You won't find a happier guy in Vancouver these days than David Hawksworth.
His namesake restaurant, almost four years in planning and recession-delayed, is finally open in the gorgeously renovated Rosewood Hotel Georgia - and taking the town by storm.
The other good news is that, given the delay, Hawksworth and team had plenty of time to plan both dining rooms and kitchen right down to the last detail- including one of the more comprehensive wine programs to come along in years.
First of all, Hawksworth boasts not one but five certified sommeliers, who work out of a glass-sided wine room that feels more like a special ops centre - which it is in a way, strategically located right between the (no-holds barred) kitchen and main dining room.
To run the program, Hawksworth lured longtime friend and colleague Terry Threlfall to be wine director and sommelier back from London, England, where he was head sommelier at Michelin-starred Chez Bruce.
Threlfall (who's also played a key role at the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival over the last few years) is no slouch. He was also the first Canadian sommelier to become a regular panelist for Decanter magazine and to judge for the prestigious Decanter World Wine Awards.
This is a list that delivers some seriously thoughtful offerings, often from smaller, more unique producers - not to mention some pretty fair pricing compared to some hotels. Hawksworth also boasts a secret weapon in the form of its Cruvinet nitrogen wine preserving system, which allows the restaurant to properly maintain 10 of its more prestigious bottles (such as Louis Jadot ChassagneMontrachet '07) to pour by the glass.
Once the word gets out, Hawksworth's sixcourse tasting menu (not far removed from the style he popularized at West) will be one of the city's hottest tickets, especially given its well-chosen wine pairing options, $114 all in.
We enjoyed our best match in some time, when gently petrol-topped and complex citrus, mineraltoned Skillogallee Clare Valley Riesling Trevarrick Vineyard '07 arrived to take Hawksworth's already extraordinary Fraser Valley pork belly, with chorizo and paper-thin oyster mushrooms, to the next level. It also reminded us that it's time to go looking again for the "regular" estate label of this wine, which you can find (at least the '09) at Everything Wine, $26.99 (Australia).
Speaking of Riesling, The Okanagan's Roger Wong has made his share of good Riesling over the years, starting with Pinot Reach (fore-runner to trend-setting Tantalus) and at Gray Monk. Now, from his fledgling Lake Country Intrigue winery, at Oyama, comes this juicy, citrus-and apple-toned, cutabove drop with truly vibrant acidity - that should be just the foil for a hot summer's day - and suggests good things to come from this newbie. VQA Stores c. $17.
Or, if you prefer a more off-dry style, pick up a bottle of the more straight-ahead, fruit-forward, patio pleasing Chateau Ste. Michelle 2010 Columbia Valley Riesling, on special at BCLS for $14.49, through July.
Oh. And did we mention they're all in screwcap?