Archive for the 'Festival notes' Category
The preview for the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival has piqued my interest in Spanish wine again, directly impacting my shopping habits at the same time. Even out here in the ‘burbs, we are seeing a better variety on the shelves. I picked out this one considering that I love Priorat, and the price was right.
I popped this one open the other night and was immediately struck by the inky, almost felt marker hints and pencil shavings on the nose (a teacher’s dream I guess ☺) with some tobacco and dusty currants. All the things I love in the unique nose of Priorat – and this one is a blend of 50% Garnacha, 30% Carignan, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Syrah. A few sips brought on loads more currant with some rustic earth and plum. As the evening went on, the plum became more pronounced with some nice spices. The finish was distinctly Priorat in my experience, – long with cherry, chalky mineral and some pepper. A winner all around in my mind as it got better as the night went on. We had this with some nice charcuterie and and cheese – a great complement.
I tasted the Les Terasses at the festival night, and as always, it was delicious and well worth the $45. Given this reference point, this one is well worth the $29 price tag.
I’m looking for to tracking down many more wines like this in just over a month!
Earlier this week, we had a chance to have a little preview of this year’s Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival. This year’s feature region is Spain and the varietal theme is fortified wine. It looks to be a great event again this year.
The gathering at the Shore Club restaurant gave us an opportunity to sample a few of the wines and get a “sneak peek” of some of the key events being held throughout the festival.
The great thing about Spain being the star of this year’s festival is the breadth of choice we will be able to enjoy. From the crisp minerality of Albariño, the delicious value bubbles of Cava, let alone white Rioja, the offerings in white are really exciting. In terms of the reds, full fruity Garnacha, deep, bold Priorat and rich complex Riojas are just a few of the sips bound to test and tempt the palate.
The great thing about this year is that the choices with Spain go one step further. As mentioned, the feature theme is fortified wine, and there stands to be an amazing array of choices. If you’ve never tried the broad ranges of Sherries or Ports, this is your chance. Many will challenge your tastes and are an experience not to be missed. We had the opportunity to sample some Solera and Fino sherry, along with some tawny and late bottle vintage port that were perfect on a chilly evening.
Tickets go on sale on Tuesday and needless to say, many of the events will sell out quickly. Based in Vancouver’s Convention Centre, the Festival runs from March 28th through April 3 in various venues around town. Check out the Events page on the Festival’s web site for the where and whens.
One of the many highlights include the Vega Sicilia vertical tasting which may venture back 50 vintages. Their 2004 Bodegas Alion was one of the superb sips of our evening, look out for them in the tasting room too!
In addition, many of the winemakers’ events or seminars are very reasonable and give a great chance to learn from the experts in a smaller scale. There are where you can learn more about bubbly, a region of interest, pairings and of course, fortified wine! I always enjoy these guided tastings as they can lend so much insight into wines and their stories. As part of your festival experience this year, check one out!
We hope to see you there. Cheers!1 comment
Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the “Taste Chile” event held at the former Storyeum in Gastown. The tasting gave me a chance to re-connect with the wines of Chile, as I have somewhat neglected these choices lately in favour of the Old World wines my palate has come to crave.
The afternoon began with a sit-down tutorial of 13 wines of biodynamic and organic origin. The discussion began with a rather lengthy overview of the process of biodynamics, perhaps a little more detailed than was necessary given the short time frame and solid knowledge base of those in attendance.
The first two wines sparked quite a debate over whether or not organic means better wine. This waged on for quite a period of time, and while interesting, did move the focus away from the actual tasting tutorial. That said, the topic is of great interest. Many of the wines do not state that they are in fact organic and biodynamic anywhere on their labels. It appears they want the wines to speak louder than the process.
Interesting… The discussion then moved to “does the fact that it is organic mean that it is better wine?” At this point I reflected back to the words of Alan Meadows who asserts that “organic and biodynamic ultimately mean greater attention to detail.” From there, questions about sustainability after production with regard to packaging and shipping were addressed, but it was a little hard to hear, as the room had no PA.
These are all very interesting topics surrounding the ethics of wine. The conclusions I drew from this were that Chile has quite an opportunity in its grasp. The fact that the world particularly our local community has amorous pursuit of all things organic (a good thing for sure, provided our eyes are wide open), and the market is such that many of these wines are truly exceptional values for under $20.
Given the extended discussion, the actual guided part of tasting the remaining 11 wines was packed into the last 20 or so minutes. At this point, most in the room had self-guided through what proved to be some really interesting choices. A few of my favorites included:
Emiliana Vineyards Adobe Chardonnay 2010 – Really crisp and clean with nice mineral citrus and grassy. For $16 this is a really nice wine for a seafood dinner.
Nativa Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 – Great spice on the nose, loads of mint, and almost cumin hints. Really dark cherry and currant through to a nice balanced finish.
Vina San Pedro Tarapaca Tarapaca Plus 2008 – Again, this has a really nice spice mix on the nose with pine, rosemary and tobacco with a hint of orange peel after a swirl. Just a few sniffs of this one sold me, and for $20 I’ll be on the lookout for this one.
The tasting room itself had a fantastic layout, but as with the Playhouse festival last year, the low lighting was a challenge in approaching the wines. The wineries ringed the room, with a few specialty stations in the center.
Highlights for me included:
Chardonnay dominated my white tasting, and I really enjoyed the mix of unoaked, Chablis styles and the more toasty rich ones. Some highlights included:
- Amanya Chardonnay, 2008 Ledya Valley
- Errazuriz Wild Ferment Chardonnay, 2009 Aconcagua Valley
- Montes Alpha Chardonnay, 2008 Colchagua Valley
The reds were a great mix of Cabs, Carménère and tasty blends. Standouts for me included:
- Errazuriz Don Maximiano 2006, Aconcagua Valley
- De Martino Single Vineyard “El Leon” Carignan 2007 Maule Valley
- Vina Santa Alicia Millantu Premium Red Wine 2006 Maipo Valley
- Viu Manent Malbec Single Vineyard San Carlos 2008 Colchagua Valley
The whole tasting was a great way to revisit some tasty value wines that are paying close attention to the land from which they grown. Thanks to CCLTD for a really enjoyable event.No comments
Another year of the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival, this time in the new Vancouver Convention Centre, has come to pass. The new location – much like the old – served up some tasty sips from some fantastic producers. There were so many fantastic wines over the three days we attended. It’s impossible to mention them all, so here are the standouts what we saw as the standouts.
If money were no object:
These have me singing “If I were a rich man” a la Fiddler on the Roof.
- Lanson Noble Cuvée Blanc de Blancs 1998– Floral, honey and lemon sorbet… decadent!
- Louis Latour Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru 2006 – Intense, complex and everlasting.
- Cheval des Andes 2003 –Wow, a seriously tasty treat that is full value for the price
- Pascal Toso Magdalena 2005 – Serious Malbec with amazing dark chocolate, and plum with some nice floral softness.
- 2005 Damilano Barolo Brunate Cannubi – So big, so elegant, long and lithe.
- 2006 Penfolds RWT Shiraz – Rich, powerful and incredibly good.
- 2006 Concha y Toro Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon – This almost never misses.
Make you wanna Haka:
We were really impressed with the New Zealand Rieslings and Pinot Gris in particular. These were some of our faves:
- Elephant Hill Estate and Winery – A really unique and peppery Sauvignon Blanc, an incredibly tasty tropical Viognier, and a tasty Pinot Noir. The SB is a little on the pricey side ($35 so we likely won’t see it around here).
- Sacred Hill Rifleman’s Hawkes Bay Chardonnay – seriously full fruit, nice caramel balance with the oak.
- 2007 Two Paddocks Central Otago Pinot Noir – The 2008 was tasty, but this one has all the nice red fruit and earthy goodness you want.
- 2008 Matua Valley Central Otago Estate Pinot Noir – This had really nice fruit and stuck with me.
Not a miss on the table:
These were tables at which every bottle was a delight.
- Paddy Borthwick – Fantastic Pinot Gris, Riesling and Pinot – Can’t wait to see these around here!
- Altesino – A beautiful range of Tuscans from value to high
- Panther Creek – Beautiful Oregon pinots. The Temperance Hill really stood out with nice red fruit and great silky finish.
- Damilano – From their crisp Langhe Arneis to the Nebbiolo d’Alba to the luminous Barolo Brunate Cannubi – everything they poured was so good.
The Malbecs were superb, but the finesse and elegance coming with some of the Cabs and Bordeaux blends were certainly highlights as well.
- Bodega Renacer – Great value malbecs and a killer 2007 Amarone-style blend called Enamore.
- Terrazas de los Andes Afincado Malbec Las Compuertas Vineyard 2006, – the cab was tasty too.
All Day, Everyday…:
These are the ones that will be making frequent (and brief) visits to our cellars this spring and summer (if we can find them):
- Damilano Nebbiolo d’Alba – beautiful Nebbiolo for $27.99? Oh yes.
- Kim Crawford Small Parcel Spitfire Sauvignon Blanc 2008 – A superb Marlborough sip for $26.99.
- Vina Cobos Felino Malbec 2008 – Drinks way better than $19.99.
- D’Arenberg ‘The Dry Dam’ Riesling 2009– Petrol and zingy lime goodness for $21.99.
- Chateau Ste. Michelle 2007 Indian Wells Cabernet Sauvignon – Really tasty for the money ($27.99).
I’m sure we’ve missed a few, so feel free to chime in with some of your favourites.
One of the non-wine highlights of the festival was the number of local bloggers and wine tweeps that were in attendance. Congrats to the @playhousewine folks and @hethpr as they created a great opportunity to share finds and suggestions with a large group of people.
Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival – Return to the French Classics Dinner at The Hermitage
This dinner at The Hermitage featuring the wines of Domaine Doudet Naudin was the first of two events I received invites to as part of my Media pass for the 2010 Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival. Classic French food paired with extremely food-friendly Burgundy wine – what’s not to like? Nothing as far as I was concerned.
I hadn’t been into The Hermitage before last night. It’s a cozy place that is what you’d expect of an old-school French restaurant with a dose of 70’s living room tossed in – decorative brick arches, flowered curtains and all… but it worked. The room was comfortable and many of the folks in attendance last night were regulars who seemed to be on a first-name basis with the Hermitage’s owner, Hervé Martin. He creates a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
I grabbed a seat at the table reserved for media types and started chatting with the folks seated there, including Julie Pegg (contributing editor for EAT Magazine), Kelly Robson (wine writer for Chatelaine Magazine & her Full Bodied wine blog) and a couple of non wine geeks, Arnaud and Bobby. Soon enough, the dinner kicked off with a chat from the event’s sponsor, Rare Finds Wine Importers LTD and we were off. Here’s a scan of what was ahead. My mouth and palate were watering.
While we waited for the first course, we sipped the 2007 Bourgogne Hautes-Côtes de Beaune, Château d’Antigny ($27.95 – 4 stars). It was the perfect palate cleanser – all flinty lemon with a puckering acidity that just begged for some food. Up next was possibly my favourite pairing of the night – the wild mushroom feuilletté with a veal and port reduction paired with the close to magical 2006 Savigny-Les-Beaune en Redrescul, 1er Cru ($45.95 – 4.5 stars). A white with a sauced mushroom dish? Yep, this white – and it was fantastic. It reminded me a lot of the Tissot Jura Chardonnays I tried a few months ago. It had a dill-like funkiness that really added to its powerful and earthy flavours. It was complex and delicious. Try some if you can find it.
After that, it was onto a delicate salmon fillet with a creamy sorrel sauce ‘troisgros’ paired with the last Chardonnay of the evening; the 2007 Pernand-Vergelesses Sous-Fretille, 1er Cru ($49.95 – 4.5 stars). It was another great wine-food pairing. The delicate flavour of the salmon helped highlight the crisp elegance of the wine. Delicious.
Next up was a delicious house-made duck sausage with pistachio purée of Jerusalem artichokes paried with a delicious and light and 2007 Gevrey-Chambertin ($56.95 – 4.5 stars). This is the kind of pairing that really helps explain the earthy French Pinot Noir food pairing magic. You taste each separately and they’re good, but it’s together that they really sing. The light red fruit and crisp tannins of the wine perfectly balanced the fat and earthy meat flavours of the duck sausage.
We weren’t done yet… the kitchen then served the beef tenderloin medallions and the 2003 Savigny-Les-Beaune Les Vergelesses, 1er Cru ($42.95 – 4.5 stars). The meat was fantastic and the wine really grabbed my taste buds. It had gorgeous dark cherry and plum fruit along with a floral and black pepper edge to its earthy finish. Wow. Another great pairing, by the way.
The last food/wine pairing of the evening was a selection of French cheeses with the 2000 Aloxe Corton Les Marechaudes, 1er Cru ($56.95 – 4.5 stars). I loved the earthy elegance of the wine, but this was the only pairing of the evening that didn’t click. I separated them – downing the cheeses and then savouring the wine.
A delicious vanilla syrup soaked rum baba rounded things off and left me wanting a walk to wear off the meal. All in all, Hervé Martin and his team did a heckuva’ job with the food choices and the wines really stepped up as well.
I left determined to drink more wines from Burgundy. That’s never a bad thing.No comments
The Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival is on this week, and it’s always a fun time to sample a huge variety of wine from around the world and a great chance for some brief interactions with some cool people in the industry.
There is a LOT of information out there about “how to” with the fest – usually with valuable information like don’t wear perfume or cologne, dark clothing is advisable, eat before, spitting is completely acceptable and advisable, leave the giant bag at the coat check, etc…
That said, let’s look at what’s in the room. Once you enter and grab your glass – something sparkling is always a great way to toast the evening and get a nice fresh “zing” on the palate. Don’t miss:
- Champagne: de Venoge, Lanson, Nicholas Feuilliatte
- Prosecco: Catina Breganze
- Franciacorta: Ca’ del Bosco
From there, the host countries have some fun stuff in both white and red. For New Zealand, most have some exposure to the Sauvignon Blancs from Marlborough. That said, give some of the Pinot Gris a go. Of course the Otago Pinots are don’t misses, and keep your eye out for the odd Riesling or a Bubble of some sort as this can be where the real gems hide.
We’ll be checking out (at a bare minimum):
- Ata Rangi
- Spy Valley
- Two Paddocks
With Argentina, the dominant grape will of course be the Malbec, but keep your eye out for the whites – there are some interesting Sauv Blancs, Pinot Gris, and the signature Torrentes which can really be unique while being in a great price bracket. The Syrahs and Bordeaux blends will certainly show well.
Not to be missed are:
- Bodega Catena Zapata
- Bodegas y Vinedos Renacer (killer value Malbecs)
- Tomas Achaval
- Valentin Bianchi
Rosé is the feature “variety” if you will, and a couple of likeable choices include:
- Innocent Bystander Pink Moscato
- Lanson Rose Brut
If you are getting late into the evening and are at the point that it’s time to hit the “can’t miss” booths, here are a few:
- Altesino – Brilliant Super Tuscan sips.
- Damilano – Good things from the glory that is Piedmont. Try the Cannubi Barolo and taste what it’s all about.
- Louis Latour – Corton Charlemagne – need we say more?
- Michael David Vineyards – Intense California wines from the Lodi region.
- Panther Creek – Great Pinots from Oregon.
- Penfolds – Classics from Australia.
- Poplar Grove – Quality BC vino.
- Ravenswood – Look for the single vineyard Zins.
- Seghesio – More great Zinfandels. Try the Home Ranch.
- Torres – Excellent Spanish staples – mmm Priorat!
- Vina Errazuriz – One of the first and finest Chilean Wineries to arrive in BC.
To cap off the evening, it’s gotta be all about the port. Most of the room will head for Taylor Fladgate (great stuff), but look for Quinta De Passadouro and see if Penfolds has their “Grandfather Tawny.”
It should be a great week, and it will be interesting to experience the new Convention Centre as a venue. If you are on Twitter, watch the hashtag #vpiwf and offer up the gems you find- we will! Remember – Sip, spit and move the heck out of the way so others can get in for a taste.
Just a quick shout to tell you folks that tickets for all public events for the annual Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival go on sale tomorrow, February 2, 2010 at 9:30am.
Pretty much everything sells out each year, so make sure you head over to their site and plan your week. I’ll see you there.No comments
The YVR Wine Bloggers and Sommeliers group is going to hold an informative tasting for the public on Tuesday, November 10th at Scott Landon Antiques (2349 Granville St.). It will be a “wine show” style tasting with approximately 10 tables. Each table is going to teach one simple wine lesson – for example:
- Table 1 The difference between Old and New World,
- Table 2 The difference between Warm and Cool Climate,
- Table 3 Method Champeniose vs Charmat Method etc etc.
After visiting each of the ten tables attendees will have a solid understanding of fundamental wine styles and will have tasted examples of each.
Sounds like a fun way to learn about wine, huh? Well, if it sounds good to you, tickets are $25 each and are being limited to 100 people. You can head over to the EventBrite page to purchase them securely online, or tickets will be $35 at the door. I wouldn’t wait though – because tickets are limited, they may sell out ahead of time and you may be out of luck.
Knowing the others in this group, there will be some truly great wine to taste and you’ll learn from some of Vancouver’s best wine folks.
I hope to see a bunch of you there.2 comments
Marquis Wine Cellars is sponsoring a fundraising wine tasting on November 4th, 2009 at the Vancouver Museum. It is entitled French Fête and it is a fundraiser for Fraser Academy School. Fraser Academy specializes in children with dyslexia, ADD and other motor skill output issues. They teach them the necessary skills not only to learn but be successful in business and life.
They’ll be pouring a superb selection of French wines, from Burgundy, Bordeaux, Alsace and Champagne. This is an excellent opportunity to discover wines you or may not have had the opportunity to taste. The wines will be paired with some of Vancouver’s top restaurants such as Le Gavroche, Provence, Salt, & Benton Brothers Fine Cheese, just to name a few.
Tickets are $75.00 per person and they are available by calling the store 604-684-0045 or emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
UPDATE: This event has been canceled due to slow ticket sales.No comments
As well as hitting the 2009 ZAP Festival in San Francisco back in January, both Graham and I are heading to Santa Rosa in Sonoma County, California Friday for the 2009 version of the Wine Bloggers’ Conference. It’s being held at the Flamingo Resort from July 24th to the 26th and features lunches with wine, dinners with wine and tastings with more wine… and then parties with, you guessed it – even more wine.
Wineries pouring Friday night at the Grand Tasting of Sonoma Wines include Merry Edwards, Kistler, Joseph Swan Vineyards, Benzinger and many more. We’ll also be taking side trips to the Culinary Institute of America, a mystery Napa winery for lunch, a tasting of Napa Valley wines at Quintessa Winery and much more… It’s going to be so much fun my head just may explode.
Most of the participants are on Twitter and are posting conference-related tweets with the #wbc09 hashtag. It’s going to be a blast and I’ll do my best to post from the events and will probably also have something to say about when I’ve gotten back to Vancouver. You can check out what we’re saying on Twitter while we’re there – I’m @vinifico and Graham is @vino_g. Stay tuned.1 comment