Sunday, March 15, 2015

Farewell Grasshopper

A toast of wine. A whole whack of fond memories. A few faces not seen for decades. How unfortunate that it often takes a memorial gathering to bring such elements together.

Such was the case today when I joined with a whole collection of the guys (and a few gals) from university days to celebrate the sudden passing of our friend Andy. The flood of memories was a wonderful tribute to Grasshopper - as he was then called. While no one could have forgotten his cheerfulness and enthusiasm, I had forgotten his perpetual sporting of our rugby jersey and his love of food, food and more food.

Andy so enjoyed cooking and entertaining that his teenaged daughter recounted how her younger brother had asked their mom, "How are we ever going to eat now? Dad did all the cooking."

I think my favourite story of the day though was from another old university friend of Andy's. She recounted how, one day, the two of them were driving along and were cut off by some terrible driving. As they both swore, Becks joked that the driver must have been Asian. Being Chinese himself - and not about to let her get away with that - he responded, "Or a woman." In an effort to see who was right, they caught up to the other car to catch a glimpse of the driver - it was a Chinese woman - and they both laughed hysterically for the rest of the drive.

There were a whole lot of reminiscences being shared that day.

1878.  2013 Gray Monk Latitude 50 White (Okanagan Valley VQA)

Having had to pick wines for my Mom's memorial gathering a few years back, it was interesting to see what the choices were. I can't say that I would have thought of this bottle myself, but I think the Gray Monk Latitude 50 was a good pick for a large, casual gathering this this was. Predominantly Riesling with Gewürztraminer, Bacchus and Muller-Thurgau completing the blend, it's an accessible, easy-drinking wine that pairs up well with reception-style nibblies and stand-around storytelling.

It's a different - but eye-catching label - that was introduced a couple of years ago as the Latitude 50 wine was hitting its third decade of production. As winery matriarch, Trudy Heiss, proclaimed with the new label, it's the "Same great Latitude but with new attitude!" The name comes from the physical location of the vineyard. A friend of the family, knowledgable in geography, told them that the vineyard was "three minutes and nineteen seconds north of the 50th Latitude (each minute equaling one nautical mile or 1.85 kilometres)." Gary Monk is almost as far north as BC wineries currently lay down their roots but it's still at the same level of latitude as some of Germany's most famous vineyards.

During all the tales, I recalled a weekend with boys canoeing up Indian Arm. Grasshopper had a bit of an experience with some Lemon Gin. I don't know if he ever touched the stuff again. Don't think I saw any at the reception.

Here's to you my friend. Skoal!

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