Friday, March 8, 2013

A Little Grape Juice as We Dine Out For Life

Boo and I took in, not one but, two fundraisers tonight. As such, I figure this might be as close as I'll ever come to feeling just like Fred Lee - Vancouver media's social gadfly and gallivanting man-about-town. Whether you catch up with Fred through his weekly column in The Province or Monday's mornings on the CBC when he's recalling the week's "gala gala do's" where Vancouver's bright and shiny folk do good, the man is perpetually running around town - often taking in two, three or four events in one night.

I thought we did rather well by stretching ourselves and hitting two. Need I say that it was likely two too many for Boo's preference - but even his rubber arm can be bended to throw a few dollars here and there for charity.

We kicked off the evening at Grape Juice - the annual wine auction and schmooze-fest to benefit Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland. This year's event was held at the Ferrari Maserati of Vancouver dealership and they were thrilled to raise over $105,000 - enough to help facilitate 52 Big Sister - Little Sister matches. It also likely facilitated the only time that I'm going to get this close to a $789,000 Ferrari (plus tax, thank you) or sit in the plush leather seats of a Maserati (costing a far more approachable quarter million).

We didn't end up buying a car - they just didn't have my favourite shade of blue - but we did pick up a threesome of bottles in the auction that will have to make it to The List down the road.

Despite the fact that we tried our fair share of wine at Grape Juice, we didn't have an actual bottle. So, we had to wait for our second stop of the night - Dining Out For Life - in order to add a bottle to The List tonight.

1268.  2010 M. Chapoutier - Belleruche (Côtes-du-Rhône AOC - France)

Dining Out For Life is the annual fundraiser for A Loving Spoonful and Friends For Life - two of Vancouver's premium agencies for providing services to those suffering with HIV/AIDS. Participating restaurants donate 25% of all food sales that day to the cause and, over its 18-year history, it has become the biggest fundraising activity for BC's restaurant fraternity. Unlike last year, when our Dining Out For Life was a big outing at The Pear Tree with around 40 or so friends, this year was much simpler with just Boo and I and Au Petit Chavignol - the restaurant bistro at Les Amis du Fromage. My French onion soup and triple grilled cheese with pommes frites could have easily been paired with a white but Boo's burger called for red. Accordingly, an easy drinking red was the compromise and it was much easier than expected.

M. Chapoutier has a large portfolio that seems to be getting bigger and bigger. I don't recall having tried this wine before but the Grenache/Syrah blend was much lighter than I'd expected - particularly since M. Chapoutier's wines are all biodynamic and I generally find them to exhibit an abundance of fruit. At first, I thought 2010 might have been a tougher vintage but most reports have it being a banner year. It might just have been that we - and our taste buds - were fatigued after a day at work and the couple hours spent at Grape Juice and we didn't try the wine at our best.

M. Chapoutier doesn't have anything to worry about though. One wine that didn't hit my favourites list won't do them in. I've previously found their well-priced wines to be quite lovely; so, I'm sure there'll be more in our glasses down the road.

The real question, however, is how does Mr. Lee manage to stay so active and keep his palate fresh? Because I know that boy likes his wine. Two events and we were done. I'll have to see if Fred is willing to act as my personal trainer if we're ever going to be so charitably active in the future.

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