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.

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