Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dinner at Miradoro

Lest you think that this BCWAS Bus Tour is nothing but hitting as many wineries and sampling as many wines as possible in a day, rest assured that we were given some opportunity to just sit back and enjoy an extended winery visit as well. After all, it was Saturday night and this crowd loves its food - as well as its wine.

We were lucky enough to be welcomed to Tinhorn Creek's new restaurant, Miradoro, by none other than Tinhorn's Sandra Oldfield. Sandra is now not only a part owner, the winemaker and newly named CEO, she's likely the head bottle-washer as well. Despite being somewhat under the weather, Sandra greeted us and took us for an initial tasting in the winery's barrel room - where they were storing 1100 barrels, some filled with the 2010 reds, some empty waiting for the next wines to be aged.

Sandra then joined us for dinner at Mirodoro. Although the restaurant was only opened this Spring, it has already been named by Wine Access magazine as one of the world's best winery restaurants. A joint venture between Tinhorn Creek and Manuel Ferreira (of Vancouver's noted Le Gavroche restaurant), the restaurant offers a sweeping view of the winery and the South Okanagan Valley - fitting since the name is a rough translation of Spanish and Portugese for "golden view."

Miradoro's chef is Jeff Van Geest - no slouch, himself, when it comes to pedigrees. Recently transplanted from Vancouver, Chef Van Geest made a name for himself as a sous chef at Bishop's and then as owner and chef at Aurora Bistro. He's been quoted as saying that the move to the Okanagan was prompted by a desire for a more relaxed approach to life than the big city offers. I don't know how relaxing the launch of a new restaurant can be, but his goal at Miradoro is to create Mediterranean influenced dishes from seasonal, local ingredients.

Our menu consisted of stuffed, grilled squid, an onion soup (that had everyone crying out for more - or at least a recipe), local beef bresola and a three-way lamb dish. Top notch.

Oh, and there was a bit of wine as well.

929. 2008 Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Series Merlot (VQA Okanagan Valley)

930. 2009 Tinhorn Creek Merlot (VQA Okanagan Valley)

Sandra may be particularly well known for her tales on the trials and tribulations of Cab Franc and the varietal's growing reputation in the Okanagan Valley but her Merlot has tempted more than a few taste buds over the years - including mine. I'll be honest though, there are no such things as tasting notes on tonight's dinner wines. For me, it was all about the atmosphere and experience. Tasting notes, meh, all I know is that the Oldfield Series with lamb chorizo is a pairing worthy of a re-enactment at home.

We had the opportunity to taste some Tinhorn's Pinot Gris, a barrel sample Syrah (if I remember correctly), Cab Franc and a rare Kerner Icewine as well, but I chose the Merlots to add to The List because the Oldfield was my favourite of the night and the refills were plentiful and easily obtained.

On a different note, Sandra was the only person, during the entire weekend, who mentioned that she thought it was going to be rough getting the late-ripening varietals, like Cab Franc, to fully ripen for this year's harvest in the Valley. When I mentioned that fact to her, her reply was that she doesn't see any reason to hold punches about a rough season in the vineyards. The vintage will be what it is and people are going to know the reality of the vintage once they try the wines. Her job, as winemaker, is to make the best wine from whatever fruit the season delivers. Honestly like that is virtue in my book.

I hope the Cab Franc ripens though.

Between the people behind the winery and restaurant and the wonderful setting, I don't think it's difficult, at all, to see why Miradoro has become a dining darling in the Okanagan. The hours flew by and it was time to head back to Walnut Beach before we knew it. Something tells me it was an enjoyable evening for the gang overall - that is, if spontaneous eruptions of Beyoncé's "Single Ladies" in the back of the bus are any indication. Talk about bringing those summer campfire singalongs of yore to an entirely different level.

Now, to get enough sleep to be back on the bus in the morning.

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