Posts Tagged ‘Merlot

Earls’ Rascal makes good company for the Scoundrels

- May 22nd, 2013

cedar creek rascal 2

What pairs well with Earls’ approachable yet upscale food?

Obviously an approachable wine is a good start.

Already pouring a collection of wine that should please most palates, Earls has launched a new partnership to offer up a house label that stands up to the quality in its extensive drinks program.

Rascal Next Door comes from B.C.’s Cedar Creek Winery, which already has a pair of “Platinum” offerings on Earls’ wine list. At the Rascal Next Door launch dinner, the Platinum Merlot was one of my favourites, standing up very well to my 16-oz. Angus ribeye steak.

The Rascal Next Door White is a blend of Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Ehrenfelser and Viognier. It is a fruity, aromatic blend that isn’t too sweet or too acidic. And any white that can have me drinking it without food to pair it with would be a success in my books. Lots of tart apple flavours, and tropical fruit. This works with spicy foods, suck as Earls Jeera Curry, but I think it also would work well with the fish tacos.

The Rascal Next Door Red blends Merlot, Cab-Sauv, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and Syrah. It is a light, easy to drink red, with lots of summer fruits and light tannins. For the launch dinner, they paired this with a Beef Carpaccio that, criminally, is not available at all Earls locations. It is a great pairing, and a fantastic serving of beef. Look for this dish at Earls flagship locations. Elsewhere, I would happily pair this wine with a bacon-cheddar burger, or the 7-oz. sirloin, or even a pizza or ribs.

Other than the new house wines, Cedar Creek has four items on Earls’ wine list: The crisp, citrusy Dry Riesling (paired with the prawn & quinoa salad) and the apple-orchard Pinot Gris (roast chicken with tomatillo avocado sauce), as well as the Platinum Reserve Chardonnay, and the aforementioned Platinum Merlot, which was quite tasty.

Cedar Creek owner Gordon Fitzpatrick should be proud of this partnership, and hopefully, it introduces his award-winning winery to a wider Canadian audience.

“Our wine is our word,” he told me, repeating his winery’s motto.

And their word is gold.

A toast to the Stampede centennial

- June 19th, 2012

Township-7-Centennial-Merlot-bottle-shot
The Township 7 Calgary Stampede Centennial Selection Merlot — PHOTO COURTESY TOWNSHIP 7

Many people, thousands, will be raising a glass to the 100 years of the Calgary Stampede this year.

There’s a lot to toast. It’s an organization that has had a hand in helping shape the city, and has been drawing people to Calgary for years.

It is an iconic Calgary event. Not all that the city stands for, mind you, but it’s hard to argue the importance of the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.

And the Stampede has teamed up with a B.C. winery and a local distillery to bring you some special beverages to toast the extra-special occasion.

Naramata-based boutique winery Township 7, which has been in operation for just 12 years, was chosen in a blind tasting from a handful of other wineries to represents the landmark edition of the Stampede.

Their Centennial Selection 2008 Merlot and 2009 Chardonnay are available at a number of stores around town, and will pop up at Co-Op Wines & Spirits during Stampede.

“We were over the moon to be chosen,” said Lori Pike-Raffan, who runs the winery with her husband.

“We’re incredibly honoured to be able to pair with an organization like the Calgary Stampede that is so loved by Calgarians.”

Pike-Raffan told me she’s pretty excited about the exposure for the winery, but also for the chance to come out and bring a little Okanagan sunshine our way.

Given the rain over the last couple Stampede’s we could use it.

Part of the winery’s Stampede experience will include tasting in the BMO’s Western Oasis, where the wine will be on offer in Co-Op’s wine garden.

For those who may find themselves in Naramata, or Langley, during Stampede, Township 7 is presenting a taste of Calgary for visitors during the first weekend at Naramata and the second weekend at their Langley operation.

“We really wanted to go to town,” Pike-Raffan said. “The centennial itself is something really special to be involved with.” More info is available on the winery’s website.

Now, if you’re looking to cowboy up a little more, High River’s Highwood Distillers has something with an extra kick.

The Alberta-owned operation, which has partnered with the Stampede in previous years, has offered up a limited Centennial Edition 25-year Canadian Rye Whisky.

Already known for some other aged whiskies, like the 21-year Century Reserve and the Centennial 10-year, Sales Manager Sheldon Hyra says the 25-year Stampede edition offers both a great sipping whisky, and a collector’s item.

“With Centennial coming up, the Stampede wanted to do something special,” Hyra said. “And this is quite a unique product.”

The whisky was made in a limited run of just 6,000 bottles.

The bottle it comes in is hand-filled, with the special pewter label — made to look like a belt buckle — hand-applied. Even the seal over the cork was crafted to represent the Stampede, Hyra said.

Hyra describes the Centennial edition as a “very smooth, well-rounded whisky” that will appeal to fans of single malt Scotch.

“It’s ultra-smooth, with great character from the Oak.”

The distillery hasn’t done a lot of promotion for the whisky, but there has been growing interest in it.

“A lot of stores are picking it up — so ask for it at your favourite liquor store,” Hyra said. “I always tell people ‘Buy two bottles. One for your kids inheritance, and one to use as a conversation starter on your back bar.’”

While Highwood isn’t doing much in the way of promotion of the Centennial whisky on Stampede grounds, they will have a presence in the Range in the Big Four building, promoting their White Owl Whisky, the only white rye.

Hyra said it’s been a hit for the company since it was launched, and it really catching on with a generation “drinking all sorts of fancy cocktails and mixed drinks, and you really need a clear liquid.”

The White Owl makes a particularly good Caesar, Hyra said, and is a good tie-in with the Stampede.

Tasting notes
The Stampede website says “The Merlot (Pictured above) is barrel aged for 22 months in French and American oak and delivers a smooth and supple palate with flavours of black cherry, plum and raspberry, with hints of caramel and chocolate aromas.”

Lori Pike-Raffan told me it’s “excellent with grilled meats, pork tenderloin and roasted chicken. It’s a really deep, rich, nice wine.”

Township-7-Centennial-Chardonnay-bottle-shot
The Centennial Selection Chardonnay — PHOTO COURTESY TOWNSHIP 7

As for the Chardonnay, the Stampede says it “is entirely barrel fermented and aged in French and American oak. Full malolactic fermentation delivers a hint of creamy butterscotch and honey texture with flavours of fresh apple, peach, and tropical citrus notes, joined by nuances of vanilla, hazelnut and coconut.”

Pike-Raffan says “our wine maker is know for doing B.C. Chard.” A couple of years ago it won best Chardonnay in Canada, and the Prime Minister chose Township 7 Chardonnay to serve the last time Queen Elizabeth was visiting.

“Ours is quite elegant with ripeness of fruit and balanced with acidity, not jammy fruit bombs.”

The Centennial Selection has a “creamy mouth feel with really nice acidity,” she said, and pairs with creamy pasta or halibut off the grill.