Calgary’s best show of all things alcoholic, The Grape Escape spring edition was definitely NOT for the non adventurous taster! As is this intrepid reporter’s usual plan of attack for this event, I stuck to my strategy of not sampling anything familiar, or produced by the old standbys I’ve enjoyed in the past. And, if by chance I do find some hidden gem I’d like to share with friends, I know that anything served at Grape Escape is available at Calgary Co-op liquor stores.
On the spirits front, I noticed quite a long queue of young men forming around a sampling table offering, wait for it now, people… bacon flavoured vodka. To me, it sounded so entirely disgusting that I had to try it. The reps were pouring it either on the rocks, or with Clamato. Well, the description on the product’s rack card nails it, it’s not subtle! Scurrying across the hall, I immediately hosed my palate down with a large pour of Rekorderlig, a lively, sweet cider from Sweden, flavoured with pear and elderflowers. I liked it, a lot. However, at that point, rocket fuel would probably have been okay, too.
Among the other unusual finds for me was Marechal Foch, produced by Rossignol Winery out of Little Sands, Prince Edward Island. It’s a very hardy grape, it would have to be to thrive in PEI. I’d never heard of it before, but it makes a full bodied red off 20 year old vines. It’s recommended to pair with roast beef or lamb. Rossignol also produces some interesting fruit wines, a maple wine, blackberry mead and a lovely Wild Rose liqueur made from rose hips.
Canadian microbreweries were very well represented, as were beer makers from Europe. Since Beer Fest is fast approaching, I thought I would keep my suds sampling to a minimum, but I’ll admit I spent more than a few minutes in front of CRAFT, western Canada’s premier craft beer importer. CRAFT’s charming president Christian Finz certainly knows his products. There are so many different processes and procedures in the land of beer making, I was fascinated. Christian poured me a “New Morning”, an Italian style saison made with Chinook and Hallertau hops. As his notes read, “An ode to spring. A journey through forests and valleys, an hymn of hope for the day to come.” How could I resist? Now, that’s the kind of poetry that can get rid of any lingering aftertaste, even bacon flavoured vodka.