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“We are in the business of joy”

Open for only two weeks, it was high time to try out one of the Okanagan’s most gorgeously-situated winery restaurants, Vanilla Pod Restaurant at Poplar Grove Winery. For the occasion, Poplar Grove’s founder and executive winemaker Ian Sutherland and president and owner Tony Holler joined yours truly in the dining room, where the “transparent” decor minimizes the border between inside and outside. “Nothing gets in the way of the dining experience and 180° views of two lakes,” says Sutherland. “You can only do this in the Okanagan because there are no miserable biting bugs,” quips Holler.
After consulting with his guests, restaurateur/sommelier Paul Jones orchestrated the menu wine and menu selections.
The first wine arrived, 2010 Monster Vineyards Riesling, produced in a nearby facility devoted to great value wines. Balanced and off dry, it features racy acidity and a honeyed character. How would it fare  with Yukon Gold potato cakes with tomato and avocado salsa and Happy Farms chèvre, a succulent appetizer with some spiciness from red onion, cilantro and tobacco, and a crispy exterior? For Holler, the acidity cuts the spiciness,” while Sutherland cited the slightly off-dry finish as the key to cooling the spice.
Next, Jones served a thirst-quenching 2011 Blanc de noirs, a pink sparkling wine made from bleeding 10% of the juice from three red varieties. Accompanied by seared Halibut with warm potato salad, spinach, tomato, scallions, prosciutto and white balsamic vinaigrette, the bubbly highlighted the simplicity and freshness of the dish, while its “clean acidity leaves you ready for the next olive oil soaked new potato,” according to Sutherland.
Poured from a decanter, 2007 Legacy “is our big gun,” says Holler of Poplar Grove’s richly complex, elegant Merlot and Cabernet Franc dominated Bordeaux-style blend. Hearing Holler’s cry for something meaty, Jones served Lamb rack with Romano bean sauté and rosemary aioli. “It’s a hand and glove pairing,” says Sutherland. “The intrinsically comforting flavours of the wine and dish are made for each other.”
Having started with a Riesling, it made sense to finish with 2010 Late Harvest Riesling, with the flavours focused on lemon curd, petrol and honey flavours. Teamed with Vanilla Pod’s heavenly – but not too heavy – Bread pudding and vanilla ice cream with a lemon caramel sauce, we agreed with Sutherland’s assessment that flavours of lemon, caramel and honey provided the bridge between wine and food.

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  1. terrance - . thanks!

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