Love at First Sip – February 14, 2017

February 14th on our winter tasting schedule is always an easy one to plan… What works better than Champagne and sweets on Valentine’s Day? For us at KWM, on the other end, it is always a struggle, and for more than one reason. For one: how  do we reinvent ourselves after conducting the same Valentine’s Day tasting year after year? But most importantly: which staff member is going to devote their Valentine’s Day evening to teach a class instead of spending time with his or her sweetheart? Serendipitously, the answer was right in front of us this year… As the most passionate consumers of bubbly of all genres and partners in life, Christine and Sebastian were the perfect match to direct our Valentine’s tasting.

To change things up, we decided to present the tasting as one of our “dynamic duo” classes, putting Christine in charge of presenting the classic sparkling wines from Champagne, and Sebastian presenting some serious bubbly contenders from elsewhere. The one thing that each of the bottles presented had in common is that all of these sparkling wines were made in the Traditional method, or Méthode Champenoise. What this means is that all of the wines that we poured were bottle-fermented and have been done in the same time and money consuming manner that is known to produce the most refined type of bubbly booze in the world.

With world class sparkling wines, high quality sweets from Yann Haute Pâtisserie and Manuel Latruwe, and amazing guests, we both had a wonderful time and great conversations!

Our Selection:

2012,  Pierre Paillard Les Terres Roses Bouzy Grand Cru Extra-Brut $62.99
The Paillard family has been growing vine and making wine in Bouzy since 1768. Classified as Grand Cru as early as 1935, Bouzy is the historical heart of the Champagne area. This is one of the most delicate and refined rose Champagnes, and one of the absolute best value on the market. A combination of 65% Chardonnay, 28% Pinot Noir (vinified white), and 7% Bouzy Rouge Old Vine Pinot Noir, with a 4.5g/L dosage. It is made 100% from estate-grown fruit from the grand cru of Bouzy on the south-facing slopes of the Mountain of Reims and farmed without pesticides. Subtle and chalky, this minerally rosé frames hints of white raspberry, smoke, biscuit and preserved lemon with firm acidity and a light floral overtone. If you are a fan of rose Champagne with lobster, you have found your perfect bottle!

2012 (Bottled 2016), Fattori Ronca Methodo Classico $44.99
We’ve been working with this winery for a few years now at KWM as an Alberta exclusive, starting with the excellent value Pinot Grigio and Soave, and eventually bringing in the whole Valpolicella lineup including the Amarone wines. The new additions this year are two sparkling wines made of local grape varietal Durella (AKA Durello) which is suitable for sparkling wines due to high acid levels. The Durello grape is of ancient autochthonic origin and fossils found in the area are said to be the direct ancestors of Vitis Vinifera.  Its vines are vigorous, disease resistant, and grow best in a soil composed of lime and clay of volcanic origin.  The clusters are medium sized, pyramid shaped (sometimes with wings) and compact.  The grapes have a thick and leathery skin (may be the reason for it name) and good acidity.  Only 10 growers in all of the area make this wine and only about 600k bottles of Lessini Durello are made annualy. I’ve selected the Methodo Classico for this evening as it is closer to Champagne; with 36 months aging on the lees and it is bottle fermented to give finer bubbles. What you’ll find on the nose are characteristic notes of bread crust and yeast elegantly intertwined with hints of dried fruit and citrus. The palate is seamless and the persistent taste comes from good acidity that blends nicely with fine bubbles and a distinct flavour. The long finish offers notes of citrus and almond. This wine is perfect as an aperitif, and ideal with dishes of raw shellfish and sushi. Great with Verona’s traditional dishes like Sopressa (aged salami), cheese and Baccalà alla Vicentina (baked cod fish).

NV, Laherte Frères Les 7 $112.99
Champagne Laherte is at the cutting edge of artisan, grower Champagne production. It is based in Chavot, just to the south of Epernay, in a sector known as the Coteaux Sud d’Epernay, but it has holdings in 75 different parcels, covering 10 different villages mainly in the southern sectors or to the west in the Vallée de la Marne. Firmly environmental of temperament (farming organically, following biodynamic principles), the ‘brothers’ (Laurence, Auréline, Christian and Thierry) are pleasingly pragmatic when they enter the winery, although they favour wood for the first fermentation (70% of the wines are treated to neutral oak). Pale straw with a fine bead. Powerful scents of exotic fruits, brioche, smoky minerals and singed orange. Deep and rich but also precise on the palate, offering palate coating orchard and pit fruit flavors and sneaky minerality. Rich and energetic at the same time, finishing with strong mineral cut and lingering notes of candied rose and anise. A vibrant Homage to the old varietal used in Champagne when it all started!

2011 Argyle Brut $44.99
Since 1987, Argyle Winery has produced world-class methode champenoise Sparkling wine, barrel fermented Chardonnay and ‘silky’ textured Pinot Noir from low yielding vines on winery farmed hillside slopes. Argyle was named “OREGON’S PREMIER WINERY” by Wine Spectator in 2000. The Dundee Hills AVA is an American Viticultural Area located in Yamhill County, Oregon. It is entirely contained within the Willamette Valley AVA, and is approximately 28 miles southwest of Portland, near the town of Dundee. Aromas of grapefruit citrus-blossom, and fresh baked vanilla-caramel ladyfingers ride the pinpoint bubbles up into your senses. Is this a poem or a tasting note! We love the Argyle Brut. Made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, it offers a long-lasting finish. This is one of the most exciting sparkling wines made in Argyle’s 20 years!

Ulysse Collin Blanc de Noirs Les Maillons Extra-Brut 109.99
“Insanely beautiful…Beguiling, totally fascinating,” according to Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, which gave this fabulous Champagne 95 points. Sweet red berries, rich citrus, wax, flowers and subtle spices waft from the glass, but the Maillons is all about weightless, crystalline purity, tension and grace. From a purely textural standpoint, the Maillons stands apart for the finesse of its mousse and its exceptional overall harmony. Olivier Collin crafts beguiling, totally fascinating Champagnes from his tiny facility in the sleepy town of Congy. The wines are fermented and aged in barrel (with some lees stirring) and bottled without fining or filtration. Between 20 and 40% of the wines each year are kept back as reserves. This cuvee is a Pinot Noir from a 6 hectare “lieu-dit” called Maillons, which has heavy clay soils over chalk. Olivier owns 2.5 hectares here, and his vines average 40 years old. It’s a truly amazing wine, with lots of personality and character.

NV, Montauto Metodo Classico Brut $42.99
A KWM exclusive from a wonderful producer in the Maremma region (Tuscany) of Italy.  Riccardo Lepri, a former economist, turned winemaker with a very simple motto: “drink my wine or don’t. There is no in between”.  Riccardo Lepri has been at the helm of his family’s vineyard for more than a decade. Located in a part of Southern Tuscany that is terra incognita for most tourists, Vini Montauto has made the rather controversial decision to focus on white wines in a region that is far better known for her busty reds.  But that’s very much Riccardo’s strong suit. He sees himself as an anti-conformist and his wines proudly follow suit. “We make wines that are drinkable. So many modern winemakers are entirely focused on a wine’s bouquet. The average wine drinker ‘tastes’ a wine by smelling it and then downing the entire glass. Winemakers know this and pay so much attention to the nose that they neglect the taste. Part of our job is to make the average wine drinker understand the proper tasting technique. Don’t just smell the wine, savour it on your palette and appreciate the taste it leaves in your mouth.“ This wine s made in the traditional method, and from organically grown grapes, this dry sparkling wine comes from 100% Sangiovese grapes. Very fresh on the nose with hints of red berry fruit and yeast. The palate is delicate and crisp with mineral flavors and good acidity. Delicate and fresh, this is a superb fizz with a difference. Works well as an aperitif or you could serve at brunch with a hearty frittata.

Egly-Ouriet Grand Cru VP Extra-Brut $154.99
They are only a handful of Champagne growers who follow biodynamic, organic or ‘living soil’ principals of viticulture. These producers do not use chemical fertilisers, herbicides, pesticides or chemical anti-fungal sprays; they work on very low yields (roughly half the regional average); produce vineyard or village specific wines; minimise the use of sugar addition and follow a very natural winemaking regime with no fining or filtration and low levels of sulphur. Egly is one of these rare roducers and the results are stunning. Golden-yellow in color, this wine opens clear, deep, ripe, concentrated and very fine on the nose displaying caramel, white chocolate and brioche aromas along with ripe golden apple, red berry and rhubarb flavors, notes of nougat and bread. The attack on the palate is highly elegant, super fine and balanced again. This full-bodied yet pure and precise Champagne from the grands crus of Ambonnay, Bouzy and Verzenay reveals a nobly elegant, harmonious, fruit intense and almost velvety texture as well as a long, very fine and fresh finish with a lingering and stimulating salinity. There is purity and intensity in this wine that should taste great for at least 5-6 years.  “Few producers can equal Francis Egly in skill and experience, and larger houses cannot hope to emulate the cultivation norms…”    Michel Bettane, The World’s Greatest Wines.

The Favourites of our guests:

1.    Montauto Metodo Classico Brut (Italy)
2.    Champagne Pierre Paillard 2012 Les Terres Roses Bouzy Grand Cru Extra-Brut
3.    Ulysse Collin Blanc de Noirs Les Maillons Extra-Brut

Fantastic evening with a surprising result, having an Italian bubbly (and the cheapest wine of the evening!) as the favourite wine of the night! We all love Champagne, but finding alternative regions with lower ratio quality-price can be very rewarding.

Thank you all for reading. For those who enjoyed our “dynamic duo” tasting, stay posted for the release of our new tasting schedule. Next one: Burgundy vs Piedmonte.

Sebastian & Christine

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The Hills are Alive – February 10, 2017

The Hills Are Alive…

At my last tasting on Friday, February 10th the hills were not alive with the sound of music but it was definitely alive with the taste of wine.  I did not want to subject everyone to me torturing them with my vocal talents.  I tried to convince my wife to let me use our drapes to make some play clothes, so I could at least dress the part, but she didn’t like that idea either.  Why would I be singing the song from The Sound of Music? Because this tasting was all about Austrian wine!  The hills of Austria are definitely alive with amazing grapes and a wonderful industry for making fantastic wines!  Unfortunately it is an area where we still do not find many wines from them, here.  There are also a lot of wines made from grapes that people have never even heard of.  It was my job to familiarize everyone with a lot of these and share some of the wonderful wines that we have in store to help expand people’s horizons with these new and wonderful treats!

As a region Austria has been making wine for thousands of years!  They have traced grape production back to 700 BC, though the ancient Romans were the ones that really started making large wine quantities there around 1BC.  In the 10th-12th centuries Cistercian monks started using a lot of skills from France to make better wine and increase wine growing culture in the country.  During the 15th to 16th century Austria reached its Zenith for wine production, having more than 3 times the amount of country under vine than they do today.  Over the next few centuries’ production decreased due to wars, taxes, climate change and an increase in beer production.  In 1860 the first viticulture and oenological school is created. It has now been around for more than 150 years making the oldest viticulture school in the world.  The most influential recent event happened in 1985, when it was discovered that some people were adding diethylene glycol (antifreeze) to some wines as a sweetener.  This scandal practically destroyed the entire wine industry in Austria overnight. The following year a wine marketing board was established and subsequently quite a few more rules and standards were enacted regarding wine production quality.  This was a major turning point in wine production for Austria  and it has actually helped them to get to the point where we are today and they are making some amazing wines that wonderfully reflect Austria.  In 2002, in London, there was a blind tasting of Austrian wines against some of the best white wines from around the world.  Austria won the top 4 places and also placed 3 more times within the top 10.  A lot of the wines you come across from Austria now are so different than anything else you will find anywhere else, lots of producers are trying to use sustainable, organic methods, and they are also able to implement modern and traditional methods to make amazing distinctive wines!

In Austria they are currently growing approximately 35 grape varieties for wine making, 22 white and 13 red.  The majority of wine production is white with only 1/3 of production being red wine.  The main grape that is grown is called Gruner Veltliner which is indigenous to Austria and makes up 1/3 of the entire wine production.  This leaves only 1/3 production to any other type of white grape.  The majority of wines produced there are from indigenous grapes that aren’t typically grown in vast quantities outside of the country, making their wines even more interesting. They do grow some cool climate grapes that are originally from France such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir. If you want to try something different and delicious, Austria is definitely the place where you should look for your next bottle of wine!

For our tasting we went over 7 wines: 4 white and 3 red.  All of the wines were from grapes indigenous to Austria except for wine number two, which was a Sauvignon Blanc.  One of the hardest things to do for this class was select the wines because at the store we have a very cool selection of wines from different grapes and I wasn’t able to choose them all with the amount of time for the tasting.  Here is what we did taste our way through:

1. Johanneshof Reinisch Rotgipfler, 2015 $28.99
This is a white wine produced by the Johanneshof Reinisch family and made from the indigenous grape Rotgipfler.  Less than 1% of all the vineyards in Austria are planted to Rotgipfler which earns its name due to the red stalks that they can have.  It is found almost solely in the Thermenregion, located in the Northeast area of Austria – one of the driest and sunniest regions of Austria. The Johanneshof Reinisch  family have been making wine here for four generations.  They originally had barely 1/2 a hectare when they started in 1923 and now produce wines from over 40 hectares.  They have a very modern winery with new technology to help create some great wines.
This is a light, pale straw, coloured wine.  The nose has some spice, citrus, zest, slate, mineral and lovely aromatics.  On the palate it is creamy, spicy, with some lemon zing, red apple crispness and just overall a delicious wine to sip on.  If you are looking for something a bit light and refreshing this is a great wine to try!

2. Sattlerhof Sudsteiermark Sauvignon Blanc, 2015 $30.99
This was the only non-indigenous grape that we tried.  It is a Sauvignon Blanc from the Southern border region of Steiermark or Styria.  The region is known for producing excellent Sauvingnon Blanc. This is from the Sattlerhof family, who have been making wine since 1887. Everyone in the family takes part: their daughter even designed the label.  The majority of what they produce is Sauvignon Blanc with quite a few different single vineyard wines made from Sauvignon from their 40 hectares.  It is a beautiful place with a winery, restaurant and hotel so if you need somewhere to go and relax and have some amazing wine at the same time, this would be an awesome option!
This is a great example of Sauvignon Blanc, light and crisp and delicious.  Light pale yellow in colour and on the nose, citrus, elderflower, fresh grass and chalk.  The palate shows wonderfully crisp acidity, pear, lemon-lime flavours, and a delightful minerality.  It is a delight and I can only imagine sipping this looking over the steep green hills of their property!

3. Julius Klein Gruner Veltliner, 2015 $22.99
This wine was our introduction to the main grape varietal of Austria.  This lovely Gruner Veltliner is a Kensington Wine Market exclusive and a great entry point if you are looking to try something new.
The Julius Klein family have been making wine since 1788 in the Weinvertel region close to the northern border with Czech Republic.  They produce wines from 14 hectares and are able to store them in some of their vaulted cellars that are over 300 years old.  Some of the areas in Austria have more miles of wine cellars underground than there are roads above ground, many of these cellars being hundreds of years old.  The soils are one of the key parts to producing such amazing wines in Austria.  The Tethys Sea once covered Austria, millions of years ago and this is definitely an influence on what makes the wines so spectacular here.
This is another lighter, lovely, pale yellow wine with a touch of green.   On the nose it brings to my mind bright sunshine on an open field of flowers.  It shows exhilerating freshness and a touch of herbaceousness, slight brine and hints of peach.  The palate is chalky mineral with green grapes, pear and some green pepper.  A partner for salads or just hanging out on a patio. It would also pair well with a picnic – perhaps in that field…

4. Schloss Gobelsburg Renner Gruner Veltliner, 2014 $54.99
With this bottle we get into one of the more historic places for wine.  It is from the oldest Monastery in the Kamptal region.  They have been producing wine since 1171 and have 49 hectares with the majority of it being Gruner Veltliner.  The Kamptal region is one of the biggest wine producing areas, close to Langenlois where they even have a centre to see how wine is being produced in Austria. You could also take tours through some of the historic cellars in the area.
Eva and Michael Moosbrugger have been in charge of making wine here since 1996.  They are focused on very traditional styles of producing wine.  Where some winemakers are looking at getting new machines, they are trying to figure out what machines they can get rid of.  They even have a system that they call a “barrel on wheels” where they actually put wine into a barrel and wheel it to where it needs to go rather than pumping.  All of the oak that they use is also from a forest that is close to the winery so as they are able to get flavours that are distinct to Austria.  They are doing amazing things and this wine is absolutely stellar, top tier wine.  If you were to receive something similar from another country you could easily be paying 2 – 3 times as much.
This wine is a pale, golden yellow.  It exhibits layer after layer of aromas, with peach, grass, pineapple, tropical fruits, violet and slightly steely.  It is amazing to smell with each and every breath.  This is a full-bodied dry white with well-balanced acidity that lingers well after you have swallowed.  It is creamy with a touch of lush fruity sweetness coming across and quite a bit of mineral.  If you want a truly astonishing white wine that embodies what Austria is capable of then this is what you seek!

5. Rudolf Rabl St. Laurent, 2012 $25.99
This is another winery from the Kamptal region, they are a family winery that have been producing wine since 1750.  Rudolf Rabl took over the winery in 1975 from his in-laws and now runs it with his son.  When they first started they had only 20 hectares and now manage over 80 hectares.  They won winery of the year in 2009 and make their wines by following 3 guiding principles:
1. Only perfect grapes yield to a top wine.
2. Must from perfect grapes allows minimal intervention.
3. No fear of powerful wine.
Basically they want the grapes to speak through the wine and for the flavours of the grape to be shown and not masked by undue influence.
The grape that they use for this wine is St. Laurent, which was named after St. Lawrence day on August 10th.  It is usually around this time when the grape to ripens.  This indigenous grape is only planted to less than 2% of total vineyards in Austria.
This red wine is pale ruby colour.  On the nose it has blueberry, blackberry, pepper, spice, violet, clove, raspberries and a touch of leather.  The palate is vibrant and refreshing with a medium body and lots of liquorice, cherry and red fruit flavours.  It is a delicious wine for a great price.  It would go well with food but is also lip-smacking on its own!

6. Gruber Roschitz, Lauschen, Blauer Zweigelt, 2015 $28.99
This red wine made from Blauer Sweigelt, which is a new breed of grape that was created in 1922 in Austria from the St. Laurent and Blaufrankisch grapes.  It was named after Dr. Fritz Sweigelt who created it.  It is the most widespread red variety produced in Austria and covers over 14% of total vineyards and has been increasing in amount planted over the past couple of decades.
This wine is from the Gruber family winery.  It has been a family farm since 1814 but it wasn’t until 1972 when Ewald Gruber decided he wanted to turn it into a model winery at the age of 16.  They started with 7 hectares of land and now run over 65.  They use organic, biodynamic methods for producing the wine and faithfully believe in wine “spirits”, everything that influences the wine, from the yeasts, bacteria’s and to the way that it tastes on your tongue.  They have drawn them delightfully on their labels in order to share their interpretations with the world.
This shows a lighter style of red wine with a pale vibrant purple colour.  The nose is full of forest fruit, jam, spice, zest, lilac and a slight earthiness that makes it irresistible.  The palate is delectably expressive with chocolate covered cherries, medium body, soft, light well-integrated tannins and tart strawberries.  It is a dream upon the toungue!  One of my go to wines right now.

7. Moric, Blaufrankish 2013 $62.99
This indigenous grape Blaufrankish was originally documented in the 18th century in Austrial. At the it was known as Lemberger or Limberger; named after the town Limberg.  It currently covers over 7% of total vineyards in Austria especially in the regions of Burgenland.
This is from winemaker Roland Velich.  Part of a longtime winemaking family – he uses biodynamic, primitive winemaking methods and obsessive sorting. All of this is done to make legendary wines that hold up to the same standards as other areas around the world.  This wine comes from Mittelburgenland, which is close to the eastern border of Austria.  In this region they grow wider range of grapes than any other area in Austria.
When I first tried this wine, it blew me away!  It has so much going on yet it remains so elegant and structured.  I loved every sip and even now think about it often.  It is a gorgeous wine with medium purple in colour.  On the nose there is currant, anis, herbs, spice and black pepper.  The palate is amazing with blueberry, plum, rich dark fruit, racy cranberry acidity, nice minerality and overall, an amazing wine!  If you like Pinot Noirs or lighter, elegant and wonderfully structured wines this wine can deliver more than all of that.

This was one of the more interesting classes that I have done and it was so cool to be able to try so many different wines and see what Austria really has to offer!  I definitely consider myself a convert to Austrian wine and hope that you will come in and see what they have to offer as well.  You won’t be disappointed!

Twitter: @smilingvines
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Scotch Malt Whisky Society Canada February 2017 Outturn

A little belated, but like they say, better late than never… We launched 6 new single cask, single malt Scotch whiskies at three sold out Kensington Wine Market SMWS Canada Outturn tastings at the beginning of the month. The range was well received, with two of the whiskies selling out immediately. It didn’t hurt that one of them was an Ardbeg. Here is the range for February 2017:

  1. 30.81: A baker’s delight – 56% – 23 Year – Refill Hogshead – Speyside - Flavour profile: Sweet, fruity & mellow - Outturn: 206 bottles - Panel’s tasting note: “Our noses found golden syrup, tinned peaches, rhubarb and custard, apricot Danish, ‘Magdalenas in a sunny Spanish orchard’ and croissants with marmalade – a baker’s delight. The palate offered leather, spice, caramelized sugar, dried  mango, American Cream Soda, amaretti biscuits and coffee kisses. The mouth-feel, initially super silky, found pleasant fizzy spice working the tongue later. The nose became even more fragrant with water – Calvados, delicate ginger ale, redcurrants, citrus, peachy talc and ‘a respectable lady’s floral perfume’. The reduced palate had choux buns, butterscotch, melted marshmallows and sugar bubbling in a pot – big  sweetness tempered by mild tobacco and perfume bitterness.” Drinking tip: “Might especially appeal to the sweet tooth, but we thought it could suit many palates” – $230 – SOLD OUT!
  2. 64.72: Fruitful joy - 58.2% – 9 Year – 1st Fill Barrel – Speyside - Flavour profile: Juicy, oak & vanilla - Outturn: 210 bottles - Panel’s tasting note: “Fruity and sweet aromas on the nose neat of freshly made strawberry jam, alpine strawberry fruit wine, which apparently works as a remedy for “reviving the spirits and making the hart merrie”, Williams pear brandy and caramel coconut shortbread. The taste had the fruitiness of pastilles, black raspberry and gooseberry jelly, lemon curd and orange-infused water. A drop of water and we discovered aromas of banana bread, passion fruit, old-fashioned cloudy lemonade and orange hobnobs. Sweet and malty on the palate like white chocolate tiffin and in the finish a refreshing tangy strawberry and rose water gin fizz.” Drinking tip: “Does that count towards my ‘five a day’?”- $118
  3. 9.90: Spicy ‘adult’ sweetness – 55.1% – 26 Year – Refill Butt – Speyside - Flavour profile: Spicy & sweet - Outturn: 583 bottles - Panel’s tasting note: “Lots of fine sweetness on the nose – we found caramel wafers, toffee, nougat and dulce de leche, but sweet tobacco, marmalade and sugary espresso dregs gave depth to that sweetness; we also got hints of pepper, Airfix glue, wicker and wax. That spicy, ‘adult’ sweetness characterized the palate too – Crunchie bars, honeycomb, pain au chocolat, coffee fondant and crystallized ginger, with one or two earthier notes (pepper, wood, tequila). The reduced nose evoked cinnamon-dusted rice pudding and satay sauce, while the palate’s yummy chocolate gingers and Tia Maria got the thumbs up all round.” Drinking tip: “With coffee and cake would be ideal” - $225
  4. 36.102: After the rain – 57.7% – 12 Year – 1st Fill Barrel – Speyside - Flavour profile: Juicy, oak & vanilla - Outturn: 228 bottles - Panel’s tasting note: “We all agreed that a very strong perfumed aroma was the dominant factor on the nose neat. However the way we described the scent varied considerably:  wood glue, spring meadow furniture polish, mango incense sticks, damp wine cellar and last, but certainly not least a coconut shea butter aromatic candle. Fiery and flavoursome on the palate; apricot and ginger frangipane tart, raspberry pepper jam and macadamia nut, coconut & white chocolate blondies made this a real experience. Diluted, like an aromatic rose garden in full bloom after the rain and on the palate lush, creamy and mouth-watering – an absolute delight!” - Drinking tip: “Let’s get the party started”- $146
  5. 55.23: Chow mein on a workbench - 55.1% – 20 Year – Refill Hogshead – Speyside - Flavour profile: Spicy & sweet - Outturn: 248 bottles - Panel’s tasting note: “Despite cut grass, herbal notes, citrus, pineapple and watermelon, we could not describe the nose as clean – an almost grubby fascination kept drawing us back – we found toasted oak and pistachios, nutmeg, ghee, an engineer’s workbench, burnt eucalyptus and chow mein noodles. The palate was concentrated and intense (‘an espresso of a dram’) fizzy, mouth-watering and impressively textured – with hits of anise and fennel seeds, plus oily, nutty, peppery elements; sweetness appeared as liquorice allsorts, white chocolate and agave syrup (especially with water) but savoury undertones, even salty, seaside suggestions and medicinal intimations made it a slightly challenging but satisfying experience.” Drinking tip:  ”Whether you have been renovating an old motorcycle or performing brain surgery – job well done and you deserve a dram of this” – $200 ( Re-release)
  6. 66.90: Steam train through a pharmacy - 58.8% – 12 Year – Refill Barrel – Highland (Peated) - Flavour profile: Peated - Outturn: 204 bottles - Panel’s tasting note:  ”The nose delivered an immediate, unmistakable blast of vanilla smoke – then cigar ash, walnut shells, polished wood pharmacy counters – eventually pine forest freshness. To taste, the smoke had a more tarry character (the taste left after working with bitumen roofing sheets), Buckley’s Mixture and eucalyptus – the balancing sweetness reminded us of aniseed-flavoured Liquorice Allsorts and blackcurrants. The reduced nose had cleaner, more clinical smoke, causing one panellist to recall a journey on the Jacobite steam train (wood, leather, smoke, heather, pine). The palate now flooded our mouths with sweet, succulent easy-drinking joy – restrained hickory smoke and blackcurrant Halls.” Drinking tip: “To make the last hour of the day (before going to bed) something special” – $130
  7. 33.134: Peat roasted pig Hawaiian style -60.9% – 8 Year – 2nd Fill Butt – Islay - Flavour profile: Peated - Outturn: 648 bottles - Panel’s tasting note: “We were invited to a luau feast in Hawaii to experience traditional Kālua cooking using an imu. A whole pig, very well salted and wrapped in ti and banana leaves and finally in a wet burlap sack, was being slow roasted for a whole day surrounded by sweet potatoes, bananas and fish in an underground oven – a pit layered and covered with hot rocks and sand. Let’s try it – salty, sweet and smoky, juicy and succulent on the inside and the caramelized bark is chewy, crispy and crunchy. Now imagine all of this with peat – a mouth-watering proposition!” Drinking tip: “When and where is the feast?” - $190 – SOLD OUT!

Don’t forget we have plenty of past releases you can browse anytime on our Scotch Malt Whisky Society Pages.

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New Beers – February 15, 2017

Hey everyone!

It’s time for an update on my favourite day of the week!
A shelf full of new arrivals means a whole weeks worth of new things for me (and you I hope) to taste! I’ve got a plethora of things from light, to dark, to sour and from all (well, most) corners of the northern hemisphere (sorry southern hemisphere, I don’t mean to ignore you).

Check out these tasty things.

Stoutella by Knee Deep Brewing
: Stoutella is a milk stout made with nutella, who would have thought? Sweet milk chocolate and hazelnut flavours dominate this beer along with mocha, mild roasted barley, and darker chocolate notes, and a dry finish. ($13.59 for a 650mL bottle)

California Dream Pilsner by Mikkeller: One of the first beers from our favourite gypsy brewer brewed at his newly bought San Diego brewery! California dream is a hoppy pilsner featuring strong notes of floral grassy hops, along with citrus, and a dry maltiness. ($4.19 for a 350mL can)

Venatrix Raspberry Sour by Driftwood Brewing
: An interesting release from Driftwood, heavy aromatics include phenols, and macerated raspberries left to ferment. A good sour character along with notes of raspberry tart and mild spice. This is a limited release and won’t last long! ($15.69 for a 650mL bottle)

Sidecar Pale ale by Sierra Nevada Brewing: Sierra Nevada is taking the citrus side of hops to the next level! Orange and citrus explode from the bottle along with strong sappy notes and a wonderful malt foundation. The citrus heaviness comes from the Equinox, Cascade and Mandarina hops, PLUS the addition of citrus peel during the boil, and fermentation. ($21.89 for a 6-pack of bottles)

Andy’s Wee Heavy Scotch ale by Common Crown Brewing: This is the very first seasonal offering from Common Crown. Rich, toffee-full malt with plenty of dried fruit on a moderate sweetness. ($ for a 4-pack of tall cans)

2 new Euro lagers have also hit the shelves. Urpiner light and dark lagers are easy drinking and approachable for anyone who just wants something to sip on after work or what have you. ($2.99 each for a 500mL can)

There are a couple of returning favourites in new formats as well! Mikkeller’s Beer Geek Breakfast is back in can form, and is also one of the first beers to arrive from his newly acquired San Diego brewery. Stone’s Arrogant Bastard is also back, and this time in tall can form! Aside from those, we’re also being revisited by Iceland’s Garun imperial stout, Phillip’s Spacegoat oat pale, and the 2017 iteration of Deschutes’ The Abyss.

That’s about it for this week. Make sure to follow me on twitter (@ShawnsBrewsCGY) to see what I’m opening for visitors and guests (that way you can join us for a sip).
Until next week, Cheers!


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New beers – February 8, 2017

Greetings once again all you beer lovers!

Just as I thought I was getting caught up with everything after the holidays, yet another few weeks of required duties and house keeping and all that stuff gets in the way. Between Robbie Burns day, cleaning all my beer shelves after the holidays, and year end sale and inventory count, there was so little time to get one of these out!

Fear not, for that has all settled down, and here is a heads up on all the sweet stuff you may not have seen the last time you were in, along with all the new stuff for this week!

Wild IPA by Category 12 brewing: This tropical fruity IPA is fermented with SaccTrois yeast for some heavy tropical aromas, and hopped with El Dorado and Azacca hops for that extra melony and fruity punch. Strong yeasty notes and a sturdy bitterness.  ($9.99 for a 650mL bottle)

Beersel Blonde by 3 Fonteinen
: A zesty and spicy blonde with big vibrant carbonation, plenty of fruity esters and a generous malty sweetness. Despite the brewery, be aware this is not a sour beer! ($8.09 for a 330mL bottle)

Workhorse IPA by Laurelwood brewing: At this point, we could call this “old school” west coast IPA. Classic grapefruit and pine bomb with plenty of resinous bitterness and a generous malty sweetness for balance. ($8.89 for a 650mL bottle)

Our Finest Regards Barley Wine by Pretty Things Ale Project: A generously sweet and hearty barley wine, and not one to miss! These folks are no longer brewing, so this may be your last chance to try this interesting English inspired barely wine.($10.99 for a 650mL bottle)

East Kent Saison by Pretty Things Ale Project: This is an earthy, spicy and floral Saison with a slightly more English focus. Light and crisp with generous notes of the hops that give it’s name. ($9.99 for a 650mL bottle)

Gluten Free Pale by Omission brewing
: A Gluten-free American style pale ale made to showcase Cascade hops. Bright and citrusy with a surprising maltiness despite the lack of gluten. ($3.69 for a 330mL bottle)

Hubert MPA by Melvin brewing
: An American pale ale that drinks like a crisp session ale. Citrusy hops that lean ever so slightly to the tropical end, along with a mild bitterness to round out the light, but caramely malt. ($24.99 for a 6-pack of cans)

DIPA by Melvin brewing: Big, robust, IIPA just how we want it. Big ripe oranges, herbal notes and a great but soft bitterness on a moderate malt backbone. Available in limited quantities! ($21.39 for a 4-pack of cans)

Cheeky Session ale by Powell Street brewing: A light, crisp session IPA with beautiful and lightly bready malt, and plenty of fruity hop notes such as mellow oranges and like zesty pine. ($9.19 doe a 650mL bottle)

Shady Character Dark Saison by Wild Rose brewing: Wild Rose brings you this new limited release, a dark saison! Fresh milk chocolate with spicy and herbal notes, and a biscuity finish. ($8.19 for a 650mL bottle)

Charming or Tedious Maple Scotch ale by Yukon brewing: Yukon brewing is celebrating their 20th anniversary, and this is their first commemorative beer for the occasion. Pure Canadian maple syrup along with smoky peated malts are used in this creamy and full scotch ale. ($8.29 for a 650mL bottle)

Triphammer Robust Porter by Blindman brewing: Finally available in cans! Blindman’s robust porter is one of the best in the province and how you can take it home with ease. Rich full mouth feel with chocolate and dark bread, and more chocolate. ($16.29 for a 4-pack of tall cans)

A few favourites, as always, return to the shop after you ravenous animals clean me out. This week, those include 3 Fonteinen Oude Gueuze (in 375mL size), Pretty Things Field Mouse Farewell, and New Belgium’s Ranger IPA has gone through a re-branding! The new version is a slightly more tropical fruity version of their classic piney IPA.

Before I go, a quick note and update on what’s being poured on the growler bar:
-Blindman’s Saison Lacombe Noir (dark saison)
-Outcast’s Alex Ale (Citra hopped pale ale)
-Trolley 5′s Conductor Vienna Lager
-Cold Garden’s Red Smashed in Irish Red

Well that’s about it for now, see you in the shop!

Twitter: @ShawnsBrewsCGY

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Port in Any Storm – February 7, 2017

On a snowy cold winters night (and it was brutal) what better to do than sit by the fire and have a glass of Port. Okay, so we didn’t have the fire or a fire sale in the store last night but we did have an evening with some fine Ports.

The class was sold out and all in attendance were certainly ready for the warmth and concentrated flavours provided by these wines.  Varied as these Ports were, the group voted four of the seven as their favorites.  It just goes to show that the many styles of Port are still appreciated.

The lineup was as follows:

Fonseca Late Bottle Vintage 2011, $29.99
Established in 1822, The Fonseca Guimaraens house style is one of richness and warmth, with a lush fruit intensity and a structure of both dimension and finesse. Late Bottled Vintage wines are aged in cask for between four to six years before bottling and are made every year. One of the top picks for the night.

Fonseca 2007 Vintage Port, $138.99
Dark black colour with purple highlights. The nose is dominated by dark fruits of blackcurrant and blackberry aromas. Subtle hints of coffee, wood and herbs with a soft velvety texture and jammy fruit. Average rating of 94 points.

KWM 25th Anniversary 1992 Vintage Port, $84.99
This 1992, 25th Anniversary vintage was produced by the house of Delaforce to celebrate KWM’s 25th.  The Fladgate Partnership acquired Delaforce approximately 10 years ago, mainly for their aged tawny stock.  Along with the purchase of this inventory came some very fine classic vintage ports, such as this 1992. The 1992 shows very dark opaque purple color, with a typically spicy nose and intense underlying aromas of blackberries and blackcurrants. On the palate enormous weight and structure with a marvelous balance of dense black fruit flavors and firm tannins. Another top pick by the group.

Warres 1985 Vintage Port, $135.99
Talk about finding an old friend that was a charmer and presented very well in spite of having some difficulty removing the cork.  A fine Port for aficionados and serious collectors — and 90 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate! The review: “The 1985 is the sweetest and richest of the recent Warre vintages. Extremely concentrated, rich, even luscious, this full-bodied, intense, opulent wine has layers of fruit, a full-blown bouquet, and impeccable balance. The soft tannins and precocious appeal of the 1985 suggest rapid maturation.”

Our evening also included some very interesting and different Tawnies as well.

KWM 25th Anniversary 20 Year Tawny Port, $69.99
This 20 Year Tawny 25th Anniversary celebration Port comes from Taylor Fladgate’s cellars in Vila Nova di Gaia.  The blend was created especially for KWM and the average age of the tawny in the blend is 20 years.  The color is bright and lively amber showing characteristic brown caramel tones on the rim. The nose offers dry white raisins and stewed prunes with brandied cherries and dark chocolate. The taste is lovely and subtle, good acidity, some nice walnut hues, and picks up on the Christmas cake spice theme.

Messias 1995 Colheita, $57.99
The company was founded in 1926 by Mr. Messias Baptista, and is now held by the descendants of the same family.  This Port wine is a vintage-dated tawny with specific bottling rules and regulations. Dark brick in color. The aroma is complex, showing up slightly spicy notes with a smooth, elegant blend of dried apricot and honey. The palate has soft tannins with pleasant and long lasting flavours. Another star attraction of the evening.

Messias 1965 Colheita, $218.99
I don’t reveal the product’s price prior to people indicating their favorites and this Port charmed the group’s hearts and was one of the top three for the evening. A few ooos and ahhhs before and after the announcement of the price. I think they all appreciated how an old tawny can captivate you.  A pale tawny wine, with a good and complex evolution. There are hints of wood and an assortment of spices. The taste is full-bodied but delicate confirming all the good sensations emerging in the nose, matching a powerful inner-nose and a long delicious after taste.

So when thinking of what to do on a cold winter’s night to take away the chills one option is to consider is a glass of Port.


-    Grant

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Into the Bottle – Intro to Wine, February 2, 2017

On Thursday, February 2nd we held an Introduction to Wine class here at Kensington Wine Market.

Along with delving into some bottles we went over quite a few of the things that need to be addressed in order to truly appreciate wine.  We discussed how to taste a wine and what to look for in a wine. Breaking it down into 4 basic categories; look, smell, taste, and overall opinion.  The class was focused on a few of the classic grapes. All the wines we tried were single varietals and from places where they are really thriving in the world.  It was quite fun to be able to try a lot of different and varied tastes from around the world, as well as learn a thing or two.

This class was a mouthful, as we had to taste our way through 8 different wines, 4 white and 4 red.  Nothing pairs so well with education as wine and I felt the selection served as a great introduction to some of the big grapes of the wine world. I was able to slip in a few of my favourites as well.  I will go through them in the same order that we tried them in the class, as it seemed to be quite a lovely way to enjoy the different expressions of each grape.

Greywacke Wild Sauvignon Blanc 2014, $44.99
This is an amazing Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, where they are doing fantastic things with this grape.  This wine is produced by Kevin Judd; one of the original wine makers for Cloudy Bay wines.  He was one of the people who really helped to put New Zealand wine and the citrus and fruit driven new world style of Sauvignon Blanc on the map.  This is a lovely wine that really expresses the “terroir” of the region.  Greywacke wines were named for the small grey stones that you find all over the vineyards and New Zealand.  This bottling is dubbed ‘Wild Sauvignon’ because he uses the wild yeasts that are in the air and on the grapes to ferment the wine.  It is an extremely expressive wine and amazingly delicious.  A very light straw colour, while on the nose you get notes of grass, lemon, and passion fruit.  As one co-worker put it, like grass next to a pond.  On the palate it is a lovely textural wine with medium acidity, a touch of smoky flint, and a lovely lemon custard taste as well.  Once you have a drink it feels like you can still taste the crust along with a lovely creamy, lemon that leaves your mouth coated with the taste.  The grapes seem to have been left to express where they are from and that is exactly what they did.  Amazing wine!

Walter Hansel North Slope Chardonnay 2013, $55.99
Chardonnay is a white wine grape that has been grown the world over. One of the top places making it is California.  This wine is exactly what you would expect to see from there.  This is a big, rich, luscious California Chardonnay.  It is from a relatively new producer who originally started to make wine with his father on their land after planting it with grapes.  In the early years they had some trouble getting a feel for their vineyards and the terrior but after getting some advice and a helping hand from some friends, they began and continue to produce some fantastic wines.  This Chardonnay is a light golden colour.  On the nose it is full of buttered popcorn, with a bit of peach, apricot, wax, violet and just a hint of funky barnyard.  The pallet is big and buttery, creamy texture, with a touch of nuttiness to it as well.  If you like your big opulent Chardonnays and delight in buttered popcorn, this is definitely the wine you are looking for.  Perfect for movie night.

Domaine des Aubuisieres Girardieres 2015, $25.99
Chenin Blanc might be a wine you have never heard of but it is definitely a wine that you need to try, and the sooner the better!  This a lovely wine from Vouvray in the Loire region of France.  This wine is made to be sweeter and it definitely is with 30g/l.  You can also find Chenin Blanc in other regions of the world.  Another region making fantastic Chenin Blanc is South Africa – where it is oftentimes goes by the name ‘Steen’.  This wine was quite light yellow colour, but on the nose loaded with honey, a touch of peach and very floral.  It was so aromatic and pleasing that I could literally sit and just smell the wine.  That is until my mouth starts watering and begging for a little sip.  Not being one to disappoint, on the palate is once again lots of honey and a lovely creamy texture. Rich, lush, with some fresh fruit and a bit of gummy bear flavour.  I wasn’t sure what I enjoyed the most, smelling it or tasting it.  I indulged in both and would definitely recommend that you do as well.

JJ Prum Riesling Spatlese Himmelreich 2012, $44.99
I think I might have been pushing peoples limits as I gave them 2 sweet wines in a row but I can’t help it… I have a sweet tooth.  This is a gorgeous Riesling from Germany.  JJ Prum are relatively young producers for Germany; they only started selling wines in the early 1900′s.  They do an amazing job though and a lot of their sweeter style wines typically are some of the most expensive wines that you can find anywhere.  This is one of their entry-level wines and it is delightfully balanced and wonderful.  For anyone new to Riesling one of the smells that can be apparent and quite surprising is diesel or rubber.  One of the people who came to the class said that he thought he was in a Canadian Tire store upon smelling it.  It can be a really weird experience but not negative I feel.  On the nose this wine does express quite a bit of rubber and diesel; maybe reminiscent of a mechanic shop. Lilacs, perfume, roses, wet slate and lychee also come to the fore.  The palate is deliciously balanced between the acidity and the sweetness, with some honey flavours, lemon, nectarine and green apples.  This would pair amazingly with some Indian or spicy Asian food.  A delicious treat!

Alain Geoffroy Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2014, $28.99
Pinot Noir is considered one of the more difficult grapes to grow, but also one of the most delicious and rewarding!  If you are able to do it right and the sun, moon, and stars align so that you get that great bottle of Pinot, it is absolute bliss.  It might not be for everyone, but if you love it, you absolutely love it!  This Pinot from Alain Geoffroy is quite elegant and delicious. It is a light, vibrant, pink, red hue and smells of clove and violet with some juicy tart red berries.  On the palate it has a lovely racey acidity that makes the mouth water.  It also tastes of tart cherry, rhubarb, cherry gummies and herbs.  It was a gorgeous wine made in one of the best places in the world to get a great Pinot; Burgundy, France.  For the price this is a definite winner for a classic style Pinot Noir with nice acidity and a good price point.

Manzone Barolo Gramolere 2009, $73.99
If you are not familiar with Barolo that’s okay – I am here to help.  Barolo is a region in North-western Italy.  The wines are made from the grape Nebbiolo.  It is a super cool grape, as the wine colour looks light and very vibrant.  It was almost comparable in colour to the Pinot Noir that we tried.  The big difference is when you try it.  It almost seems like it grabs a hold of your teeth and mouth and won’t let go.  There can be huge tannins and great acidity on these wines.  Originally, these wines were meant to be aged for very long periods of time, 20-30 years, before you were supposed to enjoy them.  With new production methods and different styles of wine making they are changing things and making them more approachable, sooner.  This wine was from 2009 and still holding up quite well.  Lots of fresh fruit on the nose and palate, yet still quite a vibrant colour.  This Barolo was still a very large and impressive wine that was begging to have a steak or lamb go with it, really any sort of traditional Italian meat plate would be amazing!  The producers specialize in Barolo as the majority of what they make is specifically Barolo, whereas lots of other producers only dabble in Barolo.  This is a stellar wine and should still be able to age for a while longer.  Definitely worth it!

Best’s Great Western Bin 1 Shiraz 2013, $29.99
When you think of Shiraz, where do you think of?  Generally Australia and this is one awesome example of an Australian Shiraz!  Even though Shiraz is the same as Syrah and you can find it in all parts of the world, Australia is still one of the best-known sources.  We took a look at this wonderful wine from an older producer in Australia.  Best’s originally started in 1866 and is home to some of the oldest vineyards in Australia.  This Shiraz is not exactly what you might expect from a typical Aussie Shiraz.  I am not sure if you have ever had an Aussie Shiraz and it feels like it smacked you in the face and left your teeth all black and blue and purple all over.  This isn’t that Shiraz though. This is a Shiraz of elegance, decadence, grace, and structure.  You will still have purple teeth at the end but you won’t feel like you have gone through a few rounds with a heavyweight pugilist – instead the experience is akin to sharing a delightful dance with the prettiest girl at the ball.  The colour is a deep, rich purple. On the nose it has lots of liquorice, blackberry, plum, mint, and dark chocolate.  The palate is rich with smooth, velvety, tannins, more dark chocolate, plum, blackberry, and medium acidity.  The price is hard to beat on this little gem and is definitely worth taking to the ball, or home. Whatever you prefer.

Black Stallion Napa Cabernet 2013, $39.49
This was the last wine of the night and it also just so happened to be the crowd favourite.  This is a relatively new winery but it is owned by the Indelicato Family, one of the largest family owned wine producers in the US.  They have dedicated this winery to producing high-end wines with the ultimate goal of producing 100 point wines.  They are able to source fruit from lots of different excellent lots and they can put them together here to make some amazing wine.  Cabernet is well known in Napa and I think this is no exception.  It is a gorgeous dark purple.  On the nose there is oak, toffee, tar, mocha, black pepper, cassis, pencil lead, and blackberry.  On the palate is delightful with spice, black currant, big tannins and rich dark chocolate that lingers on the palate in deliciousness.

These are all definitely wines that I could get used to drinking more of and hopefully will soon.  It was awesome to be able to try so many different grape varieties and styles from some of the best regions around the world!  Everyone who came tonight was amazing as well and I really hope they had as much fun as I did! Also – a big think thank you to our neighbor’s Peasant Cheese for supplying some cheese and small bites to go along with the wine. As always they knocked it out of the park.

I can’t wait for part 2 of our Into The Bottle tasting… Blends, coming March 14.  Until next time!

- Dave

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Road Less Travelled, Italy – January 24, 2017

It has been a few years since I’ve been conducting tastings at KWM and I never really had a good reason not to do them again, especially since I have a lot of passion for wine and the industry. I am glad that I’ve finally been convinced to teach again as the reception at this tasting was great – even though the wines were quite obscure for many and perhaps not ones that an average consumer would buy. The point of this tasting was to taste and learn about grape varietals, regions that are often overlooked by our shoppers at the store even if these wines may seem quite ordinary to wine professionals, and in fact selecting less known wines that still have broad appeal was challenging.

None the less, my duty was to showcase wines that were not the usual ones like Amarone, Sangiovese infused “Super Tuscans”, Pinot Grigio or a Chianti. Wines that us wine geeks truly enjoy and want to share with consumers but are often afraid to recommend them because they are not the norm. For every time someone asks me to recommend a wine that I personally like, the answer would be easily found within any of the bottles in this lineup.

Fattori Ronca Methodo Classico Durello (2012 – Bottled 2016) – $44.99
Monte Calvarina, on the east side of Soave DOC, Veneto

We’ve been working with this winery for a few years now at KWM as an Alberta exclusive, starting with the excellent value Pinot Grigio and Soave, and eventually bringing in the whole Valpolicella lineup including the Amarone wines. The new additions this year are two sparkling wines made of local grape varietal Durella (AKA Durello) which is suitable for sparkling wines due to high acid levels. I selected the Methodo Classico for the evening as it is closer to Champagne; with 36 months aging on the lees and bottle fermented to give finer bubbles. What you’ll find on the nose are characteristic notes of bread crust and yeast elegantly intertwined with hints of dried fruit and citrus. The palate is seamless and the persistent taste comes from good acidity that blends nicely with fine bubbles and a distinct flavour. The long finish offers notes of citrus and almond. This wine is perfect as an aperitif, and ideal with dishes of raw shellfish and sushi. Great with Verona’s traditional dishes like Sopressa (aged salami), cheese and Baccalà alla Vicentina (baked cod fish).

Tiare Empire Sauvignon DOC Collio 2013 - 47.99
Collio, Friuli Venezia Giulia

This is one of our staff favourites and reminds me of a very well made white Bordeaux even though there is no Semillon added to this wine. A medal winner at the 2014 Concours Mondial Sauvignon! A beautiful white wine made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape, with notes of grass, fresh herbs, gooseberry and perhaps a hint of flowers and quince. This is a very full-bodied version of Sauvignon and it leaves your palate with flavours similar to Sauternes sweet wine, and although this wine is dry it still leaves your palate with fruity sensation. This fantastic winery is located in Northern Italy, very close to the Slovenian border.

Giusti Augusto Recantina 2014 – $47.99
Montello Colli Asolani (near Treviso), Veneto
Calgarian Joe Giusti is the man behind Italy’s Giusti winery, a gem in northeastern Italy, just outside of Treviso. For the past decade or so, he’s been buying up vineyards, replanting if necessary and rebuilding the old properties into something utterly magical. This wine — named after his father, Augusto — is made from Recantina grapes (only about 12 acres of this grape are planted in the area), an indigenous Italian grape that has beautiful aromas and flavours. “Intense with fruity notes of red plum and black currant (cassis) and floral notes of violets and cyclamen,” according to the winery team. “In the mouth it is soft and velvety, with sweet tannins and pleasantly acidic aftertaste.”

Tenuta Di Angoris Schioppettino 2014 – $29.99
Friuli Colli Orientali, Friuli-Venezia Giulia
“A native grape that takes its name because it pops (“schioppetta”) with spiciness in your mouth.”
What a cool opportunity to try a wine made from the Schioppettino grape! This grape found mostly around northeastern Italy. It makes dark and fragrant wines with relatively low alcohol and lovely aromas of blackberry, raspberry, blueberry with intense; grapey; slightly peppery and liquorish spice note. This is one of my recent, personal favourites at the store and a wine that just about every wine geek would love.

Caprai Montefalco Rosso 2014 – 32.99
Montefalco DOC, Umbria
Made from 70% Sangiovese, 15% Sagrantino, and 15% Merlot with first vintage of released 1975, makes this wine one of the flagship wines at Caprai.
“The phrase “wise beyond one’s years” sprang to mind when I first tasted this Sangiovese-Sagrantino-Merlot blend produced in Central Italy’s Umbria province, in the hilltop town of Montefalco. A fragrance redolent with red cherries and suggestions of fresh red plums gives the early impression of youthfulness and fun. Furtive notes of new leather and damp earth whisper through these youthful aromatics as well, putting a bit of silver in its stubble, and asserting its underlying sophistication.” –
This red wine, best served at a temperature between 64-65°F (18°C), can be enjoyed by itself or with food, such as red and white meats, charcuterie, or aged cheeses.

Pietradolce Archineri Nerello Mascalese 2014 – $47.99
Etna Rosso DOC, Sicily
A simply outstanding red wine from the slopes of Sicily’s famous Mt. Etna made from 80-100 year old vines. Look for berry notes and herbs on the palate, and hints of flowers on the nose. Here’s what Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate has to say about this winery: “Pietradolce is my new Etna darling. This estate has always been on my radar, but the wines have never tasted as good as they do now. Michele Faro and his team (winemaker Carlo Ferrini is a consultant) have made impressive leaps and bounds in quality – from the stunning historic vineyards they own to the immaculately designed gravity winery that is coated with slabs of volcanic stone… Located in Solicchiata on the northern side of the volcano, Pietradolce boasts some of the most beautiful vineyards I have ever seen. I cannot exaggerate this point.”

Macchiole Scrio Syrah 2010 – 185.99
Toscana IGT
From the beginning, Scrio had a special place in the heart of Eugenio Campolmi, a great lover of the Syrah of the Northern Rhône. Today, Le Macchiole’s Scrio is unquestionably one of the finest Syrah coming from Italy. Intense deep red, decisively spicy with aromas of white pepper, bay leaf, and fruity perfumes. Round in the mouth, the acidity is balanced by the sweetness of the tannins, the finish is fresh with notes of mint and eucalyptus.
From Vinous / Antonio Galloni – “Another striking wine, the 2010 Scrio (Syrah) is off the charts. Mocha, spices, chocolate, black cherries and flowers all wrap around the palate. Varietal aromas and flavors lie behind the wine’s superb textural richness and depth. Once fermented in barrel, Scrio is now vinified in stainless steel, which seems to allow the aromatics to truly soar. Over the last few months, the 2010 has developed beautifully. The trademark Bolgheri richness is still present, but the estate has added layers of finesse and complexity that weren’t always present in the wines. This is a dazzling effort from Le Macchiole.” 97/100 points

Andreola Pensieri Passito di Prosecco 2011 – $51.99
This is a fairly new arrival for us at KWM, from a producer that has been supplying us with some great prosecco for many years. Passito style wine is a “Straw wine”, or raisin wine, and is a wine made from grapes that have been dried to concentrate their juice. The result is similar to that of the ice wine process, but suitable for warmer climates.
A Kensington Wine Market exclusive, and a beautiful dessert wine for your next gathering!
“A sweet wine made from dried grapes selected from our own vineyards. Scents and flavours of dried meadow flowers, honey, apricot and candied lime. Delicious with herbal cheeses and plain pastries,” according to the Andreola winemaking team!

A surprise were the chosen favourites!

#1 Macchiole Scrio Syrah 2010

#2 Andreola Pensieri Passito di Prosecco 2011

- Sebastian
Twitter: @sebayyc

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Beer’s not a Boys Club – January 26, 2017

So I’ve been doing beer tastings here for over nearly 5 years now, and in that time there has been an very noticeable increase in the female to male ratio attending. This makes me incredibly happy, because beer is not just for guys or girls; be they bitter, fruity, colourful or any of the above. Everyone is free to enjoy the beverage they want (as long as they have valid ID and are of age of course heh). I like to host environments where variety is the norm for beer and customer alike, along with an honest place to ask any beer question that comes to mind. So it was suggested that I do a tasting where we have an open venue for tasting and questions with any women who happen to want to learn a little more. So here it is! 7 delicious beers, 18 wonderful guests, several plates of amazing cheese and meats (provided by the lovely Peasant cheese of course), and one bearded beer guy.

Helles Belles lager by Ninkasi brewing: Brewed with premium pilsner malt and bittered with German Hallertau hops, this Helles lager pours champagne in colour. Bright, crisp and satisfying. ($4.29 for a 330mL bottle)

La Maison by Four Winds brewing: A light bodied farmhouse style made with rye and spelt, and fermented with wild yeast. A mildly grainy base with tropical fruity notes wafting off the nose. A crisp and delicious table beer. ($9.19 for a 650mL bottle)

Alex Ale by Outcast brewing: Outcast is a new local gypsy brewer (for now)! Named after his second son, Alex ale is a super hop heavy pale ale that is super fruity from the liberal use of Citra hops. Silky and super fruity and ready to take home on the growler bar. ($8.5 for 1L, $16 for 2)

Pineapple Sculpin IPA by Ballast Point: Hopped in 5 different stages, this beer has flavours of apricot, mango and lemon. But this isn’t your regular Sculpin IPA – this version has the addition of 100% fresh pineapple puree to create a new twist on an old favourite. ($28.79 for a 6-pack of cans)

Sour in the Rye by The Bruery: This American Wild Rye Ale was brewed with a substantial portion of rye malt, and the spicy character of the grain asserts itself with clove and pepper in the aroma and flavour. Add in sour cherry notes from their special blend of micro-organisms and vanilla from the red wine barrels and you’ve got a mouthful! ($28.99 for a 750mL bottle)

Gluten Free Dark Ale by Ground Breaker: The Dark Ale uses a very dark, near espresso-like roast of chestnuts. The extra dark chestnuts lend a roasty flavour and aroma with notes of chocolate and dark fruits. The hops take a supporting role in this beer allowing the roastiness to come forward in the palette. ($10.49 for a 650mL bottle)

The Hammer Barrel Aged Imperial Stout by Phillips brewing: Take a tasty imperial stout and pour it into bourbon soaked American oak barrels. Drop the hammer and smash your way into rich, roasted caramel warmth. Ample aromas and flavours of dark chocolate, oak, bourbon and vanilla. ($8.59 for a 650mL bottle)

As you can see, it was a broad, and -at some points- challenging selection. We ran the gamut of styles and tasted a few of my very favourites which as it turns out were the best of the night. I tried my best not to sway judgment because I want to see what people end up picking despite pricing and my hype. The favourite of the night was the Sour in the Rye by The Bruery, and tied for 2nd was La Maison from Four Winds, and Helles Belles by Ninkasi. As of right now these are all in stock, but if the Four winds sounds tasty, don’t hesitate as I am almost out for the foreseeable future.

That’s all for now. Make sure to take a look at the tasting schedule for more upcoming beer tastings (there are 2 more in March so far)


Twitter: @ShawnsBrewsCGY

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Monster Cabs – Friday, January 20th, 2017

Cabernet Sauvignon, AKA, King Cab, Cab, the invader, the intruder, the colonizer, etc. One of the best-known grapes in the wine world and also one of the most planted throughout the world.  It has been planted in every country that is able to grow grapes.  Name recognition definitely helps when a grower is looking to sell but also because it is such a hardy and enduring grape it has made its way into everywhere that wants to produce wine, thus earning it wonderful nicknames.  Tonight we had the privilege to taste quite a few different Cabs from around the world focusing on bigger, more robust wines and I for one was left with slightly darker teeth by the end of this tasting.

We worked our way through a total of seven different Cabernet Sauvignons during the stand up tasting. I will go through them in order of voting preference.  There was a slight disadvantage because everyone had to pick 2 favourites, which I and many others found to be quite difficult as they were all fantastic in their own right.

Moss Wood Wilyabrup Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 – $96.99
This is the 40th anniversary vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon for Moss Wood and they are doing a fantastic job.  It was a clear winner with the majority of votes.  This is a gorgeous and well structured wine with lots of dark fruit flavours such as plums and cassis along with a touch of chocolate.  Bright acidity on the palate, with lovely tannins for a very balanced and well put together wine. This also happened to be the wine with the most amount of time aged in barrels at 28 months.  It was a great pleasure to be able to share this wine with everyone at the tasting.

Lancaster Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 – $84.99
This wonderful Cab comes from the hills of Alexander Valley in Sonoma County and they are definitely doing something right.  We were lucky enough to get eighteen bottles of this into the store and unfortunately we are down to only a few left.  This Cab does actually have a bit of other grapes mixed into it to help round it out and give it what the producer is looking for.  It is a 2009 and still drinking very fresh.  Deep rich colour, lots of fresh, jammy ripe fruit on the nose and palate, along with leather, tobacco, and some earthy qualities.  This is more than just a monster; this is a monster with class.  There has definitely been lots of care and attention put into this wine and I am so glad that we were able to try it before it is gone.

Tether Napa Valley Red Blend 2014 – $81.99
I may have cheated a little bit on this one because it is not full Cab Sauv but the grape still takes the main stage in this wine and I did feel that it falls into the monster realm. Tether is an exclusive to us something that was very hard to pass up.  This beauty is a collaboration wine from Kimberly Jones (wine broker) and winemaker Anna Monticelli.  Kimberly is a wine broker for some fantastic wine producers from the Napa region. She sources her grapes from a variety of different producers but she keeps it a secret which makes these an even more amazing value! This is her second vintage and they only produced a little over 1000 cases.  This is the large fruit monster that you have been looking for if that is what you like.  Lots of intense blackberry, cassis, cherry, along with some liquorice on the nose and large, round tannins with dark fruit medley jam to complete the palate.  This is definitely a special treat to have and something very unique and interesting.

Burrowing Owl Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 – $57.49
I was fortunate enough to go to Burrowing Owl a few years ago and they gave me the whole tour of their winery.  If you have not gone it is definitely worth the trip and one of my favourite places to go around the Osoyoos area.  The winery is a sight to behold and are making fantastic wines.  It was awesome to see how this lovely Canadian gem paired up against some big competition from other parts of the world.  Needless to say it did exceptionally well.  This beauty had everything you would hope for from a big Cab, lots of dark fruit, a touch of vanilla, currant, just a hint of mint with some cedar and tobacco.  Every opportunity I get to taste Canadian wines makes me more impressed and fills me with a little bit of national pride to see how well they are doing.  This is a must try for your Canadian catalogue.

Mitolo Jester Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 – $27.99
This was our entry level little monster.  It did very well against the competition especially considering the price difference among them.  This is one of the staff favourites from the store and always a winner.  The team at Mitolo actually take 20% of the grapes that will be used for this wine and utilise a drying technique from north eastern Italy on the grapes to help get a richer, more concentrated flavour. It may sound like clever marketing but in this case it definitely works! This lovely wine shows notes of violet, blackberry, and a touch of tobacco on the nose.  It is a fuller body with lots of fruit, cherry, currant, plum and a touch of chocolate.  The tannins are nicely integrated making for an easy drinking, smooth Cab.

Viña Maipo “Protegido” Cabernet Sauvignon – $57.99
Protegido or the protected one, the names for the wines from Viña Maipo all come from the town of Maipo where all the people celebrate on the 8th of December and worship to the Virgin Mary for protection over their lands, crops, plantations, and town.  They must be doing something right because they have now become the 4th largest producer of wines from Chile.  I think this wine is fantastic and a delicious wine for the price.  There is class, elegance and structure all through it (As I write this I am currently revisiting it to ‘make sure’ that it is still good…).  It features a lovely ruby, garnet colour.  On the nose there are lots of floral notes along with plum, blackberry, black pepper, and a touch of some herbs.  The palate is elegant and delightful with lovely acidity surrounding the tannins to integrate them beautifully. A nice touch of dark chocolate, with more blackberries, and currants as well.  Ave maria!

Buriano IGT Toscana Cabernet Sauvignon – $39.99
Here was a wonderful surprise, a 100% Cab from Tuscany!  The estate Rocca di Castagnoli is in a beautiful village right in the center of Chianti.  There are 100 Hectares covered in vine with the majority being Sangiovese but they have also put in Cabernet Sauvignon so that they can give us this wonderful Super Tuscan.  It is a lovely, great valued Cabernet with fantastic acidity that pairs delightfully with the tannins.  The fruit shows up delightfully on the nose and palate but it is more subdued than the competitors.  If you prefer more of an old world style this is definitely the wine for you.  This would be a fantastic wine to have with a peppered steak, or some venison.  You would be hard pressed to find a comparable Cab for the same price point.

I had a fantastic time at the tasting and it was an absolute pleasure to share these wines with everyone who attended!  I can’t wait to do this all again and until then I will keep tasting to make sure that can always find something wonderful for people to try. It is a rough job, but somebody has to do it!

- Dave

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