February is a great month in Calgary…not because of the blowing snow or frigid temperatures, but because of all the wonderful wines you can sample at Winefest! This year I had a great time sampling wines with a friend and fellow blogger/food enthusiast. We each had our favourite picks of the day and I would love to share with you some of my favourites.
The first wine we encountered was this eye catching red 2014 blend from the US, SINN. I really enjoyed this easy drinking red and apparently, many other did too because it was voted Best Red in the $20-$30 People’s Choice category. Runners up were the Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Shiraz (2013) and Kismet Estate ‘Karma’ 2013. I was pleased to spend quite a time speaking with the Amariya Group sales director, Peter Rama. He was very friendly and passionate about the quality of the wines he promotes. I’m hoping to visit Kismet Estate Winery this summer with my husband. After that first sip of red, my sipping partner and I tried some lighter whites and enjoyed both the M. Chapoutier Belleruche (Côtes-du-Rhône, France) and the Interpalka 2014 Chardonnay (Peru). They were a nice contrast of old and new world whites.
With all that wine, it was really nice to have some small snacks strategically placed among the wine booths. The best thing was that they are mostly all small local companies such as Buttery Bites Caramels (Bay Tree, Alberta), Mojo Jojo Pickles (Edmonton), BC Ambrosia Apples, Springbank Cheese Co. (Calgary), and Cococo Chocolatiers (Calgary).I love that the Cococo Chocolatiers booth was conveniently located next to the Port. I loved the combination of the dark chocolate candied orange rind with Taylor Fladgate 20 year old Tawny Port…which won People’s Choice ‘Best Other’ Category (Pover $25). Runners up were the Fonseca 10 Year Tawny Port and the Therapy Vineyards ‘Freudified’. One of the greatest benefits to being able to sample the wines early with the media is that I had the opportunity to speak with some of the exhibitors. We spent a large amount of time chatting with the people from Celestial Wines & Spirits who represent four Moldovian wine and spirit makers. I learned a lot about the history of winemaking in the region (which began slightly after that in Georgia), and sampled a new (to me) grape varietal, Rara neagra, which is found only in Moldovia. Their Negru de Pucari (Purcari Chateau) has been a Calgary Winefest favourite Red for four years now! We didn’t miss out on the sparkling wines…in fact, I quite enjoyed the Tarantas Sparkling Rosé which was from one of two Vegan, Non-GMO verified, Organic wineries represented by Nature’s Cellars. We had a little blogger party with other bloggers over by the Bottega sparkling wine, then enjoyed the sparkling ‘Spritz n Giggles’ from Chronic Cellars.
Well, those were my favourites…here are the Calgary Winefest 2016 People’s Choice Category Winners:
Best Sparkling – Therapy Vineyards Fizzio Therapy Blanc 2014 (Canada) Runner’s Up– Cavit Roscato Rosso (Italy), Elnig-Zenzen Dr. Zenzen White Ice Cat Sparkling (Germany)
Best White Under $20 – Schmitt Sohne Relax Riesling 2014 (Germany) Runner’s Up– Elnig-Zenzen Dr. Zenzen Gewurztraminer 2014 (Germany), Girly Girl Sophie Riesling 2012 (USA)
Best White Over $20 – Black Market Wine Co. Secret Society 2014 (Canada) Runner’s Up- Ex Nihilo Vineyards Pinot Gris 2014 (Canada), Therapy Vineyards Freudian Sip 2014 (Canada)
Best Red Under $20 – Bostavan Bastardo 2013 (Moldovia) Runner’s Up- Alamos Malbec 2014 (Argentina), Schmitt Sohne Relax Cool Red 2014 (Germany)
Best Red $20-$30 – SINN Red 2014 (USA) Runner’s Up- Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Shiraz 2013 (Australia), Kismet Estate Winery Karma 2013 (Canada)
Best Red Over $30 – Purcari Negru 2010 (Moldovia) Runner’s Up- Black Market Wine Co. The Syndicate 2013 (Canada), Ex Nihilo Vineyards Pinot Noir 2014 (Canada)
Best Other Under $25 – Colio Estate Girls’ Night Out Sangria (Canada) Runner’s Up- Chocovine Chocolate and French Wine (Holland), Colio Estate Wines Girls’ Night Out Chocolate Raspberry Truffle (CAN)
Best Other Over $25 – Taylor Fladgate 20 Year Old Tawny Port (Portugal) Runner’s Up- Fonseca 10 Year Tawny Port (Portugal), Therapy Vineyards Freudified (Canada)