Many new wines have been arriving of late, quite a few of them all Noah’s ark–like: two by two. Here’s a random survey of some recent highlights. Has it really been 100 years since the Calgary Stampede started in that dusty little cow town? I’m sure I remember being at the very first one. (We grew up faster on the Prairies then!) I imagine millions of gallons of beer (and equal measures of rye) have gone down since that day—but wine? Might be a bit of a new one!
B.C.s Township 7 took the bit by the horns—to mangle a metaphor—and came out of the chute with two celebratory Stampede wines, one in each official colour. (No self-respecting cowpoke would drink rosé, eh?) It’s available at both Township 7 wineries in B.C.—Langley and Penticton—as well at select liquor stores in B.C. and Alberta and on the stampede grounds. They are both delicious and, at 199 cases each, won’t be around for long.
Township 7 Calgary Stampede Centennial Selection Chardonnay 2009 ($19.99) Sourced from three major Okanagan vineyards and 100-percent barrel-fermented and aged, this shows a little peach and a little noisette, even a hint of coconut as it meets the palate, then morphs into a lot of nice, easy oak and some butterscotch. A beautifully finished wine of surprising complexity. Maybe not suitable for a massive rib eye, but surely a treat with polenta and truffles, spaghetti with brown butter and garlic, or any kind of pasta with prawns, tarragon, and cream.
Township 7 Calgary Stampede Centennial Selection Merlot 2008 ($24.99) Four famous south Okanagan vineyards yielded up their Merlot fruit for this deft and surprisingly delicate blend; we don’t often think of Merlot as delicate, but try this. It got 22 months of oak-barrel aging before coming out smooth and right with plenty of big plums and berries and, not surprisingly, some silky chocolate. For all its subtlety, it is quite dense (you can’t see through it!) and will welcome big pasta with lots of tomato, garlic, and basil (fresh oregano if you’ve got it), or a prune-stuffed pork roast. (Yes, with crackling, of course!)
Two solid treats in limited supply, worth extra effort to get at them.
Township 7 has planned at least two Western Roundup parties at the wineries to celebrate Calgary Stampede’s 100 years: July 7 in Naramata and July 14 and 15 in Langley; The Township 7 website tells all.
The former South Okanagan Twisted Tree winery (so far south the vineyards are practically in the U.S.) burst on to an unsuspecting B.C. wine scene last vintage with a new name (Moon Curser) and some brilliant bottle and label designs thanks to Bernie Hadley-Beauregard’s graphics house Brandever. But while the packaging is all very good, what’s inside is even better. That was evidenced by the initial vintage of varietals and blends, and the new release upholds the tradition of what are, essentially, sensationally good wines, red, white, and blend. Time for the varietals in another Uncorked; today, we’ll taste the two blends. One thing needs to be said here and now: winemaker Chris Tolley has moved into the front ranks of B.C. blenders this season with the blends outshining the varietals, if only a little.
Moon Curser Dead of Night 2010 ($38 at the winery; I haven’t’ seen any in local stores, at least not of the current releases) Would you spend nearly $40 for a red blend? Well, you do—often—if it’s a French label, so go intrepid and try this amazing, luscious, hearty, nicely soft-edged wine. It has already won gold and a best in class award at the 2012 Pacific Rim Wine Competition. A fresh and vibrant mix of two varietals Chris Tolley likes to work with—Tannat and Syrah—it has rich, deep fruit and, from roasts to Savoy potatoes, I can’t think of a hearty dinner dish that it wouldn’t complement. (There is also a $25 Moon Curser blend: a Meritage-style mix of six Bordeaux varieties called Border Vines, also recommended for your delectation.)
Moon Curser Afraid of the Dark 2011 ($22 at the winery) This white blend brings together a couple of mainstay southern French varieties with one of our own heavy hitters: Marsanne and Roussanne plus Chardonnay in an original, harmonious blend that is extremely versatile. We drank ours with a grilled dinner—ribs, potatoes, asparagus, and beets with balsamic, plus chocolate mayonnaise cake—and it held its own from start to finish. It’s fragrant, light but substantial, green-edged, with the Chardonnay acting as a nice mellowing agent among the Marsanne and Roussanne. A great food wine for whatever you feel like pairing it with—remember, there really are no rules, just suggestions. Unique and fresh, full and fruity with a solid, crisp-apple finish. Wonderful for summer meals.