Wine Tips From Samantha Rahn – Get Ready For Cornucopia

August 27, 2015

“Drinking good wine with good food in good company is one of life’s most civilized pleasures.”
– Michael Broadbent

Samantha Rahn – Wine Director of Araxi Restaurant + Bar (boasting a highly acclaimed 11,000 bottle library), and the 2013 VIWF + Vancouver Magazine Sommelier of the Year takes us through her top-shelf wine picks, covering an extensive range of grape varieties from some of the world’s most celebrated wine regions.

Champagne Le Mesnil ‘Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs’, Champagne, France NV $46.99
Le Mesnil is a famous village in the Champagne region renowned for its complex Chardonnay based wines (blanc de blancs – white bubbles made from 100% white grapes, by law) and this treasure is made by a local co-op there.  It’s far and away the best value in Grand Cru Champagne and is usually in stock in most BC Liquor Store’s and definitely worth keeping a few bottles on hand, just in case.

Bollinger Special Cuvee, Champagne, France NV $69.99
This sophisticated Champagne, the preferred tipple of James Bond now that he’s moved on from just martinis, is finally available again in good supply after several months’ absence in BC.  Great Champagne is always a worthy splurge for your special occasions, celebrations, and just because you deserve it!

Gustav Lorentz ‘Burg’ Riesling, Alsace, France $36
It’s time we started rethinking Riesling!  Many people live under the stereotype that it’s all light, sweet stuff and don’t venture past their Blue Nun memories into the world of Alsace, Austria and Australia (just to name a few) regions to try some glorious, dry examples.  Burg is a ‘lieu dit’, a named place (think: single site or vineyard) and produces a fuller bodied, dry wine that goes with a world of cuisine from fish and veggies to lighter meat dishes, including smoked meats.

Hamilton Russel Chardonnay, Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, South Africa $39.49
We don’t get a huge selection of South African wines in BC in general, but this one, generally considered one of the great Chardonnays of the world by sommeliers and top critics everywhere, arrives in decent quantity once a year and is available now (but likely not for long) in select BC liquor stores.  It’s a steal given the quality of the wine, and very cellar worthy in the short to medium term.  I collect this wine for my personal cellar at home, and always stock up as much as I can for Araxi.  This is great chance to get out of the ‘same old Chardonnay’ rut with something truly special.

Chateau d’Esclans ‘Whispering Angel’, Cotes de Provence, France $28.99
Great value at under $30, this is the world’s #1 rose, and for good reason:  it’s delicious!  Palest pink, totally dry, and rose is so hot, hot, hot even as we roll into the dog days of summer.  Perfect for sipping on its own, and dangerously so, this is a serious example that has a proper French affinity to food.

Foxtrot ‘Foxtrot Vineyard’ Pinot Noir, Naramata, Okanagan, BC $70
If BC had a system like parts of France to classify vineyards on a ‘cru’ system, the Foxtrot Vineyard on the beautiful Naramata Bench would certainly be up there.  Great Pinot Noir is hard to do, but starting with a great ‘terroir’, which includes the soil, the climate, and a smart, committed vineyard and winemaking team, head winemaker Gustav Allander is getting it done vintage after vintage.  The wine ages beautifully and is great local addition to any cellar, and the perfect match for grilled wild salmon on the BBQ.

Barone Ricasoli ‘Castello di Brolio’ Chianti Classico Riserva, Tuscany, Italy $75
Yes, there is a real ‘Barone’ presiding over the historic ‘Castello’ in the heart of the Chianti region.  This is one of the flagship Chiantis of the whole region, in a full bodied, rich style with layers of flavor and gorgeous aromas from its base grape, sangiovese.  Tuscany is on a string of great vintages and this is a good one to collect, or drink with a special Sunday roast dinner with lots of local harvest vegetables.

Quinta do Crasto ‘Reserva Old Vines’, Douro, Portugal $37.99
Do you love Cabernet, or other big, full-bodied reds, but looking for an adventure?  This is the wine for you.  It consistently scores well over 90 points with big critics like Wine Spectator, providing maximum bang for your buck.  Portuguese table wines are trendy right now, and this is one of the big reasons why.  Pour it blind for your red loving friends and family and make yourself the hero of the day.

*all pricing is based on approximation before TAX.

Have a crush on wine? The list of not-to-miss events is extensive, below is just a snapshot.
Cornucopia presented by BlueShore Financial’s Cellar Door event welcomes guests to the world of fine wines, uncorking top-shelf bottles of wine and champagne ($35 and up) to sip, savour and salivate over. Indulge, and live the high-life when Cornucopia opens the Cellar Door.

At Cornucopia’s Top 25 Celebratory Reception, The Picnic Chef’s Choice Cookbook Launch Party, a plethora of winemaker dinners and of course CRUSH Grand Gala Tasting, Cornucopia’s flagship gala event, attendees can swirl, sniff, sip, swallow, and savor wines from the world’s top-most regions, all in the one evening.

You can find Samantha Rahn sharing her expansive wine knowledge at a number of seminars and event; including: He Said / She Said – November 5,  Top Value Wines with acclaimed wine authorities DJ Kearney and David Scholefield – November 8, Whistler’s Wine “Transplants” – November 8 and  The Cool Kids – November 11 with local ‘Whistlerite’ Eric Blouin.

Cornucopia presented by BlueShore Financial brings together the best minds in the business, and gathers them in the stunning coastal mountain resort of Whistler for 11 delectable days. To secure your seat at Cornucopia’s much-anticipated events, parties, demonstrations and seminars visit: