Dessert Wines

Quails’ Gate Okanagan Valley Optima Late Harvest TBA 2009

The damp, chilly run-up to Christmas is just right for what the Brits call stickies. Icewine is the top dessert-wine example in B.C., but the judges of our International Wine Awards often prefer both the taste and the value of late-harvest wine instead. Quails’ Gate TBA Optima 2008 took top honours this year, and the 2009 is drinking equally well. TBA means “totally botrytis affected”—the grapes hang on the vine till Botrytis cinerea, or noble rot, shrivels them up. Luscious apricot, orange, and honey flavours are a great dessert on their own, but good too with simple rice pudding.

Concha Y Toro Private Reserve Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2007

U.K. experts voted Concha Y Toro’s Chilean sticky the top 2011 choice under £10 (about $16) to go with apple crumble and custard. The 2007 vintage of this late-harvest Sauvignon Blanc is a fantastic value here, at just $15. It doesn’t have the delicate appeal of the Quails’ Gate, but it does have an enticing gold colour with a big marmalade nose, lots of tropical mango and papaya flavours, and a good dose of acidity so that it’s not cloying sweet. Good for holiday puddings and pies but also for chestnuts roasted on the open fire, eaten with lots of butter and salt.

House Wine Monthly Tastings

The big November event is Whistler’s Cornucopia; for stay-at-homes, Michelle Bouffard and Michaela Morris, the duo behind House Wine, run the city’s best monthly tastings. November’s theme is timely: reds to beat the blues. November 9, Listel Hotel, 1300 Robson St., 6-8 p.m., $40.

SPOTLIGHT: Zest Japanese Cuisine’s Wine Director, Tatsuya Katagiri


Tokyo-born and -trained Tatsuya Katagiri, wine director at top-rated West 16th Ave. Japanese restaurant Zest, travels to the Okanagan each month to source hard-to-find B.C. wines.

What sparked your wine interest? I came to Calgary in 2002 and worked in Japanese and Italian restaurants. My first taste of B.C.’s Hillside Cellars Gewürztraminer 2002 inspired me to learn more, especially about B.C. wine.

Why drink wine with Japanese food? Japanese cuisine is very simple, a showcasing of good ingredients that doesn’t overpower them. We source ingredients locally, so I choose similar wines—unoaked Chard Pinot Grigio, Riesling, and Pinot Noir—and then I tell the story of the winemaker.

Favourite food and drink at home? Steamed crab or mussels with Stellar’s Jay Brut or Orofino Riesling.

Best bottle ever? A 1997 Sassicaia, on my last day in Calgary.