Newly landed Good Wolfe (1043 Mainland St., Vancouver, 604-428-1043) has been on my radar for some time but I just hadn’t managed to get there until a couple of weeks ago. It’s not that I deliberately dodge new opening shenanigans. But the reality is that while you may will get to gossip lots, they don’t usually tell you much about the kitchen, the room, service and so on.
However, there are no tougher critics than your peers, so when wines of Roussillon decided to pop some corks at this Yaletown newbie, I jumped at the chance, not for one reason but two…
The guys behind this venture are a couple of longtime industry professionals. In short, they know their stuff. Richard Goodine (who runs things out front) has managed some of the top rooms in the city and also has ten years under his belt as international export director for Banfi. Chef Josh Wolfe enjoys a well-earned rep as a serious forager. He originally headed west from Toronto’s Centro to take over Coast Restaurant. Wolfe also runs Fresh | Local | Wild —imho one of the city’s most taste-packed food trucks. And makes some of the best fish ‘n chips anywhere…
By my estimation there were 40 or so wine agents, sommeliers and media packed into the back of Good Wolfe for the presentation, that included seven wines presented by Roussillon’s secret weapon, the dynamic and charming Éric Aracil (“Responsable Export”).
I debated whether this visit was review-worthy. And decided it was.
Hosting a multi-media seminar, pouring the wines on cue—and serving lunch adds up to a significant challenge. But Good-Wolfe was up to it and then some. I was duly impressed. And it won’t be long before I’m headed back.
Good Wolfe – laid back and flavour packed
The room is relaxingly casual, dominated by the large, central, square bar. A unique twist, the back wall plays host to a tongue-in-cheek ‘living’ wine list, complete with bottles attached and some amusing and cheeky chalk graffiti. It’s a real attention getter—and fun.
There’s a (heated) small patio out front, where, if you’re lucky, you can still catch some fall fog rays. The menu is straight ahead, no nonsense classics with a creative bent. Our meal drew from the dinner list, so it afforded a good chance to check quite a few things out, as well as taste some seriously interesting wines to match.
In the glass / On the plate
Things kicked off with a wicked cured steelhead pastrami (top) served with house-made maple mustard. I wasn’t sure how it would go with the first wine but the acid in the mustard picked up perfectly with crisp and clean Chapoutier Domaine Bila Haut Cotes du Roussillon white 2012. It’s a deal. Grab it from BCLS $15.99 / 89 pts
Superb house-made coarse terrine and delicious blueberry mustard, another winning taste that went nicely with bright and juicy Vignerons Catalan Lesquerde Cotes du Roussillon “Villages de Terroir” Red 2010. (Soon available around $18) / 89 pts, Even better with the quite shiste toned Hecht & Bannier Cotes du Roussillon Villages Red 2010. BCLS $29.99 / 90 pts.
One of the best ways to gauge a kitchen’s capabilities is their bread. The breadbasket here is a thing of beauty! Several small baguettes show up in your own stainless steel mini-bucket. Be warned: they’re addictive.
Nothing like a little venison to kick off fall. Josh Wolfe’s stew is deliciously tender and the black pepper spaetzle has just the right texture. Fave wine here? It was a tossup between the gently peppery Chapoutier Occultum Lapidem (BCLS $29.99, 91 pts) and the elegant, forward cassis and spice toned Thunevin-Calvet Cotes du Roussillon Hugo 08 (Grenache, Carignan, Syrah)—that might just win over a few premium New World Syrah lovers. $66.99 / 91 pts.
If you’re ever looking for an affordable dessert wine, look no further than Rivesaltes—specifically Les Vignobles Dom Brial Chateau les Pins, 2006: orange blossom and light spicy. Classic Vin Doux Naturel, aged in big oak vats, after this long it develops some nice complexities. We had it with some Beaufort cheese but it could easily have been something blue. This is a fun drop that you can drink with just about anything your heart desires, from creme brulée to foie gras mousse or even pad thai. Right now it doesn’t make it to Vancouver, although that may soon change. c. $30 (NA BC)
Oh, and did we mention the desserts?