In this business, in this life, there are many magical moments. Some of them we let slip by and others by their very nature take up a larger portion of our awareness.
I got some magical news this week. My brother has been fighting an illness and the latest MRI shows that he is actually winning the fight! Suddenly everything is better. Food is more delicious, wine is more sublime and even washing the dishes is delightful pastime.
To top it off, I was invited to an exclusive ladie’s lunch at the wonderful Marc restaurant in downtown Edmonton. Stacey Jo (one of the city’s best wine reps) invited me to join her with Marcia from Hicks Fine Wines in St. Albert to lunch with Maryann from Gloria Ferrer Winery in California. Maryann has been with Gloria Ferrer for twenty nine years. She really knows her stuff.
If you are a reader of this blog then you probably know that I have a considerable soft spot for quality sparkling wine, so this was a lunch that I could not possibly pass up. Really? One of the best restaurants in the city paired with one of the most dynamic and innovative wine families in the world…? I thought I could make it.
We began tasting the Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Blancs, a delicious sparkling Chardonnay that reaches all the notes from Jo Malone Orange Blossom to good old Granny Smith apples. Next came the flagship Sonoma Cuvee. This wine came off a little more floral and complex with lovely notes of toasted almond. The perfect sparkling wine for any occasion, a blend of predominately Pinot Noir on a bed of Chardonnay.
The Blanc de Noirs is the same blend as the Sonoma Cuvee, but is ever so slightly pink in colour (my personal favorite) lush and creamy on the palate with notes of wild cherry and vanilla.
We moved on to the latest star in the line up, the vintage Carneros Cuvee. It’s a real show stopper. The creamy, wide open palate opens up to lovely apple and citrus acidity that leaves you wanting more… and more. I love this wine and the package begs you to reach out and touch it. Each bottle comes with a little leather tag with the date of disgorgement and I think also the date of release. This is a must try.
Oh! In case you didn’t know, all of the sparkling wines from Gloria Ferrer are made using the traditional method or Methode Champenoise with the second fermentation occurring in the bottle.
With our lunch (I had the house beef brisket sandwich with frites and truffle mayo) the ladies poured a 2008 Etesian Pinot Noir which seemed to me to be nearing the peak of perfection. You’ll be able to taste it very soon at BiBO because I just can’t resist Pinot perfection. The Etesian was followed by the 2011 Gloria Ferrer Carneros Pinot Noir which is basically a workshop on superb Carneros Pinot. The nose is classic black cherry, cedar and Christmas spice that follows through on the palate leaving it pulsing with subtle toasty oak notes and a spiced cherry finish that just goes on and on.
But we weren’t done! With our desserts (mine was, as always, the beignets) we had a wine that was a real surprise. It’s called Va di Vi and it celebrates the Catalan heritage of the Gloria Ferrer/Freixenet houses. The blend is classic Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with 3% of my personal favorite, Muscat. The Muscat gives what Maryann calls, “just a kiss of sweetness”. And when she says just a kiss, she means just a kiss. The sweetness is just a faint shadow highlighting the elegant rich fruit. Again, look for this soon at BiBO. It will be our new sparkling wine by the glass in the very near future.
Throughout the lunch we talked about some of our favorite memories in the wine business. We traded magical moments with winemakers and restaurateurs, funny anecdotes and memories that stick like glue while eating a great meal and drinking some of the best wine that can be had. All of this added up to what we’d been discussing…one more magical moment in this business, in this wildly unpredictable life.