Henry Yuen (For Chinese posting, pls log onto:
I first came across Blasted Church wines a while ago at my favourite Island resort Sooke Harbour House while having dinner with my good friend and owner, Sinclair Phillips, the wine expert known for his huge collection of fine wines. When Sinclair told me the wine they were serving for dinner was from Blasted Church Vineyards, I thought “What a name for a vineyard!”. Well, this was one name difficult not to remember for sure!
Interestingly, when Sinclair showed me the bottle, my attention was aroused more so when I saw his portrait in a cartoony and artistic kind of way right on the label. It definitely stood out and helped extrude the element of fun and wonder. I knew clearly why he wanted to pour the wine that night! Indirectly, this is 'his' bottle of wine!
What a lovely evening it was - I was in good company, having exceptional food in a cozy room with a blazing fire-place inside and the roaring Pacific waves outside. And the sipping for the evening, with my good friend smiling at me from a bottle of wine, was more than just fine, it was memorable!
Fast forward to now and that cartoonish concept of using different personalities and characters in the label continues. While the fun quotient did not diminish, the wine-making notions of BlastedChurch are all serious when it comes to quality and drinkability. Judging by the numerous awards and accolades over the years, this ten year old vineyard is relentless in honing their wares and crafting some very good wines each step of the way. Not a big vineyard in terms of scale with 25,000 cases produced annually, it is big on fine tuning their wines to sort of “blasting” their way into the competitive BC wine landscape. With Mark Wendenburg, formerly of Sumac Ridge fame, joining in 2011 and charting their winemaking direction, the team is even stronger now to further complement their ten years of storytelling and artistic traits.
Both red and white varietals are well represented in both the Storytelling series and the Revered series. Most wines are priced competitively and are hot items at restaurants and various wine outlets. For whites, I particularly liked the Pinot Gris with its aroma of grape fruit and melon and a refreshing, crisp mouth feel. This I will pair with a platter of poached shelled fish; hot items like the pan-fried filet of fish; wok-fried buttered winter vegetables on the side.
The Hatfield’s Fuse 2011 is a white blend with aroma of Asian fruits and green apple and a smooth, intense citrus hint, perfect with Chinese cold cuts and stir-fries. For the reds, the Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2009 indicates fine detailed efforts that bring out the cassis and berries bouquet and a lingering jammy ending note. This forward wine will go well with roasted lamb, Braised Asian-styled clay pot meats, such as oxtails and beef tongues; heavy cheeses would not disappoint either.
Not to be out-done is the Big Bang Theory 2011 with lots of berries and stone fruit in the nose that tapers off with enough bites in the finish for this medium to full bodied wine. This is one great bottle to go on our family dinner table come Chinese New Year – I’m tempting to pair it with Stephanie’s Braised vegetable (with wood ears, black mushrooms, lotus roots in red tofu sauce) and an oven-baked chicken (with head and tail on for wholeness) she marinates overnight in her own coffee, red wine, brown sugar and brown bean sauce.
Happy Year of the Snake to you all!