Even though we didn’t have too much of a winter this year, I’m still stoked that summer’s on its way. One of my favourite parts of the season is the resurgence of farmers markets around the city. This past weekend we saw the return of the popular Kitsilano and Trout Lake editions, and in coming weeks we have the West End, Main Street Station, and others coming back, too. Even in these early weeks of the markets, there’s a bounty of fare on offer, so let’s look at a few things you may be loading into your reusable tote bag, and crack open some wines to go with ’em.
Oh, and don’t forget—nowadays it’s not uncommon to have local winemakers, brewers, and distillers pouring at the markets, so do enjoy the opportunity to sample these local wares.
Celeriac, Leeks, Potatoes
We’re coming off a cooler season, which means there are still plenty of root vegetables and heartier delights available. A puréed soup can be simple, fast, and delicious with these ingredients, bolstered by a little garlic and whatever else strikes your fancy. To balance out the richness that may come with soups like this, I like to go with a white wine to brighten things up, but still carry a little weight. I recently visited SpierHead Winery in Kelowna for the first time, and while its array of Pinot Noirs is increasingly well-known, I was super impressed with the 2014 Pinot Gris (Okanagan Valley, B.C.; $19, SpierHeadWinery.com). I can’t think of the last time I had a local Pinot Gris with so many layers and such complexity. Guava is abundant, followed by mango and passion fruit, with elements of lime leaf and light spice upon the following sips. There’s a good weight to this wine; it’s quite juicy and satisfying, but what I adore most is the added nuance and flavours that come through as it develops in the glass.
Hazelnuts, Sunchokes, Apples
This may seem like a peculiar trio of items to put together, but when researching recipes, I kept finding the three of them appearing together in both soups and hearty salads. Big, distinct flavours abound with all three, so let’s look for a bigger wine to ride sidesaddle with them. Road 13 Vineyards 2012 Jackpot Viognier Roussanne Marsanne (Okanagan Valley, B.C.; $29, Road13Vineyards.com) out of Oliver is lush and charismatic with peaches, nectarines, and honey along with toasty almond and hazelnut notes. That nutty character comes from both the Roussanne grape and the (well-balanced) oak treatment on the wine, a worthy partner to beautiful B.C. hazelnuts.
Kale, Asparagus, Greens
Along with asparagus, kale isn’t the easiest thing to pair wines with, but as Vancouver-based media, I’m contractually required to write about kale a minimum of twice a year. It’s the chlorophyll component that makes these robust greens a little difficult; they can give certain wines a metallic flavour, but wine pairing is certainly doable without that characteristic showing itself. As with many food pairings, let’s go for a wine that has flavour components that would dovetail nicely in a recipe. Odds are you’ll be looking to add a little citrus to any dish in question here, so let’s grab a bottle of Artan 2014 Sauvignon Blanc (Limestone Coast, Australia; $13.09, B.C. Liquor Stores). This South Australian charmer has all of the pink grapefruit, lemon, and lime you’d want in the variety (along with fresh summer peas for added sunniness), but the acid’s in check, and the edges aren’t too sharp; it’s rounded out softly and maintains good elegance through the finish.
Pork, Wild Game
Whether you’re upping your carnivorous game with sausages from the Beer Brats crew, cuts from Gelderman Farms, or others, let’s get a little bold with Château de Valcombe 2013 Syrah Grenache (Rhône Valley, France; $11.29, B.C. Liquor Stores). A good deal of a wine, loaded with currants, black pepper, stewed plums, and a handful of blueberries, it’s not too heavy, so you’ll be able to enjoy the flavourful, meaty goodness of your meal. At the same time, you can dress your dish however you’d like; the wine’s not exactly wimpy, either. Serve it with a hint of a chill, something warranted with all reds that makes for extra quaffability.
Artisan Cheeses, Blues, Cheddars
A lazy afternoon with friends and a delicious local cheese board? Nothing wrong with that. The only thing you want to keep in mind here is cheese’s salty side, and the need for a wine that’ll lap it up well. Enter La Stella’s 2014 LaStellina (Okanagan Valley, B.C.; $19.19, LaStella.ca), a delightful local pink crafted from Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Sangiovese that’ll shower you with strawberries, red currants, white pepper, and delight.
As an added note, for all of the British Columbian wines in this column, while you can order them winery-direct, you can also find them at local private liquor stores for just a couple bucks more than winery prices.
For more info on Vancouver Farmers Market locations, dates, and times, pop over to EatLocal.org.