Posts Tagged ‘Savvy Sommelier Susan Desjardins’

New & Known wines of BC’s Okanagan

Posted by Susan

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

A trip to the Okanagan is always an opportunity to explore familiar and newly established wineries. And that’s exactly what my husband and I did in last month! Along the way we visited familiar wineries and discovered brand new ones too.  Come and explore the Okanagan with me.

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards now showcases not only their wonderful wines crafted by winemaker Sandra Oldfield (“She’s been here since THE BEGINNING, 16 years ago,” said Jerralynn at the tasting bar) but also the recently ensconced restaurant, Miradoro. The restaurant flies out from the ridge, soaring over the south Okanagan valley like a bird on the wing. And the offerings to be found on the menu don’t disappoint! We enjoyed the rich and flavourful meatballs in fresh tomato sauce with a glass of Sandra’s ‘Oldfield Series’ 2Bench Red 2009, which we’d tasted at the winery ($29.99) – aged 18 months in French oak and held in bottle 14 months before release. It’s a blend of the Cabernets, Merlot and a splash of Petit Verdot, a dry full-bodied red wine, keenly balancing velvety tannins, fine acidity, well-integrated oak and a complexity of aromas and flavours including black cherry, plum, licorice and spices.

Of course, we tasted a few other wines at Tinhorn Creek’s spacious tasting room overlooking the valley, including the ‘Oldfield Series’ 2Bench Rosé 2011($22.99)— produced from 100% Cabernet Franc which spent 16 hours on the skins, it offers classic Cab Franc aromas, a crisp texture, lively herb-infused red fruit and a juicy long-lasting finish. The 2008 ‘Oldfield Series’ Pinot Noir ($29.99) is a first release produced using only the vineyard’s best fruit, aged 12 months in neutral French oak, then held 3 years in bottle prior to release. Silky smooth on the palate, displaying beguiling balance, it layers bright red fruit on subtle caramel, spice, pepper and earthy notes. It’s clean and dry from start to finish. The Tinhorn 2010 Cabernet Franc, selling for just $19.99, was aged in 2-3 year-old French and American oak for 12 months. It offers classic layered aromas, perceptible tannins and fresh acidity that define the clean dry palate, and flavours of bright red and black berries mingling with dried herbs and pepper. The tasting ‘finale’ was the 2009 ‘Oldfield Series’ Syrah ($34.99), aged 18 months in new and neutral French oak, held 14 months in bottle prior to release. It offers high-toned aromas of mint, licorice and lush dark fruit. A dry, full bodied red wine with great structure, full-bore fruit and lovely notes of exotic spice, it finishes long, dry and spicy.

Disappointed you won’t make it out to the Okanagan to taste these wines? Don’t despair, Tinhorn Creek’s ‘Crush Club’ offers you the opportunity to receive a minimum of one case of wine per year, reds, whites or mixed, shipped throughout Canada!

Forbidden Fruit Winery

Forbidden Fruit Winery, located in the Simalkameen Valley, a short jaunt from Osoyoos or Penticton, is a regular stop for us. Steve Venables has been cultivating organic fruit and making organic fruit wines for over three decades, and has recently started producing grape wines as well. At a recent dinner party, I served his apricot dessert wine, Caught Mistelle ($26.95, 375ml). with a peach and blueberry galette, to gushing reviews. We just had to stop in to replenish our supply. Of course, Steve wouldn’t hear of us leaving without trying one or two of his other creations. The oaked Cerise d’Eve ($29.95, 375 ml), a red cherry port-style wine, was outstanding—true to the fruit flavours, intense and fruity yet clean and relatively light on the palate. We served it with dark chocolate, to rave reviews. Among the grape wines, we tried his Earth Series’ Merlot ($26.00), which offered ripe red and black fruit aromas and flavours, with touches of spice and vanilla.
While in the south Okanagan, we also visited a couple of new wineries, Adega Estate Winery, on the road into our condo at Spirit Ridge Vineyard Resort & Spa, and Gold Hill Winery, located on the highway just south of Tinhorn Creek.

Adega Estate Winery

Adega Winery sits just up the hill off Rancher Creek Road, surrounded by recently planted vineyards. Adega is family owned and operated by the Nunes clan, who purchased the vineyard on the hill in 1966, planting it to the classic soft fruits of the Okanagan. They purchased other property nearby and eventually began cultivating and selling grapes to local wineries. Changes in the family led to the decision to uproot the existing fruit orchard and plant vines in 2007 and 2008. And since they were expanding their grape harvest, the decision was made to establish their own winery as well. While most of their wines were sold out, we had the opportunity to taste the 2010 and 2011 Viognier, as well as their 2011 Rosé, which is produced primarily from Merlot with a dash of Viogner. The contrast in the Viogniers was fascinating. Though both displayed great balance of fruit and acidity, the 2010 ($18.00) offered a lean, crisper profile with citrus and orchard fruit to the fore, while the 2011 ($21.00) displayed the more classic stone fruit and tropical notes with a lusher, fruitier body. The Rosé ($17.00) is your quintessentially ‘gulpable’ wine (we did so shortly after purchasing a couple of bottles, enjoying it with grilled salmon), offering a dry texture underpinning rich ripe red fruits that mingle with a touch of Okanagan peach. An absolutely delectable sipper!

Gold Hill Winery

Gold Hill Winery is a recently opened winery that’s well worth a visit. With vineyards located on the Golden Mile, the Gill family has for years been producing grapes used in the creation of award winning wines across the OkanaganValley. With over 60 acres in production and another 40 ready to be planted to the vine, the family is justifiably proud of the quality of its grapes. In the tasting room, their son talked about the rare qualities of the Golden Mile, which seems to have a unique microclimate that protects the vines from the worst of the ‘renegade’ frosts. He quotes history:  A killing frost in spring of 1966 wiped out the soft fruit harvest in the entire Okanagan – except for the Golden Mile. The family’s first commercial vintage was 2009, and many of the wines we tasted were produced from 2-year old vines. The quality of the fruit is attributed to knowledge of the vineyard and a vigorous program of thinning and cropping—“My father and uncle work the vineyards and have a great sense of the ripeness of the fruit”.

The 2011 Unoaked Chardonnay ($18.00) from the Deadman Lake Vineyard tasted fruity and just off-dry. Almost transparent, it balanced lovely lush stone and orchard fruit flavours with lively citrusy acidity and a touch of spice on the finish. The 2011 Pinot Gris ($18.00) is a well-crafted, fruity wine that combines juicy apple, ripe pear and apricot with fine acidity that carries a touch of residual sugar through the fruity finish.  The 2009 Syrah ($27.00), at 14.9% alcohol is a big, bold, in-your-face wine that won gold at the West Coast Wine Awards. Aged 16 months in new and neutral French oak, it’s loaded with black fruit, toasty oak and a whiff of lavender. Dry, full bodied and spicy, the fruit is lush, the pepper building across the palate through a finish that’s bursting with ripe fruit.


Moraine Estate Winery

On the recommendation of a friend, we made a side trip to the Naramata Bench and visited two new wineries there. Oleg Aristarkhov, with his wife Svetlana, is  the proprietor of newly opened Moraine Estate Winery. He owns 15 acres on the bench, 10 of which have established 12-year-old vines, 5 of which he has planted to Pinot Noir. From a background in geology and the oil industry, Oleg, with his Kiwi winemaker Jacq Kemp, is creating wines that celebrate the history of his terroir—and you can taste the mineral notes across his portfolio! The Cliffhanger White 2011 ($14.00) is a blend of Pinot Gris and Viognier, offering quite intense fruit aromas , a crisp texture, flavours of citrus and green apple with a touch of minerality through the tangy finish. The Pinot Gris 2011 ($21.00) spent 2-3 months on the lees and offers a crisp, lively profile, with some flinty, citrus notes, pear and a refreshing finish. The Viognier 2011 ($23.00) combines beautiful floral, stone and tropical fruit aromas with zesty, slightly pithy flavours of citrus and stone fruit. It’s well crafted and balanced, finishing with that classic tart zing. The Cliffhanger Red 2011 ($24.00) is a blend of Gamay which he purchased from an Oliver vineyard, with his own Syrah. The wine spent 17 months in Frnech oak, displaying aromas of ripe berries and overtones of vanilla and sweet spice. Medium bodied, the ripe red fruit flavours blend with spice, pepper and a touch of underlying minerality. An intriguing blend that offers complexity and a clean crisp texture.


Upper Bench Estate Winery & Creamery

Heading back toward Penticton from Moraine, I couldn’t resist stopping in at Upper Bench Estate Winery and Creamery – who can withstand the urge to taste cheese and wine together! There’s a story here, of Gavin Miller who came from the U.K. to visit a friend, and met his wife Shana (the Big Cheese) who had migrated to the Okanagan from Nova Scotia. Sixteen years later, they’re still here! They purchased the property in January 2011, and opened the winery earlier this year. We savoured the nice, fresh 2011 Pinot Gris ($20.00) with their melt-in-the-mouth brine-washed Gold. It’s a finely balanced wine with sweet fruit aromas, dry texture and crisp lively flavours of green apple and melon. The 2011 Rosé ($19.00) was served with their creamy ‘U & Brie’. Made with Zweigelt, if offers good red fruit aromas and flavours, hints of rhubarb, and a fresh lively texture. The 2011 Chardonnay ($25), served with their King Cole Blue, is a 50/50 blend of unoaked wine with wine aged 3 months in French oak. Dry, mid-weight, it offers aromas of ripe apple, tropical fruit and toast, a creamy yet fresh texture, flavours of apple pie fresh from the oven and a nice toasty finish.





A classic summer sipper!

Posted by Eva

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

The prospect of a family-owned winery was often discussed at family gatherings, yet the idea became fruition one day while Sue-Ann was thinning the vineyard with her father Howard.

‘What are you doing?” he asked.

“I’m thinking that there’s no reason I couldn’t start my own winery,” replied Sue-Ann.

Soon after, in 2009 Sue-Ann Staff Winery opened & her wines have been turning heads ever since! Sue-Ann is a well-known winemaker in Canada & is particularly proud of her Semi-Dry Riesling as it is her first as a winery owner!

Cheers & Enjoy!

2008 Semi Dry Riesling

Sue-Ann Staff Semi-Dry Riesling 2008 VQA

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  This is a classic Riesling.  Light to medium bodied with refreshing & crisp aromas of petrol, citrus, tropical fruit (mango perhaps?), crunchy green apple, pears with a persistent long finish.  Our Savvy Sommelier Susan Desjardins who reviews wines for the LCBO, gave this wine 4 of 5 stars!

Suggested Food Pairings: Perfect chilled on its own.  Or serve with spicy Thai or Indian dishes would make this wine sing!


Want to buy this wine?  We can arrange for it to be delivered!

When we featured Sue-Ann Staff Winery in our Savvy Selections wine of the month club, we discovered that she has amazing wines.  Would you like bottles of this wine or an assortment of her wines?  Call us to make the arrangements for a delivery to your home or office…of even cottage!   Or subscribe to our wine of the month club & you will recieve outstanding wines like Sue-Ann’s arrive at your doorstep each month.


An outstanding Pinot Noir from Good Earth Winery

Posted by Eva

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

Nicolette Novak opened The Good Earth Cooking School on her family’s fruit farm in 1998. Offering a warm, relaxed & welcoming experience, her reputation spread & she was soon catering events too. Wine seemed a natural complement. Vines were planted in 2002 & her first vintage was released six years later. With impressive wines & great food, Good Earth is a spot to relax at the new bistro, indoor dining room & winery tasting room.

TIP: When Susan recently visited Niagara, she stopped in at the winery & stayed for lunch.  She raved about Nicolette’s ‘sip & savour menu’!

Cheers & Enjoy!


Good Earth Food & Wine Co. Pinot Noir 2009 VQA


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This earthy wine entices with aromas of red fruit, vanilla, beetroot & campfire smoke. The flavours are complex—roasted coffee beans, underbrush, raspberry & cherry pie. Framed by refined tannins & fresh acidity, this wine is substantial in the mouth & with a warm spice finish.

Suggested Food Pairings: A classic Pinot pairing is grilled salmon or mushrooms.  This will also be good with BBQ steak & lamb chops too.



Want to buy this wine?  Subscribe & it will be delivered!

Good Earth Food & Wine Co. was recently featured winery in our Savvy Selections wine of the month club. Read our Savvy eZine to learn more about this outstanding winery & cooking school. You won’t find their wines at the LCBO, so call on us to arrange a special shipment of their wines to be delivered to your home or office.  Or better yet… subscribe to our wine of the month club!


Deeply rooted Sue-Ann Staff & her wines

Posted by Susan

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012


Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery

– January 2012 –

Cruise up the vine lined slopes above Jordan village, as I did last summer, and you’ll find Staff Avenue and Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery. My curiosity was piqued – what was the story behind Sue-Ann Staff’s newly opened winery, housed on her family’s historic farm? The dramatic white barn and family home come into view, a large cold-weather bell crafted in mid-1800s England gracing the entrance, ready to ring you onto the property. Exit the car and you will be greeted by a friendly, well-mannered Bernese Mountain dog named BRIX, who will lead you to the side entrance of the house. There you head into the relaxed, welcoming tasting bar that Sue-Ann and her family have set up in their farmhouse kitchen. Sue-Ann offers a warm welcome, sharing her passion for the wine, the vineyards and her family’s history.

Sue-Ann’s family emigrated from England in the late 1700s, her ancestor Robert Staff acquiring the current property over 2 centuries ago. The first vineyard was planted in 1898 by her great-grandfather comprising of 3.3 acres of Concord grapes located at the corner of Staff Avenue and 17th Street. This vineyard may be the oldest productive one in Niagara and continues to be retained by the family as a living legacy. You may in fact taste these grapes in Welch’s grape juice, as the fruit is shipped annually to the company’s processing plant in Pennsylvania. Through the generations, the Staff farming and agricultural operations have evolved. Historically, it was the largest private fruit-growing operation in Canada, with over 800 acres of grapes. And at one time, 5% of the estate was reserved for research by Jordan Wines.

Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery & Winemaker

 The prospect of a family-owned winery was often discussed at family gatherings, yet the idea became fruition one day while Sue-Ann was thinning crop with her father. ‘What are you doing?” her father asked. “I’m thinking,” replied Sue-Ann, “…I’m thinking there’s no reason I couldn’t start my own winery.” Soon after, in 2009, Sue-Ann Staff Winery opened. Sue-Ann describes the excitement as well as the terror of releasing wines under her name, aware of the significant investment she made while wondering how her wines would be received by the public. This was a fleeting moment now a couple of years later, as success has shown with several wines already sold out!

Our feature of Sue-Ann Staff Estate wines ensures Savvy subscribers have the opportunity to sample a unique selection of Sue-Ann’s wines:

      • – Staff Cabernet Franc VQA 2010the velvety, earthy laced with balsamic characteristics
      • – Megalomaniac Cabernet Frank VQA 2009 –  a BIG treat for our subscribers!
      • Megalomaniac Cabernet Sauvignon VQA 2008 – full bodied red that she made as a consulting winemaker for winery owner John Howard


Riesling Icewine VQA 2007a luscious, beautifully balanced honeyed fruit extravaganza,

– Pinot Gris VQA 2010previous vintages quickly sold out.  Given the quality of the 2010 vintage, it is anticipated that this wine will fly off the shelves

We are delighted to introduce you to Sue-Ann & her wines.  Be sure to visit the Staff farm to experience the warm welcome offered by Sue-Ann, her family & BRIX too!

Debbie & Savvy Team


If I only had $100, I would buy these wines at Vintages

Posted by Susan

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

If I only had $100, I would buy . . .

LCBO Vintages Release as of Saturday, August 20, 2011

Welcome to the southern Rhône and southwestern France in the August 20 LCBO Vintages release. On offer is a selection of wines, most under $20, from a part of the country with a long history, garrigue-dotted landscape and the gentle influence of the Mediterranean. Graced with dramatic Roman towns such as Nîmes and Carcassonne, the Roman arches of the Pont du Gard, the Mediterranean salt flats of Aigues-Mortes. and the foothills of the Pyrenees, where Spanish influence is pervasive, culture and vineyards are well rooted. Look for appellations such as the Languedoc, Côtes du Rousillon, the Gard and Côtes de Provence to offer blends of Syrah, Grenache, Mouvèdre and Carignan. These wines integrate the depth and power of Syrah, the spice and fruit of Grenache, the firmness of Mouvèdre, and the color and structure of Carignan, creating robust flavourful taste experiences. To the west, appellations such as Corbières and the Minervois are closer geographically to the traditional Bordeaux appellation, the former often experiencing severe drought and producing intense concentrated wines. While the area is known for its reds, the feature also offers a fragrant Viognier and a clean fresh Picpoul de Pinet, a great match to the ‘moules marinières’ of the region.

Take advantage of this value-laden release to stock up on wines that are a perfect complement to late summer barbeque fare. The secondary feature includes wines from a selection of California appellations: Mendocino in the north, and Monterey, adjacent Paso Robles and the Santa Ynez Valley in the south, among others. Mendocino is known for its two distinct growing areas: west of the Coastal Range, where the Pacific offers a cooling influence, and the eastern interior that offers warmer drier growing conditions. Monterey has more vines planted than Napa, and offers a range of wine styles from cool climate to rich warm wines produced from fruit grown on limestone ridges above the fog. The Santa Ynez Valley benefits from warm sun-soaked days and variations in altitude that can produce wines that are fleshier or fresher in texture.

Among the Canadian wines, I wouldn’t miss the Cattail Creek Riesling (from a Savvy Selections featured winery), Henry of Pelham’s Pinot Noir from the great 2007 vintage, and the Black Sage Vineyard Cabernet Franc from B.C.’s Sumac Ridge. Enjoy browsing!



Cattail Creek Riesling 2009
VQA Four Mile Creek, Niagara
$15.95 (Vintages #241547) 12.5% alcohol

A very attractive adroitly-crafted golden Riesling, it’s fragrant with ripe peach, apricot, citrus and tropical notes, displays a fine fresh texture. There’s a keen balance of lively acidity, underlying minerality and delicious fruit—pear, lemon-lime, pink grapefruit and apricot to the fore. A faint note of slate complements the tangy fruity finish. A versatile wine, it will pair with pork, chicken, salads or lightly spiced shrimp.

Joseph Cattin Pinot Blanc 2009
AOC Alsace, France
$13.95 (Vintages #224642) 12.0% alcohol
A great value, this award-winning wine delivers subtle alluring floral and orchard fruit aromas. Just off-dry, light-medium bodied it’s supple and silky, balancing lively acidity and complex flavours of sweet orchard fruit, lemon/lime, grapefruit and elusive nuances of spice and pepper. The finish is long, flavourful and slightly peppery. Load up and serve it with light appetizers or salads.

Domaine Sabarda Côtes du Roussillon 2009
AOC Côtes du Roussillon, France
$16.95 (Vintages #237321) 14.5% alcohol
The purple hue of this award-winning blend of Grenache, Syrah and Carignan portends the depth and intensity of aromas and flavours. Sweet ripe dark fruit to the fore, there are also alluring notes of spice and cedar. The palate is awash with tangy spicy berry fruit—raspberry and blackberry—that is well balanced with a fresh texture and firm structure. Medium bodied, the wine offers a lengthy dry tasty finish. Fire up the BBQ!

Domaine de Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem 2008
AOC Côtes du Roussillon-Villages, France
$21.95 (Vintages #643239) 14.0% alcohol
Dry, medium-full bodied and silky on entry, this is a lively wine with attractive aromas of dark berry, spice and licorice. Refreshing flavours of ripe raspberry and blackberry woven through with notes of spice and cocoa are finely balanced with perceptible tannins and clean acidity, creating a lasting fruit-focused finish. Enjoy now with a selection of cheeses, olives and crusty French bread or cellar a further 2-3 years.

Sumac Ridge ‘Black Sage Vineyard’ Cabernet Franc 2008
VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
$18.95 (Vintages #230102) 14.0% alcohol

Produced from well-ripened fruit from the south Okanagan, aged in French and American oak, this is a very appealing dry medium bodied wine with attractive complexity on the nose and palate. Floral notes, red berry, hints of roasted peppers and herbs beguile. Soft and creamy in texture, the palate is awash with ripe red berry fruit, spice and pepper, balanced by fine acidity and well-integrated tannins. Subtle notes of toast drift through the lasting fruit-filled finish. Cellar 3-5 years or try it with the winemaker’s favorite – mushroom risotto.

Grand Total: $87.75


Aficionados of Cabernet Franc might like to compare this flavourful Chinon with the Okanagan Cabernet Franc in our selection!

Domaine Bernard Beaudry Chinon 2009
AOC Chinon, France
$19.95 (Vintages #940783) 13.0% alcohol

Produced from hand-harvested fruit, free of herbicides and pesticides, this is a very attractive deep ruby Cabernet Franc that offers an abundance of enticing aromas—herbs, tobacco, ripe berry fruit, spice and graphite. Dry, medium-full bodied, it’s firmly structured, with a lively texture and a mouthwatering slightly bitter note underlying. On the palate, raspberry and blackberry predominate, laced with contrasting floral and mineral notes, a nuance of espresso emerging on the dry mid-length finish. Intricate and interesting, this wine will age at least 3-5 years.

More about my blog post: If I only had $100, I would buy…
There is a myriad of wines out there, so it’s often a challenge deciding what to select when the
LCBO Vintages catalogue comes out every two weeks or so. Like a kid in a candy shop, your attention darts from one treat to another, but what to choose . . . Something to serve to your guests this weekend? Something to put away for a special occasion? Something to store for a autumn afternoon?

I recognize that each person’s tastes and preferences are unique. “If I had $100 . . .”, will be posted just prior to LCBO Vintages releases and will highlight unique wines I have tasted that provide good value; the selection will total no more than $100.

Occasionally, I may include an optional wine – you can substitute or add it for a little more or a little less! Print this off as your shopping list knowing that these wines have been selected by a Savvy Sommelier who has sipped, savoured & swirled countless wines before they arrived on the shelves in Vintages.  Hopefully you too will find a new favorite wine.  And when you do, quickly save your pennies to buy a bottle or two more.  Warning that once a wine is gone from a particular Vintages release, that vintage, and sometimes that wine, is gone for good!


Tawse is named Winery AND Winemaker of the Year

Posted by Susan

Friday, June 10th, 2011

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

Venturing to Alberta as a young man, Moray Tawse worked at a resort where he ‘fell’ into the role of wine steward, further developing his interest in wine, in particular Burgundian-style wines. In 1988, he co-founded and continues to lead a financial services firm while combining his dream of owning a vineyard in Burgundy, France. Luckily for the Canadian wine industry, fate wanted to keep this dream at home. Moray was enamored with an outstanding Chardonnay from Niagara and saw the potential for his beloved Burgundian wines in Ontario. After researching the Niagara wine scene, he purchased property in 2001 and his winery dream began to take shape.

The uncompromising attention to quality, environmental stewardship and landscape is evident as you approach the Tawse Winery. Opened in 2005, the state-of-the-art building nestles into the Beamsville Bench (aka Niagara Escarpment), boasting a six-level gravity flow vinification system that uses the naturally sloping terrain for gentle handling, assuring the exquisite bouquet and flavours of the finished product. Underground cellars maintain the ideal temperature and humidity for barrel aging, while minimizing environmental impact. The geo-thermal energy system has reduced consumption of traditional energy by 80%, and the wetland bio-filter system ensures that all sanitary and winery waste water is recycled. Biodynamic farming, sometimes referred to as “extreme organic”, is the practice of ever increasing ecological self-sufficiency on the property. The estate is farmed organically with everything done by hand. Biodynamic farming and winemaking techniques have been implemented—Ecocert and Demeter seals appear on all Tawse wines made from biodynamically cultivated fruit.

Frequently receiving accolades, the piece de resistance is undoubtedly the prestigious Canada’s Winery of the Year from Wine Access Magazine presented at the 2010 Canadian Wine Awards. Interestingly, Tawse was the first Ontario winery to receive this honor and also won an unprecedented 5 gold, 3 silver and 10 bronze medals for their wines. In addition, they won the White Wine of the Year award for its 2008 Robyn’s Block Chardonnay. And to top it all off, Tawse winemaker Paul Pender was named Ontario’s Winemaker of the Year 2011 at the Ontario Wine Awards.  Congrats to the Tawse team!

We are delighted to introduce you this month’s Savvy Selections:
Sketches of Niagara Rosé VQA 2010 – a crisp, dry & delicious Rosé perfect for sipping on your patio
Riesling VQA 2010 – just released in time to be included in Savvy Selections
Laundry Vineyards Cabernet Franc VQA 2009 – you are the very first to get your hands on this wine. It is not yet released at the winery.
Optional wine: Riesling Ice Wine VQA 2009 – subtle, elegant, and beautifully balanced

As always in the Savvy eZine, we have included the tasting notes from our Savvy Sommeliers along with recipes that Susan specifically chose to pair with each of these wines ideal for summertime entertaining.

If there is a particular wine from Tawse that you enjoyed, feel free to contact me and I would be more than happy to arrange a delivery of additional bottles to be sent to you. And if you would like to stock up on your favorite Savvy Selections wines, just give me a call to arrange a special delivery.

Cheers & Enjoy!
Debbie & Savvy Team

Tawse Winery
Presented by Sommelier Susan Desjardins

To visit Tawse is to be inspired. Here is uncompromising commitment to the vines, the grapes and the soil, respect for the environment and trust that stewardship will be rewarded with the excellence of outstanding wines.

When Moray Tawse purchased this estate in 2001, he purchased existing vineyards, some of them with vines planted in the 1970s and 1980s. He selected sites that offer unique terroir, for instance the Quarry Road site which is at the top of the Niagara escarpment, where the limestone in very accessible and minerality shines through. He called on renowned winemaker Deborah Paskus, whose Chardonnay had changed his mind about establishing a winery in France and establish roots in Niagara instead. Paul Pender (appears in photo below), fresh from Niagara College’s Winery & Viticulture program, joined as assistant winemaker. When Deborah decided to move to Closson Chase Winery in Prince Edward County, Moray called on his long-time friend, internationally renowned consulting winemaker Pascal Marchand to assist with the 2005 vintage. Paul soon took the helm and acquired his own assistant; Australian Rene van Ede who is a lab expert and has an extraordinary palate.

Known for his ‘non-interventionist as far as possible’ approach to winemaking, Paul has overseen both Tawse’s organic and biodynamic certification processes. His approach to winemaking is that of a steward (or a guardian angel), watching over the vines and grapes, ‘keeping them safe’, and then letting the wine express its sense of place. Moray Tawse has repeatedly explained in various publications the importance of the vineyard location. he is proud that the terroir at his winery is much like the region of Burgundy, France & being one of the reasons to invest in Niagara.

Growing a Biodynamic Business
The biodynamic approach used by Tawse is natural and holistic with the principal focus on treating the vineyard as an ecosystem where all the components are a self-contained integrated whole, dependent upon each other for long-term health and vitality. Those components include biodiversity, soil fertility, crop nutrition and disease/pest control – as an example, hedgerows are planted to attract beneficial insects, while cover crops are planted in the vineyard to prevent erosion and compete with the vines for nutrients, driving the roots down into the mineral layers of the soil. Various farm animals roam through the vineyards to eat weeds or excess vine foliage, their manure providing natural enrichment for the soil. And horses may be used for harvest to minimize soil compaction.

In the winemaking process, the guiding principal is to celebrate the terroir. With the changing weather of each vintage, Paul spends much of his time in the vineyard monitoring the health and quality of the fruit, sugar and acidity levels. Flexibility and quick reaction time is required, given the unpredictability of the climate – but this is what makes each vintage unique. In addition to the gentle process ensured by the gravity-flow system, wild yeasts are used wherever possible, and the same type of oak is applied in aging wines so that the unique qualities of the vineyard come through. And Tawse winemaking staff rejoices in the nature of cool-climate wines: ‘We’re an acidity-friendly winery,” states Rene, the assistant winemaker. Their goal: to create elegant, bright, pure ‘old world’ style wines.

In a interview by wine blogger Michael di Caro,  Paul was asked what he would plant were he given a few acres. Ever the pragmatist, his choices were Riesling and Chardonnay, since he feels that he could reliably produce outstanding wines from these varietals every vintage; but he’s still irresistibly drawn to Pinot Noir, because in a great Ontario vintage, it’s fantastic!

And Moray’s life long dream of making wine in Burgundy is now coming to fruition as he partners with friend and business associate Pascal Marchand to operate a cuverie (winespeak: vat room) and cellars in Nuits-St-Georges France. We look forward to featuring Marchand & Tawse labeled wine in Savvy Selections.

Cheers & Enjoy!


Tawse Riesling VQA 2010, $19.95
Representing what’s considered a great vintage in Niagara, the fruit for this Riesling is from a single vineyard in the Vinemount Ridge appellation, known for delivering grapes with an outstanding combination of sweetness and acidity.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Almost transparent, this is a clean zesty wine. Lovely floral, sweet citrus, stone fruit and mineral aromas beckon. Vibrant acidity and mineral notes complement the bright long lasting flavours of kiwi, lime, mandarin and white peach.
Suggested Food Pairing: To quote one of our tasters “This pairs nicely with not much to do!” But we’ve included a salmon recipe to help finish the bottle!
Cellaring: Refined and flavourful, enjoy it now and cellar a few bottles to savour over the next few years.

Tawse ‘Sketches of Niagara’ Rosé VQA 2010, $14.95
This outstanding rosé was featured a few weeks ago in Vintages, yet it’s almost gone. Being a great way to kick off summer with its juicy aromas and tastes, we made sure that the winery had enough of this Rosé to include it in this months’ Savvy Selections. Enjoy!
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Watermelon pink, this blend of Gamay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and a selection of white grape varietals, this wine is appealing from the fresh fruity nose, straight through to the flavourful palate of red berry and pink grapefruit, with a lasting fruity finish that hits you with a dash of white pepper. Plain and simple – it’s delicious!
Suggested Food Pairing: Rosé is incredibly versatile – enjoy chilled as you chill out on the patio, match to light meat dishes, serve with appetizers and grilled fish.
Cellaring: Enjoy now and stock up on several bottles . . .

Tawse Laundry Vineyards Cabernet Franc VQA 2009 $31.95
Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, this not-yet-released Cabernet Franc is produced from fruit grown in an organically farmed vineyard located in the Lincoln Lakeshore appellation. You can tell from the texture and flavours that the fruit hung to optimal ripeness.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Offering depth and complexity, this is a dry, firmly structured, medium-full bodied wine with a wonderful velvety texture and enticing aromas of dried herbs, blackberry and raspberry, tobacco leaf and a hint of fresh mint. The rich fruit flavours flow across the palate and through the lengthy finish, notes of roasted peppers, espresso and a dash of pepper adding allure. Irresistible!
Suggested Food Pairing: Fire up the BBQ. This is a wine to be enjoyed with simply prepared bison, beef or lamb.
Cellaring: Drinking well now, this wine will cellar for 3-5 years.


With Tawse Riesling…

Gingery Grilled Salmon
From ‘Eating Well Magazine’
Serves 4

¼ C nonfat plain yogurt
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp freshly grated lime zest
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp canola oil
½ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
4 4-5 oz. pieces salmon fillet, ~ 1” thick

1. Whisk together marinade ingredients.

2. Place salmon in a shallow glass dish and pour marinade over it, turning to coat all sides. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator fro 20-30 minutes, turning once or twice.

3. Heat grill. Using long-handled BBQ brush, coat grill rack with oil. Place salmon, skin-side up, on grill. Cook for 5 minutes. Using 2 metal spatulas, carefully turn the salmon pieces over and cook just until opaque in the centre, 6-8 minutes longer. With 2 spatulas, remove salmon from grill and slip off skin.

4. Serve over mixed greens with a simple lime, canola oil and honey dressing.

With Tawse Sketches of Niagara Rosé

Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Maple Rhubarb Coulis
Adapted from Gay Cook
Serves 4

1 ½ lb pork tenderloin
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 Tbsp wine or cider vinegar
2 tsp maple syrup
A dash or two of Tabasco or 1 tsp chopped canned jalapeno
½ tsp each salt & freshly ground pepper
1 Tbsp light soy sauce
2 C sliced rhubarb
1 small onion, chopped
¼ C water
1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
3 Tbsp maple syrup or to taste

1. Trim any fat or membrane off pork tenderloin.

2. To make marinade, whisk together garlic, zest, oil, vinegar, maple syrup, Tabasco, soy, salt & pepper. Thoroughly turn meat in marinade & refrigerate for 1 hour. Slice tenderloin into ¾” medallions.

3. Place rhubarb in saucepan with water, onion, ginger, and maple syrup. Bring to a boil & cook gently for 8-10 minutes. Purée if necessary.

4. Grill or pan sautée the pork on medium-high heat until done, about 3 minutes each side.

5. To serve, place the rhubarb coulis on a platter or plate and place the medallions slightly overlapping down the centre.

With Tawse Laundry Vineyard Cabernet Franc…

Steaks Balsamico
From Susan’s own kitchen
Serves 4

¼ C oil
¼ C balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp basil, crumbled
¼ tsp each salt & freshly ground pepper
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 strip loin steaks, 1” thick (or filet mignon)

1. Combine all marinade ingredients in a heavy zip-lock bag. Add meat and squeeze bag to coat steaks with marinade. Seal bag. Let stand for 30 minutes.

2. Remove steaks from marinade; discard marinade.

3. Grill steaks over medium heat on gas BBQ to desired doneness.

4. Let the wine shine through with this simple preparation.

Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!