You know it’s going to be a good day¬†when at 10:00 you’ve got bubble in your glass. Don’t judge me¬†- I know you’re jealous.
While we – well, most of us – can’t start every day with a glass of bubble, I was fortunate to do just that at the Okanagan Summer Wine Festival this weekend at Silver Star.¬†It’s the last year this event will be hosted among alpine wonderous goodness. Sad, but don’t fret: next year we’ll see a virtual explosion of events hosted throughout the valley, with Penticton shining as the predominant host city. I’ll be there, glass in hand.
Back to the mid-morning bubble. Over two days, events this year included Wine and Cheese, the decadent Cadbury’s Chocolate and wine tasting (can I hear a big ‘yum’?) and a Progressive Tasting on the Saturday afternoon to cap things off. But what really got my curiosity was something¬†a little different: coffee and wine.
Starbucks introduced a pairing like no other. This is where we got to sip delicious BC bubble at 10am and five other BC wines – all matched with a coffee partner. Initially I was sceptical; hell, I still am. But the enthusiasm of the coffee folks have me looking at the brewed beverage in an entirely different light.
Acidity. Aroma. Floral. Earthy. Spicy. Do you think these are just reserved for wine? Not according to the people at the ‘Bucks. All are descriptors of coffee and are included in a handy little Coffee Passport – given to new partners when they start on the job. And there was no drip coffee-making done here. Oh no. These were brewed french-press style, and spoken about with such love and attention to detail that I could see the road we were headed down a bit clearer than when I signed up for the seminar.
They poured and¬†paired while we swirled, sniffed and drank (slurped, in the case of the coffee). A good time was most definitely had by all – including those who answered skill-testing questions to be rewarded with prizes and hugs. It was that kinda crowd, and that’s alright by me.
Wine/Coffee #1: Summerhill Cipes Brut / Breakfast Blend. I’m a big fan of what Summerhill does with bubble – especially the Cipes Brut. The Breakfast Blend didn’t get the full workout or appreciation as we were in our coffee tasting infancy. All I can say is that it woke me up quite nicely.
Wine/Coffee #2: Mission Hill Reserve Chardonnay 2008 / Italian Roast. Admittedly, I hadn’t tried a chard from Mission Hill yet – there’s just too much damn good stuff around the Okanagan. And this was quite pleasant. Think brunch wine as your nibbling on a bagel and lox. The Italian Roast had that woodsy aroma going for it, complete with memories of maple syrup smokehouses.
Wine/Coffee #3: Tantalus Riesling 2009¬†/ Kenya Blend. Tantalus makes a damn good riesling – initially crisp with bright fruit (think grapefruit on its best day) and a wee bit of oily-goodness, yet it can hang out in the bottle to develop into the kerosene/petrol beauty that I know lurks beneath the surface. Yum. The Kenya Blend is often used for iced coffees – it’s got that citrus thing going for it which I couldn’t discern but am willing to go back for another try. Or two.
Wine/Coffee #4: Ex Nihilo Night 2006 / Pike Place Roast. This was my introduction to an Ex Nihilo red, and I’m still not sure what to think. Night is a blend of equal parts cab sauv, merlot and cab franc – and supposed to be a Bordeaux-style. Whatever the reason, it wasn’t working for me. I tasted stuff at the start (fruit) and the end (tannin), but nothing in the middle. The Pike Place Roast, however, made me swear off putting anything in¬†my coffee¬†ever again. And if you’ve ever seen me doctor up a coffee, you’ll know just what¬†a big deal that is.
Wine/Coffee #5: RollingdaleIverson Merlot 2008 / Organic Yukon Blend. The grapes for this merlot come from Rollingdale’s growing partners along the Golden Mile (Oliver area), and they only make 200 cases of the stuff. Hot damn, them’s good grapes. There’s a whole lotta stuff going on when you take a sip of this merlot, and it’s all in happy unison. As for the Organic Yukon Blend…think dark, bitter chocolate. Yep.
Wine/Coffee #6: Quail’s GateFortified Foch 2007¬†/ Komodo Dragon Blend. Bring me a fortified wine, and I’m in a happy place. There’s a wee ‘but’ in here, as I haven’t been a foch fan in the past – except for their Old Vines Foch, which is gorgeous. Sweetness hides a high (but typical) alcohol content in this fortified, yet the foch varietal does something my taste buds don’t like.¬†My fella liked it just fine.¬†Instead, I¬†concentrated on the Komodo Dragon. In the world of wine, there are big wines….and this is a helluva big coffee. Also my favourite of the morning, as it turns out. Yeah, that surprised me too.
Just when you think you’ve been there, done that with wine tasting, change things up a little. I’d never think to put these things together – and I’m sure there are people out there who may think these aren’t natural partners.¬†They might not be. But the folks behind this event sure did their homework because I can honestly say it was an absolute blast – and something I’d do again in a heartbeat.
Go ahead – un*wine*d with a glass of bubble before noon…then chase it with a lively, vibrant coffee. Whatever you do, have fun. That’s what this is all about.