Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Innchanter

Following our hike back from the hot springs, Boo and I had to hope a bit that the wine wasn't going to play a big part in our negotiating the kayaks back to the Boat & Breakfast. I can definitely count the number of times that I've been in a kayak on my fingers and getting in and out from a dock isn't the easiest thing I've ever tried - in the best stages of sobriety.

Luckily there was no mishap on the waters and the hot springs remained my only bath once we'd left the luxury that was Long Beach Lodge.

The Innchanter is a different type of luxury. You'd be hard pressed to think of it as a converted 1920's heritage vessel when roaming about or lounging around on the ship. There are five converted state rooms and the common lounge and dining room are wonderfully appointed and comfortable.

Being as cozy and isolated as it is, your stay can be easily heightened, or lowered, by the other guests. On both this visit and one a number of years ago, we've met some interesting folks who's company we've thoroughly enjoyed. I don't think this is the type of accommodation that will enthral everyone, but it works for us.

And then, there's our host with the most, Shaun. He's the glue that keeps the place together and you won't find many people as interesting as he is. A world traveller, galley whiz and raconteur extraodinaire, Shaun and The Innchanter act as a central hub for the cove - there's a steady stream of boats, planes and visitors. A couple days will only allow a bare scratching of the surface.

While waiting for the evening's dinner, we figured we deserved a cocktail after a day of boating, hiking and soaking. So, we wandered up to the top deck to watch the sunset and talk adventures with another couple of the guests.

Once the dinner bell rang, we joined up with the balance of our shipmates in the dining room that was a great renovation from our previous visit - a new, roaring fireplace adding comfort for all.

222. 2003 Nichol Vineyard St. Laurent (Naramata Bench - Okanagan)

St. Laurent is not a proprietary name of one of Nichol's wines. Rather, it is a varietal - albeit, not a very common one. The grape is primarily grown in Austria, but Nichol is one of a few Canadian wineries that grow and vinify the varietal.

I saw an article from an Ontario winemaker's association newsletter that the original Nichol owners were given St. Laurent vines by a BC government grape specialist - on the condition that the Nichols make cuttings available to anyone that asked for them. Apparently, not many have asked - although a few Ontario winemakers have made attempts at growing the grape.

St. Laurent is the offspring of Pinot Noir and a little seen white grape called Gouais and has many flavour characteristics of its daddy, Pinot Noir. In fact, I recall ordering a bottle in a restaurant once and the waiter actually said that it was Pinot Noir - and that was after going into the back to check with other staffers.

If you guessed that this was a bottle that Boo and I had brought with us, you'd be correct. The Innchanter had a few wines available for its guests, but Nichol is not a winery that seems to be readily found in this neck of the woods.

It did us fine as exchanged tales over the dinner table and, eventually, wandered off below deck to see how the floating bedroom might gently rock us to sleep.

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