Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Getting Over the Hump

Boo announced that he ran across a roast that he was going to cook up for dinner. He also said that he thought it was the last of the quarter side of camel that he (mistakenly) bought a couple of years back. More than a couple of the postings on this blog have addressed various dinners involving that venerable beast of burden - but he thought we were finally getting over the hump (so to speak).

Known for his creativity in the kitchen - many a time, I'll come home to a "Boo Surprise" - but he figured he'd stay pretty close to a "Camel Bourguignon" recipe. At least as much as he can stay to a recipe where you're substituting camel for beef.

He thought it'd be nice to invite Mr. D. to join us for dinner. I know, there are those of you that question the "generousity" of inviting someone over for camel. Mr. D's had it before though and he's managed to keep things together after those other occasions. Seeing as how he was joining us, I figured I'd pull out a bottle that Mr. D. gave us awhile back - particularly since it was an Aussie bottle and our camel was originally wandering the deserts of the Australian Outback (or wherever commercial camel meat is raised Down Under).

745. 2001 McWilliam's of Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon (Coonawarra - Australia)

McWilliam's is a long time producer in Australia and they're pretty well known in our market for their introductory line, J.J. McWilliam's. Over the years, they've acquired a number of other wineries down under and they now produce wines on a regional basis throughout the country. I find it a bit difficult, at times, to keep straight how and by whom their wines are being produced though.

Case in point. This Cab out of the Coonawarra, a region to the South of Adelaide, was released under the McWilliam's of Coonawarra label but I don't think it only existed for more than a couple of vintages. Originally, in 1990, McWilliam's purchased a half share in the Brand's winery and its prime Laira Vineyard - one of the most distinguished in the region, if not the country. Shortly thereafter, in 1994, they purchased the remaining half of Brand.

The connection to the renowned vineyard was maintained in that this 2001 label refers to "Brand's Laira Vineyards." Today, McWilliam's has a separate label altogether, called Brand's of Coonawarra, and my guess is that's how we'd find later vintages of this wine. It doesn't take all that much to confuse me, but I thought brand recognition is one of the holy grails of marketing.

Good thing the wine was a good one - there wasn't nearly enough for the three of us. It was as if it was produced specifically to pair with camel. I don't see that on their website though.

746. 2000 Silver Sage Merlot Dessert Wine (Okanagan Valley)

As much as I love dessert wines, we don't tend to open them much at home. This seemed like a good occasion. If you can't open one with guests, odds are there aren't going to be many at all in your future. We must have had this one around for some time - a 2000 vintage makes it one of the oldest wines in our cellar.

We don't drink much Silver Sage wine; however, located on Black Sage Road, it certainly produces some of the more creative wines out there. Their two best known wines aren't simple dry, table wines. Not in the least. They're a sage infused Gewurztraminer and a dessert wine - called The Flame - that has a chili pepper in each bottle. The "Sage Grand Reserve" has been called Canada's answer to Retsina. I think it's safe to say that no one else is producing similar wines in the Okanagan.

This Merlot is fortified with raspberry wine and it certainly came through on the palate. Chocolate with berries seemed about as natural a pairing as there could be, but the wine had lost a lot of the original freshness of the Merlot and it seemed a little tired and flat. I suppose we waited too long to open it; so, I won't write off the wine, but I don't know if I'd've walked a mile for it. The camel. Yes. The Silver Sage. Likely not.

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