Monday, December 17, 2012

But I Thought You Don't Cook?

The lovely and talented Miss Jaq is renowned for many things - but I don't think cooking is necessarily one of them.  Having spent years in the UAE (where everyone eats out or orders in), she hasn't had nearly as much practice as those of us that, boringly, stayed behind in Vancouver and were forced to learn to cook and fend for ourselves. That's why an invite for "Dinner at Miss Jaq's New Digs" was a special Christmas gift this year.  The invite was particularly special because this is her first "home" (temporary or not) in Vancouver in years and we got a chance to revisit all of the glorious carpets that she brought home with her.  Indeed, Miss Jaq is the reason Boo has become the "carpet queen" that he is.

If I think back, Miss Jaq and I were still in university (or just out) the last time she invited me over so that she could cook dinner - and I won't give any further information on how long ago that might have been because a true gentleman never discusses a lady's age.  However, she whipped up spaghetti if memory serves - and she's sworn that she'll never try serving me spaghetti again for as long as she lives.

As it turns out, she was out all day and didn't have time to cook.  So, it was determined that Indian take out was the way to go.

She did have wine waiting though.

1317.  2008 Marquis Philips Cabernet Sauvignon (McLaren Vale - Australia)

I found it funny that she opened a bottle of Marquis Philips.  I don't know a whole lot of their wines but I've generally quite enjoyed them.  Before I said anything about the wine though, I asked Boo if he liked it - which he did - because the Marquis in Marquis Philips is the same Marquis behind Mollydooker.  Despite our visit to Mollydooker when we were in McLaren Vale last Spring, Boo isn't a big fan.  The Marquis Philips brand is no longer associated with Sparky and Sarah as it was at the centre of a large legal dispute between partners but it used to be at the forefront of the Aussie invasion.

Following the law suit, the Marquis Philips brand was taken over by R Wines - a partnership between American wine importer Dan Philips and Australian winemaker Chris Ringland but that arrangement also went south when a receivership reared its head in 2010.  I don't know the whole story or the end result but there are still plenty of brands, under the R Wines banner, available today.

This is meant to be a big and ballsy wine - and it is.  And it gave us something to talk about as the bottle's contents quickly disappeared.

1318.  2012 Sula Vineyards - Dindori Reserve Viognier (India)

Knowing that we were going to take the Indian route on the food front, I thought it made complete sense to bring along a bottle I just happened to run across recently in the provincial liquor stores.  An Indian wine!  I think there's only one varietal available and that's this Viognier.

India is definitely not a country that immediately pops into mind when thinking of premium wine producing regions.  I don't even believe there's much of a culture revolving around the drinking of wine in the country up until now.  I understand, though, that the country is seeing a bit of a seismic shift in its approach to wine (much like we continually hear about China).

The subcontinent isn't exactly awash in vineyards but there is a nascent industry there now and, while you've likely never heard of the Nashik region, it is the fertile area that is home to most of the production so far.  The region is home to around 35 wineries nowadays.  Sula is the major producer there, and when looking it up online, I noticed on a couple of sites that Sula produces around two-thirds of the wine in the Indian market.

Novelty or not, their wines have been featured in Vij's, home to perhaps Vancouver's most famous Indian foods.  I rather doubt that a restauranteur as famous as Vikram Vij would bring in a wine purely for its background story.  My guess is that, like us, he found the wine quite palatable and a nice match to the flavours that run rampant in Indian cuisine.  I'd still classify the wine as fairly simple but it was no "over-the-top," floral Viognier bomb and that was nice.  There was enough fruit on the palate to mesh nicely with the spice of the food and the acidity wasn't so prominent that it was rendered metallic by those spices.

I'd consider ordering it again if I saw it in an Indian restaurant around town - or if I was eating Indian take-out at Miss Jaq's.

By the way, that spaghetti from years ago wasn't nearly as bad as she still makes it out to be.

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