Well camping season is upon us, at least in my neck of the woods it is. Every year I look forward to putting in my time with the great outdoors. Becoming one with au naturel, smelling the salty mist from the ocean, pitching the tent with my wife (wink to my Kelly), roasting the mellows with the boys and swinging the axe. However, if you are anything like me, it’s not all roughing it!
One of the first things on my list when I’m preparing for a road trip is…what am I going to drink when I get there? Now to some, that thought shouldn’t be top of mind, but why not? Some of my greatest camping memories come back to when I revisit certain wines, and that inspires me get out there again and do it. The experience of the Great Canadian Camping Trip with family!
Let’s talk “building the base camp” wine. Hey getting home base ready is real work, so why not quench the thirst as you go? So my advice is to find the primo camp site, back the trunk up, pop the trunk, dig into the cooler for a chilled bottle, pop the cork & pour. Ok now you can get the rest of the gear out. In this case go with something refreshing, slightly lower in alcohol and easy to drink sans food. A couple of keepers would be…Get your hands on Vignetti Zanatta’s Glenora Fantasia Brut, Vancouver Island http://www.zanatta.ca/index.htm a sparkling charmer made from Pinot Grigio & the Cayuga grape (hybrid variety conceived in NY). Not only will this quench the thirst but it will create that celebratory sense of arrival after too much time in the car. Or go with JoieFarm Riesling http://www.joie.ca/index.htm. Hint…get on their mailing list. This husband and wife team up to make focused examples derived from their passionate love of German & Alsatian wines. The Riesling is a nice play and perfect for our purposes in this post. Not only is it varietaly correct, balanced and delicious but it possesses the mouth watering acidity that we want as a lead into dinner. A “prep the palate” exercise in the mid-day labour of base camp.
One of my all time favourite pairings when we’re heading to Tofino or any ocean spot for that matter has to be fresh crab off the boat with Viognier. There is something about this pairing that is sublime, the textural marriage of the crab meat & the weight of the juice works so well. Then the subtle tropical fruits come into play lifting the sweetness of the crab without overpowering the richly delicate flesh. Since most Viognier see a little oak contact, the impression of the classic butter-crab combo hits you as well. If you haven’t hooked these two up before, give it a try, you may just create a memory that you’ll want to return to over & over. Check out the very available Bonterra (organic) from Mendecino CA @ $22, Yalumba Y Series, South Aus @ $18 or go local with, La Frenz, Naramata BC @ $20.
When you are grilling or around the campfire you’ve got to have a few choices too! Odds are 100-1 that I’ll bringing some steaks & what I’ve been getting into lately is skirt steak which is cut from the belly below the rib & right of the brisket. Generally it’s a tougher cut that works well with marinades, which help in breaking down some of the muscle tissue and prepare it for grilling (or searing in the pan). As for marinades, try the chimichuri sauce recipe by Tyler Florence, ( http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/cda/recipe_print/0,1946,FOOD_9936_24268_RECIPE-PRINT-FULL-PAGE-FORMATTER,00.html).
Immediately I start salivating towards a rustic red, which in turn leads me to Spain or Argentina. Perhaps a Malbec from Mendoza such as the Archeval Ferrer $29 http://www.achaval-ferrer.com/. This entry level version is an honest, balanced interpretation of the varietal. Often I find that a lot Argentinean Malbecs carry an unpleasant manufactured fruit character to them, this one doesn’t & doesn’t disapoint. Or skipping over to the Garnacha variety in Spain (Grenache is the same grape), I would suggest the Alvaro Palacio “Les Terracces” $55 (Garnacha, Carinena & Cab Sauv). It’s a little pricey but if you can shell it out, it’s worth it. Palacio spent time working with Petrus winemaker Jean Pierre Moueix and is part of a new generation in Spanish winemaking, where he is leading the charge!
Sticking within the local neighbourhood, I’m keen on Kettle Valley’s Malbec, Naramata @ $35 http://www.kettlevalleywinery.com/. I tasted this while putting together a wine list for a Vancouver restaurant and it made the cut. Great concentration of fruit, it carries the rustic, slightly gamey character that I look for, the acidity & alcohol are in check, it’s balanced, delicious and perfect for a sunset night of grilling.
Seek these out, pitch the tent & fire up Q!