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TASTING NOTES: The expansion of John’s wine passion
Ask anyone in the local wine trade about John Clerides, the owner of Davie Street’s Marquis Wine Cellars for the last 27 years, and I guarantee the first thing they’ll do is give you a smirk and a light chuckle. Don’t get me wrong; the guy’s no joke. In fact, he’s one of the most dogged, brilliant wine minds in the province; always travelling, digging and sourcing new, amazing wines to bring to our shores. What that initial reaction will be a reflection of is that John has always been one of the most plainspoken guys we know, and for years has been a thorn in the side of the pols and bureaucrats responsible for liquor laws and policy that have had all of us tossing out words like “archaic” and “draconian” ad nauseum for decades. Whether hammering away via Twitter, speaking on panels or, really, talking to anyone who will listen, it’s because of John (and people like him) tirelessly beating the drum that we’re finally starting to see long overdue change in the local liquor policy realm.
I dropped by Marquis to chat with John the other day so I could get a personal tour of his recently-expanded store, now boasting 3,000 square feet, a 3,000-bottle temperature-controlled cellar, and a 16-bottle wine-dispensing machine offering customers the chance to sample the latest staff picks. He’s looking toward teaming up with Benton Brothers Fine Cheese to offer nibbles on Fridays and Saturdays so folks can really take those wine samples for a spin. While wines are organized by country, there are also sections devoted to style (crisp whites, rich reds, etc.) and even by random subjects like ‘date night’ or particular food pairings.
The updated store is now even more of a genuine, fleshed-out example of John’s passions. Not just well-sourced wines that offer great value and a story behind each label, but a place that celebrates the culture of wine on many dynamic, interactive levels. Do swing by and dive into the experience.
I asked John to share a couple recent favourites that you should look for and, as always, he didn’t disappoint.
Viña Gormaz 2012 Verdejo | Rueda, Spain | $18 | Marquis Wine Cellars
Oh man, this is the epitome of sunshine in a glass! A cavalcade of grapefruit, lime, pomelo and peaches with a good handful of rocks thrown in for good measure. When I asked John what he liked about this particular bottle, he waxed on about its “rich, oily texture,” how it’s “a perfect match for seafood and sushi” and that it’s downright refreshing.
Bodegas Carchelo 2011 ‘C’ | Jumilla, Spain | $18.90 | Marquis Wine Cellars
I think I’ve found my go-to wine for the winter! This dark and brooding trinity of Monastrell, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon exudes warmth and character, folding layer upon layer of cocoa, espresso, currants, thyme, violets and basil. The tannins are wonderfully polished and integrated. It’s the kind of wine where you’ll notice a little extra something wonderful each time you go back to the glass. John notes that it’s a “harmonious blend with a good delineation of flavours,” each grape variety offering a key part of the puzzle.
Marquis Wine Cellars is located at 1034 Davie in Vancouver and at Marquis-Wines.com.