Monday, March 1, 2010

Canadian Rocks are golden

So, it's the final weekend of the Vancouver 2010 Games. The downtown streets are jammed with people wearing red, white and black and, you know, everyone is in a pretty darned good mood. Any concerns about Vancouverites not taking up the cause and joining in with the party has long passed - particularly since the Canadian team has been on a bit of a roll with the medal count of late. Yippee.

I don't think I'm overstating anything when I say that the marquis event at these Games - at least now that Canada will be playing - is the Men's Hockey gold medal game. But, that's tomorrow. Today is the Men's Curling final and Boo and I are greatly invested in that game as well. The Canadian Women's team lost their chance at a gold medal last night on two final shots. Heartbreaker. So, today's game will, hopefully, have a happier ending.

We decided to have a bit of a party to watch the big game since Merlot Boy is in town. It'd be a chance for some friends, who hadn't caught up with him yet, to eat, drink and be merry while our Canadians and the Norwegians play "harder" and try to finesse their rocks. Merlot Boy is playing coy, but we really think that his loyalties lie with the checkered pants of his cute Norwegian skip. He'd best not be too vocal about it around here though.

It also just happened that tonight is "Open That Bottle Night." The concept is the brainchild of the former wine columnists for the Wall Street Journal, John Becher and Dorothy Gaiter. In 2000, they wrote on the topic of how many folks have one or more special bottles of wine hidden away in a closet or cellar - waiting for just that special occasion to open it. Somehow that extraordinary occasion often takes longer than expected and many of those special bottles, unfortunately, go off. Becher and Gaiter urged everyone to make an exceptional event out of nothing - make the wine the centrepiece of the event - open that bottle, with or without friends, just for the thrill and the memory of it.

We let everyone coming to the party know that this would be a perfect opportunity for them to open that bottle with us. I was getting giddy with the thought of the bottles that could potentially be added to The List.

The guest list and their enjoyment of the grape ranged from Tyrant and his fabulous cellar to my sis, Vixen, who generally finishes off any bottles that are in her house within hours of them arriving there. The assortment of wines went all over the map. But, we also had to pace ourselves because the curling game started at 3.00 pm and Boo wouldn't be getting home from work until around 8.00.

Because of that last point, I didn't drink every wine that graced our counter. I don't even have pictures of all the bottles that were finished off, but I do confess that I at least indulged myself of part of all the wines being added to The List.

379. 2006 R Wines Boarding Pass Shiraz (South Australia)

From the same folks that bring us Bitch Grenache and Evil Cab Sauv, I had to take a second look when Mr. Cool opened this bottle. The packaging was such that I thought that it might have been a home-brew, but the label is made to look like a boarding pass. I think R Wines makes fine , tasty entry levels wines - and they have an incredible sense of humour and marketing savvy. Staying in theme with this Boarding Pass, they even have a higher end wine that they call "First Class." It's like a quick flight Down Under - very appropriate given Merlot Boy's impromptu visit here.

380. 2005 Kettle Valley Rock Oven Red (Okanagan Valley)

381. 2005 Laughing Stock Vineyards Portfolio (OkanaganValley)

These two were opened to keep in with our Olympic theme of honouring wine-producing countries that won gold medals the previous day. Our kids won two - so, why not hail our champions with two of the big blends coming off the Naramata Bench.

Kettle Valley has generally been known for its love of big, extracted (if not necessarily the most finessed) wines and their Rock Oven Red is a Cab/Shiraz blend that delivers. I don't think there was any deliberate thought to the fact that the name evokes the rocks from the curling ice and the red that everyone was wearing in support of the team. Who'd have been that calculated?

Laughing Stock came out of the blocks with guns blazing in 2003 and their Portfolio Meritage almost immediately became one of the most collectible wines from the Okanagan Valley. The 2005 vintage features all five of the Bordeaux varietals with Merlot forming the backbone at 59%.

382. NV La Fiole du Pape Pere Anselme (AOC Chateauneuf-du-Pape - France)

I can't believe that I didn't get a shot of this bottle for the blog with Bittr & Sweet. It's such a unique package - down to the fake cellar dust. Luckily, it's one of the Chateauneuf-du-Pape's that sees the highest sales in the world. It's all over the web; so finding a picture of the bottle was no task. I find it interesting that Pere Anselme is sold as a non-vintage wine. Their idea is to keep a continual blend of vintages as they become available to keep the flavour profile the same year after year. The wine is predominantly Grenache-based; however, the Pere Anselme isn't as fruit forward as many of the newer fruitier Chateauneuf-du-Poofs that my sister accusing us of having a hankering for.

383. 1997 Elderton Shiraz (Barossa Valley - Australia)

Without fail, the Tyrant came through with another oldie, but goodie, from his cellar. Unlike the rest of us, he was actually buying wines back when this 1997 was readily available and laying them down. Consequently, he's at the point where he needs to drink some of these older vintages before they're past their prime. He needs more Drink That Bottle Nights in his life (and we're just the guys to help him out of his predicament). Since he was actually at the Gold Medal Curling match, it was great that he came by afterwards and brought some big guns to boot. Although most online sites think that this wine was at its peak a couple of years back, it still had plenty of verve for our liking - still lots of fruit and complexity.

384. 2004 Chateau du Trignon Sablet (AOC Cotes-du-Rhone Villages - France)

Lady Di was in her full pin glory. That girl had more pieces of Olympic metal that anyone I know, outside of the folks on the street selling and trading pins as a living. She'd clearly stayed passionate about her pin collecting throughout the Games and she was thrilled to see our own little pin-queen, Boo's, jaw drop when he saw her all decked out.

When not collecting pins nowadays, she's been on a bit of a French bistro cooking jag and we benefited - not only from her stove-top contributions to the dinner - but to another bottle from the Rhone. Sablet is a village in the Southern Rhone and this CDR Villages bottle is a bit of a "baby" Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Had we paid a little more attention to the bottles that had arrived, we could have tasted it at the same time as the Pere Anselme. Alas, mon frere, there was no Pere left - anywhere - to compare it with.

The game was hardly a walkover for the Canadian rink. Merlot Boy's favourite pants put up a grand effort, but the gold stays with us Canucks. We'll just have to wait and see if I've picked up any of the stellar shot-making or strategies by osmosis as our curling league starts up again next week.

Great game. Great wine. Great friends. This is what this blog is meant to be all about.

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