Tuesday, June 17, 2014

English Doc Hits a Landmark

When did I start getting so old?

Not that I'm one to announce a lady's age, but today was the first of what's likely going to be a common occurrence in the days and years to dome. English Doc turned 60 and a gaggle of folks gathered to celebrate in that landmark birthday way. We've still got a batch of good friends' 50th b-days to come this year. So, a 60th was a bit of a wake up call. I'm not so sure that I'm ready to be hit with an even bigger decade.

Good thing there was plenty of wine to help us get through the shock. The primary pours were mimosas - and I'll admit to having joined in for a couple but I didn't grab shots of the bottles for The List because there were all Prosecco's that have already been added. Tasty? Yes. But that "silly" rule of mine says that a bottle can only be added once to The List - unless the additional bottle is a different vintage or a different size.

Of course, there were still other bottles to add.

1633.  2011 Falernia Reserva Carmenère (Valle de Elqui D.O. - Chile)

The Olivier family emigrated to Chile from northern Italy in 1951 to start life anew in the Elqui Valley. Working in agriculture from the start, the family started growing grapes in the early 1970's. The grapes, however, were destined for the production of Pisco, Chile's national spirit. After a few years of selling their grapes to other producers, the family established its own Pisco company, only to see it grow into the third largest Pisco producer in the country.

The winery's website states that in 1995, family member, Aldo Olivier, met a cousin, Giorgio Flessati, who was working in the wine industry back in Italy. Together, they founded Falernia - Chile's most northerly wine estate - in an innovative effort to transform "a tract of desert into a green vineyard." The winery now offers a wide selection of wines featuring over a dozen varieties.

I suppose it only makes sense that one of the wines offered is a Carmenère. It is, after all, the grape that first heralded Chile's arrival on the international wine scene. This particular bottling also incorporates some of the family's Italian heritage in that it is made using the appasimento method, whereby the grapes are harvested very late in the season in order to concentrate the grape juices and then left to partially dry to further increase that concentration. I hadn't known this production method had been used before I tried the wine. Had I known, that might have explained the intensity of the wine. It was quite the contrast to all the mimosas that were flowing. Talk about your opposite ends of the spectrum.

The highlight of the event was the introduction and explanation of the most spectacular of birthday cakes. In what has become a bit of a trademark for them, Lady Di and She Who Must Be Obeyed put together an homage to English Doc's first sixty years.

With a little bit of help from Axel, English Doc's main squeeze, Lady Di and SWMBO tracked down and incorporated at least eight of the cars and bikes that Doc has owned over the years. They worked in his love of the slopes (although I don't think he's ever snowboarded - but I guess you can't find a Ken doll on skis), scuba and travelling. They were hardly about to let him escape the fact that he was the first to turn 60 though. There was more than a handful of dinosaurs to be found on various stages of the cake.

Hopefully, Doc was able to get over the shock of how much dirt the girls had dug up from his past and realized that they've only done this a handful of times - and only for the biggest of birthdays. Indeed, I'm not sure that I've been party to one of their "this is your life" cakes since Boo turned 40 and that was more than a couple of years ago.

Furthermore, you'll just have to believe me when I tell you that this was also the most incredibly delicious cake as well. They could serve this to me any single day of the year - birthday or otherwise, and that comes from a guy that doesn't eat much cake.

1634.  2011 Bella Sparkling Chardonnay (Okanagan Valley)

Of course, there was a bit of a birthday toast to the birthday boy - and I made sure that there was no orange juice mixed with this bubble.

Bella is a most interesting addition to the BC wine scene. The 2011 vintage is the enterprise's first bottling as they seek to establish themselves as BC's first sparkling only winery. Sparkling wines haven't always been foremost on the list of skews for BC winemakers - even though producers like Blue Mountain and Sumac Ridge have shown for years that BC can make some very tasty bubblies. More and more wineries are joining the ranks of effervescence though.

Starting off with the Chardonnay and a Gamay Noir Rosé, this first attempt saw Bella purchase grapes and enlist the help of winemaker, Michael Bartier, and the Okanagan Crush Pad facilities. The virtual winery only saw 275 cases at the end of their initial production run but the reaction has been most favourable. The intent was to double the 2012 output and, ultimately, hit a goal of 3000 cases annually.

I don't know if the Bella paired up with the sweetness of the cake as much as the lighter, sweeter Proseccos that were also being served. The Sparkling Chardonnay showed some serious citrus and acidity and was clearly a serious sip. I'll look forward to seeing how the winery evolves.

And, on that note of evolving over time, I guess there's just no turning back time. It's just something I'll have to live with. After all, it is better than the alternative. I'll just have to hope the wine will keep flowing and we'll all be able to keep knocking it back as the years continue to add up.

Happy Happy Doc.

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