On Uncorking Storytelling Wines & Bottled Sex With Tableau Somm Alain Canuel


by Treve Ring | Through oversize, Melville street level windows you can watch the bustle of Tableau Bar Bistro, tucked alongside equally chic boutique hotel, The Loden. Overseen by Chef Marc André Choquette, Tableau is one of Vancouver’s most lauded French bistros. Busy from brisk business lunches through post-work drinks and well into the dinner hour (and beyond), Tableau’s menu merges traditional Parisian favourites with local flavour, and the concise cocktail sheet and sharp wine list both mirror that philosophy.

Restaurant Manager and Wine Director Alain Canuel has steered the wine program from BC to France, with a sprinkle of other countries throughout. Hailing from Quebec City, Alain’s travels took him through South America and France prior to settling in BC. Since landing here and completing his International Sommelier Guild diploma, he’s managed the floor at Diva at the Met and Araxi, among other top drawer restaurants. I recently asked him about what he has LISTED at Tableau.

How many wines on your list? 65, plus a reserve list of 30 labels.

How is your list organized? White/Rose/Reds, from light bodied easy drinking wines to heavier, more full-bodied wines.

What one wine are you most excited about right now on your list? Clos Cibonne Cuvée prestige 2012 from the Cotes De Provence. When you get a wine like this and you know the story behind it, the experience of drinking it almost becomes romantic. This family run estate uses very old wine producing methods with a grape variety that is almost extinct. The wine is very expressive of its terroir and history – it’s also just damn good.

What’s the top selling wine on your list? Hubert Brochard Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc 2013 from the Loire Valley and Domaine De La Renjarde Cote Du Rhone 2012 for the red. Both are solid and well-balanced food wines.

What’s the newest arrival to your list? Ode D’aydie Pacherenc Du Vic Bilh Sec Petit/Gros Manseng 2013. Coming from a more obscure appellation it is a great value, and having a smaller list like ours, those “off the beaten path” wines are easier to get people excited about because they stand out so much more. In the end, this is what us wine geeks are here for: to get people to try something different and explore.

The one product you will never list? Well…a product with an animal of some sort on it is a very strong deterrent!

Money/availability is no option. What one wine would you list? I think I would love to offer a Grand Cru Montrachet from Lafond or DRC.

Why? Because it’s like sex in a bottle.

Your fave food/beverage pairing currently in your restaurant? Domaine Raspail-Ay Grenache from the Gigondas 2012 with our Lamb Shank … ‘nuff said, just come and try.

Your insider top food/wine pairing tip? Food will change the flavour of the wine, not the other way around.

Favourite wine list in Vancouver, other than your own? There are so many good places right now. I’ve got to give you two: Uva and Chambar.

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gallery courtesy of Tableau Bar Bistro


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