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!!!

 

 

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We Tried Wine Made With Mold

On the surface, mold and wine don’t seem like a good combination. So when we heard about Tibouren Clos Cibonne rosé, we had to find out how a moldy wine tasted.

 

 

But before we get to taste, let’s talk about process. The winery that produces the rosé uses mold during the fermentation process. It rests in a layer on top of rosé’s barrel and is then filtered out at year later when the wine is ready. The mold, we’re assured, is “the good kind” – completely healthy, natural, and a contributor to the wine’s bold, full-bodied flavor.

Sourced from vines over thirty years old, the wine is 90% tibouren (a grape from southern France typically used to produce full-bodied rosés) and 10% grenache. The wine offers unique earthy flavors along with aromas of orange and spice. But don’t be fooled: this full-bodied rosé is just as fruity as most great pinks, bursting with color on the palate.

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We’d recommend it with all of our heart – if everyone else hadn’t beat us to it. The rosé consistently rates high among critics with each vintage produced. The one set back is the price tag. While it’s definitely worth the splurge, we know not everyone can justify over $30 on one bottle of wine.

But if you can, give it a shot. And don’t let the mold myths scare you away. Nature works in our favor with this one!

 

This Summer’s Top Five Rosés

It’s summer, which means we have to drink as much rosé as we can before the local wine stores focus their stocking on reds and fall whites.

While summer is coming to a close, our love of rosé continues to go strong. We’ve tried over a dozen fantastic rosés this summer, but have selected our top five in case you don’t have the time (or funds!) to sample our full list.

In order from enjoyed-a-try to bought-three-bottles, here are our top rosés of summer 2017!

 

5. Dune Gris de Gris (2016)

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A delightful light wine for the hottest summer days, Gris de Gris holds subtle flavors of grapefruit. Sweet with a citrus edge, this rosé is a crisp, cool, light-bodied pink wine that pairs perfectly with a sweltering day and light meal.

4. Domanie de Pellehaut Harmonie de Gascogne Blanc (2016)

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Can you tell we like grapefruit rosés? This wine holds similar grapefruit and citrus flavors to the previous wine, but with more of a fruity flavor. With light strawberry flavor, the wine has a gentle edge of sweetness on Gris de Gris. The wine also has a unique grassy nose; if you close your eyes, you can imagine yourself in the winery’s field, sipping the light wine on a warm summer day.

 

3. Phebus

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Want a little more flavor and depth to your rosé? Or are you a fan of Malbec? We have the rosé for you! This wine packs a little more body and flavor, with ripe berry flavors. And to make things better, it’s less than $10 at Total Wines!

2. Brin de Rosé 

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Simple in name and taste, this is a perfect crowd-pleaser for a sunny patio day. It’s light and gentle on the tongue in the way only a French wine can be, but with enough character to make you pour another glass (and another…and another). Not to mention, we love the bottle – it’s original shape sets it apart from traditional rosés and gives it a modern and fun non-traditional flair.

1.  La Garoche (2016)

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This is the rosé we keep coming back for again…and again…and again. The one we check is still in stock, like, weekly. Because how is no one else on to this yet? With sweet berry flavors cut by the minerally aftermath of natural tanins, this dry rosé  is perfect with anything. Especially an empty wine glass! Perfect for wine-lovers and newcomers alike, we recommend snagging a bottle before the season is up!

Photo cred:

Gris de Gris, Pellehaut, PhebusBrin de Rose, La Galoche

A Summer Blush You Can’t Resist!

Hey Wineos, it’s Kristen here!

I want to share a fun wine I found for these last few weeks of summer. I know so many of you red wine lovers out there are counting down the days until rosé season is over, but I have an exciting red summer wine find for you!

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Introducing Tess, the first red wine that can handle the hot summer. Technically, Tess is classified as a ‘blush’ or ‘rosé’ wine. However, it has a much darker hue of red than other wines in its category.

This is because Tess is a blend of red and white grapes, crafted to bring the best characteristics of white grapes and the flavorful aspects of red to the table. THis bottle shouts “Crisp like a white, complex like a red.”  It is even meant to be served chilled!

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Tess, meaning ‘harvest,’ is from a winery founded by two Napa Valley natives who loved experimenting with wine blending as kids on their family’s vineyard. Now the sisters have grown up and started their own winery using their unique wine blend that they invented back in 1987. Check out their website or facebook to learn more.

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I recommend red wine lovers try this label or bring it to parties that are a bit heavy on the traditional rosé craze. The wine is juicy but not heavy on the palate. It bursts with cherry and watermelon flavors but still flirts with the white grape typical apple flavor and light acidity. Tess can range a bit in price depending on the store but traditionally ranges from $18 to $20 a bottle.

Let’s all raise a glass to those fleeting few days of summer. Don’t worry – we here at half past have got you covered in the wine department for the seasons to come.

Cheers!

Tess wine picnic image credit from Tesswine.com

Tess bottle and glass image credit from Tess Winery Facebook or https://www.facebook.com/tess.winery/photos

 

Rosé All Day – Summer Rosé Reviews

Summer is finally here and that means it is the ever confusing, hit or miss season of pink wine aka rosé.

Don’t panic! We have a discovered a few general rules for rosé hunting and we have tried many different styles which we will review below to help you narrow down sea of pink bottles at the liquor store.

Rule #1: 

PINK WINE DOES NOT MEAN IT IS SWEET!!!!!

Rosé got a bad reputation from the California White Zinfandel craze that swept the nation in the US’s early wine making years. Most rosés actually aren’t sweet at all! This is why summer is so hard to work with; most wine store displays have the sugar-sweet rosés mixed in with the traditional dry style wines.

Rule #2

The lighter pink in color, the dryer the wine.

And that means what? If the rose looks barely pink at all and looks more like a tinted Instagram filter, then chances are the wine is made in a dry style. Dry means that nearly all of the sugar in the wine was converted to alcohol and it WILL NOT be sweet. However, there are always some rosés that break this rule, so pick wisely.

Rule #3 

France – the Rosé king of the liquor store- tends to make a lot of rosé, but just so you all know nearly all of them are made in the dry style.

We have tried a few that have hints of sweetness which we will list below but if you like that crisp dry rosé on a hot summers day then turn to France.

Wine Reviews:

Now we have been tasting many rosés this summer so far in order to give you a variety of rosés to choose from at the store. Here are a few winning rosés we found so far.

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Name: Globerati Rosé

Country: Italy

Vintage: 2015

Style: Dry style but hint of sweet

Tasting Notes: Berry blasts of flavor but had a light and smooth mouth-feel, aka ‘body.’

  

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Name: Logis de la Bouchardiere Chinon

Country: France

Vintage: 2015

Style: Dry

Tasting Notes: Refreshing and fruity, just slightly over what I would ‘light body’, slightly tannic.

 

Name: Cote des roses

Country: France

Vintage: 2015

Style: Dry style but hint of sweet

Tasting Notes: Obviously the cute bottle is for cliche pun lovers but the wine inside is actually pretty amazing. It’s the first Dry style rose we have ever loved enough to drink the whole bottle in one sitting. It was a mix of being strawberry fresh and almost grapefruit citrus. It’s a unique flavor that you have to try!

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Name: North by Northwest

Country: USA

Vintage: 2014

Style: Dry style but hint of sweet

Tasting Notes: Soft pops of watermelon and strawberry flavors with a refreshing acidity!

 

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Name: Lila Rosé

Country: France

Vintage: none listed

Style: Dry style

Tasting Notes: There are many ‘wine in a can’ producers out there now but we highly suggest you buy Lila over the others. Why? They have engineered their cans so that the wine is not exposed to metal which prevents that terrible metallic taste. The rosé inside is light and when cold from a cooler its the perfect secret beach drink that leaves after tastes of berries and watermelon but goes down like zesty water. Each can contains 8.4oz so that means the four pack is more than one bottle of 750ml wine!

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Name: Plum Island Rosé

Country: USA

Vintage: none listed

Style: Light Sweetness

Tasting Notes: This MA local Vineyard has mastered the rosé art. Their rosé is a new batch each year and a very limited production but WORTH the drive to vineyard to get it or if you are lucky you might be able to find it at Kappy’s. Its falls in the middle of sweet and dry styles and if full for strawberry and light cherry flavors with hints of watermelon and citrus. The wine will fill you up after a while but its so refreshing that you won’t care.

 

Name: Rosatello Sparkling Rosé

Country: Italy

Vintage: none listed

Style: Sweet!

Tasting Notes: The Italians come in first yet again with their sweet and refreshing spritzy wines. This wine is sweet but not sickeningly so. The flavors are bold ripe dark cherries, raspberries, and wild strawberries. The bubbles reminded us of raspberry gingerale and helped keep the wine crisp on the palate. It’s perfect for that summer bubbly by the water or paired with fresh fruits. Sweet wine lovers we have found the rosé for you!

 

Keep Hunting!

We will continue to post winning rosés on our facebook page throughout the summer so stay tuned for other winning bottles. Reach out to us via facebook or the comment area on the blog to update us on any rosés that you love!!

 

 

 

 

City Wines: Brooklyn Oenology

When you think of Brooklyn, wine isn’t likely to be the first thing to pop into your mind. You’re probably imagining busy city sidewalks, a community of urban culture, or a land of creative writers and artists. Well, Brooklyn Oenology manages to combine all of these things into their vibrant wine collection, representing the local culture of Brooklyn through their variety of NY-grown wines.

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We had the pleasure of meeting BOE at the Boston Wine Expo, and later sampling two of their wines: their 2014 Cabernet Franc Rosé and 2014 Social Club Wine (both perfect for the spring and summer!). We were intrigued by the idea of a wine from the center of a city – and the way the wine labels represented the local culture.

The BOE Story

BOE’s wines are like a love song to New York: the grapes are all grown in the Finger Lakes and Long Island (yes, Long Island makes wine – who knew?) regions, and the labels feature artwork from local Brooklyn artists. The labels are not only gorgeous representations of local talent, but also provide information on the artist and the medium they used, serving to promote local creative work.

 

But now let’s talk about the wines!

Social Club White

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We had the pleasure of tasting BOE’s popular white blend, coming in at around 50% Chardonnay, 15% Riesling (there’s that Finger Lakes taste we love!), and 35% other assorted whites. Stainless steel barrels maintained the body and taste of Chardonnay without the buttery flavors that could possibly overpower the other whites. The wine offers a delicious experience on the pallet, transitioning from a slightly sweeter taste to a medium-acidic finish.

The wine was named for its “easy-drinking,” making it a wine you can sip on socially with friends either with or without food. Social Club White boasts flavors of pear, pineapple and light citrus. We recommend this wine for exactly what its title suggests: casual, social drinking!

Cabernet Franc Rosé

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This rosé has an interesting story: the unusually cold weather of 2014 caused a much lower yield of the Cabernet Franc grapes than anticipated. These bottles are the surviving grapes! The rosé is light, crisp, and dry, proving to be an ideal drink for the warmer days to come. This salmon-colored wine gives a sweet berry aroma and is fruit-forward.

We detected flavors of watermelon and lime, proving to be a perfect pair for a summer BBQ. Don’t forget to chill it for that refreshing acidic pop on the palate.

Want to learn more about BOE and their wines?

Check out BOE at facebook.com/pages/BrooklynOenology or on Twitter @bklynoenology.

If you’re wondering where to find BOE near you, you can contact BOE at 718-599-1259 or info@brooklynoenology.com

Cheers!