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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.
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TRY THESE WINES
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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

Evolution of WineCollective Tasting Cards

If you have been a WineCollective member for more than a month, you would have un-boxed July’s package to a surprise! WineCollective Tasting Cards are better than ever – we hope you agree!

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Since our inception, almost seven years ago, WineCollective members have experienced 4 versions of tasting card designs.

In 2010, WineCollective President, David Gluzman, spent many hours printing AND folding each and every card. At that time, our volume was apparently not enough to please the printers (we showed them)! With every crease, David says he remembers thinking, “I hope this will be worth it someday.”

Well… today, with the help of Little Rock, we print over 5,000 cards each and every month. One card for every bottle ordered!

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Our second version was as tall as the bottle itself. While this version was excellent for viewing details, they were not paper friendly. We quickly learned our lesson and moved on to our next design, which stayed with us for 4 years!

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Did You Know?

WineCollective staff completes every part of the Tasting Card from start to finish! Inside HQ, we have a small photo studio, where every bottle is photographed. From there, we taste and create our reviews and notes before our designer, Chris, pieces all the parts together!

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2016 Tasting Cards

  • We’ve expanded our review to include more information on the winery, vineyards, regions and grape varieties.
  • Check out the map! Our new cards contain a map of the region from which the wine was created. We hope this new visual inspires you to visit these regions!
  • Your personal tasting note section has been removed. Instead, tell us your thoughts online! Login to your WineCollective account to view, rate and comment on all of the wines that you receive!

We’ve heard your request! WineCollective will soon introduce a keepsake binder for your tasting cards. Stay tuned!

We would love to hear what you think about WineCollective’s newest Tasting Cards. Leave a comment below!


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
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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?

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  • 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?

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  • 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?

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  • 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!


It’s here! WineCollective Two!

From the admired vineyards of Kaesler Winery comes the highly anticipated WineCollective Two! This is the second in a series of limited edition wines featuring unique global winemakers and we could not have been more fortunate to come across this gem.

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Kaesler Winery is located in the Barossa Valley of Australia, a region known for their explosive Shiraz. The WineCollective Two is 100% Shiraz sourced from three estate vineyards, 29, 49 and 53-years-old.

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Old-vine Shiraz, Kaesler Winery. 

Initially, 2011 was not expected to be a stellar vintage, with reviewers quick to critique due to a rainy harvest. However, winemaker at Kaesler, Reid Bosward, knew something that others did not; the wine needed more time. The remainder of the vintage was secretly stowed away in the winery, with a plan to release it only when it was truly ready. The result is a wine that has surpassed all expectations of the vintage. When we traveled to Kaesler and tried the hidden wine from 2011, we knew this was the WineCollective Two.

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Fun Fact: Kaesler is also responsible for one of Barossa’s most iconic wines, Old Bastard Shiraz, with vines planted in 1893. Part of the WineCollective Two harvest is sourced from direct neighbouring vines!

We are proud to partner with the iconic Kaesler Winery. Visit WineCollective.ca/Two for more information on the wine and series!

A limited amount of the WineCollective Two is available, only 1,560 bottles were made! Keep an eye out for the WC2 in select July packages & find more in the eStore, July 15th!


Tell your friends about WineCollective!

WineCollective Referral Program allows you to share your love of wine with your friends…. and be rewarded for it!

We’ve heard you ask time again for a referral bonus & we’re thrilled to now offer a reward for both you and your wine-drinking pal.

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Anytime a friend signs up for a WineCollective subscription* and puts your full name in the referral field at checkout, you will get a $15 credit on your account. More, your referred friend will receive a $15 credit on their account too!

Credits are automatically applied to the next charge on an account, so whichever comes first; the next month’s charge, a store order, or even a gift purchased for someone else.

So, start spreading the word! Get your family, friends and co-workers in the club and let WineCollective reward you for it!

 

*Must be a personal subscription. Does not apply to gift purchases.


Join Us! Try Before You Buy!

Join WineCollective and Redback Wines for a Try Before You Buy event! Open to WineCollective members, friends, family and wine enthusiasts!

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Tickets are $20 and are available on the WineCollective Store or Eventbrite.

Gerry Thomas Gallery
(602 11th Ave SW)
Tuesday, June 28th
5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

WineCollective-Two

Taste over 15 previous and upcoming WineCollective features along with Redback favourites! We will also be pouring exclusive offers like Domaine of the Bee, Hart of Gold and the new WineCollective Two!

Superb discounts on online store orders, snacks and door prizes! Tickets will also be available at the door.

Extra Bonus! Book a reservation at Chef Bar for before or after the event and enjoy $20 corkage!

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For questions about Try Before You Buy, email thecellar@winecollective.ca


Introducing the WineCollective Two!

We’ve been long awaiting the release of our next wine series selection, the WineCollective Two! Finally, it has arrived and we are thrilled to showcase this unexpectedly delicious wine produced by world renowned Kaesler Winery.

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The WineCollective Wine Series is aimed at presenting classic varietal specific wines from their most expressive regions. The Barossa Valley, and greater Australia, is famous for their juicy, rich Shiraz.

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Kaesler Winery was established in Barossa in 1893 and is a well recognized name on WineCollective and Tannic. We are honoured to partner with Kaesler to bring members the WineCollective Two, a 2011, 100% old vine Shiraz!

WineCollective Two is sourced from a cooler vintage, but from an outstanding vineyard. We stumbled upon this wine with great luck! Learn more about the story of this wine, and it’s release, by visiting WineCollective.ca/TWO


The Ultimate Father’s Day Gift – WINE & MEAT!

For Father’s Day this year, we have partnered with our friends at Carnivore Club to bring Dad the ultimate gift! Forget the ties or golf shirt, wine and meat is more up his alley…

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The duo gift includes a WineCollective package, featuring two bottles of red, exclusive wines as well as a custom WineCollective corkscrew. A Carnivore Club crate will also be shipped to your Dad, including 9 artisan crafted cured meats. The perfect pairing and only $98.49!*

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Father’s Day is Sunday, June 19th! Order by June 8th to guarantee delivery before June 17th.* Packages are available for purchase until June 18th.

For more information or examples on Carnivore Club, check out our WineCollective blog on the subscription service after we received our first shipment!

If you have any questions about our Father’s Day package, please contact us!

*Price does not include taxes or shipping.

*Carnivore Club package is shipped separately from Toronto, ON. Shipping times may vary.


Celebrate Mother’s Day with Wine!

The time of year has come where you get to spoil the most important woman in your life – Mom. After years of care, we think she deserves something special to brighten her day, and week!

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This year, show your appreciation with wine! Our Mother’s Day Special features six bottles of wine, valued at $150, and selected by our in-house tasters.

Included in the package is:

– 3 bottles of red, 2 bottles of white wine and 1 rosé, including exclusive selections, available only to WineCollective, and pro awarded wines.

FREE WineCollective tote and dropstop!

FREE $15 gift certificate for your recipient to spend on her own subscription, or more wine from our members-only, online store!

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A gift message will be sent to your recipient after the purchase is complete. Or, choose not to send the email and print the message to place in a card.

* If Mom lives in AB or BC, purchase up until May 3rd and we will guarantee delivery before Mother’s Day.

* If Mom lives east or north of AB, gifts must be purchased by April 25th to guarantee delivery before Mother’s Day.

This limited time package is only available until May 8th!


New Canadian exclusives from Master of Wine, Justin Howard-Sneyd

We recently announced that WineCollective will be the first to provide Canadians with the Domaine of the Bee and Hart of Gold labels, produced by Master of Wine, Justin Howard-Sneyd.

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Based out of London, UK, we had the opportunity to Skype with Justin and ask him about these exciting products in time for the release, coming in May.

Q: What led you to start your Domaine of the Bee project?

A: In the early 90’s, I helped make wine as an assistant winemaker, kind of a ‘cellar rat’ if you will. I always new I wanted to make my own wine, but it was more of a matter of finding the right location. I worked as a buyer and travelled around, then in 2004, I came across the vineyards of Maury in Roussillon.

Q: Why did you source vineyards in Maury for Domaine of the Bee?

A: We have friends that own a block nearby and the sheer quality of fruit and wine from the area made us want to purchase the vineyard. The varieties of the vineyard were mixed so we knew they were old vines, likely 90 to 100-years-old with low yields. We’re in a small microclimate in the side valley of the larger valley so really, its a better quality. We didn’t originally have a business plan, we started because we wanted to buy the vineyard. After a few years we had enough blocks to make it worthwhile.

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Q: How involved are you in the winemaking process?

A: I go back to Maury about 10 times a year. Of the 4 to 5 weeks of harvest, I spend about 3 there. Now that I am consulting I have more time to spend in Maury. We worked with Richard Case, who lives and works in Maury. After the 2011 vintage we have worked with my old friend from South Africa winemaking days, Jean-Marc Lafage. The decisions are made together and the winemaker is there in France to oversee everything.

Q: Do you have a winemaking philosophy?

A: I am a believer in the scientific winemaking method. I am not a believer in natural wine, although I have tasted many lovely natural wines. For me, I am also running a business. I am making a wine that my customers want and enjoy and so I aim to create a style that is consistant year after year.

Domaine of the Bee is a Grenache, Carignan blend. A full flavoured red, not just a fruit bomb. It has lots of structure and character from the terroir, lovely acidity. I like the influence of oak, it is a significant component but we don’t want to make that dominant. I have found that a 1/4 or a 1/3 in new oak for the right balance.

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Carignan vines in Maury, Roussillon. 

Q: What kind of professional critics have you received?

A: The majority of the wine journalists in the UK have written about the wine, all in different vintages. All feedback has been positive and I find those that don’t like the wine are consumers who like very fruit forward styles. Reliable, credible critics like Jancis Robson and Olly Smith have really enjoyed the wine and the style.

Q: What inspired the Hart of Gold project?

A: In 1976, when I was 10, we had a really hot summer in England. A year later, we visited my father’s friend who had made wine and it was amazingly good from the heat of that summer. That was the first vintage where people started to pay attention to English Sparkling Wine. I have always bought a lot of wines from England and watched the quality grow. In 2010, it as clear that England was making world class sparkling that reviled Champagne.

Q: Who are your partners in this project? Where are the grapes sourced from?

A: It took me a while to find the right partner. We work with Ridgeview as the producer. The Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Munier are sourced from a grower of Ridgeview. The vineyard is on a steep slope, south-east facing. The climate is overall a little cooler by 1 to 3 degrees and wetter compared to Champagne. With global warming the climate in England is very similar to Champagne, 30 years ago.

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Q: What has sparked consumer interest in English Sparkling Wine?

A: Not many sparkling wines have challenged Champagne in style and quality. I think there are more wine professionals in England and new equipment, new investors, and also wineries are gaining credentials. The wine is made in the classic Champagne method and the quality of the wine is making people say, “Hold on. This is just as good as Champagne” but with better value.

Q: What do you want WineCollective members to know about Hart of Gold.

A: The sparkling wine expresses something about England and Englishness. The authentic and classic label draws from England’s medieval history. The label is inspired by Richard the Second’s personal symbol, the white hart. In history, the white hart was known to appear in auspicious times. A few years back, I was walking in a park nearby my home and there was a white deer. I used it all to connect the wine, and England’s history.

Q: Do you have plans to further expand? Where can Domaine of the Bee and Hart of Gold be found?

A: Right now there is a small volume of both. Only 1,500 bottles of the Hart of Gold was produced and only 4,000 of the Domaine of the Bee. We are looking to purchase nearby vineyard blocks and increase producition. Right now, the wine is exported to Denmark and Norway, U.S. and Hong Kong.

Q: Do you have a favourite Canadian wine? Have you visited any of our regions?

A: I am shockingly ignorant and I plan on fixing that reasonably soon. I have had a handful of ice wine, which I really do like. Journalists have recently been singing praises of Canadian wines and I look forward to trying and understanding Canadian wines and regions.

Stay tuned to learn more about Justin and his fantastic wines. Domaine of the Bee and Hart of Gold are coming to WineCollective and Tannic very soon! Keep an eye out, and a fast hand, we have extremely limited quantities that will not last long.

 

*NOW AVAILABLE! Extremely limited quantities of Domaine of the Bee and Hart of Gold are now available in the WineCollective online store! 


Meet Liquidity Wines

You may have noticed a special Canadian wine in March WineCollective packages, Liquidity Chardonnay! Nestled in the Okanagan Falls, between Lake Vaseux and Skaha, the land where Liquidity Wines now sits has been supplying quality fruit for eighty years.

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In the 1930’s, Charlie Oliver developed Oliver Ranch where he planted over 110 acres of cherry, peach, apricot and pear trees. His development of irrigation systems still feed surrounding vineyards to this day. A pioneer in the Okanagan, it is said that in it’s day, Oliver Ranch was the largest orchard in the British Empire.

Oliver Ranch was divided and sold in 1971. Blue Mountain’s Ian Mavety farmed the property and a 30-acre portion, planted to German varietals, became today’s Liquidity Wines.

A subsequent owner built the Santa-Fe style home located on the property. Because it sat on a hilltop and was opened to panoramic views, it was frequently mistaken for a winery. In 2008, a group of business men and wine enthusiasts led by Ian MacDonald, renovated the Santa Fe house to a tasting room and Bistro, which was completed in 2013.

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*Photos by Lionel Trudel

In addition, MacDonald and his team built a modern fully-equipped winery in time for the 2012 vintage, though in previous years, Liquidity made small volumes of their wines at another winery and sold their remaining fruit.

Through out the 90’s, all non-vinifera vines were replaced with current varietals, Viognier. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon on the 30-acre plot.

As the Okanagan Falls is the most narrow part of the valley, wind funnels through and cools the grapes. Erin Korpisto of Liquidity says because of this “the Okanagan Falls [are] usually 2 to 5 degrees cooler than Oliver and Osoyoos, making the area particularly known for its excellent Pinot Noir and Chardonnay production.”

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10,000 years ago, glaciers covered the Okanagan landscape and deposited sand and gravel soils. These mineral rich soils are not only an ideal growing condition for the vines, but they also translate into the character of the wines. All Liquidity wines are estate grown and hand-harvested. Only sustainable viticultural practices are suitable for the two Liquidity vineyards.

“Here at Liquidity, there are three pillars: Wine, Food & Art.”

Wine

The Liquidity Chardonnay happens to be a favourite among staff and Liquidity fans. A few weeks ago, the wine received a Silver Medal at the Chardonnay du Monde competition in France.

The juice was racked to French oak barrels (20% new) to undergo fermentation. Partial malolactic fermentation followed and the wine was aged on lees, with stirring for 11 months.

“The 2013 Chardonnay is a bit more rounded and has more complexity than previous vintages. While still maintaining lovely acidity and fruit,” Erin says. “This vintage shows the health of the vineyard beginning to flourish and the vines really coming into their own.”

Chard 2013

Food

Liquidity’s Bistro is a modern, Okanagan and Pacific North West inspired restaurant that not only uses fresh local produce, but also ingredients from the chef’s own garden. Only open seasonally, the food at Bistro is simple, clean and fresh.

As the second pillar of Liquidity, Erin stresses the importance and relationship between food and wine. For the 2013 Chardonnay, she recommends Bistros’s Oliver Road 17 Char with Smokey Puttanesca Butter, Roe, Ancient Grain “Risotto” and Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette.

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Art

From the very beginning, Ian MacDonald had always been passionate about art, design and the conversations that they begin. Around Liquidity’s grounds are various pieces of work that belong to Liquidity and Ian’s own personal collection. You can find descriptions of all the pieces at Liquidity on their website.

From July through October, on the 2nd Saturday of each month, Liquidity will be hosting their second annual Artist Lecture Series, featuring many Canadian artists such as Bobbie Burgers, Jeff Burgess and David Burdney.

As always, we encourage our members to head out to Canadian wine regions, including the Okanagan Falls! Liquidity Wines would love to have to visit their tasting room, Bistro and inviting, art filled, grounds.

Visit Liquidity Wines and give them a follow on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for information on upcoming events at the winery, and let us know how you enjoyed the 2013 Liquidity Chardonnay.

Stay tuned for more Liquidity Wines!

Rate, comment and buy more on the members only, online store!