What to DRINK With That: Sooke Harvest Feasts

Clockwise L-R: Matthew Sherlock, Chris Kerridge, Emily Walker, Sooke Harbour House logo, Salmonberries

DRINK editor Treve Ring asks local wine experts how they would approach pairing dishes and flavours. For this harvest edition, we have gone back to the land with very local dishes from Sooke Harbour House.


Our Experts:

Chris Kerridge (CK)
Sommelier, Restaurant Matisse

Chris been working in the restaurant and wine industry for over twenty years in BC and Alberta. He completed his Spanish Wine Educator and International Sommelier Guild certifications in 2008 and 2009, while working as part of the team at Bear Mountain Resort that put together their formidable wine program. He can now be found in the heart of downtown Victoria at the Forbes Travel Guide 4-Star rated Restaurant Matisse.

Matthew Sherlock (MS)
Nichol Winery, Clean Slate Wine, Wine Importer

Matthew Sherlock spent most of his UBC undergrad days working in restaurants and wine retail stores in Vancouver where his interest and knowledge of wine blossomed. After graduating he did vintages in Marlbourough New Zealand, Sonoma California and the Okanagan Valley. In 2011, after completing his WSET Diploma he moved to the Okanagan where he is currently the Director of Sales and Marketing for Nichol Vineyard as well as a Managing Partner in one of Naramata’s newest wineries Clean Slate Wine. He also imports wines from around the world as a partner in Sedimentary Wine Imports and in 2012 was named to Western Living’s Top 40 Foodies Under 40, a group to which he is honored to be a member.

Emily Walker (EW)
Sommelier, YEW Restaurant + Bar

Emily Walker is a Vancouver based Sommelier (ISG) and recent French Wine Scholar. Having grown up in British Columbia’s wine country – the Okanagan Valley – Emily was fortunate to be exposed to the wonders of wine from a young age. These days you can find her at Yew Restaurant + bar at the Four Seasons in Vancouver where she oversees the wine program. Emily also keeps herself busy working on her own winemaking projects with the help of the Amateur Winemaker’s Association and writes a wine blog called Hints of Hawthorn.


What to DRINK with:

Grilled Quail with salmonberry barbeque sauce, red quinoa salad, apple & brown butter emulsion, mustard greens 

CK – Quail can go with either white or red, but because it is grilled and has a nice local salmonberry barbeque sauce I would veer towards a lighter red wine that is not too high in tannins (don’t want to overwhelm the little bird). Some that come to mind are Grenache, Barbera, Pinot Noir or Gamay. I would like to pair this dish with a cru Beaujolais from either Saint-Amour or Morgon or a nice Gamay from BC. These wines have a nice fruit quality as well as a touch of spice.

MS – As a newly established Naramatian (one who lives in Naramata) I love seeing quail on menus as they are such a prolific bird in the Okanagan (plus it means someone else is doing the de-boning). I think this dish calls for a delicate, bright fruited and savoury red wine, something that will complement and lift while not overwhelming the subtle flavours of the dish. The mountainous, delicate and savoury reds from France’s Jura region, and specifically those made from the Poulsard grape, should do quite nicely here. Poulsard will work wonderfully with the salmonberry BBQ sauce (granted it’s not too sweet) and the wines’ mountainous herb flavours should complement the mustard greens perfectly. The high acidity of the wine will also counter the creaminess of the brown butter and help cut the slight fattiness of the quail while its gentle tannins will support instead of dominate the protein. Alternatives could be lighter Cru Beaujolais (St. Amour or Regnie) or the wild yet pretty reds from Italy’s Valle D’Aosta region.

EW – Quail most often makes me think of Bordeaux, but this particular dish conjures up the exciting match of a South African Pinotage (a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault). Though Pinotage carries a bad rap due to the poor quality, bulk supply that lines our market shelves, there are a few interesting, good quality examples available. With its meaty, smoky and brambly flavour characteristics, Pinotage offers clear matching potential for the gamey flavour of the quail, the smoky wild berry sauce and the earthy tones of red quinoa. For a more readily available pairing, a right bank Bordeaux with a good dose of Cabernet Franc in the blend would also be lovely.


Fresh, wild Chinook salmon glazed with birch syrup, served with a wild, trailing blackberry glaze, wild rice, Indian celery and fuki leaf bundles, wild morel mushrooms, grilled nodding onions, and fiddleheads garnished with wild sorrel and camas flowers 

CK – When I first read this dish I knew it was going to take a little bit of research to look up the multitude of local ingredients while deconstructing it. Fun!!! After researching the nodding onions and Indian celery I recognized them as wild flowers/weeds that I have seen on many hikes. When there are so many different ingredients you really need to ensure what the dominant flavours are and go after them for your pairing. In this case we will focus on the salmon, blackberries and morels. This dish is just screaming for Pinot Noir, with the nice richness of the salmon and blackberries, the earthiness of the morels and the green characteristics of all of the local produce. You could go about this with either a nice rosé Champagne or a still Pinot Noir. With all of these North American local wild ingredients I personally would choose an Oregon Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley. The acidity will cut through the richness of the salmon while the subtle berry, herbal and earthy flavours will compliment the dish without overpowering it.

MS – Umm, Taiwanese High Mountain Oolong Tea? For wine though, a low dosage Blanc de Noir (Pinot Noir) Champagne from a small house like Cedric Bouchard or Billiot would really rock with this dish. There are a lot of flavours here that will work really well with Pinot Noir – morels, blackberry glaze and sorrel. Also, the high acidity and creamy bubbles will temper as well as complement the bitterness of the fiddleheads in addition to cutting through some of the fattiness of the salmon and the sweetness of the birch syrup. And if it doesn’t work out so well who cares, at least you’ll be drinking Champagne! Alternatives could be a Cremant D’Alsace rosé or a good dry and delicate Lambrusco (they do exist!)

EW – There are a lot of flavours in this dish that demand a confident, yet accommodating wine – one that will not be overwhelmed nor drown out the complexity of the dish. Chinook salmon can be quite fatty with high oil content and its lovely velvety texture can stand up to a bit of tannin.  I would reach for a bottle of Morgon, Cru Beaujolais. Morgon is one of the most muscular of the Beaujolais Cru, but the best producers, such as Marcel Lapierre, craft elegant wines that show great balance between purity of red and black fruit, tannin and an earthy, savory, spicy expression not normally associated with the more humble versions of Beaujolais. This complex background in the wine will jive nicely with the earthy, nutty flavor of the morel mushrooms and herbal spices in the dish.


Written By:

Treve Ring is a wine writer, editor, judge, consultant and certified sommelier, and has been with EAT Magazine for over a decade.\r\n\r\nIn addition to her work with EAT, she is a Wine Critic and National Judge for ...

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