Monday, July 28, 2008

Report from ... British Columbia Day 1 - July 22, 2008

For my mother's 70th birthday she wanted to travel the Okanagan tasting wine ... I being the curious wine writer that I am decided that sounded like a really good idea ...

We arrive by 11:00 in the morning local time … got our luggage and car sorted out and it is off to the first winery … better to hit the ground running then crawl our tired carcasses around getting acclimatized.

Mission Hill … this really is the must see place everyone says it is. It’s like a university campus dedicated to wine and food. We lunch with fellow wine writer Alan McGinty and it is a fabulous affair with salads, soups and a wonderful Braised Beef Short Rib Farfalle. The main course is Halibut and Trout and dessert is some sinfully delicious chocolate treats – including a chocolate milk that is made with Earl Gray Tea … go figure. We get a tour and tasting of past SLC vintages and later are taken to the retail shop for the current vintages. I walk away with a bottle of Mission Hill 2005 Reserve Shiraz ($24.99).

Wines of Note: 2005 SLC Chardonnay – $33; 2006 Pinot Noir Reserve - $29.99; 2007 Five-Vineyar
d Sauvignon Blanc - $15.99; 2005 Merlot Reserve - $23.99; 2005 Shiraz Reserve - $24.99.

Quail’s Gate
just down the road from Mission Hill (and a little to the left), literally, is this beautiful little property with tons of history. Settled in 1873 by John and Sue Alison, and now owned for the past decade by the Stewart family this little winery is another must see. The newly opened (July 1, 2007) wine shop is beautiful, with a state of the art tasting-counter. They make approximately 15 different “skus” (wines) and double up on Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Old Vines Foch (over 40 years old). They consider themselves to be a Pinot and Chard house and these wines prove to be real hits – especially the Family Reserve line. But in the end it was their 2005 Merlot ($26.99) that proved to be the real winner.

Wines of Note: 2007 Dry Riesling - $16.99; 2007 Gewurztraminer - $16.99; 2006 Stewart Family Reserve Chardonnay - $29.95; 2006 Stewart Family Reserve Pinot Noir - $45.00; 2005 Merlot - $26.99.

Dinner was at the Old Vines restaurant right on the property and, what felt like, smack dab in the middle of the vineyard. Crab Cakes, Salmon Gravlox, Rib eye, risotto and filet mignon were consumed at the table between Alan, my mom and myself. The Filet looked like meat cake (see picture) and was very good – if my doctor saw it he’d say I’ve had my meat fill for the month.

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