Great tastes from Brix Wine Bar paired with Picpoul and Minervois


* Tweet or FaceBook a selfie in one of the four participating wine bars, featuring Languedoc wines (you can grab a coaster, or hold up your wineglass), post it with the hash tag #LanguedocVan, and enter to WIN one of four $100 Gift Certificates to one of the wine bars.


The Hired Belly has long been convinced that, compared to other cities, Vancouver is way ahead when it comes to choices of wine by the glass.  That fact was confirmed yet again the other night, when I was invited to join the first ever Languedoc Wine Bar Crawl.

Post a fun selfie under #LanguedocVan and you might win a gift vert ...

Post a fun selfie under #LanguedocVan and you might win a $100 gift cert …

What’s a wine bar crawl? Well, think pub crawl but with better tastes, less gas and (possibly) more attractive company!  Plus, in our case (and maybe yours too, see below) we were chauffeured around in deluxe style.

We got to visit all four of the Vancouver restaurants who are pouring a range of Languedoc drops by the glass through November 14—and hopefully beyond.

Visit any one of them during the promo and you’ll find a ballot to win your own wine bar crawl for two. Or Tweet or Facebook about it (#LanguedocVan) for other ways to win gift certificates and more.


Languedoc on the rise!

Even though I’ve tasted Languedoc wines on several occasions, this was my first opportunity to try several at once. The region—considered by the industry to be “hot” right now—is known for its well-made and (generally) affordable, food friendly table wines.

However, it wasn’t always this way. While Languedoc can lay claim to some of the very first vineyard sites established by the Romans, in modern times production fell victim to the demand for unremarkable bulk wine. In fact, at one point, the region used to produce a staggering 10% of the world’s wine.

Happily, in the last couple of decades, a lot has changed and the Languedoc is winning new respect in serious wine circles.

Here’s (part of) what noted U.K. critic Jancis Robinson has to say:

“The schists and garrigue-covered hills of the Fitou, Corbières, Minervois and Languedoc appellations are home to some of France’s oldest vines, gnarled stumps of Carignan mainly, which ooze  super-concentrated, often super-tannic deep red, suitable for blending with more recent plantings of fashionably Rhônish varieties.”

I think the secret to discovering and enjoying Languedoc is to initially forget about the variety names (there are a score of them) and just go for what’s in the bottle. Open your mind as well as your palate and you’ll  be pleasantly surprised. Oh, and one more thing: from red and white, sweet and dry, still and sparkling, Languedoc probably has more wine styles to enjoy than just about anywhere else!


On to the Crawl…

Provence / TWB The Wine Bar

Premier Bulle bubble and TWB's oysters on the half shell

Premier Bulle bubble and TWB’s oysters on the half shell

It’s about a year since Provence (1177 Marinaside Crescent, 604-681-4144) opened its sibling wine bar, which has proven beyond popular.

Provence co-owner Jean Francis Quaglia

Provence co-owner Jean Francis Quaglia

Interestingly, the easy drinking Sieur d’Arques Première Bulle (Limoux AOC) trumps Champagne for the honour of being France’s first sparkling wine. You can order it with TWB’s oysters on the half shell. But don’t miss the creamy and well textured Chateau Peche-Celeyran La Clape 2011 with shallot steamed mussels. More on TWB in our opening review.



Brix Restaurant & Wine Bar


One of the city’s most wine and food savvy spots, Brix (1138 Homer St., 604-915-9463) is pouring floral and citrus toned Domaine Delsol Picpoul de Pinet 2010. Picpoul is unique—and a treat—even more so with Brix’ spiced lavender goat cheese créme brulée. Plus it’s a deal at $7 a glass… Fave pick here: smoky cassis and mocha toned, plush Gerard Bertrand Terroir Minervois AOC, Red 2010. I’d buy it, from BCLS … if I could.


Seasons in the Park

Downtown glitters from Seasons in the Park

Downtown glitters from Seasons in the Park

This prettiest of long running Vancouver favourites had an impressive facelift last year.

Languedoc_AOC_LanguedocAnd who knew? Seasons (Queen Elizabeth Park, Cambie St & W 33rd Ave.,
604-874-8008) now has a cozy wine bar complete with fireplaces?

After you’ve oohed and aahed over the view of sparkling lights downtown (capped by Grouse, of course) try a glass of nicely fruit and acid balanced Saint Saturnin Le Clocher AOC Languedoc Red 2010—or plush Paul Mas GSM Coteaux de Languedoc AOC 2011—with the tasting board cheese plate or charcuterie.



Siena's hazelnut chocolate torte—even better with Babio Minervois Red

Siena’s hazelnut chocolate torte—even better with Babio Minervois Red

This South Granville Iberian hotspot is known for its adventuresome and affordable by the glass list (plus 1/2 price wines on Monday).

Siena owner Mark Taylor sleuths out worthwhile wines

Siena owner Mark Taylor sleuths out worthwhile wines

Go for the squid and chorizo linguine or braised pork ravioli. Start with a glass of Antech Cuvée Expression Crémant de Limoux AOC (one of the best sparkling deals around) and finish with some amazing, intense chocolate hazelnut torte paired with plush and plummy Domaine de Babio Minervois AOC Red 2009. Seriously delicious! And if you don’t know Siena (1485 W 12th Ave., (604-558-1485, read our opening review.

And read all about Languedoc here!