There are no hollow spromises here

Lorne Eckersley of the Creston Valley Advance supplies a column pertaining to the better things in life

La Dolce Vita

It started with a simple enough idea. Avoid the temptation to start watching US presidential election returns from the moment the first polls closed by catching up on some episodes of The Big C. We don’t have cable or satellite TV but pretty much everything is available elsewhere, if you look hard enough.

So I wanted to make a snacky but tasty dinner and opted for chicken wings. Melt butter, add garlic powder and hot sauce and stir. Dip the wings in the butter mixture, then roll in bread crumbs, freshly grated parmesan, salt and pepper and place on a baking sheet. Into a 350 degree oven for about 50 minutes. Meanwhile, put some baby red potatoes on the boil until just about done. Drain and dry them on the heat, add a splash of olive oil, salt and pepper, then dump them into a baking pan and put them in the oven, too.

Watch an episode of The Big C, then crack and decant a bottle of wine. My visit to the cellar yielded a 2009 Stag’s Hollow wine called The Heritage Block, a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. More about that in a minute.

When the 50 minutes was up I pulled out the wings and spuds, then put a pack of frozen edamame beans into the microwave.

A few minutes later we were back in front of the television, watching the televisions series about a train wreck of a couple, she with cancer and he having suffered a massive heart attack in season two. We oohed and aahed about the parmesan wings and crispy, creamy potatoes and drew the beans from their pods through our teeth. And we immediately started raving about this incredible wine.

To be honest, we hadn’t been to Stag’s Hollow Winery in many years. It’s located a few klicks off Highway 97 between Skaha Lake and Oliver, quite near to another terrific winery. Wild Goose. But we always seem to be headed for some place or another and just haven’t made the time to take the turnoff. We rectified that error last month, and what a treat!

Earlier this year, Winepress Northwest magazine named Stag’s Hollow the BC Winery of the Year. A steady stream of awards and medals are indications that this small producer has a big, and well-earned, reputation.

In our visit, as we tasted our way through the wines we were blown away by the quality and variety. The reds, especially, were outstanding and it’s easy to see some of them improving for a decade or more.

Stag’s Hollow is owned by Larry Gerelus and Linda Pruegger, both of whom were in the Alberta oil industry before buying the ten-acre property near Okanagan Falls. The winery’s first crush was in 1995 and it has remained a relatively small producer that seems to only improve with age.

Our bottle of 2009 The Heritage Block is a Bordeaux-style wine with a bit of an unusual recipe. It contains only 5% Cab Sauv, with 32% Cab Franc and 63% Merlot. We both love Cab Franc, with its cigar box and leather notes and we decided this was one of our favourite wines in recent memory. I look forward to trying our other purchases over the winter.

The excitement that we felt when we sampled the Stag’s Hollow lineup served as a reminder not to take those off-highway wineries for granted. The extra minutes to get to them are short, but the rewards are often very long, just like The Heritage Block finish.

Lorne Eckersley,

Creston Valley Advance