rock'n balance

Thursday 6pm and the phone rings. It's the driver waiting for me downstairs in front of my office building. I quickly gather my things and jam them into my over-flowing bag. I bend down to tie the shoelaces (that are always coming undone) of my grey and pink cross trainers and quickly walk towards the elevator. I don't want to keep my driver waiting. Ok, I could get used to saying that. The invitation for the event said to dress for an outside activity. No pumps for me. So there I am, in my jeans and sneakers, sitting in a town car being whisked away for an evening of wine and culinary delights. I had a small taste of what Miranda Priestly's glamorous life was like; transported to locations devoted to high fashion around New York City...wait, this isn't the Devil Wears Prada.
Red Rock
Reserve Malbec
As consumers, we're used to malbec wines from Argentina on the store shelves. California invokes images of cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, and zinfandel. Well, time to try something new. The 2010 malbec from Red Rock is the first malbec from California to enter the Ontario market.

Owned by the established E.&J. Gallo Winery (, Red Rock specializes in varietal reds such as merlot, malbec and pinot noir. The fruit is sourced from various California appellations.

A glass of the 2010
"An Experience in balance...In the winery, we take care to achieve a delicate harmony between fruit and hints of oak, balancing body with flavor." -

The 2010 Red Rock Malbec contains two other varietals in the mix: petite syrah for tannins and cabernet sauvignon for structure. A portion of the blend was also put into barrel.

"California has traditionally used Malbec as a blending grape but opportunities to showcase this full-bodied varietal are increasing. Malbec is characterized by its deep purple color, smooth tannins, and ripe fruit flavors." -

Clever marketing!
Red Rock 2010 Malbec

I asked, "Why a red rock?".  The answer was simple: when you're looking at a body of water like a river or a pond, it's those water-weathered, vibrant-coloured rocks underneath that really stand out, wanting to be picked up.

For more information:

The evening was to remind us of the importance of balance. It's not just for yoga. In our personal lives, we strive for a balance between work and life. Most often, the scale tips to one side. I prefer the scale to be tipped towards life - especially on weekends. The same concept is definitely applied to wine. You don't want any one component to overshadow the rest. For example, if the use of oak or high alcohol dominate, the wine might not be enjoyed as much, if at all. It's kind of like that obnoxious guy who talks loudly on his cell phone in a small space - the environment becomes unbalanced, dominated by hints of loudmouth.

Learning about Red Rock 

Peter Ridel describing
his rock sculptures
The theme for the outdoor activity therefore, was also about balance. We were going to learn how to balance rocks without the use of any tools by Toronto-based artist Peter Ridel. We were taught how to feel for the center of gravity of the stones to find those optimal points of equilibrium. It was actually pretty hard! I see now the purpose of this exercise: balance must be found within... (zen moment).

Soldiers of the night...
balanced soldiers that is
The work by Peter Ridel is both unique and beautiful. If you're lucky, you can sometimes find these rock formations pop up throughout the city.

Being by the lake during twilight (thankfully, no vampires), these rock sculptures exhibited a sense of eeriness yet also one of beauty. I wonder what morning joggers along the path would think. All the attendees were encouraged to prepare their own sculptures with rocks provided. With various levels of success, I think people enjoyed themselves with one girl outshining the rest of us.

Chef Neil 
All evening long, the food just kept coming! There were at least 20 different items on the menu prepared by Chef Neil. Many of the dishes were prepared using slate, ceramic and river rock. I thought that was pretty original. Some of the dishes included:
  • Cones of stone baked mini cheese and potato perogies
  • Hot rock seared lamp chop with peppercorn cream sauce
  • Blue cheese and Red Rock Malbec bbq glaze
  • Hot rock oysters
  • Garlic and lemon caressed rock lobster skewer
This gal has achieved balance
At the end of the night, after enjoying deliciously prepared food and a couple of glasses of wine, I received a bag of swag. It included a bottle of the malbec, a wine glass, a red pashmina scarf (perfect for the chilly weather we're having), a small etched rock that I could call my own and a notepad for when inspiration hits.

The people of Praxis PR ( sure know how to throw a party. Thanks Brittany! Also a big thank you to E.&J. Gallo Canada. What I liked about the evening was that it was held in a stunning lakeside home. With the downtown Toronto skyline in the distance, the night was a much-need escape from the frantic pace of a busy work week. Small and intimate, it was not your typical wine tasting but it was ever so fun!

My review of the 2010 Red Rock Malbec on WineAlign.
Available at the LCBO in general list for $16.95.