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Hey, you’ve missed my last House Wine or Local Drinks column on The Homestretch?

Here are some of the more recent ones for you to enjoy!

September 4, 2020 - Heathen's Brewing

Heathen’s Brewery opened in Calgary’s Craft District in June 2019. It is one of 2 dedicated gluten-free breweries in Canada. (The other one being Glutenberg in Montreal.) Owner and Head Brewer Wes Maxwell decided to focus on making gluten-free beers because several members of his family are celiac and he wanted to make beers that they can drink! When I explained to him that most of the gluten-free beer I have tasted is insipid, he quickly countered this claim by blaming sorghum. It’s commonly used to keep costs down, unfortunately, it tends to have the same effect upon flavour. At Heathen’s, Wes Maxwell is on a mission to make the most flavourful gluten-free beer possible so he avoids sorghum at all costs. Instead, he relies on ancient grains like millet, buckwheat, quinoa and rice.

At anyone time, there are more than 8 different gluten-free beers available on tap. I picked the Kvasir Peanut Butter stout. I’ve tasted coffee stouts and chocolate stouts but this is my first one made with peanut butter. It is delicious!  It reminds me of Reese’s pieces in a glass. At the taproom, they also serve a Peanut Butter and Jelly stout which is a mix of hibiscus tea and the Peanut Butter stout. I recommend trying a flight of beers, whether you are gluten-free or not. (I am not by the way.) In the same industrial center as Heathen’s you will also find Sunnyside Cider and Broken Spirits Distillery. This little corner in Calgary’s northeast has become a coveted gluten free drink triangle!

Photo – Head Brewer & Owner – Wes Maxwell

Heathen’s Brewing – 3300 – 14 Avenue NE, Calgary

August 21, 2020 - Confluence Distilling

I first came across Confluence Distilling when I was researching my column for Born Colorado Brewery. After reading their impressive cocktail menu, I made a mental note to return to do a story later in the summer. On the morning that I was there, I met two of the owners, Ross Alger and Pheelan Mah. Confluence is a “grain to glass” gin distillery, with a focus on locally grown ingredients. They ferment and distill everything in-house. All of their spirits are made with Alberta red wheat grown on a farm outside of Innisfail. They make a Contemporary style gin rather than a London Dry style that is juniper dominant. Juniper can be a little difficult to find in Alberta so, in a contemporary style, other botanicals (saskatoon berries, cucumber and rose petals) take center stage and juniper plays a minor role.

Confluence makes a range of products from gin, vodka, a pre-mixed negroni cocktail, canned gin sodas and even an aquavit! I am crazy for a good negroni. It can take a bit of planning since you need to have all the ingredients on hand – gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari. Whereas with the Confluence Negroni all you need is a couple of ice cubes and a highball glass! It is a cocktail that is meant to be sipped slowly with its grapefruit, cherry, orange notes and its signature kick of bitterness imparted from the Campari. #CBCyycLocalDrinks

Photo – Confluence Distilling – Founder, Ross Alger, standing in front of a portrait of his grandfather, Ross Alger Sr., who was the mayor of Calgary from 1977- 1980.

Confluence Distilling – 507 – 36 Avenue SE, Calgary

August 7, 2020 - Uncommon Cider

Uncommon Cider started in 2016 and is Alberta’s first craft cidery. From the moment you walk into the taproom with its glowing hot pink walls, you realize this is a place that isn’t afraid to stand out from the crowd! Uncommon prides itself on making traditional English Cider, a dry low carbonated style of cider with alcohol levels around 6 – 7%. Uncommon doesn’t use apple juice concentrates or sweeteners in their ciders. All the sweetness comes from the fruit. The fruit for their apple cider comes from locally grown crab and hardy apples in Calgary as well as orchards in the Okanagan. Besides apples, they also source haskap berries and rhubarb.

The YYC Community Cider is a vintage Cider from the harvest of 2018. All the apples were the result of a very successful Fruit Drive that saw Calgarians donate a tsunami of crab and other hardy apples from their backyard trees. This cider which is aged for 18 months on its lees, is a delicious example of “terroir” or sense of place. In this case, the place is Calgary. This cider with its mouthwatering acidity would pair well with fatty foods, especially cheese or pork loin. For more information on the upcoming 2020 YYC Community fruit drive, check out #CBCyycLocalDrinks

Photo – Uncommon Cider Founder – Brodie Thomas

Uncommon Cider – 3921 Manchester Road SE, Calgary

July 24, 2020 - Olds College Barley Trail Lager

On the label of this Olds College Barley Trail Lager can is a QR code that reveals its complete story from field to glass! This is a fully traceable and transparent beer. The entire process of growing the barley, malting it at Red Shed, to brewing and packaging at Olds College Brewery was tracked and recorded by Blockchain technology. All you need is the camera on your smart phone. Aim it on the QR code and a weblink will appear. Click on the link to see the journey of the beer. It started with the planting of the CDC Copeland barley seed at the Olds College Smart Farm in May 2019 and ends with brewing and packaging at the Olds College on campus brewery in June 2020. It took 13 months from start to finish. It’s everything I look for in a good lager – light and crisp with a nice dry finish. All the ingredients are 100% Canadian, even the Sasquatch Hops which is grown in Abbotsford, B.C.  Due to its small production, it is only available at the Olds College Brewery store and at select Co-Op Wines Spirits Beer locations in Calgary – Oakridge, Crowfoot, Mid-town, Shawnessy, Auburn Bay, North Hill and Richmond Road. #CBCyycLocalDrinks

History of my can of beer – Planted May 2019 in Olds, Devoured July 2020 in Calgary.

July 10, 2020 - Born Colorado Brewery

I’m having a great time exploring locally made drinks this summer.  In my glass this week, is the catchy named, and very tasty, Born Colorado Hi Cutie! Mint Raspberry Wheat Ale. Brewer and co-owner, Wade Brown, was born in Colorado and came to Calgary in 2012. He and Erin McQuitty started Born Colorado in 2018 making it the 4th brewery in the Barley Belt district. The location is a real hub with Cabin Brewing and Confluence Distilling across the street, and Paddy’s Brewery, Banded Peak, Annex Ale and Uncommon Cidery, within an easy walking distance.

The Hi Cutie! is a “collab beer” with Paddy’s Brewery & Barbecue. What was supposed to be a one hit wonder caught on like wild fire, so it is now a staple summer seasonal. It tastes just as you imagine – mint, raspberry and wheat in perfect harmony.  It’s on tap at both Born Colorado Brewing and Paddy’s Brewery taprooms and the 4 pack cans are well distributed throughout Alberta. If fruit beers aren’t your thing,  Born Colorado has 9 other beers on tap at any one time.  One I’d definitely recommend is the Autumn Amber. It’s crisp, toasty and a bit malty. It is one of their original core beers and a staple on their menu. #CBCyycLocalDrinks

Photo – Born Colorado owners – Wade Brown and Erin McQuitty

Born Colorado Brewing – 414-36 Avenue SE, Calgary

June 26, 2020 - Happy CAN-ada Day!

Fill up your cooler and celebrate July 1st  with these 3 quality crafted cans – Fallentimber Meadjito (CSPC 825108), Eau Claire Distillery Cherry Gin Collins (CSPC 815459) and Benjamin Bridge Nova 7 (CSPC 832062). What do these 3 have in common? They are all Canadian and extremely quaffable! Happy 153 Birthday Canada!

The Fallentimber Meadjito is a twist on the iconic Mojito cocktail where Alberta mead replaces the white rum. It’s light and refreshing with flavours of mint, honey and lime. The Eau Claire Cherry Gin Collins screams summer! It is a take on the Tom Collins cocktail and is a combination of Eau Claire Cherry Gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, tonic and soda water. Last but not least is the Benjamin Bridge Nova 7 wine. This is the 12th vintage and the first to be available in a can. (The 750 mL bottle has wide distribution across Canada.) Nova 7 is based on the Moscato d’Asti style from Italy so it’s aromatic and off dry with a bit of spritz. Serve well chilled. #CBCyycLocalDrinks

June 12, 2020 - Klinker Brick Brickmason 2016

Klinker Brick winery is located in Lodi, California. The Lodi AVA is a historic wine region nestled between the San Francisco Bay and the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This is Zinfandel country! Vines have been planted here for over 150 years.

The Brickmason is a blend of 4 grapes – 80% Zinfandel, 10% Syrah, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Petite Sirah. The Zinfandel is sourced from 2 different vineyards. The Burney Mettler vineyard at 58 years old is an Old Vine plot. These vines produce full bodied, rich Zinfandel full of black fruit character. The other vineyard is the younger block of the Costa Old Vine vineyard. These younger vines were planted in 1987 right beside the established vineyard and contributes bright red fruit flavours. The other 3 grapes include, Syrah (adds depth), Cabernet Sauvignon (adds tannins) and Petite Sirah (adds structure). With its lush flavours of plums, black raspberries, cherries, black pepper and vanilla, it is a natural match with grilled meats on the barbecue. It would make a great prezzie for Dad on Father’s Day this Sunday!

Region – Lodi AVA, California, USA

May 8, 2020 - Gerard Bertrand Cote des Roses Rosé 2018

A bottle of Rosé is always a great present for Mother’s Day. With this bottle you get 2 roses in one. Flip the bottle upside down to reveal a stunning sculpted glass rose on the bottom. The Gerard Bertrand Cote des Roses comes from the Languedoc-Roussillon region in southern France.  Spanning the Mediterranean coastline, it is wedged between Spain and Provence. It has a winemaking tradition dating back 2,000 years and is the largest wine region in the world.

The Gerard Bertrand Cote des Roses is a dry, elegant rosé.  It is a blend of 3 red grapes – Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah. All of these grapes grow well in the hot Mediterranean sun. Rosés make up 14% of the total production in this region. This Rose is loaded with fresh flavours of watermelon, red currants, strawberries and citrus zest. It’s an easy going partner with food. It will pair with everything from Quiche Lorraine & Eggs Benedict to shrimp cocktail & roasted chicken. Available in 3 different formats – ½ bottle (375 ml), regular bottle (750 ml) and magnum (1.5 liter).  For Mother’s Day, I picked the 375 ml bottle because maybe this year Mom doesn’t want to share!

Region – Languedoc-Roussillon, France

April 17, 2020 - World Malbec Day

It’s World Malbec Day! Argentina loves its’s flagship grape so much that in 2011 they dedicated April 17th as World Malbec Day. Today rather than showcasing one wine, I will be talking about why Argentina is the perfect place to grow Malbec. I encourage you to grab a bottle of YOUR favourite Argentinean Malbec and taste along. In my glass will be the Zorzal Terroir Unico 2018. Tune in and taste along with me and CBC Homestretch Host Doug Dirks. Doug will have a different Malbec in his glass and we will compare tasting notes and uncover the common thread.

Region – Uco Valley, Argentina

March 27, 2020 - Protea Chenin Blanc 2019

The Protea Chenin Blanc 2019 smells like “spring in a bottle”! It has pretty aromas of apple blossoms, pear and lemon peel. It is dry with excellent concentration of fruit flavours – apricot, nectarine and white grapefruit. Chenin Blanc is such a versatile grape. It can make many different styles of wines from still to sparkling, and dry to sweet.

You can’t help but notice the decorative bottle. Anthonij Rupert winery wants people to upcycle the bottle. No soaking is required to remove the labels, they peel off fairly easily. It has a helix cork which is a new type of enclosure that is a cross between a cork and a screw cap. The bottle can be cleaned and re-used for juice, olive oil, vinegar, even non-edibles like bubble bath. The design changes for each vintage and for the different grape varieties. Very clever!

The Protea Chenin Blanc makes a nice sipper on a sunny patio. If you like Pinot Grigio, you are going to love it. I suggest pairing it with seafood, poultry, antipasti and charcuterie.  It’s also a great pick for Easter. I think it will pair particularly well with ham.

Region – Swartland, South Africa

February 14, 2020 -Chateau Petit Vedrines Sauternes 2015

Soulvines Sauterne for Valentines

It’s Valentine’s Day, so let’s go crazy and pick something on the sweeter side.

Chateau Petit Vedrines Sauternes is a blend of two white grapes – Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. It has exotic aromas and flavours of peaches, honey, orange marmalade and candied ginger that will dance in your mouth! It comes in a half bottle (375 mL) making it the perfect “liquid” dessert.

Sweet wines often are forgotten when people pop into their local wine shop. I find this so sad because magic can happen when you pair this luscious Bordeaux with a cheese plate. (see my blog post)

It’s really good with mango cheesecake or pineapple upside down cake.

Region – Bordeaux, France

January 24, 2020 - Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages 2017

I chose this wine because of the man – Georges Duboeuf.

Georges passed away from a stroke on January 4, 2020 at the age of 86. He was a French wine icon who some wine critics called the Pope of Beaujolais! He was a winemaker and a négociant who dedicated his life to putting Beaujolais wines on the global wine stage. He was instrumental in expanding the Beaujolais Nouveau craze of the 1970s to become an international obsession. His catch phrase, “Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!” was echoed across the globe every year on the third Thursday in November. When the hype behind Beaujolais Nouveau eventually fizzled out, Georges set his sights on teaching growers new farming techniques in order to create wines of higher quality.

The Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages 2017 is a juicy red wine made of 100% Gamay grapes. It’s silky smooth with flavours of raspberries, black cherries and spice. It’s known as a “bistro wine” for its ability to pair with a wide variety of foods. I recommend serving it slightly chilled to bring out the acidity in the wine.

My favourite pairing is with a big bowl of mussels and frites.

Region – Beaujolais, France

December 27, 2019 - New Year’s Eve Drinks - Cava, Cremant and Cocktails

A special New Year’s province-wide broadcast with guest host Jim Brown. We talked about 3 different drinks that are worthy of saying adieu to 2019 and hello to 2020. A bottle of bubbly is essential for me on New Year’s Eve. Two of my favourites are – Cremant and Cava.

1st Sparkling – CUNE Cava Brut (812216). Go to any tapas bar in Barcelona and the Cava will be flowing! The bubbles, sweetness level and mouthfeel of Cava is quite similar to Champagne BUT the aromas and flavours are very different. The CUNE is an excellent example of Cava. It is dry and refreshing with aromas and flavours of green apple, citrus and a hint of almond.

2nd Sparkling – Louis Bouillot Rose Cremant de Bourgogne (745430). Cremant is a term used in France for any sparkling wine NOT made in the Champagne region. This wine comes from the Burgundy region located just south of Champagne. The Bouillot is a blend of Pinot Noir, Gamay and Chardonnay. Rose is a specialty of the winery.

3rd Sparkling – A Classic Cava Cocktail. This is my twist on a Classic Champagne Cocktail. (recipe on my Blog page)

Regions – Penedes, Spain & Burgundy, France

December 19, 2019 - Annual Blitz Day Fundraiser - 2 wines from Paul Jaboulet Aine

2019 marks the 33rd year of the CBC Calgary Food Bank. Blitz Day is the final day of the annual Christmas campaign.

I contributed to the campaign by auctioning off a stunning 3 litre bottle of Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage La Chapelle 2013. This is one of the top wines that money can buy! Only 100 jerobaums (winespeak for 3 litre bottle) were produced in 2013 and this was the only one that came to Alberta! Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage La Chapelle 2013 is from the northern Rhone Valley in France. Hermitage is one of the star appellations. The name La Chapelle is named after the small hermit’s chapel built in 1235 on the top of Hermitage hill. At 6 years old, the 2013 is still young. This large bottle will reach its peak in 20 – 30 years.

To taste on the air, I brought with me the Paul Jaboulet Aine Crozes-Hermitage 2016. A more affordable wine from the same winery. Crozes-Hermitage is a large appellation that surrounds the hill of Hermitage.  Although Syrah may not be an obvious choice for Christmas dinner, this wine would be delicious with turkey, brussels sprouts and cranberry sauce. Decant for an hour, so it can open up and shine.

Happy to report that CBC Calgary surpassed their goal and raised $1.4 million for hungry Calgarians.

Region – Hermitage, Rhone Valley, France

November 15, 2019 - Weingut Prieler Blaufrankisch 2017

The Prieler Blaufrankisch comes from Austria which is a relatively small player in the world of wine production. In 2013, it ranked 19th in the world in terms of production. When people think of Austrian wine, they think whites. The reds are now coming on strong and that’s why I want to taste one.

Today we are tasting a grape called Blaufrankisch. It is the second most planted red grape in Austria after Zweigelt. This is interesting since Zweigelt is the offspring of Blaufrankisch! Blau means blue in German referring to the deep blue colour of the grape skin. Frankisch dates back to the middle ages and refers to the noble French wine grapes. The Prieler estate is located in Schuetzen in North Burgenland. This is the sunniest region in central Europe.

This wine is textbook Austrian. It is a medium bodied red wine with spicy, juicy red and black fruits (raspberry, blackberry and cherry) The tannins are fine, a bit grippy, and nicely woven into the fruit. The thing that stands out here is its lively acidity. Its the acidity that makes it such a good partner with heavy rich food.

Region – North Burgenland, Austria