Apparently it was the Greek philosopher Plato who authored the phrase “necessity is the mother of invention.” If ever there was a time for invention in the wine world it’s now. The pandemic has closed restaurants and bars while others have pivoted with creativity to meet difficult times head on. Credit Matthew Landry (pictured) and the team at Fiore Mercato with an impressive reinvention that speaks to the winelover in me. There’s several options, dine-in, takeout, or buy all the ingredients from the market at the front of house and make in yourself. House made pasta, sauces, a focacia kit, olive oil, balsamic vinegars and WINE, glorious wine. Somm of the year Landry has a well chosen selection that pairs perfectly with the cuisine. It’s for sale at retail pricing that starts at under $20.00 a bottle. No need to stop off at your local bottle shop. The pasta and pizza menu shouldn’t be missed and discover that the wines of Italy go far beyond Pinot Grigio. The Vernaccia paired with squid ink spaghetti and prawns in garlic butter was note perfect. Given the difficult times facing the hospitality industry here’s an example of how they’re fighting back. All they need is our support. Cheers!
Fiore Mercato is on West 12th Avenue in the South Granville neighborhood.
I’ve made no secret of my love of the wines from Okanagan Crush Pad. Haywire was my introduction but I’ve also enjoyed Narrative and Free Form that are also produced at the Summerland winery.
The Pinot Gris has always been a favourite and the 2019 vintage is hitting all the right notes for me. In the glass it’s a beautiful pale yellow which is a hint of what you’re about to enjoy. This is a wine of subtlety and restraint. Yet one that rewards you from first sip.
The aroma of stone fruit gives way to flavours of pears and peaches. There’s a tinge of lemon and a little toasted note and a medium finish which i really enjoyed. For those who seek out acidic styles of pinot gris this is a refreshing alternative. To me it’s all about the fruit and Haywire has used grapes from four different vineyards in the 2019 vintage. This should be your go-to summer white whether it’s to sip on the deck or pair with sockeye salmon off the grill.
Price: $21.99 (plus tax)
Available: Save-On wines across B.C.
Price: $24.26 (plus tax)
Available: Marquis Wine Cellars on Davie street
Price: $24.99 (plus tax)
Available: Swirl wines in Yaletown
I think most of us have a few favourite restaurants that have become like a second home. Provence Marinaside is that for me. As a wine writer I sought out places that moved the wine dial because I wanted to encourage followers to taste more often. Provence is a winelover’s dream. So I’m delighted to see them reopen while closely following safety protocols. I’ve posted some other photos on my social media accounts so please check them out. The reopening menu has plenty of familiar dishes, both appies and mains. As always the wine list, although pared down, has great options as befits an award winning restaurant. (Pictured) That’s SeaStar’s superb rose paired with the delicious crusted goats cheese salad.
The expanded patio and restaurant have physically distanced tables and the servers are cleaning them carefully after each guest. So if you’re tired of your own cooking and ready to venture out here’s where you’ll find me! Provence Marinaside is at the end of Davie street in Yaletown.
One of the best examples of B.C. winemakers pushing the envelope of excellence is the incredible array of rieslings made in our province. This Silver Mane Block riesling from Harper’s Trail is a great example. One of the few Platinum medals awarded in this year’s WineAlign National Wine Awards went to Harper’s Trail riesling. If you dismiss this varietal as “too sweet” I bet one taste will change your mind. This is a rich yet crisp style that balances the fruit with perfect acidity. There’s impressive minerality in wines from the Thompson river valley and that’s what makes this wine stand out from the crowd. I paired it with yellow curry and it became incredibly savoury. If you’re looking for a white to match holiday feasts give this riesling a try.
Price: $19.99 plus tax
Available: Save-On-Foods wines at locations across B.C. and Swirl wines in Yaletown
The wine world is infamous for grapes that are impossible to spell let alone pronounce. It appears Singletree Winery in Abbotsford has given up trying to convince fans of the proper name of this well made wine. Opting for the nickname Siggy for the aromatic white officially known as Siegerrebe. I’m happy to default to the short form because i want to give this wine a big thumbs up. It was the first wine I tasted at Singletree’s inaugural portfolio release. It’s still my favorite. From aroma to flavour this a quintessential B.C. wine. It’s like a walk through an orchard with lush flavours of peaches and apples. A rich wine with a lovely aroma, you can enjoy it as an easy sipper or pair it with big feasts like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Already a great buy at the store, you can get it for $16.00 at the Winery and enjoy the beauty of the vineyards for free!
Price: $17.29 plus tax
Available: Save-On wines across B.C.
The recently announced WineAlign National Wine Awards are further evidence of how far B.C wines have come. I shared four examples on Global B.C. Noon News that illustrate that point. The Coolshanagh Chardonnay 2016 is made from grapes grown just north of the Naramata Bench. Crafted by winemaker Matt Dumayne at Okanagan Crush Pad this is a wine I loved from first sip. A creamy flavour of apples and pears with great acidity, this is an Okanagan chard that can stand up to the world’s best. Available at coolshanagh.ca.
Rose is a massively popular wine category and Blue Grouse Estate Winery is fully deserving of the gold medal for their Quill Rose. Winemaker Bailey Williamson relies on Gamay grapes for his pink and the result is a knockout! Bone dry, juicy and fresh with a beautiful tartness and bracing acidity this Rose is the perfect partner for your favorite seafood. Blue Grouse is located in the beautiful Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island and the winery offers a warm welcome in their gorgeous tasting room. You can find Blue Grouse at Marquis Wine Cellars and Firefly Wines.
Singeltree Winery Pinot Noir offers more proof that B.C. is a great place to find a wide range of styles of Pinot. Located in the Fraser Valley, daytrippers from Vancouver take note, Singletree delivers a terrific wine for the price. This is a dark, intense Pinot with a lovely toasted finish that reflects eleven months aging in oak. At $22.00 this may be the best buy Pinot you’ll find for the price so jump in the car with your best #winelover and head to Singletree.
Time Winery Meritage 2016 is a wonderful wine to celebrate the late Harry McWatters. One of the true pioneers in B.C. wine, Harry played a leading role in bringing this style of red to our province. His final vintage is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Decant this beauty and take in the beautiful aroma of cherries and herbs. A deep and delicious red, loaded with rich flavour but soft on the palate and pairs beautifully with steak. Available at Save-On-Foods Wines across B.C.
When it comes to a B.C. winery with an established pedigree it’s difficult to find one more impressive than Quails’ Gate. With decades of wine making behind them you simply learn to trust what’s in the bottle. There’s no better example or introduction to what they do best than the very popular white blend of Chasselas, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris. I’ve recommended this wine to friends and family for years. Have a glass and you’ll taste why I’m so bullish about this well priced gem. Dry and crispy with flavours of apple, pear and a touch of citrus. Incredibly food friendly and the perfect wine when hosting a house full of thirsty guests.
Price: $17.99 plus tax
Available: B.C. Liquor stores
Price: $21.25 plus tax
Available: Firefly Fine Wines in Cambie Village and Maple Ridge
When you’re having a big party and you’re on a budget you shouldn’t have to sacrifice quality. This trio of Santa Carolina Reserva wines more than delivers the goods and they’re on sale until the end of December. The Pinot Noir is medium bodied with loads of cherries and very food friendly. The Sauvignon Blanc is a crispy, fruit forward style with a touch of lemon. The Cabernet Sauvignon is remarkably deep for such a young wine with loads of black fruit and a hint of spice. Don’t miss this triple threat of tasty wines at a bargain price.
Price: $11.49-$12.49 (plus tax)
Available: B.C. liquor stores
From its first vintage I’ve been an unabashed fan of Evolve wines. I’d be hardpressed to think of another B.C. winery that has a better price to quality ratio than Evolve. Nobody should be surprised considering its DNA can be traced back to Harry McWatters. This Pinot Gris is another example of how Evolve delivers the goods. The nose is an Okanagan orchard in summer with aromas of apples, peaches and nectarines. For Gris fans you’ll enjoy a crisp, fresh wine with a good balance of citrus and mild acidity. This is the perfect holiday party sipper because it’s a good match for most any appy. As you’d expect from Pinot Gris the lemon cries out for seafood too. Well done Evolve, again!
Price: $18.49 (plus tax)
Available: Everything Wine in North Vancouver, South Vancouver, South Surrey and Langley
Price: $18.59 (plus tax)
Available: Save-On Wines at Pemberton Plaza on Marine Drive in North Vancouver
Price $18.99 (plus tax)
Available: Village VQA wines in Kitsilano
When you’re a #winelover like me, the arrival of a new place to enjoy your favourite libation is a reason to celebrate. Lot 185 offers a cafe to start your day and a wine bar to wind down after work. It’s two levels on the west side of the Vancouver Convention Center beside Jack Poole Plaza. If you’ve been to the Vancouver International Wine Festival you’ll recognize the 2nd level as the former coat check location. It’s a bright and airy space that will offer patio seating next summer. For now you can enjoy breakfast sandwiches or pastries from the in-house bakery. Later in the day the 2nd level Wine Bar will offer a great place to drop in for a glass or two accompanied by interesting small bites. Check out my social media feeds for plenty of pictures. Pizza, duck confit sliders and and freshly shucked Kusshi oysters are just some of the choices. The wine list includes Burrowing Owl Pinot Noir, Quails’ Gate Dry Riesling and Culmina R&D Rose to name a few. You’ll also find wines from France, Spain, Italy and New Zealand so something for every palate. I’m told they hope to work with smaller B.C. wineries in the future. For example I’d welcome seeing Lock & Worth, Blue Grouse and Rust wines to help grow our exposure to newer and smaller wineries in our province. For now though I’m happy to see our city’s wine culture grow with Lot 185 Cafe and Wine Bar.
Location: Vancouver Convention Center with access from Jack Poole Plaza