July Open House

Cheers! Last night WineCollective had their first open house and what a way to kick it off.  It was great to see everyone out, visit with our friends and get to know our neighbours. Thanks to all for coming out.

Also, we would like to say a big thanks to Anne and James from Crush. We couldn’t have pulled off this event without them.  How amazing was their Gruen Riesling?

Follow our blog and watch your inbox for future events.

Thanks again!

Calories in wine? Who cares!

Ever wonder how many calories are in that appealing glass of wine? Glamour Magazine posted this image from Pinterest, showing a spiritied way to count calories.

Thankfully, unlike other happy hour bevies wine is one of the most waist-friendly libations you can choose.  fitsugar summed up the calories of some of the most frequently consumed wines, helping us decide if what we are pouring is the best choice for the bikini body.

However, not all wines are created the same! A glass of wine can range from 73 calories to upwards of 200. Dessert wines, with alcohol close to 15%, can contain up to 237 calories, while a medium red or white varietal averages 120 calories. In comparison, your average 12-ounce beer can have more than 200 calories, and even your light beers can still have more calories than wine.

Additionally, wine is low in calories and free of cholesterol, sodium and fat. Also knowing that wine is full of antioxidants helps justify the “Who Cares?” attitude. So, while sitting on your patio maybe leave the beer behind and enjoy a bottle of bubbles, with under 100 calories!

Sip happy, because who cares!

Lieutenant Governor’s Awards for BC wines



Annually, since 2003, British Columbia’s Lieutenant Governor, has been announcing which BC wines, 100% grown and produced within the province, are winners of excellence.

Among the 347 wines submitted from 94 wineries this year, Poplar Grove‘s 2009 Cabernet Franc and Road 13 Vineyards’ 2011 Jackpot Viognier Rousanne Marsanne were chosen as achieving excellence along with the nine other exceptional wines selected, you can see the other chosen wines on Hired Belly’s Blog.

Poplar Grove was awarded excellence in 2010 and back in 2005. Road 13 also was honored in 2009.

Congrats to all who participated from everyone here at WineCollective!

What about Vegetarians!!

Brand new to wine tasting, I’ve become accustomed to a common phrase, “red with meat and white with fish or chicken.”  What I want to know is – “what about us, vegetarians?!” Time to discover what there is for vegetarian pairings, so  I matched a few of our June WineCollective wines with meat-less recipes!

The Vineland Semi-Dry Riesling is great to pair with almost everything. Usually people would pair this wine with chicken or salmon but because of its apple and citrus flavour, fresh green vegetables will go tastefully! A harmonious pairing for this Riesling is a recipe from the current issuse of  The City Palate titled “Stir-Fried Asparagus with Chickpeas and Tahini Dressing.” Sit back on your deck and enjoy this union!

It seems that red wines are in a very long-term relationship with red meat. But there are alternatives! Why not try Chatelaine’s Modern Margherita Pizza, the ripe tomato taste and acidity will go gracefully with many different wines but especially the Feudo Maccari, a Nero d’Avola from Sicily. And best yet, its Vegetarian!

Thirdly, head over to Dinner with Julie‘s website to find among many options, the Orzo Salad With Spinach, Feta and Lemon. My mouth is watering imaging this pairing with Bodega Chakana, an Argentinian Torrentes. Love the way that rolls off the tongue. The strong acidity paired with this dish brings out the wonderful fruity flavours!

After, many searches and discoveries, I learned that maybe the vegetarians haven’t been forgotten. It just takes that extra step to find something to pair with your vino, so be innovative with it! Even go as far as, Mike Pierce in San Fran who had found the perfect pairing with… Fruit Loops! So yes, go out on a limb, vegetarian or not, step away from meat, fish and poultry and mix it up! The options are endless!

July WineCollective Exclusives!

Last month WineCollective members received a Spanish wine, exclusive to only our members in Alberta. For July we have two exclusives that will be included in WineCollective packages! If you are not already a member, you have until June 30th to sign-up and receive both wines.

Be the first of your friends to have tried 2 wines brand new to the Alberta market. From a reputable and high-end Australian producer, we have their new brand’s Cabernet and only 2, 000 cases were produced! The other exclusive is a classic Cali Chardonnay, light and crisp Chard with citrus and floral notes sourced from premium vineyards, perfect for the BBQ.

P.S. We can now ship across Canada, so tell your friends about us!

Purchase Your Favourites on WineCollective!

Have you ever wondered where to get more of your favourite WineCollective wines? Find the wines from your packages for sale in our new online store! You can also see and purchase the wines that you have not received that were featured in other packages. You have to be a WineCollective member to access the store. So if you haven’t signed-up yet, what are you waiting for?

Access the store through your existing account and see what is available. All store orders must contain a minimum of 4 bottles, a flat $15 shipping fee will be applied, and your order will be delivered with your next months WineCollective package. All bottles are at a discounted price for wine club members. If you can’t find something you want, let us know and we will find it for you!

Join WineCollective at the Regier Memorial Golf Tourney

WineCollective is proud to be a part of the 4th Annual Regier Memorial Golf Tournament. The Texas Scramble is being held at the Meadowlands Golf Club in Sylvan Lake on July 28, 2012. The Regier Memorial Tournament is held in honour of Stacy Regier in support of the Stacy Regier Legacy, with all funds being donated to the Calgary Health Trust.  To date, the Stacy Regier Legacy has raised over $80,000 for the ICU of the Foothills Hospital.

WineCollective has helped contribute a 6 month Evolution package to be raffled along with an IPad and a $2000 travel voucher. There is still time to purchase a raffle ticket ($10 each), volunteer your time or donate an item to auction.

You have until July 20th to register yourself or a team in the tournament. WineCollective still needs to round out the team, so join us on the course!

BYOW: Poplar Grove Chardonnay at Farm

There are a number of local eateries that allow you to bring your own bottle, and on certain nights you can bring your favourite wine for free! Free-corkage nights are beneficial for the restaurant as well as the diner, it is a great way to fill tables on slower nights (most BYOW nights are Sunday-Wednesdays), and the cost savings are an obvious advantage to the customer. However, BYOW isn’t about being a penny-pincher, it’s an opportunity for you to share a special bottle with your company and pair it with an elegant meal, and not be restricted to your own culinary abilities.

I brought a bottle of 2010 Poplar Grove Chardonnay to Farm last Monday. I was excited to share this bottle with a friend that I knew would appreciate it. I wanted to make sure the pairing was perfect, so we had asked our server to select our meal based on the tasting notes of the Chardonnay.

A richly textured Chardonnay, with aromas of honeyed cashew and toffee. Toasted nut and oak integrate nicely with clean, bright acidity on the palate. Soft hints of vanilla linger with the long finish on this voluptuous Reserve Chardonnay.

We made our own notes on the Chardonnay, and found toasted nuts and warm honey on the nose with baked apples.  The palate was luscious with soft flavours of melon, apples and vanilla. There was surprising acidity that added a crisp and fresh component . Our server first brought us a charcuterie plate of P’tit Basque Sheep cheese from France, Coppa (like proscuitto but with less oily-ness) and air-dried strawberries. We had the steelhead trout with an herbed vinaigrette and almonds as our main.

The creamy cheese complemented the mouth feel of the oaked and full Chard, while the Coppa’s salt helped to enhance the fruit presence in the wine. The trout was a perfect fish pair to the wine, it had an almost sweet miso-glaze. I would hold off on the Asian slaw next time,  too much acid for the wine can bring out an undesireable tart-ness. Post-Chardonnay, we indulged on an eccentric selection of truffles: goat cheese, vanilla bean, bacon and dark chocolate paired with Moscato.

A few tips if you are going to take advantage of a BYOW: give the restaurant a head-up that you will be bringing your own bottle, if you want the kitchen to pair with your wine, let them know what it is and any tasting notes you have. I gave the server the tasting card for the Poplar Chardonnay, your WineCollective tasting cards are perfect reference for the server or chef. Avenue Magazine has a list of corkage nights in both Calgary and Edmonton. Even if restaurants don’t promote BYOW, if you ask, most will accomodate you at a price.


Tasting a tank sample of Meyer Family Vineyard’s 2011 Gewürztraminer

Winemakers use samples to gain insight into the development of their wine. For the public, a barrel tasting is a great way to learn and partake in some aspect of the winemaking process. Most importantly, barrel sampling is an exclusive and fun event. You may have the opportunity to try a barrel sample if you visit a winery, and many California wine festivals are now showcasing young wines from the barrel to the general public. If you are fortunate enough to take part in a barrel tasting, remember that you are not drinking the finished product, the sample is a small reflection of what you may expect from the bottle.

Winemakers use barrel samples to check the wine’s aging and progression. Wines are constantly evolving based on hundreds of variables. After taking a sample, a winemaker may use a number of techniques to adjust the levels of sugar and acidity, and even the oaking treatment.  Peachy Canyon‘s blog notes in ‘A Crash Course in Barrel Tasting’ another important aspect of barrel samples:

“One of the more interesting aspects of barrel tasting is the incredible variation. Most wines are the result of blending together multiple barrels (if not multiple barrels of multiple varietals). Although a winemaker selects barrels specifically, each barrel is slightly individual, and there will be some variance from one to the other (one barrel, for example, might give off more of a toast flavor than its neighbor), due to subtle differences in coopering, age, and conditioning.”

When analyzing a barrel sample you are still looking at the wine as you would if it was from the bottle, but there will be certain characteristics that will be attributed to its youth and what stage of aging it is in. As mentioned in Tastes Peachy, with red wines there may be significant gas on the nose with subtle fruit notes, and the palate will tend to be overwhelmed with tannins and acidity at first taste. The most important thing to remember is that a barrel samples are not a finished wine.

We were fortunate enough to receive a sample of the Meyer Family Vineyards‘ 2011 Gewürztraminer and sat down recently to really enjoy this unique experience.

The 2011 Gewürztraminer sample was showing very well.  White varietals such as Gewurtz are not usually intended to age as long as red wines, so the time between a sample and bottling is not as long. A portion of the grapes were whole bunched pressed, which can help with the drainage of the juice from the grapes.  The remaining grapes were left with their skins for a short period, this can help extract greater flavour as well.  However, too much contact with the skins in white varietals can cause unwanted astringency in the wine; we did not notice this in our sample.  Both batches of grapes were then gently pressed, rigorous press would again induce stronger astringency in the wine. All grapes were then combined for a long cool fermentation in stainless steel vat. The cooler temperature helps create a more light and fruity wine. The wine is then aged for several months sur lie, before bottling. We noticed some bready or yeasty characteristics that would have come from the process  of leaving the wine on its lees. This process is common in Chardonnays, adding a creaminess and also affecting the clarity.

We are excited to try the 2011 Gewürztraminer after bottling and compare our previous notes. We can expect a rich textured wine with strong acidity to balance the spice and savoury qualities.

If you haven’t been invited to try a barrel sample, you may have to schedule ahead of time to find a winery that will host you. There are many more unique opportunities where you can sample wines during your holidays. Travel to Wellness has a comprehensive list of Canadian wine and food festivals where you can taste many producers in one convenient location. Closer to home, the Rocky Mountain Food and Wine Festival, May 4-5 in Banff, is a chance to indulge in rare wines and meet some of the producers. We are also approaching the tasting season of our neighbouring BC vineyards.  Visit BC Wine for easy reference to BC wine regions and mapped locations of wineries such as Meyer Family in Naramata.


Tonic, Mix it Up for a Cause at Hotel Arts

WineCollective and Tannic recently participated in a fundraiser for KidSport Calgary that was held at Hotel Arts. This fundraiser, Tonic, Mix it Up for a Cause, held on April 14, 2012, had 100% of the proceeds go to KidSport Calgary. This event raised a record $106,500. This amount will help KidSport Calgary support the sport participation of 450 kids.

With the help of this event, KidSport Calgary is hoping to have helped over 2500 kids in 2012. This was a great event which showed the belief that all kids should have the opportunity to participate in sports. KidSport Calgary allows children to be active in organized sports by removing financial barriers. They achieve this by raising funds to remove those barriers and by advocating the importance of all kids having access to sport programs.

At Hotel Arts more than 400 guests were entertained by local Kyemara, and cocktail flair was showcased alongside fabulous eats and a silent auction. For the silent auction, WineCollective donated 3 month’s of of Evolution wine package (12 bottles, $250 value) and 1 year’s membership to ($195 value). Other key sponsors of the event include: Avenue Calgary, Cal Frac Well Services, Bennett Jones, Peters and Co. Limited, Canoe Financial, TransCanada, Mackenzie Investments, Horizons Exchange Traded Funds, and FGL Sports.




Congratulations Susan E. !

WineCollective would like to congratulate Susan E. on winning the March Indulgence package($148 value).  Susan was randomly selected after commenting and rating her WineCollective wines.

Thank-you to everyone who participated.  Remember, you can login to your account to view, rate and comment on all the wines you receive from WineCollective at any time.  We love your feedback, and truly appreciate your opinion!

The best lasagna I’ve ever eaten!

I rarely follow a recipe when I cook, it’s a testament to what my mother has taught me in the kitchen; to be resourceful and creative!  I like to read cook books, look up recipes online (WineAccess has recipes and pairings), and then combine all the A-list ideas into my own creation.

This is how I made the best lasagna I have ever eaten! (Yes, I am bragging a little)  Everyone knows how to make a standard lasagna, and it is fairly easy to spice-up and re-invent.  Here is what I did to create the best lasagna EVER:

  • After the pasta has been boiled, rinsed in cold water and patted dry; toss in olive oil
  • Use half ground beef and half Italian sausage (removed from casing) for the meat-tomato sauce layer
  • Blend 2 chipotle peppers with some adobo sauce and add to the tomato sauce mixture (and 1 cup of red wine)
  • I made one layer of mushrooms in a heavy cream sauce with loads of garlic (and 1/4 cup white wine)

The only negative to this recipe (and most lasagnas) is the amount of dishes; but after 45 min at 350, dishes were done and I was ready to eat!

You might be wondering what wine to pour with this caloric feast?  Lasagna is very friendly with wine, a versatile dish that will pair well with several varietals, from many regions and all for different reasons.  A simple pairing formula to follow: your wine should either compare or contrast to your meal’s weight, texture, or flavour.  Here are a few favourites from the WineCollective archive,  that I think are matches made in lasagna heaven.



Wrong Dongo 2010

Varietal: Monastrell
Region: Jumilla, Spain
Approximate Price: $21

The spice from the Italian sausage and chipotles are paired well with the peppery nature of Shiraz or boldness of a Spanish Monastrell.

“There is some signature Spanish earthiness and spice on the mid-palate before the wine ends on some fairly rounded tannins.  This wine is not a casual sipper, it is a huge food wine. Pair with BBQ, big red meat or something equally hearty such as pasta in a tomato sauce.” -WineCollective Staff



Alias Chardonnay 2009

Varietal: Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc
Region: California
Approximate Price: $18

Match the creamy texture and richness of the cheese and garlic cream sauce with a slightly oaked and acidic Chardonnay.

“… surprisingly crisp with a very good acidity profile. The oak and vanilla notes are there but take a backseat to lemon or grapefruit citrus notes, which are complimented by stone fruit such as apricot and perhaps nectarine.” -WineCollective Staff



St. Supery Elu Meritage 2006

Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot
Region: Napa Valley, California
Approximate Price: $71

The weight fullness of pasta won’t be overshadowed by an equally big wine like a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon.

“Silky tannins, great, cleansing acids, and a great sense of balance from start to finish.”-Tom Firth, Wine Access National Tasting Panel Member @cowtownwine



Castello Sonnino Galterra 2007

Varietal: Sangiovese, Merlot
Region: Tuscany
Approximate Price: $31.59

However, when in doubt, go Italian! The high acidity of the tomato sauce pairs best with a well-balanced, acidic Sangiovese or Chianti.

“Galterra is made from a blend of 65% Sangiovese and 35% Merlot, to give an intense dark ruby-coloured wine with a spicy nose and hints of licorice and black pepper… a very versatile wine to pair with food and complements almost anything with tomato-based sauces, red wine sauces, ratatouille, mushrooms and bell peppers, eggplant dishes, spicy sausages such as pepperoni pizza…” –Linda Garson, Calgary Wine Examiner


All wines shown can be found at Willow Park Wines & Spirits!