Bring It.

June 24, 2010

Since 2007 it’s been legal to Bring Your Own (store-bought) Wine to Halifax restaurants. Establishments are left to choose whether to participate in BYOW and how much to charge you for the effort. A number of restaurants in town do take part, with corkage fees in the $10 – $25 range (Halibites has a list). Admittedly, I don’t take advantage of this service nearly enough – mostly because I’m too disorganised to plan ahead –  but this past weekend I gave it a go. A friend was visiting from out-of-town and we decided on dinner at Morris East – a wood-fired pizza restaurant on Morris Street that happily lets you BYO. I stopped by Port of Wines beforehand to pick up two wines I’d been meaning to try: 2007 Perrin & Fils Vacqueyras “Les Christins” (Southern Rhône) and 2007 Bodega Catena Zapata Malbec (Mendoza, Argentina).

Morris East (Credit: nsca on Flickr)

Now, a proper foodie would’ve snapped some pics of the delectable Charcuterie plate we shared, or captured at least one of the fine pizzas we filled our bellies with: Pepperoni & spicy banana peppers; Puttanesca, fresh basil & goat’s cheese; Housemade sausage with bacon, onion, pineapple & mozzarella … but I’m not a proper foodie (see note re disorganisation above).

I did get a picture of the wines though. (Albeit these were taken a few days later, after having gone back to the shop to re-buy the wines specifically for this photo, but what matters is that we have visual!)

Perrin & Fils Vacqueyras and Catena Malbec

Perrin & Fils Vacqueyras and Catena Malbec

The Perrin & Fils “Les Cristins” Vacqueyras was the favourite and only slightly shy of being too heavy for the pizzas. Someone described this wine as “racy” and I think that’s perfect. Deep, opaque, inky/black/purple colour with a little sediment. Notes of black cherry, black currant, leather, smoke, liquorice. Full-bodied, dense mouthfeel, slightly firm tannins (little young?), touch of bitterness and more black fruit. $29 at Port of Wines.

The Catena Malbec was a very close second. Rich burgundy colour, opaque. Intensely fruity nose, with cinnamon, raisin, mocha and clove. On the palate the fruit was big and powerful, but well-balanced with just enough acidity, softer tannins and slightly looser/mellower structure than the Vacqueyras. $24 at Port of Wines – great value.

BYOW is a great little program, especially if you dine out often. It’s an easy way to branch out and try different wines, and you save a little (or a lot) on the bill.

A hat-tip to the friendly BYOW table service at Morris East.

Notes On A Luddite

June 18, 2010

A couple of years ago I joined Twitter. I didn’t really want to. Geeky peer-pressure and name-calling (and I think, alcohol) forced me into it. In honour of my then technological resistance I created an account called @curlyluddite, and like most noobies I tentatively uploaded a faceless image as my avatar, and locked up my tweets.  Eventually, I grew cheeky and confident enough to shed the shackles of my shrouded Twitter existence and share my meanderings with the rest of the world. Off came the security locks and up went a picture of my real-life face. And it’s been pretty good so far. I’ve made some lovely connections and learned some handy things as @curlyluddite. But to the tweep who (rather seriously) informed me that I am “not really a Luddite” because I “have a blog and am on Twitter”: you are correct. I’m not really a Luddite. But like a lot of ironic/pointless nicknames this one has stuck, and it led me to a pretty special wine recently, 2004 Luddite Shiraz.

Luddite Shiraz

2004 Luddite Shiraz

Luddite Wines is based in South Africa’s Western Cape and opened its doors in 1999 with its sights set on making top-notch Shiraz. Their Luddism philosophy stems from a focus on self-sufficient and global conscious farming. 2004 was the first vintage they used their own Walker Bay fruit (though blended with the grapes of 3 other vineyard sites,  Malmesbury, Helderburg and Bottelry). I spied this particular bottle in Bedales, a small wine shop/wine bar hybrid near Spitalfields Market in London, and like a child seeing her name in print I squealed with recognition and bought it. The bottle has sat in my cupboard for over a year awaiting a decent occasion. Mercifully, a half decent occasion presented itself the other night. Good enough. We popped the cork.

Deep burgundy colour with blackish hues and a little sediment. The nose was rich and complex with stewed plumb, leather, tobacco, cinnamon and pepper. Solid & full-bodied in the mouth with smooth tannins and  nicely integrated fruit, alcohol and spicy acidity. My sense was that the fruit could’ve been a little more prominent, but what existed hung together well with everything else so, no matter. An intense, bold, yet very together wine. Liked it a lot.

4 vineyard sites, Malmesbury, Helderburg, Bottelry and for the first time our own fruit from the Luddite farm in Bot River.