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Oleksyn: Sit back, relax and soak in summer with these tasty wines

Calgary Herald logo Calgary Herald 2020-07-04 Darren Oleksyn
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Our COVID summer has arrived. What that means, I don’t really know. I’m hoping for some hikes in the mountains, reading by a lake and lounging in the backyard. I have high hopes for the lounging, at least.

I don’t try to overthink things in summer. This is the time to take a breath, find a great book, climb into a hammock or fall into a zero-gravity chair and get lost for a few hours.

Here are some wine options to help make those summer moments a little bit better.

a close up of a bottle © Provided by Calgary Herald

Joe to Go Rosé, non-vintage

Wine by Joe


Wine in aluminum cans is getting more popular for its versatility and ease of transport. They’re lightweight and easy to pack — portable and potable; now that’s a great combination.

Joe to Go is part of the Wine by Joe portfolio, a line of easy-going, lower-priced wines made with grapes from Oregon’s Willamette and Rogue Valleys. The Joe in the name refers to Joe Dobbes, who founded the winery, as well as Dobbes Family Estate, which makes higher-end wines in Dundee, Ore.

This medium-pink rosé is off-dry, with flavours of candied raspberry, strawberry, lime and green apple. It’s soft and approachable.

Price: About $10 for a 375 ml can (that’s half a regular bottle of wine). Look for it at Bin 905, Canmore Wine Merchants, Highlander Wine and Spirits in Richmond, J. Webb Wine Merchant and Vine Arts.

Drink: This is meant to be consumed this summer. Don’t hesitate. Enjoy it with cold cuts and cheeses, burgers or your favourite takeout. It’s in an aluminum can, so once you open it, you can’t reseal it; 13.5 per cent alc./vol.

a bottle and a glass of wine © Provided by Calgary Herald

YeeHaa Cowboy’s Sangria, 2019

Spirit Hills Flower Winery


Video: Pairing wine with BBQ (Global News)


Hugo and Ilsa Bonjean came from Belgium to settle in the hills west of Millarville in 1997. A little over seven years ago they thought they’d start a little honey winery. It turned out to be a huge success. Last year they produced 5,500 cases, production that’s comparable to a boutique winery in the Okanagan Valley.

Now referred to as a flower winery, since the nectar for the honey comes from various wildflowers grown in the foothills, they’ve taken things way beyond simple meads. By mixing in a variety of different flowers and fruits they are able to craft distinctive wines that tell a story. The wines have caught the attention of top restaurants in Europe, Japan and the United States.

YeeHaa! is their take on sangria. Made from wildflower and dandelion honey, it also has blackcurrants, apples and cinnamon added for flavouring. It can be sipped on its own or mixed with soda water and orange juice to make sangria.

It’s a sweeter style wine, with flavours of cherry, rhubarb, strawberry, honey, cedar and mint. It’s medium-bodied, with light acidity.

Price: About $20. Look for it at Aspen Wine and Spirits, Co-op Wine Spirits Beer, Craft Cellars, Crowfoot Wines and Spirits, Highlander Wine and Spirits, Kensington Wine Market, Silver Springs Liquor Store, Sobeys Liquor, Sundance Wine Market, Urban Cellars and Willow Park Wines & Spirits.

Drink: In the next few years. Try it with smokies, blue cheese, rhubarb pie or on its own. Cork; 13.5 per cent alc./vol.

a close up of a bottle © Provided by Calgary Herald

Riesling, 2019

SpearHead Winery

Okanagan Valley, B.C.

Located in southeast Kelowna, B.C., SpearHead’s primary focus is Pinot Noir. Winemaker and general manager Grant Stanley has made a name for himself as a maestro with the finicky grape.

But he has also shown a deft hand with the other grapes in the SpearHead portfolio, particularly Riesling. This light, lemon-green-tinted gem is absolutely electric with vibrant acidity. The nine grams of residual sugar are hardly noticed in this razor-sharp wine.

The nose boasts floral notes such as orange blossom and white flowers, blended with lime, poached pear and a fresh pie-crust note. On the lively palate, look for flavours of lime, pear, mandarin orange and lemon zest, with a flinty, wet-stone, slightly salty tang. Delicious.

Price: About $30. Look for it at Bin 905, select Co-op Wines Spirits Beer stores, Cork Fine Wine, Liquor and Ale, Craft Cellars and Oak and Vine.

Drink: In the next decade. Enjoy it with roast chicken, pork or white-fleshed fish. Screw Cap; 12 per cent alc./vol.

a bottle of wine © Provided by Calgary Herald

1884 Organic Vineyard Malbec, 2016

Bodegas Escorihuela Gascon

Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina

Matias Ciciani, in his sixth year as a winemaker with Bodegas Escorihuela Gascon, has been on a mission to bring extra freshness to his wines. Primarily focusing on the Argentine winery’s higher-end selections, he works with fruit grown in high-elevation vineyards east of the Andes Mountains.

The winery, the oldest in Mendoza with a history dating back to 1884, follows organic and biodynamic principles in most of its vineyards, though a lot of the bottles aren’t officially certified. This one, though, is from a special organic spot in the Uco Valley. The grapes are grown in a cooler part of the vineyard, which brings a vibrancy to the wine.

The wine sees zero time in oak, as Ciciani says he doesn’t want anything to stand in the way of the fruit. It’s unlike any Malbec I’ve had, with lots of red fruit flavours such as wild strawberries, black cherry, redcurrant, orange and herbs. The tannins are soft and the finish teases the palate forever.

Price: About $35. Look for it at Cold Beer Liquor, Co-op Wines Spirits Beer, Craft Cellars, Grape Wine and Spirits and Sobeys Liquor.

Drink: Anytime in the next decade. Cork; 12.5 per cent alc./vol.


Contact Darren Oleksyn at or follow him on Twitter ( or Instagram ( Looking for a specific wine? Because wine inventories are always in flux, it’s a good idea to call a store to confirm they have it. A search on can give you an idea of stores that have carried the wines.


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