Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Little Wine With That Snorkel?

Having bundled Lady Di and She Who Must Be obeyed off to the airport only last night, it was now time to say "goodbye" to Axel and English Doc.

They didn't need to leave for the airport until about noon. So, there was just enough time for Axel to take a final stroll with us up to the beach just past Jeaux and Matinder's villa. Antigua apparently has 364 beaches and we're discovering that there's a rather wide assortment of environments to be found. Called the North Beach at Jolly Harbour, this is a small beach where the sand is largely broken shells as opposed to fine, soft sand. The fact that we were the only souls on the beach for most of our visit just made our beachcombing that much more special.

The far end of North Beach finishes with a series of beachfront villas - villas that are a tad more luxurious than the townhouses we're all staying in. Boo and I noticed one that seemed to particularly fit our style; so, we took the liberty of posing for a picture poolside since it didn't look like anyone was staying at the villa at this time. Something tells me this little bit of luxury goes for a somewhat higher nightly rental than our unit does.

A boy can dream though, can't he? I can only imagine the tea dances or wine tastings and cocktails parties that I could put together with these digs at my disposal.

Maybe next time we're down here.

Once the boys were on their way to the airport, Jeaux, Matinder, Boo and I took to the road. The afternoon's plan was to lounge over a picnic lunch at one of Jeaux and Mat's favourite beaches. Although this new beach was located right next to one of the island resorts, it was amazing how - once you were past the resort layout - we could count the number of people we encountered on the fingers of one hand.

Talk about your idyllic picnic location. It definitely calls for a little wine.

1559.  2012 Douglas Green - the beach house Rosé (W.O. Western Cape: Wellington - South Africa)

Something tells me that, perhaps, the Douglas Green winery had occasions just like our picnic when they were coming up with a name and style of wine. The name, "the beach house," might have played just a tiny role in our picking the wine before we hit the beach. That and the fact that the wine had been sitting in the grocery cooler and was all ready for our sun splashed adventure. It didn't hurt that it was from South Africa and that was a bit of a different route than all the Mediterranean Rosés we'd been drinking so far.  We see very little Pinotage grown at home in the Okanagan; so a 100% Pinotage Rosé was alluring.

Despite the Pinotage base, the wine featured all sorts of red berry notes and had a touch of sweetness to it. Once again, in the heat of the day, that sugar note didn't hurt when following the spices that were fully evident in our picnic foods.

In addition to the variety of beaches, Boo and I were quickly finding out that there are remnants of abandoned colonial forts and towers all over the island as well. Following our picnic, we took a hike to and wander through the small fort found on the headland of our little cove. That was followed by a swim and a snorkel - and another bottle of wine as a reward for having burned off so many calories on the Caribbean sands and waters.

1560.  2011 Château de Varennes - Beaujolais-Villages (Beaujolais-Villages AOC - France)

As previously mentioned during these Antiguan posts, the Caribbean heat doesn't particularly lend itself to big reds. But that doesn't mean that we can't venture into red territory with some lighter red wines - like Beaujolais. Château de Varennes is new to me - particularly since we don't drink an awful lot of Beaujolais - but the lightness of the Gamay Noir grape was well suited to our beachside repose. It was a heartier sip than all the whites and rosés that we'd been quaffing so far; yet, it was anything but overbearing in the heat of the afternoon.

Once that bottle quickly disappeared, however, we realized that our beach time was done and that there might be just enough time left for a quick nap at "home" before dinner. And that's always a welcoming thought - whether on vacation or not.

On the way home, we passed a small pineapple plantation. The Antiguan Black pineapple is the national fruit and is branded as being the world's sweetest pineapple. We sure didn't see much evidence of them though. Indeed, thus far on the trip, I'd been surprised at how little agriculture overall I'd noticed on the island. Jeaux tells me that the bulk of the island's food is imported and that - to a great extent - there is a perception by the locals that working in the fields is still negatively associated with slavery during the colonial years. It appears that farming is still a long way from being seen as an enviable means of making a living.

With that understanding, it doesn't sound like anyone is about to take on the task of growing grapes and trying to make an Antiguan wine any time soon. I'll ask Jeaux to keep her ears and eyes open for an Antiguan Black pineapple wine though. After all, I tried a pineapple wine from Hawaii previously and actually thought it was quite tasty. Here's hoping an Antiguan Black wine might be added to The List down the road.

2 comments:

  1. Hi Bob,

    My family produces the wine from the Chateau de Varennes estate. So it was a real pleasure for me to read your post.

    Here is our website should you want to learn more about it: http://www.chateaudevarennes.eu/?lang=en

    Best,
    Alexis

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    1. Hello Alexis,

      How nice to hear from you. I will definitely visit the website to learn a bit more about your family's wines. I don't believe your wines are currently found in the Vancouver market. There might just be a place for them though.

      Cheers, Bob

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