Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thrills, Chills, No Spills

This is a bit of an interesting entry because it's going to take a number of venues and events into account all at once. The picture above was from the Thrill The World annual dance. I'd heard about the zombie event which is staged simultaneously around the world - when everyone starts dancing the choreography from Michael Jackson's Thriller at the same time.

Since I was heading downtown for dinner that night anyhow, I thought it would be great to check it out. I was NOT disappointed! There must have been close to 250 zombies, in all degrees of costume, rocking the show. If I hadn't headed there on my own, it would have been an incredible spot to add a blood red wine to The List.

The wine didn't happen, but I did think that it would be amazing to take part next year.

Rather, the wine had to wait until I arrived at Tyrant's happy little condo. He had asked a couple of the old fraternity brothers over for cocktails before dinner because, Kavanator, one of the University Arizona Dekes that we've known for years was in town for a brief visit.

Turns out that Tyrant didn't wait very long to open one of the bottles that we'd picked up the other weekend while on the Naramata Bench.

239. 2007 Marichel Syrah (Naramata)

I hadn't expected to add this wine to The List so quickly. Marichel Vineyard was one of the wineries that Tyrant, Taylor and I visited the other week in Naramata. I guess Tyrant picked up a few more bottles than I did and he felt that he could open the first tonight - to our distinct benefit.

I'll find another time to talk more about Richard and Elisabeth Roskell and their winery. I first came across them at the Naramata Bench Spring Release Party a couple of years back. It was their first vintage and we found them to be one of the "finds" of the night. I'd been looking forward to actually visiting the winery and being able to buy some of their wine.

Finding their wine may always be a task. Their intent is to only produce wine from the grapes grown on their estate of 7 1/2 planted acres (with perhaps a few supplemental grapes from their neighbours on the Bench). They only grow two Rhone varietals - Syrah and Viognier - and their goal is to produce a BC Syrah that will both reflect the Bench's terroir and make people take notice at the same time. They doubt that they'll ever exceed production of a thousand cases and they were completely sold out of the Viognier when we visited. We managed to pick up some of the remaining Syrah though.

The limited amount of wine plays a big role in the price of $44. So, it may never be your everyday house wine - even if it were readily available. But, it was grand of the Tyrant to break out this big red for us to enjoy before heading out for dinner.

Once we'd polished off the Marichel, we moved on for dinner. Luckily, we didn't have too far to go that night. The skyline is a picture from the Tyrant's balcony and we were heading to Lift, the restaurant that just happens to be the building in the bottom right corner of the photo. I'd never been before and was looking forward to seeing what it was like.

240. 2006 Edge Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa - California)

With eight of us at the table, the dishes being ordered went all over the map. Choosing a wine to match everything wasn't going to be easy - particularly with a lot of fish on the menu. So, we just went with a bottle we were pretty sure that we could enjoy, with or without the accompanying food.

The Tyrant is a West Vancouver boy and, as it happens, so is one of the original folks behind this Napa Cab. Edge started out as a side project of Ray Signorello and three of his boyhood friends. The idea was to produce a premium Napa Valley Cab at non-Napa prices.

Their website says that 2006 saw an addition of about 12% Merlot to the Cab to help smooth out the wine. Not being a regular tippler of Napa Cabs, I'll never be the one to say how whether this bottle has the edge over its competition in value and price but it didn't take us long to polish off a couple of bottles.

Dinner topics went all over the map; however, there was no end of checking up on the score to see just how badly Kavanator's beloved Wildcats were losing on the football field. Not only did he have to put up with the American jokes but his team was getting trounced. He may well have been happy to see the last wine bottle empty so that we'd all pick up and move out.

Moving out, however, simply meant heading on back to Tyrant's - where there was more wine at non-restaurant prices. We were pretty good to our host though. With work for some and travel plans for others, we only drank a quick night cap from his cellar.

241. 2002 Paradise Ranch Late Harvest Chardonnay/Riesling (VQA Okanagan)

Paradise Ranch is a bit of a rarity in that it is one of only three wineries in Canada (at least as of last year) that only make Icewines and Late Harvest wines.

Reading from John Schreiner's writings, there appears to have been a fair bit of change happening with the winery over the decade since it was established - ownership, production levels and even having an estate vineyard or production facililites. But, then, pinning your business hopes on making your premium product one that requires good growing conditions during the spring and summer and then minus 8 degrees C. temperatures before you can harvest, doesn't necessarily lend itself to continuously restful sleeps.

This was a Late Harvest, as opposed to an Icewine, so the -8 temperatures weren't required, but favourable growing conditions are still needed in order to allow the "sweetness and varietal flavours to intensify."

I'm a real sucker for dessert wines and this was a fine way to end my evening. I don't know how many of the boys stuck around after Boo and I left or how much trouble they got into, but, hopefully, The List didn't suffer too much from our "early" departure.

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