Our first brunch celebration of BC wine – after years of dinner parties – was a celebrated success, and led immediately to plans for another event a few weeks later. The four couples comprising our enlarged Wine Club gathered this time at our Vancouver condo, where we managed to shoehorn an additional table from the balcony in to our dining area, providing full seating for eight. That being said, we didn’t sit down right away, because I had taken the opportunity to gleefully prepare an over-the-top Caesar bar and Mimosa station. Although I and a couple others helped ourselves to Caesars, it was the Mimosas, made with Steller’s Jay Brut, that really got people talking. Sumac Ridge’s ever-reliable sparkling wine made for a perfect match with freshly squeezed CYONI organic orange juice – perhaps the best Mimosa I have ever enjoyed!
Famished and also sufficiently pre-lubricated, we sat down to our first appetizer course, a mouth-watering “Latin Bruschetta” on freshly toasted baguette. The mix of avocado, lemon juice, and fresh herbs was paired with two delicious BC Gewurztraminers. From Summerland’s Saxon Estate Winery we sampled the 2012 vintage, with a floral focus and clean, bright acidity. The 2011 Reserve-tier Naramata estate wine from Joie was a much bolder take on the varietal, with a fuller-bodied, creamy texture, and strong lychee flavours beyond the rose-petal aromas. The “fat, juicy” Joie, while impressive in scale, proved to be undone in this context however, as the drier Saxon was the ideal pairing for the tart bruschetta. Nothing stopped us from finishing both bottles with ease however!
Moving on to the second appetizer course we were presented with a beautifully assembled Buckwheat Heirloom Tomato Salad, boasting kale, mint, kaffir lime leaves, and some fresh micro greens on top. The fully ripened, exquisitely flavourful tomatoes were exciting enough on their own, but we also received two more bottles of wine to enjoy as well. Lightly-aged Pinot Gris from Platinum Bench (2011) and Averill Creek (2010) helped to remind us that white wine can preserve and mature nicely if given the chance. The Platinum Bench wine came from the young winery’s first white vintage, right after the property was acquired by new owners. Only 165 cases were produced and it is long-since sold out, but the peach flavours and minerality impressed, and the dry finish served nicely to bring out the lime flavours in the salad. From Vancouver Island’s Cowichan Valley, the older Averill Creek wine is actually still for sale at the winery (alongside a 2013 Pinot Grigio). A citrus focus on the nose and palate, plus a somewhat buttery texture made for another tasty pairing.
Something a little heavier was due next as my wife and I got to plate the duo of savoury bread puddings we’d been looking forward to serving with a couple of crisp sparkling wines. Some mixed greens helped to spruce up the plates of Sourdough Tomato Basil, and Whole Wheat Mushroom Leek bread puddings. Inspired by the bright tomatoes, earthy mushrooms, and chewy bread, we’d settled on a couple of sparkling rosés to keep our palates energized. First crack came from my last bottle of 2012 Bella Gamay, showing fresh berry flavours on a very dry, high mousse palate that conjured descriptions of raspberry biscuits. I’m glad the 2013 vintage is on its way to stores so I can replenish my stocks! The second superb sparkler was Blue Mountain’s 2009 Brut Rosé, composed of 84% Pinot Noir, and 16% Chardonnay, disgorged just last spring. A fine, mouth-filling mousse revealed flavours of pink grapefruit and sweet strawberry alongside more noticeable yeastiness than the Bella. The crisp acidity and fresh fruit helped wash down a few second helpings of bread pudding.
While sipping some superfluous sparkling, we watched the dessert team spring into action for our final course. They proceeded to whip the dickens out of some cream, generously decorating our kitchen in the process, to provide a rich topping for their Chocolate Mousse. A few fresh blackberries helped to integrate the luxurious treat with a couple of similarly-flavoured red wines. The 2012 Three Bear Ranch “B3” Merlot is one of Mission Hill’s many virtual brands, and light leather, tart berry, and hints of smoke and pepper made for an easy-drinking sipper. The best pairing came in the form of Sandhill’s 2011 (Similkameen Valley) Cabernet Merlot, which paralleled the mousse nicely with milk chocolate and, ideally, blackberry flavours. It’s not always easy to coordinate dessert with table wine, but the dark cocoa made for a mousse serious enough work with the well matched red.
It was altogether a delicious meal with many vibrant, complimentary BC wines; however we soon came to regret the lighter fare most of us had assembled. Our mutually tender states the following day called for more protein the next time around, and perhaps less enthusiastic embrace of the reception cocktails. Fortunately we still went away with fond memories of great food, wine, and laughter!