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January’s Main Event: Portugal vs Spain

Portugal and Spain share many commonalities in geography and in viticulture, including varietal plantings and wine culture. However, the style of wines produced and variations in micro-climates are vast. Here is a quick study on what is similar and not so similar between these 2 neighbours.

Grapes

Portugal is like a ‘wine island’, where unique varietals are grown in almost isolation. Portugal has hundreds of indigenous varietals, many are not found anywhere else. Here are some of the most popular and obscure grapes you can find in Portugal.

  • Arinto – Widely planted, especially in Lisboa and offers a zingy, fresh and acidic profile.
  • Tinta Roriz or Aragonês – The same grape as Tempranillo, just a different name.
  • Sangiovese – An international varietal, not home to Portugal, but found in small amounts.

Spain has enjoyed significant international popularity lately, with Spanish wines being readily available and affordable. This has helped establish varietals like Tempranillo, pushing them into the mainstream. Here are some of our favourite, less-known varietals.

  • Viura- The most heavily planted white grape in Rioja (aka Macabeo) and used often for Cava.
  • Picapoll – An obscure grape mostly found in Cataluña.
  • Mencía – A well structured grape that thrives in NW Spain, Bierzo.

Regions

Portugal’s regions are almost all Mediterranean in climate, with even the furthest vineyards not very far from the ocean. The main differences in the sub-regions will be due to elevation. The plains and plateaus having more heat, while hills will have mitigating cooling breezes and nighttime temperatures.

  • Dão, named after the Dão River, is in northern Portugal. Here, the quality vineyards are grown from 150-450 meters above sea level and enjoy the affects of diurnal temperature. Most commonly, you will find Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional.
  • Douro produces both fortified and non-fortified wines. Most notable, Douro is known for its Port. The geography in Douro is centred around the Douro River, which was used to transport the barrels of Port from the steep vineyards, to the cellars.

Spain has over a dozen different wine regions, with more sub-regions within each. Spain’s regions vary vastly based on elevation and temperature. The arid plains of Toro produce ripe and rugged Tinto de Toro (Tempranillo), while the more northern Galicia is a cooler climate with more crisp white varietals, like Albariño.

  • Catalonia is far north-eastern Spain, near Barcelona. Near the Mediterranean Sea and with strong French influences, this are is unique from other Spanish regions. Catalonia is home to the majority of Cava production.
  • Castilla y Leon is a vast region with many sub-regions. It is impossible to categorize the entire area, because production is so variant. Bierzo, bordering Galicia and Asturias, is home to Mencía, Grenache and Godello. While Ribera del Duero is home to iconic Tempranillo, where it grows with extreme climate of hot summers and cold winters.

Cuisine

Portugal’s traditional food is rustic, hearty and full of seafood. As with any country, there are many variations and regional differences. A rule of thumb, in Portugal expect lots of pork, rice, stews and octopus. Here are some common dishes.

  • Caldo Verde – green cabbage soup
  • Blood sausage
  • Bacalhau – infamous salted cod

Spain also has a strong seafood presence, with so much coastline and variety, this should come at no surprise. Both Portugal and Spain’s bars and eateries will have ample olives and almonds, usually enjoyed as pre-meal snacks. In addition to stews, sausages and peppers, and some of the best olive oil, you will find.

  • Saffron- seasoning your potatoes, paella and prawns
  • Paella – the dish that puts Valencia on the food map
  • Pisto – Spanish ratatouille

WineCollective featured a heavy selection of wines from Spain and Portugal this month. Visit the online shop to read more about these selections:

SPAIN

Viñaguareña Mazal Barrica 

Gran Bohedal Crianza

Gran Bohedal Blanco

PORTUGAL

Vidigal Artolas

Vidigal Dom Dinis

Cortes de Cima Courela

Monte da Ravasqueira Sangiovese

 

Use the coupon code PORTUGAL5 for $5 off your order of Portuguese wines!


Welcome to WineCollective

You have just joined WineCollective, or, you are the recipient of a pretty awesome gift. What to do next? While we are busy preparing next month’s deliveries, here is what you can do to make the most out of your WineCollective experience.

  • Joining us on social media. Be our friend and keep up with what is going on in the WineCollective world, from events and education, to giveaways and contests.
  • Become acquainted with your online account. When you login to your WineCollective account, you can update shipping information and payment information and keep tabs on your upcoming delivery. Once you receive your first delivery of wine, you will also be able to view all the wines you have received.
  • Explore the online wine shop. Members receive 10% off all wines, and some selections are for members-only! Can’t wait for the first delivery, get a head-start on your WineCollective journey. The coupon code NEWWINEJOURNEY10 is good for $10 off your first online store order.
  • Learn more about us! Take some time to discover our Blog and find out why we are so passionate about giving you the ultimate wine journey.
  • In Calgary? Visit our retail store, Highfield by WineCollective for great members-only deals on wine, beer and spirits!

We understand that the anticipation must be overwhelming, waiting for a package is always exciting, especially when it is wine! Here is a bit of what to expect so that you are prepared to receive your wine.

  • We will send you our Heads Up email on the first of the month, reminding you of your delivery and providing you with an estimated ship out date.
  • Make note of our cut-off date in the Heads Up email. You have until the specified date to let us know if you need to arrange an alternate delivery date, or change your shipping information. After this date, we will not be able to amend addresses or delay the delivery, so be sure to reach out in time!
  • You will then receive a Shipped Email when your package leaves our headquarters in Calgary. This email will contain your very valuable tracking number. Use this information to arrange last minute shipping changes with your courier.
  • Your wine must be signed for by someone over the age of 19 and it can not be left on a doorstep or porch.
  • Missed the delivery? Here are the next steps with each of our couriers.
  • Share your experiences with us, from food pairings to favourite features, and even those you would rather not taste again, we love to know what you think of the wines!

Still have questions? Get in touch with us thecellar@winecollective.ca


New year, new wine and new people.

WineCollective is growing and so is our team. We want to start off 2017 with a bang, and what better way to do that than with a new team member! Here is what we are looking for, let us know if it sounds like you.

We are in search of a dynamic Customer Relations Coordinator

  • Full-time
  • Hours Mon-Fri 9-5
  • Salary TBD based on experience, 2 week vacation after 6 months
  • Start date: Latest start date January 23rd, 2017

 

Must possess:

  • Proficiency with, or ability to quickly learn, new software platforms
  • Excellent written and verbal communication
  • Professional phone etiquette
  • Positive nature, and be an inherent people pleaser
  • Attention to detail, ability to multi-task and prioritize
  • Self-starter and takes initiative
  • Strong understanding and working knowledge of social media platforms
  • Knowledge of liquor laws and regulations
  • Strong wine (and beer) knowledge and desire to continue wine/beer education
  • Proserve Certification (can be completed online)

We are a dynamic company that is looking for a multi-talented individual to wear several hats. This position is ideal for someone who enjoys challenges, can think on their toes, is keen to take initiative and solve problems, but also be a rockstar team player and communicator.

Your main responsibility is to deliver exceptional customer service to members and potential members. Answering incoming calls and emails for several brands. You must be able to learn new systems and processes quickly, and be able to confidently answer questions and resolve problems.

Additionally, you can expect to contribute to  warehouse operations, photography, wine and beer tasting and proof-reading. There is also an opportunity for someone with design and editing experience to hone their craft. With many tasks at hand, it is imperative that candidates interested in this position are amazing at multi-tasking, time management and assessing priority of responsibilities. This is a perfect opportunity for a driven and dynamic individual to develop skills within the communications field.

It is essential to have a comprehensive working knowledge of the following software platforms, or be eager at learning: Lightroom, Photoshop, Dropbox, Highrise, Basecamp, WordPress, Zendesk and Mailchimp.

Beyond all, ability to present yourself and the company in a professional, but friendly and approachable manner. The Customer Relations Coordinator will be the first line of communication with customers and must convey a positive and helpful attitude at all times. We are a growing company that operates on a fast-pace. All team members must be able to improvise, take initiative, identify opportunities for improvement, create efficiency and have fun!
Submit resume with references to jobs@winecollective.ca by Friday, January 19th.

 


Cellers Sant Rafel’s Joana. New to WineCollective and Canada!

On a wine tour of Spain last fall, Amber visited almost every region, except Montsant. For no other reason than a lack of time, Montsant was bypassed for its neighbouring region, Priorat. Although sharing a border within a very small area, the two wine regions have many micro-climates between them.

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Xavier Peñas, General Manager of Gran Clos and owner of Celler Sant Rafel, explaining the unique slate soils of Priorat.

Hosted at Gran Clos del Priorat by General Manager, Xavier Peñas, we were treated to a vineyard tour of steep, slate covered hills (llicorella soils), barrel tasting in the tiny cellar and sampling of the vintages that never made it to Canada. The very limited production and distribution of Gran Clos have appeared on Tannic and sold out instantly (stay tuned for a limited release of large format bottles)! Priorat is known for its beauty and structured wines and we were not disappointed.

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Barrel room in the cellar of Gran Clos (above). Rolling hills of Priorat, from a Gran Clos vineyard (below).

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Once back in Calgary, we received samples of Xavier’s own wines, Cellers Sant Rafel, which he produces from vineyards in Montsant. Montsant is west of Tarragona city and the region was formerly a sub-region of the Tarragona wine region (since 2001 has been recognized as its own DO). Montsant almost entirely wraps around the region of Priorat, with vineyards of both Priorat and Montsant sometimes just meters apart. Wine has been produced here for centuries, although only within the last decade has it made international markets pay attention.

PT Priorat

Map of Priorat and Montsant from Decanter.com

Montsant is similar to Priorat in that they both are characterized by rolling hills, slate soils and grow mainly Grenache anad Carignan.

Notes on Priorat from Decanter:

  • 17,629ha in area (1,887ha are under vine)
  • 600 growers
  • 99 registered wineries
  • Red varietals 1,800ha, of which: Garnacha 710ha; Cariñena 483ha; Cabernet Sauvignon. 250ha; Syrah 224ha; Merlot 105ha
  • White varietals 99ha, of which Garnacha Blanca represents more than half
  • Total production (2014) whites, 341,306kg; reds, 5,618,658kg

Notes on Montsant:

  • 57 growers
  • 44 wineries
  • 1,900ha of vineyard
  • Grenache and Carignan are the main vatietals, with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah newly planted

Similar to other re-discovered Spanish wine regions, like Bierzo, the ancient vines and wine making history of Montsant, and firstly Priorat, have been awakened. International wine makers and solid and consistent vintages attracting critics, have brought the spotlight.

Joana-2010 Joana-2015

Ironically, after traveling to Spain in search of new, exciting wines, Celler Sant Rafel was only discovered once back in Canada. The Joana line, named after Xavier and Pilar’s daughter, consists of the fresh and addicting Joana and structured and spiced, Joana Selecció. Both wines are brand new to Canada, and are being exclusively featured in all September WineCollective packages.

Join WineCollective by August 31 to make the cutoff for September’s delivery and you will receive one of our new Joana selections!

JOANA AND JOANA SELECCIÓ ARE NOW AVAILABLE IN STORE!

The limited remaining inventory of Joana will be available in the WineCollective online store September 15th! Use the coupon code: MONTSANT5 for $5 off your store order of Joana wines!


Don’t leave your meat hanging…

Support it with wine!

Blog

Keep an eye out for your Charcuterie & Wine pairing card in August packs!

Charcuterie and wine can be a difficult pairing if you over think it. Though there is a wide variety of flavours and dishes, avoid trying to make a match for each meat. Opt for a Sparkling or a Rosé which will be best suited to almost everything on your cutting board.

Charcuterie is dominated by fats, spice and salt. These are all components that are important to think about when selecting a wine. High acid wines cut through the richness in fatty foods, which would otherwise leave your palate oily. Skip high alcohol wines with spicy foods, instead select wines that have more sweetness to balance the heat. Salty foods can make a wine seem flabby, another reason to look for wines with higher acid levels.
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With so much going on, on the plate keep the wines simple and light to medium bodied. You do not want your wine to fight for your attention. Your selection should help cleanse your palate and support your charcuterie.
KEY TIPS
  • Low alcohol wines
  • Pick red wines with lower tannins (Pinot).
  • Avoid wines heavily oaked wines.
  • No pickled acutrements (unless you are serving Sherry or Beer).
  • Not the time for your Shiraz or Napa Cabs.
  • Look for regional pairings: Spanish wine & Iberico ham.
Domaine-du-Savard-Cheverny-Rose
TRY THESE WINES
Fielding-Gewurztraminer-2012
Check out Carnivore Club for the best selection of cured meats, delivered!  Use the promo code WINECOLLECTIVE to get 15% off your first box.
Partnered with your WineCollective package, the combinations are endless! New to WineCollective? Give us a try! Receive $15 off your first purchase using the code: MEATANDWINE15

Uncork New York… at home!

This month WineCollective featured a wine from New York, a very under-represented wine region. There is only a handful of producers to be found here in Alberta. First, here is a crash-course in all things New York wine.

  • 5 AVA’s: Long Island, Finger Lakes, Hudson River, Niagara Escarpment and Lake Erie.
  • Over 400 wineries between all regions
  • 17 dominant varietals, from Cabernet Franc and Merlot, to ones we have never heard before, Catawba and Seyval Blanc
New York Map
newyorkwines.org

Long Island has been a registered AVA for 40 years. Sandy soils and moderate climate produce mostly red wines in Bordeaux style, or Meritage. 66 wineries with over 2,000 acres of vines.

Finger Lakes region specializes in sparkling wines and ice wine from Pinot Noir and Riesling. Almost double Long Island, there is 119 wineries and over 9,000 acres of vineyards.

The Hudson River is the grand-dad of New York wine production. Varietals here are the vinifera and American species. Commonly found are, Seyval, Chardonnay, red blends and fruit-based wines, with just 200 acres of vines.

Niagara Escarpment, only receiving AVA status in 2005, also boasts some of the warmest climate. Varying soils create unique micro-climates among the 883 acres of vineyards, from dolomitic limestone, to gravel along the lakeshore.

Lake Erie is the second largest grape producer in the US, with California being first. The majority, about 95% is Concord grapes for juice production.

WineCollective attended a seminar on the cooler climates of the Finger Lakes region. Here, the wines are predominately white and are similar to the varietals that you will find from Canadian wineries. From Riesling to Cabernet Franc, tonnes of character and diversity can be found in the Finger Lakes.

Here is a quick way to find out what Finger Lakes wine is right for you!

Is Thai take-out is on your menu at least once a week?

Boundary-Breaks-Riesling

  • We fell in love with the variety of Riesling we tasted, from dry to off-dry, the flavours ranged from lemon, wet stone, white cranberry, to ripe melon, lime zest, and all with mounds of acidity. There are tonnes of exemplary Rieslings to choose from, try the Boundary Breaks Clone 239 from Seneca Lake vineyards.

Find yourself in the Chilean aisle of the liquor store?

Brotherhood-Pinot-Noir

  • Brotherhood Pinot Noir is produced from the oldest winery in America, with tonnes of Chilean talent. Philip Dunsmore, Vice President, moved to New York from Chile to work at Brotherhood. Expect Burgundian style, new American oak and a brambly-smokiness.

Always looking for something new?

Fox-Run-Lemberger-2013

  • Lemberger is a German name for an Austrian grape, Blaufränkisch. Found mostly in Washington, there is about 15 producers in New York country with plantings. The Fox Run Lemberger is bountiful with black pepper, which can indicate a cooler vintage.

These wines have never before been featured in WineCollective packages. Find them at member pricing today in the WineCollective online store!


Cheating on wine, with beer

Continuing to compare the similarities between beer and wine, we use some of the same framework when evaluating the style and quality. Appearance, aroma, body and finish all translate from wine to beer.

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With tasting beer, there is greater emphasis on the body and taste, less on colour and aroma. So, when you enjoy a brew, do you think about it the same way you might with a glass of wine?

If you always find yourself cracking open a Pilsner, what wine would suit your tastes? Or if you can’t get enough of Zinfandel, which beer style would you be equally enchanted with? WineCollective has taken key descriptors of beer styles and matched them to a corresponding wine.

lager-glass

Lager = Pinot Grigio

Lager is a wide net that catches many different sub-categories. From an American light Lager (Coors and Kokanee) to Dark Lagers and Kolsch. Generally, medium to light bodied, with little malt aromas, neutral flavours and low bitterness (IBU). Think of the addition of stronger malt flavours as a more complex, barrel-fermented Pinot Gris.

Sours = Sparkling

Sours generally are light bodied, have low bitterness, moderate alcohol, and higher carbonation. Flavours range through dough, from the malt, and lemon to tart apple. Champagne, Prosecco, Cava and Cremant all offer the similar balance between acidity and sugars. Pair your Sours with the same sparkling pairings, like salty foods, shellfish and fried foods.

stout_beer_web

Porter = Tempranillo

Porters are medium to full bodied with strong dark malts, sometimes with a slight burnt quality. Chocolate, coffee and grain, with a off-dry finish. Tempranillo from Toro or Rioja, where Reservas are aged in oak will give high alchohol and chewy weight.

Wheat = Chardonnay

A German Wheat beer has high carbonation and a dry finish. Expect a round, fluffy mouth-feel and medium/light body. Absence of bittering hops gives the perception of  ‘sweetness’. The minimum 50% malted wheat and yeast used give flavours of clove and banana. This style will be best replicated in a barrel-fermented Chardonnay, with a plush body and vanilla oak notes.

stout-glass

Stout = Amarone

Made with dried grapes, produces high alchohol, rich bodied wines. Stouts will range between 8-12% abv and are full to very full bodied. The flavours indicative of Imperial Stout can often include roasted malt, tar and dried fruits like prune and raisin. The finish ranges from dry to moderately sweet.

Ale = Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon

Like the Lager, Ale is a wide category with many sub-styles based on the ingredients and origins. An American Brown Ale is a balance of solid malt and hops with chocolate and caramel flavours. We think that a refined and aged blend of Cab and Merlot also offers the richness and toasted/nutty notes of oak.

IPA

IPA = Syrah

IPAs are distinguished by the strong bitterness. The hoppy bitterness of a standard American IPA ranges from 40-70 IBU (your palate can’t identify bitter units past 100). We wouldn’t classify wines by bitterness, but instead we will partner IPA with wines with equally bold characteristics in tannin, spice and body. Syrah, Aglianico or even Pinotage.

What is your go-to beer and favourite wine? Let’s see if we can find some correlation in our palates. Leave your comments below!

Interested in exploring Craft Beer even more? Don’t forget to check out Canada Craft Club!