Saturday, February 13, 2010

Let The Games Begin!!

So, after all these years and months of waiting, the Vancouver Winter Olympics are finally here. Now, I'll forewarn you, I've been an Olympics junkie since I was a wee lad. Back in the days when I collected stamps as a hobby (instead of blogging wine), I used to enter stamp competitions with Olympic-themed presentations. Suffice it to say, that I really have been waiting for the Games to arrive.

And arrive they did - in loud and varied ways. To start off, the Olympic Torch relay was going to pass within three blocks of our home. Considering the fact that I was lucky enough to carry the torch for the Calgary Games in 1988, I kinda had to take a bit of a break from work and head over to The Drive to take it in.

Now the Commercial Drive area isn't the most Games-friendly part of the city. I'd heard that there was also a protest planned on the route; so, I decided to try and see what was going to go down there. The "rabble" did succeed in turning the Torch off course by blocking the planned route with bodies and barbed wire, but I don't know how they're gauging their success on the larger scale - unless it was to disappoint the hundreds of school kids that were all lined up on the side of the street to see the Torch. The Run was delayed a bit but it simply continued on a parallel course a couple of blocks over.

It was quite amazing to see the difference a mile or two could make though. By happenstance, I crossed paths with the Torch while making my way back to work. The crowd here, however, was yelling in joy - instead of being dressed all in black with hoods and balaclavas.

Seeing as how it was still mid-morning, there was no wine in sight though. So I don't want to get to far off point with social commentary.

There was wine, however, at my next encounter with the Torch that day. Boo and I were scheduled to watch the Opening Ceremonies at a fundraiser for my niece, Stargirl's, upcoming trip to France. The pub was being set up with various events and many big screen TV's were promised. One of Stargirl's friend's actually ran in this Torch Relay and she brought along the torch that she carried in the run as a treat for the night. She posed for a great many pictures, including one with me wearing my old relay jacket from '88. Yes, it still fit - although I admit I'm not so sure the zipper would have stayed zipped for too long of a time.

Being at a pub though, I discovered that the selection of wines by the bottle was rather limited. Lots of beers and shooters, but wines, not so many. We did find one to get us through the Opening Ceremonies though.

360. 2006 Cheviot Bridge Long Flat Cabernet/Shiraz (South East Australia)

I think it's fair to say that the Long Flat series is pretty much a poster bottle for "pub wine." Cheviot Bridge bought the brand a few years back and the majority of its wines are produced through its virtual winery. Cheviot acquires bulk wine and/or already bottled wine from third party suppliers. However, the Long Flat label has been around for decades and it is still seen as "meritorious, both in terms of quality and price" according to noted Aussie wine writer, James Halliday. It can even be pointed out that the Long Flat wines still don't sport a cute-sy animal on the label either.

I actually have quite a fond memory of a bottle of Long Flat Red from years back as well. Shortly after Boo and I had met (and before we were a couple), I headed off to Australia for a couple of months. One night, while eating away alone in Alice Springs, I was doing my best to finish off a batch of postcards and a bottle of Long Flat Red. Boo's card was one of the last to be written (with the bottle being pretty much gone) and he was the lucky recipient of prose - the likes of which will likely never be seen again. As I recall, he could only chuckle at the catscratch writing and the terrible rhyming cadence that was forced to fit in "Boo" and "Roo" and "blue." Not sure if that card still exists anywhere or not, but it would definitely merit the opening of another bottle of Long Flat.

Despite the Opening Ceremonies being on full view at the pub, we didn't get the best of shows. I wanted to really take in the great performances by kd lang, Measha Brueggergrosman and the "We Are More" poet Shane Koyczan. So we watched a good portion of the ceremonies again when we got home - and opened another bottle of the Sumac Ridge Tribute. I'd picked up a bottle for the Opening Ceremonies, but Jeaux had already popped the cork on a similar bottle at the Olympic Dinner Club last weekend. Consequently, it's already on The List and can't be counted yet again, but that wouldn't stop us for m enjoying the bottle all the same.

I didn't really get a chance to talk about Tribute much with the other entry though. So, I will point out here that this is another bottle (like last week's Savee) where a foreign land (in this case Canada and the Okanagan Valley) has taken on Champagne and the Method Classique - even to the extent that the bottles are hand riddled to loosen and gather the dead yeast cells following the second fermentation of the wine. But this Tribute is a lot closer to its French cousins in that this is a 100% Chardonnay based bubbly - whereas the Savee was Sauvignon Blanc.

Sumac Ridge is one of the wineries owned by Vincor Canada which is the official supplier to the Olympic Games. Since this wine was launched as a commemorative bubbly to celebrate the Vancouver Games, every bottle of Tribute sold results in a donation to the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic teams - a bonus in my books.

Here's hoping that there are lots of opportunities to open a bottle to toast Canadian efforts and victories.

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