Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Dinner Club for Faves

It doesn't actually seem like it's been all that long since the last Dinner club gathering but, here we are, feeling all Fall and getting the call from Lady Di and She Who Must Be Obeyed to feast and taste our way through another addition.

I always know that a Dinner Club outing is going to be an evening of great food and fun - as well as a prime source for adding a whack of bottles to The List. Tonight was no exception.

937. 2009 Mission Hill Reserve Viognier (VQA Okanagan Valley)

2009 Elephant Island - Pink Elephant (Naramata Bench - Okanagan Valley)

Our chefs for the evening greeted up with a couple of wines and a a couple of hors d'oeuvres. Chick Pea Crostini & Parsnip Pancakes with Crème Fraîche and Smoked Salmon. Knowing that this would be a very full evening, I took advantage of the fact that the Pink Elephant bubble made an appearance at our last Dinner club when we made our first road trip and visited the Tyrant on Salt Spring Island. Having already added the 2009 vintage to The List, I simply nodded my glass at the bubble and stuck to the Mission Hill Viognier.

The Lady has been a fan of Viognier since it first started gathering momentum as a more easily accessible varietal. Viognier can be a bit of a hit and miss for me - probably because, like Riesling, it can be made in a number of different styles and I'm not necessarily attracted to the heavily bodied and perfumed ones. The Mission Hill was hardly over-the-top though and I found it was an easy start to the evening, especially with the crostini that I had to force myself to stop hoovering.

938. 2007 Church & State - Hollenbach Family Vineyard Pinot Noir (VQA - Okanagan Valley)

As can often be the case with the inevitable bounty at our Dinner Club, I didn't get a picture of the Pinot Noir. Guess I just zeroed in on the Crab Gyoza and missed the bottle. Crab. Gyoza. Two of my favourite things. Together. A little wine to go with the course goes without saying, but I suppose some things are just a little more important than remembering to take a picture. You can see the glass of Pinot in the top, left hand corner of the gyoza picture though.

939. 2009 Sonoma-Cutrer - Russian River Ranches Sonoma Coast Chardonnay (California)

By the time we hit a soup course, Lady Di had recounted the story of their menu's "theme." All of the evening's courses were favourite recipes of their's that they have "stolen" from friends and made their own. Our Cape Breton Clam Chowda, from one of Lady Di's many aunts, was one that she grew up with. We were told that it's the chunks of cod added to the soup that made it more uniquely Cape Breton.

I was just about to write that a nice Chardonnay was a perfect match for a clam chowder and I thought I'd take a look at the Sonoma-Cutrer web page for this Chardy since I'm not familiar with the winery. Wouldn't you know that, immediately under the blurb on the wine, there's a recipe for Corn and Clam Chowder. What more can I say about the Lady's sense of pairing?

Next up was our venture into some bigger reds. The Lady had advised three of the guests that their task was to bring a Nebbiolo. We were the beneficiaries of a real range.

940. 2009 Produttori del Barbaresco Nebbiolo (Langhe DOC - Piedmont - Italy)

941. 2008 La Spinetta - Langhe Nebbiolo (Langhe DOC - Piedmont - Italy)

942. 2006 Azienda Vitivinicola La Collina dei Re - (Barolo DOCG - Piedmont - Italy)

The acidity of the dressing and tomatoes in our Heirloom Tomato Tarte with Beet and Haricots Salad was expected to match up nicely with the Italian star varietal. That it did - although it didn't hurt that the wines lived up to their billing. It was a surprise to see the La Spinetta bottle - given the fact that Boo and I have quite the jones for La Spinetta and we weren't the ones to bring it. Although technically, as a Langhe Nebbiolo, the La Spinetta is a "lesser" wine than the Barolo, it was a gem and more than a few of the diners (including me) picked it as the favourite of the night.

I hadn't run across the other producers but Produttori del Barbaresco is an association of growers that only produces Nebbiolo wines. The Langhe Nebbiolo is their entry level wine, the remaining wines all being Barbaresco's of various pedigree. The Collina dei Re remains a mystery to me as I couldn't find out much about it - other than its $30 price tag is about as reasonable as it gets for a Barolo in our market.

For the next course, a Steak & Mushroom Pie, we crossed the French/Italian border and moved on to a couple Bordeaux - and a BC Bordeaux blend.

943. 1998 Chateau Bel Orme - Tronquoy de Lalande - St. Seurin de Cadourne en Médoc Cru Bourgeois (AOC Haut Médoc - France)

944. 2005 Chateau Tertre de Belvès (AOC Côtes de Castillon - France)

945. 2003 Therapy Meritage (Naramata Bench - Okanagan Valley)

This is an example of why we're particularly lucky to have the Tyrant as one of our companions. He brought along the 1998 Médoc. I feel for him, having to work his way through his cellar now that a healthy selection of his wines are at a point of definitely being ready to quaff. Both of the French wines were decidedly French (okay, Old World); so, the Therapy wine fared rather well with its bigger emphasis on fruit.

There was little doubt that some damage had been done by this point. I'm not even sure that special guest, Bittr, even made it to dessert. The leather chair directly behind his dinner seat was a little too inviting as he did his best imitation of a sleeping angel.
But dessert there was - a Pumpkin Cheesecake with English Toffee none-the-less.

946. 1998 D'Arenberg - Coppermine Road Cabernet Sauvignon (McLaren Vale - Australia)

Not exactly a natural match for red wine, there wasn't another bottle scheduled for this course, which was probably a good thing. Tyrant, however, had brought along another cellar special and there was little chance that we weren't going to take advantage of that bottle. The least successful pairing of the evening, who cared? We knew it wouldn't be and I just finished off the tasty cake and, then, moved on to the wine as we wound up the evening with conversation.

And a group shot.

It might not as easy to see the collection of bottles in this shot as it is in the normal Dinner Club line up of dead soldiers, but this was a little more fun.

A grand evening was had by all and I love the fact that I get to add a whole ten bottles to The List. That's the good news, the (perhaps) not so good news is that more than a couple of us paid for all that wine Sunday morning - that and the fact that Boo and I are next up as Dinner Club hosts. Let the planning begin.

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