Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Little Planning en Blanc

It may cause all sorts of controversy and it even spawned an alternatively themed protest but, like it or despise it, Dîner en Blanc has established itself on the Vancouver social calendar over the last three years. It doesn't appear to be slowing down either as this year's fourth edition is set to light up the night in white with its largest gathering yet.

Knowing that there would have to be incredible energy and supreme inventiveness put into this year's plans, we figured we should have a gathering of the clan to puts some plans to paper. Naturally, Soolu brought along a Vodka punch to get those creative juices flowing.

Boo and I learned of the Parisian off-shoot too late to make it to the year one show but we've decked ourselves out in white for the last two years and done what we could to brighten up the scene. Once you've attended one of the grand affairs, you have the opportunity to invite two guests the following year. Boo and I grew to a foursome with Mr. D.  and Soolu last year and, this year, we're up to eight.

With our gaggle of gays being that large, we're hoping for more than a little fabulous and "Je ne sais quoi" at our table. After all, if Boo and I are, once again, going to be among the oldest folks in attendance, we have to bring just a little bit more to the table to show all those Millennials that being long in the tooth doesn't mean that you don't know your way around a soirée. We may no longer party until dawn with the post-dinner bash, but I'm going to argue that it's only because we're so stuffed after eating our extravagant meal.

The wine selection at Dîner en Blanc is limited - and uninspiring - at the lower end of the price range. So, we made up for lacklustre wines at the actual party by pulling the corks on some interesting wines tonight.

1961.  2012 Henry LaGarde Malbec (Mendoza - Argentina)

Despite my jones for all things Argentine, I can't recall having previously run across a Henry LaGarde wine. I don't know what kind of a presence they have in the Vancouver market but I don't think they even attended the Vancouver International Wine Festival the year that Argentina was one of the featured regions. That was in 2010 and we saw more Argentine wines that year than probably any other, ever.

Ah well, their Malbec is now on The List and the bottle didn't last long at all with this group. That should be no surprise, however, Malbec and dining al fresco just go hand-in-hand. The easy fruit just seems to slide out of the glass - much like how some of our group will be gunning to slide the pants off some of the bounty of strapping diners at the party.

1962.  2010 Les Halos de Jupiter - Rasteau (Côtes du Rhône Villages AOC - France)

1963.  2006 Black Hills - Nota Bene (Okanagan Valley VQA)

2008 Red Rooster Meritage

Once the BBQ was out of the way, I seem to have gotten more caught up in our planning session than I was in taking photos for the blog. I know. What's wrong with that picture? Well, the answer is that there is no picture of two of the evening's wines. I suppose you'll just have to take me at my word that the Nota Bene and Red Rooster empties were there during the next morning's clean-up.

Les Halos de Jupiter and its selection of Rhônes is gaining a bit of a following locally. I'm more familiar with their Châteauneuf-du-Pape but this Côtes du Rhône Villages is a welcome additional to the fold. I remember - from many, many years ago when I was just being introduced to wine - that I regularly reached for a Côtes-du-Rhône for picnics and the like. Funny how I'm still a fan.

I don't need to go into Black Hills much here since this is the sixth vintage of Nota Bene to be added to The List. Bottles from 2001 through 2005 are already listed. As one of the Okanagan Valley's icon wines, it seemed a natural to bring it out for some iconic Dîner planning.

The Red Rooster Meritage isn't as heralded as the Nota Bene but this wine did win a 2011 Lieutenant Governor's Award as one of the province's top wines and the winery certainly has as many of its wines mentioned on The List as any other because of Boo's and my long-time association with Red Rooster's Adopt-A-Row program. The 2008 Meritage has actually been added to The List in two formats since we've polished off a regular bottle and it was the wine that filled Boo's 3-Litre, 50th birthday bottle that we recently added at #1939. Hence, it doesn't get added again tonight.

1964.  2005 Château Rieussec 1er Grand Cru Classée (Sauternes AOC - France)

Once we'd divvied up the various courses and decided who was bringing what plates and service items, we settled into Boo's peach pie and a treat to toast this night and the big evening to come.

I don't pretend to know much about the First Growth wines of Bordeaux - at least not from a tasting standpoint. The price tag attached to a Château Margaux or Lafite Rothschild doesn't quite fit my budget - whether for Tuesday night or a special occasion. I think it's safe to say that I haven't met a Sauternes that I didn't like though and this one happens to be a Premier Cru (meaning that the winery was identified as one of the top wines in the Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855). Château Rieussec is still around today; however, it has changed hands a number of times since the 19th Century. The most recent sale, in 1984, saw Rieussec purchased by the Domaines Barons de Rothschild, owners of Château Lafite Rothschild. Different owners or not, it would seem that the "premier" classification is still being earned as the 2001 Château Rieussec was named Wine Spectator's Wine of the Year in 2004. Luckily, we picked this one up when Marquis, perhaps the city's top private wine shop, had some on sale.

If we can't drink such a bottle on the actual big night, we might as well do so when making our plans for the dinner.

Now, we just need to get all our ducks in a row. That is BBQ Duck and a row of cheeses for a final course.

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