Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ballet BC & Malbec - No Tango Though

It's been a couple of seasons since I've been able to make it to a Ballet BC performance. That might be a statement indicative of a great many Vancouverites, considering the near collapse of the company a couple of years back. Never a company content with performing classical Nutcrackers and Swan Lakes, Ballet BC has been on the forefront of contemporary ballet in Canada (if not internationally for years) and tonight's program was altogether enticing with two world premieres and two Canadian premieres.

I stretch it enough talking about wine; so, I'm hardly going to pretend to comment on the quality of the dance or the inventiveness of the program. The evening did, however, provide us with a great opportunity to stop in and have an early dinner at Chambar, one of the city's most acclaimed restaurants. Without reservations, we could only eat in the bar area but that was fine considering the gastro-pub fare we were looking for. Any excuse for a bottle of wine before taking on a little culture.

729. 2009 Adeluna Malbec (Mendoza - Argentina)

Preferring a red and having decided on sharing Moules/Frites and a tasting plate of pork 5-ways, Malbec seemed to be a lighter, fruitier way to go. Little did we know that, for an entry level Malbec, this Argentine label packs a good little punch. Luckily, the mussels were in a punchy little broth themselves.

I can't recall having tried Andeluna previously. We may have driven by the operation - or at least near by it - when we were in the Mendoza last Fall as we visited at least a couple of wineries in the Uco Valley, near Tupungato where the winery is located. Good thing our exploration of the region is easily continued back here at home.

Andeluna appears to be a reasonably large commercial winery but one that, at the same time, keeps an eye on the market they're looking to hit. With so many value-priced Argentine wines hitting the world markets nowadays, Andeluna has foregone the basic entry price level and moved into a slightly more immediate range. This wine is Andeluna's entry level label (of three offered), yet it is priced in the $20-$25 range here in BC. There are lots of less expensive Malbecs to be found on our shelves.

That approach to a higher starting point may stem from the Michel Rolland influence - as Rolland, being one of the world's most travelled wine consultants, works in tandem with one of Argentina's top, young winemakers, Silvio Alberto. This team is backed by an ownership that involves a well-known Argentine wine family, the Reina Rutini's, and H. Ward Lay, the son of the founder of the Frito Lay empire.

I could easily see our ordering another bottle or, perhaps, trying the next tier up, but that would have to wait as the corps de ballet was summoning.

Knowing that Ballet BC isn't a company where you should expect tutus and classics, I'm not sure how the rather avant-garde pieces go over with a more knowledgable crowd, but they were challenging for we neophytes. There was no chance of confusing the final piece of the evening, Petite Ceremonie, with the Nutcracker. That being said, however, it was an intriguing piece and our favourite performance of the evening - full of everything from the company entering an empty stage from the orchestra seats to wooden boxes that were used as props and even juggling with spoken word accompaniment on how men's brains work (or don't).

Hopefully, the company will continue to grow beyond their recent financial woes. If the creativeness of tonight's program is any indication, they still have no intention of falling back onto tutus and swan corps any time soon. Our wines should be so adventurous.

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