2018 VANWINEFEST Discounted Tickets and Gold Pass on Sale Nov 1 to Dec 15

VANCOUVER, BC (October 26, 2017) — A limited number of discounted advance tickets to the 40th Vancouver International Wine Festival go on sale November 1 at 9:30 a.m. The festival runs February 24 to March 4, 2018, welcoming 177 wineries from 15 countries. All wineries and their principals gather in the Tasting Room to showcase their wines at four International Festival Tastings (March 1-3), available in advance for $4-$9 off the regular price until December 15, or while quantities last.

This year, the festival features Wines from Spain and Portugal, with 38 wineries from Spain and 24 wineries from Portugal travelling to Vancouver to share their stories, passion and history. This marks the largest gathering of Iberian Peninsula wineries in festival history, nearly half of them festival first-timers. They’re joined by 115 wineries from 13 other countries, plus wines from South Africa available only at a Regional Tasting Station in the Tasting Room. Overall, one out of three wineries are new to the 2018 festival.

VanWineFest 2018

BUY NOW AND SAVE! ADVANCE TICKETS ON SALE NOVEMBER 1
Discounted passes and tickets to select events go on sale at VanWineFest.ca from November 1 until December 15, or while quantities last. “We’re delighted to offer festivalgoers a discount on select Tasting Room-related events that are at the heart of the festival,” said Harry Hertscheg, VIWF executive director. “Tickets make a great holiday gift for the wine lover on your list and you won’t have to battle any Black Friday crowds to get these bargains. And best of all, the ticket price you see is the price you pay. No surprises upon check out!” The advance sale offers savings on International Festival Tasting tickets and associated events. See details below.

ADVANCE SALE OFFERS

International Festival Tastings

Festivalgoers can save $4-$9 off the regular price of International Festival Tasting tickets (Thursday, March 1, Friday, March 2 and Saturday, March 3). Advance tickets for evening tastings, 7 to 10 p.m., are $80 for Thursday, $90 for Friday and $95 for Saturday. The Saturday matinee tasting from 2:30 to 5 p.m., set against the stunning backdrop of Coal Harbour, is available for the low advance price of $70. Only a limited number of tickets are available at the advance rate for each of the four sessions. Once the advance allotment sells out, tickets may be purchased at regular prices.

Delta Air Lines Tasting Lounge

Enjoy an enhanced International Festival Tasting experience with tickets to the exclusive Friday and Saturday evening Delta Air Lines Tasting Lounge and still save $10 (advance rate $180 for Friday and $185 for Saturday). Located in the Ocean Foyer in VCC West, right next to the Tasting Room, the lounge is open 5:45 to 9 p.m. and offers easy access to the corresponding International Festival Tasting. Enjoy a respite from the Tasting Room with comfortable seating and spectacular views. Select wines, light bites and cheeses are served.

Gold Pass

For those wanting the full tasting experience, Gold Passes go on sale for only $480a $15 savings. Gold Passes include access to six tastings (four public IFTs and two Trade Tastings, presented by ContainerWorld), the Delta Air Lines Tasting Lounge and the exclusive Festival Toast VIP reception. Purchased individually, the Gold Pass events are valued at $721.

INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL TASTINGS HIGHLIGHTS
See the full list of participating wineries

The Tasting Room at the Vancouver Convention Centre is where all 177 participating wineries gather to pour 700+ select wines. Discover exciting new wines, or return to your favourites, sipping from premium wine glasses. The room will also feature four regional tasting stations: Australia: History and Evolution; New Zealand: An Indelible Expression of Place; Wines of South Africa; and Spain is Wine. You can also find wine-friendly food and beverage exhibitors, many of whom offer tasting samples, including Nesters MarketCaffè UmbriaFIJI WaterTerra International FoodsD’Oro Gelato e Caffè and Terra Breads.

Theme Countries: Spain and Portugal
This year, the Tasting Room will feature wines from Iberian Peninsula neighbours Spain and Portugal. Two very distinct nations with their own rich histories and cultures, this festival will provide a fascinating opportunity to see how their winemaking and viniculture have developed in divergent and convergent paths over the centuries.

Vine Stars
What makes VanWineFest unique is the presence of global “vine stars” – winemakers, proprietors, senior executives – who come to Vancouver every year to pour and discuss their wines with festivalgoers. Each winery will be represented in the room by a principal, someone closely involved in the wine-production process.  Seek out the royal blue lanyards at tastings and special events to meet our vine stars face-to-face. More than two dozen owners and winemakers from Portugal and Spain will be in attendance, as well as other top executives representing their wineries and wines.

More Room, Smaller crowds
Both the Thursday evening and Saturday afternoon sessions are guaranteed to have a lower capacity than Friday and Saturday evening, offering more room and more time to interact with winery principals.

BC Liquor Stores Festival Wine Shop
Included in the price of each ticket is the opportunity to shop at the on-site BC Liquor Store where wines from all participating wineries will be available for purchase. Purchased wines can be shipped at no cost to your nearest BC Liquor Store for pick-up after the festival. BC Liquor Distribution Branch will also help everybody Get Home Safe by providing a complimentary transit ticket to patrons as they leave the tastings.

Buy the Case – Shop the World
Festival partners BC Liquor Distribution Branch and the Import Vintners & Spirits Association (IVSA) have teamed up to allow festivalgoers to order case lots of select wines. Wines available by the case will be identified with a neck tag. Place orders for those must-have wines directly at the participating winery tables and they’ll be delivered to your closest BC Liquor Store within two weeks of the conclusion of the festival.

HOW TO PURCHASE ADVANCE TICKETS (Nov. 1-Dec. 15, while quantities last)
Online
VanWineFest.ca
Phone: 604-873-3311, toll free 1-877-321-3121 (Monday to Friday, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.)
In person: 202-162 West 1st Avenue, Vancouver (Monday to Friday, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.)

All ticket prices include wine, food (if a food event), gratuities, taxes and service charge. 

SAVE THE DATES
Free ticket with hotel booking offer
 – goes on sale early January. Festivalgoers get one free International Festival Tasting ticket for booking a downtown hotel via Vancouver Hotel Destination Association. Details will be announced via e-news and social media.

All public events go on sale Wednesday, January 10 at 9:30 a.m.
All Trade Days Conference events go on sale Wednesday, January 17 at 9:30 a.m.

Stay in Touch:
For more information, go to VanWineFest.ca

Facebook & Instagram: /VanWineFest
Twitter: follow @VanWineFest for news on tickets and sold-out events. Join the conversation at #VIWF.

ABOUT VANCOUVER INTERNATIONAL WINE FESTIVAL
Canada’s premier wine show will mark its 40th edition of pairing wine, food and the performing arts from February 24 to March 4, 2018. The festival features Wines from Spain and Portugal and will showcase 177 wineries from 15 countries (including 38 wineries from Spain and 24 from Portugal) pouring 1,450+ wines at 51 events to a projected 25,000 admissions. The Bacchanalia Gala Dinner + Auction opens the festival on Saturday, February 24 at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. The Trade Days Conference takes place Wednesday, February 28 to Friday, March 2. The festival has been named the #1 Food, Wine & Hospitality Event in Canada by New York’s BizBash for five years running.

The festival is produced by the Vancouver International Wine Festival Society, which has three mandates: provide an informative, educational and entertaining wine experience for public and trade; be a premier marketing opportunity for the wine industry and festival partners; and raise funds for the Bard on the Beach Theatre Society. Since inception in 1979, the festival has raised $9 million for the performing arts. Major sponsors are Delta Air Lines and the Vancouver Sun; major industry partners are the BC Liquor Distribution Branch, BC Liquor Stores, and the Import Vintners & Spirits Association. The festival is made possible through the gracious support of our participating countries’ consulates and embassies.

ABOUT BARD ON THE BEACH SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL
Celebrating its 29th season in 2018, Bard on the Beach is one of Canada’s largest not-for-profit, professional Shakespeare festivals. It is presented on the waterfront in Kitsilano’s Vanier Park, adjacent to Vancouver’s downtown core. Bard on the Beach offers Shakespeare plays, related dramas and popular special events in two performance tents every June through September. In 2017, attendance was over 100,000 and more than 1.6 million patrons have experienced Bard since its inception. Next year’s festival dates are June 6 to September 22, 2018, and the lineup includes As You Like ItMacbethTimon of Athens and a new Bard-commissioned adaptation of the Greek classic Lysistrata.

Bard also offers a range of education programs, including Young Shakespeareans Workshops for 8 to 18 year-olds at its Vanier Park site during the summer, and Riotous Youth for 19 to 24-year-olds. During the school term, Bard also offers workshops for educators and youth in schools and community centres throughout BC’s Lower Mainland, as well as at its administrative home, the BMO Theatre Centre (162 West 1st Avenue). Full details and education program information are at bardonthebeach.org.

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Enjoy Port and Chocolates with Liberty Wine Merchants

Port and chocolate with Liberty

Liberty Merchant Company proudly presents its 22nd annual Port & Chocolate Tasting. All proceeds from this “Tasting-in-the-Park” event is to benefit the Vancouver Rowing Club’s Amateur Sports Program. To date Liberty has raised $104,428 for this program.
Sweet Ports, decadent chocolates, raffle prizes and excellent company await. Join us on Thursday October 3rd, from 7:30 – 9:30pm at the Vancouver Rowing Club in Stanley Park.
Tickets are $29.99 and available at all Liberty Wine Merchants locations.

Port and Chocolate Event with Liberty – Get Your Tickets

I hate to say it, but the cold and rainy weather will soon be upon us.  As such our thoughts move to comfort food and more full bodied wines.  Port and chocolate is a wonderful pairing on those fall/winter season evenings.  Why not try this pairing with the Port & Chocolate event through Liberty Wine Merchants here in Vancouver?  Details are below.  Enjoy!

~~~

Liberty Port and Chocolates

Liberty Port and Chocolates

PORT & CHOCOLATE

Thursday, September 27th, 2012 | 7:30-9:30pm
At the Vancouver Rowing Club in Stanley Park

Tickets $29.99 at all Liberty Wine Merchants Locations

Sweet Ports, decadent chocolates, raffle prizes and excellent company await. Proceeds to benefit Amateur Sports at the VRC.

Liberty Merchant Company proudly presents its 21st annual Port & Chocolate Tasting. All proceeds from this “Tasting-in-the-Park” event is to benefit the Vancouver Rowing Club’s Amateur Sports Program. To date Liberty has raised over $96,000 for this program.

Almost Last Minute Christmas Holiday Wine Picks 2011

There are less than 2 weeks to Christmas now. Maybe you are starting to think about Christmas gifts, or inviting family and friends over to your place for a nice dinner, or you received a dinner invitation? What wines to gift or serve?

I went through the list of all the wines I tasted in 2011 and have a few suggestions for you.

Some Favourite Sparkling Wines for 2011

  • Oyster Bay Brut and Rose sparkling wines

    Perrier Jouet Grand Brut N/V, France. This is also a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  Pale lemon in colour.  Light lees and toast on the nose. Light body with apples and white fruit.  Small bubbles with lower acidity.  I really enjoyed this one in part due to the lower acidity which made this Champagne very easy to drink on its own.

  • Bastianich Flor Prosecco, Italy ($19.99).  A delightful wine with melon and lychee aromas. Off dry, light body, with cinnamon, citrus and peach flavours.  Small bubble.  This is such a fun wine. Start a party with this wine.
  • Champagne de Venoge Cordon Bleu Brut Select NV, France ($62.99). This Champagne is a blend of 2/3 PinotNoir and Pinot Meunier (both red grapes), and 1/3 Chardonnay. Light lemon in colour.  Nice medium toasty nose.  Medium acidity and body.  Citrus, some spice and toasty flavours on the palate.
  • Oyster Bay Sparkling Cuvee Brut N/V, New Zealand ($24.99). I was really surprised by this wine.  It won me over with it’s fresh fruit flavours. Light citrus and stone fruit on the nose.  Lots of flavour in your mouth with citrus, lime, kiwi fruit, and herbal flavours. Small bubble with medium acidity.
  • Schramsberg Vineyards Blanc de Blanc, 2008, California. Light lemon colour.  Vanilla and spice on the nose.  High acid with small bubbles.  Lemons and green apples greet your tongue. A very nice, elegant dry sparkling wine.

Some Favourite White Wines for 2011

  • Stags Hollow Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc 2010

    Beringer Private Reserve Chardonnay 2009, California.  This is a single vineyard wine.  Medium lemon in colour with tropical fruit and some toasty aromas. Medium body and very soft mouth feel (really silky). Some vanilla and tropical fruit flavours.  Really nice.

  • Waterstone Chardonnay, 2009, California. This is my favourite white wine of the night.  Not a typical Napa Chardonnay.  This wine had a medium pear colour.  Vanilla and bartlett pear aromas. Medium body, soft and round mouthfeel.  Cinnamon and tropical fruit flavours with light acidity.  Nice and fruity, some vanilla with a long dry finish.
  • Stags Hollow Viognier 2010, BC. One of my favourite wines of the tasting. This Viognier was pale in colour with some sweetness, orange, and flower aromas. Very pretty. Tropical fruit and cinnamon flavours.  Medium body.
  • Tantalus Vineyards Riesling 2010, BC. Their Riesling is always on my favourite list. This one is no exception.  It has light lemon, lychee and flowers on the nose.  Off dry, with high acidity to make your mouth water for more.  Red apples and lemon flavours.  Excitement in a glass.
  • Thornhaven Estates Winery Pinot Gris 2010, BC. I think there is something specific about the terroir for this wine that makes this Pinot Gris have a wonderful grapefruit nose and flavour.  I haven’t seen this in other Okanagan Pinot Gris. Pale lemon in colour with red grapefruit nose. Flowery with citrus, grapefruit flavours. Yum.
  • Graffigna Grand Reserve Torrontes 2010 (Argentina). Torrontes is the signature white grape of Argentina.  Very aromatic and a good change from Gewurztraimer or Viognier. Light lemon coloured. Lychee and perfumy nose.  Light body, round, with medium acidity.  Lychee, apricot and cinnamon flavours. Very tasty with a long spicy finish.
  • Pfaffenheim Steinert Grand Cru Gewurztraminer 2007 (France). I love Alsatian wines, and was really looking forward to Pfaffenheim’s wines. Medium lemon colour.  Wonderful lychee nose with a slight touch of sweet spice. Full body. Off dry with lower acidity.  Round mouthfeel with lychee, apricot and flowery flavours.  Very nice.

Some Favourite Red Wines for 2011

  • Santa Rita Pehuen Carmenere 2005

    Kim Crawford Small Parcel “The-Rise-and-Shine” Creek Central Otago Pinot Noir 2007, New Zealand. Central Otago, is inland in the South Island.  The cooler climate allows these grapes have a long hang time and smaller berries, which gives a higher skin to pulp ratio, and more intense, riper, fruit flavours.  Medium purple in the glass with ripe purple fruit and vanilla aromas.  Ripe fruit, cassis, plums and vanilla on the palate.  Medium body and medium length.  Very nice.

  • Vina Santa Rita Pehuen Carmenere 2005, Chile. Pehuen Carmenere is a premium wine from Vina Santa Rita.  Opaque purple in the glass. Dark fruit nose with a whiff of capsicum. Full bodied but with soft tannins.  Ripe black cherries, vanilla and spice on the palate.  A very long length.  Here is a Carmenere you should try.
  • Dusted Valley Grenache, Columbia Valley 2009, Washington. This was such a wonderful wine.  Just the right balance of fruit, tannins, and acidity.  The wine was medium garnet in colour.  Cherry, vanilla and smoky aromas.  Raspberry, cherry, and vanilla on the palate.  Medium bodied with a raspberry finish.
  • 1884 Reservado Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Argentina ($16.99).  This was my red wine deal of the wine tasting. Drink now. Raspberry and cocoa on the nose.  Full body with full ripe cherries and raspberries.  Juicy!  Long finish.
  • Desert Hills Syrah 2007, BC.  Another one of my favourites of the tasting. Almost opaque ruby in colour. Smoky, meaty, and dark fruit nose. Full body, dry tannins, with dark fruit spice and vanilla flavours.  Enjoy this big wine with a nice roast over the winter.
  • Ogier Crozes Hermitage, Les Brunnelles 2008, France ($25.99). This is a Rhone Valley wine. The Rhone Valley produces some fabulous Syrah, and this is one of them. I really liked the aromas of this wine of cassis and plums. Full body with cassis, raspberry, cherry and oak flavours.  Low tannins helped make this wine very approachable.
  • Finca Las Moras Intis Malbec 2010, Argentina. This wine was the surprise wine of the evening.  It is priced at $8.99, and over delivers. Pale ruby colour.  Light aromas of grilled sausage and dark fruit. Medium plus body with medium acidity.  Vanilla, cherry, raspberry and sausage flavours all together. Lots of nice flavours.  Dry with soft tannins.

Some Favourite Fortified Wines

  • Sogrape Vinhos Ferreira 20-Year-Old Duque de Braganca (Portugal). Light tawny colour in the glass. Ripe sweet fruit and Malmsey Madeira nose.  Round mouthfeel, medium sweetness. Apples, plums, chocolate and spice. Nice.
  • Fonseca N/V Terra Prima Organic Port ($31.99).  Rich black fruit nose.  Medium body in your mouth.  Spicy with plums, cherries, and chocolate flavours.  Medium sweetness. Very nice.
  • Mount Baker Vineyards Late Harvest Viognier 2007, Washington (US$20 for a half bottle). Deep lemon in colour.  Pretty nose with peaches, oranges and honey. Unctus in your mouth. Sweet with honey, honeydew melon, and peach flavours. Good acidity to balance this wine. A wonderful wine. Highly recommended to top off a nice meal with family or friends.
  • Fonseca 20 Year Old Tawny Port, Portugal ($63.99).  A tawny port is aged in wooden barrels, which exposes the wine to oxygen causing oxidation. As a result, these wines  gradually turn to a golden-brown colour. The exposure to oxygen also imparts “nutty” flavours to the wine. This wine had caramel and roses aromas in the glass.  Amazing flavour with sweet spices, nuttiness and butterscotch.  Sweet but dry with a long length.  I REALLY liked this wine.

There are many more in my archives, so please check there as well for a specific varietal or style. www.mywinepal.com and of course the blog right here!  Cheers and Happy Holidays to all my friends, near and far.

Enjoy Some Stickies and Port for Christmas

Christmas gives you an excuse to indulge in dining, sparkling wine, desserts and more.  In the more category, I’d like to let you know about a few stickies (that’s the Australian term for a fortified wine they produce) and port wines that I tried at the last IVSA Trade tasting.

While these wines may appear expensive, compared to a bottle of wine, you just sip a small amount so these fortified wines will last much longer.  I’d be happy to drink these wines on my own, or share with friends and family, and hope you will too.

Croft 1991 Vintage Port

Croft 1991 Vintage Port, Portugal ($89.49).  Deep ruby in colour with no sign of aging.  Cedar, flowers and plum on the nose.  Very nice aromas. Medium body and medium sweetness with cherries, blackberries and spice.  Long length.  A very high quality wine.  Note that most ports are non-vintage.  A declared vintage happens in years when the grapes are of very high quality and the port produced as well from it.  Not every year is a declared vintage.

Fonseca 20 Year Old Tawny Port, Portugal ($63.99).  A tawny port is aged in wooden barrels, which exposes the wine to oxygen causing oxidation. As a result, these wines  gradually turn to a golden-brown colour. The exposure to oxygen also imparts “nutty” flavours to the wine. This wine had caramel and roses aromas in the glass.  Amazing flavour with sweet spices, nuttiness and butterscotch.  Sweet but dry with a long length.  I REALLY liked this wine.

Broadbent Madeira Rainwater

Broadbent Madeira Rainwater NV, Portugal ($26.99). Have you ever tried Madeira?  Madeira is a fortified Portuguese wine made in the Madeira Islands. From Wikipedia…Madeira is noted for its unique winemaking process which involves heating the wine up to temperatures as high as 60 °C (140 °F) for an extended period of time and deliberately exposing the wine to some levels of oxidation. Because of this unique process, Madeira is a very robust wine that can be quite long lived even after being opened..”  This Madeira is pale toasty orange in colour with a smoky caramel nose.  Sweet with medium body, spicy and nutty, including dark chocolate flavours.  A different wine to try.

Pertaringa Full Fronti

Pertaringa “Full Fronti” Fortified Muscat NV, Australia ($31.99). This wine is what Australians call a “stickie”.  These wines are produced from grapes that have begun to raisin on the vine. Alcohol is added before fermentation completes so that the wine still has some sugar.  This sweet wine is then aged in a solera type system.  Oxidation occurs during the aging process and evaporation in the hot Australian climate. The final result is a concentrated full bodied sticky sweet wine.  This particular wine was light amber in colour.  Big aromas in the glass of orange, caramel and spices.  Medium body, sweet with caramel, spices, nuttiness and orange.  Lots of flavour and lots of fun. I was told that this wine is available at Firefly on Cambie at 12th Ave. in Vancouver.

Enjoy Christmas, and enjoy these dessert style wines.

Are you interested in having a wine tasting of fortified wines?  Contact me at mywinepal.

Fortified Wines. What to Expect at the Vancouver Playhouse Intl Wine Fair #VPIWF

Every year at the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Fair, there is a different regional focus on some type of wine or wine style.  This year the regional theme is “Fortified Wines“.

What kind of wines are in the fortified category can you expect at the Festival?  Sherry, Madeira, Marsala, and Port are all fortified wines. Fortified wines were born of the need to preserve European wines on long sailing voyages during the 16th and 17th centuries. Brandy was added before or during the fermentation process to stabilize the wine. The resulting wines typically contain between 17 and 21 per cent alcohol, and are more stable than ordinary table wines and less likely to spoil once opened.

I am not sure if we will see any Madeira and Marsala at the wine festival this year, but I do know that there will be plenty of sherry and port for us to try.  If you are not familiar with sherry, there are several styles from dry and light bodied, to full bodied and oxidized, and full bodied and sweet. I have a two part article here on sherry:

Get Ready to Enjoy Spanish Sherry – Part 1

Get Ready to Enjoy Spanish Sherry – Part 2

Port is a fortified wine made in Portugal by definition.  It is usually quite sweet and typically made from one or more of the grape types: Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Cao, and Tinta Barroca. Other countries make a wine similar to port, but those would really be a port-style.  Only Portugal can claim the term Port. There are some different terms for the ports: Vintage, Tawny, LBV.  Here is a bit of info about these different styles of port (Note that there are more styles than just these):

Vintage:  This is port that is produced from grapes from one year (vintage) and deemed to be of exceptional quality by the port house.  Not every year is declared a vintage in the Douro. The decision on whether to declare a vintage is made in the spring of the second year following the harvest. About 2% of the total port production is Vintage.

Tawny: is a basic blended port,  which is aged in the barrel before being bottled. This type of port can be aged from 3 to 40 years.  The aging in oak causes the wine to take on a reddish-brown colour and develops a dry nutty flavour with raisin notes.

LBV:  This stands for Late Bottled Vintage. iThis is port that was originally destined for bottling as Vintage Port, but was left in the barrel for longer than had been planned. This type of port is bottled between 4 and 6 years after the vintage. The filtered version of this wine has the advantage of being ready to drink without being decanted, is bottled with a stopper that can be easily re-corked and enjoyed over many tastings.

If you check with wine festival website, you will find tasting tickets for fortified wine events:

Elegance, Power and Complexity: Graham’s Port

Thursday, March 31
VCC East, meeting room 12
999 Canada Place Way
5:15-6:45 pm
$150
Buy tickets 604-873-3311
Founded in 1820, Graham’s has unmatched experience as a producer of outstanding Vintage Ports and a reputation which is second to none. Join Graham’s Executive Director Rupert Symington for this rare opportunity and embark on a remarkable journey through his thoughts and passions on eight legendary vintages of Graham’s Port: 1970, 1977, 1980, 1985, 1994, 2000, 2003 and 2007.Sponsored by Graham’s Port


The Fladgate Partnership

Friday, April 01
VCC East, meeting room 8
999 Canada Place Way
5:00-6:45 pm
$150
Buy tickets 604-873-3311
The Fladgate Partnership invites you to taste an unparalleled vertical selection of Taylor, Fonseca and Croft vintage ports spanning four decades of the partnership’s history, including the benchmark 1994 vintage. Join chief winemaker David Guimaraens, CEO Adrian Bridge and Anthony Gismondi as they extol the virtuous history of the Douro Valley and the partnership’s wines during this rare and extraordinary seminar.Sponsored by Taylor Fladgate, Fonseca and Croft

Get Ready to Enjoy Spanish Sherry – Part 1Get Ready to Enjoy Spanish Sherry – Part 1

Sabor de España!

Monday, March 28
Salt Tasting Room
45 Blood Alley
7:00 – 10:00 pm
$125
Buy tickets 604-873-3311
Buy Tickets Online 

Prepare yourself for an authentic and intimate Spanish wine and tapas experience! Let Salt and Bodegas Alvear transport you to the heart of Montilla, featuring a rarely explored range of Alvear sherry-style wines paired with exceptional charcuterie, cheese and authentic Spanish cuisine. The evening will be led in flamboyant and celebratory fashion by family members Fernando and Maria Alvear.

I hope you will get a chance to attend one of these events. If not, you will be able to sample different sherries and port during the International Festival Tasting room opening on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Enjoy!

Enjoy some Port and Cheese for Christmas?

With this cold snap here in Vancouver, it got me to thinking about opening a bottle of port and enjoying some cheeses over a couple of evenings. I thought that you may also enjoy such things, so I am giving you a short list of some ports and some cheeses that you may want to try.

Port is a fortified wine made in Portugal by definition.  It is usually quite sweet and typically made from one or more of the grape types: Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Cao, and Tinta Barroca. Other countries make a fortified wine and sometimes call it port, just like some countries make sparkling wine and call it champagne.  So when I am talking about port, I am meaning port from Portugal.

I checked out the Everything Wine store website, www.everythingwine.ca to see what port they have in stock in the $25-$50 range (sometimes it is nice to spoil yourself).  Most of the port listed is from Portugal, but there is at least one in the list from Australia (can you spot it?):

Croft Pink Port 750ml Port $29.99
De Bortoli Black Noble 750 mL Port $46.99
Fonseca LBV 2001 Port 750ml Port $38.99
Graham’s The Vancouver Club Reserve Port 750 mL Port $29.99
Graham’s 10 Year old Tawny Port 750 mL Port $39.99
Graham’s 98 Quinta dos Malvedos Port 375 mL Port $36.99
Graham’s 99 Quinta dos Malvedos Port 375 mL Port $36.99
Graham’s Six Grapes Vintage Character Port 750 mL Port $29.99
Graham’s Late Bottled Vintage Port 750 mL Port $28.99
Hardy’s Whiskers Blake Classic Tawny Port 750 mL Port $29.99
Kopke Colheita LBV 1997 Port 750 mL Port $49.99
Nieport Colheita 1995 Port 375 mL Port $44.99
Quinta de Ventozelo Ten yr old Tawny 375 mL Port $32.99
Quinta Do Crasto 2005 LBV 750ml Port $34.99
Smith Woodhouse LBV Port 750 mL Port $37.99
Taylor Fladgate 10 Yr Tawny Port Port $39.99
Taylor Fladgate Late Bottled Vintage 750 mL Port $25.99
Taylor Fladgate Quinta de Vargellas 1995 Vintage Port 375ml Port $49.99
Ventozelo 1998 Port, LBV 750ml Port $39.99

You may have noticed different terms for the ports: Vintage, Tawny, LBV.  Here is a bit of info about these different styles of port (Note that there are more styles than just these):

Vintage:  This is port that is produced from grapes from one year (vintage) and deemed to be of exceptional quality by the port house.  Not every year is declared a vintage in the Douro. The decision on whether to declare a vintage is made in the spring of the second year following the harvest. About 2% of the total port production is Vintage.

Tawny: is a basic blended port,  which is aged in the barrel before being bottled. This type of port can be aged from 3 to 40 years.  The aging in oak causes the wine to take on a reddish-brown colour and develops a dry nutty flavour with raisin notes.

LBV:  This stands for Late Bottled Vintage. iThis is port that was originally destined for bottling as Vintage Port, but was left in the barrel for longer than had been planned. This type of port is bottled between 4 and 6 years after the vintage. The filtered version of this wine has the advantage of being ready to drink without being decanted, is bottled with a stopper that can be easily re-corked and enjoyed over many tastings.

If you want to try some BC “port”, there is some that you can try from Grey Monk and from Sumac Ridge.

Some ports that I’ve reviewed in the past:

Portugal, Taylor Fladgate, White Port, NV
–  Medium gold colour. Oxidized aroma.  Green, orange marmalade, lemon meringue pie, lime, almond aromas.  Medium low acidity, fuller body and intensity.  Sweet, caramel, citrus, dried fruit, and apricot flavours.

Portugal, Taylor Fladgate, 20 year old Tawny Port, NV – Medium tawny colour.  Pronounced intensity.  Figs, red fruit, dried fruit, red cherry, earthy aromas.  Medium sweet.  Medium plus acidity / body / intensity.  Spices, raisin, red fruit, dried fruit and red cherry flavours.  Elegant.

Portugal, Quinta do Panascal, Fonseca Single Quinta Vintage Port 1991 – Opaque purple colour.  Some deposit in the glass.  Black fruit, dried fruit, orange and oak aromas.  Full bodied, medium sweetness.  Spice, raisin, red fruit, black cherry flavours.  Medium to long length.

Some suggestions for cheese to go with port:
Blue cheeses. Stilton is a traditional pairing with port.  The saltiness and the bitterness of the blue cheese balancing with the sweetness and fruit of the port.
aged cheddar
aged gorgonzola
– experiment with other salty cheeses

I hope this gives you a starting point for your Christmas holiday tipple. Enjoy!

Being Impressed at the G7 Wines of Portugal Tasting – Part 3

There was so many wines to taste and information to ingest at the G7 Wines of Portugal tasting, that I had to leave the food and wine pairing to Part 3.  The event was held at the Bill Reid Gallery in downtown Vancouver.  A wonderful exhibit of some of Bill Reid’s Haida art, as well as art by other First Nations people.  The food for this tasting was catered by diva at the Met, and each course was spectacular.

We started our food and wine pairing with:
Rare seared albacore tuna, marinated cucumber, and a basil emulsion served with the Grande Follies Branco 2007.  The Grande Follies Branco 2007 is a blend of chardonnay and the Portugese grapes Maria Gomes, Cerceal, and Bical. It had aromas and flavours of lychee, pineapple, and stone fruit, along with some vanilla.  The pairing was quite nice.  The acidity of the wine balanced with the marinated cucumbers and complemented the tuna.

Our next course was:
Butternut squash risotto with Oyama shinkin speck, served with Quinta dos Quatro Ventos Reserva 2006 and Tinto da Anfora Grande Escolha 2006.  The Quinta dos Quatro Ventos Reserva is the name of the vineyard, and is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, and Touriga Franca.  It is only produced in exceptional years. This wine has good structure.  Lots of purple fruit flavours and spice on the palate.  The Tinto da Anfora Grande Escolha is a blend, but primarily Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional. There is 5% Cabernet Sauvignon in this blend which adds a bit more structure to the wine. Medium garnet in colour. Some earthiness, black cherry, oak, and mint aromas. Medium body, smooth mouthfeel and medium acidity. Lots of ripe black fruit flavours with some spice.  Thse Portuguese reds although having structure, have a supple roundness to them so that they complement the cheese in the risotto, as well as balance well with the cured shinkin speck.

third course was:
Slow braised beef shortrib, carmelized parsnip puree, natural jus, served with Quinta do Cachao, Grande Escolha 2007 and Periquita Superior 2008.  The Quinta do Cachao Grande Escolha is a blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, and Tinta Barroca.  This wine had a bit of a closed nose but made it up on the palate.  Lots of purple fruit and soft mouthfeel.  The Periquita Superior is a higher level of quality of wine in Portugal, but below the Reserva level. Deep purple in the glass.  Oak, mint and black fruit on the nose.  Medium body.  Firm tannins with purple fruit flavours.  Dry finish.  These red wines worked very well with the beef, which was already very soft from the slow braising.

Our dessert was:
Orange creme tart, toasted almond, apricot garni and dark chocolate, served with Porto Messias Colheita 1985, Moscatel de Setubal 1999, and Alabre 20 Anos. The Moscatel de Setubal 1999 (aka the Muscat of Alexandria grape) is aged in oak malt whiskey barrels. The barrels are stored in a building which is not temperature controlled so the wines are exposed to hot summer heat and cold winter temperatures. The wine oxidizes and evaporates in the barrels to provide additional complexity and concentration to the wines. This wine had a wonderful orange and flowery nose. The Alabre 20 Anos, is a blend of 20 different vintages of this grape from 20 years old to 80 years old! This wine has sweet aromas with orange and some nuttiness. Sweet on the palate with spicy and orange flavours. Very round mouthfeel. The Porto Messias Colheita 1985 had honey and nuttiness on the nose.  Orangy colour.  Medium body, with spiciness and sweetness.  Good level of acidity to cleanse the palate.  The intensity of flavour plus the spice and full body of these wines balanced nicely with the orange creme tart.

I hope I’ve whetted your appetite for Portuguese wines, red, white, and dessert with these last 3 blog posts.  Please post a comment if you enjoy Portuguese wines, and which ones you like in particular.  Gracias!

Being Impressed at the G7 Wines of Portugal Tasting – Part 2

In my last blog I introduced you to some white wines from Portugal. I didn’t mention, but should have, that the white wines of Northern Portugal, are well-known by the name Vinho Verde. (There are also some red Vinho Verde, but maybe I’ll talk about that another time).

In Part 2 of Being Impressed at the G7 Wines of Portugal Tasting, I would like to talk about the red wines made from the Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, and Baga grapes, and some food and wine pairings we enjoyed. I mentioned in Part 1 that there are approximately 256 different vitis vinifera grape varieties in Portugal. I wondered with this much variety, how many of the French vitis vinifera (e.g. Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay) are planted in Portugal. I was pleased to hear that in the past it was about a 50/50% split, but now, 80% of the grapes planted are indigenous Portuguese varieties. I do like variety in wines and trying wines that are particular to a specific place in the world. Maybe you can say that these particular grapes express the terroir of the land.

Tinta Roriz is also known as Aragonez in Portugal. To confuse you even more, this grape is known as Tempranillo in Spain. The wines made from this grape provides elegance and also some mintiness to a Portuguese blend. The wine I tried was deep purple in the glass with some mintiness and black fruit aromas. It was medium in body, with low tannins. Black cherry and oaky flavours. It is also one of the grapes that go into making port wines.

The second red wine we tried was from the Touriga Nacional grape. This is another port wine grape, but also can be blended or on it’s own for still wines. We tried Touriga Nacional from the North (Douro), the Central (Setubal), and the Southern (Dao) parts of Portugal to see the differences in the wine produced from each region. Overall I would say that the wines had more tannic structure in the north, and became softer and smoother as you went south. Touriga Nacional has similar aromas to shiraz. The Douro wine was opaque purple in the glass. An amazing aroma. Very fruity, black fruit and vanilla on the nose. Ripe purple fruit flavours with some spice and round mouthfeel.

Touriga Franca was the next variety that we tasted. Touriga Franca (also known as Touriga Francesca) is another port wine grape, but also great as a still wine for drinking. It is a very difficult grape to grow. It does not like humidity and is prone to botrytis. It is happy with little rain and is late to mature. BUT can produce a wine with exceptional flavours and aromas if kept to low production. The wine we tasted was opaque purple in colour. Meaty, stewed / dried black fruit, vanilla, and leather aromas. Black fruit, spice and chocolate flavours. Medium acidity and tannins. I was really impressed by this grape variety.

Baga was our last grape variety to try, but not the last red grape that I will talk about. Baga I was told has great aging potential. It is widely planted in Portugal. This wine was opaque purple in colour. Some mint, oak, and black fruit on the nose. Ripe black fruit, a hint of spice on the palate. It was full bodied, with medium tannins and a long length.

The last grape variety that I would like to tell you about is the Moscatel de Setubal. This is the same as Muscat of Alexandria from around Egypt. I saved this one to the last as this grape is used for fortified wines, and we tasted wines from this grape when we enjoyed the dessert portion of our food and wine pairing. We tried a Moscatel de Setubal 1999 and Alabre 20 Anos (years) with our dessert. The Moscatel de Setubal 1999 is aged in oak malt whiskey barrels. The barrels are stored in a building which is not temperature controlled so the wines are exposed to hot summer heat and cold winter temperatures. The wine oxidizes and evaporates in the barrels to provide additional complexity and concentration to the wines. This wine had a wonderful orange and flowery nose. The Alabre 20 Anos, is a blend of 20 different vintages of this grape from 20 years old to 80 years old! This wine has sweet aromas with orange and some nuttiness. Sweet on the palate with spicy and orange flavours. Very round mouthfeel. These two wines, plus a port were paired with an orange creme tart, toasted almond, apricot garni and dark chocolate. It was an unbelievably good pairing.

Back to the still red wines. After going through the flight of white and red wines, sans labels, we then tasted five labelled red wines. The first was the Quinta da Garrida 2007 from the Dao region. A blend of Tinta Nacional and Tinta Roriz (50/50%). Opaque purple colour. Pruple fruit and oak on the nose. Medium body with dry tannins. Chocolate, black fruit, oak and spicy flavours on the palate. Long length a wonderful wine.

Next was the Tinto da Anfora 2007. This is a blend of many grapes, but primarily Tinta Roriz and Tinta Nacional. There is 5% Cabernet Sauvignon in this blend which adds a bit more structure to the wine. Medium garnet in colour. Some earthiness, black cherry, oak, and mint aromas. Medium body, smooth mouthfeel and medium acidity. Lots of ripe black fruit flavours with some spice.

One of my stars of the tasting for me was the Periquita Reserva 2007 (~$15). This is a blend of 3 varietals. Pencil lead aroma. Medium body with purple fruit, more pencil leads, violets, and vanilla flavours. Round mouthfeel with low tannins.

My other star wine was the Follies Cabernet Sauvignon / Touriga Nacional (30/70%) 2008 (~$16). Opaque purple in colour. Lots of aroma in the glass. Violets, black fruit, spice and mint aromas. Full bodied. Good fruit / tanning balance. Purple fruit flavour with a dry tannic finish.

The last wine in the flight of five wines was the Dados Reserva 2008. This is a blend of Tinta Roriz (60%), Touriga Franca (30%), and Touriga Nacional (10%). This wine is made from a very dry vineyard. The wine was opaque purple in colour. Purple fruit and vannila on the nose. Vanilaa, and purple fruit flavours. Smooth mouthfeel and medium body.

I think I need to do a Part 3 to this tasting. As I have 8 wines to go for the food and wine pairing. So stay tuned for Part 3. I hope I’ve enticed you a bit to go to your nearest wine shop to check out some Portuguese reds. Enjoy!

Breakfast with Bill Hardy!

Wow, what an interesting morning! I was invited with a group of other bloggers over breakfast to meet with Bill Hardy, who is the 5th generation from Thomas Hardy who started Hardys wines in South Australia. Bill is a winemaker as well as a Brand Ambassador for Hardys. Hardys is over 150 years old, starting in 1853. Quite a long heritage.

The main goal of the breakfast was to let us know about a new bottle being marketed in Canada by Hardys called the SHUTTLE. The Shuttle is a 250ml bottle that contains 250ml of wine. It uses a stelvin-like closure and consists of a bottle with glass. The closure is inside the plastic glass and the glass is inverted on top of the bottle of wine. We were shown the Chardonnay / Semillion blend shuttle. There will also be a Syrah / Cabernet Sauvignon shuttle also for the Canadian market. The nice thing about the shuttle to me, is that it is just the right amount of wine if you are having a meal by yourself, or to take on a picnic when you do not want to fuss with glasses and a bottle opener. You just twist the cap / glass to open the bottle; pour and enjoy. The price is also right at CAD$4.25 plus tax.

Bill let us talk about anything with him. I found out that this year’s vintage, 2009, is generally very good. There was a heat wave at the beginning of the harvest which affected the early ripening white grapes, but then it cooled off and the remaining white and red grapes produced very well. Bill indicated that he is very happy with the red wine production.

Did you know that the Tintara Vineyard was the first purchased by Thomas Hardy in the McLaren Vale (1876), which is south east of Adelaide? You may have heard of the Tintara line of wines from Hardys. I can attest that the Tintara Shiraz is outstanding as I have had the opportunity to try this wine at previous South World Wine Society tastings.

Hardys is also supportive of many groups, and I found out that one group is Canucks Place here in Vancouver. Any winery that supports people in need, especially children, rate high in my books.

Closing off this blog, I asked Bill for the favourite wine that he produced at Hardys. I expected him to say a big, extracted Aussie Shiraz, but was pleasantly suprised when he offered two wines, and they were both dessert / fortified wines! The first wine was the 1985 Hardys Collector Beerenauslese Riesling. This is a dessert wine that has been affected by Noble Rot. The Noble Rot imparts a honeyed / marmalade type flavour to this sweet wine. The Noble Rot wizens the grapes, leaving less water before pressing, and therefore more syrup for fermentation. The yeasts typically have problems fermenting super sugary syrup and die around 12-13 % alcohol. This leaves a fair amount of residual sugar. If you have not tried a Beerenauslese level wine, you should try. Most come from Germany, and most are very expensive, but well worth the cost to try at least once.

The other favourite wine that Bill produced was a 1975 Vintage Port, which he also noted was made by accident. Bill had identified a block of very good grapes which he was going to use to produce a top level Thomas Hardy still red wine. He had started the fermentation of the block of grapes and turned over the monitoring of the fermentation to another winemaker. He forgot though to tell the other winemaker that that block of grapes was for a still wine. The other winemaker thought that those grapes looked like they would be prime for port so he added alcohol to the fermentation, thus stopping it (killing the yeast), and the rest is history.

To close, keep your eyes open for the new Shuttle and try it on your next picnic. Enjoy!