then rotate 45 degrees after about a minute. 1 minute later, flip it.  Repeat on the other side. This process puts a lot of nice color and hash marks on your steak. Afterward, brush it with a little butter and flip it often until your desired doneness and a nice crust has appeared on the outside.  (Editorial side bar: I used to only eat my meat well done, until my husband came along and got me to try steak done rare.  Beef is so much more intense and satisfying when rare, the mouth feel of the meat is rich and supple and you taste all the wonderful beefy goodness!)

Side dishes

For the baked potato, rub some EVOO and sea salt all around.  Place on a metal baking sheet and cook at 350 degrees for an hour.  For the salad: lightly drizzle arugula with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Toss and shave the parmesan over top just before serving.

tasting table

Enjoy your Savvy Selections this summer!




Colchester Ridge Estate Winery celebrates 10 years

Posted by Melanie

Friday, March 11th, 2016

Savvy Selections Ontario wine of the month club

Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Colchester Ridge Estates Winery
–  March 2016 –

Have you had wines from Lake Erie North Shore?  Find out what you could be missing. In Ontario, most of us know that the largest wine growing region in the province is the Niagara Peninsula. And many of us are quite familiar with Prince Edward County wines, but did you know that there is actually a third viticultural area in the province?

Well there is, and if you head just about as south as you can in Ontario you’ll hit it! Not far from Windsor lies the Lake Erie North Shore appellation. It’s an area surrounded by three bodies of water – Lake St. Clair, the Detroit River and Lake Erie. It boasts the longest growing season in the province with the summer heat and the moderating effect brought on by the surrounding waters.

CREW frontWe are excited to feature Colchester Ridge Estate Winery (CREW), a 12 acre estate owned by Nancy and Bernard Gorski (aka Bernie). It is the first winery from Lake Erie North Shore that we have featured – ever! The winery is located in the town of Harrow, just a 30 minute drive from Windsor. The estate grows Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer grapes. They also produce and bottle other wines (such as Riesling and Cabernet Franc), sourcing grapes from the Lake ErieNorthShore area as much as possible.

The little wine region that can…

CREW bottlesCREW produces 3,500 cases of wine annually, making it a small facility in the industry. But they are big in other ways – they have a bottling line, they barrel age all red wines using a blend of 85% French and 15% American oak. To top it all off, they are making interesting wines with the help of a consulting winemaker hailing from New Zealand.Their white wines are crisp and clean, very typical of Ontario white wines, yet by playing with various styles of winemaking, they are diversifying their offerings in effort to help them stand out.

Our Savvy Sommeliers enjoyed discovering CREW and chose these wines for you:

2013 POSH Cuvée – A fragrant &food friendlywhite wine blend, easy drinking, complex, delightful.

2014 Riesling–Medium body with great minerality, fruit and spice.

2011 Cabernet Sauvignon – Smoky and meaty on the nose, with tart red berries and black olive on the palate.

Most not at the LCBO

Your Savvy Selections, along with many other gems from CREW, are not stocked at the LCBO. If you would like to order additional bottles or other Ontario wines, call me at 613-SAVVYCO (613-728-8926) or drop me a line at We’ll be happy to arrange a special delivery for you!

Debbie & Savvy Team

Colchester Ridge Estate Winery

Presented by Sommelier Melanie Allen


My husband and I stopped into CREW while visiting family in Windsor, Ontario over Christmas. It was Boxing Day and Michelle Turnbull, CREW’s Sales and Event Manager, very graciously gave up precious holiday family time to meet with us and share the CREW story and its wines. Although I have visited some of the wineries in the area before, this was our first time visiting CREW and sampling their wines.

Michelle was extremely welcoming and started by giving us a tour of the facility while she provided background information. Vines were first planted in 2001, the first harvest was in 2004 and the winery officially opened in July 2006. Michelle joined CREW in 2014 and is notably passionate about wine. She enjoys working in this industry and the challenges that come with her job and thinking of creative was to market the winery (more on that later!).

Bernard - CREWFamily ties…

Owner Bernard Gorski (in photo at right) hails from Harrow and was raised on the family farming business. While attending university, Bernard started making wine using grapes grown by his family; in part as a hobby, but also because his pals would drink all his beer! Upon completing university, he worked for his father (the family also owns a trucking company), hauling grapes from California to Ontario. Through this, he got his first exposure to the wine business, and began gathering knowledge.

It was during this time that Bernard truly got the wine bug and started developing his winemaking technique and style. The estate remains a small, family-owned and run business, and both of Bernard and Nancy’s sons have had a hand in working the vines, and at the winery.

Sailing…takes me away…

When I asked Michelle about the rebranding that is currently underway for the winery (leaving “Colchester Ridge Estate Winery”, to the more nautical “CREW”) she explained that it was almost fated to happen: “Bernie was an avid sailor before he married Nancy…sadly Nancy gets sea-sick. The running joke in the family is that if he ever buys a boat again, he will have to name it “Miss Nancy” because he will indeed miss Nancy! Aside from this great anecdote, the ridge of Lake Erie is nearby which adds to the water theme. When someone noted the acronym of the winery “CREW”. All this came together as a great time to rebrand.

CREW logo

You will notice on the bottles you are receiving that the new wine labels feature a sail, and many of the wines are named with sailing in mind – POSH (nautical acronym for Port Out Starboard Home), Flagship Chardonnay and Red Sky At Night Rosé. You get the idea!

CREW is turning 10!

barrel roomCREW’s 10th anniversary is this July and Michelle and the winery team is busy planning many events to celebrate. Looking for a reason to getaway ‘down south’? Explore Lake Erie North Shore wine region and be sure visit CREW.

The winery is a multipurpose and functional space that is transformed for many events – wine & cheese nights, Christmas crafting and of course sampling wines.

Another reason to visit CREW this summer – SUP & Sip.One of the popular events last summer that will definitely be held throughout this summer is an afternoon of stand up paddle boarding, followed by wine and cheese. Definitely in that order!

star gazingAnd you don’t have to wait until summer to visit! Next month, CREW is hosting a Wine and Paint afternoon, as well as an afternoon of Art, Wine & Cheese . And coming in May, I’m told that a very exciting event including stargazing and wine may be in the works! Please check CREW’s Facebook page for details on all upcoming events. They call friends and fans CREW Mates….and with a glass of their wines, you can easily say that you now join the long list of CREW Mates.

Michelle does not stop! Not only does she organize events for CREW, she also partners with local wineries who are members of EPIC Wineries to draw visitors to the area wineries. Even more reasons to hop in your car or take a Porter flight to discover this neat wine region.

We’ll drink to that…Cheers!




CREW Posh Cuvée VQA 2013 $14

posh whiteIn keeping with the sailing theme, this blend of Chardonnay, Riesling, Vidal and Gewürztraminer was named POSH for good reason. “In sailing terms, POSH stands for – Port Out Starboard Home”, explained Michelle. “On the journey from the UK to Indian, a Posh cabin was considered the most luxurious, as it provided the most sunshine and least wind.”

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Fun in a glass! Medium yellow color, with aromas of green apple, citrus fruit, fresh-cut grass. On the palate, the Granny Apple shines through, as does lemon rind, ginger and lime. Medium + acidity, and medium body with a nice long finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: Sushi comes to mind immediately. Melanie turned to Michael Barlozzari, chef and owner of KOMA Restaurant in South Windsor for the recipe of Tuna Sashimi and Cucumber Slawon the following pages. Also, “Moules et Frites” would be delicious, however food is not mandatory while sipping this delicious white blend. Just chill & sip away….

Cellaring: Ready to enjoy right now!


CREW Riesling VQA 2014, $15

This wine exhibits pure and transparent yellow diamond hues with honey and peach on the nose. Its composition opens with the luminous freshness of melon and a hint of lime with a delicate mineral finish.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Pale yellow color with medium acidity, typical of an Ontario Riesling. On the nose, lovely minerality as well as peaches, baking spice (think nutmeg) and wet stone. The slightest hint of petrol comes out on the palate, as does a juicy ripe pear and the nutmeg. Medium body with a lovely fruity finish.

Suggested Food Pairing:Baked ham, sautéed scallops or the yummy Pork Chop recipe Melanie shares below. These tastes will play nicely with the fruit and acidity found in this Riesling. I wouldn’t hesitate to serve this alongside a dessert of fruit salad with Angel Food cake.

Cellaring:Ready to drink, but has the acidity required for keeping it aside for another 1-2 years.


CREW Cabernet Sauvignon VQA 2011 $22

This wine is making me awesomeA dark garnet wine that delivers black fruit flavours with licorice and spice. Big, soft and round with silky tannins. Long finish with complex characteristics. A big, round wine.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Medium ruby red color with acidity and tannins hitting medium levels as well. On the nose, a meaty, slightly smoky aroma, as well as cherry, red fruit. The palate is complex and very interesting with flavors of cola, cherry, red beets, cranberry, pomegranate and black olives.

Suggested Food Pairing: This Cabernet Sauvignon would do well with a variety of fall and winter dishes. Traditional Tourtière, Braised Ox Tail (see recipe below), Chicken Stew with tomatoes and olives or Tagliatella served with Puttenesca sauce would all pair very well with this full-body red. Very versatile and food-friendly.

Cellaring:Can be opened now, but could also age for another year in the cellar.




With CREW Posh Cuvée …

Sardella-marinated Tuna Sashimi with Cucumber Slaw

Recipe by Michael Barlozzari, chef and owner of KOMA Restaurant in South Windsor.


Sardella-marinated tuna sashimiSardella-marinated tuna sashimi
2 oz sushi grade tuna
1/4 tsp lemon oil
1/2 tsp sardella (salted fish sauce)
1/4tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small pinch smoked sea salt

Cucumber Slaw

1 cucumber
1/4 tsp diced chives
1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 pinch tientsin powder (Asian chili powder)
1 pinch smoked sea salt


For the cucumber slaw, wash the cucumbers and use a mandolin to slice it thinly. Mix all the slaw ingredients together in a bowl and marinate the cucumber for a couple minutes.

For the tuna, slice the tuna very thin and marinate it in the ingredients for about 2 minutes.

Plate the tuna and place the cucumber slaw over top to serve and enjoy with a glass of Posh Cuvée.

With CREW Riesling…

Pork Chops with Apples & Riesling Cream Sauce

From the kitchen of Michelle Turnbull at CREW
Photo credit: Melanie Allen

CREW Vineyards in DecemberIngredients

4 meaty pork chops
1 sliced onion
2 peeled and sliced Granny Smith apple
1 cup heavy whipping cream
¾ cup off CREW Riesling + a splash for deglazing
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
Olive oil for frying
Salt and pepper


Sprinkle pork chops with salt & pepper. Heat up the olive oil in a pan on medium heat and brown the pork chops for a few minutes on each side. Remove the pork chops from the pan and set aside.

Deglaze the pan with a splash of Riesling. Toss in the sliced onions and sauté until translucent. Add in the apples and keep sautéing until apples soften. Add the Riesling and bring pan to a boil. Simmer until sauce is reduced slightly, and then stir in the cream and mustard. Bring to a simmer, add the chops until cooked through and sauce is thickened.

To add a healthy and easy side, when chops are almost finished thrown in a giant handful of spinach leaves (more than you would expect – it shrinks!). It will wilt and pair beautifully with the sauce and chops.

Serve with Israeli couscous and of course, CREW Riesling


With CREW Cabernet Sauvignon …

Red Wine Braised Short Ribs (or Ox Tail)

From the kitchen of Michelle Turnbull – CREW
Photo credit: Melanie Allen


CREW Vineyards in December1.5 litres of your favourite dry red wine
5-6 lbs English Cut Short Ribs or Ox Tail
Flour for dusting
Salt and pepper
Unsalted Butter1 medium onion, chopped
4 – 5 garlic cloves, crushed
2 cups of chopped root veggies (carrots and parsnip recommended)
Fresh thyme sprigs
Up to 4 cups beef broth


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a sauce pan, bring red wine to a simmer over medium heat and reduce to half while prepping meat.

To prep the meat, pat it dry. Mix the flour, salt and pepper together and then dust the meat.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat,add the butter and brown the meat on all sides. Once browned, transfer the meat into a bowl, and deglaze the Dutch over with a splash of red wine. Add more butter to the pan and sauté onions and garlic until translucent. Add the root vegetables and sauté until softened.

Arrange meat pieces over the root vegetables and add the thyme spring and the reduced red wine. Add enough beef broth to cover contents of the Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, cover with a lid, and then roast in oven for 3 to 3.5 hours.

When done, transfer the meat and solid veggies onto a plate. Pour liquid through a sieve and discard any unwanted solids. Place liquid into a saucepan and bring to a boil until sauce is thickened. Whisk in a tablespoon of butter

Serve with mashed potato and CREW Cabernet Sauvignon.


Happy St. Patrick’s Day & enjoy your Savvy Selections!


Wines from the Bosc family to you

Posted by Bethany

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

Savvy Selections Ontario wine of the month club

Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Château des Charmes Winery
–  February 2016 –


Type ‘Château des Charmes’ into a Google search and you’ll find yourself being redirected to That’s because everything about this celebrated Niagara winery—from designing labels to trimming the vines—is a labour of love on the part of the entire Bosc family.

paul stPaul Bosc Sr. started out in the 1970s with a vision to craft top-shelf, European-style wines from vitisvinifera grown right here in Ontario. He was undeterred by naysayers and equally deaf to any words of caution about what he should & shouldn’t plant in the hard, stony soil, in a country known for its bitterly cold winters & short growing season. He toyed with different varietals, re-imagined vineyard structure and rolled the dice on how consumers would receive his wines.

A pioneer of the Canadian wine industry

To say he succeeded would be an understatement. Over the course of two decades, his wines have garnered widespread acclaim (and hardware) at the national &international levels, including the Ontario Wine Awards, the National Wine Awards of Canada and the internationally renowned Vinexpo.

That doesn’t mean the Bosc family is resting on their laurels. Far from it: read more about what they’re up to at the winery, including details about the largest renovation in its history.

paul jr and micheleWe are confident that this month’s Savvy Selections from Château des Charmes will surprise and delight you. We even went so far as to ask Michele (in photo at left with her husband Paul Bosc Jr) which wine she thought was the best.“It’s like asking someone with two kids to choose a favourite – it’s not fair!” she laughs. “That’s the thing about our wines that I love. No matter what mood I’m in, or what I’m feeling, or eating or not eating, there’s a wine for that. Sorry for stealing the Jackson-Triggs line, but it really is true.”

Our Savvy Sommeliers have shared their tasting notes with you, along with some pairing tips and recipes to help you enjoy each wine to its fullest.


In your Savvy Selections you will find…

Gewürztraminer VQA 2013 St. David’s Bench Vineyard – A fragrant & succulent sipper that will have you dreaming of spring.

Chardonnay VQA 2012 Paul Bosc Estate Vineyard– A hands down classic.

Cabernet Franc VQA 2012 St. David’s Bench Vineyard – Full, ripe red fruit explodes out of the glass.

Most not at the LCBO

Your Savvy Selections, along with many other gems from Château des Charmes, are not stocked at the LCBO. If you would like to order additional bottles or other Ontario wines, call me at 613-SAVVYCO (613-728-8926)or drop me a line at We’ll be happy to arrange a special delivery for you!

Enjoy this great selection of wines from Château des Charmes.

Debbie & Savvy Team


Château des Charmes Estate Winery

Presented by Sommelier Bethany Harpur


weddingIt was late in the day when my husband and I stopped at Château des Charmes in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Ten minutes before the tasting room was due to close. The harried server at the bar gave us a look; we flashed a few guilty smiles as we quickly sniffed and swirled.

Then the door opened, and a silver-haired gentleman walked in, wearily removing dusty work gloves. He pulled a bottle out from under the counter and poured some of its deep purple contents into a glass. Just before it touched his lips, he saw us. “Would you like to try some of this, while you’re here?”

A captivating man

That “quick stop” turned into a long, leisurely hour of sampling off-the-menu wines and engaging in deep discussion with none other than Paul Bosc Sr. himself (left in photo below), the patriarch of the Bosc family and the pioneering winemaker of Château des Charmes.

bosc familyIt’s no surprise to find the elder Bosc chatting up visitors at the impressive building on York Road. Hospitality and approachability are key in this thriving family business, where job titles tend to be malleable, depending on the season, event schedule or guest experience.

Bosc’s daughter-in-law, Michele (in black blouse in photo), wears several hats at the winery: marketing director, social media guru, welcoming committee, wedding planner. “I get to do a lot of different, fun things,” she says. “I think it’s great to interact with customers, to hear what they have to say, whether it’s on social media or live and in-person. That interaction, it’s about bringing our family story to the consumer.”

Renovations underway

Right now the family is adding a new chapter to the narrative as they expand the Château’s massive cellar. The renovation marks the first major capital investment since the winery opened. It will double the available space for barrels and create more “breathing room” for workers. “We want to be sure we have all the tools we need to make the best possible wine that we can,” says Michele.

reno spaceExpanding the cellar meant digging up the Château’s popular vineyard courtyard, where countless weddings, parties and concerts have been held over the years. “Now’s the opportunity to re-imagine it,” Michele says. “When we first built it and when we first opened, there was no concept of hosting 35 weddings a year, or welcoming 100,000 visitors a year—it just didn’t exist. Now we get to build it the way the business wants it. I can’t wait to see it done.”

A late start to winter and mild temperatures in the Niagara region have kept the renovation running on schedule, with the revamped space scheduled to open in May of this year.

Even better than before

After two decades, the Bosc family is eager to get people excited about their brand again—and get new Château des Charmes fans on board. “Our wines have never been better,” Michele proclaims. “We’ve been around a long time, we know what we’re doing. If you haven’t tasted our wines in a while, try us again. I think you might be surprised.”


Here’s to Château des Charmes team!



St David’s Bench Gewürztraminer VQA 2013 $19.95

“We planted these vines in 1996 &we feel they are just now hitting their peak, flourishing, producing fantastic, hand-harvested grapes that are making very interesting wine”, Vineyard manager Miguel Fontalvo.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A brilliant, clear pale-gold shines in the glass. Wave after wave aromas of clover honey, nectarines, grapefruit and honeysuckle inundate the senses. A bit of sweetness carries evenly with lingering acidity on the palate, to balance out the creamy mouthfeel. That same acidity lingers a bit on the finish, where subtle hints of woody smoke come through.

Suggested Food Pairing: Gewurztraminer is always a classic match for spicy dishes. Pair this with Mexican, Thai or Indian food, like the Quick Chicken Korma recipe included below.A perfect meal for a wintery day.

Cellaring: This beautiful wine has gorgeous aromas & flavours that are ready to enjoy right now!


Paul Bosc Estate Vineyard Chardonnay VQA 2012, $21.95

A classic Chardonnay for even the pickiest ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) enthusiast. It’s the very definition of balance: all the aromas, flavours and textures carry through on an even keel from start to finish, without any sudden spikes or dips in the quality, making for an all-around elegant wine.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Up front, creamy butterscotch and exotic coconut, followed by butter and brioche on the palate. Finishes with subtle almost restrained oak and a muted essence of dried herbs.

Suggested Food Pairing: The smooth texture of oaked Chardonnay lends itself well to dishes dripping with butter, cream and cheese.A delicious wine to enamour your sweetheart over a Valentine’s Day meal with seafood, Pasta Alfredo, cheese fondue or cuddled by the fireplace enjoying a cheese platter and roasted nuts. For something completely different, try Roasted Chickenpeas recipe that we offer.

Cellaring: Ready to drink, but has the staying power to evolve further in the bottle over the next 2-3 years.


St. David’s Bench Vineyard Cabernet Franc VQA 2012 $25.95

This special parcel of land – St David’s Vineyard – is located high up against the Niagara Escarpment, the fruit has more time to mature and ripen in the summer sun. 2012 was spectacular vintage in Niagara, so with these 2 elements – the location of the land plus the ideal grape growing season – this red wine is outstanding.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Complex nose of blackberry, dark chocolate and dried cherries with a lifted note of violets and rosewater. The powerful fruit carries right through the finish, buoyed by velvety tannins and a soft texture.

Suggested Food Pairing: Cabernet Franc is a winner with all kinds of red meats – beef, lamb, game. Try it out with this Venison Ragout recipe from Bearbrook Farms.

Cellaring: Can be opened now, but if you have will power & patience, this red wine will age nicely over the next 5-10 years.




With St David’s Bench Vineyard Gewürztraminer …

Quick Chicken Korma

Recipe & photo credits: Canadian Living Magazine


Quick-Chicken-Korma13811536451/3 cup unsalted raw cashews
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
3 onions, sliced
2 green hot OR jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 ½teaspoons each ground coriander and garam masala
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Pinch each ground nutmeg, salt and saffron (optional)
450 grams boneless skinless chicken thighs, quartered
1 ½ cups no-salt-added chicken broth
3 tablespoons fat-free plain Greek yogurt
1 ½ teaspoons lime juice


In large skillet, toast cashews over medium heat, stirring often, until golden, 3 to 5 minutes.

Transfer to food processor. In same skillet, heat half of the oil over medium heat; cook onions, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Add to food processor; puree until smooth.

Combine hot peppers, garlic, ginger, coriander, garam masala, cayenne pepper, nutmeg and salt. Add chicken; toss to coat.

Heat remaining oil in same skillet over medium-high heat; brown chicken, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Stir in 2 Tbsp water, scraping up browned bits. Stir in broth, saffron (if using) and cashew puree; simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened and juices run clear when chicken is pierced, about 5 minutes.

Stir in yogurt and lime juice; heat until warmed through but not boiling.


With Paul Bosc Vineyard Chardonnay…

Crispy Cider Vineyard & Sea Salt Roasted Chickpeas

Recipe & photo credits:Constantly Cooking

Light, crispy and full of flavour, these protein packed snacks are great on their own or as a garnish for soups or salads. Play around with other spices if you like – a few shakes of chili powder or smoked paprika, for example. You can use dried chickpeas, which you’ll need to soak and cook, but for this recipe, the canned ones are just as good plus a whole lot faster and easier.

Ingredientsroasted chickpeas

1 can (19 oz / 540 mL) chickpeas, rinsed well
1 ½ cups (375 mL) cider vinegar
1 ½ Tablespoons (22 mL) olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons (7.5 mL) coarse sea salt
½ teaspoon (2.5 mL) freshly ground pepper


Pour the vinegar into a medium-sized saucepan. Cover pot with a lid and place on high heat. As soon as the vinegar is boiling, add the rinsed chickpeas to the pot and remove from heat. Let stand 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400F.

Drain chickpeas, discarding vinegar. Pour chickpeas out onto a clean dish towel and roll them around gently to dry thoroughly.

Put chickpeas in a clean bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Toss gently to coat evenly.

Spread chickpeas out onto a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast in oven for 40 to 45 minutes, jiggling the baking sheet occasionally.

The chickpeas will turn a dark golden brown and get crunchy. If you take them out of the oven too soon, you can always put them back in the oven for a few more minutes later.

Serve warm or at room temperature. These will keep for 2 weeks in a Ziploc bag stored in the fridge.

With St David’s Bench Vineyard Cabernet Franc

Venison Ragout in Red Wine

Recipe Source: Bearbrook Farms
Photo Credit: Chart Farm


venison1 shoulder/leg (2-3 lbs) venison
5 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon thyme
4 slices bacon, cut into strips
10 juniper berries
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar cup dry red wine
1 cup game or beef stock
3 tablespoons cranberry or red currant jelly


Cut meat into bite-sized pieces.

Heat oil in heavy saucepan over medium-high heat.Brown meat on all sides. Do 1/3 at a time and remove from pan. Season with salt and pepper.

Fry bacon a few minutes and add thyme, juniper berries, tomato paste and flour. Fry for 2 minutes longer.

Pour in vinegar and red wine. Bring to boil, scraping solids from bottom. Add stock and cook until sauce is thickened.

Add meat with juices, cover and simmer for 2 hours.

Add jelly and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper & serve over mashed potatoes or with wild rice.


Enjoy your Savvy Selections!


The difference is in the dirt at Coyote’s Run

Posted by Debbie

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

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Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Coyote’s Run Estate Winery
–  January 2016 –


We are absolutely delighted to kick off our 9th year of Savvy Selections. This month we are delighted to feature Coyote’s Run Estate Winery that is located in St David’s Bench (in Niagara-on-the-Lake), followed by a Rare Wines portfolio tasting with the winery owners & winemaker. It’s like a one-two-punch!

bottlesNever before have we designed a wine soaked journey like this….read about it here, then experience it in real life by joining us on Wednesday January 20 for the Rare Wines Tasting.

Being a Savvy Selections subscriber has plenty of benefits!

2 complementary tickets with your name on them to this event plus TWO more for your friends to join us.
Use promo code: SAVVYVIP when you register at

Let’s take a peak into your Savvy Selections parcel. You will find:

Rare Vintage Chardonnay VQA 2014the acidity combined with a touch of oak makes a beautiful tropical taste that is a break from the harsh winter

Rare Vintage Cabernet Syrah 2012– grab your coat, you’ll be wanting to fire up the BBQ for this one

Black Paw Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 – good thing you cleared out some room in your cellar over the holidays. This wine could be aged a bit longer if you like.

It all started with a fishing trip

The stories behind the winery are the ones that we like to dig up. When I interviewed owner Jeff Aubry, he recalled that the idea of a winery came about up north during a fishing trip…with a boat load of strangers no less. Read about this, the Savvy Sommeliers’ tasting notes and warm-to-the-soul recipes that the Savvy Selections panel paired with the 3 Coyote’s Run wines.

CR_black_w_coyote copyYou may see a Coyote or two in the LCBO…

…but in your Savvy Selections are the Coyote’s Run wines that rarely leave the winery. These wines are called small batch, so if you have a new favorite, you can order them in person at the portfolio tasting event on January 20th or give our Savvy Team a call on 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) to arrange an order for you. It is easy & only takes a matter of a couple of days for delivery from the winery to you.

I’m feeling that 2016 will be an epic year…I’ll raise a glass to that!

Debbie & Savvy Team


Coyote’s Run Estate Winery

Presented by Sommelier Debbie Trenholm


Think back 12 or so years ago – remember the critter label phase? A rare scene now, yet in 2003, when Coyote’s Run opened their doors, kangaroos, turtles, cats & dragons were gracing wine labels….and the name Coyote’s Run was far from joining that pack. In fact the reference of a coyote at this winery was not for a whimsical eye-catching character, rather because wild coyotes frequently traveled across the property & can be heard in the vineyards.

A bush plane, a boat…then a bar!

Dave & Jeff & ChrisDavid Sheppard (centre) & Jeff Aubry (right) are two men with unlikely paths that surprisingly crossed. David grew up in a grape growing family in Niagara & learned winemaking in Germany before joining Inniskillin in its early days. Jeff punched away on keyboards in his high tech job at Nortel before he ever imagined ‘punching down’ the lees while making wine.

It was a love of fishing brought these men together when they escaped in a bush plane for a long weekend. While waiting for the fish to bite, the two explored the idea of breaking ground & building a winery in Niagara. “Not a large one, rather a boutique winery. Something with a soul”, explained Jeff.

Perhaps surviving a fishing trip in close & remote quarters was a sign that the two had interest and compatibility to make it happen.

“We were at the Beacon Bar (in Niagara), tossing around names. We both did not want our family name in the winery. And yet our little piece of heaven didn’t have lakes, streams to include in its name. But coyotes would travel through the property often”. And like that, the decision was made.

Never a boring moment!

“The roof was on in one day, then the tanks arrived the next day. A day later we started to harvest…before you know it we were making wine,” recalls Jeff about the fall of 2003. “We did not have running water or electricity, but that did not matter, we ordered a generator & brought in water.“ And it did not stop there. In the summer of 2004, “on opening day , as I was heading out the door in the morning, when my wife Patti, showed me the pregnancy test results. Sure enough it was blue.” The next day, Jeff shook his head as he explained, “My laptop died. Completely toast.”

Pinot Noir Challenge

Known as the heart break grape, making a fine Pinot Noir is every winemaker’s goal. Receiving accolades & awards is the golden egg. ‘A friend of mine said – You’re not thinking of growing Pinot Noir are you?” And much to his surprise not only did they grow the finicky grapes, Coyote’s Run won gold in the All Canadian Wine Awards for their first vintage of Pinot Noir. Now that is impressive! “It is one of the highlights of the past 13 years,” said Jeff. “And my friend was shocked!”

A vineyard like no other

dirtCoyote’s Run location enjoys more heat than almost anywhere in Ontario. This ripeness factor shows through in the grapes – especially the red ones. In addition, the Coyote’s Run property is really two vineyards with two very distinct soil types – red & black. To honour this unique attribute, they have named the parcels of land as ‘Black Paw Vineyard’ and ‘Red Paw Vineyard’. The soils have tremendous geological differences that are profoundly expressed in the grapes…and the wine.

The winemaking team has planted the same grape variety on each of these soils and they are vinifed separately, resulting in two very unique and distinct wines grown only a few hundred metres apart. Join us at the portfolio event to taste these wines back to back…then you’ll appreciate the difference terroir makes.

Right now in the vineyard

When I interviewed Jeff in the balmy days before Christmas, he explained that with this weird & mysterious weather, the warm temperatures don’t allow vines go dormant. If winter arrives slowly & gradually – that is good. If there is a quick drop in temperature it will be painful. This means that the sap in the buds will freeze & die. Those buds would have become grapes. After last year’s harsh winter, a moderate ‘warm’ winter would be a gift.

Here’s to David, Jeff & the Coyote’s Run team!




Rare Vintage Chardonnay 2014 $24.95

“We avoid the term Reserved. In our view it is overused and because of that, it’s significance is lessened”, explained Jeff. Rare Vintage wines are only made with exceptional grapes in exceptional years. “The wines are truly the best of the best. We select individual barrels to make the final blend. In 2014 our entire crop of Chardonnay from the Red Paw vineyard was remarkable that we used all of it to make this Rare Vintage wine.”

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Whether you love Chardonnay or not, we are certain that you will enjoy every drop. Elegant with aromas of toasted almond, tropical fruit (think pineapple & banana) that follows through in the taste. Warm spices, white pepper & vanilla round on the finish makes this medium bodied wine playful in your mouth. An absolutely well balanced wine that lingers forever…and makes you thirsty for more!

Suggested Food Pairing: This wine stumped me.I could not decide only one recipe to share. I kept the bottle in my fridge for a week and served a splash with different dishes to see which worked best. Pork tenderloin with a mango chutney played well. Indian Butter Chicken curry did too. Pan seared Rainbow trout was to die for when paired with this Chardonnay. Even the holiday cheese board sang with this wine! Net-Net: this wine is very versatile. Being the New Year, our team of Savvy Sommeliers couldn’t resist pairing with a Cheese Fondue recipe – make yours or try the one below.


Rare Vintage Cabernet Syrah VQA 2012 $32.95

Jeff explains, “2012 was a hot vintage. Our yields were very low. We did not have much in the way of grapes for either Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah, so we decided to do something different & blend them. It is certainly a different style of blend in the Niagara…and wine writers and our customers were expecting something different.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: “Silk & elegance sums it up for me,” Jeff explained and we definitely agree. Incredibly dark and nearly opaque this a definitely a winter wine that will lure you. Heart warming aromas of mincemeat, cloves, blackberry & dark chocolate even ink. A big bold red wine…when was the last time you said that about a red from Ontario?

Suggested Food Pairing: Grab your coat…you’ll want to be firing up the BBQ for this wine. Steak – your favorite cut, lamb chops or if it is too cold to venture outside, then a roast or prime rib will definitely do the trick. We have tempted you with a Flank Steak recipe below.

Cellaring: This wine is ready now or will cellar a further 2 to 5 years.


Black Paw Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon VQA 2013 $20.95

“In my opinion that there are relatively few places in Niagara that could grow Cabernet Sauvignon. Knowing this, we put a small experimental block in our vineyard and the resulting wines were nice. Like Bordeaux yet in our Black Paw soil. Now we have over 6 acres and have been growing the variety since 2010. Dave & I love growing Cabernet Sauvignon. The vines produce so much fruit to work with. And the wine coming from this Black Paw soil are outstanding no matter what weather Mother Nature challenges us with.”

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Rich, big & loaded with flavour. It’s stunning. Another example showing that Ontario can make big reds. Intensely dark in colour & reminiscent of red & black fruit (think plums, figs, berries) that will WOW you with the aroma, then continues into the taste. There is a solid back bone that gives it a long lingering finish that makes this a full flavoured wine – kudos to Dave, Chris & the winemaking team for another hands down great wine.

Suggested Food Pairing: A steak would be delicious, yet at this price make it your house wine and serve it with pizza, grilled sausages, meatloaf, pasta or even pork chops. The list goes on. Jeff confessed that he does most of the cooking at home and offers his Italian Sausage & Kale Soup to enjoy with this wine…yes soup & wine….and crusty bread too!




With Rare Vintage Chardonnay…

Classic Cheese Fondue

Source: All
Photo credit:


1 cup white wine
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
7 ounces Gruyere cheese – grated
7 ounces old Cheddar cheese – grated
7 ounces Emmental cheese (or Swiss) – grated


Bring the wine to a boil in a small saucepan.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Whisk in the flour, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly to avoid sticking and burning.

Once the flour is cooked, stir the wine into the flour mixture slowly. Use a whisk to smooth the mixture. Slowly add Gruyere, Cheddar, and Emmental cheese; stir until cheese is melted. Transfer cheese mixture to fondue pot. Keep warm over low flame.

Serve with thick slices of baguette, broccoli spears, wedges of apple & pear, a variety of mushrooms, thick slices of your favorite sausages (cooked)…and any other dipping accompaniment.

Call friends over…or make it for a date night.

With Rare Vintage Cabernet Syrah

Grilled Marinated Flank Steak

recipe & photo credit:Simply Recipes


1/3 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds flank steak


Combine the marinade ingredients in a large non-reactive bowl. Place steak in the bowl and turn so that it is completely coated with the marinade. (You can also place the steak and marinade in a freezer bag and place it in a bowl.) Chill and marinate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Prepare your grill for high, direct heat with one part of the grill for lower, indirect heat. The grill is hot enough when you hold your hand about an inch over the hot side and you can only hold it there for about a second.

Remove the steak from the marinade and gently shake off the excess marinade from the steak (but make sure there is still a coating of it, you’ll want the oil on it to help keep the steak from sticking to the grill). Place steak on the hot side of the grill. Grill for a minute or two on each side to get a good sear, then move the steak to the cooler side of the grill, cover and cook a few minutes more until done to your liking.

When the steak has cooked to your preferred level of doneness, remove from the grill and place on a cutting board. Cover with aluminum foil to hold in the heat while the steak rests for 10 to 15 minutes.

Notice the direction of the muscle fibers of the steak; this is called the grain of the meat. Flank steak is a very lean cut that will be tough and chewy unless you cut it in a way that breaks up the muscle fibers. So, cut the steak across the grain of the meat, at a steep diagonal, so that the slices are wide. It is easiest to use a long serrated bread knife for this, but any long sharp knife will do.


With Black Paw Cabernet Sauvignon…

Italian Sausage & Kale Soup

from Jeff Aubry’s kitchen to yours

Black Paw Cab Sauv and Sausage Kale SoupIngredients

Italian sausages – however many you can eat
pasta noodles of your choice¼ cup olive oil
4-6 crushed cloves of garlic
4 cups vegetable stock
½ Tbsp freshly ground sage
1/2 Tbsp paprika
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 can diced stewed  tomatoes
handful of kale, torn


Grill 3 hot Italian sausages, set them aside. Boil ½ pound of pasta noodles – I prefer fusili or orzo.

In a ¼ cup of olive oil, sauté 4-6 crushed garlic cloves until golden. Add 4 cups veggie bouillon, ½ tbsp freshly ground sage, 1/2 Tbsp paprika, and 1 tsp. fresh thyme. Add one can diced stewed  tomatoes, and boil for 2 mins.

In the bowl, spoon in a 1/2 cup of cooked pasta, add a handful of torn kale, and some sausage slices (1/4 thick). Ladle the hot soup over top and voila!

Variations include spinach instead of kale, and tortellini instead of sausage.


Here’s to 2016 & your wine soaked discovery with Savvy Selections!




Rounding out the year with Redstone

Posted by Debbie

Saturday, December 26th, 2015

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Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Redstone Winery
–  December 2015 –


It’s been a whirlwind month for sure – for winemakers as well! To interview Redstone Winery’s winemaker Rene Vanede, I had to ‘pull him off’ the bottling line. “We are disgorging sparkling wine right now. It is the fun part of making bubbles.” I have never met this Aussie, but in the 3 minutes talking to him over the phone, I felt that we’d known each other for years. The conversation is fantastic & interesting, learning about his love of sparkling wine and learning about his impressions about Canadian wine industry. “Why would you come all this way from Australia?” I asked “And why have you stayed??”

More about this interesting & engaging conversation on the following pages. But first…let’s get to the wines!

bottles 2In your Savvy Selections, you will find:

Redstone Sparkling VQA 2013- $24.95
now THIS is the bubbly to pop & celebrate the holidays!

Redstone Cabernet Merlot VQA 2011- $28.95
Already aged 5 years, this a crowd pleasing red wine

Cabernet Sauvignon VQA 2012 – $29.95
WOW what a powerhouse! Ready to drink now or cellar for 5+ years

Initially, they did not plan to have a winery

Red-Stone-WineryTawse Winery purchased the vineyard that was once owned by Thomas & Vaughn – one of the first of the boutique wineries in Beamsville. Moray Tawse had planned to use the grapes from their new vineyards in the Tawse wines…then the winemaking team discovered something VERY interesting. You’ll find the backstory on the following pages. Rene gave me the inside scoop during our interview. And as always, our Savvy Sommeliers share with you their tasting notes for the wines in your Savvy Selections along with recipes to pair with each over the holidays.

You won’t find many Redstone at the LCBO

You’ll be hard pressed to find Redstone’s striking orange foiled bottled on a shelf at the LCBO or Vintages. This winery makes small batch wines, so if you find a wine that you enjoy, give our Savvy Team a call on 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) to arrange an order for you. It is easy & only takes a matter of a couple of days for delivery from the winery to you.

Kicking off the New Year!

Time definitely does fly when you are having fun. Our Sommeliers have been working hard (tough job we know!) finding wines to feature in the 2016 line-up for Savvy Selections. We are starting the New Year with Coyote’s Run Estate Winery of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Our Savvy Sommeliers & tasting panel chose the following wines:

Mark your calendar that these impressive wines will be delivered on Friday January 8th. If you would like additional bottles of these fine wines or other favorites from Coyote’s Run, just let me know & I will add more to your order.

We hope you’re having wonderful holiday season with great wines, family & friends!

Debbie & Savvy Team


Redstone Winery

Presented by Accredited Sommelier Debbie Trenholm


rene-vanedeI always find it fascinating to hear a winemaker’s impression of the Canadian wine industry. And when the winemaker is ‘an import’ from a different wine region, the insight is even more interesting! My interview with Rene Vanede (below) – winemaker at Redstone Winery – held my interest at ‘Hello’. If it weren’t for a glitch in the bottling line that he needed to tend to, our phone conversation could have lasted for hours.

The ‘ah-ha’ moment

Originally from Hunter Valley, Australia, Rene was surrounded by the wine industry. He worked as a Sommelier in various local hotels, then the travel bug bit him & he headed to Europe. “England in particular is great place for access to the world of wine,” Rene mentioned. As he was pulling the cork out of a bottle of wine from an undiscovered place he thought, “I can make this stuff.”

From Sommelier to Winemaker

Rene jumped into being a winemaker with both feet. He completed his university studies, then rolled up his sleeves & got hands-on experience with grape harvest and in the cellar at an Australian winery you may have heard of…Rosemount, Owned by Foster’s Group, Rene’s work experience at Rosemount was making wine in massive volumes. He explained that he often did not know what brand he was making…all he knew was that he was making wine.“I quickly figured out that I did not want to continue to work at big places.”

The all-Canadian wine adventure

Now with winemaking experience, Rene was ripe to explore other wine regions. He had heard that Canada’s wine industry was making big strides & was comprised of hundreds of small businesses. Curious & intrigued, he packed up & headed to Vancouver. It turns out that he did not work at a BC winery at this time, yet he did sample a lot of their wines during his travels.

In 2006, he was invited to be part of the vintage team at Tawse Winery in Beamsville.“It was their biggest harvest ever. Tawse went from a 2000 case winery to 6000 cases,” Rene recalls. “It was exciting to be part of that.” With so much work to do, Rene became a permanent fixture at Tawse. A few years later in 2009 when Moray Tawse purchased Thomas & Vaughn Winery, even more wine had to be made. The new vineyards provided the grapes needed to make Meritage & Bordeaux styled wines for the Tawse portfolio.

Tasting the difference

Curious about the new vineyards, the winemaking team did a side-by-side comparison taste test of wines made with Tawse grapes and wines made with grapes from the Thomas & Vaughn vineyards. “The same winemaking team, however the final product showed an incredible difference,” explained Rene. “The terroir was prevalent in the Tawse wine, while the other wine was all about the fruit.” With this incredibly different wine, the idea was born to keep them separate and establish a new winery. Just like that…Redstone Winery was created.

here’s what it’s all about…

Terroir is the focus at Tawse. Redstone is fruit first.“This is a massive change of mindset for winemaker.” Rene became Redstone’s winemaker with Paul Pender from Tawse on hand as consulting winemaker. The sistering wineries leverage some production equipment and resources, yet for the most part, they are 2 separate wineries.

“At Redstone there are no guidelines. We have the land, the mature vineyards & the track record that the grapes are known to produce quality good wine,” said Rene.

Redstone’s 38-acre vineyard is farmed organically and biodynamically. The location is perfect for late-ripening varietals including Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah – the Bordeaux grape varietals. In terms of white, there is Pinot Gris, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, & Chardonnay from recently acquired Limestone vineyard.

Differences between BC & Ontario

Having been in Canada for 10 years, his Aussie accent is still thick. It could be the company he keeps as there are several Australians at Niagara wineries. Interestingly, without being probed, Rene offered his impressions of the BC & Ontario wine industries. “After traveling in BC, I expected the Ontario wine scene to be similar. In BC, the wineries are cottage like, small operations. The scales of things are different here in Ontario with larger farms & businesses.” Rene continues, “The wines are sheer finesse here in Ontario.” When I heard this, I was eager to share this with our Savvy Selections subscribers.

Here’s to Rene & his winemaking team!




 Redstone Sparkling VQA 2013 $24.95

This is Redstone’s first sparkling. “Sparkling is a Winemaker’s Wine – there are so many different steps involved to making a good sparkler”, explains Rene. While at university, he took a keen interest to learn the finesse of making sparkling wine….and his talent shines through in this wine.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Made with Pinot Noir, Chardonnay & a splash of Pinot Gris, this is an absolutely delicious bubbly. “I like to make wines that I like to drink”, says Rene. This wine has a delicious balance of acidity (think white grapefruit) with a smooth mouth feel and very elegant mousse (bubbles). It’s dry, crisp &delicious.

Suggested Food Pairing: This wine will be perfect any time during the holidays – to pop open when friends drop in, enjoyed with appetizers during Happy Hour, unwinding after tidying up the wrapping paper or even served for brunch. “I enjoy sparkling wine with seafood- scallops, prawns & smoked salmon, or blue cheese,” suggests Rene. On the following pages, we have included an interesting scallop dish for you to try.


Cabernet Merlot VQA 2011 $28.95

close up bottleA blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, this is the classic Bordeaux blend. “We are always comparing the wines from Tawse& Redstone to French wines,” shares Rene. He goes on to explain, “30-40% of the wine was oaked (in French oak of course!). You should be able to see the oak, but it should not be overpowered. In this vintage, the fruit demanded some oak to finish the wine.”

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This is a crowd pleasing wine that you can drink with pretty much anything. Red & black fruit (think plums, currants, raspberry, blackberry) and warm spices waft from the glass and linger on your tongue with each sip. Well balanced, smooth finish, yet still a touch of tannins after the 5+ years of aging that pairs well with hearty food.

Suggested Food Pairing: “For me, this is a winter wine. I would serve it with Beef Finger Pie.” shares Rene. That is a dish that I am not familiar with and nor is Google! After more probing, turns out that a Beef Pot Pie is what this Aussie was referring to! A recipe for an “Aussie Humble Pie” follows.

Cellaring: This wine is ready now or will cellar a further 3 to 5 years.


Redstone Cabernet Sauvignon VQA 2012 $29.95

“This is THE signature wine at Redstone. It put us on the map.” explains Rene. “It’s Redstone in a bottle – the fruit & tannins exhibit the vineyard site.”

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Now this is a BIG red wine still with some grippy tannins. If you like to put wines away, this would be the one out of this bunch. It will be interesting to see how the wine evolves with time. For now, each sip shows the quality of the fruit & the winemaker’s talent – kudos to Rene. The Sommeliers at the tasting panel remarked how this wine reminded them of black – intensely dark in colour, aromas of black fruit (berries, plums, currants, figs) that continue on in the taste. A long finish with an earthy or herbal note like roasted caraway or fennel seeds.

Suggested Food Pairing: One word: steak. If your BBQ is buried under snow, then prime rib would be perfect accompaniment. We share with you a Dijon Herb Crusted Prime Rib recipe.

Cellaring: Ready now or it will cellar nicely for another 5 to 7 years. Winemaker suggestions to decant for 2 hours before serving….then enjoy every sip!




With Redstone Sparkling…

Confit of Scallops with Lemongrass & Coconut Sauce

By chef Kevin Bélisle at Spa Eastman, Eastern Townships, Que.
Source & photo credits:Globe & Mail



2 large yellow beets, cooked and peeled

Herbs and lemon zest oil

½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
2 tablespoon chopped cilantro
2 tablespoon chopped chives
Grated zest of one lemon


1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
1 tablespoon flaxseed
Sea salt to taste

Lemongrass &coconut sauce

2 sticks lemongrass
1/3 cup peeled and chopped fresh ginger
½ cup cashews
¾ cup organic coconut milk
2 tablespoon lemon juice


12 large fresh scallops, kept cool
2 cups coconut oil to cook scallops


Braised+Scallops_Spa+EastmaCut beets into ½-inch-thick slices. With a cookie cutter the same size as the scallops, cut the beet slices into rounds. Warm in the oven before serving.

Mix oil with herbs and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper. Reserve.

Toast the sesame seeds lightly in a pan, being careful not to burn them. Mix the toasted sesame seeds, flax seeds and sea salt in a blender or with a mortar. The mixture should remain fairly grainy. Reserve.

Remove the bottom 2 inches of lemongrass stalk. Chop coarsely, reserving remainder for another use. Combine lemongrass, ginger, cashews, coconut milk and lemon juice. Blend in a food processor or blender until smooth. Place in pan and heat gently when ready to serve.

Remove the muscle from the scallops. Heat coconut oil in a small high-sided pan to 175 to 185 F (80 to 85 C). The oil should be barely moving with just a few bubbles. (Use a thermometer to check, if you have one.) Place the scallops in the coconut oil (in batches, if necessary) and confit for 5 to 7 minutes or until opaque.

Spoon warmed lemongrass and coconut sauce onto serving plates. Place 3 slices of warm beets on each plate and top with 3 scallops. Drizzle scallops with herbs and lemon-zest oil and garnish with a pinch of gomasio. Garnish with herbs.


With Redstone Cabernet Merlot

Humble Aussie Pie

By Jamie Oliver
Serves 8
recipe & photo credit: Jamie Oliver

aussie humble pieIngredients

1 kg beef skirt , chopped into 1cm chunks
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
1 whole nutmeg , for grating
2 large carrots , peeled
2 red onions , peeled
4 sprigs of fresh rosemary , leaves picked
250 ml pale ale
1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
1 tablespoon tomato purée
250 g button mushrooms
1 large egg yolk, beaten , or semi-skimmed milk

For the pastry

600 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
150 g cold unsalted butter, cubed, plus extra for greasing
150 g Cheddar cheese


Place the beef, 1 heaped teaspoon of pepper, a good pinch of salt and 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a large bowl. Grate in half a nutmeg, then toss to coat and set aside. Roughly chop the carrots, onions and rosemary leaves.

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a wide, medium pan over a medium heat, then add the beef and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the meat is browned all over and any liquid has evaporated, stirring frequently. Meanwhile, heat another medium pan over a medium heat. Add the chopped veg and a drizzle of olive oil and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until softened and caramelised, stirring frequently, then remove from the heat.

Add the ale to the beef, turn the heat up to high and allow the liquid to boil and bubble away, stirring and scraping all those lovely sticky bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the flour and tomato purée and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it forms a thick paste. Stir the softened veg into the pan, then pour in 1 litre of cold water. Roughly slice and add the mushrooms, then bring to the boil.

Reduce the heat to medium, cover and simmer for 1 hour 30 minutes, then take off the lid and simmer for another 30 minutes, or until thickened and reduced and the beef is tender, stirring occasionally. Season to taste, transfer to a bowl and allow to cool completely for a few hours or preferably overnight in the fridge.

Meanwhile, make the pastry. Combine the flour and a good pinch of salt in a bowl, then grate in the Cheddar and rub into the flour along with the butter, until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Gradually add 250ml of cold water, stirring continuously to combine, then use your hands to bring it together into a rough dough – be careful not to work it too much. Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge until needed.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Grease 8 individual pie dishes (roughly 15cm x 10cm) with a little butter and dust with flour. Divide the pastry into 4 equal-sized pieces, then roll out a portion on a flour-dusted surface to the thickness of a pound coin. Place 2 of the pie dishes side-by-side, roll the pastry around the rolling pin, hold it over the dishes and carefully unroll the pastry to cover. Gently press the pastry into the sides of the dishes, then roughly cut away the excess so you end up with 2 lined pie dishes. Repeat with the remaining pastry, reserving the excess for later.

Equally divide the steak and ale filling between the dishes and brush the edges with the milk or beaten egg. Divide the excess pastry into 8 equal-sized pieces, roll out to the thickness of a pound coin and place over the filling. Trim away any excess, crimp the edges with a fork and pierce a little cross into the top. Brush over a little more milk or beaten egg, then place in the hot oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden and piping hot through.


With Redstone Cabernet Sauvignon…

Dijon Herb Crusted Prime Rib

from Farm Boy


1Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
¼ tsp ground cloves
4 Tbsp grainy Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bone in rib roast (2.5KG/6LB)
6 medium garlic cloves, quartered lengthwise


Pre-heat oven to 400 F

Make small incisions all over the roast.Insert the garlic into the holes. Place the roast in a roasting pan and mix the remaining ingredients into a paste and rub entire roast evenly.

Roast for 25 minutes then reduce heat to 350 F and continue cooking for about 1 and a ½ hours or until internal temperature reaches 135 F (forrare). Transfer roast to a cutting board and allow to rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Serve with your favourite sides. (Especially good with creamy mashed potatoes & buttered beets!)

Enjoy your Holidays & your Savvy Selections!



Warm welcome & amazing wines from Fielding Estate Winery

Posted by Debbie

Friday, November 6th, 2015

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Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Fielding Estates Winery
–  November 2015 –


This year marks the big 1-0 milestone for a handful of wineries in Ontario. We helped Stratus Vineyard celebrate in July and now it is time to pop the corks for Fielding Estates Winery as they ‘Cheers for 10 Years!’

At Fielding, the front door is always open at the winery (aka the Lodge) and the Muskoka chairs are dotted around the grounds awaiting you to relax and unwind as you soak up the sunshine and enjoy the view of the vineyard…while sipping on fine wines made by Fielding’s winemaker Ritchie Roberts.

heidi and curtisI have said it before…one of the occupational hazards of this business is that people who work at wineries often become friends. Certainly not a bad thing, rather, it makes working together to grow each other’s business even easier and more enjoyable. Curtis and Heidi Fielding (in photo) are two wonderful people that it is easy and natural to become fast friends. And that friendly nature is evident to all who walks through the glass doors at the Lodge.“We want everyone to feel welcome and at ease when they visit our winery”, comments Heidi. And true to form, that is exactly what they do.

Too many fine wines!

Selecting only 3 bottles of wine for you this month was probably the hardest that the Savvy Team has encountered. I believe that this is a telling sign of quality & most of all maturity of the vineyards…and the talented winemaking team can’t go unnoticed either.

After great deliberation, the Savvy Team chose:

grapesSparkling Rose–light & elegant bubbly made with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir using the same winemaking method as French Champagne. Naturally suited to celebrate the 1-0 milestone!

Gamay VQA 2013 – easy drinking, full of red fruit & well balanced. A wine that is becoming a signature wine at Fielding…and best of all, it tastes like it should be $25+.

Syrah VQA 2012– you had us at hello!WOW – this is a heart stopping red wine that you can taste the talent in each sip.

Can you spot the difference?

While there was a party at the winery to mark the occasion, the marketing team at Fielding decided that the labels would get a touch up. Put the three bottles of your Savvy Selections side-by-side to see if you can spot the new improvements to the label design. Extra points if you see something more welcoming about the Muskoka chair!

Looking for a F.E.W. more? Fielding Estates Wines that is!

heidi at doorFielding takes pride in making small lots of their wines. Several wines only have 400 cases (4800 bottles). There are a handful of Fielding wines that you will regularly find on the LCBO shelves, yet if you have found a new favorite in your Savvy Selections, give us a call to quickly re-order. With a limited number of cases made and many Fielding fans clamoring to get the latest release, their finest wines don’t last very long! The Savvy Hotline is 613-SAVVYCO.

Cheers & Enjoy!
Debbie & Savvy Team


Fielding Estate Winery

Presented by Sommelier Debbie Trenholm


Remember when Yellow Tail wines first bombarded the shelves at the LCBO? This is the same time when Fielding Estates opened their doors. Critter labels donning cats, dogs, lizards and penguins were all the rage and smack-them-over-the-head red wines loaded with overripe fruit were flying off the shelves.

Dfielding-logoespite all of this distraction, husband and wife team – Heidi & Curtis Fielding found their footing in Niagara. Located part way up the Beamsville Bench (aka Niagara Escarpment) with neighbouring wineries – Angels Gate, Thirty Bench and Rosewood Estate Winery & Meadery – Fielding set out to create a different story and culture at their winery.

Everyone has a story

Fielding familyFielding Winery began with subs…yet you read that right! Submarine sandwiches. Marg & Ken Fielding own a significant number of Subway franchises in Eastern Ontario. Drawn to Niagara & intrigued by the new Canadian wine industry, this husband & wife savvy business team soon were bitten by the bug as well saw the business potential. They lured their son Curtis off the race car track where he was starting his career as a competitive driver, to come home to gain hands on experience in the wine industry in preparation that would be integral their new family venture.

In 2000, the family purchased a 20‐acre orchard of peaches and pears on the Beamsville Bench and replaced all the trees with high‐quality vinifera vines during the summer of 2001. In keeping with the Muskoka feel that they wanted to create, the unique Wine Lodge opened its doors in May 2005, and has quickly established itself as one of the finest wineries in Ontario.

muskoka chairWhy the Muskoka chair?

The family is from the area and has a house that brings everyone together. “It was a natural fit to extend that relaxing, unpretentious your-are-part-of-the-family feeling to our winery”, explains Heidi.

10 years later, Ken & Marg are now arm’s length business advisors while the Heidi and Curtis run the business and day to day operations. Coincidentally this dynamic duo are also a husband and wine team. “And our 5 and 7 year old boys love helping us at the winery”, says Heidi.

Slow and steady…

“Fielding has grown little by little over the last 10 years”, recalls Heidi as laughs remembering that in the first couple of years before the winery doors opened, the winery offered:

In 2002: 400 cases of Cabernet Merlot, 50 cases of Chardonnay

In 2003: bad crop yielded a measly 60 cases of Chardonnay

In 2004: significant growth to 6000 cases

Now in 2015, they have grown to full capacity to 20,000 cases – mostly in last 2 years.

Select Fielding wines are now readily available at the LCBO and can also be found in Alberta, Florida and served by the glass at restaurants at Walt Disney World…yes Disney!

Highlights of the last 10 years

cellar room“It is an awesome business to be in”, says Heidi with delight. “We have a great team at the winery and all of us work extremely hard – we can’t let anything slide!”

This dedication has been recognized by their peers in the industry. Curtis was crowned Grape King in 2012 by Ontario Grape Growers. “Everyone involved in the winery are so proud of this recognition”, explained Heidi. “It is a huge honour when your mentors and industry leaders select you from all of the others wineries in the province as the top vineyard of the year. When they announced Curtis’ name, all of the hard work that Ritchie, Curtis and the rest of the team have put into the vineyard instantly paid off. This was definitely a highlight of the last 10 years.”

Grape king“This is a huge honour,” says Curtis in the press release about the prestigious achievement. “Look at some of the names who have been Grape King in the past. They are big names with world‐class vineyards. They are people that our industry really respects and looks up to. It is amazing to have my name associated with them.” Did I mention that Curtis became King at the ripe age of 34? Pretty impressive.

“Curtis is an excellent example of the next generation of grape grower, a first‐generation farmer who has quickly embraced sustainable practices while maintaining a beautiful vineyard and producing top quality wines,” stated Kimberly Hundertmark, Executive Director of the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival (and friend too!)

And it does not stop there. Fielding was named one of the Top 10 wineries in Canada for 2009 and again in 2013 by the Canadian Wine Awards.

And all that in their first 10 years…watch out for what the next 10 has in store.

Happy Anniversary to the Fielding team! Enjoy your Savvy Selections!




Fielding Sparkling Rosé $29.95

Ritchie winemakerThis is the first traditional method rosé that Ritchie has made. Traditional method is the wine term referring to the sparkling winemaking process as it is done in Champagne, France. The second fermentation – that creates the bubbles – happens inside the bottle (rather than in a tank then bottled) and yeast is added to each bottle. “This is a huge labour of love for Ritchie”, explains Heidi. “He has only made 2 traditional method wines and we are so excited to release this wine.” All of us in the Savvy Team are excited that our subscribers are receiving it first as there is a small amount made!

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Light salmon in colour that has delicate wild strawberry aromas and taste. Well balanced, smooth mouth feel and very elegant mousse (bubbles). Dry, crisp and delicious. “A rule of thumb is that the finer the bubbles the greater the quality” explains Savvy Sommelier Debbie Trenholm.

Suggested Food Pairing: Chill & serve in tall flute glasses. Sushi, salted nuts, chips or Parmesan Crisps are delicate enough that won’t detract from the wine.


2013 GamayFielding Gamay 2013 VQA, $17.95

“These grapes are grown especially for us by wonderful grape growers who have become good friends”, shares Heidi (that theme never seems to go away!). “They are meticulous about their vineyards and it shows in the grapes.”

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:Gamay is growing in popularity, especially with the wines that are being produced in Ontario. Usually light bodied laced with tannins, this one surprised us with its full flavour or red fruit – cherries, plums, raspberries – with warm spices and subtle tannins. Medium bodied and well balanced. This is definitely an impressive wine.

Suggested Food Pairing:“With 2 little boys, we don’t eat fancy at home.” Heidi laughs when I asked what she would pair with this easy drinking wine. Pasta with mushroom, roasted chicken and even grilled salmon. Heidi suggest to serve their Gamay with foods that you would pair with Pinot Noir. We share with you a mushroom risotto recipe to enjoy with this wine as the days get colder.

Cellaring:This wine will cellar a further 3 to 5 years.


2012 Syrah_HRFielding Syrah 2012 VQA $35– special Savvy Selections price (regular $39.95)

“This wine is so special to us”, explains Heidi. “We don’t make it every year. Ritchie wants to make a spectacular Syrah and for this one, he only made 250 cases”. Perfectly timed, you are receiving this wine before it is released at the winery…being a subscriber has its benefits! If you would like additional bottles, let us know soon as this wine always sells out…quickly!

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:This inky, powerful wine offers great intensity and extraction. On the nose, the aromas of cassis and berry are rich and ripe, traces of vanilla, dark chocolate and spice merging and mingling with the fruit. Ripe yet firm tannins and refined acidity frame the concentrated dark fruit, hints of smoke, dried herbs, spice and pepper adding depth and complexity. Long and intense on the finish, the wine will cellar well.

Suggested Food Pairing:Serve with rack of lamb or rare prime rib.

Cellaring:Ready now or it will cellar nicely for another 4 to 5 years



With Fielding Sparkling Rosé…

Parmesan Crisps

From the kitchen of Savvy Sommelier Julie

parmesan-crisps-2Serves: should yield about 20 small crisps

This is one of the most popular recipes that we are always asked for. With the holiday entertaining season around the corner, have this recipe on the ready! There are so many versions of this recipe but nothing could be simpler, or more delicious to match with this sparkling wine. The bubbles compliment the saltiness in the cheese and just send you back nibbling for more. For a different taste, serve with a little red pepper jelly on the side.

A perfect hors d’oeuvres – beware, folks inhale these!


1-1/2cups of grated Parmesan depending how many crisps you would like to make.


Preheat often to 400 degrees and put a heaping tablespoon of the Parmesan onto aparchment lined baking sheet. I would space the spoonfuls about an inch apart.

Bake about 8 minutes or check them after 5 and they should be just slightly golden.


With Fielding Gamay …

Roasted Chickpeas & Tomatoes

Roasted-Chick-Peas-and-Swiss-ChardBy Chef Tonia Wilson
Serves 4
photo credit:

Chef’s tip:


2 cans chick peas, drained and rinsed
5 whole cloves garlic, peeled and halved lengthwise
2 cups (500 mL) whole grape tomatoes
1/4 cup (60 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp (15 mL) fresh thyme, finely chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 400°F (205°C).

Place all ingredients on a large baking sheet. Stir to combine and coat well with oil. Place in oven and roast for 15 minutes, carefully shake pan to move ingredients around and roast for another 15
minutes or until chick peas and tomatoes are golden.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

With Fielding Syrah…

Beef Tenderloin with Dark Mushroom Sauce

from Old Stone Inn & Boutique Hotel in Niagara Falls


2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 strip beef tenderloin (2 to 3lb)
½ cup red wine – don’t you dare cook with the Fielding Syrah…it is better left in your glass!
1 red onion, sliced
1 cup dry wild mushrooms, soaked in 1 cup of red wine
2 cups brown beef or veal stock
½ cup heavy cream


Preheat oven to 450 F.

Heat oil in a cast iron pan. Season the meat with salt and pepper on all sides. When the oil is very hot, sear the
meat, caramelizing all sides evenly. When seared, drain off the fat and add the wine.

Roast the meat in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let the meat rest for 5
minutes before slicing.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a heavy-bottomed pot, add the onions, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Squeeze the
mushrooms out of the juice, and add to the onions, cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.

Deglaze the pan with 2 cups of wine, and reduce until almost dry. Then add the mushroom rehydrating liquid, and reduce until almost dry. Add the veal stock and the cream, and reduce at low heat until thick. Check the seasoning, reserve.

To serve, slice the meat in 1/2 to 1/4-inch thick pieces. Place in the middle of a warmed plate. Put the wild mushrooms around the meat and cover with a thin layer of the sauce and serve immediately.

Cheers to 10 years

A little extra treat from Fielding’s kitchen to yours…

Mini Pumpkin Ginger Cheesecake

This is a little treat that we prepared for one of our winery events.


24 ginger snaps
24 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup pumpkin purée
3 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves
24 baking cups


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Next, add pumpkin puree, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Mix thoroughly.

relaxing in the chairsLine muffin tin with individual baking cups and drop one ginger snap at the bottom of each cup. Pour filling into
each mold to the top.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the cheesecake.

Cool to room temperature and lightly brush the tops with maple syrup. Refrigerate overnight. Serve with candied walnuts and whipped topping

Enjoy your Savvy Selections!





GreenLane Estate Winery

Posted by Susan

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

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Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring GreeenLane Estate Winery
–  October 2015 –


The inviting entrance and patio at GreenLane Estate Winery became even more so when I noticed a large water dish for dogs at the access to the fenced patio. They think of everything here to make their guests – of all kinds – feel welcome. It was a warm, quiet day at the winery, so Dianne Smith, General Manager and Winemaker, insisted that our Brittany Spaniel be taken out of the car and provided a shady spot near that never-ending water dish. Once settled, she shared her dog stories about her rescued red Doberman, who has patrolled the vineyards these last 4 years scaring off the birds. Unfortunately, Oskar (named for Oscar Schindler of the famous Schindler’s list) is recovering from a hind leg injury at the moment, but assistant winemaker, Gavin Paton’s Labradoodle named Barley was in the vineyard ensuring that no small mammals became grape tasters. Having exchanged credentials as dog lovers, we then moved on to sample the full range of GreenLane’s wines in the spacious and beautifully renovated tasting room.

Dianne SmithIndependently owned, GreenLane is a boutique winery that was inspired by a passion for fine wines and a conversation with a childhood friend over a glass of such wine. The vision for creating a local winery producing high quality small-batch fine wines was realized in 2009 with the purchase of the Beamsville property at the intersection of GreenLane and Cherry Avenue in Vineland. Named after the bordering Green Lane, the winery embodies the essence and country charm of the area and the ideals of the vision. Although the site included established vineyards, the early days of winemaking began in a small clapboard farmhouse with newly arrived winemaker Dianne Smith focused on producing outstanding wines.

I visited the winery in its first year of operation, and so impressed with the quality and finesse of the wines that I have spent the last 5 years convincing Dianne Smith to let us introduce her wines to our Savvy Selections subscribers. As a boutique winery, production levels were also so small that the large size of our subscriber base was a challenge. Now however, we are delighted to have the opportunity to introduce you not only to Dianne’s fabulous white wines, but also to her plush reds from the warm 2012 vintage.

In your Savvy Selections you will find…

GreenLane Chardonnay sur Lie VQA 2010 – a creamy full bodied elegant wine

GreenLane Cabernet Franc VQA 2012 – the opulent, fruit-forward red wine

GreenLane Cabernet Sauvignon VQA 2012 – a bold, powerful wine that is definitely ‘cellar worthy’.

Pop in with your pooch…

The team at GreenLane are always at the winery to welcome to you – and your well-behaved pooch – to their small winery. When your travels take you to Niagara, be sure to pop in for a visit to try many of the other wines produced from the fruit of both the original and the new estate, including Pinot ‘Grieving’ from Dianne’s newly introduced band, Betrayed. Due to their size and growing popularity of their wines, you rarely find GreenLane’s wines at the LCBO.

Looking for more wine trip tips?

Our friendly Savvy Team (minus an office dog) is ready to help you with travel ideas and wine tips too. Give us a call anytime on 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926)

Cheers & Enjoy!

Debbie & Savvy Team



GreenLane Estate Winery

Presented by Sommelier Susan Desjardins


Originally from a small seaside village in North Wales, Dianne Smith travelled the world with her family as her father’s job brought many transfers. “The wine bug hit me while I was studying Geology in Florida…and waiting on tables at a wine bar”, Diane recalls. “I finished up my degree, then looked for a post grad opportunity. The Brock University and Niagara College in their Oenology & Viticulture programs hit the mark. Once graduated, attempted to learn as much about the wine industry as I could, working for the LCBO and wine bars, in marketing and production at other local wineries such as Tawse, Hillebrand and Southbrook Vineyards too.

Saw an ad in the paper…

In March 2010, while working for Southbrook, I answered an ad for winery staff for a new, start up winery in Niagara. Five years later, I run GreenLane, juggling winemaking duties with my amazing assistant winemaker, Gavin Paton, and developing the GreenLane brand into one known for beauty and quality. In such a small, tight-knit team, we all wear quite a few hats!” Spoken like an entrepreneur!

Dianne Smith - in the vineyardGreenLane’s first vineyard location was chosen for its proximity to Lake Ontario, which offers a long growing season with cool evenings that effectively maintains the acidity in the Riesling and Pinot Gris and the quality of its very rocky clay loam soils, benefits the established plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, as well as the Riesling and Pinot Gris vines.

The new winery location offers accessibility to visitors meandering through Beamsville and a space five times that of the original old farmhouse.  In addition to a beautiful retail area and extensive production space, the site offers a lovely enclosed patio. The building has been extensively renovated to provide the perfect space for a boutique winery such as GreenLane. The new site is more sheltered, offering temperatures as much as 5F warmer than the original, as well as somewhat rocky clay loam with high iron content. Dianne has planted Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay, following the advice of trusted wine industry friends, who indicated the site had an ideal terroir for Bordeaux varieties.

Moving = Surprises

Moving to the new winery has brought many benefits, but also some challenges for the team. Dianne tells an entertaining story of her first vintage at the new site. Hot weather meant that the Pinot Gris had to be harvested. Renovations were barely completed and the newly poured crush pad barely dried. An electrician from Toronto had installed the new press. As the Pinot Gris arrived – picked by a willing crew borrowed from another winery – the grapes sat on the skins as Dianne tried to start the press. Yikes, it wouldn’t work! Frantic calls to winemaker friends and neighbors brought a local electrician who declared, as he brought the press on line, that ‘those Toronto electricians really don’t know anything about winemaking equipment’.

greenlane estate wineryBy this time, the juice was a lovely deep pink colour. Into the fermentation tanks it went, as Dianne brought all her skills as a winemaker to bear to – as naturally as possible – filter the wine to a delicate peach hue. The 2013 Pinot Gris is her most popular wine and, if you’ve seen and tasted it, you’ll agree that she was very successful in her ‘rescue’ of the wine!

Dianne’s prior experience has led her to eschew conventional farming. Organic and biodynamic practices are followed in the vineyards and cellar, while a sustainable/herbicide-free approach is used in the vineyard. Says Dianne, ‘We are proud to farm sustainably and try to loosely follow the biodynamic calendar. We hope to farm the new site organically and to obtain certification in due course.’

Dianne is an enthusiastic host in the tasting room; her commitment to GreenLane and to her craft is almost tangible. Asked to describe her philosophy of winemaking, she says, “‘We pursue a vineyard first philosophy, embracing vintage variations in both aromatic and flavour profiles in our resulting wines. Winemaking is a labour of love. We strive to craft wines that speak truthfully of their vineyard origins by paying close attention to the terroir and allowing the fruit and the vintage to determine how the wines evolve. During harvest, the fruit is our dictator of style and our process allows the true flavours of grapes to shine.”

Love for Mother Nature & Old Man WinterGreenlane estate

Dianne is also true to her philosophy in the new brand she has created, Betrayed. Two brutal winters destroyed portions of both the delicate Pinot Gris and GreenLane’s 25-year-old Cabernet Sauvignon vines. In response, Dianne, “Betrayed by Mother Nature and Old Man Winter, we launched a sassy new line and named it Betrayed. Our first wine, Pinot Grieving, tells this story with the front label denoting Old Man Winter as a shadowy man, lurking in the background, wreaking havoc while the grapes (shown as a woman) weep. The 1950’s Pop Art styled label was designed by Niagara College students.”

Enjoy your Savvy Selections!



GreenLane Chardonnay sur Lie 2010 VQA, $35.002010 Chardonnay Sur Lie FRONT

Handpicked and sorted, this small-batch wine from the hot 2010 vintage is produced from the fruit of just 3-year-old vines – hard to believe given the depth and intensity of the flavour. This wine spent 22 months in a nearly new barrel and 3 neutral oak barrels, stirred twice weekly to integrate the flavours of the lies.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Brilliant gold, the complex aromas include toasted nut, butter pastry, pineapple, spiced vanilla, pear and apple tart. Dry, medium-full bodied, the power and intensity of the fruit is balanced by a creamy yet fresh texture, the flavours of caramel apple, pineapple and subtle nutty notes caressing the palate through a long, spiced finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: Rich and flavourful, it’s a match for Thanksgiving turkey or ham, pasta with a creamy seafood sauce or roast pork.

Cellaring: Drinking well now or cellar 2-3 years


GreenLane Cabernet Franc 2012 VQA, $23.95

From the wonderfully warm 2012 vintage, this Cabernet Franc was handpicked from 8-year-old vines in the Antonio ds Silva-Ribeiro vineyard. It was then aged 9 months in French oak, 20% of which was ne2012 Cabernet Franc FRONTw.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This opulent Cabernet Franc tantalizes with a whiff of pencil shavings mingling with lifted aromas of roses, dark ripe berries and black cherry, cloves and chocolate. Showcasing ripe fruit on the palate, the wine is harmonious and well integrated, the tannins velvety, the balancing acidity subtle. The chocolate and spice notes join a chorus of lush fruit on the finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: Serve with roast lamb, pork or rare breast of duck.

Cellaring: This wine will cellar a further 2-3 years.


GreenLane Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 VQA $32.952012 Cabernet Sauvignon FRONT

Produced from the fruit of 22-year-old vines that was hand harvested and sorted in different stages – some as late as the first week of November during this warm vintage. The wine was then aged 19 months in French oak barrels, gently punched down 4 times per day to increase extraction and intensity.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This inky, powerful wine offers great intensity and extraction. On the nose, the aromas of cassis and berry are rich and ripe, traces of vanilla, dark chocolate and spice merging and mingling with the fruit. Ripe yet firm tannins and refined acidity frame the concentrated dark fruit, hints of smoke, dried herbs, spice and pepper adding depth and complexity. Long and intense on the finish, the wine will cellar well.

Suggested Food Pairing:  Serve with rack of lamb or rare prime rib.

Cellaring: Ready now or it will cellar nicely for another 4 to 5 years



With GreenLane Chardonnay sur Lie…

Sausage & Exotic Mushroom Turkey Stuffing
By Emily Richards, LCBO Food & Drink Magazine
Serves 8-10


1 lb. fresh pork sausage (consider using 1 chorizo for a smoky flavour)
4 shallots, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 small carrots, finely chopped
3 Tbsp chopped fresh sage or 1 Tbsp dried sage
¼ C butter
2 cups sliced oyster mushrooms
2 cups small chanterelle mushrooms or sliced shitake mushroom caps
½ cup dry white wine
Salt & freshly ground pepper
8 cups cubed rustic bread (French or Italian)
¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
¾ cup chicken stock


Preheat oven to 325F.

Remove casings from sausages. Cook sausage meat in large skillet over medium-high heat, breaking up into small pieces with wooden spatula, for 8 minutes or until cooked through. Drain all but 1 Tbsp of fat from the skillet.

Add shallots, garlic, celery, carrots and sage. Sautée for 8 minutes or until golden. Add butter and stir until melted.

Add oyster and chanterelle mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms are softened. Add white wine and boil until wine evaporates. Season with salt & pepper. Scrape into a large bowl. Add bread and parsley. Toss to combine.

Drizzle chicken stock over stuffing mixture to moisten. Pour into greased 10 cup casserole dish. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes or until crisp and golden.


With GreenLane Cabernet Franc

Duck Breasts with Blood Orange Salsa
By Lucy Waverman, The Flavour Principle
Serves 4
photo credit:

Ingredientsblood oranges

3 duck breasts (about 12 oz. each)
1 tsp cracked fennel seeds
1 tsp cracked coriander seeds
Salt & freshly ground pepper


½ cup chopped fennel
½ cup chopped blood orange flesh (or use Cara Cara oranges)
2 Tbsp chopped red onion
2 tsp chopped, seeded jalapeño pepper, or to taste
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp blood orange juice
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp chopped chives
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
¼ tsp granulates sugar


Combine fennel, blood orange flesh, red onion, jalapeño, olive oil, blood orange juice, lemon juice, chives, cilantro, sugar and salt to taste. Reserve

Preheat oven to 450F.

Score skin of duck breasts at 1” intervals (do not cut into meat). Rub with fennel and coriander seeds. Season with salt & pepper.

Place skin side down in a cold ovenproof skillet & place over medium heat. Cook for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes or until fat is rendered & skin is beginning to crisp.

Pour off fat & place skillet in oven. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until duck is medium-rare. Remove from skillet & let rest 5 minutes.

Slice breasts into ½ “ slices. Serve topped with salsa.


With GreenLane Cabernet Sauvignon…

Herbalicious Rack of Lamb
By Lucy Waverman, The Flavour Principle
Serves 4
photo credit:  

 Ingredientsrack of lamb

1 ½ cups fresh bread crumbs
¼ cup finely diced seeded tomato
½ cup chopped fresh thyme
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
Salt & freshly ground pepper
¼ cup butter, melted
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 lamb racks (8 chops each), frenched
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard


Combine bread crumbs, tomato, herbs, garlic, salt, pepper and melted butter. Mix well & transfer to a shallow dish. Reserve.

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Heat a large ovenproof skillet over high heat & add oil. Season lamb with salt & pepper. Sear lamb, fat side down, for 2 minutes. Turn over & sear for 2 more minutes. Upend racks & sear meaty ends. Turn racks bone side down & place skillet in oven. Roast racks for 7 minutes.

Remove from oven & brush mustard over meat. Roll racks in break crumb mixture & return to pan, bone side down. Roast for another 10-15minutes or until just pink. Let lamb rest for 5 minutes before carving. 

Bonus Recipes…

GreenLane’s red wine & Chocolate Brownies!

GreenLane’s big bold red wines would be delicious with dark chocolate.  The winery team think that they have died and gone to heaven when Dianne makes these brownies to enjoy with GreenLane’s big red wines.

Old Fashioned Cocoa Brownies
From Dianne’s kitchen to yours
photo credit:


1 cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
¾ tsp baking soda
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup double-strength hot brewed coffee
¼ cup light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup natural unsweetened applesauce
½ tsp salt
2 cup sugar
½ cup plain nonfat yogurt


Preheat oven to 350F.

Sift the cocoa powder, baking soda and salt together into a large bowl. Add the coffee and corn syrup – whisk until mixture is smooth and glossy. Add applesauce, sugar and vanilla extract. Whisk until completely blended.

Add flour and fold in yogurt with wooden spoon just until it is incorporated.

Fold batter into an 8×8” nonstick baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until mixture begins to separate from the edges of the pan and centre is firm to touch.

Remove from oven, place on rack, leave in pan to cool completely. 

Spicy Chocolate-Cayenne Truffle Brownies


8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces (+ more for greasing pan)
4 large eggs at room temperature
¾ cup dark brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (+ more for dusting)
¾ – 1 tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp kosher salt


Preheat oven to 350F.

Prepare pan with butter and line with parchment.

In sauce pan, melt broken chocolate and butter over low heat, stirring often. Once melted, remove from heat and add both sugars, stir and set aside.

Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and cayenne into large bowl and set aside.

Add eggs one at a time to the slightly warm chocolate, whisk after each.

Add spoonfuls of the flour/cocoa mixture and stir with a spatula until smooth.

Pour batter into 8×8” pan (bake for 35-40 minutes) or 9×13” pan (bake for 20-25 minutes).

Let cool and remove from pan. Sprinkle with cocoa powder and cut as desired. Note: For more fudgy brownies, tester should come out slightly coated.


Enjoy your Savvy Selections!


Stratus Vineyards – Toasting 10 Years

Posted by Monique

Monday, September 14th, 2015

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Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Stratus Vineyards Winery

–  September 2015 –


The kids are back in school, so folks we must accept it…our summer holiday has come to an end, yet the summer sun is still shining! The leaves have already begun changing colour and grape harvest has started in various regions, so there is no point in denying it…autumn is here. I promise not to mutter the W-word yet!

Stratus WineryThis month we are thrilled to introduce to you, Stratus Vineyards! It is a big year for Stratus as they are celebrating their ten year anniversary throughout 2015. Two key attributes that have stood out for Stratus throughout the past ten years are: being renowned as the world’s first fully LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) winery and for having the bold vision and track record of producing outstanding and age-worthy assemblage wines.

Suzanne Janke, Director of Hospitality & Retail, Stratus Vineyards explains assemblage:

“Assemblage is a centuries-old tradition in the a rt of combining several grape varieties to make a single wine. Not according to any preset formula, but through carefully selecting and balancing the best the vineyard has to offer each season – using taste, judgment and feel – to craft a wine that uniquely captures the essence of vintage and vineyard.”

Your Trio of Stratus wines…

Truth be told, it was not an easy job that our Savvy Team had when they sampled the wines. All of the choices impressed our Sommeliers. We took into account the change of seasons to determine this delectable trio crafted by Stratus’ gifted French-trained winemaker J-L (Jean-Laurent) Groux.

2011 Stratus Sémillon – A unique dry white wine that will prolong the days of patio season! This is a classic white grape variety from the Bordeaux region with loads character and is highly complementary to a world of dishes.

2012 Stratus Gewürztraminer – Luscious, floral and fun! With layers upon layers of character & flavours, wait until you try this wine with your fall food favorites.

2012 Stratus Merlot – A bold and robust red wine from one of the most sought after Niagara vintages and vineyards!

OPTIONAL WINE: 2013 Stratus Mosaic – this distinctive blend of Viognier and Gewurztraminer is neither icewine nor late harvest. Being somewhat sweet, but perfectly balanced, this will be a crowd pleaser.

You won’t find these Stratus wines at the LCBO

Our Savvy Sommeliers are always on the lookout for wines that you will enjoy absolutely every sip! AsStratus is a small-lot producer, they are rarely available outside of the winery. If you come across a favourite wine from Stratus, either in this month’s selection or in passing, call on us at any time at 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) for additional bottles. Also call us even if you have a yearning for wines from other wineries we have featured in Savvy Selections.

Raise a glass of Stratus to celebrate their 10th anniversary!

Debbie & Savvy Team


Stratus Vineyards

Presented by Sommelier Monique Ippolito


Ten years ago, Stratus Vineyards established themselves as a winery that respected time-honoured traditions while still managing a balance of ‘new traditions.’ This ideology was, and still is, present throughout every aspect their establishment.   From the vineyard management, to the innovative winemaking facility, to the chic resplendent tasting bar, Stratus Vineyards has done a remarkable job of mixing old with new…warm with cold… black with white…all to “make the best possible wine with the smallest possible footprint.”

The virtuoso himself… Stratus winemaker JL

J-L Groux (right) was recruited as chief winemaker for Stratus right from the get go. Originally from the Loire Valley, France, he practically grew up with wine in his veins. He studied oenology in Burgundy, meandered the globe, and then finally found himself captivated by the Niagara region by the late 1980s.

He had previously worked as a winemaker at Hillebrand, crafting Trius’ bold Cabernet blends. J-L’s artisanship for assemblage had transpired. The rest, as they say, is history.

Where does the magic start?

“In many ways, outstanding wines are grown, not made” explained J-L as we walked through the vineyard, “Currently we harvest 11 red grape varietals and seven white varietals. They were each planted in strategic blocs throughout the vineyard.” J-L is a hands on winemaker. He oversees everything – the planting, harvesting and sorting of all of the estates grapes.

Stratus handsortinTo contribute to the quality of their wines, Stratus employs techniques to provide their vines with the best possible mix of sunlight and earthly nutrients by training their vines vertical shoot positioning (winespeak: train the vines to grow upwards while the clusters of grapes hang below). Stratus also practices ‘low yield’ farming, limiting the number of fruit the vines produce to ensure higher quality grapes. All of the vineyards’ grapes are still tended, harvested and sorted entirely by hand.

What happens next…

After the wines are vinified and aged accordingly, the art of assemblage comes to play. When I asked how he prepares for such an arduous task, J-L reveals that he blind tastes twenty to thirty assemblage wines for two to three months almost daily trying to find the best characteristics for the flagship Stratus Red and Stratus White wines.

It is also quite interesting to see how this ancestral art of assemblage ties into the juxtaposed contemporary innovation theme of Stratus’ ideology. J-L explains that assemblage actually helps to overcome nature’s ups and downs by using the best varieties of each vintage. In turn, this actually helps in “keeping consistency in quality year to year even if the wine composition is not always the same.”

Once that task of assemblage is completed, J-L moves on to working on the single varietal wines – like the ones in your Savvy Selections trio – and other labels that Stratus offers: Wildass, Tollgate and Kabang. J-L affirms that while creativity, experience and attention to detail are all key traits of a great winemaker; “the vineyard actually makes the wine,” revealing a great respect for terroir (where the vines grow, breathe and live).

Where it all happens…

It is evident that Stratus exemplifies their commitment to sustainability from their blueprints. Their facility was Stratus barrelsconstructed with reclaimed materials boasting features such as a super-insulated roof and geothermal heating and cooling. They created a winery with a virtual hillside that allows the wine to move solely by gravity flow. Nothing is ever pumped and their only standby pump, which was never used, was sold soon after they opened in 2005.

Commitment to sustainability also extends beyond the winery itself. In the vineyards, Stratus employs innovative practices such as powering their tractors with recycled diesel fuel and using herbal tea blends instead of harmful pesticides to keep insects away from the grapes.

J-L himself was involved in the conception and consulted on construction of the winery, working daily with the engineer and consultant, Peter Gamble. He jokingly claims that, “if something quits working, I am on the hook!” Fortunately, the facility has been functioning excessively well and no major changes to the initial design have to come to pass.

Best part of it all….

J-L and the Stratus family all agree that the most rewarding part of the job is “establishing long lasting trust with their consumers.” After a decade of releases, customers know that they can count on Stratus wines to be consistently well crafted, with an innate respect for the land that is expressed in every glass.

Here’s to Stratus, J-L & the next 10 years!




2011 Stratus Semillon $32.00

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This wine screams ripe orchard fruit (peaches, nectarine and yellow delicious apple). Lovely notes of baking spice (nutmeg), citrus blossom and touch of pine mingle very well with the fresh fruit also. On the palate, citrus, nectarine, nutmeg and white pepper stands out the most. Hold a sip of this Semillon on the tongue and you will feel a flush of luscious acidity along with a slightly oily mouthfeel and a medium long citrus-white-pepper finish.

This is a medium to full bodied dry white can absolutely stand up to a substantial meal. It pours with an attractive golden yellow hue and is pleasing to the palate when served at a slightly warmer temperature than most other whites.

Suggested Food Pairings: Roasted lemon herbed Cornish hens or even Thanksgiving turkey is one route if you plan to save this wine for your fall harvest table. Pan seared halibut, pickerel or mahi mahi with grilled vegetables in another route for enjoying now through your last days of summer.

Cellaring: Drinking well now. Can cellar for 1-2 years. Serve between 10⁰-12⁰C.


2012 Stratus Gewürztraminer $32.00

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:   At first glance, notice a lovely bouquet of fresh flowers, bees wax and honey gust Gwertz_post sign (2)from your glass. Soon after, tropical fruit aromas start to come through: honey dew melon, Asian pear, mango and lychee. These aromas – tropical fruit, honey and beeswax – copy directly onto the palate along finishing layers of baking spice and white pepper.

If you are familiar with old world versions of Gewürztraminers (German or French Styles), you will pin this wine as noticeably ‘Alsatian’ (French wine region) in character. This wine has rich yet luscious mouthfeel. It has ripe tropical fruit characters with noticeable (but balanced) acidity. It is medium to full bodied and it has a medium to long finish.

Suggested Food Pairings: This wine is quite substantial and would pair well with dishes that have a lot of flavours and textures. Moroccan chick pea salad or curried lentil (vegan) chili would make excellent vegetarian dish pairing with this wine. However, if protein is what you desire, try pairing it with a heart (and spicy) beef chili. If you do not wish to disturb the layer upon layers of flavours of this wine, pair with a simple dukkah spice mix (an Egyptian blend of toasted nuts, seeds and spices).

Cellaring: Drinking well now or can cellar for 1-2 years. Serve between 10⁰-12⁰C.

2012 Stratus Merlot $32.00

Stratus GrapesSavvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Rustic came to mind when my senses were first introduced to this Merlot. Lovely red berry fruit, cassis, ripe red plums, red roses and baking spice (cinnamon, clove and anise) notes billow from the glass. Tannins are smooth and acidity is well balanced. Notice a luscious mouthfeel as you take a sip. The red fruit and baking spice stands out the most on the palate with a little bit of sweet smoke presence veering towards a the long warm cinnamon clove finish.

This wine speaks volumes of the level of quality coming out of the Niagara Peninsula. It is sure to be a sure-fire crowd pleaser amongst red wine drinkers. Seeing that the temperatures are still in the double digits, pair with red meats coming off your barbeque!

Suggested Food Pairings: Bison burgers or steak skewers. Perhaps you fancy saving it for some fall comfort food dining, the try it with Beef Wellington.

Cellaring: Drinking well know or has the cellaring potential for up to 5-7 years. Serve between 16⁰-18⁰C. 

OPTIONAL WINE: 2013 Stratus Mosaic
$25.00 (375 mL bottle)

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A remarkably refreshing dessert wine! To be honest, there is no need to wait for dessert, serve as an aperitif or I would not even wait for dessert to be honest! There are loads of ripe tropical fruit notes in this wine. From guava, lychee and pineapple, to even passion fruit; this wine quite remarkable!

It is a late harvest wine from premium Riesling and Gewürztraminer varietals. It is more on the semi-sweet side, so not as cloying or syrupy as Icewine could be. Acidity is present and contributes to a luscious mouthfeel right through to a long semi-sweet citrus marmalade finish.

Suggested Food Pairings: Passionfruit crème brûlée, Mexican Flan or Pavlova

Cellaring: Drinking well know, can cellar for up to 3-5 years. Serve between 8⁰-10⁰C.




With Stratus Semillon…

Fish Tacos topped with Mango Pico de Gallo and Salsa Verde

From Monique’s Kitchen
Serves 3-4


For the fish

1 large pickerel fillet (about 500g)
1 tablespoon olive oil
juice from half a lemon
pinch of smoked paprika
pinch of ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
8 soft corn tortillas

For Mango Pico de Gallo

1 large Roma tomato
1 small-medium onion
1 green bell pepper (optional)
1 semi-ripe mango
2-3 limes, juiced
½ cup fresh chopped cilantro
¼ teaspoon of honey
salt and pepper to taste

For the Salsa Verde

6 tomatillos (green tomatoes)
1 medium onion
1 head of garlic
2 fresh jalapeños
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons red pepper jelly
½ cup fresh cilantro
1 lemon, juiced
1 lime, juiced


Chop tomato, onion, bell pepper and mango into cubes for the Pico de Gallo. Finely chop the cilantro and marinade all the ingredients in juice from limes.

Mix tomatillos, onion, garlic, jalapeños and cilantro in a food processor for salsa verde. After ingredients are coarsely blended, pour into a bowl and stir in honey, red pepper jelly and juice from lime and lemon.

Pat pickerel with a damp paper towel and brush with olive oil. Then season with salt, pepper, smoked paprika and cumin.

Heat your skillet with olive oil on medium-high heat for a couple minutes, then sear fish in the pan. Let it cook on medium low heat from 3-4 minutes per side or until cooked through. After 8-10 minutes, remove fish and let it crumble.

Take your warmed corn tortilla and add cooked fish, Mango Pico de Gallo, and Salsa Verde and enjoy your taco!

With Stratus Gewürztraminer…

Pan Seared Trout with Orange Butter Pecan Sauce

From (recipe and photo credit)
Serves 2trout


1 large trout fillet (about 8-10 ounces)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon butter (or ghee)
1 orange, zested and juiced
½ cup chopped pecans
Parsley, for garnish


Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat.

Season the fillet with salt and pepper and place skin side up in the skillet. Sear for 3-4 minutes until the fish easily flips. Sear another 3-4 minutes until the skin is crispy and the fish flakes easily. Remove and keep warm.

In the same skillet melt one tablespoon of butter. Stir in the pecans scrapping any brown bits up from the bottom of the pan. Allow pecans to toast for about one minute. Stir in the orange juice and allow to reduce just a bit.

Season sauce with a bit of salt to taste and pour over the trout. Garnish with orange zest and parsley.

Stratus Merlot…

Steak Skewers with Chimichurri Sauce

From (recipe and photo credit)
Serves 4

Ingredientssteak skewers

For Chimichurri Sauce

½ cup finely chopped parsley
½ cup finely chopped cilantro
3 teaspoons finely chopped oregano
1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
1 small shallot, minced
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
¼ teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

For Steak

1 pound skirt steak, trimmed
2 teaspoons cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
8-10 soaked wooden skewers (soaked for at least 30 minutes)
nonstick cooking spray for grilling


Combine all ingredients for chimichurri sauce in a bowl and set aside.

Cut steak crosswise into two equal pieces, then cut each piece lengthwise into one-inch-wide strips (making 8 to 10 pieces).

Season steak pieces in a large bowl with cumin, cayenne pepper, chili powder, and salt and pepper, Then thread season steaks onto skewers.

Lightly coat your grill with cooking spray or line grill with foil. Light grill to high heat.

Place skewers on grill and cook for two to three minutes per side for medium rare or to your desired degree of doneness, depending on thickness. Transfer skewers to a plate and let it sit for five minutes, then serve with chimichurri sauce. 

*Chimichurri sauce can be refrigerated for 2-3 days or stored in freezer for up to 4-5 weeks.


Enjoy your Savvy Selections!