December 2019 | Around the World

Showcasing the Okanagan and Canada in London

You’re going to London Alex. Okay, I will pack my suit, a bunch of wine and I will be on my way. A lot goes into a trip like this. The purpose is to represent the wineries at the Canadian Embassy in London England. The Canadian government hosts a tasting for the journalists and the sommeliers of the UK to come and try wine from across Canada, not only will there be wine from all over BC, but Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia. Our job is to showcase not only the wine but to give them a snapshot of what makes the Okanagan so special. Going to London to show the wines is significant. The hub of commerce in the western world is in London. London is not only a multicultural hub, a melting pot of cultures, but a great gastronomy destination and access to the best of the best and especially wine from around the world.

Being passionate about food and culture, London is a magical city. Just smelling the air, feeling the energy of the people in the tube gets me excited about going back. The fast-paced atmosphere forces you to keep up. You walk long distances between accounts, but that just makes the food taste even better. Jersey Down potatoes, fresh English peas, hand-dived Orkney scallops, were just some of the local flavour we got to experience. French restaurants, Korean, Mexican, bistros, and nouveau British cuisine all lived up to the hype (I could go on forever, ask me the next time you visit the tasting room). Between morsels of food, what fed this trip were the kind words from Sommeliers and wine shop owners around London. After tasting with them it gives us the confidence that we are doing the right things at home. “Hi, I’m Alex, I’m from LaStella and Le Vieux Pin Winery, in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia Canada”. Watching their eyes light up when you say Canada. “Where?” “We are in a pocket desert 4 hours east of Vancouver, between 2 mountain ranges. We have temperatures spanning from -10-15C in the winter to 40C+ in our summers.” Once the shock wears off, they get excited. Not only do they have something unique in their hands they have a story about a unique place in Canada that makes great wine. When they taste the wines and seeing how excited they get, the recognition of “we get it” and “Yes this can easily fool a Tuscan lover” or “Ya, that’s Rhone ya!”

At the Canada House tasting more reviews kept coming. After tasting the 2018 Sauvignon Blanc, Jancis Robinson told Severine and me, “brilliant”. If these people have access to the great wines of the world and are not only telling us that these wines show great quality and are unique, we know the Okanagan is coming of age, we are becoming a serious player in the quality wine sector.

I am definitely food driven, so to keep me going between accounts, we were fed well. The best meal I had was at The Quality Chop House. When I say Nouveau British Cuisine, most people have said, “Ya right, boiled beef?”. I think this place is one of the flagbearers of this movement. Local ingredients and playing into the comfort food of Britannica. The most beautiful deep yellow butter I’ve ever eaten was served with sourdough. I had fresh mozzarella with seeds, honey, and olive oil, and for an over the top main. A watercress salad alongside a classic mince on toast. This was the caloric intake I needed to walk and talk for the rest of the day.

Until Next Time! I hope London Calls again.

Alex Russo