The general manager of Bin 905 tells us which bottle of wine he might be opening this year and the vintage he’s saving for his son

At eighteen years old, Geoff Last was a beer drinker when he left his hometown of Montreal for Calgary in 1978, and it was on a date when he was twenty that he had his wine epiphany, drinking Châteauneuf du Pape. He still remembers distinctly the moment of trying the wine – it was a revelation how well it went with the food and the flavours he could taste in it.

Always very involved in music and the arts, Geoff played bass in a band and was working in the music business when the opportunity arose to work in wine part–time at Britannia Wine Merchants, twenty-five years ago. His wage just covered his wine account. On moving to J. Webb, he met Richard Harvey, who was working there at that time, and he invited Geoff to work full-time if he opened his own store. Geoff didn’t have to think twice and jumped at the idea of working with wine full-time. He was at Metrovino for about six years until he was head-hunted for the position of general manager at Bin 905 in 2001.

He started writing for the Calgary Herald around the same time, and his main interest was wine with food. “I can appreciate super-extracted fruity wines, but I prefer wine to pair with food. I love the way goes with red meat”, he adds. “Lamb and Châteauneuf du Pape is eye-opening”.

Geoff also loves to source small lots from small producers, as evidenced by a fifth of inventory at Bin 905. He loves the stories of winemakers and their vineyards, as well as the travel that wine writing affords.

So what wines does Geoff have tucked away for a special occasion?

“I’ve always been an Old World fan and I don’t really pay attention the wine press and magazine scores when buying for myself; I just do my own thing. But I do have a huge advantage that I can taste everything before I buy.

I think the Rhône Valley and German Rieslings are the most under-appreciated wines on the planet. I’ve had some Rieslings in my cellar for over 15 years now and it’s a treat to watch them evolve over the years. There’s a satisfaction that comes with aging wines. I’ll probably open these wines for other people’s celebrations.

I have a 2002 La Turque Cote Rotie from E. Guigal that would be out of my price range now as it would be over $400. It’s nearly ready to drink, so I might open it this year for a birthday or at Christmas, depending on the food. I did have some 1978 that was too old to drink; I do like to have some fruit component to the wine.”

For Geoff, “The joy of wine is sharing, so I’ll open these wines for my wife’s birthday and for friends. I like to open great bottles for Christmas and New Year for people who will appreciate them.

I also have a Comte Georges de Vogüé Musigny 2005. At $180 it was over my self-imposed budget, but I may never get the opportunity to buy it again. We are one of only two or three stores in Calgary who get Vogüé and my bottle is numbered 0001, meaning it is the first bottle of production of this flagship wine! The ideal time to open it would be around fifteen years, so maybe I’ll open it for my 60th birthday.

And I’m saving a bottle of 2004 Port for when my son is 18, as very few declared that vintage, so it will be something special for him.”

Photo by Ingrid Kuenzel

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