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Domaine Richeaume at Bistro Rouge in Calgary

It is rare to come across quality wines that are a great representation of region at an affordable price. These wines are usually produced in such small quantities that they are rarely distributed out of their domestic markets. Domaine Richeaume has a very small production in Provence and is brand new to Alberta.

It is difficult to find press and reviews on Domaine Richeaume, but the great value allows you to take the leap with no hesitation. You will not be disappointed with the value these wines deliver.

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At Bistro Rouge in Calgary we sampled all the Richeaume wines available in Alberta. It was difficult to narrow them down to our favourites, but we think you will be impressed with what we have selected. The Tradition Blanc and Rouge are textbook examples of Provence style wines. Members can find both of these on Tannic this week and we will be sharing them with you in future WineCollective packages.

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“Can’t spell class without Cass”

From Bryan Cass himself, “Can’t spell class without Cass”. One of many one-liners and fun references that was shared at a recent dinner at Vin Room West featuring Cass wines.

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Cass Vineyards and Winery hasn’t been around long. The project started as a retirement dream of Bryan’s father,  Steve Cass and partner Ted Plemmons. After a fishing, golf and wine trip in Paarl, S. Africa, Steve and Ted came home with the idea to start a winery with a winemaker they met on their travels in S. Africa. The duo were in love with the style of wines from the region and wanted to replicate the same passion and focus in California.

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The Cass crew turned 160 acres of cattle ranch in Paso Robles (pah-SO ROE-bles) into a vineyard and began producing Rhone styled wines. Syrah, Grenache, Mouvedre, Viognier and Roussanne make up the majority of the estate production.

Watch the video below for some more insight of their focus and goals. I will warn you that it should make anyone want to join their party and drink their wines.

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This was Bryan’s first trip to Calgary. He was a great host in explaining some of the quirky stories and background behind the winery’s goals and methods as well as their unique qualities.The wines poured at the event were a mixture of new wines to Alberta and some that we should all be familiar with by now.

The evenings’ indulgences started with the 2010 Sparkling Grenache, paired with a Crab and Squash Agnolotti. The vigourous bubbles and fresh acidity make this a fun and easy pairing. The sweet corn emulsion balanced out the tart apples and acidity, while the herbs heightened the  fruits and rounded out the zippy character. It is really unique to find a Sparkling Grenache, a fun departure from the typical bubbles.

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A Foie Gras Torchon was paired with the 2011 Mouvedre.  You will have more luck finding American Mourvedre in Washington than California. Cass is one of only a handful of producers that grow estate Mourvedre and you would be hard-pressed to find it bottled by anyone else as a single varietal. Others in Paso Robles, such as Saxum will blend the grape more commonly with other Rhone varietals. The nose was full and brooding with dark fruit, sage and pink peppercorns, with a briar bush and plum palate. Surprisingly, there was enough acidity to cut through the fois gras, but I wouldn’t suggest the pickled fruit next time (a tad too much brine). Stewed or reduced berries would be better.

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Decadence continued with a course of Pork Belly and polenta paired with the 2010 Syrah. One of the better pairings of the evening, this Syrah calls for rich protein, but is elegant enough to be hightened by delicate flavours of herbs in the polenta.

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A refreshing and welcomed cleanser of green apple sorbet was served before the main course. An intricately plated lamb loin, with sweet breads and baby vegetables that were served with the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon.

A cheese course of aged goat cheese and beet foam was matched with the Rockin’ One Blanc. The Rockin One got its name from a horse, named after a road that intersects near the vines and an old cattlebrand. This was by far the shining star of the night. Richness and structure that carried the acidity and mouth-coating viscosity, coupled with pronounced florals and tropical fruit. This is a wine to be on the look-out for.

Dessert was a buffet of candied fruit, chocolate, praline panna cotta and cashew nougat. Cass’ Syrah Dessert Wine, a fortified Syrah (think Port). From the producer,

“Produced from ultra-ripe Syrah from our estate vineyard, our 2010 Dessert Wine is massive and rich, with flavors and aromatics that remind us all of wintertime in Paso Robles. Warm notes of crushed rose petal, dried raspberry, orange-almond liqueur, potpourri, juniper berry, and cinnamon sticks fill the nose. The sticky palate is full of rich fruit, with caramel-coated raisin, candied orange, warm brown spice, and grated chili chocolate flavors on a backbone of well structured tannins that carry through on an endless (and we mean endless) finish.”

Tannic and WineCollective have been fans of Cass for some time now and we are excited to bring you some new features. Stay tuned for upcoming Cass wines!


Gnocchi and Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Food Pairing

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is one of Italy’s most famous wines. The Montepulciano grapes are grown in the Abruzzo region and are not to be confused with Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, which is Sangiovese base from Tuscany.

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WineCollective recently featured Caldora Montepulciano d’Abruzzo in our June Evolution Red and June Expansion packages. It proved to be exactly what the Italian’s praise in the variety with its classic and well-rounded taste that is easy to drink for an excellent price. At select retail stores, the bottle goes for $16.00 and WineCollective is pleased to offer it for $14.00 to club members.

Here are our tasting notes for the 2011 Caldora Montepulciano d’Abruzzo:

Eyes: Ruby red to purple, regal purple.

Nose: Pronounced nose, fruity and chocolate similar to a tootsie roll with red berries and vanilla.

Mouth: Montepulciano makes soft, deeply coloured wines with black fruit and spice notes. Montepulciano in general has moderate to low acidity, with smooth and soft tannins. Medium to almost full bodied, this has great balance with wild black cherry fruit, plum, and anise. There’s good concentration in the mouth, fine, seamless texture, excellent length of finish and relatively easy tannins. 90 points.

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In our review, we recommended that your pair the wine alongside a pork tenderloin and creamy polenta. However, recently, I decided to pair the Montepulciano with gnocchi (Italian potato dumplings) in a tomato-cream sauce. The Italian wine pairs perfectly with Italian tomato pasta dishes and even more so with a creamy addition and sweet flavours. Enjoy our recipe below for both gnocchi and a loaded tomato-cream sauce. Be sure to let us know how you enjoyed the pairing and what might be your new favourite Italian wine.

 

Gnocchi Recipe 

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Note: Typically prepare 1 potato per person and 1/2C flour per potato.

  1. Clean and peel potatoes before cutting into 1-inch cubes. Cut pieces consistently to ensure even cooking time.
  2. Put chopped potatoes into medium sized pot and fit with enough water to cover. Boil for around 20 minutes until potatoes are tender.Gnocchi-4
  3. Drain potatoes and mash. Allow to cool completely. Wet or 
    warm potatoes will not absorb flour as nicely.
  4. Place flour onto counter working space and create a large hole in the center where you can put the potatoes.
  5. Create another hole in potatoes for egg and add salt.
  6. Use a fork to start bringing Gnocchi-10 ogether ingredients. Once dough begins to form, knead in as much flour as necessary. Too much flour will result in hard dumplings.
  7. Cut dough into sections that you can further roll into long ropes. Cut 1-inch squares from ropes.
  8. Use a fork to make ribs in each gnocchi. Place on a floured baking sheet for up to 45 minutes until ready to cook.
  9. To cook: Boil a medium sized pot of water and add a pinch of salt. Place gnocchi inside and cook until the gnocchi floats to the top (4-5 minutes). Remove will slotted spoon and toss them into sauce to cook together for 2 minutes.

Sauce Recipe

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Note: Chicken or Chourizo both work wonderfully with this sauce and gnocchi. Pan grill and add to sauce after cream.

  1. Warm up olive oil in large skillet. Add onions and tomato puree after onions turn golden brown. Ensure your stove is on low to medium heat.
  2. Grate or chop two cloves of garlic into the sauce as well as 1 full clove. Mix in tomato paste and a touch of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine. Stir well and let it sit for a few minutes.
  3. In the meantime, slice zucchini and tomatoes into desired size and then add to sauce. Do the same with half of a piquillo pepper. These peppers are an excellent blend of spicy and sweet. Perfect for Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.
  4. Let sauce and zucchini cook before slowly stirring in cream which will allow the sauce to quickly thicken.
  5. Throw in cilantro and parsley as well as salt and pepper just before adding the prepared gnocchi. Top with your favourite Italian cheese; try romano, asiago or parmigiano.

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WineCollective would love to hear about your food and wine pairings for both the Montepulciano and any other wine we deliver to your front door! Leave us a comment and share some superb pairings with your fellow WC members! Bon appetite!


Welcome to Wine – tips from the WineCollective pros

At WineCollective, we have compiled a list of wine tips and tricks to help you with anything from storing to serving. Everyone at office headquarters has a word of advice; whether they are simply wine lovers or certified WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) professionals, we all sample a ton of wines every month. While some are entertaining, they are all great suggestions to lead you further into the wine world. Enjoy!

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David Gluzman – Founder | WSET Certified

“If you can’t finish a bottle of wine, red or white, store it in the fridge till the next day. It will help it last longer. Also, if you drink Port it should be stored in your fridge as well.”

Handy for someone who enjoys a single glass in the evening, an unfinished bottle can be stored in the fridge for up to four days. Ensure that it is corked and has no exposure to air.

Matthew Protti – Co-Founder | WSET Certified 

“Familiarize yourself with what grape varietals grow well in different countries. This will help you with a first pass on whether a wine is at a good price/value. As well, look for wines that are sourced from one area (AVA, DOC) and not blended from a large geographic region (e.g. South Australia).”

Although grape varieties can grow in multiple regions, each will have its own characteristics dependant on terroir. Take a look at where varietals thrive. Napa Valley, California and Bordeaux, France have mastered Cabernet Sauvignon.

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Lindsey Snell – Wine Lover

With past experience in serving, Lindsey suggests that you keep an eye out for waiters with top-notch know-how or try these techniques at your own dinner party.

“Once the host has picked a wine suited for their guests meals make sure the server shows the host the bottle and gets approval to open it. The server should then provide the host with a taster and go clockwise around the table until they are back at the host to fill their glass.”

She also advises that you should not be afraid to send back a bottle of wine if it is unpleasing or smells “corked” like soggy cardboard.

Larissa Pinhal – Newbie Wine Lover

“If your guest spills a glass of red wine on your fancy white couch or carpet don’t get angry. Instead, run and get Windex. Spray enough to cover the stain and dab with a cloth. It should come right out.”

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Chris Calon – Beverage Connoisseur

“Don’t smell the cork… You just look like a *****”

While smelling the cork won’t give you insight to the wine taste it may be cracked, moldy or dry, which will let you know if oxygen has been let in. The cork may also have printed information on bottling date or winery details.

Chris also says, “When clinking glasses, do not touch the tops of the glass. Aim to touch the widest parts of the glasses.”

You don’t want to be the guy/gal who breaks restaurant stemware. Cheers!

Megan MacLean – Wine Lover

Also a previous restaurant server, her tip comes in handy when pouring your guests a glass that is sure to impress!

“Have a cloth napkin handy. You can use it to hold the bottle if you’re serving chilled wine as a barrier between your hand’s warmth and the wine. When you’ve finished pouring, twist the bottle a little to catch any dripping and wipe the rim with your napkin. Most wine can be poured to the middle of the glass, but if you’re serving sparking, pour against the inside.”

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Judy Bishop – Winery Know-it-All

“When cooking meat dishes with leftover red wine, aim to match the depth of the meat flavours to the body of the wine type. A deep rich Malbec or Syrah would work well with beef short ribs. A lighter Pinot Noir or Zinfandel would pair with braised pork or veal. A more tannic Cabernet Sauvignon with a lamb dish.”

WineCollective also has a large selection of handy cooking with wine tips here!

Douglas Robertson – Tech Guy | Wine Lover

“If you are re-corking a bottle of wine with the original cork, put it in the same way it came out! The outer end of the cork may be dusty and you can risk getting dirt or bits of cork in the wine.”

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Amber Fountain – WSET Certified

“When buying a new world wine, Reserve and Reserva don’t mean much. Don’t let it sway you, instead look for a bottle with the most detail.”

New World wines are wines produced outside of a traditional growing area like Europe. This includes Canada, South Africa and the United States.

“I always chill my wine a couple of degrees colder than suggested so that it can warm up a little in the bottle or glass. Also if you don’t have a wine cellar or cooler, store your wine in a place in your house with the most consistent temperature and humidity. The coolest place is where your dog sleeps mid summer.”

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Do you have any wine tips or tricks you have come across through your wine experience? WineCollective would love to hear them!

Adorable illustrations courtesy of Gemma Correll 


Wine festivals to enjoy this summer

Blue skies and warm weather are here which means its finally summer vacation time! If you have yet to plan a getaway and you’re not concerned about a family friendly destination, then why not let your taste buds guide you to an upcoming wine festival?

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Here are a few of the best wine festivals for July, August and September in Canada and the United States. If all of these clash with your calendar, WineCollective encourages you to go ahead and research other events that showcase our favourite pastime.

California Wine Festival. July 18-20, 2013

The California Wine Festival takes place in two parts. Unfortunately, the first already happened in Orange County but you can still attend part two in Santa Barbara over what promises to be a vino filled three days. This festival is also helpful for those travelling from outside of California as it runs from Thursday to Saturday (Sunday is used to recuperate so you can return to the office Monday morning).

Festival events include an “Old Spanish Nights” wine tasting, as well as a “Beachside Wine Festival” showcasing unlimited wine, food, cheese and even craft brew tastings at a large variety of restaurants. Tickets and passes for the festival range from $120 to $310 USD, depending on which events and admissions exclusives you prefer.

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Taste: Victoria’s Festival of Food and Wine. July 25-28, 2013

Celebrating the wine regions of British Columbia and incredible cuisine from Vancouver Island, Taste is a uniquely Canadian wine and food festival. The festival includes a “Trade Tasting” for approved industry members who want to showcase and share their product. “Taste the Difference,” is a wine and food tasting event for only $79 that includes over 100 B.C. wines and local grub.

Taste also includes seafood cuisine and wine tastings, a brunch and bubbly tasting, tea tasting and a “Weird and Wonderful Grapes” workshop; these are just a few of the events during the weekend. Tickets can be purchased for the many individual events and range from just $20 to $90.

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Beaver Creek Wine & Spirits Festival. August 9-11, 2013

Presented by Wine Spectator Magazine, this festival is held at Beaver Creek Resort in Colorado, U.S.A. With obviously easy to find accommodations, the resort’s location lets you experience the town, mountains and golf apart from the three-day event.

The festival holds a variety of events including simple tastings, and Italian wine seminars and cooking demos. There is a “Pastries and Port” pairing class as well as a hike through the mountain trails that will lead you to different Italian wine tasting tables for $90. Events range from $20 to $130 at Beaver Creek, a spot guaranteed to impress with beautiful scenic views.

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Niagara Wine Festival. September 14-29, 2013

Kicking off with the 62nd annual Niagara Wine Festival Grande Parade, this wine event is packed with two weeks worth of events. Across Niagara, guests have the pleasure of experiencing spectacular wine and culinary tastings, extreme charity races, vineyard picnics and professional live entertainment.

Tickets for the festival come cheap at either $30 or $40 per person and include six experiences per pass. Additional prices are added on for specific events.

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Many of these festivals (and others) make quick and easy weekend trips. If you want to avoid travelling to a handful of different wineries, a wine festival is a fun alternative. Experience food, culture, good times, and wine of course all in one place for a great price.


Welcome to Wine – cooking with wine

Wine makes a wonderful companion to food. Apart from pairing a dish with a particular variety, cooking with wine can really add something special to your homemade cuisine.

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Getting creative with wine in the kitchen can bring out flavours of the wine and whatever you are preparing. If you have yet to try it out, here are some useful tips to help you impress your guests and make the most out of a meal.

1. Julia Child once said, “If you do not have a good wine to use, it is far better to omit it. For a poor one can spoil a simple dish and utterly debase a noble one.” This quote led chefs everywhere to the simpler tip: Only cook with wine that you would drink.

Now, we at WineCollective are not suggesting that you use you $45 bottle in tonight’s dinner. We are however, suggesting that you do not use wine that you wanted to pour down the drain. While there has been much debate about this tip (with some critics saying to use anything labeled wine) the end result may not be ruined, but most certainly will have a different taste.

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2. With that being said, our next tip would be to pour yourself a glass. Relax and enjoy cooking. Sip either the wine you plan on mixing in your dish – which will intensely bring out flavour later on – or another one of your favourites.

3. Use wine like seasoning, do not over do it. You will not get drunk if you pour in the entire bother trying. The majority of alcohol evaporates leaving 5% – 75% of the original content, depending on the cooking method. 1-½- 2 cups is a generous amount if you’re not following a recipe.

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4. Do not use “cooking wine.” These products available in grocery stores are loaded with salt and food colouring to preserve the liquid. You will have a much healthier and tasty result if you use actual wine.

5. Heat wine before adding it to food. Reducing the wine will allow all of the flavours to come out and lower the alcohol content (children like good food too). Do not bring the wine to a boil but allow it to warm up, this will also help to moisten the chosen food you’re adding it to.

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6. Marinade foods with wine. This works for both meat and vegetables. Adding wine to your marinade will allow the flavour to soak into your meat if prepared in advance.

* Try adding a small amount of red or white wine to mixed vegetables. Wrap in aluminum foil and let all the goodness come together on the barbeque.

7. Baste or sauté with wine by mixing it with butter. This works beautifully with a chicken or turkey in the oven. Try a dry white wine like Sauvignon Blanc.

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8. Substitute water for wine. While Jesus may have thought of this first, a great Italian dish known as “Drunken Pasta,” uses a red wine (Zinfandel works superbly) to cook spaghetti. This leaves the pasta tainted and full of flavour. The colour can be quite beautiful but if it weirds you out white wine works just fine, and boy does it taste delicious!

9. Add a tablespoon or two of wine to gravy and leave your guests wondering why your gravy triumphs over theirs.

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10. For the baker! You can use sweet wines in desserts! Red wine chocolate cake, cupcakes and brownies all use a small amount of wine to amaze your taste buds.

Unsure which wine to use? This of course depends on the dish you’re making, the recipe and which aromas you want to bring out.
– Dry white wine: Sauvignon Blanc will offer a fresh herbal tint
– Bold or spicy: Gewurztraminer and Riesling with balance out the dish with fruity flavours
– Dry red wine: Petite Syrah, Zinfandel or Merlot will compliment a leg of lamb or roast beef

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If you already love to cook with wine then you understand me when I say it can add a touch of fabulous to any dish. If you’re a little skeptical, we hope you try a few of WineCollective’s tips and keep them in mind. We guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Happy cooking!


Anticipating the Season with New Spring Wine Series!

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Moments ago, I took the photo to the left. It’s the view from WineCollective headquarters in Calgary.

We are in week two of April, but we’re still layering our clothing and cranking the heat. Typical for this otherwise awesome city, the weather refuses to cooperate with my stir-crazy plans for wine on a patio. I miss Spring!

Fortunately, it’s bound to show up sooner or later, so I’m going to forge ahead with entry #1 in our Spring wine series. Over the next few months, we’ll look at wines that match the season and pair well with the lighter, fresher fare of warmer weather.

I’d like to begin with my personal favourite, Sauvignon Blanc, because I immediately think of this varietal when the days get brighter. If Spring represents newness and vibrancy, then the fresh, lively flavours of the season are a natural match for this wine.

Sauvignon Blanc has a colourful history, with speculative origins (possibly a relative of savagnin) and popular offspring (along with Cabernet Franc, it is parent to worldwide varietal hit, Cabernet Sauvignon). Performing exceptionally well collaboratively, it’s also a frequent partner in aromatic white blends, such as Australian Semi-Sauvs.

Cottesbrook---Sauv-Blanc-2011Originating in Bordeaux, the Sauvignon Blanc variety has been cultivated worldwide since first migrating to Chile in the 19th century. California came next, the first cuttings arriving in the 1880s, and the varietal became popularized in 1968 as Fumé Blanc by acclaimed Napa vintner, Robert Mondavi. The grape has enjoyed great success in New Zealand (check out the 2011 Cottesbrook Sauvignon Blanc from our February packages) since the 90s, where the maritime climate is considered by some critics to produce the best Sauv Blancs in the world. 

The diversity of the regions producing Sauvignon Blanc is reflected in the wines that emerge from each area. The cooler climates of the Loire Valley deliver more minerality and Sauvs that pair with fresh raw seafood (think sushi). Australian blends often show grassy, herbaceous elements and are fantastic with fresh spring salads with asparagus, pea-shoots, and Fava Beans. Grapes from New Zealand and Argentina tend to produce wines that are citrus focused with intense flavours of lemon or grapefruit that work well with grilled fish and Greek cuisine featuring green onions, olives and feta.

Veramonte---La-Gloria-Sauv-Blanc-Reserva-2011This month, we’re featuring an excellent representation of Chilean Sauvignon Blancs on WineCollective with the Veramonte Sauvignon La Gloria Reserva (pictured, right).

True to the regionally characteristic lively, racy expression, this vibrant Sauv falls into the citrusy category, but has also collected some herb and minerality with its age. Refreshing, palate cleansing, and with high acidity, this is a wine that can be enjoyed with spicy, Asian cuisine. Enjoy!

While Sauvignon Blanc is my personal favourite, there are many great springtime wines that I look forward to exploring in the months to come. In the meantime, while we wait in stubborn parts of Canada for a little greenery, we’d love to hear from you!

What are your favourite Spring wines?