Not only is September one of my favourite months of the year in Vancouver—for the weather and days still on the longish side—but it’s also the month when local wine events really start revving up.
Those wanting to get a jump on things just after this edition of the Straight hits the streets will want to visit Marquis Wine Cellars (1034 Davie Street) this Thursday (September 5) at 5:30 p.m. That’s when winemaker Ross Wise from Oliver’s Black Hills Estate Winery will be on hand, pouring samples of the fresh 2017 vintage of the winery’s iconic Nota Bene Bordeaux-inspired red blend alongside the 2016 edition, so attendees can compare recent vintages. The 2017 version is an opulent blend of 45 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 41 percent Merlot, and 14 percent Cabernet Franc that spent 18 months in 30-percent-new French oak, and it is likely to be as coveted as each edition has been since the inaugural 1999 vintage.
Although that tasting is certainly worth the (free!) admission alone, Wise will also be pouring an armload of their latest releases, including 2018 Viognier, 2018 Alibi, 2018 rosé, and 2016 Syrah. (Pop over to marquis-wines.com/ to RSVP.)
Tuesday (September 10) sees Sea Star Estate Farm and Vineyards proprietor David Goudge holding court at Provence Marinaside (1177 Marinaside Crescent) for a five-course dinner by Provence chef/co-owner Jean-Francis Quaglia. The main wines of Sea Star, composed of fruit grown on Saturna and Pender islands, are breezy, aromatic odes to the West Coast. From the Sea Star 2018 Ortega’s grapefruit and jasmine notes washing down Fanny Bay oysters at the reception to the course pairing Goudge’s 2018 Blanc de Noir sparkling with Quaglia’s spiced-lamb-stuffed heirloom tomato and beyond, there will be no sign whatsoever of summer ending anytime soon. The whole feast, including the wine pairings assembled by wine director Joshua Carlson, is $155 (with tickets available at provencemarinaside.ca/).
On September 29, the crew from Mount Pleasant’s Tocador (2610 Main Street) are putting together a natural-wine pairing dinner. I highly recommend nabbing your spots before they realize that five courses paired with five four-ounce wine pours from a quintet of well-lauded Old World wineries for $109 all-in is pretty much giving it away. They’re keeping their pairings for the evening close to their chest, but with wines from luminaries like Italy’s Elisabetta Foradori, Austria’s Claus Preisinger, and Laurence and Rémi Dufaitre out of Beaujolais—at the Cuba-inspired hot spot known for dishes like caramelized pork cheeks with citrus-and-cayenne caramel—you really can’t go wrong. (Tickets are at tocador.ca/).
Of course, another great thing about this time of year is it being harvest season, when farmers markets and local restaurants are filled to the brim with our local bounty. This hasn’t gone unnoticed by Ian McHale, executive chef at Wildebeest (120 West Hastings Street). To celebrate the season, a five-course family-style Farmer’s Harvest Tasting Menu is being offered from September 5 through 19 for $60 per head, with optional wine pairings throughout by wine director Christina Hartigan for an additional $32. Think fodder such as Charentais melon with guanciale, hay-toasted water-buffalo ricotta, hazelnuts, and sweet cicely, with a refreshing glass of the Okanagan Valley’s Rigour & Whimsy’s Pinot Blanc 2017 echoing those melon notes. Also offered: sweet-corn agnolotti in corn-husk velouté with blackened sweet corn, etorki cheese, and paprika complemented by a Laventura Viura 2017 from Rioja to liven the palate after every bite. While the menu is available for walk-in guests, it is limited each evening and reservations are recommended. (Visit wildebeest.ca./)
Finally, for those with an instinct to hit the books this time of year and elevate their wine knowledge, the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts (1505 West 2nd Avenue) is offering the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) courses for the Level 1 award in wines, as either a one-day intensive or a four-day course over coming months. WSET is the global standard for wine education, and these introductory courses are quite accessible for novices and casual enthusiasts who are looking to gain a well-rounded handle on the world of wine. Getting this initial certification will make wine shopping a breeze and what’s in your glass that much more enjoyable. (Visit picachef.com/ to explore all their offerings.)