The most beautiful weekend in Vancouver so far this year provided an ideal setting for last weekend’s wine club in the sun. With a new baby at home our friends are finding it easier to host others than head out for dinner, so they welcomed six of us for Sunday brunch. Their sun-soaked rooftop patio was the perfect venue on which to enjoy everyone’s culinary creativity and a range of BC wines covering the spectrum. New releases and aged delights provided plenty of pairing opportunities that pleasantly surprised even those who assembled each delicious dish.
After welcome Mimosas and some fortifying cheeses (having not yet reached the noon mark in the day) we kept up the sparkling sequence with Gray Monk’s newest 2011 Odyssey Rosé Brut. Homemade Cranberry Orange Scones had been freshly baked by the hors d’oeuvres team, finished with a rum vanilla glaze and served alongside cinnamon nutmeg butter. The cranberry flavours in the Brut synchronized well with the scones, and the crisp texture refreshed our buttery palates with additional hints of watermelon. The bubbly was complemented by brand new 2014 Rosé from Clos du Soleil, one of my personal favourites. This rarity – from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes – is surprisingly aromatic, with the latest vintage continuing to impress. The dry finish and earthy, strawberry-rhubarb flavours had us yearning for more cheeses as we considered the broad range of food pairings it can deliver.
A forecast temperature in the high teens had clearly provided warm weather inspiration: my own contribution included Blue Mountain 2006 Reserve Blanc de Blancs. While my wife and I nervously eyed the extended cooking time seemingly required for our appetizer course, yet another cork was popped with pleasure. The Blanc de Blancs is part of Blue Mountain’s new reserve sparkling program that sees extended sur lie aging. This particular bottle was disgorged as late as 2013, and I received it in my Priority Group shipment that fall. Two further years in bottle had not dulled the very clean, fresh profile, providing us with generous springtime citrus and a hint of brioche and caramel all wrapped up in very fine mousse.
Finally confident they were cooked through we served a pair of Baked Egg Baguettes: one rich in caramelized onions and mushrooms with herbs and Comte cheese, another imbued with vegan “chorizo” plus green onions, tomato, and cheddar. A bowl of homemade ketchup we’d simmered throughout the previous evening provided the fix that some need when it comes to eggs and cheese. Surprisingly great with the tart ketchup was Le Vieux Pin Cuvée Violette Syrah 2012, the winery’s new “entry-level” Syrah. The first vintage in 2011 added this sub-$30 gem to the winery’s bigger Cuvée Classique and flagship Equinoxe Syrah – although all three represent solid value for what they offer. The luscious Violette provided delicate leather, white pepper, and vanilla floral aromas that led into a juicy finish to complement the silky texture.
An unexpected entrée course perfectly suited to weekend brunch brought us hefty Banana Pancakes, heaped high with berry compote, freshly whipped cream, and the requisite rivers of maple syrup. The surprisingly perfect pairing was JoieFarm 2013 Muscat, a natural fit for the tart compote in particular. Despite the sweet maple syrup the Muscat wasn’t challenged thanks to a supremely well-balanced palate. The wine’s versatile character showed off Asian pears, yellow peach, and pineapple fruit with clean, floral aromas as well. No less enjoyable was Road 13 2012 Jackpot Viognier Roussanne Marsanne, which provided thought-provoking reflection on the complex and serious palate. Aromas of baked apple and popcorn were reminiscent of Chardonnay, but apricots and even a bit of cucumber were also mentioned. The rich texture and impressively long finish provided plenty of memories as we scooped up the remaining whipped cream.
The surprises continued with the final course, in which Beet Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes proved a worthy partner for Liquidity’s 2012 Merlot. Putting a little chill in this Okanagan Falls wine was an excellent choice when matching it with vanilla ice cream and fresh raspberries under the mid-day sun. The addition of 10% Cabernet Franc and 4% Cabernet Sauvignon provided for a well-rounded, complex palate and some discussions about varietal and blended wines across the world. Despite a mere one gram of residual sugar, the Merlot excelled with near-perfect dark berry and chocolate flavours, plus an earthiness to match the beets.
Some of our wines represented new releases, but most were a short trip down memory lane: Blue Mountain’s 2008 Blanc de Blancs is coming this fall, the superb new 2013 Cuvée Violette was just released, most of Joie’s whites are on to 2014, and Liquidity’s 2013 Merlot is newly on scene. Recent grey skies notwithstanding, spring is here and summer is on the way, providing many opportunities for a look at new vintages over the coming months. Here’s to more patio weather!