Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Taste - The Main Event

Kathy McAree has been working with an amazing group of volunteers for a few years now to create a premiere wine tasting-food pairing event for Victoria. This year’s Main Event was a testament to the success she has achieved in this respect.

Many of BC’s top wineries were represented at the evening, pouring a wide variety of excellent wines. Additionally, there were some culinary masterpieces created by some of Victoria’s top chefs, pairing beautifully with the wines on offer.

As I entered the Rattenbury designed Crystal Garden, where the food and wine was showcased I was greeted by smiling volunteers offering me a Riedel wine glass to use for tasting for the night.  Next came a terrific smoked chicken Long John with cucumber salad and citrus yogurt from Garrett Schack at Vista 18.

Painted Rock is making some terrific wine and have added a Chardonnay to their arsenal of cult favourite wines. The Red Icon is still my favourite, but John Skinner’s stories about the making of the wine really made them all that much better. Skinner is the proprietor of the winery and has really sparked its success.

As I turned to check out the next food table, I was met by the fabulous meat concoctions of Corey Pelan at the Whole Beast. His offering was neither mainstream, nor everyone’s cup of tea, but, anyone who walked by missed out on a fabulous appetizer. It was perfect with the remnants of that Red Icon in the bottom of my glass.

                         Photo Courtesy of Rebecca Wellman Photography

Of course, there was no rhyme or reason to the order that I covered the room. It was hard not to run into the group from Lure at the Delta Ocean Pointe. They had created a fabulous dessert, so why not, did it really matter when I had chocolate in the evening? The dessert described in a fabulous French accent was a goat cheesecake mousses on a cocoa wafer with sour cherry and a chocolate covered coffee bean for crunch. Absolutely fabulous, and quite frankly the crunch was just perfect against the softness of the mousse.

I backtracked and came to Red Rooster Vineyard, where they are making a dry but very drinkable Gewurtztraminer. It was perfect with Sam’s, from Bistro 28, sablefish tartar with chili lime vinaigrette. A fabulous melding of crisp flavours and freshness.  Around the corner was Mount Boucherie winery producing an absolutely delectable Gamay Noir. They produce some other great ones too, but the Gamay Noir is far and above my favourite of all their wines. I re-traced and wandered by Moonstruck cheese. Perfect to get me going for the next wine. I ventured over to Hillside winery to try their Muscat Ottonel. A great glass of wine, with some elements of sweetness and fruit, but a good dry finish as well.

More dessert was brewing at the Paprika Bistro station where Anna Hunt had dreamed up a spiced chocolate shortbread with chocolate mousse and candied local rhubarb. It was chocolatey, but the rhubarb cut that richness perfectly. Of course the perfect pair for me was one of my favourite BC wines, the Pinot Noir from Blue Mountain. Christine Fawcett was pouring for Blue Mountain and it was just as expected a great glass of wine. She was quick to refer me to her husband at the station right beside hers who was pouring for Blasted Church. This is not a winery that I have spent a great deal of time drinking, but their Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot was the Gold Medal winner as the best red wine at the All Canadian Wine Championships. It was a well deserved accolade. I have been on a search at the liquor store to find myself some of that wine, it is full bodied, with great fruit at the front and some round tannins giving it a smooth finish and a wonderful taste on your tongue. An excellent glass of wine. I had to try it twice!

                         Photo Courtesy of Rebecca Wellman Photography

As I made my way upstairs to the second level, I was impressed to see the winemaker himself, Howard Soon pouring at the Sandhill table. Their Gamay Noir and Pinot Gris were both fantastic, as attested by the lineup for this station! Next it was wonderful fresh Morels at the Forrester’s table from Olympic View Golf club, They paired with some chicken liver pate, which went beautifully with the Gamay Noir!

Seven Stones is located in the Similkameen Valley just before you get to Osoyoos and always produce some excellent wines. I thoroughly enjoyed the Row 128 Merlot. It was full bodied, lots of raspberry and a great finish. Definitely going to pick this one up when I pass by their winery on the way to Osoyoos next month!

Sumac Ridge is a wine I like sometimes and not so much at others. My friends Blagica and Jess were pouring at this station, and I must say the 30th Anniversary Tribute Sparkling was fabulous as was the white Meritage. They went wonderfully with Gord O’Neill’s Porchetta a la Romana from Butchart Gardens kitchens.

I think that Venturi-Schulze produces some quality wine and balsamic and my tasting with Marilyn and Michelle at their station just verified that for me. The Brut Naturel was fabulous and the Brandenburg #3 was unmatched – sweet syrupy yumminess!

The vodka from Victoria Gin was mind numbingly strong in comparison to everything else I was having, but that being said, tasty and one I will seek out for my occasional vodka-soda!

What a fabulous evening of food and drink. As I prepared to leave at the end of the night and the chefs were making their exits, a multitude of local berries was proffered up for those who might want them to take home or to much on while leaving, wonderful sweet juicy raspberries and strawberries, just the perfect capper to the night!

Taste – The Main Event is just that fabulous evening out that Victoria needs in the middle of the Summer. A chance to get in touch with all of the wonderful food and wine we are so lucky to have access to in our beautiful city and province. Well Done Kathy! Well Done volunteers! A wonderful opportunity!