Picking Grapes With Tiago de Souza Jensen of St. Lawrence

We asked a wine-savvy server at one of Vancouver's best restaurants to map out his affections for British Columbian wine.
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Picking Grapes With Tiago de Souza Jensen of St. Lawrence

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.”

Summerhill Pyramid Winery 4870 Chute Lake Road, Kelowna MAP
Okanagan Crush Pad 16576 Fosbery Road, Summerland MAP

What are three local wineries that fly somewhat under the radar?

“Sea Star, Synchromesh, and Little Farm.”

Sea Star Vineyards 6621 Harbour Hill Drive, Pender Island, BC MAP

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.”

Synchromesh Wines 4220 McLean Creek Rd, Okanagan Falls, BC MAP

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.”

Laughing Stock Vineyards 1548 Naramata Rd, Penticton, BC MAP

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.”

Culmina Family Estate Winery 4790 Wild Rose St., Oliver MAP

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.”

Little Farm WInery 2155 Newton Rd, Cawston, BC MAP

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