Posts Tagged ‘Wine and Food’

Savvy Company in the News….

Posted by Debbie

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013
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The team of Savvy Sommeliers are often called on by the media to be included in TV segments, featured in columns & blogs or interviewed on radio.  Here is a quick list of where you would recently seen and heard Savvy Company in the news.

In 2014

Debbie on CTV News at Noon

Wine & Cheese or should it be Beer & Cheese?  Debbie takes CTV News at Noon host Leanne Cusack on a delicious discovery of Ontario wines AND craft beers that pairs well with locally made artisan cheeses. Watch the 2 part segment >>

The Urbanite headlines ‘Craft beer-of-the-month-club puts beer in your mailbox’. Food & Drink columnist Natasha Marar interviews Debbie about Savvy Company’s newest venture – Savvy Hip Hops. Read the article>>

 

daytimeDebbie joined the airwaves to co-host with Derick Fage on Daytime Ottawa on Rogers TV.  Debbie & Derick have been in front of camera countless times before so it was undoubtedly be a fun show! Watch the host chat

 

Metro Ottawa News does a spread about the launch of our Savvy Hip Hops Craft Beer of the Month Club. Thanks to the Metroland team for always promoting local businesses! Read the article

The Ottawa Citizen showcased our  Savvy Selections wine of the month club as one of the ‘go to sources’ where you can buy wines that you have enjoyed at a restaurant.  Read the article>>

 

In 2013

Debbie continues to be called on as a guest contributor to Canada.com Weekly Wine Chat each Thursday at 2pm.  Join her along with other wine industry expert panelists chiming in from coast to coast.  Read the online chat

Vanessa is the ‘Grande Fromage’. French TV station Ruby TV went shopping for artisan cheese with our Cheese Sommelier Vanessa – toute en francais!   Watch the segment  Bravo Vanessa!

Debbie was nominated and selected by the Embassy of the United States in Canada to be one of six Canadian women to participate in the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) focusing on Women in Trade and Entrepreneurship.  She blogged along the way:  3 week, 5 cities, 6 women & 8 suitcases

 

 

In 2012

CBC Radio’s Fresh Air featured our Savvy Selections wine of the month club as one of the top gift ideas for those hard-to-buy-for people on your shopping list.  Listen to the segment.

Renowned wine writer Konrad Ejbich features our Savvy Selections wine of the month club in his ‘Gift for Geeks and Normal People too!’ blog for last minute wine gift ideas.

Savvy Company’s Outstanding in their Fields taste & buy events is one of Where Ottawa  Magazine’s Best Bets Weekend Roundup…alongside with Bruce Springsteen concert!

CBC Radio Ottawa Morning Karla Hilton states that Vanessa has the COOLest job as Cheese Sommelier.  Listen to  interview with Vanessa about local artisan cheese.

Blogger 2nd Ferment declares to its readers, “forget about the stock market & invest in Future wines from Lailey Vineyards”.  Great comments about a special taste & buy event hosted by Savvy Company.

Shari Goodman from Whisk: a food blog shares her food & wine discoveries at Ottawa’s first annual Winterlude Winemaker’s Brunch.

The Yummy Mummy Club was in Ottawa to take in Winterlude festivities.  While they were in town, Savvy Sommeliers Vanessa & Derek hosted a Blind Wine & Cheese tasting for them at the Lord Elgin Hotel.  Twitter was all a buzz during this fun evening.  See & read all about it!

Debbie & Vanessa were called in to host the Savvy Wine & Craft Beer Bar along with a Savvy Artisan Cheese Bar to give guests a taste of Ottawa for the Ottawa Tourism & Roots Canada media launch of  ‘Let’s Go Outside’ contest.  Media was all abuzz with photos, videos, blogs & Tweets including:

CBC Radio All in a Day called on Debbie to offer sparkling wine tips to usher in 2012. While on air, she explained how to WOW your New Year’s eve guests by sabering a bottle of bubbly!

In 2011
A BIG media day! On Thursday December 22,  Debbie appeared on CTV Morning Live Ottawa with 12 Savvy Gift Ideas.  Then on the CTV Ottawa News at 6, anchor Michael O’Byrne featues Savvy Selections wine of the month club as one of the hottest new gifts.  The phones continue to ring off the hook!

Wine Out Loud blogger Holy Bruns, highlights our Savvy Sommelier Julie’s blog about Cava wine.

Vanessa joins CBC Radio In Town & Out  host Michael Bhardwaj with her list of cheese-y gifts for everyone on your shopping list!

Ottawa Start highlights Debbie‘s involvement as co-host & auctioneer at Music & Beyond’s Holiday Wine Auction fundraiser

MoneySense Magazine calls on Debbie to provide Sommelier insider’s tips & tricks for feature article: A brilliant wine, everytime that appears in September/October issue.  Read article online

Ottawa Sun published a special Lifestyle Magazine where journalist Simon Forsyth interviewed Debbie for her insight & impressions on the winery owners who are pioneering a new wine region in Ottawa & surrounding areas.  Read article online

Sit.Sip.Savour. blogger Éva Nagy shares her delicious experience at the Great Canadian Cheese Discovery where Savvy Cheese Sommelier Vanessa showcased artisan cheeses from British Columbia, Nova Scotia & Prince Edward Island.

PRESS RELEASE: A Renaissance in Ottawa’s Little Italy. Preston Street is alive with this year’s celebration of Wine, Food & Art.

Articles written by Debbie & Kathryn appear in the special La Vendemmia edition of Metro Ottawa

Vanessa shares her story about a Friday night date with an Italian…Italian cheese that is! CBC Radio In Town & Out  host Michael Bhardwaj hears about the moving sensation when a wheel of Parmasean cheese is cut.

Debbie appeared on Rogers Daytime TV with tips on buying wines at a Music & Beyond’s upcoming Fine Wine Auction.

Debbie interviewed Canada’s popular Chef Michael Smith when he visited Ottawa to launch his new cookbook – Chef Michael Smith’s Kitchen.  Cooking tips & tricks were shared, while Michael encouraged us all to spend time with family at the kitchen table.

PRESS RELEASE: Preston Street BIA selects Savvy Company as Marketing Partner for annual La Vendemmia harvest festival.  Mark your calendars Sept 22-25 to join us for fun wine & food events.  More…

Vanessa joined CBC Radio’s In Town and Out host Michael Bhardwaj in studio to talk about artisan cheeses, cheesemaking & tasting tips. Listen

Debbie appeared on Rogers Daytime TV with tips on Ontario wines & craft beers to chill & enjoy in the shade during Ottawa’s record breaking heat wave.

Our Cheese Sommelier Vanessa  was on Rogers Daytime TV showcasing delicious Ontario artisan cheese offered tasting tips. Watch video 

Blogger Katy Watts joins our Savvy Cheese Sommelier Vanessa to learn the ‘whey’ about artisan cheeses from BC, Ontario and the Maritime provinces.  Katy reports that she was nervous at first, yet leaves full & with a greater appreciation for what goes into making cheese.

Debbie was on Daytime Ottawa show (Rogers TV) profiling a variety of newly released wines from Niagara-on-the-Lake wineries who will be in Ottawa on June 1st for the 52 New Wines from One Unforgettable Place wine tasting.

We were finalists in the Ottawa Tourism Partnership of the Year Award for our culinary events in partnership with Thyme & Again Creative Catering

Debbie was named Ottawa’s Entrepreneur Businesswoman of the Year Award finalist. With media coverage in the Ottawa Citizen, METRO Ottawa & EMC news

Agritourism Guide blogger Lara Bender showcases two upcoming Savvy Events in http://agritourismguide.ca/2011/05/10/cheese-and-wine-lovers-3-great-events-and-a-giveaway/

Vanessa showcased Ontario artisan cheeses on A Morning Show.  TV host Kurt Stoodley couldn’t stop nibbling on the cheese curds!

Savvy Company is named ‘Top 50 Sommelier & Master of Wine blogs’ as reported by Cindy Cullen, Culinary Arts College.

Launched in March, read weekly columns by Savvy Sommeliers in Metro Ottawa newspaper on Thursdays.  Susan shares wine shopping tips with “If I only had $100, I would buy at Vintages” while Vanessa showcases local artisan cheeses in her “The Curd on the Street” column.

Sit. Sip. Savour. blogger Éva Nagy just received her month Savvy Selections delivery featuring Creekside Estates Wine. http://sit-sip-savour.blogspot.com/2011/03/savvy-company-wine-club-march-selection.html

Debbie graces the pages of the Feb 14th issue of Hello! Canada Magazine featuring the Canadian Celebrity Chef Event that Savvy Company sponsored & were the Sommeliers for this first of its kind sold out event.

Get a taste of the wonderful experience with this YouTube video of the Canadian Celebrity Chef event.  Savvy Company was proud be involved.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZnJElan0W4

Debbie hosts “Wine Shopping with a Sommelier” on A Morning Ottawa.  In the 4 TV segments, she offers tips on navigating through Vintages, picks good value wines and pairs wine with Food & Drink magazine recipes.

Vanessa shares her favorite cheese discovery in Cheeselover.ca Outstanding Cheese Bites of 2010.  Quebec artisan cheese Le Foin d’Odeur “is like licking buttered popcorn from your fingertips!”


Rave reviews from the media …
“Savvy Company’s craft beer tasting was a superlative event” – Ron Eade, Food Editor of the Ottawa Citizen 

“Thank you for hosting last night’s BC wine tasting event. I was particularly struck by the easy interactions between the Savvy Team and the participants (“not stuck up” is the way one person explained your events which is, I think, high praise for you and your team).  Of course, the highlight was the wine and the wonderful intro by the Sommeliers. I’ll be writing my blog tonight.”  – Clare Fowles, FoodiePrints

“The Great Canadian Cheese Discovery is a must do while in Ottawa. The class is a dinner party atmosphere, led by cheese sommelier Vanessa Simmons, who is openly fanatical about artisan cheeses.”Reb Stevenson Travel Writer, Toronto Star

 

 

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Jump into a new year with Frogpond Farm Winery

Posted by Susan

Thursday, January 7th, 2010
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Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Frogpond Farm Winery

Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

·         2008 Vidal VQA

·         2007 Cabernet Franc VQA

·         2007 Cabernet/Merlot VQA

 

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

 

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

  

Cheers & Enjoy!

– Debbie & Savvy Team



Frogpond Farm Winery
Presented by Sommelier Susan Desjardins


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

 

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

 

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

– no synthetic additives, for instance in fining

– no genetically modified yeast, bacteria or enzymes

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

As they say in Germany…Prost (Cheers)!


 

 ~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~


Frogpond Farm Vidal VQA 2008, $12.00

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

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

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

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

Cellaring:  Made to enjoy now!


Frogpond Farm Cabernet Franc VQA 2007, $17.00

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

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

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

 

~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~


With Frogpond Farm Vidal…

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

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

Method

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

 

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

 

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

 

With Frogpond Farm Cabernet Franc….

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

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

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

 

Method

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

With Frogpond Farm Cabernet/Merlot…

Heart Warming Beef Fondue

Recipe from the kitchen of Savvy Sommelier Debbie Trenholm

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

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

3 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed

5 C beef stock

2 C dry red wine

2 bay leaves

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

 

Suggested items to dip into the fondue:

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

Method

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!

 

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On the road again…to Niagara!

Posted by Susan

Saturday, October 3rd, 2009
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A recent week-long trip to the Niagara area offered not only great golfing weather, but an opportunity to take in Wainfleet’s Marshville Heritage Festival before visiting a few of my favorite wineries,  all of which will be featured in our Savvy Selections wine of the month club over the next few months.

The Marshville Heritage Festival celebrated its 20th anniversary this year.  Organized entirely by volunteers, the Festival celebrates the 1829 founding of a small Ontario village associated with the construction of the first Welland Canal.  The volunteer society has restored 17 buildings, including a one and one-half story limestone house built in 1790, a sawmill built in 1891 (at the Festival, it was being run by the 70-year-old grandsons of the founder – how neat is that!?), an outdoor oven (where women in period dress were baking fabulous cornbread), and a cabinet-maker’s shop which once belonged to J.W. Overholt, a prominent abolitionist who sheltered escaped slaves.  A wide range of artisans and food vendors vied for space with the historical buildings.  The Festival is the Society’s primary fundraiser and is a great educational and entertainment event for all ages.  If you’re in the Niagara area in early September next year, don’t miss it this festival.

After an enjoyable couple of days at the Festival and on the golf links, I got down to the serious business of wine tasting!  My first stop was Reif Estate Winery, where I met with Klaus Reif, President and Oenologist, and Andrea Kaiser, who is responsible for the winery’s retail operations and promotion.  We had a great chat about Klaus’ early years, the evolution of the winery, as well as some the new challenges he has set himself.  This includes the innovative use of tobacco kilns for creating temperature-controlled environments to dry grapes for passito-style wines and to produce botrytis-affected grapes for Sauternes-style wines.  Reif Estate has some great wines, including some outstanding Bordeaux-style blends.  More to follow in the Savvy Selections  this November.  Consider subscribing for an opportunity to try some of the hard to find Reif wines along with the recipes we recommend! 

For those of you who know me, I am a strong proponent of organic wines, so my trip included a visit at Frogpond Farm  and Southbrook Vineyards, both of which will be featured in spring issues of the Savvy Selections. 

Frogpond Farm is the original certified organic winery in Niagara.  Jens and Heike are excited about their expansion onto a new certified organic acreage in the peninsula, and are now producing wines in 750 ml bottles as well as their traditional 500 ml format.  We tasted a range of wines, including the 2006 Cabernet Franc from their original property and the 2007 Cabernet Franc from the new property.  This side-by-side tasting was a great opportunity to compare the significant differences terroir and vintage can make to a wine.  While the 2006 is brawny and robust, the 2007 is more fruity and delicate.  We laughingly decided that the former was more ‘masculine’, while the latter, more ‘feminine’!

I spent time with Elena Galey-Pride, Director of Customer Experience at Southbrook Vineyards, learning about their transition to biodynamic and organic viticulture and viniculture.  To quote their winemaker, Anne Sperling, “Biodynamics is like extreme organics!”  In effect, biodynamic producers have a profound respect for the influence of nature on their crops and products, and work to optimize, preserve and recycle the resources of their farmed land.  The biodynamic processes on site continue to evolve, with a decision made to establish their own herd of sheep next year, and the use of natural fermentation in winemaking.  Southbrook’s first biodynamic release was their Cabernet Franc Rose this summer – we sipped from one of the few remaining bottles.  In October, the winery will release their second biodynamic wine, the 2008 Triomphe Merlot, which offers strong fruity flavors with a great balance of acidity and tannins. 

Pillitteri Estates Winery was our last stop of the day, where we participated in a wonderfully informative tour of the winery, then tasted a wide range of their still and sweet wines.  The Pillitteri family story seems like a Canadian fairy tale.  Gary Pillitteri came to Canada in 1948, when his grandfather purchased their original 56-acre fruit farm off Niagara Stone Road.  A series of photos show the evolution of the farm from orchard to vineyard, and of the retail building from fruit stand to combined tasting room, retail shop and fruit stand.  When Gary won his first award as an amateur winemaker for his Vidal ice wine, a family decision was made to move beyond grape growing into winemaking.  Pillitteri Estates Winery has expanded to 100 acres and is a family affair involving Gary, his wife, their three children and the five grandchildren.  Fifty-five or more percent of their production is sweet wines, for which they have won numerous prestigious awards, including a recent gold for their Shiraz Ice Wine at the Syrah du Monde competition.  Yet, with all this success, staff at the winery speak with great affection about the work environment the family has created.  Said one individual, “Mrs. P (Pillitteri) often comes in and makes pizza for everyone on the weekend.  And the family usually gathers in the winery at the end of the day to share dinner.”  Not only does Mrs. P make pizza, as I noticed when we were in the tasting room, she also comes by and helps the staff wash tasting glasses! 

We toured Pillitteri’s barrel cellar, which is one of the largest in the Niagara at 6000 square feet.  In the barrel cellar, Gary Pillitteri has created a fascinating homage to his success in Canada.  He firmly believes that 23 is his lucky number.  He arrived in Canada on that date, and his wife and two of his children were born on that date.  The 42-foot-long single-pour concrete table in the cellar is surrounded by 23 chairs made from a single steel fermentation tank.  The table has 5 supporting legs (2+3) and 23 lights hand above it.  23 steps lead from the barrel cellar to the tasting room. 

After the extensive tour, we were thirsty, so up those stairs we went!!  We sampled the toasty 2007 Sur Lie Chardonnay, the aromatic 2008 Gewurztraminer/Riesling blend, and the Bottled Blond Bradshaw Reserve – Dr. Marc  Bradshaw, Pillitteri’s young winemaker from SouthAfrica, dyes his hair, hence the name!  Among the reds, we sampled both the 2007 Merlot and the 2002 Merlot, each reflecting its unique vintage and winemaker.  And the 2007 Cabernet Franc was a great hit, full-bodied and well balanced with a lingering finish.  One of my favorite sweet wines is Pillitteri’s Select Late Harvest Chambourcin, produced from a hybrid varietal – it has a beautiful balance of tart red fruit, rhubarb and honey.  The grand finale was a taste of the 2007 Sticky Beak Ice Wine, which includes a blend of the Cabernets, Sangiovese and Shiraz – the perfect ending to a beautiful experience.  Pillitteri Estates Wines has been a Savvy Selections feature in past years, and we look forward to showcasing their wines again soon. 

Our thirst sated, we were hungry!  On a recommendation, we headed to Olson Foods at Ravine.  This is the new home of Anna and Michael Olson’s gourmet bakery and deli, located in St. David’s adjacent to Ravine Vineyards.  Opened in the summer of 2008, the single-story rustic building looks like an old farmhouse with an inviting veranda surrounding it. The scarred wooden tables and mismatched chairs make the interior feel like you’re stepping into your grandmother’s kitchen.  Anna was welcoming guests and helping out at the cash, where she willingly signed copies of her recipe books.  The food was great  – sharing plates or modest main plates were freshly made with local ingredients, and very reasonably priced.  A wide range of fresh breads and pastries tempted us to stay for a lingering cup of tea.  And the wide range of condiments, oils, vinegars and kitchen necessities beckoned from the well-planned displays.  This is a must-visit spot whether or not you are visiting wineries!  

If you can’t make it to Niagara but are tempted by some of the great wines I’ve mentioned, contact me to order a selection of wines from Reif Estate Winery,  Frogpond Farm, Southbrook Vineyards or Pillitteri Estates – or any other winery featured in our Savvy Selections .   

Cheers!

Susan

PS – when you are heading to Niagara, contact me for the Savvy ‘must visit’ list of wineries and restaurants.  With over 90 wineries in the area, it can be difficult to figure out where to visit.  The Savvy team of Sommeliers have visited them all and offer you our insight to make your Niagara wine adventure memorable.

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Old and New Tastes

Posted by Wayne

Friday, December 19th, 2008
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When people select, drink and enjoy wines these days, the concept of ‘style’ plays a big role in the character, profile and experience of wine. It is a way of familiarizing the unknown. There are many ways of referencing style with wine as there is referencing style with people. One can talk about style with winemaking or growing or marketing or bottling or flavour…  just like you can with art or clothing or behaviour. Often, the concept of ‘New’ and ‘Old’ World styles run through discussions and pleasures that are a part of the wine experience too. There is no well-defined identity for one or the other, particularly now that vines and winemakers and techniques move from traditional Old World regions to New World regions and back again.

There is still value in referencing these styles because it helps to uncover the identities and assets of wines we might not be familiar with. In a way it is like discovering a tasting profile for wines. Here are some ideas that might clarify ‘Old’ from ‘New’ and “open up” some wines for you.

Old World:  These wines are usually wines that have a long, documented history and are primarily found in Europe and around the Mediterranean. Here the traditions of winemaking are very important to the production of wine. “Terroir” (the impact of soil, weather, nutrients, sunlight, agricultural method, etc.) also plays a large role in the way wine is made.

Austria, Bulgaria, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Switzerland are wine regions with a long history of growing grapes for wine that would qualify as “Old World”.

New World: These wines are grown outside of the traditional wine regions of Europe. Each of these countries has its own history with wine that often is about the importation of vines in many cases ( often by the Church for various rituals). The growers brought their grape growing and winemaking traditions with them, but had to modify some of their procedures (like irrigation) to accommodate the conditions and resources of their new sites.

Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa, Mexico and the United States are the more notale examples.

Style: Knowing this information is helpful.

Old World wines because of their reliance on tradition and terroir will display more of the characteristics of the soils and climates they are in like the foods grown right along side them. Much Old World wine, to oversimplify, is intended as a food partner, a wine whose crop yields, alcohol levels, acid levels, aging processes and geographical boundaries are highly regulated. Filtering of many of these wines is done with natural products like clay or egg whites so sediment levels tend to be higher and the wines tend to absorb rather than reflect light. These wines often show a minerality, an earthiness and a flavour profile that leans towards barrel flavours like vanilla and smoke or wood and they show tannic characteristics more readily. Intended to be food partners, Old World often improves its impact with local fare as an accompaniment.

New World, on the other hand, is more winemaker driven. It is intended to be more a “cocktail” experience. It is designed for the consumer with its fruit forward, high sugar and alcohol profile. These wines are grown to be drunk now. Longer growing seasons, less regulations, controlled irrigation and fertilization render bountiful crops and copious supplies of wine that is brilliantly reflective because of the .005 gauge screening it goes through when it is filtered. Drinking wine on its own suits the New World very well.

That is not to say that these are hard and fast rules for “Old” and “New”. Many is the Old World vintage that is tasty and sweet all by itself. Many is the New World vintage that marries very well with food. A lot of Old World wineries have New World winemakers and vice versa, but these characteristics are helpful in recognizing New and Old World ‘Styles’ of wine which may help you share your wine experiences with someone else or choose the right wine for someone you know. 

Cheers and Salute!
Wayne

Do you have more ideas about styles of wine, New or Old World? Email me as I would like to hear from you.

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