New blueberry vodka goes down like a treat

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Vancouver chef and wine/spirits guy Marcus Von Albrecht has joined forces with Bremner’s, the blueberry growers and producers whose blueberry juices are about the best going, and diverted some of the supply into his newest spirited product: Xfour Bremner’s Blueberry Vodka. It’s not cheap, but then neither are the blueberries. A cost of $42 per bottle puts it squarely in the premium-vodka category.

This is simply delicious stuff—dark, thick, and unctuous, with the taste of real bluebs.

As it says right on the label, “each bottle of this handcrafted vodka contains fresh-squeezed blueberries.” It’s a little bit turbid as it pours into the glass. Then it’s sweet on entry but not on the finish, doing the Wolfschmidt vodka thing—if you’re old enough to remember their original marketing slogan: “It takes your breath away.”

It can be found in a number of liquor stores, including Coal Harbour and Legacy.

I think it should be in forage’s vodka-tasting lineup. Right now, it consists of these local vodkas: Texada Stone Vodka from Long Table Distillery, Schramm Organic Potato Vodka from Pemberton Distillery, and Left Coast Hemp Vodka from Victoria Spirits—all served in half-ounce glasses (with pickled halibut and veggies on the side), $15 for the flight. So if beverage director and restaurant manager Margot Baloro were to add half an ounce of the new blueberry version—adjusting the price accordingly, of course—it would still be an all-local tasting, but with a bit of a dessert conclusion.

Forage, as you may well know, is the hot, still-new, all-green restaurant at 1300 Robson, in the Listel Hotel, and a big personal favourite. I’ll let you know if Baloro decides to expand her local-vodka-tasting program. Now, if only I could persuade them to open the restaurant for weekday lunch…

Summer concerts and new vintages

Tinhorn Creek Vineyards has lots of new releases, some of them tasted here. It’s also just announced its 2013 Canadian Concert Series. The winery’s outdoor amphitheatre is the site, on a hillside overlooking the South Okanagan’s famous Golden Mile.

The series is scheduled to start on May 25 and will again feature lots of up-and-coming Canadian talent: Brickhouse, Jackie Treehorn, the Matinée, and Five Alarm Funk. There’ll be one show each month, with Blackie & the Rodeo Kings wrapping up the season on September 7.

Needless to say, there’s great wine to be had (some of the new vintages are discussed below), as well as fabulous food from Miradoro Restaurant. You can get season’s tickets at significant savings if you book now. Tickets can be ordered through Tinhorn Creek’s online store, at www.tinhorn.com/concerts, by phone, or on Facebook.

The tasting panel recently sat down to two new vintages of Tinhorn Creek whites. Here are the tasting notes.

Tinhorn Creek Pinot Gris 2012 is a luscious, nice and crisp, all-stainless-steel-handled Gris with plenty of peach, pear, and melon flavours. It’s a delicious wine for seafood of all sorts—fish or shellfish—as well as chicken and turkey. Save some to go with a fresh-fruit cobbler for dessert. The wine is priced right, at $18.79, and can be found at the winery or savvy indie/VQA stores.

Tinhorn Creek Chardonnay 2012 costs 20 cents more ($18.99 a bottle, same sources) and is very fresh, quite rich, and perfect with potstickers served with a light, vinegary dipping sauce. (Mine come from Hon’s.) It’s a delicious 100-percent Chardonnay,
a small percentage of it barrel-fermented in new French oak, giving it a most agreeable edge of complexity. Look for lots of crisp green apple and other summer-fruit notes. It loves lobster and crab, as well as roasted or barbecued chicken with a garden salad.

You can probably get some to taste when you attend the summer concerts at the winery, but don’t wait that long—these lovely, fresh wines want to fuel a spring dinner now.

Chilean wines for a good cause

The fourth annual Dish ’n Dazzle event returns to town on May 30 at the Pan Pacific Vancouver. It’s a function put on by the B.C. Hospitality Foundation and, this year, Wines of Chile.

This is a terrific fundraiser for the foundation’s many projects that assist the industry: a spectacular night of food, wine, and cocktails that’s sure to delight and entertain. Nineteen wineries (including Concha y Toro and Errazuriz) from all of Chile’s diverse regions will pair up with creative food from restaurants such as Gotham Steakhouse, Italian Kitchen, Pier 7, and Killjoy Barbers, and it all kicks off with a high-stakes cocktail competition.

This delightful event continues to be one of the signature fundraisers of the foundation, which among other things provides financial support to people in the hospitality industry struggling with financial crises arising from health conditions.

Tickets are on sale for $75 each at bchospitalityfoundation.com/.

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