Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy New Year!

If I were twenty years younger and this outlet was Facebook - rather than a wine blog -I'd likely be recounting a wild New Year's Eve party with a thousand other revellers at a big circuit dance party. Been there. Done that. As a rule, it takes far too long today to recover from the more-than-likely hangover.

I'm still not quite to the point of watching Dick Clark (or I guess it's Ryan Seacrest nowadays) on TV - with the time zone differential so we can watch midnight at 9pm PST - and head off to bed. For the last so many years, we've generally put together a gang of friends and had a dinner party.

This year, we were lucky when Tyrant offered to host the dinner. The idea was to keep things toned down and make it a "simple" potluck with each person bringing along a ready-made course. So much for the simplicity of the dishes! From wild mushroom soup, through duck breast salad, to individual beef wellington's with foie gras and duxelles, this was a mighty fine potluck.

I'm very happy to report that the wines were also plentiful and delicious. The evening provided a nice addition of very enjoyable wines to The List.

307. 2007 Prunotto Moscato D'Asti (DOCG Moscato D'Asti - Piedmont - Italy)

We opened the evening with a glass of sweetness to off-set the heat of the spiced olives, chipotle-infused goat cheese and spot prawn bruschetta hors d'oeuvres that were presented.

I've posted Prunotto previously, but I've only seen their red wines available in BC - and there aren't many of those to be found. The ones that can be found are usually accompanied by higher price tags. At $24, I think this is a lovely start to saying goodbye to the year.

Mr. D. was delayed in joining us in that he was only scheduled to return to town from an unexpected jaunt to the snowy Prairies that are Saskatchewan. His flight was delayed - how unexpected - in Calgary. We stalled a bit with a couple more wines to give him time to arrive.

308. 2008 Wolf Blass Yellow Label Chardonnay (South Australia)

309. 2008 Arrowleaf Solstice Gewurztraminer (VQA Okanagan)

Arrowleaf isn't a winery that I gravitate to but I was surprised by the Gewurz. I was even more surprised when I found out that it was one of the younger guests that brought the wine and he said that Gewurz is his favourite varietal. I don't run across to many people that say that.

Eventually, we had to sit down to the first course - with or without Mr. D.

310. 2001 Kettle Valley Foxtrot Pinot Noir (Naramata - Okanagan)

We anticipated that the earthiness of the Pinot would match up with the wild mushroom soup that Axel and the English Doc brought and, by George, it did. Luckily for me, Mr. D. still hadn't arrived. It was our first red and I'd over-poured a bit on the glasses and was short one glass. Normally that empty would have had to be mine, but, although he didn't realize it, the ever-gracious Mr. D. donated his glass to me. We did save him soup though.

This bottle was pulled from Tyrant's cellar and I was quite intrigued. Boo and I have previously had a bottle of Foxtrot Vineyards Pinot Noir while dining in Whistler and it was recommended to us as one of BC's new premium producers. It's a new winery though - only having started up in 2007. We're thinking that the old owners of the vineyard used to sell their grapes to Kettle Valley and they, in turn, identified this wine with a single vineyard designation. No wonder the new owners looked to capitalize on the Foxtrot name.

Mr. D finally arrived and started working on his duck salad, but that was going to take a bit of time. So, we forced ourselves to take a bit of a break and work on another bottle.

311. 2006 CedarCreek Estate Select Meritage (VQA Okanagan)

A traditional Bordeaux blend, using the five standard varietals. This vintage saw a higher percentage of Merlot to Cab Sauv (51% to 36%), with the balance made up of Cab Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot.

312. 2004 Black Hills Nota Bene (Black Sage Road - Okanagan)

Next up was another BC Meritage blend that Mr. D offered up with his duck. If I'd been a smarter boy, I'd have saved a bit of the CedarCreek to compare to the Nota Bene. But, I wasn't. The salad course was rather delayed and the CedarCreek just kept going down too easily. Unlike the CedarCreek, Nota Bene is known more for its being anchored by Cab Sauv (46% with this vintage), which is then followed by Merlot (38%). The remaining 18% is straight Cab Franc. Considering the cult status of this wine in BC, it was a treat to share it for the evening.

313. 2001 Langmeil Fifth Wave Grenache (Barossa Valley - Australia)

314. 1993 Rosemount Estate Balmoral (McLaren Vale - Australia)

The next two wines just kept cranking up the standard for the evening. Langmeil is a favourite producer of mine but we generally know them for their Syrah. This was an interesting departure.

The Balmoral is a flagship wine for Rosemount. One of Australia's big names in wine, James Halliday, rated this vintage a 94 and he said that it should best be opened by 2005, but we found it to still be completely memorable.

Both of these wines deserve individual posts of their own but time and space here dictate that I'll just say that both wines just felt like the next step to happiness.

Tyrant's Beef Wellington was as good as it can get at a potluck dinner. The taste alone was superb but when you throw in his Julia Child impersonation as he was wrapping the pastry - priceless. The pictures of the Tyrant Julia would have added an interesting twist to this posting, but he wasn't sporting a wine glass in those shots and they weren't necessarily as flattering as he contorted his face for the full effect. Meryl and Ackroyd would both have been proud.

We had just enough time to settle a bit and sort out our New Year's finery of hats, beads and noisemakers. At the stroke of midnight, we popped the cork and enjoyed some of the street sounds from the balcony while making some noise of our own. We also noticed that the Olympic rings in Coal Harbour gave us a show of changing colours to celebrate the arrival of the Olympic year.

315. Moet et Chandon Brut Imperial (AOC Champagne - France)

Another stroke of luck for us is that Tyrant had some Moet left over from his Winter Solstice soiree. Naturally, I'd grabbed a sip the other week, but I didn't think I'd done the bottle enough justice to add it to The List. No such problem tonight.

The only problem was not spilling a drop while dancing away to Cher and Lady Gaga.

316. 2005 Mission Hill S.L.C. Riesling Icewine (VQA - Okanagan)

There was one last bottle that we had to give its due though. Elzee had brought along an Icewine to go along with (as Tyrant terms it) her world famous lemon tart.

It also was as good as ever - both the tart and the Icewine.

There wasn't much room or desire to dive into the cheese course though. Most of the cheese came home with Boo and I since Tyrant was still nursing more than enough leftovers from the Solstice party to keep a household of mice happy. He didn't need to add to that cache.

All in all, it was a fantastic evening of great food, wonderful wines and good friends. What a way to end one year and start another. Here's hoping that 2010 is full of such moments.

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