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.


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.


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.


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.

Spoiler Alert: August wine feature leaked

Many WineCollective members love the excitement of opening their package every month and discovering what new wines they have to try. The anticipation has been compared to being a kid on Christmas morning. This is why we are giving you a warning; if you do not want to know which wine could be in your August WineCollective package, stop reading!

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Our timing couldn’t have been more perfect as John Buchanan from Mount Riley was just in town. Mount Riley has been in Canada for the last decade and has some solid presence at a handful of restaurants and boutiques. The consistency in quality and affordability has made Mount Riley a go-to New Zealand producer.


We are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Mount Riley Pinot Gris, which has been secured for members’ August editions. Mount Riley has been on our radar for awhile now and we thought that the crisp and textured Pinot Gris would be perfect for your summer enjoyment.


Meeting with John at Murrieta’s in Calgary, we learned a little more about himself, the wines and his family. John spoke briefly about each wine to the crowd of about 50 diners, while they sipped and enjoyed the five-course dinner. Although the food and wine, of course, were great, it was hard not to notice how engaged John was with everyone in the room. It was great to see a producer so genuinely interested in ensuring everyone was having a great evening. John made a point to visit with every table.


The wines showcased from Mount Riley: 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, 2014 Pinot Gris, 2013 Pinot Noir and 2013 Syrah. By far, the most successful pairing of the night was the curry-dressed salad with prawn and goat cheese, partnered with the Sauvignon Blanc.


The Pinot Gris, John explained, is beginning to replace the once most popular choice of Chardonnay. Murrieta’s pairing of halibut wrapped proscuitto, could pair equally as well with the Pinot Gris as a cool-climate Chardonnay.


The Pinot Noir was lean, but complex mix between fresh fruits and rustic charm. The show-stopper was the Syrah, which had everyone asking for a second glass. The 50+ people in attendance were the first in Canada to ever try the Mount Riley Syrah. There will be a limited amount available later this year, stay tuned for your chance to try it.


If you are impatient and will have a hard time waiting until August to try Mount Riley, stop by Highfield by WineCollective and curb your appetite with the Sauvignon Blanc.

Thank you to The Shakespeare Company!

WineCollective was delighted to partake in the 2nd Annual Bard Bash, produced by The Shakespeare Company! It was an evening full of laughter, wine, food and a great performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

bard bash wine

With the help of volunteers, we poured some recently featured and past favourite WineCollective wines including Milou Rouge, Schug Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Tolloy Pinot Grigio and Mac & Fitz’s Shift’s End Red!

donation package

Highfield by WineCollective also took part and donated a basket full of unique liquors such as Laura Secord Chocolate Liqueur, IronWorks Fruit Trio, Glen Carlou Sweet Chenin Blanc and an Auchentoshan scotch taster pack.

bard bash food

If you were unable to attend this year’s Bard Bash, don’t fret! The Shakespeare Company’s next production, As You Like It, begins on April 30th!

bard bash performance

Win tickets to Beerfest!

Wine always comes first at WineCollective, but we also love beer! Both Calgary and Edmonton have upcoming beer festivals and we want to make sure you have no excuses not to go! You might not be a cicerone, but who doesn’t enjoy a cold one?


Village Beer has released their new seasonal brew, Undertaker! Find it at Highfield and enter your name to win YYC Beer Fest tickets!

We have a specially created, unique coupon code that will give you 15% off your tickets. Enter the code, WINE15 when purchasing your tickets online for either the Calgary International Beerfest or the Edmonton Craft Beer Festival.


The Calgary International Beerfest will be held at the BMO Center on Friday, May 1st and Saturday, May 2nd. There are several ticket options, weekend pass, VIP or general admission 1 day tickets. Your coupon code from WineCollective, WINE15, will give you 15% off any admission tickets.

If you are in Calgary, stop by Highfield by WineCollective and enter your name in a draw to win a pair of tickets to the Calgary International Beerfest. We will be drawing the lucky winners on Monday, April 27th. You can find several Beerfest breweries in store, including Ribstone Creek, Big Surf and our neighbours Village Brewery.

Not able to stop by Highfield by WineCollective? Do not worry, we have you covered. Simply tweet, instagram or Facebook us @WineCollective. We want to see a photo of you enjoying your favourite brew, do not forget to include #YYCBeerFest. We will enter all posts with this hashtag to win tickets to the Calgary International Beerfest.


The Edmonton Craft Beer Festival is at the Expo Centre at Northlands on Friday, June 5th and Satuday June 6th. If you are in Edmonton, use the coupon code WINE15 to get 15% off your tickets. Stay tuned for free tickets in May!

The Shakespeare Company’s 2nd annual Bard Bash

We are excited to partner with The Shakespeare Company for their upcoming Bard Bash! The theatre company will be hosting their 2nd annual fundraising event in Calgary, on April 11 at Festival Hall.


Tickets are limited, so be sure to purchase them in advance. We will be serving our favourite WineCollective wines, while you bid on silent auction items and enjoy a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. If you are unable to attend, be sure to check out their calendar of upcoming shows, including, As You Like It, and Othello.


Champagne Chair Contest

Each year, Design Within Reach launches a Champagne Chair Design contest. Using only the foil, cage, cork and label of two bottles, winners have managed to create spectacular furniture designs that we wish came in human, and not doll sized form. Below are this year’s winners, 3rd, 2nd and 1st place respectively.




You may have already assumed that these designs are not the easiest to create. In fact, participants are able to use whatever tools they can get their hands on including drills, X Acto and Jewellery knives.

As we can not believe we have never found this contest before, we have decided to launch our very own Champagne Chair Design Contest for WineCollective members! We hope that from recent Champagne and Sparkling WineCollective features, members have some corks and cages still laying around.

Using the materials from two bottles, and which ever tools you would like, we are challenging you to create a chair that you would love to sit in yourself! To participate, simple leave a photo of the chair, as well as a comment on how you built it, materials used, etc, in the comment section below, or, on our Facebook page.

The winner will receive a very special Champagne and Sparkling package, custom created to suit their tastes!

We are very excited to see what you all come up with! For questions, please reach out to us, or leave a comment below.

Happy Champagne Friday!

Last minute wine gifts – Christmas is almost here!

There are exactly two weeks until Christmas, and the hustle for gifts is in full throttle. WineCollective has numerous Holiday Packages and gift ideas for family and friends across Canada! Convenient and delicious, we can help you find the perfect gift at any budget.


Holiday Packages

You can visit for our Holiday Packages. Recipients will all receive a custom gift email message on December 25th, notifying them of WineCollective and your awesome gift! In January their first shipment will arrive, and you, didn’t even have to leave your home. These packages are even available up until Dec 31st, for those that forgot about Christmas this year.

Holiday Packages are designed to fit your budget and better yet, they keep on giving well after Christmas. Starting at $135 for one month (Western Canada) and six bottles, or you can even send a full year of wine!

Our Holiday Packages also include a bunch of perks and additional gifts, depending on the amount of months sent. Score the 2nd edition WineCollective corkscrew, a subscription to Vines Magazine, and even a free Platinum membership to!

For even more options, we also have our regular gift subscriptions (starting at $55/month in Western Canada). Purchase any time throughout December for the first shipment to be sent in January.


Gift Cards

If you can’t remember if your aunt prefers white or red, we have an option for you! You can now purchase WineCollective gift cards for any amount, leaving your recipient to choose a package, or wine directly from our online store! Contact WineCollective for details!


Gift Baskets at Highfield by WineCollective

New with Highfield, we are now offering custom gift baskets for those in yyc. Choose your wine, beer or liquor and we will take care of the rest! This is a great gift idea for anyone with a precise budget, or picky taste buds.

Highfield also carries gift cards for any amount. Contact Highfield for details!

United Way Calgary runs internal campaign

From November 18th to 21st, United Way of Calgary and Area held an internal campaign in order to raise funds for the organization. WineCollective is always pleased to donate to United Way, and so we joined in on the fundraiser along with another 29 organizations.


During the course of the week, the United Way office fought for the highest bids on their favourite donations. The silent auction, which became quite competitive, earned $2700!

United Way of Calgary and Area is the largest non-governmental funder of human and social service programs in our city. In partnership with businesses, social service agencies, government and individuals, United Way works to build sustainable solutions to complex social issues and improve the lives of all Calgarians. We are proud to support United Way with their continuous fundraisers across the country. For this donation, the winner received several bottles of wine, along with a Tannic membership!

“Thank you again for your support of our event and, more importantly, the United Way itself. Without the generosity of people like you and organizations like yours, we wouldn’t be able to make the impact in the community that we do.”

– Luke Prudence, Campaign Associate.


We encourage our members to get involved and donate to United Way! Even more, you can visit their website for information on how to start your own office campaign, or stop by one of their upcoming events! We hope to continue to take part in their events that aim to better our city and communities.

Discovering Cocchi

A couple weeks ago we shared some basic information on understanding and enjoying vermouths, and now, we are going to take our vermouth knowledge to the next level! Last week we attended an event focused on the history of negroni and aromatized wines, hosted by Bonvida Wines and Guilio Cocchi (KOE-kee).


Guilo Cocchi was established in 1891, after the founder moved to Asti from Florence. Guilio was not only a distiller, but also produced sparkling wines. The popularity of Cocchi’s Italian aparitif grew quickly, exporting to Venezuela, London, Sydney and New York by 1913.


Asti, in central Piedmont, is known historically for its vermouth production and aromatic wines. Inspired by history, Giulio produced his sparking wine based on Moscato d’Asti.

We featured the Primosecolo on Tannic and WineCollective last year. The Primosecolo has been produced since 1991, when it was first created to honour Giolio Cocchi’s 100th anniversary. The Primosecolo is left for an extended period on the lees and undergoes extended secondary fermentation, a method referred to as “Metodo Italiano Lungo.” During the process the wine ferments in stainless steel tanks, rather than individual bottles and is then bottled under pressure.

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The Cocchi tasting at Bar C was not conventional. We were guided through an interactive mixology experiment, reminded us of junior high chemistry class. With beakers of brightly coloured vermouth and aromatized wines, we concocted different layers of flavours with basil, peppercorns, lemon peel and even Primosecolo.

Vermouth is intended as an aperitif. It is to be enjoyed at the beginning of a meal to ‘open your palate.’ Depending on the style of vermouth, it is also fun and versatile to pair with different foods.  We tried dates with the Cocchi Vermouth Amaro. Traditional Italian chocolates made with decadent hazlenut called Gianduja was perfect with the Barolo Chinato (KEE-nat-O).


Get in touch if you have any questions about Cocchi and discovering the vermouth. You can find the Cocchi Storico Vermouth di Turino at Highfield by WineCollective.

Cross-Canada Tasting

We frequently talk about Canadian wines, as we are proud to help promote the growth and achievements from the Okanagan Valley to Gaspreau. We recently attended a fun event at Test Kitchen, highlighting producers from BC to Nova Scotia, including some Canadian made liqueurs!

test kitchen

If you are a member of WineCollective or Tannic, you should be familiar with Benjamin Bridge.  From Gaspreau Valley, Jean-Benoit Deslauriers and Peter Gamble produce a line-up of still and sparkling wines. The sparkling wines are produced in méthode classique  and are routinely compared to high-end Champagne houses. They are producing some of the most coveted sparkling wines in Canada. A fun and vivacious (and affordable) option from BB is Nova 7, which we always have in stock at Highfield by WineCollective!  The newly released 2013 is more floral and restrained than previous vintages, we are a fan!


Benjamin Bridge Brut Rose


Winemaker / consultant Peter Gamble 

Further west to Niagara, is Stratus Vineyards. Renowned for their ice wines, but also producing old-world style Cab Franc and mineral-driven Rieslings. Winemaker, Charles Baker, also produces his own Rieslings from vineyards nearby. If you are from Ontario, you will be familiar with these brands, but in Alberta you might have to do some digging, at local boutiques and trendy eateries to find these gems.


We have been following Laughing Stock for quite some time, we recently we given the opportunity to experience their 10 year vertical celebration of their wine Portfolio. In addition to the Bordeaux-style blend, they offer a Viognier that is bench-mark quality for the region, and fun blends that are knock-out value. We will have the newly released 2012 Portfolio in stock at Highfield by WineCollective, late next week!


LFNG Stock’s Blind Trust has the blend hidden under the capsule. Try guessing before you take a peak!

Tyler Harlton is rather new on the scene, opening in 2011, but he is making a large splash! You might have seen an article featuring him and his TH Wines in the current En Route Magazine. He is a young winemaker based in Summerland, but Tyler is not lacking in experience. Tyler, a Saskatchewan farm-boy, returned to his agricultural roots when he moved to Penticton in 2008.  We highly recommend seeking out his first couple vintages, he will surely be a household name in no time.  You can enjoy his Viognier at Alloy in Calgary, and several shops including Highfield by WineCollective.


Tyler Harlton

Canada is not only for wine, there is a market for liqueurs and spirits too! Ungava gin is produced with botanicals native to the Arctic tundra of the Ungava Peninsula in northern Quebec. There is also Cabot Trail Maple Cream, this will give your morning coffee a needed pick-up! Both of these can be found at Highfield by WineCollective in Calgary.


We had the chance to smell the 6 Arctic botanical in Ungava’s recipe!

We love to discover new and exciting Canadian products, let us know if you have any hidden gems that we should know about!

Meeting Paul of PB Hein Vineyards

Both the WineCollective team and club members have been fans of PB Hein Vineyards for quite some time, with previous features as far back as 2006 vintages. Known for his big and bold Napa Syrah, we were very excited to meet and sit down with owner and winemaker himself, Paul Bernard Hein, and taste through some new vintages of old favourites.

Paul Bernard Hein began personally making wine in 2002, and after earning a growing following he opened PB Hein Vineyards in St. Helena in 2005. His great grandfather, PJ Hein, owned 29,000 vines on Mount Veeder and today Paul’s winemaking philosophy doesn’t stray far from his great grandfather’s.


Tim & Owen (Plaid Cap Imports), Amber, Paul Hein

A humble farmer and winemaker, Paul “believes strongly in old world winemaking: small lots, bin fermentation and as little mechanical intervention as is humanly possible. Being ‘hands on’ with each bin allows us to produce the highest quality wines possible, albeit in small quantities.”

If you have previously tried any of the PB Hein wines, you may find similarities within. Amber mentioned that through the lineup and previous vintages, she found commonalities of hickory and mesquite spice flavours. As a winemaker, Paul has most definitely created a ‘signature’ that we happen to really enjoy!

Oak treatments contribute largely to the ‘spice’ component and signature of PB Vineyard wines. For Cabernet, Paul says he sticks to French oak, but when it comes to his Syrah, American and Hungarian oak are best, and the later creates a lovely additional sweetness.


“Oak is a toolbox for affecting wine.” Paul B. Hein

With California’s 4th year in drought conditions, rain all dropped from 40” in the season to just 8. Fortunately for Paul, his giant well keeps the vines growing. However, 2014’s short season means less wine coming from Napa Valley and a definite price increase according to Paul.

Represented by Plaid Cap Imports, Owen and Tim, Paul has taken on another project for the brothers and now produces for them under the label, Chaos Wines, which we also got to taste!


2013 Chaos Rose

100% Syrah from a single vineyard. Heavily bodied for a rose with bright strawberry and cranberry notes. Silky on the palate with lovely balanced acidity. All Chaos wines also feature a hand painted design, created by Tim.

2009 Syrah

A lighter style Syrah for PB Hein with ripe fruits and undertones of spice. Paul says he introduces this wine for those who prefer white.

2010 Chaos Merlot

Rich ruby red in colour. Cassis and raisin notes with violet and rose. This wine spends 34 months in barrel and holds some weight with its 14% alcohol. Only 150 cases were produced.

2011 Trail Blazer

40% Cab, 30% Syrah, and 30% Petit Syrah. Dark fruits with earth and peppercorn, toasted oak mid-palate. The Cab gives a finish of clove and green pepper. After three years of culinary training, Paul spoke of the Trail Blazer as the wine for all meals, and his love of creating delicious dishes to pair.

2008 Cabernet Sauvignon

Aromas of the high alcohol (15.75%) are present, with warm stewed berries and leather. The tannins are big and sticky.


We’d love to hear how you’ve enjoyed previous PB Hein wines! Don’t forget to leave your notes and ratings on, and keep an eye out for upcoming vintages of both Chaos and PB Hein!

Spier visits Calgary

We visited with South African exports, Danie and Johan from Spier Winery last week. As part of their whirlwind adventure through North America and Europe, they made a quick stop in Calgary. WineCollective was able to steal some time with the duo, and re-visit our favourite S. African wines from Spier.

Spier---Chenin-Blanc-2011 2009-Spier---Pinotage Spier---Shiraz-2010

We have previously worked with a number of wines from Spier, the Signature Series Chenin Blanc, Pinotage and Shiraz.  You might be surprised to know that Spier exports about 80% of their wine production to foreign markets. Some of the wines are not sold in South Africa at all. Danie made a point to try the Vintage Selection Cabernet, noting that they do not have access to it domestically.

Duck and prosciutto terrine with pickled fruit puree, grainy mustard and sourdough. Served with the Spier 21 Gables Chenin Blanc.

Hosted at Alloy, we enjoyed lunch from the newly launched menu while we sampled through a selection of Spier wines. The Signature series Chenin Blanc and Pinotage have been in Alberta for a while now and they represent 2 of 7 single varietal wines produced. The Creative Block series is a range of blends, creating wines “far greater than the sum of their parts.” The Creative Block 3, a blend of Shiraz, Mourvedre and Viognier is featured on Alloy’s current wine list. The higher end 21 Gables references the winery’s history and architecture in the region.

We look forward to bringing you more wines from Spier in the near future, stay tuned!