Saturday, September 24, 2011

Mexican Cat Dance Redux

We've been living in our current neighbourhood long enough to know that, come September, our neighbour, GatuBela, will throw her annual "Mexican Cat Dance." It never ceases to amaze me how she get all those cats to wear little sombreros and dance in unison to Latin beats. I find it difficult enough to deal with cats in the English language - let alone Spanish. Amazing.

The image of dancing cats may be a bit mind-boggling (even if outrageously false) but GatuBela has been holding the fundraiser for some years now and she uses all the funds that she raises to help save street cats and dogs around her vacation home in Mexico. She tries to find homes for the cats and dogs and has them neutered. It's somewhat of a neverending battle but her passion for the cause can be infectious and make for a fun evening.

For the last so many years, the dance has been held at Casa Verde, a small restaurant in the hood that has a reception hall attached. Together with Mr. Principal and Nature Boy, Boo and I decided to have dinner at Casa Verde prior to joining the rest of dance crowd. Dinner was better than expected and we easily managed to polish off a couple bottles of wine to add to The List.

933. N.V. Aveleda Casal Garcia Vinho Verde (D.O. Vinho Verde - Portugal)

It's been some time since I've had a bottle of Casal Garcia - but it's a wine that I remember from back in the 70's and 80's as a practical wine for struggling students - particularly as a summer sipper. Aveleda is one of the biggest wine producers in Portugal and may be the biggest in the Vinho Verde region itself. The Casal Garcia name dates back to 1939 and was one of the first table wines in Portugal to take on more modernized production standards. The winery tells of how farmers and winemakers in the region always used to publicly question the new and crazy methods that were being adopted at Aveleda - including the trellising of vines more in line with French viticulture. Those innovations seemed to have served the winery well as the wine sells around the world by the millions.

The Casal Garcia is made from four Portugese varietals - Trajadura, Loureiro, Arinto and Azal Branco - and is typical of the fresh and vibrant, slightly effervescent wines that are Vinho Verde. The name "vinho verde" itself translate as "green wine" but that is a reference to the youth of the wine rather than the colour. The wine is meant to drunk young and isn't even bottled with vintage years on the label. We all thought it matched up nicely with Boo's calamari - which he declared to possibly be the best that he's had in years.

934. 2009 Cantine Co.Pro.Vi - Le Contrade Sangiovese Montepulicano Merlot (Italy)

Finding out about the red wine we chose was a little more difficult. Not so much about the producer Cantine Co.Pro.Vi. It is a cooperative that formed in the Velletri district, a commune in the province of Rome, as a means for local growers to give their wine a brand identity. The cooperative started in 1950 with 70 growers and it now consists of over a thousand associates.

Although this wine is a 2009 vintage, my guess is that it is a newer product or it is wine produced for particular markets because it doesn't appear on the producer's website. There is a red Le Contrade on the site but it is called "Castelli Romani" and is made from Sangiovese, Cilliogiolo, Merlot and Cesanese varietals - no mention of Montepulciano. Too bad I can't confirm this is the make up of this wine because I could have added the Cilliogiolo and Cesanese to my Wine Century Club list of varietals.

Regardless of the heritage, this is an easy drinker and the price for a litre makes it a decent house wine. It certainly didn't detract from my flaming weenie or from the bountiful roast chicken that filled the table.

By the time we'd finished dinner (and our wine), we were in fine spirits to join up with some of the other neighbours at the dance. Baby Mama and Red had "ditched" the guys for the night and were ready to do some Mexican cat (or hat) dancing - since the actual dancing cats never materialized. How predictable of cats not to show.

GatuBela tried a new method of raising funds with her myriad of prize packages and Boo and I weren't nearly as successful as we might normally might have been at her past silent auctions. I did, however, win the chance to add a couple of new varietals to my membership with the Wine Century Club (even without those red varietals).

Hopefully, GatuBela saw the evening a big success and raised big bucks for her Mexican babies.

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