As the year comes to a close, I’m looking back on what a whirlwind it’s been; even in a slower year, I surprise myself with how many amazing experiences I am fortunate enough to have. 2006 saw the release of our latest album, Barenaked Ladies Are Me, and took us all over the United States. 2007 promises to be even busier, with the release of our next album, Barenaked Ladies Are Men, in February, a Canadian tour, a U.K. tour and another jaunt through the United States. I’ll try my best to keep you up to date with my adventures as they happen.
In the meantime, here’s a quick look back at the past year, and my most memorable wine experiences, in no particular order:
1. Two Nights in Umbria: In June, we flew to Italy to play a private gig, and spent two nights at the Hotel Vannucci, a quaint little hotel in Umbria, where the food was delicious local fare and the staff was incredibly friendly and very proud of the local Sagrantinos. Here, I had the opportunity to taste wines from a variety of small, but excellent producers.
2. White Burgundy in Cape Breton: This past summer, my wife and I took our three sons on a driving tour of eastern Canada. We ended up at an inn/RV park overlooking the bay and the old French fortress. Thankfully, the dining hall was BYOB so, after a long day of driving, we enjoyed a delicious bottle of 2002 Dujac Puligny-Montrachet with our lobster and mussels.
3. Thanksgiving in Willamette Valley: You’ve likely already read about my travels through Oregon, but that Thanksgiving dinner at Penner-Ash was something I’ll remember for a long, long time: The spirit of family and community, the warm welcome we received, and the great food and wine were a highlight of our U.S. tour for me. I was also impressed that alongside the fabulous local wines poured (Penner-Ash, Raptor Ridge, Scott Paul, Chehalem), there was a great selection of wines from Alsace to be enjoyed. And Wild Turkey, too.
4. Canadian Small Producers: Canada’s wine industry has truly grown out of its old image of industrial, generic wines, and wineries large and small alike are creating a better, more unique product. Most exciting for me are guys like Charles Baker, director of marketing for Stratus, Niagara’s hip boutique winery, who now has his own eponymous label. He works with growers to craft small lots of super-high quality Riesling. His first release is soft and ethereal, with lots of apple and pear, but an acidic backbone that gives it some guts and staying power.
5. 1971 Torres Gran Coronas: A friend brought this Cabernet to dinner one night at Boulevard in San Francisco; it was the perfect melding of old flavors (leather, spice) and new (it still had ripe fruit after all this time), and was a testament to the value of good storage, as it had no musty or mushroomy aromas. New Year’s resolution: Learn more about Spanish wine.
Next Up: Part 2