Friday, November 4, 2011

'Cuz It's a Thriller....

Halloween is a much loved holiday in our neck of the woods. The Drive has been home to the Parade of Lost Souls on the preceding weekend for years now and our's is a neighbourhood that still seems to get a healthy share of trick or treating kiddies and the local park seems to have become a favourite spot for local fireworks displays. True, our neighbours do favour blasting Rob Zombie tunes to go with the zombie biker in their front yard while we go more for the dancing creatures à la thriller. But, all the same, it doesn't take much of an effort to entice a couple folks over to our place for treats and the little ghouls and goblins.

And a bit of wine, naturally. This year, I pulled a couple bottles where the labels seemed to accentuate the season.

969. 2006 Pacific Breeze Killer Cab (Bottled in Canada)

Lady Di had previously talked about having a tasting where everyone was to bring wines with crazy labels. Killer Cab was to be one of our wines, but the tasting never materialized. So, after a couple of years in the wine rack, I figured it was time to let the Killer out.

Seems like I've talked about Pacific Breeze in this blog more than I've drunk their wines and added them to The List. You can always search the blog to find out a bit more about this true garage winery's take on the whole "bottled in Canada" scene. I think it's fair to say that the winery isn't simply buying up cheap, excess grapes from world markets to make generic (dare I say critter wine). Although Pacific Breeze's grapes are all from California or Washington state, they're bringing in premium grapes and producing wines that have a lot more stature than the aforementioned critter wines - even if it means that they can't be sold as Premium BC or VQA wines.

The skull-crested martini glass may not have been the best way to taste this killer Cab, but sometimes the staging of the event has as much pertinence as the glass does (sorry all you Riedel folks). In retrospect though, I wish Lady Di had carried through with her tasting. I would have liked drinking this bottle a whole lot sooner than we did. Not because it was past its prime. Rather, because I likely would have picked up a few more bottles over the years.

Although he wasn't drinking the Killer Cab, we did have a killer scarecrow join us. It's pretty much a guarantee that Logan will be decked out in a super outfit if costumes are involved. Having come straight from work, his scarecrow this year was great. He was so realistic that he took to standing outside on our porch so that he could scare unsuspecting trick or treaters. I know he didn't mean to, but when he scared one little girl nearly to tears, we felt so badly that we made him abide by a rule that he couldn't scare anyone that was shorter than the fence.

After one little guy had come and gone (he was too short to be scared), his bigger sister came to the door. Logan gave her a good "Boo" and a good startle. Her scream was so convincing that her little bro' started laughing uncontrollably. He came back onto the porch and high-fived Logan, saying that scaring his sister was the "best and coolest thing all evening."

970. 2009 Moon Curser Border Vines (VQA Okanagan Valley)

Our second wine also has a label seemingly custom fit for Halloween. Thing is Moon Curser isn't a specialty market branding, it's a re-branding of Twisted Tree, the Osoyoos winery that came out of gate a couple of years back with guns blazing. Twisted Tree wines have been extremely well received since Day One and I've added more than a couple of their wines to The List. The name change - especially this one - and dramatic label change caught a whole lot of people by surprise.

The story goes that the folks behind Twisted Tree found that, despite their good reputation, they were being too easily confused with other wineries - Tangled Vines and Oliver Twist in BC and the California bulk brand, Twisted. Wanting to create a new, distinct image for the winery - one that was a little more "dynamic" and "radical" - they certainly appear to have achieved that goal. They looked to history in the Osoyoos region and identified with the stories from the 1860's and 1870's gold rush where smugglers used to ferry contraband into the U.S. in the dark of night. They used to curse the moon because the light of the moon made it tougher to evade border guards.

Border Vines is the new name for the old Six Vines. The wine incorporates all six Bordeaux varietals - Cab Sauv, Merlot, Malbec, Cab Franc, Petit Verdot and Carmenère. The primary facet of this wine that differentiates it from virtually any other BC Meritage blend is that the Carmenère component constitutes 23% of the blend. I doubt there are more than a handful of other BC wineries that even have access to Carmenère, let alone use it for a quarter of their wine. The winemaker posits that it's the high percentage of Carmenère that adds the spicey note on the palate.

Good thing the wine is still as good as it used to be. Despite the interesting story behind the name change, I'm one of those who still prefer the old name and labels. I won't stop buying the wine because of the new labels but there are only so many times a year that you can invoke Halloween. I might think twice about bringing one of the new labels to someone's house for dinner at other times of the year.

In the meantime, it was a bit of a thriller of an evening. Fun times and good wine for all.

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