The Wine Experts
A new event was in the lineup for this yearâ€™s fall wine festival which caught my eye almost right away: The Battle of the Wine Experts. A panel of local experts moderated by Master of Wine Rhys Pender debated the merits of BC wineâ€™s contribution to Meritage. It was looking like it was going to be a good fight.
Rhys Pender, MW
Wine people, however, are somewhat more civilized than that, and the only real battles were heard coming from the next room at the Rotary Centre in Kelowna. It was a little distracting at first but the humor of the grunts and shouts of martial arts combat training in the next room really set the mood perfectly, if somewhat comically, for the battle of wine knowledge happening right in front of me. You just canâ€™t plan that kind of ambiance.Â
Industry pioneer Harry McWatters started the evening off with a talk about what Meritage is, how to pronounce it properly (rhymes with heritage), and some of the early days of making Canadaâ€™s first official Meritage at Sumac Ridge. This was followed by similar perspectives from winemakers Howard Soon and J-M Bouchard, media personalities Terry David Mulligan and Andy James, and celebrity chef Mark Filatow. Everyone then presented what they tried to produce (as wine producers) or what they were looking for in a good Meritage, to some minor stylistic disagreements.
Terry David Mulligan
While all of this was going on, everyone was working through their sample wines in front of them. We were treated to the following wines:
- Osoyoos Larose, Le Grand Vin 2007
- Painted Rock, Red Icon 2009
- Seven Stones, Meritage 2008
- Sandhill, Two 2008
- Laughing Stock, Portfolio 2008
- Road 13, 5th Element 2007
The people sitting next to me (who were enjoying their vacation from New Jersey) really enjoyed the Laughing Stock Portfolio as a stand-out in this lineup. I was impressed with how complex each of these wines were smelling and tasting even though the only common thread was that they were all a blend of Bordeaux grape varieties.
Chef Mark Filatow
Hearing the â€˜expertsâ€™ chat about wine and what they are trying to do (as winemakers) or looking for (as chefs or sommeliers) was more of a fly-on-the-wall experience than watching a debate. Howard Soonâ€™s explanation of what he thinks oak should do to a wine was the comedic highlight of the night. If you ever see him at a wine tasting, ask him about that, but be prepared to blush.
I really hope they do this again next year (or have a similar panel at every seasonâ€™s Wine Fest) with a different topic and similar personalities. Iâ€™ll be in line for it every time!
Cheers from wine country!
A great event that I desperately regret being late for was the Young Chefs held at the KLO campus of Okanagan College in Kelowna during the Fall Wine Festival.
Life being what it is, nothing went according to plan for me that day. I went to work early, and I was supposed to leave by 5pm so that I could make it in plenty of time to make my way around the room; tasting all of the heavenly goodness. Â I was operating under the assumption that the event ran from 7pm to 9pm, so when I didn’t get out of my office until just before 6pm, I thought everything would still be alright. Â At 6:30pm when I was putting an unforseen and therefore unscheduled tank of gas into my vehicle, I became aware that the function that I was a two hour drive from actually started at 6pm. Â Consequently, I missed most of it. Â It is always important to remember your tickets to an event; but you should read them too. Â Because you can miss out on a lot! Â I got to sample just enough of the dishes and the wines to know how fabulous everything was, without getting nearly enough of either the wines or the food. Â Even more tragic; the event was sponsored by Alexis de Portneuf Fine Cheese Makers, so all of the entered dishes had to make use of at least one of their featured cheeses. Â I love cheese and I have been known to order the Alexis de Portneuf cheese sampler box through our food suppliers at work just so that I have it at home.
The team from Raudz Regional Table, featuring Young Chef Evelynn Takoff did something that I never thought would be possible: they made broccoli incredibly sexy. Â They prepared a Spirit View Ranch Beef Bavette with La Roche Noire Gnocchi & Romesco, broccoli pesto & La Sauvagine Cheese Fondue. Â It was paired with the 2008 Merlot from Quinta Ferreira Estate Winery in Oliver. Â Yum and double yum! Â That one was the People’s Choice Award winner; and I must say, the people have excellent taste!
The other dish I was lucky enough to get to try before the end was the offering by Young Chef Eric Mummery with the Delta Okanagan Grand. Â Heaven! Â It had three components: a Seared Quail blue cheese polenta (the ultimate comfort food!), a hazelnut crusted brie cream (Oh my word! Â How delish!) and a slice of Ash Goat Cheese with poached pear & berry gastrique (sigh….). Â The wine it was paired with was sublime as well: the Cedar Creek 2007 Platinum Syrah. Â (That wine just oozes refinement and gentility! Â It really makes me feel like a better class of person.) Â I was not surprised when Eric (and team) won 1st place.
In conclusion, I will never take this event for granted again! Â Next year, I would take the whole day off of work just to make sure I get to enjoy the entire function.