Harrison Hot Springs
We just returned this afternoon from two days at Harrison Hot Springs, about a two-hour drive north into BC. It’s been a few years since we last visited, but we enjoyed it so much we think we would like to go more often. This time we rented one of their dozen or so one-bedroom cabins, which are: a) quietly located behind the hotel along a small stream (dry at the moment, but probably not for long!!), and which b) welcome pets (!!), which allowed us to take our dogs with us. All in all it was very relaxing and enjoyable. It’s not often we allow ourselves this level of pampering, and…well…Surprise, it is curiously enjoyable! Who knew that self-indulgence could be pleasant?
OMD: Senior Citizenhood!
The down-side to to this little getaway was the somewhat disturbing realization that we are in fact officially Senior Citizens. On the one hand it’s a little like being “under 12” again, which meant, way back when we were kids, that we got into the movies for less than adults. The actual numbers will probably be a little mind-blowing for anyone younger, but most of the theaters in Bangor, Maine back in the fifties when I was under 12 cost a quarter for kids, and a whopping 35 cents for adults. One theater, affectionately known as “the Rathole,” which as far as I can remember was ONLY open Saturday afternoons, typically featuring a Western, cost nine cents for admission. No, I personally never saw any rats.
The fact that goes hand in hand with these memories from a half-century ago is that in order to have them you gotta be OLD. I remember an old joke I heard when I was in my twenties:
“A young reporter goes to interview an elder gentleman on the occasion of his one hundredth birthday:
“Tell me, sir, how does it feel to be so old?”
To which the elder gentleman replied, “Well, sonny, I’ll tell ya…I don’t feel so much like an old man as I do like a young man with something the matter with him!”
So it was that we found ourselves in the company of other folks our age (and OMD, even Older!) wandering aimlessly (as one does at our age) in and out of the hot pools and various dining facilities. Some even danced to the resident band that did a nice job playing oldies. All in all it was vaguely disturbing to realize that your Peer Group are old, stiff, and a little droopy; and you feel a compelling need to distance yourself from them…omd, how did this happen…?
The name “Super-Tuscan” refers to Italian wines which combine Sangiovese with grapes which are not traditional in the particular region, like Syrah, Merlot, or Cabernet Sauvignon. Such wines fell outside the official DOCG classifications of Italian wines either because they contained international varietals such as cabernet sauvignon or merlot, or were aged “incorrectly,” or in some other way violated the strict rules for wine classification in their region. Therefore forced to be classified as simply Vina di Tavola (table wine), many of these wines nonetheless found favour in international markets and some hugely surpassed the highest quality wines typical of the region. The wine industry and press began to refer to these wines as Super-Tuscans because of their popularity and quality; subsequently, the Italian authorities, under the Goria Law 1992, redrew the classifications, and included the category IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) to include the SuperTuscans in the DOCG typology.
For several years now we have carried a delicious and inexpensive super-tuscan from a family winery (Perazzeta) just south of the famous wine region of Montalcino in Tuscany. We special-order several cases each year, along with a case or two of their delicious olive oil. We will be pouring the current vintage this weekend; see tasting notes below.
The highlight of our trip to Spain in May was our week in the Priorat/Montsant regrion, about 100 mi SW of Barcelona. Everything about the region is dramatic. The landscape is high, dry, and hot during the growing season. There is no irrigation of vines, which have to send their roots deep into the earth to find water. Sometimes it takes over twenty years before the vines find enough water to produce fruit. When they DO produce fruit, however, it can be quite profound, with deep concentration and complexity, not just because of the depth, but because of the unusual soil which underlies much of the region. Called licorella, it is a uniquely structured shale with a neutral pH, which allows the wines to develop a wide range of distinctive mineral nuances.
This picture was taken during our visit to Pasanau, a winery at the northern end of the region, looking south toward the Mediterranean coast, about 50 miles away. (You can click on the image to see a larger version.) In the same tradition as the Super Tuscans of Italy, many wineries in Priorat are embracing other varietals than the traditional carinena and garnatxa found in most wines from Priorat. This weekend we will be pouring the Pasanau “Ceps Nous” (Catalan for “new varietals,” and pronounced “seps noose”).
Everywhere we look in wine regions these days, there is a creative tension between the old and the new, the traditional and the innovative. Whether it is in Italy with the introduction of French varietals like cabernet, merlot, or syrah to make “supertuscans,” or in Spain to find the best varietals to express the unique terroir of Priorato, winemakers are constantly exploring the creative possibilities. These are at lease a couple of reasons why exploring modern wines is a dynamic and fascinating intellectual and sensory pursuit. In a nutshell, that’s what our weekly tasting is all about!
Tasting notes for this weekend:
Chateau Guiraud White Bordeaux ’10 France $20
Bright golden yellow. Captivating nose offers complex, deep aromas of lemon, mint and white flowers. Enters the mouth bright and fresh, with tightly wound citrus and mineral flavors gaining flesh and depth with aeration, picking up honey and herbal qualities on the very long, pure finish
Can Blau “Blau” ’09 Spain 90pts $11
40% Carinena, 40% Syrah, and 20% Garnacha aged for 12 months in French oak. Wood smoke, spice box, incense, lavender, black cherry and plum aromas are followed by a mouth-filling, round, dense wine with outstanding grip and length. It over-delivers in a big way. Drink it over the next 6-8 years.(Btw, this wine is made in Montsant at Celler Masroig, within sight of the southern edge of Priorat).
Perazzeta “Erio” Super-Tuscan ’10 Italy $14
A local favorite we have brought in for several years: a Sangiovese, cab, syrah blend from Tuscany just south of Montalcino (we also carry their olive oil–delicious!) – this vintage is richer and more balanced, with even bigger flavor than last year– totally yummy!
Pasanau Ceps Nous ’10 Spain WA90pts $22
A blend of 45% Garnacha, 30% Merlot, 5% Syrah and 20% Carinena. It has a very elegant nose of raspberry, wild strawberry and fennel. The palate is very well-balanced with a succulent core of spicy red fruit. The Carinena is very expressive, with wonderful balance and composure towards its smooth but structured finish.