Posts Tagged ‘Sommelier selected wines’

It is all good from Good Earth Food & Wine Co.

Posted by Susan

Sunday, February 26th, 2012


Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Good Earth Food & Wine Co.

– February 2012 –

Drive down the gravel laneway, past the baskets of fruit set out for sale (on the honor system) & the pastoral campus of Good Earth Cooking School and Winery comes into view. The outdoor BBQ pit & herb garden, where classes are held in fine summer weather, sits beside the small rustic barn housing the indoor cooking school. To the left is a more recent structure, consistent still with the relaxed farmhouse style, housing the tasting room & shop, the indoor dining room & the fabulous outdoor patio with its lofty beam ceiling. From there, you look out over gardens & vineyards as you enjoy the decidedly delicious local lunch menu with a glass (or two) of The Good Wine.

This place is deeply rooted in history. Nicolette Novak, owner & entrepreneur extraordinaire, has lived on this farm most of her life. Her father emigrated from Czechoslovakia, her mother from Ireland. They started with five acres of stone fruit, then over the next two decades, their property grew to 220 acres. Growing up, Nicolette worked closely with her dad on the farm, yet was determined to create her own life, pursuing a degree in International Relations at University of Toronto with a plan to enter the foreign service. At age 28, she was working in Toronto when everything changed. Her father died in a tragic car accident. Nicolette returned to the farm & in her inimitable & yes, determined way, took over, starting with the peach harvest on a farm that, at that time, produced 2 million pounds of fruit!

One year ran into another & Nicolette realized she really enjoyed what she was doing. But the economics weren’t working, so she sold half of the land & moved back to Toronto. But the farm beckoned. A few years later, she moved back to Niagara with the idea of transforming the property into a small cooking school. Renown teacher & chef Michael Olsen helped her define the concept & in 1998, The Good Earth Cooking School opened. Nicolette’s friendliness & candor, the quality of the experience & the food, the relaxed environment all worked their magic & created an entrepreneurial success.

With winemaking at the back of her mind, Nicolette planted vines on 8 acres of the 55-acre property & released her first wine in 2008. “The wine is a great complement to the food, and was a natural way to extend the business,” she explains. Taking a deep breath, in 2010, she took the plunge to establish a bistro, dining room & tasting room. And there’s no looking back! The quality of the wine, the food & the total experience will entice you to this quaint property again & again.

 We’re delighted to showcase in February’s Savvy Selections wine of the month club:

  • The Good Wine Chardonnay VQA 2009 – an elegant well-balanced white wine
  • The Good Wine Rosé VQA 2010 – Drink rose wines in February? Especially this one as it is Good Earth’s signature & a hands down favorite of our Sommeliers
  • The Good Pinot Noir VQA 2009 – a classic Pinot Noir with an earthy complex

You won’t find these wines at the LCBO

If you would like more of these premium wines from Good Earth, simply call on us to arrange an order for you.

Cheers & Enjoy!

Debbie & Savvy Team



The Good Earth Food & Wine Co.

Presented by Sommelier Susan Desjardins

There’s a theme running through everything that Nicolette Novak turns her hand to & that is ‘local’. As she puts it, the cooking school, the bistro & the winery all provide the opportunity to utilize & showcase fresh local produce & outstanding local talent. The menu at the bistro reflects the seasons, the bite-size sip/savour menu offering a fabulous opportunity to enjoy the food presentation, the tantalizing mingling aromas of food & wine. As one of the local entrepreneurs on the forefront of the farm-to-table movement, Nicolette has also created a ‘slow food’ context for those of us who simply love the experience of eating tasty fresh food in a relaxing, appealing ambience. What delights her about the expanded operation? “I get huge satisfaction knowing I can offer something special to the people who come through my world. It’s fun, meeting wonderful people all the time. It’s a really happy place!”

And this entire experience is created by local people, hand-picked, like her fruit, by Nicolette. Flat Rock Cellars winery owner Ed Madronich encouraged her venture, offering as consultant winemaker Ross Wise, a ‘Kiwi’ whose passion for great wine is matched by his passion for food & good times. “As the winery developed,” says Nicolette, “I felt it was important to have a winemaker as part of the family. I heard about Dré [Andrea Glass] & was highly recommended by Ann Sperling (winemaker at Malivoire Wine & Southbrook Vineyards).”

A 2006 graduate of the Niagara College Winery and Viticulture Technology program, Dré is a native of Niagara & a member of a longstanding local farm family. Dré brings extensive wine-related experience to the table (pardon the pun!) as an assistant winemaker in Argentina & as a cellar hand in California as well having a hand at Niagara wineries, including Flat Rock, Southbrook and Reif (March Savvy Selection feature winery). She also brings focus & intensity to the role of winemaker, as evidenced when she joined us for the tasting at the bistro, water glass in hand. “Oh, I’m just bottling this wine and I thought you might like to taste the barrel sample. I think it has great potential . . .” And so did we! Dré exudes confidence and commitment to her craft and is, says Nicolette, quite fearless and multi-talented.

In the vineyard, Nicolette partners with Chris Andrewes, a lifetime friend of Nicolette’s whose own farm is adjacent to The Good Earth. Chris & his family have worked with Nicolette over many years to ensure the beauty & productivity of The Good Earth orchards. He now leases some of her land & has planted Chardonnay & Pinot Noir. “We work very closely together on decisions & Chris’s expertise in tending the vineyards has been recognized by others in the industry. Cave Spring has recently called on him to manage their vineyards.”

The great service & food in the bistro is only enhanced by the tasting & browsing experience in the bright & tastefully appointed retail shop. It is here where you meet Amanda McSpadden. After graduating as a Baker’s apprentice from the Niagara College Culinary Management program, she worked at a number of local enterprises before finding her way to The Good Earth as a Resident Chef. Wanting to complete her apprenticeship, she left for a stint with celebrity chefs Michael & Anna Olsen, returning to The Good Earth as a certified Pastry Chef. You will find Amanda’s cheerful reception when you visit the winery retail shop.

Then, there’s Michael Pasto, Nicolette’s highly experienced, skilled head chef & Mike McColl, who you’ll find manning the BBQ during the outdoor grilling season. But really, we need to focus on the wine . . .

Getting started, Nicolette bought in grapes from trusted suppliers, but with the 2010 vintage, she has reached her goal of producing wine from sustainably managed estate-grown fruit. The focus is on varietals that thrive in the Niagara Peninsula & on her property—Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir & Cabernet Franc. As a craft winery, Nicolette expects to produce in the order of 2300 cases at full production.

Enjoy the wines featured in this mid-winter selection, try The Good Wine with some of the delicious menu items at ZenKitchen or Domus Cafe if you’re in Ottawa, or plan a visit to Niagara and savour the entire experience by the fireplace in the cosy dining room this winter, or alfresco at the bistro later in the year.  You are always invited!

 Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections wines


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

Posted by Susan

Friday, January 21st, 2011

If I only had $100, I would buy . . .
LCBO Vintages Release as of Saturday, January 22, 2011

The January 22 LCBO Vintages release includes features on Chile and Southwestern France, regions which deliver great quality and value, whether you prefer the signature grape of Chile, Carmenère, or want to try a more unusual varietal from Madiran, such as Tannat. In the general release, there are some attractive Canadian wines, including lovely Rieslings from Niagara. As you know, I’m a great fan of B.C. wines, so I’ve included as an option a fabulous award-winning Merlot from Mission Hill. There are lots of wines to be had under $20, so enjoy browsing through the treasure trove, and consider the wines highlighted below as some of the gems of the collection.

Cheers & Enjoy!

Chilensis Réserva Carmenère 2008
Maule Valley, Chile
$12.95 (Vintages #657981) 14.0% alcohol

Holy jumpin’, this has to be one of the best values of the feature – the signature grape of Chile delivered in style, with depth of color, aromas and flavour. On the nose and palate, expect some complexity—black cherry, cocoa, roasted red pepper and underlying minerality. The tannins are ripe, the texture if round and the fruit flavours substantial. Fine acidity rounds out a beautifully balanced package. Be waiting at the door on Saturday . . .


Emiliana ‘Natura’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Central Valley, Chile

$15.95 (Vintages #61069)) 14.0% alcohol

There’s some attractive complexity to this well-crafted organic offering—hints of mint, cedar and earth running through the robust berry aromas. Focused fruit flavours stream across the palate, garnished with notes of vanilla, herbs and pepper. Mid-weight, dry with firm tannins and fresh acidity, the wine is nicely balanced and delivers a lengthy fruity finish.

Konzelmann ‘Barrel Aged’ Chardonnay 2007
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario

$14.20 (Vintages #364869) 13.0% alcohol
Golden, this wine is a treat for the palate and the wallet! Expect and enjoy aromas of crème caramel, toast and apple pie. On the palate, the wine is medium bodied, rich, buttery and a harmonious balance of lively acidity, ripe tree fruit and well-integrated toasty oak. The smooth round silky texture brings the glass back to your lips. Don’t miss this great value!

Terres Blanches ‘Sec’ Muscat 2008
Vin de Pays d’Oc, France

$13.95 (Vintages #653188) 12.5% alcohol

Pale gold, this wine appeals with aromas of honeyed stone fruit and sweet ripe pears. On the palate, enjoy the basket of fruit flavours—melon, peach, pear—garnished with a dash of spice. Appropriate acidity is a counterpoint to the lush texture, creating a nicely balanced dry wine that’s a delight on the finish. Just enjoy!
Château de Nages Réserve 2009
AOC Costières de Nîmes, France

$14.95 (Vintages #427617) 14.5% alcohol
Composed of Grenache and Syrah, this is another reliably good wine at a great price from the Gassier family. Deep ruby with a violet note, it has a very ripe fruit nose, with some nuances of spice and dried fruits. Dry, medium bodied, the red berry flavours are concentrated, and the notes of spice and dried fruit replay. Nicely balanced, it displays tantalizing notes of cocoa, toast and spice on the finish. A few bottles will not go amiss, but might disappear quickly, so load up your shopping cart!

Sportoletti ‘Assisi’ Rosso 2008
DOC Assisi, Italy

$16.95 (Vintages #926857) 14.5% alcohol
Composed of Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet, this is a pale ruby gem that has enticing aromas of rich ripe fruit, along with the sweetness of spicy oak and the earthiness of tobacco. Dry, medium bodied, supple in texture, the soft tannins and acidity are a perfect match to the juicy berry fruit. The lovely notes of spice and earth recur on the harmonious finish. Give it a whirl, as we don’t see wines from Umbria often.

Grand Total: $88.95 – only!

Worth the splurge – an optional wine to include:

Mission Hill ‘S.L.C.’ Merlot 2005
VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
$34.95 (Vintages #68353)) 14.0% alcohol

Crafted from hand-harvested grapes, the wine spent 12 months in French oak and displays an opaque mahogany robe. Lifted aromas of dark fruit, plum, dried berries and toast entice. Dry and full bodied, the impact on the palate is powerful and intense—dried cherries, blueberry, black berries and spice to the fore—balanced with ripe tannins and fine acidity. Beautifully integrated, the wine has a rich persistent aftertaste. You’ll want to enjoy it right now!


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 wintery 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!


If I only had $100, I would buy…

Posted by Susan

Friday, October 15th, 2010

“If I only had $100, I would buy…’
LCBO Vintages Release as of Saturday, October 16, 2010


The October 16 LCBO Vintages release features Bordeaux wines—reds from the Left and Right Banks, whites from Graves and Pessac-Léognan, as well as a couple of dessert wines. I found some great values here. You’ll also enjoy the French sparkling wines on offer, Cremants from Alsace, the Loire, Burgundy, Bordeaux, as well as Blanquette de Limoux. It’s always a challenge to choose the wines for this selection, but I hope you’ll enjoy my “If I only had $100, I would buy…” picks.



Château d’Argadens Bordeaux Supérieur 2006
AOC Bordeaux, France
$16.95 (Vintages #681643) 13.0% alcohol
Predominantly Merlot (65%), this balanced gold-medal winner is a great value. The aromas are alluring—spicy, richly fruity, with nuances of cedar, vanilla and licorice. Firmly structured and dry, the wine has chewy tannins, fresh acidity and subtle herbal notes complementing the fine fruit. There are hints of dark chocolate and toast on the lengthy, dry, flavourful finish. It entices you to take another sip and at this price, you should!

Pierre Sparr ‘Brut Réserve’ Cremant d’Alsace nv (NV is winespeak for non-vintage)
AOC Alsace, France
$18.95 (Vintages #173401) 12.0% alcohol
Light on it’s feet yet creamy and generous, this fresh citrusy wine has fine aromas and flavours of toasted brioche, stone fruit and lemon-chiffon pie. It’s vibrant, lively and refreshing with a fine mousse and palate-cleansing mid-length finish. Lovely to sip on its own and a great match for a veal or pork dish.

Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve 2008
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$25.00 (Vintages #33894) 12.5% alcohol
Le Clos Jordanne creates consistently good cool-clmate Pinot Noir, and this is no exception. From the fruit of 4 vineyards, separately fermented, this assemblage displays warm aromas of subtly-spiced cherry/berry fruit—raspberry/blueberry pie fresh from the oven comes to mind—along with nuances of mineral and cedar. Medium bodied, its dry and vibrant, with a tangy texture and bright red berry flavours—raspberry and cranberry. Great consistency and a spice-infused lively fruity finish. Try it with osso bucco, or cellar for 2-3 years

Terredora Falanghina 2008
IGT Campania, Italy
$15.95 (Vintages #642074) 13.0% alcohol
Fragrant aromas of orchard and tropical fruit marry with floral notes and a certain pungency. Spritzy, the wine is fresh and bright with a core of stone fruit and citrus. Dry, medium bodied and balanced with zesty acidity, it has a lasting and refreshing lemon-lime finish. Serve it with hors d’oeuvres or soft cheeses.

Cuatro Pasos Mencia 2008
DO Bierzo, Spain
$16.95 (Vintages #39313) 13.5% alcohol
From an indigenous varietal of northwestern Spain, this wine is produced from the fruit of decades-old vines and lightly aged in French and American oak. Deep purple, its intensely aromatic—raspberry pie to the fore, licorice, spice and a mineral note. Medium bodied, the texture is soft with quite an intense concentrated core of ripe red and black berry fruit, nicely balanced by fine tannins and fresh acidity. Great value – you won’t be disappointed!

Grand Total: $93.80

A special treat worth the splurge: 

Le Dauphin de Guiraud 2003
AOC Sauterns, France
$24.95 (Vintages #190496) 13.5% alcohol
Golden amber, this fabulous dessert wine has great depth and presence. Aromas of marmalade, orange rind, honeyed caramel and vanilla beckon. On the palate, a satiny texture, warmth and acidity wrap around flavours of spun brown sugar, candied citrus and five-fruit marmalade. The extended finish replays these exotic flavours. Totally compelling – you just want more . . . Imagine the most decadent matches – Roquefort, foie gras, crème brulée—and secure an extra bottle for long-term cellaring. An outstanding value!


More about my 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!




If I had $100… I would buy these wines

Posted by Susan

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

‘If I only had $100, I would buy…’
LCBO Vintages Release – Saturday, September 18, 2010

This month’s LCBO Vintages release features a wide range of Ontario wines from the 2007, 2008 and 2009 vintages as well a some notable Portugese wines from the Douro. Of course there are many other delectable wines. The selection below will give you an opportunity to taste a few I consider to be of particularly good value.

Cheers & enjoy!


Vineland Estates ‘St. Urban’ Riesling 2008 VQA Niagara Escarpment
$19.95 (Vintages #38117)
8.7% alcohol
Niagara produces some of the best Rieslings you can buy, and this is a great example from one of the original estates. Light-medium bodied, the wine has an almost spritzy texture attributable to lovely minerality and vibrant acidity. It’s nicely balanced, with a whiff of petrol on the nose and aromas and flavours of stone fruit and zesty lemon-lime that carry through the mid-length finish. Try it with veal scaloppini al limone.

Quinta do Tedo Vinho Tinto 2007
DOC Douro, Portugal
$17.95 (Vintages #170217) 14.0% alcohol
Produced from an estate-grown blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Touriga Franca, this medium-full bodied award-winning wine offers an alluring basketful of floral and fruit aromas. It’s richly textured with firm but approachable tannins, fruity acidity and oodles of ripe fruit on the palate—red and black berries and cherries. Attractive notes of spicy toast and dark chocolate garnish the finish. A great choice for hearty grilled meats.


Oyster Bay Merlot 2009
Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
$18.95 (Vintages #692343) 13.5% alcohol
Hawkes Bay is known for its production of the Bordeaux varietals, and here is a fabulous example of one from an iconic producer. Well-balanced, it has a wonderful silky texture, fine-grained tannins and soft acidity. While the aromas of cherry and red plum are subtle, the flavours are vibrant—cherry and raspberry garnished with spiciness and a hint of toast persisting through the lingering finish. A quality wine at a great price. Share a case with friends!


Vinecol ‘Organic’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Mendoza, Argentina
$13.95 (Vintages #167270) 13.0% alcohol
Fruit-forward, this is a wine with appealing aromas of red and black berries, plums and spice. It’s dry, medium-full bodied with a replay of the fruit on the palate, along with hints of spice and pepper. It has nice structure and balance, with fresh acidity that delivers a mouthwatering spicy fruit finish. An organic wine at this price — you can’t go wrong!


Banfi Centine 2007
IGT Toscana, Italy
$16.95 (Vintages #947440) 13.5% alcohol
This may be one of Banfi’s ‘second’ wines, but it’s a fabulous. A blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, it’s dry and full bodied with complex aromas—floral, dense dark fruit, earth, anise and leather. There’s a nice balance of rich spicy fruit, firm tannins and bright acidity. It’s a great value and can be cellared for a few years. Try it with steak Florentine and grilled vegetables.


Grand Total: $87.75


Optional wine:
Domaine Saint-Pierre Sancerre 2008
AOC Sancerre, France
$24.95 (Vintages #179258) 13.0% alcohol
If you prefer Sauvignon Blanc to Riesling, you may want to consider this classic award-winning wine. There’a a delicate and enticing bouquet—citrus, stone fruit, mineral notes and fresh snap peas. Mid-weight with a long-lasting finish, it’s zesty but silky and has a lovely balance of fruit and acidity. A great choice for a salad garnished with warm sautéed mushrooms and goat cheese.



More about my 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!


If I only had $100, I would buy these wines…

Posted by Susan

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

‘If I only had $100, I would buy…”
Wines to be released in Vintages on Saturday September 4, 2010

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 lazy 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!

Let me know what you think of our “If I had $100” selection! And be on the look out for my blog for recommendations from upcoming LCBO Vintages releases.



The LCBO Vintages September 4th release theme is Southern Rhône with a small feature on British Columbia wines. With the broad range of wines available, I can only taste a subset, but of those I tasted, here are my recommendations:

Flat Rock Cellars Riesling 2008 VQA
Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara
$16.95 (Vintages #43281) 11.0% alcohol
A refreshing, crisp, light-medium bodied wine with lovely orchard fruit aromas, a silky texture and bright flavours of tree fruit and zesty lemon-lime. A fine Niagara Riesling that will work very well with light appetizers, grilled white meats, or fish. Pour a little more please . . .


Perrin & Fils Réserve Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2009
AOC Côtes du Rhône, France
$14.95 (Vintages #499509) 13.0% alcohol
This versatile medium-bodied blend is a great value from a reliable and consistent producer. It’s dry, fresh and balanced with a lovely clean texture and loads of ripe orchard fruit and citrus lingering on the finish. Enjoy it with herbed roast pork or chicken, or with warm Brie with a garnish of wild mushrooms.


Astrolabe Pinot Noir 2008
, New Zealand
$24.95 (Vintages #179200) 13.5% alcohol
Astrolabe crafts an outstanding Sauvignon Blanc, and they’ve brought the same care and expertise to this medium-bodied Pinot Noir. Freshly textured and silken, it presents intricate aromas and flavours—red berry, plum, floral, herbs and spice. Not to be missed! A great match for grilled salmon or chicken with a mushroom medley.


Sandhill Small Lots One 2007
VQA Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
$34.95 (Vintages #186536) 14.0% alcohol
Sandhill produces only single-vineyard wines, and this one is a fine investment. Deeply hued, this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Malbec is dry, medium-full bodied with great structure for aging and enticing and complex aromas and flavours—think of rich ripe red and black fruits, spice, and earthy, toasty notes. If you’d like a fine BC wine for the cellar, this is definitely one to consider.

GRAND Total:  $91.80

Optional wine:
Château Saint Maurice Les Grès Laudun Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2007
AOC Côtes du Rhône, France
$14.95 (Vintages #177576) 14.8% alcohol
As a great fan of Rhône wines, I couldn’t help including this substantial blend. Dry, it has some intriguing aromas—fruit, floral, menthol—as well as hefty tannins and vibrant acidity framing juicy fruit flavours. A wine with very appealing character and texture, it can be cellared or served with strongly-flavoured meat dishes.


Wine made with honey? Only at Rosewood…

Posted by Wayne

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Savvy Selections wine of the month club
features Rosewood Estates Winery & Meadery
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep





We all know that wine is made with grapes, sometimes other fruits, yet did you know that wine can be made with honey too? This month’s featured winery Rosewood Estates Winery & Meadery located on the Beamsville Bench (Niagara Escarpment) wowed our Sommelier tasting panel with outstanding wines and meads (wines made with honey).  Savvy Sommelier Wayne Walker was eager to interview Rosewood’s winemaker Natalie Spytkowsky.  After they chatted on the phone for what seemed like an hour, Wayne quickly called me to share his new knowledge about mead. The first words out of his mouth was “Wow, Natalie is a really cool person”. It is fascinating people like Natalie who we like to introduce you to with your Savvy Selections each month and they look forward to meeting you when you visit their winery.


Natalie has been a long time friend of Savvy Company since she was one of the first winemakers we featured in a winemaker’s dinner event in 2005. At the time she was the winemaker at Angel’s Gate Winery making impressive aromatic white wines (Angel’s Gate was a Savvy Selections featured winery in January 2006). A few years later, she hopped the fence (literally – Rosewood is right next door to Angel’s Gate) to help professional beekeepers, Renata and Eugene Roman, build Rosewood Estates into a winery and a meadery.


In the attached Savvy eZine, Wayne gives you a Mead 101 (see page 8) as well as an interview with Natalie about her approach of making wine as naturally as possible – natural yeast is one of her secret ‘ingredients’.


In your Savvy Selections, you will find these delicious wines that WOWed the Savvy Selections tasting panel:

– Rosewood Gewürztraminer VQA 2008

– Rosewood Chardonnay Reserve VQA 2008

– Rosewood Pinot Noir VQA 2008

OPTIONAL: Ambrosia Grand Reserve Mead 2006


Enjoy honey? 

Rosewood’s honey is delicious and whenever I am in Niagara, I make a point to visit Rosewood to stock up on wine, mead & jars of their honey. If you would like to try their honey too, just let me know and I will arrange to have it…delivered!


You rarely find Rosewood wines at the LCBO

There is a cult like following of Rosewood’s wines and with their limited supply of 5000 cases, their wines sell out fast.  When you have a Rosewood favorite and you would like additional bottles, simply call on me to arrange a special delivery for you. Likewise if after reading all about Rosewood’s meads you would like to try them – Wayne HIGHLY recommends Ambrosia (see page 4), “It’s like nothing I have ever tasted before”, call on me to arrange a special delivery for you.


Cheers & Enjoy the rest of your summer!

– Debbie & the Savvy Team






Rosewood Estates Winery & Meadery

Presented by Sommelier Wayne Walker


Beekeepers & Winemakers Create a Sweet Deal
“Renata and Eugene Roman purchased 40 acres of land in 2000, which is now home of Rosewood Estates Winery and Meadery. Their goal was to start a small-batch artisanal winery and meadery. This property is located on prime Beamsville Bench terroir. At Rosewood, 15 acres makes up the planted vineyard; approximately 2 acres is for the apiary and the rest is part of the beautiful forested area of the Niagara Escarpment.”


This is how Rosewood Estates identifies itself – a   small-batch winery and meadery. As Winemaker, Natalie Spytkowsky tells it, wines and meads are all about “small and natural”. This philosophy is what allows selective hand harvesting of grape clusters, extensive sorting of grapes to get the best of crop and whole cluster pressing of grapes in gentle cycles. There is no crushing. Grape clusters go straight to the tank and are allowed to settle in cold temperatures. As much as is possible, Natalie naturally ferments the red varietals (winespeak: juice of single grape varieties) rather than introducing commercial yeasts. She explains that it takes more time to complete the winemaking process, but in six or seven months after fermentation, it is her opinion that “the wine opens up better and shows more richness and complexity”. Of course this winemaking approach takes passion, patience and commitment.


Small tanks (5,000 litres) and production around 5,000 cases allows for more care and more exacting monitoring of processes. The Chardonnay Reserve for example that is one of this month’s selections is part of a 4 barrel production. A great example of the Rosewood philosophy in motion!  (Rosewood Gewürztraminer, also a selection this month, just won a Gold Medal at the 2008 Cuvée Competition – considered as the Academy Awards of Ontario wines.


The meadery side of Rosewood takes on the same philosophical and practical approach. A second generation beekeeper, Eugene Roman realized a teenage dream by teaming up with Natalie to produce mead (honey wine). Mead is made by fermenting honey and water. There are three apiaries attended by the Romans that are positioned throughout the Beamsville Bench. As you might expect, the bees are busy travelling throughout the region.  Natalie explains to me that one bee will visit one million flowers to produce one pound of honey. It may fly a distance as far as 4 times around the world collecting the raw materials for honey. Just think of all the choices it has in the Niagara wine and fruit region?


Rosewood puts all its talents together when it makes meads like Mead Noir and Mead Blanc where the juices from grape varietals like Gewürztraminer and Pinot Noir are used instead of water with the honey. This is known as ‘pyment’ and it takes advantage of the properties of both the honey and the wine.


Savvy Selections is offering you what I consider is the ‘la crème de la crème’ this month by making Ambrosia (an ancient style mead) available on request. I hope you like it as much as the Savvy Selections tasting panel did.

Set on the natural clay loam of The Bench, Rosewood is on a wind protected site, good for the grapes and good for the bees. The Romans have just bought another parcel of land on 20 mile bench to expand its artisanal efforts.


As for the future?
Natalie says, “We are staying on track. We like where we are right now. Our size is fine. We have more control over our vineyard than larger operations and we grow 100% of our own grapes (and honey).


“None of our wines will be a clone of its former self. Everyone here is a piece of the puzzle that makes our wines and meads. For us this generates passion which in turn generates creativity”,explains Natalie. “The spirit of Rosewood is ‘Passion Grows Here!’”


And I think that passion is palpable and drinkable!


Here’s to Rosewood’s wines & meads.
Enjoy your Savvy Selections!



~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~


Rosewood Gewürztraminer VQA 2008, $18.00

The grapes for this wine were harvested from the Wismer vineyard near Balls Falls in Vineland. A state of the art Euroselect Destemmer equipment which destems with less vibration and trauma was used on the hand-harvested crop. Gently pressed then fermented in stainless steel tanks, the juice is soaked with the skins for 48 hours to extract colour, flavor and aromatics.


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  This wine establishes itself as very aromatic with very pleasant experiences of lychee, tropical fruit and rose dust. The aromas transfer to the same strong flavours on the tongue with the addition of stone fruits and sweet spice. All this is delivered in a honeyed texture characterized by subtle sweetness and balance. The long finish accentuates the power of this wine’s profile.


Suggested Food Pairing: This wine has the answer to some very difficult pairing problems! Hot dishes like Pad Thai and Indian curry – are spicy & have exotic ingredients that are best with a wine with low acidity and good fruit structure. This Gewürztraminer is perfect for exactly that reason! Moving away from spicy foods to cheeses – you may already experienced the difficulty of matching hard and soft cheeses with a single wine. Because of its texture and fruit profile, this Gewürztraminer easily handles with the hard and soft cheese matching issue: soft Boursin from France, the exotic hard Garrotxa from Spain or Wensleydale from England are all a perfect companion with a glass of this wine. Various ages of good old Canadian Cheddar shine! Fruit glazed ham and stuffed pork chop with bacon and Gouda are dynamite.


Cellaring: Drink now at 8C to 12C. Short term cellaring 12 to 18 months is possible, but you don’t want to loose the aromas or fruit flavours that will be compromised if you cellar this wine too long.


Rosewood Reserve Chardonnay VQA 2008, $25.00

The grapes for this wine were hand harvested and hand sorted in the winery – a lot of fingerprints involved in making this wine. An interesting note on the processing of these grapes is that they are picked and sorted and pressed in clusters. Battonage (winespeak: regular stirring in the tanks) is done to keep the yeast in suspension and add to the luxurious mouth feel and texture of the wine.


This is a special treat for our subscribers as only 4 barrels were produced of this wine.

Don’t wait too long to contact us if you want more.


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Elegant and sophisticated, this wine is both refreshing and creamy. It has all the characteristics of a modern-day Chardonnay with its yellow pear, ripe pineapple aromas with a long creamy finish that belies the French oak aging by offering up vanilla, nutmeg and coconut for barrel flavours instead of more woody offerings. The combination of fruit and texture makes it the perfect choice for white wine drinkers who need a choice for more full-bodied foods like steak or blackened dishes.  


Suggested Food Pairing: The freshness in this wine makes it a great wine to have with fish and pastry. Fish pies and fish cakes would be outstanding. Shellfish in white sauce or poached salmon along with chicken, pork or pasta in a creamy sauce would also match well. Cheese-based salads like Caesar or chicken salads with stone fruits or tropical flavours will explode in your mouth with this wine.


Cellaring: Could be cellared for 3 to 4 years, but it really begs to be enjoyed now at about 15C.

Rosewood Pinot Noir VQA 2008 $18.00

Another crop hand-harvested from the Wismer Vineyard, the grape clusters were lightly pressed after 4 days of cold maceration where the juices were naturally released from their own weight. To finish this process, a very light pressing was done, followed by 10 months of aging in French oak barrels.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  This wine was released just in time to be featured in Savvy Selections.  As Wayne stated during the Savvy Selections tasting panel, “This wine has almost everything anyone could want in a Pinot Noir.” It is delivered with finesse and femininity. Sweet cherries, ripe strawberries, spice, mocha and freshly picked morels are on the nose and the palate. These experiences are completed by a soft, sweet wood and red fruit finish transported on a light to medium body. Good acidity and soft tannins complement a very enjoyable wine.


Suggested Food Pairing: With its fruit and acidity, this wine would work well with creamy sauces and spicy seasonings. Leaner meats like veal, chicken, turkey or wild game bird would work well. Earthy flavours (truffles, wild mushrooms, mustards, coriander and horseradish), sweet spices (clove, cinnamon, nutmeg), sweet vegetables (beets, carrots, carmelized onions, bell peppers) and mild or creamy cheeses (Brie, Camembert, Havarti, Jack) as well as  natural stocks and sauces that include butter all work well with this wine. A medium rare rack of lamb rubbed with Rosemary is a great match!

Cellaring: Drink now or cellar for up to 5 years.

OPTIONAL WINE:  Rosewood Ambrosia Grand Reserve Mead 2006 $36.00 (375 mL)

Our Savvy Selections tasting panel sampled 3 of Rosewood’s meads and were blown away by Ambrosia.  Sommelier Wayne Walker sums it up: “Ambrosia was like nothing I have ever tasting before – an incredibly delicious smooth & unique wine.”


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Full bodied, rich & warm is the best way to begin to describe this unique wine. Straw yellow in colour, aroma and tastes of fresh ripe stone fruits (think nectarine, peach) orange marmalade, sweet spices, white flowers and clover. A honeyed texture with a long pleasant finish that lingers on the tongue with one of the sweetest wood flavours that you will ever experience.  “There is no other taste quite like it”, states Wayne.


Suggested Food Pairing: If you have a sweet tooth, you will enjoy this mead with aged cheeses, patés, foie gras and fruit or nut based desserts.  On the sweetness level it is only a 10 – compared to icewine that is usually in the 30’s


Cellaring: Already aged 4 years – it will continue to last in the cellar, but don’t resist the temptation – enjoy it now.











~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections~


Thai Red Lentil Curry
The kitchen of Loethe Khonmen (Wayne’s son-in-law)
Serves 4-6



2 cups red lentils

1 large onion, diced

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

2 Tbsp curry paste

1 Tbsp curry powder

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp white sugar

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp ginger root, minced

1 (14 oz) can tomato puree



Wash the lentils in cold water and place in a pot with water. Cover and simmer until lentils are tender. (add more water if needed)


In a large skillet or saucepan, caramelize the onions in vegetable oil.


Combine curry paste, curry powder, turmeric, cumin, chili powder, salt, sugar, garlic and ginger in a mixing bowl. When onions are cooked, add mixture to onions and cook over high heat 1 to 2 minutes.


Stir in tomato puree and reduce heat allowing curry base to simmer until lentils are ready.              


Drain lentils when ready. Mix curry base into the lentils and serve immediately.

































With Rosewood Estates Reserve Chardonnay….












Fish Pie
From Jamie’s Ministry of Food Cookbook, Jamie Oliver
Serves 4-6



Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 lbs. potatoes

1 carrot

2 sticks celery

150g good cheddar

1 lemon

½ fresh red chili

4 sprigs fresh flat leaf parsley

300g salmon fillets

300g undyed haddock fillets, skin off, bones removed

125g king prawns, raw, peeled

Olive oil

Handful of good spinach, chopped

2 ripe tomatoes, quartered



Preheat oven to 400F and bring a large pan of salted water to boil. Peel the potatoes and cut into 2 cm chunks.


Add potatoes to water and cook for about 12 minutes.


Into a baking dish or earthenware dish, coarse grate celery, carrot and cheddar. On fine side of grater, zest from the lemon, the chili and the parsley leaves and stocks.


Cut salmon and haddock into bite=sized chunks and place in tray with prawns. Add spinach and tomato. Mix well.


Drain potatoes, return to pan add good ‘lugs’ of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mash until smooth then spread evenly over top of fish and grated vegetables. Place in preheated oven for 40 minutes or until crispy and golden on top. Serve piping hot.



With Rosewood Estates Pinot Noir…

Creamy Pasta with Turkey, Mushrooms and Old Cheddar

Recipe from the kitchen of Dairy Goodness

Serves 4



2 cloves garlic finely chopped

1 8oz package of mushrooms

1 tbsp butter

½ cup white wine or chicken broth

1/3 cup 35% whipping cream

¼ cup milk

2 cups diced cooked turkey

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/3 lb Aged Canadian Cheddar, shredded

4 cups cooked long pasta

½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, cut in strips

3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

2 tbsp toasted pine nuts




1.  In a large frying pan, melt butter over medium heat and cook garlic and mushrooms 3 to 4 minutes. Set pan aside at this point.  

2.  Deglaze pan by adding wine and bring to a boil. Add cream, milk, mushrooms, turkey, salt and pepper. Simmer for a few minutes without boiling.


3.  Set aside 1 oz of cheese for garnish. Add remaining cheese to pan and melt over medium heat, stirring well.


4.  Add cooked pasta, tomatoes, parsley and pine nuts. Stir well, heat through and serve immediately sprinkled with cheese. 


Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!




More about Mead

Courtesy of Rosewood Estates website


What Is Mead?  

Mead (also known as Honey Wine) is made from the fermentation of honey and water. Honey is flower nectar collected by domesticated honeybees (apis mellifera). Honey is a remarkable product which contains a complex mixture of sugars, enzymes, proteins, organic compounds and trace minerals. These compounds give honey its distinctive flavor and aromas. These carry over into mead production and lend a distinctive flavor to the finished mead.  


Mead was the first fermented beverage enjoyed by modern mankind. Mead first showed up as a beverage almost 10,000 years ago. It is a deep part of human history and a link to our forefathers. In ancient Greece, Hippocrates used mead as a tonic. Vikings believed that honey and mead had magical properties and were a gift from the heavens (Valhalla). In Celtic tradition, no wedding was complete without a mead toast to the young couple…FOR A SWEET MARRIAGE. It has been claimed that the word honeymoon comes from a tradition where a newly married couple drank mead for a full moon to ensure a long life and a happy marriage. We find it an intriguing and historical product which links us to human history. 


Honey – Nature’s Original Sweetner 

At Rosewood, we produce and sell natural un-pasteurized honey on the Estate. Our busy bees Apis mellifera – fly the Beamsville Bench and Twenty Valley to gather nectar from the flowers to produce sweet golden honey for your enjoyment.  


Honey is known to provide us with many health benefits and provides instant fast burning energy. Honey can be used extensively in cooking from making smoothies to honey baked hams. 







Catching up with the winemaker at Rosehall Run

Posted by Julie

Sunday, March 14th, 2010



Savvy Selections wine of the month club
featuring Rosehall Run Vineyards
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep


Winemaker and winery owner of Rosehall Run, Dan Sullivan, laughs and shakes his head when Savvy Sommelier Julie Stock asked him about his philosophy to winemaking.  “The simple answer is…there isn’t one. Mostly because there is no such thing as a recipe for winemaking – every year is different in the vineyard and the grapes will tell you what kind of wine they will be.” He goes on to explain that winemaking is like shooting footage for a movie with the grapes as the directors – dictating what images to capture. At the core of it all, Dan like all the winemakers that we have featured in the Savvy Selections, he combines the classic fundamentals of Old World vinification methods and winemaking techniques, while farming New World grapes….in his own way.


Julie and her husband Doug (also a Sommelier and a member of the Savvy Team) caught up to Dan at a winemaker’s dinner during the Taste of Winterlude last month.  Dan never misses the opportunity to participate in these interactive dinner events.  In fact, Savvy Company has hosted three lunches and dinners spotlighting Dan and his wines.  “Food and wine events are a more interactive experience rather than the jewelry shop approach commonly taken when people visit a winery. I see it all the time – visitors come in to our winery, sample a taste of wine as if trying on a piece of jewelry and then decide whether to make a purchase. Frankly, you miss out on the opportunity to try and taste many wines and a variety of food that enhances the flavours. By combining wine and food, your taste buds become better educated and you expand your wine knowledge.”


The Savvy Selections tasting panel were provided a dozen Rosehall Run wines to consider for this month’s selection. A majority of the wines have yet to be released – another Savvy Selections subscriber perk! In your delivery this month, you will find:

Rosehall Run Riesling VQA 2008 – a pre-released wine Dan made with grapes from Niagara

Rosehall Run Pinot Noir Cuvée County VQA 2008 – you are the first to receive this wine!

Rosehall Run Cold Creek Cabernet Franc VQA 2007 – a hands down favorite wine


To further enhance your enjoyment of the Rosehall Run wines, in the following pages you will find recipes Julie and our Savvy Selections tasting panel suggested to enjoy with the wines as well as their tasting notes.


Want more wines from Rosehall Run?  It is easy – simply call Debbie to arrange an order for you.


Be part of the Savvy Selections Tasting Panel!

You are invited to join Savvy Sommeliers to sip & swirl premium wines from Kacaba Vineyards to help us choose the 3 wines to be featured in the May Savvy Selections. Kacaba is famous for their BIG red wines! 

Thursday March 18, 6:30pm

Thyme & Again Creative Catering Photography Gallery, 1255 Wellington St W

Space limited to 10 people – RSVP to Debbie by email


Cheers & Enjoy!

Debbie & Savvy Team

Rosehall Run, Prince Edward County
Presented by Savvy Sommelier Julie Stock

Dan recalled the August long weekend in 2000 when he and his wife Lynn were heading to Prince Edward County and nearly turned back to Toronto because of the heavy traffic on Highway 401. Thankfully for us they didn’t since that was the weekend they found the land on which now grows some award winning wines. Having a healthy regard for the gravelly limestone in the county, Dan knew instinctively this was Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grape growing country.

In the fall of 2001, Dan planted one acre of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the same year he learned to drive the tractor without killing himself, he said laughingly. Not long after, and on another acre he called his “toy box”; he planted Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurtztraminer, Pinot Gris, Gamay, Riesling and Baco Noir grapes.  


Dan and Lynn gradually left their home renovation business in Toronto and moved to the County. Grape vines can take four to seven years for fruition, and so by 2003 they had committed to preparing for their second harvest. In 2006, they opened their winery to visitors and they now grow grapes on 23 of their 155 acres.


Learning as you grow…

The large amount of rain presented an imposing challenge in 2006. However, their largest crop of many grape varietals was produced the following year.  Dan had tremendous success especially with the Cabernet Franc grapes. Leafy and busy, Dan explained that Cabernet Franc are the most vigorous plant in the vineyard and have to be cut back continually to expose the grapes to the sun thus regulating the grape production. The 2007 Cabernet Franc Cold Creek (included in this month’s Savvy Selections) with its dark berry flavours won the Silver in the Artevino Wine Awards. And yes, a little cold creek runs through the vineyard.  The ‘West Vineyard’ as Dan calls it, compromises of 8 acres, produced winners of the Artevino 2007 County Wine awards for the 2005 Chardonnay – gold medal and 2005 Pinot Noir St. Cindy – silver medal.  


It was also in 2007 that Prince Edward County received Designated Viticultural Area (DVA) status from the provincial government – putting the County firmly on the wine world map.  


Returning to his philosophy on grape growing, Dan said that some years the vines will behave in a certain manner and adjustments have to be made accordingly. Only in the County winemakers practice ‘hilling up’ after the harvest – burying the base of the vines with 2 feet of soil.  Then in the first week (or so) of April, the vines are ‘hilled down’ – pulled out from the covering soil, then pruning begins. At any given time there are 7 to 8 people working in Rosehall’s vineyards from April to November. When asked about the time to harvest, Dan said the flavour of the grapes will tell you when to pick and the logistics with weather means looking at forecasts and sometimes making a call.  You may recall that both 2008 and 2009 were cool summers, yet weather like that is then that is when grapes such as Riesling flourish.  


Dan has an affinity with Chardonnay.  As an amateur winemaker in Toronto, Dan experimented with making all styles of Chardonnay wines. Now with his own winery, Dan’s talent shows through, most notably with his best selling wine – Chardonnay Sur Lie (winespeak: “sur lie” means the grapes rest on yeast particles after fermentation for a creamier and more complex flavour).  “It is one of my favorites – a real crowd pleaser, with just a touch of wood (winespeak: which means it spent some time in an oak barrel) not to mention lots of fruit flavours,” proudly states Dan.


Rosehall’s name game…

When I asked Dan where the name St. Cindy came from that was attached to his award winning Pinot Noir he said it was named after his sister-in-law who, as Dan puts it, “she is truly is a saint”. Similarly, the fun tongue twisting name of Sullyzwicker, is a combination of his family name, Sullivan, and his wife’s family name Zwicker. The Sullyzwicker White is a delicate white wine made from the not common Ehrenfelser grape that is incredibly aromatic, blended with Riesling grown in both PEC and Niagara. A Savvy friend, Heather Maclaclan, owner of Epicuria Fine Food & Catering in Ottawa says that “Sullyzwicker takes you from porch to table regardless of the food being served”. In keeping with the same style of easy drinking wine, Dan crafts a Sullyzwicker Red & Sullyzwicker Rosé wines too.


How about the origin of Rosehall Run?  Dan smiled and with twinkling eyes told me about a little hamlet down the way called Rosehall that has a population of about 80 – animals included. “It runs into the forest that is now just behind our place” and hence the name Rosehall Run was born.  


What a joy this story has been to tell.



~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~

Rosehall Run Riesling VQA Ontario 2008, $17.95

It takes 4 to 7 years for vines to grow grapes that are worthy of using for winemaking.  This is a long time for a new business to wait! To help wineries in Prince Edward County get a jump start on producing wines (and business), the Ontario government allows winemakers to purchase grapes from Niagara, bring them to their winery in the County to craft their own wine.  This is exactly what Dan has done to make this Riesling. Note on the label it states: VQA Ontario (meaning grapes sourced in Niagara while the wine crafted in PEC)


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Polished and pale yellow in colour, this fruity light to medium bodied wine has lovely aromas and tastes of green apple, pink grapefruit, pear and a pinch of honey.  The wine has a citrus-y crisp finish that keeps you coming back for more.  


Suggested Food Pairing: It has low acidity and is slightly off day – making it an easy wine to enjoy on its own or with something spicy, or right off the grill with a dallop of fruit chutney on the side. Julie combines both in her recipe of Curried Skewered Scallops and Mango. Our tasting panel constantly came back to this wine – definitely it will be one of our springtime favorites.  What do you think?


Cellaring: Pop in the fridge and enjoy now. No need to wait.


Rosehall Run Pinot Noir County Cuvée VQA 2008, $21.95

Rosehall Run has a growing reputation of producing some of the best Pinot Noir wines in the County.  We are excited for you to be the FIRST to enjoy this Pinot Noir as this 2008 vintage has not been released into the market yet.  Made with Pinot Noir grapes that Dan has sourced from a variety of vineyards in the County along grapes from his own property, Dan’s masterfully talent for making Pinot Noir continues to impress with every sip of this wine.


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  A light ruby red colour that is characteristic of Pinot Noir, subtle aromas of strawberry, black cherry, black currant and a whiff of black liquorice waft from the glass (the tasting panel had a great discussion about whether it was Australian black liquorice or more reminiscent of Twizzler and Goodies brand – what do you think?  It is a dry medium bodied wine with just enough acidity and tannins to balance beautifully with tart cherry flavours that lingers into a velvety finish.  


Suggested Food Pairing: Another wine that the tasting panel could not put down! Pinot Noir classic pairings include grilled salmon, roasted duck (Julie offers a recipe below), and wild mushroom dishes.


Cellaring: Best enjoyed now, or can be cellared for 2 to 3 years.



Rosehall Run Cold Creek Cabernet Franc VQA 2007, $29.95

From the stellar 2007 vintage comes one of Dan’s signature wines.


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This Cabernet Franc shows a bright garnet red colour in the glass, bursting with aromas of ripe red berries, raspberry that packs an impressive punch of dark chocolate.   On the palate it is dry, medium bodied with soft tannins reminded the tasting panel of sour cherry and casis. Yummy!


Suggested Food Pairings: The lingering finish makes this wine a perfect match for hearty grilled sausages, lamb chops and one of the tasters offer a recipe for Moroccan Tagine. Save some of this wine to enjoy with dark chocolate cake or your daily dose of 70% cocoa.  Sky’s the limit for wine and food pairings


Cellaring: This wine is drinking well now but can be cellared up to five years.



~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~


With Rosehall Run Riesling …



Curried Seared Scallops with Mango Salsa
The Canadian Living Test Kitchen



24 large scallops(for maximum flavour, cook scallops just before serving)
4 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp each cinnamon and ground coriander
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Mango Salsa
1/2 cup diced peeled ripe mango
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
2 Tbsp diced sweet red pepper
2 tsp lime juice
pinch of each salt and granulated sugar



Mango Salsa

In small bowl, combine mango, jalapeño pepper, red pepper, lime juice, salt and sugar. Set aside.


Remove muscle from side of each scallop; pat dry. Arrange on paper towel–lined baking sheet; cover with paper towel, then baking sheet. Weigh down with two 28-oz (796 mL) cans; refrigerate for 30 minutes.


In bowl, combine curry powder, cinnamon, coriander, salt and pepper. Uncover scallops; coat tops and bottoms with curry mixture.



In cast-iron or nonstick skillet, heat 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the oil over medium-high heat; cook half of the scallops, turning once, until opaque inside, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towel–lined plate. Wipe out skillet; repeat with remaining scallops. To serve, top each scallop with 1 tsp (5 mL) salsa.







With Rosehall Run Pinot Noir Cuvée County …


Grilled Duck Breast with Red Wine Reduction
Everyday Dining with Wine, Master Sommelier Andrea Immer

The key to this recipe are the dried cherries in the sauce which are a classic with duck and a great cherry flavor to match the silky-textured Pinot Noir.



1 cup chicken stock

1 cup pinot noir (or other left over dry red wine)

1 shallot finely chopped

1/3 cup of dried cherries

2 boneless duck breasts about 12 ounces each

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves



Combine the stock, wine, shallot, and cherries in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer until the sauce is reduced by half and thickened – 15-20 minutes. (The sauce can be made one day in advance and refrigerated, reheat before serving.)


Preheat the grill to medium-high. Split each duck breast into 2 halves. With a sharp chef’s knife trim away any overhanging fat so that only about a strip of skin about 2 inches wide attached to each breast. Sprinkle the breast halfs on both sides with salt and pepper, place on the grill skin side down and grill covered until well browned about 8 minutes. Turn and continue to grill covered about 3-4 minutes more for medium rare, or longer if desired, but be careful not to over-grill or it will be dry. This can also be done in a sauté pan but make sure the pan is very hot before adding a couple of tablespoons of oil so the breasts will brown.


Remove breasts from grill and cover loosely with foil, let stand 5 minutes to rest. Stir the sage and thyme into the sauce and re-warm. Slice each breast to fan out on a plate and serve with the sauce on the side or drizzle over top.



With Rosehall Run Cold Creek Cabernet Franc …


Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Spiced Pine Nuts
Gourmet Magazine – recipe by Farid Zadi, February 2008


For Tagine
1 whole chicken (about 3 1/2 pound)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 large shallots, finely chopped (1 cup)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon grated peeled ginger
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
Pinch of saffron threads (optional)
1 cup water
2 tablespoons blood-orange preserves or bitter-orange marmalade
1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick
1 thyme sprig
2 cilantro sprigs
6 dried apricots, chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley


For spiced pine nuts

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
Pinch of cayenne (optional)  Garnish: lemon wedges



Cut out and reserve wings and backbone from chicken. Cut breast in half through bone, then cut off legs and cut to separate into thighs and drumsticks (for a total of 6 serving pieces, not including wings and backbone). Pat chicken pieces dry and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then brown chicken breasts, skin sides down, without turning, 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Brown thighs and legs, turning once, 8 to 10 minutes, transferring to plate. Brown wings and backbone in same manner.


Cook shallots in butter with remaining tablespoon oil in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot over medium heat, stirring frequently, until soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, turmeric, and paprika and cook, stirring, 3 minutes.


Add chicken with any juices from plate, saffron (if using), and 1/2 teaspoon salt to shallot mixture and turn chicken to coat. Add water and bring to a boil, covered, then cook at a bare simmer, covered, 30 minutes.


Turn chicken and add orange preserves, cinnamon stick, thyme, cilantro sprigs, and apricots. Simmer, covered, 10 minutes. Uncover and simmer until chicken is very tender, 10 to 15 minutes more.


Brown pine nuts while chicken cooks:

Heat oil in a small heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then stir in pine nuts, turmeric, paprika, and cayenne (if using) and cook, stirring frequently, until nuts are lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes (watch carefully; they burn easily). Transfer to a small bowl.


To serve:

Transfer chicken to a platter and keep warm, covered. If sauce is not thick, boil it down, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about 1 cup. Discard herb sprigs, cinnamon stick, wings, and backbone. Stir in chopped cilantro and spoon sauce over chicken. Sprinkle with nuts.


Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!

















Jump into a new year with Frogpond Farm Winery

Posted by Susan

Thursday, January 7th, 2010


Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Frogpond Farm Winery

Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep


With the increasing focus on fresh, local ingredients, the ‘100 Mile Diet’, and healthy food choices, what better way to launch into 2010 than with the wines of Frogpond Farm – Ontario’s only certified organic winery.  With a well-established reputation for well-made wines, Frogpond is leaping ahead with an expansion to their wine portfolio – new grape varieties from a newly purchased vineyard that has recently been certified organic.


Frogpond Farm is located on a quiet road near Niagara-on-the-Lake. Savvy Sommelier Susan Desjardins stopped in to visit with the enthusiastic owners, Jens Gemmrich and his wife Heike Koch. Heike recalls that she and Jens came to Niagara on a summer ‘holiday’ after Jen’s brother Martin bought property in Niagara to establish a grape nursery operation.  “I can remember helping graft grapevines in Martin’s basement”, recalls Heike.  Enchanted by Niagara, Jens came back for an extended stay to help his brother.  So began Jens’ dream of moving his family from Germany to Canada and establish his own winery.  Heike took some convincing but they eventually emigrated in 1994.


While working as a winemaker at a local winery, Jens kept his eye out for a farm that would suit his young family as well as fulfill his dream of his own vineyard and winery.  In 1997, he planted his first vines – Merlot and Cabernet Franc – on the 10-acre property. Soon afterwards, he planted Riesling – honouring his German roots.  With notions to break ground as a pioneer and commit his new business to both organic viticulture and viniculture is consistent with the couple’s commitment to their children, their terroir (property) and on a larger scale the environment.  With the release of their first vintage in 2001, they launched Frogpond Farm as a unique alternative for consumers seeking an organic choice among Canadian wines. We were proud to feature Frogpond Farm to Savvy Selections subscribers in 2006.


When Martin recently decided to stop farming, Jens and Heike had the opportunity to expand their business and production to include the new property named “Martin’s Vineyard”.  Since the land was already planted to vines, they began cultivating the property organically and in three years received organic certification. 


To get a taste of all of their hard work, we are delighted to feature wines from both properties:

·         2008 Vidal VQA

·         2007 Cabernet Franc VQA

·         2007 Cabernet/Merlot VQA


We hope you enjoy bringing in the New Year with these unique Savvy Selections.  Let us know how you enjoyed the Frogpond wines, as well as the recipes our Savvy Selections tasting panel picked to enjoy with the wines. 


Want more Frogpond wines? 
It is easy – simply call on us to arrange an order for you.
Heads up: the 2007 Cabernet/Merlot is in limited supply….it is anticipated to be gone by March.


Cheers & Enjoy!

– Debbie & Savvy Team

Frogpond Farm Winery
Presented by Sommelier Susan Desjardins

Jens and Heike are passionate and committed to their land as both grape growers and wine makers.  “As organic farmers, we’ve learned to move away from the approach of always being ‘in control’ of nature.  We consciously work on creating a healthy environment for the vines to flourish. With trust in nature and our patience, we have been awed by the ability of the natural environment to remedy imbalances and heal itself”, proudly explains Heike about their winery. 


At Frogpond Farms, they are pioneers and leaders of organic viticulture (winespeak: grape growing) and winemaking in Niagara. As their business has evolved over the years, they are pleasure to see other wineries in the region adopting organic practices.  Some wineries choose to proceed with certification while others simply use organic growing strategies to enhance the health of their vineyards.  Frogpond, however, is the only winery currently to vinify (winespeak: to make wine) its grapes organically.


What does being an organic winery mean?
There is a difference between wines made with organically grown grapes, and wine vinified organically with organically grown grapes.  The former wines are made with grapes grown following the principles of organic agriculture.  These include the use of only natural fertilizers (no synthetic herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers or chemicals of any kind), more labor intensive management, often including hand harvesting, and lower crop yields so the vines are not stressed.  In addition to using only organically grown grapes, the wines are vinified following very specific requirements defined by Canadian Organic Standards regulations.  The critical aspects of organic winemaking are:

– no synthetic additives, for instance in fining

– no genetically modified yeast, bacteria or enzymes

– restrictions in the levels of sulfites used to preserve the wine and then found in the completed wine

– use of only certain permitted substances in the winemaking process or for cleaning the winemaking facilities. 


For individuals who feel they may have a sensitivity or allergy to sulfur or to synthetic chemicals, organic wines are a great choice.


Confused yet!?!  As more ‘organic’ wine and food labels appear on the market, it’s often difficult to know what you are actually buying.  Certification is a provincial responsibility, so standards are not necessarily consistent across the country.  In Ontario, you want to look for products “certified organic” by an agency such as the Organic Crop Producers & Processors (OCPP) – which certifies Frogpond wines.  The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has stepped into the breach to some degree, establishing standards and requirements for wines sold across Canada.  To concur, Frogpond will be adopting the new CFIA designation on their labels. Look for this identity: biologigueCanadaorganic.


Always up for a challenge, Heike and Jens have expanded their organic winery business by tripling the size of their acreage under vine.  This allows them to broaden their portfolio of wines and enables them the ability to craft quite different styles of wine arising from the different terroir of their properties.  For instance, “Martin’s vineyard” has two definite sections. One area is composed of heavy clay soils and is situated near some thick bush that shelters the land and traps the heat in the summer. The soil keeps the vines in check, but the additional heat allows the fruit to ripen more and may possibly extend hang time (winemaker speak: ripening time on vine). In comparison, the other section comprises of lighter, sandier soils.  Here, the vine roots reach grow deep, drawing minerals into the grapes which, when vinified, create a vibrant, fruity and more elegant style of wine.  When you visit Frogpond Farm, sample the Cabernet Franc from the original vineyard and compare it to the wine made from Cab Franc grapes on the new property – they are remarkably different, although grown in the same appellation.


Want to try something completely unique?  You can even drink it before lunch!  Enjoy the same health benefits of red wines in the non-alcoholic, pure grape juice produced by Jen’s brother Martin Gemmrich at Niagara Juice Company.  Aptly named – Gesundheit (meaning good health) – can be ordered directly from Savvy Company.


As they say in Germany…Prost (Cheers)!


 ~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~

Frogpond Farm Vidal VQA 2008, $12.00

Vidal is a grape varietal usually associated with Ontario’s famous ice wines.  This particular dry crisp white wine is produced from 5 year old vines grown on heavy clay in ‘Martin’s Vineyard’.  The soil structure helps keep the vines in check and fruit yields low and optimizing the fresh fruit flavors.  

This wine was just released in December – perfectly timed to be included in the Savvy Selections. Enjoy!

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Pale gold, this bright wine has floral aromas and those of tree fruits (can you find yellow plums, peaches and ripe apple?). These fruit aromas carry through into the flavors, riding on a refreshing seam of acidity.  The finish is long, crisp and citrusy.

Suggested Food Pairing: This easy drinking wine will pair well with firm cheese, light appetizers, white fish, roast chicken or the Pork Chops with Herbes de Provence recipe Susan selected to enjoy with this wine.

Cellaring:  Made to enjoy now!

Frogpond Farm Cabernet Franc VQA 2007, $17.00

The grapes for this wine come from the lighter soils of Jens’ newly certified vineyard. Both this wine and the Cabernet/Merlot (the other Savvy Selections red wine) were aged in large oak casks, adding both body and flavor without overwhelming the aromas and flavour of the fruit. While visiting the winery, Susan found it interesting to compare the 2006 Cab Franc from Jens’ original vineyard side-by-side with a taste of this wine.  The 2006 vintage was more structured and robust, while Susan and the Savvy Selections tasting panel found the 2007 more fruity and delicate. 
Yin & Yang, perhaps!

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  A deep ruby red, the 2007 vintage beckons you with aromas of ripe berries, cherries, sweet spices and a hint of red licorice.  Medium-bodied, the wine balances sweet berries (raspberries and blackberries perhaps?) with fresh acidity and perceptible tannins.  It has a persistent finish with hints of toasty oak. Delicious! .  

Suggested Food Pairing:  This wine will pair well with chicken or veal dishes with a rich mushroom sauce or with roast salmon with autumn vegetables.

Cellaring: Drinking well now, the wine could cellar for a couple of years.


Frogpond Farm Cabernet Merlot VQA 2007 $16.00 (500ml)

From the outstanding 2007 vintage – considered by many winemakers as a Gift from Mother Nature – this red wine has been flying off the shelves at Frogpond Farm.  Susan wanted to make sure that there was enough of this wine for our Savvy Selections subscribers to enjoy!  Winning silver at the Royal Winter Fair, this blend of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Merlot is from Jen’s original vineyard, where the combination of sandy loam underlaid with heavy clay produces a wine of complexity and structure. 

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Our Savvy Selections tasting panel loved everything about this wine – the structure and its balance.  It’s opaque and inky appearance, plush fruit aromas with subtle hints of leaf and vanilla.  The bold flavors engulf the palate with tastes of blackberry, blackcurrant, dark fruit cake and cracked black pepper.  It is full bodied and velvety, with all the components in harmony on the long warm finish.  This wine has limited availability…if you want more, be sure to call on us to help you stock up!

Suggested Food Pairing: Enjoy with grilled fillet mignon with pan-fried mushrooms, charcuterie, or the Beef Fondue recipe that we offer on the following pages.

Cellaring: You will definitely want to taste this wine now to determine if you want additional bottles to cellar for another 3-5 years.


~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~

With Frogpond Farm Vidal…

Pork Chops with Herbes de Provence
From Call of the Flame, ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen
Serves 4

¼ C fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp finely chopped green onion or shallot
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
2 tbsp herbes de Provence, crumbled
¼ tsp salt
4 thick boneless pork loin chops


1.      To prepare marinade, combine all ingredients except pork in a heavy zip-lock plastic bag.  Add pork and squeeze bag to coat pork with marinade; seal bag.  Let stand for 30 minutes.   


2.      Remove pork from marinade; discard marinade.  Grill pork over low heat on natural gas BBQ until done, about 20-25 minutes for ¾” thick chops.


3.      This recipe can also be made with pork tenderloin, which may be grilled or oven roasted.   


With Frogpond Farm Cabernet Franc….

Fragrant Chicken with Mushrooms
From The Globe and Mail, Lucy Waverman
Serves 4-6

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3 Tbsp flour, seasoned with salt & pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
2-4 cloves garlic, peeled & chopped
½ C carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
½ tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf

1 1” piece of orange peel
1-2 C dry red wine
1 C chicken stock
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp brandy (optional)
1 8 oz. package cremini mushrooms, sliced and sautéed in butter or olive oil
2 Tbsp chopped parsley



1.   Trim fat from chicken & coat lightly with seasoned flour.  Heat oil in large skillet on medium heat.  Add chicken & fry 3-5 minutes each side or until golden.  Remove from skillet.  


2.   Add onion, carrot & fry until onions begin to turn color, about 3 minutes.  Then add garlic, stir in thyme, bay leaf & orange peel.  


3.   Add wine, stock, tomato paste & brandy to skillet.  Bring to boil & cook 3 minutes.  Return chicken to skillet.  Cover & simmer gently 20 minutes.  Add mushrooms & cook 5-10 minutes longer, until juices run clear.


4.   Remove chicken & veggies.  Raise heat to high and reduce stock for 3-5 minutes or until slightly thickened.  Season as desired with salt & pepper & pour over chicken.  Garnish with parsley. (Depending upon how much wine used, you may not have to reduce the stock.)


With Frogpond Farm Cabernet/Merlot…

Heart Warming Beef Fondue

Recipe from the kitchen of Savvy Sommelier Debbie Trenholm

Serves 4-6


1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 C fennel, chopped (optional)

3 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed

5 C beef stock

2 C dry red wine

2 bay leaves

1/16 tsp powdered saffron (2-3 strands)


Suggested items to dip into the fondue:

Thinly sliced beef tenderloin, or fondue beef (ask your butcher for this cut), pre-cooked sausage cut into pieces, assorted mushrooms, green onions halved lengthwise, strips of red, green and/or yellow pepper cut lengthwise


1.  In 3 quart sauce pan over medium-high heat, heat olive oil, then sautée onion, fennel and garlic until onion is soft.  

2.  Add broth, red wine, bay leaves and saffron.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer until vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes.  (Broth can be made the day before, covered and stored in the refrigerator).


3.  Add broth to the fondue pot, warm, and then spear beef on fondue fork, hold in broth for 2-3 minutes depending upon desired doneness.  Do the same with other dipping ingredients.


4.  Serve with crusty bread (another great dipping item).  Remaining broth can become tomorrow’s hearty soup – simply add cooked rice, lentils and more vegetables. 





Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!



Have a look at their new look!

Posted by Wayne

Monday, January 4th, 2010

Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Chateau des Charmes Estate Winery

Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep

December is now in full festive season. Our team of Sommeliers certainly know that December is here, our calendars are chock-o-block with private and corporate event bookings of Sommelier led wine tastings, lunches and dinners.  And the phone is ringing off the hook with people arranging subscriptions to Savvy Selections as gifts.

Call on us anytime for a special wine event or gift of wine. Wine Gift Hotline: 613.SAVVYCO (613.728.8926)

This month’s Savvy Selections wines were selected in a different fashion. For the first time in 4 years (not sure why it took us this long!), we invited to all of our subscribers to participate in the Savvy Selections tasting panel.  Many thanks to Julie, Denise, Ward and Doug who were up for the challenge of the hard work! One November evening this ‘Fab Four’ together with Savvy Sommelier Wayne Walker, sipped, swirled & spitted (did they really?) an assortment of wines this month’s featured winery – Château des Charmes. Reportedly, everyone had fun, yet they took their jobs seriously as they assessed all of the wines, discussed their attributes then selected the wines that were delivered to you. This time, starting with eight wines and deducting to only three – it was a tough job, but they were game to do it.

Watch for an email invitation to participate in the Savvy Selections tasting panel in mid-January.

In this month’s Savvy Selections, we are delighted to feature the new brand recently launched by Château des Charmes.  They are a household name for many and we are showcasing some very special wines this month:
Sauvignon Gris VQA 2008
– Viognier VQA 2007
– Cabernet Franc VQA 2005
– Equuleus VQA 2007 – optional wine on request
– Savagnin Icewine VQA 2006 – optional wine on request

We love to hear from you about this month’s selection.  Let us know how you enjoyed the wines, as well as the matching recipes.  If you would like to order more of these wines or others from previous Savvy Selections, simply contact us. 

Looking for a special occasion to visit Niagara this winter?
Icewine Festival is just around the corner. During the weekends of January 15 to 17 and 22 to 24, Vintage Hotels and Château des Charmes have partnered to put together a fantastic line up of events and packages celebrating Icewine. More information at

Cheers & Enjoy the holidays!
Debbie & Savvy Team

Château Des Charmes Winery
by Savvy Sommelier Wayne Walker

New world excellence. Old world tradition.”

Directed and rewarded by this mantra since 1978, the Bosc family (Paul Sr and his wife Andrèe – on right, along with Paul Jr and his wife Michèle – on left) represents a winemaking tradition comprised of six generations. Started in the 1840’s in French Algeria, the Old World tradition migrated to ‘New World’ in the 1950’s when Paul Bosc Sr made Ontario his new home.

A graduate of winemaking school at the University of Burgundy – Dijon and an experienced Alsatian winemaker, Paul Sr began his quest in the New World working for a large winery in Niagara. In 1978, he began his own venture by growing grapes on 50 acres of the St. David’s Bench (located along the base of the Niagara Escarpment). The faith Paul Sr. had in Niagara’s climate became a significant turning point in the evolution of Niagara as a wine region. His expertise and influence on the growth of the area is remains highly regarded by new winery owners.

Château des Charmes carries on a vine breeding program focused on growing and selecting Noble grape vines from the winery’s designated nursery plots in their vineyards, constantly experimenting with Niagara growing conditions. Over the years. Paul Sr has developed fuller and hardier vines to assist in the production of fine Niagara wines. Gamay ‘Droit’, is a grape variety that discovered in his nursery.  He noticed the rootshoots of one Gamay vine growing straight up (rather than branching out).  Intrigued, he propagated the vines and ended up nurturing them for 20 years only to discover that he had ‘grown’ a new form of Gamay vine – one that the Château now has exclusive international plant breeder rights.  This is heralded as Canada’s first vinifera (winespeak: native grape variety)

Château des Charmes has a large presence and a grounded history in Niagara, but according to Paul Jr. the winery “… is not just brick and mortar, it’s another member of the family. A lot of blood, sweat and tears created this impressive volume and space and this helps us to never lose sight of its human quality. My father and I make decisions for our immediate and extended families every day (120+ staff during the peak season). We never lose sight of our responsibility to consider Château des Charmes as a way of life for all of us. It has a central sparkle that we get up every morning to polish – like a diamond.

Like father like son, Paul Jr continues, “My father gave us a great advantage as a pioneer and a seminal figure in the development of the Niagara wine industry, yet I am weary that we have been in the New World (of Niagara) for more than four decades. We don’t rest on our laurels. We must be open to change and innovation.”

This side-by-side evolution of the ‘Old’ and the ‘New’ changed and shaped the new winery’s branding and labeling. The iconic architecture of the Château, Paul Jr explains, “now shares a regional terroir concept on the winery’s logo. It pays homage to Niagara by giving a better sense of place by using outlining the hillscape of St. David’s Bench in the background.”

And as for new innovations? You will see that on the back label, sports a square QR Code (Quick Response Code) near the barcode. This is leading edge technology.  By using the decoding software on a new cell phone, the code will convert and reveal a website on your cell phone providing more information about the wine including winemaking processes, growing conditions, recipes, critiques, recent awards won and cellaring notes. If you want to try it, download the free software download for QR Codes on  Château des Charmes is the first winery in North America adopting QR Codes technology. “But,” Paul Jr. humbly notes, “we won’t be the last.”

Innovation? Indeed.
Pioneering? Absolutely.

“New world excellence. Old world tradition.” A great mantra for a well rooted winery.


~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~

Château des Charmes Sauvignon Gris VQA 2008 $19.95

This unusual blend wine benefits from the citrus and mineral experience of Sauvignon Blanc grapes combined with the smooth texture and tropical flavours of Pinot Gris.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Straw to pale yellow in colour, the tasting panel enjoyed the pear, melon, citrus and sweet honeyed flavours of this medium bodied wine. As Ward put it, “this wine offered a comfortably sweet experience.”

Suggested Food Pairing: Serve this wine chilled at about 8 to 11C. It’s a wonderful sipper or can be paired with a variety of white meats – chicken or turkey. Shellfish, fish or soft cheeses will offer a delicious pairing.

Cellaring:  No need to wait…this wine is ready to drink now. It can cellar for up to 2 years at 10C but be careful not leave it too long as it will lose its characteristically fruity flavour.

Château des Charmes Viognier VQA 2007, $25.95

Viognier is one of the noble grapes of the Rhône region renowned for its intense aromatics and flavours of stone fruit. Unlike in Europe where it is primarily seen as a blending grape, in North America it has become a favourite in its own right. Think you have seen this grape variety before? In October’s Savvy Selections featuring Peninsula Ridge we included their Viognier.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A hands down favorite of the Savvy Selections tasting panel, the peach, almond, floral and melon aromas of the nose are carried on a creamy texture of apricot, citrus and almond on the tongue. Viognier is one of Doug’s favourite wines and this one in particular impressed him with the added dimensions of warmth and complexity. What do you think?

Suggested Food Pairing: Ideally paired with lighter fare, it shows very well seafood pasta, sushi, grilled white meats (try the Porkchop, Apple & Butternut Squash recipe below), salmon in a cream sauce or a simple plate of Brie and crackers.

Cellaring: This should be enjoyed now. Like all Viogniers, aromatics and finish dissipate with time. Chill this white a little more than usual to 7C for serving and storage. This will help the flavours and aromas endure.


Château des Charmes Cabernet Franc VQA 2005, $25.95

The Old World Bordeaux style of this wine was immediately evident to the tasting panel. Denise, Ward and Julie noticed its pleasures were not lead by its fruit profile, but were more balanced by the texture and barrel flavours evident in the wine. Like Viognier, Cabernet Franc is typically a blending grape in Bordeaux-styled wines, yet in cooler climates, such as in North America, it flourishes and has become one of Ontario’s more prolific and desired wines. If you have a sweet tooth, Cabernet Franc crafts as a very tasty red icewine. Outside of Ontario, this grape variety can be discovered as a blending grape in Cabernets, Bordeaux, Meritage or Super Tuscans.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Ruby garnet in colour, Denise was impressed with its silky texture that brought with it not only the typical raspberry and spice, but licorice flavour as well. Ward noted how its barrel flavours were rounded into sweet smoke and vanilla. Doug commented on its subtle minerality and long finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: The Fab Four tasting panel all agreed that older cheeses, grilled, red meat and game would be great matches for this wine. Let’s not forget tomato based pasta dishes! Have fun with our festive Christmas Turkey Pasta recipe below – it’s another way to enjoy turkey over the holidays.

Cellaring: This wine is drinking well now, yet it will continue to develop in the bottle for 5 to 10 years. The panel tasted the 2007 Cabernet Franc too and realized the softening effect of the extra 2 years of aging in the 2005 vintage.


Optional additions to your Savvy Selections

Two remarkable wine discoveries



During our tasting panel, we discovered two of Château des Charmes signature wines that we just HAVE to bring to your attention to consider adding to your Savvy Selection wines. Simply put, these wines were breathtaking.




If after reading these tasting notes you would like to order these special wines, simply contact Debbie on 613.728.8926 or and she will make the delivery arrangements for you. We would not want you to miss out!


Château des Charmes Equuleus VQA 2007 $40.00
Just released last week (Debbie got the first bottle!) this is the Château’s signature red wine.  Only crafted in spectacular years – 2007 certainly fit that bill – this wine honours Paul Sr’s passion for winemaking and Arabian horses.  Named after the Little Horse star constellation that is visible in the night sky during harvest time, this blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc & 25% Merlot, simply an outstanding red wine.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This wine shows that Ontario can definitely make BIG red wines. Concentrated aromas and tastes of black plum, figs & black liquorice with notes of smoke and a long finish.

Suggested Food Pairing:  Simply put, this wine is begging to be enjoyed with the finest cut of beef – whether you roast, BBQ or sear it, keep this wine for that special dinner with all of the trimmings….including candles!

Cellaring: This wine has just been bottled and may still be experiencing bottle shock. It is recommended to hold until mid December or cellar as it has robust aging potential and will evolve over the next 5 to 15 years.  

Château des Charmes Savagnin Icewine VQA 2006

What is Savagnin? It is a rare grape, grown in the Jura region of France, where they make dry wines. The local specialty is Vin Jaune, a Sherry-style oxidized wine that can last upwards of 50 years. Back to Savvy Selections: the Bosc family originally made dry wines from this grape variety, but has now decided to produce the first ever Icewine.

The result? Medium to full body; it offers good amounts of fruit and acid, more along the lines of a refined Riesling Icewine rather than the typical Vidal Icewine.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Sumptuous and exotic! An incredible, complex marmalade, Mandarin orange, lemon and toffee experience that lasts forever. Evenly proportioned, intense, thick, sweet and opulent are the only superlatives the panel could generate. The fruit flavours, sweetness and acidity are well balanced on the palate. If you buy and try this wine, we’d like to receive your tasting notes! Drop us an e-mail so we have something to say besides Mmmm…

Suggested Food Pairing: ABSOLUTELY GREAT on its own. It has the capacity to stand up to and enhance sweet, full-textured desserts. Citrus desserts can render a rare bittersweet experience. Bring on the chocolate the tasting panel demanded!

Cellaring: This wine can be cellared, but Santa would be very disappointed if this gift weren’t very served soon!



As has become a tradition for the last couple of years, we offer you the option of including a dessert wine with your Savvy Selection in December. This signature wine is not only unique to Canada, but to the World. It left the tasting panel speechless!  Ahhh…, ohhh… and Mmmm… were the only responses that could be heard. We soon learned why it has a 90+ rating by professional wine critics.

~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~

With Château des Charmes Sauvignon Gris…

Almond-Crusted Stuffed Chicken
Serves 4

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 oz. brie cheese, sliced
4 dried apricots (finely chopped)
½ c. sliced almonds
1 tsp minced fresh rosemary
1 tsp coarse salt
1 tsp freshly cracked pepper
½ c. fresh bread crumbs
1 egg lightly beaten
1 tsp butter
1 tsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 375F.

Cut each breast in half like an open book.Arrange brie slices over chicken, sprinkle with apricots, ½ of the almonds, rosemary, salt and pepper. Close each breast and press around the edges to seal.


In a shallow dish, combine bread crumbs and remaining almonds, dip chicken breasts in egg then dredge them in crumb mixture, pressing to coat completely.


In large oven-proof skillet, melt butter and oil over medium-high heat. Cook chicken about 3 minutes until golden brown, then bake in oven about 15 to 20 minutes to cook through.


Serve with seasonal vegetables



With Château des Charmes Viognier…

Porkchops with Apples & Butternut Squash
From Bravo! The Best of Bridge Cookbook
Serves 4

1 ½ cup of unsweetened apple juice or cider
1 Tbsp honey mustard
1 Tbsp maple syrup or liquid honey
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
4 pork chops 
1 Tbsp butter
1 large leek (or onion) sliced thinly
½ small butternut squash, peeled & grated (or cut into match sticks) – about 2 cups
2 red apples (unpeeled), thinly sliced
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish


In a medium bowl, whisk together apple juice, mustard, maple syrup, cider vinegar, salt and pepper.  Sprinkle pork on both sides with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Cook pork for 4 to 5 minutes per side until browned and just a hint of pink remains inside, while juices run clear when pork is pierced.  Transfer to a plate and keep warm.


In the same skillet, melt butter over medium heat.  Sautée leek and squash for 2 minutes or untilsoftened.  Add apples and juice mixture. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 5 minutes or until apples are softened not mushy.


Return pork to pan and bring sauce back to a boil.  Remove from heat immediately and sprinkle with parsley


Serve over wild rice with generous spoonfuls of sauce.



With Château des Charmes Cabernet Franc…

Christmas Turkey Pasta
Serves 8

1 pound of turkey, ground or diced (pre-cooked or fresh)
½ cup chopped green onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp olive oil
2 14 ½ oz cans of tomatoes, undrained
½ cup red wine or chicken broth

1 cup loosely packed fresh basil, minced

1 tsp dried oregano

Hot cooked spaghetti

½ cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese


In a large nonstick skillet, cook the turkey, onions and garlic in oil over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. If using precooked meat, brown it, then drain.

Add the tomatoes, wine, basil and oregano. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes or until heated through.


Serve over spaghetti; sprinkle with cheese and enjoy with a glass of Cabernet Franc.



Cheers & the best of the Season from all of us at Savvy Company!




Wines for your Dinner Party…Delivered

Posted by Debbie

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

Our Savvy Sommeliers taste oodles of wines. We want to make it easy for you to entertain with wines…so we have taken the guessing game out of figuring out which wines to serve at your next dinner party.  We have created Savvy Dinner Party Packs.  We choose the Ontario winery, sample and select a variety of wines that you won’t find at a wine shop (adding for an extra conversation piece). These wines are delivered right to your door.  Sparkling, white, red and something for dessert – all you need to do is create your menu & guest list! 



Great Stuff from Huff!

There is a buzz about Canada’s fastest growing wine region – Prince Edward County – located in on the shores of Lake Ontario.  Less than a three hour drive from both Ottawa and Toronto, it is a great weekend getaway destination.  The Savvy sommeliers visit this area often and have seen fields come alive as vineyards. Huff Estates has been integral in growing ‘The County’ as a bustling wine region.  Winemaker Frederic Picard left Burgundy, France to train with master winemakers in the four corners of the globe before deciding to join Huff Estates.  Huff’s great wines have a French influence that is being well received and numerous awards!


Dinner Party Pack Contains:

Cuvée Peter Huff Blanc de Blanc Sparkling VQA 2006

Huff Estates Pinot Gris VQA 2008

Stuntman Stu Red Line Merlot VQA 2008

Huff Estates First Frost VQA 2008 (a lightly sweet wine)


Price for ONE of each selected bottles: $99.80

Price for TWO of each selected bottles: $199.60
+ winery’s shipping fee
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Taste the Difference Terroir Makes

The vineyards at Coyote’s Run Winery in Niagara, are uniquely situated on two very distinct types of soil: red clay and black clay. To illustrate the wine term ‘terroir’ and appreciate the difference soil make on the resulting taste of the wine, the winemaker has grown blocks of Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir grape varieties in both red and black clay.  He harvested the grapes separately and processed the grapes in the identical winemaking fashion.  The result is although same grape, you can taste the difference that terroir makes. A fun gift for any wine lover.

Dinner Party Pack Contains:
Red Paw Pinot Noir VQA 2007
Black Paw Pinot Noir VQA 2007
Red Paw Cabernet Franc VQA 2007
Black Paw Cabernet Franc VQA 2007
2 little samples bags of soil to see the difference!

Price for ONE of each selected bottles: $115

Price for TWO of each selected bottles: $230
+ winery’s shipping fee
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Boutique & Unique

A delicious homemade butter tart started Savvy Sommelier Debbie Trenholm’s discovery of this boutique winery in Niagara. “It is a winery with a wonderful story connected to farming with down to earth people involved and cult-like following wines,” Debbie reports. Recently featured in our Savvy Selections, 13th Street Wines are a joy to share with your dinner guests.

Party Pack Contains:
Premier Cuvée Sparkling VQA 2004
Cuvée 13 Sparkling Rosé VQA 2006
Sandstone Vineyard Chardonnay VQA 2006
Sauvignon Blanc – Semillion VQA 2008
Cabernet Rosé VQA 2008
Gamay Noir Sandstone Old Vines VQA 2008
Merlot VQA 2007
13 Degrees Below Zero VQA 2008 (a lightly sweet wine)

Price for this collection of 8 bottles: $176 + winery’s shipping fee
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Pioneers & Innovators

New world excellence. Old world tradition. This is a great mantra for a well rooted winery. The Bosc family are pioneers as they broke new ground in the Niagara wine region with their Chateau des Charmes winery over 25 years ago. As the December’s featured winery in the Savvy Selections, we showcased their winemaking talent along with their newly released branding and adoption of QR Code technology on each bottle. Entertain your dinner party guests with insights about this winery and the people involved in the Savvy e-Zine that every Savvy Selections subscriber receives with their monthly wine delivery.

Party Pack Contains:
– Sauvignon Gris VQA 2008
– Viognier VQA 2007
– Cabernet Franc VQA 2005
– Equuleus VQA 2007
Price for this collection of 4 bottles: $111.85 + winery’s shipping fee
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Have the menu already planned & trying to figure out which wines to pair?

Call on our Savvy Sommeliers to create a dinner party pack perfectly paired to your menu – what a great way to WOW your guests.  Simply email us or call 613.SAVVYCO (613.728.8926).