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We archived some of our favourite news and events – over the years they will no doubt bring back some great memories. Check out some of the events below – if you missed them, maybe we see you at a future Clarus attended or organized event...

Prince William & Kate's debut made extra special with Bollinger 'Special Cuvee'

Their first royal engagement to launch a RNLI lifeboat was a great success. Launched on Anglesea, a small island off the coast of Wales, were they are due to live after their marriage. Kate looked gorgeous and had the world media singing her praises. Some may remember that Bollinger helped Prince Charles and the late and great Princess Diana celebrate their wedding. As ever, a great champagne to mark those special occasions.

Top marks for wines from Fallbrook, Southern California's Finest Winery...

Hardly anyone comes to San Diego for the wine. Maybe they should, for at least one San Diego winery, Fallbrook, left quite an impression on the judges at Winemaker Challenge II winning a medal with each of its six entries on the first day. The next day in the championship round of judging, it brought even greater glory as Fallbrook's 2010 Sauvignon Blanc captured the vote for Best White Wine and its 2008 Sangiovese made a strong run at Best Red.

The key to their success is Fallbrook's Gracie Hill Vineyard which is a gem - "It's all hillside, decomposed granite," Gourvitz explains. "It's warm enough to ripen everything we've planted, but it never gets really hot. We're only 11 miles from the ocean and it cools down dramatically after the sun sets." The cool maritime breezes that roll in along the San Luis Rey riverbed have a profound impact on the taste and structure of Fallbrook's estate wines. The reds typically possess exceptionally good levels of acid, with firm tannins that will ensure they have the guts to age gracefully. The warm days allow the grapes to ripen fully, and the cool nights ensure the resulting wines will be fresh and lively.

The estate wines from Fallbrook — under the 33N label because the winery is on the 33rd parallel — have only been online for a couple of years, with most of the vines somewhere between four and seven years old at this point. They will likely appeal most to connoisseurs of French and Italian wines because the structure is European in style rather than the more overtly fruity style for which California wines are infamous. That isn't to say the Fallbrook wines lack fruit. They are generous and fleshy but with backbone.

Shortly after the impressive showing at the Winemaker Challenge, I sat down and tasted a number of Fallbrook's current releases...

95 Points - 2008 33N BDX, Gracie Hill Vineyard, South Coast  — Fallbrook's proprietary Bordeaux-style blend, BDX , is the winery's wine with the greatest potential, although it is still a work in progress. The previous vintage was voted Best Bordeaux blend at the 2010 Winemaker Challenge, and the new vintage is every bit as formidable. The '08 blend is 39 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 37 percent Merlot, 12 percent Petite Verdot, eight percent Cab Franc and four percent Malbec. There is talk the blend may move in the direction of a Right Bank Bordeaux blend, leaning heavily on the estate's outstanding Cab Franc and Merlot to make a wine similar to those found in Saint-Emilion. The '08 is a delicious brew, exhibiting layered aromas of blackberry and red currant, with hints of mocha and spice. But it needs time to show its true colors in all of their glory.

88 Points - Fallbrook 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, California  — This is another mix of estate fruit with purchased fruit. Most of the Cabernet comes from the Halter Ranch in Paso Robles. This wine exhibits rich black fruits, with hints of licorice and ripe, sweet tannins. Very good Cab for under $20.

87 Points - Fallbrook 2009 Chardonnay, California  — Grapes are sourced from Hames Valley, Lockwood and the Arroyo Seco districts of Monterey County. Made in a lighter style, the wine nevertheless exhibits delicate aromas of ripe pear and peach, with just a hint of vanilla. Exceptional value at the price.

Article and tastings by Robert Whitley www.whitleyonwine.com

What makes Bollinger so special?

Recently awarded 94 points for the Special Cuvee by Wine Spectator, Bollinger continues to get rave reviews around the world.  The latest fan, the well respected, international wine critic and author Tyson Stelzer from Australia devotes an entire chapter in his new book The Champagne Guide describing what makes the champagnes so unique and great tasting.  Please read this excellent excerpt from the book thats attached   Bollinger, The Champagne Guide, Tyson Stelzer, Dec 2010

Latest Calera wines rated as high as 98 points by respected wine critic Robert Parker.

Josh Jensen's winemaker mentors in Burgundy were adamant that Pinot noir and Chardonnay must be grown in limestone-rich soils, as present in the Côtes d’Or, to make great wines. Upon his return from France in 1971 he spent two years searching throughout California to find limestone before finally purchasing, in early 1974, a high-elevation parcel with a limestone deposit of several million tons. Located 90 miles south of San Francisco and about 25 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, it is near Mt. Harlan in San Benito County. Its elevation is 2,200 feet above sea level, making it one of the highest and coldest vineyard properties in California. His hardwork and perseverance seemed to have paid off,with the latest reviews from Robert Parker scoring his wines as high as 98 points for the 2007 Pinot Noir from the Selleck Vineyard. See attached article for all the scores...Parker ratings all wines 08.31.10

Team from Shafer, Napa Valley win the wine equivalent of the Oscar's!

John and Doug Shafer were honored to receive the 2010 award in New York, as "Outstanding Wine Professionals", joining an illustrious list of past winners, including Robert Mondavi ('91), Andre Tchelistcheff ('92) and Jack and Janie Davies ('96).

Celebrating 30 years of consistent quality and both critical and commercial success, this family run winery remains one of the most admirable operations in California. The Shafers have had tremendous success with their Relentless, which was first released in 1999. A blend of 80% Syrah and 20% Petite Sirah that spends 32 months in 100% new French oak, it is a remarkably consistent offering that rarely displays much oak. The Syrah is from Napa’s cool-climate Oak Knoll sector. One of the world’s most prodigious Cabernet Sauvignons is Shafer’s 2,000-case cuvee called Hillside Select. Always 100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged in 100% new French oak for a whopping 32 months, it boasts a gorgeous track record dating back to the early nineties, and just about every recent vintage has flirted with perfection.

Their wines from the Napa Valley consistently win top awards and excellent ratings.  Here are some of the highlights;

2006 Relentless- "Dense, rich and chewy with tightly wound mineral, graphite, plum and berry flavors that are full-blown and concentrated.  This gains depth and nuance on the finish, while retaining its structure and focus." - James Laube, Wine Spectator 90 points

2007 Cabernet One Point Five-"The dark ruby/purple-tinged 2006 offers delicious red currant and black cherry fruit interwoven with notions of loamy soil and spring flowers. It is an elegant, stylish effort to enjoy over the next 10-15 years."-Robert Parker, 89 points

2007 Merlot-"Dark and muscular, with blackberry and graphite aromas and youthful, concentrated black cherry and mocha fruit that shows notes of roasted herbs, with a hint of game."-Wine Spectator 92 points

2005 Cab Sauv "Hillside Select"-"continues to put on weight, and displays a Bordeaux-like personality because of the vintage’s cool growing season. A black purple color, stunningly sweet fruit, and a gorgeous bouquet of underbrush, forest floor, creme de cassis, lead pencil shavings, and toasty barrique are found in this ripe, full-bodied, deep, stunningly well-balanced, substantial wine with undeniable complexity as well as richness. It is approachable now, but promises to evolve for 25 or more years."-Robert Parker, 97 points

Kesselstatt Riesling featured on CBC Radio with two fantastic summer recipes…

Part of a series of food and wine matching features, featuring Linda Garson, creator of the well known Vine & Dine events, Friday nights program was the perfect summer appetizer for those listeners driving home. Kesselstatt is a specialist producer, as they only produce Riesling from the best 20 acres of each of the three best wine growing valleys in Germany-the Saar, Ruhr and Mosel. The 2007 vintage was a fantastic one, resulting in a wine with ripe, juicy and spicy flavors of white peach, grapefruit and melon. This coupled with the ripe acidity and mineralty of the wine complemented majestically the herbal qualities of the two easy & simple to cook recipes featured – Chilled Cucumber Soup & Scallops in Tarragon. You can hear last Friday’s broadcast by clicking on the link; http://www.cbc.ca/homestretch/vine-dine/.  If you wish to try this wine, any large wine retailer should stock it or call us for a list of retailers – Tel. 403 296 0170. Tune in every Friday to CBC Radio from 5pm to hear more excellent food & wine matches. Linda also hosts many events in restaurants across Calgary and can be contacted via her website at http://www.vineanddine.ca/.

Watch 1st edition of "Grape Tapes" on YouTube featuring Patz & Hall...

  Enjoy this short intro with Dr Pinot... Hello everyone, Ever the innovators, Clarus Wines are proud to bring you thier own video channel, courtesy of YouTube. The first edition "Grape Tapes" features a short (5 minute) video about the fantastic California Wines that come from Patz & Hall. Just click on the link, to hear about some great Pinot's & Chard's...

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Bollinger RD select tasting back to 1959! - London, UK

On July 13th the annual Bollinger press lunch was held in London at the superb Champagne Bar; Texture. The theme this year was celebrating half a century since the creation of RD by Madame Bollinger. It was she who was responsible for the famous quote "I drink it when I'm happy and when I'm sad. Sometimes I drink it when I'm alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I'm not hungry and I drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it, unless I'm thirsty."   RD stands for "recently disgorged", denoting their special policy of seperating the wine from the enriching effect of the lees of the second fermentation much later than is usually the case.  The initial RD was a vintage 1952 (at the same time in Jamaica, Ian Fleming would write his first novel Casino Royale…), released on the market in 1961, but we can actually track from internal documents that the initial thoughts of Madame Bollinger are dated from 1960. We tasted 6 wines, starting with the mythic trilogy of RD 97/96/95 (all so unique), followed by a timeless RD 88, an always sensationally fresh RD76 despite the historical heat wave that had struck France, leading that year to a very low acidity at the harvest, and we finished off with a truly exceptional RD59. We are happy to share with you Jancis Robinson’s comments on the event in the attached PDF file.Jancis Robinsons tasting of Bollinger RD

John and Doug Shafer win historic James Beard Foundation Award at Lincoln Center Ceremony in New York

Download the press release here!

Andrew Will in UK Harper's Wine & Spirits

Download the PDF to read the complete article

Alois Lageder - a northern Italian pioneer with natural winemaking

Click here to see the video Click here to visit Alois Lageder's website

New Shafer Chardonnay Video

Shafer recently uploaded a new video to their website featuring Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay and images of its journey from the gorgeous Carneros vineyard through its bottling. Click here to see the video

Chanson Wines in Decanter

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Congratulations Patz and Hall

Occasionally all the stars align and great reviews from the two big U.S. publications come to pass at the same time, for the same wines, from the same vintage. Congratulations to the team at Patz and Hall for these wonderful results. Click here to see the Parker Review Click here to see the Laube Review

Canadian Sommeliers visit Honig

recently Honig Vineyard and Winery hosted a group of Canadian Sommeliers at their winery as part of a California Wine Institute tour. It is always a nice treat to escape the Canadian winter for a few days of California sunshine.

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Patz and Hall releases their much anticipated 2007 Pinot Noirs

with consistently excellent reviews Donald Patz and James Hall have crafted a number of superb Pinot Noir 2007 wines from what is already being called a great Pinot vintage. Check out the Pinot articles recently written (February 2010) in the two top American wine publications; The Wine Spectator and the Wine Advocate. Patz and Hall features prominently with a number of single vineyard offerings scored in the low to mid 90's. Keep in mind these are rare wines with limited availability.

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Duckhorn vineyards show quality and consistency

One of the most impressive aspects of Duckhorn vineyards in St. Helena, California is the amazing quality and consistency throughout their entire range. Recently, vice president of sales, Pete Przybylinski, introduced us in Calgary to the new releases. At a gathering at the Clarus offices we tasted through the latest Duckhorn Sauvignon Blanc and the Merlot. We also sampled the new Goldeneye Pinot Noir and the Paraduxx Red Table wine. In each case the quality in the glass was superb. It isn't just our opinion either. Duckhorn wines were recently featured at the inauguration luncheon for President Elect Barrack Obama (a copied is attached here).  Pete didn't bring his fishing rod this time (he is crazy about fishing) but on the next visit we'll have to get him out on the Bow river for some world class trout fishing!

Bollinger Champagne Party

It was a perfectly timed party; the release of the new James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace and the 25th anniversary of Renaissance and Clarus Wine & Spirits Ltd. On a balmy November evening (for Calgary) Champagne lovers sampled the new release of Commander Bond's favourite tipple, Bollinger Special Cuvee. The wine was flowing and there were plenty of Bond girls/boys including Pussy Galore, Gold Member and Dr. No. Loads of fun including some great Bollinger prizes given out and no one lost an eye.

Wine Spectator Top 100

Clarus has three wines this year in the top 100 from the famous wine magazine, The Wine Spectator. At #25 is the 2005 Andrew Will Champoux vineyard. Chris Camarda has worked very hard at producing quality Washington state wines. All of his wines show a clear mastery of the art of the blend, like the craftsmen of Bordeaux.   Then at #79, comes the beautifully expressive Mosel wine of Reichsgraff von Kesselstatt's Piesporter Goldtropfchen Kabinett. At #89, comes the clean and taught Chablis wine of William Fevre 1er Cru 'Montmains' from the 2005 vintage.

Bollinger Releases the 007 Bullet pack

Champagne Bollinger, on the occasion of the upcoming release of the new James Bond movie Quantum of Solace, has created the 007 Bullet Pack. To commemorate 30+ years of association with the famous English Intelligence Commander, only 200 Bollinger Bullets have been made with a retail value of CDN $6,000 per pack. The pack is an aluminum, highly polished 65cm bullet which opens to reveal a magnum of 1999 Bollinger La Grand Annee. Once the wine is consumed the bullet is transformed into a series of compartments where a modern gentleman can store his personal accessories. It is locked via a leather and aluminum key.

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2008 Harvest begins in California

Considering that the average winemaker has only 40-50 harvests in his or her lifetime, picking grapes each year is a big deal. Now that we are all back from summer vacation the real work begins again. Donald PATZ from Patz and Hall in northern California sent us this shot of Pinot Noir grapes coming in to the winery last weekend. No information yet on the quality but everything looks good so let's hope for another fine crop of Pinot Noir from Patz and Hall. Download our Price List

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Imagine a Hippo in a pink tutu!

After tasting through what seemed to be hundreds of Zinfandels this past January 2008 in San Francisco, we fell in love with the wines of one supplier (the Gamba family) from northern California. The question that day was 'how could these wines balance massive ripeness, power and elegance so deftly?' We joked about Fantasia's dancing hippos in pink tutu's and it is still the best description we can think of. These are seriously BIG wines but with elegance somehow. Congratulations to Gus Gamba and family for these one of a kind wines.

Joe Cafaro embodies the term 'Family Winemaker'

Being known as a 'family winemaker' most often adds to the integrity, individuality and 'do-it-your-selfness' of the wineworld - afterall, the entire family's well being, is often at stake. Unfortunately, this description is regularly abused for commercial gain by manipulating the meaning by massive companies posing as 'family'. Joe Cafaro personifies the family winemaker --- a guy who has enormous experience struggling mightily to compete and make individual wine and take care of his family. His Napa Cabernet Sauvignon is a delicious, violet scented wine with satiny 'Pinot noir-like' texture (this is good, a very good descriptor). We don't get many bottles for Alberta and when it's gone - it's gone. The 2004 vintage has just arrived and we love it.

Bouchard Pere & Fils 2006: White Burgundies arrive in Alberta

the eagerly awaited single vineyard 2006 white Burgundies from Maison Bouchard Pere & Fils. have arrived. The vintage 2006 in Burgundy was a very fine year that many experts are saying is superior to 2005 for many whites. Fortunately, in early March 2008 we were able to attend LES GRANDS JOURS in Burgundy which allowed us to taste through literally thousands of Burgundies. The wines showed real class with bright fruit acids and soft, layered textures. This would be the third vintage in a row for exciting and age-worthy white Burgundies. Just remember 'M' for this vintage because the highlights have to include the Meursault wines, many Maconnais wines surprisingly, and of course the 'big dogs' from the various Montrachet sites.

Things change quickly at Clarus Fine Wines.
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