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Archive for the ‘Vancouver International Wine Festival’ Category

This year, Vancouver International Wine Festival features the wine region of California. It’s impressive that the state of California alone can be the featured region. Why? California produces more than 81% of all U.S. wines – and if California were a country, it would be the fourth leading wine-producing nation in the world, only behind France, Italy and Spain. There are close to 560,000 acres of vineyards in California, with more than 65,000 registered California wine labels.

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Similar to last year, instead of aimlessly drinking my way around the big tasting room, I focused on one type of wine. Since I’m not a huge chardonnay drinker, and I like Zinfandel in general, I picked out the California Zinfandel to taste.

 

California Zinfandel

One of the bolder varietals, Zinfandel teases our palate in a wide range of notes, from raspberry to black pepper, to cloves and licorice. Being one of the oldest and most revered vines, Zinfandel is a signature grape in California.

Although it’s the same grape, depending on the region, the flavourful profile of Zinfandel can be very different. Some may be more jammy, more fruit-forward, while others bring out the pepper, anise and clove note.

Here is a list of Zinfandel I’ve tried at the tasting room. My favourites are the ones highlighted in orange. Overall, I gravitated towards the ones that were more fruit-forward, jammy and round in body. And 2016 seems to be a good year for me. Some was a bit harsh for my liking; perhaps some more aging would make it smoother.

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Even though the theme region for this year’s Vancouver International Wine Festival was California, there were many events featuring other wine-making countries/regions. Lucky for me I was able to attend the Gusto Latinoamericano wine lunch at Lift Bar Grill View. As you may have guessed already, this wine lunch highlighted wines from Argentina and Chile.

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Event guests were treated to a 3-course lunch here, along with wine pairing. But before that, there was the amuse Argentinean Prawn with Chimichurri. The prawn was sweet and plump, and the chimichurri brought bright acidity. It was paired with the Domaine Bousquet Organic Brut NV — a dry, crisp, easy-drinking bubbly with 25% pinot noir and 75% chardonnay.

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For our appetizer, it was a Chilled Seafood Salad, with a mix of wine braised octopus, mussels, clams and squid, along with some chorizo chips and warm garlic bread. (more…)

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This year, Vancouver International Wine Festival celebrated its 50th anniversary with feature countries Spain and Portugal. Just like previous years, I drank my way through the big tasting room. But this year my focus was on the Ports.

2018 Vancouver International Wine Festival

What is Port Wine?

Port Wine (“Vinho do Porto” in Portuguese) is a Portuguese fortified wine produced exclusively in the Douro Valley in Portugal. It is a sweet, red wine, often served as a dessert wine. Although you may find fortified wines outside Portugal (e.g. Vista D’oro makes an awesome walnut port-style wine), only the product from Portugal may be labelled as Port or Porto.

Through the tasting and in talking with the wine reps, I’ve learned about the different styles of port:

Ruby Port is the most extensively produced type. It’s usually stored in stainless steel tanks to prevent oxidation and preserve its bright red colour and full-bodied fruitiness.

Tawny Ports are aged in wooden barrels, exposing them to gradual oxidation and evaporation. They turn into a golden-brown colour and the oxidation gives the wine nutty, caramel, and/or prune, raisin notes. If there isn’t any indication of age, it’s just a generalization that the wine has spent time in wooden barrels.

Late Bottled Vintage (often referred to simply as LBV) is typically bottled between four and six years after the vintage, with similar quality like a Vintage Port. If the LBV is filtered, it’s not meant to be aged.

Vintage Port is made entirely from grapes of the same vintage year. They may be aged in barrels for 2-3 years before bottling. You can drink it right away but it’s meant to be cellared for decades as it improves with age.

Here is what I tried:

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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).

2016 Vancouver International Wine Fest Tasting Room

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. (more…)

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At the 2016 Vancouver International Wine Festival, I once again went to the popular 25 Under $25. Hand-picked by James Nevison, The Province’s “Wine Guy”, we got to sample 25 wines from around the world that are priced reasonably at $25 or less.

25 Under $25 2016

Here is the list of wines grouped by colour (white, rosé, red or port), then sorted by countries in alphabetical order. In the event program, there is a price listed for each wine, so I’ve included it here for your reference. If they are currently available at BC Liquor Stores, I have used their listed price instead. Keep in mind that prices may be different at private liquor stores.

I’ve highlighted the ones I enjoyed the most: (more…)

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At the California Cruisin’ event of the 2016 Vancouver International Wine Festival, vineyards of the Golden State were showcased at the beautiful Waterview by the False Creek.

California Cruisin', Vancouver International Wine Festival

In California, Zinfandel is considered the state’s signature red, and Chardonnay is the most widely planted grape, so naturally, my tasting focused on these two varietals.

California Cruisin', Vancouver International Wine Festival

Chardonnay

Around the room, the chardonnays weren’t the typical chardonnay I would have expected. Most of them were light, crisp, some of them refreshing, which frankly I didn’t mind. I’m not a huge chardonnay drinker because of its rich, buttery mouthfeel, so I actually quite enjoyed this selection of chardonnays. Here are my favourites:

Bonterra Organic Vineyards Chardonnay 2013 ($16.99 at BC Liquor Stores) – This was aged in 50/50 stainless steel and American oak, this has more of a citrusy flavour. It kind of reminded me of Pinot Gris.

Bonterra Organic Vineyards Chardonnay & Cabernet Sauvignon

Concannon Vineyard Founders Chardonnay 2013 – It’s from the Monterey County. Oaked in American oak, it has apple, pear and some tropical fruit note.
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The last Vancouver International Wine Festival event that we attended was the popular 25 Under $25. It’s one of the last events of the festival and in my mind, it’s a great event for first-timers or wine beginners. Tickets were priced reasonably and you get to try 25 wines that are generally priced under $25, a price point that would be affordable to most, if not all, of us wine drinkers.

25 Under $25

The following is the list of sampled wines grouped by white and red, then sorted by countries in alphabetical order. Most wines should be available at a BC Liquor Store. The listed price (in the event program) is also included for your reference, but it might be different at each wine store. I’ll keep this short and highlight ones that I liked the most. You should know that I’m usually drawn to sweet, fruity whites and full-body reds. You’ll probably notice the same pattern here: (more…)

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