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
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
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
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!