Savvy Selections wine of the month club
Featuring Reif Estate Winery
– March 2012 –
March definitely came in “like a lion” & I hope that it leaves “like a lamb” because I am looking forward to touring wineries in Niagara and Prince Edward County this spring.
Since their debut in November 2009, we are delighted to feature Reif Estate Winery again in this month’s Savvy Selections. In this Savvy eZine, our Savvy Sommelier Derek Vollrath interviews Andrea Kaiser, Reif’s Director of Retail Operations and Promotions to learn how this long established winery continues to grow.
While you may be familiar with Reif’s already, we are sure you will be more than please with this month’s choices of wines. Looking back to 2009 when we previously featured Reif, the winery owner Klaus Reif & winemaker Roberto (aka Rob) DiDomenico were tempting us with rave reviews on the development of their 2007 vintage & in particular their First Growth Pinot Noir. While at the time back in 2009, the Pinot Noir was still in barrel. Klaus & Rob gave us specific ‘instructions’ (aka wine tip) to be on the lookout when the Pinot Noir is released. Well, guess what… The 2007 First Growth Pinot Noir is part of this month’s Savvy Selections! And to top it off, our subscribers are given a special Savvy Selection price of $35 (regular $50 per bottle). Derek & I know that you will be “wowed” by this outstanding Pinot Noir – we certainly were!
In your Savvy Selections wine delivery, you will find these premium wines from Reif Estate Winery:
- Reif Estate Reserve Chardonnay VQA 2009 – a mix of tropical with ripe tree fruit aromas & tastes
- Reif Estate Meritage (White) VQA 2009 – food friendly
- Reif Estate First Growth Pinot Noir VQA 2007 – an outstanding Pinot Noir!
- OPTIONAL WINE: Reif Estate Vidal Ice Wine VQA 2005
Read on to find our Sommelier’s tasting notes for the selected wines along with Derek’s favorite recipes to try your hand at in the kitchen.
You won’t find these wines at the LCBO
If there is a particular wine from Reif Estates – some from this month’s Savvy Selections or other favorites – that you would like to have additional bottles on hand or for your cellar, simply contact me to arrange a shipment for you. Did I already mention that you might want to consider ordering another bottle or two of the First Growth Pinot Noir?
Cheers & Enjoy!
– Debbie & Savvy Team
Reif Estate Winery
Presented by Sommelier Derek Vollrath
Even in March, it is a busy time at the winery. Icewine is in production & attention is being paid to the most recent vintage of white wines that will be in the final stages of winemaking. At the time of the interview, Klaus Reif – winery owner (in above photo) & winemaker Roberto (aka Rob) DiDomenico were busy in the cellar. I caught up to Andrea Kaiser – Director of Retail Operations & Promotions – who is at the heart of everything at the winery. I learned that frankly, Andrea runs the place!
An Estately Winery
I started off the interview (which turned into a friendly chat) by asking Andrea what Reif does differently then other wineries. “Our focus is on making estate wines”. In Ontario under the Vintner Quality Alliance (VQA) rules, wines that are labeled as “estate bottled” must come from wineries that have control over everything in the winemaking process – from the vineyard, all throughout production and then with the final bottling. This is absolutely the case as 98% of the wines produced by Reif are labeled as ‘estate’. This means that Klaus, Rob & their teams control every aspect from growing & managing the fruit on the vine to bottling the wine as well as every step in between. This approach ensures that Klaus & Rob can “produce a consistently exceptional product”, Andrea explains. This is evident by the number of awards that Reif’s wines have won, especially the array of Canadian & international medals for their ice wines.
Andrea stressed the importance of Reif’s First Growth collection of wines (enjoy the Pinot Noir in your Savvy Selections). “These wines are our über premium wines that showcase the terroir of the Niagara River sub-appellation”. For wines to carry the distinctive First Growth label, Klaus & Rob established early on that the following criteria must be met:
1. The wines must be produced from fruit that comes from Reif’s older vineyards
2. The wines are only produced in exceptional vintages
3. The wines are made under stricter conditions and with greater TLC such as handpicked fruit.
“Reif’s First Growth collection of wines is one of Klaus’ & Rob’s dreams come true & it is something that they are completely proud of”, beams Andrea.
Go Local – Living the Mantra
Everything they do at the winery is based on local relationships with culinary groups within the peninsula. Andrea explained to me that at Reif they have absolutely embraced the concept of “living local”. “Our team really works hard to partner with local suppliers in order to showcase the culinary arts that have developed in the Niagara area, our Sensory Wine Bar is an excellent example of our commitment.”
Upcoming Events at Reif
If you are planning a trip to Niagara, Andrea proudly explains why Reif is a ‘must stop’ especially with the unique Sensory Wine Bar. “It is an amazing as our visitors can enjoy a flight of our wines with a selection of artisan cheese, charcuterie plates & even chocolate”.
If you happen to be in Niagara-on-the-Lake on April 21st, join Rob as he hosts a luncheon where he will be giving visitors a sneak peek of the 2010 First Growth Collection. This vintage marks the fourth time in which Klaus & Rob deemed the conditions ideal enough to create.
As our interview wraps up, Andrea’s parting words about the winery, “We work in a great place, people love coming to Niagara because it is Ontario’s wine country & what’s not to like about wine and food? When they come to visit they are in a great mood & that rubs off on all of us at the winery”.
Reif Estate Winery will definitely be on my list of wineries to visit this summer.
Cheers & Enjoy your Savvy Selections wines…especially the First Growth Pinot Noir!
~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes~
Chardonnay Reserve VQA 2009
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Bright gold in colour with notable aromas of banana & melon leap from the glass along with hints of vanilla & warm spice, (can you find cinnamon?). The palate is exceptionally rewarding & complex with flavours of brown sugar, hazelnut, green apple & ripe pear. This is a dry, full-bodied white wine with an incredibility rich & buttery mouth feel. It is topped off with a long apple pie finish.
Suggested Food Pairing: Our Savvy Sommelier Debbie Trenholm simply stated that “this wine is gorgeous on its own”. If you decide to serve with a meal, Derek offers a recipe for Roasted Salmon Salad Niçoise.
Cellaring: This wine can definitely be enjoyed tonight or it can be cellared for up to 18 months.
Meritage (White) VQA 2009
The wine term Meritage is usually reserved for red wines made with a Bordeaux blend of grapes outside of Bordeaux. However; in this case it is cleverly used for the white Bordeaux grape varietals of Sauvignon Blanc & Semillon. For the 2009 vintage Sauvignon Blanc accounts for 56% of the blend, while Semillon makes up 44%.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Pale gold in colour with a brilliant luster & sheen. On the nose there are definite aromas of cut grass & green apple courtesy of the Sauvignon Blanc while the Semillon provides honey & floral aromas. Dry on the palate this white wine offers flavours of citrus, green apple & white pepper. This full-bodied wine is well balanced with a medium length green apple finish.
Suggested Food Pairing: This Meritage is definitely a food friendly wine as it would go well with spinach & goat’s cheese risotto or gnocchi in a gorgonzola sauce. The Savvy Selections tasting panel immediately thought this wine would accompany seafood exceptionally well. Derek shares his Seafood Stew recipe is tasty & he says that the best part is that you only need one pot to make it!
Cellaring: Again, the wine is ready to enjoy tonight or you can cellar it for up to 12 months.
First Growth Pinot Noir VQA 2007
$35.00 – a special price for Savvy Selections subscribers. (Regular $50)
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: The core of this wine (winespeak: its centre) is bright ruby red in colour that gradually fades to a thin watery rim. The nose is thoroughly enjoyable as aromas of cherries, raspberries, leather & pencil shavings waft from the glass. The palate will totally blow you away with flavors of sour cherries, ripe raspberries & dark chocolate. With a velvety mouth feel and a long lingering cherry finish, this incredible wine is a sure-fire crowd pleaser.
Suggested Food Pairing: Peking duck or barbequed lamb chops with a rosemary rub would pair very well. Derek recommends to pair this Pinot Noir with a cherry sauce over pan fried pork tenderloin cutlets – a yummy recipe follows!
Cellaring: You can open it now or if you prefer you can hold onto this wine as it will be drinking well now through to 2015.
Serving Tip: To make this wine that more special, Derek recommends to decant for 45 minutes before serving.
~ Recipes to enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~
With Reif Estate Winery Chardonnay Reserve…
Roasted Salmon Salad Niçoise
From Heart Smart – the Best of Heart Smart Cooking, Bonnie Stern
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary or ½ tsp dried
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
2 lbs baby potatoes, cleaned and halved
6 plum tomatoes cut in wedges or 2 cups cherry tomatoes
2 head garlic
1 lb asparagus, trimmed
2 lbs salmon fillet in one piece, skin removed
⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
8 cups mixed organic greens
2 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon or shredded basil or ½ tsp dried
4 hard-cooked egg whites, coarsely chopped
1 small bunch chives
- Combine 2 tbsp oil, rosemary, salt and pepper. Toss potatoes with half this mixture
- Arrange tomato wedges, skin side down and potatoes in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cut top quarter off heads of garlic and wrap in foil. Roast potatoes, tomatoes and garlic in a preheated 400° F oven for 40 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven and scatter asparagus over potatoes and tomatoes. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes longer, or until potatoes and garlic are tender and asparagus is bright green. Tomatoes should be browed on bottom.
- Meanwhile, coat salmon with remaining oil/rosemary marinade. Place salmon on another baking sheet lined with parchment. About 20 minutes before vegetables are ready, place salmon in oven and roast for 15 to 18 minutes or until just cooked through.
- To prepare dressing, squeeze roasted garlic into vinegar and whisk until pureed. Whisk in remaining 2 tbsp of oil.
- Arrange greens over bottom of a large platter. Arrange potatoes down center and tomatoes and asparagus along sides. With a large spatula, place salmon on top of potatoes. Drizzle dressing over salad. Sprinkle with tarragon and egg whites. Cut chives into 2-inch lengths and sprinkle over top.
With Reif Estate Winery Meritage White…
From Love Food.com
Large pinch of saffron threads
4 tbsp almost boiling water
6 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 ½ tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
2 red bell peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 can (28 oz / 796 mL) canned & chopped tomatoes
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 cup fish stock
1 cup blanched almonds, toasted and finely ground
Salt and pepper
12-16 live mussels
12-16 live clams
1 lb 5 oz / 600 g thick boned hake or cod fillets, skinned and cut into 2-inch chunks
12-16 raw shrimp shelled and deveined
Thick crusty bread, to serve
- Place the saffron threads in a heatproof bowl with the water and let stand for at lease 10 minutes to infuse.
- Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottom flameproof casserole over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook the onion, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until golden but not browned. Stir in the garlic, thyme, bay leave and red bell peppers and cook, stirring frequently for 5 minutes or until the bell peppers are softened and the onions have softened further. Add the tomatoes and paprika and simmer, stirring frequently for an additional 5 minutes.
- Stir in the stock, the saffron and its soaking liquid, and the almonds and bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until the sauce reduces and thickens. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Clean the mussels and clams, discard any with broken shells
- Gently stir the hake into the stew so that it doesn’t break up, then add the shrimp, mussels and clams. Reduce the heat to very low, then cover and simmer for 5 minutes or until the hake is opaque the mussels and clams have opened and the shrimp have turned pink. Discard and mussels or clams that remain closed. Serve immediately with plenty of thick crusty bread for soaking up the juices
With Reif Estate Winery First Growth Pinot Noir…
Pork Tenderloin with Cherry Sauce
1-2 tablespoon cornstarch, depending on your desired thickness of the sauce
1 1/2 cups cranberry juice
1 (1 1/2 pound) pork tenderloin, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons lemon-pepper seasoning
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup dried cherries
3 tablespoons cherry preserves
- In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch, cranberry juice and mustard until smooth; set aside.
- Sprinkle pork with lemon-pepper. In a large skillet, cook pork in butter for 4-5 minutes on each side or until no longer pink. Remove pork and keep warm.
- Stir cornstarch mixture and add to the skillet. Bring to a boil.
- Add cherries and preserves; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Return pork to the pan; cook for 2 minutes or until heated through. Serve on a bed of rice with fresh vegetables or assorted grilled mushrooms.