Everything Wine And More

Jeramy Torrance
May 19, 2015 | Jeramy Torrance

Summer Considerations from Jeramy Torrance

As we come around the corner of May and face the (hopefully) last snow fall of the year, a lot of folks are going to be gearing up for all kinds of summer fun. Be it patio parties, camping trips or evenings by the fire pit, there is always a great wine to accompany any outing. In today’s edition I will be sharing some of the wines I have enjoyed with family and friends over the long winter months to help spark some ideas for your upcoming events. 

Cavicchioli Vino Spumante Demi-Sec $12.99 – (Campegine, Italy) 

There have been many birthdays I have attended between November and May, and what goes better at parties than a spot of bubbly? I first sampled this wine as a last minute gift. It was very reasonably priced at $13 a bottle and had a very flashy label; Who doesn’t love a pretty label? This style of Italian sparkling wine is known as a spumante, which literally means ‘sparkling wine’, and is no indication of sweetness or grapes used. Not to be confused with commercial brands like Spumante Bambino or Martini Asti ,spumante is a general term to refer to Italian sparkling wine. In Alberta, a large portion of what is available from Italy is called prosecco. In order for a wine to be labelled as Prosecco, it must come froma specific regionand be made with the glera grape.TheCavicchioli Spumante is made from Malvasia and is crafted in a demi-sec style which means that a larger portion of residual sugar was left behind after fermentation. This style of wine can also be called off-dry or extra-dry when referring to sparkling wines. It is a bright and effervescent wine, pale straw yellow incolour. On the nose, I found it light and fresh with green apples and pear that carry onto the palate with a touch of white flowers that finishes with a touch of sweetness. This will be a beautiful wine to have on its own when the sun is high in the sky. Think about indulging the next time you have to entertain on the patio or need a break from digging in the garden. 

Les Quatre Tours Rosè $16.99 – (Provence, France) 

A beautiful thing happens in the wine industry over the course of the next few months. The delicate and pretty-pink Rosè wines from Provence slowly make their way onto shelves. To many people, the only exposure to rosè wines they have had is to the cheap and sweet version such as White Zinfandel or Pink Moscato. Rosès produced in Provence are on a completely different level. These dry rosè wines are delicate, pretty and impeccably well-balanced. Typically, one can expect the wine to have hints of white flowers and a distinct white candy note on the nose (think of the little rocket candies you hand out at Halloween). This is exactly what you can expect from Les Quatre Tours – a pretty and delicate wine with a beautiful flowery nose with lighter notes of candy floss and strawberry. Light pink salmon in colour it is a blend of Grenache, Syrah,Cinsault and Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a perfect wine for warmer days and pairs perfectly with light salads, cured or cold meats.  

Mission Hill Compendium 2010 $60.99 – (Okanagan Valley, Canada) 

I had the opportunity to participate in a very unique tasting. I had been cellaring a bottle of Mission Hill Compendium 2009 for just over a year before I decided to open it. A co-worker of mine here at Everything Wine happened to also have their hands on a bottle of the 2008 vintage and we were able to put them side by side and compare the differences. The major difference between the two vintages is that the 2008 displayed a lot more savory characteristics such as chocolate, tobacco and leather. The 2009 was beginning to show a bit of the tertiary characters as well, but still dripped of succulent red currant and cassis. Both of these vintages exhibited perfectly integrated tannins with a nice cut of acidity to balance out the finish. From the 2010 vintage, the current release, one can expect a full-bodied wine composed of 41% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot and 21% Cabernet Franc. A little on the indulgent side, this is not a wine for every day quaffing, but makes for a beautiful accompaniment to a special evening. I strongly recommend laying this bottle down for at least a year further before enjoying it, to give it a chance to start to develop those deeper flavours and aromas. Strong flavoured cheeses and a nice Rib-Eye steak grilled to medium-rare is the perfect food pairing for this gem. 

Time Posted: May 19, 2015 at 9:52 AM
Jeramy Torrance
September 29, 2014 | Jeramy Torrance

Comparing Premium Wines from the Old World and USA

Our last Premium Gems event in August was a big success, everyone had a great time and we all got to try some really awesome wines. In light of the event, I am going to talk a bit about the line-up for anyone who couldn’t be there that night. The theme was USA versus the World, and the aim was to pair unique wines against each other that really showed off those classic nuances you find from different regions around the world. To emphasize this, I selected some wines that I felt really show-cased the beauty of the terroir and the styles from these regions.

FIRST PAIR: Roederer Anderson Valley Brut  ($32.49) VS Louis Roederer Premier Brut Champagne ($59.99)

The first pairing pitted the Roederer sparkling from the US against its French counterpart. In composition, the main difference is that no Pinot Meunier is grown in the US vineyards, therefore the Roederer from the US is composed from a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. We sampled the Anderson Valley Brut first. Pale straw in colour with a nice head of foam, the wine gives off tart aromas of apples and pears with a line of baking yeast. Bright acidity gives a very lively palate with a green apple finish that has a bit of pucker power. The bubbly had a medium level of carbonation with a medium length finish. The fruit was definitely emphasized in this creation, carrying those green apple and pear notes from start to finish.

Moving on to the Louis Roederer Champagne from France, it poured the same colour with a little bit more foam on the head. The fruits on the nose again showed the apple and pear, with a bit of brioche and baked pastry showing as well. On the palate, the bready, pastry notes really showed themselves mingling with a nice line of mineral acidity. The French Champagne definitely showed a more elegant finesse than the Anderson Valley Brut, however the US counterpart is a good fill in for someone who enjoys the profile of champagne, without spending Champagne prices.

SECOND PAIR: Burrowing Owl Pinot Gris 2013 ($29.99) VS Eroica Riesling 2012 ($33.99)

For the second pair, I selected two of my favorite whites that I think truly show off the character of their growing regions. Pinot Gris has a lovely little niche here in Canada, showing up in most winery line-ups. Nichol dazzles year after year with their lovely salmon-pink Pinot Gris and places like Ruby Blues and Sandhill make their own beautiful renditions. The one I focused on in this class is one of my favorites; the Burrowing Owl Pinot Gris. At 29.99 it is an absolute steal of a wine, way out-performing its price range. The nose is flowery and pretty with a hint of peach orchards. The palate carries medium weight with a nice toned down acidity to compliment the peaches and cream notes. A lovely light sipper, it goes a long way to show the quality of wines we can produce in the Okanagan.

Its rival in this competition was the Eroica Riesling from Columbia Valley in Washington State. Eroica is a joint-venture between Chateau St. Michelle, one of the premier Riesling producers in Washington, and Dr. Loosen of the Mosel Valley in Germany. Together they make a stunning off-dry white with bright crisp acidity and tremendous pairing potential. For a 2012, I was surprised at the petrol notes that came off this pale-gold wine. A lot of ripe stone fruit up front, more typical of a colder climate, lots of peaches and pear. The finish was medium in length, with just a touch of residual sugar to carry through.

THIRD PAIR: Villa Cafaggio Cortaccio 2005 ($47.99) VS Rutherford Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 ($45.99)

In round three it was battle of the Cabs, with Villa Cafaggio’s 100% Cabernet from Italy up against Rutherford Hills classic Napa Valley Cab. Calling the “Golden Basin” of Chianti its home, the Cortaccio comes from the heart of Tuscany. Only about 15% of Villa Cafaggio’s vineyards are comprised of Cabernet Sauvignon, the rest being used exclusively for Sangiovese. Since it’s a 2005 vintage, with a bit of age the wine was deep garnet with a little bit of brown showing on the edge. The nose hit strong with prunes and stewed fruits, very classic Italian. Even with the age, the fruit was still quite prominent on the palate, loads of blackberry and raspberry. A touch of earthiness showed itself on the mid-palate like a wet forest floor. Some mushroom notes carried through to the finish where the tannins were still very prominent and mouth-filling. It drank really well that night, but still has the potential to age for 3-5 more years.

On the younger side, the 2010 Rutherford Hill Cab Sauv was a bright ruby red. The nose was fresh, with loads of black berry and cassis. One striking observation about this bottle was upon first opening it there were very pronounced notes of tobacco, however by the time we tasted it near the end of the class most of it had blown off and only a slight linger remained. On the palate, it had loads of the same dark fruits with a bit of black cherry mingling with the cassis. A fresh note, something reminiscent of pine, was detectable as well. I found the wine to have a nice little bite of acidity right on the end, with silky tannins that had already integrated well. The Rutherford Hill did not have the same kind of power and structure as the Cortaccio, but is certainly more approachable now and will be reaching its peak in another year or so.

FOURTH PAIR: Halter Ranch Cotes de Paso 2011 ($45.99) VS Zenato Amarone Classico ($45.99)

We looked at red blends for the final pair, facing off the exciting new Halter Ranch from Paso Robles, USA versus an Italian staple, Amarone, specifically from the Zenato winery. In this final pairing, I wanted to show off some bigger, boozier examples that can come from some playful wine-making techniques. Calling Paso Robles its home, Halter Ranch is much further South than the Napa Valley wineries. The Pacific Ocean lends its influence to keep a very even heat throughout the summer, allowing slow and evening ripening to maximize flavour concentration.  The reason I picked the Cotes de Paso for this category is the interesting choice of grape blend. 48% Grenache, 27% Syrah, 19% Mourvedre and 6% Tannat. The wine was a lovely mix between garnet and purple, but still a little bit see-through. Red berries and spice dominated the nose with a pine-like freshness. On the palate, well balanced acidity entwined with notes of raspberry, sour cherry and loads of baking spice with that bit of pine still lingering on the back of the palate. This red ends strong, with beautiful chalky tannins that coat the tongue, making the finish persist endlessly.

The last wine of the evening is one of my favorites, the Zenato Amarone Classico. For those who don’t know, Amarone is made by harvesting the grapes and then drying them out on straw mats. The resulting raisins are then pressed to make the wine. By going through this drying process, it concentrates the sugars by taking the water out of the grape and provides some incredibly intensely flavored wines that are full-bodied. This particular Amarone has a pungent aroma of perfumes, black cherries and black berries with a bit of smoky spice. The palate was intense and powerful, loaded with rich red and black fruits, chocolate and just a hint of lavender. Chewy, mouth-filling tannins round out the never-ending finish that continues to linger with hints of spice and berries.

Overall, the class was a big success and everyone enjoyed themselves. With Summer coming to a close and moving into Autumn, we are looking towards the gift giving season, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for more Premium Gems events in the coming months, as well as the return of weekly vintage tastings. As always, if you ever have any questions about what is written here or any other wine questions feel free to come chat with me inside our Vintage Room. 

Time Posted: Sep 29, 2014 at 1:46 PM
Jeramy Torrance
May 7, 2014 | Jeramy Torrance

All's Well and Zinfandel!

In my last entry, I made a comment about how I have been watching wine trends. For today’s edition, I want to touch on that again with a little more in-depth discussion. The goal of this article will be to explore and educate on the Lodi appellation in California; what makes it special, what kind of styles they focus on, and what to look out for. I will follow of this up with some tasting notes and products for you to try.

As an appellation, Lodi gained its designation in 1986 as an AVA: American Viticultural Area (similar to DOCGs from Italy for example). Situated east of San Francisco, Lodi finds its home at the edge of the Sacramento River Delta [1]. For perspective, this places Lodi South-East of the famed Napa Valley. Originally, the area produced a lot of bulk grapes to be shipped throughout California for the production of California Winemaker Blends [3]. One of the most prominent grapes grown in Lodi is Zinfandel, a big, thick skinned grape. Using Zinfandel in blends adds deep purple hues, making red wines look more appealing, and giving a good dose of fruity flavours which is favourable for higher production wineries looking to beef up their reds. Big blends like Apothic Red and our own Unruly Red lend some of their appeal to Zinfandel grapes coming from the Lodi region. In recent years, more producers are now seeing the potential of bottling their own estate wines over selling off their grapes to other wineries. This has caused a surge of wineries sprouting up in the last decade, and the proliferation of the ‘Lodi’ appellation appearing on bottle labels.

Just over a decade ago, Lodi had 10 wineries. Today there are over 75 and the number is continuing to grow [1, 2]. Lodi growers are known for their old vine Zinfandel (some vines have been in the ground from as far back as the civil war). If you have never seen old vines before, I recommend looking up some photos. They are stubby, gnarly, low lying branches that look like something from a Gothic horror novel. As the vines get older, they produce less fruit but give more concentrated flavours to the wines. There are numerous sub-regions within Lodi that see various degrees of soil composition that lend to the creation of some pretty unique wines [1, 3]. Spanish varietals such as Albarino and Tempranillo are being grown with moderate success, as well as some Rhone varietals such as Carignane (which gains an E in the US) [3,4]. High quality Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc also emerge from this region, sporting the ‘Lodi’ AVA proudly on the bottle.

Generally speaking, Lodi is a very warm climate. Being further inland than Napa Valley, it does not benefit as much from the coastal winds coming off the Pacific. Hot winds rise and bring in cool breezes from the Delta, cooling the region and providing a long warm growing season that is focused within a 30 mile corridor around Lodi. Some exceptional vintages, 2010 and 2011, saw below average temperatures through most of the region [3]. This allowed for a slower, more even ripening and has caused the old-vine Zin from those vintages to really shine. Other things to keep an eye out for are new wines on the rise. With the 2014 growing season in full-swing, we can expect to see the 2012 releases hitting shelves soon (if they haven’t done so already at the time this blog is published).

With all of the technical jargon out of the way, I would like to delve into what products from Lodi can be found on the shelves here for you to enjoy. One of the biggest names in wine, Mondavi, hosts his entire Woodbridge line of wines, which is a more value-based brand, out of the appellation. The terrior allows for some high quality grapes at lower prices than can be found in Napa and the Greater Sonoma area. There is a good collection of killer mid-range wines hailing from the region as well, such as the Earthquake Zinfandel or wines from Cline vineyards.

I would like to finish off with some tasting notes of products to try, as I am usually inclined to write about. The main inspiration for this article was a meeting with Scott Montgomery from the Delicato Family Vineyards. Scott shared some of his Lodi Appellation wines with the staff and helped educate us a little on the main directives of the wineries that full under the DFV label.

Gnarly Head Zinfandel $18.99

Coming from vines with ages ranging from 35-80 years old, Gnarly Head packs the intense flavours of an old-vine Zin at a pretty reasonable price bracket. The word Gnarly used in the title is due to the gothic-looking nature of the pruned vines that I mentioned earlier, as well as the surfer slang to describe something interesting as ‘gnarly, dude’. The style of Gnarly Head advocates the use of zero oak in the production of the wine, giving a much better sight into the fruit profile of the Zinfandel grape without the added vanilla and spice that comes from extensive oak aging you find on most American Zin. It is a blast of ripe raspberry, blue berry and boysenberry and refreshing acidity. Tannins are still evident from the grape skin, but the overall dryness is lessened by the stainless steel fermentation. A beautiful barbeque wine, enjoy it with back ribs glazed with a savory sauce with a touch of sweetness.

Noble Vines: 181 Merlot and 337 Cabernet Sauvignon $16.99

The other product line Scott introduced us to was the Noble Vines line. Specifically, he tasted us on the 181 Merlot and the 337 Cabernet Sauvignon. The number on the wine label represents the specific clone of the grape variety used to create the wine. Clone 181 of Merlot was born in Pomerol, France and is valued for its late-blooming nature. In Lodi soils, it offers up a Bordeaux-style wine, elegantly displaying cherry, blackberry and sweet spice on the nose. Smooth tannins support the core flavors of plum and spice, balanced by a lovely cut of acidity. Preferred food pairing is with saucy Italian pastas or braised lamb shanks.
Clone 337 of Cabernet also calls Bordeaux its home, but finds favorable climate in Lodi. Sunny days followed by cooling nights play a key role in bringing out the best of the grape. The grapes of the 337 Cabernet undergo two fermentations: it starts with a whole grape fermentation, to extract additional flavor from the skin before the grapes are pressed and a secondary fermentation takes place. This results in a wine with supple tannins, good acidity, and an unmistakable blackberry/black cherry core. Neutral oak is utilized (2-5 years old) to give only a slight influence to the wine, adding a bit of toast and black pepper spice on the back of the palate. The fruit is the real star with this wine, making it pair well with sweet barbeque and roasted pork loin.

That wraps up the latest edition of my wine blog. Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I invite anyone to comment with their own thoughts and opinions this might invoke. Have a cool wine story to tell? Come visit me in store and we can swap stories.


[1] http://www.lodiwine.com/

[2] http://www.lodigrowers.com/

[3] http://www.snooth.com/articles/live-from-lodi/

[4] The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson, Jancis Robinson and Mitchell Beazley (5th Edition)

Time Posted: May 7, 2014 at 5:15 PM
Jeramy Torrance
February 18, 2014 | Jeramy Torrance

Back From the Holiday Sippers

After a bit of a hiatus in January, I am back to excite and awe with a new selection of some wonderful products. I am featuring a Russian River Valley Chardonnay, a red blend from Washington and a barrel-aged Gin from Columbia.

Paul Hobbs 2010 Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($53.99)

With each bottle I have the pleasure of opening, I am falling more and more in love with the Chardonnays of the world. This specific rendition hails from California and displays the quintessential characteristics of wines found in the Russian River Valley region. Aged for a full year in French Oak (52% new) the wine takes on a lovely golden hue and an aroma akin to cream and peaches. Bright and fresh, the toast from the oak is evident on the nose. The most striking aspect of this wine for me is the beautifully balanced acidity and the luxurious mouth-feel, rounded out by a wonderful mineral undertone that lingers on the palate. This wine was featured in an Old World vs New World wine comparison I had conducted in our classroom back in November and has been on my mind ever since. Gorgeous and beautifully constructed, it is a stunning new world addition and definitely worth a gander for a white wine drinker looking for that special bottle for their next event.

Radius 2011 Washington State Red Blend ($15.99)

The world of wine can be very trendy, but unpredictable as to what the new “it” wine will be.  One trend I have noticed is an increase in interest of American wines, specifically from the states of Washington and Oregon. In light of this trend, I decided to grab a bottle of the Radius red blend after work. A medium bodied blend, the composition of this blend is a closely kept secret (in that the internet could not tell me what the components were). It hits the palate with bright red fruits and a lively acidity, secondary flavors hint at vanilla and a bit of spice coming from some oak aging. This is a bottle I would pull out for a night by the fire, with a few finger foods on the side. It does not carry the body to stand up to a hearty meal of steak and potatoes, but it will scratch your wine itch if you are just looking for a smooth, easy drinking red.

Dictador Colombian Ortodoxy Gin ($45.49)

On to the main event! We have recently taken some great strides to condense down our whisky shelves to make room for some other fantastic spirits. One of the biggest improvements we made was vastly improving our stock of rums, including my all-time favorite brand Dictador out of Colombia. I was first introduced to the brand in a prior job and instantly fell in love. At the time I had heard they were working on a gin which would be aged in their used rum barrels. Years later, I still remember the conversation with the distiller and am glad to say that we have in fact acquired this magical spirit! This bottle boasts some serious layers, starting on the nose with a light juniper note that is accompanied with lemon, mint and spices. Tiny hints of blueberry and cinnamon can be found trailing on the finish. As the gin hits your tongue it is coated with the flavors of the barrels. Brown sugar and molasses blend with vanilla and cinnamon, promptly followed by the bitter roots and botanicals that make up the savory side of the gin. The flavors are constantly evolving from start to finish, delivering a wide range of sensations with a good balance between sweet and sour. It creates an absolutely fantastic spirit that was well worth the wait. My preferred cocktail is equal parts gin to tonic, garnished with a fresh lime wedge. If you recall my past entry, I follow a strict “No Straws” policy. A drink of this caliber deserves to be drunk from the rim!

In closing, I would like to thank all of my readers for again taking the time to see what I have to say. I try to keep the entries light hearted and humorous so they are not a dry read while still being informative so you as a consumer can get more out of your purchasing decisions. I am always looking to try new things, so if you think you have a beverage that outshines the rest feel free to let me know. I may end up featuring it in my next blog. Cheers!

Time Posted: Feb 18, 2014 at 10:18 AM
Jeramy Torrance
November 18, 2013 | Jeramy Torrance

Christmas White, Big Juicy Red, & a Rich Opulent Sherry: Wines for Every Palate!

Congratulations! We made it through the first snow fall of the year! Now as an extra special reward I have decided to coin up another blog. On the docket today I have two fantastic wines and a very special sherry. Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Sandhill Small Lots Viognier 2011 – British Columbia, Canada ($31.99 / 750mL)

When it comes to higher-end wine products, it’s not uncommon to find that most people do not consider Canada to be a big contender for producing fine wine. With that in mind, I am going to try to shatter that perception and bring to light some of the magical things we have been growing on vines here in our own native soil. Sandhill winery in the Okanagan has what they call the Small Lots Program. This is a program that was instituted to create something truly unique and bring some incredibly cool things to the market. The grapes can come from small select pickings that show exceptional character or a specific vineyard block where they are trying new agricultural techniques. The idea is to bottle a wine that is special and can only be found here. Their Small Lots Program has the honor of being the only vineyard in Canada to grow the Italian varietals Barbera and Sangiovese.

From this Small Lots Program, Sandhill has produced one of the best white wines I have ever had the pleasure to try. Their 2011 Viognier comes from the Osprey Ridge Vineyard, a warmer growing site in the Okanagan. Viognier requires a bit more heat to reach full ripeness and it finds a lovely home in this vineyard, resulting in an intensely aromatic wine with notes of peaches and apricots. Another striking quality about this bottle is the marvelous floral character that comes out on the nose, like a fresh bouquet of white flowers. The final product is a fuller-bodied white wine with a perfect, crisp finish of acidity to back up the richer body. If you’re looking for something special to have this Christmas I recommend pairing this with your upcoming holiday dinner.

Mollydooker The Boxer Shiraz 2011 – McLaren Vale, Australia ($29.99 / 750mL)

Mollydooker is an endearing Australian term to refer to a left-handed person. The brainchild of Sparky and Sarah Marquis, the Mollydooker wines have a very strong scientific background. The husband and wife team work together with Leigh, Sparky’s father, who is an engineer by trade and has established his own successful award-winning vineyards in Tasmania. The main goal of the winery is to produce incredibly rich, intense, fruit forward wines. This all starts in the vineyard, where very strict and specific watering and pruning cycles are maintained in order to make incredibly ripe grapes. This ripeness is transferred to the wine, which produces that incredibly rich and intense flavor profile.

Once the grapes are picked and pressed, the wine must fulfill another criterion before it is bottled and labeled. The Marquis Fruit Weight is a system set up by Sparky Marquis that measures how much of a fruit’s “weight” is detected on the palate before the character of the wine comes out. It is a percentile, starting at the tip of the tongue and making its way to the back. A quick example, the Boxer Shiraz which I will gush about in a second has a fruit weight  of 65 – 70%. This means that in order for the juice to qualify for The Boxer, it must cover at least 65% of the palate with the ‘velvet glove’ sensation of fruit that sits on your tongue.
(See http://www.mollydookerwines.com/MollydookerStory/FruitWeight.aspx).

With all the technical jargon out of the way, let me tell you about The Boxer. Opulent, unctuous, and rich; just a few descriptors I can throw at this wine. Coming in at a heady 16% alcohol, you know this wine is going to be big and flattering. It is intensely flavored and incredibly new-world in composition. When pairing with food make sure flavours of the dish are just as intense as the wine or this wine will completely overshadow the meal. Pair with a thick cut steak on the grill or fall of the bone ribs drenched in a sweet/spicy BBQ sauce! There is so much fruit and flavor; it’s hard to believe they fit it all into the one bottle!

One more thing to mention about Mollydooker, is how they preserve their wine. Rather than using added sulphites, they add a touch of nitrogen to every bottle. While this reduces allergic reactions and makes the wine open to more consumers, nitrogen can compress the flavors of the wine. What they recommend is to do the “Mollydooker Shake” before enjoying the wine – a rather humorous video of Sarah Marquis boogying with a bottle of wine is available for instruction purposes. By pouring a half-glass of wine, resealing the bottle, turning it upside down and giving it a shake, you release the nitrogen which allows those flavors to come back in full.

Gonzales Byass Noe 30 Year Solera Sherry – Jerez, Spain ($31.99 / 375mL)

When I was younger, I always assumed sherry was a beverage that my grandparents drank every night to help with digestion. I had never really considered it a beverage that someone my age could enjoy-that is until I met Antonio Flores. We were graced with a visit by Antonio a few months ago, marking his first visit to Canada. Antonio is the head winemaker at the Gonzalez Byass Winery in Jerez, and the mastermind behind all the gorgeous wines that come from the facility. During his visit, I was introduced to numerous different styles of Sherry; from the dry Fino Tio Pepe to the succulent and sweet Nutty Solera. The one that tugged at my heart strings was the very last in the line-up, a 30 year old Solera.

 Solera is an aging process by which you blend fractional amounts of product of varying ages, with the average age increasing gradually as the process continues over many years. In the case of the Noe sherry, each year new barrels of Pedro Ximenez (the grape varietal used to create the wine) is fermented and barreled. Every few years, they take about twenty percent of the new barrel and add it to the last harvest. That same barrel has had twenty percent of its wine removed and added to the year before it. The process continues like that for many years until you have the final barrel, a blend of numerous different ages leading up to one glorious finish. Antonio educated the staff here at Everything Wine and More on this process, and spoke very passionately about his wines. An absolutely charming man, it was a real treasure to meet someone like him. Through him you can really tell the passion that goes into making great wines and how each individual wine maker has their own personal flare to bring to every single bottle.

To recap, the Noe, now aged for 30 years via the Solera system is ready for the consumer! What struck me first was the colour. The wine is dark auburn, edging onto black. It looks and pours like warm molasses. The smell is intense and powerful, jammed full of sweet fig jam, honey, and fruit preserves, brown sugar, chocolate and a nice bit of cedar smoke. Once the sherry hits the tongue, you are introduced to a world of flavours. It is delightfully sweet, like milk chocolate, and it coats your tongue with a velvety grasp. The flavour never seems to leave your mouth, an everlasting testament to the glory of the wine. Rich, supple and delectable, the palate opens up to coffee, sweet oak vanillin, chocolate, molasses, figs, and dried fruit. There is so much character packed into this tiny little 375mL bottle and it absolutely blew me away. This was a real eye-opener for me and let me know just how amazing sherry can be as a product. This would pair great with nice, rich chocolate or vanilla ice cream. Better yet, serve it slightly chilled on its own as the dessert.

On December 16th I will be teaching a second class! If you enjoyed my90+ Point wines class, then you will love this. I will be hosting a single blind tasting where we will compare and contrast old world and new world wine styles. This is a bit of a special class as it is our second Vintage Classroom Event, which means it features wines all found from our vintage room. The best part? Tickets are only $20 dollars! Come visit our store in Sherwood Park at 25-100 Broadview Drive or call 780-417-3356 to get your tickets now.

Time Posted: Nov 18, 2013 at 8:25 AM
Jeramy Torrance
September 12, 2013 | Jeramy Torrance

Autumn Gems For Every Drinker

Now into the full swing of September, Fall is just around the corner and to commemorate it I have selected a few products that I feel really bring the spirit of the season to life.

Guy Saget Vouvray $17.99

With October looming in the distance, for some people it is time to start thinking about stuffing smaller birds into larger birds. If Turducken isn’t your thing, than perhaps a plain old Ham or Turkey is what you look forward to on Thanksgiving. Regardless of your meal choice, I have a superb French white that will delight your taste buds and truly compliment the meal and company of your Thanksgiving celebrations. Reigning in from Vouvray in the Loire Valley of France this off-dry white is made using Chenin Blanc. The nose is laced with wonderful nuances of stone fruits and a lovely grain of flinty acidity. Wines from Vouvray have always been one of my favorites, being the first wine to ever catch my interest and it makes me glad to be able to share this treat with my readers now that we have acquired the Guy Saget Vouvray. Come talk wine with me, and pick up a bottle at a steal of $17.99.


Les Halos de Jupiter Adrastee Chateauneuf-du-Pape $67.99

Picture perfectly seared Chateaubriand, the juices flowing as the meat is sliced to reveal a rare center. Smells and aromas of sage, pepper and other savory spices mingle with the roasted beef tenderloin. Now picture taking a long, satisfying sip of 100% Grenache, aged in 1 year old Burgundy barrels. I had the joy of enjoying a phenomenal meal at the Chateau LaRonde this past weekend, and it marks the first time I have ever used corkage in a restaurant to bring my own bottle. The service was superb, being treated by the in-house Sommelier we chatted fine wines in between courses. She opened and decanted my bottle for an hour before our main course was served, an excellent choice on her part as the aromas of the wine really started to open up after that time. Deep, delicious scents of licorice, cherries, spice, and just a touch of earth, this 2009 Chateauneuf feels very New World in its creation, boasting a fruitier appeal than I would expect in a French Rhone. It drinks superb when it’s young, but will stay fresh for at least a decade, pick up this fantastic number for $67.99 from our vintage room.


Alley Kay Pumpkin Pie Ale $5.49

Sugar, spice and everything nice. It’s not what little girls are made of, but rather the new seasonal brew that our local Alley Kats have brewed up. In case you have never been, Alley Kat is located in the heart of Edmonton and they brew some of the best craft beers I have ever had the pleasure to try. With Autumn just around the corner they have just released a batch of their Pumpkin Pie Ale, which to this day is the best pumpkin ale I have ever tried. The ingredient list is simple: water, malt, yeast, hops, REAL pumpkin and spices (cinnamon, cloves). It gives the beer a very authentic smell and taste, nothing artificial about this ale. At $5.49 for a 650mL big bottle, you simply cannot miss your chance to try this if you have never had the opportunity before. It is only around for a limited time, so don’t wait to come in grab some for yourself!


As with all of my writing, I like to leave a closing note for those of you who are faithful enough to continue through to the end. We are really starting to make a name for ourselves here in Sherwood Park, and we are still seeing a lot of new faces coming by to check us out. I would like to invite you to participate in some of our phenomenal events we have planned for the next few months.

The First Annual Everything Wine and More Food & Wine Festival will take place Wednesday October 30, 2013 from 7:00-9:00pm. It is open to ticket holders only, which can be purchased in store for $20 dollars. We will be show casing some amazing products paired with local cuisine. Tickets are limited and will sell-out so please do not hesitate to pick up yours today.

If you are looking for something a little more intimate and really enjoy my blogs, I am going to be teaching a class in mid to late October on 90+ Point wines. I recommend this class to anyone who likes to find amazing gems that won’t cost an arm and a leg, as I run through a flight of wines under $25.

Time Posted: Sep 12, 2013 at 8:24 AM
Jeramy Torrance
July 12, 2013 | Jeramy Torrance

Hanging on the Vine

 I have decided to forgo beer and whisky as my drink of choice at social gatherings and have been more akin to crack open a bottle of wine to sip whilst I engage in social interaction. I have had a lot of fantastic wines from a whole slew of price ranges, giving me a lot of fodder to stuff into today’s edition.

When it comes to food pairings, I am oft to find I do not agree with the “experts” about what wines to have with certain foods. However, barring past experiences I decided to open up the La Piuma Chianti with a pasta dish. Using a tomato based sauce with some added beef and veggies, the acidity in the wine paired marvelously with the sauce. I found the wine made my mouth water, leaving me craving more food while the pasta gave the wine more depth and a whole new level of flavor; in short, breathtaking. For $13.99, La Piuma is a steal.

Moving on to the next day, I decided to open up my Chilean bottle of Emiliana Coyam Red Blend. A blend of primarily Syrah, Carmenere, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, upfront, it was big tannins and dark fruits. The wine has a nice heat from the alcohol that pushes through the finish, giving the wine a spicy bite. Pairing it with some left over steak bites really helped integrate the tannins making the wine very enjoyable. Emiliana is a biodynamic vineyard, which in laymen terms means the wine is produced in a completely natural way. Biodynamic is more a way of life rather than an agricultural technique, and involves a lot more than simply excluding pesticides and other practices that make wines organic. I would recommend reading into it a bit more on your own, as I could fill pages of information on biodynamic techniques and practices. Rated 90 points by both Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate, this wine is superbly priced at $24.29 and has some major cellaring potential.

Speaking of big, rustic South American wines, try Trivento Amado Sur from Argentina which is a blend of Malbec, Bonarda, and a tiny bit of Syrah; it retails at $14.99. I have consistently seen it featured as a 90 point wine and with a clean, attractive, and eye-catching label I decided to give it a shot. I was immediately impressed by the aromas of juicy fruits with a touch of dusty spice to give a little more complexity. Malbec can be a very rustic grape with big, robust tannins but blended with the Bonarda really softens out the final piece on the palate. You get all of that wonderful dark fruit and spice without the puckering and dry gums. The finish is medium length, ending on an earthy, spicy note.

Last but certainly not least is the Vineland Estates 2007 Reserve Cabernet Merlot from the Niagara Peninsula. Venture into our vintage room and you will find this gem for $41.49. This smooth red is a blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot. I first tasted this wine with Alan Schmidt, the wine maker and President of Vineland Estates. In light of that, I picked up a bottle and took it to a summer get together around the fire pit. On its own, I find Cab Franc to be green and exhibiting lots of those bell pepper aromas which is not something I prefer. However, blended with merlot, these two medium bodied grapes bring a whole new meaning to the term delicious. From when the cork first pops, the wine is zippy with lots of ripe fruit flavors and a touch of smoke on the nose. As the bottle starts to open up, the fruit flavors mellow out and the wine takes on a silky character. By the end of the night, I could have sworn I was drinking something else. With time, the true nature of the wine comes out in a supple, earthy concoction that is absolutely to die for.

On top of all these new experiences, I have also picked up a few new bottles to store in my cellar, keep an eye out to see my notes on those wines if and when I decide to crack them open. I am very excited to share my experiences on the Les Halos des Jupiter 2009 Chateauneuf-du-Pape and the Lopez De Haro 2005 Reserva in the coming months.

One final note to make, I have recently been given the privilege of over-looking the vintage room at the Everything Wine and More in Sherwood Park. I am trying to get some exciting things in motion, one of which being more sampling of the wines we keep tucked in there. Visit us this weekend (July 12-14) for a chance to try to the Vina Maipo Protegido Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile retailing at $47.99!

Time Posted: Jul 12, 2013 at 2:39 PM
Jeramy Torrance
June 14, 2013 | Jeramy Torrance

New Treats to Try

A lot has been happening here at the store in the last little while. We had a visit from the wine maker of Joie Farms out of the Okanagan, I personally got to meet Alan Schmidt of Vineland Estates, and we hosted our first private classroom function. On top of all of that, we have been bringing in a lot of exciting new products! I have had the pleasure of being able to sample a few and I’d like to share my finds with the rest of you.

Melville’s Craft Fruit Beers – Strawberry, Raspberry, and Ginger ($11.49 per 4 Pack)

For those of you familiar with Innis & Gunn beers out of the UK, you’ll have to check out their new venture, Melville’s Craft fruit beers! The three new flavours are produced in small batches by the distillery. Personally, my favourite is the Strawberry. With a touch of sweetness it reminds me of freshly made strawberry jam. Don’t let the fruitiness fool you these are real beers with fruit flavour and not the other way around. The Raspberry is reminiscent of a Raspberry pie and the Ginger packs a nice kick at the end of your palate. Considering I am not entirely fond of the taste of real ginger, this was a pleasant surprise. All three are delicious and refreshingly crisp! If you are not a fan of fruit beers, FEAR NOT For Innis & Gunn have released two new beers for their line.

The first is the Scottish Pale Ale, retailing at $3.79 per bottle. The beer is crisp and light, with a lovely hint of the wood coming through on the finish. With Canada’s Birthday in the near future may I present the Canadian Cherry Wood beer. What makes it Canadian? They’ve added maple syrup to the beer, which is mildly gimmicky, but it creates a nice thick beer that coats your mouth. The flavour is primarily malty with a touch of bitter on the end. I enjoyed this beer to the very last drop. It is the fifth annual release of Innis & Gunn’s limited edition brews and priced at $5.49.

Aviation American Gin -- $41.99

I am a gin lover! This means, I need to gush about the new gin that just came in a few weeks ago. Aviation is an American style gin, making it little different from the London Dry I referred to in my previous blog post. The big difference I find in this one is the smell and taste is a more robust. Sarsaparilla was used in the distillation and I find it really comes out on the nose. A total of eight spices go into the creation, including the classic Juniper and Coriander. Wine Enthusiast has called it the best gin they have ever seen, rating it at 97 points (For comparison that is 5 points higher than Bombay or Hendricks has ever been rated). For a real treat, try out the Classic Aviation Cocktail:

• 1 1/2 OZ Aviation Gin
• 1 TSP. Crème de violets
• 1/2 OZ Maraschino Liqueur
• 1/4 OZ Simple syrup
• 3/4 OZ Freshly pressed lemon juice
1. In a pint glass, add spirits & mixers
2. Fill with ice
3. Shake vigorously
4. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
5. Garnish with a cherry on a pick

One final note about gin, I need to make an amendment to a prior comment I made about “most tonics being the same”. We recently acquired a line of high end mixes; included are the QTonic, QSoda, and QGinger. Made with all natural ingredients, they are crisp and clean. One of the interesting facts I learned is that it has 60% of the calories of the tonics you find at your grocery store. Try your next Gin and Tonic with a bottle of QTonic for $2.79, or pick up a four pack for $10.99.

Sebastiani Merlot 2007 (Sonoma, California) -- $18.99

Seeing as this is Everything Wine and More we need to talk Wine! I spent days mulling over what I could write about when inspiration struck me with a random staff sample of one of our display wines. I have not had the opportunity to try a large variety of merlot, and for the most part I was not a big fan of what I have had. This 2007 has changed my opinion on that! Since it's 6 years old, the wine has seen a good amount of bottle aging which has really softened the tannins. The smell is primarily plummy; it reminds me of a Taylor LBV Port if it was deprived of all the sugar. The fruit carries onto the palate, but the real pleasure comes from the silky feeling of the tannins coating your mouth. Most people describe this mouthfeel as smooth which is very common for Merlots. Enjoy with stronger cheee such as a smoked Gouda or aged English Cheddar. It would be a mistake to miss out on this fantastic wine. It’s a wine that’s ready to drink now and is a great example of how good quality wines can age and make it drink like a bottle worth twice as much. Pick it up for your next dinner party and you’re sure to impress the masses.

Time Posted: Jun 14, 2013 at 1:25 PM
Jeramy Torrance
May 13, 2013 | Jeramy Torrance

Time To Start Thinking About Summer Sippers

 After a long anticipated wait, the sun has finally broken through the clouds and made all of the dreadful snow disappear. In commemoration of this joyous occasion, I would like to talk about some summer sippers! It may be a little early to call it Summer yet, but that does not mean you can’t break out the lawn chairs and enjoy a drink or two with friends. To deviate slightly from the last entry, I would like to talk not only about wine but about beer and spirits as well.

Starborough Sauvignon Blanc – New Zealand ($13.99)

So you came to visit Everything Wine and More, you approach the back of the store and find yourself staring at a bright green mountain of wine. The reason we have a mountain of it is because we grabbed as much as we could. This astoundingly crisp Sauvignon Blanc is the perfect representation of what makes the New Zealand style popular in North America. The best way to enjoy this wine is with a bucket of ice (to keep it cool, not to put into the wine), a handful of close friends, and a beautiful afternoon. The wine is grassy and clean, with bright acidity and a citrusy finish. We usually have a bottle open during our sale events, so I would strongly recommend you come down next sale weekend and give this one a try.

Bulldog Gin – London ($38.29)

When it comes to cocktails, I am absolutely in love with the Gin and Tonic. I have my favorite places to go grab one and I have my own personal recipe for making them at home. Your supermarket tonic water does not vary much by brand; it’s a bubbly clear liquid that tastes awesome when mixed. Selecting a good Gin, however, can be a daunting task. One can always fall back on the Bombay Sapphire or Tanqueray, but life is all about choices so why not try something new? This gin smells refreshing, like cut cucumbers and when you pour it into the glass it shines like liquid diamonds. It makes a very distinct and unique G&T, and I strongly recommend it.

Now for my recipe to make the best G&T: Start with 3 large ice cubes in a highball glass, pour in 1.5 oz. of Gin, fill to half an inch below the rim with tonic water. Now garnish the drink with a lime. Before drinking, try rimming the glass with the lime, squeezing the fruit into the drink and dropping the wedge into the glass then give it a quick stir (I normally just use a finger or a straw). Now drink like an adult, no straws allowed.

Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc – Alsace, France (6pack bottles for $12.99)

As I said before, it’s getting to be patio time. Personally, that means it is time for beers with friends. I adore this wheat beer for its refreshing and fruity qualities. The town the beer is produced in sits near the border of France and Germany, so I always like to joke that it is German beer inside a French bottle. The flavor is well-rounded with citrus on the nose and the palate. I would drink it anytime, anywhere; with or without food. It is reasonably priced for the quality, considering some German and Belgian six-packs can boast a 17+ price tag.

That brings an end to my second installment. If you have any thoughts on what you read, leave a comment to let me know what you think. Also, don’t forget to come visit me in store sometime. As much as I can write about wine, I have a lot more to say than what you find here. I love talking to people about wine, spirits, and beer so come have a chat with me!

Time Posted: May 13, 2013 at 10:10 AM
Jeramy Torrance
May 2, 2013 | Jeramy Torrance

Good Wine Doesn't Have To Be Expensive

I started my adventure into the world of wine back in August of 2012. Since then I have gone from never thinking to touch the stuff to now searching for various bottles to suit different occasions. As a newbie wine drinker and buyer, I understand the difficulty that comes with trying to purchase a new wine. Without knowing exactly what is in the bottle, how can you be confident that what you are purchasing will be to your liking? Now imagine that scenario, walking into a store with 1500 bottles staring back at you.

I would like to make the task of buying a new wine easier by lending my experience to instill confidence in your purchase. If you are anything like me, you find it hard to justify spending a lot of money on a bottle of wine, but some people would like to think that cheap prices mean cheap wines. I am going to go through a list of great value wines that I have discovered and would like to share with the world.

Beso de Vino Selecction Syrah/Garnacha – Spain $11.99

If you have ever visited our store and spoke to me in person, there is a high probability that you have heard me say this is the best $12 wine you can buy. To this day I still hold that belief, as this wine continues to delight everyone I recommend it to. A blend of 85% Syrah and 15% Garnacha, this wine has a lovely smell of blueberries and black cherries. The finish is soft with no harsh edges, perfect for a quiet get together with friends and family.

Trivento Mixtus Malbec/Shiraz – Argentina $9.99

Throughout the store we boast a large selection of wines at the 9.99 price range. After exploring most of what we have to offer, this is the one that stands out the most to me. It has the lovely nose of a Shiraz; fruity with a touch of spice. On the tongue, it is very fruity and medium bodied with a clean finish. Very approachable, and with a light tannin structure that gives it the character to be paired with light fare.

Dr. Loosen Riesling – Germany $15.99

For the white lovers out there, I have one final gem to talk about; Dr. Loosen Bros Riesling. A couple of weeks ago, I went through my WSET Level 1 Certification to help teach me a bit more about wines. During the class, we tasted through probably fifteen to twenty different wines with this one included in the set list. Absolutely golden on the tongue is the only way I can think to describe this wine. Chill it to about 13 degrees and drink it on the patio, you don’t even need a glass (Don’t worry, I promise I won’t tell anyone). It is an off-dry wine, but do not let that scare you away. If you can handle a little sugar, I strongly recommend you give it a try!

Time Posted: May 2, 2013 at 8:54 AM
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