When I first walked into New District, on Vancouver’s west side (5650 Dunbar St. at W 41st. Ave.), it took me right back to London. At the time, I was working for my uncle in St. James, home to some pretty illustrious neighbours. Lunch (Baxter’s then quite exotic soup) came from Fortnum & Mason, known as just  ‘Fortnum’s’. Paxton & Whitfield (Paxton’s) yielded perfectly ripened Brie. The Ritz was just around the corner and the original Quaglino’s was right up the street.

Our gallery shared a sidewalk loading bay with of Berry Brothers & Rudd, whose original store was nearby. The lift went down to space that joined our basements. Lots of things went back and forth. BBR supplied the pre-prandial Sherry, the pre ’40 winks’ Port, and everything in between. Sadly, the little shop is no more. But those memories are indelible.

New District wine store in Dunbar, Vancouver BC

The view from above, with Bordeaux on top…

There’s something about New District which reminds me a little of Berry Brothers’ emporium. It’s not nostalgia. Nor is it that charming but not overdone old world feel. More likely it’s the array of distinct and interesting wines driven by a culture of passion for discovery.

A nose for the unsung

New District head wine honcho DJ Kearney

That selection comes as no surprise. The chief wine wrangler here is none other than all-round guru and highly respected educator DJ Kearney. She’s been working as New District Director of Wine for a few years. And her efforts are apparent. A glance around these well stocked shelves reveals wines that you won’t find anywhere else.
Look up to the top shelf and you’ll notice some pretty serious Bordeaux. In this neighbourhood there’s no shortage of interest, says Kearney. But there’s also plenty to peruse lower down. And the bottles are arranged by variety rather than by country. That’s a good thing, says the buyer, as it encourages people to broaden their horizons.

 

“D.J.” is well known as a champion of the underdog. She revels in unearthing and suggesting gems from lesser known or undiscovered regions such as Jura and elsewhere.

In my quick tour of the shelves I discovered everything from the likes of BC Biodynamic newcomer SOAHC’s vibrant and pure Chardonnay (Fruitvale) and…

New District Donnafugata Tancredit Sicilia Rosso

Donnafugata’s beautifully structured, mineral toned Tancredi (Sicily) to …

New District Raats Dolomite Cabernet Franc

Bruyer Raats’ brilliant Cabernet Franc (Stellenbosch). Bruyer likes to say it sports “the elegance of Burgundy, the spiciness of Rhone and structure of Bordeaux all in one variety!” And it does.

 

We don’t see nearly enough wines from Hawke’s Bay, probably because smart Kiwis drink it all themselves. However, here you can fid Te Mata Gamay Noir 2013, ripe and brimming with vibrant red berries. But also supple and elegant with some spicy notes before a solid finish, it’s a perfect example.

Also here is the inaugural Pinot Noir from Mirabel, the new label created by Reimer Family Vineyard, for which New District has the exclusive.

 

 The Case for Wine

The other thing about London is that we rarely purchased by the bottle. Buying wine or any spirits was pretty simple. You picked up the phone and called your wine merchant. They’d take your order and the goods would appear within a few days. Buying by the case just made sense.
(For beer it was different. My uncle’s trusty WWII respirator bag was just the right size for three bottles of Whitbread. He would swing by Moorgate’s King’s Head on the way home and, with a cheery “Check for Gas!”, put the bag on the bar. The empties would be switched for full bottles and we’d be on our way in a minute flat. Unless we stopped for a pint …)
Thriving store aside, New District’s main wine business is carried out very much on line. It’s the reason the company started in the first place.  The folks behind this venture have connections to success stories such as Seattle’s Best Coffee and SPUD. That’s Vancouver’s organic grocery delivery service—the second largest online grocer in North America.

 

New District Wine Club

Finds delivered to your door, once a month

Just as wine by the case is growing in popularity, increasingly, wine clubs are where you can discover those harder to find drops. New District has just launched theirs. And it looks very promising. There’s no fee to sign on and no cancellation charge. (You can also skip a month if you need to—with decent notice.) The themes, says Kearney, are value and diversity. Here’s what’s in this month’s box. It’s a solid mix of styles and regions. A good deal at $165, which includes delivery.

“Our inaugural offering celebrates three central principles of wine: diversity, discovery and value. First is an iconic B.C. Pinot Gris from none other than famed Blue Mountain Winery. Uruguay, one of the wine world’s most talked about ‘new’ regions is the home of our second white – yes, Uruguay! The reds start with a juicy Gamay from the Niagara region. Then, two Cabernet blends show fascinating regional distinction – one from Australia and one from the South Okanagan. Finally, a micro-production red that is sold out everywhere: Kitten Swish Grenache is the brainchild of one of Canada’s most famous sommeliers.”

Click here to sign up for the New District wine club.