imbibing: part one, tasting wines in YYC

im·bibe v. im·bibedim·bib·ingim·bibes

1. To drink.

2. To absorb or take in as if by drinking

Taking time out to enjoy life, friends, food and wine is a necessary break from hard training. So in light of that we headed east to Calgary for a tasting of British Columbia Wines at the Hotel Arts. Notice of the tasting was sent out over a month ago so there was a lot of time to look forward to this event and to be able to get out of Canmore for the day with a buddy. Folks from Calgary would probably be saying the opposite!

Initially, I was expecting the usual suspects to be present and pouring (such as Vincor, Peller et. al.) but there was an excellent breadth and depth in winery representation; from large producers such as Mission Hill Family Estate to ultra-premium wineries Le Vieux Pin, Black Hills and Laughing Stock, to name a few. As always, there was the odd winery that had a special release wine under the table ready to be shared… if you were worthy.

When you go to an informal grazing type event it can be difficult to work your way through all the wineries in the allotted time so we strategized and picked wines to taste based on price points starting with a sweep of whites first and then a second run of the room to taste select reds. We tasted close to 70+ wines yesterday and came away with some good notes and recommended wines. B.C. wines face a tough market here in Alberta as they tend to average in the mid twenty dollar price points which puts them in tough competition with New Zealand and Australia. However, there were some great values to be found and some worth spending the extra dollars for special occasions.

Part one of this post focuses on three whites at varying price points ranging from $15-$30

Best Value White Wine

Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Pinot Grigio $10.09 wholesale, $15 est. retail, sku +982819

This pinot gris is made in a lighter and easier drinking style which is why it is branded as a pinot grigio. Reminiscent of warm summer evening sips sans food. Excellent stone fruit character (think peaches) with a touch of clover honey. Great mouth feel with well rounded feel and mineral finish. Triggs is part of the Vincor Juggernaut but you can’t pass on value and great know-how from this organization.

Best White Wines for Food

A pleasant surprise was found in the Clos Du Soleil Winery’s 2009 Cappella White Meritage, $19.99 wholesale, $25 est. retail, sku +823334.

The wine was pleasant for its complexity and well made and surprising because it marks a return to BC winemaking with Anne Sperling at the helm. Anne’s pedigree starts back with making some killer wines at Cedar Creek and Ontario’s Malivoire. At Clos Du Soleil Anne has set out to make two highly framed Bordeaux style wines and the white caught me off guard. Firstly because I was not aware that Anne was the winemaker and secondly that this winery was taking a Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc wine to market that was made in a restrained and more austere French style. This wine is not in your face but let it sit on the palate and aromos of melon, green apples and honey come forward and a slight chalkiness on the finish. The wine is made very much in a Graves style and when tasting this wine your first thought will probably be dover sole to pair. Closer to home would be some halibut with a quince and kiwi salsa.

2010 Joie Farm Winery “A Noble Blend” est retail $29, sku +138263

Joie wines are about as boutique as they come. Nestled on the Naramata Bench near
Penticton the farm sits in an idyllic setting that is best visited on a bike. This wine will make you think Alsace in your glass, rich foods and caramelized onion tarts. Oily and rich on the palate with a huge floral burst of rose petal and lychee with a spicy finish and a touch of clove. The wine is a blend that is mainly split between Gewurztraminer and Riesling and topped up with a bit of Pinot Auxerrois and Pinot Gris. This is a great wine to bring out with friends. Pair with a goat cheese and onion tart or charcuterie. 

You may have to dig a bit to find some of these wines but if you are in Canmore visit Alison at the Cellar Wine Door as she usually has the Joie in stock as well as other hard to find wines. The Jackson Triggs can be found in most big box retailers such as Safeway or Solo Liquor.


About James Kendal

From finding form to building form
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