Sunday, November 22, 2009

Back to the Bench

I've mentioned a couple of times in previous posts that Boo and I have "adopted" a row as part of a marketing program that Red Rooster winery offers. I think it's quite a savvy program where the "parents" adopt a row at the winery. It's hardly a step in the direction of owning a winery, but it might as close as most of us will ever get. Then there are perks as well. Not only do the adoptive parents receive a yearly case of wine and special offers at the tasting room, but the winery also hosts two events a year - a pruning party in the Spring and a harvest party in the Fall.

It's the latter event that I made my way up to. Unfortunately for him, Boo had to work this weekend, but The Tyrant and Taylor, another couple of friends, were headed up for the party so I tagged along with them.

Following the afternoon drive up the Coquihalla, we arrived in Naramata with just enough time to settle into our accommodation on the Bench and head over to the winery for an informal mixer. There was a tasty spread of hors d'oeuvres and four of the wienry's latest wine offerings. Since we didn't actually commandeer and drink a bottle by ourselves, I'm not adding one to The List; however, the boys and I did carry on back at the house for a bit after the soiree started to wind down.

234. 2008 Oyster Bay Merlot (Hawkes Bay - New Zealand)

It might seem a little sacrilegious to be drinking New Zealand wine in the heart of BC wine country, but, hey, it's always good to see what the competition is up to. In Vancouver, Oyster Bay is one of the better known Kiwi producers but - like most things vinous and Kiwi - they are better known for their Sauvignon Blanc.

Normally operating out of the Marlborough district on the South Island, with this Merlot, Oyster Bay has expanded its reach and started operations on the North Island at Hawkes Bay.

It might be an interesting move on Oyster Bay's part, but I wonder if this wine has the chops to take on BC's Merlot - particularly since it is being marketed as a cool climate wine. The Okanagan may be a long way from determining if certain varietals are THE choice to grow in the region, but Merlot is certainly an early favourite among the reds. We didn't have any problem downing this bottle, but I don't know that it intrigued me enough to give up on the homegrown bottles.

235. 2005 Poplar Grove Cabernet Franc (Naramata - Okanagan)

When talking homegrown bottles that can draw you in and keep you wanting more, there's no doubt that Poplar Grove is in the forefront. Tyrant treated us to one that he's had in the cellar for a bit. Cab Franc has been a specialty for Poplar Grove almost since the beginning of the winery in 1993. In BC, we probably see the varietal used more in Meritage blends, but Poplar Grove is one of the few, and one of the best, at producing a straight Cab Franc varietal wine.

At $40, this isn't your standard Tuesday night burger wine, but this was a bit of a special occasion. It's not every weekend we get a road trip into wine country. And, then, we were going to need a bit of fortitude for the next day's work in the field. If nothing else, this wine has some fortitude and it seemed a fitting finish before hitting the sack.

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