Sunday, June 29, 2014

Touring and Tasting

It appears that Boo and I may need to come up with a whole new wardrobe this fall. The Canucks traded Ryan Kesler and Jason Garrison and, wouldn't you know, those are the two current player jerseys that we sport.

The Garrison trade was a bit of a surprise and, since he didn't leave Vancouver while in everyone's bad books, Boo can probably get away with still wearing the #5 jersey. I'm not so sure I want to keep going with my Kesler jersey though. Sure enough, I got three or four good years out of it - and the city loved Kesler during the 2011 playoff run. He might still be able to make the odd Aussie smile, but I think all the locals got the impression that Ryan was all about himself and cared nothing for the Canucks, his teammates or the city. Too bad. But good riddance, I suppose. Makes me want to find out if you can get jersey numbers changed after the fact.

Putting aside the trades, we moved on to happier activities with our #TwoKangaroos. We couldn't entice Merlot Boy out of bed with a trip to the Trout Lake Farmers Market but Margarita and I completed a tasty tour in the morning. Then Boo and Merlot Boy joined us and we all spent the afternoon touring Gastown.

When you consider how many of the shops seemed new to Boo and me, it was clear that we don't get down to this part of VanCity very often. We passed some "new" restaurants that looked pretty tasty and Boo and I clearly need to make it back to the carpet shop because we barely poked our heads into the store and saw two gorgeous silks that may need to add some colour to our household.

As we were finishing off our tour, we discovered that we'd parked right next to Bambudda, a new-ish entry to the Gastown scene serving up modern Chinese and inventive cocktails. They were just opening the doors as we sauntered by and the empty bar seats right at street level were just too inviting for four tired wanderers to pass up.

I'd seen a few tweets recently that raved about the cocktails at Bambudda. So, it seemed like a no-brainer for us to do a little research of our own. The drinks arrived both pretty and pretty tasty. There's definitely potential to do a whole lot of damage as you sip your way through the drink menu. Despite the tawdry comments that flew from Merlot Boy's lips, I went for the Sum Yung Gai - a concoction of gin, Cava, lemon, maraschino and lavender syrup. merlot Boy himself went ordered the Bubble Tea and it, with Gin, Blue Curaçao and hibiscus bubbles, was sure a looker. Boo and Margarita opted for "classics": Satan's Whiskers and Mother-in-Law which Bambudda says are both cocktails from circa 1890.

Something tells me, wine blogger or not, we'll be back.

The possibility of heading out on the town was proffered but our Aussies opted to stick around the home front. With Cher behind them, a day's worth of walking just completed and a wedding on the morrow's agenda, a night of adding bottles to The List and a binge-viewing of Archer episodes seemed as adventurous as our buds wanted to be.

1650.  2013 Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough - New Zealand)

Despite her nom de blog, Margarita's sip of choice is probably Sauv Blanc and this Stoneleigh is one of her "go-to's." Offering up classic Kiwi notes, it was still easy to see why this is a pleaser for Margarita. It was determined that, despite the classic notes, the wine was "neither overly acidic nor cat pee-y." Seems appealing enough to me on a summer's eve.

Then, the reds kicked in. Merlot Boy had picked up a couple bottles of Aussie Shiraz at the local shop. Funny, guy travels half way around the world to drink his home country drops.

1651.  2011 Vinaceous Wines - Snake Charmer Shiraz (McLaren Vale - Australia)

I can't say that I know much about Vinaceous Wines. Given the labels, my guess is that it's a commercial venture along the lines of critter wines - without the critters on the label. Or, maybe, just critters of a different sort. Their website states that "the Vinaceous concept is to produce seven distinctive wines representing seven personalities - men, women, angels, demons, mermaids...and other creatures of mythology!" Their wines are sourced from "the best regions suited to the chosen varietals." So, we're definitely talking about a Down Under négociant concept.

Commercial enterprise or not, we still found it tasty enough. I believe the collective response to my "what do you think?" was "a tad stronger than 'charming' but a charmer all the same."

1652.  2012 The Black Chook Shiraz Viognier (McLaren Vale - Australia)

Roos, snakes, chooks (Aussie for chicken). What is it with Aussies, animals and wine? My learned guess is that they all just drink like fish. Then, with so many big, tasty sips within easy reach, who could blame them? The Black Chook is a project that brought in noted South Australian winemaker/consultant, Ben Riggs, to shepherd this Aussie take on the northern Rhone co-ferment of Shiraz with Viognier.

Hardly a critter wine. I likely wouldn't have gravitated to this bottle because of the name and label. I guess it just goes to show that, if you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, the same can be said about judging a wine by its label.

2005 Orofino Merlot Cabernet (Similkameen Valley)

With all the antipodean bottles hitting our glasses, I thought I'd serve up a bit of curveball. I didn't tell our guests what it was that I'd opened and they thought this wine was even bigger than the Aussie Shiraz we'd been sipping. They were pleasantly surprised when I told them it was another Orofino wine from the Similkameen. We'd completed our Orofino Riesling trio the other night; so, I figured it couldn't hurt to try a red as well. The two Roos didn't think BC wines were supposed to be a full as this.

Unfortunately, I don't get to add the bottle to The List this time around. With Orofino being one of my favourite wineries, I suppose I should be surprised that the '05 Merlot Cab was added to The List all the way back at #433. Still drinking good though.

1653.  2005 Pisano - EtXe Oneko Licor de Tannat (Uruguay)

The final bottle of the night was a surprise and a treat. Since Merlot Boy and Margarita arrived, I haven't been playing up World Cup entries to the blog much. This bottle was a tip of the cap to Uruguay's run at the 2014 Cup. They lost their Round of 16 playoff game to Colombia earlier in the day but their show was still worthy of a nightcap of a bottle.

This was a bottle that I'd been given at the Wine Blogger's conference last year in Penticton. Luckily, the Uruguayan producers had some bottles left at the end of the conference and I managed to score this rarity (at least to me) as they didn't (or couldn't) take everything with them.

Made from 100% Tannat grapes, the wine combines techniques from both Amarone and Port. The grapes are left to desiccate on the vine for an extra month before pressing. They were then fermented to a desired level of residual sugar and topped off with grape alcohol to stop the fermentation. A second batch of grapes that had been left even longer on the vine were then added to the fermentation tanks in whole clusters. After approximately six weeks, the wine was pressed off and barrel-aged for another six months. Rich, tasty, fruity, dark. Right up my alley.

And, again, that's from Tannat grapes. Not going to find many wines using this production method.

Hardly the equivalent of an Aussie sticky, we were all taking a big bite out of this Luis Suarez of a wine.

And on that happy note, we bid "good night" to Archer and each other. Wedding prep and bells were calling on the horizon.

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