Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Tropical Treat

It may still be hockey (playoff) season, but VanCity is still aching for actual Spring-like weather. The cold and wet (or even cool and damp) that we've been experiencing is getting tiresome.

So, a gorgeous Spring day, like the one we woke up to today, is entirely celebratory. Even the garden seemed to be that much happier and brighter. I'd been waiting for the right opportunity to open tonight's wine and this seemed like a perfect occasion. Earlier in the year, I'd read about - of all things - a sparkling wine made in Hawaii. It got a very favourable review and, yes, you guessed it, it's made from pineapples. One of my colleagues as work, Sumo, was taking a short vacation at Waikiki; so I asked her to try and pick me up a bottle. She wasn't able to find the sparkling wine anywhere but she did find the following bottle.

I have a classic recipe for a curry that features prawns and pineapple. What better dish could there be for a pineapple wine?

792. Tedeschi Vineyards Maui Blanc (Hawaii)

Tedeschi is also known as "Maui's Winery" and is the island's only commercial winery. The folks behind the winery began planting grape vines at the Ulupalakua ranch in 1974 and they now grow six varietals - little known Carnelian, Syrah, Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Malbec and Viognier. During the initial years, however, while they were waiting for the grapevines to mature to the point of producing wine-ready grapes, a decision was made to develop a sparkling wine made from the plantation's plentiful pineapples. Although there was only a small amount of the wine made, it proved to be so popular with the public that the winery continued to produce the wine and decided to pursue a still pineapple wine as well.

For the first couple of decades, Tedeschi partnered with the Maui Pineapple Company to buy juice from its pineapple operations. When that company's production assets were sold in 2009, the winery bought the juicing equipment and moved it to the winery where they now crush the pineapples right on site.

I was really happy to find that the wine is made in a dry style. There is a bit of residual sugar on the palate but there's actually a nice acidity that keeps the wine fresh without seeming off-dry. That touch of sweetness goes nicely with the heat of the curry and, well, the pineapple-y-ness of the wine just matches as nicely as you'd want with the pineapple in the dish. You can definitely identify the taste of the tropical fruit on the palate but it isn't as dominant as you might expect. It's definitely not just pineapple juice with a kick. You won't be mistaking a glass of this for a Mai Tai anytime soon.

Now, I figure it's a fairly sure bet that this wine will never make it to the local bottle shop but I really wouldn't be opposed to having another bottle - particularly on a hot summer afternoon. Hey, wait, Sumo actually did bring back a second bottle - and that one's infused with a bit of passionfruit. Guess we'll be heading back to the Islands after all.

Now, we just need to see about some sun and heat on a more regular basis.

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