Monday, September 19, 2011

A Start to Being An Honourary Lesbian

For five years now, the BC Wine Appreciation Society has been holding an annual bus tour - and, for five years, I haven't been able to join the gang as they taste and carouse their way through two days of winery visits. It just seems like the timing for the tour never agreed with my own schedule. This year was a bit different in that I was free; however, Boo, yet again, had to work through the weekend in question.

When asked, a couple of months ago, if I was finally going to join up with the tour, I mentioned that I was toying with the idea but explained my dilemma in having to leave Boo behind. The Wine Grrrlz forcefully conveyed the message that "separate vacations strengthen relationships" and they proceeded to insist that I shack up with them in the palatial suite that they'd reserved.

I'm not convinced about the separate vacation bit, but this year's tour agenda did have some intriguing stops - and the sound of a "palatial suite" is always appealing. So, I agreed to their offer of becoming an honourary lesbian for the weekend.

The bus was scheduled to start the tour on Saturday morning, but the Wine Grrrlz made their way to Osoyoos on the Wednesday. A Thursday afternoon departure was the best I could manage though. The five hour drive to Wine Country was mostly uneventful but by the time I arrived, the sun was setting. The Grrrlz were still on the road and their way back from a day of buying and tasting though. So, I took a bit of a tour of the resort and kicked back my feet to await Cockney Queen, Chewbacca (or Chewie for those in the inner circle) and Shelback.

Surprisingly, I held back on the wine until the Grrrlz appeared. Fortunately, they weren't that far behind me and they were as hungry as I was. The food scene in the Okanagan seems to be improving by leaps and bounds every year and I'd seen a lot of glowing mention for Passa Tempo, the restaurant at Nk'Mip resort. Luckily, it was only a couple of miles down the road and we were able to snag a late reservation.

Our meal orders went all over the map; so, choosing the wines was a bit of a task. Sited smack dab in a winery complex, there was a healthy wine list - appropriately studded with some of the big name BC wines. We were a little surprised in that the restaurant didn't carry Nk'Mip's new premium wine, Mer'r'iym, but we were told that the restaurant is completely different from the winery and that they carry a good assortment of Nk'Mip wines but not all of them.

We adapted.

919. 2008 Noble Ridge Pinot Grigio (VQA Okanagan Valley)

We'd had high hopes for the Noble Ridge, but it seems no one was blown away by the P.G. That was a bit of a surprise since this vintage won its share of medals in various competitions. The wine just seemed lacking to us - whether it was fruit, acidity or just plain tastiness, there just wasn't enough of it. Didn't stop us from finishing the bottle though.

920. 2008 Painted Rock Cabernet Sauvignon (VQA Okanagan Valley)

Since the Mer'r'iym Bordeaux blend wasn't available for tasting, we opted for the Painted Rock. Back in the Spring, BCWAS featured Painted Rock wines at our annual association dinner. If memory serves, this Cab was my favourite wine that evening. This is only the second vintage of Painted Rock reds and the bottle could have used a little more aging and/or decanting but it was concentrated and bold in every way that the Noble Ridge wasn't (not that the two wines should be comparable in any other consideration).

The wine matched particularly well with Cockney Queen's strip loin. This year, the bus tour isn't heading as far North as Painted Rock, but I'm hoping to be able to fit in a quick visit on my own before the weekend is over. I'm quite looking forward to checking out BC's newest "cult" winery.

The Grrrlz thought I could use a little sweetening - particularly if I was hoping to embrace my inner lipstick lesbian-ness as much as my butch persona. Hence the dessert wine. Surprisingly, there wasn't much in the way of BC late harvest or dessert wines on the wine list despite the fact that we were surrounded by icewine country.

923. 2007 Chateau de Rayne Vigneau 1er Grand Cru Classe Sauternes (AOC Sauternes)

The Queen craved Sauternes and, as her mindful subjects, who were we to argue. Unfortunately, the wine didn't exactly deliver as much as the Queen - or we - might have hoped. Chateau de Rayne Vigneau was ranked as a Premier Cru back in the original Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855 of wineries in Sauternes and Barsac; however, I did read that the estate has seen rough times and that the most recent change of hands in 2004 is leading to revitalization of the brand.

It was interesting to try a 1er Grand Cru Classe none-the-less - because it's a rare event for me - but I think I'll gravitate to one of BC's dessert wines next time around - if the choice is there.

All in all, we thought the evening was one of hits and misses. By Vancouver standards, the restaurant didn't really live up to expectations. Some of the plates were delicious, others not so much. The success of the wines was similar - with only the Painted Rock really catching our attention. It was great, however, to get an early start to the weekend.

Bring it on.

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