Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Multi-Layered Dinner Club

Excitement may have been mounting for the World Cup - particularly for this blog and my World Cup of Wine playdowns - but our first "match" will have to wait a bit because tonight Lady Di and She Who Must Be Obeyed are hosting the Dinner Club gang. These evenings are always awash in wine, but it's the Lady's party - and menu - so, she played head sommelier and suggested the wines we were to bring for the evening. There was to be no commandeering of the wine list by me for my little soccer games.

Luckily for us, the weather actually cooperated and we were able to enjoy the repast al fresco in the girls' lush patio. As we started nibbling on a trio of tasty hors d'oeuvres, the Lady brought out one of her favourite bottles and it starts off our new additions to The List.

479. 2007 Joie - A Noble Blend (Okanagan Valley)

Could there have been a better start to the evening? An (almost) summer evening, a garden setting and one of BC's signature white blends. Since the winery opened in 2004, this aromatic blend of Germanic varietals looked to take advantage of some of the oldest vines in the Okanagan. Taking a shot at producing big reds might have been the flavour of the day for BC wineries, but the white varietal vines had already been in place for years and were well-established and producing wonderful fruit.

The lady might have brought out a magnum but it didn't last long with our crowd and her assortment of bruschetta, beef sates and filo rolls. So, next up was a little bubble (as modelled by the equally bubbly Jeaux).

480. N.V. Mumm Napa Brut Rose (Napa Valley - California)

A methode traditionelle cuvee that is made from Napa Valley Pinot Noir (with a small addition of Chardonnay - which, curiously, is not a "noir" grape), it was equally as refreshing as the Joie. And, bubbles just seem to go with almost anything.

As refreshing as these wines might have been, they did sport a touch of an off-dry sweetness and the boys were already calling for a red. The Lady and She Who Must are doing a little renovating and cleaning of stuff - and that includes a bunch of wine. A fortunate happenstance for the gathered, but not necessarily for the blog. The reds that she produced were a treat, but one of the bottle had already been added to The List and the other was another vintage of the iconic BC wine that we'd just done two library tastings of recently (at home and at the BCWAS dinner).

2002 Barossa Valley Estate E&E Black Pepper Shiraz (Barossa Valley - Australia)

Too bad for The List. We don't see $100 bottles offered up very often. I love this wine, but why couldn't it have been any other vintage than a 2002?

481. 2003 Black Hills Nota Bene (VQA Okanagan Valley)

Considering that the 2008 vintage of Nota Bene was just released at $60 (more in the private wine shops), you'd likely have to drop $100-plus for a bottle of the 2003 by now as well. Nothing but the finest for this crowd, I tell you. I think this addition will definitely solidify Nota Bene's position as the single wine that has seen the most vintages added to The List. I think this puts us a five years now.

482. 2004 Quinta do Ameal Escolha (Portugal)

483. 2008 Burgans Albarino (D.O. Rias Baixas - Spain)

Being time to start dinner proper, Lady Di was serving up a favourite of mine - mussel soup. She'd asked for two bottles of Alvarinho and I'd ordered two bottles online from Everything Wine - one Spanish and one Portugese - but it turns out that the Portugese bottle was an imposter. It was actually a Loueiro varietal which is often (generally) used in producing Vinho Verde - but at least it's another addition to my Wine Century Club efforts. Loueriro is regularly blended with Albarino; so, perhaps that's why it was listed as such online. We preferred the Spanish wine but that might be because the Portugese wine was actually oaked - interesting for a supposedly fresh white.

As the plates kept coming, Jeaux asked She Who Must Be Obeyed if there was a theme to tonight's dinner. Her reply, "Pandemonium." Given all the preparation and varying tastes on each course, it's no wonder the kitchen was "off limits" to all the guests. The Lady was raising the bar. Tyrant has used plates with four sections over the years but our hostess was pushing it with her introduction of a six-sectioned plate. Good thing that Boo and I are scheduled to host the next dinner. We may need to bring the menu plan back down to mere mortal levels.

To match the multi-plated courses, the Lady had me open five different Pinot Noirs for pairing up with the main course. My first thought was good lord, we'll never get through them all. One doesn't question a Lady however.

484. 2006 LaFrenz Reserve Pinot Noir (Naramata Bench - Okanagan Valley)

485. 2008 Mark West Pinot Noir (California)

486. 2008 Meiomi Pinot Noir (Sonoma/Monterey/Santa Barbara Counties - California)

487. 2006 Paritua Pinot Noir (Central Otago - New Zealand)

2001 Kettle Valley Foxtrot Pinot Noir (Okanagan Valley)

Once again, it turns out that one of the wines is already on The List. It's getting to be a bit of a chore trying to keep track of just what vintages of what wines we've already tasted. Since the Kettle Valley is already noted up at #310, I was, thankfully, able to concentrate my efforts on the remaining four Pinots. I tasted the Foxtrot but there was more than enough wine to keep me occupied without returning to bottles that won't count a second time around on this little "trip."

Pinot was a wonderful match for Lady Di's extravagant main course - a salmon coulibiac. The servings looked huge and I was asking for a doggie bag before I'd taken the first bite. However, this pastry wrapped salmon, layered with spinach, mushrooms, onions, egg (and on and on) was so tasty, there was nothing left for me to bring home.

Having finished off that super-sized portion, I suppose I shouldn't be overly shocked that we also managed to finish off all five bottles of the Pinot Noir as well.

I thought that might have been a good enough haul on the wine for one evening, but, no, there was one final treat for the gang.

488. 2007 Pilliteri Estates Vidal Icewine (VQA Niagra Peninsula - Ontario)

Let's face it. Whether it was past my bedtime and I'd polished off a dozen wines alone (which I hadn't) or not, I'd still join in on a taste of icewine. Finishing off an evening with a sweet wine is a favourite pleasure of mine. The honeyed sweetness and brisk acidity is a perfect ending to a grand evening.

I'm just going to warn all of our Dinner Club mates that our next take on the dinner is going to have a theme of "simplicity" - whether it's going to be easy or not.

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