“I was selected by the protocol department in Ottawa to serve Princess Anne personally, and served the likes of Tommy Lee Jones, Joni Mitchell, the governor general of Canada and requested by Roy Romanow, ex premier of Saskatchewan, to serve him when he came to Cousin Niks”, says Garry Findlay, manager of Enoteca Specialty Wines on Macleod Trail. “Who wouldn’t want to be served by this fellow?”
With a gregarious and personable nature, Findlay has been in hospitality all his adult life, starting at the front desk of a small hotel in his hometown of Saskatoon, and then at Cousin Niks, a new Greek restaurant at the time. After getting married, he went into the travel business, but when the airlines ended their commission structure, he returned to restaurants. In 2002, Post Hotel in Lake Louise called, and Findlay moved there for three years. “From Saskatoon to the Post Hotel,” he says, “it was a great foundation for learning about wine, the learning curve was fantastic.” Here he served some very expensive wines, the granddaddy being a ‘93 Petrus that the customer insisted he try.
Headhunted by an Italian restaurant, for five years Findlay was able to expand his wine horizons and learn more about Italian wines. He completed his WSET Level 1 & 2, and accepted the position at Enoteca over three years ago. “Running the store is a great education as all the representatives and winemakers comes to you, and you can learn so much if you ask the right questions,” he says.
So what bottle is Garry saving for a special occasion?
It’s not just one bottle – the Ornellaia Collezione contains 6 vintages of the internationally acclaimed Super Tuscan wine, 2001-2006. Only 1,000 of these special cases were produced; each bottle is individually numbered and the presentation case is crafted from the wood of the oak barriques.
“A nice man came into the store at the end of 2011, who said that he didn’t drink wine and he’d won this stupid boxed set at his Christmas party”, explains Garry. “He asked if I would buy it, so I told him to bring it in and I’d look at it.” When Garry asked, “what do you want for it?” he didn’t know, so Garry offered him $500, which he was happy to accept.
“Coincidentally, Alessandro Lunardi from Ornellaia was in Calgary this week and I told him about the case. I didn’t ask how much it’s worth, but I suspect a couple of thousand dollars,” Garry continues. (He’s close! Harrod’s have sold out, but the price was £1,650 ($2,572).
So when will Garry open the bottles? He’s been saving it with the intention of giving it to his daughter when she marries. But then, “Maybe it will be a dowry for my own second wedding”, he jokes. Lucky girl!