November 8th was a good night. For food, wine, and company. Steve and I had the pleasure of attending the Winemakers Dinner with Sea Star Winery, held at Victoria’s Hotel Grand Pacific.
The evening started with a VIP cocktail party, held in one of the hotel’s modern and spacious hospitality suites. I had never been in the hotel before, and I was delighted at how warm, welcoming and modern the entire property was.
Heading down to the private dining room, The Mark, we assembled for the main event. It was a small, intimate evening with no more than 25 people in attendance. We were greeted by David Goudge, the owner of Sea Star Winery. Located on Pender Island, the management believes that their “26 acre property is one of the most beautiful winery properties in British Columbia featuring two beautiful vineyards. The upper vineyard beside the Winery terraces up to Mount Menzies, while the lower vineyard cascades down to the beach.” Both vineyards were planted in 2002, before Goudge purchased the business, and include Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Ortega, Marechal Foch, Leon Millet, Schonburger and more recently Siegerrebe.”
Sitting at the head table, we were in very good company. Emory Haines, Director of Operations for Hotel Grand Pacific, Anna Ion, Food and Beverage Manager, food writer Cinda Chavich and her husband, Delbert. Steve and I sat beside the winemaker, Ian Baker and his wife, Wendy. He is a great dinner companion, and we shared exceptional conversation about the current state of wine making in British Columbia. We also talked about some of the unusual wine varieties being produced at Sea Star, and how Ian and the team parlayed their early offerings into award winners at the 2014 Northwest Wine Summit Awards. Ian has local experience on Vancouver Island and on Salt Spring Island, as one of the Founders and the winemaker for Mistaken Identity Vineyard. He has a palpable passion for his craft, but without any pomp or pretence. He is down to earth, and perhaps the reason he is so in tune with his terroir.
The menu, a harmonious and interesting food adventure, was created by Executive Chef Rick Choy, Executive Sous Chef Ian Goard and Food & Beverage Manager (and sommelier) Anna Ion. Clearly they understood how the wine pairings needed to speak to these unique dishes. It turned out to be a lovely culinary conversation.
CANAPES | WINE PAIRING: SIEGERREBE
Aerated fois gras,scallop ceviche,shucked oyster with sturgeon caviar, pine mushroom tart
FIRST COURSE | WINE PAIRING: STELLA MARIS
Hamachi, geoduck, dungeness crab, octopus, seaweed salad with lobster powder and yuzu foam
SECOND COURSE | WINE PAIRING: ORTEGA
Pan fried sablefish, beluga lentils, uni custard, baby leek
MAIN COURSE | WINE PAIRING: BLANC DE NOIR
Pheasant galantine, crispy sweetbreads, chantrelle mushrooms, baby carrots, Jerusalem artichoke puree
DESSERT | WINE PAIRING: POETRY
Brown butter honey plum financier, quince caramel, candied walnut crunch, rosemary mascarpone mousse, compressed fruit
Dinner was served with a fabulous onion poppyseed loaf from Portofino Bakery.
Winemaker Ian Baker told me that his favourite wine on the menu was the Ortega. I would have to agree. It was crisp with a bright personality that I particularly liked. Out of character for me (as I generally detest dessert wines) I also found the Poetry dessert wine very nice as well. Poetry is a blend of estate Marechal Foch and Pinot Noir grapes, further enhanced by raspberries and blackberries that also grow on the vineyard land. I will seek it out at my local liquor store – it was that good.
Tracey Drake, Editor in Chief – NICHE magazine