Lofty Libations

The wine of popes and the tea of kings.

Credit: Clinton Hussey

Jim Hoggan’s Wine Pick

On the east side of the French A7 autoroute, just across from the Château de Beaucastel’s property in the Châteauneuf du Pape appellation, is the 30-hectare vineyard of the Coudoulet de Beaucastel.

This is the heart of one of the world’s great wine-growing regions, along the Rhône River as it runs from Orange to Avignon. It’s been famous since the 14th century, when the so-called Avignon popes set up the “New Castle of the Pope” and began drinking and promoting the local wines.

By some accounts, the promotion took a while to catch on. The first wines shipped as Châteauneuf du Pape didn’t appear until the 19th century, but by then the tradition and quality were well-established. Unfortunately, the appellation has been “discovered” by The Wine Advocate’s influential Robert Parker Jr., so the price of just about any bottle of Châteauneuf du Pape has risen to intoxicating heights.

But the French ministry of agriculture’s AOCs (Appellations d’origine contrôlées) are tightly controlled and specifically drawn. If you’re within the appellation, you can claim the name – and name your price. If you’re across the A7 – even if your vines are grown in the same conditions and the wine is handled in the same house, the same way – you’re left to sell the result as a lowly Côtes du Rhône.

Such is the case with the Coudoulet de Beaucastel, 2001, available at Dundarave Wine Cellar for just $45. It’s a luscious blend of Grenache, mourvèdre, Syrah and Cinsault grapes grown organically in porous soil that is covered with “galets,” smooth, round glacial stones that absorb the sun’s energy during the day and radiate heat through the night, kick-starting spring and moderating summer.

It’s wine the popes would have liked available at a price the rest of us might still afford.

High Tea

Murchie's Tea The art of tea blending comes of age in Murchie’s Tea and Coffee Ltd.’s Afternoon Blend Tea.

The signature blend – a combination of Estate Darjeeling, high-grade Ceylon and China teas – has been a favourite in B.C. for four generations and is being featured this month in honour of Mother’s Day.

Enjoy your locally blended cuppa with a homemade lemon cream tart, mini macaroon or simply on its own. $23.95 (one pound loose-leaf), $14.50 (carton of 50 tea bags) at

Natty Napkin

Homewerx napkinsInspired by “nature’s flawless elegance,” Amenity prints and table linens add a touch of eco-chic to any home. Like a fine wine, the line’s certified organic napkins only get better with age as their percale weave ensures they become softer after each wash.

Dyed with GOTS-certified low-impact dyes, the napkins are available in cream, cocoa and grey, so you can mix and match your look. $10.99 each at