On April 26, 90 of British Columbia’s top wineries came together at the new J.W. Marriot Parq Hotel in downtown Vancouver for the 14th annual Chef Meets BC Grape tasting event in celebration of B.C. Wine Month.

The largest tasting of B.C. wines in Western Canada, the sold-out event attracted members of the wine industry, experienced oenophiles and recreational sippers alike to sample more than 350 B.C. VQA wines. Boutique vineyards from Vancouver Island to the Okanagan Valley and beyond were on site to showcase their signature blends, unique varietals and premium hand-crafted wines that represent the true terroir of the B.C. region. Featured wineries included Culmina Family Estate Wines, Bartier Bros., Tantalus Vineyards, Road 13 Vineyards, Poplar Grove Winery and many more.

Throughout the evening, attendees were encouraged to meet and mingle with notable winemakers from across the province while aromatic whites and world-class reds were paired with canapés prepared by chefs from some of Vancouver’s most renowned restaurants, including Ricardo Valverde from Ancora, Chris Wittaker from Forage and Wesley Young from PiDGiN.

From Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar, executive chef Roger Ma and his culinary team presented a complex Asian-inspired dish of cured kampachi with local shiso bavaroise, nori rice cracker, pickled kohlrabi, ‘ramen’ quali egg, hon shimeji and coastal sea urchin emulsion. The restaurant’s executive general manager and sommelier J.P. Potters paired the complex dish with Laughing Stock Vineyards’ Viognier, a full-bodied white varietal grown at the winery’s Perfect Hedge Vineyard in Osoyoos. “The Viognier is weighty with bright floral and fruit flavours,” Ma explained. “The smooth finish and ripe fruit tasting notes help to balance the acidity and the richness of the kampachi dish.”

Chef Alessandro Vianello from Wildebeest stayed true to the restaurant’s meat-forward menu and prepared a succulent slow-cooked lamb loin dressed with onion pepper jam, floral current gel, charcoal croutons and wild greens. Vianello collaborated with Wildebeest wine director Justin Everett to pair the carnivorous canapés with Narrative Syrah 2016 from Summerland’s Okanagan Crush Pad. Winemaker Matt Dumayne used grapes sourced from the Black Sage Bench to produce a Syrah rich in fruit sweetness and spice. “We wanted the dish to highlight the floral nature of the wine and used smoked salt to bring out the savoury quality of Syrah,” Everett said. “And because this is a lighter style Syrah, it pairs well with the light, fresh lamb loin.”

Inspired by a recently trip to Hawaii, Heritage Asian Eatery co-owner and former Top Chef Canada participant Felix Zhou prepared an Island-style kampachi tartar with cucumber, fresh coriander and a smoky charcoal oil. “We choose to pair the dish Sparkling Brut from See You Later Ranch Winery because the refreshing bubbles help to cleanse the palate,” Zhou said. Lively, crisp and with a clean finish, the off-dry VQA sparkling wine hails from the Green Lake Valley region of the Okanagan.

As guests sipped, swirled and savored their way across the venue to sample premium wines from the province’s top vineyards, a panel of five industry experts and celebrity judges were tasked with sampling all 18 dishes and wine pairings to determine the winner of the evening’s perfect pairing award. Ticket-holders also had a chance to vote for their favourite wines and small plates during a separate People’s Choice poll.

Following much debate and deliberation among the panel of judges, Tinhorn Creek Vineyards from Oliver, B.C. took home the night’s top honours earning ‘Best VQA Wine Pairing’ for its Oldfield Series Syrah and ‘Best Dish’ accolades went to Chef Jeff Van Geest from Miradoro Restaurant at Tinhorn Creek.

Vancouver’s own Chef Geoff Rogers from Savoury Chef earned the top spot in the People’s Choice category with a 72-hour aged short-rib while attendees voted for JoieFarm Winery from the Okanagan Valley’s Naramata Bench as their favourite winery.

Featuring B.C.’s top boutique wines paired alongside tasting dishes from the province’s hottest culinary talents, Chef Meets BC Grape is definitely one of the highlights of the year for Vancouver’s food and wine community. Thank you very much to the team at Wines of British Columbia for inviting us out to experience this truly one-of-a-kind event; we can’t wait for next year!


Photography: Rich Won

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