THE QUESTION is an old one, practically a cliché: What food goes with this wine?
A British Columbia couple has transcended such linear thinking by crafting wine that is meant to pair specifically with the kind of cuisine that has turned Vancouver into a global hub of culinary virtuosity.
Heidi Noble and Michael Dinn spent years working in the restaurant business, Noble as a chef and Dinn, a sommelier. They met in 2000 and were engaged soon after. By 2003, they moved to the Okanagan Valley and opened a cooking school, which later led Noble to write “Menus from an Orchard Table” — part cookbook, part food manifesto.
In 2004, they launched their winery, called JoieFarm for the French word “joy” (pronounced “zhwa”). Their goal: to craft wines that pair with the Asian-influenced food that defines Vancouver and the rest of the Pacific Coast.
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Their wines have been so universally accepted, Noble and Dinn have no need for a tasting room at their winery on the Naramata Bench near Penticton. Instead, nearly half their 15,000 cases of mostly white wines are sold through wine shops in the Lower Mainland, while another third are consumed in restaurants. The rest go to their fans.
Why this route? For Noble and Dinn, it comes down to climate and what the vine will provide. The Okanagan can grow red-wine grapes — merlot is the province’s No. 1 variety — but it excels with Germanic whites such as riesling and gewürztraminer.
“We’re in a position to maintain great natural acidity and delicacy in the wine,” Dinn said.
Then there’s the food: White wines with great acidity pair beautifully with the Asian-influenced cuisine of the West Coast. Whether fresh from the sea or the farm, local ingredients in the hands of Vancouver’s talented chefs are simply divine with JoieFarm’s wines. It’s not even fusion anymore, Dinn said. “It is Eurasian. It’s just how we cook.”
If you want to try the remarkable wines from JoieFarm, plan a trip north, because you won’t find them south of the 49th parallel. Head to Vancouver, find a great restaurant such as Cin Cin, Salmon House on the Hill or Blue Water Café, ask for a bottle of JoieFarm and indulge in the joyous marriage of food and wine.
Andy Perdue is a wine author, journalist and international judge. Learn more about wine at www.greatnorthwestwine.com.