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 talk all things wine with Ryan Mellor, Wine Director for Gotham Steakhouse & Bar. One look at the Vancouver restaurant’s extensive wine list – broken down by region, sub-region, appellation, varietal, rating and more – left us with no doubts that Mellor would have more than a few fresh answers to our Picking Grapes questions…
Time for a moment of reflection: What was the BC wine that you first fell in love with? Do you remember where you were? What were the circumstances?
Quails’ Gate Gewurztraminer circa 2002, in Kitsilano at a dinner party with friends. Growing up in Vancouver and having a mother from California, my first introduction to wine was from Californian sips. I had yet to dive into the Okanagan wine world but that day I was presented with this perfectly clear, aromatic white wine, and it completely took over. The bright bouquet, the cool, refreshing dance on the palate – it was a paradigm shift for me in understanding what our local BC wineries could offer.
It’s summertime! Which local vintage most embodies the spirit of the season to you, and why?
Blue Mountain Gold Label Brut. For me it has set the benchmark for sparkling wine. The Gold Label Brut can be enjoyed casually at happy hour, paired with many world cuisines (I prefer oysters), and is perfect for toasting celebratory events.
Name the bottle that’s calling your name from the cellar that you can’t wait to dust off and pop the cork on (one day, when the timing is right).
2012 Painted Rock Red Icon. I’m looking forward to enjoying this perhaps in 2027, 15 years later, and determine what a great BC wine with bottle age can offer.
What wine myth (from production and practice of service, like ‘how to drink it properly’, ‘what to pair it with or fake faux pas) do you want to set the record straight on?
Decanters are only for full bodied and aged red wine. False. You can decant every bottle of wine. It enhances the wine’s flavour by exposing it to air and presents an added experience to guests.
If you could work in just one local winery, for just one harvest which would it be and why?
‘A Sunday in August’ because of their commitment to organic winemaking. Owner/winemaker Michael Shindler has been making wine in BC since 2017 and has recently purchased land on Salt Spring Island to start growing his own varietals. He has forever entertained his friends and family with his culinary delights and fine wine. I would love to spend a harvest with him.
Can you recommend one local, emblematic-of-BC wine for someone who didn’t even know that wine was made here?
Bench 1775 Cabernet-Merlot. It’s an outstanding representation of the varietals and what BC can do with red grapes from the Okanagan Valley, and more specifically the Naramata Bench. Nod to Richard Kanazawa, winemaker. Terroir is perfectly showcased while exhibiting characteristics of ripe dark fruit, mocha, tobacco, eucalyptus and spice. The Bench 1775 also expresses BC fruit nuances while keeping the oak barrel treatment neutral to accomplish this amazing offering.
What about a white?
Arrowleaf Pinot Gris. An amazing white from an award-winning winery in Lake Country that doesn’t break the bank. Clean and pure Pinot Gris.
And finally, a rose?
Painted Rock consistently delivers a brilliant Rose. Located on the Skaha Bluffs, the all-merlot grapes are estate fruit and allow for amazing consistency year after year.
We love the idea of supporting the local wine industry as much as possible, but if you were to recommend one wine from one international winery that you are currently pouring, what would you choose, and what would you pair it with?
Canaliccio di Sopra ‘La Casaccia’ Brunello di Montalcino 2017. The Gotham Canada Prime New York Striploin accompanied with asparagus, sauteed mushrooms, and Bearnaise sauce. Enjoy it on the Gotham patio as the sun sets and the fireplace glows.