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.
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.”
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.