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Falling Leaves

The weather over the past few weeks has been simply outstanding but with the detectable chill in the evening air and the noticeable change to the leaves on the local Aspen trees our thoughts turn to fall. Fall is one of our favourite times of the year; harvest is in full swing, grapes are coming off the vines, farmers are reaping their hard work and food flavours are trending towards richer and more savoury dishes.

With fall flavours we move away from the lighter aromatic wines and we start to think about richer and more earthy reds to pair with food. Mushrooms start to be more prominent on menus and in specialty stores. If you are looking to theme a menu around fall mushrooms consider pairing with Pinot Noir. Our pick would be for a brambly New Zealand or Oregon Pinot.

In the shop look for the Wairau River Pinot from Marlborough $23; "Intense notes of warm cherries, crushed raspberries with hints of smoked meat, cardamom and anise." 89 points, Wine Advocate. Consider pairing with roasted salmon, sauteed mushrooms, fresh herbs and oven baked tomatoes.

Even though we're recommending reds in the fall we can also go with a bigger white, perhaps a nice rich chardonnay. James, who you see in the shop from time to time, recommends a chardonnay and Salmon poached in vermouth (click here for recipe). Salmon is not a natural choice for chardonnay but when it is cooked in sweet white vermouth the pairing is outstanding. Our first choice with this recipe would be a bottle of Maison Roche de Bellene Montagny Premier Cru, $30. "Deep lemon coloured with a fresh nose of white flowers and citrus with hints of minerality. On the palate it is medium bodied with a fresh and fruity attack, a rounded mid palate with apple, citrus and hints of nuts and a long citrussy finish"



Beer & Cheese Pairings?

When we think of pairing beverages with cheese our first thought would probably be wine and cheese or dessert wines and big bold cheeses but this past week we had an epiphany in the shop and discovered how fantastic a Belgian IPA goes with a medium creamy blue veined cheese (Fourme D'Ambert). After a little research we found some great tips for pairing cheese and beer. While we love wine, and always will, we would encourage you to experiment with some of the craft beers we sell and look for cheese at Sobey's or Mountain Mercato here in Canmore. Mercato has an excellent selection of artisan cheese and Sobey's has expanded their offerings as well.

When it comes to pairing items it is usually best to consider the approach of matching intensity with intensity. If you have a mild beer then you would pick a mild cheese for example. Taking the approach of matching intensities prevents one product from overwhelming the other. You can also take the approach of working with similarities; for example, if you have a super rich triple cream cheese then you would pick a nice full bodied stout (rich, low acid beer). If you are a fan of mild goat cheese then you would want to work with the acidity in the cheese and pick a beer with higher acid like a wheat beer.

If you are a cheddar fan you will want to pick a brew that has a mild malt character and that would be a brown ale. Aged cheddar typically has some nutty characteristics which play well off an ale. Canada makes lots of great cheddar cheese. Look for Balderson's Aged Cheddar to pair with a Naramata Nut Brown Ale.

For big and bold blue cheeses a great experiment is to pair with a Belgian IPA or Belgian Style IPA. Blue Cheese can be pretty intese and so is a Belgian IPA. lighthouse_bel_IPAThe power of the cheese is matched by the intensity of the beer. A great pairing would be a Fourme D'Ambert with a bottle of Lighthouse "Uncharted" Belgian IPA.

44494tNow, if you really like to get your stink on and enjoy washed-rind cheeses go for a Trappist Ale from Belgium. The funkiness of the cheese needs to be mellowed and a good Tappist beer is a classic pairing as the beer is strong, dry on the mid palate and spicy which will bring out the underlying fruitiness of the cheese and match the intensity of the cheese. Consider a Gruyere cheese which should be readily available with a Westmalle Trappist Tripel beer from Belgium.


Welcome to Beer Club, a monthly Beer Subscription

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Belgian Beers? You bet!

Would you enjoy a monthly selection of six beers expertly selected with your unique tastes in mind? If you want Belgium suds demystified or unique big boy bottles from British Columbia then sign up now for our monthly offering. Each month’s collection will be offered to our subscribers via email. All you have to do is reply yea or nea. It’s that easy. If you are interested in subscribing just sign up for our newsletter if you are not currently a member. Each month's beer selection will be a half dozen specialty beers, usually in a larger format, with an average combined price around $40. We can arrange delivery to you in Canmore for a small up-charge or you can pick up in store.  If you haven't been in the shop lately you will be pleasantly surprised with our new wall of beer coming this month!

Roederer Estate Brut

Anderson Valley, California $34.95

We recently added two new bubbles to the Wine Shop line up and both are from the famed house of Louis Roederer. With a little twist we decided to feature their California house that is a drop dead ringer for champagne but at half the price.

Roederer Estate Brut is the first California sparkling wine to be produced by Champagne Louis Roederer, Roederer's unique winemaking style is based on two elements: complete ownership of its vineyards and the addition of oak-aged reserve wines to each year's blend or cuvée.

The Roederer winemaking philosophy has guided the development of Roederer Estate, located 125 miles north of San Francisco near the Mendocino Coast. Since 1982, Roederer Estate winery has been quietly developing its own vineyards and crafting fine wines from the Anderson Valley. Roederer Estate's Anderson Valley Brut debuted in October 1988 followed by the winery's first vintage cuvée, L'Ermitage, in 1993.

The Anderson Valley offered the cool climate and well-drained soils that are ideally suited to the Roederer winemaking style. This premium grape growing region's proximity to the ocean gives rise to a gentle cycle of warm days and cool nights, allowing grapes to mature slowly on the vine and develop full varietal character. To achieve an optimum balance of acids and sugars in the estate's grapes, Rouzaud introduced an "open lyre" trellis system for training the vines on moveable wires, providing more exposure to sunlight than traditional trellising methods.

Tasting notes: The Roederer Estate Brut is crisp and elegant with complex pear, spice and hazelnut flavors. It is fresh and lightly fruity with great finesse and depth of flavour.


Surprise Case; Sketches of Spain

This month’s offering is an expose of six regional wines from Spain that illustrate the incredible diversity of this nation.

Grapes have been cultivated in Spain since 4000 B.C. and commercial grape growing was started by the Phoenicians around 1100 B.C. Spain is one of the largest grape growing nations and has an extensive history that saw little change until the recent generation started to modernize winery operations and vinification practices.

Spanish wines offer some of the best values in the market while bringing us unique varieties that show regional expression and terroir.

We hope you enjoy this month’s offering and the featured recipes.


Alison & James

Suprise Case Sketches of Spain Web Version

2008 Alpha Estate Syrah-Xinomavro

Alpha is the first letter of the greek alphabet. The choice of this name came from theinitial letter of Amyndeon, the geographical location of the estate’s vineyards and additionally declares a quality term in the greek argo. Alpha Estate represents the "new beginning", the "birth" of a new era in the world of Greek wine. Makis Mavridis, the grapegrower, and Angelos Iatridis, the winemaker, planted a 33 ha vineyard in Amyndeon region in the late 1990’s.

Tasting Notes: This wine is a blend of Syrah grape and the Greco Xinomavro (Ksee no' ma vro). The syrah we have come to know from the Rhone and Australia. Surprisingly the syrah in this wine is very similar to syrah grown in Washington State with blueberry and bacon fat on the nose. The Xinomavro brings an earthy component to the wine with dried herbs and olives. The Wine Advocate writes; "the good acidity mingles nicely with the oak to create a sunny wine that has an earthy character with hints of sour blueberry and bacon fat that is attributed to the syrah component asserting itself and mingling with the acidity ." 88 points

Food + Wine Pairing: Medium and hard cheeses, grilled meats, BBQ, Beef, Lamb. Consider Lamb Burgers on the BBQ.

2010 Alpha Estate Malagouzia

Alpha is the first letter of the greek alphabet. The choice of this name came from the initial letter of Amyndeon, the geographical location of the estate’s vineyards and additionally declares a quality term in the greek argo. Alpha Estate represents the "new beginning", the "birth" of a new era in the world of Greek wine. Makis Mavridis, the grapegrower, and Angelos Iatridis, the winemaker, planted a 33 ha vineyard in Amyndeon region in the late 1990’s.

Tasting Notes: This wine is made from the white grape "Malagouzia" and the wine displays incredible aromatics. This is a medium bodied white wine that shows wonderful pitted fruits of apricot and nectarine and a touch of pear. The wine is rich with great acidity and a creaminess that counters the acid (think creamsicle from Dicky-Dees). The wine is quite lively and is an exciting wine.

Food + Wine Pairing: Creamy cheeses, light seafood, shellfish, chicken. Consider this Chicken Gyros recipe

Gilbert Cellars Doc Stewart Chardonnay

Columbia Valley, Washington State

The 2010 Gilbert Cellars Chardonnay comes from the same area and vineyard as the Red Left Bank offering. The Columbia Valley is equally as good for producing a variety of white grapes as it is red and Chardonnay grows ideally with the cool nights that help develop some mouth puckering acidity.

The fruit for the 2010 Chardonnay is sourced from the Doc Steward vineyard which is a designated AVA called Whaluke Slope. This Chardonnay from the Doc Stewart Vineyard was aged for 10 months sur lie in 100% French oak, of which only 15% was new. Every two weeks winemaker Justin Neufeld stirred the lees in the traditional process known as battonage, which adds soft texture to the palate.

Tasting notes: Bright aromas of lemongrass, vanilla, sweet melon and lilac lead into fresh, concentrated flavors of Bosc pear, Braeburn apple and rosewater followed by a light yet lingering lemon cake finish.

Food + Wine Pairing: creamy cow milk cheeses such as Camembert or Brie. White fish or rich shellfish such as crab or scallops. Consider Poached Halibut with Tomato and Fennel


Cellar Door Price $36.95

2008 Vega del Castillo Crianza

Navarra, Spain

The 2008 Castillo Crianza is produced in the Aragon Region of Northern Spain and comes from the Navarra Appellation. Crianza refers to the quality designation and length of aging for the wine. Crianza wines are aged a minimum of six months in barrels and are released in their third year from vintage. The Navarra DO (Denominación de Origen) is an important wine-producing region located north of Rioja with vineyards located on the rolling lower slopes of the Pyrenees. A number of different climatic conditions affect Navarra's vines. The region's proximity to the Atlantic Ocean in the north-west helps to moderate temperatures created by the effects of the Mediterranean and the continental climate.

The 2008 Vega del Castillo is a blend of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The Tempranillo brings acidity to the wine while the Cabernet adds structure and the merlot gives round and juicy fruit.

Tasting notes: A medium bodied red that shows a mix of red licorice, wild strawberry and blackberry fruit. The wine finishes with light tannins and a tea-tinged finish.

Food + Wine Pairing: slow cooked meat and game in the crock pot would be delicious and you could consider a cassoulet 


Cellar Door Price $21.95

Wines for Entertaining

Over the past week we have had some fun opening some unlikely suspects at the tasting bar in the shop. We were even successful in converting some die hard red wine drinkers to give a nod to lighter aromatic wines to have before dinner. As we escape the doldrums of January and complete our post New Years cleanses we all start to think about entertaining, dinner parties, Valentines day and upcoming bridal showers as the wedding season kicks off after Valentines Day.

The three recent wines tasted and recommended this week cover some unique varieties that are often overlooked and are worthy contenders for your next soiree or pre dinner sip.

First up is a lovely effervescent Moscato from Gomba Boschetti. Muscat has gotten a bad rap in the past and, no pun intended, started making a comeback last year as the Hip Hop scene started rhyming about this light bubble and made it a go to fizz. When done right, Muscat is an incredibly aromatic and floral wine with very low alcohol. The Moscato grape is grown all over the world and goes by a variety of names and clones. The Italian version is mostly known as Moscato d'Asti, which is generally a sweet and soft, low-alcohol, sparkling wine with typical aromas of peach and apricot.

The 2010 Gomba Boschetti Moscato (Italy, $17.95)shows a light effervescence in the glass and the initial nose is dominated by a punch of honey and apricot, then aromas of lemon meringue and soap candy push through. On the palate the wine has a sweet attack but finishes dry with a balanced acidity and lingering citrus notes. This Gomba Moscato could easily be served pre or post dinner, with lighter goat cheeses or dessert such as sweet Italian biscuits and ice cream.

Second up, and just in time for Valentine's Day, is the 2009 Zorzal Malbec Rose (Argentina, $15.95). Pouring this version of Malbec this past week was a bit of a shock to some who were expecting a full bodied Red from Mendozza but any red variety can be made in to Rose with just a tiny amount of skin contact in the initial wine making process. The Zorzal Rose starts with a touch of cranberry then opens to a fuller aroma of strawberry. The wine has a touch of residual sugar but finishes dry with balanced acidity. What we really liked about this wine was the spicy character. A great starter wine in the winter if you are serving some charcuterie and cheese for an opening appetizer (think Manchego cheese and mild chorizo sausages) or would be great with some Provencal inspired bouillabaisse.

The last wine in today's post that we served this week is a wonderful rendition of the ubiquitous Malvar Grape from Spain. You probably wouldn't think to try a wine called Malvar that comes in an orange hued bottle but the 2010 Zestos Malvar (Spain, $15.95) is an incredible value will make you a convert to this lovely brand and varietal. The 2010 Zestos is a bit of a contradiction on the palate and we think our friend, and Calgary Wine Blogger, Peter Vetsch, describes it best: "a creamy textured white with contrasting racy acidity. Citrus and tropical Fruit with hints of coconut, pineapple, grapefruit and mango on the nose that carry through on the palate." The wine also has a wonderful finish with some pretty racy acidity that might woo you away from considering sauvignon blanc for you choice. The Zestos is a great match with less sweet Thai Food, prawns / shellfish and would be fantastic with the Calamari from Crazy Weed Kitchen. Who's hungry now?

All wines are available in the shop and if we run out of stock will arrive back the following week.