BBQ and Wine

By Brianna

It is no mystery that wine is meant to be paired with delicious food. That is why I love pairing my favourite drink with one of my favourite food. BBQ provides ampul of wine pairing opportunities. Caramelized burnt sugar, umami flavours and spicy toppings give us a wide range to work with. Spicy Australian Shiraz, off-dry Riesling, oaked Chardonnay and peppery Cabernet to name a few. A key factor is to pair bold with bold! No matter how crazy the flavours may get.

I decided to showcase six wines from different countries and a wide range of BBQ options to show the classics and diversity for the tasting. Beef brisket, smoked chicken with coleslaw, cornbread and grilled spicy sausage and halloumi cheese. Here are the wines of the evening, starting with the top favourites.

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Scotch Malt Whisky Society of Canada September 2019 Outturn

by Evan

September always feels like a turning point in the year for me, and I probably I am not alone. Fall has not officially started yet, but summer vacation is over for many of us and the kids are back in school. This is the start of a busiest time of year here at Kensington Wine Market, as we ramp up for all of our fall tastings and festivals and prepare to sell and build our 2019 KWM Whisky Advent Calendar.

Society-wise, it means we return to seven new releases in the Outturn, instead of the six releases and one featured returning bottle as we run in June, July and August. Here is what we tasted our way through this month:

  • This Outturn is on the relatively affordable side of things, with only one bottle costing more than $200. Two of the bottles are available for less than $150 and the rest are priced between $180-$190.
  • The lineup as a whole has a fun chronology to it trading between fresh and style to more funky bottles for most of the tasting.
  • On the fresh side of things, we start with a young but very well put together Linkwood. This is one of my personal favourites from distillery 39 in recent memory. Style-wise, it compares well to the equally great BenRiach we had in August, but with more spice and and green wood notes coming through, and a little less creaminess.
  • In what could be a sign of a post-brexit apocalyptic future in which all Scotch Whisky comes from one single remaining distillery – we have two very different Loch Lomonds in this Outturn. One is older and unpeated (or perhaps shows the bearest hint of peat?) – the other is quite young and peated. Which is better? the 135 or the 122? That is for you to decide. I, for one, welcome Loch Lomond as are our new distillery overlords. May their multiple-society-number reign be righteous and true.
  • The first Glenlivet we have seen in a while is spicy and rich with vibrant fruit notes. It reminds me of a few SMWS and indie Longmorn I have enjoyed over the past few years or so.
  • The fourth bottle in the lineup comes from distillery 37 – which also gave us the most expensive SMWS bottle we have seen so far in Canada back in April of this year. This one is younger and does not break the bank. It is also shows some wonderful yet not over-the-top sherry notes and the barest hint of peat.
  • Possibly the funkiest bottle of the night was the 46.70, which shows a heavy Madeira Cask influence. I thought it would be divisive because of this, but it turned out to be more of a crowd-pleaser at the tastings.
  • Bottle number six comes from my personal favourite Islay distillery, SMWS number 10. It is on the unpeated side of things but big and oily and malt-forward with a bucket of salt on the palate. I honestly would have guessed this was from distillery 66 if I had tasted it blind without the cheat-sheet to read from.
  • I already mentioned the young, peated Loch Lomond, which was the last of the night, but good grief did I enjoy this one. It packs a lot of flavour and fun into a young whisky package.

Curious about the seven new bottles? Read on below – but first I would like to thank the always wonderful Peasant Cheese for providing the small bites to go along with our monthly pilgrimage up cask strength whisky mountain. Also, don’t forget we have plenty of past releases you can browse anytime on our Scotch Malt Whisky Society Pages.

Twitter and Instagram: @sagelikefool

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Women in Wine

by Bri

Women have always been involved in the world of wine. If you look back more than a century or two, their involvement may have not been traditional or even on purpose but women were and still are pivotal to the winemaking world. To write this tasting blog I have to be honest: I never thought specifically about women in the wine world. Before anyone gets upset it wasn’t a decision I made purposefully. Being caught up in a world that has many merits on knowledge, sometimes it can feel unrealistic without years for practice and a network of other like-minded people. Saying all that I am now jumping with joy that I was given this tasting because the history of women in wine are remarkable and many stories need to be told. The tasting not only focused on women winemakers but also vineyard owners, generational turmoil and historic serendipity. Let’s dive in and see the fascinating stories of six inspiring women within the current global wine industry.

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Vino Italiano

by Abigail

Italy is a country full of wonders. Not only does Italy have a wide range of beautiful traditional dishes, breathtaking architecture, and incredible landscapes, it is also home to some of the most historic and diverse wine regions in the world. Wine and Italian culture have been intertwined for millennia, even before most other countries had learnt the ways of viniculture. It has over 2000 indigenous grapes, and only a quarter of which have been documented, scattered across its mountainous landscape. The country itself is a narrow, long strip of land that extends itself from the cold continental Alps to the hot Mediterranean Sea, creating diverse climates across the regions. As a country, Italy is a force to reckon with when it comes to wine both in production volume and diversity of style. This tasting will only show the tip of the iceberg for what it is known for.

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Scotch Malt Whisky Society of Canada August 2019 Outturn

by Evan

Summer is in full force and August is here.
Half-n-Half is this month’s theme – pairing whisky with beer.
Matching suds with bottles of green glass
Is it a Society lover’s dream, or will it just kick their ass?

‘Hauf & Hauf’ is the theme for August with changed up the way we typically run an SMWS tasting. The SMWS Canada consulted Calgary SMWS member and beer writer Don Tse to help create the pairings, based on the style of whisky and the beer itself.

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Rosé! It’s not white. It’s not red. It’s just delicious!

by Dave

If I have to pick one type of wine that would be the only wine that I would be able to drink. I think it would be rosé. Ok, I guess it would actually be bubbles first and then rosé. That being said there are some amazing sparkling rosés as well so I might actually be safe just sticking to rosé. I love rosé and if you haven’t given it a try or you have a misconception that it is solely a sweet wine, you are missing out on a whole other world of joy! Rose’s can be amazing. They can be dry, off-dry, high acid, low acid, round and voluptuous, or laser-sharp.

Rosé may just be the most approachable wine style around. It pairs well with food, it can be unbelievably good on their own, they can make a sunny day feel even that much more special, or they can just share some desk time with you as you decide the best ways to romance their beauty with words.

Summer is upon us, which makes it the right time to drink rosé. Of course, I would say the same thing for any of the other three seasons as well… If you want to try some rosé I am going to go over the ones that we tried at our tasting, however, if none of these draw your attention, do not fret. We have lots of others in store as well so there is always something new and delightful to taste!

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Old Malt Cask 20th Anniversary Tasting

by Evan

Old Malt Cask turned 20 this year. The brand, owned by Hunter Laing, has an interesting history because it is linked to the history of the Hunter Laing Company itself. In fact – the OMC brand actually predates the birth of the Hunter Laing Company itself as it was originally started by Douglas Laing.

Douglas Laing is an independent bottler that was founded in 1948 by Fred Douglas Laing after he acquired the rights for the King Of Scots Blend. Fred and his wife had two sons. Fred Jr. was born in 1950. Stewart Hunter Laing was born in 1947 or 1948. Both brothers eventually joined their father, working at Douglas Laing. Before that though, they both had apprenticeships at other Scotch Whisky companies, something that seems to be a hallmark of families who make Scotch Whisky their trade.

Fred Douglas Laing passed away in 1984 and it was then up to his sons to run the company.

Old Malt Cask was first introduced in 1999. It separated itself from other indie labels by not typically releasing bottles at cask strength, or watering things down to oblivion at 40 or 43% either. Instead, most OMC bottlings are cut to 50% ABV – in a sweet spot that is approachable but robust and typically less expensive than other single casks around.

Hunter Laing is the result of a split of the Douglas Laing Company and its assets between brothers Fred and Stewart in 2013. Apparently, the had a long history of not getting along with each other. In the dividing on the company, The new Hunter Laing, which was set up by Stewart and joined by his two sons’ Andrew and Scott, retained Old Malt Cask. Douglas Laing continued on with a few less brands, but has created some new labels since, focusing more on the Blends and Blended Malt side of things than Hunter Laing typically does. Fred Laing was joined by his daughter Cara at about the same time as the split. But I digress… Continue reading

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Wine Workshop: Rosé

by Abigail

So it’s finally feeling like summer to most. Stampede is underway, we have not experienced any torrential downpours in the last couple of days, and the temperature is consistently above 20 degrees. With the incline in temperature, people tend to pick more pink or white wines, so this the perfect time to talk about some Rosé!

What is Rosé?
Well, I’m glad you asked. Rosé is that ‘grey area’ between white and red wine. Rosé has some contact with the skin, so it doesn’t fit into the white category anymore. But it doesn’t have as much time macerating as red wine does (red wine can macerate with the skins of the grape up to a few weeks, rosé typically only has contact for a couple of hours), so it’s not as dark are red, so it kind of has to hang out on its own.

Because there’s not as much of a defining factor as to what makes a wine rosé, people can interpret it differently. So, for this tasting, I decided to showcase a rainbow of rosé, from the most delicate hint of pink to the darkest, richest Rosé. This also helps to showcase the different styles of Rosé, from light, crisp, refreshing, to other Rosés that have more structure that you can enjoy all year.

Let’s get started!
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Making Bourbon Great Again, Again, Again

by Evan

We recently hosted another sold-out Bourbon/American Whiskey tasting here at KWM. Despite having to put up with me talking about the bottles at these Bourbon tastings, people still seem to be excited about tasting them.

This is for good reason: it doesn’t matter how boring my talks are, the bottles poured are typically represent very good value. Unless they happen to be a 15-year-old single cask Tennessee Whiskey like the last one in this lineup. That expensive exception aside, the other six bottles in the lineup were $115 bucks or less. Four of the bottles can be had for 75 bucks or less. In Canadian Dollars even!

I am very happy for two things: One, that these American Whiskey tastings are popular enough that we (I) can host at least one each season. The second is  that there is enough new American Rye and Bourbon hitting shelves for me to put an entirely new lineup together for pretty much every single tasting. Except when I want to revisit some old favourites…

What did I choose to feature in this round of our Making Bourbon Great Again tasting? Read on below!

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The Wines of Summer

by Abigail

So, summer hasn’t very much felt like summer as of yet. It’s rained, it poured, and it rained some more, but I’m English, so this is a style of summer I’m used to. And for the record, we’re not buried in snow *touch wood* and Calgarians are notorious for making the most of nice weather (i.e. patio-ing as soon as its above 0 degrees), so this evening is all about celebrating summer with wines that are perfect for quenched palates.

When thinking about wines that are summer friendly, it’s always safe to find styles of wines that are brighter in style, a touch lighter, and maybe lower alcohol (dehydration is REAL people!). For example, big heavy reds tend to have more of a comfort/warming effect, and that’s why they work so well during the winter months. But in the summer, we tend to switch directions, craving food/wine that have more of a cooling effect, which are wines that aren’t as bold or brash, rather wines that are brighter and fresher. For tonight’s line up, I wanted to showcase other wines to explore during the summer months, not just Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Noir (even though they are perfect for summer, or any time of the year). Tonight, we are going on an adventure for the perfect summertime juice!

Saint Cyr Pet-Nat NV
St. Cyr is based in the beautiful region of Beaujolais. The vineyard is planted mainly in the town of Anse, where the sun beats down on the land. They practice only organic agriculture, limiting the use of chemicals on the land, and not adding any gunk into the wine. All of their wines on our market are perfect for summer, but the Pet-Nat is something special. Made from 100% Gamay, this dry, unfiltered sparkling wine shows notes of cloudy apple juice, blossom, citrus and a touch of spice. It’s a wine that is easy, breezy, yet energetic. Enjoy any day of the week, especially if a patio is involved. $36.99

Domaine du Haut Bourg Pavillon Muscadet 2017
Located in the heart of the Appellation Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu, the Domain du Haut Bourg has been built by four generations of winegrowers. The first vine was planted in 1944 and today the total area of the vineyard has grown to 40 hectares. Pavillon is the name of the parcel where the grapes are from. The vines are 40 years old and produce a fine wine that is chock-full of minerals and bracing acidity. Showing greater length and complexity, this wine opens up to classic melon, citrus notes in the nose, but more reserved and more complex. $22.99

Tenuta di Castellaro Bianco Porticello 2017
I chose this one because not only is a perfect wine for summer, but the wine itself is named after one of the most popular beaches in Lipari! Malvasia Bianco and Carricante grapes from the volcanic island of Lipari, just north of Etna. Salvo Foti is the guru. All bush vines, no chemicals, all by hand, native yeasts. A dry white wine, with a straw yellow colour with bright green reflections, which comes from the combination of the liveliness of the Carricante and the aromaticity of the Moscato Bianco and Malvasia delle Lipari. The scent is herbaceous and fruity notes, with hints of apple, make it fresh and balanced. $29.99
Winner for the evening!

Terra Vecchia Une Ile Rose 2018
Set in Corsica, known as “lle de Beaute”, the domaine stretches between the sea and the mountains, on land filled with history. The combination of terroir and ancient Corsican grape varietals has given Domaine Terra Vecchia worldwide recognition. This rose is a very expressive and complex, combining notes of red fruit, candy and citrus. Fresh and full on the palate with aromas of grapefruit and red currants. The long and delicious finish is the expression of a stylish, well-made wine. 100% Nielluccio. This wine can be enjoyed on all drinking occasions. Its freshness makes it perfect as an aperitif and its elegance allows it to accompany the finest Mediterranean or exotic dishes. $25.99

Cacique Maravilla Pipeno 2017
The history of the estate goes back to the conquistadors and the first vines were planted at that time. The Malbec and Pais originate from vines planted in 1766 (10 years before the United States declared independence!). Farming and winemaking are done in a traditional, natural approach. All farm work is done organically and the vineyards are dry farmed which allow a fuller expression of the unique volcanic soils of the area. Located in the Bio-Bio Valley in Chile, Cacique Maraville shows the true essence of ancestral winemaking. There Pais is something most would not recognize. its tart, earthy and full of life. It’s definitely the curveball for this tasting, but it also comes in a 1 Litre bottle, so perfect for sharing! $40.99

Tenuta di Castellaro Ypsilon 2016
Another wine from Castellaro, but this one is certainly a great red for summer sipping! The latest addition to the Castellaro home: a new red wine that takes its name from the geographical shape of the Aeolian archipelago, which draws a Ypsilon lying on the sea, off the Sicilian coast. It is a blend that harmonizes three red berries characteristic of Lipari, Sicily and Etna: Corinto, Nero d’Avola and Alicante in a wine ready to drink, purple and full-bodied that maintains freshness and minerality. $33.99
Winner for the evening!

Merayo Sangria NV
Merayo winery is Pedro Merayo ́s dream. With the help of his oenologist and friend Fermín, he modified the fruit warehouse and started the adventure of commercializing quality wines based on the varieties Mencía, Godello and some Valenciana. They have been helped by the fact that they have some amazing old vines and recovering almost 20 hectares of southern orientated vineyards near Valtuille de Arriba and Villafranca, from where you can see the ruins of the wine-press of Penediños.

This Sangria is a special production originally made just for friends. We would like to consider ourselves friends because this is a semi-exclusive wine to Kensington Wine Market and we are one of the only places in the world outside of the winery itself where you can get it. With this amazing wine you don’t have to worry about mixing, adding fruit or doing anything else other than cracking a bottle and trying to make sure you don’t drink it too fast, because it is that delicious! The term ‘dangerously drinkable’ was possibly originally created to describe this wine.

We are sharing it with our friends so now you can get a bottle or three (while it lasts) to share it with yours! $25.99

Hopefully, this tasting or this blog post opens some new ideas of what to enjoy this Summer. Thank you to everyone who attended, and thank you to Peasant Cheese for supplying the nibbles!

- Abigail Pavka

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