A Happy Start To The Holidays in Dawson City

Christmas and New Year’s are fast approaching us here in the Yukon, and this weekend reminded me what a beautiful and magical place we live in. If Whitehorse was not beautiful enough, I just came home from driving 500 km through low-angle sun and fresh fallen snow to Dawson City.

The Klondike Institute of Art and Culture (KIAC) had invited me to come up to help arrange and lead a wine tasting as a holiday fundraiser, and loving Dawson City as much as most Yukoners do, I jumped at the chance to help out. I drove up Friday night, and Saturday had a relaxing breakfast and day walking through the town, enjoying the slow pace and quiet that come to that place off season. The short day was beautiful and the few shops that were open were full of Christmas gift ideas and laid back and happy people.

I love the history and feel of Dawson City, but until this past weekend had never been there in full-on winter. What a magical place!

The wine tasting was in the second floor hall of the KIAC building, which must date from the very early part of the 20th century. How beautiful it was, with Christmas garlands hanging along the walls, and sparkling with white Christmas lights. The Bob Hilliard Jazz Quartet showed up and began to warm up as we set out three tables of wines to taste, and at 7:30 the wine enthusiasts began to arrive.

I had chosen a selection of 10 wines—most newly added to the YLC list—to explore a number of different wine avenues. The cooking enthusiasts of Dawson had gone to great effort to create a roster of appies to bring out the best in those 10 wines… everything from braised moose cubes to salted caramel on bacon. Wow!

The following were the 10 wines we tasted, and all had their enthusiasts!


Chateau Ste Michelle Columbia Valley Chardonnay – USA

Zuccardi Serie A Torronte – Argentina

Heitlinger Pinot blanc – Germany

Yellow Tail Moscato – Australia


Peter & Peter Pinot Noir – Germany

Altos Las Hormigas Malbec- Argentina

Graham Beck “The Game Reserve” Cabernet Sauvignon – South Africa

Bodegas Munoz Garnacha – Spain

19 Crimes Shiraz – Australia

Barista Pinotage – South Africa

The Torrontes white was very popular, as were the Malbec and Shiraz reds, but my very favourite was the Barista Pinotage from South Africa, which would normally be offered as a red wine to accompany a dinner entry. But because of its unique coffee notes, I decided to put in as a desert wine to accompany some wonderful chocolate biscotti and chocolate and dried cherry. Wow again! Sometimes particular wines just inspire your to play with tastes and try crazy fun things. I suspect that there might be a bit of a run on the Barista Pinotage in Dawson in the coming weeks.

I was inspired by the taste, and want to pick up a couple of bottles to serve through an entire meal. My thought was to encrust a steak with ground coffee beans and pepper, and grill it to serve with the Barista, and then to continue with the same wine, and maybe tiramisu for desert, playing with the coffee notes of this wine through the whole meal.

This past year has one of great blessings for me. I have made new friends, renewed old ones, met a wonderful woman, and undertaken a new and exciting job that allows me to work with Yukoners across the territory. And in my life as wine journalist, I have had the chance to contribute to a number of fundraisers for good causes, and to share wine knowledge with other enthusiasts and interested novices around the Yukon.

This holiday, as always, I wish my readers and their families and loved ones health, happiness, and warm and loving households. And if you choose to enjoy and share wines this season, plan ahead and enjoys them responsibly. I want you all to be reading my wine columns in 2013!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Healthy and Happy 2013!


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