VanWineFest: Italy and California go out for dinner

Photos by Kelly Jean Marion -- follow her at @kellyjean247

The Vancouver International Wine Festival was full of fantastic wine pairing dinners, one of which included CinCin and the Wagner Family of Wines.

This sold out event, boasted wines from all five of their wineries: Conundrum, Mer Soleil, Belle Glos and Caymus, highlighting their Pinot Noirs as well as their Un-Oaked Chardonnay.

While tables were being set up, and to give guests a chance to mingle, appetizers flew by and wine was flowing.

One of the wines we tasted was the Mer Soleil Silver. This wine was aged in vats of limestone and concrete imported from Burgundy, rather than the usual stainless steel tanks. Cement’s natural insulation keeps the wine temperature steady during fermentation, yet allows aging wine to breathe the way it does in a barrel. While these vats are used primarily for red, the Wagner family uses them for this un-oaked Chardonnay.

“What I love most about this wine is that it has a true sense of place, by fermenting and aging without oak, you allow the flavor influences from the vineyard to really shine through.” – Charlie Wagner II

Host Peter Lindenlaub, Division Manager in Canada for the Wagner Family of Wine, briefed us on the family owned-and-operated business that has farming and winemaking roots in the Napa Valley since the 1880's. He also showed us a video of the team explaining their story that included fellow diner Charlie Wagner, a fifth-generation winemaker.  

The wines were paired with the signature dishes of CinCin’s Executive Chef Andrew Richardson, renowned for his culinary skills in Vancouver and abroad.

“I believe in simplicity, and the interaction of absolutely prime ingredients on the plate—the passionata, as the Italians say. Less is often more, especially in Italian cookery.”


Risotto Di Aragosta - 1 year aged organic carnaroli (medium grained Northern Italian rice) risotto with meyer lemon and Nova Scotia lobster

This was the best risotto that I’ve had in a long time. It was creamy but not overwhelmingly so and although looking a tad soupy I felt it had the perfect amount of sauce versus rice. The lobster was cooked to perfection with a good ratio of rice to lobster and just a touch of citrus. This dish was fit for a king, and as I sat next to the lovely Jim Martin, Senior Wine Consultant at Metro Liquor, I imagined him as one as he swirled his wine and chowed down on the risotto.

The delectable dish was paired with the 2003 Mer Soleil Chardonnay and the 2010 Mer Soleil Chardonnay. They were poured together to show the aging nuances of the wine.

Mer Soleil is made form the French words for sea (mer) and sun (soleil). This represents the terrain along Monterey County’s cool coastline in the Santa Lucia Highlands, where they planted their grapes in 1988. The natural conditions of morning and evening fog off the Pacific Ocean, balanced by the region’s bright sunny afternoons, seemed ideal for Chardonnay, and also for the name.


Anatra Arrosto Con Cavolo E Polenta - wood roasted Fraser Valley duck breast with "sweet & sour" red cabbage, crispy polenta and duck succo

The duck was cooked rare, which meant that each bite was juicy and delicious with the duck’s natural flavours prevalent and further emphasized by the duck succo. The crispy polenta made a nice pedestal for the duck but it wasn't very crispy and although absorbing some of the duck succo it was a little bland. The sweet and sour red cabbage compensated for that by adding a load of flavor. All in all, it was a balanced, simple dish that let the flavours of the ingredients shine through.

This dish was paired with the 2011 Belle Glos Meiomi Pinot Noir and the 2011 Belle Glos Clark and Telephone Pinot Noir.

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