Friday, May 6, 2011

The Hockey Hoedown Continues

It's Game 4 with the Predators as the Round 2 Hockey Hoedown continues in Nashville - and it's a huge one. A win tonight and the Canucks return home to Vancouver with a 3-1 lead in games. A loss sees the teams tied at two games apiece and it's a whole new, best-of-three series.

Considering that the Canucks have gone to overtime for four of their last five games, it doesn't take much to realize that there's a bit of pressure at play. As such, I figured I'd bring out one of Howard Soon's newest big guns at Sandhill. The winery has produced a Chardonnay under their regular, white label since day one. The 2008 vintage, however, saw Soon release a new first - a single block Chardy as part of the Small Lots Program.

I'd opened Red Rooster's Chardonnay (recently named one of the world's top ten Chardonnay's in this year's Chardonnay du Monde in France) for Game 7 with the Blackhawks and we won that game. So, why not bring out another Chardy? After all, Howard Soon has played mentor to Karen Gillis, Red Rooster's winemaker, for some years now. I'm thinking he likely has a few tricks up his sleeve for his own Chardonnay.

796. 2008 Sandhill Small Lots Chardonnay (VQA Okanagan Valley)

All of Sandhill's wines are single vineyard, but sourcing these grapes from just a single block, Block B11, in the Sandhill Estate vineyard, that takes Soon's concept of terroir to an even more intimate level. Located at the northern end of the Sandhill vineyard, this block is nestled against a 400 foot granite cliff - providing a very particular dimension to growing conditions and approaches. Weather-wise, the 2008 vintage was challenging in many aspects for BC growers, but the fruit from this block stood out so much from the vineyard's other Chardonnay plantings that Soon felt it merited a separate bottling.

There were only 132 cases of the wine produced - and that's a real shame because we couldn't get enough of it. And we're not real Chardonnay drinkers. It successfully captured so many of the notes that can make or break a Chardonnay - there was definite oak, but it was nicely integrated and definitely didn't dominate; good body being evident but still having a refreshing acidity and fruitiness that was very appealing. This is a Chardonnay that I could easily return to.

It would have been interesting to try this bottle side by side with the other night's "world beating" Red Rooster. Different vintages and different price points - but both well-received by the wine writing world.

I don't know that the wine had anything to do with the Canucks' big 4-2 win for the night, but I liked both the wine and the game result.

Now, if we can only put away the Predators a little quicker than it took to knock out the Hawks.

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