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Villa Minelli Rosso Pre-Release!

Villa Minelli is owned by the Benetton family, best known for their world wide clothing brand, United Colors of Benetton. For years, founder Luciano Benetton, would see the grapes that grew outside of Benetton headquarters in Treviso, Italy, and one day decided they were destined for the wine cellar. In 2006, after 60 years of the family tending to the vineyard, Luciano established Villa Minelli and today, we’re thrilled to introduce the wine that has not yet seen the Americas, until now!

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A serendipitous encounter during his Euro travels, WineCollective CEO, Matthew Protti, discovered Villa Minelli and tasted their 2013 Rosso. Needless to say, Matthew wasted no time and ordered the remainder of the inventory making the Villa Minelli Rosso an exclusive to our members! You will not find this wine anywhere else in North America!

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Winemaking

The Rosso is a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from two municipalities in Treviso, Ponzano and Villorba. Vine age is dependant on varietal; 20-year-old Cabernet and 40-year-old Merlot. Grapes are handpicked and sorted in the vineyard, then again in the winery before a long, temperature controlled maceration and fermentation, pumped daily for best extraction of colour and tannins. Later, the Rosso is transferred to stainless steel tanks and is aged on lees for 6-8 months until Spring prior to three months in bottle.

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Villa Minelli Estate. Behind it, the United Colours of Benetton factory.

WineCollective members can expect the Villa Minelli Rosso in February packages. However, our lucky local members have the chance to try and buy the wine at a pre-release tasting event!

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Producer’s Notes: “A deep cyclamen red wine with an intense nose of mature woodland berries (myrtle and mulberry) and dried dog rose. The palate reflects the nose, with mulberry in the foreground along with mature tannins and a rich, fascinating vinosity.”

For members interested in attending our exclusive pre-release tasting of the Villa Minelli Rosso, please contact us! If you’re not in Calgary, don’t worry, the Rosso is soon headed your way. Be sure to log in to your WineCollective account to rate and comment on the wine – we really want to know what you think about this one.


Vineland’s Optical Sorter

It is really no secret that WineCollective is a fan of Vineland Estates. Throughout the years, we have featured multiple wines and when winemaker, Brian Schmidt, proposed a special project earlier this year, we jumped at the opportunity for a Vineland exclusive.

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The 2014 Vineland Cabernet Franc is showcased in many December packages, which is the wine’s sole distribution around the world, for now. What makes this Cab Franc even more special is that it is the first of Vineland wines to be sorted through their new optical sorting machine!

Vineland is not only the first Niagara winery with an optical sorter, but also the first Canadian winery to own the machine. According to Brian, the sorter is an absolute “game changer.”

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Using cameras and lasers, the optical sorter essentially removes all unripe grapes from those qualified to be vinified. With the ability to recognize colour, size, shape, structural properties and even, chemical composition, sorters are in widespread use in the worldwide food industry for processing harvested food like potatoes, veggies and of course, grapes!

As the sorter pushes through the grapes, the camera and lasers take 1,000 pictures per second, allowing ripe grapes to be compared with unripe grapes as well as foreign material such as stems. The unfit matter is then sorted to waste, while the bountiful fruit just passes on by.

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How does it work?

With the combination of camera sorters and lasers, the sorter functions using visible light wavelengths, as well as infrared and UV spectrums. “The optimal wavelengths for each application maximize the contrast between the objects to be separated.”

Compared to manual sorting, the optical sorter gives Vineland the ability to better sort quality fruit, maximize out put and increase yields, and of course, reduces manual labour.

You may be wondering how this impacts the wine, or specifically, the 2014 Cabernet Franc and truthfully, there are no flavour or character changes to the wine. However, with top of the line sorting technology, you can be sure that only the best fruit was used to create the wine and therefore, it is of superior quality.

As a young wine, the 2014 is mighty full and complex. The Cabernet Franc is layered with ripe cherries and currant, as well as soft touches of spice and pepper. We were extremely impressed when trying this vintage for the first time.

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The optical sorter has even inspired Brian to create a new line of wines for Vineland named “Game Changer.” With ever changing labels, Schmidt hopes to highlight people, places and new technology in the wine industry, starting with the optical sorter. We hope to one day also bring this project to members!

For more information on Vineland and their fabulous wines, check out our Vineland Estates blog, which highlights Brian’s last trip to Calgary and WineCollective headquarters… where dreaming of the exclusive Cab Franc first took place.

Be sure to let us know what you think! Don’t forget to rate and comment on the new Vineland Cabernet Franc!


WineCollective on The Marilyn Denis Show!

We are quite excited to share WineCollective‘s first TV appearance on The Marilyn Denis Show in part of Marilyn’s 10 Days of Giveaways!

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Visit The Marilyn Denis Show and watch the full episode online!

Through out the month of December, Marilyn is surprising audience members with her annual gift giveaway shows. WineCollective was featured in the Hostess Gift Guide and each audience member walked away with $100 to spend on a personal subscription or Holiday Wine Experience Package!

Other features included gifts from our friends at Carnivore Club, Ten Thousand Villages, Retro Festive and more! For your chance to win the same gifts as audience members, you can enter the online draw!

For those lucky audience members joining us, Welcome to WineCollective!


Experience Destination Tours

Summer is now in full swing and it is time to get out and enjoy what beautiful British Columbia has to offer with numerous excursions to the Okanagan Valley via Destination Tours.

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Destination Tours’ passion and expertise lies in creating unique, exciting tours and vacation getaways in our own Canadian backyard. Okanagan Wine Tours are a great way to experience the fine wineries in the Okanagan, some of which have been previously featured in your WineCollective packages.

As a WineCollective member, Destination Tours would like to offer $25 off per person off any of their tour packages by using the promo code “WineCollective”.

Destination Tours holds six different wine tours within the Okanagan region from our Kelowna to Summerland and Naramata as well as Whistler Getaways. In addition, with each unique tour, Destination Tours will find a variety of accommodations for you, minutes away from wine hot spots.

Each tour includes:

  • 2 nights accommodations
  • Visits to 4-5 different winery’s with over 25 tastings!
  • Included lunch at participating wineries.
  • Professional driver with wine and region knowledge and all rides in the AC touring vehicle.

To take advantage of this exclusive offer, visit www.destinationtours.ca to pick your tour and add in the promo code “WineCollective”. If you require any assistance, you can reach Destination Tours’ office at 1-877-507-5596.


University of Alberta Alumni presents an ‘Educated Palate’

Education is one of the most important goals our team brings to the WineCollective experience. In exploring unheard of grape varieties and unfamiliar wine regions, we support our members’ wine journey. WineCollective strives to build our member’s confidence so that they can easily conquer any liquor store or wine menu.

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In June we were fortunate to bring a small dose of the WineCollective experience to the University of Alberta Alumni Association. We hosted a wine tasting, an ‘Educated Palate’.

With the help of Crush Imports, Redback Wine Imports, South by Southwest Wine Imports, Cellar Stock Importers and Plaid Cap Imports, we presented 14 Canadian wines to roughly 70 U of A alumni. From table to table, past graduates were eager to learn about each of the wineries, regions and of course, wines!

If you don’t already know, each tasting card that is included with every bottle of wine in your monthly wine shipments is created by the WineCollective team. Upon testing and tasting the wines with wine importers and representatives, such as those named above, our wine director, Amber, vigorously writes fully loaded tasting notes, highlighting the eyes, nose, and mouth characters as seen on the cards. Reviews are also created through research and at times, interviews with winemakers or ambassadors.

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The Educated Palate event was an excellent opportunity for alumni to be engaged in conversations about the wine. Comparing their own tasting notes with others’, ours and the wine reps’, gave a first hand WineCollective experience. After discovering what about the wine tickled their tongue, participants were able to order more of their favourites online.

We snuck in our exclusive Schug Estate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. While made in Sonoma Coast, the wine was an excellent reference point for tasters, as they were able to compare Okanagan, Niagara and California Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. For those unfamiliar with varieties and regions, it was a huge stepping stone into learning about how differences in climate and soil can affect a grape’s character in the final wine. So yes, U of A alumni, not all Chardonnay tastes the same!

All of the wines poured at the Educated Palate are now available in the online store with member pricing! Though you won’t receive a physical tasting card, you can find all of our reviews and tasting notes on each of the wines online.

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TH Wines Viognier $26.99

Stratus Kabang! Riesling $17.99

Cassini Chardonnay $26.99

Cassini Merlot $26.99

Burning Kiln Horse & Boat Riesling $18.89

Burning Kiln Pinot Noir $26.49

Bartier Bros. Semillon $22

Bartier Bros. Illegal Curve $22

Clos du Soleil Rose $21

Lake Breeze Meritage $25.49

Fielding Gewurztraminer $19.49

Fielding Cabernet Franc $24

Fielding Pinot Gris $19.49

Fielding Red Conception $23.99

A reminder for alumni, you can still receive $5 off your initial shipment of a WineCollective subscription! Use the coupon code ALUMNI2015 to take advantage of this special opportunity.

P.S. Want to educate your friends, family or colleagues? Contact us today to set up your own WineCollective hosted tasting party.


Vineland Estates

In honour of Canada Day, we wanted to highlight some brilliant Canadian wineries and winemakers that are exceeding in helping to expand the Canadian wine market. Last week, we met with Brian Schmidt, vino veteran and winemaker of Vineland Estates for 25 years.

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Brian (right) and his son Conor, during their visit to Calgary. 

“I have been around vines and wine my entire life,” Brian told us.

Born and raised in the Okanagan Valley, Brian was exposed to winemaking early on. His parents opened the well-known Sumac Ridge in 1979 and as a third generation winemaker, learning through doing was the route in play for Schmidt and his career. Having never studied viticulture or oenology, Brian’s experience and daily lessons moulded his natural talent as a winemaker.

Though he tested the waters, literally, as a commercial scuba diver, Brian soon learned that a life in the wine world was better suited. Travelling to the Loire Valley, Brian found the second love of his life (after his wife), Cabernet Franc, and according to him “Loire is mecca” when it comes to the grape. As the variety is known for its success is Canadian regions, working with Cab Franc became extremely useful when Schmidt later moved to Niagara to join his brother, Alan, at Vineland.

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During his travels however, Brian learned beyond grape and winemaking knowledge with his European experiences.

“In the old world, wine is part of the culture and it is just there,” Brian says. “It is not something magical, or something to be afraid of. It has been very normalized.”

He compares this notion to the Canadian market where he believes, “we have done a very good job in complicating wine.”

With Brian’s role as a winemaker his goal is to “dismiss the complexities.” He believes that with humility and a sense of community, wine lovers can enjoy bottles without extend knowledge or a “nose in the air” attitude. Something that we at WineCollective also firmly believe! And so, when it comes to Vineland, Brian says he encourages his staff to share the great experiences of wine, in the vineyard and in the glass, without over emphasizing the technical and terrifying terms for those who walk through their tasting room.

When Brian first arrived at Vineland, nearly three decades ago, production was 5,000 cases. While they have once reached 62,000, Brian says today, the winery is most comfortable at 50,000 cases annually.

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So what sets Vineland apart?

According to Brian: “Soil sets apart any winery. It is the defining feature and it is the role of the winemaker to harvest the energy of that place.”

Brian believes he has all of the experience necessary to capture the Niagara estate and “Bench Signature” of citrus fruit and plumping acidity. He produces Vineland wines to showcase the fruit characteristics brought forth naturally by the variety and vineyards, more so than oak qualities created in the winery. Stainless steel is used frequently at Vineland in order to preserve the fruit aromas and flavours and only neutral oak is used for specific red wines.

In order to keep the vines worth showcasing, Brian says they need to be specially tended to each year, “like a radio, the vineyard needs to be fine tuned to hit the sweet spot.” This includes replanting and switching out vines that have diminished over cold winters like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which has difficulties thriving in Canada, with varieties like Cab Franc, Riesling and Chardonnay. Even more, Brian works to reduce the use of herbicides each year.

Brian is assisted by Vineland viticulturist Roman Prydatkewycz, who tends to the wineries three vineyards, St. Urban Vineyard: 42 acres, Bo-Teel Vineyard: 60 acres and Greenland Beamsville: 16 acres.

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In the winery, Brian has recently made technological updates that he says will not only improve production times, but also, overall quality. A new Optical Sorter allows for ripe grapes to be separated from underripe berries using an UV light to sort by colour. The first test of the machine’s ability will come in two months with the 2014 Cabernet Franc – the first wine produced at Vineland with grapes sorted mechanically. We hope to bring this vintage to WineCollective members in the near future, as well as other exclusive wines produced with this high-tech machine.

Of course our meeting with Brian also included tasting through the Vineland Estates lineup!

Chardonnay 2013

Brian was a fan of un-oaked Chard, way before the trend hit the wine world for summer 2014. Still with a silky creamy mouthfeel, that you would expect from a Chardonnay, but with bright, focused and crisp tree fruit flavours.

Semi-dry Riesling 2012

As Vineland’s most popular wine, grapes are also sourced from outside of estate vineyards to keep up with demand. Acidity is vibrant with honey aromas and green apple on the palate. First produced in 1983, Brian says this is “one of the best value wines in Canada.”

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Cab Franc, Merlot, Cab Sauvignon 2011

A previous WineCollective feature and still available in store for just $17! Good balance between purity of fruit and rustic edge. Structured and balanced, rounded with strong character. Brian notes: “The oak is more of a shawl over the wine than a winter coat. I was looking for elegance and finesse.”

Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Merlot Reserve 2012

Produced from only 1 vintage of 3 where Cabernet Sauvignon flourished at Vineland. Dark cherry with light nuances of earth. Textured with weight and density after 15 months of neutral oak aging. Later aged for nine months in bottle.

From Vineland, and other Canadian producers, Brian suspects that Canadians are looking for “value, and a sense of pride” in Canadian wine. Through the competitive and complicated market, Brian feels that Niagara is the face for Canadian wine. While B.C. wines are delicious and flourishing, exportations laws leave the region to be less known on a global scale than it’s eastern partner. Though Brian doesn’t have plans of once again making wine in the Okanagan, he hopes to test the odds someday in Nova Scotia, “they are at the genesis and the start of an amazing wine industry there and nothing is scripted for them.”

We are very excited to bring new Vineland wines to WineCollective members in upcoming packages during fall 2015. For your first look and taste, visit the store for the 2011 Cabernet Merlot! Up until and including Canada Day, July 1st, WineCollective members can use the coupon code CDNWINE on any Canadian wine in store for $5 off their order. Coupon expires July 2.


Give Mom what she needs, wine!

Mother’s Day is just around the corner! Do you still need to find a great to show Mom how much you care? WineCollective has a gift package perfectly suited to any wine-loving Mom.

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The WineCollective Mother’s Day Special package contains 4 carefully selected, and unique bottles of wine. Along with the wines, your Mom will receive our custom created tasting cards, which include information on the wine’s producer, region and tasting notes.

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When you purchase the Mother’s Day Special, a gift email will be sent to your Mom letting her know of your thoughtful gift. If you would like to surprise her, simply select to not have the email sent. Then you can print the digital note and place it in a card.

All Mother’s Day gifts are one month shipments and will be shipped during the first week of May. If you purchase by April 30th, we will be sure to ship your gift in time for Mom to receive it the week before Mother’s Day. If you are last-minute shopping, do not worry, we have you covered! You can purchase up until May 10th and we will ship the wine the week following Mother’s Day.

If you have more questions, get in touch with us today!


WineCollective’s Deerfield exclusive, the ‘One’!

We have no one else that we need to thank more than our loyal and passionate WineCollective members. It is because of the support of many that we are able to bring you wines like the WineCollective – Deerfield ‘One’.

Over the past six years, we’ve shipped tens of thousands of packages and hundreds of thousands of bottles of wine. This month, we are proud to announce the first wine in a series of uniquely curated WineCollective wines. The WineCollective ‘One’ is a special collaboration with Deerfield Ranch Winery. We tested samples from the winery and selected, what we thought, is the best of the best!

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We have been fans of Deerfield from the beginning. We first featured Deerfield in WineCollective, way back in 2009! The 2003 Meritage was one of the first wines to be showcased in our Indulgence package. Later, in October 2010, we also featured the 2003 Ladi’s Vineyard Syrah. This is now our third Deerfield wine and we are thrilled to be sharing it with you!

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Deerfield is located in the center of Sonoma Valley within the larger region of Sonoma County. Sonoma Valley is on the western side of the Mayacamas Mountains, which separates the AVA from Napa Valley to the east. Sonoma Valley stretches from the south eastern edge of Sonoma County, north to Santa Rosa. Further north of Santa Rosa is the northern AVA’s of Sonoma County’s Russian River and Alexander Valley.

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Deerfield‘s vineyards are also home to the Kenwood Marsh. In 2000, an additional 47 acres were purchased to expand the the Deerfield winery and vineyards. 14 acres of the new property are the remains of the Kenwood Marsh, a wetlands ecosystem. The Rex’s are passionate about conservation and work diligently to help maintain and support this valuable piece of Sonoma landscape. The picture above, a portrait by Fred Parker, is a view from the Deerfield winery. This print, along with others are sold with portions of the proceeds dedicatated to the efforts of sustaining the Kenwood Marsh.

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Over the years, we have been fortunate enough to meet both Robert and PJ Rex. They frequent the Calgary market, as they have received great support of their wines across Alberta. We have also made a stop to the winery in Sonoma. Robert graciously tasted through the recent vintages and blends, helping Matthew to select the perfect wine for WineCollective.

The WineCollective-Deerfield ‘One’ is featured in many of our April packages. We have extremely limited supply of the ‘One’ and once it is sold-out it is gone! Be sure to visit the WineCollective members-only store to purchase more, or visit Highfield by WineCollective in Calgary. And stay tuned for the WineCollective ‘Two’!


Is wine spoiled after being frozen?

Our second WineCollective myth busters video asking the question: is wine spoiled after being frozen? David and Larissa taste and investigate!

Leaving wine overnight in a car is just one way wine can freeze during cold Canadian winters, though if the wine is brought back to room temperature and the cork remains in tact, it may still be drinkable. Watch and find out what we discovered after taking this myth to the test!


Wine ‘n Dine with VINES Magazine

2014 Holiday Package receivers have been patiently waiting for their first issue of VINES Magazine, one of the additional gifts added to WineCollective packages (of 3 months or more) this Christmas alongside our custom made dropstops and corkscrews.

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VINES is a Canadian magazine for wine and food lovers. Whether you know nothing of the wine world, or are a sommelier, the magazine shares expert advice and insider tips that are sure to increase anyone’s wine knowledge and passion!

The March edition is the first of 6 issues that will be published and received by WineCollective gift receivers this year. The issue will include a look into fermentation in concrete eggs and details on a new ‘One Faith’ project, aimed at crafting First Growth style Bordeaux in the Okanagan. Additionally, you will also find a feature on Adam Hynam-Smith, host of Food Network Canada’s Restaurant Takeover.

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We want to thank the VINES team in helping us bring their magazine to WineCollective members. We are truly excited and hope that through their enthusiastic articles on food, travel and of course, wine, our own community will become more engaged and obsessed with the industry of enjoyment!

If you are not a holiday package gift receiver but would love to discover VINES, please check out their subscription deals!


Your WineCollective Dropstop

This year, in WineCollective Holiday Packages, we included a custom dropstop to assist you in serving all of the delicious wines you receive. In case you pulled the gift out from your shipment and sarcastically whispered, “thanks for the sticker,” we bring to you a step by step guide on using this small, yet handy tool.

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Step 1. Whether the bottle is capped with a cork or screw top, open it up!

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Step 2. Remove the dropstop from its packaging and roll it into a funnel.

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Step 3. Stick the funnel shaped dropstop into the mouth of the bottle.

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Step 4. Pour away! No need to twist the bottle at the end of the pour.

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Step 5. Check out the bottle, and notice no drops down the label.

Step 6. Drink and enjoy!

Don’t be mistaken, your dropstop is reusable! Simply wash with mild soap and warm water and you’re ready to pour again!

You can find the WineCollective dropstop in store too for only $2.90 for club members!

We look forward to sharing with you details on all of the additional gifts added to WineCollective holiday packages. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog on Vines Magazine. Members gifted three months of wine or more, receive a complimentary year subscription to the publication, beginning in March!


Woman of wine, Heidi Barrett

Heidi Barrett can easily be recognized as the most successful female winemaker in the world. As the daughter of California wine pioneer, Richard Peterson, and with 35 years of professional experience herself, Heidi has managed to create numerous 100-point wines. Robert Parker has even dubbed her the “First Lady of Wine.”

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Barrett is primarily known for her contribution to Screaming Eagle, where she started winemaking in 1992. The ’92 vintage as well as the ’97 both scored 100 points. Even more, the ’92 vintage set a world record for the highest price ever paid on a single bottle of wine at the 2000 Napa Valley Wine Auction. It sold for an incredible $500,000, and a vertical offering of the cult wine went for $650,000 at the auction in 2001.

“I like the challenge of working with so many different wines. My philosophy is to make the best wines possible with emphasis on the unique characteristics of each individual vineyard. I try to maximize the potential of each vintage in a very balanced, elegant style of winemaking.” – Heidi Barrett

Prior to gaining her reputation in perfectly balanced, elegant, and age-worthy Cabernets, Heidi graduated from UC Davis in 1980 with a BSc in Fermentation Science. We would imagine she passed this program with flying colours after growing up on vineyards and under her father’s wing. Heidi Barrett was born to make wine, and so it is no surprise that she is known as a “winemaking star.”

In 1983, at the age of 25, and right after graduation, Heidi became winemaker at Buehler Vineyards, where she took production from 6,000 to 20,000 cases.

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Apart from Screaming Eagle and Buehler, Heidi has worked at Revana, Kenzo Estate and Lamborn to name a few. She is also currently working with husband of 26 years and winemaker Bo Barrett of Chateau Montelena (Judgment of Paris) for a new project, La Sirena.

“I think it is important to have a wide variety of experience to draw from. You can’t just step in and be the winemaker unless you have a lot of experience in the cellar. I wanted to make sure that when I finally had the title of winemaker, I had earned it.” – Heidi Barrett

Vintage after vintage, Heidi continues to establish herself as the First Lady of Wine. And so, it is with great pleasure that Tannic will be featuring select wines from Heidi’s projects.

The first, which will be featured tomorrow on Tannic, is the 2011 Au Sommet. The Cabernet Sauvignon based wine is sourced on Atlas Peak in the Western Vaca Mountain of Napa Valley.

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“This inky blue/purple-colored 2011 Cabernet is chewy, spicy, lush and filled with blackberry, graphite and floral notes. Composed on 97.5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2.5% Petit Verdot, it reveals a pleasant underlying earthy/terroir component, but the fruit dominates and this full-bodied wine is rich, textured and impressively endowed. Possessing the best of both worlds — the finesse, terroir and earthiness of France, and the sumptuous fruit, texture and lusciousness of Napa — it will keep for at least two decades. A noteworthy success in this difficult vintage.”

– Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, October 2013

Following the Au Sommet, over the next two weeks, Tannic will be featuring Heidi’s 2011 Pharoah Moans Grenache and the 2011 Amuse Bouche. We strongly suggest for Tannic members to try one if not all of these fantastic vintages.

Tannic members can also use the coupon code LADYOFWINE over the next several weeks for $10 off their Heidi Barrett order.

For any questions about Heidi Barrett wines, or how WineCollective members can access them, contact us today! With extremely limited supply, we suggest you act fast!