Monday, November 7, 2011

Fowl Wine for a Fowl Supper?

At this time of year, if you're in Vancouver and you run into Linda Fillmore - especially dolled up like she is in this picture - it can likely mean only one thing: the Prairie Fairy Fowl Supper. The Fillmore Foundation has been hosting the Fowl Supper since 2000 and raising thousands of dollars for local charities like A Loving Spoonful, McLaren Housing Society and Out in Schools. Fashioned after the community fowl suppers that are ubiquitous across the prairies, the party started as a small event to bring a little bit of the prairies back for many of the fairies that had crossed the Rockies to land in Vancouver.

It's now one of the biggest events on the Vancouver gay calendar. Tickets always sell out and it's often the one time, every year, where you can run into old friends and acquaintances that you haven't seen since the last Fowl Supper.

We were joining up with some our regular gang, but we invited Miss Jaq over to our place for a cocktail before we mosied off to the Supper. Miss Jaq has always been half-way across the world every other time the supper has been held, but we corralled her to join us this time since she was actually going to be in town.

972. 2010 Focus Riesling (VQA Okanagan Valley)

Just as Miss Jaq was making a first appearance, this is a first time for me and Focus Riesling. Years ago, I remember reading Jurgen Gothe, in the Georgia Strait magazine, say that he thought that the 2002 Focus was the first Riesling to come out of Canada that could be taken seriously. Back then, Roger Wong was a young winemaker, working at Pinot Reach, and he put out a side-project label of one wine - a Riesling. After a review like Gothe's, what little Focus there was disappeared quickly and I anxiously waited for the next vintage.

Trouble is that there was no subsequent vintage that followed. 2003 saw the Okanagan wildfire that compromised many of the region's grapes and Wong didn't feel that he could get his hands on fruit that could meet his vision. Pinot Reach then got parcelled off (in large part into what is now Tantalus) and Wong found himself concentrating on a new winemaking position at Grey Monk.

Almost a decade later, Roger and his wife, Gillian, have teamed up with another couple, Ross and Geri Dean, to form Intrigue Wines. Wong still works for Grey Monk but he and Intrigue have started producing their own wines from the Lake Country region. This 2010 Focus is one of the wines that Intrigue has produced and it takes off where that original vintage started - making the odd headline here and there. There were only 89 cases made; so it still won't be the easiest wine to find. But it's worth it!

The name Focus comes from Wong's concept of making a regional wine that focuses on the one varietal that best suits that region's terroir. His thought is that Riesling is that grape when it comes to the North Okanagan If you're a regular reader, you already know that I'm partial to Rieslings. So, it shouldn't be any surprise that I'm going to focus on Roger's wines down the road.

Now, with the residual sugar that is fully evident in the Focus Riesling, some might be tempted to refer to the wine as "fruit salad in a cup." I wouldn't want you to confuse it with the actual jellied fruit salad in a Double D cup that showed up at the Fowl Supper in the annual jellied salad competition. As beautiful - and likely tasty - those cups might have been, the salad made by our friends, Will and Harry, wasn't even a finalist. I think they got bamboozled myself.

Unfortunately for the wine drinker in me, our earlier bottle was the primary focus of our evening's wine enjoyment. The wines available at the Fowl Supper were, by all accounts at our table, rather fowl. We bought a bottle of the only red and the only white. I didn't necessarily think they were as bad as the others but, suffice it to say, that most of our table moved on to beer - and that's saying something for a classy gal like Miss Jaq. As for Elzee, I think she decided to stick with water. Ouch.

973. 2010 Two Oceans Pinot Noir (W.O. Western Cape - South Africa)

2010 Two Oceans Sauvignon Blanc (W.O. Western Cape - South Africa)

Regardless of the calibre of the wine, I'm still adding the Pinot Noir to The List. After all, not every wine on a list of 2001 bottles can be a winner and we did manage to coax Miss Jaq and Nine-Juan-Juan to pose with the bottles - even if they weren't exactly her cup of wine.

In checking back on the blog, it looks like Two Oceans has been the winery of choice for the last three Fillmore Foundation events and I can't add the Sauv Blanc since I added the 2010 vintage after the Fillmore Family Reunion back in the summer. I don't know if the distributors have come on as a sponsor of the event, but I may have to talk to Linda. One never wants to limit one's wine sales - particularly at a charity event.

With no more wine to be had, we didn't last long as the supper moved on from dinner to dance. Turns out Boo, Miss Jaq, and Elzee thought as much about the evening's entertainment as they did about the wine - particularly as the crowd got restless with the floor show and took to launching paper airplanes. Personally, I could have stuck it out with a beer and dance, but 3-1 is a pretty tough vote to get past, especially when Boo was the designated driver.

Hopefully, Linda and gang will de-brief the Fowl Supper and rein in whatever might need it. I love the event and its history, but if stalwarts like Elzee and Boo and me are questioning the bloom on the rose, I have to wonder if others are thinking the same thing.

Or, maybe, we're just becoming old and cranky prairie fairies who complain a lot when the wine doesn't meet our high fallutin' tastes. Guess we'll see.

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