Thursday, January 24, 2013

Big & Brooding - Was That the Canucks or the Wine?

The NHL lockout was a problem that never should have reached the point of futility that it did and saving the 2013 NHL season may have been a last-minute solution, but I was happy to see a resolution all the same. It's a rare occasion that I get to attend a game at the best of times. So, with half the number of games being played this year, getting an invite from Blade to join him at a game against the Calgary Flames was a highly unexpected treat.

Luckily Blade and I would even be able to cheer for the same team for this game. Being a transplanted Albertan, Blade's heart is still with his old hometown team; however, that's Edmonton. Not Calgary. As such, I didn't have to worry about having a beer dumped over my head because I'm sitting with a dude in an Oiler jersey. Edmonton and Calgary may both be in Alberta but there's a grand old rivalry between them - and an Oiler fan is technically allowed to hope that the Canucks beat the Flames.

1248. 2009 Black Cloud Altostratus Pinot Noir (Okanagan Valley)

Hockey arenas aren't exactly known as meccas of fine wine. Beer tends to rule. Knowing that we wouldn't be adding a bottle to The List at the actual game, we grabbed a bite to eat beforehand. Naturally, that involved working on a little, strategic pre-game preparation. Our thought was to go with a lighter red to match the different pizza toppings. Little did we know that we ordered one big, old slapshot of a wine.

Black Cloud is Brad Cooper's sideline venture. Between his day job as winemaker at Township 7, his wine consultant business and his active presence in the social media scene (@bradinator is his Twitter handle), I'm not sure how he fits in the extra activity that is his virtual winery. How he arrived at Black Cloud is a story in itself. Numerous articles have recounted how, through his consultancy business, he had produced some 2008 Pinot Noir for a client who was then unable to pay for the wine due to the business crash that followed. Brad took the wine as payment in lieu and the financial "black cloud" that appeared over his family's head turned in the virtual winery that it has become.

Brad has been winemaker at Township 7 since 2005 and, while at Township 7, he has produced a number of award-winning wines including his 2006 Reserve Chardonnay that was named Best Chardonnay in Canada at the 2008 All Canadian Wine Awards. Brad's 2007 chardonnay was also honoured by being served to Queen Elizabeth at a state dinner.  The winery, however, has encouraged his Black Cloud endeavour as Township 7 doesn't produce a Pinot Noir of its own.

While Township 7 has a wide range of wines available, Black Cloud produces Pinot Noir exclusively - and there isn't a lot of it. I was actually quite surprised to see it on the restaurant menu as there was only about 130 cases produced of the '09 Altostratus. Pinot Noir has become a much produced and well known grape variety in the Okanagan but this is as intense a version as I can recall having tasted. I found the wine loaded with much darker fruit and the body far more robust than I normally associate with BC Pinot - but you know, headed to a hockey game like we are, I'm thinking these are some traits that I wouldn't mind associating with the Canucks.

Robust. Big. Brooding. That's a Canuck team that I'd have no problem getting behind.

Unfortunately, I forgot to bring along my camera. So, the phone shot of the bottle doesn't do the label justice. Nor do I have a shot of the game itself. Suffice it to say that the Canucks did pull off a win - even if it did go to a shootout. The may not have embodied all of the traits that our evening's wine exhibited, but a win's a win in my book.

I hope it's not too trite to say that I'm hoping that Brad is finding that mythical "silver lining" that is supposed to accompany that original black cloud. Lord knows, I'm hoping for a great Canucks' season this year as a silver lining to the black cloud that was the hockey lockout. Indeed, cheers to silver linings.

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