Picking Grapes is a Scout 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 catch up with AnnaLena’s infectiously passionate wine director, Reverie Beall…
What was the BC wine that you first fell in love with? Do you remember where you were? What were the circumstances?
The Stella Maris from Sea Star! My grandparents built a place on North Pender island back in the 70s, and I grew up spending summers there. It was in the middle of summer, and I remember falling in love with the space, the experience of a tasting flight, and the gorgeous aromatics on the Stella Maris.
Autumn is here! Crush is happening. Is there a local winemaker whose upcoming vintage you are most excited about, and why?
Yes! I’ll be heading out to Oliver soon to help Rajen Toor at Ursa Major. Raj and I have been friends since 2016 and it’s been really cool to see our wine journeys evolve. He has such a thoughtful, poetic approach in the vineyard and beyond, and it really comes through in his wines, which are always romantic, expressive and unique.
Supporting small BC businesses has become especially important these days. We know it’s challenging to narrow it down, but if you had to choose just three local wineries that you think are especially deserving of our attention, who would you choose?
Roche for sure. I was lucky to visit Pénélope and Dylan a few months back, and they are the most wonderful, hospitable people. Their Vig series is awesome! I think that Brent Rowland at Averill Creek is an incredibly gifted winemaker and it’s easily my favourite winery when we’re talking island wine. Lastly, I’m always happy to pour wines from Bella. Jay and Wendy are absolutely lovely and their bubbles make wonderful pairings.
Have the last few years reshaped your approach to buying, serving, and enjoying wine in any way? If so, how?
I’ve learned that if you’re a somm you immediately become the designated wine opener at literally any and every social event. More seriously, diving deeper into my wine education with WSET, and now CMS, makes enjoying and sharing wine more of a thoughtful process. I’m always evaluating and am usually pairing-focused (or talking about soil to anyone who will listen). Being able to create wine pairings alongside a tasting menu that completely changes every four weeks at AnnaLena is a wonderful creative process. It teaches me to be adaptable and is ultimately wildly fun. Engaging a guest with a cool wine is one thing, but being able to create the experience that is a perfect pairing is magical and something I feel honoured to do every night.
What sort of changes, if any, do you think the local wine industry – from wine lovers and servers to the producers and distributors – might see over the next year or two?
The last few weeks definitely showed all of us how lucky we are to have BC wine, and so many agencies really came through for us. I’m especially excited to see how Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands evolve in the next few years, specifically with Chardonnay and other varietals.
What is the one versatile BC wine you recommend for pairing this Fall?
I tasted the latest vintage of Orofino Gamay today – it’s always a favourite. It’s way too easy to drink that pure strawberry goodness on it’s own, but I’ve enjoyed it with a variety of flavourful dishes. It has such concentrated aromas while also being so soft.
If you could work in just one local winery for just one harvest, which would it be and why?
Tantalus – firstly because I would have way too much fun with Dave, and secondly because I really like what viticulturist Felix Egerer is doing there, specifically with cover crop management.
Can you recommend one local, emblematic-of-BC red wine for someone who didn’t even know that wine was made here? Why did you choose it?
Le Vieux Pin Syrah, be it Cuvée Violette or Équinoxe. I think that Severine’s classic French approach coupled with the ripeness we can achieve in BC is something really beautiful. If BC could focus on just one grape forever, Syrah could be the play for us. I’m always so impressed by expressions from the Okanagan.
What about a white?
Tantalus Old Vines Riesling! A flagship for a reason, it’s so precise and richly rewarding. I’m currently cellaring a bottle of the 2019 and every day am playing a terrible game of convincing myself that delayed gratification is better than immediate consumption. No one and everyone is winning.
And finally, a rose?
Lock and Worth Cabernet Franc rosé. Gorgeous peachy notes, always consistent, and a wonderful hue.