On the one hand, fine wines can perform better as investments than many stocks. Vintages produced by Italy’s renowned Cà Nova winery, for instance, increased in value by an average of 28.09 per cent over the course of 2020, according to the London International Vintners Exchange.
On the other hand, as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe famously pointed out, “Life is too short to drink bad wine.”
Whatever reasons wealthy Canadians may have for collecting sought-after bottles, their treasures are being stored in truly astonishing fashion in these 10 cellars.
Le Coureur des Bois, Beloeil, Quebec
Over the course of becoming the first and only Quebec restaurant to earn three Grand Awards from Wine Spectator magazine — in 2018, 2019 and 2020 — Le Coureur des Bois has added about 3,500 bottles to its 18,000-bottle cellar. The Burgundy region of France is especially well-represented in this stylishly lit space, with 12 pages of Burgundian whites and 20 pages of reds on the 4,700-label wine menu. Standouts include a six-litre “methuselah” of 1995 Domaine Dujac priced at $7,200 and a 2002 magnum of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti La Tache Grand Cru Monopole for $18,900.
Opus Restaurant, Toronto
Set in the heart of Toronto’s tony Yorkville neighbourhood, the cellar underneath Opus houses what is said to be the most comprehensive wine collection in Canada. Ranked by Wine Spectator among the top 100 wine restaurants in the world and earning Grand Awards every year since 1992, Opus is home to a tightly packed cellar containing more than 52,000 bottles. The 76-page wine list, meanwhile, spans about 2,300 labels. The priciest of the lot: A $60,000 magnum of 1961 Pétrus.
Bearfoot Bistro, Whistler, B.C.
More than a few bottles of Champagne have been sliced open with a sabre in this vault-like space, which hosts glitzy special events. The 20,000-plus bottles lining the walls make Bearfoot Bistro’s collection the largest in Western Canada, but there’s quality as well as quantity here. It houses eight vintages of Dom Pérignon, for instance, and a stunning 18 vintages of Château de Beaucastel.
Via Allegro Ristorante, Toronto
By enclosing its 20,000-bottle cellar in glass and setting it in the middle of the ornate dining room, Via Allegro showcases wine in unique fashion. The wine menu offers more than 5,000 options, including 300-plus Canadian wines — said to be the most extensive list in the country — as well as 85 selections from France’s legendary Chateau Latour and, as one might expect from a high-end Italian eatery, more than 300 Amarones.
The Pointe Restaurant, Tofino, B.C.
The 20-foot-long yellow cedar table in the middle of this recently refurbished 10,000-bottle cellar echoes the drama of the Pacific storms that batter the panoramic windows of the Pointe Restaurant in the luxurious Wickaninnish Inn. Divided by floor-to-ceiling glass into three temperature-controlled rooms, the curvaceous Howard’s Wine Cellar is especially flush with French, Californian and Italian wines, with the 46-page wine list also highlighting Canadian diversity with bubblies, rieslings, merlots, cabernet sauvignons and ice wines.
Estérel Resort, Estérel, Quebec
Nestled in the Laurentian Hills north of Montreal, this lakeside resort is home to the Bistro à Champlain and its glass-walled 20,000-bottle cellar. Once the property of private collector Champlain Charest, who sold it to the resort in 2015, the cellar is especially flush with French wines – including a $11,255 2007 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti – that represent more than a third of the 72-page wine list.
Barberian’s Steak House, Toronto
Overlooked by a “magnum mezzanine” stocked with large-format wines, the two-storey cellar under this downtown institution was nearly three years in the making. For oenophiles, it was worth the wait: More than 15,000 bottles cover 2,500 selections, with the 110-page “Cellar Collection” wine list featuring a double magnum of 2002 Giacomo Barolo Riserva Monfortino for $11,905, and a 1982 Château Pétrus for $16,215.
Post Hotel, Lake Louise, Alberta
For decades now, visitors to Canada’s most famous alpine lake have been able to order from a wine cellar that’s similarly world-class. Located in the lake’s namesake village, the Post Hotel cellar has an inventory of more than 25,500 bottles, and among them are 2,300-plus selections including an $8,000 Château Pétrus 1989 and a $6,400 double magnum of Tenuta dell’Ornellaia 2005. Every year since 2002, the Post Hotel has received Wine Spectator’s Grand Award.
529 Wellington Steakhouse, Winnipeg
Manitoba’s sole winner of the Wine Spectator Magazine Award of Excellence, 529 Wellington is home to a cellar containing 17,000-plus bottles and spanning more than 700 selections. The 31-page wine menu highlights several show-stoppers, including a Château Mouton Rothschild Pauillac for $3,100, and a magnum of 1995 Château Cheval Blanc Premières Grand Cru Classé ‘A’ for $3,190.
360 Restaurant, Toronto
What the 360 Restaurant’s cellar lacks in size — although 9,000 bottles and 500-plus selections is nothing to sneeze at — it makes up for in altitude. At 351 metres above street level, the award-winning facility atop the CN Tower holds the Guinness World Record as the “world’s highest cellar.” Equipped with precision climate and humidity controls, redwood racks, double cherry doors and a tasting table, the cellar was designed to resemble an underground wine cellar, which is about as far from reality as one can get.
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