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Alberta’s fine wine bonanza

With its oil-fuelled economic boom and a wine trade free of State monopolies, the Canadian province is proving to be one of the country’s hottest fine wine markets.

Jesse Willis, proprietor Vine Arts Wine & Spirits
Jesse Willis, proprietor Vine Arts Wine & Spirits, Calgary

“Our strong economy here in Alberta, along with our privatized liquor importation system, make this a great market for fine wine and collectible spirits,” said Jesse Willis, co-owner of Vine Arts Wines & Spirits in Calgary. “We have a massive advantage in pricing and selection compared to provinces like Ontario and British Columbia who have government monopolies on importation and distribution.”

Dubbed Canada’s energy capital, Calgary boasts a number of leading fine wine merchants that have their own particular niche. “Metrovino has one of the best selections of Burgundy in the country,” said Willis, “while Richmond Hill Wines has an unmatched line-up of top Australian producers.”

At Vine Arts “blockbuster Cabernets from Napa Valley still carry the day” explained Willis, who claimed demand for ‘cult’ Cabernet or Cabernet blends from producers like Bond, Harlan, Colgin, Araujo, Shafer and Screaming Eagle remains strong despite recent price hikes. However the most encouraging trend in his view, is the surge in younger wine lovers without the baggage and preconceptions of an older generation. “No matter how good the last bottle they bought was,” said Willis, “the first question the next time they are in the store is: ‘What’s new?’”

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