Classic Malts with Hunter – April 11, 2017

Before I fully recount the Classic Malts whisky night, I wanted to share a quick anecdote that has been on mind as of late. In my first year of teaching whisky classes at the Kensington Wine Market, at the time of which I only taught classic malts classes, I conducted an event in which I poured the usual variety of single malts to portray the “styles” of Scotland. At the end of the event, one of the attendees told me that they had received their ticket as a gift, and, wanting to describe the class to the gift giver, wanted to know what exactly about the class made it “Classic” malts. To be frank, I didn’t really have an answer. The establishment of certain styles as being “classic” asks the question of what the whisky is classic to in the first place. Is there a single origin of certain styles and can it currently be defined by the “Classic Malts of Scotland”? Arguably, this rhetoric is regressive, unable to end in a grounded answer that can give birth to a definition of classic. If one looks back to the earliest times of modernly relevant single malt whisky distillation as the defining of classic, almost no distilleries would be representative of such a style, and those that do would likely not see the large commercial success as promised by such a ubiquitous term as classic. Perhaps style by region, but once more, such qualifications have long since been shown to be superfluous. Imaginary lines that cut swathes of ground into areas wouldn’t seem to have any power over how a whisky tastes, barring a general disposition of the local distillation folk. At this point, it almost might be a more merited argument to discuss the pH and mineral levels of water content, but that would appear to be a quibble. If water is the defining character of whisky my faith in the art of whisky making will be slightly shaken.

Perhaps a better question regarding what is classic these days is not defining what classic is, but more likely understanding what it isn’t. No particular style defines whisky in the fashion of what is the market norm, at least at the moment (here’s looking at the big boys). Instead, consider an understanding of the individual components that make a spirit taste a certain way as the fundamental understanding of whisky. So to respond to the fellow’s question, roughly three years too late, “classic” can not be summarized in so many words or in the traditional sense; but, in understanding the classical components of whisky as a whole, you will be able to understand the whisky world better in your journey through it. Enough of the story, here is the meat.

Deanston Virgin Oak – $50

An attempt to express the nuance, or lack thereof, of virgin American oak. Huge amounts of tangy lemon and woodshop sanding. This whisky is no nonsense and great for summer. No bells or whistles, an expression best suited for deck drinking in the afternoon. Typically virgin oak barrels add a level of intensity to the whisky, mirroring Scottish whisky’s American brother. In this case, it appears the finish was short in nature, imparting a more delicate touch.

Glenglassaugh Octave Barrels – $125

Contrast and compare, another barrel finish but this release intended to show the intensifying effects of a smaller barrel. Smells and tastes of Big Turk chew, milk chocolate coating a gelatinous fruit centre. Chocolate and butterscotch pudding; this bottle was a beast of sweetness, but it was decadence in a refined sense. Lot’s of character to enjoy in this bottle.

Tullibardine 228 Burgundy Cask – $72

When I think about wine barreled whisky, I think either the whisky wasn’t very good to begin with and needed a makeover or the whisky has now experienced a bottlenecking effect where the wine barrel prevents it from getting better than mediocre. Now, this is not always the case, but I’ll be darned if I can’t show you ten bad wine casked whiskies to your one “good” one. Enough about me, this whisky is great. Like good enough to think that I hadn’t actually tasted a wine casked whisky. Tones of cranberry, melon, some kind of delicate fruit leather, perhaps nectarine. Overall, hot dang; this was really enjoyable and totally unexpected. A seriously solid release from Tullibardine.

G&M Glenburgie 10 Year – $80

One of my favourites at the moment, this bottle sporting a great price for the quality of the spirit within. The sherry casks used to mature this malt bring out butter tarts and touches of baking spices, nutmeg, candied ginger, drizzled with a bit of melted brown sugar. Enjoyable on all fronts and in my opinion intended to be indulged in any circumstance.

BenRiach 17 Year Sherry Finish – $150

The second foray into sherry finished whiskies, this release intended as the big brother to the Glenburgie. Offering a more robust sherry character, this bottle shows the shades of sherry with clarity and power. A nose shows brandy cherries and ginger snaps, unctuous dark fruit syrup and a helping of a humidor packed full of cigars. The hedonism is cut low on the palate by a helping of a citrusy lift, allowing for the decadence to float atop a thin layer of fresh squeezed grapefruit and orange juice.

Arran KWM 7 Year – $105

Our very own Arran, and as always, very close to my heart. I am quite biased when it comes to assessing these, simply due to the quality of the spirit they make and the integrity they show in crafting delightful whiskies for the single malt enthusiasts of the world. Slightly peated, this release consists of a slightly smoky crème caramel mixed with tiramisu. A delicate hand was used in crafting this bottling, subtlety seeming to be the end goal.

Ledaig 10 – $75

Oh, does Evan gloat at the idea of me liking a Ledaig. To his credit, I have actually very much enjoyed two different Ledaigs in the last while. What do you know, never judge a spirit by it’s heinousness. Or do, but only until you find one that turns you around. My thoughts on this bottle are that of a fresh seaside bonfire, the bonfire being made up of seaside foliage. Kelp-y and full tide pool scents, the ashy, charred nature of this release are superb. I really was taken aback by this bottle, and here I was thinking I had Ledaig pinned.

Octomore 7.3 Islay Barley – $150

I will hold that the Islay Barley releases of the Octomore series are hands down the most elegant displays of the most powerful smoke. It is like watching a bag float and play in the wind while someone puts cigarettes out on your tongue, AMAZING! Or at least there has to be a reason why someone says it is. The smell of a backyard barbeque, slightly tropical with notes of roast pig and beef brisket. The tropical tones come out in hints of smoked pineapple and papaya, served alongside the charry barbeque. The perfume tones in the background are interesting but hard to identify due to this whisky reverse choke slamming your nose into a mound of cindery dirt. What a treat.

Cut, this movie is bad.

- Hunter
Twitter: @beerpauper


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New Beer for Easter Weekend 2017

Hey there thirsty people and beer fans!

I have a pretty exciting update for you all if I do say so myself. Plenty of amazing beers is hitting the shelf this week, all hand picked by yours truly, and I’m happy with each and every one. Hop heads in particular make sure to look through because there are plenty of IPAs to be had here.

But first, for those of you may have missed the announcement the other week. I’ve recently come into possession of a few cases of Cantillon! I’m receiving 7 different kinds, and 1 case of each, and that’s it! If you’re interested in reserving a bottle or two, please email me at for more details. These are among the most sought after beers in the world and are surely not something you want to miss out on!

Ok, now onto the new beers for the week!

New England Pale Ale by Blindman brewing: 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. Around for a very limited time! ($17.59 for a 4-pack of tall cans)

Scythe Matters Imperial Heffeweissen by Phillips brewing: “It’s not the size of the scythe that matters, it’s how you swing the blade”. Scythe Matters is a robust imperial Heffe with big banana and clovey spice notes on a generous wheaty base. Good, grainey body with a hint of sweetness goes down easy and finished a touch on the earthy side.($10.39 for a 650mL bottle)

The Jungle Bird by The Dandy Brewing Company: The Jungle Bird is a dark ale with a bright sour kick. Great acidity balance out the dark and semi-sweet base, with nice tropical fruit notes floating throughout. A great example of what makes Dandy one of the best in the city! ($9.99 for a 650mL bottle)

IPA by Oskar Blues brewing: Brewing legends Oskar Blues finally gives us a shot of their IPA. The malty base is made all the more tasty with the addition of red wheat. They then layer hop after hop until we’re left with a tropical and super fruity IPA with a good chunk of piney bitterness on the end. ($21.09 for a 6-pack of cans)

Red Velvet Nitro Stout by Ballast Point brewing: An interesting stout made to mimic the titular cake! The beer is made red by the use of beets, which also adds a touch of sweet earthiness. The earthiness compliments the chocolate notes from the stout nicely, and the nitro gives this a silky mouthfeel and brings out the light sweetness. ($4.99 for a 330mL bottle)

Tropical Torpedo by Sierra Nevada brewing: An island take on SN’s classic Torpedo! Fresh tropical hop notes include mango, passion fruit, and papaya, all on a moderately malty base. Comes across crisp and finished even crisper! ($21.89 for a 6-pack of bottles)

Beer Camp Golden IPA by Sierra Nevada brewing: This year’s Beer Camp brew is a Golden IPA made with a wheat heavy malt bill for a robust and flavourful base that still comes across dry. Plenty of experimental hops on top give a huge citrus punch that makes the beer super summery and quenching. ($22.69 for a 6-pack of bottles)

Kettle Sour B by Persephone brewing: This is a big, punchy, dry-hopped kettle sour. Mosaic hops give this tart, light bodied ale a tropical intensity that lingers straight through to the tart and lightly bitter finish. Light citrus like sourness rounds out the light malts and keeps things nice and clean. ($11.99 for a 650mL bottle)

Along with all those goodies, some returning favourites are: Wild Rose High Harvest (this time on the growler bar!), Melvin Hubert MPA, Philips Citricity, Ballast Point Mocha Marlin, Bench Creek White Raven IPA, Troubled Monk Open Road Brown, Driftwood Son of the Morning Star, and Beau’s Lug Tread ale!

Current tap offerings on the growler bar include:

-Four Winds Apparition White Ale

-Ribstone Creek Oatmeal Stout

-Wild Rose High Harvest Hemp IPA

-Dandy Wild American Pale

That’s about all the news I have for you right now! Feel free to hit me up through email at or on Twitter @ShawnsBrewsCGY, and naturally, I’ll see you in the shop!





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Oregon: The New Burgundy

This tasting was the perfect opportunity to get a taste of what Oregon has to offer without having to pay for the flight. Oregon is a very new and wonderful place for some fantastic wine. Grapes were first planted in Oregon in 1847 but never really were of significance until the 1970′s. In 1970 there were only 5 documented wineries. Less than 50 years later and now there are over 700. Oregon has definitely had a boom in production and they are now hailed for making some outstanding wine. The state is most well known for their Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley (Willamette is pronounced the same as ‘dammit’ ;) , which is one of the now 18 AVA’s (American Viticulture Areas) within Oregon.

The reason that they are able to make such wonderful Pinot Noirs in this state has to do with where they are located and like all things Pinot Noir: terrior. Oregon is actually on the same latitude as Burgundy, just with that alone they have fantastic potential. They also have a cooler, dry climate. At a lot of the areas, there is also a major influence of diurnal temperature: nice warm, hot temperatures during the day and quite cool at night, during the summers. This really helps to grow some fantastic grapes. One of the other good influences is the poor soil. There is lots of great soil in Oregon but where you get some awesome grapes they actually have very small amount of topsoil with very difficult subsoil, which is perfect for stressing vines and growing grapes that will lend more complexity and character to the wine.

Along with having these fantastic building blocks for making great grapes, Oregon is also doing an amazing job on the production of wine as well through both modern and traditional methods. Oregon is one of the leaders in the world for sustainable wine methods. Over half of all wineries in the state are certified sustainable with a lot of them working organically, bio-dynamically and now even working towards becoming B-Corps.

If you have ever thought about trying some different wines that are comparable to some of the best in the world, Oregon should definitely be your next stop!

In this tasting we went through 8 different wines, the majority of them were Pinot Noir and the majority were also from the some of the sub-regions within the Willamette Valley area. Just because we mainly tried Pinot Noir doesn’t mean that Oregon doesn’t make fantastic wines from other varieties, they do. I just really love Pinot Noir and wanted to get a taste for the difference between the varying regions and thought that everyone else would appreciate it as well. I will go through the wines in the same order that we tried them at the tasting:

Argyle Brut, 2011, $44.99 (sold out)
This was our first wine of the night, mostly because I love bubbles and think any reunion should start with bubbles. This sparkling wine is made with a blend of the traditional Champagne grapes, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier from their original vineyard, Knudsen Vineyard, located in the heart of the Dundee Hills AVA within Willamette Valley. This 120-acre vineyard was actually planted in early 1970′s by Cal Knudsen but has been the main source for Argyle since they started production in 1987. One of the interesting things about this wine is that it is a vintage wine so every year you will have certain differences. With 2011 being a cool year it definitely had an interesting effect on this wine.

The colour is a lovely lighter gold and on the nose, it smells of citrus, a touch of toast, and slightly yeasty. The palate is crisp and refreshing with loads of citrus, grapefruit, lemon and just full of deliciousness! A wonderful treat to try some bubbles from somewhere different.

Bethel Heights Estate Chardonnay, 2013, $50.99
Bethel Heights is located in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA, which is a sub-region within the Willamette Valley. It is the closest winery to the Van Duzer Corridor, which is the main corridor that brings weather from the coast into the Willamette Valley and a major factor for the large diurnal temperature changes in the area. Being that close, Bethel Heights can be one of the most affected by these fluctuations, making for some fantastic wines. The winery started in 1977 with just over 14 acres and has over 100 acres in 2014. They also do everything organically. Quite a bit of their vineyard is planted to Pinot Noir but Chardonnay is their most planted white grape with 16 acres being planted to it.

This Chardonnay was fantastic being aged in French oak with 20% new wood. Wine Spectator also really liked it and gave it 90 points. The review: “Fresh and lively, this lighter style offers tension to the pear, citrus and mineral flavours that persist into a focused and expressive finish”.

Foris Vineyards Pinot Noir, 2013, $35.99
Foris Vineyards is the southernmost vineyard in Oregon. Being situated in the Rogue Valley, it gave us an opportunity to try a Pinot Noir from a different region. Foris is one of the pioneering wineries in Oregon, focusing on Alsatian and Pinot Noir varietals. They started in 1974 and were one of the first vineyards to plant “Dijon Clone” Pinot Noir grapes. Ted Gerber started with just 25 buds of 3 different clones and started propagating the vines and eventually started to sell them to wineries all over Oregon and California. A lot of the most famous vineyards in these areas can trace the parentage of their grapes to the original clone field at Foris.

This Pinot noir was our entry level Pinot and quite delightful. The colour was light cherry red. On the nose, there was lots of strawberry, rhubarb, and cherry notes. The palate was light, refreshing with a balanced acidity and some lovely fresh red fruit flavours! If you want to experiment with a great inexpensive Oregon Pinot Noir this is one to get your hands on.

Bethel Heights Estate Pinot Noir, 2013, $55.99
This is a lovely Pinot Noir from Bethel Heights, located in the Eola-Amity Hills and of course the same producer as the Chardonnay that we also tasted. This region originally received its name from early pioneers that settled here in the early 19th century. They noticed that there was a very strong predictable wind so they named the area after the Aeolus, who was the ruler of the wind in Greek Mythology.

Here’s what the winemaker has to say about the 2013 vintage: “Floral black pepper and warm Christmas spice frame red fruit aromas of currant and pomegranate. The palate enjoys volume without heavy weight, and the punchy red fruits carry a savoury depth that fill the front, mid, and back palate. The finish is lengthy and high-toned, the silky tannins focused by the laser of succulent acidity, suggesting a promising longevity in the cellar. Should evolve beautifully for a decade or more”. Best serving suggestions: seared duck breast, duck pate, roasted chicken, BBQ plank salmon, or cheese: Gruyère, Cantal and Blue.

Ken Wright Savoya Pinot Noir, 2014, $79.99
This Pinot Noir comes from the Savoya Vineyard located in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA, which was the first vineyard owned and developed by Ken Wright Cellars. Planting began in 1999. There was small production for this wine and the 2014 vintage was one of the warmest and driest in memory.

90 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate for the 2014 vintage of this Pinot Noir from Oregon. The review: “It has fine delineation on the nose, very good terroir expression with a light oyster shell influence. The palate is medium-bodied with fine delineation, a little ferrous in style with edgy red and black fruit towards the finish. This is a well-crafted Pinot Noir with good structure and it should drink well over the next decade, possibly longer.”

Trisaetum Pinot Noir, 2014, $47.99
Founded in 2003 this family owned and operated vineyard in the heart of Ribbon Ridge AVA is focused on Pinot Noir and Riesling. This is a blended Pinot Noir from the 3 estate vineyards. In total they have 47 acres of vines split over the 3 vineyards: their main vineyard is 22 acres located on the southwestern boundary of the Yamhill-Carlton AVA, 17 acres where their winery is located and in the heart of Ribbon Ridge AVA, and finally an 8-acre old vine vineyard in the Dundee Hills AVA.

I found this wine to be one of the best values of all the wines that we tried. It was very well balanced with a good mixture of old world and new traits. It was lovely and fruity on the nose but also had lots of earthiness characteristics such as leather, wet rich black soil, and herbs. The palate was light and lovely with nice acidity but perfectly balanced. Lots of fruit characteristics, nice body, leather, dark chocolate and just totally enjoyable with every sip!

Antica Terra Botanica, Pinot Noir, 2014, $146.99
This is definitely a wine that I feel lucky that we were able to try. An amazing wine, from an outstanding winemaker. It comes from a small 11-acre vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA, with very difficult soils and vines that struggle to produce grapes. Maggie Harrison is the winemaker. She never wanted to work at this place but only because she was making some wines at Sin Qua Non, a high-end vineyard from California. She thought that she had everything figured out because she was working there, had a great job at an amazing place. After being approached initially to produce wine at this Oregon winery she refused. The group that wanted her though asked if she would be at least willing to go and check out the vineyard and give them her opinion if it would be good for making wine. She agreed and almost immediately upon looking at the vineyard she was calling her husband and explaining that they were going to have to move to Oregon and make wine there.

This wine is full on Pinot Noir! It is fuller, richer, dense and multi-layered. The colour is a medium purple but still quite vibrant. The nose is loaded with spice, cherry, tobacco, chocolate, mushrooms, and a touch of cranberry. The palate is lovely and fuller with lots of spice, rich fresh red fruits, smooth tannins, and it lingers on the palate for a very long time. Such a privilege to be able to taste this wine.

Foris Vineyard Old vines Moscato, 2015, $28.99
I figured we would end the tasting off on a sweet note. We finished the night with another wine from Foris Vineyards out of the Rogue Valley AVA in Southwestern Oregon. This is one of the Alsatian style wines that they make and it is absolutely outstanding! I love this wine for so many reasons but it is definitely a wine that I could drink a lot of. It is a beautiful sweet and slightly fizzy white wine. Fermentation was stopped about halfway to preserve the sweetness of the wine and capturing some of the carbonation from fermentation.

The colour is a light yellow golden and a light carbonation. On the nose, it is loaded with citrus, lemon, cream, and honeysuckle. The palate is light, refreshing, and tangy acidity with an incredible creaminess. It is almost like having liquid lemon meringue pie! So amazing! We paired it with some lemon herb cookies that were provided for us from our neighbour Peasant Cheese. This wine can work great for dessert, pair it with a lemon cake or plain white cake. It is great for an aperitif with some fresh fruit salad or it would go amazing with some Netflix and chill.

There is no need for a special occasion or the perfect pairing for this wine, the best pairing would just be this wine and getting into my mouth as quick as possible! Did I mention that I really enjoyed this wine?

This was such a fun tasting and amazing to be able to try so many different Pinot Noirs that were so distinct from each other. I love Pinot Noir and have grown a huge appreciation for Oregon Pinot Noir. I can’t wait to go through another tasting of such amazing wines!

Until the next time,


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Scotch Malt Whisky Society Canada April 2017 Outturn

On Wednesday and Friday of last week, we held our monthly Scotch Malt Whisky Society Canada Outturn tastings here at Kensington Wine Market. These three sold out tastings feature seven new SMWS Canada bottlings – all tasted blind.

The April Outturn was an interesting mix featuring two things I have not seen happen often in my short time running these tastings. Both have to do with the lineup itself.

First off – We tasted a total of seven society bottles. Not unusual on its own but what is unusual is that six of the bottles are all from Speyside. The seventh is from a Highland Island – it hails from one of my current personal favourite distilleries. This means that there are no Islay distilleries featured in the April 2017 Outturn. This has not happened often in my time running Society tastings here at KWM.

The other unusual thing is that we had a repeat distillery – meaning two of the Speyside bottles we tasted are actually both from the same distillery. It was fun to taste both of these side by side, especially since they were both quite different in age as well as overall style.

Enough of my rambling though. Without further ado, I give you the April 2017 SMWS Canada Outturn.


SMWS Canada April 2017 Outturn

This 12 year old Speysider is 59.9% after maturing in a 1st fill barrel
Flavour profile: Sweet, fruity & mellow
Outturn: 162 bottles

Panel’s tasting note: “The nose was attractive and aromatic – we were playfully cavorting in flower meadows, enjoying childish pleasures of strawberry marshmallows, fruit salad, vanilla ice-cream, candy necklaces and Jelly Tots – one panellist wouldn’t play and sat aside, huffily sipping dessert wine. The palate’s main theme was fruit – exotic fruits, lemony citrus and tropical punch – but we also found toffee sweetness, warming wood and ginger spice. The reduced nose had more of the exotic fruits (papaya, honeydew melon, peach melba) and enough flowers to excite bee colonies. The palate became fruity and creamy – a Creamsicle, with a surprisingly spicy stick at the end.”
Drinking tip: “Close your eyes and imagine flower meadows – or even palm trees”

This 12 year old Speysider comes in at 57.5% after maturing in a 1st fill barrel
Flavour profile: Sweet, fruity & mellow
Outturn: 192 bottles

Panel’s tasting note: “A fresh, lively nose, with white pepper, sanded wood, tinned fruit cocktail, stewed rhubarb and vanilla custard slice – lemon shows up later (lemon balm, lemon meringue pie). The palate is vivacious, zesty, juicy and penetrating – grapefruit, Rockets candies, dried pineapple and desiccated coconut; chili heat at the end. Water softens the nose, which becomes lightly floral and somehow creamier – rose Turkish Delight, dandelion milk and candied angelica, with oak shavings and meadow grasses. On the palate, you can throw water at it and it retains its bittersweet fruitiness (peach liqueur, pear) and that white pepper and clove spicy tingle in the tail.”
Drinking tip: “A reviver – try it with ice for an extra tingle”

This 12 year old Speysider was matured in a 1st fill barrel and comes in at 60.9%
Flavour profile: Spicy & dry
Outturn: 186 bottles

Panel’s tasting note: “For some the aroma awakened childhood memories: opening a pot of Cleopatra almond-scented glue for craft work or making a bow and arrow out of rosewood – I personally always had a hazel bow. The initial taste was peppery hot like chipotle chili powder, soon followed by a classic French beurre noisette, capers and griddled baby leeks as well as cinnamon almond butter. Water released an array of spices; cardamom, star anise and caraway before sweet notes of crème caramel and apple strudel with vanilla custard appeared and on the taste, salt and pepper ribs with a chili honey sauce.”
Drinking tip: “Listening to ‘Yesterday When I Was Young’ by Glen Campbell”

7.148 – WICKED VISCOSITY – $245
This 26 year old Speysider comes in at 61% after maturing in a refill hogshead
Flavour profile: Old & dignified
Outturn: 174 bottles

Panel’s tasting note: Wonderfully rich and indulging aromas of hot chocolate cake with toffee sauce, chocolate bread and butter pudding and freshly brewed coffee made this a very stimulating and enticing experience right from the start. Thick, succulent and creamy were just some of the adjectives used when tasted neat; carrot cake with lemon peel, raspberry spice cake and warm apple pie with hot vanilla sauce – it was simply ‘Yummy’! A drop of water and the nose turned a little brighter, a little subtler, walking through blossoming orange trees in Seville and on the palate, wickedly viscous like coconut orange raspberry swirl muffins.”
Drinking tip: “Turn off and relax”

85.42 – PUT YOUR FEET UP – $170
This 16 year old Speysider is 57.9% after maturing in a refill butt
Flavour profile: Spicy & sweet
Outturn: 552 bottles

Panel’s tasting note: “On the nose neat it was dark, dense and sweet like a mocha cake with a balsamic strawberry whipped cream filling, chocolate icing and topped with crunchy toasted hazelnuts. A lot less sweet on the palate, still dark and sticky but now more like a prune and date cake or spicy oven-roasted plums seasoned with cloves and allspice and toasted almonds sprinkled on top. Water released bitter orange, liquorice, chocolate covered prunes and a touch of wax. A lot more herbal now to taste like a Jagertee: strong black tea, red wine, plum brandy, over-proof dark rum and plenty of spices.”
Drinking tip: “When you get home after a long day out and about”

41.83 – SHERRY, SHERRY BABY – $120
This 9 year old Speysider was matured in a 1st fill Oloroso butt and comes in at 58.7%
Flavour profile: Spicy & sweet
Outturn: 546 bottles

Panel’s tasting note: “Looking at the colour, noting the age and nosing it this one could not hide its provenance. Aromas of powdered ginger, ground cloves and cinnamon mixed with blood orange segments, dark sour Morello cherries and bacon frazzles making this quite an experience. Just wait until you’ve tried it! Full-bodied with plenty to tell; wood spices, tart apples and plenty of sour cherries, but at the same time dark bitter chocolate notes. Diluted, spicier with slightly herbal aromas appeared as well as honey-like syrup from sun drenched figs and on the palate, goat cheese blended with mascarpone, roast beetroot and walnuts.”
Drinking tip: “Is it ‘Sherry o’clock’ yet?”

42.27 – SMOKED, AGED RIESLING – $125
This 9 year old Highland Islander was matured in refill barrel and is 59.4%
Flavour profile: Lightly peated
Outturn: 222 bottles

Panel’s tasting note: “This nosed like an aged Riesling wine, off-dry with a balance of fruity, crunchy green apple, pears and citrus, and earthy mineral aromas with that typical hint of petrol in the background. Plenty of pure ocean salt and briny Greek olives on the palate neat but at the same time, sweet and fruity like a lemon pie, salted caramels and ‘smoked’ jelly beans. Water released a fruity peat smoke, more pears but also peaches poached in Riesling wine with tarragon and salted sour cream. The taste was now peat smoked grilled sardines in sweet and sour lemon pepper vinaigrette with Dijon mustard toasted bread.”
Drinking tip: “Perfect match with smoked fish and/or salted cheese”

That is the April 2017 Outturn. You can more information on these as well as other SMWS bottles on our website here.

As always a big thank you goes to The Scotch Malt Whisky Society Canada for partnering with us as well as Cured Delicatessen for providing for these tastings.

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Caveman’s Penicillin

Caveman’s Penicillin

A more brutish and brooding version of a modern classic cocktail originally created in 2005 by New York bartender Sam Ross. This was created by Evan as a feature at a recent tasting held at Phil and Sebastian Coffee in Marda Loop.

Featuring Ardbeg Dark Cove – 46.5% ABV – $135

Ardbeg’s 2016 special release, was launched at Ardbeg Night celebrations around the world on May 28th, 2016. It is exclusive to Ardbeg Embassies for the first few weeks and will then be opened to select other stores.

Ardbeg Dark Cove is being billed as the Darkest Ardbeg Ever. Partially matured in rare Dark Sherry Casks and married with whisky matured in American oak.

3/4 oz Ardbeg Dark Cove
1/4 tsp Elderflower syrup (from our neighbor’s Peasant Cheese)
10 drops of Dillon’s Lemon Bitters
5 drops Dillon’s Ginger Bitters
Add ice to the concoction.
Add Lemon Garnish.

Twitter and Instagram: @sagelikefool
Instagram: one part of @kwmwhisky

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New Beers for the Weeks of March 22nd and March 29th

Hey everyone!

Time for a slightly overdue update! I say “slightly overdue” because I only missed one week… you can’t miss me THAT much I hope. Either way, I’ve got a lot of new beers to update you on, plus a really fun announcement that I’m sure you’ll be interested in.

First I want to mention that I have a freshly tapped keg on the Ol’Growler Bar for those hop lovers out there. Pouring now is the Apparition west coast white ale (White IPA) from Four Winds. Soft and frothy, with aromas of banana, clove, and orchard fruits, followed by a more tropical hop profile on the palate and a soft wheat forward base. Absolutely delicious and only here for a short time!

Ok, here’s the new beers from the past two weeks:

Bears Hump Nut Brown by Coulee brewing: One of two new additions to Coulee’s already broad lineup. Bears Hump Nut Brown is a medium bodied brown ale with a generous roasted character and semi-creamy feel. Notes of toffee and bread, along with dried fruits and a touch of hazelnuts and peanut skins round out the palate and lead to a clean finish with soft and mellow bitterness. ($16.69 for a 6-pack of cans)

Range Road Cream Ale by Coulee brewing: Malt and grain are at the forefront of this beer. Big malty aromas prepare you for the rich sensations (but light profile) of a complex grain bill consisting of oats, wheat and Alberta barley. The beer comes across soft and silky with a little sweetness, and a balancing bitterness bringing up the rear. ($16.69 for a 6-pack of cans)

Pengo Pally by Bush Pilot: Pengo Pally is an arctic style Saison with a moderate abv (%6.5), and is flavoured with arctic herbs picked in Nunavik. Cloudy and grainy, with floral tones, along with a melange of hard to discern herbaceousness hidden behind crabapple sauce on stone ground crackers. Mildly sweet and spicy, with a grainy, lightly bitter finish. ($9.99 for a 750mL bottle)

Norseman by Bush Pilot: Norseman is aged in Armagnac barrels, and comes across with plenty of brown sugar notes, along with dried fruit, plenty of sweetness, and a touch of grape spirit. Rich and enjoyable are the two words I’d use to describe the raw essence of this beer. ($9.99 for a 750mL bottle)

Cognac Barrel by La Debauche: A big, rich classic style is made all the richer when put into Cognac barrels. Tons of dried fruit notes on the sweet malty base. The barrel provides a vinous quality that shows off both the grape spirit and the oak. Sip it slow, as the alcohol gives off a little heat on this one! ($4.99 for a 330mL bottle)

Deep Space by Fabryka Piwa: This foreign extra stout is fairly easy to drink, with only 6.5% abv, and low carbonation. It’s silky and slightly sweet with big notes of roasted barley, and lighter notes of chocolate, herbs and grass. Hints of coffee pop out throughout and disappear with the roasted bitterness on the finish. ($3.99 for a 330mL bottle)

Aurora Heart by Flying Monkeys: Aurora Heart is a raspberry chocolate stout. Sweet raspberry notes dipped in chocolate and lightly sweet malts start out and turn into more candied raspberries, chocolate bar like cocoa notes and a hint of tartness. Lighter in the body than the nose leads on, but all in all, very tasty and satisfying. ($16.59 for a 750mL bottle)

Gose by Ritterguts: Ritterguts is the oldest Gose brand still in existence. Still made in the traditional method, and still as tasty and popular as ever (if not more now!). Slightly sour and grainy, with aromas of sour fruits like apples and nectarines. Lightly herbal and salty, and super refreshing. Make sure not to miss this historical beer! ($8.19 for a 500mL bottle)

White Chocolate by The Bruery: This is an intense “wheat wine” unlike any other. The base has been aged in bourbon barrels for up to a year with the addition of cacao nibs and vanilla beans. It’s decently sweet with a rich oaky malt character, though softened slightly by the high wheat content. Rich white chocolate notes -as the name suggests- with caramel and plenty of vanilla. Available in very limited quantities. ($42.19 for a 750mL bottle)

Frederick H. by The Bruery: Frederick H is the new and improved incarnation of the Hottenroth Berliner Weisse. The traditional style is made a little more unique with the use of their in-house yeast strains, and intensely cultured Foeders. Bright, tart and refreshing, are the name of the game. Crisp fruity notes accompany the raw grainy character and funky brett attitude. ($13.89 for a 750mL bottle)

Frucht: Boysenberry by The Bruery: The Frucht series is a new favourite for us at the store, and this latest edition is pretty exciting! Boysenberries are added to this Berliner Weisse style beer, and the result is a fruity, semi-rich berry toned beer with a light grainy character plus but a full tangy tartness and a touch of funk. ($19.19 for a 750mL bottle)

Waves IPA by Mikkeller San Diego: A solid IPA from one of the legends. Super tasty bready malts, not too sweet, or rich. Orange and lemon hoppy notes along with light tropical and floral notes. The bitterness is present and complements the malt without being too intense. ($4.29 for a 355mL can)

Sparks APA by Mikkeller San Diego: An easy sipping (or gulping) American pale with bready, biscuity malts with light fruity notes and delicate malty notes throughout, and strong sappy like hop notes that translate into a piney bitterness on the finish.($9.29 for a 650mL bottle)

Apex Predator IIPA by Bench Creek brewing: One more to the list of New England IPAs! Intense hopping gives Apex it’s giant tropical fruit character with light piney notes in the middle, growing to more intense sappy-like bitterness on the finish. Cloudy and grainy malt body with a decent sweetness, giving all those hops a purpose. ($21.09 for a 4-pack of tall cans)

Now that spring is about here, our spring newsletter has just been released, and with it is our Spring Tasting Schedule!

Some of the fun beer tastings this season include Beer and Cheese (Thursday, April 6), Our summer beer tasting (Friday, June 9), and Canadian beers for (almost) Canada day (June 27). As always, space is limited, so make sure to sign up before the classes are full!
So about that announcement I mentioned. Turns out Alberta (and namely…Kensington Wine Market) is lucky enough to get a shipment of Cantillon this spring. I want to give a quick heads up for anyone interested as these beers will be going faster than fast. They should be arriving mid-April or so, and if you want to get your name on a couple, please send me an e-mail and I can see what I can do. They’ll be available on a first-come-first-serve basis and there will be limits. They likely won’t be on the shelf, as – like in previous years – they will likely be spoken for even before they make it to the store! Send an email to for more details, and to pre-order.

I guess that’s about it for this week. Thanks for reading everyone, and until next week (fingers crossed), cheers!

Twitter: @ShawnsBrewsCGY

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(Mostly) Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey

By Evan Eckersley

On March 17th, 2017 we had a Saint Patrick’s Day Irish Whiskey Tasting here at the Kensington Wine Market. This year we focused on Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey.

Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey

Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey

Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey is a little bit different from Single Malt Whisky. Single Malt means two things: It comes from a single distillery and it is made from 100% malted barley. Single Pot still Irish Whiskey also means it comes from one distillery. If it does not come from one single distillery it can still carry the Pot Still Irish Whiskey designation.

Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey = Pure Pot Still Irish Whiskey.

The name was changed due to an issue with US Alcohol, Tobacco and Trade Commission taking umbrage with the use of the word ‘pure’ and how they feel it pertains to food and drink. This led to the name change.

This style originated in Ireland as a way to get around the taxman. In 1785 the British instituted a ‘malt tax’. Necessity being the mother of invention – this led the Irish to use less malted barley in distillation – instead combining it with unmalted barley. This created a spicier, thicker style of whiskey while also allowing distillers to skirt the law and avoid much of the heavy malt taxes.

The other main difference between Irish and Scotch Whisky that most people bring up is that Irish Whiskey is triple distilled while the Scots only double distill their whisky. This is not a hard and fast rule, though. There are some Irish distilleries that distill two times and a handful of Scottish distilleries that distill three times.

For many years Irish Whiskey was the most imbibed whiskey around the globe – however many factors lead to its decline and near decimation in the 20th Century.

In the early 1920s the two main importers of Irish both essentially ceased drinking the once popular drink for different reasons:
- In 1920 the United States enacted its nationwide prohibition on the sale of alcohol.
- In 1922 the Irish Free State came into being and soon after the Anglo-Irish Trade war began. Tariffs on most Irish goods entering Britain kept the English from buying Irish Whiskey.
- The Great Depression in 1929 of course also did not do anything to help Irish Whiskey exports and sales.

The invention of the Continuous Still or Column Still also led to the rise of Blended Scotch Whisky made using lighter and easier to produce at mass quantity grain whisky as the main component. Blended Scotch took Irish Whiskey’s spot as the barrel aged libation of choice after the United States ended prohibition. The most popular continuous still – the Coffey Still – was actually created and patented by Irishman Aeneas Coffey. His own country’s distilleries did not adopt this new technology, though. Many Irish Distilleries chose to stay with the tried and true pot still. Lighter whisky made in much larger volumes won the day (and the century).

All of this took its toll on Irish Distilleries and by the 1980s there were only two still in operation: The Bushmills Distillery in Antrim and the New Midleton Distillery in Cork. In 1987 the Cooley Distillery in Louth was established and the number of whiskey distilleries operating in Ireland increased to three.

Here is where we stand today: Irish Whiskey is booming now and there are now at least 16 Irish Distilleries currently operating and producing that will eventually become whiskey. A few years from now with other Distilleries planned or already being built – this number should jump to just about 30. This is quite a revival from the cataclysm that started almost a century ago but for the time being, we only see Irish Whiskey from the three aforementioned distilleries on our shelves.

We can currently only get Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey from one producer – as more distilleries come online and revive old traditions we will hopefully see more returning this uniquely Irish style to the heights it once achieved.

Here is what we tasted:

1 – Green Spot – 40% ABV – $90
Green Spot is produced at Midleton Distillery in County Cork – as is all Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey we tasted. It is 8 to 9 years old and is produced for Mitchell & Son Grocers of Dublin. Green Spot has been around since the 1920s and has been continually available since – though not always available here. Now a wine and spirits shop, Mitchell & Son still have the sole right to develop, market, and sell the Spot lineup though it is all produced by Irish Distillers and matured in their warehouses.

2 – Yellow Spot – 46% ABV – $90
Yellow Spot is the 12-year-old sibling of Green Spot. It is matured in three different types of casks: ex-Bourbon barrels, ex-Sherry butts and ex-Malaga casks Malaga is a type of fortified wine from Spain made with Pedro Ximenez and Moscatel grapes. Yellow Spot was only recently re-introduced to the world in 2012. It had not been available since the 1950s.

3 – Powers Signature Release Single Pot Still – 46%ABV – $68
The Powers line of Irish Whiskey has historically been the top selling whiskey within Ireland itself. The Signature release is aged mostly in ex-bourbon barrels along with some first fill ex-Oloroso Sherry casks. Powers is another old Irish Whiskey brand – it was originally produced at John’s Lane Distillery in Dublin but is now made at Midleton.

4 – Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy – 46% ABV – $267
The Barry Crockett Legacy is aged in a combination of ex-Bourbon and a small amount of American Virgin oak casks. Only 2500 bottles released per year. This Midleton is named after Midleton master distiller Barry Crockett – who retired in 2013 after 47 years at the distillery.

5 – Jack Ryan 15yr ‘The Bourdega’ – 46% ABV – $160
This is a 15-year-old single malt produced at an undisclosed Irish Distillery. It is aged in ex-Bourbon casks and then finished in ex-Oloroso Sherry casks – hence the name ‘Bourdega’ (Sherry casks coming from a Bodega in Spain). From a small batch of 2500 bottles. The Jack Ryan Irish Whiskey line is produced for Ryans Beggars Bush Pub in Dublin. The Pub has been around for 200 years and owned by the Ryan family for over a century.


Originally produced at Jameson’s Bow Street Distillery which ceased operation in 1971. Redbreast – like all other Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey tasted tonight – is now produced at Midleton Distillery in County Cork.

6 – Redbreast 15yr – 46% ABV – $115
Aged in ex-Bourbon Casks and ex-Oloroso Sherry Casks and like the 21-year-old it is bottled at 46% ABV.

7 – Redbreast 21yr – 46% ABV – $220
This is the eldest sibling of the Redbreast line as well as the oldest Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey available in Canada at this time. It is matured in a combination of ex-Bourbon casks and first fill ex-Oloroso Sherry casks.

8 – Redbreast 12yr Cask Strength – 57.2% ABV Batch B1/16 – $100
This high strength version of the venerable 12-year-old Redbreast is aged in first fill ex-Oloroso Sherry casks before being batch-bottled at cask strength and non-chill-filtered. Currently, it is only about five dollars more than the regular 12-year-old, which is a curious choice by the producer and distributor, to say the least.

In total, we tasted eight bottles of Irish Whiskey. Seven of these were Single Pot Still with the Jack Ryan 15 year Single Malt being the odd man out. Here were the favourites as voted on by those that attended our tasting:

#3 – Midleton Barry Crockett Legacy – Making up for being the most expensive bottle of the night – this was soft but complex with wonderfully integrated wood spice notes.

#2 – Redbreast 12yr Cask Strength – Big and bold with wonderful spice notes – the Cask Strength is a massive step up from the already good 40% 12-year-old – and only five bucks more costly! The value of this bottle and the Power’s Signature Release are likely the reason why both sold well post-tasting

#1 – Redbreast 21yr - It almost isn’t fair to the rest of this solid lineup how good this is. This absolutely stunning whiskey reminds you that even the big producers can put out some amazing stuff. I had not tried The Redbreast 21-year-old bottle until the night of the tasting and now I completely understand all of the high scores and accolades it receives. They are entirely justified.

This was a fun tasting to do and it afforded me the opportunity to learn a little more about Irish Whiskey and the Single Pot Still style. I am sure we will do another Irish Whiskey next year if not before then but at this point, I have to wonder: can anything beat the Redbreast 21-year-old?

Thank you to those that attended our tasting and also a big thank you to Cured Delicatessen for the food to pair with the Whiskey!

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

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Into the Bottle – Wine Blends Tasting

On Tuesday, March 14th we hosted an introductory wine class focused on blends from around the world.  We tasted 8 different wines to get a really good idea of what there is to offer, with the majority of them being traditional blends except for one which is just one of my favourites and I wanted everyone to give it a try as well.  I had a great time and it was great to share these wines with such a fun group of people. I will go through the wines in the same order that we tasted them on the evening.

The Lineup

1. Laherte Les 7 Champagne, $112.99
I love starting a tasting off with some bubbles and what a better way to talk about blends than trying some of the most famous blended wine in the world: Champagne.  You can have bubbles from anywhere in the world but there is something magical and wonderful about Champagne.  This Champagne is blended with all of the 7 grape varieties that are permitted in the Champagne region.  This wine was made in a way to try and taste what Champagne might have tasted like 250 years ago.

The Champagne region can be very demanding for viticulture when you consider the climate.  The average temperature year round is 10 degrees and it can be very damp as well.  Due to this, they have found ways to produce amazing products from what they are able to grow.  When you have champagne it will generally be a blend of different grapes and it can also be a blend of wines from different vintages.  By making the wine this way they are able to produce a product that can taste similar year after year, without being as influenced by the vintage.  You can still find vintages sometimes if it is from a good year or if they are a producer who does like to do that.

This Champagne was absolutely delightful.  It was toasty with nice aromas of yeast, mineral, citrus, and exotic fruits.  On the palate, it had an amazing refreshing acidity, creamy tight bubbles, peach, apple, and pear flavours.  It was an amazing wine and always such a treat whenever I get the chance to taste it!  Definitely fantastic for a celebration or just any old reason to drink bubbles.

2. Viña Alicia, Tiara white, 2012, $38.99
So this was my pick that I really wanted to have in the tasting, just because.  This is one of the coolest wines that I get to try.  It is a random white wine from Argentina that is very interesting.  It is from Viña Alicia in the valley of Lujan de Cuyo in the Mendoza region.  It is a very high altitude winery at over 3,500 feet and thought to be one of the first wineries planted in Mendoza.  The blend of grapes that are used are 50% Riesling, 40% Albariño, and 10% Savagnin.  The reason I find this wine so interesting is because of the grapes.  Riesling is a German grape, Albariño is a typical grape from Spain, and Savagnin is normally from the Jura region in France.  However, they have come together from some very old vines in this vineyard in Argentina.  Talk about multicultural!

This dry white wine is a pale yellow in hue. On the nose, it has a touch of floral notes along with minerality and citrus.  On the palate, it expresses a lovely mouth coating oily texture, chalky minerality, a bitter undertone, and nice citrus flavours.  This wine would go fantastic with some slightly spicy Asian food.  If you’re looking for a new wine adventure, this could be the one!

3. Moss Wood, Semillon – Sauvignon Blanc, 2016, $32.99
This is a white wine from Margaret River region in Australia, however, it is done in the traditional style of white Bordeaux, using Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc.  Both these grapes are what you primarily find planted in the Bordeaux region for white grapes.  The Sauvignon typically is lighter and refreshing, and generally would be drunk fresh and young, where the Semillon adds a fuller body and more structure.  Having the 2 grapes blended together can create a wine that drinks very well fresh but can change wonderfully with time.

On the nose, this wine has typical grassy notes from the sauvignon but also comes with a touch of honey and dried apricot.  The palate is refreshing with a wonderful acidity blended with fuller mouth feel, nice amount of fresh fruit, and lingering soft finish.  Such a gorgeous wine from a very cool producer!  Perfect for drinking right now but definitely worth trying again in 5-10 years.

4. Chateau Gassier, Le Pas du Moine Rose, 2015, $25.99
This is a beautiful, traditional, dry rose wine hailing from Provence, France – the birthplace of Rose wines.  It is a lovely blend of 8% Ugni Blanc (Trebbiano), 32% Grenache, 35% Syrah, 10% Rolle (Vermentino), 15% Cinsault.  Rose wines actually outsell white wines in France.  Rose is made from letting the juice from the red grapes remain for a longer period of time on the skins, this gives them the pale colour that they have.  The longer that the juice remains in contact with the skins, the darker the colour.  In Provence, they have been making rose wines for thousands of years.  The ancient Greeks originally brought wines and vines to southern France around 600 BC and had a major influence all the way to today for making wine.  When the Romans arrived in this area around 125 BC rose wines were very well renowned and even with the influence of heavy red wines. Rose has still been able to keep its stronghold in this region of France which the Ancient Romans called Provincia Romana – today’s Provence.  Rose wine is so popular from here that they have built a centre for Rose Research, the only one of its kind in the world.  If you are in need of something dry, lovely, refreshing, but with a bit of oomph to it you should definitely consider a new Rose!

This wine is light pink salmon in colour with a lovely vibrant nose.  It has fresh fruit, slightly floral, lots of citrus notes.  The palate is delightful and refreshing.  There is lots of citrus and most notable, some pink grapefruit.  This is definitely a wine to enjoy on a patio in the warmer weather that we are now getting!

5. Massena, Moonlight Run Grenache/Shiraz, 2012, $37.99
This is a typical blend that you are now able to find in different areas around Australia.  Originally this blend would come from France but they can do a fantastic job in Australia especially with the amazing Shiraz’s that they are able to produce.  You might hear this blend referred to as a GSM blend, that just means it is a blend of Grenache, Shiraz(Syrah), or Mourvedre (Mataro).  We were lucky enough to taste 2 styles of this blend tonight, this one from Australia and then the next one, which was from France.  We were also lucky enough to taste this wine before it, unfortunately, sold out from the store.

The workers at Massena would always put in a big full day and at the end of the days work they were craving a soft and quaffable wine to relieve the hard day’s work.  Due to this, they decided to make a Grenache based blend to be enjoyed at any time.  This vintage was a blend of 57% Grenache, 31% Mataro, 7% Shiraz, and 5% Cinsault.  The vines that the grapes were selected range from 45 – 120 years old in the Greenock Creek sub-district of the Barossa Valley.

This was the favourite wine of the night and it was definitely a killer wine.  It was a lovely dark purple, red colour. On the nose, it was full of berry, dark fruits, eucalyptus, and fresh cracked pepper.  The palate had a lovely soft pepper spice, with a medium body, well-balanced acidity, a touch of herbs, and soft blackberry, plum flavours.  This checks all of the boxes for anytime wine!

6. Raymond Usseglio, Chateauneuf du Pape, 2014, $59.99
This was our second GSM blend and it was very cool to be able to compare them one right after the other.  There are definitely differences that you can tell but there are also quite a few similarities.  Chateauneuf du Pape originally takes got its name in 1309 when the Pope moved there.  Translated it means “the Popes new castle”.  In total 8 Popes ended up staying here until 1378, all of them having a different influence on the wine making of the area.  There are quite a few different rules for this region, including that there are only 15 permitted grape varieties available for planting, vines must be at least 4 years old to be included in the wine, irrigation is only allowed in extreme circumstances and wine must be over 12.5% abv.  Also, no Rose wine is permitted to be made in this area, as well the main grape in the blends must be Grenache.  Approximately 95% of all the wines made from this region are red, with only 5% white.  The Chateauneuf area is approximately 14 km long by 8 km wide or 3,231 hectares.

This wine is from 3rd generation winemakers.  Their grandfather was originally from Italy but after the war received a plot of land and has since then been making wine.  That original piece of land went to Raymond’s Brother but he was able to get this property which is 18 Hectares, with 5 of those being dedicated to white wines and 3 to IGP wines.  They have been organically growing since 2012 and Raymonds son, Stephane has been in charge of the winery.

This is another gorgeous fuller bodied wine made with 75% Grenache, 15% Mourvedre, 5% Syrah, 3% Counoise, and 2% Cinsault.  It is dark red/purple in colour.  The nose reveals loads of berries and black cherries, some earthiness, mushroom, tobacco and light leather.  On the Palate, it is round and full with lovely full tannins but not too harsh, more black cherry, well-integrated acidity, slight fresh fruit flavours with a touch of earthiness.  Great value Chateauneuf and would drink great now or can hold for a few more years.

7. Fattori Amarone, Col de la Bastia, 2012, $64.99
Amarone is a typical style of wine from the Valpolicella wine region from Northeastern area in Italy in the Verona Province.  Amarone wines are made using mostly Corvina(45%-95%), Corvinone(up to 50% can be used in place of Corvina), Rondinella(5%-30%) grapes and then can also use a few other (up to 25%) approved grapes.  The grapes are picked and then traditionally dried on straw mats.  This process helps to concentrate the flavours and sugars.  This process is called Appassimento.  Generally, when you have an Amarone it can have a higher alcohol content and can be a very big, full-bodied wine. This Fattori does not disappoint in any of these features.

The Amarone, Col de la Bastia comes from a family owned winery on 12 hectares.  The blend is 65% Corvina, 15% Corvinone, 10% Rondinella, 10% other varieties.  It is deep and rich in colour, dark ruby red.  On the nose, it smells of spice, leather, and dark berries.  The palate is rich and round with lots of ripe blackberries, black cherry, and a lingering on the palate that is delightful!  This is a big wine but worth every penny!

8. Osoyoos Larose, Le Grand Vin, 2012, $59.99
This is an awesome blend that is from British Columbia but it is done in the traditional style of Bordeaux.  When making a Bordeaux red wine there are six permitted grapes.  Osoyoos Larose uses five of those grapes in this blend.  It is a mix of 50% Merlot, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Petit Verdot, 9% Cabernet Franc, and 4% Malbec.

The winery is located in BC however, it is now owned by the Merlaut family from Gruaud-Larose in France.  The winemaker is also French.  There is a lot of French influence in this wine, mixed with modern technology and Osoyoos climate we come out with a gorgeous wine!

This wine is bright ruby red. The nose is loaded with vanilla, red currant, cassis, vanilla and tobacco.  On the palate, it is rich with lovely fuller tannins, nice touch of acidity, black fruit, and some earthiness. This wine will do lovely to drink now but should be able to age for quite a few more years. We recently had a magnum of 2005 vintage Osoyoos Larose at a staff party that still showed nicely.

This was a cool tasting to be able to try some wines that are all done with traditional style blends from around the world.  Everyone enjoyed the tasting and was able to learn a thing or two2 as well.  I always love the opportunity to try new stuff and if the wine isn’t new at least I get to try it with different people.

Thanks to everyone who attended and I hope to see you at the next one!

Twitter: @smilingvines
Instagram: @tick_ec




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New Beer for the Week of March 15th, 2017

Hey everyone!

Hope you all survived the chill! It’s nice to see the warmer weather finally show it’s face again, though for how long? Better take advantage of this with some summery beers! Come and grab all the session ales!

It’s a small order this week! A few sours and a couple IPAs have been rounded up to feature on the shelf, along with a new keg I’ll mention in a minute. In the meantime, here’s what’s in store this week!

Thorny Horn Raspberry sour by Phillips brewing: Thorny Horn is a raspberry brown ale lacto fermented. Fruity with robust malt along with a big sour kick. Thorny Horn was the first sour beer Phillips ever brewed, and it’s back! ($8.59 for a 650mL bottle)

Oud Bruin by Les Trois Mousquetaires: They make this Flanders brown inspired beer by blending a sour brown with a non-sour! Big notes of sour fruits and oak on a big caramelly brown ale. Big acidity comes across throughout the beer making it more sour than many true oud bruins! ($13.99 for a 750mL bottle)

IPA Project #1 by Collective Arts: This is the first in a series of IPAs being produced by Collective Arts. Nelson Sauvin, Simcoe and Citra are showcased in this tropical and floral, and super drinkable IPA.($4.09 for a 473mL can)

Oud Bruin by Wild Rose brewing: Mildly acetic with a rich malty base of chocolate and dark malt notes along with fruity berry tones and a zingy tartness throughout. ($12.29 for a 750mL bottle)

Radiant IPA by Hell’s Basement: Our favourite Medicine Hat brewers are back with this bright, tropical and floral IPA. Soft bready malts -which seem to be their style- give a nice and silky beer, with fruity hop notes all over, and a balanced bitterness on the end. ($16.99 for a 6-pack of cans)

So St. Patrick’s day is on its way, and I know what everyone will be coming in for… A pint of the black right? It pains me that so many need Guinness just for the sake of the holiday when there are so many stouts in Alberta that are soo sooo soooooo much better! Come visit me this Friday and I can personally show you each and every one. Not only that, but I have a keg of Irish red ale from Cold garden on the growler bar right now, growler fills of which will be on for 15% off all Friday until the keg is empty!

Once this keg is empty, on deck is a keg of Four Winds Apparition, their west coast white ale (White IPA) that is super citrusy, floral and overall delicious. You’re not going to want to miss it!

One more thought before I go. If you happen to be looking for something to do on Tuesday, March 28, I have 8 tickets left for my “Old school Vs. New” beer tasting. I’m going to take classic styles such as the Belgian tripel, IPA, and porter, and pit old brewers versus new brewers in a battle royale! $25 gets you tastes of up to 8 different beers and some delicious cheese and meat snacks from Peasant Cheese. Book online, or give us a call at the shop!

So that’s about all for now. Until next week,

Twitter: @ShawnsBrewsCGY

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Budget Bubbles March 10, 2017

Nothing makes me happier that hearing the energetic “pop” of a bottle of sparkling wine freshly uncorked. For the purists reading, yes, I do know that you are not supposed to be hearing anything but a light stream of gas escaping the bottle. I just enjoy that sound so much that I am willing to take the risk of spilling a few drops of precious wine in exchange! After all, isn’t it what bubbly is all about? Happiness! Nothing says “welcome home”, or “congratulations”, or “let’s spend some time together” like a well chosen bottle of sparkling wine.

Even though Champagne (the name exclusively reserved for the sparkling wines produced in the region of Champagne, in France) is a delightful treat, it is not necessarily the best choice for every palate, occasion, or budgets. Considering that most of the Champagne on our Canadian market retail for over 50$ a bottle, we decided to build a fun Friday night tasting of alternatives to Champagne that sell for 30$ or under. But with over 80 different sparkling wines in the store, it was almost impossible to select only 7 wines! However I persevered and somehow managed to restrain myself and selected my 7 favourite wines from the old-world countries of Italy, France, and Spain.

My selection:

The Lineup

Fattori Ronca di Ronca Sparkling Brut $29.99
100% Durello
Veneto, Italy
Made from 100% Durella grapes (also called Durello), and a KWM exclusive, this terrific bubbly is the entry level for Fattori’s (one of the Veneto’s top producers of excellent regional wines) sparkling wine range. Look for a pale straw hue. On the nose you’ll find a hint of balsamic aromas leading into whiffs of yellow and green fruits. The overall sensation is exotic! The taste is bright and consistent with a lovely finish of green almonds and white flowers, with a briny character. This one is perfect as an aperitif and ideal with sushi.

Kuentz Crémant d’Alsace Brut $29.99
Pinot Gris & Pinot Blanc
Alsace, France
The Kuentz estate winery, another KWM exclusive, has been producing wine since 1680. Their vines are located in four different villages: Pfaffenheim, Gueberschwihr, Rouffach and Herrlisheim in the Alsace region of France. This extremely well priced cremant, the name given to sparkling wines made in Alsace, is made from a blend of Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris and offers a fresh and vibrant taste making for a charming, sparkling quaffer. Its great price means you can find more everyday reasons to celebrate! Enjoy at brunch with a traditional quiche Lorraine. (Pssst… If you have a sweet tooth for brunch, I highly recommend to try the crémant rosé from this producer. Just a little bit over 30$, but absolutely gorgeous, bursting with red apple, strawberry and rose petal).

Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut $14.99
50% Macabeo, 35% Parellada, 15% Xarel-lo
Cava DOC, Spain
The Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut is medium to full-bodied with notes of apple and rich honey complemented by hints of spicy ginger and orange. It’s richly flavored and benefits from a balanced, clean dry finish. Serve chilled, with a variety of appetizers, as an aperitif wine… and maybe keep the leftovers for your Sunday brunch Mimosa!

Il Follo Vino Spumante Rosato Brut $25.99
85% Glera, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon
Veneto, Italy
Il Follo produces a small portfolio of precisely crafted, classic sparkling wines from its own vineyard in the cru of Cartizze as well as from fruit purchased from some of the finest growers of Conegliano-Valdobbiadene and Treviso. This alluring pale rose petal pink wine is marked by a gentle fragrance of strawberry, wild cherry and a note of red apple reflected on the finely balanced palate. A KWM exclusive and one of my personal favorites!

Domaine des Aubuisières Vouvray Brut $25.99
100% Chenin Blanc
Loire Valley, France
Here’s an exceptional sparkling wine from the Loire Valley and one that is exclusive to KWM. Made from the Chenin Blanc grape, the most important grape variety of the Central Loire Valley, it is positively brimming with flavors of crisp apple and firm acidity. And, what a surprise – one sip and you’ll discover a big burst of creamy center with a touch of pear. The finish is dry with a touch of citrus. Although there’s just half the pressure of Champagne, this sparkler has plenty of exuberance!

Andreola Mas de Fer Prosecco Extra-Dry $29.99
100% Glera
Veneto, Italy
A multi-award-winning sparkling wine from Italy, and a Kensington Wine Market exclusive! A fine 88 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, too. The review: “Brilliant luminosity and moderate aromatic intensity. This sparkler plays its strongest cards in the mouth where it shows bright acidity and pretty floral and peach endnotes. The effervescence is creamy and rich.”

Cantina Paltrinieri, Solco Lambrusco $21.49
100% Lambrusco Salamino
Emilia Romagna, Italy
So much fun to drink! This dry, delicious frizzante is dark purple-red in hue and hails from Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, just outside of the city of Modena. Pair with Italian cold cuts (mortadella sandwich!!!) or barbecued steak, ribs, Italian sausages. You get the picture. From a family-owned winery that has been making fine vino for three generations. Touch of sweetness and truly delicious.

The Favourites of the night as chosen by our guests:

#1 (by a !!!large!!! majority) Il Follo Spumante Rosato Brut $25.99

#2 Fattori Ronca di Ronca Sparkling Durello $29.99

#3 Kuentz Crémant d’Alsace Brut $29.99

Once again, the two favourites of the night were Italians, and I must admit that I agree with the vote! KWM has an extraordinary selection of exclusive Italian wines from Proseccos to top quality Metodo Classico sparkling wine from Tuscany that are worth exploring. So don’t miss an occasion (or even better: create one!) to buy a bottle of bubbly and explore the diversity of sparkling wines from the world. And for those who are afraid that they will not be able to finish the bottle as a reason not to buy sparkling wines: we also sell champagne & beer stoppers for $4.99!

Christine Parent
Twitter: @eat_dream_drink
Instagram: @eat_dream_drink

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