March Wine: Sandhill Barbera

The pairing for a pork rack, and some undiluted cool.

Credit: Adam Blasberg (portrait), Ben Oliver

Pairing for a pork rack, some undiluted cool – and please, don’t hold the anchovies.

Ask an Oenophile

The Expert: Sarah McCauley, sommelier at Vancouver’s Cin Cin
The Dish: Alderwood spit-roasted pork rack with sunchoke purée, shallot confit, Brussels sprout leaves and poached cherry, $29.50
The Pairing: Sandhill Barbera, 2006, $29.99

When I’m pairing a wine, my first concern is the weight of the dish. Although pork is a white meat, the sauce for the pork rack is a dark chicken jus roasted with some poached cherries and Madeira. It’s a nice, fairly rich sauce that gives some depth and concentration to the meat, which is why I would turn to a red wine for pairing. Sandhill is doing some great small lots programs – only 432 cases for the Barbera – and the Barbera is getting better and better every year.

We don’t want to do anything that’s too full-bodied or too tannic, and this Barbera has medium to low tannins. It’s also nice to have something that’s a little more fruit-forward for a lighter meat. This wine pulls out the natural sweetness of the meat as well as the sugars in the brine and shallot confit, while being robust enough to complement the earthiness and texture of the sunchoke purée.

Barbera is often seen as an uncomplicated wine, but it’s a versatile grape that has such a range in what it can produce. It’s nice to see Sandhill producing some Italian varietals, and I would love to see a little more focus on it.

On the Rocks

Whether it’s Scotch or Irish, or you spell it whisky or whiskey, one thing’s for certain: nobody wants their drink watered down. Enter Teroforma’s whisky stones. These nifty little cubes are made of soapstone, so they won’t mark your glass, and are ready to serve after only a few hours in the freezer, meaning you can chill your favourite malt without diluting it. Sláinte! Set of nine Teroforma whisky stones for $24.99,

In Like a Lamb

At Vancouver’s L’Altro Buca restaurant, lamb, favas, peas, artichokes and anchovy butter come together on the plate for a new dish that’s integrated, seasonal and classic. Anchovy and lamb? “It’s a combination that dates back over 2,000 years, which officially makes it a classic,” says chef Andrey Durbach. For perfect grilled lamb chops, Durbach recommends first letting the chops come to room temperature before putting them on the grill; this way they will have warm pink centres rather than being charred on the outside and raw in the middle. Grilled new season lamb chops with anchovy butter and Roman vegetables, $27,, campagnolorestaurant​.ca