Wine Director Joanne DiGeso Sheds Light On Bearfoot Bistro’s 2000+ Label Cellar

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by Treve Ring | According to Bearfoot Bistro bon vivant and Champagne sabering expert (damn straight, he broke the Guinness World Record for the most Champagne bottles sabered in a minute in November 2005), André Saint-Jacques promises that “at the Bearfoot Bistro anything is possible. Your pleasure is our pleasure. Be yourself. Be whoever you want to be. We want you to laugh, to love… Come celebrate with us.”

Those of you who remember the Cornucopias of olde, complete with naked sushi models, Masquerave madness and live tiger negotiations realize that anything indeed is possible – much like amassing a masterfully serious collection of wines, including a killer Champagne section, in a ski resort at the end of the Sea to Sky highway.

The list is currently overseen by Wine Director Joanne DiGeso, a 20 year hospitality vet and WSET Diploma student. I recently queried Joanne about what is currently LISTED at Bearfoot.

How many wines are there on your list? Over two thousand.

How is your list organized? First by colour; whites then reds. Within each are ‘New World Wines’ and ‘Old World Wines’ and the countries are listed alphabetically. Within New World wines are then the grape varieties and then the regions or subregions. The Old World appellations are listed from north to south.

What one wine are you most excited about right now on your list? Larmandier Bernier ‘Latitude’ Blanc de Blancs Champagne. It only adds 4 grams per litre dosage (the addition of liquid sugar) and therefore is an extra brut (very dry) wine. The drier the wine, the harder it is to round out any imperfections in it. This wine is just absolutely perfect.

What’s the top selling wine on your list? Bubbles. When you order Champagne or sparkling wine at the Bearfoot, we take you down to the cellar and teach you how to saber. We go through a lot of bubbles!

What’s the newest arrival to your list? A 1906 Latour. I really hope I’m here on the night it gets opened!

The one product you will never list? Never say never! Behind every wine there is someone who wants to drink it. Just because it isn’t my pick doesn’t mean I won’t list it for the enjoyment of someone else. Or, it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t drink it with my friends, family and loved ones to relish the moment. Never say never!

Money/availability is no option. What one wine would you list? More Leroy and Domaine de La Romanée Conti (both from Burgundy). We have some and it doesn’t matter which one. I would buy enough of it so that while it was listed, there would still be enough of it to last until it was ready to drink so…enough to last for 17 years!

Your fave food/beverage pairing currently in your restaurant? Chef made this lobster bisque. On top, it was covered with a sunchoke espuma that was the viscosity of puffy cheese and with textures of sunchokes throughout. It was so beautiful with the silky, rich texture of the ‘Terrasen’ Smaragd Grüner Veltliner from Dömane Wachau. Another one is buttery chardonnay such as Shafer Vineyards with Australian Wagyu beef medium-rare served with just salt and pepper. Butter and more butt-ah! Mmmm.

Your insider top food/wine pairing tip? Explore and have fun! You have to risk what doesn’t work to get there. One of my favourite pairings was when I grabbed the wrong bottle to try with the dish. I took the Undurraga ‘Terroir Hunter’ Syrah from Chile instead of their Pinot Noir to pair with a seared foie gras dish that had mushrooms in it (I felt we needed a red because it was the course served before the main course). Out of all the wines I tried, it was the fruit on that Syrah that made the dish shine. Best mistake of my life!

Favourite local wine list other than your own? Alta Bistro [link]. The restaurant concept is so homegrown. The menu is all from locally sourced products, organic and sustainable. They make everything in house such as the preserves and pickles in jars that decorate the wall – total Jamie Kennedy style. Eric kills it with the wine list! I love going in there to try either a delicious classic or something completely off the beaten track. The first time I went there, he was pouring a Gaja Barbaresco and you could order it as a 3-oz pour; that is the only way I can afford to drink Gaja!

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