Posts Tagged ‘Sommelier wine reviews’

It’s delicious when it’s 13 degrees below zero

Posted by Eva

Friday, July 20th, 2012
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13th Street Winery has been crafting outstanding wines in their own way for a number of years.  Located in Twenty Valley wine region in Niagara Peninsula, their beginnings was simple: 4 amateaur winemakers pooling their equipment & land to try their hand at making wines in an industrial-looking garage.  Their customers were family, friends and neighbours…but then the word started to spread and total strangers arrived wanting to pay for their experimental wines!  Now expanded & with new owners and housed in a converted farm house, they are no longer located on 13th Street, yet around the corner.  Their reputation continues to grow, most notably for their array of sparkling wines, dry Riesling white wine and Gamay medium bodied red wines.

At 13th Street, riesling grapes are used to make sparkling wine, table wine and this unique off-dry (winespeak: lightly sweet) wine.

13 Degreets Below Zero 2010

$19.95 (375 mL bottle)

Your sweet tooth will be raging with a sip of this unique dessert wine from 13th Street Winery.  It’s not late harvest wine, nor is it icewine, rather a special creation that only the team at 13th Street Winery can mark as their own.  Made with Riesling grapes that have been lightly touched by frost creating a naturally sweet wine that is far from the typical cloying texture of icewine or late harvest dessert wines.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: With each sip, you will notice the layers of acidity, yellow apple & minerals aromas & tastes that make this a refreshing wine with its acidity.

Food Pairing Suggestion:  Serve chilled as an apperitif, with a meal of lobster, chicken with a tarragon & cream sauce or enjoy a small glass after meal with artisan cheeses, roasted nuts, fresh fruit salad, butter tarts or apple pie.

 

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

13th Street Winery will be a feature winery in our Savvy Selections wine of the month club. Like this wine? Subscribe & it’ll be delivered to your home or office!

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Sipping a little history of Prince Edward County

Posted by Susan

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012
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Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring The Grange of Prince Edward Vineyard & Estate Winery
– May 2012 –

A visit to Prince Edward County wineries, or better yet next weekend’s, Terroir Wine Festival  is both an opportunity to taste wines, explore the vineyards and marvel at the historic restored buildings on site; a visit provides a Canadian history lesson too.

The County is one of the areas settled by United Empire Loyalists after the American Revolution. In 1972, Robert Granger purchased the 150-acre home farm on the original Trumpour family patent, including the mill which produced most of the lumber used in the historic barn (built in 1826) which houses The Grange of Prince Edward winery tasting room and barrel cellar.

History tells us that the Trumpour family arrived in Canada after the Revolution, driven from the Thirteen Colonies by their allegiance to the British Crown. Roughly 50,000 Loyalists emigrated, many from disbanded Loyalist regiments, and settled in the upper St. Lawrence valley. They brought with them their customs, British Law and land tenure, and representative government. After lobbying by the Loyalists, the British Parliament passed the Canada Act in 1791, effectively dividing Québec into Upper (Ontario) and Lower (Québec) Canada.

Building on the deep history of this property and region, Robert and his daughter Caroline Granger partnered in 2002 to establish one of the first wineries in the newly developing wine appellation of Prince Edward County (PEC).

Our Savvy Sommelier Susan Desjardins caught up with Caroline on a recent visit to the winery.  From your fist metting, Caroline exudes energy and enthusiasm as she guides you around the property and through the wine cellar and winemaking facilities. Although her father’s career was focused in Toronto, he purchased the property with the intention of giving his children the experience of growing up on a farm. Caroline spent her youth there, leaving at the age of 16 when she was whisked away to Paris and a modeling career that kept her in Europe for 10 years. This career eventually took her to the United States, where she married and began to raise her family. In 1997, she moved back to the farm, looking for a career that would allow her to spend more time with her three children.

Caroline recalls that one wet spring day, she helping plant grape vines at a nearby vineyard.  This prompted her to suggest to her father that they plant 10 acres to vines. “This place has always been a working farm. I saw the vineyard as a way to re-establish a viable, sustainable role for the property.” As part of a college course she was taking at the time, Caroline developed a business proposal to discuss with her father. With his agreement and support, she took the wine technician program at Loyalist College and, in 2001 the first vines were planted. Her initial harvest in 2003 produced Prince Edward County’s first Ontario award-winning wine, the Trumpour’s Mill 2003 Gamay Noir 2003.

Caroline’s vineyards and range of wines have expanded over the years, with a strong emphasis on Pinot Noir. We are delighted to showcase in this month’s Savvy Selections:
– Chardonnay VQA 2007– a creamy, well-balanced wine
– Diana’s Block Pinot Noir VQA 2007 – The Grange’s elegant premium Pinot Noir
– Northfield Cabernet Franc VQA 2007 – a complex wine that we think is ready to enjoy now or can be put in your cellar.

Stock up for the summer…

You won’t find these wines from The Grange at the LCBO.  So, if you found a new favorite wine and would like additional bottles, give me a call and I will take care of ordering more for you.  Simply, call me at 613-SAVVYCO (613-728-8926) or sending me an e-mail at debbie@savvycompany.ca.

Cheers & Enjoy!
– Debbie & Savvy Team

 

The Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards & Estate Winery
Presented by Sommelier Susan Desjardins

 

Not only did Caroline Granger (left) learn about cell biology, fermentation processes and vineyard management at Loyalist College, she learned to drive a tractor and cultivate fields. She has maintained that hands-on approach through her tenure at The Grange. She exudes intensity as we sit in the tasting room on a cool spring day, discussing winemaking at The Grange and the challenges of viticulture in the County. “Did you know that over a 100-year horizon, PEC is only one degree Celsius cooler than Niagara? And in the summer, we’re actually one degree warmer.” She describes the Hillier area (where The Grange is located) as a bit of a “heat sink’; while they don’t benefit from the lake effect, the area has an advantage for ripening in the summer.

What did she learn that has proven true? “The main thing is that Pinot Noir from the County is extra-ordinary”. Other key factors: fans are essential in the vineyard to keep the frost off her vines. And vine spacing has also proven critical to her success. The fairly wide rows and vine spacing ensure a balanced crop load, provide the vines access to the nutrients they need, and permit higher canopies and more leaves to ensure better ripeness. These rows allow high hilling up because, yes, two canes on each vine are buried every fall to guard against freezing – “that’s 170,000 canes we buried in 2011”, remarks Caroline.

Her focus has always been on growing the best possible fruit, and now, with 60 acres under vine, she is able to produce estate-only wines. The vineyard spreads across six blocks, grown on shallow but fertile soils known as Hillier clay gravel. The Northfield block offers the deepest soils, at 36 inches. The underlying bedrock is limestone that fractures naturally, facilitating root growth and bringing a mineral quality to the wines. “When I started planting the vineyard, I focused on the varietals best suited to the alkaline soils we have, and those that would ripen early. So we started with Chardonnay, Gamay and Pinot Noir.” Pinot Noir is her passion, with 17 acres devoted to this varietal, used in sparkling wine, rosé and both The Grange and Trumpour’s Mill varietal wines. She’s added Pinot Gris, Riesling, Cabernet Franc (that you received this month) and an experimental block of Sauvignon Blanc, which is the longest ripening varietal. The first 12 acres were planted in 2001, an additional 32 acres established between 2002 and 2004, with the most recently planted vines dating from 2007.

The Grange’s initial production started small in 2003 at 1600. Now Caroline has her eye on producing 12,500 cases this year – organic growth that has allowed her to maintain a strong focus on style and quality.

Her role at the winery is definitely hands on, “I’m the vineyard manager, the winemaker, the CEO, the CFO . . . !” Asked how she became a winemaker, Caroline’s sense of humour ignites—‘Well, I started growing 150 tonnes of grapes!”. While she trained academically in college, with her first harvests she used consulting winemakers, working closely with them. “Winemaking is part art, part science. You start with the healthiest possible grapes, and then you create the best possible conditions for healthy fermentation, which include clean fruit, quick processing, carefully selected yeast strains, and ongoing monitoring through the vinification process.” Her daughter Maggie has started working with her in winemaking and is showing both talent and enthusiasm. While talking to Maggie as she guides us through a tasting, it’s clear she is actively involved in winery decisions, putting forward the research and rationale behind The Grange’s decision to continue using cork rather than migrating to Stelvin closures (winespeak: screwcaps). It’s definitely a family affair, with son Brandon (currently studying at Trent University) working in the tasting room over the summer, and youngest son Quinton the ‘IT wizard’.

With each visit to the winery, you will always find something new.  This summer, Maggie is leading an organic market garden to supply produce for the restaurant and the vineyard workers. Caroline has hired an all-female crew this year and plans to provide 3 healthy meals each day for her staff. “I want my workplace to be more accessible for women.” It is clear that Caroline never stands still!

Cheers & Enjoy your Savvy Selections!

~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~

Trumpour’s Mill Chardonnay 2007 VQA, $16.00

Chardonnay was among the first varietals planted on the Granger estate. A grape which lends itself to a range of styles, this exemplar is unoaked and displays the texture and complexity of extended lees contact.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Offering tantalizing aromas of jasmine, honeyed stone fruit, pear and mango, this is a balanced creamy yet dry wine, weighty with flavourful fruit and kissed with a touch of toasted nuts. It finishes slightly warm and gently spiced.

Suggested Food Pairing: Enjoy this wine with pasta in a cream-based sauce, with crab cakes or lobster, or with savoury roast chicken.

Cellaring:  Delightful now or over the next couple of years!

 

Diana’s Block Pinot Noir 2007 VQA, $35.00

Produced from the fruit of a vineyard planted in 2001 and named after Caroline’s mother, the driving force behind the well-kept grounds, this wine is produced only in years of exceptional fruit. Hand tended and pruned, hand sorted, aged in French barriques (winespeak: small oak barrels), only the best barrels are included in this limited production release. This is a very special wine.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: “Oh my, oh my, it’s hard to stop sniffing and savouring the enticing aromas”, remarks Susan during the Savvy Selections tasting panel. Sweet spice, subtle smoke, earthiness and ripe cherry and raspberry! Medium bodied with a fine silky texture, the lively acidity and fine tannins frame tangy red fruit which mingles with white pepper, sweet spice and a hint of capsicum. Great balance and a lively fruity finish! Can you tell that we love this wine?

Suggested Food Pairing:  A match for roast duck, pork with a burgundy sauce, or wild coho salmon.

Cellaring:  Enjoy now or over the next couple of years.


Northfield Cabernet Franc 2007 VQA $35.00

Planted in 2003, this vineyard benefits from the high plateau on which it is located, protected from frost and exposed to maximum seasonal sunshine, assuring full even ripening of the fruit. Once again, only the exceptional barrels were selected for this Grange wine. We are excited that Caroline had ‘just enough’ bottles of this wine to be included in Savvy Selections.  There are only 2 cases left!  If you would like more – contact Debbie sooner than later!

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Dry, medium bodied, this wine offers subtle aromas, ranging from floral, vanilla, cigar box and campfire smoke through dried cherries, berries and plum. Subtle notes of roasted red pepper and herbs mingle with vibrant red berry flavours. The well integrated tannins and lively acidity provide the structure for further aging, while appealing notes of sweet spice linger on the finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: Simply put – Lamb anyone?

Cellaring: Delicious now, this wine will cellar a further 3-4 years

~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~


With Trumpour’s Mill Chardonnay…

Perfect Lemon Roasted Chicken
Adapted from Anna & Michael Olson, Cook at Home
Serves 6

Ingredients
1 4 lb. roasting chicken
1 onion, sliced
2 lemons, sliced
2-4 cloves garlic, peeled, sliced
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
Extra virgin olive oil for basting
Coarsely ground salt & pepper

Vinaigrette
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
½ tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
2-4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Method

  1. For chicken, preheat oven to 350F. Arrange half the onion slices, lemon slices and 1-2 cloves of garlic in a roasting pan just a few inches larger than the chicken. Place the chicken on top of the vegetables and fill its cavity with the remaining onion, lemon and garlic. Insert rosemary sprigs into cavity. Baste chicken with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt & pepper.
  2.  Cover pan and roast for about 1 hour. Remove cover, baste chicken with juices from bottom of pan and continue roasting until an internal temperature of 175 F is reached (about 30-45 minutes more). Remove pan from oven and let chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving.
  3. While chicken is resting, prepare vinaigrette. Strain onion, lemon and garlic from bottom of pan, saving juices to return to pan (discard vegetables). Place pan over medium heat and add lemon juice, stirring to pull up any caramelized bits. Stir in Dijon mustard and rosemary and remove from heat. Whisk in olive oil slowly and season to taste. Carve chicken and spoon vinaigrette over chicken.

 

With Diana’s Block Pinot Noir

Smoked Grilled Salmon
Lucy Waverman & James Chatto, A Matter of Taste
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
2 lb salmon fillet
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp dry mustard
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cracked peppercorns
Soaked cedar plank

Method

  1. Combine the maple syrup, dry mustard, salt & pepper and spread over salmon fillet. Marinate 30 minutes.
  2. Place a smoker basket with wood chips on BBQ coals. Heat grill over high heat until you see smoke.
  3. Place a soaked cedar plank on grill and leave for 3-4 minutes, or until you smell smoke. Immediately turn plank and place fish on top.
  4. Cover grill and cook salmon for 10-15 minutes, or until fish is just cooked. Cut salmon into serving portions on plank and slide off onto serving plates.

 

With Northfield Cabernet Franc…

Grilled Lamb Loin with Sundried Tomato Vinaigrette
Anna & Michael Olson, Cook at Home
Serves 12

Ingredients
12 boneless lamb loins, 6-7oz. each
6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
2 tsp cracked black pepper
¼ C extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp coarse salt

Vinaigrette

2/3 C diced sundried tomatoes
2/3 C chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
¼ C extra virgin olive oil
¼ C balsamic vinegar
¼ C water
Coarse salt & ground black pepper

Method

1.  For vinaigrette, purée all ingredients in a food processor & season to taste. Chill until ready to serve.

2.  For lamb, preheat grill to highest setting. Marinate the lamb in the garlic, thyme, pepper and oil at room temperature for 20 minutes. Add salt & place on grill. After 4 minutes, turn lamb over & reduce heat to medium. Cook 5 minutes for medium doneness.  

3.  To serve, slice the lamb loin into 5 pieces diagonally across the grain of the meat. Fan out them out, overlapping the slices on the plate and top with vinaigrette. Serve with boiled new potatoes and roasted root vegetable medley.

 Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!

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Wines & Tennis – a perfect match!

Posted by Susan

Thursday, January 19th, 2012
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On Saturday LCBO Vintages features ‘Australian got Style’, emphasizing the wide range of varietals and  types of wine from this powerhouse wine producer.

Did you know that the Australian Open Tennis Tournament, running January 16-29, celebrates its 100th anniversary this year? With Austalian Open as the sub-title of this Vintages feature, it gives you a good excuse to choose from among the great selection of wines from South Australia’s Barossa and Clare Valleys, as well as a couple of wines from the Heathcote Hills and Mornington Peninsula, nearer to Melbourne, where the tournament is being hosted. The Barossa Valley offers some of Australia’s best quality wines, especially Shiraz produced from older vines. The Clare Valley is recognized for more structured red wines displaying natural acidity, as well as firm, dry Riesling. Consider a selection of wines from this feature to keep you company during the Open, such as the Jim Berry duo – a lovely dry Riesling and a plush, smooth Shiraz (check out that Clare Valley character), the ripe fruity Hewitson Miss Harry blend, the inky full-bodied Turkey Flat Butchers Block blend, or the concentrated balanced Wakefield Cabernet Sauvignon.

Step out of your comfort zone with the second feature, Discovery Grapes, which highlights some of the lesser-known grapes from across the world. There’s some excellent value here – in fact, four wines from this feature are included in our selection below – a creamy Chenin Blanc from South Africa, a smoky structured Monastrell (Mourvèdre) blend from Spain, an intensely aromatic Montepulciano d’Abruzzo—only made in the best vintages—and a powerful Petit Verdot from Chile. The main release also offers some really good wines under $15 – Alamos Malbec and Alfredo Roca Pinot Noir from Argentina, Pierre Sparr Réserve Pinot Blanc and La Chablisienne Saint-Bris Sauvignon Blanc (a unique wine from an appellation known for Chardonnay) from France. Once again, we’ve managed to squeeze 6 tasty value-packed wines into this selection. Buy some, buy them all, at less than $100!

Cheers and Enjoy,
Susan

If I only had $100, I would buy . . .
LCBO Vintages Release as of Saturday, January 21, 2012


Spice Route Chenin Blanc 2009
Swartland, South Africa
$17.95 (Vintages #174623) 14.0% alcohol
From low-yielding bush vines, this golden barrel-fermented ‘Steen’ is richly aromatic—orchard fruit, spice, caramel and toasted hazelnut burst from the glass. Dry, creamy and softly textured, well-integrated oak complements a rush of orchard fruit and lemon curd. Lovely balance, weight and texture—what’s not to like!

Castaño ‘Reserva’ Pozuelo 2006
Yecla, Spain
$14.95 (Vintages #35485) 13.5% alcohol
Produced from Monastrell (Mouvèdre) with a dollop each of Cab Sauv, Syrah and Merlot, the old bush vines flourishing on a windy, dry, sunny plateau, this is a wine where balance and structure are the watchwords. Aromas of sweetly spiced fruit, vanilla, licorice and campfire smoke herald concentrated flavours of ripe dark berries, plum, herbs and sweet spice. Dry, medium-full bodied, displaying perceptible tannins and fresh acidity, the long dry finish offers the warmth of sun-kissed fruit. Enjoy it with braised short ribs and roast root veggies.

Talamonti ‘Tre Saggi’ Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2008
DOC Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Italy
$15.95 (Vintages #204016) 13.5% alcohol
This award-winning wine, hand harvested and aged 12 months in French oak, offers an attractive value equation. Complexity on the nose recurs on the palate—ripe fruit, autumnal notes, vanilla, coffee bean and toast mingle to create interest and depth. The dark berry and cherry fruit is quite plush, the tannins soft, the acidity fresh, creating a dry, medium-full bodied wine with great balance and a touch of sweet vanilla on the lasting finish. Enjoy it with herbed roast pork au jus.

Santa Carolina ‘Barrica Selection’ Petit Verdot 2009
Rapel Valley, Chile
$14.95 (Vintages #7484) 14.5% alcohol
Inky, with a concentrated weighty texture, this is a drink-me-know example of a varietal more commonly found in Bordeaux blends. There’s alluring complexity, including subtle floral, spice and vanilla notes, a hint of licorice and chocolatey caramel garnishing dark berry fruits. Aged 18 months in oak, dry, full bodied and structured,  rich and velvety, this is a powerful wine with impact from the first whiff to the last spicy chocolate-tinged sip. Partner this Petit Verdot with lamb and root veggie ragout or cellar medium term.
 
Vineland Sauvignon Blanc 2009
VQA Niagara Escarpment, Ontario
$16.95 (Vintages #551168) 12.0% alcohol
Pale straw, this wine artfully combines intense citrus aromas, alluring tropical fruit notes and a subtle underlying mineral character. Dry, medium bodied, the aromas replay on the palate, braced with vibrant acidity and a clean mineral component. Fresh, fruity, absolutely delightful, enjoy it with sautéed scallops or pan-fried halibut with a lemon-caper sauce.

 

Wakefield Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Clare Valley, Australia
$17.95 (Vintages #744235) 14.0% alcohol
Inky, concentrated, this award-winning wine is redolent of cassis and toasty oak, a whiff of mint tickling the senses. Dry, medium-full bodied, the bushel of ripe black and red berries is nicely balanced by a wash of fresh acidity and a frame of ripe tannins. That tantalizing hint of mint endures on the long clean finish. Great value, great taste!
 

Grand Total: $98.70

 

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