The Pizza Yoda and his Epic Empties…

Dave taking his hit like a champ

I recently celebrated the 27th anniversary of my jailbreak from the womb. Through the years I have come to realize some fundamental truths about both myself and the world I call home. Here are five personal revelations I would like to share with you today.

1. I hate Onions! – I tried. I really did. And although I’ve shed the majority of my culinary prejudices over the years (including the once dreaded tomato), I have resigned myself to the fact I will never grow to love those stinky little bastards. The thought of placing a raw onion on my tongue provokes the same emotions as the thought of placing my bare genitals on a nest of fire ants…you get the picture.

2. My handwriting is garbage – Those who know me will attest to the fact that my hand writing skills are the equivalent of a wasted pre-teen riding a camel. Thank god for computers. If success in life was based solely on ones calligraphy skills I would have had to resort to the position of destitute male prostitute long ago…at least I have my looks.

3. I am a terrible pick up artist – Most people assume that my chiseled jaw and formidable biceps must make me an instant success with the opposite sex. Wrong. My pick up skills are about as honed as George Bush’s public speaking skills, and I have fumbled through my fair share of awkward attempts at the bar.  Thank goodness chicks dig wine guys.

4. My life rules – Despite points 1-3 at the end of the day my life is awesome. I am lucky enough to surround myself with interesting, intelligent and genuine people on a daily basis. I have an amazing family, endless opportunity and a job that lets me drink for a living. I have a chiseled jaw line, big biceps and rock a mean robot on the dance floor. All in all life is good.

5. Sometimes you just have to hit it from the bottle – Experience has also taught me that there is a time for sipping, swirling and contemplating…and then there is a time to tilt your head back and drink from the bottle.

I took this last point to heart recently at an early celebration of my birthday hosted by my friend Dave Thurgar. Dave is my hero. He has a full-sized, professional grade forno oven in his backyard and that is where he produces pizza pies that are no less than epic. He is the Yoda of pizza. A professional forn star unmatched in his mastery.

In order to match the glory of Dave’s pizza I knew I had to bring together the most gnarly gathering of great people and awesome wine ever created…and I think we succeeded.

Looking back at the wines that were consumed that evening, I can’t help but chuckle. Where the hell did we get these bottles? This was one of the most ridiculous line-ups I have ever witnessed, made even more impressive by the modest lifestyles and earnings of my friends and I. And to top it all off, we decided to hit the last wine from the bottle…a 3 litre bottle of Australian Shiraz none-the-less.

That night we drank like rock stars and ate like kings (kings who like pizza). Below is the crazy list of wines consumed. I love my life.

He doesn't look too impressed...

Chartogne-Taillet “Fiacre” Champagne NV – The top bottling from this outstanding boutique Champagne house, Fiacre is a monster. Rich and powerful, this is like the proverbial iron fist wrapped in a velvet glove. Deep notes of roasted nuts, caramel, crisp apple, buttered toast and minerality drive through a finish that seems endless. Delicious!

1988 Veuve Clicquot – I’ve blogged about this wine before, which my brother had managed to procure several bottles of for a ridiculous price I cannot disclose. Once again this was one of the highlights of the night. A perfect example of mature Champagne. Almost indescribably decadent, this displayed brilliant notes of rich espresso, dark chocolate, tiramisu, baked apple, fresh pastry and flambeyed pears. Oh wait, I just found a voice note I left myself. Apparently we decided this was like pouring cherry liqueur on Safeway chocolate chip cookies. Good times. Crazy. Drinking perfectly now!

1990 Schloss Reinhartshausen Erbacher Hohenrain Riesling Spatlese – Fun to say and even more fun to drink, this Riesling was out of control! 20 years old and still going strong, this picked up that delightful funk that great Riesling does with age. Blue cheese, diesel, bruised apple, dried apricot and just the right balance of sweetness and acidity. Wild stuff. Thanks Johnny!

1995 Foreau Vouvray Moelleaux – It keeps on rolling! Textbook Chenin Blanc tasting much younger than its 15 years of age. Classic Chenin “wet wool” dancing with honey, apple strudel, and carmelized nuts. The best part is that Bin 905 Wine and Spirits here in Calgary still has this on their shelf. Pick one up now!

2001 Andre Perret Condrieu – Who says the Viognier grape doesn’t age gracefully? Still packing a punch at nearly 10 years of age, this muscular white still shows the distinctive fresh flower/perfume aroma’s that makes these wines famous. Oily in texture with flavours of perfume, flowers and ripe peach/apricot and orange blossom. Delicious! Thanks Cody!

2001 Christophe Perrot-Minot Chambertin Grand Cru – This is where things get really crazy. Who the hell gets to drink Chambertin? Why am I so spoiled? From one of the greatest and most famed vineyards on the planet, this embodied everything that makes Pinot Noir from Burgundy so legendary. Delicious now, this could have easily aged 20 more years. Mind boggling in its complexity, this displayed the power of Steven Seagal with the grace of Fred Astaire. Pure cherry fruit with layers of spice, earth and mineral of every imaginable kind. Bryan you are a legend for bringing this.

2001 Domaine du Pegau Chateaneuf-du-Pape “Cuvee Laurence” – *BAM* *WHAP* *POW* Oh yeah. This is pure sex. Rock and roll in a glass. Deep like poetry. Soft like silk. Fresh herbs, clove, pepper, fig, date, dark roast espresso. Could still use another year or two to open up and will age beautifully for another 5-10. Courtesy of the original Regina rager Jeff Jamieson.

1989 le Petite Cheval – The 2nd label of Bordeaux superstar Chateau Cheval Blanc, to be honest this was a bit of a let down. Very green and vegetal with aromas of green pepper and damp autumn leaves. Some nice flavours and aroma’s underneath, but not overly pleasant. Sorry Kevin, I am so grateful for you to bringing this…but I also have to keep it real.

1982 Canon-la-Gaffeliere – No big deal. Just a classic right bank Bordeaux from one of the most heralded vintages of our time. Kevin, you are crazy. What an awesome opportunity. An argument ensued about whether or not this bottle was corked. Quite frankly I didn’t care. What a cool experience. Earth, fresh tobacco leaf, still some fruit hanging on. What a cool wine.


2007 Domaine Gallety Cotes du Vivarais – Leave it to Al Drinkle to bring a wine I’ve never heard of. An obscure appellation on the very Northern tip of the Southern Rhone Valley, this was the surprise of the night. The wine displayed both the peppery, lavender qualities of a great Northern Rhone Syrah and the silky, spicy and bright fruit qualities of a great Southern Rhone Grenache. What a stunner!

1985 Gaja Barbaresco – Don’t mind that slight rumbling sensation you might feel…that’s just my mind imploding like a black hole. I remember staring at the bottle for some time before pouring a taste, attempting to comprehend how this was actually happening. A true legend, this is John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis piled into a bottle. It’s also the kind of wine you would like to hate, to sneer its exorbitant price tag and whisper that it can’t possibly be worth it.

Enough with the build up. This was awesome. It was everything a great Nebbiolo should be. This is the kind of wine that built the legend of Barolo and Barbaresco. The nose was like fresh air in a perfect alpine meadow. Black cherry, tar, fresh rose petals and sandlewood rise from the glass like a symphony…like a beautiful woman breaching the surface of crystal Island waters after a swim. You don’t even notice you’re holding your breath until your brain begs you to go in for another whiff. Perfection. Al Drinkle, you are also a legend for bringing this.

2004 Domaine Zind Humbrecht Pinot Gris Clos Jebsal Vendage Tardive – A night such as this simply wouldn’t be complete without a sweet finish. This delicious late harvest Pinot Gris from the most renowned house in Alsace was amazing. Rich without being cloying, like a soft pillow on the tongue. Awesome! Thanks Tom!

2007 Langmeil Valley Floor Shiraz (3 Litre) – Back to the point we started with…sometimes you just have to hit it from the bottle. I can’t remember whose idea this was, but the decision to pass this around and drink all 3 litres straight from the bottle was obviously a sober one. I would like to imagine a leprechaun or unicorn suggested it…and given our collective state by that point a leprechaun or unicorn sighting would not have been out of the question. Sylvain, your bottle was put to good use.

Don't worry...we didn't pass her the 3 litre

Although much of the night after that point is a haze, I distinctly remember laughing in the warm glow of the forno, enjoying a fine cigar and the company of the lunatics I call my friends and feeling a swell of gratitude. Life is good.  The only problem is trying to top it next year.



Also thanks to Tom for bringing the 2001 Guigal Cote Rotie, what a shame it was corked.



  1. The 1990 Schloss Riesling made me want to throw one of those cats out the window, it was THAT good.
    Nutella pizza was also a reason for me to use the cats as projectiles.
    I get excited in really weird ways.


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