Monday, November 16, 2009

Giving Thanks

As much as I'd been dreading the moment, I woke up this morning to the realization that this was our final day on vacation. Come tomorrow, it was back to Vancouver and getting readjusted to heading back to work. Good thing our last day with Bella Jianna and Flyboy B. was going to feature Thanksgiving Dinner.

Back in her Kits Girls days, Bella Jianna was much loved for her regular scheduling of "Orphans' Dinners." A good number of the actual Kits Girls - and the guys that adored them - were transplants to VanCity. And whether they were from the Prairies, the East or farther afield, everyone was welcome to the Easter and Thanksgiving potluck dinners so that they wouldn't be alone at a time of family dinners.

We were hardly orphans now - more like old married couples - but there was a promise of a fine evening.

We still had a number of hours before dinner though, so we continued to enjoyed the leisurely pace of Sidney and the Saanich Peninsula, taking a walk on the waterfront, sipping back a latte and hitting a farmer's market (come grocer) to pick up dinner supplies. Picking out vegetables was about as potluck-y as this dinner was going to get though. Bella Jianna was so organized that there was nothing for us to do but relax - and eat.

230. 2004 Elephant Island Apple (Naramata - Okanagan)

Kiwi yesterday and apple today. We don't usually see so much fruit wine (not that grapes aren't fruit), but Bella Jianna had picked up this bottle during a trip to the Okanagan and thought that this was the perfect occasion to open it.

Not all fruit wines are declared or marketed with vintages - maybe because it seems that most of them are made for quick drinking and not aging. Elephant Island, however, sells a number of their still table wines in their portfolio with a vintage designation. I was pleasantly surprised to see that a 2004 wine was still as fresh as it was. It wasn't quite as bright and acidic as the current vintage would likely be, but you could definitely still taste the apple in the wine and it was a nice way to start the evening.

Bella Jianna's turkey had to be the best tasting bird that I remember digging into in many a year - if not ever. Her "trick" in the cooking process (if she really parted with the true secret) was to start by rubbing down the bird and roasting pan with olive oil. She then sprinkled chopped herbs that she just plucked from her garden and, finally, she added a couple cups of Chardonnay. The bird was continually basted with the wine through the roasting and the result was delectable!!

It's been a number of years since Boo and I have had the chance to share a Thanksgiving table with Jianna and Flyboy - and I'd been looking forward to it ever since we'd found out that our trip to the Island would allow us this pleasure. And a pleasure is exactly what we experienced - lots of reminiscing friends and moments from the year and years past.

231. 2007 Tantalus Riesling (VQA - Okanagan)

Another pleasure that I'd been looking forward to was opening this bottle of wine. Ever since Boo and I went to the BC Wine Appreciation Society Tantalus tasting earlier in the year, I'd been looking for an appropriate occasion for what I was hoping would be a special wine.

As noted on Tantalus's website, "it doesn't get any better in the wine world" than to get the approval of British wine writer Jancis Robinson - and Ms. Robinson has singled out Tantalus on at least two occasions. The first time, in 2007, she referred to Tantalus Riesling as the creme-de-la-creme of Canadian wine. That was the 2005 vintage but Tantalus's wines continue to impress year after year.

Tantalus has also been highly praised by internet wine star, Gary Vaynerchuk. He tried this 2007 vintage and, in his inimitable way, said that it was like "taking apples and rocks and making a salad out of it."

The wine does have a whack of acidity to it. So, if you're looking for an off-dry Riesling, this isn't your best bet. But there's still a lot of fruit evident here and I like it!

Turkey and Tantalus is a winner in my book.

I'd also be remiss if I didn't say that I think this bottle is also one classy package. I love the label and its prominent BC art.

232. NV Gaspereau Vineyard Reserve Port (Nova Scotia)

Just as I'd brought out the Tantalus as a wine to give thanks for, Bella Jianna told us before dinner that she was saving a special treat for dessert. In the summer of 2008, she had cycled across Canada and picked up this bottle after she'd reached her destination on shores of the Atlantic.

We had a great laugh when Boo and I told her that we'd visited the same winery when we'd visited the city of Halifax in 2006. If memory serves, we even bought a bottle of this Port as well. Before we made it to my namesake city, I didn't even know that there were wineries in Nova Scotia and the Maritimes. And here both Bella Jianna and we were impressed by the same wine. Small world.

I do rather wonder how long the winery will get away with calling this wine a "Port," particularly since it was entered into and won a gold medal at the International Taster's Guild Association competition. I think the Portugese will come calling should they catch wind of the winery. "Port" is a proprietary or trademark name that is supposed to be only available to wines from Portugal. None of our BC fortified wines go further than to call their wines "Port-styled."

All the same, the bottle was a lovely end to our evening. I couldn't find out much about the making of the wine; however, one site said that it was fortified with local maple syrup and L'Acadie brandy.

I think we had plenty to give thanks for.

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