By Kurtis Kolt – Kurtis Kolt is a Vancouver-based freelance wine consultant, writer, and competition judge. Certified by London’s Wine & Spirit Education Trust and the Court of Master Sommeliers, his enthusiasm and experience have resulted in many high-profile appearances, from being the subject of a Wine Enthusiast magazine profile and appearing at New York’s James Beard House, to leading wine festival seminars and beyond. Catch him at KurtisKolt.com.
I recently jumped at the opportunity to work with Fraîche Nutrition on a menu in honour of BC Wine Month. Now, most probably wouldn’t want me winging it in the kitchen; I have a penchant for inventing cooking ‘hacks’ in the moment, which can quickly throw any recipe into a tailspin. Luckily, I could leave the culinary side of things to the much-better-equipped Tori Wesszer, and throw my full attention to the wine pairings, the component I’m much more comfortable with.
Her menu is fresh and vibrant, a wonderful ode to spring in British Columbia. When it came to choosing wine, nowadays I have over 280 wineries crafting wine from over 10 thousand acres of vineyard to choose from. Of course, the Okanagan Valley, with well over 80 percent of those vineyards was a definite go-to, but it was fun to make things more dynamic by looking towards our other winegrowing regions like the Similkameen Valley, Vancouver Island, and beyond to bring diversity to the table.
Appetizer: Crab Cakes with Dill Tartar Sauce
BC Wine Pairing: Roche Wines 2017 Rosé BC VQA Okanagan Valley
So, there were a few things I kept in mind with this starter. First off, the sweet delicacy of crab had me thinking of a wine that wouldn’t be too heavy or overbearing. I enjoy a little citrus character with seafood dishes, and like my wine choice to offer that proverbial squeeze of lemon. With chive, onion, and mustard components in the mix, there’s likely to be just a kiss of heat to things too, so while I want a dry wine, a little hint of sweetness on the finish should tackle that heat well. Penelope and Dylan Roche’s 2017 Rosé made from Zweigelt(!) grown in Naramata on the eastern edge of Lake Okanagan ticked all the boxes. Its citrus flavours combine lime and blood orange, while buoyant rhubarb notes carry things through the long finish, which features a subtle wink of sweet strawberry.
First Course: Arugula Quinoa Salad
I’m loving how this dish is so nutrient-dense, yet so darn delicious, too. While the name makes it sound a little simple, once we add in a cavalcade of dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, almonds and feta, we get a hearty, complex starter (and that’s before we even add the zippy red wine vinegar, avocado oil, lemon and Dijon dressing)! We have fruitiness, nuttiness, saltiness and tanginess, which can be a lot for a wine to handle. Fortunately we have a dynamic BC Riesling to the rescue! Harper’s Trail Pioneer Block Riesling comes from Thompson Valley, one of British Columbia’s newest appellations, immediately north of the Okanagan Valley. That northern proximity ensures cool-climate winegrowing, which keeps natural acidity nice and lofty, yet with hot enough days to ensure those Red Haven peach, Granny Smith apple, and fresh-squeezed lime notes are ripe and concentrated, ready to wash down every bite.
Main Course: Halibut with Mango Salsa and Coconut Rice
That’s right, we’re going red wine with fish! This dish, with its juicy halibut and fruity components can certainly handle it. More and more often, I’m looking towards Vancouver Island when I’m hankering for a bright and juicy Pinot Noir. The
region’s breezy, cool-climate growing conditions bring a nice structure with balanced acidity, which enhances all those violets, plums, and cherries. A little oak ageing imparts hints of nutmeg and clove and adds just enough of light tannin to latch onto this dish well.
Dessert: Berry Crisp
BC Wine Pairing: Rust Wine Co. 2017 Gamay BC VQA Similkameen Valley
Here’s the deal. Sure, there are guidelines for food and wine pairing, but there are never any rules. If there were, the one I’d be breaking all the time is that we must have dessert wine with dessert. Hey, I love the dynamic array of dessert wines coming out of British Columbia, but I generally err towards another glass of ‘table wine’ when it comes to the final course. So, we have a delicious swirl of berry fruit, and then some nice toasty business with that oat-y crisp. Rust Wine Co. Gamay out of a sun-baked Similkameen Valley vineyard is pretty much the epitome of all that in a glass. Cherries, blueberries, and blackberries all mingle together well, while three months in French oak frame it all perfectly. While there’s a lot going on in the glass, it’s lively and well-balanced, making it a perfect finisher to a wonderful evening.
For Tori’s full BC Wine Month menu, recipes and table setting tips visit Fraichenutrition.com – Fraiche Table’s BC Wine Month dinner