Saturday, February 4, 2012

Pac Rim Bonspiel

Being a good old Canadian boy - but one that doesn't play hockey (as much as I love the Canucks) - I guess, if I really want to keep my passport, I don't really have much choice except to curl. I just wasn't aware of the fact that curling is a good way to keep your "gay card" current through the winter months as well.

Those curling skills - or lack thereof - are being put to the test this weekend at the Pacific Rim Curling Bonspiel. And, unless you're hitting the glitz and glam that is Whistler during the Gay Ski Week, this bonspiel as good as it gets for a winter weekend of gay, old fun and entertainment. The Pac Rim League is Vancouver's gay curling league and - who would have thought it - but it is the biggest curling league in the Lower Mainland with 48 teams. My regular league team didn't enter the bonspiel, but I was asked to join up with another team that was going to be short one of their teammates for the weekend.

The Bonspiel is our league's annual tournament that invites teams from across Canada and the US to join us and this year's version is extra special because it's the first time we've held the bonspiel in our new digs - a legacy from the 2010 Winter Olympics that now plays home to many of the leagues from the sad, old Vancouver Curling Club. To top that perk, the VCC and Pac Rim are hosting the 2012 Canadian Gay Curling Championships. Sixteen teams have qualified from across the country and are playing for national bragging rights - while the rest of us fight it out for regular bonspiel wins.

If there's one thing that's probably a given when curlers and/or gays party over a weekend, it's that there's going to be a lot of booze. The Club lounge definitely enjoyed its busiest weekend since it opened, but, admittedly, curling is more associated with beer than wine. All the same, I had to fit at least a couple bottles into the weekend for the blog's sake.

1053. 2010 Masi - Modello Delle Venezie (IGT Rosso Delle Venezie - Veneto - Italy)

The VCC lounge doesn't exactly have an extensive wine selection - something like three reds and as many whites - but I decided to grab a bottle of Masi when Tyrant happened by to catch a game while a buddy from Toronto was on the ice. One of the best known Italian producers in our market, this wasn't the most enjoyable Masi wine I've tried. I gather it's primarily produced as an entry level wine that looks to capture a simple drinking wine that is reminiscent of enjoying a glass at a Venetian trattoria.

A blend of Refosco, Raboso and other local grapes (that aren't identified as anything other than a "Masi blend"), it might have been true to the Veneto but it didn't do much for me and my Canadian palate. It seemed a little thin, with no discernible fruit and nothing that made it intriguing to my palate. The good news is that I haven't added either of those two varietals to my Wine Century Club totals. Gotta like that.

If I wasn't familiar with Refosco or Raboso, the same can be said for Saturday night's entertainment. I'd heard of Kamelle Toe, one of the newer drags queens on the Vancouver scene, but I'd never actually seen her perform. The bonspiel organizers brought her and one of her good pals, Iona Whipp, to perform a couple numbers and keep us laughing. And laugh I certainly did as Kamelle performed one of Adele's heartbreaking tunes all the while chowing down on a cheeseburger that she pulled out of one side of her bra, which was followed up with a side of fries that appeared from the other side. Who says food can't cure heartache?

Kamelle was also engaging as she MC'd what is becoming a bit of a Pac Rim tradition at the bonspiel, the Drag In A Bag competition. This year, three of the out-of-town teams were chosen and each of the teams had to choose one of its members to get made up in 15 minutes and then, to quote RuPaul, to "lip-sync for their life." This is the third year running that the crowd has been been in stitches as the trio of good sports ham it up. This year's winner hailed from the nation's capital, Ottawa, after doing Dolly Parton's "9-to-5" proud.

It was certainly a hectic weekend. Our team ended up playing six games - more than any of us bargained for. Our Friday night game ended up going until after midnight and, for another, we were on the ice at 8 a.m. Sunday morning. We did have all sorts of laughs though and were lucky enough to play teams visiting from Montréal and San Francisco. When getting ready to play the Montréalers, we pulled out the iPad to Google some French curling terms to jokingly see if we could subvert any strategy they might have to confound us by talking in French. They chortled when we called the "hog line" a "ligne du porc." They said they call it a "hog line" despite what we saw online. We laughed the remainder of weekend, however, whenever some heavy brushing was needed to drag a light shot further down the ice so we could avoid the dreaded "ligne du porc."

1054. 2010 Laughing Stock - Blind Trust White (VQA Okanagan Valley)

Despite curling through all those games (especially when we weren't in the running for any prize money), the four of us championed on and made it to the bonspiel banquet - where we found it in ourselves to order another bottle. Whether we really needed it or not. The wine list was substantially larger at the restaurant and the team left it up to me to pick a wine. I remembered ordering the Laughing Stock Blind Trust Red at my cousin's wedding and that bottle had a non-Merlot drinker raving about a Merlot-heavy blend; so, I figured going the same route with a white might be safe as well.

It was.

The blind trust was mostly Pinot Gris (60%) with Viognier, Sauv Blanc and Pinot Blanc making up the balance. Nice and crisp, with good fruit on the palate, the bottle went quickly. Too bad we were smart and kept it to one bottle - even though dinner took forever to arrive.

Whether it was the home ice advantage or not, it ended up being two Vancouver rinks battling it out for the big prize and national championship - beating out Toronto, Montréal, Ottawa, Halifax, Edmonton and Calgary teams along the way. We may not be bonspiel champs but Old Fart (so named because he won the Old Fart draw to the button contest), Dorbee and Norbee were great to put up with me all weekend. I can't wait until the next time we line up against each other in league play. You can bet I'll be pulling out all my strategic French terms for that one.

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