Which Restaurant Has the Best Wine List in the City?
Easy, it's Vij's. No, wait, it's Burdock and Co. We ponder the merits of both.
January 30, 2017
In Favour of Burdock and Co.
How easy is it to build one of the very best wine programs in Vancouver? Well, if you’re the crew behind Mount Pleasant’s Burdock and Co., it’s actually quite simple.
First, just ensure you have an incredibly passionate chef/owner, Andrea Carlson. After a quick 20 years toiling in some of British Columbia’s best kitchens (Sooke Harbour House, Bishop’s) and playing a significant part in a locavore movement that has grown exponentially in that time, she’s making some of the best food in the city, in collaboration with local growers, farmers and foragers. (Also, it can’t hurt to ensure that culinary royalty like Nigella Lawson rave about her cooking.) Then, work with a well-versed wine director in the form of Matthew Sherlock, who is also a partner and winemaker in the Okanagan’s Lock and Worth Winery and co-owns an import agency sourcing some of the most interesting natural wines—that is to say handcrafted wines made with minimal intervention—from Europe. Then get Jesse Walters, the friendliest sommelier in town, to be your wine guy on the floor, ensuring every guest enjoys some of the most honest, delicious, intriguing wines available in Vancouver, perfectly matching the authenticity and integrity of the dishes on the menu.
Finally, ignore those who say you need white linen, piles of Champagne and a fancy-schmancy cellar to have one of the best wine programs out there. You just need everything to be legit, and that’s what you have right here. —Kurtis Kolt
In Favour of Vij’s
For starters, I want to be clear—it’s not all about money. There are always places that will sell a bottle of Veuve for $90 (like Rogue Wet Bar), but that just takes a corporate owner willing to run a loss leader. But it is a little bit about the money, isn’t it? There can be no doubt that the 40,000 bottles at Cioppino’s are breathtaking, but they often come with an equally rarefied price point. But for me, the nexus between value and selection sits in the finally opened Vij’s at Cambie and 15th.
I don’t really know wine director Mike Bernardo, but he always had one of the great small lists at Vij’s old South Granville location, and now, with some more room, he’s crafted a model for all wine lists in the city. Not only does he sell one of the world’s great Champagnes—Krug Grande Cuvée—for a jaw-dropping 19 percent over retail (in a city where 250 percent is standard), to show he’s not just a name-dropper he also brings in cult sparkler Benjamin Bridge Brut from Nova Scotia and still can’t bring himself to mark it up more than double. Page after page of the list shows great selections—Lopez de Haro Rioja, Kanazawa Rosé—at or less than two times retail. And if you want to nerd out he has grower Champagnes, furmints from Austria and a kékfrankos from Hungary (I had to look that one up). It’s a list that anyone—snob, cheapskate, newbie or souse—can find something to love on. That being said, the ginger lemon drink—at $5.50—is a tad pricey. —Neal McLennan
Which restaurant do you think has the best wine list in town?
Let us know in the comments below!