12 Days of Vinebox: Day 9

2 01 2019

By Peter Vetsch

Sicily update:  the streak is over!  Ask and ye shall receive.  After a rather bizarre run of three straight bottles in this dozen from Italy’s most prolific wine island, our request to the cosmos for variety has been granted with fervour, as we are off to the German-est (and thus potentially the best) part of France, Alsace…where, incidentally, my Vetsch family ancestors apparently hailed from five or six or seven generations ago.  Maybe that’s why I love Riesling so much.  Alsace is something of a mystery to me from a vinous perspective, because despite producing solidly priced and consistently high-quality wines, and despite being one of the few Old World locales to actually consider the casual-drinking consumer enough to place grape varietal names on their labels, the region is almost always a hard sell in our market.  Perhaps adopting the white wine focus, gothic scripts and tall fluted bottles from its German forefathers was not the best marketing decision after all.  But when the wine is in a test tube as opposed to a flute…now we’re talking.

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The non-Sicilian wine in question is the 2016 Pierre Henri Ginglinger Riesling, yet another Vinebox offering about which Internet information is strangely nigh-unavailable.  Maybe they are so eager to give you a surprise in the box that they have shut down all worldly sources of data about the bottlings they select.  Maybe their chosen producers have to sign the mother of all NDAs.  Either way, I speak of family estates and generational turnover with admiration quite a bit, but THIS…this is that on an absurd scale.  The Ginglinger family first planted vines in 1610, and generation number TWELVE is currently at the controls of the estate.  Come on.  Their winery building looks like something out of Hansel and Gretel, nestled in the centre of the medieval town of Eguisheim, which is closer to Freiburg in Germany than the Alsatian hub of Strasbourg and is the birthplace of wine in Alsace; the winery’s appearance may have something to do with the fact that it was built in 1684, trivia so good that it makes an appearance on not only Ginglinger’s bottles, but even its Vinebox vial:

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The Vinebox Cometh: 12 Nights of Wine

14 11 2018

After 7+ years of blogging about and immersing myself in wine, I am in many ways an open book about what I like and don’t like, vinously speaking — there are now over 450 posts on this site, and other musings elsewhere, that spell out exactly what gets me pumped about a new product or wine experience.  Three of the things that rank high on the good side of my ledger, backed up emphatically by past history, are (1) savvy labelling and branding (my love of which is the basis for every Cork Rating I’ve ever done), (2) clever alternative packaging (bring me your wines in cans, your 1L bottles, and everything in between), and (3) Advent calendars.  If you rolled your eyes about the last one, feel free to consult PnP’s 125+ December postings over the past four years and then get back to me…if I’m not a boozy Advent authority by now, I never will be.  As we approach another holiday season, little did I expect to be dumbfounded by a sleek, shiny, downright sexy combination of all three of these things.  Meet Vinebox:

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Oh yes.  It gets better.  Take a look inside:

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OH YES.  Bring it.  That’s what I’m talking about.

Vinebox is a San Francisco-based company that, up until right this minute, was a US-only subscription service for by-the-glass-sized portions of new, interesting, high-quality wines.  This special holiday release box marks their first foray into the Canadian market, and luckily for us locals, it is exclusive to Richmond Hill Wines and a select few other boutiques right here in Calgary.  Given my prior history of Advent proselytizing, I would be remiss if I did not point out that Vinebox’s 12 Nights of Wine holiday kit is not technically an Advent calendar, as it offers 12 different holiday wine offerings instead of the classic Advent 24-day December countdown to Christmas.  It is instead intended to mirror the 12 days of Christmas (which, I was shocked to discover, all actually occur AFTER Christmas — they run from December 25th through January 5th, marking the time in Christian lore that it took the three wise men to arrive and visit the newborn Jesus…mind formally blown).  Practically speaking, this means that you can either crack a glass on every even day in December as a sort of quasi-Advent replacement (or get two and create your very own full-scale Advent calendar, with a critical revisit of each offering every second day) or get the coolest Christmas gift ever for somebody to enjoy on Christmas Day and the next eleven following.

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In recent years, because the progress of the species is a real and abiding thing, we have seen a proliferation of wine, beer and spirits-based Advent and holiday calendars in a variety of shapes and sizes.  What sets the Vinebox addition to this growing December lineup apart is the unique and patented way the wines are delivered, in Stelvin-enclosed, test tube-like — yet still amazingly labelled and producer-branded! — 100 mL glass cylinders that make a stunning visual impression. Read the rest of this entry »





Calgary Wine Life: Meet Alberta Winestein

30 01 2013

[Cross-posted at www.calgaryisawesome.com]

AlbertaWinestein_logoJPGHow much of your 2012 Christmas shopping did you do online?  In my case, the answer comes perilously close to “all of it”.  No malls to brave, no parking to find, no bags to carry, just page after page of every imaginable type of gift easily accessible from the comfort of my house — it’s hard to see the downside.  The Internet has increasingly become my retail destination of choice, and over the past few years I have purchased any number of things online:  books, movies, furniture, shares, even (sort of) a dog.  But wine?  Forget about it, at least in Alberta.  While e-commerce has started to become an important part of the wine industry in the US, there has been almost a total vacuum in the local market, with no retailers offering a comprehensive online ordering platform and no other service providers stepping up to fill the void…until now.  With its formal launch earlier this month, Alberta Winestein (http://www.albertawinestein.com) is making online wine ordering a reality in our province and is seeking to bring high quality boutique products to every corner of Alberta.

The idea is a simple but powerful one:  find some way to connect the scores of wine buyers across the province to the wares of some of Calgary’s most respected and prestigious shops, to the benefit of all parties.  After a couple years of intense planning, Alberta Winestein founder and CEO Guillaume Bedard is now ready to implement his strategy to realize this goal.  “As a consumer, it was difficult and time-consuming to know what unique products were offered in Alberta from all the best boutique retailers,” Bedard explains.  “We dreamed of a way to ease our search while using state of the art e-commerce services.  We then realized that boutique retailers are themselves under increasing pressure from large surface retailers and are now facing greater competition than ever while trying to address a growing market demand.  That is when Alberta Winestein went from concept to reality:  a central e-commerce platform for amazing boutique retailers in order to ease the purchasing process for consumers.” Read the rest of this entry »





Calgary Wine Life: Meet Dave Amadio @ Richmond Hill Wines

2 11 2012

[Cross-posted at www.calgaryisawesome.com]

The best word to use to describe Richmond Hill Wines as you pull into the parking lot is “unassuming”.  Located just north of Richmond Road in a quiet strip mall just off of 51st Street SW, it has the almost dreary, sleepy look of your average neighbourhood liquor store.  This Clark Kent exterior hides an absolute gem of a wine shop on the inside, one whose longevity is almost unparalleled (it opened in 1991) and whose staff are some of the most knowledgeable and qualified in the city, not to mention the longest-tenured.  In an industry where high turnover and staff attrition are entirely expected, Richmond Hill has a number of long-time employees who have been with the shop for years, helping to maintain loyal customer relationships and giving the store a sense of consistency and permanence that is tremendously rare in the world of retail wine.  One such employee is RHW manager Dave Amadio, who was the first guy I met when I first walked into Richmond a couple of years ago and who continues to remember me to this day even though I only manage to frequent his doorstop once every few months.  I use the term “manager” loosely because, as Dave puts it, “we don’t really do titles at Richmond Hill”; the actual job description that he provided was “manager/purchaser/pusher/overly opinionated wine guy”, which more or less sums it up. Read the rest of this entry »








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