Posts Tagged ‘Sommelier Monique Ippolito’

Stratus Vineyards – Toasting 10 Years

Posted by Monique

Monday, September 14th, 2015

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Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Stratus Vineyards Winery

–  September 2015 –


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

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

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

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

Your Trio of Stratus wines…

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

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

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

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

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

You won’t find these Stratus wines at the LCBO

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

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

Debbie & Savvy Team


Stratus Vineyards

Presented by Sommelier Monique Ippolito


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

The virtuoso himself… Stratus winemaker JL

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

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

Where does the magic start?

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

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

What happens next…

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

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

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

Where it all happens…

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

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

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

Best part of it all….

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

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




2011 Stratus Semillon $32.00

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

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

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

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


2012 Stratus Gewürztraminer $32.00

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

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

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

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

2012 Stratus Merlot $32.00

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




With Stratus Semillon…

Fish Tacos topped with Mango Pico de Gallo and Salsa Verde

From Monique’s Kitchen
Serves 3-4


For the fish

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

For Mango Pico de Gallo

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

For the Salsa Verde

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


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

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

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

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

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

With Stratus Gewürztraminer…

Pan Seared Trout with Orange Butter Pecan Sauce

From (recipe and photo credit)
Serves 2trout


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


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

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

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

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

Stratus Merlot…

Steak Skewers with Chimichurri Sauce

From (recipe and photo credit)
Serves 4

Ingredientssteak skewers

For Chimichurri Sauce

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

For Steak

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Enjoy your Savvy Selections!


Aure Wines – A Treasure Find

Posted by Monique

Monday, August 17th, 2015

Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Aure Estate Winery
–  August 2015 –


The heat is on in Ontario folks!  While we cool ourselves off sipping on some crisp cool wines, Ontario’s vineyards are eagerly watching clusters of their little green grapes grow and ripen. (did you know all grapes start as green?).  August is also one of the busiest times of the year for wineries, as tasting rooms are bustling with crowds of visitors anxious to taste and discover the delightful wines they have to offer while in the cellar, they are finishing bottling the wines and making room for the chaotic activities that comes with harvest.

We are thrilled to introduce to you Aure Wines (pronounced oh-rah), a family run winery situated in the VinemountAureWines_color Ridge sub-appellation of the Niagara Escarpment.  Aure Wines is run, hands on, by the Hoare family, originally from London, England; with Dave and Annette at the helm.  This husband and wife team has devotedly enthralled themselves in the splendor of wine and food for countless decades.  They also raised a lovely family with that same unimaginable level of passion.  Together with their sons William, the winemaker; and James, the vineyard manager; and daughter Sarah, they aim to share their passion through handcrafting quality wines.

Ready to uncork & enjoy your Savvy Selections?

In this month’s Savvy Selections you will find 3 remarkable wines, each of which were made from estate grown grapes.  Consider these wines to be a definitive expression of what Aure Wines has to offer!

2014 White Gamay – An irresistible blush pink wine with enticingly fresh strawberry aromas.  This refreshing wine pairs well with…your patio! You will no doubt want to enjoy with a charcuterie platter and cheese.

2011 ‘Old Vines’ Marechal Foch – A customer favourite! This wine comes from a hybrid grape vine (winespeak: cross between a European vinifera grape varietal and a North American grape varietal) that was once very widely planted all over Ontario due to its early ripening and cold hardy nature.  Today, most Marechal Foch vines have been uprooted but the ones that do remain at Aure are over 50 years old!  By the same token, winemaking has certainly improved over the past five decades, allowing these grapes to produce an incredible expression of this wine.

2010 Reserve Cabernet Franc – A silver medal winner at the 2014 Concours International Des Vine in France and the first vintage Cabernet Franc. The layers upon layers of flavours will surely impress.

You won’t find these Aure wines at the LCBO

We have done it again!  Our Savvy Sommeliers have found wines (and great prices) that we are confident you will enjoy…every sip!  Aure Wines produces such small amounts that you won’t find them on the shelves in your LCBO.  Call on us at any time at 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) for additional bottles of your favourite Aure wines – or other wineries we have featured in Savvy Selections.

Cheers & enjoy your summer!

Debbie & Savvy Team


Aure Wines

Presented by Sommelier Monique Ippolito


The Hoare family has always had a strong affinity for wine.  They originally moved to Canada’s east coast for business purposes; later bringing them to Toronto.  That second leap, sending them closer to Ontario’s grape regions, no doubt triggered something in their senses.  After countless visits through Niagara’s wine country, they took the plunge and sought to establish a winery of their own.  Aure was establish in 2007 and officially opened in 2011 with the first vintage coming from 2010 grapes. 2010 was a stellar year…so not a bad way to start!

A winery with an English cottage charm…

The property they finally settled on turned out to be a huge “fixer upper”.  The project involved salvaging as much as they could from an old barn to create what is now a charming Edwardian English _DSC0550Country Estate, adorned with various artifacts, photos and furniture from that era.  What is even more fascinating about this winery is their commitment to sustainability and the environmentally conscious initiatives they applied during the construction of the winery.

The Hoare family reused, recycled and re-purposed as much as they possibly could from the old barn that was on site.  If some of the salvageable items were not useful in the construction of their winery, they were donated to causes that would sure to benefit from it.  Today, a few of the key features of the winery include: a living ‘green’ roof, passive solar heating mechanisms and various methods of water conservation and the re-purposing of rain water.

The name is blowing in the wind

The Hoare family looked into their lineage for the inspiration to pretty much everything about the winery.  The name was no different.  Once they started tracing the name back a few centuries, the surname Hoare was discovered to be somewhat of a derivative of the ancient Greek name Aure, which translates to “a breath of air.”  Since the discovery, the Hoare’s could not resist how fitting the name was considering the location of the winery in addition to having a connection to their lineage.

Meet the winemaker…

William Hoare (photo at right) practically grew up in the hospitality industry and devewilliam_0loped quite an adventurous palate at a very young age.  As a teenager, he was actually thrilled to be washing dishes and bussing tables in a restaurant.  His work experience and penchant for exotic food motivated travels steered him towards studying Hospitality at Niagara College and obtaining a Diploma in Hotel and Restaurant Management.

Soon after, his love and appreciation for wine began to skyrocket. William then sought to educate himself as much as he could on the subject of wine.  He is a quick learner, not to mention a good student, although he feels that he never learnt enough about wine. “there is always more to learn.”

As with any job however there still seem to be little headaches here and there.  For instance William jokingly admits that his least favourite parts of the job are cleaning tanks and, of course, government audits.  However, his proudest moment so far has been winning a silver medal for the 2010 Cabernet Franc at the 2014 Cancours International Des Vine in France.  Luckily, there was enough of this award winning wine to include in your Savvy Selections shipment.  Plus, another fulfilling part of his job is being able to experiment with new/different techniques in wine making; like the impressive wild ferment Pinot Noir and Chardonnays that are available when you visit the winery.

What’s next?

In a span of four short years, Aure has built an incredible portfolio of wines and built several reasons to mark a visit to the winery when you are next in the area.  Be sure to stop in to Silo Bistro for lunch or English high tea.

In the vineyard, David is excited to be the first in the area to grow a new and somvineyard croppedewhat obscure grape called Siegerrebe.  It is an aromatic white grape variety originally from Germany with similar aromas to Gewürztraminer.  “We chose it because of its cold hardy characteristics and it should perform very well in the cool climate that we have in our vineyards”, explains David.

In the wine cellar, William shares the secret that they are planning to make a sparkling Gamay.

Altogether, this winery’s warmth, passion, commitment to environmental sustainability, and strong connection to heritage will no doubt keep producing exciting wines in the future!




Being on top of the Beamsville Bench in the Vinemount Ridge, Aure has focused on varietals that perform consistently well in the cool winds that run along the top of the escarpment.  The grapes here generally bud and ripen two weeks later than vineyards located lower on the bench.  Aure’s Gamay Noir, Cabernet Franc, Riesling and over 50 year old vines of Marechal Foch are the varietals the winery began with.  Sadly, this year, the Riesling vines originally planted were uprooted due to the back-to-back harsh winters that damaged the vineyard.  On the flip side, the hardy surviving vines are thriving and producing very well report David and William.

2014 White Gamay, $14.95

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Mark our words, you will not be able to resist this elegant blush pink wine!  Alluring aromas of ripe wild strawberries, cherry and a touch of lemon grass loom from the glass.  Expressions of strawberry, pink grapefruit and lemon zest come through more on the palate, ending with a crisp refreshing finish.  This wine is light bodied with a well-balanced acidity and a mouthwatering finish.

While called White Gamay, it is strictly speaking, a white wine made from a red grapes.  The Gamay Noir grapes are the signature varietal originating from the Beaujolais appellation in France.  It is traditionally a deep ruby-red hued wine so, naturally, when vinifying this wine with very limited skin contact, some of that pink hue comes through into the juice during the winemaking process.  Take a sip and you’ll find all the qualities of a ripe Gamay grape without the tannins.  Dry and crisp, it is a delicious summer sipping wine.

Suggested   Food   Pairings: Quite versatile!  This wine makes for a terrific pairing with a summer salad.  Try it with strawberry topped Greek salads, or simply enjoy as a plain ol’ 2 o’clock patio wine. 

Cellaring: Drink now.  Serve between 7⁰-10⁰C.

2011 Old Vines Marechal Foch, $19.95

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  A robust red wine!  Lovely layered notes of ripe blackberries, black currants, Foch_2011black plums, dark chocolate, leather and anise come through as you nose this wine.  Key flavours of  ripe berries, baking spices and a touch of earthy minerality sustain itself on the palate right through to a long finish.  This wine carries a silky smooth mouthfeel with luscious acidity and a medium-plus body.

The Old Vines Foch, being one of the original varietals frown on the property, is harvested from mature vines.  It has so far become the best seller of Aure Winery.  Its rich and bold characteristics make it a versatile comfort food pairing wine.  You do not necessarily have to wait until fall to crack into this bottle though.  I imagine it will pair quite well with Smokey BBQ ribs.

Suggested Food Pairings:  Osso Buco, hearty stews or anything off the BBQ. 

Cellaring: Drinking well now.  Can cellar for another 3 to 5 years.  Serve between 16⁰-18⁰C.

2010 Reserve Cabernet Franc, $35.00

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:   This wine is one of Aure’s inaugural wines and an international prize winner at that!  The 2010 vintage in the Niagara’s wine country was quite phenomenal, so the wine has lovely notes of dates, ripe Reserve_2010_Cabblack plums, some graphite (minerality) and eucalyptus that lingers with each sip.  These aromas directly repeat on the palate with a luscious and satiny mouthfeel.  Tannins are still present but not overpowering.  Other characteristics of dark chocolate and dried cranberries come through more on the finish.

This full bodied wine is quite a proud bottle for Aura Wines.  It is well rounded and packed with complexity.  It is drinking quite nicely right now, but if you have extra bottles cellar them for another couple years.

Suggested  Food  Pairings:  Beef, bison, lamb or venison roasts.

Cellaring: Drinking well now or can cellar for up to 3-5 years.  Serve between 16⁰-18⁰C.




With The White Gamay…

Blackened Chicken Salad

From Monique’s Kitchen (modified from Whole Foods Market recipe)
Blackening Seasoning Mix from
Serves 4 side salads or 2-3 large dinner salads

 This dish is fantastic in a sandwich, a wrap or in a pasta salad as well.  Be as creative as you like!


3 chicken breasts
¾ cup mayonnaise (substitute with Just Mayo for egg free mayonnaise)
¼ cup dijon mustard
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 large carrot (grated or julienne)
½ of a red onion (sliced)
4-5 scallions (chopped)
1/3 cup blackening seasoning
1-2 tablespoons olive oil (substitute with avocado oil or coconut oil)

Blackening Seasoning Mix

1½ tablespoons of paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon ground dried thyme
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Combine all ingredients in a bowl until evenly mixed.  Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place.


Coat chicken thoroughly with blackening seasoning mix and let it sit for about 15 minutes.  Then, heat olive oil in skillet and stir fry chicken breasts over medium heat for approximately 10-12minutes or until fully cooked and set aside to cool.  Once cooled, slice into ¼ inch thick strips. *Option: Grill chicken breasts on the BBQ. 

Mix together mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar and Dijon mustard; then set aside. Combine chicken strips, carrot, red onion and scallions together in a large bowl. Pour dressing over the chicken mixture and combine thoroughly. Garnish with some extra chopped scallions and enjoy with your White Gamay.


With Marechal Foch…

Osso Buco (Braised Veal Shanks)

From (recipe & photo credit)
Serves 4-8


8 – 10 large 2 ½ inch thick veal shanks (patted dry & tied securely with string to keep the meat attached to the bone)
All purpose flour for dredging the veal shanks
7 Tbsp unsalted butter, plus additional if necessary
3 Tbsp olive oil, plus additional is necessary
1½ cups white wine (I tend to use Fumé Blanc or unoaked Chardonnay)osso bucco
1½ cups finely chopped onion
¾ cup finely chopped carrots
¾ cups finely chopped celery
4 cloves minced garlic
3-4 cups chicken or beef broth
1½ cups drained canned plum tomatoes (chopped)
1 cheesecloth bag containing 6 sprigs of fresh parsley, 4 sprigs of fresh thyme and 1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon salt & pepper (or to your taste)


Season veal shanks with salt and pepper and dredge them in the flour, shaking off the excess. 

In a heavy skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of the butter and 3 tablespoons of the oil over moderately high heat until the foam subsides.  Then brown the veal shanks in batches, adding some of the additional butter and oil as necessary and, once browned, transfer unto a platter. 

Add the wine to skillet and stir, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom and sides of the skillet.  Boil the mixture until the liquid is reduced to about ½ cup, and set aside in a small bowl.

In a flame proof casserole dish – large enough to hold all the veal shanks in one layer – combine onions, carrots, celery, garlic and remaining tablespoons of butter over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened; then add shanks with any juices that have accumulated on the platter, the reserve mixture and enough broth to almost cover the shanks.  Spread the tomatoes over the shanks, add the cheesecloth bag and salt and pepper to taste; and bring the liquid to a simmer over moderately high heat.

Braise the mixture, covered, on the middle rack of a preheated 325⁰F oven for two hours, or until veal is tender.

Transfer the shanks with a slotted spoon to an ovenproof serving dish, discard the strings, and keep the shanks warm.  Skim the fat and strain the pan juices into a saucepan, pressing hard on the solids.  Boil the juices for 15 minutes, or until liquid is reduced to about 3 cups.  Baste the shanks with some of the reduced juices and bake (basting 3-4 times) for another 10 minutes, or until they are glazed.


With Reserve Cabernet Franc…

Beef Brisket Pot Roast

From (recipe & photo credit )
Serves 8-12


4-5lbs beef brisket
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
3 large onions
5-6 cloves of garlic (minced)
2-3 large carrots
1 sprig of thyme
1 sprig of rosemary
3-4 bay leaves
2 cups beef sock
1Tbsp mustard (optional)


On one side of the brisket there should be a layer of fat, which you want to keep.  If there are any large chunks of fat, cut them off and discard them.  Large pieces of fat will not be able to render out completely.  Using a sharp knife, score the fat in parallel lines – about ¾ inch apart.  Slice through the fat, not the beef.  Repeat in the opposite direction to make a cross-hatch pattern.  Salt the brisket well and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

You’ll need an oven-proof, thick-bottomed pot with a cover (Dutch oven or casserole dish) that is just wide enough to hold the brisket roast with a little room for the onions.  Pat the brisket dry and place it, fatty side down, into the pot and place it on medium high heat.  Cook for 5-8 minutes, lightly sizzling, until the fat side is nicely browned.  (If the roast seems to be cooking too fast, turn the heat down to medium.  You want a steady sizzle, not a raging sear.)  Turn the brisket over and cook for a few minutes more to brown the other side.

When the brisket has browned, remove it from the pot and set aside.  There should be a couple tablespoons of fat rendered in the pot, if not, add some olive oil.  Add the chopped onions and increase the heat to high.  Sprinkle a little salt on the onions.  Sauté, stirring often, until the onions are lightly browned (5-8 minutes).  Stir in the garlic and cook 1-2 more minutes.

Preheat the oven to 300°F.  Use kitchen twine to tie together the bay leaves, rosemary and thyme.  Move the onions and garlic to the sides of the pot and nestle the brisket inside.  Add the beef stock and the tied-up herbs.  Bring the stock to a boil.  Cover the pot, place the pot in the 300°F oven and cook for 3 hours.  Carefully flip the brisket every hour so it cooks evenly.

After 3 hours, add the carrots.  Cover the pot and cook for 1 hour more, or until the carrots are cooked through and the brisket is falling-apart tender. At this point, take the pot out of the oven and remove the brisket to a cutting board.  Cover it with foil.  Pull out and discard the herbs.

You can serve as is, or you can make a sauce with the drippings and some of the onions.  To make a sauce, remove the carrots and half of the onions, set aside and cover them with foil.  Pour the ingredients that are remaining into the pot into a blender, and purée until smooth.  If you wish, add 1 tablespoon of mustard to the mix. Put into a small pot and keep warm. Serve with the onions, carrots and gravy. Serve with mashed, roasted or boiled potatoes.

TIP: Notice the lines of the muscle fibers of the roast.  This is the “grain” of the meat.  Slice the meat perpendicular to these lines, or across the grain (cutting this way further tenderizes the meat), in 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch slices.

Enjoy your Savvy Selections!