Everything Wine And More

Ruth Blakely
July 30, 2019 | Ruth Blakely

Two fingers of Whisky please

Whisky, Whiskey, Rye, Bourbon, whatever your preference brown liquor is experiencing a renaissance thanks partly to a renewed interest in classic cocktails and the Millennial generation’s interest in quality craft products. 

When people think of Canadian whisky, Rye is what often comes to mind – Canadian Club for example, is known around the world.  Rye is a signature flavour even though most Canadian whisky also contains large amounts of corn or other ingredients. Distillers across the country are experimenting with a variety of grains to produce their own signature style whether it is the well-known Wayne Gretzky whiskies or the new to the market delicious offerings from the likes of Two Brewers. Named Micro Distillery of the year, what started as a brewery in the Yukon became a distillery in 2009 and their quality malted whisky has now made its way to Alberta 

When you say whisky a lot of people think specifically of Scotch.  Scotch – not surprisingly- comes from Scotland.  It can be blended – like Johnnie Walker or single malt such as Bowmore and prices can vary wildly for either option.  Scotch can be very ‘peaty’ meaning it carries heady aromas of the peat smoke over which the grain is dried. Certain producers, such as Laphroaig are noted for a campfire nose.   Blended Scotch has made a huge comeback with premium brands such as Compass Box offering complex well-made whisky.

Whiskey is what the brown nectar is called in Ireland.  It is triple distilled and peat isn’t part of the recipe for most producers.  Jameson’s owns a massive share of the market thanks to decades of producing a quality product at a reasonable price but top offerings from distillers such as Redbreast with notes of nuts and ginger have added interest to the category.

The biggest growth in the category comes in Bourbon.  This corn based, barrel aged spirit originates in Kentucky and while legally it can be called Bourbon when made elsewhere, more than 90% of Bourbon comes from the Blue Grass State.  Makers Mark is ubiquitous, but the market has seen an explosion of quality offerings.  Michters, Basil Hayden and other small batch offerings may command a higher price tag to offset the cost of production, but it is a worthy investment for your bar.  Think caramel and vanilla! Whether you are drinking it straight, on the rocks or in a whisky sour, there is Bourbon on the shelf that will hit the right notes for you at the right price!

Time Posted: Jul 30, 2019 at 11:19 AM
Ruth Blakely
June 24, 2019 | Ruth Blakely

Canadian Wine – Big Business and Big Wine!

The Canadian Wine industry estimates it’s worth 9 billion dollars a year.  A person could wonder why it seems slow to gain respect in some quarters.

When people from outside of Canada think of Canadian wine they will invariably think of Ice Wine.  That’s fair; we make some of the best ice wine in the world.  Canadian Ice Wine wins gold medals at international competitions on a regular basis.  It’s rich, sweet and delicious.

The Canadian wine scene though has SO much more to offer.

Gorgeous fresh sparkling wine comes from Nova Scotia – Benjamin Bridge has helped to put the area on the map.  

Ontario has three distinct wine regions – Niagara, which most Canadians are aware of, Prince Edward County which is producing some lovely wine and Lake Erie North Shore.  

Here at Everything Wine we are proud of our selection from our neighbours in British Columbia.  From fresh and fun Pinot Grigio to deep dark and delicious Rhone or Bordeaux style reds; the wines produced are as diverse as the province from which they hail.  

Even within the Okanagan Valley the wines reflect their region.  Crisp whites often hail from north of Kelowna.  Whether it’s a well-known established winery such as Gray Monk or one of the ‘newer’ producers like Ex Nihilo, the wines are a reflection of their beautiful surroundings.
Just south of Kelowna the big guns of Quail’s Gate and Mission Hill have spent years earning their reputations. Smaller wineries dot the entire wine route.

On the east side of the lake,  Naramata is a hot spot for visitors and for terrific wines thanks to good soil, great exposures and a microclimate that has allowed Nichol Vineyards, Bella Wines and many others to produce surprising wines from the region.

As Highway 97 winds further south past Okanagan Falls to Oliver and Osoyoos, hot summer days allow the grapes to ripen fully.  There you’ll find big bold wines from places such as Burrowing Owl, Nk’Mip and Osoyoos Larose

The Similkameen (just west of the Okanagan) is getting a lot well deserved attention and even Vancouver Island is getting into the act with wines from the Cowichan Valley.

Canadian wine is as diverse as the topography and climate from which it comes.  If you have not tried any in a while – give it a chance.  You’ll likely find a pleasant surprise in one of those bottles.


Time Posted: Jun 24, 2019 at 10:51 AM
Ruth Blakely
April 23, 2019 | Ruth Blakely

Spring into Rose!

Spring into Rosé

Longer days, sunshine and warmer temperatures seem to just beg for fresh bright wines.  Whether it’s to sit and sip on the patio or to enjoy with seafood, turkey or ham, rosé is a perfect spring sipper.

Rosé – Rosado in Spain and Rosato in Italy - is defined by its colour, but that colour can vary widely from pale peach or coral to a rich deep pink.  
Virtually every wine region in the world has rosé and the aromas and flavours are as diverse as the grapes used to make to make them.

Red wine gets the vast majority of colour from contact with the skin (most red wine grapes have white flesh). Rosé doesn’t spend long in contact with the skin which limits the amount of tannin present in the wine and results in the paler colour. Longer time on the grape skins results in darker wine.  

Some wines are actually a blend of red and white grapes as is the case in rosé Champagne which can be composed of Chardonnay which is a white grape and Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier which are red.   

The saignée, or “bleeding,” method produces not just a rosé but a red wine as well. In this process, a winemaker will make a red wine according to standard methods but will, early in the process, remove or “bleed” some of the juice from the tank leaving a more concentrated red wine behind. The product that has been removed is sold as rosé.  This practice is less common than the other production methods.

In decades past, rosé in North America was thought of as a gateway to wine.  There are still plenty of sweeter, easy drinking pink wines on the market such as ‘White Zinfandel’ or Rosato Moscato, but they’ve given up a lot of the pink market share to wines made in a more traditional crisp fresh style.

Southern France is the heartland of rosé with full bodied wines from Tavel to the classic pink wines from Provence. The primary grape in these classics is Grenache – the strawberry and citrus aromas wake up your palate and are a lovely accompaniment for food. Tavel is rosé for red wine lovers, carrying a bit spice along with the berry fruit.

Rosé is often a great value with stellar bottles under $30 and many quality offerings near or below the $20 mark


Time Posted: Apr 23, 2019 at 9:55 AM
Ruth Blakely
March 13, 2019 | Ruth Blakely

Tuscany: Beyond Sangiovese

Many of us grew up buying a cheap bottle of Chianti that came in a basket and college kids turned into a candle holder.  As the decades passed fantastic wines from the Chianti region made their way into the Alberta market.  The wines made primarily from the Sangiovese grapes remain some of the best food wines in the world.  

In the mid to late 20th century, some maverick wine makers scoffed at the strict Italian wine rules and began making premier wine with grapes that most people associated with France.  Fantastic wines made with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot started to garner rave reviews and loyal fans.  Wine critic Robert Parker is often credited with coining the term ‘Super Tuscan’ to describe these special wines.

The Italian DOC and DOCG rules meant some of Italian wines commanding the highest prices had to be called Vino da Tavola – or ‘table wine’.  The rules changed in 1992 when the IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) classification was created to accommodate them.  Now some of the premier DOCs include Super Tuscans.

Wines such as Sassicaia, Masseto, Ornellaia and Solaia come with big price, but deliver consistently spectacular wine.  They age incredibly well and are often a trophy holding pride of place in a fine wine cellar.

There’s good news for the rest of us though.  You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to enjoy these wonderful wines.  Antinori’s Tignanello is an opulent Tuscan superstar at less than half the price of the others - blending the traditional Sangiovese cherry aromas with deeper darker fruit from the Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Castel’In Villa’s Santacroce is another massive Cabernet Sauvignon blended with Sangiovese that delivers fruit, structure complexity and depth. It’s not priced like most people’s everyday drinker but is less than the cost of a gas fill-up for a big SUV.

Even more budget friendly is the Tenuta Sette Ponti Crognolo which is both Sangiovese and Merlot resulting in a wine that’s bursting with flavour without completely blowing the budget.  

Sangiovese still accounts for more than half of the vines planted in Tuscany, but they are not the only game in town.

Viva Italia!

Time Posted: Mar 13, 2019 at 2:07 PM
Ruth Blakely
January 19, 2019 | Ruth Blakely

Wines of the Rhone Valley

Winter – the Perfect Time for Wines from the Rhone

The Rhone valley in Southern France is one of our favourite regions here at Everything Wine and More. The full bodied multi-layered wines pair perfectly with a winter stew or a nice roast.

The Rhone is divided into North and South.

The north is dominated by Syrah, the rich blackberry, clove and pepper finish shows exceptionally well in the premier wines of Cote-Rotie. Producers such as Guigal and Cuilleron (among many others) make wine that show both power and elegance. While some can be consumed young, many really shine after years in the bottle. If you are drinking your Cote-Rotie young it will improve with decanting and something meaty to pair. 

Also from the north comes the rich black pepper and smoked meat aromas from the stunning Cornas. The region itself is very small but it produces some of the ‘biggest’ wines in the Rhone. Cornas is known for grippy tannin and is another wine that is at its best after some time in the bottle.

Affordable ($40 and under)  tasty options from nearby Crozes-Hermitage are a great introduction to the region.

White wine lovers have much to celebrate in the northern Rhone as well as it’s the home to Condrieu, arguably the best expression of Viogner anywhere in the world. The tropical fruit aromas play well with a hint of citrus and some will find gingerbread and allspice. Keep these in mind for upcoming Easter dinner. 

In the hotter south Grenache is dominant. From the well-priced Cotes-du-Rhone to the powerful Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Grenache is king of this sometimes underappreciated region. In Chateauneuf-du-Pape, the Grenache is blended with Mouvedre to give it structure, Cinsault for bouquet and more than a dozen other grapes producing a bold, well-balanced wine. Look for Beaucastel at the top of the market, but there are dozens of other excellent producers in the region. Cotes-du-Rhone is a bargain hunter’s dream.

The whites in the south are most often Rousanne and Marsanne. Often blended together the fatty rich mouth-feel of the Marsanne is well balanced by the more acidic and elegant Rousanne. The wines are medium bodied and often exhibit apricot and mandarin notes.

The next time you think of French wine – think Rhone!

Time Posted: Jan 19, 2019 at 8:09 AM
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