Posts Tagged ‘sommelier’

If I only had $100…I would buy at Vintages

Posted by Julie

Monday, November 28th, 2016

As we move towards the holiday season, Vintages always features “Our Finest” and it is a magnificent release. Everything from single malts to brandies, Grappa, Champagne and all delicious new delectable fine wines.


The only thing that I am complaining about is my measley $100 budget for this blog.  There are so many incredible luxuries in this release that a much bigger budget is required.  Note to self…I should talk to my editor about a ‘raise’.

Whether you are on a budget or like to splurge, there are still some tried and true wines that I always love to see.  The new styles are calling, like new shoes…like wine, you can never have too many shoes!
– Julie


If I only had $100, I would buy…
LCBO Vintages Release for November 26, 2016



Domaine de Vaugondy Brut Vouvray

Méthode Traditionelle, AC
$17.95 (Vintages #154567) 12.5 % alcohol

 In 1936 the Village of Vouvray was created as an Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC). Located along the right bank of the Loire river, Chenin Blanc is the dominant and almost exclusive grape of Vouvray.

Vouvray produces more than a million cases of wine a year. This straw coloured sparkling offers fine moussey bubbles that release alluring aromas of tropical fruit, toasted almonds, green apple and apricot. They also replay on the taste buds. Dry, medium bodied, it captures the senses with fruit flavours and a honey’d note towards the end. It’s a divine and elegant sparkling wine as an apperitif or to accompany grilled fish.


gerard-bertrand-la-clapeGerard Bertrand Grand Terroir La Clape

Syrah/Carignan/Mouvedre 2013
$18.95 (Vintages #370262) 13.5 % alcohol

I have become a fan of Bertrand wines, fantastic quality at great price points. This rich, sexy blend has aromas and tastes of dark cherries, plums and currants. A medium bodied red wine with soft tannins, some mocha and a savoury spice on the finish. Would be a perfect match to a hearty stew or lamb shanks.


san-felice-chianti-classico-2013San Felice Chianti Classico 2013

DOCG, Tuscany
$19.95 (Vintages #282996) 13% alcohol

Expressive wafts of floral red cherries introduce you to this classic Chianti. It’s an easy drinking red wine as sweet cherry and raspberry fruits explode on the palate. Bone-dry, medium weight and offers some earthy, leather notes on the finish. With a spicy lasagna, you’ve found yourself a great dinner party.


union-forte-2012Union Forte 2012

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$17.95 (Vintages #361758) 19.5%

This fortified port style wine is deep mahogany in colour with aromas of Christmas cake, dried fruit, roasted almonds and berries. The mouthfeel is smooth, creamy and mouthwatering. A range of layered fruit flavours on the palate, medium bodied and a deliciously sweet with a long dried blackberry finish.

Serve on ice as an aperitif or it would make a superb after dinner drink with some stinky blue cheese – a classic!


georgian-hills-bartlett-frozen-to-the-core-2014Georgian Hills Bartlett Frozen to the Core 2014

Blue Mountains, Ontario
$19.95 (Vintages #347401) 8.5% alcohol

Deliciously sweet but not cloying with intense aromas and flavours of ripe pear.

Georgian Hills produces other desert icewines: a Frozen to the Core Ida Red, a Vidal and Baked Apple all of which embrace fruit farming in the cool climate of the Georgian Bay wine region. Less expensive than other icewine their nectars are fruit driven and refreshing, deliver good acidity and plain delicious. Another reason to showcase our Ontario wines.


Grand Total = $94.75


If I only had $100…I would buy at LCBO Vintages

Posted by Julie

Friday, November 11th, 2016

About this time every year LCBO Vintages showcases ‘Star Quality’ as a feature of the release. We all know what this also means…’star prices’.   Icewine, French Champagne and sparkling wines flow prominently on the pages. I wish I could buy one of each however with my blog budget of $100, I’ll have to leave the Champagne for another time.

vintages-nov-12However, there are some star quality wines that I’d recommend to stock up on.

Also, there are several great wines coming out in large sized 1500 mL bottles. It sounds like a lot of wine, but if you are having a dinner party or a holiday feast, they are super easy to decant at the table and good value too. In particular, I’m thinking of the J. Lohr Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 at $44.95 or Catena Malbec 2014 at $39.95.  Both red wines are heavy duty crowd pleasers and great accompaniments to lasagna, roasts or ribs.

No shortage of star quality in this release.




If I only had $100, I would buy…
LCBO Vintages Release for Saturday November 12, 2016


dog-point-sauvignon-blanc-2015Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand
$24.95 (Vintages #677450)  13.5% alcohol

I wouldn’t recommend wines with animals in the name unless it was star quality and this white wine is definitely one that gets top marks. Any easy sipping white wine that is pale in colour but packs a punch in taste and texture.  Aromatic white flowers start the senses with peachy apricots, tree fruit on the palate and a crisp lemon lime finish. It is a light-bodied Sauvignon Blanc with gentle finesse and one mouthwatering taste. Enjoy it on its own, with appetizers or light meals.



clayhouse-cabernet-sauvignon-2015Clayhouse Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Paso Robles, California
$17.00  (Vintages #057869) 13.5% alcohol

Paso Robles is known for its abundance of olive oil, hot springs, almond orchards and wineries.  Mid-way between Los Angeles and San Francisco the landscape is mainly dry grassland. Roughly 24 miles from the Pacific Ocean, the climate is almost Mediterranean with long hot summers and brief cool winters. This landscapes allows the grapes to reach their absolute maximum potential which we then can enjoy in such vintages as the above. It tastes much richer than its’ terrific price point. Dark and opaque, black currant and plum flavours, smooth as silk with a some pencil shaving oak on the finish. Fruity but structured makes for easy drinking red wine. I’d pair it with any grilled meat or a prime rib roast. Delicious.



Clos de los Siete

Mendoza, Argentina
$23.95 (Vintages #622571) 14.5%

Since returning from a trip to Argentina this past February, a wine from Mendoza always makes its way to my shopping basket. This red wine blend nearly reaches nirvana for me. Predominantly Malbec (57%) with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah in the follow up. Dark ruby with aromas and flavours of ripe blueberries, black cherries, currants with some mocha on the finish. This nectar  integrates soft tannins with fabulously smooth intensity and depth. Pair with the usual red meat suspects but worthy of a veal chop splurge.



Reif Vidal Icewine 2014

VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake
$24.95  (Vintages #544791) 10% alcohol

Reif Estate Winery has been a long time producer of fine Canadian icewine. This one is harvested from a 12 acre block planted in 1981. Those grapes have had lots of time to think about their future! The average picking temperatures range from -10 to -12 C and this vintage was harvested in January 2014.  Lusciously sweet with honey, toffee, apricots and peaches fill the senses with a memorable creamy mouthfeel. There is a little marmalade on the finish and it is a divine expression of icewine.  With some soft blue cheese it would be over the top.


Grand Total = $90.85



Mama Mia! Unique Italian-styled wines from Ontario

Posted by Derek

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Colaneri Estate Winery

– April 2012 –

It wasn’t too long ago that people would often cringe at the thought of Ontario wines. However, being a Sommelier and wine marketing business owner involved in the Ontario wine industry, I now revel in pride with how the growing wine industry in Ontario and across Canada too, has flourished and is turning heads with impressive wines. Kudos to our talented winemakers. Now, wine enthusiasts like you, look forward with anticipation when discovering Ontario wines.

A large part of this change is due to those brave entrepreneurs and talented winemakers coming from all parts of the wine world to participate in putting Canada on the wine map. A case in point is the Colaneri family.

Our Savvy Sommelier Derek Vollrath met up with the Betty Colaneri, the family matriarch. The story of the Colaneri family and their wines was one of the most interesting and touching stories that Derek has ever come across.

In this Savvy eZine, Derek introduces you to the Colaneri Estate Winery as well as the family. Also, he provides you with a little “Savvy University” wine education (don’t worry Derek assured me that there is no test!). Deeply rooted in their Italian heritage, in this month’s feature, you are being treated to three different styles of Italian wines crafted right here in our own backyard.

The Savvy Selections tasting panel had several Colaneri wines to sample and it was a difficult job to only pick three wines as we were impressed by the intensity of the aromas and distinctive flavours of each wine. In the end, we selected for your enjoyment – and discovery too! – the following wines:

  • Fumoso Bianco VQA 2009 – rich & fruity, definitely not a typical Sauvignon Blanc
  • Corposo VQA 2009 – this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon & Cabernet Franc, this medium bodied wine is easy to drink with its long cherry finish
  • Insieme VQA 2009 – a big bold & beautiful blend of dried Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot & Syrah
  • OPTIONAL WINE: Profondo Mistera Recioto VQA 2010 – a sweet & succulent dessert wine made with dried Gewürztraminer 

In the last couple of pages in this Savvy eZine, Derek has recipes matched to complement the wines. He highly recommends the stuffed pork recipe that he paired with the Fumoso Bianco (Sauvignon Blanc) wine. “Delicious – pretty much sums it up for me”, reports Derek.

Love these unique wines?

All of us in the Savvy Selections tasting panel agree the Colaneri wines are absolute gems. You won’t find these wines 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. That goes for any of the previous Savvy Selections featured wineries too. Simply, call me at 613-SAVVYCO (613-728-8926) or sending me an e-mail at

Cheers & Enjoy! – Debbie & Savvy Team
Savvy Company

Colaneri Estate Winery

Presented by Sommelier Derek Vollrath

The first time I talked with Betty, I was so enchanted by her story that I found myself just listening, forgetting to take notes and ask questions. The second time we talked, I was more prepared.

A Passion for Everything they do 
Passion! That is the only word that can be used to describe how the Colaneri family feels about everything from their family, their winery and their wines. Betty explained, “We Italians do everything with passion, we’re a passionate people.”

The story of the Colaneri Estate Winery begins in 1967, when Joseph & Maria Colaneri came to Canada from Italy with their two sons Michele (Mike) and Nicola (Nick). Several years after their arrival here one of the sons, Mike married Angiolina (Angie), while the other son Nick, married Liberina (Betty).  What is touching about this is that two brothers (Mike and Nick) married two sisters, (Angie and Betty).

The Colaneris have been growing grapes in the Niagara region for 34 years. However, they did not become directly involved in the wine making business until 2003. I chuckled as Betty told me that the family agreed to take advantage of an opportunity and replant their grape vines, ”it was either grape vines or Christmas trees”, she recalls. Now, having tasted their wines, I am glad that the family agreed on the grapes!

With the vineyard planted, each family member selected a grape varietal that they felt personified them. Betty chose the Gewürztraminer as she fell in love with the sweet and spiciness of the wine. Once their grape had been chosen, each family member sat with a local artist and had a label designed to reflect their personality. It is definitely intentional that all of the labels have a Leonardo Da Vinci look and feel to reflect the family’s Italian heritage.

During our interview, I remarked to Betty that they sent a large number of wines for the Savvy Team to sample. “The wine is our family; we feel the need to showcase all of them, as it is not right to choose one over the other.”

The family recruited renown winemaker Andre Lipinksi, and although he is not Italian, he was a natural fit because he had experience in producing wines crafted in the appassimento style (read below for an explanation). The Colaneris specifically wanted to focus on styles that emphasized their Italian heritage.

A Sister now watches over …
Betty’s sister and Mike’s wife, Angiolina was a huge part behind the winery. “She was larger than life”, Betty recalls. Although she was able to see the beginnings of the family’s dream during the construction of the winery, she was not able to see it to completion as she unfortunately passed away before it was finished. Betty paused and shared, “Angie’s presence is still felt today”.

As we ended the interview, Betty told me that, “Italy is the inspiration for our wines, while family is the inspiration of the winery. Having family work together to create a legacy that can be passed down to other generations is something that Angie would have wanted.”

Savvy University – Italian Wine Styles 101

Italian wines are as diverse and as unique as the people and the country. Given this, I thought I would dedicate a portion of this article to provide you with basic information about the styles you will be enjoying.

Appassimento: A style of wine in which some or all of the grapes are partially dried before they are fermented into wine. By drying the fruit, there is more sugar, less water and therefore a greater concentration of flavour with the finished wine.

Ripasso (pronounced ree-PAH-soh): In Italian ripasso literally means “re-passed”. After the wine is fermented in the usual way, it is placed in casks containing the lees (winespeak for grape skins) from a prior batch of wine. Usually, the lees of an Amarone wine are used. This process, which lasts from 2 to 3 weeks, adds colour, tannins, body and complexity of flavors to the new wine.

Recioto (pronounced reh-CHEE-oh-toh): This is a distinctive style of wine from the Veneto Region located in northeastern Italy. Grapes are dried in a cool, airy room for up to 4 months until semi-dry, which produces concentrated sugars and flavors. This is like a sweet dessert wine, along the lines of a late harvest.

~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~

Fumioso Bianco VQA 2009


Colaneri’s Sauvignon Blanc was crafted in the appassimento style with 45% of the grapes being kiln dried before being fermented. In addition to including the dried fruit, this Sauvignon Blanc was both barrel fermented and then barrel aged in French Oak. The combination of these two winemaking techniques resulted in a Sauvignon Blanc that is rich in body and fruit forward in taste. This is definitely not your typical New Zealand style Sauvignon Blanc!

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Vibrant gold in colour with powerful aromas of apricot, ripe apple and peach. The palate is very fruit forward with banana, peach and ripe pear. The use of dried fruit and oak during the vinification process (winespeak for winemaking) has resulted in a dry wine with a rich mouth feel and a long ripe fruit finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: BBQ chicken with a lemon-tarragon sauce or ravioli stuffed with butternut squash would pair quite well with this Sauvignon Blanc. Derek highly recommends pork tenderloin stuff with ricotta cheese, baby spinach and artichokes. The recipe below is super easy for a main course!

Cellaring: This wine can most certainly be enjoyed now or it can be cellared for up to 18 months.

Corposo VQA 2009


This is a blend of 60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. It is made in a ripasso style where the wine was re-fermented using Cabernet Sauvignon skins which were used in the production of Colaneri’s signature Amarone wine.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A beautiful deep garnet colour. Your nose will be drawn in by intense aromas of white pepper, eucalyptus and dried fruit (can you detect dried cherries?). The palate is a complex array of red currants, dark cherries, tobacco leaf and white pepper. Dry, medium bodied in nature, with a relatively long finish of dried cherries. Try decanting this wine 30 minutes to an hour before serving to allow it to breathe.

Suggested Food Pairing: Crispy duck with spice plum chutney or venison stew would pair well with this wine. The Savvy Selections tasting panel suggests that you pair this wine with roasted garlic lamb leg and rosemary potatoes. A recipe for this crowd pleasing wine follows.

Cellaring: Give it 2 to 3 years in the cellar or enjoy it tonight while watching your favourite movie or show!

Insieme VQA 2009


Insieme is named in honour of Joseph & Maria Colaneri, the original matriarch and patriarch that came to Canada from their home country of Italy. In Italian, the word “insieme” means together and as Betty explained, insieme is so fitting a name because Ma and Papa Colaneri did everything together. This wine is an equal blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It too was made in the appassimento style with 50% of the Syrah and Merlot along with 100% of the Cabernet Sauvignon was kiln dried before fermentation.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Garnet red in colour with captivating aromas of warm spices, dried figs and cooked fruit. The palate is loaded with layers of red and black fruit, dried fig accompanied by subtle hints of mocha. The wine is medium to full-bodied with a long and intriguing black cherry finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: This rich wine would pair well with strip loin roast or pasta with a bolognese sauce. We are recommending that you pair this wine with crusty barbequed beef with a horseradish mayonnaise. The recipe for this dish can be found on the following pages.

Cellaring:This wine is drinking well now or if you so desire allow it to evolve in your cellar over the next 5 years.

OPTIONAL WINE: Profondo Mistera VQA 2010


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:
Rich, honey gold in colour, with an intense and extreme complex nose. Floral aromas (violets perhaps?
) along with sweet aromas as lychee, ripe pear, honey and sweet spice are definitely detectable. These wonderful aromas follow through on the palate as you will enjoy flavours of honey, brown sugar along with lychee and ripe pear. This is a definite sweet wine, with a cloying mouthfeel and a long pleasantly sweet finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: The food pairing possibilities with this wine are endless. Given the Italian style of you can’t go wrong if you serve this wine slightly chilled accompanied by a traditional Italian antipasto platter of Genoa salami, Capacola ham, thinly sliced prosciutto, roasted red peppers, marinated artichoke heart, stuffed green olives rounded out with Gorgonzola, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Another great pairing would be melon wrapped in prosciutto, the combination of the sweet from the wine along with the saltiness from the prosciutto or antipasto platter is what makes this a classic pairing.

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


~ Recipes to Enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~

With Colaneri Estates Fumoso Bianco

Super-Stuffed Tenderloin
Men’s Health Nutrition Guide
Serves 4

2 lbs pork tenderloin
1 cup reduced-fat ricotta cheese
2 cups chopped fresh baby spinach leaves
½ tsp dried basil
1 small jar artichoke hearts, drained and diced
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Butterfly the loin by splitting it down the centre, cutting it almost but not all of the way through and the opening the two halves so that they lie flat.
  2. Stir the cheese, basil, spinach and artichoke hearts together and spread the mixture on the inside of the cut loin.
  3. Roll the loin closed and tie it with cord in approximately five places.
  4. Place the pork in a roasting pan, brush it lightly with oil, and sprinkle it with salt and pepper.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400°F and roast it for 35 to 45 minutes.


With Colaneri Estates Corposo

Roasted Garlic Lamb Leg with Rosemary Potatoes
Serves 6-8

4 lb leg of lamb, bone-in, trimmed
2 heads garlic, halved
3 tbsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 tbsp Rosemary, chopped
3 lbs small red potatoes, halved
grilled asparagus or preferred vegetable, to serve


  1. Cut off the tips of the heads of garlic and brush the cut sides with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Set garlic cut-side down on a sheet pan and roast until it is soft to the touch, about 30 minutes. Let garlic cool for 5 minutes, and then squeeze the roasted cloves out of the garlic and into a bowl. Mash with a fork and spread over the top of the lamb (see tip).
  2. Meanwhile, place the lamb in a large roasting pan and season with salt, pepper and half of the rosemary. Allow to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour. Place the potatoes in an oven-proof dish and toss with the remaining oil and rosemary. Set aside.
  3. Roast lamb for about 1 hour 40 minutes, until it registers 130-135°F on a meat thermometer for a medium-rare roast, or until the juices run clear when a sharp knife or skewer is inserted in the thickest part of the meat.
  4. When the lamb has been roasting for 40 or 50 minutes, place the potatoes in the oven and bake until well browned and tender.
  5. Transfer the lamb to a warm platter and let rest for 15 minutes. (It will continue to cook as it rests.) Carve and serve with the potatoes and asparagus.

The garlic can be roasted and mashed the day before. Store in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. You could also spread over the lamb the day before and marinate overnight for a real garlic flavor. Just remember to cover well, and bring lamb to room temperature before roasting.

With Colaneri Estates Insieme …

Crusty Barbecued Beef with Horseradish Mayonnaise
The Canadian Living Entertainment Cookbook
, Carol Ferguson
Serves 12

2 round steaks, 2ibs each

½ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
1 onion chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ tsp hot pepper flakes
1 cup mayonnaise
⅓ cup chopped fresh chives
⅓ cup chopped fresh parsley
4 tbsp prepared horseradish
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp mustard seeds


  1. To make the marinade; in a large shallow glass dish or heavy plastic bag set in a bowl, combine vinegar, oil, onion, garlic and hot pepper flakes. Add steaks turning to coat all over; cover tightly. Marinate for 24 to 48 hours in refrigerator, turning occasionally.
  2. To make the horseradish mayonnaise, combine 2 tbsp of mayonnaise, chives, parsley and horseradish. Refrigerate until serving time.
  3. To prepare the coating; mix together the remaining 2 tbsp of horseradish, mustard and mustard seed. Remove steaks from marinade; spread half of the coating over one side of each steak.
  4. Cook in covered barbeque, coated sides up over medium heat for 12 minutes.
  5. Turn meat and spread remaining mustard mixture on cooked side. Barbeque for about 15 minutes or until meat thermometer registers 140°F for rare or to desired doneness.
  6. Let meat stand for at least 10 minutes before carving into thin slices.
  7. Serve with horseradish mayonnaise.


Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!


France’s Southern Rhone – soaked in wine history

Posted by Susan

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

As far back as the Greeks and Romans, the great Rhone river has been a route of cultural and commercial dispersal, bringing new people and practices to what some would consider an ideal climate.  Certainly, grape vines took to the dry, wind-swept plains and hills of the south.  Over the centuries, the wine industry evolved to produce some of the great wines of the world—Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Vacqueyras, Gigondas, among others. Last month, I had the pleasure of visiting wineries near the historic cities of Orange and Avignon in Provence, France.  Perfectly timed, some of the wines that I enjoyed are following me back to Ontario as they will be in the November 21 LCBO Vintages release.

Chateau de Beaucastel, owned by the Perrin family since 1909, is one of the largest single properties in Chateauneuf-du-Pape.  It was granted to Pierre de Beaucastel by Louis the XIV and has remained an intact estate to the present.  The Perrin family acquired the property just after phylloxera had devastated the area.  Undeterred, their son Jacques began replanting all 13 grape varieties authorized in the appellation.  The family believes firmly that a blend of varietals produces the best wines in the southern Rhone.

Over the years, they became convinced “that to produce a great wine, the vine must grow in as natural a way as possible.”  Consequently, they have been certified organic growers since 1994, but have been growing their grapes organically since the mid-1960s.  Amazingly, all work in the vineyard is done by hand.  And this approach applies to their other vineyards in the southern Rhone in such appellations as Gigondas, Vinsobres, Cairanne, etc.   Grandmother Perrin still lives in the house on the property, and a family member is directly involved in the management of each of their primary vineyards, including La Vieille Ferme and the property across the highway from Beaucastel, where the Perrin wines are produced. 

 There are some unique processes at Beaucastel.  For instance, Jacques patented a process by which, after destemming, the grapes are sent through pipes which quickly heat them to 70C and then cool them to 20C.  This process destroys the enzymes which cause oxidization, therefore eliminating the use of sulfites at this stage.  Syrah and Mourvedre grape varieties – they use a large percentage – are fermented in large oak tanks, while the other 11 varieties ferment in cement tanks.  All the varietals begin aging together in large casks rather than small barriques, “in order to provide an exchange between air and wine without adding further tannins from the wood.”  In February, the five members of the family get together to begin tasting the wines from the varieties in order to determine the proportion of each grape to be used to make the final blends.  The wine finishes aging as a blend and spends at least one year in bottle prior to sale.

We popped the corks in the tasting room with the outstanding 2007 Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape, a blend of 30% Mourvedre, 30% Grenache, 6% Syrah, complemented by the remaining 8 varietals of the appellation (a secret that is kept close to their chest!).  The wine displayed fresh ripe fruit, complexity, structure and power (acclaimed wine critic Robert Parker rates the wine 93-95+).  It will be available at the LCBO Vintages as of November 21, 2009 (LCBO product code #711317, $89.95).  Consider it a special purchase for that special occasion in the future.

Among the other wines we had the pleasure of tasting were the 1998 and 1990 vintages of the Chateau de Beaucastel, as well as  the Roussanne Vieilles Vignes 2007, produced with grapes from 85-year-old vines, aged 50% in barrel – a subtle, aromatic, beautiful full-bodied white wine. 

For those who love well-crafted wines made with integrity, Perrin offers a range to meet the tastes and pocketbook of every wine lover – from the great Chateau de Beaucastel through to the Perrin Reserve or Perrin Nature (certified organic), and on to their brand, La Vieille Ferme.  Available in Vintages on November 21 is the Perrin & Fils Cotes du Rhone-Villages l’Andeol Rasteau 2007 (LCBO product code #976845, $19.95).   How to best enjoy these wines?  These are food wines, of course, and best enjoyed with friends and a great meal!

Not far from Chateau de Beaucastel, I stopped in to visit Domaine Galevan, a small property near Courthezon owned by the Goumarre family.  Daughter Coralie, is the first woman in the family to be winemaker.  She works with her father and, judging from his grudging admiration and his wife’s slight shrug of the shoulders, there are lively discussions between them about both grape growing and winemaking!  At the time of my visit, Coralie was away picking up her children from school, but her mother mentioned that while wineries around them had already harvested their grapes, Coralie insisted that they be left a bit longer on the vine.  A shake of the head from her father; nevertheless, said he, you can’t argue with success!  Coralie’s 2007 Paroles de Femme Cotes du Rhone  will also be available in the LCBO Vintages this weekend, product code #125930, $15.00. It is a full-bodied fruity blend of Grenache, Mouvedre, Cinsault and Carignan grapes, with hints of the wonderful herbs of the garrigue.  It flew off the Vintages shelves in June, and will no doubt do so again – don’t miss out!

I also had the pleasure of visiting the Domaine de la Presidente near Ste-Cecile-les-Vignes.  This small domaine produces wines within the appellations of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Cairanne and Cotes du Rhone, some of which are available through the SAQ (look for the Galifay Cairanne, the Nonciature Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and the Cairanne Cotes du Rhone Villages).  Their Galifay Blanc 2007, a blend of Viognier and Grenache Blanc grapes, is a full-bodied wine redolent of sweet tropical fruit balanced with a fresh seam of acidity.  Their Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2007, a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Mourvedre, has great depth of fruit and hints of vanilla with fine tannins and a long satisfying finish.

Cheers to you all!  I hope you enjoy these special wines from the sun-drenched reaches of the southern Rhone valley.



A delicious weekend of Quebec artisan cheeses

Posted by Susan

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

This summer has been one more for wine sipping on the screened porch (given all the rain!) rather than tripping to winery visits.

One weekend, I hopped in my car for an adventure to Quebec’s Eastern Townships.  My discovery involved stocking up on delicious Ontario and Quebec artisan cheeses and a lovely Quebec Rose wine.

Our cheese trip started with visits to Glengarry Cheesemaking new facility near Lancaster (Ontario), and l’Abbaye Saint-Benoit-du-Lac, where a congregation of Benedictine monks whose practices include a range of agricultural endeavors, including cheese-making.

We headed down Highway 417 on one of the overcast July days, looking for the exit to highway 34, leading to Alexandria and Lancaster.  The rain held off, and just before we arrived at Lancaster (literally at the access to the 401) we found Glengarry’s facility and shop.  The shop includes a great display counter with the many varieties of pasteurized cow cheese they produce, other local delicacies such as dried apples chips, as well as windows looking upon the cheese-making facilities.  We tasted a wide range of cheeses, each one seemingly more appetizing than the last.  While we enjoyed all of them, I’ll mention in particular:

Figaro – yes, it made me feel like singing! It is a buttery, delicately flavored, melt-in-your-mouth cheese that was delightful on a crisp cracker – or on one of those slightly sweet apple crisps.  Left out on the counter that evening for 15 minutes before serving, it was literally like butter!

Alexandran – named for the local area, it’s a washed rind semi-soft cheese with a lovely nutty flavor.  Serve it on its own or with some dried fruits and a nice glass of port.

Barely Blue – this delicate blue cheese was a big hit. Its firm texture, delicate veining and characteristic flavor.  This would be a great match with an apple ice wine, perhaps from La Face Cachee de la Pomme, located near Hemmingford, Quebec.

After fighting our way through Montreal’s ‘big dig’ traffic jam (is every bridge under construction?), we meandered along back roads of the Eastern Townships until we found our way to l’Orpailleur, located just outside the town of Dunham.  A pioneer in the Quebec wine industry, the winery was founded in 1982 by two daring Frenchmen – Herve Durand and Charles-Henri de Coussergues – and their Quebecois partner, Frank Furtado.  By hilling up the vines in the winter, they were able to ensure their survival and, in 1985, produced their first vintage.  The tasting room reminds me of a rustic Quebec country home, with large maples overhanging the wraparound veranda.  Once inside we were warmly welcomed and invited to visit the small wine museum.  We tasted a number of l’Orpailleur (it means gold gatherer) wines, including their fabulous rose produced from a blend of hybrid grapes and a sweet white wine produced from Seyval Blanc, called Vin de Marquise.  Recently, we sipped the l’Orpailleur Rose wine with friends as we sat on the deck enjoying our mid-August heat wave.

The next day, we were determined to visit l’Abbaye Saint-Benoit-du-Lac and its local shop.  The Abbey was founded in the early 1900s by monks escaping anti-clerical laws in France.  The original building was completed in 1941, and includes incredible brick and tile work.  According to the material at the monastery, Saint Benedict said that to be a true monk, man must live by the work of his hands.  The work of the monks of Saint-Benoit-du-Lac includes a cheese factory (in operation since 1943), an orchard, a cider factory, a farm and a store, which is open to the public.  After visitng the site and listening to the monks lyrical chants, we wandered through the store, which was practically mobbed by avid shoppers.  Not only were the famous cheeses available, but also cider, homemade pies and tarts, honey, preserves and a variety of products from other monastic orders in Quebec.  Of the cheeses, we purchased a range including l’Ermite, their savory blue cheese, Frere Jacques, a mild washed rind soft cheese, and Le Moine, a Gruyere-style cheese. 

We came away with bags of cheeses for ourselves and our hosts, and then sat down on a veranda overlooking Lake Memphramagog to sip l’Orpailleur Rose and sample our purchases.  Sipping local wine & nibbling on artisan cheese – there is no better way to spend a afternoon!

If you want a nice little overnight or weekend getaway, consider a trip to the Eastern Townships, with a stop in Lancaster on the way.  In addition to l’Orpailleur, there are number of other wineries in the area, as well as lovely inns, spas and restaurants.  Like Ontario’s Prince Edward County, the Eastern Townships is an easy drive from Ottawa, and a gourmand’s paradise. Contact me if I can help you plan a wine and cheese trip.




Great value wines for the long weekend!

Posted by Debbie

Friday, May 15th, 2009


As seen on CTV Ottawa News @ Noon  – May 15, 2009 


CTV Ottawa’s News @ Noon host Leanne Cusak joined me at the LCBO Hunt Club store to fill up our shopping carts with wines that are great value & perfect to uncork when you fire up the BBQ on this long weekend.

Wines in LCBO Under $15
Sparkling Wine
Bottega Vino dei Poeti Prosecco, Italy,
A crisp, dry light bodied bubbly – pop the cork off to celebrate the first long weekend of the summer

White Wines

Trumpour’s Mill Pinot Gris VQA, Prince Edward County, $14.75
Do you drink Pinot Grigio from Italy? Well, Pinot Gris is the same grape variety, just grown outside of Italy.  Dry & crisp, this is a medium bodied wine from Ottawa’s wine region – Prince Edward County…only a 3 hour drive away.


Lurton Pinot Gris, Argentina, $10.95
Argentina’s equivalent to Pinot Grigio – dry, crisp with refreshing acidity.  Unwind after a hard day with a chilled glass of this easy drinking wine.


Trius Riesling VQA, Niagara, $13.75
Wines with Riesling grapes are terrific ‘crowd pleasers’.  Crisp, lemon-lime tastes & a hint of sweetness. Serve chilled with hors d’oeuvres, BBQ chicken & pork chops.

Rosé Wine

Fuzion Syrah Rosé, Argentina, $7.45
To me, there is no better way to chill out on a summer afternoon or evening than with a glass of rosé wine.  As a follow-up to the ever popular red Fuzion, this rosé has delicious aromas & tastes of strawberry. NOTE: Oodles more Rose wines will be on the store shelves in early June.

Red Wines

Black Prince Winery Cabernet Franc VQA, Prince Edward County, $15.75
…oops!  I just realized that this wine is in fact over $15 – yet still a great value for its bold taste.  Uncork when you fire up the BBQ for homemade burgers.

NOTE: this winery will be featured in our Savvy Selections wine of the month club…Subscribe & 3 bottles of Ontario wine hand selected by our team of Savvy Sommeliers.  The wines that are delivered to your home or office are ones that you won’t find at the LCBO …now that is a new way to shop!


Vina Tarapaca Reserva Carmenère, Chile, $12.65
Be on the look out for wines from Chile made with Carmenere – Chile’s newest signature grape variety.  Big, bold & delicious…another wine to serve with BBQ foods.  At this price , why not stock up?


Pelee Island Pinot Noir Reserve VQA, Lake Erie North Shore, $14.75
Another favorite Ontario wine at an incredible price! Light to medium bodied, with aromas & flavours of cherry, this wine can be served at room temperature or slightly chilled for a different taste. Perfect for BBQed salmon, grilled Portobello mushrooms & pork tenderloin.

NOTE: Pelee Island Winery’s has been featured in our Savvy Selections wine of the month club…they dusted off some special wines from their cellars to send to our subscribers.  Why not join in the fun? Contact Debbie


Cline Zinfandel, California, $14.60
Not to be confused with sweet rosé wines made with Zinfandel, this wine is deep red in colour.  A full bodied wine with delicious aromas & tastes of red fruit to pair with grilled beef & veggie shish kebabs

Wines in Vintages Under $20

White Wines

Symphony Obsession, California, $14.95
Not all wines in the Vintages area of the LCBO are high priced.  This medium bodied white wine has delicious floral aromas & refreshing tastes. Serve chilled & unwind after a busy day.


Malivoire Chardonnay VQA, Niagara, $19.75
There is a story behind every wine…especially this one.  Why is there a ladybug on the label?  At Malivoire, rather than spraying the vines with pesticides, they have millions of ladybugs flying around their vineyard ridding of the insects.  This medium bodied Chardonnay is perfect with steamed mussels, poached fish, crab cakes & roasted chicken.

NOTE: this winery was featured in our Savvy Selections wine of the month club last month.  At Malivoire, they make several wines that are not available at your local LCBO. Subscribe to Savvy Selections & receive 3 bottles of Ontario wine hand picked by our Savvy Sommeliers.  You will not see any of the featured wines at the LCBO….there are other ways to shop for wines. Just ask Debbie!


Red Wines

Wakefield Merlot, Australia, $16.75
Australian wineries make more than just Shiraz & this is a good example.  A big red that is begging for burgers or a steak.


Raimat Abadia, Spain, $14.75
Spain tends to have some reasonably price wines…especially if you like reds.  This medium bodied wine has concentrated aromas & tastes of cherry, smoke & vanilla.  Serve with pizza, lamb shish kebab or Spanish classic rice & seafood dish called ‘paella’.


Perrin Nature, Côtes du Rhone, France, $17.75
This organic wine will WOW you! It is a blend of Grenache & Syrah grapes (typical to Rhone Valley) resulting in a well balanced medium bodied red wine with a velvety smooth taste & light tannins.  Serve with sausages, roasted chicken or simply with soft cheeses.


Windy Peak Pinot Noir, New Zealand, $18.75
New Zealand is becoming famous for it’s Pinot Noirs.  Usually $25 & up, this one is a steal for $18.75.  Light to medium bodied, Pinot is great to serve when you can’t decide whether to open a bottle of red or white wine.  Serve lightly chilled (10 mins in the fridge) & notice how the flavours change as the wine warms up to room temperature.  A classic match is grilled salmon.


Cheers & have a terrific long weekend!


Debbie Trenholm
Accredited Sommelier & President
Follow me on Twitter:
Read more of my blogs:



If I only had $100, I would buy…

Posted by Susan

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

So many wines, so little time.  With the LCBO Vintages stocking their store shelves with new inventory of wines every 2 weeks, it can be mesmerizing to figure out which wines to purchase.  Unlike trying on a pair of new shoes or flipping through a book to read the author’s writing style, the tough part about wine shopping is that you really can’t try the wines before you decide to put them into your shopping cart.


Comes along my savvy idea of ‘If I only had $100, I would buy.” (go ahead & say this with the tune of the Barenaked Ladies song in your head!)


As part of the small community of wine writers & media, I am invited to sample the wines several weeks before they arrive on the store shelves at Vintages.  This means, I have made my list of ‘must buy wines’, weeks before the wines are in stock at your local LCBO. 


To help you navigate through the rows of newly released wines, I will post my ‘If I only had $100, I would buy” blog , before each Vintages release (the 2nd and 4th weekend of every month).  This is simply a list of good value wines that will amount to no more than $100. By no means do you have to buy what I suggest, this is simply my list of what I plan to buy.


Click here to download & print this handy shopping list.  Let me know if this is helpful or to pass along your wine tips.


Cheers & Enjoy,

Follow me:


If I only had $100, I would buy…

For the May 2, 2009 LCBO Vintages release


Can’t get enough of –Pierre Sparr Cremant d’Alsace Rosé, France (sparkling rosé)

$19.95    Check Inventory at LCBO Vintages

Outstanding! Refreshing, dry, crisp, well made & easy drinking with a nice light mousse (winespeak: fine bubbles). Made with Pinot Noir grapes, this salmon coloured bubbly is perfect for any occasion, welcome friends with a glass when you have a dinner party, or have on hand to unwind.  No need to wait for a celebration to pop a sparkling wine – life is too short!


My new House White Wine – Domaine Gérard Neumeyer Le Berger Pinot Gris, France

$18.95    Check Inventory at LCBO Vintages

Did you know that Pinot Gris is the same grape as the popular Italian Pinot Grigio?  In France, the Alsace region is famous for making dry, crisp, refreshing Pinot Gris wines….and this is a mighty fine example! Refreshing with pear, light floral aromas & a taste that reminds me of the yummy juice in a can of mandarin oranges.  The zippy acidity creates the clean taste with a long finish.   Serve chilled on its own, or with white fish or a meal of ham with sweet potato. Delicious!


My new House Red Wine – Santa Julia Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, Argentina

$13.95    Check Inventory at LCBO Vintages

Created by Familia Zuccardi Winery – the same winery that produces the ever popular FuZion Shiraz-Malbec red (that is only $7.45), this wine is another example that price tags are not indicators of quality.  Full bodied, with intense aromas & flavours of figs, delicious red fruit, cedar, vanilla with a hint of smoke (these last 3 characteristics come through because the wine has been aged in oak barrels).  Perfect for the nights when you fire up the BBQ to grill hamburgers, steak, sausages & pork chops. 


Go local – drink Ontario –  Niagara College Teaching Winery Unoaked Chardonnay 2006 VQA, Ontario

$14.95    Check Inventory at LCBO Vintages

Ontario continues impress & this is another fine example.  This is the college that many of Canada’s new winemakers are learning from the experts & getting their hands on training.  Believe it or not this wine is a class project!  Not to be overlooked as the college is turning many heads with the coveted awards it is winning for their wines.  This Chardonnay is light bodied with aromas that remind me of the first bite into a green apple with lively acidity & minerals (think a sandy beach).  Every sip is refreshing, with a lime & lemon finish.  At this price, it is easy to stock up your fridge. Chill to drink on its own or with rainbow trout, cold shrimp, sushi, or as you nibble on cheddar or parmesan cheese.  


INSIDE SCOOP: Niagara College Teaching Winery will be featured in our Savvy Selections wine of the month club. Every month, three different bottles of premium Canadian wine from a featured winemaker are delivered straight to your door. These are wines you won’t find at the LCBO or SAQ — handpicked by us for your enjoyment. Subscribe online at


For your weekend BBQ – Porta Boldo Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, Chile

$21.95    Check Inventory at LCBO Vintages

Made with organically grown grapes, this big bold full bodied red wine is loaded with luscious flavours of blackberry, fig jam that warms you with every sip.  Delicious with a hint of mint & smoke as it lingers in your mouth.  This one is begging to be enjoyed with anything from the BBQ.  Fire it up!




Icewines…well thawed out

Posted by Debbie

Friday, April 24th, 2009


One way to cool down on a warm day is to treat yourself to a delicious sip of icewine.  In fact…I was treated to a sampling of 15 different icewines at this year’s Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival offered for those of us who have a sweet tooth.  Rows and rows of glasses were readied as winemakers from Ontario, British Columbia, Washington and Germany shared with us stories about each sweet creation, their experiments, and tales of harvest in frigid temperatures (grapes need to be picked when -8C or colder to be labeled as icewine and command the high price point).  This seminar made my teeth sing as I sipped the sweet nectar. 


Celebrated wine author, John Schreiner explained that while researching his book, Icewine: The Wine of Winter, the Germans laid claim to making the first wine with naturally frozen grapes.  The Austrians perfected this art.  The idea grew to make icewine in Ontario in the early 1980’s when a group of Austrians grape growers and winemakers were involved in pioneering the Ontario wine industry. 


“After a number of years of experimenting, Ontario icewine was put on the map when Don Ziraldo, founder of Inniskillin took a bottle of icewine (made by winemaker Karl Kaiser) to a wine competition in Bordeaux, France in 1990.  Don casually served this novel wine to his peers to get their impression”, tells John Schreiner.  Encouraged by the impressive feedback, Ziraldo entered a bottle into the competition the following year and won top award in the sweet wine category. 


That was the legendary beginning spotlighting Canada on the world wine stage.


In 2008, Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) reports that 130 plus icewines were produced in Canada – mainly using Vidal grapes.  Paul Bosc, owner of Chateau des Charmes Winery explained, “Vidal has thick skins and strong stems that withstand the harsh weather while waiting for the magic temperature of -8 degrees to be harvested“.  Other grape varieties successfully used for icewine include Riesling and Cabernet Franc.  Recent experiments include icewine made with Viognier, Tempranillo, Shiraz and Pinot Noir grapes.



Savvy Sommelier tasting notes on icewines featured in this seminar:

Jackson Triggs Okanagan Grand Reserve Riesling Sparkling Icewine 2007 VQA, Okanagan, British Columbia

Sitting at my table on my immediate left was Derek Kontkanen, Jackson Trigg’s newest winemaker.  This wine is one of three sparkling icewines made in the world. Double fermented to create the elegant bubbles that seem to lighten the typical cloying texture of icewine.  Honey, mango & pineapple with a refreshing acidity – this wine is simply heaven in my glass!


Chateau des Charmes Vidal Icewine 2006 VQA, Niagara, Ontario

A classic – golden nectar that oozes aromas and tastes of a freshly cut sweet pineapple with flavours of dried apricots intermingled.  Smooth texture allows the wine to glide over your tongue with a finish that lingers long after your first sip.


Peninsula Ridge Riesling Icewine VQA 2006, Niagara, Ontario

Founder Norman Beal told the story how over the years, his winemaker originally from Chablis, France, Jean-Pierre Colas, had never made icewine. “After I enticed him to move his family to Niagara and all of the contracts were signed, I slipped the comment ‘…and you will have to make icewine… Jean Pierre, just looked at me true to his French character, he shook his head at the ludicrous idea.  After several attempts, he has now warmed up to the idea and is making impressive icewines.”  This Riesling is butterscotch in colour with pear and marmalade aromas and tastes, this wine is refreshing with a long finish.  Perfect with blue veined cheeses or a slice of rustic tarte aux pommes.


Mission Hill Riesling Icewine VQA 2006, Okanagan, British Columbia

“Icewine harvest came unusually early in 2006”, recalled winemaker John Simes.  Picked on Nov 28 & 29th (a month early than previous years), the wine was all about caramel, butterscotch and toffee. Delicious!


Then the Germans showed their talent…

Erbacher Michelmark Riesling Eiswein 2001, Germany

Hard to believe that this is 8 years old, this elegant, light wine impressed us all.  “Smells and tastes like lemon drop candies – you know the hard ones dusted with icing sugar’, commented one of the participants. Refreshing with notes of lemongrass, chamomile flowers this wine showcased that there are many styles of icewines.


St Urbans-Hof Ockfener Bockstein 1998, Germany

Vintner Nik Weis, explained that the biggest challenge of making this wine is keeping the deer from eating the frozen grapes before they are picked.  Very different from the other icewines, this one had delicate floral aromas reminding me of elderflower, lilac and rose with a mineral undertone.


We were then treated to an icewine made 25 years ago…

Hainle 1984 Riesling Icewine, British Columbia

Jaws dropped as we savoured the toffee coloured icewine that was pulled out of the winery’s library.  I have never had anything like this.  Reminiscent of Cognac aromas and taste, this wine was made with Canada’s first certified organic grapes.  “This was a classic case of roaming through the vineyards one wintery day only to discover – Oh my god, we forgot to pick this row of grapes,” recounted Tilman Hainle whose father was the original owner of the winery at the time (the current owners are the Huber family)


For something different…

Working Horse Pinot Noir 2007 Okanagan, British Columbia

 Tilman Hainle continued his presentation as he poured this interesting icewine made with Pinot Noir grapes.  Canada’s first organic winemaker and well known in Okanagan, was establishing his second winery – Working Horse Winery.  “A grape grower called me late one evening saying that he had organic icewine grapes available….what he meant was that they were available right there and then! This opportunity does not happen often. My winery was not built yet nor did I have any equipment.  After phoning around and calling in favours, I was thrilled to be able to make this icewine.” 


Summerhill Pyramid Winery Organic Pinot Noir Icewine 2003 VQA, Okanagan, British Columbia

I carefully sipped on this icewine appreciating that the grapes were grown only a few kilometers away from the devastating forest fires of 2003.  Looking like wild strawberry jam in my glass, there were delicate aromas of roasted coffee mixed with tastes of homemade strawberry jam.  A beautiful wine, “…one that I enjoy dunking a biscotti into my glass”, suggested winemaker Eric vonKrosigk


Inniskillin Tempranillo Icewine 2007 VQA, Okanagan, British Columbia

Sitting on my right was winemaker Sandor Mayer who immigrated from Hungary for the opportunity to work at Inniskillin in the Okanagan.  Sandor has been experimenting with small plantings of different grape varieties to see what will grow in Okanagan. His small section of Tempranillo grapes were left on the vine until frozen (on January 1st!) then crushed to make this novel icewine.  Garnet colour with cherry aromas with tastes of raspberries and red candied apples that you find in a country fair, every sip was both sweet and refreshing with lively acidity.  A neat treat.


The finish line…

Pillitteri Estates Shiraz Icewine 2006 VQA, Niagara, Ontario

 “A real prize”, states winery president, Charlie Pillitteri, whose winery claims that they are the world’s largest producer of estate icewine. Not only is Charlie proud of this unique wine, this delicious wine was ranked the 2nd top Syrah in the world at the Syrah du Mondes competition in France last year.  It had an interesting aroma and taste that I could not identify until Charlie suggested ‘a good German made black forest cake’.  Exactly – both the dry dark chocolate cake and the sweet red cherries were captured in my glass.  Outstanding.


My sweet tooth was royally treated in this tasting.  It was an impressive experience to hear from each of the winemakers and winery owners whose devotion to craft icewine despite the challenges of cold temperatures.  Their passion encouraged us all to showcase icewine to more wine lovers.  “We should not wait until after dinner to serve it,” remarked Charlie Pillitteri, “at this point we are often too full.  Why not open a bottle of icewine before a meal?”


I will certainly try this at my next dinner party with friends.




Follow me:



Which wine to serve with beef tenderloin?

Posted by Patti

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

Does the menu come first or selecting the wine?  I am often asked this question.  Hard to say as there is no real rule.  My interest in wine stems from my love to cook, so more often than not, for me, the food comes first. In my blog postings, you can count on me to share my favorite recipes and provide suggestions of wine pairings.  At any time, feel free to send me an email with a recipe that you would like a wine suggestion.

Let’s get started!

When the Savvy team got together to chose the wine selection for a wine tasting to feature Natalie MacLean & her new book, Red, White & Drunk All Over, I took one sip of the Katnook Founder’s Block Cabernet Sauvignon from Australia ($18 at LCBO) and I knew that I had the perfect beef recipe to pair with this big bold wine.  Enjoy!

Beef Tenderloin with Port, Mushroom & Stilton Sauce
¼ cup butter
½ tsp. coarsely ground pepper
1 tsp. minced fresh garlic
2-3 lb. beef tenderloin, trimmed and tied

Reduction Sauce
1 tbsp butter
4 oz. crumbled Stilton cheese
1 cup beef broth
¼   cup Maderia wine
1 cup sliced mushrooms
½   cup chopped pecans, toasted
½   cup pine nuts, toasted
1/3 cup green onions

Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a skillet melt ¼ cup butter until sizzling; stir in pepper and garlic. Place tenderloin in skillet. Cook over medium high heat until browned on all sides (7 – 9 minutes). Remove from pan; reserve pan juices and browned particles in skillet. Line a 13 x 9” baking pan with foil; place tenderloin in pan. Bake 35 – 50 minutes or until meat thermometer reaches 160 F (medium). Remove from oven and let rest, tented for 5 – 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt 2 tbsp. butter in same skillet with reserved pan juices and browned particles until sizzling; stir in blue cheese. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until cheese is melted (4 – 5 minutes). Stir in beef broth and wine; add mushrooms. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until mushrooms are tender. Stir in remaining sauce ingredients. Serve over carved tenderloin.




BC Wines & Pinots: What a combo at the 2009 Playhouse Winefest

Posted by Susan

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Have I got you thinking about joining us at the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival?  The Festival website now provides comprehensive information about all of the week long events planned from March 23 to 29, 2009.  Here are my ‘insider tips’ of some of the great opportunities available to all who participate – there will be over 180 wineries from 15 different countries pouring more than 1,600 wines at 61 unique events – heaven for any wine enthusiast!

This year, the Festival is an opportunity to showcase for the British Columiba wine industry to showcase it’s “coming of age”, showcasing over 150 grape wineries, several fruit wineries and thousands of acres planted to the vine.  The wineries of BC are driven to express the unique character of their terroir (winespeak for the microclimate, the soils, the vineyard aspect and the ‘je ne sais quoi’ of BC wines).  From Vancouver Island to the Fraser Valley to the Okanagan – from north to south – you’ll find wineries and wines that suit your palate.  Unfortunately, if you live in eastern Canada, you won’t see very many BC wines on your local wine store shelf as many of the wineries are relatively small.  Over 70% of their wines are snapped up by appreciative connoisseurs in BC and Alberta.  All the more reason to join the wine lovers heading join the Savvy Sommeliers in Vancouver.

Did you see the movie, Sideways?  Did you wish you were there, sampling all those wonderful Pinot Noir wines?  Well, here’s your chance.  The featured varietal at the 2009 Playhouse Festival is Pinot.

To quote the Festival organizers, Pinot is “believed to be derived from the characteristic pinecone shape of the grape bunches, the name Pinot encompasses a cluster of different varietals. Led by Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc – the Big Three, as it were – each grape asserts completely different characteristics and can be produced in a variety of styles. Pinot Noir can range from restrained and earthy to full and fruity, with every incarnation in between. Pinot Gris’ name even changes when the style changes. Pinot Grigio is used to describe the dry, grassy, refreshing style of Pinot Gris created by the Italians. Pinot Gris is generally fuller bodied when developed in cooler climates like Alsace, Oregon and British Columbia, where it can take on completely different flavours and reach amazing depths of complexity. And don’t forget about Pinot Blanc, which also produces fresh, exciting wines in a wide variety of styles. BC Pinot Blanc is reminiscent of summer fruit, pinched from the roadside fruit stand.”

If you come to the Festival, there are many opportunities to taste many BC wines and to sample Pinot from around the world.  For instance, on Monday or Tuesday, you could attend a winery dinner.  Consider tasting Burrowing Owl wines at the Glowbal Grill & Satay Bar, or enjoying Cuisine de Terroir at DB Bistro Moderne, paired with premium wines from Mission Hill Family Estate.

Consider a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity on Thursday, when you can attend the Osoyoos Larose Component & Vertical Tasting.  I will be there!  Last fall, I had a private visit with Pascal Madevon, the French-born winemaker of Osoyoos-Larose, who asserted that he spends 80% of his time in the vineyards.  An engaging and articulate individual, Pascal talked about his passion for the vines, and his great expectations of his Okanagan wines.  I think you’ll agree this is a great opportunity to try the individual elements of this classic blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec.

The Pinot-Rama wine seminar on Thursday, led by Vancouver’s own David Scholefield, features an entertaining, educational tour of the world of Pinot, with a tasting of great pinots from around the world.  Friday and Saturday, join the thousands of people attending the International Festival Tasting, where over 180 wineries from 15 countries will be serving more than 700 wines.  Don’t worry, our Savvy Tasting Trails can help you find a path through the insanity.

Saturday, a wide range of lunch tastings are available, including:Our Land, Our Best (featuring BC wines), New Zealand’s Perfect Pairings, and Argentina’s Culinary Tango! 

You can also attend a wine seminar, Icons of British Columbia, which will feature benchmark examples of red and white BC wines.  Finally, if you sign up early, you might get a ticket to Sunday’s event-defining Vintner’s Brunch, where local chefs prepare delicacies artfully paired with a featured wine.  Or, if you prefer a Sunday evening event, consider the Great Estates of the Okanagan dinner, to be held at the Blue Water Café.

Excited?  Delighted?  Thrilled with the opportunity?  Don’t hesitate to contact Savvy Company for assistance with the planning of your trip to the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival.  Tickets are selling fast.  Get ready to pack your bags – I will be providing you more insider tips on my blog about the Vancouver Playhouse Wine Festival!