Introduction by Nikki Bayley
We asked three of our favourite Whistler sommeliers to tell us about the wine that they’re most excited to share with their guests this winter. From soft Italian Sangiovese to perennially popular premium Champagne, find out what our sommeliers love — and why.
Picking a wine to pair with your meal can sometimes feel a little overwhelming: so many wines to choose from, so many different regions and grape varieties! How to make the right choice? It’s no wonder that so many of us panic-pick familiar grapes and wind up missing out on some of the lesser-known gems on the list. Fortunately, sommeliers are on hand to help make that decision easier.
Sommeliers train for years, studying wines from around the world, learning about different grapes, styles of wine, and food and wine pairings — and that education never ends thanks to new vintages continually being released and new wineries opening up each year. There are few things a somm loves more than a guest asking for guidance; after all, they worked hard to create the restaurant’s wine list to pair perfectly with their chef’s style of cuisine, and they know the wines well, having tasted them and learned their stories. So, next time you’re offered a wine list, take advantage of the sommelier’s knowledge and ask for their recommendation. Who knows? You may discover your new favourite wine, and you’ll certainly learn something along the way.
Podere San Cristoforo, Amaranto 2018
Once in a while, I come across an exceptional discovery like this Sangiovese by San Cristoforo, an elegant, soft wine with calming effects that seems to bring an exploding dose of endorphins with every sip you take.
Located in Maremma, on the coast of Tuscany, San Cristoforo produces biodynamic wines with a true sense of place, where the climate, soil and philosophy all come together in harmony. They believe in biodiversity and respect for all beings, which means they never use synthetic fertilizer or commercial yeast. This natural approach to winemaking has won them many fans and awards.
Amaranto, named for a distinct shade of red, translates from Ancient Greek to “which doesn’t fade” and is the perfect homage to the history, place and people that came before them.
I highly recommend this wine; I love its balance and flavour, but also the values it represents. As a lighter Tuscan style of wine, it is the perfect match for many dishes on the Bearfoot Bistro menu, but I find it to be particularly magical with our local B.C. squab served on a Kataifi nest with black pepper caramel.
Wine Director/Bar Manager
Bearfoot Bistro, 604-932-3433
Taittinger Cuvée Prestige
As the name suggests, Araxi is known for the wonderful fresh B.C. oysters we serve. While many wines can pair with oysters, the pairing of Champagne and oysters is the most celebrated. The purity and freshness of Champagne match perfectly with the simplicity of fresh oysters on the half shell.
The Taittinger Champagne house in Reims, established in the historic mansion of the Counts of Champagne, has magnificent underground cellars caved into the chalk in the fourth century AD by the Benedictine monks from the Abbey of Saint Nicaise — which provides the perfect temperature and humidity for aging great Champagne.
Taittinger Cuvée Prestige is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that gives a lively and beautifully balanced entry that leads into a full creaminess with delightful tiny bubbles. There are lightly baked orchard fruit, citrus and honey flavours of great purity and delicacy, complete with a wonderfully clean and uplifting finish.
Join us for a glass of Taittinger and fresh oysters and discover for yourself why this pairing has transcended time.
Araxi Restaurant & Oyster Bar, 604-932-4540
Phantom Creek Estates Red
As the temperature drops and Whistler prepares for a long, snowy winter, our wines of choice are intended to bring extra warmth. This rich, full-bodied Okanagan red is a blend of Bordeaux varietals, sustainably farmed on their estate vineyards on the Black Sage Bench. The wine is aged for 18 months in French oak. Aromas of cherry blossom and desert sage begin, with ripe black plum flavours and fine grain tannins carrying through for an impressively long finish — a tribute to the art of the blend.
We love pairing it with bold new menu items like our flame-grilled Canadian Prime striploin with burnt onion bourbon butter, Old Mill gouda dauphinoise, and bacon-and-herb sautéed mushrooms. Snuggle up next to our fireplace this season with a glass or two of this hearty red and watch the snow fall on the Village Stroll.
Wine Director/Assistant Manager
Basalt Wine + Salumeria, 604-962-9011