Saturday, May 28, 2011

Dinner at Mr. D's

Mr. D. felt like having a bit of a belated birthday celebration for everyone - even though Boo's b-day is still a bit away. It certainly doesn't matter to me what the occasion is or was. A dinner invite is a dinner invite. And a dinner at Mr. D's has never disappointed. Tonight was no exception; however, one potentially distressing fact about this little Odyssey of our's was in full evidence tonight.

Playing a little fast and loose (very much unlike our host) with a tongue-in-cheek tone, the only way that I can be sure that the wines being opened aren't already on The List is to be in charge of choosing the wines to be opened. That can be a tad difficult when the host is providing all the wine as well as the dinner.

It turns out that two of the evening's bottles have already passed the muster. It doesn't mean that we can't still enjoy the wine - just means that I don't get to add them to The List again for a second or third time.

N.V. Greg Norman Australian Sparkling (Southeastern Australia)

I shouldn't be surprised that Mr. D. would pop the cork on a Greg Norman. I introduced him to the great value bubble back before Christmas. I know he's taken it to at least a couple of events - including Christmas dinner. As for me, I popped a cork back at #684 in the limo my sister booked to take us to the airport to head away to Cuba over the holiday season. It was good then and it was good now. My guess is that even this won't be the last time we encounter this "Shark." Too bad it's not produced as a vintage. Then I could just be on the outlook for different years to open.

813. 2009 Terra Andina Semillon Chardonnay (Central Valley - Chile)

The next bottle up was good for The List though. In fact, this is the first bottle to be added from this producer. I was a little surprised by that fact since I know I've had some of their wines before - either those bottles were downed before I started the blog or we must have just had a glass in passing, without sharing a full bottle.

That being said, I don't know a lot about the winery. Their website claims to be "an innovator within the Chilean wine industry [by] blending grapes from different valleys with different micro-climates and soil conditions." The label on this bottle states that the wine is from Chile's Central Valley and that may sound like a single valley; however, the Central Valley is Chile's most productive wine region and actually consists of four subregions - some of the most internationally recognized Chilean wine names: Maipo, Rapel, Curico and Maule.

The website doesn't refer to this blend and that leads me to guess that this wine is simply produced as an export wine. The $11 price tag would certainly seem to support the winery's wanting to take advantage of exports with an easy going, value wine.

I don't know that I'd say that there was anything that particularly stood out for me - at least not enough to make me run screaming to the liquor store to grab some more - but, as an everyday sipper, it worked just fine.

2003 Black Hills Nota Bene (VQA Okanagan Valley)

Mr. D. pulled out one of those special occasion bottles and the big gun for the evening was a 2003 Nota Bene. Mr. D. had been holding on to it for a bit and thought the bottle's age was probably creeping up to our advanced, collective years. So why not open it for a birthday dinner? It's funny that Boo and I drank the bottle of Black Hills Chardonnay last night. It wasn't "funny" - at least not for me - that this would be the second bottle of the 2003 that I'd be adding to The List. We'd already been treated to a bottle of the 2003 vintage at #483 during one of our Dinner Club outings.

And just like the Greg Norman bubble, it was good then. Still good now.

814. 2010 La Frenz Vintage Port (Okanagan Valley)

This was a great little surprise that Mr. D. served up. Love Port. La Frenz is one of my favourite wineries. Past vintages have won Gold at the Northwest Wine Summit and Silver at the All Canadian Wine Championships. This should be killer.

Drawing on his Aussie past, owner/winemaker, Jeff Martin, has fashioned his "Port" from Shiraz grapes and he's fortified it with his own "custom distilled brandy spirit." Known as a free spirit - if not an outright radical in the BC wine scene - it will be interesting to see how long he can continue to use the term "port" before the Portugese catch wind and force him to stop using that term in naming his wine. True "port" can only come from Portugal - much like true Champagne and true Burgundy can only come from their home regions.

As mentioned, I figured this wine would be right up my alley. It wasn't - at least not to the extent that I wanted it to be. Maybe it was the three wines beforehand - or maybe the pairing with the intriguing dessert. I think the dessert was called "kurtskalac" (I'm missing a couple of punctuation marks in there) and it was a traditional Transylvanian, sugar-coated, chimney-shaped pastry. (I'm sure there has to be a Dracula joke, or two, in there somewhere.)

I'm not saying that the wine was bad, but I didn't find it to be all that reminiscent of a vintage port. Flavourful enough. But a bit light in body and structure for my taste.

I'll definitely give the La Frenz another try though and I'm entirely hopeful that it'll knock my socks off at that time. But for the moment...

It was a great evening though. Having "endured" as many birthdays as I have, I don't put much stock in the big days anymore. But I'm game for a celebration like this anytime. Now, I just have to get Mr. D. to coordinate the wines a little better with The List next time.

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