Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Bonnet Parade

*Warning* Social Drinking Alert

Nothing really behind the "warning." I just realized, as I was setting up this post, that this one's really more about the event than the wine. Not that a lot of these posts aren't about the social aspect, but this one particularly features a bunch of gratuitous photos and not a lot of info on the wines.

Who really cares though? Surprisingly, this is the Year One anniversary of my first post for 2001 Bottles - A Wine Odyssey; I'm adding another two bottles to The List; and it's Easter. Social Drinking - seems like a given.

Family dinners at Easter have been around forever with our gang; however, a couple of years back, we tried a new activity that immediately morphed into a much anticipated tradition.

The making of the Easter Bonnet.

Everyone that comes to dinner is encouraged to join in the fun and construct a paper plate Easter Bonnet. They only have to be wearable for the briefest of picture opportunities but wit and adventure are highly admired.

Personally, I find that a glass or two of wine really helps to get the creative juices flowing.

402. 2008 Montes Cherub Rose of Syrah (D.O. Colchagua Valley - Chile)

If pink isn't appropriate for an Easter dinner, what is? It also didn't hurt that I've seen a number of higher end Montes wines hitting the Vancouver market and was wanting to try them. I hadn't enjoyed that possibility yet, but I thought this would be a great way to get started - both on the bonnet and on giving Montes a go.

The winery's website says that they decided to make their Rose from 100% Syrah grapes to allow for vivid colour and a bigger structure for a rose. These grapes are harvested from the winery's coastal vineyards, where the cooler temperatures allow for a longer ripening period which, in turn, allows the fruit flavours to fully develop but also helps maintain good acidity which goes a long way in a rose. The colour was vivid. No doubt about that and there was plenty of bright red berry fruit on the palate.

They also refer to Cherub as a "Vin d'Une Nuit." I hadn't heard the phrase before but it refers to the process of leaving the juice in contact with the skins for just one night of cold maceration.

All of the Montes wines seem to feature an angel on their respective labels. I'm not sure if the smile on my Mom's face was an effort to match the look of the cherub on the label, but the wine might have played a part in putting the smile there and it certainly matched nicely with the flowers in her tiara.

I don't know that I'd return to this Cherub over some of the other roses I've tried over the past year, but it disappeared quickly enough with this crowd.

As you can see with the evening's two favourite bonnets, the design components have advanced quite a bit after only three years. We even found that we were "forced" to introduce a rule whereby everyone is only allowed to bring along one unique item from the outside to feature on their chapeau. Voila, an Easter egg wreath and a stuffed bunny played prominent roles in the creation of a couple veritable works of art.

403. 2007 The Lucky Country Shiraz (Barossa Valley/McLaren Vale - Australia)

I won't go so far as to say the The Lucky Country is a "veritable work of art," but, once again, I was surprised to learn - after the bottle was long finished - that there was more to the wine than met the eye.

Turns out that The Lucky Country - much like Cherub - is an entry level wine for a high end producer. You won't find any mention of Two Hands on this bottle and The Lucky Country isn't to be found anywhere on Two Hands' website, but a good number of internet references point to the winery as being the producer. Two Hands is known as a premium winery that strives to highlight regional characteristics - particularly the diversity in Shiraz - with its small batch wines. I've only had one of their wines (see #147) but we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Unlike Two Hands' single region and single vineyard wines, The Lucky Country is a blend of Shiraz grapes from vineyards across the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale. Plus, it's sold at a fraction of the price of wines featuring the Two Hands label.

We were having too much fun with the bonnets to really pay that much attention to the wine profile. So, I guess I'll just have to grab another bottle down the road and give it another once over. I'd like to check the pedigree of this wine out against some other bottles in the same $20 range.

For the gang at hand, it wasn't too much of a surprise that the piece de resistance for the dinner was a birthday cake. Vixen and Skeletor worked a little magic and a whole lot more imagination into the dinner, I knew that my youngest niece was into baking but I didn't know that (with her mom's help) she had already graduated to fondant. And I definitely hadn't expected a cake in the shape of a wine bottle. It's not a bottle that we can officially add to The List but I think I can get away with an honourary addition -

403A. 19-something or other Bobby's Bunny Bubbles (VQ Chocolate - Port Coquitlam)

With an abundant taste of chocolate and grape fondant, a perfect way to end the evening and celebrate Year One of this blog.

Now to start planning next year's bonnet.

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