by Treve Ring | It’s never easy stepping into a legacy and making it your own. But that’s exactly what Bryant Mao did two years ago when he took over as Wine Director at Hawksworth Restaurant, repeatedly lauded as one of Canada’s best. A stint at London’s acclaimed Chez Bruce – and a hand in its masterful wine program – prepped Mao for his return to Vancouver and into the spotlight at Hawksworth.
Unflappable, poised and suited with a homing-pigeon focus and a passion for knowledge, Mao has shaped a team that raises the bar that goes beyond most other wine programs in Vancouver. I recently talked with Mao about what he has LISTED.
How many wines on your list? Currently 745 bins.
How is your list organized? First we organize by grape varieties and then divide into country or wine region.
What one wine are you most excited about right now on your list? NV Egly-Ouriet Les Vignes de Vrigny, 1er Cru Ambonnay (Champagne). It’s made from 100% pinot meunier with great depth and minerality for a grower Champagne.
What’s the top-selling wine on your list? We don’t really have one because of the diversity and constant evolution of our wine list. We’re always making changes to align with the seasonal changes of our food menu.
What’s the newest arrival to your list? 89 Château de Beaucastel, Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
The one product you will never list? Only a bottle that the sommelier team cannot happily drink together.
Money/availability is no option. What one wine would you list? Krug Clos du Mesnil 1979 — I love Champagne and it’s also my birth year, and the first vintage of the wine!
Your fave food/beverage pairing currently in your restaurant? Currently on the tasting menu we are pairing a Normandy cider with crispy pork belly. We got to work backwards in this situation and had Chef Hawksworth and Chef Eligh create the dish specifically after we all tasted the cider together. That’s crispy pork belly trotter croquette, green apple butter, trout roe, and sorrel with NV Julien Fremont, Silex, Cidre du Fort Manuel.
Your insider top food/wine pairing tip? Trust your sommeliers, and be open-minded.
Favourite wine list in Vancouver, other than your own? Right now, Boulevard. The list is young and very fun but also dynamic — very well put together with some definite hidden gems.