Saturday, July 23, 2011

Teddy Bear Picnic

It's coming up to "the time of my people." The Vancouver Pride Festival is just around the corner and one of the early events is the Picnic In The Park - or, as we old timers still call it, The Teddy Bear Picnic.

A stalwart tradition in the Pride calendar, it's been a "family" gathering (whatever your family may consist of) in Stanley Park that features groups of picnickers, beer garden and games galore - with the games ranging from old to new. There's the nostalgic watermelon eating and sack races mixed in with the high heel toss and drag race.

Mr. D. rang us up to see if we were going to make it down this year because he was looking to head over and meet up with Logan and Sydney. It must have been awhile since we last attended because we went to the only site we've ever known it to take place at - only to find out that the location had been moved. Thank goodness for iPhones or we'd have never found the picnic.

We almost never found parking because it was one of the first brilliantly sunny Saturday afternoons we've seen this year. Stanley Park was jammed. After three drives around the park, we lucked out in finding a spot and finally joined up with the other revellers. Boy, was it ever time for a drink!

877. 2009 Cuatro Reyes - Inspiración Pampano (D.O. Rueda - Spain)

I'd forgotten to put a white in the fridge back home, so we stopped by Marquis Cellars and grabbed a little something interesting in their cooler. It's marketed as an "ideal sipper" for picnic or park. We were combining the two and it certainly met the task. Refreshing and uncomplicated, it's the type of wine you might find as a house white at a tapas bar.

It turns out that it has a bit of an interesting pedigree and it lets me add another varietal to my list and membership with the Wine Century Club. I managed to hit the century mark a couple of weeks back but this now has me scooting along to try and reach 200. The new grape is Verdejo. I'm sure that I've tried it before but it must not have featured so prominently on its own since I haven't already added it.

The Pampano label is just one of seemingly many produced by Cuatro Reyes. Their website says that they produce 20% of wine bottled in the Rueda district. Rueda is one of those regions that has been making wine for over a thousand years, but it's only just now coming into its own and gaining some international exposure. Appellation status (D.O.) was granted in 1980 and, unlike so many regions that are modernizing for the new world of wine, it is concentrating on local stalwart grapes - instead of discarding the old varietals and replanting vineyards with nothing but international varieties.

The Verdejo grape has an especially long history in the region and isn't really that well known outside of Rueda. Verdejo can be made into a straight varietal wine; however, like this wine, it is often blended with Viura or Sauvignon Blanc. When being blended, the Verdejo must be a minimum of 50% of the content in order for the wine to be given D.O. status. The grape is often cited for its aromatic characteristic and its tendency to have some heft to its body.

The other grape used in this blend was Viura and I thought I might even be able to add a second new varietal to my WCC list. Alas, Viura is often called Macabeo and it's one of the grapes that is traditionally used in blending Spain's sparkling Cava wines. Indeed, that's how I ended up adding it to my application form some many varietals back. One of Viura's most noted qualities is its level of acidity - no doubt accounting for its common blending with the more full bodied Verdejo.

All in all, an easy drinking wine that was nicely suited to the afternoon. We could have finished off another bottle with no problem whatsoever. And that's not meant to be a comment on how "easy" some of our fellow picnickers may or may not have been. But on that note, I think it's time to just move on. No?

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