I was asked by some friends to participate in “An evening of Art, Wine and too much fun” presented by The Artist Relief Fund Society, and I was delighted to get involved.

The Canvas Confidential event will be held on Saturday May 14 at the Old Fire Hall, and proceeds from the event will go towards supporting the Artist Relief Fund Society.

Harreson Tanner and MJ Warshawsky have been doing all the organizing, and in chatting with them and Craig Hougen, we thought it would be fun to do a wine tasting as part of the evening.

The main thrust of the evening will be when guests get to choose a canvas to take home – but they won’t know who the artist is until after they’ve chosen it. [Ed note: an article about this event will appear in next week’s What’s Up Yukon.]

My part of the fun will be the wine. We are organizing three “tasting stations”, each of which tells a different story. Two tables will feature red wines, and one will feature whites.

Virtually all the wines offered at the three tasting stations will have been imported especially for this evening, and are currently unavailable in the Yukon, except by special order.

We decided for the event to identify a selection of wines rated 90 points or better by one or more of the major wine reviews.

Wines are rated on a point range from 50 to 100, by major wine publications such as “Wine Spectator” magazine. A score of 100 would be perfect, and a 90 or above is considered a top-notch wine.

So there will be some new and interesting things for people to try, learn about and, I am sure, enjoy.

I’m teaming up with two other wine enthusiasts to staff the three tables. Among the three of us, we figure we have 100-plus years of wine tasting and enjoyment experience to draw on and share.

It was fun coming up with themes for the three tasting tables, so that we could tell a different story at each one. After lengthy discussion, we decided on these concepts:

1) The Italian Table – Tuscany and the South

This table will tell the story of classic Tuscan wine tradition, the trend that has signalled the rebirth of Italy as a world wine powerhouse, and the exciting, newly-emerging wines of the south of Italy.

We’ll offer a specially aged Chianti Riserva, a classic blend of Tuscan regional grapes, produced by family wine makers in the Tuscan hills since 1308!

There will also be “Super Tuscan”, highlighting the rebel upstart style that smashed the staid wine-making rules of Chianti and gave birth to the Tuscan wine renaissance!

We’ll round out the trio with a brilliantly aged Salice Salentino Riserva from the sun-baked region of Apulia or Puglia, in the heel of Italy. Grapes from this region have been grown since at least the sixth century BC.

2) The White Wine Table – wonderful ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) wines

We’ll start with a classic Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough district of New Zealand’s south island. It is a shining example of what has made New Zealand THE exciting Sauvignon Blanc source of the last 20 years.

Cross to California, to taste a Viognier, the famous white Rhône grape that was first brought to this region of France by the Roman emperor Probus in 281 AD.

Our third white wine will be a surprise feature of a third “off the beaten path” white wine grape from another region of the world.

3) The Cabernet Sauvignon Table – this classic Bordeaux grape, interpreted by vineyards from three continents.

This table will present the progression of Cabernet Sauvignon as the pre-eminent red wine, starting in California where it all began. In the early ’70s, California began to offer the world robust, pure Cabernet Sauvignon reds, that by 1976 were acknowledged – even by the French – as some of the premiere interpretations of this grape in the world.

The Australians were next to take hold of this grape, and turn out world-class offerings. We have selected a Cabernet Sauvignon from Australia’s famed McLaren Vale region.

To round out the tour, we’ll go to Chile’s Maipo Valley, one of the newest source of world class Cabs, to taste one of their superior examples.

It’s always a joy to talk about wine, and I look forward to seeing how all this planning translates into the wine tasting. As well, I hope to buy a ticket as well as work there, so I can get a crack at the artwork.

Finally, a quick mention of a new wine discovery that is available locally!

A friend recently brought an excellent bottle of Saurus Pinot Noir (about $20.00) from Neuquen, in Patagonia, Argentina. I believe this is a new listing at the Yukon Liquor Corporation.

I served it with salmon and wild rice, and again on Easter weekend with racelette, the Swiss cheese dish.

Unlike most Pinots that I have found up here, this one was full bodied, with lots of dark fruit flavours. Over the course of an hour or so, it just opened up more and more, with both the bouquet and taste getting better and better!

When I last checked, the YLC had both the 2006 and the 2008 vintages.

Both are good, but if there is any of the 2006 left, grab it, and give it a try!