For this Best of Vancouver issue, we’re going to double down on the theme and chat with two of the city’s best wine pros about what tops their own “best of” lists when it comes to recommendations for your next wine purchase, where to grab a decent glass, and a recent food-and-wine pairing success story.
Lisa Haley is the wine director at Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar (845 Burrard Street, in the Sutton Place Hotel), and she was just heading into a busy Saturday-night service when I caught up with her by phone. When asked which bottle would be best for readers to go out and grab this weekend, she didn’t hesitate in recommending J P Brun Terres Dorées L’Ancien 2012 ($24.98, B.C. Liquor Stores). She called the light red a “great-value” Beaujolais that works as an “amazing transition from the summer into the fall weather”. While delicious on its own, “I’d have it when I was having one of the last barbecues of the season, with barbecued chicken,” she continued.
What about the best place to enjoy a glass of wine while out and about? Instead of the well-known, much-heralded places, Haley was keen to lead folks to the Gallery Café patio at the Vancouver Art Gallery (750 Hornby Street). “It’s fantastic people-watching,” she said, adding that when you’re sitting on the tucked-back, leafy terrace, “You get to pretend you’re not in the city right while you’re downtown.”
As for any food-and-wine epiphanies she’s had lately, the recent Montreal transplant practically gushed. “I’ve been drinking Riesling with everything this summer!” she said. “I’m new to Vancouver and its food scene, [so with] eating all this amazing Asian cuisine, I’ve just been drinking different styles of Riesling.” Her most recent home run was with a spicy green papaya salad from Kitsilano’s new Thai Cuisine by Montri (2585 West Broadway) with Tantalus Riesling from B.C., which goes for $22.90 at B.C. Liquor Stores.
Another one of Haley’s favourite places to grab a glass of wine is Upstairs at Campagnolo (1020 Main Street), where Peter Van de Reep—the ever-cheery purveyor of craft beer, cocktails, and a tiny, fascinating wine program chock full of natural wines—was happy to take my call.
Domaine de la Pépière Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine Sur Lie 2011 ($24 to $26, private liquor stores) is what he wants you to get chilling in the fridge. “It’s a wine that always impresses, really killer value, great acidity; it’s so versatile,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever poured it for someone who said, ‘Oh, I don’t really like this.’” Rolling out some tasting notes, he said he’s digging this wine’s “crisp acidity, lemons, and a good touch of mineral to it…classic Muscadet”. Keeping with the classic theme, oysters make a classic pairing, but Van de Reep adds that “with harvest coming up on us, even grilled vegetables and squash or a lighter pasta or that sort of thing would actually go quite well.”
And where does he like to go to have a glass of wine? While most think of Gastown’s Alibi Room (157 Alexander Street) as a mecca for craft beer, it’s actually Van de Reep’s casual wine joint. “Sean Jang does the wines there, and he picks usually off-the-beaten-path B.C. wineries,” Van de Reep said. These are small, usually family-run places such as West Kelowna’s Volcanic Hills Estate Winery and Creston’s Baillie-Grohman Estate Winery, and the wines “sell for a fair price”.
The guy completely threw down when it came to his own recent food-and-wine epiphany. “I actually just had one this week… and it may have been because everything was so good,” he said. At a lunch featuring Moët & Chandon at Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill, the 2004 vintage Moët was paired with chef Pino Posteraro’s mac and cheese, which incorporated celeriac and white truffles that Posteraro had just received a day earlier. Why so good (besides the obvious)? “It was the structure and yeastiness of the vintage Champagne that actually really stood up to the extravagantly rich dish, as well as the acidity in the wine itself, which I always appreciate,” he said. “That sort of contrast when you’re pairing, where you have acidity cutting through fat—it was quite delicious.”
Knowing that many of us can’t exactly knock back Moët at Cioppino’s every night, he offered a play-at-home version. “The Jaume Cerra [Cristaline Brut] Cava [$12.99, B.C. Liquor Stores] would go great with Martha Stewart’s recipe for mac and cheese.”