I had another flawless dinner late last night at Kurtis’ favourite Vancouver restaurant, Vij’s. We started with one of BC’s top white wines (number one on the value scale @ $18.99), Road 13′s Old Vines Chenin Blanc. When it came to wine with dinner, the honour went to Marc Tempé’s ’04 Pinot Gris Zellenberg from the French region of Alsace on the eastern border with Germany. I’ve been dying to try it as I admire Marc Tempé‘s wines and also have tremendous faith in anything imported by local natural wine advocate, Anthony Nicalo, and his company Farmstead Wines.
Marc Tempé is known for his non-invasive wine making techniques (natural yeast, no additives, minimal sulphur) and farms biodynamically. His wines undergo a natural, and sometimes long, fermentation in the traditional, large, old oak casks called foudres (they range from 3 to 55 hectolitres in volume). He is a legend in Alsace and all of his wines I’ve had are spectacular.
Peaches, apricots, fresh pineapple, chalk, and a slight smokiness akin to other Pinot Gris’. This wine also has a slight Arbois/Fno Sherry oxidative quality that I find common in naturally produced whites and in this case adds some great complexity (I personally associate it with a fluoride character). Very rich and very intense with a fantastic length (slight coconut notes at the end). Aging nicely and probably some of the most enjoyable Pinot Gris I’ve ever had.
An excellent pairing for our dinner as it had the intensity and viscosity to match the bold flavours of Vikram Vij’s food. As a side note, Vij’s must have one of the most reasonable wine markups in the city. They’re clearly relying on volume of sales instead of gouging people, which they could get away with if they wanted to. Just around 100% or slightly less on the two wines we tried (the ’03 Pinot Gris Zellenberg is $35 cost and was on the list for $65).
- A fantastic article Marc Tempé with stunning photography here.
- Also, read Alice Feiring if you have any interest in natural wines (this post’s title is an attempt to pay homage, in case you didn’t pickup on that). It’s an eye opening and entertaining read. Her blog is fantastic and poetically written as well.