Rocky Mountain Festival Favourites

This past weekend, on Oct. 18, Amber and I took part in the 16th annual Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival (RMWFF) in Calgary. While you may not have seen us working a booth, we did get the chance to wander the BMO Centre in search of wine, food, beer, vodka and some of our favourite WineCollective supporters.


This year, exhibitors included 162 wineries, 47 breweries, a variety of spirit distillers and plenty of food choices. There was no shortage of samples for the hundreds of guests that began filing in at 5 p.m.


Glassware Creations by Laurie

Many of the wine merchants and representatives that help WineCollective find their monthly-featured wines were able to share some of their favourites with Amber and myself. The 2011 Trivento Amado Sur Malbec is an impressive blend of Malbec, Syrah and Bonarda. We found this vintage to be forward with fresh fruit with notes of smoke and vanilla and overall, very smooth. This Malbec has also received 90 points from Robert Parker. We’re keeping this one on our radar for WC packages in the future.


Trivento Bodegas y Viñedos. Mendoza, Argentina

With plenty of food around the festival, we made some quick stops to some favourite vendors with impressive displays. The friendly staff at Sunterra Market featured a Chipotle Beef Brisket, with pineapple mango salsa and bourbon peppercorn sauce, with Parisian macarons for dessert. Kinjo Sushi and YYC famous owner, Peter Kinjo, were happy to share a variety of sushi that cleansed our palates for ice wine and vodka tastings that followed.



Sunterra Market and Kinjo Sushi & Grill

Fluid Imports made us a special treat from Double Cross Vodka (a favourite among WineCollective staff). Infused with white wine and cranberry, this cocktail was deliciously dangerous. The 7x-distilled Double Cross Vodka is incredibly smooth, pure, clean and crisp.



Fluid Imports and the Double Cross vodka and cranberry cocktail

Our last stop took us to Vintage West, representative of Cameron Hughes. While we didn’t get to taste the upcoming feature, Lot 260, we were able to try the Ogio Prosecco, a sweet and very popular sparkling wine.

Cameron Hughes 2007 Lot 260, is a classic Barolo wine, made from Nebbiolo grapes in the Piedmont region of Italy. This wine is truly exceptional with flavours of strawberry, cherry and plum with fresh tobacco and balsamic notes. It is made and classified under DOCG and has received 93 points from Wine Spectator. Tannic members will be able to purchase the vintage this week.


Overall, the RMWFF appeared to host another successful festival. If you were able to attend, we would love to hear about your experience and favourites among the wine and food samples. Fortunately, if you were unable to make it to Calgary’s event, Edmonton is hosting their very own festival this upcoming weekend.

We would like to thank all the food exhibitors as well as Fluid Imports, Lanigan & Edwards Wine Merchants, Vintage West Wine Marketing and Select Wine Merchants for the generous samples. We look forward to featuring some of our finds in future WineCollective packages and attending the Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival again next year!

The Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival

Back for its 16th year, The Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival is ready to spoil Calgary and Edmonton with wines from around the world and local cuisine from each city’s best restaurants.


Calgary’s festival takes place this weekend, October 18-19 at the BMO Centre, while Edmonton will get their taste on October 25-26 at the Shaw Conference Centre. Tickets are still available for each weekend’s Friday and Saturday and range from $15 to $36. A portion of these ticket sales will go to both SAIT and NAIT Culinary schools – who will also be present for some delicious food samples created by students.


Apart from wines, the festival will include samples of scotch, premium spirits and beer from industry leaders. If you prefer wine, bottles from every major wine region will have a place at the festival. From Bordeaux, France to Mendoza, Argentina, you will likely find a booth that holds all your favourites. Here are just a few of many wineries that will be present this weekend at Calgary’s Rocky Mountain Festival.

Peter Lehmann – Australia

Lakeview Cellars – Canada

Jackson-Triggs – Canada

Artisian Wine Company – Canada

La Spinetta – Italy

Fonseca – Portugal

Cameron Hughes  – United States

Beringer – United States

Concha Y Toro – Chile

In addition to ticket pricing, sampling coupons can be purchased for $0.50. Each exhibitor requires a varying amount of coupons per sample.


If you’re in touch with Calgary’s dining scene, you may know that there are a ton of restaurants making a mark in gourmet cuisine. The Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival will host various venues that will be providing samples of their best dishes. You will find Sunterra, Market, Cobs Bread, Wine-Ohs Bistro & Cellar, Xocolat, Craft Beer Market and Black Betty Burger & Wine Bar all at the festival, not to discount the numerous other vendors that will also be attending.

This year, the festival is also adding to attendee experience by introducing an app that will allow goers to mark samples, tasting notes and post their favourites to social media. If you plan on attending the event, we would love to hear about your entire experience.

Screen shot 2013-10-16 at 11.27.46 AM

WineCollective has featured and favourited many of the wines that will be showcased at the festival. However, there will be many more wineries that will be happy to pour samples. Amber and I will be attending the event on Friday evening, meaning you should keep an eye out for a future blog of all the goodies we find and want to share.

Recipe for your Versado Malbec

In September’s WineCollective packages and on Tannic, we featured a very special wine, the Versado Malbec. We were happy to be the first to bring the wine into Alberta and share it with our members. Ann Sperling is synonymous with Canadian wine, and now she is beginning an equally prestigious reputation in Argentina.


We gave you a food pairing suggestion for the Versado Malbec, “a  pork shoulder or beef brisket marinated in a dark stout and charred on the BBQ with a rub of espresso grinds and spices, and served with a sweet-smoky sauce.” If you are interested in trying out this pairing suggestion with your Malbec, we are sharing our tips to make it a success!

First, why did we think this would be a great match for your Versado Malbec?

  • Brisket or pork shoulder is a hearty protein, and pairs well with a Malbec’s tannins and weight
  • Pork shoulder has rustic flavours, enhancing the earthiness and tertiary notes of leather in a warmer climate Malbec
  • Marinading your meat in a stout will give rich caramel flavours and tenderize your meat (Rule of thumb, use Ale, Porter or Stout for red meats and wheat beers for poultry)
  • Espresso rub will help to bring out the coffee and cocoa aromas and flavour of a great Malbec
  • Developing a char or crust on the BBQ will enhance the smoky flavours and caramelize the sweet sauce
  • Using the drippings, a sauce will help to combine all the flavours and time you have committed into an intensified sauce; we suggest adding a splash of the wine too!

It is always a good idea to check out a few professional recipes for references on tips and tricks, as well as cooking times. We “winged it’ after stumbling on some mouth-watering recipes online, but here are a couple sites that you can refer to for more details:

CBC NBA award bottle

For our meal, we were short on time so opted for a porterhouse that was BBQ’d instead of a brisket or pork shoulder that would require more marinading and cooking time. We had a bottle of Cannery Brewing Nut Brown Ale on hand, which did the trick perfectly! As with all our meal pairing suggestions, you can use the ingredients you have and have fun with your own ideas.

We would love to hear what meals you have prepared to serve with your WineCollective wines! Did you try one of our suggestions and love it, hate it, or have a better idea? You can log into your account and view the wines you have received, then see what others had to say and leave your own comments.

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?


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.



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.



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.



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.



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.

GearUp4CF Fundraiser

On May 11th, WineCollective helped support the 3rd annual “Beer and Burger Night,” a fundraiser to raise money for the GearUp4CF ride in Vancouver.

GEARUPPOSTERSandra Smith, who organized the event says approximately $13,400 was raised in aid of her husband Blair’s upcoming participation of the 1,200 km journey from Vancouver to Banff. Blair hopes to raise a total of $25,000 before the ride that takes place on June 22nd. Cyclists come from across Canada to take part this nine-day challenge.

Sandra, who is among the 4,000 Canadians living with Cystic Fibrosis, was told her time was limited three years ago. After being unable to walk up and down stairs, she was referred for a double lung transplant. “Thanks to my donor family, my wonderful CF and Lung Transplant teams and with the love of my family and friends,” Sandra says, “I have a new chance at life.”

This year, WineCollective donated an Evolution – Red package, as well as a Tannic membership ($195 value). Tickets for “Beer and Burger Night,” held at Local 002 Public Tavern & Kitchen, include an automatic donation for GearUp4CF, as well as access to the fundraiser’s silent auction, door prizes and raffles.


Through her own personal experience, Sandra says, “I have seen first-hand what research can do for someone with Cystic Fibrosis and I have personally benefited as well. All of the time and effort put into raising money for research makes a difference.” Since 2006, GearUp4CF has raised $970,000 to one day find a cure for Cystic Fibrosis.

Sandra and husband Blair at the GearUp4CF 2012 finish line

Get involved and donate here to this amazing event.

Scotiabank AIDS Walk for Life

The Scotiabank AIDS Walk has been raising awareness and funds in support of the fight against HIV/AIDS in the Calgary area since 1994. Over the past 17 years, over $1 350 000 has been raised  for AIDS Calgary Awareness Association (ACAA). ACAA was created to address the real needs of those individuals who were living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.

On September 23rd, over 700 people will be participating in the 2012 Scotiabank AIDS Walk for Life. Team Klinck (Jennifer Klinck, Sheldon Harris and Scott Westgard) will be one of many groups participating in the walk and showing their support. 2012 is Team Klinck’s 2nd year fundraising for the AIDS Walk, last year raising over $6 000!

This year WineCollective and Tannic was invited to join one of Team Klinck’s fundraisers. The evening was a great success, with a copious amount of wine and Original 16 beer from Great Western Brewing. It was great to see so much support from local eateries and companies, silent auction items were provided by Alloy, Yardhouse, Teatro, GolfTEC and many more!


We were more than happy to offer a WineCollective and Tannic package for the bidding table, and enjoy the night with some great people. You can also support Team Klinck’s goal of matching their donation last year, visit their team page at AIDS Walk for Life.


Beer and Burger Night for Cystic Fibrosis

On May 12th 160 people including WineCollective’s David, attended a great event held at Local 002 in Calgary, ‘Beer and Burger Night for Cystic Fibrosis’.  The event raised awareness and funds for research and treatment of Cystic Fibrosis.  Blair and Sandra Smith hosted the event, raising money to support Blair’s second time cycling the 1200km treck from Vancouver to Banff with GearUp4CF. The ride took place June 16-24, and to date this year’s efforts has raised over $232,000.


In Calgary alone, 350 people suffer from this deadly lung disease where 1 in 25 people are genetic carriers. It is an inherited disease with no cure. You can learn more about the disease from Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Canada.

WineCollective and Tannic helped by contributing a WineCollective Evolution (4 bottle) & Cartier (2 Bottle) Package ($130 Value) along with a 1 Year’s Membership to ($195 value.) Through everyone’s generosity and hard work, the event raised over $14,000 for CF research. WineCollective and Tannic are very proud to be able to support this extraordinary cause.

To view more photos and find more information on the event, visit GearUp4CF.

Gift Ideas Galore

There are four days left until Christmas, and if you are like most people, you are stressing over what to buy the hardest people on your list, or your entire list!  Luckily WineCollective has some friends that continually impress us with their ability to find unique gift giving and holiday entertaining ideas.

We may be a little biased, but we think a WineCollective Holiday Package is the perfect gift to give and receive!  You can purchase 2, 3, or 6 months of our carefully curated selections for the wine lover in your life, up until December 31st (if you need a last minute/belated gift).  When you think that this couldn’t get any better, each Holiday Package comes with a year’s subscription to Wine Access magazine!

Toque Girls recently posted an interview with Shelley Boettcher, executive editor of Wine Access, giving her top toasting picks for the Holidays in “A Drink List for the Holidays“.  The WineCollective staff are particularly fond of the Waterbrook Melange Noir.


Tom Firth of Wine Access suggests a diversion from grapes to grains, Samichlaus beer.  Yes, he does mention that it sounds like “Santa Claus”, that is because it means Santa Claus in Austrian.  This post has inspired the perfect gift for my dad’s stocking; a gift box set of Samichlaus is available at Willow Park.

Avenue Magazine gives us lists of ideas for everyone on our lists: kids, dads, the women in your life, and foodies.  Our favourite list, considering mall crowds are frightening, is their “No Fuss Online Gift Ideas“, and yes, we are on it!

If you are looking for something special for a lady, I recommend Sister’s Home boutique in Bridgeland.

They have the most amazing assortment of jewellery, bags, accessories and unique wardrobe enhancers.  You can contact them to plan your own shopping party.  Wine, friends and shopping = a great girls night to kick of the New Year!

Spring Time Beer

Hello WineCollective. This is Jeremy Foster from Beertopia bringing you up-to-date as to what’s happening in and around Alberta in terms of Craft Beer. As a contributing member of CAMRA (The Campaign for Real Ale) for over 17 years I have come to love craft beer and the people that brew it. We all know the big international beers can be pretty tasty but I like to stick close to home and keep things local. Beers produced in Western Canada are now being honored as some of the best beer on the planet. My goal with Beertopia is to help bring people to new beers… pretty simple right? I thought so. So let’s get down to business – Spring Time Beer!

Spring time is when many micro-breweries in Canada bring out their best beers. Typically a 12-pack sampler is released with 3 regular-lineup brews and a seasonal. This year is no exception with Okanagan Spring Brewery‘s Craft Variety Pack. This sampler contains the always popular Spring Pale Ale, the 1516 Lager, the Brewmaster’s Black Lager and the new seasonal Hopped Lager. If you are a lover of darker beers, the Black Lager is excellent with a great coffee, roasted malt flavor up front with a very clean, smooth and a slight hop finish. The Hopped Lager is definitely a session beer for those warm spring or summer days with a crisp lager taste up front and a strong but not too bitter hop finish.

Another excellent sampler to look for is the Half Pints Brewing Sampler pack. This brewery situated in Winnipeg, Manitoba has been turning heads with its unique craft beers as of late and if you haven’t tried any of their beers, their sampler is for you. This sampler consists of the St. James Pale Ale, Little Scrapper IPA, Bulldog Amber Ale and the new Stir Stick Stout.

With Spring time comes BBQ season and what better way to compliment your “grillables” than with some excellent local craft beer. We all know how good it is to wash down some steak or kabobs with your favorite pilsner but many people haven’t approached cooking with the same beer! Some ideas are to marinate your steak or pork tenderloin with a heavier stout or porter while chicken can be soaked in a hefeweizen or a spicier Saison. The ever popular “beer can chicken” is also a great way to guarantee perfectly grilled meat while impressing your friends with your grilling ingenuity.

Spring is also an exciting season for Beer Events in Calgary with the annual Calgary Beer Festival and a new premises opening for Craft Beer Lovers. The Calgary International Beer Festival ran May 27-28 at the Big Four building in Stampede Park. This year boasted some great breweries from out-of-province such as Mt. Begbie Brewing from Revelstoke B.C., Laughing Dog Brewery from Ponderay, Idaho and (a big favorite of mine) Bowen Island Brewery from B.C.

The Craft Beer Market is a new tap-house boasting over 100 taps of craft and internationally famous beers. Located beside The Whiskey nightclub in the old Mother Tucker’s premises, Craft Beer Market (opening June 1, 2011 – today!) will be a haven for connoisseurs of craft brewed beer.

However you decide to spend the warm evenings during the Spring time in Calgary – remember to think local and drink local!