Alex Cruz, Sommelier
"In late October, I go from Montreal, where it's freezing, to the Okanagan Valley, where I'm outside in a T-shirt tasting wines next to rattlesnakes."
Such is the professional life of Alex Cruz, the 27-year-old wine director of Montreal's DNA (the D is for chef Derek Dammann, the A is for Alex). Cruz travels through Canada assembling his peerless list; few of the 160 bottles are available in the U.S. and many are hard to get even in Canada. One of his favorite finds is Madcap Red, a Merlot blend from Fairview Cellars (its vineyard is on an Okanagan golf course, hence the name), a terrific match for Dammann's sourdough gnocchi with sausage ragù.
Indeed, pairings as good as that help explain why Cruz is busy replacing Italian wines on his list with Canadian onesa bold move for an Italian-inspired restaurant.
Cruz's Wine Picks
These bottles are from DNA's list (with restaurant prices in U.S. dollars).
2006 Venturi-Schulze Brut Naturel ($95) A great Vancouver Island sparkling wine. "It's better than Champagne, with stunning acidity and creaminess," Cruz says.
2007 Tawse Cherry Avenue Pinot Noir ($136) The Niagara producer makes this smooth Pinot at its state-of-the-art, gravity-fed winery.
2006 Marichel Vineyard Syrah ($125) Cruz calls this Okanagan Valley Syrah one of the best he's ever had; it's full of jammy red fruit.