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Posts Tagged ‘Wine Tasting’

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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While we were in the Okanagan, of course Hester Creek wasn’t the only winery we visited. On this trip, we ventured out to Summerland, specifically the Bottleneck Drive area, and we discovered Evolve Cellars.

Evolve Cellars was open in 2015 and above the tasting room is e, its dining room. Simple decor – white wall, white table cloth, with big window panes overlooking a gorgeous view of its vineyard and Lake Okanagan. Bryan, Kathryn, Mr. and I made a lunch reservation prior to getting there, and we’re patting our back for making a good choice.

View of Evolve Cellars

Food

e’s lunch menu is quite interesting. I like that they incorporate their wine into many of the dishes. We shared a few appies, including the Seared Scallops. There was nice caramelization on one side of the scallops, the scallops were cooked to the right temperature, tender and sweet. The roasted corn salsa gave it some smokey flavours and crunch. For us, they were served on a spoon and it made a perfect bite (Mr. really liked it, because he always wants “a bit of everything in each bite”).

Seared Scallops

The Bruschetta was probably my least favourite appetizer. Don’t get me wrong, it was quite good.

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For the Canada Day long weekend, Mr. and I went to the Okanagan with Bryan and Kathryn. Last year, we received a certificate for a two-night stay at The Villa at Hester Creek Estate Winery, so we took the opportunity to spoil ourselves on this getaway.

Terrafina Restaurant

During our stay, Mr. and I also had dinner at the Terrafina Restaurant at Hester Creek.

Terrafina RestaurantTerrafina Restaurant

To start, we shared the Wagyu Beef Carpaccio. There was so much on the plate you can barely see the thinly sliced wagyu beef. The flavour combination was quite typical — capers, parmesan, arugula, aioli — what came as a pleasant surprise was the little sprouts sprinkled on top. They gave a slight crunch, an earthy note, which brought a new dimension of flavour.

Wagyu Beef Carpaccio

Mr. ordered the Ricotta & Confit Duck Pizza. It’s, interesting.

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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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For the first time, the Union des Grand Crus de Bordeaux, an association of 133 grand crus estates in the Bordeaux area of France, has made a stop in Vancouver for their North America wine tour. Held at the Fairmont Pacific Rim, this ticketed event gave participants an opportunity to have an advanced tasting of the 2013 Bordeaux release that will be available at BC Liquor Stores this October.

Union des Grand Crus de Bordeaux - Special Event Wine Tasting

Speaking with the winemakers at the event, 2013 wasn’t a typical year for the Bordeaux region. Winter 2012/2013 was cold and wet, bud-break was delayed, and it wasn’t until July when it really started to warm up. The summer was short-lived, only resulting in perhaps just two-thirds of usual yield at the end. The reds were the most impacted. That being said, years and years of experience combined with careful technique, the winemakers were able to make a decent lineup, producing fruitier reds with softer tannins. It was pretty apparent as each estate was pouring its 2013 vintage as well as an earlier vintage. The mouthfeel was quite different.

In contrary to the red wine production, 2013 was a great year for whites. The Graves and Pessac-Leognan areas are known for their whites. 2013 whites should have intense fruit flavours and would be great for aging.

Union des Grand Crus de Bordeaux - Special Event Wine Tasting

2013 Bordeaux Reds

Here are a few that I quite liked from the tasting:

Chateau La Dominique (Saint-Emilion): 85% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Chateau La Dominique Rouge 2010 & 2013

Chateau de Lamarque (Haut-Medoc): 45% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot. The 2010 vintage is more round, and has a deeper red hue. (more…)

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