Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Bubbly Birthday

Jeaux and I go back a long ways. So, to some extent, it grieves me to see her hit one of those landmark birthdays. It just reminds me of how old I'm getting! A gentleman would never divulge a lady's true age, so I'll just leave you with the knowledge that we've been pals for well over half the years she's been making everyone smile - and we're into decades of friendship.

Over those years, there have been some pretty spectacular memories - Toronto, New Orleans, university escapades. Some of the best times have involved hefty, hefty fines, dacquiri bashes, impromptu opera in the kitchen and Mel Gibson's nipples (but back in his cuter, less controversial, days). And, truly, I suppose it's a wonderful thing that "What happens in N'Awlins, Stays in N'Awlins."

But tonights it's the Kits Yacht Club and a night of bubbly. I don't know if it was on purpose, but Jeaux's drink of choice for the evening was Prosecco - and it matches her sparkly and bubbly personality perfectly.

Not only did we eat, laugh, dance to old disco and enjoy the Vancouver skyline, but I get to add another three bottles to The List.

407. NV Graham Beck Brut Rose (South Africa)

The first wine of the night wasn't even a Prosecco, but I was lucky enough to be standing right by Jeaux when they popped the cork on a bottle of Cap Classique. Prosecco or Spanish Cava is often the wine of choice when your budget doesn't quite fit an evening's worth of classic Champagne, but this South African sparkler is known as another great stand-in. One of Jeaux's many friends had the where-with-all to bring it along.

I've never had Graham Beck before, but it's a neat coincidence that I was just trying to find some Cap Classique - to no avail - last month. And apparently this is a good one to find. Made in the same method as classic Champagne, England's wine goddess, Jancis Robinson, has said that Graham Beck is "virtually South African for fine fizz." One of its claims to fame is that the Brut (not this Rose) was served at the installation of Nelson Mandela as South African President.

The winery website says that the Rose is a blend of 55% Chardonnay and 45% Pinot Noir grapes and is sourced from three of the winery's different regional holdings in Robertson, Franschhoek and Stellanbosch. The winery itself is located outside the city of Robertson in the Western Cape. Graham Beck isn't quite as old as Jeaux, it was only started in 1983, but I hope it's around for many years to come because I'll definitely keep my eye open for more of this Classique. I couldn't find the actual cost of the bottle but I see that the Brut is $25. I should think that a Rose might be a bit more expensive, but it doesn't take too much imagination to see the bargain compared to Champagne prices.

408. NV Nino Franco Rustico (DOC Prosecco di Valdobbiadene - Veneto - Italy)

For Boo's and my contribution to the Prosecco bar, I brought along the Rustico. This is another wine that I'd never heard of; however, I figured there'd be quite a selection of the regular Prosecco's that can be found in VanCity, so I Googled "Best Prosecco Vancouver" and I saw a couple postings with folks talking about Nino Franco. I was rather pleased to find a bottle at our local provincial shop.

I was even more pleased to taste what was inside the bottle. Creamy and slightly sweet, this is definitely a Prosecco that I would return to again and again. I saw on the winery website that they have a number of different wines - including single vineyard Prosecco, which is something I don't think I've seen before. I don't think that our government stores carry the other labels, but if they're as good as this $25 bottle, I'd definitely give them a try.

409. NV. Bastianich Flor Prosecco (Veneto - Italy)

The final bottle that I was intimate with this evening was a new label to our market. A veritable youngster by Italian winery standards - it was established in 1997 - Bastianich is a "relatively small producer." It appears that only 1000 cases of Flor is produced; so, it's a tad surprising that you can find it in our market. But, here it is.

The "Bastianich" in the winery name is Joeseph Bastianich who is the "more silent" business partner of celebrity Iron Chef and restauranteur, Mario Batali. Bastianich started up the winery with his mother to fulfill a lifetime dream. Although the winery follows the appellation rules in making their Prosecco, the winery is located outside of the boundaries set for the Prosecco di Valdobbiadene DOC, so we don't see such labelling on the bottle.

Maybe it was because I was eating birthday cake by the time we got around to tasting this bottle, but I didn't find that I like it quite as much as I did the Rustico. The Flor seemed a little sweeter, not quite as rich and maybe a little more "populist" - like it was made for a real mainstream market - but it was still worthy of toasting Jeaux's big day.

No doubt, celebrating one of our birthdays in years past might have meant more beer than wine or tequila over Prosecco, but, then, we used to be able to recover from hard nights a whole lot easier that we can nowadays. I'm just happy that we're still having as much fun as we are and that there'll hopefully be plenty more toasts to each other down the road.

Happy Happy!

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