Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Year's Eve

Here I am back from the Rum-soaked beaches of Cuba, only to find myself right back at it on the wine-laden shores of Vancouver. Jeaux must have been at least partially correct, all those years ago in New Orleans, when she called me "Evil Bob" throughout Mardi Gras. I'm seeing no rest now that I'm back; ergo, does that make me "wicked?"

Our plane arrived at the airport after midnight. It was off to work this morning. And, now, it's off to meet up with some of the boys for New Year's Eve. Perhaps the "wickedness" stems from the fact that I'm heading out on the town without Boo - after just returning from a week in Cuba without him. I don't think I can be faulted though. It's not my fault if he has to work on New Year's Eve and he wouldn't want to stay home all alone - especially since Tyrant has arranged reservations for dinner at a new-ish wine bar in town and we're going to start it off at his place to whet our whistles and get prepped for the evening to come.

692. 2007 Gray Monk Odyssey Brut - (VQA Okanagan)

I think it's entirely appropriate to sample a wine called "Odyssey" for this blog, given the name. In fact, it's a bit of a surprise that it's taken this long. I guess I was just waiting for an appropriate occasion and if New Year's Eve isn't appropriate enough for bubbles, I don't know what time would be. I figured it would be particularly nice to try the '07 Odyssey since it was awarded one of only eleven Lieutenant Governor's Wine Awards presented in BC this year. As one of the Heiss family members was quoted, this award puts us in "pretty elite company."

There's a number of quite nice sparklers being produced in BC nowadays but I think this is the first time that I've tried the Gray Monk. It's made in the classic Methode Champenoise, although the blend would never be authorized in the Champagne appellation proper. The winemaker worked with a mix of Riesling, Chardonnay Musque and Pinot Blanc and fashioned a wine that covers a lot of bases - crisp and tart, with a fruity nose and a touch of residual sugar, while still showing a nice roundness that reminds you of fresh baking without being overly yeasty.

Tyrant had some other bottles open, but I knew there'd be plenty of wine to come. So, I just stuck to a bit of bubble until we headed off for dinner.

NV Mionetto Prosecco di Valdobbiadene (Prosecco IGT - Veneto - Italy)

The restaurant, Cibo, started us off with another glass of bubbly to pair with an oyster on the half shell. Too bad I've already added this Mionetto to The List (back at #286) and under my "rules," being Non-Vintage, it doesn't get a second number. I preferred the Odyssey to the Prosecco - even though they are completely different in the style of wines - but it was interesting to taste the contrast in the varying approaches to the production of sparkling wines.

693. 2008 Terredora Falanghina (IGT Falanghina Campania - Italy)

Not a varietal - or even an area - that I see often. I suppose it makes some sense that it might be featured in a wine bar with a decidedly Italian bent to it. The winery is located in the Southern half of Italy, in between Rome and Naples, not far from the Amalfi Coast. It was paired with a buffalo mozzarella, polenta and olive salad. The bottle didn't go very far between all of us and I wouldn't mind trying some more to get a better appreciation of what the varietal has to offer.

694. 2008 Cooralook Pinot Noir (Victoria - Australia)

The mushroom risotto was being paired with Pinot Noir and I can see that - Pinot can often feature an earthy, mushroom-y-ness - but I was a little surprised to find out that the Pinot in the glass was from Australia. Those aren't descriptors that I generally think of with Aussie reds - even Pinots. And, to be honest, this one didn't really hint much on that front, but I like seeing more wines coming from the state of Victoria - mostly because that where our favourite Aussie import, Merlot Boy (the person, not a wine brand name), is from.

I'm not familiar with the Cooralook, but it's located outside of Melbourne and this wine is sourced from vineyards in two of the local regions - the Mornington Peninsula and the Strathbogie Ranges (I've never heard of the latter to my recollection). Seems like we'll start the New Year off with a couple of wines and regions to look into further.

695. 2008 Cantele Cenobio Salice Salentino (DOC Salice Salentino- Italy)

My cioppino was meant to be paired with a Pinot Grigio but I asked for a red instead - and the Cenobio was delivered. A blend of Negroamaro and Malvasia Nero varietals, it also hails from a region that I don't know a whole lot about. Puglia is, maybe, best described as the heel that helps form the "boot" that is Italy. Salento is the "high heel" part. Interesting that they chose this as a wine to replace a white. I generally think of Southern Italy as producing big, strong reds.

I don't recall leaving any wine in my glass though. So, it must have gone along well enough. Come to think of it, however, I don't think there were any full glasses at our table the entire night. As well behaved as we were, the wine just kept disappearing as quickly as it appeared. My guess is that it must have been Alvin Chipmunk since he joined us while visiting from Hong Kong. It's always the ones on vacation that raise a ruckus.

696. N.V. Lustau East India Solera Sherry (Jerez - Spain)

Dessert was paired with a dessert sherry - again, something that I wasn't all that familiar with. It was far from the sweet cream sherry that everyone's stereotypical gramma used to enjoy as her daily tipple. This was a blend of two separately aged sherries - an amontillado and a Pedro Jiminez (that uses partially raisined grapes as its base).

It was a bit of a surprise as well and, in conjunction with another glass of Prosecco at midnight, a nice way to nightcap the evening. We'd talked about maybe heading back to Tyrant's and cracking a bottle of Port or something equally delicious, but old age seems to be catching up with us and we all decided to just wander through the young'uns partying in the downtown streets and make our way home.

A fun little way to bring in 2011 though. Here's hoping that there are plenty more opportunities to keep adding bottles to The List.

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