Tag Archives: music

Hills and valleys…

12 Sep

Day one in the Okanagan area of British Columbia and I’m already dreaming about packing up the apartment that I just moved into, selling off my worldly possessions (my Packers’ memorabilia has got to be worth something) and heading west. But who doesn’t want to live in a place this beautiful? There’s a reason that Clifford Sifton fellow didn’t have to give the hard sell to early 20th Century farmers. It’s stunning out here.

After getting picked up in Kelowna, my kind host Sue Alexander and her longtime friend – and my marmot and rattlesnake guide – Dan Schnell, led me to the eye-popping Mission Hill Winery.

We got a behind-the-scenes tour of this great entry into Okanagan wines. Let’s be honest – few wineries in B.C, let alone Canada are like this. The architecture is amazing, the grass amphitheatre is unbelievably crafted and the wines are award-winning.

We tasted through a flight of their more premium wines, including my favourite the ’06 Oculus. At $70 a bottle, this stuff better deliver – and it does. It’s a Bordeaux-inspired blend of Merlot, Cab Sauv, Cab Franc and Petit Verdot from specific clusters of specific blocks of specific vineyards (sense a theme?) that are all hand-picked and hand-sorted and spend over 14 months in French oak. With rich chocolate and cherry notes on the nose, coffee and cassis on the palate and a finish that’s more persistent than the nerd who hit on me in high school, this is simply a stellar wine.

After we wrapped up at the all-mighty Mission Hill, we dropped back into reality and meandered southward. Close to the northern most tip of the ‘South Okanagan’ was our next stop – Dunham & Froese Estate Winery.

We were hungry, so we ate – pulled pork sandwiches from Covert Farms. We were thirsty, so we drank – a bone-dry, beefy ’09 Rosé (a blend of Merlot and a tiny bit of Syrah) and the ’09 Amicitia White Blend were stand outs. As luck would have it, winemaker Kirby Froese was behind the tasting bar and managed to sneak away to join our crew on the picnic tables out front of the shop. A great contrast to Mission Hill and just a great little stop to make.

Then it was onward to our resting place to check in. The Watermark Beach Resort has it all – large, comfortable suites, a pool with waterslide and hot tubs and prime location. I kid you not, my suite is better equipped than my own apartment!

And you can’t beat the view.

After a brief refresh, we were back on the road – heading up to Tinhorn Creek for a BBQ and the Bedouin Soundclash concert.

The kids danced, Bedouin rocked out and Tinhorn wines were as great a backdrop to this amazing night as the mountains were.


Ban the Beer…

24 Jan

Please consider the following for my argument towards leaving the overplayed bottle of beer in the fridge on football Sundays and picking up a glass of wine instead:

  1. With the Drink Matcher Widget at wine enthusiast Natalie MacLean’s website – there’s no reason why your platters can’t pair with your bottles. The look on someone’s face when they dig into some chicken wings with a demi-sec Champagne or oomphy Cabarnet Sauvignon is priceless. Bending the rules is the best part of wine drinking.
  2. You can listen to Ben Folds Five case on the matter.
  3. Wine and football crossovers. From Cowboys retiree Drew Bledsoe, Super Bowl legend Joe Montana to the Green Bay Packers cornerback Charles Woodson, these guys are creating great wine. Woodson created Twenty Four Winery in the Napa Valley a few years back. The result? Woodson Wines that are as persistent, assertive and downright fabulous as he is.
  4. Matching bottles with teams is a hoot. For a 49’ers game – a crisp and clean Sauvignon Blanc from California. For the New York Giants – a very grapey Mogen David Concord by Franzia Brothers Winery (LCBO Vintages #611186, $12.95). For the Washington Redskins – a boisterous Cabernet Sauvignon.
  5. How frickin adorable is this bottle decoration by Occupation Gifts?