Picking Grapes is a new series that asks wine professionals to map out their complex relationships with British Columbian wines by citing the ignition point of their interest and some of their favourite wineries.
Today we put our Picking Grapes questions to Tiago de Souza Jensen, a wine-savvy server at Railtown’s excellent St. Lawrence restaurant.
What was the BC wine that you first fell in love with? Do you remember where you were? What was the circumstance?
“I have two distinct early memories with BC wine. During a childhood family road trip, my parents took us on a detour to stop at Summerhill. I have a vivid memory of driving up through rows of beautifully kept vines in the heat of the summer, and finally pulling up under the imposing pyramid on the property. Though the enjoyment of tasting the wines was obviously postponed for a few years, that trip put BC wine on the map for me.
My second memory was a fall dinner party spending time with some close friends. At one point, we popped open Haywire’s ‘The Bub,’ and poured it out over laughter and stories of picking the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that went into the bottle. There are few things more beautiful than an evening like that – especially when the bubbles are this poised and delicious! An immaculate balancing act in the glug/sip continuum.”
What are three local wineries that fly somewhat under the radar?
“Sea Star, Synchromesh, and Little Farm.”
If you could work in just one local winery for just one harvest, which would it be and why?
“I would love to spend a harvest with Synchromesh. My love for Riesling knows no bounds, and the terroir-driven wines they’re making there show some of the best work being done with this incredible cultivar.”
Can you recommend one local, emblematic-of-BC red wine for someone who didn’t even know wine was made here? What would it be and why?
“Laughing Stock’s Portfolio blend has turned the heart of many among the unfortunate illiterati of BC wine. A robust, complex wine that evolves in the glass, it is a classic style made thoughtfully and beautifully. I have met few who couldn’t help but enjoy it – even those tragic few who ‘don’t drink BC wine’ as a matter of principle.”
What about a white?
“I am a big fan of Culmina’s ‘Unicus’ Grüner Veltliner. This Grüner sits on one of the highest sites around, and offers a glittering pop of acidity, tart green fruits, and beautiful mineral complexity. My mouth is watering thinking about it.”
And finally, a rosé?
“The Little Farm Blind Creek Vineyard Rosé really demonstrates some of the best natural wine in BC. Whichever trench you prefer to occupy in the alarming debate between natural and conventional wines, you will find a friend in this rosé. This is a product of a collaboration between Alishan Driediger and Master of Wine Rhys Pender, and it’s clear to all that the minimalist approach in intervention and manipulation is working wonders for their wines. Their rosé’s delicate balancing act between freshly crushed juicy fruits, aromatic dried flowers torn out of an antique book, and wet terra cotta minerality are truly a beautiful thing.”