In addition to nail polish and shoes, I also collect little black dresses (LBD). But, like the nail polish, my life does not afford me the opportunity to make use of them. So you can imagine my joy at attending Savvy Company’s “Sip, Savour, Swirl and Selebrate” evening at the NAC: reason to wear both the polish and the dress!
There are 27 wineries in Ontario’s Prince Edward County wine region and a good number of them were in attendance. On offer were too many wines to name, certainly too many to try, and some new items from the NAC’s Le Café’s catering menu.
Although I state over and over that I only blog about wine, let’s be clear that I really, really like food and I did partake of every canapé that passed my way. I was especially taken with the grilled tuna and the duck confit…a wise woman once told me “Claire, dear, always choose the duck”.
One thing my friend and I noticed, walking around and chatting with the winemakers, was how many of them started their lives out as something else: accountants, farmers, lawyers…hope for those of us who still dream of running away and joining the circus.
Today, at the LCBO, I stood behind someone buying a bottle of the Sandbanks Dune. She told me it was her “go-to” white. A blend of Vidal and Riesling, John Squair, Sandbanks Sales and Promotion, told me at the Savvy event that it came about one day when the winemaker, Catherine Langlois, and he were walking through the winery. Faced with not enough of either Vidal or Riesling, they began to blend…the result? An award winning white and their best seller. I enjoyed two Sandbanks wines: Rosé and Foch Reserve. The former is, predictably, a rosé, a blend of Geisenheim and Cabernet Franc. The 5% addition of the Cabernet gives the wine a sea-shell pink colour and the Geisenheim, a Riesling derivative, provides a clean, dry finish to the initial citric fruitiness. This wine had notes of watermelon and tangerine with a nice acidic balance in the mouth. It is not a floral rosé and would therefore pair nicely with a Ploughman’s lunch or cold chicken. John provided the best quote of the evening: “This rosé make the sun shine at midnight.”
It seems to me that few wineries are using the Marechal Foch grape and I am always happy to find one that does. This grape is found in the The Foch Reserve from Sandbanks Estate Winery. Proving that the right pairing can make or break a wine, I tasted the Foch Reserve immediately after biting into tuna – quel désastre! A quick bite of the duck and the wine became fragrant, plummy with a soft mouth feel. Deep red in colour, this wine was a wild combination of aromas and flavours: dark berries on the nose, dark chocolate and spice in the mouth. As a bonus, this wine is available at the LCBO for $20.
Another fun winery was Palatine Hills. The Winemaker, Jeff Innes, looked far too young to be drinking wine, let alone making it! Engaging and entertaining, the Palatine Hills duo’s passion for their wine was contagious. Their Juliette is a 100% Chardonnay sparking white. Fermented in the bottle, then aged for three years, this bubbly had the small, distinct bubbles in the glass that you expect in a traditional fermentation, crisp apple in the mouth with a slight, vanilla note in the finish. I prefer a drier bubbly, but this wine was a hit if the crowd around the table was anything to go by.
The Savvy event was held in the Salon of the NAC and was well attended (a bit crowded at times). Wine tables lined the walls and clustered in the middle. A string quartet played throughout the event and Savvy personnel both served and circulated. Debbie Trenholm announced that it was Savvy’s third anniversary – Salut!
The LCBO carries a wide variety of Prince Edward County wines and many more are available at the wineries. Conclusion: I’m planning a road trip to Prince Edward County next year with particular stops at Sandbanks and Palatine Hills.
Sandbanks Estate Winery
17598 Loyalist Parkway, Wellington, Ontario
Palatine Hills Estate Winery
911 Lakeshore Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario