Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Final Summer Picnic?

I keep saying that summer seems to be coming to an end and, then, we get another stretch of wonderful weather. Whether we're already into an Indian Summer or we're still hanging on to summer proper, C. and I took advantage of a beautiful Sunday and fit in another picnic. This wasn't exactly the summer of a thousand picnics, but I guess we're still ahead in the game if we fit some in.

Just as we had some trouble fitting in picnics this summer, it's taken us almost two months to finally get around to seeing the new Harry Potter movie - despite the best of intentions. It's only playing at a couple of theatres now, so we had to pick a picnic site that would allow us a relaxing nosh and still get us to Hogwart's on time.

194. Lillet (France)

This bottle isn't the standard table wine that has filled the majority of the spots on The List so far, but it is a wine-based aperitif and, what's more, I love it and that alone should put it on The List.

Lillet is a blend of wine (about 85%) and fruit liquer and has been in production since 1887 although it has seen a few re-jiggings of the formula over the years, the most recent having been in the 1980's. Lillet has seen its popularity in the cocktail scene rise and fall and it has travelled through the trend-setting centres of Paris, London and New York as the "It Drink" on more than one occasion. It has also generated its share of reference points in pop culture - appearing on Broadway with Sandra Bernhard and as a cocktail of choice by none other than noted epicure Hannibal Lecter.

My favourite reference point though is that it's a component in the classic James Bond martini, the Vesper, named after James' love interest in Casino Royale. Both the Sean Connery and the Daniel Craig versions recite the recipe of 3 parts gin, 1 part vodka, 1/2 part Lillet and slice of lemon peel. You decide if it's to be shaken or stirred.

To be honest, we generally use it in martinis ourselves - but that will have to be another blog. Today it was simply a summer aperitif on the Seawall and it was delicious. Too bad this will be its only mention during our Wine Odyssey. It's not a vintage wine. So, I can't come back to it and count it as a new, unique wine. Won't stop me from enjoying it though. In fact, we didn't finish off the bottle and I'm having a little sip as I complete this post.

Just as we moved on from the Lillet to some wine and the picnic, who should come sauntering along the Seawall, walking her pooch, but RoZee. Not having seen her for a couple of years, we see her twice in a month since she'd joined us for the Kits Girls dinner the other week. Seems that she's crossed False Creek and the confines of Kits to set up shop in Yaletown. We were dining in her new back yard, so to speak.

Good thing our picnic bag had an extra glass in it. We could offer her a quick sip before she continued on her tour du jour.

195. 2004 Santa Rita Triple C (Valle del Maipo - Chile)

This bottle held a bit of surprise for us - after the fact, of course. We were in a bit of rush when leaving for the picnic and I pretty much just grabbed a bottle off the rack and didn't put a lot of thought into what I'd chosen. We were pleasantly surprised with the wine as it was more refined and complex than we're used to with most Chilean wines.

A good proportion of the wines making The List are a winery's entry level offerings. That's just where our budget and every day habits lead us. Triple C, however, is one of Santa Rita's (and Chile's) premium wines. I don't quite remember how the bottle ended up on our wine rack since I'm not known to lay out $50 for a Chilean wine - but it's a good thing that we opened it on a decent occasion.

Santa Rita has been in the wine business since 1880 (pretty much the same pedigree as Lillet) and it has grown into the second largest land-owning winery in Chile. It was
one of the pioneering wineries when it came to planting the noble, European varietals and the winery has holdings in all the major wine-producing regions of the country - all of which allows it to offer a variety of products, varietals and styles.

Triple C, itself, is a blend of classic Bordeaux grapes grown in the premier Maipo region. It's comprised of 55% Cabernet Franc, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Carmenere; hence, the Triple C.

As much as we could have lounged a bit longer and enjoyed the world passing by, we had to go and help Harry battle He Who Must Not Be Named.

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