ALBERTA / FOOD & DRINK / RECIPES :: VOLUME 6 NO.5 :: OCTOBER 2017
And the award goes to…
THE BEST OF THE 2017
Alberta Beverage Awards NEARLY 300 WINNING WINES, BEERS AND SPIRITS Cooking With Brassicas | Spatch Cooking | Alberta’s Best Candy Shops
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14 VOLUME 6 / ISSUE #5 OCTOBER 2017
Four Can’t-Miss Alberta Candy Shops Halloween is coming soon, and we’re celebrating candy stores in Alberta where you’ll find unique, quirky and notable candies by Silvia Pikal
Chef-Created Halloween Party Menu Have fun this Halloween with a spectacular menu for a party you can host at home. It’s real food but Halloween-themed! by Silvia Pikal
2017 Alberta Beverage Awards Results The fifth Alberta Beverage Awards continues to grow, with more than 175 blind tasted flights assessed, representing over 30 countries by Tom Firth
12 Time to Split: Spatchcocking Poultry An easy kitchen time-saving technique by Natalie Findlay
Salutes and Shout Outs
Alberta Beverage Awards Highlights
Off The Menu – Bridgette Bar’s Roasted Yams with Garlic Labneh, Pumpkin Seed Za’atar and Charred Green Onion
Pinot Noir The little black dress in your cellar…
39 Prosecco Prosecco’s worldwide popularity keeps on growing!
Chefs’ Tips – and Tricks!
American Whiskey and Bourbon This year’s lineup featured a great mix for the Bourbon explorer
51 Gin The love affair continues…
On the Cover:
54 India Pale Ales So many choices!
Many thanks to Ingrid Kuenzel for our “Oscar” front cover photograph, and for her patience and tenacity to get the perfect wax seal!.
Letter From The Editor for our local craft producers, who feature more prominently than ever this year. We know that this issue is “a keeper” and you refer to it when deciding which wine, beer, and spirits to buy, so look out in your local liquor store for the medal stickers on the bottles of our winners. It wouldn’t be possible to run a competition of this scale without the help of so many people, so please take a bow our judges and our stewards, Alberta Culinary Tourism Alliance, Liquor Connect, and Hotel Blackfoot. Welcome to our biggest issue of the year, with the results of the biggest Alberta Beverage Awards in the five years of the competition! The growth in entries was so substantial that it makes it even more meaningful for the winners: for wineries, breweries and distilleries, small and large – and especially
Last month saw our second Edmonton Treasure Hunt – Edmonton you always do us proud. We were totally sold out again, and I’m blown away by the response from our competitors, who had so much fun discovering new restaurants and stores. Thank you to all! Cheers! Linda Garson, Editor-in-Chief
We’re thrilled to receive these messages about the Treasure Hunt and our expansion to Edmonton: “I just wanted to send you a quick note to tell you how much we loved your event, it was very well organized, diverse and introduced us to places we might not otherwise know about. We have people looking forward to joining us next year!” Robyn H, Edmonton “I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate you expanding your Culinaire magazine to include all of Alberta. I travel to Edmonton often so it was nice to see reviews of various restaurants in Edmonton. There are such great culinary offerings throughout this province; it is wonderful to have them highlighted so that people can make informed choices. Who knows, we could find new favorites!!” Lynette F, Calgary
ALBERTA / FOOD & DRINK / RECIPES Editor-in-Chief/Publisher: Linda Garson firstname.lastname@example.org Calgary Sales Director: Greg Mitchell 587-224-3270 email@example.com Edmonton Sales Director: Lisa Wolansky 587-338-8780 firstname.lastname@example.org Creative Director: Dan Clapson email@example.com Contributing Drinks Editor: Tom Firth firstname.lastname@example.org Contributing Photographer: Ingrid Kuenzel
Our Contributors < Anna Brooks
Anna Brooks is an award-winning Canadian journalist currently studying for a Masters degree in New York City. She has travelled and written in Thailand, Africa and India, and has been published in local publications including Culinaire Magazine, the Calgary Herald, and FreeFall Magazine. The tireless life of a writer means Anna loves a good fine dining experience when she can afford it. Follow her on Twitter @Anna_Brooksie.
Design: Emily Vance Contributors: Anna Brooks Jason Dziver Natalie Findlay Dong Kim Silvia Pikal
To read about our talented team of contributors, please visit us online at culinairemagazine.ca.
Contact us at: Culinaire Magazine #1203, 804 -3rd Avenue SW Calgary, AB T2P 0G9 403-870-9802
email@example.com www.facebook.com/CulinaireMagazine Twitter: @culinairemag Instagram: @culinairemag For subscriptions, competitions and to read Culinaire online: culinairemagazine.ca
< Jason Dziver
Native Calgarian Jason Dziver has been working as a photographer for the past 22 plus years, and he estimates he has taken between 18,000 to 20,000 bottle photos since he started covering wine and beverage competitions. Thinking of these numbers makes his eyes hurt. He also likes to take photos of architecture, food, people and products for local businesses and magazines. You can see more of his work at jasondziver.com.
< Silvia Pikal
Silvia Pikal is a writer and editor based in Calgary. She’s covered everything from tenant rights to the different ways to cook potatoes (and has discovered potato cake is absolutely delicious). When she’s not working, she likes hiking in the Rocky Mountains, hosting dinner parties and trying new restaurants – everything from greasy spoons to upscale eateries that serve dollops of food. Tweet her @silviapikal.
Shout Outs... After 10 years exploring the world, Edmonton Chef Scott Downey is home and has opened The Butternut Tree, paying homage to the places he’s worked while showcasing local ingredients. This 58-seat space in the Ledgeview Centre on 110 Street, boasts a panoramic view – and there’s free parking underground and at the adjacent Impark lot!
A Red Seal chef since 1994, James Hughes has opened Run Pig Run, on Calgary’s 17 Avenue SW. It’s a casual, friendly, meat-centric local hangout, open every day for lunch and dinner. The focus here is cocktails, and Adam Perry has developed a program of “Dark Meat, White Meat, and Off Cut” choices, along with Alberta craft beers and Old World wines. 99 percent of suppliers are local, with Bear and the Flower pork a specialty, but do be sure to try the excellent beet pickled eggs – and don’t miss the trifle! Parking at the back too…
14 months after closing its doors, Escoba is back! The stars have realigned for husband and wife, Chef Brad and Laurel O’Leary, and the building has had a refresh; it’s exactly the same quality and consistency, but with a few tweaks. Faves like spring rolls, tiger rose pasta, 6
signature mushroom soup, and seafood paellas are on the menu, as well as new a lamb and beef duo, steak sandwich, and more. The wine program is more Med-focused, with gamay by the glass! Sample a red wine at lunchtime - now $9/glass or $45/bottle, and half price appies welcome you back Tues-Fri 3-7 pm. Elbow Room
and dinner with signature dishes such as Scampi al Burro and Piccata al Limone, and a choice of 10 pastas including the popular Orecchiette alla Norcina and Capellini con Gamberi. Enjoy with a glass from the almost all-Italian wine list or a classic cocktail.
The smell when you enter Britannia Plaza's Elbow Room is not BC fires – it’s the cherry wood in the Grillworks Grill! Chef/owner Ryan Blackwell has created a modern Canadian menu with Pacific Northwest influences for this food-focused eatery. Their mantra? Simple-Bold-Delicious, and they live it. All proteins are local, and most seafood is Oceanwise. It’s a modern space with clean lines, serving up soul food with everything made from scratch. Pull up a stool round the open kitchen, or try the heated south-facing rooftop patio. Nibble one of 25 dishes to start (the Brussels sprouts and the smoked trout are completely addictive) along with a 6/12 oz glass of wine, or an all-Calgary draft beer. Intenso has opened after 14 years as Abruzzo on 8th Street SW in Calgary. There’s a new look but the same pride of service, and Chef Dale Nelsz has put his own stamp on the classic Italian fare. Two rooms seat 54 people for lunch
Calgary’s La Vita e Bella just set out to move the bar to make the space more inviting, and ended up completely refurbishing and rebranding as Cardinale to reflect the new neighbourhood look! Chef Steven Dowdell’s menu still focuses on local products yet honours traditional Italian methods, and on the beverage side, we’re all for Graham Teare’s Italian spirit cocktails (try a “Sage Advice”). Check out the meaty brisket and short rib polpette, house-made pastas (the carbonara uses sister restaurant, Hayden Block’s smoked pork belly!), and come back after 9pm when all pastas are half price! Open all day. Cardinale
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Off The Menu by LINDA GARSON photography by INGRID KUENZEL
We’re always on the lookout for different Thanksgiving sides, and we love Bridgette Bar’s creative twist on roasted yams. Many thanks to Executive Chef JP Pedhirney for sharing the recipe with us! Roasted Yams with Garlic Labneh, Pumpkin Seed Za'atar and Charred Green Onion
2. For the pumpkin seed Za'atar,
roughly chop the pumpkin seeds and mix together with the sumac. Set aside.
3. Cut the yams into wedges
7.5–10 cm long and 1 cm wide, leaving the skins on. In a large non-stick pan melt the butter and vegetable oil, and once the butter begins to lightly foam add your yams.
2 cups (500 mL) thick Greek yogurt 1 Tbs (15 mL) roasted garlic puree 1 cup roasted pumpkin seeds 2 Tbs sumac 2 large yams 1 Tbs (15 mL) vegetable oil 2 Tbs butter 3 green onions, cut into 5 cm strips Kosher Salt 1 lime (optional)
1. For the labneh, combine the Greek yogurt and roasted garlic puree in a mixing bowl, until fully incorporated. Season lightly with a pinch of salt. Set aside in the refrigerator.
Cook on medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, using a spatula to rotate the yam wedges so they do not burn. Use a fork and poke the yams to check their doneness, there should be no resistance and the yams should feel soft.
4. Add the green onions and cook for 1 minute. Once cooked gently season them with salt.
5. On a large serving dish spoon the
labneh on the plate spreading it around. Next place the yams over the labneh and finish with the pumpkin seed Za'atar. Squeeze fresh lime juice over the yams for an extra kick! If there’s a dish in a local restaurant that you’d love to make, let us know at culinairemagazine.ca/contact-us, and we’ll do our very best to track it down for you!
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Bring on the Brassica!
by ANNA BROOKS photography by INGRID KUENZEL and DONG KIM
Sweet Truffle Brussels Sprouts
Remember all those vegetables you hated as a kid? Brussels sprouts, cabbage, radishes… often fed to the dog or perhaps under a napkin on the side of your plate? Bringing back any memories?
of them as disease-fighting superheroes — like bok choy, Brussels sprouts and broccolini.
When it comes to cooking brassica, Robertson says the key is making sure produce is fresh, and to keep an eye on them while cooking.
Brassicas (no, it’s not a type of musical instrument) are a group of healthy green plants and root vegetables that if disguised properly, will be gobbled down by both adults and youngsters alike. Evan Robertson, executive chef of MARKET Calgary, says their farm-to-table restaurant loves featuring cruciferous vegetables — if that’s a bit wordy, just think 10
“Using Brussels sprouts as an appetizer is fun. A lot of people swing past the kitchen and tell me they no longer hate eating them,” Robertson says. “I like to show customers that by using proper handling and cooking techniques, you can create a delicious dish.”
“Smell vegetables at the store. If they have a strong aroma, they’re most likely past their prime,” he explains. “Avoid overcooking your vegetables. Respect for each item you use will benefit the end result — this is especially important to avoid any sulphurous smells.” Evan Robertson
Try making Robertson’s fantastic Sweet Truffle Brussels Sprouts at home!
Sweet Truffle Brussels Sprouts
“From appetizers to desserts, this family is so versatile,” he says. “They can end up anywhere. We’ve even played around with roasting and smoking broccoli, which gives (them) almost a meaty flavour.”
2 cups Brussels sprouts 2 cloves of garlic, minced 1 shallot, brunoised 1 Tbs (15 mL) canola oil 1 cup (240 mL) maple syrup 6 Tbs (90 mL) white wine vinegar 2 tsp truffle salt ½ cup (120 mL) truffle oil
Avoid overcooking your vegetables. Respect for each item you use will benefit the end result
1. Clean and trim Brussels sprouts. Cut in half and set aside. Have a bowl of ice water ready before starting.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a raging boil (you don’t want the water to stop boiling when you add the sprouts, so make sure you have a big enough pot). Blanch the Brussels sprouts for 1-2 minutes, and immediately transfer the sprouts to the ice water.
Rich in vitamin C, it’s not just because of the health benefits of brassica that Brochu recommends using every single part of the plant — the hard stalks and bitter leaves harbour intense flavours that can be extracted for broths and purees. Steve Brochu
The quaint town of Beaumont on the outskirts of Edmonton is home to Chartier, a rustic French Canadian inspired restaurant headed by chef Steve Brochu. Utilizing the surplus of fresh, local produce in the area, Brochu says brassica is a favourite to work with.
3. Cool completely and then drain in
a colander. Transfer sprouts to a baking sheet lined with a kitchen towel, and place in the fridge.
4. Sweat the shallots and garlic in
1. Break down cauliflower head. Place
5. When the vinegar smell has turned sweet, remove from heat and whisk in the truffle oil (an immersion hand blender gives the best results).
6. Saute or deep fry Brussels sprouts at 350º F until edges start to brown. Remove and allow oil to drain.
7. In a bowl, pour the Sweet Maple
Truffle Sauce generously over sprouts. Serve with grated feta cheese and smoked paprika aioli, or feel free to experiment with other flavours!
Here’s a mouth-watering recipe for Brochu’s famous cauliflower risotto.
Cauliflower Risotto 1 head cauliflower 4 L water 2 Tbs (30 mL) olive oil 1 yellow onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced ¼ cup (60 mL) white wine 2 cups Arborio rice
oil. Once the shallots have become translucent, add maple syrup, vinegar and truffle salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
“Don’t throw anything out!” he says. “Get the cores and leaves in water, simmer with other aromatics, and then add that back into your dish. Big flavours with zero waste!”
core and leaves in a medium pot, and fill with 4 L of water. Bring to a simmer.
2. Break down half of the
cauliflower head into small florets. Take the other half of the head and 1 L (4 cups) of cauliflower stock, and simmer until cauliflower is tender.
6. Deglaze your pan with white wine.
Add 1 cup (240 mL) cauliflower stock to pan. Stir for 10 seconds, and let rice cook.
7. When it looks like the rice has
3. Blitz in a blender until silky smooth. Store for later.
absorbed the liquid, add another cup of stock. Repeat until your risotto is cooked to al dente.
4. Add olive oil to medium-sized
8. Add 1 cup of cauliflower puree to
saucepan. Sauté onion and garlic until translucent.
5. Add cauliflower and Arborio rice. Sauté to coat everything in onions and garlic.
the risotto. It should look very creamy now. Season with salt and pepper. Finish with Parmesan cheese or white chocolate if you’re feeling adventurous! Anna Brooks is an award-winning journalist and graduate student currently living and studying in New York City. 11
Time To Split: Spatchcocking Poultry story and photography by NATALIE FINDLAY
Don’t think you have time after work to roast a chicken for the family on a weeknight? Think again! Learn to master this easy technique and you’ll not only be more time-efficient in the kitchen, but feel a little more chef-y too! The French coined the term “spatchcock” when referring to a young chicken. However, spatchcock is also a method of preparation where the chicken’s backbone is removed and the bird flattened in order to reduce the cooking time. It is so effective that it can cut the cooking time of a roast 12
chicken almost in half when compared to roasting whole. Tip: chop your favourite vegetables into small pieces and add them to the pan, placing the chicken on top, and everything will be ready at the same time!
6 steps to spatchcock a chicken (or any bird):
1. Find the backbone of the chicken. 2. Use scissors to cut down one side
of the backbone and then back up the other side of the bone.
3. Flatten the chicken by pressing
down on the breastbone so the legs and wings are splayed to the sides.
4. Wash the chicken with lemon juice,
pat dry and season, brine or marinate as desired (see below).
5. Roast in a preheated oven at 375º F
for 45-50 minutes until a thermometer reads 160º F. Then increase heat to 400º F and let the chicken brown for another 5 minutes.
6. Let rest before carving.
Now that you can roast chicken in no time, here are a few ways to add extra edible character into your bird:
Turn the bag upside down a couple of times throughout the day to make sure the marinade covers the chicken evenly.
3. Remove chicken from the container
This beer brine permeates the meat of the chicken, bringing intense flavour and juiciness.
and pat dry. Season with black pepper and rub liberally with butter.
Yields approximately ²/³ cup of za’atar rub, enough for 2 chickens.
It can cut the cooking time of a roast chicken almost in half 1 bottle beer (use what you like to drink; the chicken will taste like the beer) 1 Tbs paprika 2 tsp cumin 1 tsp cinnamon 1 tsp cayenne 2 tsp chilli powder 2 tsp smoked paprika 4 cloves garlic, crushed 1 onion, peeled and grated 3 Tbs kosher salt 4 bay leaves
Combine all ingredients in a large container or bag. Add spatchcocked chicken and let brine in fridge for a minimum of 12 hours. Turn the bag occasionally to make sure the marinade covers the chicken. Note: the seasoning mixture is not overly spicy; adjust to your heat tolerance.
A dry rub is also great for adding flavour, and the chicken can be cooked straight away or kept in the fridge 24 to 48 hours to absorb the flavours.
1 chicken, spatchcocked 1½ cups (375 mL) buttermilk 2 tsp black pepper 3 Tbs kosher salt 1 onion, grated 1 lemon, zested 5 bay leaves 4 cloves garlic, crushed few sprigs thyme, rosemary, and sage leaves
1. Place chicken in a large resealable
plastic bag or container, and add in the remaining ingredients.
2 Tbs sesame seeds, toasted 3 tsp ground sumac 1 Tbs sea salt 1 Tbs dried thyme 1 Tbs dried oregano 1 Tbs dried basil 2 tsp dried marjoram
Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl to use as desired. You’ll find that it’s hard to go back to roasting a whole chicken after discovering this dinnertime hack.
2. Make sure the chicken is
thoroughly covered. Place in fridge and let marinate for up to 24 hours (a minimum of 12 hours is ideal).
Natalie is a freelance writer, photographer and pastry chef. A graduate of Cordon Bleu’s pastry program, she manages her own business too to create custom-made cakes.
A cozy and intimate Calgary classic.
c ila n tro
Can’t-Miss Alberta Candy Shops by SILVIA PIKAL
In honour of Halloween, we’re celebrating candy stores in Alberta where you’ll find unique, quirky and notable candies. We chatted with the people who run the candy stores on their shop’s most beloved, weirdest and underrated candies, and their own personal favourites. Candy Bear’s Lair Yuichi Tokunaga, owner of Candy Bear’s Lair in Jasper, moved to Canada from Japan 23 years ago. He tried a variety of different jobs, but nothing clicked until a pivotal move to Jasper 11 years ago. While working at a hotel in Jasper, Tokunaga saw Candy Bear’s Lair advertised for sale. “My wife and daughters love chocolate, so I decided to give this a try,” Tokunaga says. “I have had the store for 10 years now, and while it was a very steep learning curve at first, it was all worth it.” Nestled in downtown Jasper, the storefront greets you with a smiling, six-foot tall, stuffed grizzly bear perched
on a log by the door. The shop stocks chocolate treats, as well as ice cream, frozen yogurt and toys. “We are the only place in town that makes fudge from scratch, and if you’re lucky, you can see one of our fudge or candy makers in action,” Tokunaga says. Best-sellers include the bear paws (vanilla caramel and cashews dipped in white, milk or dark chocolate) and peanut butter cups, both made inhouse. Tokunaga’s favourite is the buffalo chunk, a chocolate coconut chew dipped in milk chocolate.
The shop specializes in imported and retro novelty candies, and also makes chocolates and fudges in-house. One of the most popular candies is Dutch licorice, which is also most liked by Milliken: “There’s such a variety. I can mix a bag and go on my travels for the day and have one.” Milliken says the British hard sweets are often overlooked, but are worth a try for the large variety of unique flavours. 717 8 Street (Main Street), Canmore and 5C Samson Mall, Lake Louise oldetymecandyshoppe.com
He says that double dark fudge is sometimes neglected by customers: “People are usually reluctant to try it, worried it might be bitter because of the double chocolate, but they like it once they try it.”
Freak Lunchbox opened in Calgary in 2012. Manager Daniel Shouldice previously worked at the company’s flagship store in Halifax, and helped open other locations. The family-run business has six shops across Canada.
611 Patricia Street, Jasper, candybear.ca
The Calgary location is an explosion of colour, filled with bulk bins, British imports, and zany pop culture memorabilia (with several old-school lunchboxes, of course).
Olde Tyme Candy Shoppe
Candy Bear’s Lair
retro candy. This month, the Olde Tyme Candy Shoppe is celebrating its 20th anniversary, right in time for Halloween, and now has locations in Lake Louise, Ontario and British Columbia too.
In 1997, Kevin Milliken noticed a small space on Main Street in Canmore had opened up for sale. He quickly bought it, dreaming of a candy shop that sells
“No candy store is boring, but we’re not the average candy store,”
Shouldice says. “We’re all about the experience – high energy, loud music, crazy colours – it’s about fun in the most in-your-face way possible.”
Upholding The Tradition
Shouldice says bulk candy is the best seller, with customers gravitating towards peach penguins, sour bubble gum bottles, and dino-sour candies, although there’s always new candy in weird flavours to try, like pickle-juice soda. He prefers assorted sours from the bulk section, and recommends trying one of the underappreciated chocolate bars: “Boost is one of my all-time favourite chocolate bars. It’s a British bar with caramel, cookies and chocolate nougat wrapped in chocolate. A lot of people just don’t know what it is, and will skip over it and go for something else. That’s my number one recommendation to everyone looking for a bar because it’s so good.” 614 17 Avenue SW, Calgary freaklunchbox.com/calgary-1 Freak Lunchbox
Red Cup Distillery is a craft distillery in Vegreville using local grain, in house green malt Gummi Boutique
Gummi Boutique is recognizable by its logo of a gummi bear head, and inside each store you’ll find a diverse mix of candy and toys. “We carry an extremely wide variety of product,” Dobbin says. “It’s always an adventure when you come into the store; there’s always something new. We have a great team of people that work at our stores that are extremely helpful and knowledgeable.” Unusual items include cereals, insect candy, spicy gummies and a pop selection, with handpicked sodas from California, like Tahitian Treat, which can be hard to find north of the border.
and prairie moonshine recipes in a locally made 250 and 1,000-gallon Edmonton-made pot stills. Available in liquor stores across Alberta.
Dobbin recommends Haribo gummies and says they are one of the best gummies in the world, and he harbours a lifelong love for Jelly Belly candies: “I like being able to mix them up. I’m a big candy lover myself, obviously.”
Gummi Boutique James Dobbin, owner of Gummi Boutique, opened the first Calgary location in 2011. Today there are two locations in Calgary, plus a new location in Granary Road, and on Whyte Avenue in Edmonton.
10345 82nd Avenue NW, Edmonton 205 10 Street NW, Calgary 1217B 9 Avenue SE, Calgary, and Granary Road – 112 Street West, Foothills No. 31, gummiboutique.ca Silvia Pikal is a writer and editor based in Calgary. She has the uncanny ability to sense when a chocolate bar enters a room. Tweet her @silviapikal.
www.redcupdistillery.ca @redcupdistillery RedCupDistillery2015 Vegreville, Alberta, Canada
Host A Halloween Party With A Chef-Created Menu by SILVIA PIKAL photography by INGRID KUENZEL
When Jenny Kang was growing up in South Korea, trick-or-treating and Halloween parties weren’t the norm. But the executive chef at Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant knows how to make a good party spread. Kang is continuously creating new menus for the dinners, parties and other occasions held in the historic ranch house. “I’ve been pushing to make lots of menus, which made me a strong chef,” Kang says. After graduating from SAIT’s culinary program, the chef worked at some of Calgary’s top restaurants, including Teatro and Catch. Over the course of her career, she’s learned a lot from French chefs she’s worked with in Calgary. You can see the influence of French cooking in dishes like the Rangeland Farm Elk Tartar, a current item on the Bow Valley Ranche menu. For Kang, there’s always more to learn. A big focus of the restaurant’s Canadian cuisine is game meats, which was a new experience for Kang when she joined Bow Valley Ranche as executive chef. “I had never worked with game meats like bison, elk, and venison,” Kang says. “That was a little bit tougher for me. I’ve learned a lot since I started working here. Making the menu makes me happy. And when people like my food, that’s the best part. That’s why I’m a chef.” Kang has put together a spectacular menu for a Halloween party you can host at home: “I created it my own way. It’s real food but it’s Halloween-themed.” 16
Jenny Kang’s Halloween Party Menu
Beef Tartare on Bone Marrow Serves 6
100 g cooked rice (optional) 2 tsp rinsed and finely chopped capers 2 Tbs finely chopped shallot 2 Tbs finely chopped gherkins 2 tsp (10 mL) Dijon mustard 3 tsp (15 mL) olive oil 5 drops Tabasco sauce 3 drops Worcestershire sauce 1 tsp (5 mL) lemon juice To taste salt and pepper 2 large egg yolks 280 g beef tenderloin, cut into small cubes, covered, and refrigerated
Cleaned canoe-cut veal bone or crostini Broken potato chips spattered with grenadine, to garnish
1. Leave cooked rice at room temperature overnight, then deep-fry until it puffs. Drain on paper towel.
2. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a
bowl and put on a veal bone or crostini. Drop some puffed rice on top of the tartare and serve with broken potato chips spattered with grenadine.
Sweet and Spicy Marinated Baby Octopus with Quail Eggs Serves 6
6 quail eggs 450 g baby octopus (around 8-10 pcs) 2 Tbs (30 mL) gochujang (Korean chili paste) 2 Tbs (30 mL) maple syrup 1 tsp (5 mL) soy sauce 1 Tbs chopped garlic ½ medium carrot, julienned ½ onion, julienned 1 tsp (5 mL) sesame oil Mixed green salad
1. Cook quail eggs in boiling water for five minutes. Cool them down in iced water, then peel and carve scary faces into them if desired.
2. Place remaining ingredients in a bowl, mix well and keep in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight.
3. Cook in a frying pan on medium
high heat about 8-10 minutes, until the octopus is cooked.
4. Serve on a bed of salad greens and garnish with quail eggs.
Bow Valley Ranche also created two cocktails for your Halloween party too!
Jack-o’-Lantern Bell Peppers Serves 6
Carved orange bell peppers filled with baby green salad, toasted nuts, and bloody pomegranate vinaigrette. 6 orange bell peppers carved like Jack-o’-lanterns 200 g mixed spring greens to fill into bell peppers Toasted nuts or dried cranberries and raisins
Bloody Pomegranate Vinaigrette: 2 cups (500 mL) pomegranate juice, reduced by half 1 Tbs (15 mL) Dijon mustard 3 Tbs (45 mL) grenadine 3 Tbs (45 mL) olive oil 1 tsp (5 mL) balsamic vinegar Salt, to taste
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and pour into the bell pepper. Garnish with the toasted walnuts on top.
1½ oz pumpkin liqueur ½ oz apple brandy 1 oz apple juice Drop of grenadine Cinnamon sugar
Shake all the ingredients together and pour into a martini glass rimmed with cinnamon sugar.
½ oz melon liqueur ½ oz Jack Daniel's Honey 1 oz cranberry juice 4 drops of grenadine
Shake all ingredients together and pour into your favourite glass. 17
The Results Of The 2017
Whenever I talk about the Alberta Beverage Awards – whether with the trade, consumers, or even friends and family, I always talk about why we did it.
Launching the competition means that summers are my busiest time of year. I should be out enjoying the beautiful weather, yet I am in my office literally surrounded by bottles.
When Linda Garson and I started talking about doing this back in 2013, we wanted to find a way to celebrate the tremendous selection of wines, beers, and spirits available to Albertans, using Alberta judges, and to focus on something meaningful. We wanted each and every award to be valuable and valid. In fact, only about a third of all of our entries will win any sort of award. The products featured in these pages are representative of their categories and by being tasted blind without the name, region, price, or even the label on the bottle to distract the judges from the liquid inside. These are the best. Speaking of the liquid inside, we are absolutely thrilled with the selection this year. Not only did we see plenty of great bottles from around the world, we saw tremendous growth from local producers.
Since the rules for Alberta breweries, distilleries, and wineries were modified in 2013 allowing smaller operations, we are currently riding an explosion of craft producers making some incredible products and we are so excited to have quite a few local producers featured in these pages. The 2017 competition was our fifth year(!), and we returned to the Hotel Blackfoot with nearly 850 entries in tow — about 3500 sample bottles. Entries were judged by 18 judges from Calgary and Edmonton over three days in July. Our expert palates include retailers, restaurateurs, sommeliers, educators, and journalists, and their experience and enthusiasm lets us find the very best in each category. In each category there is a “Best in Class”, which is the top performing wine in its category, followed by “Judges’ Selection” which are the other high performing wines in the category.
by TOM FIRTH, COMPETITION DIRECTOR photography by JASON DZIVER 18
In several categories, there is also a “Top Value”, which is a Judges’ Selection wine that has been identified by the Culinaire editors as providing excellent value as well. Each listed wine has an approximate retail price – every retailer is different, and we’ve included a range in many cases. With so many entries from Alberta producers, some of these products are only available at the brewery/distillery or at local farmers' markets, in those cases we’ve tried to use their price rather than a retail price. Each product also has a “CSPC” number, which can be used to help you find it at your local retailer or online at Liquorconnect.com. Some products also have a symbol after them to identify product that not only did well this year, but also in previous years, indicating that this product is not only good, but also consistently good, year after year.
The Alberta Beverage Awards involves a tremendous amount of work, and our success wouldn’t be possible without the efforts and focus of everyone involved. Thank you to our partners; the Import Vintners & Spirits Association, Alberta Culinary Tourism Alliance, and Liquor Connect. Special thanks go to Len Steinberg, our hardworking judges, and our volunteer wine stewards; Mairi, Paul, Patrick, Danielle, Darin, Lana and Rick, who return year after year, keeping us on our toes, and rolling with the inevitable hiccups along the way. A big thank you to Jason Dziver, our talented photographer who photographs the entire competition – including all the bottle shots – and who never seems daunted by the prospect of having to photograph bottles all day long. Thanks again to the Hotel Blackfoot, who have been a great venue for the competition for the last five years – we are already casting our thoughts to 2018’s competition at the hotel once again!
Brown Ales can trace their roots back to late 17th century Great Britain. Despite going through some style evolution as well as popularity highs and lows over the centuries, Brown Ales have remained a mainstay in Britain, and the style has gained popularity (along with some further stylistic tweaking) in Belgium as well as here in North America. Calgary’s Wild Rose Brewery won this year with their Barracks Brown. This is a tried and true recipe that they have been brewing for a number of years. It is a great example of an English Brown Ale – with lots of toffee, chocolate and espresso character. Perhaps a perfect beer for fall temperatures. Kirk Bodnar BEST IN CLASS
Wild Rose Barracks Brown Alberta, Canada $16-19 (6-pack bottles) CSPC 766770
Something Brewing Gimmie That Nutt Brown Ale Alberta, Canada $10 (4 pack cans) CSPC 766646 Olds College Old Skhool Alberta, Canada $16-19 (6-pack cans)
Fruit beers have often been looked down on by beer snobs. The truth is, they have been around as long as beer itself. They may have disappeared in North America until European imports and craft breweries brought them back to the market about 30 years ago, but they have been growing in popularity since. These beers can be total fruit bombs like radlers and shandys, or they may take on a subtler approach. This year’s Best in Class, Whistler Brewing’s Grapefruit Ale, reflects the latter, with an obvious fruit flavour that isn’t too forward, and an even balance between sweet and dry. David Nuttall BEST IN CLASS
Whistler Brewing Co. Grapefruit Ale Canada $16-19 (6-pack bottles) CSPC 750507
Phillips Raspberry Wheat Canada $7-9 (650mL) CSPC 751443
Stanley Park Brewing Sunsetter Canada $16-19 (6-pack bottles) CSPC 771574
Alley Kat Aprikat Apricot Wheat Ale Alberta, Canada $16-19 (6-pack bottles) CSPC 901108
Alley Kat Main Squeeze Grapefruit Ale Alberta, Canada $16-19 (6-pack bottles) CSPC 733630 Dog Island Brewing DiBs Berry Alberta, Canada On-Tap Only Brewsters River City Raspberry Ale Alberta, Canada $16-19 (6-pack bottles) CSPC 770047
Discover The Taste
The time for rosé is now, as they continue to gain in popularity. Never have there been so many great options and styles to choose from, a far cry from when rosé wines were considered to be one dimensional in the market place. This year’s lineup featured rosés from around the globe with an interesting mix of old and new world wineries. There was a strong selection of rosés to taste this year with each wine showing some great characteristics and subtle nuances that we have come to expect and appreciate in this wine style. Wines this year ranged from dry to off dry, with many having a great balance of acid, minerality and fruit. James Werner
BEST IN CLASS
Terres de Saint-Louis 2016 Provence Rosé Provence, France $17-19 CSPC 792268
Torres 2016 De Casta Rosé Catalunya, Spain $14-16 CSPC 619916
JUDGES SELECTION Gerard Bertrand 2016 Cotes des Roses Rosé Languedoc, France $23-25 CSPC 778270 Gabriel Meffre 2016 ‘GM’ Cotes de Provence Rosé Provence, France $17-18 CSPC 764743 Jacob’s Creek 2016 Le Petit Rosé Australia $15-17 CSPC 790426 Pure Provence 2016 Rosé Provence, France $19-20 CSPC 781784 Chateau Souverain 2016 Rosé California, United States $16-18 CSPC 791177 Culmina 2016 R&D Rosé Blend Okanagan Valley, British Columbia $23-25 CSPC 791957
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Gewürztraminer is definitely one of the most distinctive and recognizable wines on the market. Lychee, rose, spice, and cold cream are some of the descriptors that are used to describe this aromatic varietal, and all were present in the flight of wines that were submitted for judging. The top wines were expressive, balanced and full of character. Gewürztraminer is a great choice for a change of pace and it pairs well with spicy curries, sweet and sour Asian fare and pungent cheese. What’s not to love? Bruce Soley BEST IN CLASS
Hillside 2016 Gewürztraminer Okanagan Valley, British Columbia $23-25 CSPC 505206
Thornhaven 2015 Gewürztraminer Okanagan Valley, British Columbia $22-24 CSPC 777892 Dirty Laundry 2015 Woo Woo Vines Gewürztraminer Okanagan Valley, British Columbia $21-23 CSPC 739570
Mead is having a moment in Alberta. With 70% of the nation’s honey produced in the province, we have a collection of quality producers offering a great range of locally made mead. With an incredibly long history, mead is likely the oldest alcoholic beverage. Simply put, it is the fermentation of honey and water. Often there will be fruit, spices or other organics added for extra elements of flavour. The winners this year have a wide cross-section of ingredients but all share that key quality of balance. Like wine, mead should have balanced levels of sweetness, acidity and tannin, and these examples all do. Drink local and try some Alberta mead today. Margaux Burgess BEST IN CLASS
Grey Owl Meadery 2016 Spring Alberta, Canada $22-23 CSPC 788413
Spirit Hills Dande Alberta, Canada $22-23 CSPC 756234
Spirit Hills Saskwatch Alberta, Canada $22-23 CSPC 758136
Birds & Bees 2010 Honey I Have Meads Spirit Hills YeeHaa! Sangria Alberta, Canada Alberta, Canada $30 CSPC 726216 $22-23 CSPC 773294 Grey Owl Meadery 2016 Apple Alberta, Canada $22-23 CSPC 792212
Spirit Hills Wild Rosy Alberta, Canada $22-23 CSPC 756235
Broken Tine Orchard Haskap Melomel Alberta, Canada $29 CSPC 784485
Like most styles of beer these days, wheat beers are becoming more and more diverse all the time. Many craft brewers are producing wheat beers that can’t be pigeonholed into the traditional German or Belgian styles. A number of entries this year were very interesting, often possessing bold hop characteristics, which is not traditional, but often very delicious. There were also a number of excellent entries that would be considered more traditional, with banana or even bubblegum notes. The beer that won this category this year was closer to a traditional example of a German Hefeweizen. Grizzly Paw’s Grassi Lakes Hefeweizen has a very pleasant banana aroma which is nicely balanced along with its bready wheat malt character. Kirk Bodnar BEST IN CLASS
Grizzly Paw Grassi Lakes Hefeweizen Alberta, Canada $7-9 (650mL bottle) CSPC 766900
Fahr Away Hefeweizen Alberta, Canada On-tap only CSPC 780435
Phillips Electric Unicorn White IPA Canada $16-19 (6-pack cans) CSPC 265108 Big Rock Wunderbier Alberta, Canada $16-19 (6-pack bottles) CSPC 767773 Beau’s Brewing Wag The Wolf Canada $8-10 (600mL bottle) CSPC 783531
Rum, glorious rum? Not quite, I suppose, but it should be. Rum far too often, sees its end in a tall glass with ice, accompanied by an unnamed, carbonated, dark-coloured caffeinated beverage. Sad, but true. The myriad styles: dark, amber, spiced and long-aged that were represented this year, are but the tip of the rum iceberg. From the full bodied and intense Guyanese versions, to the cinnamon spiced Canadian iteration, from cocktail rums to sipping rums, there was no shortage of excitement. When pairing rums with food, seek out sweeter and spiced rums to match heavily sauced dishes like pork ribs and mild barbecue sauce, whilst the more refined “sippers” should be enjoyed at the end of meal perhaps with dark chocolate. Delving into the cavalcade of sugar-cane based spirits is among life’s most wonderful pleasures. Matt Leslie BEST IN CLASS
El Dorado 12 Year Old Rum Guyana $35 CSPC 912402
Coro Coro Rum Guatemala $35-36 CSPC 783479 Black Magic Spiced Rum Canada $30 CSPC 781650
El Dorado 8 Year Old Rum Guyana $28-30 CSPC 767659 Ron Abuelo 12 Year Old Rum Panama $38-40 CSPC 238584 Spytail Black Ginger Rum France $38-39 CSPC 789110 Flor de Cana Gran Centenario 18 Nicaragua $50-55 CSPC 585836
Rye and Canadian Whisky
Bourbon and Scotch may be the superstars of the whisky world but the judges were pleasantly surprised byhow good these offerings were. There was real complexity here, with a wide variety of styles represented. The best examples were spicy and intense, often with hints of butterscotch, flowers, and white pepper. The Ninety 20 Year from Highwood Distillers was the category winner and not only was it delicious, rich and satisfying but it’s also incredibly affordable for a 20 year old whisky. There’s a lot to like in this category and savvy consumers have some terrific deals available to them. Tim Harder BEST IN CLASS
Highwood Distillers Ninety 20 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky Canada $44-46 CSPC 755637
Wayne Gretzky No.99 Red Cask Whisky Lot No. 40 Canadian Whisky Canada Canada $34-36 CSPC 784318 $39 CSPC 764108 Millstone 100 Rye Whisky Netherlands $89-91 CSPC 778839 Rough Rider Bull Moose Three Barrel Rye United States $53 CSPC 788289
A red blend is a wine that is made from more than one black grape varietal and generally, winemakers choose to blend grapes in order to create the wine that they want. Most often, the objective is to achieve balance in the fruit, tannins and acidity. This year we have a tie for “Best in Class” for Red Blends between Spier Creative Block 3 from South Africa and Ego Bodegas Fuerza 2013 from Spain. These are two very different style of wines hailing from two different regions and made from completely different grapes. What they do have in common is that they are full bodied, easy drinking wines that are smooth and well balanced. Laurie MacKay BEST IN CLASS (TIE)
Spier 2013 Creative Block 3 Coastal Region, South Africa $23-25 CSPC 752023
El Petit Bonhomme 2015 Tinto Jumilla, Spain $14-16 CSPC169383
Ego Bodegas 2013 Fuerza Jumilla, Spain $18-20 CSPC 772266
JUDGES SELECTION Santos da Casa 2011 Reserva Douro, Portugal $22-24 CSPC 784723 Faustino V 2010 Reserva Spain $26-28 CSPC 22798 Inniskillin Okanagan 2015 Shiraz-Cabernet Okanagan Valley, British Columbia $20-22 CSPC 772952 Monte Creek 2015 Hands Up Red British Columbia, Canada $18-20 CSPC 782540 Jim Barry 2015 The Barry Bros Clare Valley, Australia $29-30 CSPC 859579
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A well-loved category in Canada, perhaps it’s that so many are a sweet tipple or welcome addition to a cocktail, but perhaps it’s because so many of them can elevate a simple coffee on a cold day to a decadent treat – because shoveling snow is hard work! So is a day of skiing, tobogganing, or even just working yourself up to get out there and brush the car off. Below is a new classic from Nisku producer Rig Hand with their Double Double along with a couple of Irish creams and the ever popular Rumchata. However you like you cream liqueurs, our winners below should be on hand year round. Tom Firth BEST IN CLASS (TIE)
Rig Hand Double Double Alberta, Canada $37-40 CSPC 778370
Coole Swan Irish Cream Liqueur Ireland $31-34 CSPC 777039
RumChata Liqueur United States $25-27 CSPC 762531
Ceili’s Signature Irish Cream Canada $22-25 CSPC 768595
Irish whiskeys are generally smoother and fruitier than their Scottish counterparts. Currently, more and more Irish whiskies are being offered in myriad styles, all the while maintaining the freshness and light-spice notes for which they are renowned. It is wonderful to see more Irish Whiskeys in Alberta, including some specialty products like The Quiet Man 8-Year and the Craoi Na Mona. Both The Quiet Man and the Craoi Na Mona were recipients of the Judge’s Selection. Best in Class was awarded to Jameson Caskmates. An absolute treat, Caskmates is aged in stout-seasoned barrels resulting in distinct notes of cocoa, coffee and marzipan. Nathalie Gosselin BEST IN CLASS
Jameson Caskmates Irish Whisky Ireland $38-40 CSPC 775554
Craoi Na Mona Irish Whiskey Ireland $75-80 CSPC 784994 The Quiet Man 8 Year Irish Whiskey Ireland $50-54 CSPC 786604
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Pinot grigio and pinot gris may be the same grape, but their styles are completely different. In northeast Italy, it is called pinot grigio and is harvested early in order to produce a white wine that is fairly light, crisp and easy to drink. In France, it goes by pinot gris with the finest examples coming from the northerly region of Alsace. Here the wines are richer, rounder with more body and a honeyed character. It’s also gaining ground in other cooler climate regions, including Canada, Oregon, Austria and New Zealand. I always pay attention to how the grape is labeled on the bottle as this is a good clue to its flavour profile. The “Best in Class” L’Ora pinot grigio 2016 is a classic Italian style that is light and refreshing with hints of minerals, citrus and pear. Laurie MacKay BEST IN CLASS
L’Ora 2016 Pinot Grigio Alto Adige, Italy $16-18 CSPC 786344
Monteci 2015 Pinot Grigio della Venezie Valpolicella, Italy $13-14 CSPC 789674 JUDGES SELECTION Santa Margherita 2016 Pinot Grigio Valle dell’ Adige, Italy $16-18 CSPC 106450 Tinhorn Creek 2016 Pinot Gris Golden Mile Bench, British Columbia $20-22 CSPC 530683 Hengst 2008 Grand Cru Pinot Gris Alsace, France $36 CSPC 752736 Dirty Laundry 2016 Say Yes Pinot Gris Okanagan Valley, British Columbia $21-23 CSPC 225995 Alois Lageder 2015 Pinot Grigio Dolomit Alto Adige, Italy $20-21 CSPC 412494
The growth of cider’s popularity in this century has led to a greater variety on shelves. It’s not just apple anymore; almost any fruit is now in a cider, either alone or in a blend. Cideries have also been employing different yeasts, barrel aging, adding hops, honey, and other ingredients; in short, playing around with the product much the way craft breweries have been spawning new beers. This year’s winners exemplify this. The Best in Class is Lone Tree’s Cranberry Apple Dry Cider, a rose-coloured blend that is crisp, flavourful, and not too sweet. Their Ginger Apple Dry Cider is refreshing, and packs a little heat from the ginger on the finish. David Nuttall BEST IN CLASS
Lonetree Cranberry Apple Dry Cider Canada $14-16 (6-pack cans) CSPC 758527
Lonetree Ginger Apple Dry Cider Canada $14-16 (6-pack cans) CSPC 777631
Rock Creek Apple Cider Alberta, Canada $14-16 (6-pack cans) CSPC 693150 Lonetree Authentic Dry Apple Cider Canada $14-16 (6-pack cans) CSPC 744173 Broken Ladder Apples & Hops $14-16 (4-pack cans) CSPC 42382
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Pale Ales are definitely a hop-forward beer style. Though not usually as aggressively hopped or bitter as their big brother, the IPA, they do tend to have a solid hop presence. The line between Pale Ales and IPAs is becoming more and more obscured these days with many brewers producing quite bitter Pale Ales, and IPA’s that have more of a mild bitterness choosing instead to focus on the fruity characteristics of specific hop varietals – so who’s to say – it’s all about a brewer’s interpretation and the consumer’s palate. Winning this category this year was Stanley Park Brewing’s Windstorm Pale Ale. The beer has a nice fruity hop aroma, with a hint of pine and some light toast. Kirk Bodnar BEST IN CLASS
Stanley Park Brewing Windstorm Canada $16-19 (6-pack bottles) CSPC 767282
Alley Kat Full Moon Pale Ale Alberta, Canada $16-19 (6-pack bottles) CSPC 903922 Beau’s Brewing Kissmeyer Nordic Pale Ale Canada $8-10 (600mL bottle) CSPC 792388 Mill Street Honest Bucker Pale Ale Alberta, Canada On Tap Only Dog Island Brewing SandyAss Pale Ale Alberta, Canada On Tap CSPC 788023
Whistler Brewing Co. Function Junction Pale Ale Canada $5-7 (500mL bottle) CSPC 785531 Dog Island Brewing 9 Mile Session Ale Alberta, Canada On Tap CSPC 786178 Deep Cove Method West Coast Pale Ale Canada $7-9 (650mL bottle) CSPC 791128 Phillips Blue Buck Canada $16-19 (6-pack cans) CSPC 751444
Saisons are farmhouse ales which were all but forgotten until the emergence of the craft beer movement in recent years. Perhaps an acquired taste for some, they are the perfect beer for the terroir junkie, someone who wants a drink that tastes like it was made by a skilled person, that comes from a real place. This year’s Best in Class comes from Beau’s Brewing, which I was thrilled to see coming to Alberta recently, as our judges noted, “Overall, it’s a very session-able beer”. Fine praise indeed. Tom Firth BEST IN CLASS
Beau’s Brewing Farm Table Saison Canada $8-10 (600mL bottle) CSPC 794794
Banded Peak Brewing Chinook Saison Alberta, Canada $9-11 (1L can) CSPC 783930
For red wine drinkers, a good pinot noir is like the little black dress in your cellar. Classic, sophisticated, and everyone should have at least one favourite on hand. The new world ruled the winners' panel this year with excellent showings from North America and New Zealand. Elegant aromas of black plum, cherry, and rhubarb dominated, along with enigmatic flavours of raspberry, spice, and sleek minerality flirt with your senses. Jynnifer Gibson BEST IN CLASS
La Crema 2014 Monterey Pinot Noir California, United States $29-30 CSPC 737431
Giesen 2014 Pinot Noir Marlborough, New Zealand $19-20 CSPC 106211 Nanny Goat Vineyard 2016 Pinot Noir Central Otago, New Zealand $50-55 CSPC 782811 Murphy Goode 2014 Pinot Noir California, United States $20-22 CSPC 739674 Sacred Hill 2016 Pinot Noir Marlborough, New Zealand $19-21 CSPC 718573 Fess Parker 2013 Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills, Santa Barbara, United States $40-42 CSPC 701604 Buena Vista 2015 North Coast Pinot Noir Sonoma, United States $26-28 CSPC 789479
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I always love seeing the malbec results come in from the judges. It is such a popular variety with many wine drinkers, but also very price sensitive with a tremendous amount of brand loyalty. When the dust settled, we saw a number of well-loved brands earning awards at this year’s competition, but surprisingly, we saw a malbec from the United States taking the top spot. Not to worry, Argentina still rules the roost with a sweep of all the Judges Selections. No matter how you like your malbec, perhaps with some meaty dishes or barbecued cuts, I highly recommend all of these. Tom Firth BEST IN CLASS
Watermark 2013 Malbec Columbia Valley United States $19-21 CSPC 758790
Kaiken 2014 ‘Ultra’ Malbec Mendoza, Argentina $23-24 CSPC 723333 Luigi Bosca 2014 Malbec DOC (Single Vineyard) Mendoza, Argentina $23-25 CSPC 733047 Luigi Bosca 2014 Malbec Mendoza, Argentina $20-22 CSPC 418038 1884 Ltd 2014 Production Malbec Mendoza, Argentina $33-34 CSPC 138453 Trivento 2014 Golden Reserve Malbec Lujan de Cuyo, Argentina $25-26 CSPC 778835
When most people think of brandy it is Cognac or Armangnac that comes to mind. However, quality brandy is produced around the world in virtually every wine region. While the aforementioned areas of France make what is thought to be the world’s best, there are treasures to be discovered in other corners of the world. Spain has a long history of brandy production and specifically in Jerez where brandies are aged in ex-sherry barrels using the solera system of fractional blending to ensure consistency and enhanced complexity with notes of apricot, caramel, molasses and nuts. Margaux Burgess BEST IN CLASS
Hardy VSOP Fine Champagne Cognac France $57-60 CSPC 115741
Hardy XO Rare Fine Champagne Cognac France $110-120 CSPC 776420
Glembay 15 Year Old Brandy Croatia $52-55 CSPC 795159 Lustau Solera Reserva Brandy Spain $35-38 CSPC 777449 Torres 30 Year Old Jaime I Spain $115-120 CSPC 743822
Red Single Varietals
Red Single Varietals is a diverse category with many personalities and contributions, and of course – a plethora of hidden gems awaiting discovery. This year you can uncork some very intriguing wines starting with a bourbon barrel aged zinfandel with boundless charisma, a dusty, spicy, chocolatey grenache or a funky, earthy and plump bonarda. Each of these reds provides an individualistic context to the world of wine. Get out and explore! Mike Roberts BEST IN CLASS (TIE)
1000 Stories 2015 Bourbon Aged Zinfandel Mendocino County, United States $25 CSPC 783661
Yalumba 2015 Old Bush Vine Grenache Barossa, Australia $21-23 CSPC 531228
TOP VALUE Castano 2015 La Casona Old Vines Monastrell Yecla, Spain $11-13 CSPC 738517 JUDGES SELECTION Chayee Bourras 2012 Reserva Bonarda Mendoza, Argentina $30 CSPC 764954 Silvia Cellars 2013 Zinfandel Sonoma, United States $19 CSPC 758473 The Grape Grinder 2015 Pinotage Paarl, South Africa $16-18 CSPC 747257 Monte Creek Ranch 2015 Foch British Columbia, Canada $21-22 CSPC 785866
This was a somewhat unexpected category, as these products don’t…quite…. fit into several of the others. Our judges were quite impressed with the flavour profiles of these wines and they really occupy a niche all to themselves. A wine base is blended with fruits, yielding an off-dry, fruit forward glass of deliciousness. Our Best in Class was the Dragon’s Tears Pear wine and it showed a remarkable purity of fruit. Not to be outdone, we also have their raspberry wine and a traditional white sangria rounding out the category. Drink up! Tom Firth JUDGES SELECTION Dragon’s Tears Raspberry Wine United States $12-13 CSPC 792424 BEST IN CLASS Dragon’s Tears Pear Wine United States $12-13 CPSC 792422
Freixenet Mia Sangria White Frizzante Castilla La Mancha, Spain $13-14 CSPC 790843
Chardonnay is one of the great grapes of the wine world. It is a true workhorse planted in almost every wineproducing country and it is a great chameleon that expresses the terroir of where it came from and the occasionally heavy hand of the winemaker. While it is not unusual to hear someone say “I don’t like chardonnay” that is almost akin to saying you don’t like wine, as there are so many different styles and interpretations to uncover. The top performers this year illustrate this with their range of styles and geographical locations. For a focus on terroir and purity of fruit look to Norman Hardie while more classic old-world styling can be found with the Joseph Drouhin Pouilly-Fuisse. Explore and discover how good chardonnay can be. Margaux Burgess JUDGES SELECTION BEST IN CLASS Norman Hardie 2014 Niagara Chardonnay Niagara, Ontario $41-43 CSPC 740110
TOP VALUE Los Vascos 2015 Chardonnay Chile $17-18 CSPC 738877
Twill Cellars 2014 Chardonnay Willamette Valley, Oregon United States $32-34 CSPC 787033 Tinhorn Creek 2015 Oldfield Reserve Chardonnay Golden Mile Bench, Okanagan Valley $38-40 CSPC 784497 Joseph Drouhin 2015 Pouilly Fuisse Maconaise, France $33-35 CSPC 49478
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Chalk Hill 2015 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay Sonoma Coast, California $33-35 CSPC 769039
Fox Trot 2015 Stumpy Vineyard Okanagan Valley, British Columbia $50-55 CSPC 794281
Villa Maria 2015 Private Bin Gisborne Chardonnay Gisborne, New Zealand $16-18 CSPC 780369
Digestif And After The Meal
Once again, we had a few products that didn’t quite fit into some of the larger categories at the Alberta Beverage Awards, yet, once the judges were done, these products still rose to the top with high scores and favourable notes from the judges. Typically enjoyed either before or after a meal, we have a Pineau des Charentes (a style more people should try), a premixed Negroni from Banff’s Park Distillery, an Eau de Vie and a beautiful Spanish digestif. Tom Firth BEST IN CLASS
Hardy Le Coq d’Or Pineau des Charentes France $25-30 CSPC 776421
Park Distilley Barrel Aged Negroni Alberta, Canada $38 CSPC 793768 Haas Himbeer Geist Germany $70-75 CSPC 788118 Torres Floralis Moscatel Oro Catalunya, Spain $17-18 CSPC 222844
Exotic aromatics, vibrant flavour profiles and purity of fruit are the hallmarks of the fruit wine category. We sit around the table sniffing and swirling our non-fruit wines (read: grape wines) and attribute other fruit notes to them while we assess their quality. It is no wonder our faces and sniffers light up at one whiff of these beaming wines. In a blind tasting, half the fun is determining the fruit source simply by its aromatic personality and the winners this year are all locally produced here in Alberta. These off-dry wines are a great aperitif, paired with fresh fruits, salad, chicken and pork dishes and lots of fun for creating your own cocktails. Mike Roberts BEST IN CLASS
Field Stone Raspberry Fruit Wine Alberta, Canada $19-20 CSPC 792628
Field Stone Black Currant Fruit Wine Alberta, Canada $19-20 CSPC 783516 Shady Lane Estate 2015 Himbeeren Alberta, Canada $24 CSPC 786218 Birds & Bees 2010 Sassy Saskatoon Berry Alberta, Canada $25 CSPC 726219
American Whiskey and Bourbon
This category has exploded in Alberta over the last seven or eight years. Happy day, since it’s bringing well-deserved attention to the many unknown greats. American whiskey is generally sweeter than its Scottish counterpart, with new American oak imparting more vanilla, and a hotter climate aging the spirit quicker. This year’s lineup featured a great mix of different labels for the Bourbon explorer. Matt Browman BEST IN CLASS
Evan Williams Black Label Straight Kentucky Bourbon United States $25-30 CSPC 721379
Cooper’s Classic American Whiskey United States $TBD CSPC 788774 Cooperstown Beanball Bourbon United States $63 CSPC 787938
Evan Williams Vintage Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey United States $44-47 CSPC 546895 Elijah Craig Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey United States $43-45 CSPC 547729 Rebel Yell Kentucky Straight Bourbon United States $35-40 CSPC 711374
Fortified and Dessert Wines
Recent drinking trends have pushed consumers to drink lighter, dryer wines with lower alcohols and higher acids. While this is certainly a welcome change for most of us, it does tend to make us forget about the pleasures derived from something sweet and unctuous. A cold glass of white port over ice with a slice of orange as a mid-day reprieve is something we all need in our drinking repertoire. Likewise, can be said for a well-chilled fruit wine accompanying a slice of homemade pie. The top place this year went to Taylor Fladgate Fine White Port, a fine purchase for around $20 retail. Field Stone showed two strong selections with their Wild Black Cherry and Strawberry giving pure flavours and well-balanced palates Brad Royale BEST IN CLASS
Taylor Fladgate NV Fine White Port Douro, Portugal $18-20 CSPC 164129
Sandeman NV Founders Reserve Douro, Portugal $20-21 CSPC 786342
JUDGES SELECTION Lustau NV East India Solera Jerez, Spain $25-27 CSPC 752660 Lakeview Cellars 2015 Vidal Icewine Niagara, Ontario $18-20 CSPC 722059 Kopke 10 Year Old Tawny Douro, Portugal $38-40 CSPC 775949 Alvear 2014 Pedro Ximenez de Anada Montilla, Spain $25-27 CSPC 569699 Field Stone Wild Black Cherry Alberta, Canada $19 CSPC 792629 Field Stone Strawberry Dessert Wine Alberta, Canada $19 CSPC 792635 Fielding Estate 2016 Riesling Icewine Niagara Peninsula, Canada $35-37 CSPC 779353
Bordeaux Blend is a term paying homage to the traditional wines from the famed region in France where at least two of the classic varietals are blended together. The black currant structured cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc’s fresh fruitiness, plumy merlot and sometimes smaller amounts of difficult to ripen petit verdot and malbec are the classic ingredients. Judges were looking for wines with depth and complexity, a balance of fruit and structure and a long thought-provoking finish. We tasted an outstanding range of wines and I am so pleased to see the quality of Bordeaux blends from BC – Culmina’s R&D red blend won Best in Class. Congratulations! Juanita Roos BEST IN CLASS
Culmina 2014 R&D Red Blend Golden Mile Bench, Okanagan Valley $24-25 CSPC 773530
Bench 1775 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot Okanagan Valley, British Columbia $25-27 CSPC 483529 Giusti 2014 Antonio Veneto, Italy $40-42 CSPC 783189 Chateau De L’annonciation 2010 St. Emilion Bordeaux, France $40-42 CSPC 747810 McWatters Collection 2013 Meritage Okanagan Valley, British Columbia $20-24 CSPC 789667 Clos du Soleil 2013 Signature British Columbia $37-40 CSPC 177204
Riesling. The very mention of this polarizing grape seems to ignite either dread or delight, depending on the company. For many, the “dread” stems from a misconception that all rieslings are sweet. Whilst some of the greatest iterations are indeed sweet, many renowned versions are bone-dry. Perhaps this is why you may hear your local “wine professional” singing the praises of this often misunderstood varietal. And for good reason; riesling is capable of greatness from bone-dry to lusciously sweet and at every notch in-between. Hence, it is one of the most food friendly wines – dry versions are ideally matched with seafood, shellfish and even salad with vinaigrettes, whilst semi-sweet ones are best suited to intense Indian curries and spicy Thai dishes. Matt Leslie BEST IN CLASS
Calliope 2016 Riesling British Columbia, Canada $18-19 CSPC 175984
Dirty Laundry 2015 Riesling Okanagan Valley, British Columbia $22-24 CSPC 739568 Henry of Pelham 2016 Riesling Niagara Peninsula, Canada $20 CSPC 268375
Tempranillo – the king of Spanish grapes produces wines as diverse as the country it hails from. Wines made from this iconic variety come in a broad range of styles and flavors that ensure there is something to delight every palate. In warmer regions like Valencia, which is closer to the Mediterranean Sea, tempranillo expresses more ripe red fruit flavours and an elegance comparable to pinot noir. Easy drinking, fruit forward wines are labeled as Crianza, that are perfect for barbeques, and extensively oak-aged wines are labeled as Reserva and Grand Reserva, with the barrel aging in both these wine styles bringing complex flavours and aromas that bring great depth, structure and the flavours of a slow and careful cellaring without the wait. ¡Salud Peter Smolarz BEST IN CLASS
Anciano 2005 10-Year Old Tempranillo Gran Reserva Valdepenas, Spain $17-18 CSPC 746086
Torres 2013 Celeste Crianza Ribera del Duero, Spain $24-26 CSPC 754090
Is Prosecco a grape, a wine, an appellation?! Actually, all of the above. The main grape used in Prosecco is Glera. The Glera grape was formerly known as Prosecco. The name Prosecco comes from the Italian village of the same name (near Trieste in northeast Italy), where both the grape and the wine originated. Prosecco’s worldwide popularity keeps growing, and its versatility seems never ending. With lower alcohol than most other sparklers, Prosecco is the perfect brunch option, either on its own or blended in a Bellini, Mimosa, or Aperol Spritz. Prosecco also makes for the perfect palate cleanser as an initial offering at bridal showers, receptions or wine-pairing dinners. This category ended in a three-way tie for Best in Class, with all three being fine representatives of the Prosecco category. Nathalie Gosselin BEST IN CLASS (TIE)
Piccini NV Prosecco Extra Dry Treviso, Italy $18-20 CSPC 892752 La Gioiosa NV Prosecco Brut Treviso, Italy $17-19 CSPC 770999
Giusti Rosalia NV Prosecco Veneto, Italy $17-18 CSPC 767184
Banfi Maschio NV Prosecco Treviso, Italy $14-16 CSPC 785760 Giusti NV Asolo Prosecco Brut Veneto, Italy $20-22 CSPC 767763
Emotivo NV Prosecco Veneto, Italy $14-16 CSPC 745154 39
Sparkling wine sales are on the rise in Alberta. They are made in every wine-producing country in the world and uncorked for celebrations and triumphs. Quality sparkling wines are fresh, layered in aromas and flavours, bright and balanced. The flavours could be from fresh tropical fruits, crispy fresh apples or toasted bread, allowing them to pair with a wide range of foods and occasions. The sparklers entered in this year showed a diverse range of styles from regions around the globe. An impressive lineup with an old friend of mine, Gremillet Champagne winning the Best in Class. Juanita Roos BEST IN CLASS
Champagne Gremillet NV Brut Champagne, France $43-45 CSPC 737558
Barokes NV Bubbly Moscato Australia $5-6 CSPC 790293 JUDGES SELECTION Ferrari NV Brut Trento, Italy $30-32 CSPC 765673 Gruet NV Blanc de Noirs United States $27-28 CSPC 768426 Taittinger NV Brut Reserve Champagne, France $58-60 CSPC 40873 Freixenet NV Cordon Negro Brut Cava, Spain $15-16 CSPC 88591
This was a category that almost stayed within the sparkling wines – if you want a sparkling rosé, you’ll look for one right? But when the results were in, we found that there were just too many sparkling wines that might get lost in the shuffle and we decided to break out the pinks from the pales. Below are some lovely, aromatic, and well balanced sparkling wines with a little extra colour. One wine, the Lini 910 is a red wine with a little fizz, a Lambrusco which, when the depths of winter are upon us, can be a lovely reminder that summer will be here again. Tom Firth JUDGES SELECTION BEST IN CLASS Gruet Brut Rosé United States $27-30 CSPC 768426
Taittinger NV Prestige Rosé Champagne, France $95-100 CSPC 372367 Lini 910 Labrusca Lambrusco Rosso Reggiano, Emilia-Romagna, Italy $16-18 CSPC 754780 Henry of Pelham Cuvée Catharine Brut Rosé Niagara Peninsula, Ontario $37-39 CSPC 217505
Stouts and Porters
Stouts and porters lie on the dark side of beers. Full of roasted chocolatey/coffee goodness, they used to be mostly winter warmers, but now they are enjoyed year-round. Both stouts and porters come in a variety of styles and can have a huge variance in alcohol strength. These beers also lend themselves to fruit and other adjuncts, much like the proverbial “box of chocolates”. Our 2017 winners demonstrate this diversity. The 2017 Best in Class is Edmonton’s Elbeck Brewing and their Nut N Honey Porter, a smooth brew with a nice blend of sweet honey that leads to a bitter dark chocolate finish. David Nuttall BEST IN CLASS
Elbeck Brewing Nut N Honey Porter Alberta, Canada $9-10 (650mL) CSPC 790510
Courage Imperial Russian Stout United Kingdom $5 (275mL) CSPC 753974
Elbeck Brewing KGB Russian Imperial Stout Canada $11-12 (650mL) CSPC 790509 Medicine Hat Brewing Gentlemen’s Stout Alberta, Canada $15-18 (6 pack cans) CSPC 791762 Tool Shed Flat Cap Stout Alberta, Canada $16-19 (6-pack cans) CSPC 778816 Brewsters Hawaiian Coconut Porter Alberta, Canada $16-19 (6-pack bottles) CSPC 787140
The vodka market in Alberta is massive with over 800 vodka or vodka-based products on offer. So, what’s the best? When enjoying vodka, you look for overall balance and purity of spirit. The charm of vodka lies in the subtleties of balance and the nuance of base material. The best vodkas are round and supple with superbly integrated alcohol. We had two overall winners this year that tied for Best in Class. Our local champ this year hails from Edmonton with Strathcona Spirits giving up a delicious Single Grain Wheat spirit with lovely balance, it’s nice to see a local company competing at this level. And to tie Strathcona was Titos Handmade Vodka, which is always a top-notch tipple in the white spirit category and it showed a lot of style. Brad Royale
BEST IN CLASS (TIE)
Strathcona Spirits Single Grain Wheat Vodka Alberta, Canada $47-48 CSPC 787817
Russian Standard Vodka Russia $23-25 CPSC 737458
Tito’s Handmade Vodka United States $33-35 CSPC 709985
JUDGES SELECTION Reyka Small Batch Vodka Iceland $45-48 CSPC 786555 Hansen Barn Owl Gold Vodka Alberta, Canada $47 CSPC 789503 41
White Blends is a category that just doesn’t get the attention it deserves. There was tremendous quality and variety on display and most of these wines were a pleasure to drink. There was a style for everyone, from dry and crisp to soft, round and fruity. Overall the wines were very good and offer tremendous value for consumers. The very best of these wines have a wonderful balance of fruit and acid, along with minimal oak use. The category winner, the Silver Lining Estate White, is just such a wine. Beautifully balanced and very complex with a long satisfying finish, it represents incredible value as well. Tim Harder BEST IN CLASS
Silver Lining Estate 2016 White Okanagan Valley, British Columbia $17-18 CSPC 778780
Santos da Casa Douro 2015 Branco White Douro, Portuga $18-19 CSPC 784720 Raven Conspiracy 2015 Smooth Bright White British Columbia $17-19 CSPC 784321 Les Fleurs du Mal 2016 Cotes du Gascogne White Cotes du Gascogne, France $16-18 CSPC 239467 Monte Creek Ranch 2016 Hands Up White British Columbia $18-20 CSPC 782539 Thornhaven 2015 Brooklyn’s Blend Okanagan Valley, British Columbia $21-23 CSPC 777870
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Best in Class
Italian Reds Sangiovese And Its Blends I heard it once said by an Italian winemaker that to truly understand sangiovese you must completely devote yourself to it. The bright red fruit characteristics that we all love take time and great effort to round into form. The entries this year were all quite exceptional, but the ones that stole our hearts were from Chianti. Antinori Marchese Reserva (2013) won the week for me. An intense ruby red with purple highlights in colour, the aromas range from ripe red fruit, with perceptible notes of cherries, leather, and dried spices. The initial palate is quite soft with an excellent balance between tannins and acidity. The finish is richly flavourful and pleasurable and is quite lasting and sustained. Honourable mentions go to Banfi’s 2013 Classico Riserva and Ricasoli Classico 2014 as they both were collective judges’ favourites. Once again, quality wines from quality houses. Darren Fabian BEST IN CLASS
Antinori Marchese Antinori 2013 Chianti Classico Reserva Tuscany, Italy $31-34 CSPC 742188
Carpineto 2012 Chianti Classico Riserva Tuscany, Italy $25-26 CSPC 682559 Ricasoli 2013 Brolio Bettino Chianti Classico Tuscany, Italy $33-35 CSPC 792786 Ricasoli 2014 Brolio Chianti Classico Tuscany, Italy $23-25 CSPC 3962 Banfi 2013 Chianti Classico Riserva Tuscany, Italy $24 CSPC 724012
Other Italian Red Varieties If you’re looking for adventure, Italy is always a go-to with over 1,000 different varieties and massive climate, altitude, and soil differences throughout the boot. It’s fun to flirt with old faithfuls, like nebbiolo, and plunder the almost-forgotten, like Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Even the modern styles still show their fundamental “Italian-ness”, with a whiff of cherry and dusty earth here and there across the spectrum of body, tannin, acidity, and much more. Matt Browman BEST IN CLASS
Fontanafredda 2012 Barolo Silver Piedmont, Italy $32-35 CSPC 747595
Talamonti Tre Saggi 2014 Montepulciano D’Abruzzo Abruzzo, Italy $15-17 CSPC 745479
Biagi Retro 2012 Colonella Abbruzzo, Italy $15 CSPC 790289
Italian Reds (continued) Veneto Blends Most of us go straight to Ripasso, Amarone, or Valpolicella when “blend” and “Veneto” qualify a category. And yes, most of these are those. But the Veneto offers some diversity that’s worth exploring. Look for drier, meal-friendly styles, merlot-dominant blends, or non-traditional Amarone-like interpretations. This year’s lineup saw some usual suspects and intriguing others. Matt Browman BEST IN CLASS (TIE)
JUDGES SELECTION The Social Collection Bin: 105 2012 Amarone Della Valpolicella Veneto, Italy $32 CSPC 787497
Masi 2013 Campofiorin del Veronese Ripasso Veneto, Italy $18 CSPC 155051
Emotivo 2015 Gran Rosso Veneto, Italy $17-19 CSPC 784012 Folonari 2015 Valpolicella Ripasso Veneto, Italy $17-19 CSPC 481838
Giusti 2013 Valpolicella Ripasso DOC Veneto, Italy $40-43 CSPC 767318
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The Rhône blend typically consist of grenache, syrah and mourvedre but not necessarily in that order. Grenache brings bright, ripe red fruit while the syrah and mourvedre offer spice, barrique, tannins and meatiness. The trio works well together, known as the “holy trinity”. One of my favourite flights this year as all the wines were of very good quality and a pleasure to judge. The common thread here is a balanced wine with equal parts complexity, winemaking, intrigue and purity of fruit and grape variety. The wines are approachable in their youth, cocktail able and very food friendly. Mike Roberts JUDGES SELECTION Delas Freres 2014 Cotes Du Rhône St. Esprit Southern Rhône, France $16-18 CSPC 595736
BEST IN CLASS Domaines Paul Jaboulet Aîné 2015 Cotes du Rhône Biographie Rhône, France $19-20 CSPC 787368
M. Chapoutier 2015 Belleruche Cote du Rhône Rouge Cote du Rhône, France $17-19 CSPC 725788 Gerard Bertrand 2014 Terroir Corbiere, Languedoc France $18-20 CSPC 790131
TOP VALUE M. Chapoutier 2015 Bila Haut Rouge Cote de Roussillon Village, France $15-17 CSPC 739422
Sake deserves more attention. Still, the category in Alberta has doubled in the last five years, with over 200 different selections. Many of those are the premium Junmai Daiginjo, which offer a range of depth, richness, complexity, and mild sweetness. But don’t overlook the cleaner, simpler Honjozo. The experiential bandwidth is narrower for sake than for wine, but it’s those subtleties that make it so intriguing. And some inventiveness is adding some new styles. This year saw everything from sparkling sake to a creamy coconut-flavoured one, with the classics in between. Matt Browman BEST IN CLASS (TIE)
Fisherman Sokujo Junmai Ginjo Premium Sake Japan $29 CSPC 795947
Masukagami F-60 Rokumaru Seishu Japan $32 CSPC 795840
Aizuhomare Junmai Daiginjo Kiwami Sake Japan $39 CSPC 784983
Houraisen Beshi Tokubetsu Junmai Sake Japan $31 CSPC 775509 Kaiun Iwaizake Junmai Daiginjo Sake Japan $54 CSPC 768494
Coolers And Ready To Drink
The Skittle-hued selection of coolers and pre-mixed drinks in Alberta is awash in options. This year’s selections roamed the colour wheel from neon green to bright-summer-dress orange with every rainbow colour of flavours. The stand outs came in the way of soda-based drinks with our judges loving the prepackaged boozy variations of root beer and cream soda. Crazy Uncle Hard Root Beer was a panel favourite delivering all the sarsaparilla, sweet birch, and licorice one could hope for in a fizzy canned drink. Dusty Boots had two top selections with their Hard Cherry Cola and Hard Orange Cream showing that these two soda classics have a place in the fridge alongside a six pack of suds. Brad Royale BEST IN CLASS
Crazy Uncle Hard Root Beer Canada $3-4 (473mL can) CSPC 779697
Dusty Boots Hard Root Beer Canada $12-14 (6-pack cans) CSPC 783083
Crazy Uncle Hard Cream Soda Canada $3-4 (473mL can) CSPC 785527 Dusty Boots Hard Cherry Cola Canada $12-14 (6-pack cans) CSPC 787277 SoCIAL LITE Lime Ginger Canada $10 (4-pack cans) CSPC 766671 Dusty Boots Hard Orange Cream Canada $12-14 (6-pack cans) CSPC 791546
Characterized by high acidity, sauvignon blanc makes for a wine that’s vibrant and racy. It is this acidity – as well as the grape’s trademark green notes (asparagus, green pepper and gooseberry) – that enable it to pair with dishes like tomatoes, garlic, smoked protein, and green vegetables. This year, the category was dominated by entrants from the New Zealand. One can however, find this grape in beautiful representations from many other places, including the French regions of Loire (Sancerre) and Bordeaux (where it is blended with semillon), in California (ripe flavours and smoky notes), as well as Chile and Italy. I was pleased to see a French sauvignon blanc (Francois Lurton, Fumees Blanches) win Top Value and achieve recognition alongside its Marlborough counterparts. Nathalie Gosselin BEST IN CLASS
Peter Yealands 2016 Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough, New Zealand $19-20 CSPC 574848 TOP VALUE
Francois Lurton 2015 Les Fumees Blanches Sauvignon Blanc Côtes-de-Gascogne, France $15-16 CSPC 472555
JUDGES SELECTION Clifford Bay 2015 Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough, New Zealand $18 CSPC 784336 Villa Maria 2016 Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough, New Zealand $17-20 CSPC 342360 The Ned 2015 Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough, New Zealand $17-18 CSPC 742653 Nobilo 2016 Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough, New Zealand $15-17 CSPC 554444 47
Lagers are the (much) younger sibling of ales, but now dominate the world beer scene thanks to their production in almost every county. Most people think of lagers as that clear, fizzy, yellow beer, when in fact they can be any colour from pale straw to black. The entries in this year’s lager category follow a similar breadth of colour. This year’s Best in Class is Stanley Park’s Daytrip, a gold coloured beer with a citrusy hoppy finish. On the other side off the colour scale is a schwarzbier (black beer) from Red Deer’s Something Brewing, the perennial favourite Dark Side. A subtle coffee flavour greets the palate, but it still finishes crisp and clean. David Nuttall BEST IN CLASS Stanley Park Brewing Daytrip Canada $16-19 (6-pack cans) CSPC 790928
JUDGES SELECTION Vancouver Island Brewing Juan De Fuca Cerveza Canada $25-27 (12 pack cans) CSPC 790117 Something Brewing Dark Side Schwarzbier Alberta, Canada $10 (4 pack cans) CSPC 766643
JUDGES SELECTION (continued) Pan Zlatni Lager Croatia $3 (330mL bottle) CSPC 791114 Whistler Brewing Bear Paw Honey Lager $16-19 (6-pack bottles) CSPC 736448 Innis & Gunn Lager United Kingdom $4-5 (500mL can) CSPC 763105 Big Rock Honey Brown Amber Lager Alberta, Canada $16-19 (6-pack cans) CSPC 709686 Singha Lager Thailand $16-19 (6-pack bottles) CSPC 676395
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Single Malt Whisky
As the trend for brown spirits continues to rise, single malt whiskies continue to evolve and develop, becoming more pleasing to the contemporary palate. An amazing range of single malt whiskies were seen this year with many different aging styles and casks. A variety of casks that can be used in the aging process is a definite advantage to whisky producers as they have the freedom to craft their products towards the needs in the marketplace. Our panel was pleasantly surprised with the approachable style of the single malt whiskies submitted this year as well as the highest performing single malt – which comes from Sweden! James Werner BEST IN CLASS
Spirit of Hven Tycho’s Star Single Malt Whisky Sweden $99-105 CSPC 790286
Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky United Kingdom $87-92 CSPC 741531
Glenfiddich 21 Year Old Reserva Rum Cask Single Malt Scotch Whisky United Kingdom $280-300 CSPC 638627 Spirit Of Hven Seven Stars Series Alioth Single Malt Whisky Sweden $135-140 CSPC 794442 Glenfiddich 18 Year Old Small Batch Reserve Single Malt Scotch Whisky United Kingdom $140-150 CSPC 530352 Glenfarclas 15 Year Old Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky United Kingdom $78-85 CSPC 380717
I’ll make a quick confession. I love these products. Borne out of a necessity of sorts – with Alberta’s booming craft distillers industry, there are a lot of producers making these “raw” or “unaged spirits” while Canadian whisky rests in barrel waiting for the day they can proudly bear the name – and carry an age statement. These unaged spirits see virtually no time in barrel, yet provide a fleeting glimpse of what is to come – and the future is bright indeed. The unaged spirits are all Alberta-based, and I would highly recommend putting these distillers on your radar. Tom Firth BEST IN CLASS (TIE)
RAW Distillery RAW Unaged Limited Release Alberta, Canada 37.7 CSPC 789675 Elk Island Spirits Ross Creek “Short Aged” Rye Alberta, Canada $46 CSPC 791041 Hansen Distillery Border Crossing Rye Spirit Alberta, Canada $47 CSPC 789505
JUDGES SELECTION Park Distilley Glacier Rye Alberta, Canada $48-50 CSPC 778456 Elk Island Wandering Elk Albino Alberta, Canada $46 CSPC 791043
What a lineup! Local rules. Of the top eight, seven were Canada’s own including four from Alberta. Topping the list was the fine Ungava Gin, its brilliant hue showcasing the origin of its botanicals from Labrador’s tundra. Cirka Sauvage’s flavours spring from Quebec’s boreal forest. Edmonton’s Strathcona Spirits Seaberry highlights sea buckthorn foraged from the Badlands. Victoria Gin’s new offering, Empress 1908, gets its lovely colour from the infusion of pea blossom. Wild Life’s gin from Canmore is a more traditional, juniper forward expression – ideal for a G&T, and Rig Hand riffs on the classic lemon gin. Here’s to Canucky gin. Mary Bailey BEST IN CLASS
Ungava Gin Canada $33-35 CSPC 753183
Last Best White Label Jelly Gin Alberta, Canada $50-52 CSPC 785516 Wild Life Distillery Gin Alberta, Canada $50-52 CSPC 790937 Cotswolds Dry Gin United Kingdom $60- 62 CSPC 790005
CIRKA Sauvage Dry Gin Canada $49-52 CSPC 787657 Empress 1908 - Original Indigo Gin Canada $48-52 CSPC 793071 Strathcona Spirits Badland Seaberry Gin Alberta, Canada $50-52 CSPC 787815 Rig Hand Lemon Gin Alberta, Canada $51-54 CSPC 789812
Although the days of bubblegum vodkas and synthetic fruit flavours may not be entirely behind us, there appears to be an emerging wave of distillers that stand out with their naturally infused vodkas. The shining star at this year’s Alberta Beverage Awards hails right from our back yard. Park Distillery (Banff, Alberta) Espresso vodka lends a clean essence of the dark bean without tasting false. Taking pride in the purity of their ingredients, Park Distillery only produces in small batches. Jynnifer Gibson BEST IN CLASS
Park Distillery Espresso Vodka Alberta, Canada $48-50 CSPC 778453
Prairie Organic Cucumber Vodka United States $38 CSPC760586 Park Distillery Vanilla Vodka Alberta, Canada $48-50 CSPC 778454 Deep Eddy Lemon Vodka United States $30-32 CSPC 785555 51
Gone are the days of the rough and tumble “Silver” and “Gold” tequilas, and the worms in the bottom of the bottles being the benchmark of tequila. We are blessed to have a vast array of outstanding tequila in the Alberta market. From the pungent, vegetal, peppery platas and blancos – to the smooth and complex reposados, and the snifter-worthy añejo. Tequila is an amazing spirit made with much skill and tradition. All the Tequilas submitted for judging were excellent examples in their class and it was difficult to choose a clear winner. This is a category of spirits that is well worth exploring – both versatile and delicious. Bruce Soley BEST IN CLASS
Corralejo Añejo Tequila Mexico $74 CSPC 710294
Chinaco Añejo Tequila Mexico $75-80 CSPC 767624
Torres Rocado Reposado Tequila Mexico $81-84 CSPC 780117
Siempre Tequila Plata Mexico $55-60 CSPC 785712
Corralejo Reposado Tequila Mexico $57-60 CSPC 710293 Tequila Ocho Añejo Mexico $74-77 CSPC 760475 Milagro Silver Mexico $38-40 CSPC 733111
Wine folks used to say that if the bottle said syrah, it would be northern Rhone in style — elegant yet powerful, ageable, with well balanced fruit, tannin and acid. Whereas, if it was called shiraz, the wine would be Aussie style — exuberant red fruit, even a bit jammy due to the relentless southern sun. That handy (and oversimplified) categorization really is not useful anymore. syrah/ shiraz rocks to the beat of its own drummer. This year’s top five includes wines from south Australia and the Barossa valley, Chile, Oregon and the Okanagan, fast becoming known for highest quality, idiosyncratic syrah. Vive la difference. Mary Bailey
BEST IN CLASS
Langmeil 2014 Valley Floor Shiraz Barossa Valley, Australia $26-28 CSPC 564450
Twill Cellars 2013 Syrah Willamette Valley, Oregon United States $32-35 CSPC 787037
Bench 1775 2014 Syrah Okanagan Valley, British Columbia $24-26 CSPC 775454
Montgras Antu 2014 Syrah Colchagua, Chile $18-20 CSPC 80275
Peter Lehmann 2013 Futures Shiraz Barossa Valley, Australia $26-28 CSPC 712858
Liqueurs are an often-overlooked category of spirits, overshadowed by whatever “base spirit” is currently fashionable. They're the ingredients that give texture and refinement to cocktails; they're your aperitifs and nightcaps. What is a Manhattan or Negroni without vermouth? Boring. That’s what. Entries this year ran from ol’ Apple Betty and Butterscotch Schnapps to a really tasty Black Currant liqueur from Krang Spirits from right here in Cochrane. Sometimes a little too sweet, this one has a great bitterness to it that reminded me of picking a berry right off the bush. I truly hope to sample more from them soon. Darren Fabian
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BEST IN CLASS Krang Spirits Black Currant Krang Alberta, Canada $28 CSPC 960060
JUDGES SELECTION Nonino Amaro Quinessentia Italy $45 CSPC 707179
Cabot Trail Whiskey Liqueur Canada $27-29 CSPC 755851
Korlat Aronia Chokeberry Croatia $28-31 CSPC 795166
Drambuie United Kingdom $34 CSPC 1867
Gabriel Boudier Creme de Cassis de Dijon France $35 CSPC 502740
Hansen Distillery Ring of Fire Rye Spirit Alberta, Canada $40 (Distillery) McGuinness Butterscotch Liqueur Canada $20-23 CSPC 785743 Back 40 Distillery Ol’ Apple Betty Alberta, Canada $37-40 CSPC 790534
UPCOMING EVENING EVENTS
DINNER & A MOVIE OCT 17 | OCT 24 NOV 7 | NOV 14 | NOV 21
Enjoy a three-course movie-themed meal at the Selkirk Grille followed by the film in Gasoline Alley Museum. Tickets, menu, and movie selections can be found at HeritagePark.ca
The Selkirk Grille is open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner. Open Mondays for lunch until October 9. Reservations Recommended 403.268.8607 or HeritagePark.ca HeritageParkYYC
India Pale Ales
I have to begin by saying that the India Pale Ales (IPA) category was the most challenging for our panel this year – simply because we had well over thirty entries to judge/battle through and there were multiple flights in which we had to pare down the results. The good news is we have plenty of good and great options now produced in Alberta. I remember a few years ago we would struggle to find an IPA entered that lived up to the panels expectations. Now, what a great time to be enjoying this classic style of beer. John Papavacilopoulos
BEST IN CLASS
Innis & Gunn IPA United Kingdom $18-20 (6-pack bottles) CSPC 786102
Beau’s Brewing Full Time IPA Canada $7-10 (600mL bottle) CSPC 793141
Bench Creek Brewing White Raven Alberta, Canada $12-14 (4-pack cans) CSPC 783190
Russell Brewing Punch Bowl North West IPA Canada $7-8 (650mL bottle) CSPC 772845
Whistler Brewing Co. Lost Lake IPA Canada $16-19 (6-pack bottles) CSPC 781121
Banded Peak Brewing Southern Aspect IPA Alberta, Canada $9-10 (1L can) CSPC 785462 Brewsters Honest Paul IPA Alberta, Canada $16-19 (6-pack bottles) CSPC 776265 Phillips Hop Circle IPA Canada $16-19 (6-pack cans) CSPC 70979
Bench Creek Brewing Flint & Steel IPA Alberta, Canada $12-14 (4-pack cans) CSPC 789224 Dog Island Brewing Saints & Sinners IPA Alberta, Canada On Tap CSPC 787136 Medicine Hat Brewing Industrial Ave IPA Alberta, Canada $16-19 (6-pack cans) CSPC 791765
White Single Varietals
While this category is a bit of a catch-all, it also serves as a bit of a treasure trove of possibly overlooked gems. These are wines that compete in a cutthroat category surviving only on their merits. Some judges use these flights as a test of sorts to hone blind tasting skills, while others try to find the best apples compared to the next orange, peach or strawberry. Personally, I was thrilled to see a wide range of very good products emerge at the top with viognier, chenin blanc, and a few other white grapes that just need a little more love since they are phenomenal, but overshadowed by the classics. Enjoy! Tom Firth JUDGES SELECTION
BEST IN CLASS Play Estate 2015 Viognier Okanagan Valley, British Columbia $27-29 CSPC 778441
TOP VALUE Spier Signature 2017 Chenin Blanc Western Cape, South Africa $13-15 CSPC 659037
Kaiken â€˜Terroir Seriesâ€™ 2015 Torrontes Cafayate Valley, Salta, Argentina $19-21 CSPC 330407 Marques De Caceres 2015 Rias Baixas Deusa Nai Albarino Rias Baixas, Spain $20-21 CSPC 782958 Talamonti 2015 Trabocchetto Pecorino Abruzzo, Italy $18-20 CSPC 757908 Gran Bohedal 2015 Blanco Rioja, Spain $17-19 CSPC 778338
Mixed Ales was where we had to put so many great beers that represent an incredible range of styles that otherwise would have been in categories that just might have been too small to stand alone in the results. We see some red ales, a session, a gose, and some other classics. But coming out on top was McEwan’s Scotch Ale. From judge John Papavacilopoulos, “in the middle of this brown ale there was a deep burnt orange-red hue, surprising white frothy head with a decent amount of lacing. Malty bready notes mix with dark fruity esters and a cola like finish on the nose. Sweet candy start with hints of raisin and molasses and some faint minerality on the finish. The mouth feel is round and sticky with a viscosity that finished with a combination of malt and dry.” Doesn’t that sound good? Tom Firth BEST IN CLASS
McEwan’s Scotch Ale United Kingdom $18-20 (6-pack bottles) CSPC 892703
Wild Rose Ponderosa Gose Alberta, Canada $11-13 (4-pack cans) CSPC Other790638 Tool Shed Red Rage Alberta, Canada $16-18 (6-pack cans) CSPC 769986
Alley Kat Sunburst Session Ale Alberta, Canada $16-19 (6-pack bottles) CSPC 790594 Village Blacksmith Alberta, Canada $16-19 (6-pack bottles) CSPC 768794 Brewsters Hammerhead Red Ale Alberta, Canada $16-19 (6-pack bottles) CSPC 770044 Russell Brewing Blood Alley Bitter Canada $7-9 (650mL bottle) CSPC 748055
At this year’s Alberta Beverage Awards, more beers were entered than ever before. This is surely a sign of the times, with more and more craft breweries opening all the time. One thing that this led to was the ability to divide up style categories – thus instead of putting all lagers into one category, Pilsners were able to be judged as their own category. Quick review time: Pilsners are, in fact, lagers – in the sense that they are brewed with bottom-fermenting lager yeast and they are usually cold conditioned (lagered) prior to packaging. Pilsners tend to be light, pale, and crisp (though there are definitely exceptions). The winner this year was from New Zealand’s Hawkes Bay Independent Brewery. Their Pilsner was true to style, being pale in colour and quite light, though with some subtle malt complexity. Kirk Bodnar BEST IN CLASS
Hawkesbay Brewery Pilsner New Zealand $5-6 (350mL bottle) CSPC 783490
Big Rock Pilsner Alberta, Canada $16-19 (6-pack bottles) CSPC TBD Mill Street Pursuit Pilsner Alberta, Canada On Tap Only at Brew Pub
Merlot can range from easy-drinking, friendly wines with simple red fruit flavours, plush textures, and low tannins to complex wines tasting of cherry, berry and cocoa, even intriguing flavours of walnut and curry in some fine examples. And let’s say good riddance to the Sideways effect while we are here. Merlot has regained its rightful place on the table and in the cellar due to the range of styles and the grape’s overall deliciousness. At this year’s Alberta Beverage Awards, merlots from the new world ruled, with two Napa and Okanagan merlots on top. A classic Chilean selection rounded out the Top Five. Mary Bailey BEST IN CLASS
Markham Vineyards 2014 Merlot Napa Valley, United States $27-28 CSPC 512244
Burrowing Owl 2013 Merlot Okanagan Valley, British Columbia$34-36 CSPC 509885 Carmen 2014 Gran Reserva Merlot Maipo, Chile $16-18 CSPC 415620 Monster Vineyards 2015 Merlot Okanagan Valley, British Columbia $18-20 CSPC 873422 Emmolo 2014 Merlot Napa Valley, United States $82 CSPC 493759
Always a tough category for the judges, we get plenty of examples from around the world each year, and judges have to battle through some serious tannin build up, but also sort through a grape that is always quite consistent flavour-wise. Judges really have to look for that elusive thing called balance – do the fruits, the acids, tannins, and aromas all work together? No mean feat when you consider that many of these examples are meant for aging in the cellar. This year’s winners, I’m proud to share, represent a number of beautiful examples from around the world – in a wide range of prices, so there is sure to be at least one you should be comfortable trying. Tom Firth BEST IN CLASS
Miguel Torres 2012 Mas La Plana Penedes, Spain $55-57 CSPC 315838
Robert Mondavi 2015 Private Selection California, United States $16-18 CSPC 392225 JUDGES SELECTION Carmen 2014 Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo Valley, Chile $17-18 CSPC 358309 Miguel Torres 2012 Manso de Velasco Old Vine Cabernet Sauvignon Central Valley, Chile $50-54 CSPC 721449 Buena Vista 2014 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma, United States $42-45 CSPC 789483 St. Francis 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma, United States $24-26 CSPC 421990 Marques de Casa Concha 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Maipo Valley, Chile $20-22 CSPC 337238 La Sabina 2011 Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon Pago Guijoso, La Mancha, Spain $33-35 CSPC 779202 Falernia 2014 Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon Elqui Valley, Chile $17-19 CSPC 784019
Best IN CLASS
And the winners are: RHONE STYLE BLENDS
DOMAINES PAUL JABOULET AINE COTES DU RHONE BIOGRAPHIE 2015
CULMINA R&D RED BLEND 2014
LA GIOIOSA PROSECCO DOC TREVISO BRUT NV
TORRES MAS LA PLANA 2012
TO FIND A RETAILER: LIQUORCONNECT.COM
RED SINGLE VARIETIES +531228 YALUMBA OLD BUSH VINE GRENACHE 2015
FORTIFIED & DESSERT WINES +164129 TAYLOR FLADGATE FINE WHITE PORT NV
Published on Oct 4, 2017