Saturday, October 13, 2012

Cruising the Straits

After a couple of false starts, we've finally managed to jump a ferry and cruise the straits on our way back to visit Tyrant and his island paradise on Salt Spring. Of course, Murphy's Law dictated that, after three months of almost solid sunshine, there was nothing but rain - big time - on the horizon and the weather forecast. Tyrant was to host another edition of our little Dinner Club and, even if logic dictated that we wouldn't be dining al fresco like last year, something told me the weather's wasn't going to matter a whit.

We made the journey with Jeaux and Matinder and we all agreed that an early cocktail and toast to the weekend was in order.  We were lucky that the inside lounge wasn't very busy since we couldn't exactly bask in the sun on the ship's deck.  Opening a bottle of wine, while surrounded by weekend warriors, wouldn't have been all that wise given ship prohibitions on booze.

1260.  2010 Cellar Hand - Punch Down Red (VQA Okanagan Valley)

I'd grabbed a bottle of Cellar Hand - rather than "deck hand" - for the first time and we were all pleasantly surprised by the wine.  Cellar Hand is a second label for Black Hills - one of the Okanagan big guns.  You might argue that Punch Down Red is a little brother for Black Hills' flagship, Nota Bene, in that it's another red blend.  It's 45% Syrah, 28% Merlot and 27% Cab Sauv and was very approachable for our little cruise.  Plenty of big fruit, body and nice spice but not so powerful that we couldn't sip it on its own without food.

Crossing Georgia Strait didn't take a whole lot longer than it took us to finish the bottle but we arrived on the island with a bit of time to kill before dinner.  Not wanting to get in the way of Tyrant's prep time too early, we hit the local Farmer's Market and loaded up on Moonstruck Cheese.  There was no way I was leaving the island without scoring some of my favourite taste treats.

After dropping Jeaux off at Tyrant's, the plan was to make a quick visit to one of the island's three wineries.  Salt Spring Winery was one of the first wineries in the province (and continent) to make a commitment to and experiment with some of the Blattner grape varietals.  I'd arranged a visit with Dev McIntyre, one of the owners, to talk a little Blattner.  But, first we had to find our way to the winery.  Unfortunately, we were trying to find the winery by memory - with neither address, map nor functioning GPS.

Before we found the winery, we ended up at Ruckle Park and a part of the island that I'd never seen before.  We were all taken aback by the working farm and turkeys running amuck.  Not sure how they all escaped Canadian Thanksgiving, but we gave a bit of thought to bringing one of them back to Tyrant's for dinner.  After all, we could always look to Christmas dinner if Tyrant wasn't able to work fresh turkey into the evening's fare on a moment's notice.  We passed on the turkey but I definitely want to make it back to the Park when we have some time to take in the trails.

We made it to the winery with just enough time to fit in a tasting at the wine bar and for me to meet with Dev.  I must admit, he wondered what the heck I wanted to know about Blattner grapes.  I don't think it's a topic that gets raised all that much.  What could I say other that I'm intrigued by different and unique?  And our chat was definitely on the unique end of the spectrum.  I very much doubt that I could have learned as much by Googling my way around the net and I'm grateful to Dev for making the time to meet.  I'm going to save the details about our discussions though until I get around to opening one of the Blattner wines down the road.

In the mean time, we had to make our way back to Tyrant's.  There'd definitely be more wine waiting for us there.

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