Monday, June 27, 2011

#99 - Not Wayne Gretzky Though

Boo and I were heading off to the granddaddy of all Vancouver community gardens - the Strathcona Gardens - to take a look around this afternoon. I won't say that we need a little inspiration for our own community plot in our neighbourhood but it is nice to visit and wander around and see what other folks set out to accomplish in their plots once in awhile.

The Strathcona Gardens features hundreds of community plots while our little affair has fewer than twenty, so the variety of activities is way more comprehensive. Hoping to catch a bit of excitement (even if the inspiration wasn't needed), I brought along a half bottle of wine that I thought would match the feel of the garden.

The grandeur of the garden was only matched by the excitement of the fact that this bottle was yet another new varietal to add to my Wine Century Club application. Indeed, it's number 99 (I suppose I really should go back and do a full inventory before I send in the completed application).

If I'd really been thinking, I would have opened a bottle of Canadian hockey legend, Wayne Gretzky's, wine - his being #99 and all. I don't think he produces a wine involving a varietal that I haven't blogged already though. I'll just have to figure out another way to work him into the blog.

836. 2007 Braida Giacomo Bologna Brachetto d'Acqui (DOCG Brachetto d'Acqui - Italy)

I've had a sweet spot (pun intended) for Brachetto d'Acqui ever since I first remember trying it in a flight of sparkling wines in Vegas many years ago. It's still pretty rare to find it on Vancouver wine shelves; so, I was pleased to find a bottle awhile back. I just needed an occasion to open it - and a garden stroll seemed like a fine option.

The Brachetto grape is believed to be native to the Piedmont region of Italy. Indeed, I don't think I've heard of it being grown anywhere much farther afield. It is a red grape that can be used to produce either still or sparkling wines - but it's most famous use is probably as a frizzante styled wine, usually with some residual sweetness. It's been referred to as a red equivalent of Moscato d'Asti (also from the Piedmont area) and that seems like an accurate description based on the couple of times I've tried it.

There is, apparently, a long tradition of a sweet, red wine generating from the region - to the degree that there are references, dating from Ancient Rome, to a vinum acquiense (wine of Acqui) and its sweet flavours that were a favourite with patricians of the time. Legend also has it that Julius Caesar and Marc Anthony gave the wine to Cleopatra as a gift and that she believed its flavours helped to unleash the passions of her lovers.

Its powers for "passion" continue today as it is often recommended as a perfect wine for Valentine's Day.

DOCG, or appellation, guidelines require that Brachetto d'Acqui be made from 100% of the varietal; however, those requirements also have lower minimum levels for alcohol than are generally seen with wine. Accordingly, the wine is often found with levels approaching as low as 5% alcohol. All the better to wine and dine your sweetie with - and not have them pass out once the bottle is finished. How romantic is that?!

As for the winery, Braida is a leading winery in Piedmont and is perhaps best known for pioneering production practices with the Barbera grape. During the 1980's - and parallel with the advent of the Super Tuscans - Braida began harvesting its grapes later in the season, lowering the yields in its vineyards and introducing the use of oak barriques instead of the larger oak botti that had previously been used to age local wines. All of these techniques led to a wine more complex and layered than the local Barberas that had previously been produced - and its prominence was raised to new levels.

I'm not sure if Braida Barberas are even available locally but I'd certainly be willing to give one a try given the opportunity.

In the mean time, I'll celebrate with my Brachetto and my #99. Not to mention a little more passion in our lives.


  1. Hello,
    I came across your blog and have been searching for the brand "Brachetto d'Acqui" and was just wondering which store in Vancouver did you find it at?

    1. Hi There, If memory serves, I found this bottle at Kitsilano Wine Cellars but it was some time ago. I'm not sure why but it's rare to find Brachetto d'Acqui in Vancouver. You might also try calling one of the wine agents that specialize in Italian wines - Stile comes to mind - as they might have a better idea. Good luck on your hunt. Cheers.