Upscale Casual Restaurants and Wine Picks for Fall
September 24, 2019
Fall is a busy time of year. Between prepping for Halloween and catching up on TV’s season premieres – meal prep and planned dinners tend to go by the wayside. It’s hard to always be on our A-game, but meals out shouldn’t be considered a backup plan. Instead, embrace the occasion, invite some friends along and turn it into a celebration. Order a couple of appetizers for the table and split a bottle of wine to share. Here are some options for upscale casual restaurants and wine picks for this fall.
A bottle of bub can get overlooked on a wine list. But there’s no reason to skip over it. A wallet-friendly, quality sparkling wine can go a long way in setting the tone for your meal. Enter: Ferrari Brut from Trento DOC in Italy. And no, it’s not Prosecco. The Ferrari Brut is made from Chardonnay (not Glera, which is in Prosecco) so it shares very similar characteristics to Champagne.
In the glass, it’s a beautiful pale lemon colour, think of glistening pastel sunrays. Citrus aromas dominate, but more pith and peel rather than juice. Green apple peel and nearly ripe pear marry with a slight basil finish. It’s bone dry with a creamy mousse, lemon and fennel flavours with a flinty flair.
Ferrari Brut is the official sparkling wine of the Emmy Awards, which just took place this past Sunday. So if you truly want to sip like a celeb, Ferrari Brut is the way to go.
Take a seat Pinot Grigio and move over Sauvignon Blanc. There’s a new white wine in town that delivers amazing value. In fact, it’s not new at all. Vinho Verde comes from Portugal where wine has been produced and exported for centuries. Grown in the country’s north-west corner, this Casal Garcia Vinho Verde is a blend of local grape varieties: Trajadura, Loureiro, Arinto and Azal.
With only 11% alcohol, this off-dry white wine is all about keeping the vibe fun and relaxed. Its delicate effervescence brings out the melon and peach aromas which are woven throughout the citrus and floral notes. Incredibly refreshing and balanced. Perfect for a girls night out at Joey with a table of shared sushi and salads.
In BC: Ambleside, Test Kitchen Vancouver, Yaletown, Whistler, and Fir St. In AB: Calgary Bankers Hall, Calgary Tin Palace, Edmonton Tin Palace, and Grande Prairie
I’ve had this wine before, and it’s even better than I remember. It’s no surprise that Earl’s has chosen to showcase the Cambria Julia’s Vineyard Pinot Noir at their Flagship restaurants. The wine is certified sustainable and is also vegan-friendly. But what I love most about Cambria is their focus on building a community of strong women who are “working together to make great things happen” states Julie on their website. In a male-dominated industry, Julie Jackson and her mother (owner and founder Barbara Banke) along with sister, Katie, are revolutionizing Santa Barbara wine.
Planted in 1991 on the Santa Maria bench, Julia’s Vineyard is made up of 8 different Pinot Noir clones. While this might not mean much to the general wine fan, it shows a commitment to ensuring the right vines are planted in the correct soil to produce a showstopper wine.
Red fruit aromas are on the forefront: cherry and raspberry married with subtle spice and earth and a whiff of black tea. Bright acidity, medium and approachable tannins. Smooth with rounded edges and a lingering finish – nothing jarring about this wine in the slightest.
I read a review of this wine citing fresh rubber as one of its characteristics. Odd? Yes. A bad thing? Surprisingly no! This wine weighs heavily on the savoury side with loads of char, smoke and rustic qualities. A blend of Merlot and Syrah – amongst others – it’s nice to taste a dark and brooding red from BC where brighter and higher acidity wines (or perkier, as I like to say) are trending at the moment.
Road 13 is based in Oliver, where the summer heat is necessary to ripen the heavier style red varietals. The name, Seventy-Four K, refers to the length of their vineyards if laid end to end.
This wine is bold and rich with a myriad of pepper and herb aromas amongst black and red fruits. On the palate, the tannins are edging their way towards firm with considerable earth, bramble and vanilla flavours. A luxurious finish with lingering dark chocolate and mocha remnants.
If you don’t know much about it, Barolo is one of those wines that can be a bit intimidating; so welcome to Barolo 101. It’s made from 100% Nebbiolo which is an Italian grape from the Piedmont region in Northern Italy. It’s a dark blue grape and needs a long summer to ripen – it’s often not ready to pick until mid to late October. Barolo’s reputation is that of one of Italy’s greatest wines.
The Fontanafredda Barolo is a surprising pale ruby colour. Even with the strings of garnet running through, I was expecting a saturated, sultry looking wine. But alas – I love a surprise! In contrast to the lighter appearance, the aromas are all intensely earthy. Sweet tobacco, cedar box, burnt coffee and roasted chestnuts on the nose. A sip brought me sour cherry and black currant flavours backed by a savoury mid-palate of rosemary herb, coffee and vanilla.
Barolos are special and should be savoured on a special occasion. If you want to impress, try the Fontanafredda Barolo during an optimistic first date. Or treat your parents to a night out just to say thanks for being awesome.