Wine Trends of the Canadian Rockies

Bonjour, Hello!

Kristen recently traveled with her new job to the Canadian Rockies area on the west side of Canada and carefully documented the wine trends and local grapes of the area.

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First stop: Vancouver

Vancouver, the famous western city of the Canada, was a surprisingly clean city. Not much trash to be seen on the streets and city hosts a large Asian influence with noodle shops and tea leaf importers on nearly every corner. The skyscrapers sparkle in the glow of the snow covered mountains that surround the city, and the light from the sun that reflects off the bay. Our hotel, the Georgian Court, was a stunning modern hotel that – with its spa-like features – won the award for best public bathrooms. They keep a beautiful Italian restaurant on the grounds that includes a jazz lounge, wine dinner room, and a classic bar.

 

Their menu offered lots of fun wine cocktails, my favorite being The Rose Garden. 

Its a mixture of elderflower liquor and black raspberry puree, topped with a sparkling rose wine. It was floral with a slight fruit finish that reminded me more of cranberry than black raspberry. It was not very sweet but instead felt like the alcoholic version of fruity green tea.

Second Stop: The overnight Via Rail train through the Rockies

If you have never experienced a Canadian train before, I highly recommend it! I will warn you that it is definitely NOT for anyone who hates small spaces. However, the train supports three lovely dome cars for viewing the scenery, and even serves a bottomless champagne toast as the train disembarks. The attendants poured the Angels Gate Brut VQA Beamsville Bench 2012 vintage which was 100% Archangel Chardonnay. The winery in located in the Niagara region of Canada. Niagara is home to many Canadian wineries, much like the Finger Lakes region in New York State. It was crisp and tasted of golden delicious apples with notes of citrus and peach. I highly recommend trying this vintage. The average price is around $29 per bottle.

 

The dining car also served some of Canada’s local grapes and local wineries. The first wine I tried was Union White: a blend of Riesling, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer,  and Sauvignon Blanc from Ontario. It was the perfect match for my scallop and shrimp lunch. It bursted with citrus, white peach, and even a slight pineapple finish. It was bright and medium bodied with a slightly lingering finish.

 

The second was Konzelmann Estate Winery‘s Baco Noir also from Ontario. The Baco Noir grape is a native hybrid grape grown in parts of the USA and Ontario. I would say this wine was medium bodied and very fruit forward and slightly sweet. It reminded me of a less sweet version of blackberry wine. Rich and yet not very heavy on the taste buds. It will make a great pairing for Italian dishes!

Third stop: Jasper

This adorable mountain town feels like you finally made it to the north pole and Santa is busy working in the toy shop. Between the Christmas lights and wild elk constantly walking around the town, it’s hard not to feel nostalgic. The bitter cold was the perfect pairing for O’Sheas Irish Restaurant’s Mulled Wine special. The chef makes a fresh batch each morning and says it’s his grandmother’s recipe from Belgium.

It. Was. Incredible.

The balance of fruit, spice and sweet was unmatched by any mulled wine I’ve had before. The chef tops off each glass with warm pieces of citrus and it went perfectly with hot poutine and my buffalo burger. His recipe is a guarded secret but my guess is that a slightly sweeter red wine was used as a base with some brandy and fruit juices.

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Later that night, the Downsteam bar had a cocktail list that seemed longer than the Bible. I could not decide between the local wines and great cocktails so I challenged the bartenders to make me a drink that had both. I was not disappointed. They created a red wine whiskey sour made with local wine, maple whiskey, and topped with a few drops of maple syrup. The foam on top tasted almost candy like while the drink itself was fruity with a toffee finish. It has a thicker body than most cocktails, and the whiskey helped make for a clean finish. I have no idea how the drink is made, but I think I have some experimenting to do.

 

Fourth stop: Banff

Banff feels like the trendy younger sister of Jasper. It is still surrounded by gorgeous mountains yet the town is much more alive with a wild night life and slightly more youthful crowd. It’s a skiers paradise with trendy shops, restaurants, and a mountain gondola that will take you up to the clouds! Here we dined at the Maple Leaf which is a 5 star restaurant. A trend I noticed in Canada is that wine by the glass is not very popular. Most restaurants sell their wines by the bottle and can have extensive selections. In all honesty, we tried many wines that night from dry reds to crisp whites. I highly recommend asking the waiter’s advice because they are trained on the latest wine specials of the restaurant and will help match the meal you order. Hands down the best spot for wine pairing!

Last Stop: Calgary airport

Our last destination was the Calgary International Airport. We arrived early for our 12 pm flight and with limited options ended up at a Chili’s. To my surprise, they had a whole mimosa menu to choose from. My personal favorite was the Chambord Mimosa. This cocktail is a scoop of Frozen Top Shelf Margarita, a splash of Chambord, orange juice, grenadine, topped off with Martini and Rossi Asti Prosecco. It tasted like a tropical ice cream soda aka what you wish your aunt’s sherbet party punch tasted like. It was bubbly, creamy, fruity, and ice cold. My favorite way to wake up!

 

 

My fellow winos if you ever find yourself in the Canadian Rockies please try the local delicacies and tell us what you think!!

CHEERS!!!

 

 

Local grapes by the Amana Colonies

Kristen took a trip to Iowa last month and discovered a large community of people called the Amana Colonies who are helping locally grown grapes make a major come back!

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Amana, not Amish: 

At first glance, the Amana community seems to highly resemble the famous Amish settlers. However, the people of the Amana colonies are of German descent and highly value innovation and advancement in technology. After breaking away from the Luthern church in 1714, the Amana group has thrived and how stands as 7 large colonies. To our joyous surprise, Amana is famous for their Oktoberfest celebration and supports 4 wineries and 1 incredibly German-style brewery.

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Show me the wine

While visiting, Kristen managed to visit 2 of the wineries and got to learn a great deal about delicious local blends.

Stop 1: Fireside Winery –

**Currently being sold in the Heritage Haus in Amana.

Though these wines are sold to Amana like a winery in Napa would sell them to you local liquor store, the winery grows grape varieties that we have never heard of before!

Wines to try:

Hearthstone: It was a beautiful, light, and semi-dry red wine made with the local Marquette grape. It’s aroma screams fresh cherry and the palate finishes with smokey oak flavors. It’s wine that is elegant enough for short ribs but yet approachable enough for pizza.

Blu: This white blend of Geisenheim and local Iowa Seyval grapes, is a lightly sweet wine with crisp apple notes and and orange fruit aromas. It’s the perfect pair for your spicy taco night or BYOB to your favorite Indian restaurant. Seyval is also a MA local grape and the Iowa expression is elegant in comparison.

Glow: This dessert sweet wine is made with Iowa grown Brianna grapes. Expect this wine to take you away to a tropical destination with its pineapple, peach, and roasted apricot flavors. It’s the perfect sweet wine for the white sangria lovers in your life or even better on ice as a summer porch sipper.

 

Brave enough to try?

Fireside wines can be purchased on their website and shipped to your house! Explore their large portfolio and let us know what you think!

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Stop 2: Ackerman Winery

Established in 1956, it’s one of the oldest wineries in Iowa and has won awards for it’s fruit wine such as rhubarb and dandelion wine. Their unique selection of wines alone was stunning before we even to got taste them!

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wines to try:

Catawba: This native American grape varietal is the parent grape of the famous Concord variety. It produces a gorgeous pink wine that we swear will be your new summer fav! It’s hints of fresh strawberry and red apple will go down so easy it can be dangerous.

Edelweiss: This juicy Iowa grown white grape reminded us of a Gewurztraminer. It’s soft and floral body is easy drinking with pear and lemon notes. Serve ice cold while waiting for toe nails to dry in the hot summer sun.

Try the fruit wines – we dare you! Choosing a top fruit wine is too hard. All of their fruits are grown across america and boast about their health benefits as listed below. The Rhubarb and Dandelion have won awards but the Blackberry and Pomegranate were some of our favs. We recommend joining the wine club so you can taste them all!

Ackerman wines can also be purchased on their website!

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Happy Drinking Wineos!!!

 

 

Wine for a Dime

Price of wine getting you down lately?

We know your wine hobby can be expensive and vineyard visits seem more like a dream than tangible reality. So we’ve gathered some wallet saving tips for your wine lifestyle.

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1) Groupon

Groupon is a great way to get tastings, bulk wine orders, wine gifts, and vineyard visits on the cheap! We personally have used this website to visit many local places for half the price. Use this for sangria at your local paint night, discounts on local event tickets, and even custom made wine bottles. Sign up now to get 20% your first groupon order.

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2) Localwineevents.com

This website specializes in wine education AND wine fun. Not only does it list events and festivals near you, but it lists wine getaways in places like Europe and California. Their newsletter lets you know ASAP about early bird ticket sales and fun wine facts/trivia. This is the same website that we used to discover Wine Riot Boston; you might remember our review from a previous post.

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3) Superstore Newsletters

This next tip may sound lame at first, but we swear your wallet will thank you later. Join the email list or mailing account of your local packies, wine superstores, and local small wine shops. The packies and superstores often have special sales or wholesale discounts, but the smaller shops tend to host cheap and intimate wine events where you may even get to meet a winemaker and get the inside scoop. This may flood your email a bit, so maybe make an easy gmail or yahoo account for all your wine info needs (or send them all to your Promotions folder).

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4) Join a Wine Club

Wine clubs are a great way to get different bottles each month without having to spend a lot of money. Some local shops may have their own clubs but many online vendors have bottles that get shipped directly to your house. Some of the cheaper online clubs include Tasting RoomWINC, Cellars Wine Club, and for more options/reviews check out this article from Urbantastebud. For local options, look to the newsletters from option #3 to see if any stores near you offer a monthly club. Local shops would take out your shipping costs completely so we recommend checking around first.

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5) Tasting Events

Nearly every liquor and wine shop has tasting events on the weekends so swing through quickly as you go about your day to see what they are pouring. 9 times out of 10 there’s a discount on the wines being served or even a case discount. This way you know you like the wine before you buy and you snagged a deal that day. Worse case scenario, you go home with a bottle of your favorite wine instead of what they offered you.

 

Feature Image Credit: Dave Dugdale

Superstore Image Credit: Hip2Save.com

9 Thoughts You Have at Wine Tasting

“I’m definitely going to break all this glass”

Walking into a winery tasting room – especially one with lots of shelves – can be a bit terrifying, especially if you have a big purse or an empty, burlap wine bag in tow. You want to look at everything, so you walk around with your arms close to your sides and stand a few feet back from displays, squinting at the labels. Maybe after you taste a few wines, you’ll have the courage to pick up the glass yourself.

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“The person pouring my wine is my new best friend”

One of the best parts of visiting local wineries is meeting and learning from the brilliant men and women who work there! They’re the experts in these particular wines, and love sharing them with others. Don’t be shy – this is your chance to ask questions and show your genuine interest in the winery’s history, production, and varietals.

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“Am I drinking too early for a Tuesday?”

Most tasting rooms aren’t open past 5pm, so you have to get your day drinking on if you want to visit a winery. If you took the day off for the trip, you’ve definitely got a great start to your day! If you have work later…best of luck. We know your pain.

“The guy next to me knows nothing about wine”

There’s always that group a few seats down at the tasting bar that you can’t help but overhear and slightly judge. Have they ever been to a tasting before? Why are they downing the samples so fast? This isn’t a bar, people. It doesn’t help that you’re jealous of any second of attention the pourer gives them (you need your wine, okay?)

Bonus if they share tasting notes that totally contradict yours.

“Maybe I don’t know anything about wine, either”

It’s not easy sharing your own wine notes when talking to the experts who work at the winery and taste these bottles every week. What if you note a bit of oakiness and they have to politely tell you it was fermented in steel tanks? Or maybe you completely butcher the pronunciation of a varietal, and mix up two of the wines you tasted while comparing them? Suddenly you’re not judging the other tasters quite as much…

“Fruit wine is my new favorite thing”

If you’re not from New York, Oregon or California, chances are your wineries have some fruit-based wines on their shelves. It’s a great taste of local culture and definitely a nice surprise on the pallet! Never underestimate the quirkier varietals the tasting room offers.

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“How much are they legally allowed to serve?”

You stand up to go back to the store and snag your favorite bottles, and suddenly the effects of your day drinking crash down on you. You try to add up the samples in your mind, counting how many glasses that comes to. But you’re sure as hell not complaining; you’re grateful for the generous pourer!

“Can I actually afford a whole bottle?”

You’ve got your buzz on and you’re roaming the store now, trying to remember which wines were your favorites as you select some for checkout. But the numbers aren’t always pretty, especially for small wineries with limited distribution. You loved all the bottles and wish you could take the whole place home. But depending on your buzz, you’re not going home with much (this time!)

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“I need to plan my next tasting ASAP”

If you’re anything like us, each wine tasting leaves you craving for more! Go out and support your local wineries; not only is it a delicious blast, but we promise you’ll meet fun, smart, wine lovers along the way!

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Cheers!