Friday, October 03, 2008

Winter approaches, a New Red, and a too-old Red

Well the rains have begun. If you don't live in Vancouver it's difficult to imagine the change that happens when summer ends and fall begins.

The rain comes almost daily it seems, and not for an hour or so as in other parts of the country, when it rains in Vancouver it rains for days on end. The first year that wife and I lived here we arrived in late September and it was glorious, long warm sunny days that drifted on until the middle of October, when it began to rain, and rain, and rain. That fall it rained something like 37 days in a row, and it seemed as though it would never stop. People get nasty when they don't see the sun for a month so I anticipate some testy times ahead.

On a happier note the beginning of Fall means that the grill can be ignored and the oven/slow cooker put back in use. I'm already dreaming of short ribs and butt roasts and, daughter's favourite, "ragout". I am battling a bit of a bit of a cold so in search of comfort food on Wednesday I braised chicken thighs in stock with carrots, shallots, celery and fennel then thickened the braising liquid and served it with saffron rice. It was just the comfort food I was looking for and was nicely accompanied by a new addition to the red wine rotation in the house Anakena Carmenere , a new worldish red from a 10 year old winery in Chile.

Carmenere has been dubbed as Chile's signature red grape, the off shoot of Merlot is not grown very much elsewhere, but the BCLDB offers scant opportunity. This varietal is a slightly smokier version of Merlot to my palate and the Anakena offers up lots of red fruits and spicebox with a smoky after note and a nice long finish. The wine retails for $12.95 and is widely distributed, it's stock # is 72157 and I recommend it as a nice partner to pizza, pasta, roast fowl etc.

Last night was daughter's soccer practice so wife and I eat together after daughter is in bed. Practice runs from 6 till 7 so daughter must be fed beforehand, it amounts to a bit of a "stay at home date night" so I usually cook something that daughter would eschew. Last night I prepared a stroganoff with top sirloin, mushrooms, shallots, dijon and sour cream over buttered noodles. I was going to just crack open some house plonk but decided to take a shot on a bit of a gamble. back in the summer, at BratFest 2008, someone brought over a bottle of Cotes du Rhone Villages from the 2000 vintage which I left unopened.

I wasn't trying to "hoard a gem" in fact the opposite was true, I was pretty sure the wine would be over the hill and wanted to save my guest from any awkwardness. I stuck the bottle in my living room rack and forgot about it until last night. With nothing to risk I popped the cork and ............ it was dead as a doornail, no fruit except stewed fruit and a musky aftertaste.

A good thing to remember is that 95% of the wine made is best when consumed within 3 years of bottling, so don't tuck away any bottles of "Little Penguin" to save for that special occasion five years down the road.

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