The Vancouver International Wine Festival 2016 Tasting Room had, in my mind, great potential to be the best I have experienced to date. Why? One word…Italy! Yes, the romantic, bold and fabulous world of Italian wines was featured at this year’s wine fest. However, to my surprise, there were more wines I preferred from other countries. Perhaps it was the hype I had built up in my mind that made me expect a taste sensation, but instead, I got a sub-par flavour experience. Having said that, I will still one day venture to Tuscany and drink wine all day while my husband, Bryan the beer columnist, writes his novels (not unlike Joshua Jackson in Shadows in the Sun).
Most of the wines available for tasting were reds…very rich and very heavy. I love my bold reds but it also has to be balanced and have some complexity to it to make it interesting, and I just didn’t find that with any of the Italian wines. Perhaps some aging would have helped soften the wines and bring out the flavours. That is what some of the winery representatives mentioned as I was sacrificing myself trying as many wines as I could in such a short time…what a tough life!
Please note: Prices listed below are mostly based on the BC Liquor Stores website and may vary depending on monthly promotion, and it will be priced differently at private, independent liquor stores as well.
Masi Masianco (2014)
Italy – Alc 13% – Sweetness 00
The Masianco is a blend of Pinot Grigio and Verduzzo grapes. I enjoy a light, refreshing Pinot Grigio on a warm day but the Verduzzo transforms this into a not-so-easy-drinking white. It’s got some body to it and is quite dry so this would be paired best with a meal as opposed to sipping on its own. BC Liquor Stores: $16.49
Frescobaldi Pomino Bianco (2014)
Italy – Alc Unknown – Sweetness 01
The Frescobaldi Family has been in the wine business for over 700 years, so it’s no surprise this was my favourite white wine of the day. Its combination of oak and steel fermentation gives it enough character to be interesting without feeling like you are chewing on a hunk of bark. The citrusy notes and crisp finish allow it to be easily enjoyed on its own. Est. Retail Price: $20.99 (Currently not available at BC Liquor Stores)
Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio (2014)
Italy – Alc 12.5% – Sweetness 00
Another white that’s easy-drinking is the Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio. I am more of a red wine drinker but when I do have a white wine I tend to go towards the Pinot Grigio grape. Bias aside – even though it is rated 00 for sweetness it’s well balanced so it doesn’t dry out the palate and leaves you with a crunchy finish (Side note: “crunchy” was a new adjective Joyce and I discovered to describe wine. Although it’s not too unlike “crisp” we still found it to be a very amusing word as a wine characteristic). BC Liquor Stores: $14.79
Tenuta Argentiera Bolgheri
Argentiera Bolgheri Superiore (2011) vs. Villa Donoratico (2012)
Italy – Both Alc 14.5% – Both Sweetness 00
This comparison was quite interesting – the Villa Donoratico 2012 (45% Cabernet Sauvignon / 30% Cabernet Franc / 15% Merlot / 10% Petit Verdot) was ready to drink immediately with some berry and plummy flavours, whereas the Bolgheri Superiore 2011 (45% Cabernet Sauvignon / 45% Merlot / 10% Cabernet Franc) requires up to 20 years of aging – I agree it should be cellared before consumed as it was quite harsh and too young to enjoy yet. The winery representative said that they are now enjoying the Bolgheri Superiore 2004 back at the winery so I took this as an invitation to visit and experience the 2004 vintage in person. Est. Retail Price: Argentiera Bolgheri Superiore $65.19; Villa Donoratico $32.19 (Currently not available at BC Liquor Stores)
Sonoma County Zinfandel (2013) vs. Jack London Cabernet Sauvignon (2012)
USA – Alc Zinfandel 14.5% vs Cabernet Sauvignon 13.5% – Both Sweetness 00
Moving away from Italy I would have to say that I enjoyed these two reds from Kenwood Vineyards in the USA for two very different reasons – the Zinfandel was easy-drinking whereas the Cabernet Sauvignon would pair beautifully with a big, juicy steak. Kenwood Vineyards Online Price: Zinfandel USD18.00; Cabernet Sauvignon USD35.00
“A smarter, fresher, friendlier glass of wine”
You come home from a long day with sore feet and a tired brain but then “pop”- you hear that promising sound of a wine bottle being opened and a wave of relaxation and joy like no other washes over you. What can I say? I may enjoy just a glass or two of wine after work each day. So even though there is a certain romance lost when you pour a wine from a tap, there are also pros to wine-on-tap – I personally believe it’s a great way to deliver fresh wine to the consumer. Look at the taboo of the screw cap vs. cork when they first came out. But more and more these days you see screw caps in use and it’s becoming more widely accepted. At the end of the day, as long as you enjoy what you are drinking (responsibly) then it shouldn’t matter if it came from a bottle, box or tap.