I recently spent a fine weekend getting up close and personal with a quarter tonne of bovine manure. Friends call me a farmer because I do business in bulk and grow from seed. One year, I tended more than 160 heirloom-tomato plants, though I've since scaled back on the vines to create more room for carefree crops, such as eggplants and beets.
If I could keep a cow, I would, because a pile of moist dung does not balance well on my bicycle. So, I'm grateful for Avis. And I'm grateful that the company waived its standard $100 cleaning penalty for soiled returns. This brings me to a principal rule of city farming: Use a rental vehicle for the manure.
Every grower, regardless of talent, has advice for neighbours. Ever notice? I'll spare you the compost and sphagnum tips because you'll find more dependable injunctions elsewhere in this section. But I can offer two gardening-related wine thoughts, neither a bum steer.
One: Invest in plastic glassware – tacky, perhaps, but the alternative is a patio tiled with broken glass. I like Govino tumblers, which taper toward the rim to amplify aromas and are moulded with an indentation for a less-slippery grip.
And two: Give due consideration to aromatic white varieties, such as riesling, sauvignon blanc, gewurztraminer and muscat. The punchy fruit and floral-herbal notes are able to cut through outdoor aromas better than other wines, be those scents from lilac blooms or a trunkload of manure.
Joie Farm A Noble Blend 2012 (British Columbia)
SCORE: 90 PRICE: $23.89 in B.C.
This is an unusual blend of gewurztraminer, riesling, pinot blanc, pinot auxerrois, schoenburger and muscat. It's off-dry yet delectably crisp on the finish, with lychee, tropical-fruit and honey characters amped up by spice.It reminds me of Chloé perfume. joiefarm.com
Sokol Blosser Evolution White (Oregon)
SCORE: 88 PRICE: $16.95
Estate co-president Alison Sokol Blosser recently told me the winery's inside nickname for this wine is "Conundrum Unplugged." It's a reference to Caymus Conundrum, the Napa blend that opened the floodgates for multi-grape, off-dry whites in North America. Unplugged? She means unoaked, as in fresh and pure. Made from nine varieties, including pinot gris, muller-thurgau and riesling, it's smooth, with notes of peach, guava and melon. At just 12-per-cent alcohol, it's a thirsty gardener's delight. $19.99 in B.C., $21.20 in Que., $24.99 in N.B., $24.95 in PEI.
Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (New Zealand)
SCORE: 88 PRICE: $16.45
A leading New Zealand brand, this delivers sweet grapefruit, lemonade and a hint of chalk. It is made for outdoor imbibing. $18.99 in B.C., $19.99 in Sask., $19.99 in N.B., $19.99 in N.S., $18.99 in Nfld., $19.35 in PEI.
Brumont Gros Manseng-Sauvignon Côtes de Gascogne 2012 (France)
SCORE: 87 PRICE: $12.70
Here's a light, dry white that leads with the gros manseng grape's uncanny flavours of apricot and peach, subtly framed by herbaceous sauvignon blanc. $13.35 in Que., $11.50 in N.B., $15.29 in N.S., $14.95 in PEI.