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Sommelier Highlight

tiago de souza jensen

General Manager & sommelier, Burdock & Co.

Next wine region on your radar to visit?                   Once travel is a thing again (going places! seeing people! imagine!) I need to go to the Loire. Long overdue. Glou-glou paired against a backdrop of magnificent Châteaux; legendary. Gotta rent a little Volkswagen beetle and shoot upriver at an alarming pace, maybe with a bottle of wine in the cup holder for later (unopened, don’t @ me!).

Bottle and snack always in your fridge/pantry?                       I always have vermouth in my fridge! It doesn't degrade quickly, is very satisfying in small amounts (crucial in an industry where our primary beverage contains poison; alcohol), and is increasingly locally produced and delicious. A splash in your dinner never goes amiss, either. Right now it's Esquimalt Rosso, which is beautiful and produced right here in BC. As for snacks, anyone who knows me will tell you that I eat a horrifying quantity of Kettle brand salt and vinegar chips. I ate a whole bag before a Chablis seminar once and absolutely torched my palate. I will have veneers at 35 and I'm at peace with that.

If you could have dinner with any winemaker, who would it be? I would love to have dinner with Judith Beck. She makes wines of incredible elegance with clearly perceptible terroir. With her experience at Errazuriz and Cos d’Estournel, and now her beautiful biodynamic vineyards in Burgenland, she deftly holds space for tradition while balancing the push for modernization. She has an incredibly focused perspective and it shows in her wines. Plus, they’re so, so good with food - a must to sit down for dinner!

Guilty pleasure wine?                                                                      I don’t at all believe in guilty pleasures! I think we can leave the concept behind. That being said, I’m frequently guilty about the amount of money I spend on champagne; it’s not cheap, it is very delicious, and age just suits it so nicely. A bottle of immaculately aged vintage champagne will go all the way. On the other end of things, I tend to shy away from running my mouth with the somm crowd about the volumes of gloriously inexpensive magnums of Freixenet ($27!!) that I love to drink with friends. One man’s trash, I suppose…

What have you found on your travels that you wish there was more of in Vancouver? Casual patio eating and drinking. We’re slowly seeing that change, but constant pushes by restaurants and the general public have paled in the face of the sanitized, tower-and-podium Vancouverism espoused by our Planning office. I hope to see their perspective shift in the coming months and years; could be a silver lining to this waking Covid nightmare.

november 2020

What does your ideal night off in Vancouver look like?      My ideal night off is a long, slow dinner at a table overfilled with friends. Apéritifs, bubbles, something delicious to drink paired with some slowly-simmering dinner shared family style. Hopefully someone ends up laying on the rug from eating too much. Nothing better.

Your biggest inspiration in working in wine?                        My biggest inspiration in wine are the Eureka moments we create tableside for guests, stemming from those same moments we experience. Wines people have never dreamed of, from places they haven't heard of, or sometimes something familiar enjoyed in a novel way; watching that childlike feeling of joy shine is incredible to pass on.

If you could work at a winery for a year, which would it be?      I would love to work with Krista Scruggs at Zafa in Vermont - if she would have me. Any earnest wine lover will tell you wine is about sharing beauty and exchanging experiences. It's about the people, though much gets made of the glitter, glamour, and unicorn wines. Scruggs is a visionary and a powerhouse, a farmer and vigneronne of the next generation. We need that kind of work in this industry. In the words of Anton Ego; I’m craving some perspective. Wine is all too often missing her point of view.

Best piece of advice for someone looking to get into wine?  First of all, hi friend!!!! If you're a bit of a nerd, you like people, and you are happy on your feet, you're in great company. Try not to be intimidated by the rigamarole and competition vibes of the wine world. Factoids and flash cards are a dismal way to take in oenological beauty. Soil types should be interesting and exciting, they should explain something; when they become a dismaying and exhausting dental drill to the side of the head, best step away from the horrid little sheets lest you ruin your fun. There are so many incredible people working in wine, especially in BC. Meet them. Work at your own pace, don't compare yourself to others (they’re probably comparing themselves to you anyway), and focus on what you taste and smell in your everyday life. Try wines and foods, and focus on why they don’t work together as much as why they do. One of the big joys of wine is that it's sensual. Let it be.

Biggest epiphany during these trying times?                   I think it’s telling that the degree the brutality of these times on the wine and hospitality sectors has become almost anachronistic to discuss. I strongly feel that we should be processing this experience and doing what we can to talk through all this madness. These are truly and deeply challenging times. On that note, one of the things that has brought some vibrancy to the industry this year has been the cathartic outpouring of grief, anger, and solidarity that has come out of the disturbingly unsurprising revelations in the NYT regarding the CMS, GuildSomm, and the wine world more broadly; these also follow up similar events last year. The ensuing conversations (thank you, Ashtin Berry, among many others!) around this have also been incredibly refreshing. We all stand to benefit from those amongst us who have been silenced speaking out loudly, and we should see those who claim to hold a monopoly on hospitality and credibility held accountable for their horrific decisions. The rapid change in pace, depth, and quality of this conversation among those that matter has brought me some hope.

Adriano cartuliares

wine director, 10 acres group

Next wine region on your radar to visit? Gorizia, Friuli-Venezia Giulia. When I was a wine rep in Brazil I was introduced to Josko Gravner Radikon. The really old style of winemaking that was revived and more modern producers like Marco Feluga and Schiopetto. So much to learn from these guys and not far away from other amazing producers across the border in Slovenia like Simicic and Marko Fon. 

Bottle and snack always in your fridge/pantry?                 Sherry and Jamon Serrano!!! Can’t go wrong! 

Biggest epiphany during these trying times?                So nice to see everyone holding hands to go through theses times. I’m taking a lot of time to study and stay with family, trying to keep my mind busy and ready for a new beginning. I’m sure we will come back stronger and more united, it’s just a matter of time. 

Guilty pleasure wine?                                                                   Brazilian sparkling wine. So many people don’t know how good sparkling wine from Brazil can be. We actually have a DO for Traditional method. So I’m not really guilty about. 

october 2020

What does your ideal night off in Vancouver look like?   When I have the opportunity to visit many places, Vancouver have a great diversity. I love trying new beers/brewery, at least 2 places for cocktails, a glass of wine and some snacks in one of the hot restaurants in town, main course in another one. After dinner, wines at any of the wine bars catching up with my wine reps based in Vancouver and finishing with a late night burger before going back home. (I don’t go to Vancouver so often but when I go I love to explore and visit many of my idols Somms)

What is your biggest inspiration in working in wine?                 We are always learning and involving. The fact that wine is not only about the wine itself but history, geography, geology, farming, business and so on. It’s never boring. 

If you could work at a winery for a year, which would it be?   After having been at Martins Lane this summer it’s impossible to not pick that place to work. The ambience is relaxing, perfectly designed and with a lot of winemaking equipment. I love their wines, the wine- maker Shane and the energy of Matt who runs the tasting at Martins lane.

Best piece of advice for someone looking to get into wine?  Be loyal to your partner but not to one wine. Even if you find the wine that you love you should explore the other wines in the market. Read a lot. I’m reading Jancis Robinson’s wine course book. It’s an introductory to wine and I'm still learning so many things. 

What have you found on your travels that you wish there was more of in Vancouver? South America street food like choripan, Brazilian street churrasco, empanadas, Etc.

If you could have dinner with any winemaker, who would it be? Rajat Parr, I love his wines. He is an amazing formal Somm with lots of experience and a supper funny guy. I’m sure I would learn lots and have a good time. 

Stephanie Mathis

Fairmont pacific rim sommelier

Next wine region on your radar to visit? There are so many! I was planning to go to South Africa pre-Covid. So I would say that it is still #1 on my radar. I find that there are so many quality wines coming out of that region and I just can’t taste enough of them. And everyone that I speak to about it says that it is a MUST go to area. Not to mention I hear the food scene is incredible too.

Bottle and snack always in your fridge/pantry?
It’s never the same wine with me. I’m always trying something new. Usually some sort of wine with charcuterie and cheese. I love trying new combinations of cold cuts/cheese/paté with different wines and experiencing the dance that happens on my palate. Most recently: Gianni Gagliardo Barolo and Paté de Strasbourg, epic.

Biggest epiphany during these trying times?                  Life keeps going, even when you feel like it stops. “Go with the flow” really is a thing. It’s important to adapt and change your mindset to see what is available in front of you instead of focusing on what is no longer. Change isn’t always easy but it’s always an option.

Guilty pleasure wine?                                                                     Champagne. All Champagne. I’m always looking for a reason to buy a bottle. Even when my pocket book says I shouldn’t. Whether it’s a Growers Champagne or a Grande Marque, I love trying a new bottle and sharing with someone I value.

September 2020

What does your ideal night off in Vancouver look like?    Time spent with friends, eating good food and drinking good wine (or cocktails/fine liquors) - outdoors if weather permits. Being in an environment where I don’t have to worry about time constraints, and I can just let the evening flow with the only thought being about how much I’m enjoying myself.

Who is your biggest inspiration in wine?                                     Definitely my father. Being from France, wine was always important to him and it was a big part of my life growing up. What wine he was drinking with what dish was crucial. Wine was never an afterthought. As an adult, I found myself wanting to understand more about wine. Once I delved into that world, I couldn’t get enough! 

If you could work at a winery for a year, which would it be?    Any winery in the Canary Islands. I love the idea of discovering a completely different wine region from what I know: extreme viticulture, rugged terroir, volcanic soils, an outstanding ecosystem, unknown grape varieties, and of course, a very pleasing climate. Plus I would get to experience a new culture, which I love doing.

Best piece of advice for someone looking to get into wine? Remember that everyone starts somewhere. Keep it fun. Don’t feel pressured by the “supposed to” aspects. Jump into the world of wine in the way that you want to, and just start learning. And taste, a lot, “study hard”. The more often you are trying different wines, the faster you will train your palate.

What have you found on your travels that you wish there was more of in Vancouver? Downtown wine tasting rooms. I think this would be a great option for the BC wine industry. It would give both locals and travellers alike, the option to try local wines before investing in a bottle. It would promote our local wine industry and it would be a fun place to go as well!

If you could have dinner with any winemaker, who would it be? Telmo Rodriguez. I love his approach to winemaking/viticulture and I would love to be able to learn more from him. From his dedication to revitalizing the abandoned vineyards of Spain, to honoring traditional winemaking (depending on the area of the vineyard) while at the same time modernizing it (eg. Mountain Blanco Muscat), to Biodynamic Viticulture: I feel like dinner wouldn’t be long enough to discuss it all.

Mike Wong

assistant wine director, Chambar restaurant

Next wine region on your radar to visit?                                 I'm ashamed to say that I have never left North America, and I am DYING to visit Europe and its viticultural splendor. I love all things Italy however I would love to visit the southern regions such as Calabria or Sicily. Of course, I'm heading up to the Okanagan Valley for wine country! We're lucky we have a vibrant and diverse wine region right here in our backyard!

Bottle and snack always in your fridge/pantry?
There's always a bottle of bubbly and/or some natural BC wine in my fridge. Right now I have Else Wine's Piquette (who knew you could make another type of wine from leftover grape skins that were used to make wine). Since it's summer I also have the Cave de Lugny Crémant de Bourgogne Rosé, because who doesn't love sparkling rosé?

Biggest epiphany during these trying times?              Staying at home was really tough for me, as I like to be productive and always moving: symptoms of living a busy city life. However, what I've noticed is that it was the little things that make a huge difference. When life slows down, you're more aware of the surroundings around you. Things like taking walks and appreciating what a beautiful place that we live in. We need to remember that it's okay to take a pause to just notice what's around you, and appreciate them for what they are. :)

Guilty pleasure wine?                                                                     I don't know why, but I always have a bottle of the Antonio Scala Ciro Rosso at home. I absolutely love how juicy and fresh it is; it's the perfect companion to any food dish, although I do love drinking it chilled on its own too. I also love their vintage-style label, it reminds me of the old-school racing logos from the 70s. 

August 2020

What does your ideal night off in Vancouver look like?       With the long-overdue summer that's finally here, my ideal night now consists of being by the water. I also love BBQs, and nothing beats grilled burgers and veggies after being at the beach the whole day! With what's going on right now, it's definitely good for the soul to be outside and enjoying our backyard. :)

Who is your biggest inspiration in wine?                                     Just being around people that are so passionate and articulate about wine inspires me everyday and reminds me how much fun (and sometimes intense) wine can be. I'll admit it was quite intimidating to work with Kelcie Jones (Chambar's Wine Director), as she's a wine maven in her own right, but working with her over the years has shown me how to navigate the wine world in a thoughtful, intentional, and ethical way. 

If you could work at a winery for a year, which would it be?    I would love to spend a vintage at Cristom Vineyards down in Oregon. Starting out I was never a Pinot Noir fan; I much preferred the bigger and bolder stuff. However when I started at Chambar I tasted Cristom's Sommers Reserve, and I didn't realize how much I was missing out on such an archetype of a grape. I was an instant convert from then on. :)

Best piece of advice for someone looking to get into wine? Forget feeling nervous or intimidated, sometimes you just need to jump in and do it! I started out by just drinking wine, and eventually I signed up for my first wine class. There's so many opportunities to learn about wine, and a lot of it is at our fingertips. Sign up for a wine education course like WSET or the French/Italian/Spanish Wine Scholar, or just start up your own tasting group with your own friends. Wine at the end of the day is meant to be shared and enjoyed with good company!

What have you found on your travels that you wish there was more of in Vancouver? I wish there were more wine bars that break the expectation that you have to spend money or have vast wine knowledge to appreciate wine. Right now we have the fun and hip joints like Juice Bar and Dachi that fosters a playful and come-as-you-are attitude when it comes to wine, and that's what wine should be about! 

If you could have dinner with any winemaker, who would it be? I would love to have dinner with Elisabetta Foradori, who put the local Italian grape Teroldego on the map. In a time where everyone else was trending to the popular international varieties and modern winemaking practices, she chose to showcase a grape that everyone said was not a good grape to make wine with. She not only proved them wrong, but also proved that genetically diverse vineyards (i.e. as mother nature intended) makes really good wine.  The story of her vineyards is so interesting and is one of the reasons why I love Italy so much. 

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