Sunday, August 15, 2010

Annual Miss Jaq Wine Picnic

A definite highlight of our summer is the Annual Miss Jaq Wine Picnic. Each summer, during her visit from the Emirates, we make time for a relaxed afternoon with plenty of good food and lots of wine. It's become a tradition that is greatly anticipated - and todays' the day.

We try for a different location each year, leaving it up to her to pick a quintessential spot that says Vancouver and British Columbia to her. This year, she chose Lynn Canyon Park and the Suspension Bridge. Bringing back memories of Miss Jaq's youth, it was a great choice for Boo as well as he'd never been to the bridge before.

Built in 1912, the steel cable and wooden slat bridge still bounces and sways enough that many still experience a slight apprehension - or even sense of dread - as you hang 50 metres above the canyon and stream below.

We had a picnic waiting though and Boo just chided those moving too timidly or stopping to take in the view. Luckily, it wasn't quite so rude that anyone threatened to throw him over the bridge. As for the re-crossing later, I wasn't exactly sure whether the wine to be consumed would make our voyage easier or suicidal.

The Suspension Bridge connects with any number of trails that continue through Lynn Canyon or connect to the Seymour Demonstration Forest or Lynn Headwaters Regional Park. Our task today wasn't to take on the Baden-Powell Trail though. We were simply hiking down to the creek bed area near the 30 Foot Pool. The hike in, with all the picnic supplies, and the hike out - with all the wine in our systems - was a perfect length. Just long enough to give you a real sense that you'd put some distance between you and the bustle of the city.

560. 2009 LaFrenz Chardonnay (Naramata Bench - Okanagan Valley)

Miss Jaq is definitely one of our favourite friends; so, it only made sense to bring along one of our favourite Chardonnays. I don't generally gravitate to Chardonnay when it comes to my white wines, but the "peaches and cream" style that Jeff Martin and team strive for at LaFrenz is one that I have no problem returning to time and time again.

Capturing great Okanagan fruit but balancing it with enough oak (50% of the blend sees some French oak), the complexity and balance is a perennial pleaser. The 2009 vintage seems to be pleases those that know as well. It won a Silver medal at the Northwest Wine Summit - one of the most prestigious wine competitions in the Pacific Northwest. If nothing else, Jeff Martin is a tell-it-like-it-is kind of guy and he says that any winemaker can win some medals if you enter enough competitions, but then says, "so what?" Accordingly, he only enters his wines in competitions that he feels really mean something.

Award winner or not, this Chardonnay was a perfect accompaniment to our Miss Jaq and the setting.

561. 2002 Yalumba Tricentenary Vines Grenache (Barossa Valley - Australia)

I'd been waiting for a special occasion to pull out this bottle. This was one of those wines where I tried a sample at a tasting event and then immediately ran out to try and find a bottle or two. Despite the fact that Yalumba is a big name, large-scale producer Down Under, I'm still drawn to their ability to bring home their family-owned, approachable nature. Maybe I'm just in love with their travelling ambassador, Jane Ferrari, but Yalumba is just a brand that starts off favourably in my glass.

This bottle is more on the reserve end of Yalumba's list of wines. It's not outrageous. I think it was around $45, but that's a special occasion wine in our household. Special occasion. Miss Jaq. There you have it.

The name Tricentenary comes from the fact that the grapes for this wine are grown on a single vineyard that was originally planted in 1889. Some of the vines span three centuries and are some of oldest Grenache vines in Australia (if not the world). At that age, you don't get a lot of grapes off the vine, but, hopefully, the ones you do get are intense and powerful.

Sipping from little plastic wine glasses may not have provided us with the best means of fully enjoying the bouquet and profile that the wine had to offer, but the richness and depth of flavour was still evident and the company and occasion more than made up for any lack of crystal.

This was to be our last visit with Miss Jaq for the summer. She left the picnic and had to start getting ready to head back to the 50C degree heat of Abu Dhabi. There's certainly no Canyon park and suspension bridge picnics to be had in the Emirates, but, then again, maybe one of the local sheiks could build one. They've built everything else.

Another fabulous Miss Jaq Wine Picnic was enjoyed and we won't be able to wait until next year's.

No comments:

Post a Comment