A monthly feature from SherbrookeLiquor Store It’s all about Edmonton and Alberta! The next few weeks of the Winspear calendar are chock full of local artists coming home again (PJ Perry and Senator Tommy Banks) as well as the big send off of our own ESO to Carnegie Hall where they will undoubtedly show New York what we’ve known for a long time – that our musicians are supremely talented! This got me thinking about what a great place we live in, in so many facets. A few years ago, when the “eat local” and “100 Mile Diet” movement started across Canada, it was surprising and obvious all at the same time, what kind of bounty our diverse province provides us. Grain, nearly all vegetables, beef, pork, and the list goes on and on. How does this relate to Sherbrooke? I’m glad you asked. Did you know that Alberta produces beer, spirits, fruit wine and even mead? How great is that? A great sight, when driving that stretch of the QE2 Highway, between Edmonton and Calgary is seeing the large Big Rock cans in the corner of farmer’s fields, proudly proclaiming what fields produce the barley and grains that are used in to make certain Big Rock beers. It really drives home the fact that Big Rock Brewery uses local producers for their products. However, let’s not give anyone the impression that other local breweries aren’t using local grains when they can. They do, however, without the means to be as vocal about it. It helps, though, that restaurants and grocery stores these days are all about sharing where the products they use/sell were sourced from. Everyone wants to prove that they are helping out fellow Albertans. Craft brewing is a fast growing category in the last couple of years, and Edmonton has an active Homebrewer’s Guild, holding regular meetings and yearly competitions. Sherbooke and Alley Kat Brewing Company work in conjunction with the brewers to produce a large volume of winning recipes and sell it commercially. How’s that for a hobby – making beer to sell in the best beer cooler in Canada? Highwood Distillery in Southern Alberta produces all manner of spirits, and ships it all over Canada. Fun fact – did you know that Americans drink more rye whiskey than Canadians? En Santé Winery paved the way for fruit wines in Alberta and has since renamed itself Birds & Bees Organic Wine Farm and Meadery. It produces wine from honey, apples, Saskatoon berries and even cranberries. Mead is one of the oldest forms of producing an alcoholic drink, and there’s a meadery that popped up in Southern Alberta, producing an entire line of different styles of mead. On their last visit to Sherbrooke they admitted that it’s already getting hard to keep up with demand. Here’s a brief list of producers in Alberta: • Alley Kat Brewing – Edmonton • Wildrose Brewing – Calgary • Amber’s Brewing – Edmonton • Grizzly Paw Brewing – Canmore • Birds & Bees Fruit Wines – St. Paul • Fallen Timber Meadery – Water Valley • Yellowhead Brewing – Edmonton • Barr Estate Fruit Winery – Sherwood Park (And we know of a few more coming in the next few years.) Cellar Builder Chateau des Charmes “Equuleus” 2007 Niagara ($40.99/750ml) Not quite a local wine, but still staying within Canada. This wine comes from one of the patriarchs of the Canadian wine industry in the Niagara Region, the Bosc family. The family has been making wine in both France and Canada for seven years and were instrumental in planting a region with vitis vinifera (wine grapes), rather than the workhorse grapevines that were previously planted. This wine is not produced in every vintage, only in great years. It’s a Bordeauxstyle blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, and only spends one year in oak barrels. It’s full of rich, ripe black fruit, and shows wonderful leather notes. The tannins and acidity are still pretty tight, and I believe this wine will only improve in another five to eight years, and it will be brilliant in 10 years. When I first tasted this wine, I thought, “Wow, impressive for a Canadian.” Then I read the vintage, and promptly placed an order, with an eye for my personal cellar. Enjoy!