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#EarthAndVine: Cue the Coolshanagh Chardonnay

A meeting place for family and friends is what Coolshanagh translates into. This week’s #MeatlessMonday will be drawing on two of our favourite places in the city to come together with family and friends and enjoy some of the most exclusive and delicious wine and bites that our beautiful province has to offer.

Sitting about seven miles north of Naramata, Coolshanagh’s vineyards occupy a spot where, millennia ago, British Columbia’s west coast met Okanagan Mountain. Almost exclusively cultivating Chardonnay grapes — there is a select planting of pinot noir — proprietors Judy and Skip Stothert take advantage of the carbonate-rich soil to produce fruit-driven, highly mineral wine inspired by classic Burgundy crus. Wines that echo those in Burgundy were the initial inspiration for flavour and style; and winemaker Matt Dumayne notes that while the French style is a good reference point, the ultimate Coolshanagh wine style that emerges is one that specifically expresses and reflects the terroir of the valley and of the diverse soil of Coolshanagh Vineyard.

Originally from New Zealand, with more than 25 vintages under his belt, creating award-winning wine in Central Otago, California, Australia, and Oregon, Matt Dumayne brings unparalleled insight and passion to the Okanagan Crush Pad cellar, where Coolshanagah is created.

By strictly limiting the quantity of Coolshanagh that is produced, it means attention will remain focused on producing the highest quality Chardonnay wine. One that offers a beautiful mouthfeel upon entry, a full body style that leads way to complex layers of citrus brioche, apple, ripe pear, butterscotch, crème caramel and baked green apple. A judicious use of oak gently frames this wine with a lingering, pleasing finish.

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If you are ever so fortunate to stumble across this prized bottle on a wine list, let it be at Yaletown’s only dining house, Brix & Mortar.

Located in a heritage brick building and locally owned and operated by David Hannay and Patrick Mercer, Brix & Mortar is a two-level restaurant full of warmth and an artistic ambiance. It has a unique European-style glass covered courtyard patio which is heated to accommodate Vancouver’s changing weather.

Chris Bisaro, chef of Brix & Mortar, has been showcasing the freshness and abundance of local ingredients through the restaurant’s ethnically diverse menu. Dishes reflect Bisaro’s Italian heritage fused with his French cuisine training and flavours of the Pacific Westcoast.

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The latest on the menu is the pan seared beetroot gnocchi. It is a vibrant, healthy take on the Italian staple, and the whole beet is used to create a deep magenta coloured dish with fresh, bright flavours and a remarkably creamy texture. A luscious mix of ingredients, including pearl onions, shimeji mushrooms, green peas, soy shiitakes, and a cauliflower puree make up the dish. Delight in the inevitable oohs and aahs that come when this electric-pink dinner is served.

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The beetroot makes for a stunning visual in the gnocchi, and it is also a great source of iron and folic acid, packed with antioxidants that help to ward away cancer and keep blood pressure in check. Its purple stain is a result of betalains which are nutritionally sound and guaranteed to boost your diet.

Despite its obvious benefits, people are still learning how diverse beetroot is. No longer need they be boiled and peeled, pickled and stored; now, it is the shining ingredient in dishes of all kinds. And, it takes the stage in Brix and Mortar’s beetroot gnocchi.

As we conjure beetroot into something quite wonderful, we require a suitable wine to join us at the dinner table. Cue the Coolshanagh Chardonnay. The wine’s lively acidity and gentle creamy mouthfeel paired with the delicate flavours in the beetroot gnocchi make you think rich, but not rolling in it, and chic; but far from being prissily overdressed.

Another Vancouver restaurant you can find Coolshanagh Chardonnay at is Chambar Restaurant. A true Vancouver original, Chambar is internationally renowned for Chef Nico Schuermans’ Belgian-inspired, West-Coast menu, its beautifully redesigned brick and cedar building and a place that welcomes civilized debauchery.

The menu is predominantly organic and local ingredients combine to reflect the sensibilities of the Pacific Northwest and the international travels and experiences of Chef Nico Schuermans.

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When this Chambar salad was created, it was important for Chef to include ingredients that have a natural affinity to wine. After all, they create the link that makes the combination work. These days, salads are equipped to be the main event. The kind of dish we are speaking of is the Hannah Brook Farm cauliflower, radish and sunchoke salad with a carrot hummus, mint chutney and fresh picked greens. This plate wants a wine that has seen some oak to link the earthy, woody flavors, so the Coolshanagh chardonnay makes a sidekick.

Coolshanagh’s much-anticipated and first ever Pinot Noir release is coming later in the year. We’ll be sure to get another delicious food and wine pairing in the works for that. Until then, join the wine club and be one of the few to get your hands on Coolshanagh’s unique, small-lot, hard to find bottles.

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