Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Seasonal Dinner Club

Normally, Jeaux and Matinder's Annual Christmas Cookie Fest is the definitive start to the holiday season. I've lost count of the different types of cookies and treats that Matinder has offered over the years on that first Friday of December. Unfortunately, Boo and I won't be able to make it this year. So, all the more reason to celebrate the fact that it's their turn to host the Dinner Club and that they wanted to fit their dinner in before the silly season of parties and commitments kicks in and prior to their departure to the Caribbean - particularly since they're going to be gone for the first so many months of 2011.

As mentioned in previous postings of Dinner Club gatherings, Jeaux and Matinder are the theme-masters. I haven't got the slightest idea where the concept for this meal came from but, for the evening, we were taken away to the tropics. Be it Antigua, Barbados or the Virgin Islands, we just had to sit back and let our captain sail away into uncharted culinary waters - even with our "Dark and Stormy" cocktail start.

654. 2009 Domaine Houchart Rose (AOC Cotes de Provence)

655. 2009 Red Rooster Rose (VQA Okanagan Valley)

Any dish featuring saffron and mussels is likely going to strike a chord with me and this soup starter did just that. Jeaux' pre-dinner request for Rose was a great call and it was nice to see the contrast of the BC wine with the French wine. Rose wines are enjoying a popularity that has likely never been seen before (unless you count California's White Zinfandel as an actual Rose wine) and it can be made with seemingly unlimited profiles and from countless grape foundations. Case in point - the Red Rooster is all Cab Franc, while the Provencal is a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah and Cab Sauv. Both wines passed the muster with this dinner crowd, although I'm sure that the soup had a good part in our enjoyment.

656. 2009 Desert Hills Viognier (VQA Okanagan Valley)

657. 2008 Ruby Tuesday Viognier (Okanagan Valley)

Next came the Viogniers to be matched up with a tuna ceviche that had mango and Asian overtones featured prominently. Both the Viogniers were from BC which was interesting. Had any of the guests gone into the bottle shop to pick up a Viognier a couple of years ago, even if they'd have been able to find one, it's not too likely that they'd have had a choice of BC wines.

I hadn't tried the Ruby Tuesday before - although I've seen the farmgate entrance on the Naramata Bench a number of times. This wine didn't strike a favourable chord though. I think everyone at the table had a distinct preference for the Desert Hills.

658. 2009 Joie Farm Chardonnay (Okanagan Valley)

My guess is that Lady Di brought along the Joie Farm. I think that girl must have stock in the winery. She must be one their biggest fans. Good thing their wines, as a rule, are more than worthy of her praise. Joie produces two Chardonnays - one oaked, one not. This is the latter, un-oaked version. It made its opening debut at the dinner table in between courses and it didn't last long enough to really be tried with any food. Funny that.

Top presentation marks were awarded for the crown roast pork, complete with a pineapple tiara. Served up with a tropical rice and salsa, the lighter body of a couple Tempranillos was, again, a good call by our hostess.

659. 2007 Ercavio Mas Que Vinos Roble (Toledo - Spain)

660. 2006 Bodegas Palacio Glorioso Crianza (Rioja - Spain)

Both of the reds were new to all of us. I leaned towards the Ercavio but Tyrant liked the Glorioso so much that he went out and picked up a case for his own party that was pending.

661. 2000 Paradise Ranch Merlot Icewine (VQA Okanagan Valley)

The icewine was an interesting treat that was matched up to a tropical tarte tatin and to a retreat to the living room. While an icewine made from a red varietal isn't unheard of; it's still far more common to find icewine made from white grapes. Despite being a 2000 vintage, it held up nicely in terms of a balance of sweet and acidity.

Seeing as how it was going to be months before we're going to be able to pull off another Dinner Club, tonight's gathering of the gang was a perfect way to start the upcoming holiday season. No doubt, Jeaux and Matinder's trip to the Caribbean is going to give them a whole new set of inspirations for the next time they host. I can't wait.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Wine-Fueled Culture Crawl

The last thing that Boo said to Mr. D. as he headed off to work was, "Don't let him buy anything." And, for once, Boo wasn't even talking about wine. Mr. D. and I were going to wander around some and take in part of the East Side Culture Crawl. The Crawl is in its 14th year and has become a highly anticipated weekend for the Vancouver's often sombre Novembers.

The Crawl is a three-day event that sees upwards of 300 artists - of all types - open their studio space to the thousands of visitors that take in the painting, jewelry, sculpture, woodwork, photography or any other type of medium that one of the East Side artists has decided to dabble in.

I don't know what Boo was afraid of. It's not like I buy art like I buy wine. Turns out, however, that he might have known a little of which he spoke.

Mr. D. and I were going to be wandering buildings and studio on a wet Friday night; so, we took a little encouragement along with us. It wouldn't have been possible to wander around with wine glass in hand, but taking along a couple of travel coffee mugs is a whole other thing.

653. 2009 Edgebaston The Pepper Pot (W.O. Stellenbosch - South Africa)

I haven't added many South African wines to The List; so, it'd be nice to spend a little more time on this wine, but that might have to wait. I see Edgebaston has a "Honey Pot" as well. Maybe a further look at the winery can be completed should we open a bottle of that. In the meantime, winemaker, David Finlayson, refers to this as a "fun, funky blend" of Rhone varietals. It's meant to be all about bringing out the pepper, spice and primary fruit in this Syrah, Mourvedre and Tannat blend (65/28/7). I've never associated the Tannat grape with the Rhone, but Finlayson is also quoted as saying, "Don't think about it. Just drink it." I can go with that.

I do find it interesting that the wine has made it to the Vancouver market when only 1000 cases were made. We're a long ways from South Africa - especially when we're only talking a thousand cases.

There wasn't much opportunity to talk wine with our busy schedule at hand. There was even less chance that three hours or one bottle of wine would be enough to visit all of the artists - but we did manage to fit in just enough on our tour to get into a bit of trouble. Through his association with the Board of Friends For Life and the fundraising Art For Life, Mr. D. has come to know a couple of the artists who's studios we visited. I love the bright colours that Carla Tak includes in her palate and when I saw a small piece for a reasonable price, I felt I needed to pick it up. I was pretty sure that Boo would understand - and, after all, I could always blame it on the wine.

There was a second piece, however, that was a little grander in scope. I have been intrigued by Eve Leader's distinctive paintings for a number of years - ever since she had a piece that caused a bit of a bidding war at Art For Life. Her art definitely isn't for everyone, but I find it compelling and have wanted a piece ever since that first night. Mr. D. and I did find one painting that fit my sentiments nicely - but even I knew better than to spend the more-elevated sticker price on this piece without a bit of consultation at home. Blaming a purchase on the wine wouldn't quite cut it in this instance.

As you can see by the photo accompanying this posting, I got the "go-ahead" to go back the next day and pick up the piece. Not that the painting will ever be a particular favourite of Boo's. The issue now is just to find some wall space for it.

Like Herd(er)ing Cabs

One of these days, when I have a spare moment (as if that ever seems to happen), I'm going to have to go back and see just how many BC wineries have made The List. At 650+ wines on The List now, I should think that there's a good collection of them. I find though that I'm still being surprised by the number of well-known BC operations that have yet to be added.

Case in point, Herder was one of the first wineries to put the Similkameen Valley on the radar of BC wines. If the Okanagan is seen as "Napa North," the Similkameen is looking to establish itself as BC's Sonoma. Herder is certainly playing its part. From its first vintage in 2003, Herder has developed a bit of a cult following. Although I've certainly recognized the name and we even stopped in briefly one time when passing through the Similkameen, Herder hasn't really been that high on the wine list in our home. After tonight's wine, that may change a bit.

652. 2005 Herder Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc (Okanagan Valley)

After saying that Herder helped put the Similkameen on BC's wine map, it might seem a bit of a puzzler that the grapes for this wine were sourced from the neighbouring Okanagan Valley (from Oliver and Osoyoos vineyards). Owner and winemaker, Lawrence Herder, is a transplanted Californian and, perhaps as a result, has a passion for big reds, but this wine was still one of his earlier vintages and his big red varietals hadn't quite established themselves in the Similkameen vineyards. That's been changing with the newer vintages as the winery is now enjoying the fruits of their own labour and doesn't need to source as many grapes from other growers.

Indeed, even the winery has been experiencing change as it is already in its second location. The initial vineyards were found to be a little to vulnerable to early frost; so, despite having only set up shop in 2002, the Herders took advantage of a property a few miles down the road that became available in 2008 and they started anew.

I no longer see a Cab Sauv/Cab Franc listed on the winery website; so, I'm thinking it has likely been "replaced" by their icon wine, "Josephine," and by the Meritage. All I can say, is that Boo and I are going to have to try both of those wines because we really enjoyed this bottle. Good firm structure, with nicely integrated tannins and acidity, and beautiful, dark fruit on both the nose and palate.

Those other wines will have to suffice because we're unlikely to find another bottle of this 2005. The label says that only 220 cases were produced. Looks like we were lucky to have picked this one up. Indeed, as one writer has been quoted, "the biggest lingering problem with Herder wines is the lack of supply."

This may have been the first Herder wine to be added to The List, but I'm pretty sure that it won't be the last.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Italian Oddball

I'll admit it, I've become a sucker for a non-traditional varietal. Whenever I read about a wine that features some sort of foreign, indigenous grapes in local columns, I immediately wonder if I could use it to advance my application for the Wine Century Club. When it's an easy find and a decent price like this bottle, it's a bit of a no-brainer.

651. 2009 Inycon Estate Fiano (IGT Sicily - Italy)

Knowing next to nothing about Sicilian wines, I wasn't aware of this producer - nor had I heard anything about the Fiano varietal. Inycon is a label that is produced by the Settesoli Cooperative in Sicily. The cooperative consists of around 2300 members and they collectively farm 16,000 acres of vineyard - with production hitting about 15 million bottles a year. With that many producers, that much acreage and that many bottles involved, you have to expect that they have a great selection of varietals available - and they do, from traditionally indigenous grapes to international varietals.

Fiano isn't, apparently, a grape that is traditionally associated with Sicily; however, it is particularly well-suited to the the warm Sicilian climate. The varietal is known as a strong flavoured, medium bodied grape - often noted for a taste reminiscent of hazelnuts. I didn't notice any nuttiness to the wine, but I was pleasantly surprised. As a rule, I don't look to Italian whites for a whole lot of complexity. Easy drinking, summer wines is my general take on these wines, but the Fiano had a freshness - with a bit of acidity and slight fruitiness - that made it a nice match to the creamy, mussel pasta.

I could see returning to Inycon.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cotes du Rhone & Mussels

Some may think that a nice, big Rhone red is a bit too much for moules-frites, but I figure they must eat a lot of mussels in the South of France, so what's the problem. I'll just jack up the flavouring on the mussels a bit and add a little more garlic to the aioli.

We don't drink enough French wines for me to be familiar with many producers. One of the few that I tend to run across now and then is M. Chapoutier though - perhaps that's because I've generally had a tendency to drift to the Rhone and its Syrahs when it come to France. Chapoutier is certainly one of the better known names in the region.

650. 2005 M. Chapoutier Les Meysonniers (AOC Crozes-Hermitage - France)

The winery has a long history in the Northern Rhone, having been established in 1808. It's been passed down from father to son since that time; however, the winery's presence really started to build in the 1980's. World-famous wine writer, Robert Parker, had started drawing continual attention to the Rhone around that time and the newest generation of the Chapoutier family had recently taken over in the late 1970's.

The change in control also came with a shift in the winery's approach to its winemaking. It was becoming clear that the wine world was changing around them and that there needed to be a shift from quantity to quality in order to stay in the spotlight. Foremost among Chapoutier's changes was a switch to organic and bio-dyamic viticultural practises in almost all their vineyards. There was also a distinct decrease in the amount of fining and filtration that was used on the wines before bottling. Add to that an eschewing of the use of cultured yeasts over natural ones and the result is a determined expression of everything that the soil has to offer.

An attempt at a higher degree of terroir in the country where terroir is king.

All considered, the wine didn't strike us as fully as we might have hoped. Everything about the winemaking sounds right and we do love our Syrahs - but the wine itself seemed a bit lean with understated fruit. Maybe we're just a little too accustomed to big Aussie Shiraz.

Any wine, however, is going to disappear without a problem when moules-frites are on our dinner table. This was no exception.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Thanksgiving Transplant

We missed out on turkey dinner this year for Canadian Thanksgiving. I think we were likely dining on guinea pig, alpaca, blood sausage or the like in South America at the time. So, it was a welcome invite when Mimster and Mr. Cool announced that they had a turkey with Boo's name on it - not that they were calling him a "turkey" or anything. They just remembered his American roots and thought a gathering of the vacation photos was in order. We had South America. They had Cuba and the other guests, Spartacus and Diana, had Paris.

Mimster is known for her dinner table spreads and there was no disappointment on that front tonight Not only was there Boo's turkey, but Mimster had thrown in ham, sauteed brussel sprouts, baked and mashed potatoes and all sorts of other trimmings. Plenty o' food to give thanks for - and plenty o' spirits as well.

Mr. Cool and Spartacus are both known to like their specialty beers and scotch, but the evening's pours on that front, unfortunately, won't get more than a passing mention here. I'm having enough problem trying to keep up with the wine - let alone adding in all the other possible ways there are to pass an evening. We still managed to work our way through three wines though - all three from wineries that have seen at least one wine already added to The List.

647. N.V. Mionetto IL Prosecco (DOC Treviso - Italy)

Is there a more traditional way to celebrate, toast the good times and give thanks than with a little bubble? Things don't get much easier going than with Prosecco and this one from Mionetto is gentle, fruity and all about being good for almost any occasion. Not meant to compete with traditional Champagne, this wine is fashioned from the Prosecco grape in Northern Italy (above Venice). The winery uses the Charmant method to produce the sparkle in the wine - meaning that the second fermentation, that results in all the bubbles, takes place in a pressurized tank instead of individual bottles. Being a faster and easier process, it also allows you to buy more bottles than you could for the same price of Champagne. All the more to celebrate with.

648. 2007 Joie Re-Think Pink Rose (Okanagan Valley)(1.5 l)

It's not too often that the opportunity to open a larger format of bottle presents itself. Boo and I had this magnum (double bottle) of Joie Rose and figured a Thanksgiving dinner is about as good an opportunity as one can get. Rose, turkey, ham - sounds great to me. The winery's website states that they feel the Rose is likely their most versatile wine when it comes to matching it up with food.

You can tell that the folks at Joie take their Rose seriously. Not just a simple addition to a portfolio, made from excess grapes or juice, their Rose is predominantly a blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay Noir, with some Pinot Meunier and a bit of Pinot Gris added to flesh out the structure and flavours. A lot of thought goes into the wine. Indeed, Jurgen Gothe, one of Vancouver's most prominent wine writers wrote that he figures Joie Rose needs to be ranked as one of the best pinks in the world. Good thing we had twice as much as we would have normally had in a bottle.

We must have been enjoying the first wines just fine because I never even got around to taking a close-up picture of the evening's third wine. If you look carefully on the table in the accompanying picture, you can identify the bottle if you can get past the goofy look and the Joie.

649. 2007 Peter Lehmann Clancy's Legendary Red (Barossa Valley - Australia)

Believe me, it's not a deliberate slight on my part to give the Clancy's the short shift. I figure that, by the time we opened the red, we were already fully ensconced in dinner and there were more important things going on than a picture - like drinking the wine.

Lehmann wines have previously made The List and there are, no doubt, more to come. So, I won't go on about the winery or the man this time around. Continually referred to, in the wine press, as a "great value" or a "smart buy," Clancy's is well-known in our circles as a crowd pleaser if you're looking for an approachable red that still packs a punch. A take on the Australian tradition of blending Shiraz with Cab Sauv, the folks at Lehmann have added in some Merlot to soften the wine on the palate a touch.

So, all in all, it was a wine of good food, good company and good wine. Sounds like something worth giving thanks over.

Friday, November 19, 2010

An Old Viognier and a New Riesling Walk Into a Bar...

I'm sure there must be a joke somewhere in the title to this posting but... I'll just leave it for another occasion. The only thing that makes the Viognier "old" and the Riesling "new" for now is that we've already enjoyed a bottle of this vintage of the Viognier and it, therefore, can't be added to The List, while the Riesling is the first bottle to be added to The List from this particular winery - despite it being well-known in BC circles.

2007 La Frenz Viognier (Okanagan Valley)

I shouldn't be too surprised we've already opened one of these bottles. There are likely as many La Frenz wines that have been added to The List as there are for any one winery. Regular visitors to the blog likely know it's one of our favourites. The Viognier, in fact, has already been added for two vintages - the 2006 (at #28) and the 2007 (at #256). Neither one of those entries saw much of an opportunity to add much in the way of information though; so, maybe I'll expand a little - despite not adding a new number to The List.

As much as Viognier has quickly caught on as a popular varietal in BC (and North America), I find it can be made in all styles - much like a Riesling. This is definitely a rich and fruity one and, as such, is an easy sip - particularly with its slight sweetness.

The '07 obviously caught on with various competition tasting panels as well. Owner and winemaker, Jeff Martin, is known to only enter a couple of competitions a year, but this Viognier won a Gold Medal, "Best of BC" award and the "Best White Wine of Show" trophy at the 2008 North West Wine Summit. That entitled Jeff to enter the 2009 Winepress Northwest's Best of the Best Competition - where it won a further Platinum medal. The latter competition is perhaps the most prestigious in the Pacific Northwest.

That's got to be worth a few bragging rights. Too bad it was our last bottle.

I hadn't realized this when I grabbed the following bottle for dinner the next night but it turns out that this bottle has a pretty similar pedigree to the La Frenz.

646. 2008 Gehringer Brothers Estate - Private Reserve Riesling (VQA Okanagan Valley)

Although Gehringer Brothers is located on the Golden Mile right around Oliver (one of our favourite wine regions in the province) and it makes 22 wines under 6 brands, this is the first bottle that we're adding to The List.

Gehringer actually offers three distinct styling to its Rieslings - a dry, a less crisp general release and this reserve version which is flush with a nice touch of residual sugar.

Looks like there was a reason that this is one of the few bottles of Gehringer that I've picked up over the years. Much like the previous Viognier, this vintage of Riesling must have tickled the taste buds of more than a couple judging panels. Having won a Gold medal at the All Canadian Wine Championships (and a silver at the Northwest Summit), Gehringer entered it in the Winepress Northwest Best of the Best where it also walked away with a Platinum medal.

That was a bit of a fluke that we opened two Platinum winning wines in a row - especially since both were slightly off-dry. If only all the bottles we opened were so honoured.

Since I didn't realize the pedigrees of the two bottles when I chose them, I hadn't actually expected this entry to be as lengthy as it turned out to be. Accordingly, I think I'll have to commit to picking up another bottle of Gehringer Brothers so that I can discuss the winery a tad more down the road.

In the mean time, I suppose it might seem like we'll be back to more "pedestrian" wines after this.

Sumac Ridge

Considering Sumac Ridge is another of the "big" BC wineries, we don't drink an awful lot of their wines at our house. One might think that Boo and I aren't finishing our share of the 100,000 or so cases that the winery produces each year. As may be the case with Mission Hill, I think their wines might suffer from my perception that they'll always be available in the liquor store and I don't need to really buy any to cellar.

That's likely not being fair to Sumac Ridge. But I did find tonight's bottle in amongst the boxes and I figured we'd laid it down long enough to give it a whirl.

645. 2002 Sumac Ridge - Black Sage Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (VQA Okanagan Valley)

Along with being one of the largest producers in the province, Sumac Ridge is also one of the earliest, being one of the first estate wineries to open under the new wine regime that the provincial government set up in 1978. They released their first vintage in 1981 and will celebrate their 30th anniversary this year in 2011.

The winery has been associated with many other firsts in the BC wine industry. It was the first to open a cellar door restaurant. It was among the first to produce an icewine. It was the first to popularize - outside of the US - a Bordeaux blend under the Meritage name. And it was the first to introduce a premium sparkling wine - particularly since it still uses the classical Method Champenoise.

However, the winery first that is particularly germane to this bottle is that Sumac Ridge is based in Summerland, but the home vineyard was originally planted with strictly white varietals for commercial production. In 1992, they purchased a tract of land further South, below Oliver, on the Black Sage Road and embarked on what, at the time, was the largest planting of classic Bordeaux varietals in Canada - and the first in what is now recognized as one of the finest regions for grapes in the province.

The "Black Sage Vineyard" designation has become one of the premium lines for the winery and this bottle was part of the first vintage for a Black Sage Cab Sauv. The '02 vintage, at the time, was the largest vintage ever at Sumac Ridge, but there were still only 1200 cases of the Cab produced.

There's been a lot of "first" mentioned in this particular posting, but I don't know that I'd say that this wine will sit first on our list of "Must Buy" Cab's. It was a solid wine, but it didn't really have enough ooompf to impress as a Cab. The thing to remember is that the vines would have still been young at this point and wouldn't have had a lot of time to start to really deliver the best fruit. Even if this bottle didn't have us ringing bells of joy, I'd pick up a more recent bottle to see how the vineyard's fruit is progressing.

This Cab may be our first from Sumac Ridge to hit The List, but my hunch is that we'll taste some more of the winery's Black Sage Cab before we hit 2001 bottles.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Red Rooster Pinot Noir

Regular readers of the blog (and most of our drinking buddies) know that Boo and I have "adopted" a row of Malbec vines through Red Rooster's novel - and very fun - wine program. Part of the benefits to being an adoptive parent is that you receive a case of wine every year - and our case for this year just arrived (along with a few other bottles that somehow seemed to slip through Boo's "No buy Leash" restraint).

Despite the fact that a number of Red Rooster wines have made The List, we still have more than a couple bottles currently residing in our home. I think we need to open a few of them to free up some space.

644. 2005 Red Rooster Pinot Noir (VQA Okanagan Valley)

I have a feeling that the Pinot Noir might be one of our "parental" bottles from a few years back. I don't usually lean towards Red Rooster for its Pinot Noir. They make a lot of different varietals, but I've never personally thought of the Pinot as being their strongest - at least not the Pinot Noir. Neither as nuanced as more traditional Old World Pinot, nor as boldly structured as some of the bigger New World entries, this rather straddled both worlds but didn't really capture enough of either to really whet my whistle.

Naturally, I feel like I'm saying naughty things about one of the children, but this was a wine made by the previous regime at Red Rooster. Perhaps the Pinot, under current winemaker Karen Gillis, will show a different side yet again. I have more than a feeling that we'll get the opportunity to discover that possibility.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pink Wine at the Pink Broom

Each year at the start of the curling season, our league holds the Pink Broom, a fun bonspiel (or funspiel as we dyed-in-the-wool curlers call them) as an opportunity to meet'n'greet other curlers in the league. Since the PRCL is one of the biggest leagues in the Vancouver area - 40 teams of gay curlers (who knew?!) - there can be a lot of faces that you never play against or even meet. Even if you religiously head up to the bar after your game.

There has been a Pink Broom, in one form or another, for more than 25 years and it is likely the most social - and least competitive - event of the year. Everyone is encouraged to Think Pink - from costumes to prizes - and that call is taken to heart. All curlers play four shortened games (only four ends) and the teams are completely re-mixed after every game.

The curling rink is NOT generally associated with a lot of wine consumption - even with a crew like our league. It's a different story when talking beer, but I doubt the rink goes through a case of wine a week. If that.

I thought, however, that, to keep in theme, this was the perfect opportunity for a pink wine.

643. 2009 Kim Crawford Pansy! Rose (New Zealand)

If a Rose was the perfect wine for this event, the Kim Crawford was going to be the perfect pink. Their website even announces that "this wine was made for our friends in the gay community in thanks for their support of our wines." Originally conceived and marketed for the Sydney Mardi Gras and its known inclination for imbibing (much like the Pink Broom), I've had a soft spot for Kim Crawford and its Pansy! from the first time I saw and tasted it. It also doesn't hurt that it's a nice little wine as well.

In fact, Pansy! was the only non-BC wine that we served at Boo's and my 10th Anniversary/Wedding Party a couple of years back. It made perfect sense to me. Hot summer day. Fresh, cheeky wine.

Since I was blogging the wine this time, I checked the website and was intrigued to learn that Merlot is the base varietal for the wine (with a bit of Cab Franc and/or Malbec also thrown in) and that the winery uses the saignee method. That's where they "bleed" or run off up to 25% of the crushed juice before it starts to ferment. The winemaker stated that, because of New Zealand's cool climate they often need to intensify their Bordeaux red varieties. After this process, the original juice develops into a fuller wine and the juice that is bled off results in a whole new Rose.

Method aside, I say "Bravo!" to the marketing department and "Cheers" to the Pansy!" I have a feeling the winery would see our event as a good fit.

The wine must have done me some personal good on the day. I got quite the big surprise when they were announcing the awards and prizes. My curling didn't exactly earn me "top skip" marks at the bonspiel, but my Pansy!-enhanced play did win me the "Miss Congeniality" trophy for the event. And, guess what, the prize was another bottle of pink wine. It wasn't Pansy! but that bottle will no doubt make The List in short time as well.

A Divine Dinner

Since we hadn't been able to get together for awhile, Beamer and The Divine Miss M invited us over for dinner. The Divine One wanted to try out a couple of new recipes - and she knew that we eat anything and everything...if there's plenty of wine to go around.

As if we'd ever need to worry about any such situation (be it the menu or the availability of the grape).

The first bottle of the night is one that's already on The List though (#449). Consequently, we got to enjoy it but we don't get to give it a new number.

2009 Laughing Stock Viognier (VQA Okanagan Valley)

This Viognier was actually added during a dinner with these guys earlier in the year. Beamer and Miss M are often our best source (after the winery) for Laughing Stock. Beamer has a decent portfolio of their wines - be it the premium Portfolio or one of their other stock options. It was good of them to offer up this bottle though because it's highly touted and is quite difficult to get ahold of.

We know that The Divine Miss M. is particularly fond of her white wines. So, we thought that we'd bring along a little reminder of our recent trip to Argentina. We didn't bring this bottle back with us but we managed to locate a bottle - even though the varietal is hardly a common find on local shelves.

640. Bodega Norton Lo Tengo Torrontes (Mendoza - Argentina)

Although we brought this wine (along with some photos) as a tip to the Argentina vacation, we didn't try it or anything else from Norton while we were there. The Lo Tengo brand is strictly for export - or so it seems. The winery has a number of lines - some strictly for homeland consumption and some for the rest of the world. Lo Tengo may be more of an introductory label but the Torrontes is both sufficiently different and tasty to make it worth the $12.

The Torrontes grape is pretty much specific to Argentina when it comes to wine - at least at the present. It is apparently also used in Chile to make Pisco but that's a whole other ballgame. The varietal is a cross of Mission, the old sacramental wine workhorse grape of Franciscan missionaries and Muscat of Alexandria. It's primarily know for its aromatics and low acidity.

This was the first time that Miss M had tried it and she was an easy sell.

641. 2003 Fairview Cellars Bear's Meritage (VQA Okanagan Valley)

As much as The Divine Miss M likes her white, Beamer saves most of his excitement for big reds (when he's not still reminiscing over the many beers that he's loved in his life). We thought pulling out the Bear's Meritage would be a good fit. It comes from one of the best known winemakers - and biggest characters - in the Valley.

I've known of Bill Eggert and Fairview's wines for many a year now - and have down a few as well - but I've never actually made it to his tasting room despite the fact that I know we must have driven by its entrance on the Golden Mile on more than a couple of occasions. We've even specifically tried to locate the winery - to no avail - but we have GPS now and I'm pretty sure that I'll be able to get Boo to loosen the "No Buy Leash" a bit when we finally make it there.

As I'd have expected the the Bordeaux blend quickly disappeared with the individual meat pies that we dined on. I left the bottle behind, so I wasn't able to see if it mentioned the actual blend. I'm pretty sure (knowing a bit about Fairview's other wines) that it would likely have been predominantly Cab Sauv and Merlot based with a bit of Cab Franc. The current '08 vintage has small amounts of Malbec and Petit Verdot as well but I don't know if they were part of the mix back in '03.

The bottle went quickly enough that we were "forced" to open another bottle. What a terrible situation to find ourselves in.

642. 2007 Paso Creek Zinfandel (Paso Robles - California)

I mentioned that Beamer likes a big red; well, he pulled out a California Zin to finish off both us and the evening. I don't tend to drink a lot of US wine because I don't like what seems to happen to the price as soon as a bottle crosses the 49th Parallel, but I have to agree with Beamer that you have to give in every so often to assuage the need for some Zin. I think Beamer discovered the Paso Creek at this year's California Wine Fair - and the fact that it comes in at under $20, even North of the border makes it a good bet that we'll remember it for future dinners.

All in all, a great night for wine, conversation and new recipes. I could be talked into this more often. Easily.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A-Muse-ing Pinot Gris

Considering how far behind I am with my posting at the moment - there are consequences other than Visa bills following vacations - I could use a little muse to get my posting mojo flowing a little more smoothly.

639. 2008 Muse Winery Estate - legally blonde Pinot Gris (Vancouver Island - BC)

This was one of the bottles that we picked up during our '09 visit to Vancouver Island to see Bella Jianna and Flyboy B. Muse is the new name for Chalet Estate, the winery having changed hands a couple of years ago. Boo and I have made a number of visits to the winery when it was still Chalet and I thought that there would have been at least a couple of the old bottles on The List but I took a quick look and it seems that we haven't sipped at the Chalet since I started up the blog. We had a bottle of Muse with Bella Jianna's paella last year (#227), but we haven't actually had a bottle of Chalet. I'll have to see if we still have a bottle in the "cellar."

Peter and Jane Ellman, the new owners of Muse, are both veterans of wine and hospitality businesses and they fell in love with the Saanich Peninsula while they were looking at the possibility of investing in a winery. They took over while Chalet was still very much a boutique winery. In those couple of years, however, the Ellman's have almost doubled the production - from 1800 to around 3800 cases. Like the previous owners, they've realized that the Saanich area is never likely going to allow them to grow the fruit needed to produce the big reds that Peter was used to when he was working in the California wine scene. Those grapes will have to come down from the Okanagan.

However, the Peninsula can produce Pinot Gris and this one won a Gold medal at All Canadian Wine Championships last year. It never hurts to be able to add that sticker to the outside of a bottle, but Muse hasn't stopped at just that. The change of label has also seen a spritely approach to advertising the wines. Not only have all the wines been given names - like this Pinot Gris' "Legally Blonde" - but there are snappy bons mots on each of the back labels to give a bit of identity to the wine for the consumer.

The wine at hand is "a festive giddy gal with lots of snappy one-liners. A crisp wit and a tart approach to life...she plays well with others." I recently heard a radio commentator refer to Pinot Gris as the "Pamela Anderson of the wine world." Looks like Muse doesn't disagree.

Neither Boo, nor I, seemed to think that this Pam lived up to the billing though. It might have been that the crisp acidity was a bit overwhelming for the hot and sour soup that we paired it with, but my guess is that I still don't think she had the "curves" needed to make this a regular in our home.

We'll be back though. I have a feeling there'll be something more that can keep us a-Mused.

Twisted Tree Gamay Noir

Although you can actually find a bottle of Twisted Tree on The List already (#182), I didn't really know anything about the winery at that time. I knew it was one of the more recent additions to the world of BC wine and that the winery was located in the Osoyoos area - about as South as you can get in the Okanagan Valley before you hit the American border - but that was about it.

When heading up to Kootenays in the Eastern part of the province to visit Boo's mom at Sparrowhawk, we drove right by Twisted Tree's entrance as we climbed the hill to the East of Osoyoos. Boo was fast asleep as he'd had to work the night before, but I figured I needed to make the stop for a quick visit - and, as it turned out, a quick purchase of some of their wines (the "No Buy Leash" referred to in my last post was considerably slackened back then).

As tonight's dinner could handle a lighter red, we opted to give one those purchases a try.

638. 2008 Twisted Tree Gamay Noir (Okanagan Valley)

If last night's bottle of Mission Hill was an example of drinking with the big guys, we're definitely going the other route tonight. A family designed and run operation, the winery and vineyards were only started in 2004 - after the last cherry crop was harvested from the old "twisted trees" that were planted throughout the property. Total production is still limited to just over 4000 cases.

Since it isn't too realistic to expect to be able to produce decent, commercial wines from vines that are only a year or two old, owners Chris and Beata Tolley actually sourced their grapes for the first couple of vintages from other growers in the valley. Indeed, they still rely on relationships that they developed with those growers for some of the valley's more recognizable varietals. Those relationships have remained important because, one of the first things you notice about Twisted Tree's wines is that they produce varietals that will likely be seen only rarely - if at all - anywhere else in BC. The Tolley's decided to plant varietals that would differentiate them from the other wineries in the valley and, with grapes like Carmenere, Tannat, Tempranillo, Roussanne, Marsanne and Corvino, they definitely succeeded.

Gamay Noir may not be as exotic or uncommon to BC vineyards; however, it still isn't found as regularly as Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah or any of the white varietals. The grapes for this wine weren't actually grown on the benchlands where the winery is located. They were sourced from just North of Osoyoos; however, that area is still one of the warmest regions in the valley and the result is a bigger and richer Gamay than might be expected for that varietal.

I doubt that I'm likely to become one of Gamay Noir's biggest fans (whether from Twisted Tree or otherwise), but I am looking forward to trying some of the other bottles that we picked up to see what the future might hold for Twisted Tree's alternative varietals. Until then...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Mission to Drink What We Have

I've received a bit of a dictate (although this isn't the first time it's been issued) where I'm being strongly encouraged not to buy any new wine until we've gone through some of the wine currently in our "cellar." I suppose part of the issue is that we don't have a wine cellar - rather we have a wine fridge that's full and a collection of boxes found here and there throughout our home.

The dictate is jokingly referred to as the "No Buy Leash" and, like a Phoenix, it's arising yet again and being tightened - even though I'm quite sure that I still have some leeway based on a bit of a "luxury purchase" of Boo's earlier in the year. All the same, I suppose we'll see a bit of a run on BC wines over the next little while (since a good percentage of our cellar is from BC) - particularly ones like tonight's bottle that are starting to see a bit of age on them.

637. 2002 Mission Hill S.L.C. Merlot (VQA Okanagan Valley)

Considering what some might call a pre-eminent position that Mission Hill holds in the world of BC wine, we don't drink a lot of their wine in our household. If you search the blog site, you'll find more than passing mention of Mission Hill wines on The List, but those additions are often at friends' places or in passing mention of a wine project linked to Mission Hill. There aren't too many bottles that, like tonight, were simply opened for an evening at home.

That might be because I figure that you can always count on a bottle of Mission Hill being available at virtually any wine shop that you could go into in the city. There's no urgency in buying a bottle because you may never see it again. As such, most of the Mission Hill bottles that we have at home are from their premium lines - not exactly mid-week wines around here.

In any event, back in 2002 (the vintage at hand), Mission Hill was just finishing off their spectacular re-modelling of the winery - a huge step in owner, Anthony von Mandl's, long-time goal of turning Mission Hill into one of the top wineries in the world - let alone in BC. The S.L.C. line - or Select Lot Collection - of wines was to follow. Introduced as a premium line (just below the iconic Oculus blend), these wines were made only from vineyard blocks or even rows that had been identified as the finest in the winery's estate throughout the Okanagan Valley.

I'm glad to say that Boo and I thought the bottle had aged well. I'm not sure that with this being the first vintage that it was meant to age for a decade. The original notes for the wine referred to concentrated fruits and supple tannins." The fruit had definitely fallen off - particularly on the nose - but, as should be hoped, we had no problem finishing off the bottle.

We'll just have to see how many more Mission bottles get opened during this round of the "No Buy Leash" dictate.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Crete, the Mediterranean and Me

I'll admit it. My eyes brighten and my ears perk up when I see or hear of another wine that features a not-so-common or an unfamiliar, indigenous grape varietal. After all, I'm in the 70's with my Wine Century Club application. With less than 30 varietals to go, you can't blame a guy for reaching for a bottle that may not be on Vancouver's best wine lists.

Besides, affordability and an easy-drinking wine are characteristics that play a larger part in the drinking habits of most folks anyhow. Complex wines with fine pedigrees and, more likely than not, a correspondingly big price have their place - but for a mid-week soup and sandwich kind of night at home, how can you go wrong with the former?

We've got one here.

636. 2008 Boutari Kretikos (Crete - Greece)

The name Boutari may be synonymous with Greek wine - after all, it does produce around 15 million bottles and exports a great many of those millions to 38 countries (and counting) - but I don't tend to consider drinking a lot of it unless we're out having souvlaki and tzatsiki at one of the Greek restaurants in town.

I think I'll need to re-think that a bit since the Boutari wines available nowadays aren't just the large bottle format white or red. There appears to be much more to the winery than I might have thought and this bottle is one of the new breed available.

One of the most powerful names in Greek winemaking, the Boutari family has been making wine since 1879 and, while their home base has always been in and remains in Naousa in the Northern part of the country, their continued business sense has culminated in the creation of a network of wineries throughout nearly every winemaking region in Greece.

The Kretikos line is based in the country's Southern-most island of Crete and they refer to the wine as a "country wine of Crete" or "Vin-de-pays." Although Greek winemaking (and even Boutari) has seen an inclination to start producing better known international varietals, this wine features grapes that are strictly indigenous to the island and to Greece. A blend of 70% Vilana and other grapes that are likely to raise a collective "huh?" when mentioned - try Thrapsathiri and Athiri - it's meant to be a fresh, simple sipper that matches up well with the island's cuisine.

Boo and I were surprised at how nice the wine actually was. Makes me want to pack my back and head off to the Mediterranean even more than I already did. Adding another varietal to my Century Club list is just an added bonus.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Prairie Fairies Fowl Supper

There are a couple of annual events that are perennial dates on our calendar and their stories are inevitably going to be posted here - even when they might not be best known for for their contribution to the enjoyment of wine.

The Prairie Fairies Fowl Supper is one of them. This year's Supper was the 11th annual and wouldn't you know it - I forgot to bring along the camera. Luckily Tyrant was attending the event with us and he had his camera in tow.

The Fowl Supper is a take off on the prairie tradition of town dinners throughout the fall to celebrate the harvest and the community. Our's simply has a bit of twist - that would be the "Prairie Fairies" part. What started as a church basement dinner for a group of Prairie transplants in the late 90's has morphed into one of the most anticipated events on Vancouver's gay calendar. In a town that is famous for its party people waiting until the last moment to commit to an event, the Fowl Supper has now has a tradition of selling out its 600 tickets within minutes of them going on sale. I know of no other event on the gay calendar that can come close to making that claim.

A whole charitable organization, the Fillmore Family Foundation, has been formed as an umbrella group to shepherd the dinner and the over $370,000 that has been raised for local charities.

It's one of the most unique events in town - bringing together club kids, curlers, cowboys and a whole swack of Saskatchewan trucker caps - and that doesn't include some of the mothers, grandmothers and great aunts that come along for the night. In addition, I think you can be pretty much guaranteed that this is the only event in Vancouver that features a jellied salad contest that sets all those Martha Stewart-y genes a-twitter. I quite loved this year's winning goldfish bowl.

Primarily focusing on turkey, hostess Doreen Fillmore's drag entertainment and an eclectic mix of dance tunes, fine wine isn't necessarily a priority for the event. Now based in a community centre hall, there's a rather limited choice in wine - a red and a white. We worked our way through one of each.

634. 2009 Two Oceans Pinot Noir (South Africa)

635. 2009 Two Oceans Sauvignon Blanc (South Africa)

Although I know these wines are pure entry level, I thought I'd take a quick look at them online. Turns out that Two Oceans claims to be the top selling South African wine in Canada and one of the top 10 selling wine brands overall in the country. I don't know if that's the same for BC as well. Regardless, they're styled for easy drinking with an emphasis on bringing forward the fruit - indeed, I suppose an emphasis on being fruit forward is a good thing at a big old gay event like this. You'll just have to pardon the pun.

I'm not going to go on about the wines or winery since they weren't the highlight of the evening. For many, I'm sure that highlight was gameshow host, Barb Snelgrove's, admiration of and banter about Mayor Gregor Robertson's tight fitting jeans. I've gotta say that, whether you like the man's politics or not, he was one helluva great sport - and when he joked about gerbils, well, I thought I'd fall out of my seat laughing.

It will be a hard laugh to follow up with next year. If we're in town, we'll no doubt be there though. In fact, I'm working on a couple jellied salad ideas of my own.

The Unknown Baumann Reisling

It would appear that there are times when I'm just not going to be able to find out much about a wine or winery. This may well be one of those occasions.

633. 2007 Domaine Baumann Riesling [ClassiQ] (AOC Alsace - France)

Not being someone who regularly gravitates to Alsatian wines, it would have been nice to learn a little bit about the origins of the evening's juice - particularly when this North-East part of France is probably best known by its producers than by particular villages or vineyards. Although Alsace does have vineyards that have been declared Grand Cru; not all of the wineries subscribe to that system (including even some of the best known producers). So, it helps to know something about who's bottle you're buying. I thought trying and finding out about a previously unknown winery might provide a new twist. Guess it wasn't to be.

Alsatian appellation rules permit the planting of nine different varietals; however, most of the production is white and the majority of that wine is Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Muscat or Pinot Blanc. Perhaps because of that leeway, Alsace is, interestingly, the one region in France that has labeled its wine varietally for over a century now.

Domaine Baumaunn certainly appears to be marketing this wine to a more modern market. The label doesn't look anything like the traditional, Old World label of the big producers in the region. Even the extra twists in naming the wine [ClassiQ] are a little out there and reminiscent of [yellow tail]'s marketing. If it is modernity the winery is striving for, they might want to ensure that their website is working. The bottle refers to a website address but I got nothing when I hit it on more than a couple of occasions.

Ah well, for all the attempt that was made to find out about the wine, I don't know that finding more would have made much difference down the line. Riesling is a varietal that is adaptable to all sorts of styles and I'm definitely a big fan - but I can't say that this was a bottle that I'd look to visit again. The label referred to "scents of lime and ripe flavours of apple and quince" but the wine in my glass didn't seem to deliver any of that. Rather, there was plenty of acidity (also mentioned on the label) but there was no discernible fruit - or any other enjoyable note - to my palate.

Baumann may just remain an unexplored mystery in our house.

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Return to Burrowing Owl

Now that the vacation is over and we're getting back into a semblance of normality (such as "that" is), a little comfort food and recognizable wine seems nice.

632. 2004 Burrowing Owl Merlot (Okanagan Valley)

Chicken livers and I are actually very good friends. So, when I took a quick look and saw that we haven't opened a bottle of Burrowing Owl since last February - just before the Olympics - I figure one good friend deserves another. Considering how much Burrowing Owl we have in our "cellar" and how much of it is coming of age, we may need to open a few more bottles on a more regular basis.

I've never thought of Merlot as being a varietal that garners Burrowing Owl a lot of attention - that seems to sit more with Cab Franc, Syrah, their Meritage and a couple of whites. That may simply be due to the fact that Merlot is the most widely planted red varietal in the province. If everyone does it, the press may look more to the more unique wines that are produced - especially when they're made as well as Burrowing Owl's wines are.

That being said, this vintage still won a couple bronze medals at the Okanagan and All-Canadian wine competitions. That wouldn't have played any part in our picking up the bottles, but it's interesting to note as a benchmark for where BC and Canadian wines were and are as far as production levels go.

For those in the know with BC wines, Burrowing Owl was one of the early star wineries. California transplant and consultant winemaker, Bill Dyer, joined up with the Dyer family and introduced a bold style of wine that quickly gained cult-like status in the newly emerging industry. By the '04, vintage Dyer had moved on from B.O.W. but, Steve Wyse, the replacement winemaker (and son of owner Jim Wyse), was staying true to the style of wine that had earned all the praise in the beginning.

We haven't been filling the "cellar" lately with as much Burrowing Owl as we had been. So, it was nice to see that the wines we'd previously worked to get were holding up. After all, back at the turn of the century, folks still weren't sure that BC wines had the capability of aging gracefully. I think it's clearly apparent that the well-made ones can age just fine - thank you very much.

This bodes well for the Burrowing Owl still gracing the "cellar."

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


The recovery from last night's Secret Souls Walk was a tad harsher than I might have liked, but there wasn't a whole lot of opportunity to shut out the world. The parade of costumes was rather different from last night - and the treats were definitely tamer - but there's not much chance that we'd stop greeting the little devils and princesses at the door. After all, you never know when you might need Harry Potter or Hermione's help in getting tickets to their next blockbuster. I'd have to say that Hermione's kitty, Cruikshanks is certainly growing faster than the other characters. Give it another year and he'll be more the size of Winnie the Pooh.

No martinis tonight - that was a bit too scary of a thought for this boy. So, despite the fact that Mr. D and a couple others came by (since they don't get any kids in their neighbourhood), the best I was up for was adding one more bottle to The List.

631. 2008 Wolf Blass Yellow Label Merlot (South Australia)

When it comes to Australia and Merlot, this household naturally thinks of Merlot Boy himself. But, unlike during the Olympic Games, MB did not make a surprise visit for Halloween. So, alternatively, a fitting replacement for a party and for Merlot has to be Wolf Blass.

With Merlot being perhaps BC's most popular, homegrown red wine, we don't tend to drink a lot of Aussie Merlot. This bottle, however, is certainly representative of the New World, fruit-driven juice that made Down Under wines so popular in our market in the first place. After we'd opened it, I was a bit spooked that we might have already added this wine to The List. Indeed, four or five Wolf Blass wines have previously popped their corks (or screwcaps as the case may be) on our Odyssey, but not the '08 Merlot.

Seeing as how recognizable Wolf Blass is in our market, I'm sure we'll see him and his wines hit The List yet again. Accordingly, I don't think I'll spend any more time going into the myth behind the man this time around.

Besides, Halloween is all about the kids - particularly the headless and ghoulish ones. When they're as amusing as that, there's an extra bag of cheesies at our place.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Secret Souls Walk

Let me start by publicly declaring my love for the Public Dreams Society. For those of you that don't know the society, I'll let their "Vision" statement tell you what they're all about - "To nurture the magical heart and creative whimsy of each community by unleashing audacious artistic expressions." That pretty much captures, for me, the excitement that is Public Dreams.

They've just celebrated 25 years of passion and, although we've tried to attend as many of their events over the years as we can, we've never been closer. When the incredible people behind the organization have been able to hold their Parade of Lost Souls, it's always been an amazing part of Halloween celebrations along and around The Drive. This year the regular route wasn't available due to park renovations, and, lo and behold, our house was actually on the substitute route for this year's alternative - the Secret Souls Walk. How great is that?!

The only unfortunately part of the event being in our neighbourhood was that the route was kept a secret until the last moment and we didn't even know about the Walk until we returned from our vacation. That didn't really leave us any time to get fully caught up in the excitement and doll up our house and yard for the thousands of folks parading by. We managed some lights and our monster eyes but it barely scratched the creative surface that was our neighbourhood that night.

There was no way, however, that I could let the occasion pass by without adding another bottle to The List.

630. 2009 Bodega Carchelo - C (Jumilla DO - Spain)

This is the second vintage of Carchelo C on The List. The first was back in the summer (#517) when a 2008 helped propel Spain into the finals of our World Cup of Wine. Mr. D. is a big fan and he brought the '09 along for the night. OK, so Spanish wine might not be the most thematically consistent juice to serve up with Venetian masks and outfits - but most people thought we were pirates anyhow. So, maybe we just needed to forget playing with Casanova's passion and put a bit of a Spanish accent onto a guttural "ARRRRRGH!"

I do want to further discuss the winery and Jumilla region but that might have to wait for another bottle - I'm just a tad strapped for time since the whole Argentina/Peru trip has put me quite a bit behind on my postings. At least I know that there'll be one. For the time being, I'll just mention that C is a blend of 40% Monastrell (or Mourvedre), 40% Tempranillo and 20% Cab Sauv and is a prime example of the new generation of wines coming out of Spain.

If I'd been smart during the night, I might have stuck to quaffing back a bit of wine but the Vixen and some others came by to take in the evening and we quickly moved on to martinis. After all, we have these cool black, skull and crossbones embossed martini glasses and there aren't exactly a lot of opportunities to use them. While the martinis weren't exactly the death of me, it was a little too easy to stand in the raised backyard garden bed, watch the parade of costume after costume and raise our little black glass to all the "lost souls." in fact, we were enjoying that aspect of the evening so much that we lost track of time and we didn't even get to go on the Walk through the lanes ourselves.

By the time we'd reached the end of our own lane around 9.30 - having finished playing Dexter in a neighbour's garage and dancing to a zombie band - we were told that the Walk was now officially closed and that we couldn't proceed any further on the route. Whoa!! Bummer man. I guess it kept the hood well-behaved, but I was so "saddened" that I just went home and called it a night when everyone had moved on. At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I think I've also determined that sticking to wine - over martinis - is going to be a smart plan down the road. I'll certainly remember that approach should Public Dreams visit our neighbourhood again next year.

Gryff Says Farewell

OK, as much as I'd love to spend even more time off gallivanting through exotic locales and drinking all sorts of wines that I'll never find at home, I have yet to win the lottery. So, it's back to day-to-day life in the Northern hemisphere.

Luckily, I don't have to give up altogether on the wine. After all, I may have been able to add another 21 bottles to The List during our recent trip, but we've still got quite a ways to go to reach 2001.

I'm not completely back into the swing of things yet though. We were having a bit of a drinks after work/farewell party for Gryff - as he's taking off for an extended (as in four or five months) trip to the Indian subcontinent. But, I didn't even bring along my camera. I may be able to get a shot from someone else at work, but, for the mean time, the bottle I get to add to The List shall remain photo-less.

629. Bodega y Vinedos Renacer - Punta Final Malbec (Mendoza - Argentina)

Boo and I might be back from South America but that doesn't mean that we've completely got that world out of our system. Since the work crowd would be asking as much about our recent adventures as they would about Gryff's impending trip, I figured I'd bring along a little taste of what we experienced - especially since I don't think there are any Indian wines to be found in our market. India Pale Ale - yes. Indian Merlot or Chardonnay - not so likely.

Renacer was another of the Argentine wineries that I was particularly fond of after the Vancouver Playhouse Wine Festival earlier in the year - and I'd hoped to visit it while we were in Mendoza. That on-site visit was not to be, however, as the winery was closed to visitors during the short time that we were there. And here I'd travelled all that way to see them. The nerve.

I guess it'll just have to be a case of the mountain coming to Mohammed after all.

As for Gryff, it looks like this will be the last bottle that I'll be sharing with him for awhile. In fact, we don't even know if he's ever coming back to the office - he might just retire outright. I look forward to that next bottle though. I know he'll have some stories to tell after all the mountains that he'll have gone to.