Hot Summer – Hotter Bourbon with Evan

In the previous American Whiskey tasting we hosted back in May I focused on Craft Distilleries throughout the USA – some older and some younger. This time around most of the lineup consisted of more traditional distilleries and Bourbon – with a few exceptions.

This was the lineup:

Straight Edge Bourbon – 42% ABV
This Whiskey is bottled by Splinter Group which is known as an NDP. In American Whiskey terms, NDP stands for Non Distiller Producer. This means that Splinter Group does not create the whiskey themselves – since they do not have a distillery they instead purchase stock from other Distillers and bottle it themselves.

Straight Edge Bourbon is a blend of 5, 7 and 8-year-old Bourbons from Kentucky and Tennessee. Produced from a mashbill of 70% corn and the balance a mix of rye and wheat. The Bourbon was finished in Napa Cabernet barrels before bottling at 42%. Only a little over 10,000 bottles were produced. $84

Tin Cup American Whiskey – 42% ABV
Originally created by Jess Graber – who also was originally behind Stranahan’s Whiskey which also hails from Colorado. Now owned by Proximo Spirits (Bushmills and Jose Cuervo).

While not marketed as a bourbon, Tin Cup is essentially this in all but name. Created from 4 to 5-year-old stock sourced MGP in Indiana with a high rye mashbill of 64% corn, 32% rye & 4% malted barley. Bottled at 42% ABV. $43

Jim Beam Single Barrel – 47.5% ABV
Jim Beam is massive distillery in Clermont, Kentucky responsible for the creation of many different bottles including Jim Beam, Knobb Creek, Bakers, Booker’s, Basil Hayden, Old Grand-Dad and more. It is owned by Beam Suntory.

Jim Beam Single Barrel comes from specially selected casks that hail from the same stock that goes into Jim Beam White Label and Black Label. It is made from a mashbill of 77% Corn, 13% Rye, and 10% Malted Barley. Bottled at 47.5% ABV. $47

EH Taylor Small Batch – 50% ABV
Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor was known as the father of Bottled in Bond or Bonded Whiskey. The Bottled in Bond Act of 1897 was the first consumer protection law put in place in the United States. It was enacted to promote and guarantee the provenance and minimum age of American whiskey at a time when there were many adulterated and downright fake ‘whiskey’ on the market.

The law states that a Bonded Whiskey must be all made at one Distillery by the same distiller and entirely produced within the same year. It has to be bottled at exactly 50% ABV and at least 4 years old. $100

EH Taylor Single Barrel – 50% ABV
The Single Barrel version of EH Taylor is also Bottled in Bond and is made at Buffalo Trace Distillery. All EH Taylor Whiskey is aged in barrels that lay in Warehouse C – which was originally built in 1881 by the Colonel. $100

Wild Turkey Rare Breed – 56.4% ABV
Wild Turkey actually has a pair of master distillers – the father/son duo of Jimmy and Eddie Russell.

This Wild Turkey offering has been around since 1991. Typically blended from casks aged from 6, 8, and 12 years old. Bottled at Batch strength. $51

Wyoming Bourbon KWM Cask – 56.36% ABV
More than any other Bourbon we tasted our way through on the evening of this event, I was excited to pour this for our tasting. I am very happy with this single barrel and much of that comes from having a hand in selecting this specific barrel.

Our first exclusive cask of Bourbon of Wyoming Whiskey, from Kirby Wyoming. Bottled at 112.72 Proof, or 56.36%, this barrel proof Bourbon barrel can be found nowhere in the world but Kensington Wine Market! Only 192 bottles… it won’t last long! $100

After the lineup was tasted through, those that attended voted for their two favourites of the night. When the dust cleared it was a tie at the top between the EH Taylor Single Barrel and our own Wyoming Bourbon KWM Cask. Everybody seemed to be in a single cask mood for the night!

Thank you to everybody in attendance and a big thank you to Cured Delicatessen for providing the food compliment!

Cheers and until next time,
Twitter: @sagelikefool

Instagram: one part of @kwmwhisky // @sagelikefool


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The New Beers of July 1 of 2

Hello, beer nuts!

It’s time again for a giant list of mouth-watering new beers and summertime quenchers. I’ve already gone through and tasted these, and they are all pretty damn good. So think of me as your official tester(taster?) and guide to all the summer beers you didn’t know you needed in your mouth.

So please take a quick-ish tour with me of my “new arrivals” shelf. This is a 2-parter because there are just so many new beers, so read on and try not to drool on the keyboard.

Guava Libre! By The Bruery: This is an intriguing imperial cream ale with added vanilla and guava. As strange and off the wall as you’d expect from The Bruery, this beer is meant to mimic a Cuban pastry. So expect a bready sweet and fruity beer that’ll make you want it for breakfast AND dessert! ($18.59 for a 750mL bottle)

Oo Cassis by Pohjala: A big and boozy Baltic porter, full of roasted malts, cacao and coffee, with black currants added, giving deep and rich dried fruit notes, slightly sour jam and plenty of muddled berries. ($8.29 for a 330mL bottle)

Wild Card Brett IPA by Phillips: A sweet and floral wild IPA with bready malts and a touch of fruitiness throughout. A curious and unique beer for those who love to explore! ($8.69 for a 650mL bottle)

Pipeline Coffee Porter by Kona: Pipeline is a wonderful, lighter bodied porter with a generous roasty character and moderate coffee tones thanks to the Hawaii-grown Kona coffee. Nothing overpowering about this balanced and comforting porter! ($21.39 for a 6-pack of bottles)

Hanalei Island IPA by Kona: Kona packs this session-style IPA with oodles of tropical fruits such as Passion fruit, Guava and Orange. Light and crisp, super fruity with a good bitter finish. What more could you ask for? ($21.39 for a 6-pack of bottles)

Blood Simple Blood Orange Wit by Beau’s All Natural: Beau’s took the classic Belgian wit style, and juiced it up… so to speak. The addition of blood orange juice, peel and cacao nibs give the beer a unique flavour for the style with deeper chocolate tones along the dry, but pungent citrus notes. (9.59 for a 600mL bottle)

Pacific Wonderland Lager by Deschutes: This is a super summery lager with a pleasant citrusy hop character. Dry and crisp, with a touch of bitterness, and an overall pleasant feel. Just try and stop be from taking this to the beach! Wait… we have no beaches…($21.89 for a 6-pack of bottles)

Berliner Weise by Les Trois Mousquetaires: Light and fluffy, and slightly bready. Big lactic tartness with over ripe lemon coming through. Super refreshing and demands to be cold, but drank when the weather is hot. ($5.19 for a 330mL bottle)

Je Ne Sais Quoi by Little Known Brewery: Medium bodied, hazy malts with light bread tones and a moderate sweetness. Big tropical and citrus tones with a good underlying bitterness that persists a little through the finish. Just as the name suggests… this is a little known brewery. ($4.09 for a 473mL bottle)

Gimme Mo IPA by Crux: A great modern day IPA, like we’ve all grown to love. Light pilsner malt gives a terrific platform to show off hops! In this case, it’s whole leaf Citra and Mosaic. Big citrusy and tropical fruits with hints of pine, and a mildly sweet malty foundation. ($4.49 for a 355mL can)

Lazy D’haze East Coast IPA by Powell: Hazy, orange, moderate body with loads of citrus and tropical fruit aromas, with the flavours to match. Orange peel, mango and pineapple come through on the palate, with a light bitter tone on the clean finish. ($9.19 for a 650mL bottle)


So there’s about half of what there is. I’ll release the other half in just a short while after you’ve had a chance to get through this one.

Aside from bottled and canned good, what about the kegged goods? Well as of now on the ol’ growler bar, I have a Mango and Passionfruit Saison from Banded Peak, a Lager from Trolley 5, and the Nemesis NEIPA from Zero Issue. Also, coming on thursday is a session IPA from Coronado, so make sure not to miss any of those before the weekend!

I’m going to cut it there, but stay tuned or more!

Until then, have a good mid-week!


Twitter: @ShawnsBrewsCGY

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Volcanic Wines with Grant

Volcanic Wines with Grant

How to illustrate the impact of volcanic soil conditions given there are so many places where this has occurred. First, start with a rock star line up.  I included the first item to give a sense of the variation in a wine due to its soil condition.  While the differences we significant the cause has many facets.  The evening was really interesting and many of the wines illustrated the impact of their historic and recent geologic events.  Many favourites but as always great enthusiasm and enjoyment.  The wines:

Pascal Cotat 2014 Sancerre “Les Monts Damnes”
Grape variety: Sauvignon Blanc
Location: Sancerre, Loire Valley, France

Pascal believes in natural winemaking—the vast majority of his plots are cared for organically. Harvest is never rushed; in fact, Pascal harvests more than a week after every other winery in the region. Needless to say, extra maturity on the vine means extra body and complexity in the wine. Vines are around 35 years old and are located on very steep slopes, requiring harvesting by hand.
The Cotat family pioneered single-vineyard bottlings in Sancerre, and each terroir has its own unique personality. In general Pascal wines show a more luxurious, plush mouthfeel in combination with this balanced acidity. Wines are always bottled unfined and unfiltered.

Les Monts Damnes 2014 boasts sweet grapefruit, white pepper, dried flowers, sea breezes and white peach juice on the nose.  The mouth is at once savoury and saline, with stony persistence and a wave of Meyer lemons and more white peaches. Fermented in old oak barrels, this wine always shows hints of gun flint and chalk on the nose with distinct pear and smoky $72.99

Ata Rangi Sauvignon Blanc 2014
Grape variety: Sauvignon Blanc
Location: Martinborough New Zealand

Vibrant! Delicious! There’s nothing quite like a Martinborough Sauvignon Blanc. The Kiwis have really created a unique style and flavour profile with their award-winning whites. The Paton family at Ata Rangi is known for its quality wines and here’s a vibrant example of Sauvignon Blanc showing a glorious medley of bright passion fruit, orange blossom, grapefruit and lemon grass flavours. The wine has an appealing ethereal texture and almost fizzy, fruity acidity that adds an extra shot of freshness. This is made to be paired with food. Lovely with shellfish or herbed chicken. $32.99

Domaine Weinbach Pinot Gris Cuvee St Catherine 2014
Grape variety: Pinot Gris
Location: Alsace, France

Rich and unctuous, this is a wonderful pairing with an equally rich food, perhaps foie gras and brioche toast. “The dynamic trio of Fallers continues to bottle some of France’s (hardly just Alsace) richest and most flamboyant wines,” according to Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. Subtle notes of orange meet freshly-cut pear flavours, amplified by some residual sugar. The richness of the palate is cut beautifully by a fresh and pure, citric acidity and a wrought phenolic structure which lends pleasant notes of subtle, enticing bitterness.  Vineyards are farmed organically and biodynamically. $82.99

Ata Rangi Pinot Noir 2012
Grape variety: Pinot Noir
Location: Martinborough New Zealand
Ata Rangi is a Maori word for “dawning sky” or “new beginning.” Deliciously crafted by Clive Paton, this often sets the standard by which other New Zealand Pinot Noir is judged. It displays a slightly leafy nose with cranberry and a touch of forest floor. Clean, vibrant fruit flavours. Compelling! 92 points from Robert Parker, if you need more convincing; he says it has “expressive notes of kirsch, black raspberries, wild blueberries and violets over hints of black pepper, cedar, forest floor, humus and black truffles. Medium-full bodied with a good amount of muscular fruit and a long earthy finish.” $88.99

White Rose Estate Pinot Noir 2014
Grape variety: Pinot Noir
Location: Willamette Valley, Oregon

Planted in 1980 to own-rooted Pommard clone pinot noir, the 10-acre White Rose Vineyard is one of the oldest and most storied vineyards in Oregon. Planted on east-southeast facing slopes of volcanic Jory soils in the heart of the Dundee Hills, the vines consistently produce fruit of great character and complexity. Aromatic complexity and depth of flavours that demonstrate varietal typicality are the fundamental goals for all our wines. Annual production is around 3,500 cases per year of Pinot noir. The operation was founded in 2000, when owner and Producer Greg Sanders purchased the 10-acre White Rose Vineyard, planted back in the late 1970s. The winemaking philosophy embraces the history of fermenting whole-clusters yet adapts this traditional approach to modern winemaking practices producing evocative wines that are expressive, complex, age-worthy and classically elegant. $49.99

Argiolas Costera Cannonau di Sardegna 2013 DOC
Grape variety: Cannonau (Grenache)
Location: Sardinia, Italy

This wine is made from 100% Cannonau (Grenache) and is a testimony to the quality of wine produced from this varietal. This “beauty” from Sardinia is ripe and jammy and loaded with mouth-filling flavours of kirsch, black cherry, truffle and very ripe strawberries, black cherries, herbs, and spices. The wine has warmth with unexpectedly deep colour and fullness on the palate. French oak barriques provide rounded tannins and flavours of vanilla. $31.49

Rotie Cellars Southern Red 2012
Grape variety: 70% Grenache, 25% Mourvedre, 5% Syrah
Location: Walla Walla Valley, Washington

Rotie Cellars was created “out of a desire to pay homage to the wines of the Rhone Valley. Since 2007, winemaker and owner Sean Boyd’s goal has been to make traditional Rhone blends in Washington State. Boyd’s winemaking philosophy is simple- combine old world winemaking techniques with the highest quality Rhone varietals that Washington has to offer. Boyd sources from some of the best and oldest vineyards in the state in an effort to showcase the most elegant blend possible, while ensuring the typicity of the fruit is expressed.” “The salinity on the mid-palate is seamlessly integrated with fresh, red fruits, finishing with refined tannins,” according to the winemaking team. $69.99

Planeta Maroccoli Syrah 2010 IGT
Grape variety: Syrah
Location: Sicily, Italy

Sicily is responsible for approximately 12% of the total wine production of Italy. Planeta Syrah is a deep ruby colour; dark fruit flavours include cherries and plums with notes of dried herbs; dry, medium body, easy drinking. Spices fused with jams of red fruit, including blueberries and more, side by side with mint chocolate, black pepper and cinnamon. $49.99




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Oh Canada! Canadian Craft Beer

Time to celebrate Canada in all its unique glory! The first thing I want to acknowledge -naturally- is the great Canadian beer scene and all of the talented brewers we have!

I carefully selected a handful of beers from around the country, highlighting various styles and exceptional brewers. I also asked our friends at the Peasant Cheese Shop for some platters of Canadian-made cheese and meats, and we tasted through the whole darn thing! Here’s a little snippet of what we had.

Moody Ales Intrepid Lemon Matcha Saison: A mildly tart, lightly spicy saison, with big lemony notes and some grassy hop character. The matcha comes into the finish as more herbal tones that evolve out of the lighter grainy base.($11.59 fr a 650mL bottle)

Outcast New England Super Session Ale: Light, and I mean super light. Low alcohol, very light malt, and super, super hoppy. Of course by hoppy, I don’t always mean bitter (though this one is decently bitter) but rather packed with tropical fruits and juiciness. (Currently sold out.)

Blindman New England Pale Ale: This New England style pale ale will knock your socks off with its hazy, juicy hop profile. Loaded with massive aromas of tropical fruits and citrus, and a silky murky body. ($17.59 for a 4-pack of tall cans)

Blindman Batch 150 Red + White RIPA: Blindman’s 150th beer! In celebration of Canada’s birthday, we get this tasty IRA done solely with Canadian ingredients, and in a true Canadian pint can! Various malts of white and red character, along with a ton of hops. ($21.49 for a 4-pack of 568mL super tall cans.)

Dieu du Ciel Solstice D’ete: Aromas of acid, tart, and intense raspberries. Its acidity is quickly felt on each side of the tongue before leaving all the room for the wonderful taste of muddled raspberries. (Available on the Growler bar until it’s gone!)

Driftwood The Last Aurochs: a classic Weizenbock style, with a robust malty base, fermented with Hefeweizen yeast. The result is a bready malt beer with big tonnes of banana, dark fruits and spice along with a big, semi-fluffy carbonation. (currently out of stock)

Collective Arts Imperial Porter: Bigger and more intense than their standard porter, Stranger than Fiction. Heavy Roasty notes with a pronounced sweetness with a hit of booziness on the finish. ($5.29 for a 473mL can)

With a lineup like that, there’s no way anyone could have left unhappy. There were even some new favourites, style discoveries, and a whole lot of learning. The favourites of the night were Blindman New England Pale, followed by Dieu du Ciel Solstice D’ete, and finally Blindman Batch 150!

I certainly can’t complain about the results, considering my two favourites made first and second place. I also wanted to give a special mention to The Last Aurochs, which happens to be a fantastic and tasty beer and a style that I normally don’t drink at all. I wish I received a few more cases of it!

So this marked the end of the spring beer tastings. For those whose interest this post has piqued, I have one more beer tastings scheduled between now and September, an IPA tasting on August 10 to be exact! You can book your seat here, and I hope to see you there! That’s about all for now.



Twitter: @ShawnsBrewsCGY


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SMWS Canada July 2017 Outturn

July is here and we are currently entrenched in the long and hot days portion of summer. Being that this is Calgary we will likely see rain, hail, and a freak snowstorm soon but for the time being at least we can enjoy the outdoors and bar patios and barbeques.

The only reason to be inside is an occasion such as this: The July Outturn for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society of Canada. What a reason though! This month’s lineup includes TWO single malts that are at least 25 years of age. There is a twenty-year gap between the youngest and the oldest bottle tasted. There is an Islay bottle that was tasted second in the lineup instead of last. Has the world gone mad?

Perhaps. It is Stampede time so everything – at least here in Cowtown – is a little more topsy-turvy than usual so keep that in mind.  By next month we might return to calmer waters but for now, we should all enjoy this outturn with its generation gap of ages on the bottles and the vast spice notes and vibrant, big flavour contained therein!


Here are the six new SMWS bottles in the order tasted:

This 13 year old Speysider is 56.1% after maturing in a 1st fill barrel
Flavour profile: Light & delicate
Outturn: 120 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “Fresh, sweet and fruity aromas of apricot Danish, poached pears in honey, French apple tart, buttery shortbread and a melon medley salad in a citrus ginger dressing gave us all that ‘summer time and the living’s easy’ feeling. To taste; citric with the slightest touch of spice like pear Calvados liqueur served over refreshing mint and lime sorbet. Water added a creamy mango and lime smoothie, foamy bananas and the freshness of glacier mints, while on the taste deliciously easy drinking like a Pineapple Fluff cocktail; white coconut flavoured rum, pineapple and banana juice with the final ingredient being Midori melon liqueur.”
Drinking tip: “Summer time, either reality or fantasy”

From Islay, this 9 year old spent its life in a refill barrel and is 60.9%
Flavour proflle: Young & spritely
Outturn: 204 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “A sweetly perfumed and floral cloud gave way to puffs of wheat breakfast cereal, salted caramel and sawdust in a dunnage warehouse before condensing into heavier dried papaya, samphire and Turkish delight in a sandalwood box. The texture was superbly rich and mouth coating with a buttery oiliness of shortcrust pastry and lifted sweetness of maple syrup in Earl Grey tea with lemon peel. Water released a complex interplay between sweet orange, vanilla ice cream, tuna steaks and leather alongside sweet and salty popcorn with a refreshing finish of Fisherman’s Friends and tangy wood spices.”
Drinking tip: “Prepare to be surprised”

This 13 year old Speysider comes in at  57.9% after being matured in a 1st fill barrel
Flavour profie: Spicy & sweet
Outturn: 234 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “We agreed the nose was complex – sweet vanilla and liquorice bullets, strawberry smoothie and dusty lemon sweets; also some herbal elements and a sawmill situated in a summer meadow. The palate was sweet but sharp (icing sugar on green apples, white pepper on banana custard) with spicy heat (sweet chili chips, fiery gobstoppers, cinnamon, liquorice). The reduced nose was a more straightforward confectionery of aromas (jelly babies, lucky bags, dolly mixtures, chocolate). The reduced palate had lost some of its heat – now fruity and sweet (jammy dodgers, gomme syrup, strawberry jam) with light spices tingling the finish.”
Drinking tip: “With snack food or tapas”

39.127 – TO DIE FOR
This 25 year old Speysider spent 24 years in an ex-bourbon refill hogshead before being transferred into a second fill toasted oak hogshead for the remainder of its maturation
Flavour profile: Deep, rich & dried fruits
Outturn: 288 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “Wow!! The nose is big, bold and beautiful, floral, herbal and fruity – essence of rose petals, patchouli oil, rolled oolong tea leaves, fresh mint, ripe plums…  discover 1001 aromas but just wait until you taste it. Brilliant albeit, no surprise, a little tamer; roasted pineapple with honey and pistachio, candies tangerine peel and the soft spiciness of gingered gooseberry chutney. Water added surprising freshness, lemonade with orange blossom water and the taste was simply ‘to die for’. After 24 years in an ex-bourbon refill hogshead, we transferred this whisky directly into a second fill toasted oak hogshead for the remainder of its maturation.”
Drinking tip: “The title says it all”

This 29 year old Speysider was matured in a refill hogshead and comes in at 58.5%
Flavour profile: Old & dignified
Outturn: 116 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “Utter silence, you could hear a pin drop at the first nosing and it took some time for us to come out of our trance before some aroma descriptors were muttered; rum soaked raisins, dates, figs, sultanas, walnuts, cinnamon, baked apples and ripe cherries. The taste neat was rich, sweet and smooth with exotic spices, charred oak and dark chocolate. Even more elegant with the slightest drop of water like vintage leather seats in an E-Type Jaguar with handmade Oriental rug car mats and unlit cigars lying on top of the wooden dashboard. Whoever said “to travel is better than to arrive” was wrong!”
Drinking tip: “Close the curtains and pretend there is no world outside”

This 17 year old from Islay is from a refill hogshead and comes in at 53.9%
Flavour profile: Lightly peated
Outturn: 246 bottles
Panel’s tasting note: “Have you ever tried sweet, spicy and smoky cowboy beans made with bacon, garlic, fried onions, ketchup, balsamic vinegar and smoked paprika, all in a pot simmering over a barbecue fire in the wild west (on a Hebridean island)? Someone needed medical attention with antiseptic, but then we all tucked in with thick slices of ciabatta. If you are into sweet and salty flavours you will enjoy this. If not, can I tempt you with a drop of water as it turned into a lamb, black pudding and mustard hotpot and how about finishing with pickled herring in a sour crème sauce.”
Drinking tip: “With a loaded hot dog by the sea”

A big thank you goes to Cured Delicatessen for their ongoing support and food pairings at many of our tastings including this one.

In addition to this month’s new releases, you can browse all past releases on our Scotch Malt Whisky Society pages!


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New Beers June 15, 2017

Howdy again all you beer fans!

Another week, another carefully selected, and soon-to-be extensively tasted, truckload of new beers! I’ve got a whole bunch of new stuff for you all, plus some exciting returns!

Before I start I want to give you a heads up that I recently tapped a new Outcast keg, a Bridge Brewing keg, a Dieu du ciel keg AND a Bench Creek keg! You can check out the selection here!

Keep reading for more deliciousness.

Day Break White IPA by Powell Street: All the lovely yeasty, spicy tones of a Belgian wit, and all the fruity hop aromas and bitterness of your favourite IPA, this beer covers both bases. A soft, pillowy wheaty base holds all the goodies for you, including mild coriander and clove, mild citrus, with that malty sweetness poking up throughout! ($9.19 for a 650mL bottle)

150 Heritage Ale by Lighthouse: Celebrate Canada’s 150th in style! Lighthouse dedicates this maple, smoky, rye strong ale to this lovely country and it’s 150 years! Malty and moderately sweet, with hints of maple, smoke, and spice. Bold, powerful, but gentle (remind you of a certain country?). ($11.49 for a 650mL bottle but it’s 15% off for Canada day weekend!)

Thunder Punch IPA by Phillips: This is a New England style (even if they don’t say it in their description). Phillips brings you this hazy, silky bodied IPA with loads of juicy hops. Mango, Citrus and passionfruit tones on a grainy, soft, mildly sweet base. ($7.99 for a 650mL bottle)

The Last Aurochs by Driftwood: The Last Aurochs is a classic Weizenbock style, with a robust malty base, fermented with Hefeweizen yeast. The result is a bready malt beer with big tonnes of banana, dark fruits and spice along with a big, semi-fluffy carbonation. ($10.59 for a 650mL bottle)

Rotbier by Schanzenbrau: We don’t get new German beers on the market too often! Schanzenbrau’s Rotbier is a delicious example of a German Red. Plenty of caramel and toffee notes, on a tasty but dry malty base, accompanied and finishing with a firm, crisp bitterness. ($5.99 for a 500mL bottle)

Helles by Schanzenbrau: Schanzenbrau’s Helles is a bright, crisp lager. Vibrant floral and white bread aromas come through, followed by light melon, earth and spice tones, along with a dusty grain husk bitterness. ($5.99 for a 500mL bottle)

Hefeweizen by Rittmayer: Rittmayer brings this medium bodied, full flavoured Hefe to the table. Huge clove aromas cover part of an over ripe banana underneath. A robust wheaty malt holds everything up and keeps throwing off aromas! ($6.19 for  500mL bottle)

Quaywi Sour by Bridge: This is a kettle sour done with Kiwi Juice and Hull melon. It’s dominated by a moderate sourness and a wheaty base. Mild Kiwi notes throughout, which are accentuated with the acidity. Finished decently dry with the tartness lingering. ($8.89 for a 650mL bottle)

Maple & Thistle Rye Ale by Innis & Gunn: Just in time for Canada’s birthday! Maple and Thistle infused beer, aged in 150 casks for 150 days! Maple, herbal, and mildly spicy. The oak comes through as creamy, vanilla and caramel, and compliments the light-to-moderate maple flavours very nicely. ($10.19 for a 500mL bottle but it’s 15% off for Canada day weekend!)

Bravo by Firestone Walker: Bravo is a big, bad barleywine aged in bourbon barrels. Using earthy and resinous Fuggle hops, this robust and boozy brown ale is warm and comforting with a larger-than-life body and a sweet, boozy finish. Available in very limited quantities! ($27.19 for a 330mL bottle)

Parabola by Firestone Walker: Parabola is consistently rated one of the best beers in the world! An insanely rich Russian imperial oatmeal stout, that spends 1 year in bourbon barrels. The dense and chewy malts are sweet and sticky, with huge notes of vanilla, bourbon and toasted bread. It will mellow out and drink beautifully over the next 6 months, or cellar for even longer! Available in VERY limited quantities. ($27.19 for a 330mL bottle)

Hit the Deck IPA by Fernie: A cloudy and silky IPA in that style you’re all growing to love. Big tropical fruit and citrus all over, but not too crazy on the bitterness thanks to the late hopping. Juicy and hazy and ready to drink right now! ($8.49 for a 650mL bottle)

Intrepid Lemon Matcha Saison by Moody Ales: A mildly tart, lightly spicy saison, with big lemony notes and some grassy hop character. The matcha comes into the finish as more herbal tones that evolve out of the lighter grainy base. ($11.59 for a 650mL bottle)

Dino Sour by Phillips: A decently tart and fruity sour that lives up to the name! Big lactic, cheek-filling tartness, and a ripe blackberry tang on the finish. Overall, light in the body, and decently easy to drink, but I’m sure a friend would love for you to share!($8.99 for a 650mL bottle)

Papa Bam Bam’s Oat Pale by Toolshed: Fuller bodied pale ale, with big grainy malt. Though not too dense to be drinkable. Fruity hop notes all over with a moderate bitter finish. ($16.69 for a 6-pack of cans)

Summer Haze Honey Hefe by Hoyne: Very vibrant honey notes throughout this beer, along with a pretty mild grainy profile. Light citrus fruits along with more honey. Light and Summery for sure! ($7.99 for a 650ml bottle)

Alright, that’s about it for now. See you in the shop!

Twitter: @ShawnsBrewsCGY

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Canadian Whisky with Evan

When it comes to Canadian Spirits there are a lot of interesting events in the works right now. We have new craft and micro distilleries popping up across the country and even quite a few right here in Alberta. Many of these distilleries will experiment with whisky down the line – but for most, we have to hurry up and wait to see what whisky they will release years from now. There is a reason for that.

In order to state that your bottle is Canadian Whisky, the contents must have spent at least three years ageing in a wooden barrel no larger than 700 litres in size. It must be bottled at a minimum of 40% ABV.

With so many new distilleries coming online in the past few years there are a plethora barrels quietly ageing away in various distilleries and warehouses – patiently waiting for the opportunity to eventually be called whisky. There are some that are close:

  • Eau Claire Distillery in Turner Valley could actually release their first Single Malt Whisky this fall if they choose to do so. They will have barrel aged spirit that meets the 3-year minimum at that point. We will just have to wait and see if Eau Claire feels it is ready for release when that happens… They also do Gin, Vodka and some cool limited releases seasonally.

  • Dubh Glas Distillery in Oliver, BC just celebrated it’s 2nd birthday this June. Kensington Wine Market has its own barrel ageing there. It just passed the one year of age mark. In the meantime, grab their Noteworthy Gin when you can.

  • Our store also has a barrel with Last Best Brewery and Distillery right here in Calgary. It is about seven months old right now. They also have excellent beer by the keg and are starting to release their Gins as well.

  • Shelter Point Distillery on Vancouver Island has sold out of it first Single Malt whisky release. We should be getting the 2nd edition from them later this year.

  • Two Brewers in the Yukon continue putting out very interesting and limited small batches of Single Malt. Release 4 and 5 are available now. Release 6 should be just around the corner.

So what do these distilleries sell in the meantime if they do not yet have whisky to sell? Typically the sell clear spirits such as gin and vodka. Park Distillery does these and more as seen with the first bottle we tasted in the lineup:

Park Distillery Glacier Rye
As mentioned above – Park Distillery is located in Banff. It is actually a Restaurant which happens to also have a micro-distillery operating within. It is definitely worth a visit and a tour if when you have a chance to head for the mountains.

Park Glacier Rye is made from 100% organic Alberta-grown Rye grain. This is an unaged rye that never touched a barrel. $52

Caldera Hurricane 5
Caldera Distillery is located in River John, Nova Scotia. The distillery is named after a ship that was built in River John way back in 1884. This bottle takes its name from a Hurricane that hit the coast of Atlantic Canada on October 18th, 1939. Caldera now grows its own grain which includes Rye, Corn and Barley for their whisky production.

The first release of Caldera Hurricane 5 (batch #0001) was sourced from a distillery in Western Canada. After it was distilled using Caldera’s own grain to Distiller Jarret Stuart’s specifications It was shipped to Caldara to finish ageing and be bottled at 40% ABV. $45

Pike Creek 10yr Rum Barrel Finish
Pike Creek is part of a trifecta of higher end and very good Canadian Whiskies released by Corby Distillers. The others in the series being Lot 40 and Gooderham & Worts. Originally released as a Port Cask Finish – this new release is finished in Rum Casks. The Rum cask influence definitely shines through. 42% ABV. $42

Wiser’s Legacy
Wiser’s Legacy is a blended rye whisky created using unmalted rye grain, malted rye, and malted barley. The components are distilled in copper pot stills instead of column stills. Some of the Rye used to make the also excellent Lot 40 Rye may be used in making Legacy as well.

Part of what makes Wiser’s Legacy unique is the use of virgin toasted oak barrels for ageing the whisky instead of the more typical refill/ex-bourbon barrels. This helps marry more spice notes into the rye. Bottled at 45% ABV. $57

Wiser’s Red Letter Canadian Whisky
The original Wiser’s Red Letter Rye was first made in 1857. It reintroduced in 2007 as a limited production to celebrate the first bottle’s 150th Anniversary. The current bottling is a wider release that started in 2013. Like all Wiser’s Whisky, it is made at Hiram Walker Distillery in Windsor, Ontario.

The current edition is a re-creation by Dr Don Livermore, master distiller at J.P. Wiser’s and possibly the most well-known whisky maker in Canada. It is aged for 10 years in ex-bourbon barrels before being finished in virgin oak casks. It is also non-chill filtered. Bottled at 45% ABV. $110

Lohin McKinnon Single Malt Whisky
Lohin McKinnon gets its name from the two people behind the whisky: Gary Lohin and Stuart McKinnon of Central City Brewing and Distilling in Surry, B.C. Central City has been around been around since 2003 as a brewery. A decade later in 2013 they started distilling. The do a variety of spirits including multiple gin and vodka. Lohin McKinnin is their first whisky. It is aged in ex-bourbon barrels and bottled at 43% ABV. $62

Two Brewers Yukon Single Malt Release 5
The 5th release from Two Brewers, an offshoot of Yukon Brewing, is an “Innovative” single malt made from a sour mash.

What does a sour mash process lend to this whisky? The label states: ‘Influences from a sour mash distillation create a broad spectrum of sensations, from bright and briny nose to a finish of sweet dried fruit and nuts.” Bottled in February of 2017 at 43% ABV. 1380 total bottles. $100

Shelter Point Distiller’s Select Cask StrengthThis bottle ended up selling out after the tasting.
$SOLD OUT – Watch for a new Shelter Point release to hit our shelves later this year!
Only 1000 bottles were released of this limited Christmas bottling from Shelter Point. Only the 2nd distillery bottling, it was created by marrying 4 casks of single malt and 1 cask of straight rye whisky. Initially matured in American oak the whisky was finished in “very special” French Oak barrels. The whisky has been bottled at 58.4%, only 90 bottles are coming to Alberta.

There you have it: 7 different whiskies plus one unaged spirit from all over our fair Country. Here were the favourites of those in attendance:

3rd Place: Lohin McKinnon Single Malt Whisky

Tied for 1st Place: Pike Creek 10yr Rum Barrel Finish & Two Brewers Yukon Single Malt Release 5

Thank you to everybody in attendance and a big thank you to Cured Delicatessen for providing the food compliment!

The lineup showcased some new players in Canadian Whisky – especially on the single malt side of things. It also had three releases from one of the oldest distilleries still in operation in Canada – one that we sometimes look over but still makes some great whisky. It also included a Rye that was not whisky at all – but hopefully showed the promise things yet to come to fruition.

The bottom line in all of this is that if you have not had any Canadian Whisky in a while and want to see what all of the fuss is then you have plenty of good quality and sometimes inexpensive bottles to choose from.

If you want to eventually taste whisky from the new kids on the block at some of the Craft Distilleries? Be patient and start drinking their Gin!

Cheers and until next time,
Twitter: @sagelikefool
Instagram: one part of @kwmwhisky //  @sagelikefool

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Cool Climate Wines of the South Seas

Presented by Abigail

Our Summer Solstice tasting was a huge success with some clear favorites: Alkoomi Blackbutt  Cabernet Sauvignon, Frankland, West Australia the #1 pick followed by Grosset Alea Riesling, Clare Valley, Australia. Here is the lineup from the tasting:

Dunes & Greene Pinot-Chardonnay Brut
Hightide Vineyard, Eden Valley, AustraliaEden Valley shares its western boundary with the Barossa Valley wine region and is well known for producing high quality Riesling and Shiraz wines.  Within the Eden Valley region there is a sub-region called High Eden which is located higher in the Barossa Ranges, giving cooler temperatures.

This bottle of bubbles is made from a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir it shows delicate aromas of lemon zest, fresh strawberries and cream. On the palate, look for Chardonnay flavors of subtle citrus notes and fresh acidity. The Pinot Noir complements this by adding richness and texture. The result is a full flavoured sparkling wine with a refined finish. Enjoy with appetizers, seafood, Chinese takeout or just when you feel like some bubbles. $18.49

Flametree Embers Sauvignon Blanc
Margaret River, West Australia
Margaret River is the foremost wine growing region in the South West Australia Zone, with nearly 55 square kilometres (21 sq mi) under vine and over 138 wineries as at 2008. A Mediterranean-style climate, lacking extreme summer and winter temperatures, provides ideal growing conditions. The climate is described as similar to that of Bordeaux in a dry vintage.

This is a crisp, zingy and refreshing white wine is made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes. It’s just what you want on a patio on a hot day, or enjoy as an aperitif at your next dinner party. And what’s a Flametree, you ask? It’s a type of tree that you can find in Australia, which blooms with bright orange, flame-like flowers. $23.99

Richmond Plains Blanc De Noir
Nelson, New Zealand
The Nelson Wine Region is located at the north end of the South island. Benefiting from a sunny, maritime climate, the picturesque valley vineyards of Nelson yield some of New Zealand’s most freshly scented, intensely flavoured Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, as well as vibrant, supple Pinot Noir.

Blanc de Noir is a white wine made from a red wine grape — in this case, Pinot Noir. This beauty comes from Richmond Plains, a well-respected New Zealand producer. It’s aromatic and lovely, with notes of citrus flowers, pears, nectarine and spice! Check it out! $29.99

Moss Wood Chardonnay
Margaret River, West Australia
Oh yes, such a lovely wine — and an impressive 93 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, too! The review: ”The 2014 Chardonnay, which saw 100% malolactic fermentation, has a pronounced and seductive, honeyed-peach and marzipan nose with a cinnamon toast and ginger undercurrent. Apple tart, as well as yeasty and toasty notes grace the silky palate, which has a long and savory finish. This Chardonnay has beautiful harmony and should age well for 5-7 years.” $57.99

Grosset Alea Riesling
Clare Valley, Australia
The Clare Valley wine region is one of Australia’s oldest wine regions, best known for Riesling wines. It lies in the mid north of South Australia, approximately 120 km north of Adelaide. The vineyards for Grosset Riesling grapes are certified organic.

The Alea comes from a narrow corridor of hard red rock with poor, orangey, red loam topsoil in the Grosset Rockwood Vineyard (ACO certified organic) at Watervale. The Grosset Alea 2016 has bright voluminous aromas of white flowers and kaffir lime and a generous, almost fleshy mid-palate with potent lemongrass and lime flavours. Almost dry, the palate is succulent and long with a tight fine structure and exhuberant sweeping acidity on a clean dry finish. TGreat choice for a range of Asian dishes, or as an aperitif. $39.99

Ata Rangi Crimson Pinot Noir
Martinborough, New Zealand
Martinborough is located at the southern tip of the North Island. Martinborough has a warm micro-climate, with hills to the east and west. Almost all of the vineyards are in thin ribbons around the northern and eastern sides of the town, and on the Dry River to the south. It is famous for Pinot Noir. Ata Rangi, meaning “dawn sky” or “new beginning”, is a small New Zealand winery with a big reputation for serious Pinot Noir.

A terrific Pinot Noir from one of New Zealand’s wine-making pioneers, a guy who sets the benchmark for quality. Always a top scorer with the critics, too! “A winery that really needs no introduction for NZ Pinot lovers, there’s not much for me to add about the long-serving, dedicated team behind Ata Rangi – they just go from strength to strength,” according to Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. “The Pinots have always been great!” $43.99

Alkoomi Blackbutt  Cabernet Sauvignon
Frankland, West Australia
Frankland River is one of the five subregions of the Great Southern in Western Australia. It is located in the northwestern corner of the region and it is the most northerly, inland subregion of Great Southern, still Mediterranean in terms of dominant winter-spring rainfall, but with greater continentality, thus favoring Riesling, Shiraz and Cabernet. Alkoomi Wines is one of WA’s largest family owned and operated wine producers. The winery’s name is an Aboriginal word meaning “watering place”.

The clear favorite! 89+ points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate for the 2008 vintage of this fantastic red blend from Western Australia! The review: “A blend of almost 50% of Cabernet Sauvignon, and the rest Cabernet Franc and Malbec, the deep garnet-black colored 2008 Blackbutt opens with a complex nose of creme de cassis, mocha, aniseed, tobacco, sandalwood and smoked meat with whiffs of pencil shavings and eucalyptus. Medium-bodied, it offers just enough layered and evolving fruit complexity in the mouth, plus a medium level of velvety tannins and enlivening acid, before finishing a little abruptly. Drink it now through 2019.”$60.99

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Tight Wad Oenophile – Summer Sippers Edition

Presented by Nancy and Abigail

It was a perfect “almost summer” evening for our bargain hunter tasting and we had 19 eager oenophiles ready to discover their next favorite summer sippers. The following were presented in order of tasting:

Domaine des Aubuisieres Vouvray Brut – $26.99
Loire Valley, France
The Chenin Blanc grape shone brightly in our welcoming glass of bubbles. Bernard Fouquet, wine maker, is a star performer in the Loire and his wines are internationally recognized as being among the best available.  Lovely, fresh, creamy and wallet friendly!

Vina La Rosa La Palma Rose – $14.99
Cachapoal Valley, Chile
La Palma is Spanish for palm tree and at Viña La Rosa, the vineyards share the land with thousands of native Chilean palm trees – hence the name. This Rose is a blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon at a price that will make you blush with pleasure. Aromas of wild strawberry and red cherry and a hint of apple and pear. On the palate you’ll find luscious notes of very ripe strawberry and hits of red apple and ripe pear. A mouth-filling array of flavours, with crisp acidity and a clean finish. La Palma Rosé pairs nicely with green salads, grilled vegetables and California rolls. $14.99

Lot 205 Winery Chardonnay – $14.99
This California winery was especially created to produce affordable wines that everyone can relate to. Whether you have a well-tuned palate or are just getting your feet wet in this crazy world of wine, Lot 205 won’t disappoint!  This is a ripe and generous Chardonnay showing aromas of baked apple, ripe citrus, pineapple, toasty oak and a touch of butterscotch.  The wine is clearly intended for drinking now! Lush and smooth on the palate, its creme brûlée oak notes and fruit keynotes of baked pear and pineapple make it a great partner for meatier grilled fish such as ahi and equally delicious with lighter poultry dishes.

Verum Pinot Noir Patagonia – $23.99
South America, Patagonia
Our first red was from a small boutique winery that’s still family owned. Verum is a beautifully priced Pinot Noir from Patagonia, Argentina’s southernmost tip. Notes of cherries, clay and spice, this red is a winner paired with duck, chicken, turkey or lamb. Everyone loved the price as much as the wine!

Diego Murillo Organic Malbec – $10.99
South America, Patagonia
Best value of the night, hands down! Organic, family owned, and soooo wallet friendly! Patagonia is one of the world’s southernmost wine regions and just 1,400 miles north of Antarctica! Aside from being organic, it’s very affordable and very, very cheerful. Rich, smoky aromas, ripe black cherries and dark earth with an abundance of spice. Lots of dark fruit, cocoa and prune flavors. Smooth and hearty with a mouthwatering spicy finish.

Borgata Primitivo di Puglia – $17.99
Puglia, Italy
This was the crowd favorite. Big bang for the buck! It’s a modern, upfront Primitivo (think Zinfandel) with a deep, rich red colour, a bright berry nose and a long, velvety finish! From Puglia, an ancient wine-producing region in Italy, but one that is only recently getting much attention here in Canada. Primitivo is the forefather of Zinfandel, and has been grown in southern Italy for millennia.  La Borgata represents exceptional value and is a Kensington Wine Market exclusive!

Karl Erbes Wurzgarten Riesling Kabinett – $20.99
Mosel Valley, Germany
We ended our evening on a sweet note with this highly rated white from Karl Erbes. 90+ points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate for the 2012 vintage of this beautiful German Riesling! The review: “The 2012 Ürziger Würzgarten Riesling delivers bright aromas of ripe and overripe Golden Delicious apples. Rich, lush, sweet and piquant on the palate, this elegant, creamy textured 7.7% alcohol wine has a wonderfully spicy finish.

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Summer Wine Pairing Ideas Part 2 – Chicken and Pork

Looking for more summer wine pairing ideas? Here are some ideas for Chicken and Pork delivered to you by the wine staff of Kensington Wine Market. If  you are looking for pairing ideas for beef and fish you can look here. Read on to see pairing options from Bryan, Abigail, and Davis.



Crivelli Ruche 2016 – $42.99
What a beautiful aromatic crunchy wine. Ruche is a great Piedmontese red from Castagnole Monferrato (Asti area) it (should) be a must try. Floral with geranium and rosy violet like tone. Soft and caressing with touches of quince, apricot and wild fruits. Try with “cacciatora” chicken. “Hunter” chicken with onions, herbs, peppers and tomatoes.

Poggio Sole Chianti Classico – $29.99
This ‘modern interpretation’ of Sangiovese is supple and fresh. A Kensington Wine Market exclusive – this Italian wine has wonderful structure and concentration. Try with Italian chicken fricassee – chicken stewed in tomatoes and mushrooms.


Sumenjak Alter 2013 – Jakobski dol, Slovenia -$31.49
A so-called ‘orange wine’, this Riesling and Chardonnay blend is a perfect for people wanting to try something different. Produced just outside Maribor, Slovenia, this wine is fermented on skins, in open vats for 5 days, and then fermented further and aged for 2 years in wooden barrels. It produces a wine with a golden/amber colour, with notes of apples, citrus, nuts and stone, and bright acidity. Pair with homemade grilled chicken Caesar salad.

Terre di Leone Valpolicella Classico 2014- Veneto, Italy
From a small, family-owned production in North East Italy, this wine is a true representation of Valpolicella Classico. With a complex body and racy acidity, this wine shows notes of spice, red berries and a touch of oak. Recommend serving with a slight chill, alongside a ‘fresh off the grill’ chicken burger.


Tiare Collio Sauvignon – $32.99
Collio is found in Friuli right at the northern tip of Italy. The cool climate and clay soils are perfect for producing the incredibly unique and bold Sauvignon Blanc. The wine is fermented in Stainless steel, but 20% does see malolactic fermentation to soften the acidity of the wine. Once you pour a glass you will be bombarded with intense mango and apricot, with hints of grapefruit and elderflower, and strong minerality on the palate. The acidity and bold fruit flavours will match perfectly with spicy and sticky grilled chicken.

Coca I Fito Tolo do Xisto Mencia – $32.99
Coca i Fito is owned by two brothers that have vineyards in Northeast and Northwest spain, who tend to focus their wines on being modern, yet still an expression of the soil the grapes are grown in. Mencia is a cousin of Cabernet Franc found in northwestern Spain above Portugal, in this case grown in a sub region called Ribeira Sacra. This fresh and fruity mencia only spends 4 months in oak, and focuses on expressing the slate minerality in the soil (Tolo do Xisto translates to “mad about slate”). The notes of fresh red fruit, and balsamic vinegar will nicely complement the grilled chicken, and since the wine isn’t too tannic the spice from the jalapeno won’t  be an issue.



Kuentz Gewurztraminer Selection 2015 – $36.99
Spiced rose water and lightly perfumed; this Kensington Wine Market exclusive is exotic and oily. Heady, with flavours of dried bergamot and elderflower jelly. Pair simply with thinly sliced and gently smoked Speck, cheese(Munster), pickles or passion fruit.

Tetu Grenache 2013 – $37.99
The Catalan donkey or Rue Catala on the label reminds us of the stubborn and determined 60-year vines. This Grenache shows great depth, crushed minerals and intense black fruit. Very finessed with wild herbs and earthy aromas. Pair with gently spiced pork goulash with herbed dumplings.


Cascina Sant’Eufemia Nebbiolo d’Alba (Barrel) 2009 – $34.99
Coming from the mountainous North Italian region of Piedmont, this Nebbiolo d’Alba is a beautiful representation of the Nebbiolo grape (same grape used in Barolo). Compared with the other Nebbiolo d’Alba produced by Cascina, this wine has been aged for 12 months in Slovenian Oak. With notes of berry fruit, spice and tobacco, and with strong, rounded tannins, this wine is perfect to pair with smoked barbeque pork belly.

Spinifex Papillon Grenache Cinsault 2015 – $31.99
One of the first modern style Barossa Valley wines to be brought to the market, Spinifex Papillon is a beautiful balance between ripeness/depth and freshness/clarity. Coming from 90-year-old vines, the wine produces blueberry, strawberry and lavender aromas, accompanied by flavours of red berries and decadent flowers. Racy, bright and bold, this wine would pair well with grilled pork chops.


Domaine des Aubuisieres Vouvray Silex – $25.99
This Vouvray from within the Loire Valley of France is an excellent representation of dry Chenin Blanc. While there is actually 9.5g/L of residual sugars, the abundance of acidity completely balances the wine out. Firm acidity and notes of honeysuckle, orange marmalade, and white flowers make this Vouvray a perfect match for pork, especially when glazed with mustard and honey.

Bodegas Iturria Tinto 2011 – $27.99
If you were to ask the people of Toro (east of Rioja, close to Portugal) what red grape they grow, they would say Tinta de Toro, and while it is a different clone than they use in Rioja, it is still technically Tempranillo. Tinta de Toro tends to err more on the side of dark fruit like cassis and blackberry than it’s Rioja cousins, where you tend to find more red cherry, vanilla, and coconut. The Iturria also has 10% Garnacha, which is atypical for the region, and its notes of spices, oak, dark fruit and soft tannins make is a great match for grilled pork.

We hope you enjoy our selections. As always if you find yourself in need of more wine or some pairing ideas you know where to find us!

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