Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Non-Tyrannical Winter Solstice

I've lost count of the actual number but, for a hefty collection of years, Tyrant has hosted his "trademark" Winter Solstice celebration. This was definitely a party that you wanted to be invited to. Every December 21, you could count on meeting up with a whole phalanx of old friends for a grand blowout of wine and tidbits and making the best of the shortest day of the year. Tyrant wasn't going to be in town this year and had recently lavishly entertained everyone in the Fall and his and Panda Guy's wedding.

As such, we found ourselves free on the Saturday night before Christmas. Knowing that just wasn't going to cut it, Boo and I decided to have a handful of friends over to have a mini-Solstice celebration. We couldn't possibly match the hoopla that Tyrant has mastered over the years, but we could give it the old college try to embark on a little merrymaking of our own.

If I do say so myself, the collection of bevies was kinda decent. Boo made up a batch of his family's old eggnog recipe (which isn't much more than Bourbon, Rum, eggs, sugar and cream) and I hit some of the new, local breweries and distillers for some craft brews, Vodka and Gin.

That being said, this is a wine blog; so, naturally, there was a bit of wine being poured as well. And, whenever, that happens, I'm more than happy to add the bottles to The List.

Before                                         After

1495.  2011 McWilliam's Wines - J.J. McWilliam Shiraz Cabernet (South Eastern Australia)

1496.  2010 Bodega Norton - Barrel Select Malbec (Mendoza - Argentina)

The first two wines are the ones that Boo and I chose for a batch of mulled wine. I don't make mulled wine very often but, if you can't interest folks in some piping hot wine on a cold, winter's night, when will you ever? Admittedly, both of these bottles are entry level wines, but I've quite enjoyed both McWilliam's and Norton in the past. I think they over-deliver for the price and I figured that a blend of different grapes and the definite presence of big, dark fruit would only add to the flavour of the "glogg." (It wasn't really "glogg" but I just like the word.) It must have worked because we went through a couple of hefty pots.

1497.  2012 Domaine Houchart Côtes de Provence (AOC Côtes de Provence - France)

As a contrast to the mulled wine, I was intrigued that one of our friends brought along the Rosé. Most folks I know would be more likely to open a Rosé during the Summer Solstice - if they drink Rosé at all. Apparently, it wasn't the thought of warmer Mediterranean sunshine that resulted in the choice. Rather, our pink friends copped to the fact that they knew nothing about the wine and that they simply liked the bottle shape and the colour of the wine. I wasn't any help on the producer but I could definitely be persuaded to take in a little of Provence and the Mediterranean to sit back in the sun and enjoy life myself.

1498.  2010 Michael David - Petite Petit (Lodi - California)

Another interesting choice, by one of our guests was the 85% Petite Sirah and 15% Petit Verdot that is Petite Petit. Once again, it was the label that prompted the purchase but I know more than a couple of folks that reach for this wine quite regularly. I picked up a bottle at the Vancouver International Wine Festival a couple of years back but we still haven't opened it. I figured it had a bit of time in the bottle.

I think I'm safe with keeping our '08 vintage a bit longer because, like the elephants adorning the label, this wine is big bodied and powerful. If the mulled wine wasn't enough to warm everyone up, this one might have been able to accomplish the feat - without being warmed up on the stove.

1499.  N.V. Cupcake Prosecco (D.O.C. Prosecco - Italy) 

The final bottle that I was involved with (there were plenty others that I just had to pass on - at least as far as the blog goes) was Cupcake's entry into the Prosecco market. Based in California, the folks at Cupcake travel the world looking for opportunities to make international wines for their portfolio as well. Italy has proven a fertile ground for Cupcake in that they now produce a Chianti, a Pinot Grigio, this Prosecco and a Moscato d'Asti.

Meant to be an easily approachable brand, Red and La Gondoliera brought the Cupcake along to entertain the crowd with Venetian spritzes. I'm a long time fan of Aperol and spritzes but the girls introduced a whole new twist. They added a nicely mild olive to the mix. I'd never seen that before - but this is a drink from the piazzas of Venice where La Gondoliera was born and bred. If anyone is going to say the drink is authentic, it's going to be her. I'll have to keep the idea in mind for the many spritzes I've yet to drink down the road.

Not only was the olive an interesting twist but I got to add yet another Prosecco to The List. Since Proseccos are non-vintage (at least in our market), I'm perpetually concerned that I'm going to run out of new ones to add. No this time though.

We might have been missing Tyrant this Solstice and our modest soirée couldn't match the grandeur of a Tyrannical affair, but we did toast him - and we did manage to gather a handful of his regular guests who also found themselves "lost" without their regular shindig. I think I'll let him keep the franchise however.

No comments:

Post a Comment