Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Mickey Rooney Christmas

Boo and I consider ourselves lucky boys to have Mickey and Rooney as friends. We can always count on Rooney to call us up and say, "It's been too long. It's time we got together again." Whether the occasion calls for a wander around her incredible garden or it's to dress up for one of her famous Halloween parties, fun times and great chats are guaranteed with the two of them.

Rooney wanted to try and figure out an evening where we could get together over the holidays - but finding a common evening was a lot more difficult than we might have hoped. Between previously booked engagements and Boo's tasking work schedule, we found that there was only one night that might work - even then, we could only get started after 8pm since Boo was working days at the hospital. With a promise of decorations, a real fire and homemade bread, Rooney didn't have to coax us too much despite the late start on a school night.

I know from past get togethers that Rooney likes her white wines. So, I thought I'd bring along something a little different for us - an Okanagan Chardonnay.

1330.  2010 La Stella Leggiero (VQA Okanagan Valley)

Anyone who regularly visits the blog will know that it's obvious that we drink a heckuva lot of Okanagan wine. So, what's so different about tonight's bottle? Simple. It's Chardonnay. I'm far from being a member of the ABC Club ("Anything But Chardonnay") but the BC whites in our glasses just tend to be more on the lines of Riesling, Pinot Gris or blends. I'd run across this unoaked Chardy from La Stella while visiting the winery just prior to the 2011 BC Wine Appreciation Wine Tour and it definitely struck my fancy.

In line with the winery's inspiration to bring a little dolce vita to the Okanagan, the wine is stylized after the Italian cool climate Chardonnays of the Alto Adige in the North. Most of La Stella's wines are named after musical expressions as a means of capturing the wine's personality and, as a musical term, "Leggiero" means "light and delicate." Accordingly, the Chardy sees no oak in a bid to accentuate the fruit and minerality of the source vineyard.

The grapes for Leggiero are purchased from neighbouring vineyards as the winery's vineyards do not have any Chardonnay planted currently. Only 330 cases of the 2010 vintage were made - which is a bit of shame since this is the only bottle that I have. Rooney and I would both eagerly fill our glasses over and over again.

1331.  2005 Domaine  de la Charbonnière - Vacqueyras (Vacqueyras AOC - Rhône - France)

The second wine was chosen as a red to match up with Rooney's promised Ribolitta soup. The soup might be Tuscan influenced, whereas the wine is from the Rhône Valley in France, but I figured there wouldn't be any complaints about the approachable Grenache/Syrah profile - and there weren't.

The winery's website is "under construction;" so, I couldn't find much information about them from them. However, I did see one webcast interview with their "new" winemaker, Veronique Maret. A different site stated that the domaine has been in the Maret family since 1912. Veronique and her sister will be the fourth generation of the family to be involved with the winery.

Vacqueyras is one of the Côtes du Rhône villages that was elevated from that general classification to its own appellation because of consistent quality.  The family's holdings span Châteauneuf du Pape, Vacqueyras and the general Côtes du Rhône designation. Accordingly, they produce a range of wines  under the banner of the respective appellations, with the Vacqueyras falling in the middle of the range price-wise.  We picked this one up for $30; whereas the CdP cuvée runs closer to $45 in our market.

Being a 2005, the Vacqueyras was produced by Maret père, prior to Veronique's return to the winery as winemaker, but the wine still had a youthful, fruit forward profile - one that might be more associated with younger winemakers than with the previous generation. Like the Leggiero, it's a profile that I'd be more than willing to return to though.

So, two good friends and two good wines. What more can you ask for as a little seasonal activity? Mickey and Rooney can call us up to put on a neighbourhood "show" anytime.

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