Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Pulling Out A Big Gun Chardy

I think it's fair to say that no one, not even me, thought that the Canucks would sweep the Bruins and win the Stanley Cup in four games. Wildest dreams, maybe. But "thought?" Nah. We knew that the first two games had been close in Vancouver but, with Vancouver winning both games, the hope of a split in Boston and a marvelous 3-1 lead was pretty appealing.

Game 3's blow out wasn't exactly something that had been contemplated. But everyone was gunning for the fact that tonight's Game 4 was going to see the real Canucks hit the ice and give the Bruins - and their rabid fans - a spirited run for their money. Or so the hope was.

824. 2007 Mission Hill Perpetua Chardonnay (VQA Okanagan Valley)

Knowing the importance of this game and that, being an away game, the Canucks would be playing in their white jerseys, I thought it'd be appropriate to bring out a bottle of Mission Hill's top white - their Perpetua Chardonnay and its one-of-a-kind packaging, with the embossed, metal label.

Mission Hill's 1992 Chardonnay probably did as much as any one wine to bring BC winemaking to the world's attention. The winery's new, at the time, winemaker, John Simes, had just arrived and he convinced owner, Anthony von Mandl, that some of the newly-harvested fruit was so good that it would be worth it to separate those grapes and give them the royal treatment. The chosen grapes were used in the 1992 Grand Reserve Chardonnay and it went on to win Top Chardonnay at the 1994 International Wine & Spirits Competition in London. When the judges were advised of the winner, they were taken with such surprise that a re-tasting was held to make sure that a mistake hadn't been made. It was the first serious international wine award given to a BC wine - or Canadian wine period - and it set the wheels in motion for another level of seriousness in BC winemaking.

Perpetua is a spiritual offspring of that 1992 vintage. The wine is part of the Legacy Series and is the only white wine to be produced and marketed at that level. The fruit is all sourced from a single vineyard south of Osoyoos, right at the Canada-US border. It is one of the first estate vineyards established by Mission Hill and they planted three Chardonnay clones on the site.

Befitting of its premium stature, you know that this Perpetua has seen enough oak to lend itself to the wine's structure. The good thing (for me) is that the oak is restrained - noticeable but not overpowering. About a quarter of the wine is aged, sur lie, in new French oak for about 8 months. The rest of the juice is aged in stainless steel to maintain the fruit that is indicative of the BC terroir.

This 2007 vintage is only the second to be released. I recall the wine first coming to my attention when we tried the 2006 at an Australian Wine Appreciation Society Chardonnay Challenge tasting - where it finished near the top of 15 wines that included the likes of Australian icon, Leeuwin Estate Artist Series. I was one of the participants that ranked the Perpetua near the top; however, I remember that vintage as having a more enjoyable presence that this 2007. I guess it all comes down to the vintage and the circumstances where you're tasting the wine.

Our circumstances were anything but favourable for this bottle. The Canucks had another nasty outing, being shut out 4-0. Canuck goalie, Roberto Luongo, was even pulled, having let 12 goals get past him in the past two games in Boston. That fact led to the joke of the day being: "What time is it in Boston? 12 past Luongo." Ouch.

Not even the Perpetua could save this game.

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