French Wine, New Zealand Wine in Yaletown, and New Dining Spots

Actor Mackenzie Gray with one of the friendly ‘cigarette girls’ and a selection of Languedoc wines.Right. Entrance to the theatre on Sunday night – the theatre’s actual birthday.

Courtesy of Wendy Spooner

Villa Maria Private Bin Riesling. Right. Villa Maria Estate Winery

Courtesy of Tiffany Soper

France’s Languedoc-Roussillon
This past Friday, the wine counsel of France’s Languedoc-Roussillon region hosted a grand old shindig at the Hollywood Theatre in conjunction with the cinema house’s 75th anniversary. The grape poured freely, and catering was done by C Restaurant. The two films screened were The American with George Clooney, and the classic Casablanca.

The focus on the Languedoc and Pays d’Oc region is rather timely, as BCLS is currently running a month-long Wines of France virtual tour in 60 government liquor stores, until November 15. As part of the promotion, consumers can take home a special French food and wine recipe book, published by Wines of France in conjunction with BCLDB. The book features three recipes from local Chef David Robertson of The Dirty Apron Cooking School, with pairings by sommelier Mireille Sauvé. Regions covered by the promotion include, among others, Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Loire Valley, Champagne, and Rhone Valley.

Meanwhile, in Yaletown the other day I attended a lunch tasting for Villa Maria

Maria Estate Winery of New Zealand. It’s an interesting, but largely unknown fact, that approximately 80% of New Zealand’s wineries are, in fact, foreign-owned. Villa Maria is one of the exceptions, being wholly owned by Sir George Fistonich and his family. Fistonich founded the winery in 1961 under the Villa Maria label. Why Villa Maria? Ironically, Fistonich believed it sounded European. “In the 1960s, imported products had a better reputation than New Zealand-made, particularly as far as wine was concerned. We liked the fact it had a romantic, somewhat international ring to it.”

Rather than working under the label of organic, Fistonich adopted a holistic sustainable model from the beginning, including night-air cooling, organic vineyards and winery, natural lighting, recycling and the use of hybrid vehicles and renewable energy. The dedication has paid off, as Villa Maria has won awards from its very first vintage.

Villa Maria Viticulturist Michael Croad was in town for the tasting, and took us through several of the Private Bin and Reserve labels, including an absolutely stunning Riesling from the private Bin label. Crisp, clean palate, with a ripe citrus-lime nose, and no cat’s-pee tendencies. Best of all, it’s a bargain at $16.99 at BCLS.

New Dining Spots

If you haven’t tried out Cafeteria on South Main, you’re missing out. A recent visit to this new offering from La Buca/Pied-a-Terre team Andrey Durbach and Chris Stewart included large, tasty slabs of Berkshire pork belly with a twist on the classic bubble ‘n’ squeak, plus stunning braised short ribs and a generous cheese plate. Everything is under $20 and changes daily, and the wine list is well thought out.

Also, make sure to check out 100 Days, the pop-up restaurant currently hou sed inside the Opus Hotel. The name refers to how long the restaurant will be open, and time is running out, so if lamb Wellington and crab-and-lobster mac ‘n’ cheese sound like suitable accompaniments to the current monsoon weather, get thee to Yaletown. Your plates come with a side of DJ and graffiti art that changes daily.

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