Nichol Vineyard Syrah 2009

When Alex Nichol planted the first Syrah in Canada 20 years ago, everyone said he was crazy and predicted he’d rip the vines out in no time. Instead Nichol Syrah has become one of the best reds in the Okanagan, and a stellar example of B.C.’s potential being realized. The 2008 vintage from current owner Ross Hackwith took honours in our 2011 Wine Awards, and the just-released 2009 version is a worthy successor. More northern Rhone than New World in style, it has spicy black cherry fruit and layers of herbs, spice, and smoke with black olives and dark chocolate. Only 400 cases are available, so don’t delay—buy now.

Rosedale Chook Shed Barossa Shiraz 2009 

Tired of drinking big-brand Aussie Shiraz? Here’s one to remind us why we fell in love with these big, juicy reds a decade ago. From Rosedale Wines, the 2009 Barossa Chook Shed struts its stuff just like the rooster on the label guarding his vines. It’s a very drinkable everyday wine: easygoing, generous, packed full of blueberry and blackberry flavours but with enough earth and pepper to stop it from turning into jam. Burgers, pizza, and pasta all go fine, but spicy Italian sausages sizzling on the grill are the best match of all. It’s pretty good on its own by the glass, too.


Blasted Church Vineyards Midnight Service: There are plenty of stars at this year’s Fall Okanagan Wine Festival (September 30 to October 9) but the most celestial is Blasted Church’s annual barrel room Midnight Service with Austin, Texas, gospel singer Ruthie Foster and “food for the masses” from Memphis Blues BBQ. What better way to give thanks? October 7-8, tickets $110. 

SPOTLIGHT: Giovane at the Fairmont Pacific Rim’s Sommelier Jill Spoor


For the last few months, sommelier Jill Spoor has been turning the Fairmont Pacific Rim’s popular daytime café Giovane into an Italian wine bar at night—no hardship for someone who spent 10 years in Bergamo enjoying café life. Her current list has about 60 selections, including 36 by the glass. Read on for our short Q&A with Jill Spoor.

Which wines are underrated? Italian wines generally. People know Barolo, Brunello, and Chianti, but I want them to try Aglianico, Negroamaro, Arneis, Garganega, Verdicchio, and Vermentino.

What’s your favourite food and wine combo?  At night we serve lots of plates of cheese and salumi—my favourite match is Aglianico and Gorgonzola.

What do you like to eat and drink at home? Cotoletta alla Milanese (breaded veal) with arugula and diced Roma tomatoes with the Nebbiolo Langhe from Produttori del Barbaresco.