Sunday, April 14, 2013

Belated Birthday Wishes

We seem to have been experiencing a bit of difficulty when it comes to catching up with Elzee. I know that Boo's and my schedules can be difficult to coordinate because of his forever shifting shift work but, goodness, Elzee has been crazy busy. As such, we all looked to the skies in disbelief when we finally figured out a night where we could get together.

There was a bonus for Boo and me as well. Elzee had been feeling "guilty" - for some strange reason - about not seeing us lately; so, she offered to cook dinner as a birthday treat.

Now, Elzee is one helluva cook. So, the dinner invite is something in itself but she served up a bit of a trump card as well.  She popped the cork on our first bottle of the night - one she'd been holding on to for a special occasion. Luckily for us, we qualified.

1287.  1998 Duval-Leroy Authentis de Champagne Trépail Brut (AOC Champagne - France)

We actually have a bit of history with this bottle. A couple of years back, Elzee ran into one of those landmark birthdays and she managed to forget about all the drama of entering a new decade by celebrating in Paris with very good friends, Toolin and Q. We knew that her travelling cohorts would have a bit of time in the City of Lights before Elzee arrived. So, we arranged for Q to find a special bottle of Champagne to present to Elzee for her b-day. The expectation was that they'd pop the cork while in Gai Paris but, lo and behold, Elzee brought the bottle home with her.

And she decided to finally pop the cork for an entirely different b-day.

We'd given Q free rein when it came to choosing the bottle and I certainly don't know much about his ultimate pick. I have run across one Duval-Leroy Champagne previously - and it too was a special bottle (see #417 on The List) - but it was a non-vintage house cuvée. The Authentis label appears to a premium release from the winery and the Trépail is a vintage blanc de blancs made from organically grown Chardonnay grapes from a single Premier Cru vineyard in Trépail. If Wikipedia is to be believed, however, the Trépail Authentis is no longer being produced.

The aging on the wine showed through in the deeper colour and dominant biscuit notes. Fully dry, with little evidence of fruit on the palate, I was hoping for an explosive mousse for a bit of birthday surprise but, alas, this was a rather unbubbly bubbly.

I think it still qualifies as a treat though.

1288.  2001 Tahbilk Shiraz (Nagambie Lakes - Victoria - Australia)

Our second bottle for the evening is an Aussie producer making another appearance on The List and in our glasses. I added the 1999 Shiraz way back at #323 and wrote more about Tahbilk than I'm going to repeat here. Suffice it to say that, while I don't see or taste a lot of Tahbilk wines, they always seem to impress. We are starting to see more and more Victorian wines in the Vancouver market. So, I suppose I should keep my eye open for some more.

Being located in Victoria (north of Melbourne), this is a cooler climate Shiraz for Australia. That is if any Aussie wine regions can really be thought of as cool climate from a Canadian perspective. I tend to find the hallmark, calling card of Victorian Shiraz is that it isn't as ballsy or big as Barossan or South Australian Shiraz. That said, nowadays, there seems to be a general trend of pulling back on the over-the-top nature of premium Barossan Shiraz. Victorian Shiraz just seemed to start from that point a little more naturally.

This is one bottle that definitely disappeared a little too quickly for my liking.

1289.  2010 Alderlea Vineyards Bacchus (Vancouver Island)

Because the Shiraz vanished as quickly as it did, we sacrificed ourselves to the chore of opening a third bottle. There was a little bit of self-justification in that we were moving into a white with a "much lower" alcohol content. After all, how strong could a Vancouver Island white be?

I was actually quite surprised to see the Alderlea bottle in Elzee's stash. Their wines don't tend to appear much on this side of the Georgia Strait. Elzee wasn't positive about the bottle's provenance but she thought it might have been a gift from a colleague on the Island.

I've said on many an occasion, and definitely in this blog, that Alderlea is a fave of mine from Vancouver Island. I don't think, however, that I've tried their Bacchus before. Light and bright with tree fruit, it matched beautifully with Elzee's signature apple and pine nut tart (which I'll take practically any day over a birthday cake).

I understand that we may see even less Alderlea Bacchus in the future. Owner Roger Dosman is known for his striving to determine what grape varieties are best suited for his vineyard and for the challenging Island climate. Accordingly, he has replanted a good portion of his Bacchus with more disease-resistant vines such as the Blattner varietals. Good thing we got to enjoy this one when we did.

Not that we needed a night cap but Elzee recently vacationed a bit in Mexico and she wanted to pour a little high end Tequila that she'd picked up. The Clase Azul Reposado Tequila was definitely a sipping tequila - as opposed to a simple margarita mix bottle - although I would never have expected the ceramic bottle to contain tequila. As a night cap, Elzee could have easily used this as a Mexican replacement for Grappa in the cafe corretto we tried on a previous visit when Mama and Papa Elzee were visiting as well.

Maybe we can try that next time we're visiting and the folks join us. In the mean time, we just need to find more occasion to get together with this gal!

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