Welcome to Andrew Hilton Wine
Andrew Hilton Wine and Spirits is Southern Alberta's destination for fine wines, spirits and beer since 1985. In addition to having one of Southern Alberta's Largest and Best Wine Selections, we endeavor to provide a fun, relaxed, and educational approach to help you find what you're looking for.
- Over 1100 wines from around the world, many of which are exclusives. From the classics to the truly eclectic, we truly have something for every palate.
- Southern Alberta's largest selection of Single Malt Whiskey, with 190+ different whiskies available year-round.
- A full range of Domestic, Import, and Micro-brewed beers.
Rare Drams Tasting with Bob Kyle: February 3rd, 2015
Our First Scotch Tasting of 2015!!!!
Rare Drams is one of our very favourite suppliers; they import from some of the very best Independent Bottlers out there including Douglas Laing and Carn Mor, and distilleries such as Tomintoul and Glencadam.This tasting will be of six officialSingle Malts, plus a very special 7th whiskey, which will be announced at the event itself. The tasting will be hosted by Robert (Bob) Kyle - owner of Rare Drams Imports, who is coming in from Vancouver to run the tasting for us.
The whiskies to be sampled are:
The tasting will begin at 7PM sharp, on Tuesday, February 3rd. Tickets are available for $20. This is just the first event in what will be a very exciting year for us in 2015 - we hope to see you there!
Happy New Year 2015!!!
I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday season! We sure did - I even managed to sneak in a week off around New Years which was much-needed. But I'm back, and the website, which was much-neglected around the holidays will be fully updated over the next day or so. I've got a fair bit already planned for 2015, including Andrew Hilton's 30th Anniversary Celebration - which will be a TON of fun, and have several unique tastings and events to celebrate the milestone.
Thanks to all of you for making 2014 such a great success for us, and I hope we will be able to make 2015 even better.
Seriously. Thanks You Guys.
Black Friday Sale! 10% OFF EVERYTHING!
Well I tried - I have tried to avoid buying into the "Shopping Holiday" thing for as long as I could - but with virtually everyone else doing it, I can't avoid it anymore.
So - This Friday, November 28th - We are taking 10% off absolutely everything in the store, with two very small exceptions:
- Gift Certificates (duh)
- Stuff We've already got on sale.
...and that's the only exceptions - 30 year old Cellar-release Bordeaux? 10% off! 40 year old experimental Scotch that was only made once in the 1970s? Same deal! Everthing great and small in the shop is 10% off for the entirety of Friday!
PLUS - We have some pretty smoking deals besides:
- The ENTIRE Majella line - INCLUDING Musician - is on sale - This is our best Coonawarra (Australia) house - the Shiraz and Cabernet, which are normally $38 are on for just $29.95
- We are clearing out Canada - as it is changing places in the shop with the USA - over 40 Canadian wines will be clearance priced, starting Friday.
- The Mitolo Jester Shiraz and Cabernet are currently $4 off, and will be all weekend!
- PLUS - While you're here, take advantage of a KILLER Tuscan Wine Tasting, PLUS a remarkable Single Malt Tasting!
Monthly Mocha Tasting: December 1st, 2014
Sparkling WInes and Champagne -
This is an annual tradition, and my favourite Mocha Tasting of the year - our annual Champagne Night! This year we are pulling out all the stops to make this event one for the ages! We will be sampling 5 wines, 4 of which are true Champagne!
Now Champagne is a glorious thing, but we can't do all Champagnes - we will start with a wine that has been an absolute revelation for me this year - The Laurent Cognard Blancs de Noir - Just a glorious, delicate, floral expression of Pinot Noir grapes - almost Champagne in quality, but not quite.
The other four wines will explore the quality of Champagne fruit - from the Philipponatt Royal Reserve (neither Premier Cru nor Grand Cru) to Pierre Gimonnet Brut Gastronome (Premier Cru) to the Taittinger Prelude (Grand Cru) to finally, the Lallier Zero Dosage (a spectacular Grand Cru Brut Sauvage).
This would be a $50.00 tasting any other place, any other tim. But on December 1st, for one night only, you can have a spectaucular tasting event for just $30.00
First Friday Tasting: November 7th, 2014
First Editions Spirits Tasting with Andrew Laing
This Friday, Andrew Hilton Wine & Spirits is pleased to announce at Tasting Event featuring Andrew Laing of First Edition bottlers. Andrew is the grandson of Douglas Laing - creator of such incredible brands as Old Malt Cask, Provenance Bottlings, Old & Rare, and Platinum Bottlings.
First Editions is a new venture for the Laing family, and one of two (The other being Hepburn's Choice) that Andrew himself is involved in. This tasting will feature six whiskies, all from First Editions, including local favourites Blair Athol and Miltonduff - as well as perennial top-sellers Glen Grant andLittlemill - among others.
The whiskies will be open at 3PM as always, but our Special Guest won't arrive until 5PM.
Whiskies to be Tasted:
Stone Brewing Has Arrived!
That's right folks! The famous and multi-award-winning Stone Brewing Company has finally launched in Alberta! We are rolling out with EIGHT delicious examples from this fantastic brewhouse:
- Stone IPA: The Flagship: THE classic ultra-pale, ultra-hoppy "Hop Tea" style IPA that has made San Diego County so renowned for incredible IPA!
- Stone Ruination IIPA: Just like the above, but with EVEN MORE HOPS! This is the beer I am most excited for!
- Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale: Big, burly, malty, hoppy - A big damn punch in the mouth!
- Stone Stochasticity Quadro-Triticale: A big Belgian Quad, brewed with the Triticale grain.
- Stone Go-To IPA: An India Session Ale by any other name, but when it's made by hop genoiuses like Stone, you know you're in for something good!
- Stone Cali-Belgique IPA: A big, potent IPA, but made with a Belgian yeast strain: Fruity, hoppy, complex, lovely!
- Stone Matt's Burning Rosids: A bloody stupid name for a beer! BUT - This is an Imperial Saison, made with Cherrywood Smoked Malt - A really neat brew!
- Stone Coffee Milk Stout: Not a beer I was terribly excited about when it was announced. HOW WRONG I WAS!!!! This stuff smells like café au lait, and is just incredibly satisfying in the mouth. After Ruination, this is now my favourite Stone beer on this release.
Come grab some Stones while they last - 'cause they won't last long!
Glenmorangie Tasting: Monday, November 3rd:
Hosted by Ruaridh MacIntyre of Glenmorangie
On Monday, November 3rd, we are extremely pleased to announce that we will be hosting a Glenmorangie Tasting, with Glenmorangie Canadian Brand Ambassador Ruaraidh MacIntyre. A collaboration between Andrew Hilton, Glenmorangie and Charton Hobbs Agencies, this tasting will be an absolute masterclass on Glenmorangies new limited edition bottlings!
Ruaraidh MacIntyre is a professional whisky tutor, and is a highly sought-after speaker on both Single Malt Scotch and the Whiskey Industtry as a whole. With 4 years of experience working at Ardbeg distillery as well as several years working with Glenmorangie - he brings a wealth of knowledge and experience that we are delighted to bring to Lethbridge.
Whiskies to be Tasted:
The tasting will be here at the store, starting at 7PM sharp. Tickets are $20.00 available NOW!
SAAG Craft Beer Festival 2014 Tickets Available!
Lethbridge's Beer Festival is October 18th!
Hey there all my fine folks - The 3rd Annual SAAG Craft Beer Festival is just around the corner, and tickets have been released. This year's festival will feature over 60 beers from 14 different vendors and breweries!
UPDATE: Late Session tickets are already Sold Out!
- Your ticket gets you entry to the event, a FREE slice of Two Guys Pizza, and a 7 Free Samples.
- Additional sample tickets are available on-site for $1 each.
- Ticket Prices are as follows:
- Regular Beer Fest Ticket (non-SAAG Member pricing): $30.00
- Regular Beer Fest Ticket (SAAG Member pricing): $25.00
- Designated Driver ticket [Good for entry to the event, a slice of pizza, and a soft drink]: $7.50
- Designated Driver ticket (SAAG Member pricing): $5.00
We have a TON of new vendors this year, like Granvilee Island and Brasseurs Sans Gluten, so come check it out - It's a really fun night, and ALL proceeds go to the Southern Alberta Art Gallery!
Save the Date: Free Fall Whiskey Weekends!
Our Classic Scotch Tasting Series Opens September 26th
UPDATED! September 9th! - Tasting Schedule Released!
- That's right folks! In less than a month, we will be kicking off our much-anticipated, always beloved Free Fall Whiskey Weekends. A "rough draft" of this year's series is already done, and this year promises to be one of the very best, with not one, not two, but THREE Special Guest speakers for this year's program.
- Of course one of these is the September 7th visit from Bruichladdich's Jim McEwan, which is a tasting that I have been working on for over ten years! That one is sold out.
- There are two more tastings ahead however, one with the Alberta Sales Director for a particular independent bottling company - the other will be a gentleman from Scotland.
- You can download the full Schedule in PDF format HERE
First Friday Tasting: September 5th, 2014
The saying is - there are no great Burgundies, therea are only great BOTTLES of Burgundy. This statement, while untrue, does tend to highlight one of the reasons that Burgundy is so interesting to the hardcore wine geek - it is insanely difficult to produce, even more difficult to produce well, and the variation in quality between vintages is staggering.
So in short: Here there be dragons.
We will be sampling 4 relatively new arrivals to the store, all top-class stuff at surprisingly reasonable prices. Come try, and be amazed! Wines will be opened about 300PM and we will be pouring right until we close at 9:00PM.
So come check us out, for another fabulous First Friday Tasting!
Domaine Jaeger * Defaix Ruller 1er Cru 2011
Domaine Gaston & Pierre Ravaut Ladoix 2011
Domaine Gaston & Pierre Ravaute Aloxe Corton Vielle Vignes 2011
Domaine Robert Sirigue Vosne Romanée 2011
Duncan Taylor Tasting: July 25th: 6:00PM
Hosted By Jonathan Bray of Purple Valley Imports
Join us for a wonderful evening of whiskies, hosted by Purple Valley Imports partner Jonathan Bray, as we sample six new whiskey releases from this new(ish) to the market bottler. We are hosting this tasting in association with the Lethbridge Scotch Society, so their standard dues of $40 do apply. The tasting will include six whiskies, all from the Highlands:
First Friday Tasting: August 1st, 2014
It's officially warm outside - and we here at Andrew Hilton want to help you beat the heat. As such, this coming Frist Friday, we are pleased to present SangriaFest!!! Six our our team members will be making up a batch of Sangria - either red or white, and we will be sampling all six head-to-head. Battle lines will be drawn, fruit will be sliced, and the sangria will flow. Try the sangrias, vote for your favourites, and take home the recipe cards.
There can be only one winner - well except for you guys, since all this sangria madness is free, you're all winners!
We will start pouring at about 3:00PM, and we will be sampling sangrias until 9:00.
So come check us out, for another fabulous First Friday Tasting!
Summer 2014 Update: July 15th, 2014
I'm trying to get every page of the website updated this week, so look for changes across the full site. We also have a TON of news, so I'll get right to it:
Wine: Well, we are clearing out most of our Chilean section, trying to make more space for the faster selling French and Spanish wines (more on those in a moment) - we are bringing the axe down on fully three quarters of our Chilean section. We will be keeping our best and most innovative wineries: Mayu, Kingston, and Falernia will live on, as will some perennial favourites like Santa Rita Medalla Real, but most will be going away. Needless to say, you can get some CRAZY good deals on Chilean wines right now, as we have heavily discounted anything we don't intend to keep!
As I said, as Chile moves out, we will be expanding our Spanish and French wine sections, adding new wines to each section over the next couple of weeks. Look for new wines from across Burgundy - both white and red - and some new Rhone offerings as well. We will be tempering our "Summer of Spain" tasting series with a bit of French in order to give you folks a chance to try these new arrivals.
We have also received new stock from Best's, including the new vintage of the Bin 1 Shiraz, and their brand new Grampians Shiraz - plus a top-up on thier other brands.
Beer: We have had tremendous success finding more interesting beers for both the shelves, and our Growler Station - new beers from Gigantic, Unibroue, Hitachino Nest, and others are on their way for the growlers, while there are new Innis & Gunn beers as well as Maine, Rough Draft, and Lagunitas in bottles.
Spirits: Following on the heels of the big Duncan Taylor release, we will be receiving all our Signatory scotches on Friday, June 18th! That will be 19 new Scotches arriving this Friday, including some exceedingly rare whiskies: An experimental peated Jura, a 1979 Mosstowie, a 1980 Glenlochy, a 1973 Craigduff, a 1992 Glen Keith, a 1977 Glenisla and a 1976 GlenCraig, among others!
Special Guest Tasting: Wednesday May 14th, 2014
Chris Pfeiffer of Pfeiffer Wines
Longtime friend of the store Christ Pfeiffer returns Wednesday, May 14th, from 4PM - 8PM to sample his wonderful and award-winning wines. Drawing from nearly 40 years of winemaking experience, Chris has owned an operated Pfeiffer Wines in Australia's Rutherglen wine region since 1984. While the region is best known for their dessert wines, Chris produces a number of elegant, classic table wines from Shiraz, Riesling, and even Moscato. We welcome you to join us for a wonderful evening of wine tasting with a fantastic winemaker!
Wines to be sampled:
Bill Bishop Returns: March 7th, 2014
That's right, folks! Our favourite Californian ambassador of wine will be here March 7th, from 4 in the afternoon til 7 in the evening, pouring a wide range of his remarkable Steele wines. Bill is a fantastic speaker, and a near-bottomless resource of knowledge; his events are always very well attended, and you stand to learn a tremendous amount from Bill even just speaking with him for a few minutes. You'll have all evening with him on this night - and we will be pouring more than a few of their award winning wines. We will of course have meat and cheese trays, and Max will be back by then, so we'll have two special guests!
First Friday Tastings are always a great time!
This list isn't all-inclusive, but AT LEAST these wines will be opened and sampled:
Steele Outkaste Red
Steele Bien Nacido Pinot Noir
Steele Stymie Merlot
Steele Stymie Syrah
Shooting Star Pinot Noir
Shooting Star Chardonnay
Lagunitas Sucks, Red Chair, Red Racer, and More!!!
Looking Ahead to 2014: Great Events Ahead!
2013 was a bit light on events - and for that I blame myself. We had the renovations going on, we totalyy re-did our liqueurs section, we put on an AMAZING Free Fall Tasting Series, but we had a distinct lack of what I call our "Signature" events. For thisyear, I intend to fully remedy that: For one, Steele's Billy Bishop will be back in March to give us another wonderful presentation - we have a pair of excellent Scotch personalities we are working on; we are planning a full March Rum series, much like our Free Fall Whiskey Weekends - PLUS a tequila tasting near Cinqo de Mayo PLUS a wine and chocolate pairing event, PLUS another cocktails night PLUS a whole bunch more. I will be updating the Tastings page like crazy over the next few weeks , so keep your eyes peeled for an INCREDIBLE 2014!
Looking back on 2013,
Well, 2013 is thoroughly behind us, we have taken down the Christmas decorations, re-alphabetized the Scotch Wall, held our Top Ten Tasting (more on that below) and taken a bit of time off. Time to look back on the year that was, before looking ahead to 2014.
2013 was a fantastic year for us! I've never seen the Scotch Bar busier - Let's get this out of the way first: Thank you all, so much for making the Free Fall Whiskey Weekends our best-attended tasting series in our history. This year was an absolute revelation for us in terms of attendance, and we all had an incredible time hosting you all. From myself, Steve, and all of us, thank you again for making our fall series such an amazing event.
Second, 2013 saw some pretty incredible events otherwise - Especially for our private import wine portfolio - Early in the year our 2011 Best's Bin 1 Shiraz won BOTH the 2012 Jimmy Watson Trophy and the inaugural Trevor Mast Award. Shortly thereafter, the 2010 Best's Bin 0 Shiraz also carried home the Wolf Blass Award as well. Also, for the very first time in our history, one of our Private Label imports was named Wine Spectator's Wine of the Year for 2013: the 2004 CVNE Imperial Gran Reserve Rioja. So yeah - not a bad year awards-wise!
Third: Alberta's Craft Beer Boom rolls on - this was our first full year with our Growler Filling Station running, and Wow - did we have some neat beers roll through - from experimental fresh-hop IPAs, to big barrel-aged stouts, to crazy Belgian stuff, to good old fashioned Albertan favourites like Big Rock and Wild Rose, we poured a whole lotta draught and had a great time doing it. Further - Alberta's craft beer selection became an even greater embarrassment of riches with the arrival of Deschutes, the Burery, Fifty/Fifty, Trou du Diable and more, making Alberta possibly the best beer Province in Canada - Not bad for a Province where, two years ago, you were crossing your fingers that your local would have something as risqué as Rickards Red on tap!
Fourth: This was a fun year, as we saw a really remarkable turn to classic cocktails, and our Bitters sales were absolutely through the roof. Couple that with a resurgence in spirit sales across the board (especially in Cognac and Gin), plus a blossoming Spanish wine scene, a hiuge upshot in Argentine wine quality, a Californian wine rennaissance, and yeah - 2013 was one heck on an interesting year, and we're going to have to work pretty darned hard to make 2014 just as fun!
Downtown Lethbridge Plaid Day Specials:
Over 70 Wines & Spirits on Sale
Single Malt Scotch Tasting
All Regular-Priced Merchandise 10% Off!
SAAG Beerfest Tickets Released!!!!
Lethbridge's Largest and Best Craft Beer Festival Returns October 19th
That's right folks, it's that time again! SAAG Beerfest has arrived once again, and the event is bigger and better than last year!
15 Vendor tables, over 60 different beers, the event is bigger and better in every way. Several vendors who I had really hoped to nail down last year have confirmed for this year, including Dieu du Ciel, Deschutes, Wild Rose, and Laughing Dog! This festival is the culmination of a year's work for me, and I can personally guarantee that we aren't filling out our 60+ beers with a bunch of fizzy yellow stuff - We're talking seasonals, one-offs, rarities and specialties from some of the finest breweries in Western Canada and around the world!
As with last year, your $25 ticket (all of which goes directly to the Southern Alberta Art Gallery) gets you 7 beer samples, a slice of Two Guys pizza, plus a goody bag with a FREE half-growler fill from us, and a $10 Gift Certificate from Plum. All that for just $25? That's just madness!
As with last year, there will be two "seatings" (tough to call it a seating when there are no seats, but you get the general idea) - One from 5PM - 7:30PM, the other from 7:30PM - 10:00PM, with both sessions featuring the full lineup of beers.
Tickets are available through either the SAAG Giftshop OR right here at Andrew Hilton.
Tickets are $25 for General Admission, and just $20 for SAAG Members - As an aside, being a SAAG member gets you 10% off hereat the shop every day, so why aren't you a SAAG member already???
We're only releasing 350 tickets total, and this event sold out FAST last year, so get your tickets today!
Free Fall Whiskey Weekends Schedule Released!
This is a little bit of Old News actually, since the paper version has been available for pickup in the store for almost three weeks now, but I'm back from vacation and the schedule is now ready for download.
It's a very good lineup this year, with some very interesting new whiskies - I myself am REALLY looking forward to Week Ten - should be a tremendous week.
Schedule can be downloaded in PDF format here
Lethbridge's Destination for Bitters!
Hey folks, due to popular demand, we have gotten seriously into Bitters! In addition to the standard Campari, we have added Italian classics like Cynar, Aperol, Fernet Branca, Accademia and Punt e Mes, which are ideal low-alcohol options with soda.
In addition, we are now carrying nearly the ENTIRE line of Fee Brothers Bitters from New York State.
In Stock RIGHT NOW:
Fee Brothers Aromatic Bitters
Fee Brothers Peach Bitters
Fee Brothers Orange Bitters
Fee Brothers Rhubarb Bitters
Fee Brothers Plum Bitters
Fee Brothers Mint Bitters
Fee Brothers Grapefruit BItters
Fee Brothers Celery Bitters
Fee Brothers Chocolate Bitters
Fee Brothers Lemon Bitters
Fee Brothers Cherry Bitters
Fee Brothers Cranberry Bitters
COMING THE WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 23RD:
Fee Brothers Black Walnut Bitters
Fee Brothers Gin Barrel-Aged Orange Bitters
Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged Aromatic Bitters
Now for some of you, this is the best news you've heard all year! For the rest of you, I have even better news - We will be having a very special tasting and bartending class on the uses of bitters in classic cocktails in the very near future! Watch this space for news on this upcoming event!
News for Summer:
Well, Spring has gone whipping by pretty quickly - and we've seen some pretty serious changes in the market -
1. Spain is here to stay, and in a BIG way - Spain is up for us this year - WAY up! Apart from the usual best-sellers, like Vina Real Crianza and the CVNE Reserva Rioja, a few other gems have recently risen to become new hot ticket wines. A shade lighter in body than most New World wines, and with a higher degree of acidity, which makes them more appealing in the heat, here are three perfect Spanish Wines for your summer:
- Dominio Dostares Leione: Hailing from the far Northwestern corner of Spain, in the distirict of Léon, this wine is made of the brilliant, but rare and unrecognized Prieto Picudo grape variety. Not even permitted to list the wine as being a recognized D.O. the fine folks at Dominio Dostares have cheekily named this wine as a homonym for the region, and also crafted a deep, brilliant wine that really shows off what this grape variety can do: $28.50
- Zios de Lusco Albarinho: This is a white wine with the sizzling acidity and freshness of a Sauvignon Blanc, but with the nearly perfumed aroma of a Gewurztraminer or a Viognier: Intrigued? Well you should be! Ethereally light, with a light chalkiness just in the finish, but with delicate apricot, and whie peach from beginning to end: Just a fantastic white! $22.95
- Proyecto Vintae Garnacha: Spanish Garnacha (or Grenache, if you prefer) is far too often over-fruited, heavy, boozy, and "baked" - just a big ol' brick of fruit and alcohol - good fun on a Friday night, but not a serious red. This wine is the opposite - sourced from young, Northern vines, this is a fresh, rich, earthy wine, that has great fruit, but there's something more behind it too. One of my favorite finds this year! $17.95
- Dominio de Tares Baltos Bierzo: I'll be honest here: Bierzo is my favorite red wine region right now. I LOVE the Mencia grape variety, and I love the earthiness and "dried currant" character that I get from these wines - Now there is a fair bit of avergae-to-poor Bierzo out there right now (and I've tried most of them) but this is pretty well the best bang-for-your-buck Bierzo for under $25 out there right now. Grand on its own, but even better with food. $21.95
2. It's Summer! Bring on the HOPS!!!! - Happily for an utterly hopeless hophead like me, this summer has brought some real hoppy love into the local market. Apart from the Descutes Hop Henge, which sold out in about three hours, we have seen some fabulous offerings from Parallel 49, Deschutes, Phillips, and Lighthouse!
Phillips Bottle Rocket India Session Ale: As I said, I REALLY love hops, but I don't always love having a few beers when they are all at or over 7% alcohol - Enter the India Session Ale - All (well, most) of the hops of an IPA, at the same strength as a can of Kokanee or Canadian, or other, soulless lager. All the flavour, less buzz - definitely my speed. As an extra plus, this one comes in cans, which is perfect for camping, hiking, cycling, or just sitting by a lake. It's my go-to summer beer, and it should be yours as well! $12.25 per 6pk.
Parallel 49 Lord of the Hops: First up, look at the label - It's big blue-bearded hop-wizard, which is reason enough to buy this beer! Beyond the obvious, this is an insane value in terms of bomber-format IPAs - I'm getting tired of shelling out $7-8 or more for 650mL IPAs from Lagunitas, Rogue, or other Californian producers, and this B.C. offering comes in at a far more reasonable $5.60 a bomber! Beyond the price, this IPA is right up my alley - offering loads of tangerine, grapefruit, and tropical hop aromas, while keeping the sticky English-style caramel to a bare minimum. Awesome! $5.60 per 650mL
Deschutes Chainbreaker White IPA: White IPA is a fairly new concept, only having been commercially brewed for the past 4 or so years. The Chainbreaker is likely the best known version of this style, which combines the fresh snapiness of an IPA, with the smooth, zesty, and easy drinking nature of a wheat beer. It's the two best summer beers combined in an unholy (and tasty!) alchemy that is uniquely well-suited to hot weather. Behold the Chainbreaker White IPA! All Hail! $17.60 per 6pk.
Lighthouse Switchback IPA: Again, this is very much in "my style" of IPAs - Pale, grapefruit-driven, ludicrously West Coast in style, low on the pine, spruce, and caramel, big on the citrus, peach, and tropical fruit. At 6.5% it's no lightweight, but this is close to a "Session IPA' as you can get at this strength. Just hitting shelves in mid-May, this is perhaps the most exciting New Arrival of the Summer.
Best's Great Western Wine Dinner with Jonathan Mogg: - SOLD OUT!!!!!
February 10th, 2013: 7:00PM
We're extremely excited to have a Best's Great Western evening Sunday, February the 10th. Coming fresh off the heels of Best's winning not only the 2012 Jimmy Watson Trophy, but also the 2012 Wolf Blass Award, this is an extremely timely event. Our guest for this evening is Best's General Manager of Sales; Jonathan Mogg. Best's has undergone a number of changes over the past year: discontinuing the Victoria series, changing the packaging for the Great Western line, and forming a strong social media presence for a company that has existed since the 1860s...
This will be a four course meal, prepared by our friends at Plum, paired with wines from the winery. The menu is TBA, and as soon as I know, you'll know. Otherwise, we have secured a tiny amount of the Bin 1 and the Bin 0, both of which we are sold out of, in order to pour both wines at the tasting.
What: Best's Great Western Wine Dinner with Jonathan Mogg
When: Sunday, February 10th, 2013: 7:00PM
Where: Plum: 330 - 6th St. S.
How Much: $75 per person, limited to 25 guests SOLD OUT! Thanks for the support everyone.
You can book tickets via email, in person, or by calling 403-320-9464
It's 2013, and We're Back!
First off, sorry for the site being down for about 10 days there. We got hacked on Boxing Day, and the site didn't really come back online until a few days into 2013. I'll have retrospective posts on the world of wine, beer, and scotch up in the next few days on their respective pages. 2013 is already off to the races for us, with a Best's event coming up in February, as well as a TON of new and exciting wines hitting the shelves. So let's get to it:
UPDATE - January 10th: Beer Page is Updated!
Save the Date: Best's Wines Event February 10th:
Fresh off the heels of winning their first Jimmy Watson Trophy, we have secured a visit from Best's General Manager of Sales; Jonathan Mogg. Tasked with re-inventing and repositioning a historic, and treasured Australian wine brand, Jonathan brings a unique perspective to the Australian Wine scene, and is by all accounts a fascinating speaker. Stay tuned for more info on this timely, and upcoming event.
Well the Growlers are doing well...
To say the very bloody least. I thought I had ordered a year's worth back in September. That lasted a month. We're now on our third order of growlers, with another on the way. It's been an absolute DELIGHT tasting all these beers with you folks, and has easily been the most interesting part of 2012, and promises to be a big part of 2013 as well.
TONS of new wines on the shelves:
One downside of Christmastime is that we are so busy that finding homes for new wines on the shelves is difficult, almost to the point of impossible. However, January offers many opportunities for doing just that, so look for many, many new listings from Finca Nueva, La Macchiole, Fisher, San Leonardo, and a few others that aren't springing immediately to mind. On a related topic, we are very nearly sold out of our last Corvidae Wines shipment, so if you wanted some Rook, or Lenore you should probably get down here sooner rather than later, as the Ravenna is already gone...
New Bruichladdich Shipment:
Looks like Christmas came late for us: Port Charlotte 10yr, as well as the highly-anticipated PC10, along with Black Arts 3 should be here very shortly. Can't wait for these to arrive. Only getting 18 bottles of each, firstcome, first served. Speaking of PEAT, Balvenie 17yr. Peated should be here in the next few weeks as well.
Our Exclusive Wines Just Keep Winning Awards!
As many of you are now aware, the 2011 Best's Bin 1 Shiraz has carried off two of Australia's most Prestigious wine awards: the 2012 Jimmy Watson Trophy, as the best one year old dry red wine from Australia, as well as the inaugural Trevor Mast Memorial Trophy as the best Shiraz at the Royal Melbourne Wine Show:
But that's not all!
Immediately following that, at the National Wine Show in Canberra, The 2010 Best's Bin 0 Shiraz carried off the Wolf Blass Award for top Shiraz in Show.
Finally - Our favorite French supplier - Les Vins de Vienne has been named Wine & Spirits Magazine's Winery of the Year 2012!
This is just huge news for us! We've always said that our Private Label wines were among the best in the world, it's just nice to hear that we're not alone in that opinion!
Hot Ticket! Best's Great Western Bin 1 Shiraz 2011:
- Winner! Jimmy Watson Trophy 2012 (Best Australian Red Table Wine)
- Winner! - Trevor Mast Memorial Trophy 2012 (Best Australian Shiraz)
Well, we've been singing Best's praises for years, and it appears that we were right all along, as the 2011 vintage of the Best's Great Western Bin 1 Shiraz has won not only the Jimmy Watson Trophy, Australia's most prestigious wine award; but also the inaugural Trevor Mast Memorial Award, as Australia's finest Shiraz.
This is no mean feat, as the BIn 1 Shiraz is something of a latecomer to fame. The Thomson Family Shiraz is considered to be one of Australia's "Perfect Wines" the Bin 0 is an absolute classic, and is acknowledged by many, many sources to be nearly the pinnacle of Victorian winemaking. The Bin 1 however, has not shared in as many accolades, having only been made since the early 2000s. Made from 100% Great Western grapes, the Bin 1 is a powerful, and mocha-driven effort that will stagger you with its quality.
Even beyond the quality, is the value here. Bin 1 runs a princely $26.95, which is absolute peanuts compared to past winners like Penfolds Grange ($300+), Wolf Blass Black Label ($90+), Glaetzer-Dixon Mon Pere ($50) etc. It's also the first Great Western wine to win the award since 1964.
We only have 10 cases, and strangely the winery has stopped returning our calls about ordering some more, so get it while it lasts!
Our Price: $26.95
Plaid Days Sales Event Runs Friday and Saturday!
In association with the Downtown Lethbridge BRZ, we are very excited to be having a Plaid Days Sales event this weekend. With discounts of up to 50% off some items, and sale items throughout the store, this should be a very exciting week-end indeed! Based on how well they are selling, this may well be your last chance to grab up the 2012 Jimmy Watson Trophy and 2012 Trevor Mast Memorial Trophy winning 2011 Best's Bin 1 Shiraz, and the 2012 Wolf Blass Trophy winning 2010 Best's Bin 0 Shiraz.
UPDATE - Plaid Days was a HUGE success for us, thanks to everyone who came out - I'm exhausted, but it was a really fun event, and we are sold out of basically every cider we opened for tasting.
SAAG Beerfest Was A Huge Success!
Thanks to everyone who came out this year, as we were hoping for about 240 guests, and we ended up with over 300! The beers were fantastic, the event went amazingly smooth, and we are definitely doing this again next year! Thanks again, everyone.
SAAG Craft Beer Festival: October 20, 2012
Coming in just under 3 weeks, the first annual Southern Alberta Art Gallery Craft Beer Festival will be the culmination of several weeks worth of work for me. I've contactred the very best beer agents across Alberta, Called i every favor, and generally moved heaven and earth to make this the best Craft Beer Festival in Southern Alberta.
Tickets are $25 a person for non-SAAG members, or $20 per person for members. That initial ticket price gets you 7 samples of craft beer, plus a slice of pizza, and further sample tickets are available for $1 a piece.
I'm really excited for this one, I can't wait to see you all out!
Wild Rose Rye Saison In Stock for A Limited Time!
I was up at the Wild Rose Brewery yesterday, picking up some kegs for our Growler Station, and we are going to have LOTS of fun stuff from Wild Rose in Growlers over the next little while, including the normally brewery-only AF23 English Pale Ale!
However, I was also able to secure 24 bottles of Wild Rose's excellent Rye Saison, which if you know me at all, is right up my alley (Rye Ales and Saisons are the reasons I get up in the morning).
They're only available for a VERY limited time, for $7.95 per bottle. Get 'em while they last!
Free Fall Whiskey Weekends Schedule Released!!!
After a fair bit of work, we are prepared to release the schedule for our Free Fall Whiskey Weekends, 2012!
Download the full list here:
Things get started September 21st, see you there!
Winemaker's Dinner with Scott Collett: September 23rd
UPDATE: SOLD OUT!!!!
It's been quite some time since our last Winemaker's Dinner, as luring winemakers down to Lethbridge is often a challenge, so when I heard that Scott Collett was interested, I jumped at the chance! We will be working with Coco Pazzo's to offer you a phenomenal gastronomic experience and a a fascinating evening with one of Australia's most innovative winemakers.
As the son of Doug Collett and proprietor of Woodstock Estate, award winning winemaker Scott Collett believes winemaking is simply a "matter of getting it right". He is solely responsible for all of Woodstock's Fortified wines, indulging in his passion while continuing the tradition started by his father over 30 years ago.
In 1999, Scott joined forces with Ben Glaetzer, the 2004 Gourmet Traveler Young Winemaker of the Year, and together they jointly create the table wines that capture the essence of the rich vineyard resources of Woodstock Estate.
This is going to be our Premier event for 2012. As much fun as the Growler Release Party was, and as much as I enjoy the Free Fall Whiskey Weekends, these types of events are what we do best. The evening will feature 6 wines across 5 courses. As Scott is involved with both Woodstock (which he owns) and Heartland (where he sits as director), we will be featuring wines from both of these incredible wineries:
Appetizer: Lamb Carpaccio:
Salad: Heirloom and Grape Tomato Salad with Bocconcini:
Woodstock Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc
Pasta: Penne Salciccia:
Entrée: Wild Boar Medallions Cacciatore:
Woodstock McLaren Vale Shiraz
Woodstock "The Stocks" Reserve Shiraz
Dessert: Assorted Cheeses and Nuts:
Woodstock Fortified Vintage Shiraz
Tickets are $65 per person, including all taxes and gratuity, and are limited to 60 guests. You can book your space by contacting either ourselves (403-320-9464) or Coco Pazzo (403-329-8979) either on the phone or in person. Tickets for our Winemakers Dinners tend to go fast, so early booking is recommended!
What: Winemaker's Dinner with Scott Collett of Woodstock Wines
When: Sunday, September 23, 7:00PM
Where: Coco Pazzo Italian Café: 1264 - 3rd Avenue South
How Much: $65 per person. SOLD OUT!
How Many: Limit of 60 guests. SOLD OUT!
It;'s been quite a while since we've been able to have a Winemaker's Dinner, so I'm really excited for this one!
Growler Station Just Went Live!!!!!
Growlers arrived yesterday, all the final tests are done, and we're in the Growler filling business!
Taplist will always be posted on the Beer Page
Next First Friday Tasting: Friday, July 6, 2012
Great Australian Shiraz
Yeah, we know; Shiraz is done to death. It's tried, tested, true, and completely overdone. Or is it? When was the last time that you had an Australian Shiraz that really made you sit up and take notice? Great Australian Shiraz is one of the world's great wines, but the constant flood of Yellowtails, and Wolf Blasses, and Wallaby-flavoured Malt Liquors of the world have made us somewhat jaded as regards this all-too-familiar grape. I'll take a counterpoint on this one: Shiraz can be gorgeous, sumptuous, and surprising. And to demonstrate just how fantastic it is, we'll be opening our four best Australian Shirazes, bar none.
We'll start with one of Australia's classic Shirazes, the Best's Thompson Family Shiraz, considered one of Australia's handful of "perfect" wines. We'll follow that up with an old classic, the Rockford Basket Pressed Shiraz, which is the pinnacle of old-fashioned high-end winemaking in Australia. We'll also be tasting the Parker darling: Glaetzer Amon Ra Shiraz, as well as Penfold's most historic wine (no, not Grange): Magill Estate Shiraz. If you haven't had these wines before, it will be an eye-opener for you!
Wines to be sampled:
- Rockford Basket Press Shiraz 2004
- Best's Thompson Fmaily Shiraz 2005
- Glaetzer Amon Ra Shiraz 2010
- Penfolds Magill Estate Shiraz 2008
Join us for our Free Friday Tastings, with a finer twist for First Friday this July 6, from 3 PM to 9 PM at Andrew Hilton Wine & Spirits.
The Really, Really, Big Update!
Wow, so there is a TON to get to here...
First off... First Friday Tasting for August is tomorrow:
We'll be doing a tasting of very high-end Pinot Noirs from the New World: One each from Oregon, California, Chile, and New Zealand. All the details on that are posted on our Tastings page.
Renovations are almost finished!
The New Tasting Room, and Single Malt Section:
The New Build-Your-Own-Sixpack Station (Any Six Beers for $15.95) More info.
The New Growler Station (Draft Beer To-Go) More information on this on our Beer Page
Several Great Tastings Upcoming in August!
We've also got some great Tastings coming up, like the Monthly Mocha Tasting, and the Official Growler Station Launch Party, those events and more are on our Tastings Page
Nogne Ø Beers Now In Stock!
We have recently received a shipment of beers from Norway's very famous Nogne
brewery. Primarily renowned for their Imperial Stouts (Most of Mikkeller's most famous stouts are actually brewed at Nogne), this brewery is actually remarkably skilled at brewing a broad variety of styles, and this release has brought us four of their latest brews, two from their standard lineup, and two one-off seasonal brews:
Nogne IPA: The 42nd-Highest ranked IPA on Ratebeer.com, and the highest-ranked IPA sold in Alberta at the present time. Big, hoppy, Pacific-Northwest styled IPA, this beer rocks!
Nogne Sunturnbrew: A smoked barleywine? Hell yes! Maybe not the perfect beer for summer, but a very highly regarded smoked brew. If you like the 8 Wired "The Big Smoke" this one will be just about perfect for you!
Nogne Imperial Brown: Take everything good about a Brown Ale, and turn it up to 11! All the fun of a Brown Ale at 7.5%. Too big to be a session brew, perhaps. But it should be a great beer nonetheless.
Nogne Batch #500 IIPA: A special Imperial IPA brwed exclusively to celebrate Nogne's 500th batch! Big, hoppy, and only to be brewed once! Get it while it lasts!
New Items Abound!
There have been a TON of sales reps through town lately, many from samll, boutique agencies (the kind I like!) and as such, I've had the chance to taste a TON of new wines and beers of late. As such, we have over 40 new wines and over 20 new craft beers, just in the past 2 weeks.
On the wine side, our Italian section has NEVER been stronger, as we have gotten new wines from absolutely everywhere: Veneto, Piemonte, Toscana, Abruzzo, just a ton of great new wines there. As Argentina cools off, we are starting to see some really fabulous wines separate themselves from the "glut" of a few months ago. We have 6 great new Argentine wines, of which the AR Guentota Malbec is particularly notable. Also, as Argentina cools, so is South Africa heating up. Check out The Grinder Pinotage, Barista Pinotage, or our own organic Pinotage: The Ruins. All stunning wines for under $20.
For the beers, Green Flash Brewery (one of my favorite Californian breweries) is soon to be released in Alberta, bringing the big hops, West-Coast style, which is just how I like it. For you sourheads out there, you'll be delighted to hear that not only has Cantillon released another round of their beers, but Drie Fonteinen and Tilquin are both jsut around the corner from an Alberta release, which is fantastic news!
Renovations Have Begun...
If you've been around the shop lately, you'll notice that we are currently undergoing renovations, both on the interior and exterior of the store. We're hoping these will be wrapped up by August 1st, but we ask you to bear with us in the meantime.
I have some REALLY amazing plans for the renovation, so stay tuned...
New Tasting Series: First Fridays!
First Friday is a new monthly festival put on by the Downtown Lethbridge BRZ that combines and showcases all of the community events happening in Downtown Lethbridge. We are participating in this festival by improving and expanding our Free Friday Tastings, and opening either more wines, expanding to six, or opening much better wines, as is the case this month.
For May, we are holding a tasting of Great American Cabernets, featuring wines from Heitz, Leonetti, and Clark Claudon, as well as Doubleback Cabernet, a collaboration of Leonetti Wines' Chris Figgins, and the New England Patriots Drew Bledsoe.
We'll be pouring wines, and celebrating this new initiative from 3PM - 9PM this Friday, so please join us!
Winery Profile Tasting: Thursday, April 12th
Hosted by Bill Bishop of Steele Wines from 4:00PM - 7:00PM
Wines to be sampled:
Shooting Star Merlot
Shooting Star Chardonnay
Steele Clear Lake Merlot
Steele Pagani Ranch Zinfandel
Steele Cuveé Chardonnay
Steele Carneros Pinot Noir
Andrew Hilton Wine & Spirits
Welcome to 2012!
So I've just spent the last couple weeks doing som e serious housekeeping on the site:
On the Wine page, we've added our Top Ten Wines of 2011, with our new #1 Wine being the St. Clair Pioneer Block Sauvignon Blanc
On the Beer Page, I've written my annual wrap-up for the beer year that was.
On the Whiskeys side of things, there is a similar wrap-up piece.
Events should be updated fully by the end of the day, so should the Calendar.
Man, I'm glad it's Friday!
There is just an absolute TON going on this September, so I'm going to get right to it:
- First off, we will have a Winemaker's Dinner with Scott Collett of Woodstock Wines on Sunday, September 23rd, at Coco Pazzo, details are to be released soon...
UPDATE: Details have been released, as has a menu. Those will be posted tomorrow morning.
- Our Growler Station, as well as our Build Your Own Sixpack Station have exceeded all expectations, and are rolling right along, remember that a current Tap List is always posted on our Beer Page.
- Our Fall Single Malt Tasting Series is under development, and I have high hopes of posting the Schedule shortly after the long weekend. In any event, mark you calendars for Friday, September 21st as that is our first Scotch Tasting.
- I have updated the Wine Tastings through the end of September except for the Winemakers Dinner, and the Scotch Tastings, those will be done shortly.
So much to do, so I'll keep this brief: Welcome to Fall!!!!!!
New Arrivals, and Scotch Season is in Full Swing!
The fall season is upon us, and with it comes a whole slew of new and exciting products:
The new whiskies just keep rolling in, with new offerings from Old Pulteney, An Cnoc, Blair Athol, Dalmore, and Springbank, among the more exciting we have tasted so far. Our fall Whiskey Tastings Series is off to a fantastic start as usual, with the usual packed house every Friday night, and with Saturday filling up to a degree we haven't seen before. It's not quite the madhouse we have had in previous years, but I think we may quietly set an attendance record this year for our Whiskey Tasting Series.
The wine tastings have been really popular as well, and we should have tastings through mid-November posted by the end of today (October 14th). I'd like to thank everyone who has come out for our wine tastings the past few months, as our tasting bar has rarely been so well-attended, which is always fantastic for us! New arrivals of late have included the wonderful Dominio Dostares series from Castilla Y Leon, our new Soligo line of Proseccos, and a restock of our incredibly popular Quinta do Coa from Portugal. So much to taste, so much to try, so much to be excited about.
The beer fridge is also in excellent shape, a we are getting into one of my favorite times of the year: Pumpkin Beer Season! This year looks really promising, as St. Ambroise is releasing their excellent Pumkin-brew into Alberta this year! This along with the Sam Adams Octoberfest (always a favorite), the Muskoka Harvest Ale, and the arrival of the Ommegang beers, this should be a great fall for those who love the barley.
Free Fall Whiskey Weekends Schedule Released!
As promised, the Free Fall Whiskey Weekends schedule for 2011 has been released! This is an excellent tasting series this year once again, with some unprecedented support coming from the whiskey industry. As always, the series stretches across 12 weeks, and 72 scheduled whiskeys (and as you know, there are always a few surprise whiskeys as we go along, as well), making it a fairly complete "picture in a glass" of the whiskey world at large.
Of note this year, I have broken the Highlands into 3 categories: The North Highlands, Seyside, and the Eastern/Central highlands, each with its own tasting. Otherwise, you'll recognize several old favorites, and almost 20 new whiskies for this year. 12 weeks in all, starting September 23d!
Down load the schedule for the Free Fall Whiskey Weekends 2011 HERE
Back to Work, and Tons of Exciting News!
So I'm back to work again, and there's always tons to do after some time off, so the website gets pushed to the bottom of the pile. But there have been some really phenomenal new releases thorughout the store, so I'll get straight to those:
Wine: Two winery clearouts are presently going on, both of which were such insane deals that I couldn't possibly pass them up! First up, we have the Metala Black Label Shiraz 2002, formerly a $50-60 bottle of super-premium Australian red. Pure Langhorne Creek fruit, velvety soft, and yet with a profound aroma and massive body. Because we bought all of the stock they had left, and they were looking to get it off the books, we managed to get this one for $24.95 including Gst. It's selling fast, but there are still a few cases left!
Selling even faster is the 2003 Mount Ida Shiraz; which is from the Heathcote region this time around. For only $14.95, with an MRSP of $50, you can understand why we're nearly down to our last bottle on this one!
Beer: Very important Mikkeller release, including the incredible Beer Geek Bacon, which doesn't actually include real bacon, but is a smoked version of their standard Beer Geek Breakfast Coffee/Oatmeal Stout. Coffee, Oatmeal, Bacon? Mmmmmm.... Otherwise, you'll find a MASSIVE list of new releases on our Beer page.
Scotch: Our new shipment of Cooper's Choice will arrive in the first week of April. This is going to be an incredible release, with a tasting to follow, so stay tuned on this one. There will also be a new exclusive Single Malt for our store on this shipment.
Wine Tasting September 17th: Serge Leveque
Just a Quick Link...
One of the most entertaining, and entirely true pieces of wine writing I've read in a very long time, I just had to share this one...
New Wines from Some Young Punks Are Here!
The latest batch of wines have just arrived from our favorite masters of frivolous labels and serious wine: Some Young Punks. We've had several of their previous wines through the store in the past: Drink n' Stick and The Squid's Fist to name just two. Check out our Wine page for more information!
I'm Gone for a Week...
Just to let everyone know that website updates will be scarce over the next week to 10 days, as I'm taking a few days off to attend the release of Half Pint's Sellout Stout in Winnipeg, as well as the Ratebeer Winter Gathering Beer Festival and Tasting in Phoenix, AZ. I'll have an article on both for the Beer page once I'm back. The March Newsletters should still go out on time, and the tastings through the end of March should be updated before I go as well. I'm also working on a very special tasting for the end of March or beginning of April, more news on that once I'm back.
It's Funny What You Find When You Clean The Office...
So we were cleaning out the back of a cabinet yesterday, and this was a Blast from the Past! When we first opened back in 1985, and were limited to wine-only sales, the ALCB felt concerned that the new Independant wine stores were going to use "ruthless pricecutting" to put the ALCB Government Stores out of business. So many of the wines on our shelves (we found over a hundred of these little guys) were non-discountable BY LAW. An absolutely unthinkable circumstance nowadays, but a reminder of just how far our store, and Alberta in general, has come in 25 years.
Top Ten of 2010, Two New Articles, and Updated Tastings:
We have released our list for the Top Ten Wines of 2010, which can be found on the Wine page, under the article on Argentine wines.
Further, the Tastings page has been updated with all of our events through the end of February, plenty of Free Friday Tastings to experience. Also, check out our Wine page for a short article on Argentine Wine Vocabulary, and our Beer page for my 2010 Year in Review.
Introducing Two New Exclusive Argentine Wineries:
Bodegas Durigutti and Sur de los Andes, New AND On Sale!
Just in Time for Christmas!
New Exclusive Gifts for the Wine-Lover in Your Life!
Paving is Done. We have parking again!
Two Events in Early November!
That's right folks! We have not one, but two Special Events scheduled for this fall.
First off, on November 2nd, we are pleased to announce that we will have a Single Malt Scotch Tasting, hosted by a pair of representatives from Burn Stewart International, owners of Tobermory, Bunnahabhain, and Deanston. Burn Stewart has been around since the 1950s, and has over the past 50 years, quietly acquired 3 high-quality Single-malt distilleries. Now owning a high-quality distillery is a great first step, but as most of you know, the real make-or-break work is done long after the whiskey leaves the stills. Burn Stewart has consitently shown that they are willing to buy quality casks, they do not over-caramel their whiskies, and they have recently committed to removing chill-filtration from all of their whiskies. This event will be November 2nd, at 7PM, check our Events page for more information.
Second - We will be hosting a Super Tuscan tasting here at Andrew Hilton, with wines like Fontalloro, Ghaie della Furba, Riecine 'La Gioia", and Tignanello, this is THE Premier Tasting Event of the Fall! We will be tasting seven wines in all, with hot appetizers prepared by Coco Pazzo, designed to pair with the wines. Srill rather nebulous at present, will have more details before Wednesday. Keep your eyes peeled for an email in the coming days.
Scotch Schedule for Fall is Finished!
Scotch Season officially starts on September 24th, with the series running 13 weeks this year. The full schedule is available for download here, or you can check out the full lineup either on our Tastings page, or on our Calendar.
Holy Smoke! Andrew Hilton is featured on the Bordoverview Blog!
An excellent article on Canadian liquor laws and privatization is posted on the Bordoverview Blog, with our store as an example of how Canadian privatization can work! Check it out!
Holidays Over... Back to Work for Me!
Alright, so 3 weeks holidays was great! The Michigan Summer Beer Fest was an incredible time! For anyone who lives in Alberta, it's a massive culture shock going to just about any pub in Michigan, as the local Brewers Guild has done an amazing job promoting not only great beer (which there is a TON of in Michigan), but also a phenominal beer cluture which has embraced and promoted the ideal of real beer to an extent that rivals even Portland and Seattle. For anyone thinking of going out to Michigan, I cannot recommend enough that you check out Bell's, Dark Horse, Founder's, Jolly Pumpkin, Kuhnhenn's, Leelanau, The Livery, New Holland, and Short's beers, none of these are (sadly) sold here, and all of them are absolutely stunning breweries.
In further news, we're gearing up for our Fall Scotch Series again this year, I have meetings all next week getting that all set up, so I hope to have a schedule put together by September 1st-ish, thought that may be alittle ambitious. The series WILL start on September the 17th, so be ready!
Finally, we have a HUGE calendar of wine events lined up for fall, along with a large number of exciting new wines, not the least of which will be the exceptional Alpha Box & Dice wines, which will be released in early September.
I'm pressed for time, so website updates will be sporadic at best, but I should have everything up-to-date by this time next week.
Well, summer's here, so I'll be in and out of the store, and website updates will be a bit more sporadic, but I'll try to keep the website as well updated as I can. On the Wine page, I've included a Summer Wines Guide that I originally wrote up for The Lethbridge Journal, and my Summer Beers Guide, which was in the latest Brew News is posted on the Beers page. There will be no Beer Society events or other formal tastings until September, apart from the Monthly Mocha Tastings and our Free Friday Tastings, those are updated on both the Calendar and on the Tastings page. In Scotch news, I've gotten a sample bottle from the Murray McDavid folks of our Edition #4 Mortlach, which is pretty stunning, and the new Octomore Orpheus Edition is also pretty outstanding! News on both of these is posted on the Scotch page.
Have a fantastic summer everyone!
Last Few Tastings for the Spring are Coming Up:
We are almost finished our Spring Series for Tasting Events, and it's been a fine season: Our Two Winemakers Weekend was a roaring success and attendance at all of our tastings this spring has been way up, which has made for some truly outstanding events. All good things must come to an end, and we will soon be breaking for summer, as we do every year, but before that there are still a few great tastings to come!
May 14th-15th: Free Friday Tasting: Wines of Summer
May 20th: Beer Society: The Lighter Side of Belgium
May 21st-22nd: Free Friday Tasting: Super-Premium New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
May 27th -28th: Free Friday Tasting: Elyse Release Tasting
June 4th-5th: Free Friday Tasting: Keepin' it Local: Affordable BC Reds
June 7th: Monthly Mocha Tasting: Think Pink: Why Rosé Isn't Always a Dirty Word
June 11th-12th: Free Friday Tasting: Malbec-based Blends
June 17th: Father's Day Scotch Tasting & Release Party for Andrew Hilton Edition #4:Mortlach
June 18th -19th: Free Friday Tasting: Pinot Noir Around the World
June 25th-26th: Free Friday Tasting: Aromatic Whites
All of these events are also posted on our Calendar.
Other than that, we hae some very exciting new releases just arrived; the new vintage (and packaging) of the La Joya Gran Reserve Carmenere, which was our runner-up for Wine of the Year has arrived, as has another release from Some Young Punks Wines, including their latest creation: The Squid's Fist! Along with these, we have a fantastic new 100% Roussanne Cotes du Rhone Blanc from Chateau Trignon, a great new New Zealnd red from Mill's Reef, which is a Merlot/Malbec that I think you'll find particularly exciting, and a new Shiraz/Viognier from Alkoomi. Further details on these wines can be found on our Wine page.
In Scotch News, the big news is our Father's Days Scotch Tasting, which will be accompanied by a series of new releases, including our very own Andrew Hilton Edition #4: Royal Brackla, which is the first Edition to be bottled at Cask Strength since Edition #1! More news will follow in the next few days as this event comes together. When we get more information both on the tasting, and on the new releases, it will be posted to our Scotch page.
Beer-wise, there are several great new beers about to hit shelves, including some from B.C.'s Central City Brewery, including their fantastic Red Racer IPA. Plus, we are starting to see Alley Kat's 15th Anniversary series, starting with a Smoked Porter, and a Belgian Tripel, both in 650mL bottles. And a few other neat brews have been showing up as well, such as Anchor Porter, and the Boulder Bend Dunkelweizen. As always, new arrivals are posted on our Beer page.Also of note to local Beer Geeks, the annual CamRA Calgary Foothills Hospital Burn Unit Fundraiser is coming right up, on May 15th. Riley and I will both be going, if you plan on attending give me a shout at the store, and we'll meet up for lunch.
And hey, no more blizzards, so let Spring begin!
It's Spring! Which means... Website Updates?
Yes, it's time for some serious website updates, which is difficult as I haven't had a ton of time to spare lately. But it's one heck of an exciting time right now:
In Wine: Mr Black's Concoction is back, and the new vintage is even better than the last one, which is awesome! Also the new pricing on Spencer Rolosen's Tempranillo is incredible this year, and that wine is drinking very well at just 5 years old! We are awash is first-rate Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand right now, as we have the Ata Rangi, Cloudy Bay, a pair of gems from Saint Clair, and of course the excellent 12,000 Miles as well. Also, we are completely ready for spring, with a wide assortment of Dry Patio-Ready Rose wines from Sicily, the South of France, and Australia, which is great too!
We also have a pair of winemakers visiting us in May: First up Chris Pfeiffer of Carlyle/Pfeiffer Wines will be joining us for an evening tasting on May 7th, as part of our contiunuing series of Free Friday Tastings. Also, just 3 days later, Viv Thomson of Best's Wines will be hosting a reception on the Patio at Mocha Cabana, on Monday May 10th. News on these events will be posted as it comes in on our Tastings/Events page.
In Beer: Where to begin.... I thought 2009 was an unbeatable year for micro-brewed beer in Alberta, but 2010 is already blowing it off the charts! I mean Cantillon!?!?!? Here? Really? Unreal! that makes the year in and of itself. But there's more; Tree, Pike, Wild Rose, Alley Kat, Charlevoix and other ALL hace exciting new seasonals out already, and there's more in the works! Don't forget to check out our Tastings page to see the upcoming Beer Society events, as well as a special beer-themed tasting at Mocha Cabana in May.
In Scotch: Things have been quiet, this is, after all, NOT scotch season at all, no super-exciting new releases, no major outages, things are just coasting along la-di-da.
Under Construction - New Floors Complete!
If you've been by the store anytime in the last 10 days, you'll have noticed that things hae been a bit of a mess, as we have ripped up our horrid old green carpet, and replaced it with new laminate flooring. The store is just about back to where it was before, and we're pretty darned happy with the results. Thanks to everyone for bearing with us through this project:
Welcome to 2010!
Well, 2009 was an exciting and fun year, with the Free Fall Whiskey Weekends being easily the biggest to date, a trio of incredible Masterclass Tastings, and a brand-new focus on Microbrewed beers, it's a year that's going to be hard to top, but we'll give it our best shot. This is an important milestone for us as well, as it marks our 25th Anniversary, which we will celebrate towards the end of the year. Further, we are already seeing some great new releases starting to come in, such as:
Yering Station Wines: When Max was in Australia, he remarked that their Merlot was once of the finest he'd had in his life, we brought it in briefly, and then, as things so often do, it got complicated. An Eastern-Canadian company bought the rights to Yering Station nationwide, which meant that we couldn't bring it in anymore, BUT they also had no interest in distributing it out west, so it simply disappeared. It came back earlier this month, with both a solid Shiraz/Viognier blend, plus a stunning Marsanne-Roussanne-Viognier blend that is possibly the best white in the store at $20.
Your Choice: $19.95 incl. GST
Mt Langi Ghiran 'Billi Billi' Shiraz: Speaking of Blasts From the Past, this little darling of a wine has popped back onto our radar screens this month, similar story to the Yering Station, but prices have actually gone DOWN since we last had an opportunity to buy this 6 or 7 years ago. A little gem of a Shiraz, and by little I mean, huge, spicy, and mouthfilling.
Our Price: $16.25 incl. GST
New Vintages of Mitolo: The new Mitolo shipment has just arrived, 2006 G.A.M, and 2007 Serpico, Reiver, and Savitar are all available in limited quantities.
In non-wine related news, we are anticipating a pair of Bruichladdich releases in the first part of the year, plus the usual restocking of the Scotch shelves post-Christmas, so new items will be showing up over the next few weeks. Also, in major beer news, the Cantillon shipment is only about a month out, so stay tuned on that front.
Two New Tastings Posted:
We have posted 2 more tasting events for this fall, one in November, and one in December.
The November event (November 19th) is a Beer & Cheese tasting hosted by critically acclaimed beer writer Mike Tessier. Mike is a well-regarded expert on beer, having travelled the world in search of the world's finest and often rarest beers. He has been published in Beer Advocate, All About Beer, and has a twice monthly article in FFWD magazine. This tasting will revolve around seven world class Belgian ales, across a great many styles, including Saison, Sour Ale, Kriek, Wit, Tripel, and others. This is a rare opportunity to learn about the world of beer from a true master. A great introductory class to Belgian beer for the beginner, but informative enough for the best informed beer geeks. Tickets are $35, available at Andrew Hilton. More information, as always, is available on our Tastings/Events page.
The December event is our Silent Stills Tasting on December the 3rd. This tasting will be of some of the very rarest Single Malts in the world, pulling from distilleries that have been closed, demolished, or dismantled in years pst. Stocks of these whiskies are very limited, and we have managed to source some of the very rarest of these. This includes some of the ultra-rare whiskies produced during the Lomond Still trials of the 1950s-1980s,now considered among the hardest to find whiskies in the world. Further, we will be tasting Dallas Dhu, a distillery closed in 1983 and now converted into a museum, and Inverleven, the hidden Lowland Distillery that once ran at the heart of the giant Dumbarton grain distillery, now lost. This tasting is $30, tickets available at Andrew Hilton. More info on the Tastings/Events page.
It's Gonna Be A Busy Fall...
As promised, I have finished the Free Fall Whiskey Weekends tasting schedule, and a week early to boot! You can download a copy here or we have them printed up in the store as well. Also, you really need to see our Tastings/Events and Calendar pages, as there are a huge number of events coming up, including:
4 Monthly Mocha Tastings - A full series on French wines.
A Release Party and Tasting for Red Car Wines on September 18th.
4 Beer Society Meetings
Our First-Ever Beer Dinner
Details on all 12 of our Free Fall Whiskey Tastings
A Masterclass Tasting October 7th of Corton Charlemagne
...and that's just the tastings I have finished so far!
Well, I'm Back...
After 2 wonderful weeks off, I'm back to work, and very exciting work it is too. Not the website updates per se, as they are somewhat repetitive, and while enjoyable and certainly a creative outlet, are not particularly exciting. No I'm talking about planning all of the Tastings and Events we have coming up this fall:
We of course are coming into the Free Fall Whiskey Weekends, which is in its 12th year, and new whiskies are starting to come in, just check out the Whiskey page. A schedule should be up for the Free Fall Tastings, both on our Calendar, and in-store, about the 10th of September, with the Weekends themselves getting rolling on the 25th.
For wine tastings, I don't want to tip my hand too soon, but I have rumblings about a couple of winemakers that may be in the area this fall, and I would look for at least one Winemakers Dinner, as well as a couple of Masterclass Tastings, plus a sprinkling of more casual events throughout the fall. I will also be continuing my Monthly Mocha Tastings, at Mocha Cabana, the first Monday of every month. Tickets are nearly always $20, and more information can be found here. We also have some exciting new wines and wineries coming available this fall. The Red Car wines just arrived, and our first tastes of these have been promising, I'll have a mini-release tasting coming up for these in early September, plus there's more information available on the Wine page.
Beer-wise, the fall looks particularly bright, as the Beer Society is really getting to be a good time, and has really grown in the three short months of its existence. I am hoping to have a homebrew day (or two, depending on how many people are interested), where we start with naught but barley, hops, water, and yeast and finish with (hopefully) a very tasty beer. For someone who has never gone through the process of Crush-Mash-Lauter-Boil-Pitch, it's a great learning experience, and teaches you a great deal about beer. We will of course be continuing our monthly meetings, the 3rd Thursday of every month, at the Wooden Kilt, and either late this fall, or early next spring I am hoping to hold our first Beer Dinner. In addition, Alberta continues to be inundated with new breweries and beers at an unprecedented pace, with some real winners like the DdC! Aphrodisiaque and the Half Pints Humulus Ludicrous just over the horizon.
Otherwise, things are much the same as always, new products are always arriving faster than I can post them here, there's always something happening, and that's just how I like it. I think this fall is going to be incredibly exciting, I hope you will find it so as well