Monday, December 26, 2011

A Christmas Dinner Treat

It was a bit of wine-centric Christmas around here. Not entirely surprising, but rather unexpected. Regular readers will know that Boo regularly tries to place me on a "No Buy Leash." For some reason, he feels that if the wine cabinet and wine rack is full, it's complete overkill to start storing boxes in our second bathtub. Me, I'm thinking we don't use it anyhow - especially since a leak has rendered it useless for awhile now.

In any event, the only gift he asked for this Christmas was my promise not to buy any wine for six months so that we could drink our way through some of the bottles we've already amassed. Feeling rather Santa-esque, I paid a visit to the pet store on The Drive and picked up a dog leash and collar, attached a "No Wine" graphic to it and left it wrapped under the tree for him.

With a proviso. I couldn't give him an outright promise for six months. Bugger that, we're going to Australia in April. But, I did promise not to buy any wine until we go to Oz - UNLESS he gives me pre-approval or it's during the Vancouver Playhouse Wine Festival.

So what has he done in return? Went out and bought six high end bottles of red - including a 2006 Grange and a 2005 Barossa Valley Estates E&E Black Pepper Shiraz. Those two bottles alone would cover more than a couple trips to and sprees at the liquor store for me.

As tradition would have it, Boo was working Christmas Day itself and wouldn't be able to join us until later in the evening. So the balance of the family met at my sister's home. She's got the kids; so, we've all deemed it most convenient to have Christmas dinner at her place. There were some thoughtful and much appreciated gifts - but, surprisingly, no more wine.

"No more wine" under the tree that is. I don't think there is such a thing as a family dinner around our homes that doesn't involve some wine in a glass. Indeed, we may have even stumbled on the first cocktail that my oldest niece, Stargirl, actually took a second - and third and fourth - sip of. Dubonnet. Works for me.

While Stargirl discovered that our bevy of cocktails weren't all ridiculous, the rest of us got to enjoy a treat that I'd been waiting an awfully long time for.

1028. 2007 Blue Mountain Brut Rosé (Okanagan Valley)

I've enjoyed Blue Mountain wines ever since they were among the first to arrive on the BC wine scene as a premium producer back in the early 1990's. Boo and I served their other sparkler, the Gold Label Brut, at our commitment ceremony in '96 and, then again, at our 10 year anniversary party. Their total production remains rather limited though - at around 13,000 cases annually - and general consensus has always been that their wines are hard to obtain.

I think the hardest of all Blue Mountain wines to find is the Brut Rosé though. This wine has been a favourite of mine at Blue Mountain's semi-annual charity event in Vancouver but I haven't been able to snag a bottle for myself - even though I've been on the winery mailing list for years. That is, until this year! I found out about the "double-secret Brut Rosé-only" mail list and finally secured some.

After all that waiting, it seemed like a no-brainer to me that we pop the cork for Christmas dinner.

The Brut Rosé is made in the Méthode Traditionelle, meaning that the wine is made in the same manner as true Champagne is. That procedure involves an initial, and separate, fermentation of the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay components. Those wines are then blended (about 2/3's Pinot, 1/3 Chardy for the '07 vintage) and re-inoculated with yeast and bottled. The secondary fermentation in the bottle is the traditional means of giving sparkling wines their sparkle or bubbly nature. The fact that the wine is then aged for three years with that yeast - or aged sur-lie - is the reason many good sparklers are often accompanied by a biscuity or toasty flavour note.

The Brut Rosé exhibits slightly more fruit than the Gold Label Brut tends to show and I find that this undertone of red fruit and acidity makes for a thoroughly enjoyable blend of bubbly crispness with a lengthy finish. I didn't find the mousse - or sensation of bubbles in the mouth - to be as explosive as a few sparklers I've enjoyed, but I'm willing to let that slide.

At $35 a bottle, it's far more reasonably priced that a true Rosé Champagne, but for most of us, we might need a bit of a special occasion as a reason for the splurge. I think Christmas dinner qualifies handily.

1029. 2006 CedarCreek Estate Select Merlot (VQA Okanagan Valley)

CedarCreek wines may be somewhat easier to find on BC liquor shelves but that doesn't make them any less enjoyable. If memory serves correctly, the 2006 reds were being made about the time that CedarCreek was looking at trying to re-brand themselves a bit. Part of that re-branding was to take their three ranges of wines and combine them into two. The end result was that wines that were being sold at $30 a bottle were now being blended with the $20 wine - and all being sold at the $20 price tag. The Estate Select series was the end result of that consolidation and we consumers were the winners.

When I think CedarCreek wines, Merlot isn't likely the first varietal that comes to mind. After all, they've had some pretty stellar Pinot Noir's and Syrah's in the past. Not to mention their helping put Ehrenfelser on the BC wine map. But their Merlot is a good, reliable fruit forward wine that is the type of approachable wine that even Stargirl might eventually start with when she's ready to join her Mom's, Boo's and my love of the grape on a more regular basis.

With Christmas dinner now behind us, I'm not quite sure how this physical "No Buy Leash" is going to feel. Looks like 2012 is going to hold a few challenges for me. Not the least of which will be to find a storage place for that bottle Grange. I don't think the bathtub is quite the best choice.

Merry Merry All.

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