Article by Leeanne Ekland, who by all accounts really needed a chance to get out to a wine tasting event.
I Like Wine. I Like it A Lot.
It’s not often these days this mom gets to trade in her yoga pants and trainers for something less mom-like. So, when I was invited to check out a wine tasting event hosted by the blue water cafe + raw bar I only hesitated for a second. What to wear?! I don’t own a proper full length anything these days but was soon relieved to know that the dress code is business casual. So, I was set and more than a little excited! And, the wine. I like wine. I like it a lot! Oh brother, I’m starting to sound like the latest Sandra Boynton book our son insists on reading all the time! Ugh…I’m so much in mom mode these days. This mom needs a night out!
My partner and I, sans baby of course, walked into blue water cafe + raw bar and were immediately struck by the pleasant and inviting, and yet subdued, mood. The decor is rich, warm and yet so Yaletown, with lots of exposed beams, wood and white linens but without pretension. I could have done without the fishy smell of seafood as we walked in but as they serve raw oysters I suppose it is expected. If you enjoy seafood, this may be a good choice for where to eat in Vancouver.
Kicking off the Wine Tasting
As we entered the Pacific Room inside the restaurant we were immediately offered a chilled glass of Fume Blanc 2010, a Napa Valley Robert Mondavi Winery standard that is nothing but. The 2010 year of Fume Blanc comprises mostly Sauvignon Blanc grapes with a bit of Semillon for balance. It has a creamy yet crisp feel in the mouth with a lingering citrus flavour that leaves you wanting more. I’m no sommelier by any stretch of the imagination but I could immediately sense that this wine was something special. After checking the price tag at $20.00, I was pleasantly surprised. The evening was off to a great start!
So Much Wine. So Little Time. Mark De Vere to the Rescue!
With all there is to know about wine, sometimes I find it’s best to put blinders on and choose according to how pretty the label is. It is overwhelming to grasp all that goes into winemaking, but Mark De Vere, Wine Master, made it seem entirely possible. His passion for the craft of winemaking, the Robert Mondavi philosophy and the outstanding wines that come out of the vineyards shone through every description and story he told throughout his presentation. It helped me relax a little and I gained a new respect for the amazing complexities of the industry.
My Two Favourite Pairings
In order to get the most out of the evening – and with wines being poured so freely – I decided to focus in on two wine and food pairings to write about. The two dishes I enjoyed the most turned out to be of the red meat variety. Normally I don’t eat much red meat and so I was quite surprised by this. The first dish was Braised Kobe Short Rib Agnolotti served with a creamed spinach that absolutely melted in my mouth. I loved the bold, rich flavour of the short rib offset by the delicate tasting, buttery pasta. Paired with Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, which is powerful yet wonderfully rich and balanced for such a young wine I am told, it was a pairing I would return for.
The other dish that stood out for me during the wine tasting was the Prime Beef Striploin with fingerling potatoes, porcini mushrooms, and baby carrots in a green peppercorn sauce. The 2005 and 2008 Cabernet Reserve Wines that were paired with this dish were perfect, my favourite being the 2008.
Reserve Winemaking, Robert Mondavi Style
During the wine tasting I learned that the fruit for Robert Mondavi Reserve wines is hand-picked over a two-month period to ensure even ripeness and quality, hand sorted and aged in French oak for 18 months. This lends itself to a powerful yet gentle wine start with aromas of blueberry and cherry with a hint of black olive and sage. Aged in French oak which imparts flavours of roasted coffee and dark chocolate it finishes elegantly. No wonder I loved this wine. Chocolate and coffee are my two favourite things.
Through the awe-inspiring journey through the vineyards of the Napa Valley we were taken on by Mark De Vere, I was left thirsting for his enthusiasm for his craft to rub off on me. Passion is contagious. If I could bottle that I will be on my way to exploring all there is to know about the wines I drink and the wines I will no doubt be buying as a result.
blue water cafe+ raw bar
As for the venue, I would definitely return to the blue water cafe + raw bar for a special occasion. This gem of a restaurant has won many awards, including Restaurant of the Year Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards, 2010 and the Platinum Glass Wine List Award and Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival, 2011. The service really was amazing, the wine divine and the food, worthy of the awards given. If you’re wondering where to eat in Vancouver on a date night with your partner, this is a great pick.
Leeanne Ekland is a stay-at-home mom of one, who’s on a mission to rediscover love, wellness, and neighbourhood happenings, and to have a ton of fun. She’s blogging about her experiences at leeanneekland.com. Having started the parenting experience much later than most, she offers a unique perspective on the challenges and all that is amazing about being a new mom over 40. At least – she does when she’s not napping, which is something she does often.
Amber Strocel is a writer, aspiring math teacher, suburbanite, wife and mom of two. She believes in the power of the Internet to connect people, and she believes that numbers are the poetry of the universe. You can often find her knitting, sewing, volunteering, working in her garden, and sneaking chocolate when no one's looking. She blogs at Strocel.com and shares her photos on Instagram as @AmberStrocel.