Archive for the ‘All About Wine’ Category

Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers Launches in BC

Michelle Bouffard (President) and Roger Maniwa (Secretary)

Michelle Bouffard (President) and Roger Maniwa (Secretary)

This afternoon I attended a bubble party to celebrate the launch of The Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers in British Columbia. This Canada-wide association will bring new opportunities, connections and forums to our province.  CAPS have been active in Quebec, Ontario, Atlantic Canada for many years now, and is affiliated with the prestigious Association de la Sommellerie Internationale (ASI) headquartered in Paris.

Held in the York Room at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia, Michelle Bouffard, President of the association, welcomed all the sommeliers, trade and media marking this exciting launch.

The CAPS-BC Mission Statement:

•           To raise awareness of the Sommelier profession and its value in the hospitality industry and to the general public.

•           To enhance the role of the Sommelier and promote the culture of wine through instruction, competition, accreditation, and events.

•           To provide a professional forum to encourage community, networking, and education for our members.

Here’s CAPS-BC Board:

Michelle Bouffard – President

Barb Philip MW – Vice-President

DJ Kearney – Vice-President

Roger Maniwa – Secretary

Johnathan Lai – Treasurer

Mark Davidson – Education

Sebastien Le Goff  ¬- International Relations

Keith Nicholson – Communications & PR

Mark Taylor – Events

Terry Threlfall – Competitions & Language Specialist

Lesley Brown – Membership

Since its inception in 1989, CAPS has promoted the profession, notably by its participation in the Best Sommelier of the World Competition.  Quebec’s Veronique Rivest came 2nd in the world in 2013, putting Canadian sommeliers firmly on the map.  Now that we have established a CAPS-BC chapter, we too can be part of the global competition process.

By: Richard Wolak

Vancouver Winefest 11th Annual Awards Lunch

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As a part of the Vancouver International Wine Festival, on February 28, I attended this 11th annual awards lunch that was full of restaurateurs, sommeliers, wine makers, and other industry folk.

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wine fest awards lunch 1


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The Rhone Valley region of France was featured at the lunch with a selection of wines available for tasting as well as a wonderful array of dishes prepared by the chefs of the Vancouver Convention Centre. My favourite dishes were the Duck Confit Croque Monsieur, the Tuna Chickpea Salad and the Chicken Squash Ravioli.

A couple of prestigious awards which are handed out each year were awarded to Mark Davidson (Spirited Industry Professional Award) and to Mike Bernardo of Vij’s Restaurant (Sommelier of the Year).

The Spirited Industry Professional Award honours an individual who makes significant contributions to the sales, service or promotion of wine in British Columbia. The eighth annual SIP Award goes to industry veteran Mark Davidson. Mark is education director for Wine Australia USA, and was the BC representative for the creation of a Canadian National Standard for Wine Service. In 1993, he co-founded the Vancouver Wine Academy (VWA) and has worked with the BC Wine Institute to create a Train the Trainee module for educating restaurant and wine industry staff. Mark placed third in the finals at the 1990 Sopexa Best French Wine & Spirits Sommelier and was the winner of the 2001 BC Restaurant and Foodservice Association Sommelier of the Year. The SIP Award is sponsored by the Vancouver International Wine Festival.

The 15th annual Sommelier of the Year Award recognizes outstanding wine knowledge and wine service. The Sommelier of the Year is awarded based on votes by key members of the. This year’s award goes to sommelier Mike Bernardo of Vij’s Group. As the wine director at Vij’s and a contributor to Vancouver magazine, Mike’s expertise lies in the often challenging pairing of spicy, layered dishes with the perfect wines. Focusing on fresh, crisp white wines and medium-bodied, low-tannin reds, Mike also enjoys the challenge of combining bigger, bolder wines with Indian cuisine. Sommelier of the Year is sponsored by the Vancouver International Wine Festival.

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The delicious wine (Esprit Barville 2011) served at our table was wonderful as was the wine focused conversation with Matthew Presidente, Tim Pawsey and others. The annual wine list awards were handed out celebrating the best food and wine pairings in the business, restaurants throughout British Columbia and Alberta have been recognized for creating wine lists that complement their establishment’s unique menu and concept. Candidates submitted their wine and menu lists, and were then visited by judges who reviewed their programs. The judges are Michelle Bouffard, Tom Doughty, DJ Kearney, Iain Philip and Terry Threlfall. The top restaurants were awarded Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze, or commended with an Honourable Mention. The Wine List Awards are sponsored by Vancouver Magazine.


Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar
Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill & Enoteca
Hawksworth Restaurant

Chambar Restaurant
Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House
La Pentola della Quercia
Tableau Bar Bistro
The Wine Room at Joey Bentall One
Zest Japanese Cuisine

Burdock & Co. – Best New Entry, Vancouver
Campagnolo Roma
Edible Canada at the Market
Homer St. Cafe and Bar
Nicli Antica Pizzeria
Provence Marinaside & The Wine Bar
Salt Tasting Room

Lift Bar Grill View
The Observatory

Honourable Mention
The Fish House in Stanley Park
The Oakwood Canadian Bistro
Tap Restaurant
Tap & Barrel Coal Harbour
Tramonto at River Rock Casino Resort
Via Tevere Pizzeria

Alta Bistro
Araxi Restaurant + Bar

Rimrock Cafe


The Restaurant at Painted Boat Resort Spa & Marina (Madeira Park)

Little Jumbo – Best New Entry, Victoria
The Pacific Restaurant & Terrace at the Hotel Grand Pacific
Stage Wine Bar

Honourable Mention
Aura Waterfront Restaurant + Patio at the Inn at Laurel Point

Onwards to next year and to more award winners.

By: Richard Wolak

Artisan SakeMaker Sake Release Tasting

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On January 15, I attend the  Fraser Valley Junmai Sake – Series Two release tasting which also celebrated Artisan SakeMaker’s 7th Anniversary.

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These sake are part of the regional Osake series made from 100% organically grown sake rice in Abbotsford, BC.  Series Two consists of 730 bottles of Fraser Valley Junmai and 120 bottles of Fraser Valley Junmai Nigori. They are available for purchase by private liquor stores and restaurants.

You can visit Artisan Sakemaker on Granville Island at 1339 Railspur Alley, Vancouver or on twitter @ArtisanSake

By: Richard Wolak

Interview with Wine Sommelier David Stansfield

David Stansfield

David Stansfield

A couple of weeks ago David Stansfield gave a talk at my Food Talks Vol 10 event about Wine, it struck me as how knowledgeable David was. Hence it was high time I interviewed him, we first sat down at Cuchillo in Railtown to enjoy some appetizers which David paired with his favourite wine, I had a glass of water. We then hopped into a cab and headed over to Tap & Barrel in Coal Harbour, to enjoy some more dishes and wines.

David Stansfield is an independent sommelier – wine nerd for hire – currently working as the in-house Sommelier for the Vancouver Urban Winery and as an ambassador of wine-on-tap for FreshTAP, the country’s leading packager of premium wines in kegs. He also works as the corporate Sommelier for the Daniel Hospitality Group and consults for local restaurants Bestie and Cuchillo.

In his 15 year career in wine, David has worked as a cellar hand, tour guide, and Director of Sales for Summerhill Pyramid Winery; launched an online wine distribution service for BC wines; ran the wine programs of two award-winning Gastown restaurants; lectured as a guest instructor with the Wine & Spirits Education Trust through the Art Institute of Vancouver; gave presentations on behalf of the BC Wine Institute; gained accreditation as a French Wine Scholar; created and hosted the Sunday School series of wine classes at Vancouver Urban Winery; and spoken to anyone who will listen about the joys of drinking good wine.

Albacore Tuna Ceviche

Albacore Tuna Ceviche

Albacore Tuna Ceviche

Paired with Unworth Vineyards – Allegro blend of Pinot Gris, Petit Milo and Blanc Noir 2012 (from Mill Bay, Cowichan Valley).

What drew you to wine?

I moved to the Okanagan when I was 14 years old and lived in Kelowna. I went to high school with Ezra Cipes (now CEO of Summerhill Wines). At 17, Ezra and I went to have a drink at Steven Cipes house (Ezra’s father and owner of Summerhill Wines), we grabbed a bottle of wine, pulled the cork and downed ¾ of the bottle. Steven Cipes walked in and looked at us kids drinking who were underage. I was pretty drunk and catty, Steven offered me a job and he was serious. I ended up taking the job and worked in the cellar at Summerhill, once I turned 19 I was promoted to the Tour Guide of the winery. At 24 I became Director of Sales of Summerhill Winery. I then became a Sommelier while I was working at Summerhill.

What goes into creating a wine list for a restaurant?

1)      1st is the theme of the restaurant

2)      I write wine programs

For example at Cuchillo – the food is Neuvo Latino (flavours of latin America and Spain but made with local ingredients. The wines are BC, Spain, Portugal, Chile and Argentina.

3)      I do the list at Cuchillo with Chef/Owner Stu Irving and we talk about his dishes, ingredients and flavours.

Vs Tap & Barrel

1)      It is all BC wine focussed with local food

2)      I have to love the wine

3)      Every wine has a job to do – each wine has to be distinct from the other wine ( I like small wine lists)

What inspires you when you are curating a wine list?

I try to write wine lists that I would be excited to encounter as a customer. I drink heavily at the restaurants I work for, I want their wines to be ones that I want to drink time and time again.

Then the subsidiary inspiration. I like to introduce people to new wines and regions that people haven’t heard of. Telling the story, I am a local boy and I want to promote whats good in BC.

What was your training like to become a Sommelier?

My formal training, I went through the WSET program, I also did the French Wine Scholar Program at WSET level 4. Then 17 years on the job (cellar, vineyard, retails, sales and restaurant).

Tell our readers where you have worked in the past 10 years?

  • Summerhill Pyramid Winery
  • Wine Barrel VqA store in Victoria
  • Cobre Restaurant
  • Dictionary of Canadianisms at UBC
  • Self employed Wine Consultant

Who are your clients currently?

  • Daniel Group
  • Vancouver Urban Winery
  • Cuchillo Restaurant
  • Bestie Restaurant
  • Chicha Restaurant
  • Private tastings for private clients

Who are your mentors?

Michael Bigatini

Lamb Albondigas Tacos & Corn Bread

Lamb Albondigas Tacos & Corn Bread Aioli

Lamb Albondigas Tacos

And Corn Bread Aioli with guahillo chili butter

Paired with Nichol 9 Mile Red 2011 – a blemd of Saint Laurent and Pinot Noir (from Naramata)

Tell us about Cuchillo, what type of wines did you showcase on their wine list?

  • 8 BC wines on tap by the glass
  • Selection of 25-30 Central and South America, Spanish and Portugese by the bottle
  • Wine style-focus on terroir and preferably lesser known and more exciting wines of the terroir (place).

Tell us about Tap & Barrel, what type of wines did you showcase on their wine list?

  • BC Wine on tap
  • Then represent as many different sub regions of BC that I can. Ie (5 different regions of Okanagan), then all the valleys (Fraser, Cowichan etc)
  • I want the wine to be indicative of the area.
Steelhead Salmon Tacos and Local Wild Mushroom Pizza

Steelhead Salmon Tacos and Local Wild Mushroom Pizza

Steelhead Salmon Tacos

Paired with the Poplar Grove Vionier 2012 (exclusive to Tap & Barrel Coal Harbour)


Local Wild Mushroom Pizza

Paired with Meyer Family Vineyards single barrel Pinot Noir (exclusive to Tap & Barrel Coal Harbour)

What wine are you drinking currently?

  • De Martino (Chile) Organic – Cinsault – made in ancient clay pots called Viejas Tinajas
  • Cru Beaujoulais Gamay from South Burgundy

If you weren’t a Sommelier what would you be doing?

I would be working to become a professor in literature or a street mime.

What does a wine that tastes like dirt mean exactly?

Made from the terroir (place) of the vineyard. Small lot, specialty of place.

What are the top 3 types of wine (your favourites) would we find in your home Wine collection?

1)      Lots of sparkling wines

2)      Cold rose

3)      Beer

Take us on a tour of Vancouver’s wine bars and restaurants with good wine lists that aren’t you’re clients. What are your favorites?

1)      Lisa Cook at Joey Wine Room

2)      Kurtis Kolt’s wine list at Bao Bei

3)      Brooke at Wildebeest

4)      Natural wines at Burdock & Co

5)      A pint with Nigel at the Alibi Room

What do you look for on a Wine List when you dine out in a Restaurant?

Something I have never seen before.

Tell me about Sunday School that you recently hosted at the Vancouver Urban Winery

A series of irreverent wine seminars that I host with Lisa Cook. It’s a wine school where the emphasis is on the wine but not on the school. Starting in January we will be doing them monthly.

By: Richard Wolak

New Zealand Meets Asia

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On October 21 I attended a wonderful event at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Gardens presented by House Wine featuring over 50 wines from New Zealand paired with Asian dishes from 6 Asian restaurant in Vancouver.

Chef Angus An - Maenam

Chef Angus An – Maenam

Malang of Prawns - Maenam

Malang of Prawns – Maenam

Sommelier/Executive chef Tatsuya Katagiri (R) of Zest Japanese

Sommelier/Executive chef Tatsuya Katagiri (R) of Zest Japanese

Salmon Kiwi & Autumn Roll -Zest Japanese

Salmon Kiwi & Autumn Roll -Zest Japanese

Chef Lisa Henderson (L) - Union Bar

Chef Lisa Henderson (L) – Union Bar

Asian Seafood Ceviche - Union Bar

Asian Seafood Ceviche – Union Bar

Sura Korean Royal Cuisine with their Beef Skewered Pancake and Seafood Skewered Pancake

Sura Korean Royal Cuisine with their Beef Skewered Pancake and Seafood Skewered Pancake

Palki Restaurant

Palki Restaurant

Aloo Tiki & Samosa

Aloo Tiki & Samosa

Fresh and pure, the wines of New Zealand have established themselves as incredibly food friendly. Home to some of the world’s best Asian food, Vancouver is blessed with a colourful and diverse palette of flavours. Some of the city’s top Asian restaurants each created a dish to pair with the vibrant  wines of New Zealand. Kingyo Izakaya, Maenam, Palki Restaurant, Sura Korean Cuisine, The Union and Zest Japanese Cuisine were the restaurants featured.

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From Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling to Pinot Noir and more, it was a chance to explore a variety of combinations at this stand up, grazing event. Kia ora and Kanpai!

House Wine presents many wine events through out the year, you can find them online.

By: Richard Wolak

Languedoc Wine Bar Crawl

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Last week I took part in an exciting tour with some other invited media guests around the city that wined and dined us at four of Vancouver’s top wine bars. Travelling by a bus limo we made our way around the different venues to taste a couple of Languedoc wines along with some food selections at each of the spots.

From now until November 14th, four of Vancouver’s best wine bars will feature a wide assortment of Languedoc wines by-the-glass: BrixSienaThe Wine Bar, and Seasons In The Park.

Visit any one of the 4 wine bars during the promo and you’ll find a ballot to win your own wine bar crawl for two. Or Tweet @LanguedocWines or Facebook about it (#LanguedocVan) for other ways to win gift certificates & more.

Thanks to its coastal location, Languedoc is one of France’s most ancient viticultural regions, producing a diverse selection of high quality wines of many styles – red and white, dry and sweet, still and sparkling.

French bread and a selection of Oysters

French bread and a selection of Oysters

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During the wine bar crawl our 1st stop of the night was to The Wine Bar (1177 Marinaside Crescent, 604-681-4144) @TWB_TheWineBar (twitter) in Yaletown where we treated to French bread and a selection of Oysters. The wines here are: Sieur d’Arques, Première Brulle, Limoux AOC (2011) and mussels with the Château Pech-Celeyran, Cinquième Gérération, and Languedoc AOC La Clape (White, 2011).

Goat Cheese Creme Brûlée  & Grilled Cheese

Goat Cheese Creme Brûlée & Grilled Cheese

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Our second stop was to Brix (1138 Homer St., 604-915-9463) @brixvan (twitter) where we were served a delicious flaming Goat Cheese Creme Brûlée pairing. The white wines here are the: Domaine Delsol, Picpout de Pinet AOC (2012), and red is the Gerard Bertrand, Terroir Minervois AOC (2010)!

Tuna Salad

Tuna Salad

On to the third stop to Seasons In The Park (Queen Elizabeth Park, Cambie St & W 33rd Ave.,604-874-8008) @SeasonsInQEPark (twitter) where I had a Tuna Salad. Featured Wines at Seasons In The Park: Ormarine, Picpoul de Pinet AOC, White, 2011; Domaines Paul Mas, Estate GSM, Coteaux du Languedoc AOC, Red, 2011; and Saint-Saturnin, Le Clocher, Languedoc AOC, Red 2010.

Chocolate Hazelnut Torte and a selection of cheeses

Chocolate Hazelnut Torte and a selection of cheeses

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The last stop of the night was to Siena (1485 W 12th Ave., 604-558-1485) @SienaVancouver (twitter) for their delicious Chocolate Hazelnut Torte and a selection of cheeses. The wines here are the: Antech Cuvée Expression Crémant de Limoux AOC sparkling and the Domaine de Babio Minervois AOC Red 2009.

Remember from now until November 14th, these four of Vancouver’s hottest wine bars will feature a wide assortment of Languedoc wines by-the-glass – a great opportunity for active Vancouverites to discover the flavour of the South of France! Languedoc is proud to shine a Vancouver-wide spotlight on their premium quality wines from now until November 14th.

This wine bar crawl was a lot of fun and I learned quite a lot about Languedoc wines which you can read about here as well.

By: Richard Wolak

West Restaurant Launched OWEN Cab Franc Wine

OWEN Cabernet Franc

OWEN Cabernet Franc

Okanagan Crush Pad recently released Owen for West Restaurant, a BC VQA Cabernet Franc, this is the second wine release from BC’s Okanagan Crush Pad’s Okanagan Wine Campus program, created by 2011 Vancouver Sommelier of the Year and West wine director Owen Knowlton.

Owen Knowlton (R), Christine Colleta (M)

Christine Colleta (M), Owen Knowlton (R)

Owen Knowlton, Vancouver’s Sommelier of the Year 2011, releases his 2011 Cabernet Franc, aptly named “Owen”. The wine was made with Okanagan Crush Pad chief winemaker Michael Bartier from grapes grown on the Black Sage Road. You will be impressed with the result.

Tomato on bread crumbs

Tomato on bread crumbs

Pork Belly with cherry

Pork Belly with cherry

Beet with fromage

Beet with fromage

West Restaurant hosted invited media recently for this launch, I tasted a variety canapés showcased to pair with this wine.

This limited release is set to sell quickly, with proceeds donated to the BC Hospitality Foundation.

To Order: call 604-800-0601 or have a glass when dining at West Restaurant in Vancouver.

By: Richard Wolak

Touring Krause Winery and Farm

A few weeks ago I was invited for a tour of Alf and Sandee Krause brand new Estate Winery at Krause Berry Farm. I have toured Krause Berry Farm on previous trips, this time I had a chance to see some of their new exciting developments.

I enjoyed touring their new wine room where they offer tastes of all their fruit wines as well have a retail store for picking up wine accessories as well as souvenirs.

This summer SKY Helicopters is pleased to provide a spectacular flight over the Fraser Valley with lift off from the Krause Estate Winery for a panoramic view of Krause Berry Farm and the Cascade mountains. I experienced this first hand by taking one of their tours the day I visited in my first ever Helicopter ride, state of the art helicopters and it was magnificent.

I had a nosh on delectable treats from the Krause Berry kitchen, and got the scoop on the upcoming Cooking School at Krause, seasonal offerings and special events in the works.

I even took a tractor tour around their farm to see some of the crops that have been planted this year. Spend a few hours or spend the day with a visit to Krause Berry Farms and Estate Winery located at 6179 248th Street in Langley, BC.

By: Richard Wolak

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