Restaurants put own stamp on their wines
It’s getting to be all the rage: restaurants doing their own house-wine blends, in conjunction with prominent B.C. wineries. The Top Table Group got the ball really rolling with its Director’s Blend for CinCin, West, Blue Water Cafe, and Araxi. Now Hawksworth Restaurant has seized the opportunity to do the same, with the recent launch—perfectly timed for summer sippery—of H’s Blend.
There are two wines, red and white, handcrafted by Hawksworth’s assistant wine director, Jay Whiteley, and Orofino Winery’s John Weber. Jay got his hands-on wine experience by working with Orofino on the crush pad in 2008.
The red is 100-percent Gamay, from a couple of Similkameen Valley vineyards; the white is a blend of Pinot Gris and Riesling, half and half, also sourced from the Valley. Both are available ($50 and $11, bottle or glass, respectively) at Hawksworth Restaurant and the adjacent Bel Café. Based on frequently tasted Orofino wines that have had some prominence in this corner in the past, I expect both to be tasty and beautifully built, fine for summer lunch or dinner companionship.
The 31 Days of German Riesling is the name of a special Canada-wide promotion this July and August centred around that Germany’s loveliest wine. Restaurants across the land are spotlighting Riesling in various ways—by-the-glass specials, Riesling flights, food and wine pairings, special dinners, and tasting events.
An old saying has it that it takes 30 days to acquire a new habit; the German wine folks have given you an extra day to get next to their proudest product. Check out www.31DaysGermanRiesling.ca/ to see which eateries near you are taking part. Customers have the chance to win a long weekend in my old hometown, Berlin, by submitting photos of themselves enjoying a glass of Riesling at one of the participating restaurants. So raise a glass in a toast to my own favourite white wine, Riesling, and get into a habit you may not want to break: Riesling with lunch, dinner, even breakfast if you’re so inclined.
The B.C. Wine Institute and Tourism B.C. have collaborated to release what they call “the definitive British Columbia Wine Touring Guide” just in time for your wine-country travels this summer. The 2012 B.C. Winery Touring Guide offers the complete list of wineries—including those making wine from grapes or fruit, cideries and meaderies, lots of maps, and so on. It’s available free at Visitor Centres and VQA stores across the province.
See what I said about restaurant wine-blend trends? While I was assembling these words, another major name got into the game: Cactus Club Cafe’s executive chef, Rob Feenie, has partnered with the Okanagan’s Haywire Winery. There’s a red and a white of course, custom-blended at Okanagan Crush Pad in Summerland, by winemaker Michael Bartier and the chef himself, along with Cactus Club beverage manager Sam Zavari and service director Sebastien Le Goff.
Cost will be between $36 and $40 a bottle, and the wine will be labelled Feenie Goes Haywire. The white is a refreshing blend of Gewürztraminer and Chardonnay. The red is a big and bold Merlot, with some Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah in the mix. Feenie suggests pairing the white with his Korean-style lettuce wrap, lingcod fish tacos, or butternut squash and prawn ravioli. The red is “dynamite” (he says) with burgers, peppercorn striploin, or a short rib sandwich.
Got an email recently from former Vancouver-based ace foodie (and former Georgia Straight columnist) Angela Murrills, now living the full-frontal food-and-wine life in the French countryside.
Angela sent word of her latest country-wine discovery, a saucy little number called Chateau des Tourettes. I’ll leave you to play word games with that. Best one wins a magnum of Chateau de Former Self, my house blend. Not.
On the subject of French wines, the next time you happen to be in Cannes, stick your head in the door at the Mouton Cadet Wine Bar, “an ephemeral space located on the terrace of the Palais des Festivals, overlooking Cannes Bay”, according to the press agent in Paris, who goes on to say it’s “the place to be for the second year for all celebrities in the film industry who are seeking a breath of fresh air for just a moment”. I wonder if they have Haywire by the glass.
SpierHead Winery of Kelowna made all of 151 cases of their Merlot 2009, under the hands-on tutelage of freelance winemaker Tom Di Bello. The grapes came from the Black Sage Bench in the South Okanagan. The wine is a big, brash (but stylish) Merlot with huge fruit, a very long finish, and cellaring potential for another four, five years, maybe more.
I’ve seen some still for sale in select indie wine stores around town. It’s sold out at the winery, but there are a few bottles left of the ’09 Cabernet Sauvignon ($27.90) and their Meritage-style blend, Vanguard ’09 ($29.90). Get them while the getting’s still going.
Yep, that was a typo alright—two of them, actually—in this corner two weeks ago. Must have been the wine talking. First, the Hillside Rosé costs $19.99, not $11.99 as I had it. We can only wish; it’s still a grand pink. Secondly, Mr. Spell Check took it upon himself to change my original Malbec to Males, thereby creating a new, decidedly non-viticultural term for the prominent Argentine red grape variety in the MASI Tupungato Malbec/Corvina blend. Price is as originally stated ($14.99), and I stand by the last sentence in the section: “This is a delicious medium-bodied food wine that represents excellent value and suits dozens of dishes.”
Profound apologies all around; hard for a German-born guy to tender, I know, but nonetheless heartfelt.