Wednesday, July 2, 2014

An Aussie Touch to Canada Day

It might be not quite as celebrated as our Christmas Dine Around but the Canada Day BBQ has now become a reliable tradition in the neighbourhood as well. Not only is it a great opportunity to kibbutz with the gang but, because we're able to congregate outside as well as in, we can expand our numbers over our December do. The BBQ allows neighbours from up the block to join us, provides an opportunity for travelling Aussies to join in and gives us a chance to catch up some some old buds who have up and moved away.

The latter folks may have abandoned us on a day-to-day basis but there's one or two that we still like enough to invite back to the hood.

So long as they bring a potluck item and some booze.

1662.  2012 Red Rooster Pinot Gris (VQA Okanagan Valley)

1663.  2008 La Frenz Rattlesnake Vineyard Merlot (Naramata Bench - Okanagan Valley)

It may well have been Canada Day but Boo and I seemed to be the only ones that brought along Canadian wines. I always say that I enjoy seeing what other folks bring along to the party - probably because there are often some interesting and/or surprising choices.

Red Rooster and La Frenz wines are certainly no surprise as additions to The List. Both have been producing enjoyable wines on the Naramata Bench for years now - and Boo and I still participate in the Adopt-A-Row program that Red Rooster promotes. As such, we kind of have a bottle or two of their wines around. Our row at Red Rooster may be planted with Malbec grapes but we're equal opportunity drinkers when it comes to their wines. So, the Pinot Gris called out as a wine for the sun and fun. Since this was a party for neighbours, I figured I'd grab a bottle of La Frenz as well since they're just down the road from Red Rooster on the Bench. With this one, I figured I should give our in transit Aussie, Merlot Boy, an idea of what BC Merlot can be like. He did not turn down a second glass.

I think both wineries are fine ambassadors for BC and Canadian winemakers.

1664.  2012 Barone Montalto - Nero d'Avola Cabernet Sauvignon (Sicily IGT - Italy)

With Boo's pulled pork in good supply and Mr. Principled grilling sausages left, right and centre, it's probably a good thing that someone brought along a big ol' Sicilian red. Our neighbourhood may not exactly be the Little Italy that it was decades ago but I'm sure there's been more than a few botti's worth of Italian wines thrown back in the immediate vicinity.

I didn't know this producer at all but it's interesting to see more Sicilian wines showing up in our market. It'll be even more interesting to see if that new stream of wines sticks to Sicily's indigenous grapes - like Nero d'Avola - or if more of the international grapes start showing up in their wines, either as varietal wines or blends.

One thing that you can pretty well be guaranteed about at our neighbourhood events is that there won't be a shortage of food. We rather tend to take the word "potluck" to mean "keep eating because with any luck you won't notice any increase in the size of your pot belly." From salads to corn on the cob to cupcakes and sweets, we can pretty much be assured of pleasing vegetarian, kosher and carnivorous diets.

We haven't quite mastered the All Canada, All Dance party playlist yet, but we do serve up everything from Stan Rogers through kd lang and from Bublé to Arcade Fire. Not to mention the old Hockey Night in Canada theme song.

1665.  2012 19 Crimes - Shiraz Durif (Victoria - Australia)

If I had to guess (which I don't), I'd put a couple bucks on the fact that our 2Kangaroos brought along the 19 Crimes. Merlot Boy hadn't run across this wine back home in Oz and he was intrigued by what the label was marketing to Canadians: that many of the new settlers to Australia were criminals.

As if we didn't know all of that already.

Canada Day or not, I'm always in favour of an Aussie Shiraz. If I can send a few bucks down their way, so be it. Anything, you know, to build on our two countries' great friendship.  Besides, what goes better with a slab of barbecued meat than some juice from Down Under? That, and a big, fruity wine is just an epitome of our buddy, Merlot Boy.

I'm sure there must have been a few other wines served up during the day but these four were the only ones that I got around to trying. Since July 1st fell on a Tuesday this week, I was going to need to be at work bright and early in the morning and, therefore, needed to behave.

Besides, if there wasn't enough wine already, there was a full array of craft beers that made their way to the party as well. And, as good a boy as I might have been striving to be, I'm hardly going to turn down an opportunity to try a taste of what's in 49th Parallel's Banana Hammock.

And, on that happy was time to lower the flag and head off to catch a few winks.

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