Spring Mountain: Cain Vineyard

Cain Vineyard & Winery was one of many hosts during Touch the Terroir. Chris Howell, manager and winemaker, along with his team entertained the large group of participants at the winery for the reception and dinner. It was a great chance to meet everyone and share Spring Mountain Wines.

Chris Howell, manager and winemaker of Cain, looking over the vines.

Cain Vineyard was also one of the wineries that we were able to spend time at during harvest. Our day started with a vineyard tour of a portion of the 550 acre ranch. 90 acres are currently planted to vineyards, with much of the property dense with trees. The majority of their grapes had already been harvested, with several blocks remaining. We walked through the rows of Cabernet vines with Chris Howell, Ashley Anderson-Bennett, vineyard manager and Ouzo ( the winery dog), inspecting the grapes’ ripeness.

We learned a trick to help determine how ripe a grape is off of the vine; if the flesh peels away from the seed easily, the grape is ripe, if you have to suck the pulp off the seed and skin with your tongue, it isn’t ready to pick.

At Cain, La Piedra in the distance, surrounded by Cabernet Sauvignon.
The journey to La Piedra.
Ouzo admiring the view from La Piedra.

The undulating rows that bow and dip across the hillside provide pockets of more fertile soil. A grape tasted from a dip will be more plump than a grape from the same vine, 20 yards away on a peak. There are also varying ripeness within the clusters, a grape at the bottom of the cluster can ripen quicker than a grape in the centre or top of the cluster.  It is also interesting to taste the difference in flavour of grapes with different exposures to the sun. Whole clusters will look entirely different depending on whether they are on the east or west side of the vine.

Ashley, vineyard manager at Cain, imparting her wisdom as we sample many grapes.
Cabernet that was scheduled to be harvested in the next several days.

We were given the opportunity to harvest several rows of Cab Franc with the crew at Cain. Armed with a glove, bin and pruning sheers we made our way down rows of Cabernet Franc.  It would be a painfully long harvest if amateurs were left to pick the grapes by hand. The experienced crew at Cain flew down the rows, completing about 4 rows/1 tonne in less than 30 minutes. They probably would have been faster if we weren’t there to get in their way!

Cain is experimenting with biodynamic farming, and has restricted this block of Cab Franc to strict biodynamic practices. Ashley says she is not 100% convinced of the benefits, but notes that there are positive differences.

1 tonne of Cabernet Franc en route to the winery.

Another interesting factor to consider when visiting a vineyard, is the type of vegetation that surrounds the vineyards. Near the Cabernet Sauvignon, there is large California bay trees, with bay leaves that are quite strong in aroma and flavour. Similar to the herbs and brush that grows wild in Provence and Rhone, or the eucalyptus in McLaren Vale, the vegetation around the vineyards in Napa impart their qualities on the wines.

Ashley and Francois inspecting the fermenting grapes.
One of the large steel tanks undergoing a pump-over.
The barrel room at Cain.

We met associate winemaker François Bugué at the winery, where we inspected the grapes at different points in their fermentation. The winery team was busy with pump-overs, circulating the liquid from the bottom of the tank to the top. The juice flows through the cap of skins, increasing colour, tannins and flavours. The barrel room was also full of action!

Sampling different wines/grape juice and measuring sugar levels.

We tasted grape juice prior to fermentation, during fermentation and as a finished product. Although the wine is a product of the grapes and terroir, there are many people involved in the process of making a great wine!

Look out for very limited exclusive of Cain Five on Tannic next week!

What do you know about VERMOUTH?

Chances are that you are not very familiar with vermouth (neither were we). Most people think of vermouth as something that is added to a Martini, or what old ladies sip on after dinner. However, we recently found out that there is so much more to know about vermouth. Once you have learned why it is essential to every bar, you will have a new appreciation for the apéritif!

At a fun gathering hosted at Milk Tiger Lounge, we learned the basics to help us understand vermouth. Not only is vermouth enjoyable on it’s own and as part of a cocktail, there are many different styles and flavours to try. There is sure to be a vermouth for everyone!

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The Basics

Vermouth is an apéritif, meaning that it is intended to be drank prior to a meal. The word ‘apéritif’ derives from latin, ‘to open up.’ An apéritif should ‘open’ your palate, inducing your appetite and preparing you for the meal ahead.

Vermouth falls under 2 categories, a fortified spirit and an aromatized spirit. A fortified spirit has alcohol added to the base, rather than going through fermentation (converting the natural sugars to alcohol and Co2). An aromatized wine or spirit has the addition of botanical to the base, increasing the taste and phenols. Juniper, coriander, cinnamon are all examples of botanical that can be added.

Vermouth is a vermouth because it contains wormwood. There are other spirits that are fortified and aromatized, but they do not contain wormwood. In order to be called vermouth, one of the botanical added must be wormwood. The word “vermouth” actually comes from the German word for wormwood.

Vermouth can contain many different botanical, creating a recipe that is distinct and representative of a producer’s style and preferences. Some producers will let you know what is in their vermouth, others keep it a secret.

Vermouth comes in 3 styles: dry, blanc, and red/sweet. Dry vermouth is always white in colour, contains less sugar and is ideal for mixing. Red vermouth is also called sweet or Italian vermouth. Blanc vermouth is similar in sweetness to the red vermouths, but has no caramel colour added.

Vermouth has it’s history in the Alpine regions of Switzerland, Germany, Italy and France. Turin, Italy and Chambray, France are the only regions that have a designate for vermouth. Today vermouth is produced around the world.

Vermouth is great on it’s own, served on the rocks, or as component in a cocktail. Some of the more well-known cocktails are the Negroni, Martini and Manhattan.


Thanks to Nathan at Milk Tiger Lounge for hosting this educational evening. We look forward to stocking the shelves at Highfield by WineCollective with some great new vermouths!

Wine cocktails to match your Thanksgiving feast!

Now, before we start stuffing our bellies this Thanksgiving weekend, we wanted to provide some delicious cocktail ideas as a pre-dinner treat or as a pairing for famous fall desserts. These yummy sips are all prepared with our favourite red, white and bubbling wines for the holiday – all of which have been previously featured in WineCollective packages.


Cherry Bubbles

Mix one spoon of cherry jam with 1/3 oz. lemon juice, 1/3 oz. vodka and 3 oz. Mauricio Lorca Fantasia.

The Extra Brut sparkling is made from Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay. Mixed together with jammy cherry flavours the cocktail will match with toasted dried fruit crackers topped with baked Brie cheese.



Berry Sauvignon

Crush three chopped strawberries in one Tbs of lemon juice and a touch of agave nectar. Then, add 1 oz. of Gin and 3 oz. of Stags’ Leap Sauvignon Blanc.

Full bodied with flavours of orchard fruits, the Stags’ Leap Sauv Blanc is an ideal wine for any Thanksgiving feast. This cocktail will hold well from appetizers to dessert.



Super Sangria

Mix equal parts hot water and sugar until dissolved. Muddle 4 cherries in a cocktail shaker and add ice. Then, pour in sugar mixture, 1.5 oz. Emeritus Hallburg Ranch Pinot Noir, 1 oz. bourbon. Top with lemon slice.

Pinot Noir is the go-to for Thanksgiving. After enjoying your meal with this premium Pinot, use the remainder for delicious Sangria with leftovers!



Red Martini

Simple and delicious. Mix together 1 oz. of Smashberry Red, well chilled to 10 degrees Celsius and 2 oz. of vodka.

The Smashberry Red proved to be a WineCollective favourite. If you still have your bottle, we suggest chilling it for this fresh cocktail, or, pairing it alongside your Turkey or ham.



Of course, we recommend pairing any of these wines – in a simple wine in glass fashion – with your Thanksgiving meal. Sparkling or Champagne, Pinot Noir, Grenache, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are all great companions to turkey or ham and can really compliment cranberry sauce, and side dishes.

Calgary members can visit Highfield by WineCollective this Saturday, for a special Thanksgiving wine tasting. We’ll be pouring some of the favourites listed above, and available to recommend the best wines for your meal this weekend.

Highfield Holiday Hours

Friday Oct 10: 10am-7pm

Saturday Oct 11: 11am-4pm

Sunday Oct 12 & Monday Oct 13: Closed

Mention this blog in store, and get an additional 5% off your order! 

Stags’ Leap Sauvignon Blanc

We wanted to showcase a new favourite wine here at WineCollective and Tannic.  While we have worked previously with Stags’ Leap Wine Cellars, the recently featured 2012 Sauvignon Blanc holds a certain quality and finesse that just needs to be talked about! And so, we were pleased to provide it to all of our wine enthusiasts and club members.


Stags’ Leap Wine Cellars is a renowned and prestigious Cabernet producer in Napa. The winery was founded in 1970 and was put on the map when the 1973 S.L.V. Cab Sauv won at the “Judgement of Paris” in 1976. For those of you that don’t know, this wine beat out what was thought to be the best of the best French Bordeaux.

The Sauvignon Blanc has been produced since 1980. The blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Musqué and a touch of Semillion is farmed mostly from the Oak Knoll District (90%), with the remainder sourced from Rancho Chimiles vineyard in Wooden Valley. There are approximately 22 different clones of Sauvignon Blanc registered in California. The most prolific is the Wente clone FPS 01, which accounts for almost all the Sauvignon Blanc planted. Sauvignon Musqué is a clonal variant originally from Bordeaux, not considered a varietal, and is incorporated in blends for its intense floral and tropical fruit flavours.

More on the varietals:

Sauvignon Blanc is a distinct varietal that commonly displays tropical fruit, herbacious-ness, dried herbs, green bell pepper and even florals. It is routinely blended with Semillion, Viognier, Gewurtztraminer, or Riesling as a means of settling strong herbacious and green flavours. Because of it’s bright acidity, Sauv Blanc is a versatile partner for food.


Illustration by Wine Folly.

Sauvignon Musque when blended with Sauvignon Blanc, adds expressive aromatics and richness to the wine. Depending on the clone, terroir, harvest and treatment, Sauvignon Musque can carry qualitites similar to Sauv Blanc, or balance with florals and melons. Sauvignon Musque has an affinity for shellfish and seafood.
Semillion  will add depth to the mid-palate and soften the racy acidity. There is only a splash in the Stags’ Leap, but it is attributed with the wine’s elegant mouth-feel. Flavours of Semillon can range from citrus to apple, and exotic tropical fruits when the grapes are ripe. In California, the warm climate produces tropical flavours and oak aging gives a butter quality to the wine.


The previous three vintages of Stags’ Leap Sauv Blanc received 91, 92 and 93 points respectively. We rated the newly released 2012 at 91 points.

“Very light, almost colourless with yellow-grey reflections. Tightly layered green apple, citrus rind, pebbles and gravel minerality. There is a zesty and almost spiced herbacious note of lemongrass, ginger, dried hay and lilies. Orchard fruits, passion fruit and citrus continue with a mouthwatering acidity that flows from the front palate all the way to the finish. Lead-like minerality with blanched almonds give depth and a base to the wine. Drying and slightly tannic, the wine fermented in both stainless steel and neutral French oak. It was also left with its lees (dead yeast and grape skins) for 6 months, giving body and plushness.”

Stags’ Leap notes on the blending of the wine:

“Sauvignon Musque, a clonal variant originally from Bordeaux, prized for its intense floral and tropical fruit flavors. It accounts for over a quarter of the blend. Then, we balance the round fruit flavors of B.R.V. with the more structured mineral and citrus character of the grapes from Terrence Wilson’s Rancho Chimiles Vineyard in Wooden Valley. We continue to build complexity with the addition of Semillon, known for its honey, fig, and melon character. Our winemaking team preserves the wine’s sleek varietal character by tank fermenting more than a third of the grapes, while sur lies aging (leaving the wine in contact with the spent yeast) in fourth- and fifth-fill French oak and regular battonage (stirring the lees) smooth out any edges and give the wine an appealing texture.”

sauvignon Semillon

The Stags’ Leap Sauvignon Blanc is ideal for your Thanksgiving feast! There is enough body and weight to hold up to the turkey, and acidity to balance and cleanse the palate from sweet potato casserole, brussel sprouts and cranberry sauce.

Not a turkey fan? Here are our top food pairings for this wine!

  1. Sole in a herb/butter sauce
  2. Crab cakes
  3. Thai green curry and coconut sauces
  4. Soft cheeses, Camembert, Brinata, Brie
  5. Bolder cheese, Tallegio, Raclette, Provolone
  6. Waldorf salad
  7. Grilled polenta and shrimp
  8. Scallops and salsa verde
  9. Chicken pot pie

If you have already tried your Stags’ Leap Sauvignon Blanc – in part of your September packages – sign onto to rate and comment on the wine. Or, check out our online store and purchase some of our limited available stock!

Bad Wine 2.0

Last week, we posted our bad wine blog in order to give our WineCollective members some information on what can make a wine go bad, and the signs to look for once the cork is popped.

Sometimes however, we identify smells or appearance that makes us think our wine is taint, though it turns out, that not all these findings are faults.


The floaty bits that settle at the bottom of the bottle and sometimes cluster in the neck of the bottle near the cork. Sediment is a general term used to describe the lees, colour pigments, phenolic compounds, and proteins that are suspended within in the wine. Sediment will appear with a wine that has not been filtered or fined.


Filtering wine is a mechanical process where the wine is processed through a filter using a pump or air pressure.  Fining is a chemical process that takes place by adding a fining agent to the wine which attaches itself to the tannins, phenolic compounds and colour pigments, etc.

With fining, the now larger compound settles at the bottom of the tank, allowing it to be separated from the wine. Fining agents range from egg whites, fish blood and bladder, casein (a milk protein), to chemicals and minerals such as polyvinylpolypyrrolidone (PVPP) or copper.

Q: Why do winemakers want sediment in our wine?

A: The chemical compounds that are left behind as sediment can give our wines deeper colour and a richer texture. Many argue that fining, filtering or neither creates a more superior wine. We feel that it is up to the winemaker, and the resulting wine is based on their style and preferences.

White wines will look cloudy when not fined or filtered, and it is more common to see Chardonnay, Semillon, Muscat that is not filtered than Sauvignon Blanc. Lighter bodied red wines, like Pinot Noir will almost always have some fining and filtering. Where as larger bodied, more tannic red wines like Cabernet and Syrah will more commonly show sediment.


Q: What to do with your sediment?

A: Decant! Before serving your wine, allow the bottle to rest standing so that the sediment will settle to the bottom of the bottle. When you pour the wine into the decanter, be sure to pour slowly and allow the sediment to remain at the bottom. Reserve the last several ounces in the bottle with the sediment to ensure it doesn’t end up in your glass. Alternatively, you can purchase a sediment filter that will allow you to decant or pour with more confidence of removing anything unwanted floating around.

Strange Smells

Not all funky smells are bad smells. In fact, some of them are intentional and sought after. Wines from a certain soil, region or grape variety can give unique and sometimes odd aromas. You may have seen on WineCollective tasting cards, us describing a wine’s characteristics as butcher block, barnyard, or forest floor.  These can be traits that are expected.

For example, a type of wild yeast called brettanomyces creates the ‘barnyard’ descriptor. This yeast gives a distinct barn-like smell (think of all the good and bad smells of a horse stall). The brettanomyces is more distinct in older wines as the fruit begins to fade and shows more of the secondary characteristics. Too much brettanomyces can be overwhelming, however, in smaller doses it is musky with leather and earth.

Horse Barn

Wines of Rhone and Burgundy are most known for exhibiting these qualities, but they can also be found in California and other new world regions.  Similar flavour profiles can be found from Mourvedre from France, where the grape exhibits meaty notes. These may not be your favourite wines, but it is important to understand where these flavours come from and how they create complex and enticing wines.

Wine Crystals

Wine crystals, or tartaric crystals look like tiny pieces of glass or sea salt and are usually found on the cork or bottom of the bottle. This is actually the same as cream of tartar! When tartaric acid connects with potassium they form the crystalline salt. Typically these will only show up on wine that has been aged significantly. Sometimes, if wine is store at colder temperatures, this can increase the likelihood of seeing the crystals. Producers will often use a process called ‘cold stabilization’ that will remove these compounds from the wine before they are bottled. The little crystals are not harmful and will not negatively affect the quality of your wine. We suggest decanting to remove any of the shards from entering your glass.

Group Crystals

Browning Colour

As noted previously, browning or bricking in a young wine may be an indication that your wine is off. Especially if you see that the cork is protruding, the capsule is broken or there is any damage to the wine bottle. In certain wines, the oxidative qualities produces a more sought after flavour profile as the wine ages. Sautern, a white wine from Bordeaux is meant to age, and sometimes up to 20-50 or 100 years! With age, the wine becomes richer and darker in colour, turning from yellow to honey or amber. As red wine ages, it will begin to lose the intensity in colour and start to fade to a lighter hue that has undertones of tawny or bricking colour.

Strong Acidity

We touched on highly acidic wines in our first Bad Wine blog, and how volatile acid can become present in a wine. However, we did not disclose that some winemakers choose to use the acidic bacteria for certain styles of wine. While this may be purposeful, it is not required that the style suits your palate.

Be sure to read your tasting cards, and even research a wine if you suspect fault. You may find that the wine is meant to smell like horses, or taste acidic. If you are unsure of a wine, feel free to contact us, and we can help you determine what is causing a potentially bad wine. Remember, we credit or replace all bad bottles, so be sure to get in touch if a WineCollective feature is not as described.

Signs and reasons for bad wine – and what we can do to help!

From time to time, a WineCollective member will experience receiving a bad bottle of wine in a subscription package. This of course, is undesirable for both our customers and us, however, is an unlucky occurrence that will happen. Wine industry professionals have noted that one in every 20 bottles of wine is tainted or corked in some way, although, we have been fortunate in receiving only a handful over the last year!

Our WineCollective policy includes the replacement or refund of any bad, or “off” bottle of wine, and below we’ve listed a few signs that you should look out for when popping any cork.



He knows he smells… Photo by Sophie Gamand

Vinegar or nail polish remover: Acid bacteria known as volatile acidity can cause an overly acidic smell to your wine. Although a glass may not be harmful to drink, it may burn and taste unpleasant overall.

Wet cardboard or wet dog: Not a great companion to red berry fruits, a wet cardboard smell is a sign of your wine being corked. At some point, the cork used was carrying mold, leaving behind a chemical known as trichloroanisole (TCA). Small amounts of this chemical can completely throw off a wine’s flavour.

Overly Sweet

An overly sweet red wine can be caused by too much sun exposure to the bottle. While not harmful, sweet is not meant for a Cab Sauv. Avoid leaving wine bottles near windows or heaters, and always be sure to properly cellar in cool temperatures, around 13 degrees Celsius.

Brown Colour

oak aging

Red wine that has turned brown-ish is a sign of oxidization, or overexposure to air. This is especially apparent in young wines, which should hold a ruby colour, where as older wines are known to portray more of a garnet tone. A simple sign to watch out for is a slightly pushed out cork. Leaving wine out in the open for 48 hours will cause it’s colour to turn – a great way to test out oxidization on wine.


A recent call from a WineCollective member came from her concern of a fizzy red wine. After reading our tasting card, she knew this was no Lambrusco! This is caused by an unwanted second fermentation, occurring in the bottle. This fizz will also not hurt you in any way. However, you may want to drink the wine, the way it was meant to be enjoyed!


If you do receive a bad bottle of wine in your package, please let us know! Call us at 1.855.501.9463 or email within 30 days of your shipment. If the wine is in stock, we are happy to send you a replacement, as we would love for you to try what we picked out for you! Otherwise, we can place a credit on your account for the price of the bottle.


Returning an off bottle is not exclusive to WineCollective. We recommend that you use all of your senses when trying wine, and if you note bad qualities, tell your server or liquor store attendant! With your experience and wine education, notifying someone of a bad bottle is nothing to be shy about, and should* earn you a full refund.

For more information on icky wine, or to receive a replacement for a bad bottle, please contact us. #YYC members, don’t forget you can now come visit and chat with us at 22 1259 Highfield Crescent S.E.

*We can not guarantee that restaurants and other liquor stores will be as cool as us.


You may have noticed a new reviewer on our WineCollective Dal Cero Soave tasting card this month, fOURevrWine. Curtis Litun and Andrew Albert launched fOURevrWine toward the end of 2013. While the company and website are new, the pair are both experienced wine specialists that we have recently had the pleasure of working and chatting with.


Mainly through podcasts posted on their website, Curtis and Andrew aim to bring entertainment, news and know how to wine enthusiasts everywhere. By removing the pretention that surrounds enjoying wine, fOURevrWine is meant to be a fun and relevant means of bringing wine knowledge to all of those willing to learn.

A popular podcast of theirs is #trendingsips, where Curtis and Andrew share what they are drinking, and what maybe you would like to drink during local and worldwide events. For example, the most recent post focusing on Calgary’s Sun and Salsa Festival, and what they recommend pairing with delicious Mexican cuisine.

Curtis says that he encourages wine drinkers to go beyond their norm, to explore their preferences and find new favourites. As WineCollective has mentioned before wine education is continuous, and Curtis feels very much the same.

“I will never know everything there is to know about wine,” says Curtis. “But my goal is to continue to learn and share the stories behind wine.”


Curtis compares the wine world to a “modern library,” where within every spirit, beer and of course wine bottle, there is a story to tell. “Wine has as a culture and history. There is so much more inside the dusty bottle if you want to explore.”

In order to expand their palate, Curtis suggests that wine drinkers move on from what they know, or assume to know. “People should know that Malbec doesn’t just come from Argentina,” he says. “You will never try your next favourite if you never put it in your glass.”

Even more, Litun admits himself to not having a favourite wine. “There are things about certain wines I will always enjoy, but there is a time and place for every wine.”

As an example, Curtis touched on big burly men not wanting to drink rose. A concern we posted on our last blog, as many roses are perfect for hot summer days, and as a pairing with BBQ. To those men out there, Curtis says to move away from the norm of big Californian Cabernets and expand what you know!


Even though we were fortunate enough to have Curtis write a July review for us, and another for August packages, fOURevrWine does not typically concentrate on ratings and reviews.

“What we try and do is give you a starting point, offer some flavours you may taste and then have you try it,” he says. “If I tell you a tasting note, before it’s even hit your lips, chances are you’re going to agree with me.”

Even though Curtis has tasted wines through his wine career over the last decade, he still admits that a review or note is just his opinion. “Just because I think it’s really good, or someone else thinks so, it does not mean that you are going to think the same.”

Instead, Curtis wants to encourage all wine lovers to really drink, enjoy and experience the wine in front of them, and more, to think and talk about it!


“It’s comparable to life with travel, where you visit places, take pictures bring back a little trinket and tell people the stories about it,” he says. “It’s the same with wine in that you can pour a glass, taste it and talk about it.”

As a previous bartender, retail operator, and current wine representative himself for some WineCollective features such as the 2008 Baluarte Crianza, it is no doubt that Curtis Litun is a wine pro. However his work is not done yet.

“I want to experience of all facets of wine. From picking grapes, to pulling corks,” he says.

Hoping to forever be in the wine industry, and forever moving forward, WineCollective can’t wait to watch fOURevrWine continue to grow. We hope each of our members gets a chance to visit their site and social media channels full of tips, tricks and trending sips.

Summer Rosé

Rosé has become a popular phenomenon in the wine world, and there is no better time to enjoy a glass than during the hot days of summer!

Now, we don’t care if you’re a big burly man with neck tattoos that thinks he’s too cool for pink wine. There are a million reasons to love Rosé beyond its beautiful range of colours. With bright and fresh acidity, along with various flavour characteristics, Rosé is a versatile wine that can be paired with anything from red meat to light cheeses. For red wine fans, it’s a great way to stick to some of your favourite grapes in a style that can be enjoyed well chilled on the patio.


Wine Folly’s “Different Shades of Rosé Wine”

Dry Rosé is made using both white and red grapes such as Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Pinot Noir, while sweeter styles are typically composed of Zinfandel, Muscat and Merlot. In order to make Rosé, the grapes are pressed during maceration, and left in contact with the skins for a specific amount of time. Unlike red wines, where the juice and skins ferment together before being separated, the grapes for Rosé sit with the skins from a few short hours to a full day. Allowing the wine to soak in its colour.

You can find several Rosés in the WineCollective store online, perfect for your upcoming summer barbeques. Apply the coupon code SUMMERROSE at checkout for $5 off a Rosé purchase and we can have your wines shipped to you within a week from ordering! Below, see our tasting notes for the current selection of Rosés.


Spy Valley 2013 Rosé (Marlborough, New Zealand)

Made from Pinot Noir, this wine is a beautiful blush pink! Aromas of fresh red cherries and plum fruits with hints of barrel from oak fermentation. Similar traits of fresh fruit on the palate with mouthwatering acidity that is not overdone.

Food Pairing: Weighty enough to enjoy with a BBQ steak or shish kabobs.


Cellier Saint Sidoine 2013 (Côtes de Provence, France)

Champagne pink in colour or “piglet!” Strawberries, raspberries, melons and peaches on the nose with faint mineral touch. The palate is reversed with light cherries and tart apples, dominated by minerality. Composed of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault.

Food Pairing: Seafood salad with calamari, mussels and scallops drizzled in olive oil, limoncello liqueur and fresh herbs.


Wine by Joe 2011 Rosé (Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA)

A blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Muscat and Syrah. Intense aromas of fresh cut strawberries and cream. This Rosé is smooth and fresh, trailing onto the palate with lively citrus notes.

Food Pairing: A spinach and strawberry summer salad with goat cheese, nuts and poppy seed dressing. Add chicken, pork or shrimp to top it off!


For questions about any of our Rosé features, comment or email Also, don’t forget to share your own tasting notes, favourites and food pairings online at

Atlin Mountain Coffee Roasters

Tucked away in the furthest northern corner of British Columbia is the town of Atlin, which sits on the border between the Yukon and Alaska. While absolutely stunning, only around 400 inhabitants get to witness the beauty of the largest glacial freshwater lake and freshwater island in the world, Theresa Island. You may remember the name Atlin from “The Atlin Gold Rush” that took place in 1898. At this time, miners and settlers flocked to the town for its riches and the population once reached 20,000. However, after two fires that burned the town down and as gold does not grow, Atlin once again became a quaint and precious place to few.


Today, Atlin relies on its tourist attractions including fishing and biking and hiking trails left over from the miners, as well as amazing coffee, such as last month’s CoffeeCollective feature, Atlin Mountain Coffee Roasters.

The roastery began only a few short years ago by adventure seekers, Philippe and Leandra Brient. The couple had spent their lives working numerous jobs including running a hotel, dogsled tours, and even winemakers in the Okanagan. Today, in addition to roasting coffee, both Leandra and Philippe are also volunteer firefighters, members of Atlin’s Search and Rescue Society and RCMP detention guards in Atlin.

Prior to their extremely busy lifestyle, Leandra and Philippe grew up in the Netherlands and France respectively. Being constantly surrounded by the sound of espresso machines and grinders gave them the appreciation for coffee that they would use later on in life with their roasting house and café.


Leandra says her experience in Holland gave her respect and appreciation for Indonesian and Sumatran coffee, as well as her and Philippe’s worldwide travel.

“Thinking back, we have been served a lot of different coffees, from coffee grounds boiled in a pan with water, served directly into a cup (grounds included) in Romania to being brought coffee from coffeestands along the road by strangers on motorcycles in Turkey, to drinking qahwah in Syria while staying with a local families who invited us to stay in their homes.”

In the end, their love for coffee, and Leandra’s educational background in hospitality, provided a means to roast coffee on their own. A decision that came to them quite suddenly over a cup of coffee one morning, and in consciousness of wanting to raise their son, Justin, full time in a warming and family friendly environment.


Atlin Mountain Coffee has now mastered numerous roasts including light roast and customer favourite Ruffner Bean and the Brient’s personal favourite, Ranger Strong – named for a 800km trip with the Canadian Rangers. In addition, the pair also opened up Lilly Café in December 2013, which was named after Leandra’s nickname “Lili.” The café serves as an espresso bar with food and drinks for the people of Atlin and a popular hangout for the moms and kids of the town.

For June’s packages, CoffeeCollective featured the Black Gold dark roast from Ethiopia and Nicaragua Tarahne Express. Both of which are complex with layers of sweet flavours of chocolate and caramel.

Should you ever get the chance to visit beautiful Atlin, potentially for their annual arts and Music Festival, take a trip down to Lilly Café where you can find Leandra and Philippe with a cup of coffee – and likely, some amazing stories to tell.

Pork and pairings for your Canada Day weekend

Over the last twenty-seven days in Calgary, it has been Pork Month #yyc, where restaurants around the city present their best Alberta pork dishes to yyc bacon enthusiasts. Passion for Pork aims to celebrate the amazing quality of pork in both Alberta and B.C., raised under the strictest of conditions and animal care.


Hotel Arts’, Annual Pig & Pinot Festival on June 18th, showed off the best recipes of 13 different restaurants, all of which competed for the Divine Swine Award. Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc wine pairings took part and in the end, Black Pig Bistro in the Bridgeland area took the prize with their roasted pork belly with edaname and green and white beans masterpiece.

On the Passion for Pork website, you can find cooking methods and amazing recipes for ground pork, ham, chops and more! In celebration of Pork Month and the upcoming Canada Day, sort-of long weekend, we have taken two of these delicious dishes and paired them with some recent WineCollective features.


Grilled Maple Pork with Peaches

Because eating maple infused food just sounds like the thing to do on Canada Day. This recipe would make a great pair with the 2012 Mac & Fitz Shift’s End Red. The maple, together with peaches will blend with the red berries, vanilla plum notes and low acidity. Balancing out the sweet with dried fennel, chilies and rosemary, the dish will go nicely with the soft tannins of this easy drinking Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc blend. This wine also shows well slightly chilled!


BBQ Pork Chops and Spiced Rhubarb Chutney 

We’ve paired the dish with the 2012 Renacer Ponto Final Reserva. This Malbec is a balanced blend of red cherries and plum with spice, dried herbs and olives. Similar traits continue on the palate with red and black cherries rounded with wood and earth. This is a toned down Malbec that brings together spice and fruit, similar to the recipe! It is soft, silky with cottony tannins perfect for BBQ pork.


If you received these wines in your WineCollective package, celebrate Alberta pork and Canada’s birthday all at once this weekend! We would also love to hear about your own pairings on our Facebook and Twitter page!

p.s. Calgary members, we have some exciting news coming soon! Keep an eye out for details on a new pick up location from WineCollective!

Blind Tasting Round 2

In preparation for my WSET exam, we had another blind tasting test at the WineCollective office. Pouring two red wines this time ‘round (my specialty), and with another week of education under my belt, I was much more confident!

Paying attention to colour, aromas and tastes can tell you everything you need to know about the wine. If you’re new to tasting, check out our Welcome to Wine blog series for information on varietals and their characteristics as well as regions from around the world.

Similar to last week’s blind tasting, read the notes below and make your own guess as to which varietal and region!

Wine #1 

Eyes: Clear. Deep ruby red core with a slight trail. Thick legs coat the edge of the glass.

Nose: Clean. Ripe cherries and candied fruit. Hints of earthly mushroom with a strong aromas of balsamic vinegar.

Mouth: Dry. Medium acidity and tannins. Sweet red fruits, cheery and strawberry with more of the balsamic notes pulling through.

My guess: New world blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot or Pinot Noir!


Wine #2

Eyes: Clear. Intense medium purple with a faint trail. The legs coat the glass entirely but fade rather quickly.

Nose: Clean. Tobacco and smoke, possibly from oak. Blackberry and clove with more herbaceous notes.

Mouth: Dry. Medium acidity and tannins. Hint of oak spice with fruity raspberry and black cherry shining through on the palate.

My guess: With a ton of tobacco and smoke coming through, I assumed a South American Carmenere.

I am proud to say that this week, I was much closer in my guesses compared to last week’s white wine blind tasting test. Also, our Chief Wine Taster, Amber, didn’t want to trick me… as much.


The Answers!

Wine #1: Considering its fruit bomb qualities, and my guess it was coming a New World blend, I was close! The wine was a 2011 Peacock’s Tail. A Shiraz and Grenache Blend from Australia.

Wine #2: Again I was only half right. The smoke and herbal qualities did speak to South America’s style and the wine was the 2013 Apaltagua Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile.

Keep and eye out for both of these wines in upcoming WineCollective packages and be sure to take part in WineCollective’s online community and leave your own tasting comments and ratings! As well, each of our tasting cards sent with our monthly wines give space for you to make notes for your own records and we’d love for you to share them!

Blind tasting test

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been taking my WSET training through Fine Vintage Ltd., in order to further expand my vino knowledge, assist in selecting package features and add some credibility to my self-taught wine education. Amber, resident CWT (Chief Wine Taster), thought challenging my taste buds through a blind tasting test would be a great way to test my education and add a valuable learning experience.

Blind tastings can be an eye opener, as well as a nerve-wracking experience. As Amber set up the three covered bottles and glasses, I had pages and pages of information running through my head. Regions, colour, aromas and flavour characteristics can all be determining factors of a wine’s variety and origin. But when selecting from literally thousands of options, the possibilities seem endless.


Amber poured three wines from different bottles with completely covered labels.  Together we tasted and made our way through writing tastings notes in the WSET course fashion, combined with our WineCollective flair.

Eyes: Clarity, intensity, colour

Nose: Condition, intensity, aromas

Mouth: Sweetness, acidity, tannin, body, flavour, length, quality

We searched for the above characteristics in three white wines in order to determine the grape variety, region and vintage.

Quiz yourself and read the tastings notes to make your own guesses before scrolling down to see the answers. You may be just as surprised as I was.


Wine #1

Eyes: Medium intensity, pale lemon, quick evaporating legs.

Nose: Clean, medium intensity. Mandarin citrus aromas with tree fruit and blossom.

Mouth: Medium to high acidity. Apply with strong lemon-lime finish and minerality.

I guessed: In considering the higher acidity and minerality, I assumed a cool climate Riesling.

Wine #2

Eyes: Clear, medium intensity, very pale lemon.

Nose: Clean, medium. Aromas of under ripe green melon, tropical kiwi with traces of cucumber and green onion.

Mouth: Medium sweet, body and acidity. The palate continues to show similar tropical and herbaceous notes similar to the nose.

I guessed: Sauvignon Blanc. A warm climate Sauv Blanc can take on tropical notes as well as the typical herbaceous, green notes the variety carries.

Wine #3

Eyes: A rich and intense medium gold colour.

Nose: Clean and pronounced. Bruised Macintosh apple, ash minerality.

Mouth: Rich body. The apple continues with a touch of oak.  Very drying and tannic, as well as very low acidity.

I guessed:  Chardonnay! The darker colour and oak characteristics speak true to common characteristics of the variety.


Unfortunately, I failed miserably.

Although I attempted to pick out strong features of different varieties in order to make an educated guess, Amber chose some interesting selections to show the difference and possibilities of each grape.

Wine #1: Joseph Mellot Pouilly Fume Le Troncsec 2012 

Pouilly Fume is a Sauvignon Blanc from the region of Loire, France. This wine is known for its minerality and crisp freshness.

Wine #2: Apaltagua Gran Verano Chardonnay 2013

Again, no oak on the Chardonnay. Amber was out to trick me.

Wine #3: Ogier Heritages Blanc 2011

A blend of Viognier, Roussane, Grenache Blanc and Clairette. We both agreed this wine was a touch past its prime. The fuller body should have given away that it was a Viognier blend, but my excuse – “I’ve never even tasted Grenache Blanc!”


Although I was far off on all of my guesses, so was the rest of the WineCollective office. It was definitely a lesson to be learned among tasters on the different characteristics grapes can take on dependent on so many factors.

Your WineCollective package provides a great blind tasting opportunity! Invite friends over and pour the wines into numbered glasses. Make your own notes and compare them to your WineCollective cards to determine which wine is which!  Or host a party and ask your friends to choose wines with typical varietal characteristics and see how well you’ve expanded your wine knowledge. Study up!