Thursday, April 28, 2011

Round 2 - Bring on the Predators

Let's face, Round 1 with the Chicago Blackhawks was enough to drive a guy to drink. Taking the series to overtime in Game 7 was bit much for we faint of heart. But, here we are starting a new series with the Nashville Predators.

When the Canucks pulled off the big win in Game 7, I'd sent out an e-mail of relief to friends in far-flung locations - like Australia and Abu Dhabi - you know, places where they don't play much hockey. They know the city is gripped with Canuck fever though. When I said that the boys were going to take on Nashville in Round 2, Sheila - a transplanted Vancouverite who's been living in Oz for decades now - replies, "Nashville has a team???"

For the next while, we're going to see just how good of a team they really do have.

But, with a new round of the playoffs comes a new BC winery to match up with our series. Seeing how we went through eleven different bottles of Red Rooster wines during the Chicago series, I had to pick a winery that we can potentially draw almost as many wines from our cellar, should the need arise. I figured that, since Karen Gillis' wines were up to the task in Round 1, maybe I should go with her her mentor, Howard Soon's, wines at Sandhill. We've added a number of Sandhill wines to The List over these first two years of the Odyssey, so a number of the wines for this series will be new vintages rather than new varietals or blends - but you know we love Howard's wines and this will be great a great opportunity to serve up some of the older vintages we have in the cellar.

787. 2004 Sandhill One (VQA Okanagan Valley)

With over 30 years of winemaking experience, there's been plenty written about Howard Soon - including a smattering on this blog. I find myself continually gravitating to Soon's Small Lots Program. These wines are ever-evolving and generally involve barrels that just seem to stand out above all others or use fruit from distinctly unique vineyard blocks that somehow speak volumes with experimental varietals (at least for the Okanagan) or innovative vineyard management.

A stalwart part of the Small Lots Program has been a series of blended wines - simply named "One," "Two" and "Three." It made sense to me that we open a bottle of One for Game 1 in the series. Like playoff tickets that are crazy difficult to get ahold of, there was never a lot of this wine available. It's not called the Small Lots Program for nothing - only 511 cases of this wine was made. A Cab Sauv-heavy Bordeaux blend, the earlier vintages of this wine were some of the first to start incorporating Petit Verdot (9%) and Malbec (9%) into the blend. This wine is interesting in that I'd certainly expect a BC Bordeaux or Meritage blend to use Merlot as a blending component before Petit Verdot. Indeed, you still won't see a whole lot of Petit Verdot being grown in the province.

A good blend and its winemaker, much like a good hockey team and its coach (if you'll pardon the gratuitous analogy), are generally a whole lot more successful when all the attributes of the individual components are more thoroughly understood. Much like I have to trust that Canucks coach, Alain Vigneault, will come up with the right mix of players and lines in this series, I trust that Howard Soon saw something in the profile of the Petit Verdot and Malbec that just heightened the best qualities of the Cab.

We certainly enjoyed the wine enough though - and we enjoyed the 1-0 Canucks win. If the Canucks don't find easier ways to beat Nashville goalie, Pekka Rinne, however, I don't know if I'm going to be able to handle such a close checking, low-scoring series with only one bottle of wine a game.

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