Fish in the Sea

It’s cliche, yes, but also true. There are other fish in the sea. No, I’m not talking about heartbreak or finding your soulmate, unless it’s in a bottle and for the sake of both of us, I sure hope that’s not true.

Sometimes wines we love go away. The French have a saying for something that is forever gone: Adieu. We know vintages variation (that’s a topic for another day) can change the wines we love from year to year, this is part of the beauty of wine, it is always changing and rarely the exact same year after year. However, sometimes the wine just goes away. It’s not just a difference of vintages but the end of the line. Maybe the vineyard was replanted, maybe it was a commemorative bottle, a limited release, or an experiment. Whatever the reason, it can leave us feeling like we’ve lost a love, heartbroken.. Especially if you’ve travelled to the winery on vacation to grab that specific bottle of your treasured vino.

While I can appreciate the grieving process, honestly I’m starting to lose sympathy when the grief prevents enjoyment. What’s so bad about change and making way for NEW wines on the shelf? This is an ever-evolving world where new and exciting wines will be released every year. I recently encountered a group of people who were on a vacation search for that perfect, magical bottle they had experienced a year earlier. It has since sold out, never to  make an appearance again. That commemorative bottle that had lived its life. Their search of this particular wine was so much a part of their process that they let it prevent them from enjoying, or even trying, much of anything else on their adventure. Our brains are powerful beasts. Now, I don’t know about you but I’m not about to let a bottle ruin my vacation or tasting experience.  Onward and upward! There are sooooo many more bottles in the sea that I’ve yet to try or even discover. I say, appreciate what was, file it under a great memory and move on to creating more memories.

All that said, I wouldn’t want you to get me wrong, I’m not totally cold-hearted and unsympathetic; if you know you LOVE a wine and learn it’s going away, why not stock up to prevent heartbreak and prolong your love affair? I have a dwindling stash of Misconduct Wine Co.‘s last vintage of Suspect Series Syrah Malbec that I fell in love with a couple of summer’s ago. I also have a couple of Sumac Ridge Black Sage Red Meritage tucked away, and some bubbles that won’t be reappearing on the shelves. I know when these wines are gone from my cellar, they’re gone from my life. Just like me, they won’t live forever!

I’ve had that one wine I searched high and low for, I can’t help but think of all the other great wines I tried while trying to find something similar that I passed off because they were’t the same. There will never be a perfect replacement, it just won’t measure up to the memories of that one bottle, so why not just find something to enjoy without trying to duplicate? Imitation is said to be the most sincere form of flattery but really, why not search for something unique, complex and new to you?

Academic Wino

Each week in spring is exciting,there are new wines to be bottled, new vintages to try and generally people are happier. This is especially true after a long winter as the new buds pop out and blossoms open up. Spring is reliable. Whether it’s two weeks late or early, one thing is for sure – it brings new beginnings.

This spring, I am changing each day and week, just like the plants and trees;  I’m popping out too! I am four months pregnant and loving it, except for the lack of wine. I’m really not a fan of that part. What’s a wine lover to do when they can’t enjoy their favourite thing? With the super sniffer I’ve developed (seriously, I can smell rotten milk in the fridge before my shoes come off at the door) I do enjoy nosing a glass whenever I have the chance. I can’t quite bring myself to open bottles just to smell them so I steal my fella’s glass anytime he’s got something smell-worthy in there. He likes to test me and get me to tell him what he’s drinking. Though, the other night I think he forgot the bottle was sitting beside him when he asked, that was an easy one!

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Delinquent

So, it’s been a while, eh? I left you in July, of 2012. Initially it was just for a wee break during the dog days of summer. Time clearly got away from me. I can’t help but notice the trees are about to bloom again, the vines are pruned, the flowers are fighting to push up (on this side of the country anyway), and the sun is once again warming my skin and providing inspiration. My break turned into a full stop. My creative juices continued to flow…nowhere. Ideas came, and went. Corks popped; wanderings took my mind, body, and soul to fun and sometimes faraway places; and I didn’t tell you about any of it. Why? Continue reading

Objective (Wine) Subjectivity

We’ve all said it, in our heads or out loud – I’m guilty too. “This wine is terrible!” But is it really? Is it bad wine or is it just not suiting to your taste buds or the situation you may be in?

Wine is so incredibly subjective but there is some objectivity that is involved, which often gets overlooked. It is very possible, and common for you to enjoy a wine (whether it be the producer, the varietal, the use of oak or non-use of it, etc.) when your best bud can’t stand the very same wine. Obviously the wine isn’t bad if you enjoy it but why doesn’t the other person like it? Well, the detailed version of that answer is very long but I’m going to sum it up rather abruptly – it all boils down to taste. So where does this objectivity that I speak of enter the equation when tastes are subjective?

Objectivity comes into the wine equation when you are comparing and analyzing wines. You need to examine each wine on the same scale  so you have a benchmark (the Wine and Spirit Education Trust, aka WSET, calls this the systematic approach to tasting). If we ALL used the same scale we’d be much more likely to stay on the same page with wine reviews, preferences and consumer demand but where’s the diversity in that? Like so many other things in wine there are many different ways to assess it but by and large it boils down to a few good points to look for in every glass:

  • Colour – Is your wine clear? Or is it hazy? What colour is it? Ruby or purple? Lemony-green or gold? How does that colour compare to other wines made from the same grape? Is it consistently a similar colour like a deep purple or does it vary like and unoaked Chardonnay compared to an oaked Chardonnay? Colour can indicate many things from grapes variety to viticulture and wine-making techniques through to the age of the wine.

  • Smell – What does it smell like? Take a small sniff at first in case it is off and truly bad – not an aroma you wish to inhale deeply. Then give it a swirl and stick your sniffer right in there. Is it floral? Fruits? Vegetal? How does it compare to other wines or the same or similar variety?

  • Taste – Is it dry or sweet? How’s the acidity – does your mouth water a lot after a sip? What about tannins – are your gums dry? How does it feel in your mouth – is it thick and heavy like a glass of milk or light bodied like water? Does it taste like it smells? Does it taste like the other wines you’ve had from the same grape?

  • Conclusions – What do you think the quality of this wine is? If it is not faulted, it is at least an acceptable or good quality – even if you don’t care for it. If the structure and tastes are well balanced along with the nose, acidity and tannin levels then that conclusion can go up from good to very good or excellent or even outstanding, particularly if the wine is more complex (meaning you could spend hours tasting and sniffing and smell something different each time.) Take notes if you wish, it helps for future buying and comparing!

One of the most important wine lessons I’ve ever learned from Master of
Wine, Rhys Pender: At the end of the day quality is unrelated to preference. You can not like a wine. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, it is such a personal, subjective subject. A handy lesson about quality – it can be measured by evaluating the balance, intensity, length and complexity of the wine. I’m keeping this very 101 for the sake of the blog entry but some winos take this very seriously and to many deeper levels than what I’m mentioning here. I know many of you just drink what you enjoy and there’s definitely nothing wrong with that – keep it up. But think about those wines you’ve passed off as being bad or maybe you’ve even thought of them as lesser grapes and so on. Perhaps now you’ll consider reassessing how you discuss these wines with others as they may be that person’s favourite. Now you know they don’t have poor taste or lack in the palate department, they just have different taste buds and preferences than you do.

My sister-in-law isn’t a fan of one of my favourite grapes, Pinot Noir. But I know she has amazing taste and drinks lots of great wines that I also enjoy. Chatting (not judging) with her about it made me realize that what I love about Pinot Noir is exactly what her palate doesn’t love about Pinot Noir. Now I am able to make better wine recommendations to her based on this knowledge. Plus, it makes for interesting conversation with your local wino! Having a conversation about why your buddy enjoys, or doesn’t enjoy what you do will open your eyes to this objectivity in wine subjectivity. I suspect there’s an important life lesson in this as well…wine is oh-so-knowledgeable in it’s bringing us together and splitting us apart but let’s not get too philosophical!

Happy drinking, whatever may be in your glass! Cheers.

Camping Wino

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We’re wandering on home from a few days of camping in Revelstoke at our favourite little waterfront rec-site about 30 clicks north of the town. We had to test Eddie’s camping abilities. She’s no Wanda but she can climb hills like a mountain goat, her bed (which doubles as a cargo carrier when the air mattress is deflated) is super comfy, and she holds our canoe like it is a feather. I had a few days off from the winery and we’re in between family and friends visiting so it seemed like the perfect time for a get-a-way to one of our most treasured spots. The site hosts found it pretty funny that we escaped the Okanagan when so many escape to it.

Mid-week camping is the best because you get to relax in the peace and quiet of a mostly empty campground while missing out on the weekend tomfoolery that July camping often brings. Though I suppose many people looking at my bag of four bottles of wine for two people and two nights away may think I was the one bringing the tomfoolery! I only had three bottles packed at first but as usual I couldn’t leave the fourth behind and packed it last minute.

It is no secret that I love bubbles and mimosas so naturally we had a bottle of sparkling wine with us – a See Ya Later Ranch Brut. I was really excited our first night there when I unpacked the wine and realized I had in fact, decided to make it a special occasion and threw in a Sumac Ridge Estate Winery 2007 Meritage, it went beautifully with our buffalo and orzo dish.

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It is standing up really well and I am a happy gal because I have one bottle left – it is no longer in production.

I also packed a See Ya Later Pinot Noir, an easy drinking Pinot that I find to be a perfect pairing while sipping around the campfire. And that fourth bottle I threw in was also from See Ya Later, it was a Riesling – one of my fave varietals to sip beside a lake on a sunny afternoon. (The See Ya Later case was the easiest to access out of my collection, hence the theme, plus they’re reliably yummy wines).

I had planned to enjoy the mimosas with a nice greasy breakfast spread but the afternoon/night previous we thoroughly enjoyed the Riesling and Meritage as well as a couple of local Revelstoke brews (kolsch). Needless to say we weren’t really feeling the bubbles first thing the next day. Though we did enjoy the mimosas at the perfect moment, late-afternoon after a few hours spent ogling waterfalls from our canoe. All in all, the wine and camping were pretty grand.

We’re moseying home now so I can work my other gig tonight at the local coffeehouse. We’ve got some live tunes tonight which means I get I listen to awesome music outside while serving delicious local wines and eats. Yep, there’s not much to complain about these days…except that our battery died and we needed a boost. It seems our dome light has a mind of it’s own and no off switch. Nothing a boost, screwdriver and a couple of broken lightbulbs can’t fix for next time!

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28 Bottles Later

I declare our trip south to be a success! We visited with Young & Wyse, Moon Curser, Nk’Mip and See Ya Later Ranch. We’ll get to Meyer Family Vineyards another time.

I found lots of gems to bring home. I picked-up a couple of bottles each at Young & Wyse and Mooncurser. And a case each at Nk’Mip and See Ya Later. We had great service at each location. It is refreshing to get out and find people that still care about the customer’s experience. We enjoyed a delicious lunch of venison burgers on Nk’Mip’s lovely patio. We just missed the rain that had been there and the rain that was to come so the patio was basically open long enough for us to enjoy lunch, perfection! The sun even shone a little bit – it does exist! (We’ve had a wet June in the Okanagan.)

It’s tough to pick one bottle to highlight but here we go!

The Highlights:

Young & Wyse Black Label 33*30*24*13 – 2009 $31.90

If you guessed the name of this wine represents the blend held within the bottle, well, you’d be correct! Our host opened this bottle just so we could have a taste. I got a lot of coffee and mocha off this blend of Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. It is a nicely structured wine with a velvety mouth-feel and very tasty fruit notes interwoven on the finish. I look forward to enjoying this liquid puppy with BBQ at some point this summer.

Moon Curser Tempranillo – 2010 $29.00

I love, love, love the artwork that Moon Curser uses. It is a total perk that I also really enjoy their wines. This Tempranillo has some excellent red cherry and tobacco notes with some stewed fruit thrown in for added yummy-ness. (No, not literally added in!) The soft tannins make this a great sipper all on it’s own. It took all my efforts to ensure I only bought wine and not the really nifty bamboo tee that feature the very cool label designs.

Nk’Mip Qwam Qwmt Syrah – 2008 $34.99

Mmmm blueberries, plum, and vanilla. While this wine can age a few more years it is tasting absolutely great right now. It has a nice deep colour and hints of spicey and peppery notes. I could have brought 12 of these bad boys home but liked the other wines lots as well so the case slots had to be shared with other bottles of excellence like Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a bottle of Merlot thrown in for good measure!

See Ya Later Ranch Ping – 2009 $27.99

I love Ping. It is a great bordeaux blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Lots of blackberry and cherry can be found in this wine. The wine is aged in a combo of French and American oak for 19 months in a 60/40 split. It has just enough Cab Franc in the blend to give it some added complexity without taking away from the structure of the Cab Sauv and the fruitiness of the Merlot. I’d love to enjoy this bottle with some Lamb after another year or two – though it is perfectly drinkable right this moment.

My picking two blends and two single varietals was not on purpose, I just divvy out the cards where my taste buds tell me to. We did pick-up a fair amount of whites on this trip as well but since whites tend to be a what everyone talks about when the summer heat hits, I picked my red faves which also happen to be my overall faves.

We came home after our day of wine tripping and I let my driver pick-out our dinner bottle. He chose our last bottle of Sparkling Rosé. I sabred the bottle in the back yard and we spent the evening relaxing!

Whoops!

Hi friends, looks like last week’s post didn’t post! Ah, the modern woes of technology. I’m positive I hit that magic “publish” button but it doesn’t seem to have worked. So the words in the previous post are from last Friday. Sorry for the wait! So as to not overload your word quota for the day, or take too much of your attention, I will save this week’s post, which is a follow-up to last week’s, for another day! Until then, cheers!