Brews and wine blends aplenty

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      I do love wine blends, especially when they come in both official colours. Here are a couple of new ones from the Okanagan, produced by the top team of Michael Bartier and David Scholefield under their burgeoning B • S label.

      The White Table Wine sells for $18.99 and is made from Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc, all the grapes coming from the Oliver area. It’s fresh and quite rich, very fruity and full, with no oak used in the production. There’s a widespread opinion that wine doesn’t go with egg dishes, but don’t try to tell a Frenchman that at breakfast! This wine is wonderful with omelettes, quiches, a plate of bacon and eggs, or, best of all, eggs Benedict (with real, caloric hollandaise sauce) and similar breakfast or brunch fare.

      The B • S Red Table Wine is a buck more at $19.99 and is made from Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec, with a little bit of Petit Verdot in the “supporting cask”. This one does get some oak aging—two years, in fact, hence the 2008 vintage listed on the label. It’s rich and robust and full of ripe berries. We all liked it quite a bit but thought the white was the real winner here.

      Many new brews have crossed my desk—and palate!—recently. Here’s one that really did it for me; it’s great with smokies and sauerkraut and potato salad. (See “German” reference below.) It’s a second “vintage” from Scotland’s Innis & Gunn, the home of all those lovely oak-aged beers, which, if you haven’t tried them, offer a wealth of taste treats.

      This one is the Irish Whiskey Cask Scottish Stout. It comes in a 330-millilitre bottle and has a fairly significant hit of alcohol, at 7.4 percent. Dark and meaty, edgy and rich, smooth and elegant, it’s very much a “steak stout”. It’s bright, fresh, and clean, with no lingering aftertaste—just a hint of the Irish whiskey in the finish. “Oak-aged like no other beer”, it’s a new treat for your taste buds and a terrific food companion.

      It’s in LDB stores now, in the import brews section, for $3.99.

      This was inevitable, wasn’t it? Food pairings right on the front labels of bottles. But who’d have figured it’d be the French doing it? Are you ready for Chops and Burgers Bordeaux 2011? I, for one, think it’s excellent marketing—and the stuff in the bottles isn’t bad either. Price is good, too: it’s a $14.99 specialty listing, the enterprise of “33056D, Gironde, France”, according to the back label, whatever that means.

      The red blend is Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s soft and fresh, quite bright, and you can’t miss it with the foodie front label leaping out at you from the shelves. There’s even a recipe—mouse-print tiny—on the back for “Chef Frederic’s home-made sauce of Bordeaux”, a basic bordelaise sauce for four, with a total prep time of five minutes and calling for two cups of the wine.

      Decent wine, good value, clever packaging.

      The companion white is Lobster and Shrimp Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine. Same vintage, same price, same bright graphics, also a specialty listing but that may change, ’cause I think this could become a runaway best-selling brand. A full Muscadet: crisp and fresh, and in the final taste and food match, even a little more successful than the red.

      It has a very pale colour but full and hearty flavours; just the ticket for seafood of all kinds, sauced or simple. The back label has Chef Frederic’s recipe for “home-made garlic aioli sauce”. It, too, takes only five minutes and couldn’t be simpler. I tried it with shrimp: both the wine and the aioli worked just fine. I can’t eat lobster, so you’ll have to try that and see how it fares.

      Both wines are breathing some new life into the moribund French section at the liquor store. And it’s about time.

      It has been brought to my attention that I made a mistake, difficult though this may be for a German-born guy to admit. In a recent column where I shared my appreciation of Sid Cross and his impressive work in our field, along with news of his recent SIP award win, I slipped in the fact that I had won the award the previous year.

      Not so. Last year’s winner was wine educator Richard Carras, a most worthy recipient for all his marketing and charity work. An oversight for which I must certainly apologize; my own SIP award came the year before. Oh, well: time flies when you’re drinking wine!