Introduction by Nikki Bayley
Currently, organic vines represent slightly more than 6 per cent of the world’s grape growing capacity, but that figure is increasing every year. Here in B.C., thanks to the work of organic growers in the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys, it’s estimated that approximately half of the province’s vineyards could become organic within the next decade. But what does it mean when we talk about “organic wine”? Simply put, there are two parts to the equation: how the grapes are grown and how the wine is made. For the viticulturalist tending the grapes, it means that they must be grown without synthetic chemicals such as herbicides, which is why when you visit an organic vineyard, you’ll see plenty of “weeds” that protect the soil and attract beneficial insects into the vineyard. For the winemaker, there are restrictions on what can be added in the winemaking process, and they must only use ambient yeast for natural fermentation. From Californian Zinfandel to Austrian Blaufränkisch, we asked the sommelier team at Bearfoot Bistro to pick organically farmed wines from producers who aim to leave the land in better shape for generations to come. Happy sipping!
Bearfoot Bistro’s Wine Program and Sommelier Team
Our wine program at the Bearfoot Bistro has been a fundamental part of the restaurant's identity since its opening more than 26 years ago. Many exceptional sommeliers have contributed to the character of what our guests can expect on our extensive wine list, or when they visit our wine cellar featuring 15,000+ bottles. The unique experience of Champagne sabering — a Napoleon-era tradition — in our underground cellar is a highlight of dining at Bearfoot Bistro. In our cellar, you first notice our selection of Champagne; we offer a large selection of famous houses like Moët & Chandon and Krug, as well as many other small producers like Agrapart and Larmandier. However, the biggest legacy is our Burgundy offerings. Over the years, we have secured highly sought-after allocations from famous producers, allowing us to build a collection of rare and prestigious wines guaranteed to impress. Recently our focus has shifted to include lesser-known regions around the world, where we look for amazing wine for a modest budget. They include Austria, the Loire and Rhône valleys, Spain, Italy, the Pacific Northwest, and of course, right here in B.C., to name a few. Organic and biodynamic wines are starting to have a larger presence in our program. While we don’t limit our selection to these wines, our team feels they offer a unique energy and vibrancy that elevates the experience. In addition, they are part of a sustainable way of farming that will make a difference for future generations and give us a true representation of a terroir-specific flavour. We curate the wine list as a team, and we are always looking for wines to expand our selection with the purpose of pairing them with the innovative seasonal creations of our chefs. Our varied backgrounds and preferences contribute to the expansion of the range we offer in our program. Our daily chef’s tasting menu is offered with a wine pairing. Together with the chefs, we collaborate on the pairings to reach a consensus. We take pride in sharing our findings with our guests and describing our selections and why we chose them for each course — it is an inspiring part of our job.
Laurent Ponsot, Meursault 2019
Luc Trottier | General Manager & Wine Director
Certification: ISG, WSET, Court of Master Sommeliers
Years as a Certified Sommelier: 20+
The wines of Laurent Ponsot are my most exciting discovery this year. With his son Clément, they have developed a state-of-the-art winery, combining old-world organic practices without using chemicals and technology — rarely seen anywhere else. They even have an alternative cork closure made from recyclable material combined with an NFC chip under the capsule, which connects to your smartphone, ensuring the authenticity of their Grand Cru bottlings.
Their 2019 Meursault is everything you expect from this iconic appellation — complexity, minerality, balance, power, and elegance — but the overall package is what took me on an exhilarating journey.
On the nose, you initially detect notes of toasted almonds, elder, flint, and pears; it then evolves into nuances of hazelnut, honey, and apples. The mouthfeel is bold and endless yet clean and refreshing. The flavours are typical of any Chardonnay, but they are also mysterious and unique, like spearmint and tea leaves.
Executive Chef Melissa Craig’s Vancouver Island black cod with salsify, bottarga, and ambrosia apple perfectly matches the flavours of this wine. The richness of the Meursault complements the succulent black cod, while the acidity balances with the sweetness of the apple. Visit laurentponsot.com.
Paul Brian | Assistant Wine Director
Certification: ISG - Sommelier Diploma Program | WSET Level 3: Award in Wines | Years as Certified Sommelier: 17
Something is so enticing about savouring a full-bodied, provocative red wine; this wine doesn’t disappoint — a 100 per cent Certified Organic wine that explodes with pronounced mixed berries, complexity, and elegance. This wine will warm you with the delicacy of rich fruit and bold and structured integration, a fine example of the winemaking team's passion, dedication, and craftsmanship.
The demand for products from organic and sustainable farming has never been higher. There is so much more awareness from consumers today, and the careful and thoughtful production and practices of Ridge Vineyards shine in this regard.
The largest organically farmed estate in California, with vines ranging from 50 to 130 years old, takes a pre-industrial approach to fruit, farming, and winemaking by limiting intervention in the vineyard. Integrated pest management is used to attract beneficial insects, and transparency is exercised through ingredient labelling.
The Geyserville 2019 is complete with red, black, and blue fruit, expressing blackberry, blackcurrant, black cherry, plum, dark chocolate, and vanilla. Incorporated seamlessly with ideal acidity and American oak spice and shows subtle and integrated tannins with soul-warming alcohol at 14.5 per cent. Enjoy this Zinfandel blend with our loin of elk with quince, rutabaga, and brown butter.
Clos du Soleil Signature 2017
Daniel Robitaille | Sommelier
Certification ISG: Sommelier Diploma Program
Years as a Certified Sommelier: 20+
When discussing organic viticulture, mentioning wines from the Similkameen Valley is a must! It is the region with the highest density of certified organic farming in all of Canada. West of Oliver, the Similkameen is surrounded by steep, rocky mountains and has a similar climate to the southern Okanagan. It is sunny, dry, and windy, which keeps the grape clusters dry and clean and helps keep pest and disease stress low. Organic farming then becomes an easy and logical choice.
This organic, biodynamic approach and philosophy are the driving force behind this well-crafted wine. Clos du Soleil Signature 2017 is a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot, aged in French oak for 15 months resulting in a beautiful dark red rim dropping into a black core. The wine is packed with dark, jammy fruit with hints of mint and vanilla. With only 373 cases produced, Michael Clark, Winemaker, General Manager and Co-Owner, and Steve Roche, Vineyard and Operations Manager, have collaborated to produce one of B.C.’s best expressions of Bordeaux.
Experience this wine with Bearfoot Bistro’s Brant Lake wagyu bavette with celeriac potato purée, truffle caper vinaigrette, chanterelles, and green beans.
Moric Reserve Blaufränkisch 2018
Sabryna Tremblay-Cantin | Sommelier
Certification: WSET Level 3: Award in Wines
Court of Master Sommeliers: Certified Sommelier Program
Years as a Certified Sommelier: 4
Moric, a unique Blaufränkisch, has been carefully crafted by Roland Velich since the early 2000s. Blaufränkisch’s homeland is the warm hillsides of Austria’s Burgenland region, south of Vienna. However, it is also grown in Hungary, the Czech Republic, northeastern Italy, and Germany, producing deep-coloured wines full of rich flavours of red fruits, spices like licorice, moderate tannins, and refreshing acidity.
With Moric’s project, Velich demonstrates the full potential of Blaufränkisch to produce age-worthy wines that have a sense of place — a wine that shows singularity, a ‘’goût de terroir.’’
He achieves this with organic viticulture, including some biodynamic principles, of old vines in the Mittelburgenland and a very strict sorting at the harvest to only keep perfectly ripe, healthy grapes, natural yeasts for fermentation, minimal intervention winemaking, and no new oak. The goal is to have a pure wine that reflects the grapes’ origin, and his wines show elegance and delicacy, with potential for cellaring.
A rare gem, despite its youth, this wine is delightfully perfumed and complex, a joy to sip with Executive Chef Melissa Craig’s lightly smoked Thiessen Farm quail with sweet potato, cured grapes, kataifi, and toasted hazelnuts.