Friday, April 6, 2012

At Long Last - Via Tevere

It seems like we've on a bit of an Italian wine jag of sorts lately. You might think we were readying ourselves for a jaunt to the Mediterranean as opposed to a walkabout Down Under. But, as much as I've been looking forward to our upcoming trip, I've been waiting months for the new Via Tevere Pizzeria Napoletana to open as well - ever since I heard the news story about how their building renovations uncovered an old billboard advertising the 1920's bakery that used to be found on the site. Long enough that the story was broadcast last August - when this picture was taken as well.

The new pizza joint has finally opened - and I love the fact that we can actually walk there from home. I just forgot to bring the camera (phone only I'm afraid) along with us when Elzee joined Boo and I to see how their pies sized up.

1095. 2010 Trentacinquesimo Parallelo Primitivo (IGT Salento - Italy)

As might be expected at a restaurant that only seats 60 people or so, the wine list was rather limited - maybe just over a dozen wines, including red, white and sparkling. I picked the Primitivo, thinking that an "Italian Zin" would be light and flavourful enough to match up with the different pies that we'd ordered up. It's not a wine that I was familiar with, but a quick Google shows that it's been a long time favourite of Vancouver wine scribes as a bang for your buck, bargain kind of wine.

Indeed, selling for only $10 in government liquor stores, Georgia Strait writer Jurgen Gothe, proclaimed in 2010, that this "may well be the best red wine buy in B.C." I can't say that I'd go that far but, unfortunately, we paid rather more that $10 for the wine in the restaurant. I might have taken a different look at the wine had I known the retail price at the time.

I love those big, romantic Italian words like "Trentacinquesimo." That sounds ever so more exotic than the translated "35th." The 35 Parallel name refers to the winery's Southern Italian location in Puglia - the heel of the Italian boot and the winery is part of the Casa Sant'Orsola family of wines. The well-established family produces five brands that cover most regions of Italian winemaking, with 35 Parallel working to re-establish Southern vineyards and create a market for Primitivo varietal wines - after the old, original vines fell victim to an EEU sanctioned vine pull in the 1990's. Lesser known grapes like Primitivo were deemed to be less valuable than international varietals like Cabernet and Merlot. Thankfully - at least in my mind - local growers have concluded that they can make a much bigger statement in the world of wine by sticking to the grapes of old - naturally, with some tweaking in and modernization of production standards. It's often said that it's only DNA studies that showed the relationship between Primitivo and Zinfandel that led to a whole new interest in the Italian grape. The result of the reinvigorated interest was that many of those vines that had been ripped out were re-planted.

That return to one's roots was demonstrated with Via Tavere's pizza as well. Vancouver has long been chided for its lack of authentic pizza - as compared to other major cities - but we've seen a good number of new restaurants taking a run at the crown. The Morra family reached back to its Neapolitan roots and has clearly established itself as a neighbourhood jewel. This isn't a food blog, but we'll definitely be back for the pie!

The fact that Via Tavere is close enough to walk to also means that we just happen to be able to walk home right past another of our favourites on The Drive - Dolce Amore Gelateria. What better to follow up a traditional Neapolitan pizza with than Vancouver's tastiest gelato? We grabbed a litre and settled in at home to a little taste of heaven.

Having taken stock of our cellar since Boo restored the No Buy Leash, I've concluded that we have a goodly number of dessert wines. I have a definite weakness for them when standing at a winery tasting bar and I've been known to pick up more than a couple of bottles here and there. Thing is we don't tend to open many of them. This seemed like a perfect opportunity.

1096. 2008 Rustic Roots Santa Rosa Plum (Similkameen Valley)

With our pizza and dinner wine both looking to their respective roots, why not go with a bottle of Rustic Roots for dessert? Grown and produced at a multi-generational organic farm in the Similkameen, I think this bottle qualifies as true evidence of what land, fruit and care can produce in a bottle.

At $29 a half-bottle, this falls into the "treat" category around our household. But having Elzee over definitely counts as a special occasion and the Santa Rosa is one of the winery's most highly awarded wines. It continually wins medals in the fruit and dessert wine categories at the BC Wine Awards, Northwest Wine Summit, Canadian Wine Awards and All-Canadian Wine Awards.

The winery only started in 2008 as part of the farm operations and the winery's output is still limited in scope at around 1200 cases, all told, for its near dozen different wines. The limited production just makes it all that more important that we stop by for a taste and a shopping trip for wine and vegetables as often as we can.

Just like we'll continue to hit Via Tavere and Dolce Amore. Talk about a tasty evening!

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