Wednesday 16 February 2011

February Wine Club – Romance Edition

Without any of us agreeing on anything in advance, this month’s Wine Club attendees put together a charming romantic meal for the night before St. Valentine’s Day. We began with a deliciously rich cheese fondue – the first time I had ever actually had fondue in fact! We quickly learned how challenging fondue can be to maintain – not too hot and not too cool! Alongside bread and crisp Granny Smith apple slices we poured St. Hubertus 2008 Chasselas. Seeing as how St. Hubertus suggests their Chasselas as the perfect accompaniment for fondue it seemed like an obvious choice: the citrus notes and acidity were a good match for the tart Swiss cheese. The nose reminded some of us of linen/cotton; the wine was light and crisp to keep our palates fresh between bites of creamy, oh-so-delicious cheese.

Our hosts graciously provided for a main course in two versions to accommodate vegetarians and carnivores alike: a meaty Bolognese sauce, or the animal-friendly alternative made with soy-based ‘’’Ground Round”. I was happy to spoon the Ground Round over top of fresh noodles as I pondered my glass of Seven Stones 2006 Standing Rock Meritage. I have a bottle of this in my own cellar – purchased after enjoying it at a Penticton restaurant in 2009; only later did I learn it was awarded Gold medals at both the All-Canadian Wine Championships and the Canadian Wine Awards. The wine itself was quite good, with aromas and flavours of leather and tobacco, plums and currants; however it came across a bit too acidic paired with the hearty and heavenly Bolognese. We agreed it wasn’t as good a match as we’d hoped, but on it’s own the wine was excellent; I’ll have to try a different pairing when I open my own bottle – live and learn!

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Naturally, dessert was chocolate – could there be any alternative?! I’ve had a couple bottles of Sumac Ridge 2005 Pipe awaiting a special pairing and this was the perfect opportunity to open one up and share with good friends. Pipe is Sumac Ridge’s version of Port, and is basically a fortified Meritage: 33% each of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. I get some every year in confidence, it’s definitely one of BC’s top fortified wines, and always goes well with chocolate. To match such a special wine I had a chocolate treat a century in the making: a limited supply of Nacional chocolate I had acquired from Montreal. The rarest chocolate available, this once “extinct” cacao bean has recently been re-discovered, and is available in very limited quantities: the two bars and small boxes of chocolate-covered beans I picked up from the Post Office on Friday were numbered limited editions, yikes! Needless to say I didn’t use Nacional chocolate for the vegan mousse I made – for that I “settled” on half-a-kilogram of Callebaut – but everyone got three squares of pure Nacional, and a couple of the roasted, chocolate-covered beans. The tawny nose and warm cherry, caramel, and date flavours of the Pipe were exquisite alongside the mellow, fruity flavours of Nacional, and the rich and creamy dark chocolate mousse – a unique and decadent dessert experience!

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