Vancouver International Wine Festival 2018: Spain & Portugal

The wine world was in Vancouver again from February 24th – March 4th 2018 for the 40th Vancouver International Wine Festival.  This years featured region was Spain and Portugal and they did not disappoint with a well-stocked regional tasting table along with 38 wineries from Spain and 20 wineries from Portugal.

Here are some facts about this years Wine Fest:

  • 16 countries from around the world were present
  • 173 wineries
  • 51 events were held over 8 days
  • Over 1450 wines were poured
  • 43,000 bottles of wine were sampled or purchased
  • 82,000 wines glasses were used (dishwashers working over-time!)

Now let’s talk about the wine…..
As usual I try and spend most of my time at the festival tasting exploring the featured region of that year and this year was no exception where I got to know a little more about the wines of Spain and Portugal.  While these regions are considered “Old World” there can be many differences in some of the regulations and methods to the other old-world countries.  Spain has only 2 DOCa (Denominación de Origen Calificada) regions – Rioja and Priorat.  These are areas that are quality-controlled by various laws and tend to be very representative of terroir.  In Rioja the dominant varietal gown is Tempranillo and is the larger of the two regions by quite a margin with vineyards spanning over 63,000 hectares.  Priorat on the other hand spans only 1,800 hectares and primarily grows Garnacha and Cariñena, followed closely by Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.
Cava has recently been named a DO (Denominación de Origen ) in Spain and while similar to Champagne in that it uses the Traditional Method for production, it truly has its own unique characteristics from the grapes it uses.  Macabeu, Parellada and Xarel·lo are the most popular and traditional grape varieties used for making cava and must be produced in Catalonia.

On to the highlights……
There were so many great wines to try at this years Wine Fest from still to sparkling to fortified.  Here are some of the ones that really made an impression:

  • La Montesa Crianza, Rioja Spain
  • De Moya Tibó, Valencia Spain
  • Juvé & Camps Cava Spain
  • La Vendimia, Rioja Spain
  • Beronia Rioja Gran Reserva Spain
  • Mondeco Vinho Branco, Dão Portugal

And trust me I could go on, but these wines really stood out – sadly not all of them are available at our local liquor stores, but keep an eye out and if you see any I highly recommend you give them a try!

Lastly, I should mention if you are ever visiting Spain – it goes without saying that you should visit wine country (start with Rioja and Priorat – and NO they are not all about red wine, these regions also produce some fabulous white wine but we don’t see a lot of them here in Canada).  While visiting stop by Gratavinum & Parés Baltà.  Owned by the Cusiné Family, not only are they making some great wines they are some of the nicest people –  so when planning your Spanish adventure make sure you pop by, drink some wine and say hello!