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Picking Grapes with Sam Jonnery

The France-born Sommelier at Gotham Steakhouse & Bar shares his seasonal and perennial wine picks, insight and expertise...

Picking Grapes with Sam Jonnery

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 Sam Jonnery, the France-born Sommelier at Vancouver’s legendary Gotham Steakhouse

What was the BC wine that you first fell in love with? Do you remember where you were? What were the circumstances?

Nota Bene 2003, during my first trip to the Okanagan in 2006. I just remembered that, being from Europe, I was very surprised with the quality of that particular wine.

Black Hills Winery 4190 Black Sage Road, Oliver MAP

Which local winery are you most looking forward to visiting, and why?

Poplar Grove to me is the epitome of hospitality. Beautiful winery, beautiful views, very good local restaurant and, most important of all, world class wines.

Poplar Grove Winery 425 Middle Bench Road North, Penticton MAP

Supporting small, BC businesses has become especially important these days. We know it’s difficult 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?

Moraine Winery in the Naramata Bench – wines that punch above their weight.

Lariana Cellars down in Osoyoos – love their wines, particularly their Eighteen and Carmenere.

Painted Rock, in Skaha Lake – the Red Icon is a cult wine and the winery is beautiful.

Lariana Cellars 9304 2nd Ave., Osoyoos, BC MAP
Painted Rock Estate Winery 400 Smythe Drive, Penticton MAP
Moraine Winery 1865 Naramata Rd., Penticton, BC MAP

Have the last two years reshaped your approach to buying, serving, and enjoying wine in any way? If so, how?

We are very lucky at Gotham. Our guests want to explore new things and have particularly been supportive of local wines over the past two challenging years. I think everyone is more appreciative of the BC wine industry now and even more the focus will be on quality over quantity in the future. For my part, I have been drinking local wines, beers, and ciders a lot more!

What sort of changes, if any, do you think that the local wine industry – from wine lovers and servers, to the producers and distributors – might see in the future?

For the producers, the emphasis now should be on defining what it means to be a BC wine: more focus on sub region, terroir and varietals. For the consumers, with the recent and on-going issues with worldwide shipping, the emphasis should be on drinking local more than ever before.

What is the one versatile BC wine you recommend for pairing this autumn?

Blue Mountain Reserve Pinot Noir 2017. Pinot Noir can go with fish and meat as well as comfort food for those crisp, cold nights.

Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars 2385 Allendale Road, Okanagan Falls MAP

If you could work in just one local winery for just one harvest, which would it be and why?

Little Engine in the Naramata Bench. Simply some of the best Pinot Noir in BC from a notoriously difficult varietal.

Little Engine Winery 851 Naramata Rd, Penticton, BC MAP

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?

Culmina Cabernet Franc 2017. Cabernet Franc should be the flagship varietal for BC in my opinion, and Culmina produces a very good example.

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

What about a white?

Foxtrot Chardonnay 2019. From a legendary winery, this Chardonnay is lightly oaky and everything a wine should be.

Foxtrot Vineyards 1201 Gawne Rd., Naramata, BC MAP

And finally, a rose?

I have to go with Joie Rose 2020. One of the first roses back in 2004 – a classic!

JoieFarm 2825 Naramata Rd MAP

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