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Nk’mip Cellars wine dinner, Bill Reid Gallery

Today we were gathered at the Bill Reid Art gallery. Here for a Nk’Mip wine-paired dinner hosted by their esteemed winemaker Justin Hall. He is their principal winemaker who started off as an apprentice and has been with the winery for over 21 years.

I have never been to the gallery so took the time to appreciate the space. In fact I didn’t even know it existed and instinctively headed towards the Vancouver art gallery instead, where I was promptly turned away.

Bill Reid is the Master of Haida Art, and one of Canada’s most important artists. He was acclaimed as a goldsmith, carver, sculptor, writer, and spokesman. And now the Bill Reid Gallery stands as a monument to him. The only gallery of its kind featuring the diversity of contemporary Indigenous Northwest Coast Art.

This event was designed to bring a touch of Osoyoos to the city, offering a glimpse into the richness and beauty of the Nk’mip winery through storytelling. Justin spoke to large tribes sticking together in the Okanagan and his family coming together and staying together thanks to the vineyard.

As guests trickled in we were greeted with a glass of the Nk’mip Winemaker’s Dreamcatcher 2022. Described as an aromatic white blend, it was a refreshing white that easily warms on the pallet with plenty of tannis and the softness of peach.

We were also given ample time to take in the art that surrounded us. Carved statues and totem poles, wire moulded sculptures, bead work accessories, head pieces, and paintings in various media.

There were also small bites being passed around. I missed out on the bannock tostada with candied salmon and avocado. And what a shame as I felt it was not only theme specific, but would have been complimentary with the wine in hand.

I did get my hands on one of the Waipiti Meatball with spicy tomato sauce. The bison ball was a little tough and dry, so digging deep into the spicy tomato smear under it was a necessity.

When time we were invited to take a seat at the long table in the centre of the hall. Each seat given its own wooden charger and sprig of dried thyme.

The food was by Bon Vivant Catering & Events, who did a great job considering the space didn’t have a kitchen, let alone a stove top or oven. Nor was it designed to host long table dinners.

Our first course was my favourite, they could have ended it here and I would have been happy. A 64° egg with foraged mushrooms, garlic crostini, bitter greens, roasted cherry tomato, and ver jus. The assortment of mushrooms included morels and lions mane found locally. The thick gooey yolk of the popped egg is what binds the dish together. Thick and silky like gravy over earthly mushroom, tart tomato, and crisp toast. A simple and elegant dish, each element perfect alone, and harmonious together.

It was paired with the newly released Winemaker’s Rosé 2023, made with 100% Cabernet Franc grapes. The fine ingredients above drew out the flavours of the rose with its citrusy lemon zest and high acidity.

This pour also came with an anecdote from Justin. He spoke of first attempt at a rose, which turned out to be white in colour, thanks to only a quick crushing of the grapes and their open skin to allow for any pigmentation. His intention was to have a pale and light tasting white, but with just as much intensity in body and texture as a rose.

Our second course was Pan Seared Halibut with scallop ravioli, corn velouté, blistered tomato vinaigrette, and fiddlehead fern. A beautiful plate, but sadly the fish was dry, and as I result I didn’t finish it. The equally large and dry stuffed pasta blanket matched, but at least it had more flavour and the texture was enjoyable despite being luke warm. A cream sauce to coat it all would have helped.

For wine pairing we had the 2021 Qwam Qwmt Chardonnay, which won gold at this year’s international wine awards. It is made from grapes from both of Nk’mip’s vineyards. The result is glass with soft stone fruit combined with a floral bouquet and great mineral acidity. This is ideal with more punchy dishes, given the richness of the wine itself.

Our third course was a Black and Blue Bison with a herbed cowboy butter, grilled asparagus, and pomme pont neuf. The bison was deep and gamey with roasted flavours and a smokey char. The compound butter offered all the additional flavour you wanted from the steak. The jumbo fry sticks with their crispy outer shell and mashed potato centre was the perfect side. And the apple spread add levity with the sweetness of baked fruit pie.

Our wine pairing here was the 2020 Qwam Qwmt Syrah, which also won its fair share of awards. This was our winemaker’s favourite, with its intentional oak interventions. With this bottle, the goal was for the land to speak through the wine with its jammy tannins and spice of green pepper.

Our last course was dessert. Mountain Huckleberry Clafoutis, wild huckleberries, almond cake, and Chantilly cream. This was a cake with origins from the South of France. An eggy vanilla cream, with orange and lemon accents, and a tart berry finish.

And for our dessert wine pairing we had the 2022 Qwam Qwmt Riesling Ice Wine. It was little sweet for my taste, and I thought it would have been better suited made into a syrup to pour over the cake. As it it clawed at the back of my throat.

In closing, this was a great to learn more about our featured wine of the night; offering an opportunity to speak with the wine maker directly and to enjoy with him the wines of his labour.

Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art
639 Hornby St, Vancouver, BC V6C 2G3
(604) 682-3455

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