Choose the Perfect Wine

Marinda Kruger-van Eck earned a PhD in enology and now makes a living as a winemaker in South Africa’s Swartland wine growing region.

Marinda Kruger-van Eck earned a PhD in enology and now makes a living as a winemaker in South Africa’s Swartland wine growing region.[/caption]

With a background in science, Marinda Kruger-van Eck never imagined she’d one day be creating some of the world’s finest wines. After working in a research lab at a South African winery and earning a PhD in enology – the study of wines – Kruger-van Eck swapped her microscope for pruning shears. Today, she sees winemaking as a delicate balance of science and art.

Kruger-van Eck strikes that fine balance in her work in South Africa’s Swartland, a coastal wine-growing region unlike any other on the planet. While the sun’s intense heat is tempered by cool Atlantic breezes, the area is home to prehistoric soils and hardy old-world bush vines. Perched on a small plot of land high up on a hillside, the untrellised vines are left to grow naturally with minimal human manipulation – the way nature intended. Kruger-van Eck then harvests the grapes herself by hand.

The result is a fine bush-vine wine called Aquifer Semillon, a sensational white that Kruger-van Eck is proud to pour. Contributing to its uniqueness is the fact that Kruger-van Eck uses a wild yeast to allow the wine to ferment naturally, giving it extra dimension and bold flavour.

“It has a very refreshing, high acidic backbone that carries through for such a long finish; it’s so refreshing,” says Megan Cole, Canadian manager of Boutinot Wines, which produces the Aquifer Semillon. “The wine has got a great silky concentration on the mouth. It’s one of those grapes that is special.”

Aquifer Semillon – which would pair beautifully with seafood, slow-roasted pork belly, and spicy Asian flavours – is exclusive to Everything Wine, B.C.’s premier destination for wine and the province’s largest online wine store. Always exploring new wine regions, flavours, and varieties, the store carries more than 4,000 wines, hundreds that are exclusive, and has selections to suit any budget.

Samantha Bailey Samantha Bailey is a winemaker in the Pontbriand winemaking region in southeastern France.[/caption]

Take the Domaine Pontbriand. It is also produced by Boutinot. Domaine Pontbriand comes from a family-owned 10-hectare estate in the Vaucluse region of southeastern France. More than three decades ago, the Merle family planted innovative varieties such as Caladoc and Marselan alongside Grenache in their land’s clay and limestone soils. Now in their prime, those vines have been crossed with Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon to create the robust, aromatic Domaine Pontbriand, prized for its full, round and juicy flavours and its savoury, smooth finish.

With so many exceptional wines being produced worldwide, many with intriguing stories like that of the Merles, it’s no wonder that the time-honoured beverage’s popularity just keeps increasing. Just as the farm-to-table philosophy has grown in recent years, so to has the grapes-to-glass movement. While more people want to know where the food on their plate came from, consumers are keen on learning about the origins of the wine they’re drinking. Origin stories like that of the Merles are almost as important as wines themselves.

“Over the last five to seven years we’ve seen the exponential increase of consumers taking it upon themselves to learn where their wine comes from; it’s a really exciting time,” Cole says. “People are increasingly willing to try new wines. We’re seeing more and more adventure and exploration.”

With a buying team that travels the globe (including a stop at the international ProWein Trade Fair in Germany), and is always eager to find wines that honour the grapes-to-glass movement, Everything Wine has the selection to suit wine enthusiasts – beginners and experts alike. But it’s not just the buying team that has wine expertise. Store staff are approachable, friendly and knowledgeable, keen to help customers find just the right pick.

Domaine Pontbriand comes from a family-owned 10-hectare estate in the Vaucluse region of southeastern France. Domaine Pontbriand comes from a family-owned 10-hectare estate in the Vaucluse region of southeastern France.[/caption]

Rob Carras, assistant manager of the Surrey location, notes that all staff members, including cashiers and web fulfilment staff, have acquired, at the very least, Level I of Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a globally recognized certification program.

Carras himself has his WSET Diploma, the highest level possible, while Everything Wine is the only approved WSET retail-level program provider in Canada for more formal training.

“We do staff training on our exclusive wines on a weekly basis,” Carras says, adding that the store encourages people to “try before you buy.” Every day from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., each location has its central tasting bar open so that customers can sample new wines, deciding for themselves if they want to put a bottle in their basket. It’s a casual, welcoming space that allows people to ask questions, learn and experience the world of wine and beyond.

“Customers come in and say, ‘I’m having this for dinner; what would you recommend to go with it?’” says Carras, who loves helping people find wine to complement their food. “If someone’s having poached halibut with a lemon sauce, we know what that acid is going to do to any of the wines in the store.

“With our exclusive program, the first question is ‘I’ve never seen this label; where is it made?’” Carras says. “Wine tourism has played a role in that. If we know what you’ve enjoyed in the past, we’ll typically have something new that you can try that exemplifies your tastes.”

Everything Wine’s online store also makes new wines easily accessible and shopping for them extremely convenient. “Our website and free delivery on orders of over $200 make it really easy,” Carras says. Plus, order any 12 bottles and customers receive five per cent off.

Visit Everything Wine online at www.everythingwine.ca or in person at 998 Marine Dr. in North Vancouver, 112-15735 Croydon Dr. in Surrey or 131-2401 Millstream Rd. in Langford on Vancouver Island.

 

This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Everything Wine and was first published on Vancouver Sun.

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