Sunday 16 January 2011

Holiday Wines & Food – Part 2

It took a little while to recover from our December 23rd dinner party – especially considering the other drinks we had when we went out afterwards, and then again the next day; but before we knew it Christmas day had arrived! I finally had an iron-clad reason to open some of my most cherished wines: I have a nasty habit of keeping special bottles closed because the situation “just isn’t special enough” (even my own birthday often doesn’t measure up for some reason!).

December 25: Christmas Feast!

We had some very good friends over for Christmas dinner and I’d been planning the meal for quite a while. Unfortunately (or fortunately) in reading so many great recipes I had a little trouble narrowing it down, so I made a ridiculously large amount of food: in addition to our traditional Tofurkey, garlic mashed potatoes, dressing, and turnip we also made Creamy Brussels Sprouts with Pearl Onions and “Pancetta” (aka veggie bacon), Maple-Glazed Spiced Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Yams, and a huge Wild Rice, Hazelnut, and Dried Cranberry Pilaf. Finally some homemade cranberry sauce – made with Cab Sauv and maple syrup – rounded out the meal. (After too many years eating canned cranberry sauce we discovered how ridiculously easy it is to make your own only a couple of years ago.)

While we waited for everything to finish boiling, baking, and roasting we toasted to the happy holidays with Sumac Ridge’s delightful Sparkling Gewurztraminer. This refreshing fruity bubbly was released for the first time in 2010, and may still be available in some stores, but Sumac does specify numerous times that it is a “limited offering”. Sparkling Gewurztraminer is certainly rare in BC – this may be the only one – and it was a real treat to get to try some. The wine is off-dry and with plenty of mousse to tingle your tastebuds; we enjoyed some mini Samosas and Pakoras with it. I hope Sumac makes this wine a regular part of their portfolio; I’d like to try another bottle with some other Asian foods and see how well it pairs.

Our dinner wines were of the white and red variety, both of which I had been looking forward to a great deal. Coming out of the fridge was the highly regarded Mission Hill 2006 Perpetua: the first vintage of this excellent wine. This is an ageable Chardonnay that has done very well in the cellar over the past couple of years, and I’m so glad to have added the subsequent two vintages to my collection. The latest 2008 release is equally well-regarded by some of BC’s top critics, and although it is not available via Mission Hill’s online store (it’s “Cellar Exclusive”) you can find it at many private stores and Mission Hill’s line of retail stores – Artisan Wine Shop. Our experience with the 2006 was sublime; it is a marvellous, sophisticated wine that is clearly made with a great deal of care. Perpetua is a must-have bottle for collectors of BC’s finest wines.

Waiting in the decanter was our red wine of the evening – CedarCreek 2006 Platinum Merlot. Although my “schedule” would have me opening this bottle in Fall 2011, I had two bottles in my collection and just had to try it out now. The gentlemen at Icon Wines suggest holding it until 2012, but they do admit that trying a bottle now couldn’t hurt. The fact that this wine may not even have peaked yet amazes me, because it was already fantastic by 2010. Even more amazing is the fact that it is still widely available in VQA stores and the like, despite the release of the 2007 vintage (which won Gold at the Canadian Wine Awards). Ironically the 2006 only received a Bronze at the 2009 CWAs, but it also received a rare and prestigious Lt. Governor’s Award; such are the vagaries of wine judging. I was sufficiently impressed by this wine that I will soon be replacing the consumed bottle, to keep two (and I wish even more) in my collection; perhaps I will open another this Fall, and the last in 2012 or beyond.


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