Posts Tagged ‘Savvy Sommelier Derek Vollrath’

Karlo Estates Winery: Cutting Edge Wines from A Historic Property

Posted by Derek

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011


Fall is harvest time and for Ontario’s wineries that means, it is time to get the grapes off the vines and into the winery where they will be pressed and fermented.The jury is still out as to what promises the 2011 vintage holds.

Given the fact that wineries are so busy at this time of year, it was a welcome break for Karlo Estates Winery owner and winemaker Richard Karlo, to take time out of his day to be interviewed with our Sommelier Derek Vollrath. Richard reported that the summer was spectacular for growing, while the fall was wet & cool. Harvest is a fine balancing act of juggling ripening levels & watching for weather windows. No doubt all winemakers breathe much easier once all of the grapes are harvested in the tanks fermenting.

My discovery of Karlo Estates was first with a sip of their wines, then with a visit a few weeks after they opened.I was immediately impressed with its stunning historic property in ‘The County’ – Prince Edward County that is.Richard now calls this land his home, vineyard & winery. I have returned for a visit several times since – always with friends in tow.In addition to the amazing wines, there are interesting sites on the property & antiques in the converted heritage barn that will undoubtedly intrigue you. And you won’t forget the warm welcome that awaits you when you visit the winery, the joy de vivre of Richard & his partner Sherry and of course, Richard’s signature laugh.

Our Team of Savvy Sommeliers is pleased to introduce you to Karlo Estates Winery with this month’s Savvy Selections:

·Karlo Estates Riesling 2010 – crisp & zippy – an absolutely refreshing white wine

·Karlo Estates Chardonnay 2010 – you are the first to receive this wine as it was bottled in time to be included in Savvy Selections

·Karlo Estates Petit Verdot 2010 – a grape variety often set aside for blending. The grapes were so perfect during last year’s harvest, Richard made this single varietal wine instead.

·OPTIONAL WINE: Karlo Estates Van Alstine Port 2009 – the first & only port made in The County

In the following pages, Richard shares how his fascination for winemaking began when he a young boy.This interest broke ground on the path to becoming a professional wine judge then acclaimed winemaker. I am confident that you too will be impressed with this month’s Savvy Selections wines and will enjoy making the recipes that Derek chose to accompany this month’s feature wines.

You won’t find these wines at the LCBO

If you would like to stock up on more bottles of Karlo wines, ordering them is easy – simply send me an e-mail to or call 613-SAVVYCO (613-728-8926).We will gladly make the arrangements to have additional bottles of your favorite Karlo Estates or wines from previous Savvy Selections shipped directly to you.

Cheers & Enjoy!

– Debbie & Savvy Team


Presented by Sommelier Derek Vollrath

Trying to organize an interview with a winery owner during harvest time is next to impossible, that’s why I am thankful that Richard Karlo, owner and winemaker at Karlo Estates was able to find time in his schedule for a phone interview.When I caught up with Richard he had just come in from the barn where the Frontenac Noir was being crushed.

Rich, as he prefers to be called, grew up making wine – literally.He began at the young age of 8 watching his father make wine at home.According to Rich, he was “more interested in the process”, but I am sure that thimble sized sample or two along that way didn’t hurt either! Armed with his Dad’s winemaking techniques, Rich eventually tried his hand at crafting his own wine.

Rich joined the Amateur Winemakers of Ontario (AWO) knowing far too well that crafting wine would become more than just a hobby.Although the group is called “Amateur” they are anything but.The AWO is forum whereby other like-minded winemakers get together to learn new techniques from one another & exchange ideas about winemaking.

Not only has Rich been making wines since he was knee high to a grasshopper, he has long time been successful in winning awards for his wines.One of his most memorable awards was in 2010 at the Toronto Gourmet Food and Wine Show when John Szabo and Zoltan Szabo selected the first release of the 2008 Van Alstine Port as one of the “Top 10 Cutting Edge Wines of the World”. What an honour!Several of our subscribers had a bottle of this outstanding port added to their Savvy Selections shipment.

In addition to being a Master Winemaker, Rich is a member of the Wine Judges of Canada.Becoming a professional wine judge is no easy feat as candidates must first be nominated into the program.Once nominated, they are required to complete an intensive 30 month program that covers all aspects of wine from gaining an expert knowledge of the wine regions of the world, to understanding how to detect subtle differences in wines acidity or sugar levels.It is very intense!

The Bridge, the Wall & the Barn
During a visit to Karlo Estates, you will be amazed by three unique and wonderful features: a dry stone construction bridge, a 20 foot dry stone construction wall around the winery and a rustic wooden barn.

The barn has been converted to house the winery operations including the tasting room, the cellar, a catering kitchen as well as an art gallery.The barn has intentionally been left rustic because Rich didn’t want to change the character and charm of the building.

The stone wall around the heritage barn was built in 2005 with limestone pieces from the property and the bridge over the creek that runs between the two vineyards was built by hand in 2007.Both were ‘weekend projects’ by Rich, stonemasons & friends.These structures are a tribute to Rich’s English heritage as they were constructed using a technique known as dry stone construction.Dry stone construction is a method of construction whereby structures are built by fitting stones together – no mortar (or glue) is used. The results of both are fantastic and are a must see during a tour of the County. You will see an illustration of the bridge along with the keystone on the wine labels.

An Adventurous Winemaker
Rich believes that his involvement with the AWO has enabled him to be, in his words “a more adventurous winemaker than those formally trained”.

This adventurous spirit is apparent in all of his wines.He is reserved in the use of “wood” as only his Chardonnay’s see any new oak barrels.However, everything else, as Richard puts it, “gets a kiss of oak”.

The Port which is featured as an optional wine this month is also an adventurous product.The first vintage (2008) was made as a bit of a lark.However, the joke’s on Rich because not only has the 2008 Port been recognized as a “Cutting Edge Wine” it is also one of their biggest sellers.Now that is impressive – Enjoy!


Karlo Estates Riesling 2010, $22.00

Prince Edward County Rieslings are known for their acidity.To help tame the acidity, Rich barrel fermented this Riesling for 3 to 4 months in six year old oak barrels and left some residual sugar in the final wine. (winemakers note: after 3 years, oak barrels are considered neutralized & impart little oak taste in the wine)

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:Bright, clear and light gold in colour with aromas of honeysuckle, pear and peach that leap from the glass.The aromas come through on the palate meaning you will enjoy flavours of honey, pear with some hints of minerality and citrus.This medium bodied wine is off-dry on the palate (winespeak for slightly sweet) with a medium length sweet apple finish.The tasting panel also noted that the crisp acidity is balanced nicely with the residual sugar.

Suggested Food Pairing:Spicy food would be an excellent complement to the natural sweetness in this wine.With this in mind, our Savvy Selections tasting panel recommends the zingy pork tenderloin with jalapeño-mango salsa. The recipe follows. Enjoy!

Cellaring: Rieslings are one of the few white wines capable of aging.The fruit, sugar and acidity found in this wine will allow you to keep this wine in your cellar for up to 24 months.

Karlo Estates Chardonnay 2010, $25.00

This Chardonnay was barrel fermented in CHOA for 3 months.What is CHOA you ask?Cherry, Hickory, Oak and Ash – all of which were grown in the County.Rich aged this Chardonnay in barrels of each wood produced by a cooper that lives in Prince Edward County.

This wine was just bottled in time to be included in the Savvy Selections – you are the first to enjoy it!

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:Golden yellow in colour with a slight haze that is natural since it is an unfiltered wine.Don’t be put off as the haze lends to the wines complexity as all of the flavours were not stripped out during the filtration process.The aromas are clean with characteristic Chardonnay notes of spice, butterscotch and tropical fruit, all courtesy of the unique barrels used to ferment the wine.On the palate the wine is dry, medium to full-bodied with flavours of sweet spice, melon and pineapple.There is a rich and creamy mouth feel to this wine which is complemented by a “crazy long nutty finish”, commented one of our Sommeliers during the tasting.

Suggested Food Pairing: We unanimously agreed that this Chardonnay would pair well with Salmon Wellington. Alternatively, try your hand at the Flambéed Chicken with Asparagus Spears recipe below.

Cellaring:This wine would be great chilled and enjoyed with your Christmas dinner or it could be cellared for up to 18 months.

5th Element Petit Verdot 2010 $33.00 (special Savvy Subscriber price – regular $39)

It is relatively uncommon for a Petit Verdot to be crafted into a single varietal wine.Always looking to introduce our subscribers to wines that are both delicious & different, we think that this newly released wine is hands down outstanding!

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Garrnet red in colour with an intriguing bouquet of red fruit, cedar, leather and dark chocolate.Sweet spice, licorice and pepper are all noticeable on the palate.This dry, medium bodied wine has a long and peppery finish with noticeable tannins that will soften as the wine ages.

Suggested Food Pairing: This wine would pair well with gourmet burgers or hardy stews.The tasting panel offers a recipe for Grilled Garlic Pepper Steak – recipe follows

Cellaring: This wine is ready to drink (enjoyed with a group of friends) or cellared for 2 to 3 years.

OPTIONAL WINE: Karlo Estates Van Alstine Port 2009$29.00

This special fortified wine is named as a tribute to Peter Van Alstine.  Rich explains its historic significance, “Peter Van Alstine was the leader of the first group of loyalists settlers in The County back in 1784.  He built the Glenora Ferry and the Mill in Glenora which is located at Lake on the Mountain.And he was the first Member of Parliament for this area”.  To top it all off, while converting the barn into a winery, Rich found an old map of The County and discovered that Van Alstine was also the first owner of Rich’s vineyard property – that was granted to him in 1799.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:Dark ruby red in colour with a complex nose of sweet spice, Christmas cake and stewed plums.This is a medium-bodied port. There is a delicious rich mouth feel to this port accompanied by a medium length plum finish. Yummy!

Suggested Food Pairing: This Port would be delicious to sip on after any meal.If you want to enjoy this wine with food then pair it with a plate of Canadian artisan cheeses and mixed dried fruit with roasted nuts is a classic pairing.According to our Cheese Sommelier Vanessa, make sure you a chunk of strong cheddar and blue cheese too to nibble on with the port.And the alcohol is much lower than other ports (usually around 20%), Rich recommends to serve his port slightly chilled.

Cellaring: This port is ready to be enjoyed with a group of friends now or cellared for 3 to 5 years.

With Karlo Estates Chardonnay …

Flambéed Chicken with Asparagus

From: BBC’s Good Food

Serves 4


4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 Tbsp of seasoned plain flour
2 Tbsp olive oil

Knob of butter
4 shallots, finely chopped
4 Tbsp brandy or Cognac

1 ¼ cups chicken stock

16 asparagus spears, halved

4 heaping Tbsp crème fraîche
1 Tbsp chopped tarragon


1.Dust the chicken with the flour. Heat the oil and butter in a large, wide pan with a lid, add the chicken, then fry on all sides until nicely browned.

2.Add the shallots, then fry for about 2 minutes until they start to soften, but not coloured. Pour in the brandy, carefully ignite, then stand well back until the flames have died down. Stir in the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook for 15 minutes until the chicken is just tender.

3.Add the asparagus to the sauce. Cover, and then cook for 5 minutes more until tender. Stir in the crème fraîche and tarragon and warm through. Season to taste.

With Karlo Estates 5th Element Petit Verdot…

Grilled Garlic Pepper Steak

From: Canadian Living Magazine

Serves 4


cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt

2 tsp (10 mL) vegetable oil

3/4 tsp (4 mL) pepper

1 lb (454 g) thick-cut top sirloin grilling steak or flank marinating steak


1.In small bowl and with back of spoon, mash garlic with salt until paste; mix in oil and pepper. Rub onto both sides of steak; let stand for 10 minutes.

2.Place steak on greased grill over high heat or under broiler; close lid and cook, turning once, until medium-rare and pink in centre, about 8 minutes.

3.Transfer to cutting board; tent with foil and let stand for 5 minutes before slicing thinly across the grain to serve.Enjoy!

Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!


School never tasted this good!

Posted by Derek

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Savvy Selections wine of the month club
features Niagara College Teaching Winery
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep

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




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


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

·         Unoaked Chardonnay VQA 2009

·         Meritage VQA 2005

·         Cabernet Sauvignon VQA 2007


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

·         Cabernet Sauvignon VQA 2006

·         Meritage VQA 2007

·         Savant Ice Wine VQA 2007


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


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


Cheers & Enjoy!

Debbie & Savvy Team



Niagara College Teaching Winery

Presented by Sommelier Derek Vollrath


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~

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


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

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

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


Cabernet Sauvignon VQA 2007, $18.95

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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


~ Recipes to Enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~

With Niagara College Unoaked Chardonnay…

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

Serves 4

4 large skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

½ tsp (2 mL) salt

½ lemon

1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil

¾ lb (375g) thin fresh green beans

3 large plum tomatoes

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

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

1 tbsp (15 mL) all purpose flour

½ cup (125 mL) chicken broth

½ cup (125 mL) dry white wine

½ tsp (2 mL) pepper

½ cup (125 mL) whipping cream

¼ cup (50 mL) chopped fresh parsley


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


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


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


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


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


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


With Niagara College Cabernet Sauvignon…

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

1 tbsp (15 mL) vegetable oil

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

2 onions, chopped

4 large carrots peeled and chopped

4 large parsnips peeled and chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp (5 mL) cracked black peppercorns

1 cinnamon stick piece

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

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

2 tbsp (30 mL) all purpose flour

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

1 tbsp (15 mL) tomato paste

1 cup beef stock

½ cup (120 mL) dry red wine

½ tsp (2 mL) cayenne pepper

1 tbsp (15 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice



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


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


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


4.  Service with couscous or brown rice.  


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


With Niagara College Meritage…

Beef and Pears in Wine

From Company’s Coming Weekend Cooking,
Serves 4


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

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

2 cup (500 mL) dry red wine

4 tbsp (60 mL) red currant jelly

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



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


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


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


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


5.     Serve with seasonal vegetables and garlic mashed potatoes





Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!



You’ve come a long way – Stoney Ridge celebrates 25 years

Posted by Derek

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

Savvy Selections wine of the month club
features Stoney Ridge Estates Winery
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep

October brings with it a noticeable change in seasons as the leaves turn from green to vibrant reds, oranges and yellows.  We experience shorter days and longer nights as October is the month our clocks fall back an hour.  October is also the month were we enjoy a Thanksgiving meal with friends and family.  To celebrate the change in season, the extra hour of sleep and the last long weekend before Christmas the Savvy Team is excited to present to you wines from the Stoney Ridge Estate Winery.   


We are especially excited about this month’s Savvy Selections because Savvy Sommelier Derek Vollrath was able to meet and interview Jim Warren the original founder of Stoney Ridge and now is the General Manager of the winery. Many involved in the Canadian wine industry, Jim is a pioneer and mentor to aspiring winemakers. Jim & Stoney Ridge are celebrating a milestone this year as it is the winery’s 25th anniversary – all the more reasons to raise a glass of Savvy Selections wine!


The Savvy Selections tasting panel is thrilled to select the following wines crafted to commemorate the winery’s 25th anniversary:

·         Excellence Sauvignon Blanc VQA 2009

·         Excellence Pinot Gris VQA 2009

·         Petit Verdot VQA 2008


Derek was telling me that the tasting panel was excited to include a Petit Verdot.  This wine is unique because rarely is Petit Verdot produced as a single varietal.  It is usually used as a constituent in a blended wine as it provides additional colour and structure.  One of the many benefits of being a Savvy Selection member is that you get to experience different and unique wines such as this one! 


As always, the Savvy eZine includes the panel’s tasting notes along with recipes chosen to pair with these wines.  Check out the prosciutto asparagus chicken roulade – Derek swears by it as an easy way to impress your guests!


If you are in the Niagara area we encourage your to stop by Stoney Ridge.  The winery is also known as the Garden Winery because of the beautiful gardens interlaced into the property.  Visitors are encouraged to walk around and take in the beautiful gardens or check out the artisan cheeses in their cheese boutique.


You won’t find these wines at the LCBO!

Stoney Ridge does not have their wines on the store shelves at the LCBO, so feel free to contact me to arrange for additional bottles of your favorite Stoney Ridge wines or wines from any previous Savvy Selections. It’s easy to arrange  and best of all – we do all the work.     



Cheers, enjoy & Happy Thanksgiving!

Debbie & Savvy Team



Stoney Ridge Estate Winery

Presented by Sommelier Derek Vollrath


Jim Warren’s entry into the wine industry started in a rather innocuous way when his wife bought him a home winemaking kit as a Christmas gift.  The rest, as the saying goes, “is history” and a rather serendipitous history at that as Jim has gone onto become a godfather in the Ontario wine industry.

Humble Beginnings
Stoney Ridge was opened in 1985 by Jim and a couple of business partners as a “fun thing to do”.  At that time operations were rather rudimentary so much so that they did not even have running water.  Despite the lack of some of the basic tools Jim and his partners persevered, guided by a simple principle of producing quality wines.  In its first year of operations the winery produced only 500 cases of wine.

Stoney Ridge quickly gained a reputation for producing quality wines and as a result became one of Canada’s most awarded wineries.

When it opened back in 1985 Stoney Ridge was only the 18th licensed winery operating in Ontario. Twenty-five years later the wine industry in Niagara is flourishing in large part due to pioneers such as Jim. 


An Industry Pioneer
Jim has all of the hallmarks of a pioneer.  He was one of the first to enter the fledging Canadian wine industry and continues to remain a staunch supporter of it.  He understood the need for a winery to produce quality products and the importance for a winery to consistently produce innovative products.  


A Spirit of Innovation
Jim has enthusiastically experimented with bringing new products to the market.  Some of Jim’s innovations include: Gewürztraminer Ice wine, peach wine and even a successful cranberry wine which the LCBO consistently carries.  In the words of Jim “if it can be fermented I will try and make a wine out of it”.


Quality Matters
Jim’s philosophy towards wine making is pretty simple and straight forward:

a)    Quality begins in the vineyard as a healthy vineyard and well tended to fruit will produce good grapes which in turn help make good wine

b)    The winemaker is the custodian of the vinification process (winespeak for winemaking). Therefore the wine maker must be proactive during the winemaking process by keeping an eye on the health of the wine.

c)     “Keep your options available” as Jim told me during the interview.  If you are going to make a blended wine make sure the blend is correct because once you blend a wine you can’t un-blend it.


Paying it Forward, a Lasting Impact
One of Jim’s forward thinking views was his involvement with Niagara College.  By profession Jim is a teacher.  As a result of being an educator before a winemaker, Jim saw a need to have an educational program specifically geared towards winemaking.  He was instrumental in working with Niagara College to create the Winery and Viticulture program.  (Coincidentally, next month’s Savvy Selections will feature Niagara College Teaching Winery)

The program at Niagara College is a lasting legacy as people now interested in becoming a professional winemaker can follow a formal educational training program.

Metaphorically speaking Jim has been involved in planting some of the important vines in the Niagara wine industry.  These vines are now beginning to bear great fruit from which we are all benefiting from. Cheers.

Here’s to Jim & the winery’s 25 year milestone…


Cheers & Enjoy!

~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~

Excellence Sauvignon Blanc VQA 2009, $23.00
The Stoney Ridge Sauvignon Blanc presented in this months Savvy Selection is on par with Sauvignon Blanc that you would find from New Zealand.  The grapes for the 2009 vintage were harvested at various times in order to capture different aspects of the grape which in turn provides the winemaker more options in crafting the wine.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  This is a straightforward Sauvignon Blanc.  It is wonderfully crafted with expressive aromas of gooseberry, cut grass and citrus peel.  Dry on the palate the wine displays intensive flavours of green apple, grapefruit and citrus peel.  It has a long zesty finish in which the fruit flavours continue to remain intense.  What more could you ask for?    

Suggested Food Pairing:  It may seem a little complicated to make but following the tasting notes is a recipe for prosciutto asparagus chicken roulades.  The richness of the lemon tarragon sauce will pair nicely with the crisp acidity of the Sauvignon Blanc.

Cellaring: Sauvignon Blanc is not known for aging that is why we recommend enjoying this wine in the next 6 to 12 months.


Excellence Pinot Gris VQA 2009, $23.00

When it comes to Pinot Gris, Ontario is beginning to garner some attention.  This is attributed in large part to the quality that Stoney Ridge has crafted with their Pinot Gris grapes.


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Pale lemon with a youthful nose of honeysuckle, peach and sweet spice. This medium-bodied wine is dry on the palate with expressive notes of green apple, peach and honey.  The acidity, concentration of fruit flavours and length of finish transpire to make this a quality wine.

Suggested Food Pairing:  The acidity and fruit characteristics in this wine would make it a great match with grilled shrimp or a charcuterie platter of artisan cheeses and meats.  To hang on to the summer barbeque season we have attached a recipe for grilled white fish fillets with a cucumber dill sauce.

Cellaring: This wine could keep for 12 to 18 months but why wait enjoy it tonight chilled.

Petit Verdot VQA 2008 $28.00
Consumers rarely see a single varietal Petit Verdot due to the fact that the grape is challenging to produce as it requires a long hang time (wine speak for it needs to stay on the vine for a long time before it ripens).  Savvy Selection subscribers are fortunate for two reasons #1: the growing season in Ontario in 2008 was such that it enabled the Petit Verdot berries to ripen #2: Stoney Ridge decided to craft a unique and different wine.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  The 2008 vintage offers a youthful bouquet of cloves, black current berries, vanilla and cedar.  The bouquet carries over to the palate as you experience black current, cedar and pepper notes.  This medium-full-bodied dry red wine has soft tannins and a decent length.

Suggested Food Pairing:  This wine would be a wonderful match with barbeque pork ribs or beef stew.  In keeping with the theme of “let’s hang on to summer” the tasting panel is recommending that you pair this wine with tenderloin steaks in a merlot sauce, the recipe for which follows.

Cellaring: This wine can be enjoyed with the Thanksgiving feast or can cellar for another 3 to 5 years.



~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~

With Stoney Ridge Excellence Sauvignon Blanc…
Prosciutto Asparagus Chicken Roulades
From Canadian Living, April 2004 
Serves 4

16 asparagus spears

4 chicken breast (bone in skin on)
¼ cup (50 mL) loosely packed fresh tarragon leaves

8 thin slices of prosciutto

1 tbsp (15 mL) butter, melted

¼ tsp (1 mL) salt

cup (150 mL) chicken stock

cup (75 mL) dry white wine (or water mixed with 2 tsp / 10 mL white wine vinegar)
3 egg yolks

2 tbsp (30 mL) lemon juice

½ tsp (2 mL) cornstarch
¼ tsp (1 mL) pepper
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh tarragon



1.  Snap off woody end of asparagus.  In a pot of salted boiling water, blanch asparagus until colour brightens and still crisp, about 2 minutes.  Drain and chill under cold water; drain again.


2.  Starting at thick end of each breast and keeping knife angled towards bones, run knife between flesh and bones to remove bones.  Place, skin-side down, between plastic wrap.  With heavy pan or meat pounder, pound to flatten to generous ¼ – inch (5 mm) thickness.


3.  With fingers, gently loosen skin from flesh; place one-quarter of the tarragon leaves under the skin of each breast.  Turn and place 2 slices prosciutto over flesh.  Place 4 asparagus spears along 1 edge of each breast; roll chicken around asparagus ensuring skin covers all around.  Secure at edge with tooth pick.  Place, seam side down, in small roasting pan; brush with butter and sprinkle with salt.  Pour in stock and wine.


4.  Roast in 375° F (190°C) oven until chicken is no longer pink in centre, about 30 minutes.  Baste with pan juices.  Broil until skin is golden and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes.  Transfer to platter; keep warm.


5.  Pour pan juices into measuring cup; skim off fat.  If necessary, add more stock to make ¾ cup (175 mL).  Pour into small sauce pan; bring to a boil.  Meanwhile, in a heat proof bowl, whisk together egg yolks, lemon juice, cornstarch and pepper; stir in chopped tarragon. Slowly whisk in boiling juices.  Return to sauce pan; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly and without boiling, until thick enough to coat spoon, about 3 minutes. Serve with chicken.

With Stoney Ridge Excellence Pinot Gris
Grilled Fish Fillets with Cucumber Dill Yogurt
From LCBO Food & Drink Magazine, Early Summer 2006,
Serves 4

Ingredients – Cucumber Dill Yogurt
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded if necessary and diced

1 cup (250 mL) plain yogurt

2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh dill
½ tsp (2 mL) grated lemon zest
2 tsp (30 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Ingredients – Fish
4 thin fish fillets (trout, tilapia, pickerel, halibut)

1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
2 tsp (30 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper


1.    For the Cucumber Dill Yogurt, place a cucumber in a sieve and sprinkle with 1 tsp (5 mL) salt.  Let stand for 15 to 30 minutes.  Press out moisture and pat cucumber dry.  Transfer to a bowl.  Add yogurt, oil, dill, lemon zest and juice.  Toss gently to combine.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes or for up to 1 day.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.


2.    For the fish, preheat the grill to medium-high.


3.    Cut 4 pieces of foil slightly larger than the fish fillets and fold up edges to create a rim.  Place 1 fish fillet on each piece of foil.  Combine oil and lemon juice and brush over fish (over both sides if skinless).  Season with salt and pepper.  Slide foil piece onto baking sheet and then onto grill, removing sheet.  Grill fish, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on thickness, until just cooked through (or broil about 6 inches/15 cm away from heat).

With Stoney Creek Petit Verdot….
Tenderloin Steaks with Merlot Sauce
From Eat Well, Lose Weight – Better Homes and Gardens,
Serves 4


2 tsp (10 mL) cracked black pepper
4 beef tenderloin steaks, cut 1 inch thick
1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
½ cup (125 mL) finely chopped onion
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1 tbsp (15 mL) snipped fresh thyme or 1 tsp (5 mL) dried thyme, crushed

½ cup (125 mL) Merlot or other dry red wine or lower-sodium beef broth

2 tbsp (30 mL) lower-sodium beef broth or water



1.     Use your fingers to press pepper onto all sides of the steak.  In a large skilled heat oil over medium heat.  Add steaks to skillet; cook until desired doneness, turning once.  Allow 10 to 13 minutes for medium-rare doneness (145°F) to medium doneness (160°F).  Transfer steaks to a serving platter; keep warm.


2.     For sauce, add onion, shallot and dried thyme (if using) to drippings in skillet.  Cook and stir for 4 to 6 minutes or until onion is tender.  Add Merlot and broth. Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Boil gently for 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture is reduced by about half.  Stir in balsamic vinegar and fresh thyme (if using).  Spoon sauce over steaks.





Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!









The family is deeply rooted in its vineyard at Cattail Creek

Posted by Derek

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

Savvy Selections wine of the month club
features Cattail Creek Family Estates Winery
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep

For me the Labour Day long weekend marks the end of summer and the beginning of fall, however as I write this Savvy Selections eZine, I have a feeling that summer is not quite ready to step aside. I hope many of you were able to spend time outside enjoying the summer of 2010, either lying on a dock by a lake or relaxing in a lounge chair by a pool always with a glass of wine near by.   


For Ontario’s grape growers and winemakers, 2010 is shaping up to possibly be one of the best vintages on record. Some predict that the 2010 harvest will be better than the outstanding 2007 vintage.  Mother Nature got things off on the right foot with an early start to spring.  That early start combined with long hours of sun, great temperatures and just the right amount of rain has helped in producing great grapes…and great grapes go a long way in helping a winemaker craft great wine.      


The Savvy Team is excited to bring to you wines from the Cattail Creek Family Estate Winery.  A name you may recognize as we featured Cattail in the Savvy Selections when they opened in December 2007.  At that time the proprietors Roselyn and Andrew Ciezkowski had fulfilled their dream of a family run winery.  Three years later, Savvy Sommelier Derek Vollrath caught up to Andrew to find out how the winery has grown.


Choosing the wines to feature is hard work (OK…loads of fun too!). Our tasting panel included a team of Savvy Sommeliers Julie, Doug and Derek who were joined by Savvy Selections subscribers Heather & Bill and Nancy & Paul.  In fact Heather & Bill kicked off their wedding anniversary ‘date night out’ by joining us for the tasting then headed off to a romantic dinner afterwards.  These “Savvy Sippers” diligently tasted, analyzed and discussed the range of Cattail Creek wines.  Our hard work and tireless effort (wink, wink) resulted in choosing the following wines for you to enjoy:

·         Chardonnay Musqué VQA 2009

·         Merlot VQA 2008

·         Cabernet-Merlot VQA 2006


Accompanying each wine are the panel’s tasting notes along with recipes specifically chosen to pair with these wines.


Would you like to join us for the monthly Savvy Selection tasting panels? 

Keep watching your inbox for your invitation! It’s fun, no cost to you and best of all, educational as you get to enjoy a structured tasting with our accredited Savvy Sommeliers. We enjoy meeting our subscribers and getting feedback about the wines that we deliver to you each month.


Anytime you would like more Cattail Creek wines or previous Savvy Selections, simply contact me to arrange an order for you.  



Cheers & Enjoy!

Debbie & Savvy Team


Cattail Creek Family Estates

Presented by Sommelier Derek Vollrath


Andrew Ciezkowski, is a busy guy – so busy that it took me almost 2 months to finally catch up with him to interview him for this Savvy eZine!  Understandably, when you are the owner of a growing family business, you are always on call to be the chief, cook and bottle washer.  Or in the case of Andrew the sales rep, the marketing manager, the delivery guy and the grounds keeper.

Owning a winery often has a certain air of glitz and glamour. At times there is definitely some of that to be enjoyed. However, as with any small business, when the work needs to be done the owners have no other choice but to roll up their sleeves. During our first interview Andrew had just arrived home from cleaning up the winery parking lot, while his wife Roselyn had been called back to the vineyard to help prepare for the harvest.

During our second interview Andrew was multi-tasking as he packed the Savvy Selections readying them for shipment. “It never seems to stop”, says Andrew, “we continue to receive incredible accolades, awards & are certainly gaining a good reputation for wines – all great news for our small business.”

Cattail began operation in 2006 with their first vintage released in 2007.  I was curious to know what had changed at the winery since they first started operations. Andrew sums it up, “In one word…LOTS!”

For starters production size has changed significantly.  In its first year, they produced 1,800 cases. Now, three years later, Andrew is projecting that production will be reach approximately 4,600 cases.

Andrew recently changed his career. In March, he left his job as the Canadian Head of Sales & Marketing for Boisset (the 3rd largest wine company in France and the largest in Burgundy) because the operations at Cattail had rapidly grown to such a level that he was required to be there full time.   

Another change…a new winemaker. Colin Ferguson joined the Cattail Creek Family in 2009.  His wine making skills have been honed through a combination of hands-on training and formal education.  The “hands-on” component came by way of a two year stint in Bordeaux, France while Colin’s “formal education” was gained as a a graduate of the Niagara College Winery and Viticulture Technician Program. 

A new winemaker brings new energy and a new style and according to Andrew, “Colin has a style that lends itself to being more Old World in nature due to the fact that he spent two years in Bordeaux.”   


Not all things have changed…in fact some things have remained the same. 
Roselyn’s family has been growing grapes since 1957 and continues with no intention of changing that anytime soon.  The family has been able to capitalize on their wealth of grape growing knowledge and experience over the three generations, understanding what vines thrive in their vineyards.  This intimate knowledge results in high quality fruit year after year. 

The size of the vineyard remains constant.  Cattail has 100 acres under vine and according to Andrew, they keep 15% to 20% of the harvest for Cattail wines – selecting premium grapes – then sells the remainder of the fruit to other Niagara wineries as they have practiced for many years.

Cattail Creek’s approach to winemaking has not altered.  Always striving to produce the best quality wine in which all aspects of the finished product are well balanced.  As Andrew explains, “our philosophy is to produce the best wine that is expressive of the terroir and displays the ingenuity of the winemaker”.

Another constant is the family’s reputation.  For generations they have built a reputation for growing quality grapes for other wineries and now, Cattail Creek Family Estate Winery is growing their reputation as being a quality boutique winery.  Cheers!


~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~

Chardonnay Musqué VQA 2009, $17.00
Chardonnay Musqué is a clone of the Chardonnay grape varietal that is intensely aromatic – similar to that of Muscat grapes.  2009 marks Cattail’s third vintage of this unique wine and is one of the first wines crafted by their new winemaker Colin Ferguson.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Pale lemon in colour with intense aromas of pear, white peach and pineapple.  What you smell in the glass continues through on the palate as your taste buds are awarded with a generous portion of ripe tropical fruit complemented by a hint of spice.  This off-dry medium bodied wine is well balanced with a rich mouth feel and a lingering fruity finish.  It’s the way late summer should taste and at $17 a bottle, this is a great value. 

Suggested Food Pairing:  A light curry dishes or stuffed pork tenderloin would be an excellent food pairing.  For a vegetarian option we recommend a baked polenta casserole – recipe follows.

Cellaring: Chardonnay Musqué is a varietal that is designed to be consumed relatively early.  You can enjoy it now or you can keep a few bottles on hand to be savored again next summer


Merlot VQA 2008, $18.00

2008 provided for a long growing season thus enabling the berries in the grape bunches to slowly attain high levels of ripeness. The result of well ripened fruit is more natural sugar in the grapes – beneficial in the wine making process.  This Merlot was barrel aged in French oak imparting soft and subtle flavours.  After 8 months in oak, the Cattail winemaking team noted that the wine had developed sufficient structure and complexity, both from an aroma profile and tasting profile – it was definitely ready for bottling.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Bright ruby red with floral notes (our tasting panel noted lavender and violets – can you find these?), accented with aromas of stewed plums and dark chocolate.  The wine is balanced with soft tannins and an intense concentration of flavours, both on the nose and on the palate. Medium bodied with decent length that leaves the inside of your mouth feeling silky.

Suggested Food Pairing: This Merlot is begging to be enjoyed with grilled red meats or penne pasta in a Bolognese sauce.  For an international flare, try Korean flank steak – recipe below, it’s easy and tastes absolutely amazing.

Cellaring: This wine is drinking well now or could be cellared for 2 to 4 years.

Cabernet Merlot VQA 2006 $17.00

Unlike fashion, wine never goes out of style.  Why do I say that?  Well, believe it or not the 2006 Cabernet-Merlot that was selected by the September 2010 tasting panel was also one of the Savvy Selections featured wines in December 2007. And unlike the bell bottom pants of the 1970’s or the big hair and even bigger shoulder pads of the 1980’s this wine has some serious staying power!  It’s a blend of 75% Cabernet Franc and 25% Merlot and was aged in a combination of American and French oak for approximately 8 months.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Garnet red with a noticeable brick coloured rim (a typical sign of aged wine).  The nose is complex with aromas of cedar, vanilla, dark fruit and stewed plums.  Dry on the palate with a level of acidity that balances well with the fruit.  The tannins are still noticeable but are beginning to integrate nicely. The wine is full bodied with a medium length finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: Although we are not trying to hurry the seasons along, the Savvy Selections tasting panel unanimously recommended that this wine would by dynamite with a fall or winter stew. So in keeping with that theme accompanying is a receipt for Spiced Braised Pork with Pan-Roasted Root Vegetable & Gremolata.  For those people that don’t know or are too afraid to ask (and I am one of them) gremolata is a chopped herb condiment typically made of garlic, parsley, and lemon zest  According to Savvy Selections subscriber Heather who joined us for the tasting panel, this recipe is a little work but is definitely work the effort (Thanks Heather for sharing the recipe!).

Cellaring: Enjoy now or cellar for no more than another 3 to 5 years.



~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~

With Cattail Creek Chardonnay Musqué…
Baked Polenta Casserole
From Heart Smart, the Best of Heart Smart Cooking, Bonnie Stern
Serves 8 to 10
Ingredients – Polenta
5 cups (1.25L) water
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
¼ tsp (1 mL) pepper
1½ cups (375 mL) cornmeal (regular or quick-cooking0

Ingredients – Tomato Sauce
1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
1 onion
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Pinch hot red pepper flakes
2 28-oz (796 mL) cans plum tomatoes, with juice
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
½ lb (250 g) light ricotta cheese, broken up
¼ cup (50 mL) basil pesto
¾ cup (175 mL) grated part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 tbsp (25 mL) grated Parmesan cheese


1.  In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add salt and pepper. Slowly add cornmeal to boiling water in a thin stream, whisking constantly.  Reduce heat and cook on low heat for about 30 minutes for regular cornmeal and 5 minutes for quick-cooking, until thickened and tender.  Stir occasionally. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.


2.  Pour polenta into an 8 x 4 inch (1.5 L) loaf pan that has been lined with wax paper.  Chill for a few hours or over night.


3.  To prepare sauce, heat oil in a large, deep non-stick skillet on medium heat.  Add onion, garlic and hot pepper flakes and cook gently for 5 to 8 minutes or until mixture is very fragrant and tender.


4.  Add tomatoes and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, or until thick.  Puree sauce.  Add pepper, salt and parsley.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.


5.  To assemble, unmold polenta and cut loaf into ½-inch (1cm) slices.  Cut each slice on diagonal.  Spoon about 1 cup (250 mL) tomato sauce in bottom of a 13 x 9 inch (1.5 L) baking dish).  Arrange overlapping slices of polenta on top of sauce.  Dot with ricotta and pesto.  Spoon remaining tomato sauce on top and sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan.


6.  Bake in a preheated 375° F (190°C) oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until top is slightly golden and casserole is bubbling.  Allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.


With Cattail Creek Merlot….
Korean Flank Steak
From Welcome to Jill’s Table, Jill Wilcox
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients – Marinade
2lbs flank steak
2 tbsp (30 mL) low sodium soy sauce
2 tsp (10 mL) sesame oil
3 green onions, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp (30 mL) rice wine or sherry
1 tbsp (15 mL) ginger, minced
1 tbsp (15 mL) toasted ground sesame seeds
2 tsp (10 mL) brown sugar
1 tbsp (15 mL) chili paste (optional)

Ingredients – Sauce
3 tbsp (45 mL) low sodium soy sauce
2 tsp (10 mL) sesame oil
2 tbsp (30 mL) water
2 tbsp (30 mL) rice wine or sherry
1 tsp (5 mL) toasted sesame seeds
1 green onions, minced
1 small cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp (5 mL) chili paste
2 tsp (10 mL) sugar


1.    Lightly score the flank steak and then place in a zip lock freezer bag.


2.    Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl, whisk and then pour the contents of the bowl into the freezer bag containing the flank steak sealing the bag.


3.    Lightly kneed the sealed bag so that the flank steak is fully coated with the marinade. 


4.    Refrigerate for at least two hours.


5.    Preheat a grill and grill for 5 to 7 minutes per side.


6.    Remove from the grill, loosely tent with foil and let rest for at least 10 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute.  Slice the steak very thinly, against the grain.


7.    For the sauce combine all ingredients in a bowl.  It can be made ahead and stored in a jar in the refrigerator).



1.    For best results the grill should be very hot for best


2.    Never grill past medium rare or meat will be tough


3.    Slice the steak very thinly against the grain.



With Cattail Creek Cabernet Merlot….
Spiced Braised Pork with Pan-Roasted Root Vegetables & Gremolata
This recipe was highly recommended by Heather – a Savvy Selections subscriber who participated in the tasting panel. 

Notes from Heather: the meal is quite complicated and requires a lot of up front planning, but it is well worth it.  

Source: Well Fed web site


Ingredients – Pork seasoning
1 tbsp cumin seeds
2 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp fennel seeds
3 pounds pork shoulder, trimmed of fat and cut into 1 1/2 inch to 2 inch chunks
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano plus 3 whole sprigs
6 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves

Ingredients – For the braise
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup diced onion (about half a large onion)
1/4 cup diced carrot (1/3 a medium carrot)
1/4 cup diced fennel (1/4 a medium fennel bulb)
2 bay leaves
1 chile de arbol, crumbled
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups veal stock
1 lemon
4 to 6 sprigs fresh cilantro

Ingredients – For the pan roasted root vegetables
3 medium carrots, peeled
3 medium parsnips, peeled
3 medium turnips
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup shallots, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick

Ingredients – For the gremolata
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 cloves (about 1 teaspoon) minced garlic


1.     Toast the cumin, coriander and fennel seeds in a skillet over medium heat until they release their aroma and are slightly browned.  


2.     Place the seeds in a spice mill or a mortar and pulse or pound until coarsely ground.  The texture is better from using a mortar and pestle.  


3.     Place the pork in a large bowl and sprinkle with the crushed cumin, coriander, and fennel as well as the cayenne, the crushed garlic and oregano leaves and sprigs and the thyme leaves.  Using your hands, toss well to make sure everything is coated well.


4.     Cover the bowl with cling film and refrigerate overnight.


5.     Take the meat out of the refrigerator 45 minutes before cooking to allow it to come to room temperature.  After 15 minutes, season it on all sides with 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons salt and some black pepper.  Reserve the crushed garlic and the oregano sprigs.


6.     Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.


7.     Heat a large Dutch oven over very high heat for 3 minutes.  Pour in the olive oil and wait a minute or 2, until the pan is almost smoking.  Place the meat in the pan, being careful not to over crowd it.  Sear the meat until well browned and caramelized on all sides.  Adjust the heat if it seems like the pork is getting too dark.  After the meat is browned remove from the pan and reserve on a plate while you continue with the rest of the pork.  


8.     Turn the heat down to medium and add the onion, carrot, and fennel.  Stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up the brown crusty bits left in the bottom of the pan.  Stir in the bay leaves, crumbled chile de arbol, and the reserved garlic and oregano sprigs.  Cook for about 6 to 8 minutes, until the vegetables start to caramelize


9.     Pour in the white wine and reduce by half, about 5 minutes.  Next, add the stocks and bring to a boil.


10.  Using a vegetable peeler, peel off long strips of zest from the lemon.


11.  Turn off the heat and add the browned pork to the pot.  Tuck in the lemon zest strips and cilantro sprigs. 


12.  Cover the pot tightly with aluminum foil and place on the lid.  Put in the oven and braise for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.


13.  While the meat is braising, you can prep the root vegetables.  Cut off the stem and tip of the carrots and then slice in half lengthwise.  Place the carrot halves cut-side down and slice on an angle into 1/4 inch thick pieces.  Do the same thing to the parsnips.  To prep the turnips, cut of the stem and root ends.  Cut the turnips into quarters and then slice each quarter into small wedges approximately the same thickness as the carrot and parsnip pieces.


14.  Next make the gremolata.  Place the lemon zest on a cutting board and top with the parsley and garlic.  Chop the whole mixture together until very fine.  Set aside.


15.  Back to the pork.  To test the meat for doneness, remove the lid foil being careful of the steam and spoon out a piece of meat.  It should yield easily with the tip of a knife and almost fall apart.


16.  Turn up the oven to 400 degrees F.


17.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the meat from the pan and place on a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.  Return the pork to the oven to caramelize, about 10 to 15 minutes.  


18.  Meanwhile, place the Dutch oven over high heat and reduce the braising liquid to a thick sauce.  Taste for seasoning.


19.  While this sauce is thickening and the meat is caramelizing, you should pan roast the vegetables.  Heat two large skillets over high heat for 2 minutes.  Swirl in the olive oil and wait 1 minutes.  Divide the carrots, parsnips and turnips between the 2 pans and season with 1 teaspoon of pepper 1/4 teaspoon of pepper and the thyme.  Stir the vegetables to coat with the oil then cook for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables have just started to brown.  


20.  Add the butter and sauté another 5 minutes, stirring often.  Add the shallots, 1/2 teaspoon salt and continue to cook until the shallots are soft and the vegetables are tender, about 5 more minutes.  Combine the vegetables into 1 of the pans and toss with half the gremolata, reserving the rest for garnish.


21.  Spoon the pork onto a large platter and pour over the reduced sauce.  Scatter the gremolata coated pan-roasted root vegetables over the top of the pork and then sprinkle with the remaining gremolata.





Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!