Wine tasting

Grape Republic – Juice Imports

I took Bex.oxo to Juice Import’s Sunday tasting at Bricks Wine Co. Co-owners Erik and Mark were showcasing Grape Republic wines from Yamagata, Japan. For this post, let’s listen to “Carol Brown” by Flight of the Conchords.

Juice Import’s wine tastings are increasing in popularity. Each time I attend an event, the group grows in size. The Grape Republic event was not only sold-out, it was also oversold. Staff had to create another table for guests, who cheerfully announced they were at the kids’ table. 

Grape Republic’s wines are from wild fermented grapes that are raised naturally. Erik informed us it is challenging to grow grapes in Japan due to the humid climate. The grapes that do grow well are a hybrid, the result of crossing European and North American varieties, which are hyper-resistant to drought, mildew, and rot.

Erik stated he is drawn the weird and wonderful flavour profile of each the wines due to the uniqueness of the grapes. He noted that there is less research and development put into these varieties over pinot noir. The most funded wines are the ones that command a high cost in the market. 

The first tasting was Aromatico Frizzante ($45), a blend of Delaware, Niagara, and Neo Muscat grapes. This was Bex.oxo favourite wine – she enjoyed the gentle carbonation and the refreshing grape-like flavour. Another person piped up and said the wine tasted like grape Hi-Chew. Erik described this wine as wild, tropical and floral.

I learned something from Erik that I’m eager to share with my mother. Wine is nutritious. Historically, wine was made so one could survive the cold winter months. As Calgary is a bitterly frosty climate, she should see the value in my new passion.

The second tasting was Dela Fresca Frizzante ($47), made from Delaware grapes. Though it smelled sweet, there are zero grams of sugar, as the wines are naturally carbonated. The wine-making process Grape Republic employs causes the yeast to eat the sugar, which turns into CO2.

Bex.oxo thought this wine was more acidic than the first sparkling wine. One of the things Erik loves about these wines is that many flavours remind him of the vintage candy he ate as a kid, like a sour patch cherry blaster or Hubba Bubba. He also mentioned all the wines from Grape Republic are food-friendly wines. 

My favourite tasting was Rosa Frizzante ($47), co-fermented with Steuben, Merlot, Muscat Bailey, Niagara, Delaware, and Neo Muscat grapes. Bex.oxo smelled grapefruit. The flavour reminded me of Ribena, but with a fresher, brighter, more vibrant flavour. Out of the sparkling wines, this one was the most carbonated. I bought a bottle to share with Sunflower. 

The Rosato ($45) is a blend of Steuben, Delaware, Niagara, Rosario and Bianco grapes. The smell of this wine reminded me of powered candy – Fun Dip. Unlike most rosés, this wine is a blend of white and red wine. Erik said it tasted like a creamsicle. 

The Muscat Baily A ($51) is made from a hybrid grape called Muscat Bailey A, developed in 1927 in Japan by Zenbei Kawakami. What a gorgeous ruby hue! I enjoyed this wine immensely – it was intriguing, floral and bright on my tongue. Erik thought this wine smelled like Hot Lips candy or cinnamon hearts. 

The Rosso ($47) is co-fermented with Steuben and Niagara grapes. Of all the wines, this had the most potent fragrance. The Rosso is a showstopper.

Anifora Arancione ($47) is a classic Italian orange wine made from Delaware grapes, aged in clay vessels that are buried in the ground. We learned that orange wine is fermented with the skin on, which preserves the grape’s flavour, texture and colour qualities. Orange wine isn’t new, and it existed before white wine. It was only 150 years ago that white wine was produced in colder climates, such as Burgundy and Germany, and then later became popular in the 1950s.

Bex.oxo thought it was neat that we were trying such rare wines because of Erik’s international connections. She also liked that she could taste each wine before plonking big money for a bottle. I agree. When I splurge for a nicer than usual bottle, I want to know it will be worth it. I’m looking forward to Juice Import’s 2023 events, because the collection I’ve accumulated in 2022 will be gone by New Year’s Eve.

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