Friday, December 3, 2010

Deke Xmas Bash

One thing I do know, despite what seems like an awful lot of wine being consumed for this Odyssey and blog, is that I sure can't drink like I used to in the old university days. All it takes is one evening with some of the Dekes and I'm quickly reminded of days of yore - and of all the beer, dacquiris, shots and other concoctions that have passed under those bridges.

Tonight was the fraternity's Alumni Christmas Party and it's a whole lot easier to behave and get home at a reasonable hour nowadays. Not that the opportunity to keep going 'til the wee hours isn't an always-available option. A couple bottles of wine at the table and I'm still good to go the next morning. It is funny, however, how the same old stories of the old days at the Deke House continue to amuse.

662. 2008 Blue Mountain Pinot Noir (Okanagan Valley)

I picked the first to be served up at the table and I decided to go with perhaps the first of the BC "cult" wines to arrive on the scene. Blue Mountain Pinot Noir was a definite announcement to the world that there was hope for BC wines beyond the old Baby Ducks and Lonesome Charlies. We haven't had the opportunity to visit the winery for years now but I still try some of the wines every now and then - when they're, rarely, found in a bottle shop or, more likely, in a restaurant setting.

Pinot Noir has always been the primary focus of Blue Mountain and their take on the varietal is more Burgundian than many of their Okanagan neighbours. The Mavety family has planted six clones from Burgundy Pinot in their vineyards, with another two clones having been planted specifically for sparkling wines. They produce two levels of Pinot Noir - the cream label that we're having here and a striped label that is more of a reserve wine.

I'm not sure that we currently have any Blue Mountain at home. I'm going to have to remedy that.

The Blue Mountain certainly helped get the conversation flowing at our table. Naturally, I didn't even get around to taking a photo of our little group, but I did manage one shot of a neighbouring table - if only because they started asking about the blog and I remembered that I needed a couple of shots. I figure if I feature them and say nice things about them, maybe they might invite Boo and I over to sample what they've got stocked in their cellars.

663. 2006 Sebastiani Zinfandel (Sonoma Country - California)

Care to hazard a guess as to who chose our second wine? It's a Zin and that often means (at least in this blog) that there's a good chance that Beamer is in the vicinity - and that's certainly the case at hand. He decided to go with the Sebastiani - one of those names in California winemaking that seem to have been around forever. Part of that reason may be that the winery was established over a century ago. Indeed, it was the only winery in Sonoma County to continue operations throughout Prohibition as it produced sacramental and medicinal wines during that period.

After a couple of generational transitions in ownership and operations, Sebastiani was producing 8 million cases of year during the 1980's - under their own label and the Turner Road label - although much of that production was bulk wine made from Central Valley grapes. With the turn of the 21st Century, the family sold Turner Road and re-focused the Sebastiani label on higher quality wines - a fact that, in itself, may have played a part in the sale of the winery to new owners in 2008.

The wine at hand is a blend of fruit sourced from three of Sonoma County's sub-appellations - Dry Creek, Alexander and Russian River. The goal is to take advantage of the strong points that each of the sub-regions can bring to the table - such as ripeness, level of tannin or acidity levels. The Zin blend is then complimented by the addition of small amounts of Petite Sirah and Syrah to add a bit more spice. One interesting point about the wine is that Sebastiani uses some Hungarian - as well as French - oak to age the wine. We always hear about French and/or American oak, but I can't say that I can name anyone else (off the top of my head) that uses Hungarian barrels. I'm going to have to look up what flavour profile differences are expected from Hungarian oak.

Zin is pretty tasty in most circumstances, but throw a bottle on the table with a bunch of Dekes and, odds are, it's not going to last long - best behaviour on a holiday season work night or not. Despite loving every opportunity to add another bottle to The List, I'm rather glad we kept the total down a bit tonight.

Now, to sampling some of the wines in those cellars...

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