Posts Tagged ‘Susan Desjardins Accredited Sommelier Savvy Company’

California Wine Fair coming to Ottawa & Toronto

Posted by Susan

Thursday, February 28th, 2013
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The California Wine Fair is visiting Canada this spring with stops in Toronto (April 8, the Fairmont Royal York) & Ottawa (April 5, Westin Ottawa).  Always a sell out, we recommend that you don’t miss this opportunity to enjoy a huge assortment of the newest wines & styles coming from the west coast wine regions.

Cutting-Edge California trends

To prep you for the California Wine Fair, March is the feature month for California wines in the LCBO.  To kick it all off, this weekend’s LCBO Vintages release focusing on ‘Cutting-Edge California’ trends. The Wine Institute of California has identified some of the evolving trends, including emerging regions and varietals, as well as more extensive use of environmentally friendly practices, such as dry farming, which relies only on rainfall and fog.

The new generation of California winemakers and grape growers is strongly committed to sustainable agriculture, which has become a common approach for California producers determined to preserve the quality of their vineyards and the state’s water resources. California is blessed with a wide range of growing conditions thanks to its varied topography, proximity to the Pacific Ocean and diverse soil conditions. As a result, grapes produced from international varieties such as Riesling Gewürztraminer, Merlot and Tempranillo are now appearing on California wine labels, while lesser known regions such as Mendocino and Napa’s Lake County are introducing wine from varieties long grown in California, such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir.

Must try California wines ….

I’d recommend in this release to seek out the classic Chardonnays, a Gewürztraminer from Monterey County, a unique blend of Viognier, Verdelho, Sauvignon Blanc and Vermentino from Paso Robles.  When it comes to red wines, try the organic Pinot Noir from Bonterra, Napa classics such as Frog’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon, or a Vintages favorite, Liberty School Syrah.

… there are Italian wines featured too!

The secondary feature of this release draws attention to the native grapes of Italy’s southern mainland and the islands of Sardinia and Sicily, including wines produced from white grapes varieties such as the well-known Verdicchio, and from red wine varieties such as Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Nero d’Avola, Cannonau di Sardegna (Grenache) and Italy’s noble southern grape, Aglianico.

Other wines to consider adding to your shopping cart – a lovely Pinot Gris from Malivoire, a fabulous Gamay Noir from Tawse, an award-winning Alsatian Pinot Blanc from Jean Geiler (only $14.95!), as well as Piñol’s Ludovicus, a Grenache blend and outstanding value at just $13.95.

There were so many great wines in this release that it made it difficult for me to keep within my $100 budget —I am over by 75 cents – no pennies required!

Cheers and Enjoy!

Susan

 

Vina Robles White 4 2010

Paso Robles, California
$18.95 (Vintages #313460) 14.2% alcohol


This assemblage of Viognier, Verdelho, Sauvignon Blanc and Vermentino offers great complexity and style. It’s perfumed and aromatic, displaying floral notes, passion fruit, citrus, mango and stone fruit. Dry, medium bodied, creamy and rich in texture yet lively on the palate, the harmony of the fruit flavours replays and amplifies through the crisp finish. Lovely integration, balance, flavour and texture. Enjoy as a sipper or with light fare.

 

 

 

Bonterra Pinot Noir 2010

Mendocino County, California
$19.95 (Vintages #317685) 14.1% alcohol
Here’s another great example of the flavourful organic wines Bonterra has been producing for years. Enticing aromas of red cherry/berry fruit, sweet spice and a touch of toast rise from the glass. Dry, silky, the luscious core of ripe fruit mingles with notes of milk-chocolate-coated cherries and vanilla, the sweet spice and toast replaying. A very approachable wine, balanced and flavourful, it has the heft to pair with roast beef tenderloin with root vegetables.

Aldiano Montepulciano d’Abruzzo ‘Riserva’ 2008

DOC Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Italy
$17.95 (Vintages #61706) 14.0% alcohol
Inky, opaque and intensely aromatic, this is a stunning wine and a great value. Notes of plum, blueberry, pipe tobacco and vanilla tease the nose. On the palate, it’s dry yet velvety, mid-full weight, rich in dark fruit that’s framed by fine-grained tannins. There’s a freshness complementing the ripe fruit, while notes of espresso bean and a hint of earth linger on the finish. Serve with meat-based pasta.

Konzelmann Heritage 2010

VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$24.95 (Vintages #149179) 14.0% alcohol
Here’s finely crafted assemblage of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot offering alluring aromas of fully ripened red and black fruits, baking spice, pepper and a whiff of smoke. Dry, medium-full bodied, the texture is velvety, the tangy flavours of black cherry, cassis and raspberry mingling with notes of spice, dried herbs and toasty oak. Soft ripe tannins and fresh acidity underpin the ripe fruit, lending fullness to a persistent warm finish graced with notes of spice and pepper. Pair with rare roast beef. It’s sold out at the winery, so don’t miss this opportunity!

 

Barossa Valley Estate ‘E Minor’ Shiraz 2010

Barossa Valley, Australia
$18.95 (Vintages #295907) 14.5% alcohol
Classic Shiraz from a reputable and reliable producer equals great value! Savour the high-toned aromas of black berry, kirsch, smoke, crushed pepper and sweet spice. Dry, full bodied, the wine offers a rush of intense, concentrated dark fruit and black pepper, along with a subtle earthy quality and notes of char. This is a big, powerful, well-balanced wine, well structured with a lasting fruity-filled finish.

Grand Total: $100.75

 

Got the urge to splurge?

Frog’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Napa Valley, California
$56.95 (Vintages #932400) 13.9% alcohol
This is a powerful, complex cellar-worthy wine, inky purple and enticing with its layers of aromas and flavours—hints of menthol, lavender, dried herbs, cedar, cassis, black cherry and smoke. Dry, full bodied, firmly structured, it displays a clean tangy texture and a concentrated core of full-flavoured fruit. Finishing dry and long, it’s your wine of choice for rare red meats.

 

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This wine is a steal!

Posted by Susan

Friday, September 7th, 2012
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Like Chardonnay? Look no further! Savvy Sommelier Susan Desjardins discovered this Chardonnay from Chile.  After one sip, she raves that this Chardonnay wine made by Cono Sur a great value for the price.  Here’s her tasting notes:


Cono Sur ‘Reserva’ Chardonnay 2011

Casablanca Valley
$12.95
LCBO#270066
13.5% alcohol

Recently released in the LCBO, this wine is a steal. The grapes were harvested from select parcels, 15% of the wine aged 5 months in oak. The enticing nose offers aromas of pear, apple crisp, kitchen spice and a whiff of butterscotch. Medium bodied, fresh and fruity, the crisp apple and lemon/lime flavours carry through on a lengthy lively finish.

 

Enjoy!
Susan

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C is for Chile!

Posted by Susan

Monday, September 3rd, 2012
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This week we feature Chilean wines that Savvy Sommelier Susan Desjardins recently discovered when she was invited to a wonderful tasting hosted by Wines of Chile.

While Susan learned about the country & the culture while sipping & sampling on a range of Chilean wines, the host, Lisa Ulrich of Andros Communications, focused the tasting on Chile’s regional diversity. Susan shares what she learned about this country that is 4,300 km in length and only 177 km at its broadest point & offers recommendations of wines to purchase that are readily available at the LCBO for you to explore Chile too.

Wines of  Chile – Quality and Value in One Great Package

The tasting was held at Sidedoor Contemporary Kitchen & Bar in Ottawa’s Byward Market where chef Jonathan Korecki wowed the guests with the visually stunning and fabulously tasty food matches he created for the Chilean wines.

Chile is protected by the Atacama desert to the north, the Pacific to the west, the Andes to the east, and the Patagonian ice fields to the south. These natural features protect the vineyards from pests and disease and provide a geographic diversity that allows for tremendous variation in terroir.  Variations in altitude, the cooling effect of the Pacific currents, healthy well-drained soils all contribute to the success of the wine industry in this country. As a result of a benevolent climate and these natural barriers, Chile has become a centre of sustainability and organic viticulture.

A commitment has been made to a Sustainability Program, which includes close attention to the environment, the people and the economic bottom line. The goal is to be the number one producer of premium, sustainable and diverse New World wines by 2020. Fourteen Chilean wineries have now been certified in the first segment of the Sustainability Code, which pertains to vineyard management processes and management.

With many wines to choose from, here are two Sauvignon Blanc white wines that Susan recommends to pick up at the LCBO:

Errazuriz ‘Max Reserva’ Sauvignon Blanc 2011

Aconcagua Valley
$15.95
LCBO#273342
13.5% alcohol

Sourced from a hillside estate only 12 km from the Pacific Ocean, the wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks and aged 3 months on the lees, providing a silky texture and good volume on the palate. Fragrant with tropical fruit and citrus aromas, this wine also proffers subtle herbal notes. Dry, medium bodied and tangy, the wine offers a lovely balance of refreshing acidity, soft texture and fine underlying minerality. Flavours of passionfruit and fresh herbs mingle on the lasting fresh finish.

 

Quintay ‘Q’ Sauvignon Blanc 2011

Casablanca Valley
$14.95
LCBO#276493
13.0% alcohol

More in the classic New Zealand style of Sauvignon Blanc, there’s bright pungency on the nose with aromas of nettles, herbs, fresh-mown grass mingling with citrus and tropical fruit. Zesty, fresh and vibrant in texture, the grassy notes replay, while grapefruit and passionfruit mingle on a pithy energetic finish. This was a great match to chef Korecki’s Papaya salad with torched albacore tuna sashimi.

 

 

Enjoy!
Susan

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Palatine Hills Estate Winery

Posted by Susan

Thursday, August 30th, 2012
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Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Palatine Hills Estate Winery
– July 2012 –

 

John Neufeld and his wife Barbara are the proud owners of Palatine Hills Estate Winery, named after a local gristmill dating back to the late 1700s. John, a history buff, has created a display case of small artifacts from the War of 1812, found on the farm that holds a prominent place in the tasting area. This year is the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and John is leading the charge to commemorate the war in Niagara. He has created two wines called ‘1812’ – a Merlot/Cabernet and a Chardonnay, that have become the official wines of the bicentennial celebration. Approachable, appealing and affordable, these wines are available in the LCBO. In fact, they were the official wines of the recent royal visit of Charles and Camilla. A percentage of the sales proceeds goes to support local historical societies staging 1812 commemorative events. And if that weren’t enough, these commerative wines are being served on all Via Rail trains.

John and Barbara purchased their property in 1972, and set about converting it from a fruit orchard to a vineyard. With 140 acres under vine, their focus is on vitis vinifera grape varietals, such as the Cabernets, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, along with some hybrid varietals such as Vidal. John explains, “producing grape juice for local winemakers, as well as bulk wine has always been and will remain part of our business”. His grape juice and wine finds its way to Québec and Nova Scotia, as well as to the northern United States. His venture into winemaking was serendipitous – with an excess of icewine juice in 1998, John and Barbara decided to try their hand at winemaking. Their first attempt at icewine won Wine of the Year at the 2003 Ontario Wine Awards! Just like that Palatine Hills was on the map. When our Savvy Sommelier Susan Desjardins asked during the interview which he was going to be – grape grower or a winemaker – John shared that he would go his own way. “I like to make my own decisions, so decided I would be a winemaker, and continue my business of producing grape juice and bulk wine”. As demand for this award-winning icewine sky-rocketed, a tasting room was hastily created and Palatine Hills Estate Winery opened its doors in 2003. In 2006, the winery was named Canadian Icewine Producer of the year.

The winery has come a long way since then – Susan recalls that her first sampling of Cabernet Sauvignon icewine was at the modest tasting room and the icewine is still as luscious as ever! Now the winery produces 35,000+ cases of wine, including fabulous reds such as the 2007 ‘Proprietors Reserve’ Merlot, recently awarded gold and best red wine at 2012 Cuvée (the Academy Awards of the Ontario wine industry).

It was a difficult task indeed to choose three wines—so, we haven’t! Yes, they are all that good, and great value. In your Savvy Selections, you will find:
Sauvignon Blanc VQA 2011 – suave & satiny
Cabernet Franc VQA 2010 – a well-rounded red wine
Meritage VQA 2010 – a full-on wine layered with delicious complexities.

Some of the subscribers added the luscious Gewürztraminer VQA 2010, elegant mouth filling Chardonnay VQA 2010, and the ‘bring me to the BBQ’ mid-weight Cab/Merlot VQA 2010. And you can’t forget Romeo – the Pinot Noir Sparkling. If you would like more of your favorite Palatine Hills wine, simply call on me to arrange a delivery as you won’t find these wines at the LCBO!

Cheers & Enjoy!
Debbie & Savvy Team
613-SAVVYCO (728-8926)



Palatine Hills Estate Winery

Presented by Sommelier Susan Desjardins

After 40 years on this property, and many years as the Chair of the Ontario Grape Growers, John Neufeld is at ease discussing all aspects of the business at Palatine Hills. “The property is what’s known as Vineland clay loam, from sandy loam to light stony clay. It offers excellent drainage and allows the roots to penetrate deeply, creating very vigorous vines. We use the Scott Henry training system (cordons are trained horizontally along wires) to control vigor and reduce shading. Shoot positioning and leaf removal are used to maximize sunlight, with a focus in on creating flavour intensity.” If this is too technical for your liking, you can be assured that one thing is for certain, John is a highly respected grape grower.

Learning more about the War of 1812

When asked about the ‘1812’ wines, a twinkle appears in John’s eye. ‘When I found artifacts on the property, my interest in War of 1812 piqued.” For me to learn more, I delved into a recent article in The Globe & Mail that provided me a history lesson, explaining how the war started, in June 1812, when the Americans declared war against Great Britain. The British had established a blockade, preventing U.S. ships from reaching French ports during the Napoleonic wars, while the Americans were threatening to take territory from the British and to drive them out of North America. Canada became the theatre for this war, which included skirmishes and engagement over 2 ½ years and stretched along Lakes Erie and Ontario and up the St. Lawrence to Montreal. The G&M article highlights significant events of the war: “Sir Isaac Brock led English Canada and its native allies to victory [over the Americans] at Queenston Heights in 1812. Charles de Salaberry did the same for French Canada at Châteauguay, near Montreal, in 1813.” And some claim this war helped create a national identity and led to the Canada we know today.

Back to the wine …

While John focuses on growing the best possible fruit in the vineyard, Jeff Innes (left), who joined Palatine Hills as winemaker in 2010, focuses on a subtle winemaking process that is creating award-winning wines. After tasting a dozen wines, mostly from the 2010 vintage, Jeff’s wines have a distinctive style characterized by incredibly satiny textures, outstanding balance and the very subtle use of oak.

Jeff’s father wandered into the tasting room as we began sampling the red wines. He commented, “I’ve always loved being an amateur winemaker and entering my wines into various competitions.” This interest and dedication to his craft rubbed off on his son, who helped his dad from a young age. “My career started at Reif Estates, and from there I went to Vineland Estates. I was also involved in the first vintages for Harbour Estates and Peninsula Ridge. I eventually joined Harbour Estates as winemaker in 2000, then went down to Georgia to Three Sisters Vineyard for a year—yes, there is at least one vineyard in Georgia! I came back to Canada in 2003 and took on the role of winemaker at The Grange of Prince Edward, where I worked until joining Palatine Hills.”  Jeff’s dad says under his breath, “He’s far outstripped me now!”

When asked about influences on his career – other than his dad! – Jeff immediately mentions Brian Schmidt, the winemaker at Vineland Estates. “He has been my mentor for years, and helped me map out my career path. In fact, he’s still my sounding board!”  Brian’s mentoring coupled with the various work experiences have strongly influenced Jeff’s approach to winemaking. “A good varietal wine shows off the true character of the grape, and maintains that character through the aging process. Blends, for me, are all about balance and texture—when you taste the wine, you want the flavours to coat the palate and to maintain their consistency through the finish.”

Smooth as silk

Jeff’s great passion for his craft and his very hands-on approach to the winemaking process comes through as we taste the wines. Not only does he respect the traditions of old-world winemaking, he looks to meld those traditions with new technology and techniques, and to optimize the quality of the wine from the vineyard to your glass. A good example is the 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, where he has used subtle oaking with a combination of one new and several neutral barrels on optimally ripened fruit from an outstanding vintage to create an incredibly flavourful, silky wine. He laughs and says “I think you’ve defined my style!”

Enjoy your Savvy Selections!


~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~


Neufeld Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2011 VQA, $18.00

Jeff held his breath as we tasted this wine . . . then let us in on the secret. Sixty percent of the wine was barrel fermented – only one new barrel was used, the balance 5+ years seasoned – while 40% was fermented in stainless steel. Subtly handled oak provides the lovely satiny texture.|

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Offering attractive aromas of new-mown hay, tropical fruit and citrus, this fabulous wine caresses the palate with its suave, satiny texture. Crisp yet round, with flavours of passion fruit, tangerine and lemon-lime, it has a vibrant fresh finish with just a touch of butterscotch.

Suggested Food Pairing: There’s weight here for chicken or pork, or a spinach salad with goat cheese and grilled shrimp.

Cellaring: No need to wait! You’ll want to open this wine right now!

Neufeld Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2010 VQA, $19.95

Displaying the rich well-ripened fruit and intense extraction of the vintage, this savoury Cabernet Franc was initially barrel-aged for 10 months. Jeff explains, “For this varietal wine, my assistant and I tasted each barrel, then chose select barrels for further aging in French and American oak (50/50).”

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Inky and perfumed, the notes of lavender and violet mingle with mixed berry fruit, vanilla and smoke. Dry, medium-full bodied, this well-rounded wine offers complexity of flavours–black cherries and berries, pepper, sweet spice, black olive and coffee bean. Subtly structured, lively, there’s great presence on the palate and a fruity, peppery finish.

Suggested Food Pairing:  Grilled lamb chops or a rare steak would be a good match. Given the War of 1812 theme, we couldn’t resist sharing the ‘Going into Battle Lamb Stew’ recipe!

Cellaring:  Enjoy now or cellar 3-5 years.

Neufeld Vineyard Meritage 2010 VQA, $29.95

The grape varieties for this intense classic blend (the Cabernets and Merlot) were aged separately in seasoned and neutral French and American oak (80/20) for 10 months, blended, then finished a further 6 months in oak.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Garnet hued, this outstanding blend offers layered aromas and flavours. Think dark fruit, smoke, cedar, vanilla and dried herbs. Dry, full bodied, smooth and round in texture, yet firmly structured, this wine is rich with mouthfilling dark berries and cherries, garnished with hints of sweet spice, pepper, dark chocolate and balsamic. There’s great balance and integration, and a lasting finish tantalizing the palate with notes of dark toast and coffee bean.

Suggested Food Pairing: Serve this wine with rare red meats.

Cellaring:  Drinking well now, this wine will cellar 5 to 7 years.

~ RECIPES TO ENJOY WITH YOUR SAVVY SELECTIONS ~

With Palatine Hills Sauvignon Blanc …

Orzo Salad with Grilled Veggies & Shrimp

Food & Drink Magazine

Serves 4-6

Ingredients
1 red onion
2 zucchini, sliced lengthwise
1 red pepper, quartered
1 yellow pepper, quartered
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lb jumbo raw shrimp, peeled & deveined
1 cup orzo pasta
3 Tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 clove garlic, mined
Pinch hot pepper flakes (or Tabasco sauce)
3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp each chopped fresh mint & basil
Salt & pepper to taste

Method

  1. Cut onion into 6 wedges; place in a large bowl. Add zucchini, peppers & 2 Tbsp oil. Place on a greased grill over medium-high heat and grill, turning once, for about 10 minutes or until golden and tender-crisp. Remove to cutting board and when cool enough, chop into bite-size pieces & place in large bowl.
  2. Meanwhile, in a pot of boiling salted water, cook orzo for about 8 minutes or until tender but firm. Drain & rinse & drain. Then add to grilled veggies.
  3. Toss shrimp with 1 Tbsp oil, 1 Tbsp of parsley, garlic & hot pepper flakes. Place on greased grill over medium-high heat & grill, turning once, for about 5 minutes or until firm & pink. Add to bowl.
  4. Whisk together remaining oil & parsley, white wine vinegar, mint, basil, salt & pepper to taste. Pour over salad & toss to combine.

 

With Palatine Hills Cabernet Franc …

Going into Battle Lamb Stew

Lorin Cook, from San Jose Mercury News

Serves 6

Ingredients
2 Tbsp olive oil, or more as needed
6 slices bacon, diced
Salt & pepper to taste
½ cup flour
2 lb. boneless leg of lamb, trimmed & cut into 1” pieces
1 medium onion, sliced
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, quartered
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 C red wine
8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp oregano
2 tsp horseradish mustard
6 small red potatoes, peeled
3 small carrots, cleaned & sliced
½ C cranberries
1 C dried plums

Method

  1. In a large Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat, then cook diced bacon until almost crisp. Remove to plate, leaving bacon fat in pot.
  2. Combined flour, pepper, salt in large bowl. Add lamb & toss to coat.
  3. Add an additional tsp of oil, if needed, to the bacon fat, and brown the lamb on all sides. Add onion, mushrooms, garlic & wine.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, combine tomato sauce, brown sugar, oregano & mustard; stir well. Pour over stew. Bring liquid to a boil, reduce heat, cover & simmer for 1 ½ hours.
  5. Add cooked bacon, potatoes, carrots, cranberries & plums to the pot. Cover & simmer 2-3 hours more, or until tender. Serve on a bed of wild rice.



With Palatine Hills Meritage …

Grilled Sirloin of Beef

A Matter of Taste, Lucy Waverman & James Chatto

Serves 4

Ingredients
1 boneless sirloin steak (~3 lbs.), 2” thick, trimmed
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp dry seasoning rub

Dry Rub (combine ingredients):
1 Tbsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp kosher salt

Garnish:
1 bunch arugula, trimmed
1 C finely chopped red onions
1 ¼ C finely chopped parsley
1 Tbsp fleur de sel or kosher salt
1 Tbsp cracked peppercorns

Method

  1. Brush steak with oil on both sides & sprinkle rub over. Grill beef over high heat for 10 minutes. Turn and continue to grill for 5-10 minutes longer for medium-rare, or until steak reaches desired degree of doneness.
  2. Place steak on a carving board and let rest for 5 minutes. Carve steak against grain into thin slices.
  3. Fan beef slices on a serving platter over bed of arugula & sprinkle with onions, parsley, fleur de sel & peppercorns. Serve with grilled mushrooms & potatoes.

Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!

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