Champagne: beverage of the ultra-elite, the glittering nectar that deities of real estate and rap music use to wash away their troubles. Most highly regarded region for the production of said effervescent treat.
Winemakers the world over are challenging Champagne, the “Goliath of Bubbly”: Spain has their dry Cava, Italy the floral Moscato and stonefruit Prosecco and, more recently, the New World has also joined the fray. Meet Eric von Krosigk,über winemaker at Summerhill Pyramid Winery. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Eric for years and call him friend, having sat on panel-discussions with him as well as sharing meals and family time together. Knowing Eric has developed my appreciation for the intricate art that is winemaking and the arduous labor that is vineyard management.
It is these two skills, along with a myriad of other tools that a winemaker gathers over years upon decades of dedication, which can result in true understanding of the land. And it is only through this fundamental empathy with their soil, their vines, that winemakers can ever hope to craft truly expressive wines; wines that speak emphatically and passionately about where they come from.
Or, so I’ve been told by those who know far more then I do.
And so when Ezra Cipes, CEO of Summerhill, sent me a few of the new releases from the winery, it was with no small amount of zeal that I started digging into the box. Like my 3-year old at Christmas: paper flew, cardboard tore, and the treasure that had been locked within was soon perched on the kitchen counter gleaming in the summer sunlight.
And, of course, it was the sparkling wine that first caught my eye… This is the sparkling producer that has my attention these days; their recent accomplishments nothing short of tremendous:
…“Sparkling Wine of the Year” 2014 All Canadian Wine Championships…Gold Medal, Top 10 Sparkling Wines of competition – 2013 Effervescents du Monde
…Gold Medal – 2012 World Wine Awards, Chicago, Illinois
…“Best International Bottle Fermented Sparkling Wine” – IWSC, London, England, December 2009
Serious wine-making. And yet not so serious that these fine folks can’t crack a smile more often then not; their love for the land directing the course of business. This is the heartbeat of bio-dynamic viticulture in the Okanagan and, as such, the Cipes family treat their terroir like the living, breathing organism it truly is… fields are doted over, natural ecosystems restored, and bio-diversity has been recovered. To some people this is the most progressive style of farming or viticulture that we know of. Others, myself included, refer to this instead as ancestral farming for, coming from a lineage of Irish farmers, this is in fact what my grandparents taught me in their garden and through the stalls of our local Farmer’s Market many decades ago.
Call it what you want “the proof is in the pudding” and from the moment I opened this bottle of Blanc de Noirs I knew I was in for a treat:
2008 Summerhill Pyramid Winery Cipes Blanc de Noirs
100% organic Pinot Noir, hand-made
92 points, EXCELLENT VALUE
**DO NOT SERVE TOO COLD! NOT UNDER 12C/55F FOR BEST RESULTS
Almond/Macadamia nut dusty mineral driven aromas make the mouth water and are followed quickly by notes of baked Golden Delicious apples, ripe Anjou pear and alluring cherry blossoms in springtime. The mousse is world-class; fine pearled bubbles carrying flavors that mimic the fruit of the bouquet brilliantly yet driving home that utterly Burgundian sense of precise minerality. Exemplary balance, this is a wine that shines with craftsmanship… truly a food wine, it will find it home as easily with the Boursin and fresh basil thin-crust pizza I made my girls for lunch as it did with the recipe that follows – but was an utter delight to savor on its own, needing nothing more then a great vista as company. Excellent structure and long length on the palate, this threat to French Greatness will age gracefully for years and, based on previous wines from this producer, with stunning results. Enjoy 2014-2020+
This wine inspired me.
I followed in the footsteps of yesteryear, and went grocery shopping just for dinner that night: no massive Costco shop, no bulk section, no “buy 5 and get the 6th free”. I went looking for what was best right then, for dinner that night. Lucky for me, I have champions of #Fresh #Local #Seasonal at my butcher Hopcott Meats. Double-smoked Swiss Farmer’s sausage roast local chicken, wild rice and quinoa pilaf, BC chèvre finished leeks, fireweed honey and seasalt glazed carrots.
This may be the easiest chicken recipe, ever:
2 pieces double-smoked Swiss Farmer sausage, thinly sliced
1.5 lbs chicken thighs (bone-in always has more flavor) or about 6-7 pieces
1 Tbsp dry Italian herbs
1. saute the sausage in a pan on the stove; medium heat only as you want to draw out the fat or render
2. pat the chicken dry with paper towel, dust with dry herbs3. saute on medium skin side down until the skin turns golden brown4. turn over in the pan and place in the oven, 300F for 12 minutes+ or internal temp read 165F
Rich creamy goodness, this is almost a condiment for the protein!
2 leeks, julienne (about 3 full cups)
2 cups milk
1/2 cup chevre (goat’s cheese; can sub Boursin as well)
1 Tbsp butter*
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. wilt the leeks in the butter on medium or medium low heat; the key is to cook them gently and not brown them
2. when the leeks start to soften, add the milk and continue to cook on medium until the milk is almost evaporated (takes about 30-40 minutes)
3. add the goat’s cheese, stir to smoothness, season to taste
Simple food really, but rich concentrated flavors: the cheese balances the poultry, the clean carrot balances the richness of the smoked sausage and all the meal needed was the crisp, vibrant sparkling wine to pull everything into focus. This meal was a breeze as well, taking only about 10 minutes to prep and 45 minutes to cook: total time from start to finish was just under an hour.
Eating well, and drinking well, doesn’t have to be complicated but it does take effort. In this Golden Age of wine, when there are more choices then ever before, it’s difficult even for people who work in the wine industry to keep on top of it all. My suggestion, humbly, is not to choose wines at all: Choose wineries you respect. Choose winemakers you admire.
I don’t love everything that my local butcher does; sometimes I think they over-season the marinated chicken or make the Thai chili jerky too spicy… but I respect them and I know that by supporting them with my purchasing power I am enabling
a company people I admire. And I’m doing something good because of how they work with the land, the environment, their community. And I love the food!
Why would choosing wine be any different?
Many thanks to Hopcott Meats where I purchased the fresh sausage and locally sourced chicken www.hopcottmeats.ca and to Ezra Cipes at Summerhill Pyramid Winery www.summerhill.bc.ca for the generous sample bottles.
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