Spin the Bottle at Spinnakers
In keeping with the Victoria theme, it’s time to share some more stories for you, my dear hedonists.
Remember that game Spin the Bottle? (And yes, there’s an app for that.) I suspect most sommeliers are good at that game, which reminds me (once again) of my “sensual sommelier” Brian Storen, currently Vancouver Island’s Sommelier-At-Large. A few months back, after the Sips tasting, Brian invited me once again to a media tasting with Hobo Magazine editor and UVic Fine Arts Faculty member Brian Hendricks (a.k.a. Brian #2). The venue? Spinnakers Gastro Brew Pub & Guesthouses (the same operators as Sips Artisan Bistro and James Bay and Vic West Spirit Merchants). I was also invited to a weekend media stay at the Spinnakers Guesthouses, which I eagerly accepted.
Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub & Guesthouses – the brainchild of Publican Paul Hadfield, and Canada’s first “purpose built, in-house gastro brew pub” – is a unique blend of foodieness and publiciousness by the sea. With its enviable waterfront location, its wood-paneled interior, and its selection of local and organic produce and it seems wild (if possible), free-range, or at least hormone-free meats, Spinnakers is truly a gastrologist’s dream. (And they make their own beer, Malt Vinegar, mineral water, and chocolates, too!) Brian Storen’s 7-course menu, complete with his own tasting notes of our very own round of Spinnakers Spin the Bottle – not to mention the plates, which were brilliantly created and prepared by Chef Alison Ryan is depicted below (we even sabered a bottle of champagne – whoopee!). ‘Twas a palace-sized experience for the ol’ palate with Ali (chef), Brian (somme) and, er, well … Brian (co-diner) as we sat at the bar that saddles up to the kitchen itself.
Librettist Brian Storen (Canada’s Sommelier of the Year 2005, enRoute Magazine, Air Canada):
Sabouring the … moment: Deck side eroto-pre-descent into mounted battle Napoleonic tradition of running a sword along the circumcised seem of a bottle of Okanagan Falls Blue Mountain Vineyard Pinot Noir -Chardonnay Brut, agitating barometric pressure to an ejaculatory climactic point of contact between bottle neck and blade thereby releasing testosterone to raging troops of history, alternately the loving embrace of the contemporary present moment.
Pre-ambulation: Memory, images, dream fragments, relationships commingle; eating & drinking trigger aspects of who, what & how we’ve been in a gestalt of unrelenting truth. Hardwired to the trigeminal brain stem, the palate is portal to the soul invoking before thought, secondary aspects of the self that rarely see the light of our cognizant day. Through these mediums we introduce ourselves … with slightly gassed water from our well drilled under the building to an aquifer running below the Juan de Fuca Straight, shall we say surreptitiously sourcing the water tax-free from the Olympic Peninsula.
~1 Initiating trigeminal consciousness with Doc’s Pale Ale so acronymed after Paul’s oral surgeon brother Doctor Ian Hadfiled designed it in a soft yet piquant manner to mollify a scientifically unsubstantiated yet empirically legitimized feminine palate sensitivity to hops and gooey things, incisively guiding the tongue through a textural tango with to die for more petite Cortes Island Whaletown oysters massaging the tongue under a soft shower duet of Spinnakers IPA vinegar local golden beet mignonettes straddled by baked Bamfield Bull kelp beckoning the palate cleanse ‘nectarnal’ precision in Tugwell Creek’s Sparkling Methode Classic Wassail Mead burbling the wet dream ephemera of Whaletown mucosal viscosity with the diligence of nectar drunk bumble bees humming frizzante dexterity while they work, not caring how they get into the flower nor whether they ever emerge.
~2 Grazing the fields at Saanich Organics while massaging upper palates with our contralto toned light hopped estrogen rich Spinnakers ale candied Wilbury Farms Metchosine hazelnuts nestled in ovums of Happy Valley goat cheese & roasted Saanich Organics beet rafts floating Dragonfly Farms spinach salad with two recovering accountants Tim Watts & Bob Ferguson’s Naramata Bench 2007 Pinot Gris left on skins 6 hours thereby inducing sunset hew and subtle skin tannins to this “mouse that” roars white wine for red wine drinkers” composed of perfect grapes fermented in perfect science in a perfect winery (literally Bob’s garage) situated in a perfect vineyard in a perfect enophilic dream of growing grapes; rendering its utterly beguiling rhubarb, strawberry, pomegranate nose mélange into a spanky clean and lean mouth watering entrancement with the omega-3.
~3 Fishing theme out of roaming imagined 19th century streets of London, glass in hand circa invention of the beer that would survive sea journeys to colonial troops in India through our subtle straw hued, Pacific Northwest style high hopped Spinnakers IPA impugning somnambulistic perfection in ethereal pineapple sage hinted apple overtones to the subtle hum of a sunlight afternoon shoreline snooze after diving diva like into tongue coating omega 3 density of semolina & kelp dusted braised locally line caught sable fish pendulant in Bamfield bull kelp and brassica bathing trunks swimming through islets of white wine braised Cortes Island Whaletown savoury clams drenched by God in chef Alison’s Platonic essence of Sun Wing Farms parsley infused compound butter to the risk and imagination of house smoked Sooke trout, Seabluff Farms Jerusalem artichoke, bintjes potato & leek ragout accompanied by believe it, Salmon Arms Larch Hills Vineyard 2007 Mad Angie (Madeleine Angevine) cresting the briny aforesaid with its voluptuous mouth feeling persimmon and melon conjuring the sensual illusion of drinking Renoirs painting of the pear shaped ass ‘nude.’
~4 Fantasizing the bodies of words into image whilst Spinnakers Belgian style Abbott Ale parodying a brown robbed Cistercian monk humbly proffering an aged amber eyed canine water dog love nose nuzzle to Spinnakers Fog Fighter Ale braised neanderthalic cuts of Dragonfly Farms lamb shoulder shoulder chops in the same farm’s spinach roasted with rosemary infused babes honey candied carrots on Seabluff Farms parsnip purée Giordano Venturi with Marilyn Schulze’s ingenious Cobble Hill contralto libretto 2006 Sole Rosso of Pinot Noir & Zweigelt foisted from that ancient Kimmeridgian-Tithonian schist of the vineyard they grow in purporting an autumnal leafed keenly ripened blackberry and current embrace of the individual residuals in Jurassic history, youthful vigor, oxalic acid and ninja coaxed playfulness with the porcine: perhaps the most experientially concrete, archetypically symbolic, personally metaphorical inducing Pinot Noir in the world furthering depth perception with triple pairing referencing a theme of spirituality in the earth, on the plate in the glass with:
~5 Our Spinnakers E.S.B. bittered in old English fashion named one of Canada’s top 10 beers by MacLeans Magazine and my father’s favourite beer when he was alive. Convening feathered fealty to a sweet morning dew avian concatenation ‘To Frank’ emerging pre-Cambrian to the shores of north Duncan, Lyle’s Cowichan Bay Farm duck breast nesting belly down on eschatological pyres (referring metaphorically to the end of ordinary reality and reunion with the Divine) of hand lumber jacked braised kale corniced with Salt Spring Island’s Blossoms Blue Cheese cake massacred with bullets of sweet house pickled cherries penetrating the hearst of to the duck: Oliver’s B.C.’s 2007 Stoneboat Vineyards Pinotage crossing the idiosyncratic alter enological ego boundaries of pinot noir & cinsault, to witness the earth, bramble and spice olfactory escalator’s ascendance into gossamer strands of first black currant and melted purple crayon sylphs riding bare back through a heaving pack of saddle mounted black currant minions to Sisyphusian grace grown to a paradox of scientifically perfect, sun withered, low hanging, warm earth coated old canine scrotum density in a singular sweaty bovine enological gem for Canada.
To the cheese cake: Venturi Schulze Vineyards Brandenburg #3 after Bach’s Concerto composed of Sylvaner grapes slowly cooked down 2 days in a big vat in the vineyard, reducing volume thereby catharting glucose, subsequently aged 2 years in a solera of chestnut, alder and ash barriques from Giordano Venturi’s home town Modena genuflecting a profound testament to necromantic veracity. Fireweed honey esters roil up the glass, pungent with frankincense and myrrh smoked ancient stone and wood shafts funneling the languorous movement of an opulently overripe apricot shedding its skin before slipping into a gooseberry lined bed and the trembling embrace of a post pubescent fig tree, commingling their rhapsodic liquid essence in the twice blessed womb of myth & imagination. Suddenly I’m 10 years old, standing blindfolded in front of the main entrance to Westminster Abbey, my mother imploring in her perfect soprano “ My Redeemer Liveth” solo pitch “Breath Brian” as she flings open the doors shoving me through. I am staggered by the Kaleidoscopic smells of ecclesiastic mystery and ancient history extrapolating magnificence from:
~6 A vicarious tour of our Chocolatier Crystal Duck’s world famous selection of hand made Guittard chocolate truffles paired to beers slightly wicked ‘aphrodisiac’ raspberry and pepper infused dark chocolate truffle: Spinnakers Blue Bridge double hopped IPA deferring to the singularity of Victoria’s blue lift bridge marrying Esquimalt to the city. At 9% alc, 2 Blues and your under the bridge looking for crack cocaine ‘Thymless’ induced same on same wit and tenor to the palate of dark chocolate and thyme truffle: scaling rock with Spinnakers Nut Brown Ale ‘just a little stout’ dark chocolate, stout and barley truffle: draped in ermine cloaked Ogden Porter.
~ 7 Finalizing the tale with pure brian over kill by revealing the palate as orgasm to the soul raspberry apple sorbet in Victoria Gin. Struck by a sneaky release of vibrant florality pluming in the inoculated mouth as you breath into what you’ve swallowed. Interesting the self deceptive prejudices we have about price and perception of relative value: not unlike the experience of going on a blind date with low expectations and being shocked by the humble perfection of it all. Paradoxically terroire is the penultimate expression of this distillate. You smell, taste, feel the earth, the sun, the rain, hear the dragonfly hum through the leaves, even the occasional dog peeing against a fence post, syncopating the illusion of innocence into a sultry mélange of flowers, rampantly opening to the racing acidity of a food perfect innuendo from the Old West Saanich Road Vineyard where the gin is produced in the only legal wood burning copper pot still in the country. Superb without knowing it, there is an entire scope of experience in animated hyperbole that defines the liquor itself as simultaneously monastic in depth yet joyful in behaviour on the palate, with food, through the body: ultimately spirit reflecting spirit.
Buena Note on bended knees! (Brian Storen)
Now, after all that, you may be planning on imbibing a plenty. Fear not, for their Guesthouses – both contemporary (4 garden suites and a separate, self-contained bunglaow) as well as 5-roomed heritage (circa 1884) – are only (perhaps teetering) steps away, with many of the rooms boasting a double Jacuzzi soaker tub, fireplace, and private patio. You don’t get breakfast in bed, but they come pretty close: a basket of juice, in-house baked pastries, and the local morning paper. And you’re welcomed with house-made chocolate truffles and Spinnakers Aquifer mineral water, to boot. With all that they make in-house, it’s no surprise that Spinnakers typically always has something going on. You can check out their Events Calendar to plan your night there (or overnight, depending on how you roll). If you do, however, be sure to ask if Brian’s working that night – he may just play Spin The Bottle with you.