Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cool Sips Outside

Back in September, we made a stop at my brother, Ron's, memorial bench at Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park. We took advantage of a sunny December day to visit again. Sunny, yes, but cold as all get out. You can actually see Lost Lagoon starting to freeze over. Incorporating the chill seemed a natural for our little seasonal tune...

"For our Second Wine of Christmas, my true love drank with me,
Cool Sips Outside."

284. 2004 Domaine la Barroche Pure (Chateauneuf-du-Pape AOC - France)

I've never tried this wine (or producer) before, but I certainly want to again! I was tipped off to this bottle by the fine folks at Marquis and they hit the mark with it.

Domaine la Barroche is a family effort, led by the youthful (still under 30) Julien Barrot. His family has been growing grapes in these vineyards for many years; however, his father has always sold the grapes to local negoiciants. Julien decided to produce his own wines and has made a name for himself, as an up-and-comer, right from the initial 2003 vintage. All the big names have lavished big scores on his three wines and, indeed, Robert Parker (wine arbiter extraordinaire) annointed the 2005 vintage of this wine a 100-point bottle.

The wine is 100% Grenache which is rather unusual for Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Grenache is almost always a central component of CdP, but it is usually blended with at least some of the other dozen grapes that are allowed to go into the wine under appellation law. My French will never fool anyone who actually speaks the language, but I gleaned enough from the winery's website to understand that, with this wine, M. Barrot strives for an authenticity a purity of place and of the Grenache varietal. The grapes are grown on a small parcel of 100 year old vines and the winery looks to grow them in as natural an environment, with as little intervention, as possible.

At $75, it has to be a very special occasion for us - and today seemed appropriate. We've taken to decorating Ronnie's bench at Christmas to add a little seasonal colour to the landscape. My brother might well have found things a little more festive with an abundance of vodka, but hey, he'll likely have to settle for wine until we've reached our goal on The List. The wind actually blew over one small glass, so Ron did get a sip of his own.

It was incredibly fortunate that the sun was in its full glory, but the cold air and wind sure made for some quick sipping. As much as this beauty was rich and full of raspberry on the nose and the palate, our hands had to be out of our pockets to actually hold a glass. We finished our decorating, enjoyed a quick glass and saved the balance for that evening - where it wasn't chilled like champagne and opened up to its full effect.

We did have to wait a bit for the sun to fully hit the bench for our picture though. So, we took a brief tour along the lagoon path where we encountered our preening friend. We'll never know whether he was trying to get our attention for a sip of the wine or attract one of the lady swans for a little nookie. But we thought the picture might come in handy - too bad we weren't already drinking for our seventh verse in our little wine tune.

My sister, Vixen, is going to be disappointed that she missed out on both the decoration and the Pure. She's quite partial to a nice Chateauneuf-du-Pape when she with us. She's asked for a little Chateauneuf-du-Poof, as she calls it, on more than one occasion. We'll have to remember her if I try another bottle from Dme. la Barroche, but she might have to wrestle us for the glass. It was that good.

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