A black convertible slips out from behind a row of vines and speeds away, leaving a trail of gently rising dust. This isn’t Italy or the South of France. We’re in Mount Lehman in Abbotsford at the inaugural Jaguar Vine & Dine Summer Soiree. The event took place on August 20th at Cannon Estate Winery and centred around an elegant long table dinner with Cannon Estate wine pairings.
Hearing A Jaguar Roar
This being a Jaguar event, we not only got to take a look at a few cars but we also got a choice of two Jaguars to take for a test drive. The most popular choice for a ride was the sleek, slick Jaguar F-Type convertible. The F-Type reaches a top speed of 285 km/hour and can go 0-100 km in just 4.6 seconds. It feels wrong to describe the feline roar of the Jaguar engine in equine terms but it has a maximum horsepower of 450.
I took a ride in the spacious and comfortable F-Pace, a super charged SUV. The cool, air conditioned interior was refreshing in comparison to the warm, summer temperatures outside. With a maximum horse power of 246, and a top speed of 217 km/hour it was impressive how exceedingly smooth our ride in the F-Pace was, even at speeds of 140 km/hour.
The Wine Wick is Lit
The summer soiree was held at Cannon Estate Winery in Mt. Lehman. Cannon Estate was established in 2018 by Justin and Andrea Manuel. They bought the property and connected with growers and wineries in the Okanagan with the dream of starting a winery of their own. They were told that building a premium winery in the Fraser Valley would be impossible but they continued on, undaunted. The catchphrase of Cannon Estate is, “It’s too late, the wick is lit.” This fiery expression inspired the name of the winery as well. The head winemaker and viticulturist is Patrick Blandin. With over thirty years of experience in wine, Blandin has worked in France as well as in vineyards around the world.
Cannon grows sixteen varieties of mostly white grapes in their herbicide free vineyards. Their style is informed by French technique and terroir. One award winning blend that we got to try is the Allégresse, a Burgundian-style blend made with mostly Chardonnay grapes. It recently won a Silver Medal at the 2023 British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards and a Bronze Medal at this year’s Great American International Wine Competition. Another lovely white we got to sample was the Bonhomous, 2021. A blend of five varietals, it is dry with a touch of acidity and minerality, and flavours of green apple and stone fruit.
Cannon also has two different styles of rosé. Their Provence-style, Reverie, is a medium bodied blend of Syrah and Merlot with notes of apple and strawberry. As Cannon is still a younger winery, some of the grapes they use are locally sourced from Osoyoos and Kelowna. Another rosé, the Rapture is a darker, Bordeaux style rosé which smells of cassis and white pepper. 45% of the grapes used for this wine were grown at Cannon Estate, while the rest were sourced from BC vineyards.
In terms of red, the Fleur Bleue is a well balanced Gamay and Pinot Noir blend that is light in tannins so it is not too drying on the tongue. This Burgundy style blend has floral and fruity aromas.
Vineyard Dining with Jaguar
Of course, this summer soiree is a vine and dine event, and the long table dinner was a highlight. We started with a cheese plate before taking a walking tour of the vineyard. There is no better way to taste the terroir of a wine than when you are strolling among the vines or standing under the canopy of a willow tree. Or enjoying an outdoor dinner.
The appetizers were a Summer Fruit and Garden Salad with watercress, stone fruit, and Mt. Lehman chèvre as well as a Kale Caesar with toasted chickpeas, pickled red onions, and shaved asiago cheese. The entrees were a fresh and bright Heirloom Grape Tomato Pomodoro with orecchiette pasta and Pan Roasted Chicken with creamy chive sauce, summer pea tendrils, and charred lemon. The side dishes were Green Beans Almandine, and golden Roast Fingerling Potatoes with rosemary, garlic, and lemon. The focus on local was continued through with the dessert which was a BC Carrot Cake.
If you want to dine and test-drive among the vines, watch out for the Jaguar Summer Soiree this time next year.