2020 Vancouver International Wine Festival (VIWF): Featuring France

2020 Vancouver International Wine Festival (VIWF): Featuring France

It’s that time again…… time for the round-up and my thoughts from this years Vancouver International Wine Festival (VIWF) with the featured country of France!

If you have never been to the main tasting room at the VIWF it can be overwhelming. With 167 wineries and about 750 wines to taste, the best advice I can give is to come with a plan – after all you just cant do it all!

The festival website always has a list of the wineries and the App (VanWine Fest) is great way to sift through the wines available at the main tasting events and plan your “must try” list!  I generally start by country and use the “hearts” to mark my wines for the ones I want to make sure I try. This way you don’t even need a paper program as you make your way through the tasting room floor, all you really need is your phone.  The 3 hours that the tasting room is open will also go by fast, and it is difficult to remember what you tasted and loved, so make sure to either keep track of these in the App or take a photo of your favourites throughout the night.

So……. What did I enjoy this year?  Well let me start with the fact that there was a great (and large) presence from the featured country -France! And I will admit I didn’t really make it out of France except for a swing by Croatia on the way out (I love seeking out some new wines that I don’t usually have the opportunity to taste or find easily here).

Here is a list of some of the highlights for me this year:

Gratien & Meyer Crémant de Loire – great value and delicious, they have a brut and rosé and both were great value sparkling.

Mulonnière Chenin Blanc – this Chenin from Loire was everything I was hoping for and more, fresh fruity with enough complexity to keep me interested.

Jardin de Roses, Languedoc – this blend of Syrah and Grenache was the perfect balance of fresh berries and floral aromas that I love in a rosé and for about $21 a definite must try.

Mâcon-Lugny Les Genièvres – White Burgundy, if you haven’t tried it you should and this one did not disappoint.  I don’t believe this is currently available at BCLDB but keep your eye out at the private stores and pick up a bottle if you find it.

Joseph Mellot La Chatellenie, Sancerre – This Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire represents great balance between acidity and wonderful citrus fruit, herbs and minerality.

Joseph Drouhin – To be honest I loved most of the wines they were pouring in the tasting room, but I think the highlights were the Morgon and the Côte de Beaune.  The Morgon is 100% Gamay from Beaujolais and the name means “decayed soil” to represent the broken-up schist and mica in the soil that give the wine it’s uniqueness and complexity.  The Côte de Beaune is a Pinot Noir, hand harvested and full of those interesting flavours that go beyond the fruit to represent the terrior.

Georges Duboeuf, Morgon Côte Du Py – This Gamay is fruity with balanced acidity and tannin – a great value and guess what it is available at BCLDB and on sale until March 31st.

Gabriel Meffre, Plan De Dieu – A Côte Du Rhône Villages that is a GSM (Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre) might be one of the best value wines of the night! Dark fruit and minerality to keep you interested and enjoying all night and guess what…. It is also on sale for $16 until March 31st.

As you can see a lot of time was spent exploring the French wines of the festival and they did not disappoint!  I hope you have an opportunity to try some…. Be sure to let me know what you think!

À votre santé

Rosé Everyday

Rosé Everyday

Rosé has certainly seen an increase in popularity in recent years and it is not terribly hard to see why – rosé wine is incredibly diverse and food friendly. Rosé can be made anywhere in the world from any red grape, so if you are just getting started in exploring the world of rose, start with varietals and/ or regions that you already like and try some of those rosé wines. In our rosé tasting we examined a variety of different varietals styles and regions around the world.  While everyone had their own favourite of the line-up there were two clear “winners” and a clear style preference which was the one and only Provençal style rosé from France. Rosé represents one the largest production styles in Southern France and comes with a distinct pale pink or “onion skin” colour and refreshing but complex flavours of red berries, herbs, flowers and melon.

Our rosé line-up:

We started with a sparkling wine from France that we have had previously at wine club, De Chanceny Crémant de Loire, Brut Rosé. This remains incredible value at $26 and is sure to be a crowd pleaser!

1. Albia, Ricasoli, Tuscany, 2017

Score: 3.25/5

Made from Sangiovese and Merlot grapes this was a very light and easy drinking rosé, while everyone agreed that this wine would not “offend” anyone it was the collective option that it also wasn’t all that interesting.

2. Leyda, D.O. Valle de Leyda Chile, 2018

Score: 3.8/5

This 100% Pinot Noir provided the typical red berry and cherry notes expected In a Pinot with bright acidity and was probably one of the best value wines we had of the night.

3. Gerard Bertrand Cotes des Rose, Languedoc, France, 2017

Score: 4.2/5

A blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault – this was a classic representation of a Provencal style rosé and one of the overall favourites of the evening.  Expect bright red fruits, citrus some minerality and herbaceous flavours and good acidity – very well balanced and interesting!

4. Wine for Yoga Lovers Rosé, Langhorne Creek, Australia, 2018

Score: 3.4/5

An unexpected wine from Southern Australia, this is 100% Sangiovese that Is light bodies, fresh and different and a classic “don’t judge a wine by It’s label”.  I will admit that without some prior research or tasting this wine It Isn’t one I would have bought based on the label.

5. Le Vieux Pin Vaila, Okanagan Valley BC, 2018

Score: 3.3/5

BC is also starting to produce a lot of rosé.  This Pinot Noir rosé is produced from grapes throughout the Okanagan Valley (Naramata bench, Osoyoos Lake, Okanagan Falls and Westbank).  This wine Is approachable and a good representation of Pinot Noir, but was one of the more expensive wines of the evening.

6. Domaine Saint Ferréol Les Vaunieres, Provence France, 2018

Score: 4.3/5

Another Provencal style wine with the traditional blend of Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault. Chateaux Varois en Provence is the smallest appellation in Provence, the most mountainous and distant from the sea. Pale pink with herbs, light cherries and wild strawberries, this mineral driven, dry, streamline and savoury rose is a charmer and highly suited to charcuterie.

So what did we learn from all this pink wine – there is a ton of value out there in the world of rosé!  If you don’t know where to start  – look to the varietals and regions that you already love for red wine and see if they have a rosé….. or if you want to take the advice of our members and their blinded scores – go for a classic style from Provence, we have some great recommendations for you above!

Elegance in a Glass

Elegance in a Glass

Hello wine lovers!

Elegance in a glass was in one word….. Delicious!  I think we all went away with at least one new wine to add to our “buy again” list and a bunch of new expressions to challenge our palate, open our minds and add to our wine repertoire.

This theme was all about exploring some more unique varietals, refined and interesting flavours and new regions.  Even though some of these wines were not what you would call “main stream” most are pretty available at your local wine store!

I will outline the wines below in the order that we tasted them and with the groups average score out of 5.


De Chanceny Cremant de Loire Rose Brut, France
Groups Score: 3.5
This is a crowd pleasing bubbly of amazing value – a must try this summer


Domaine de la Pepiere Muscadet Sevre et Main Sur Lie, 2014, France
Group Score: 3.2
This was the most polarizing wine of the night – one people either loved or maybe wasn’t on their must buy list!  It is dry and very interesting with crisp apple and pear notes, and maybe a little river rock and floral notes, if that sounds up your alley, give it a try!


Stina Cuvee white, 2016, Croatia
Group Score: 3.3
This was our first eye-opener!  A blend from Croatia of Posip, Vuguva and Chardonnay it was interesting and smooth and great value.


Naoussa Boutari, 2016, Greece
Group Score: 3.0
This wine is what I will call a food wine, made from the local Xinomavro grapes it was transformed and almost completely different when tasted alone or with a bite of something – a great experiment to show you how much this can make a difference! For some it was their favourite of the night and others their least favourite – a testament to how individual the wine experience can be and all that really matters is if you enjoy it!


Chateauneuf du Pape Clos de L’oratoire, 2015, France
Group Score: 4.0
Tied for high-score for the night this wine is truly elegant, complex, interesting and well worth a try for your next nice “dinner in”.


Garzon Tannat Reserva, 2015, Uruguay
Group Score:  4.0
The second high-score of the night this is another crowd pleaser that is such good value you can’t NOT give it a try!

Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos Chateau Dereszla, Hungary
Group Score: 3.7
This Tokaji is a dessert wine yes, but not to be “pigeon holed” as such, it has a complexity and acidity that holds up to the sweetness making it superbly balanced – a perfect end to a meal!


There you have it – a run down on our evening and some amazing wines that I hope you will give a try!

Don’t forget to follow @vancity_wine on Instagram and leave your comments on our events or any of the wines you have tried – we always want to hear what you think!

Vancouver International Wine Fest 2019: California

Vancouver International Wine Fest 2019: California

Hello wine lovers!

Here is my annual recap of the Vancouver International Wine Festival. The 2019 host region was California.

California Wines did a great job from the set up and décor including giant hot air balloons to of course a diverse selection of wines from across the state….. not just Napa!

My tactic was to focus on the host region and really explore some producers that I was less familiar or unfamiliar with and it was definitely worthwhile as I have some new “favourites” to add to my list.

If you are curious what was a highlight for me….. here they are (in no particular order):

Hope Family Vineyards (California)– the Treana Chardonnay and both the Treana and Austin Hope Cabernets were wonderful!

Sebastiani Chardonnay (California) – I will be sipping this again for sure (especially since we bought one at the festival!)

Black Stallion Chardonnay (California) – a great expression of chardonnay and not too overpowering, great balance

Outlot (California) – what a “hidden” gem….. I say hidden as I had never had anything by this producer and boy was I impressed. Both the Chardonnay and the Cabernet are a must try!

Calvet (France) – while I spent most of the time exploring California this producer from France had some great wines. The Rose from Provence, Chateau Saint Germain and Vieux Chateau Des Combes were all great.

Stina (Croatia) – the Posip and the Red Cuvee – interesting (and of course delicious)

Culmina (BC) – this Okanagan producer had some great wines – it has been added to the “must visit in the Okanagan” list, so if you get a chance go pat them a visit!

There are my highlights….. while there was much more that was enjoyed I tried to limit the list to the ones that really stood out!

Next year…… Vive la France!

Tiny Bubbles: Sparkling Wine Event

Tiny Bubbles: Sparkling Wine Event

Whether you are celebrating something or just enjoying on a normal day, sparkling wine can be a great addition….. and there is just something special about bubbles!  Don’t think that you need to save bubbles for a special occasion, many sparkling wines are also great with food, in cocktails and of course just on their own!

Our last Vancity Wine Club event enjoyed sparkling wines from all over the world in different styles and learned the differences between Champagne and Crémant, Prosecco and Cava and of course Sparkling Wine!

There is a reason that Champagne is expensive….. so we are going to dive into why.  Champagne, like most other French wines is highly regulated.  Not only do the grapes need to be grown and made in the Champagne region to bear the name, but can only be made with 3 grape varietals (or a combination of these three) and nothing else. The grapes used in Champagne are: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier.  As some of you know two of these three grapes are red varietals – yet Champagne is mostly white (with some rose).  Blanc de Noir styles will use only Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier whilst Blanc de Blanc will use only Chardonnay.  Many aspects of the viticulture involved in making Champagne is also regulated including: pruning, vineyard yield, harvesting, the degree of pressing, and the time that wine must remain on its lees before bottling etc.  It isn’t just all the regulations that make Champagne (generally) more expensive that other sparkling wines it is how manual the process still is.  The grapes are still harvested by hand in Champagne and pressing is done very gently.  The weather in Champagne is also not always agreeable, which can highly affect the yield.  This is why only best years will create a vintage champagne!  For more prestige Cuvées in Champagne riddling (rotating the bottles at an angle) is done by hand.  By law Champagne must also be ages at least 15 months in the bottle (another point that can drive up the price).  Vintage Champagnes are required to age at least 3 years, but most of the top producers exceed this by aging their wines on the lees for 6-8 years!

Of the other main ‘categories or types’ of sparkling wine there can be different flavour profiles.  This can come from the grapes used and the method of production, but also like any wine the flavours will vary based on terrior and aging.  As a consumer you may prefer a certain style because of the finer bubbles or how fruity or creamy it is.  Whatever your preference I am sure there is a sparkling wine out there to suit your palate.  A Crémant is very similar to champagne as it follows the same traditional method of production (secondary fermentation in the bottle) but can use different grapes and is produced outside the champagne region but still in France.  Cava also uses the traditional method but is produced with different grapes (Xarel-lo, Macabeo & Parellada) in the Penedès area of Spain.  Prosecco is the well-known sparkling wine of Italy.  It uses the Tank Method (also called Charmat Method) of production meaning it undergoes secondary fermentation in a pressurized tank instead of the bottle like Champagne.  Without the strict regulations sparkling wine from other new world areas like Canada, USA or Australia can choose what grapes they use, the method of production and the amount they age their wines – I hope now you see why there are such vast differences among different sparkling wines!

Here are the wines we tried at our Tiny Bubbles event and the average group score for each (out of 5):

  • Varias Cava, Spain                                                                   3.3
  • Vaporetto Prosecco, Italy                                                        3.0
  • Jaillance Crémant de Bordeaux  Brut Rosé, France            3.6               
  • Bollinger Champagne Special Cuvée, France                      3.6               
  • Cipes Brut Sparkling Wine                                                      3.0

As you can see France did come out our overall winner with the Crémant and Champagne pulling in the top scores, but what you don’t see is there is some fluctuation in individual scores based on what flavours that each member enjoyed.  The take-away should be that there are vast differences in sparkling wine and the best way to discover what flavours you like is to go out and try some, but don’t forget to take a moment to think about the wines you are tasting and make a note (even if just a mental note) of WHY you do or do not like something and what flavours appeal to YOU!

We hope you find a reason to celebrate this summer (even if you are just celebrating the weekend) and pop open some bubbly!

Cheers….. Santé….. Cin-Cin…..Nostrovia…. Salud!

Vancouver International Wine Festival 2018: Spain & Portugal

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!


Que Syrah, Syrah!

Que Syrah, Syrah!

Que Syrah, Syrah!

What it will be …… well, what it was – is a night full of Syrah/ Shiraz from around the world.  While at first glance one could say “they all look the same”, that was hardly the case for what we smelled and tasted in those glasses.  Syrah is a varietal that can be grown in many different locations with varying terrior and climate, but it certainly has a preference which shows in superior examples.  Syrah/ Shiraz shows different flavour profiles if grown in a hot climate like the Barossa Valley in Australia compared to the moderate and cooler climate of the Northern Rhone in France.  In hotter climates Syrah/ Shiraz tends to be fuller with slightly softer tannin than its cooler-climate counterpart.  It also generally shows a more ripe, jam like fruit presence with secondary spice notes.  A cooler climate Syrah/Shiraz is more medium fullness with slightly higher tannin and a much more herbaceous flavours. So – with all that in mind, what did we taste?  In a blind tasting we sampled 6 Syrah/ Shiraz from around the globe, in the order we tasted they were as follows (with corresponding group score out of 5 – 5 being the BEST):

1.  Falernia Syrah 2011, Chile                                                              3/5

2.  Peter Lehmann “Portrait” 2015  Barossa Valley, Australia         3.25/5

3.  C.C. Jentsch Cellars 2014, Okanagan Valley, Canada                  3.5/5

4.  Smoking Loon 2015, California, USA                                             3.4/5

5.  M. Chapoutier Crozes Hermitage, France                                     2.5/5

6.  Longview Yakka 2015, Adelaide Hills, Australia                            3.75/5

The clear crowd pleaser of the night was the Longview Yakka a cool climate Australian Shiraz from Adelaide Hills.  Being a cooler climate style this wine had medium to full body with vibrant dark fruit, pepper and baking spices – this wine pleased everyone’s palates!  Second in line was a Syrah from our own backyard in the Okanagan.  BC is producing some lovely Syrah and this one by small producer C.C. Jentsch is no exception.  One more to highlight from the line-up has to be the Smoking Loon Syrah – the value pick!  When you look at those scores again remember that they were all tasted blind and that the Smoking Loon will save your wallet at $14 a bottle!   There are so many interesting and very different expressions of this grape – I encourage you to go out and try some different ones, you may just add a new “favourite” to your list!

Exploring Italy in 6 Wines

Exploring Italy in 6 Wines

Wines of Italy Event Summary

We opened with a “crowd pleaser” Prosecco, the Bottega Gold.  If you are ever wanting to bring a great value sparkling that everyone will enjoy this should make your list!  After Prosecco we moved on to a lesser known Italian white varietal a Cortese from Piedmont.  A lovely white with bright acidity balanced with citrus and stone fruit.  I wanted to showcase some of the more indigenous varietals and show the members what is out there besides Pinot Grigio in the world of Italian whites.  Our reds then got a bit interesting as the first a Barbera from Piedmont really tore the crowd…. Some really liked it, some really did not – but that is wine for you, so much subjectivity and ultimately it is what you like and want to drink!  This Barbera would be great to pair with Pizza or BBQ!  Things really picked up with wine number 4 as most of the group really enjoyed this one, a great Chianti with medium body and fine tannins.  This wine is well balanced and great to be enjoyed on its own or with food – think grilled meat or pasta in a tomato sauce.  The last two wines were shown back to back on purpose and were both scored quite well by the group.  Wine 5 was a Ripasso and wine 6 an Amarone.  It was interesting to really showcase these two back to back and appreciate all the efforts that go into making a wine like Amarone.  Though while we all really enjoyed and appreciated this wine, we are also realistic that the price point probably doesn’t put it in our everyday drinking category…. And that is where the Ripasso comes in!  A Ripasso takes the pomace of leftover grape skins and seeds from the fermentation of Amarone are added to the batch of Valpolicella wines for a period of extended maceration.  These wines are sometimes nicknamed “Baby Amarone” and provide some great value for those who love the characteristics of an Amarone but maybe can’t afford the price tag.  Overall the group had a great time exploring just a little bit of what Italy has to offer in the world of wine, maybe another time we can further explore a region or style!

The groups average score for each of the wines tasted were as follows:


THE WINE                                               THE GROUP SCORE
1. Bottega Prosecco Gold                                     4.1/5
2. Gavi Araldica 2015                                            3.3/5
3. Barbera D’Alba 2014                                         2.5/5
4. Nipozzano Reserva Chianti Rufina 2013        3.6/5
5. Folonari Valpolicella Ripasso 2015                  3.6/5
6. Tedeschi Amarone 2012                                   3.9/5

Summer Sippers: July 2017

Summer Sippers: July 2017

Summer Sippers is over but summer sure isn’t!  Take a look at these great summer wines we tasted at our last event and give one (or all) a try on your patio this summer. Our Summer Sippers event was a lot of fun with a great group of members.  Starting off with a little white sangria to welcome everyone to the event we moved on to a blind tasting with 6 different wines from Canada, France and Spain.  We started off with a crowd-pleasing sparkling wine from BC.  The Bub from Haywire in the Okanagan is made in the Traditional Method and is crisp and fresh, with citrus and toasty notes and light effervescence.  From there we moved on to two rose wines, one from France and the other from Spain.  The French rose from Provence was an overwhelming favourite and one of the top rated wines of the event.  Miraval has a light pink colour but well balanced flavours of berries with perfect minerality and crisp acidity – perfect for summer days and nights!  Our Spanish rose is a great everyday rose, darker in colour and full of fruit, this is a great value rose.  From our rose we moved on to some great whites, the first another Spanish wine from the Catalunya region.  Viña Esmeralda is a fragrant wine that is a mix of Moscatel and Gewürtztraminer, light and fresh this wine scored the highest of our event and with a price of $16 is sure to fill some fridges and become a frequent addition to our summer wine repertoire!  Next the wine that always tricks people – a never guessed Chardonnay from Gray Monk.  This wine is an unoaked Chardonnay providing bright citrus and tropical flavours.  Lastly was our summer red wine.  This varietal I have longed to give a good chance as I will admit in the past I had often said that I don’t care for these wines.  After much reading and learning a bit more about the wines I had previously tried I decided there was bound to be much more to Beaujolais than meets the eye.  In the past I had tried Beaujolais Nouveau the lowest of the three tiers of this region.  After the Nouveau wines come Beaujolais Villages and finally Cru Beaujolais.  For our event I chose a Cru Beaujolais. Maison des Bulliats is a small family run domaine of predominantly 50 year old Gamay vines.  The wines tastes of bright red berries, smooth tannin and a bit of black pepper.  Served slightly chilled this is a perfect summer red wine!

                                                                                       Average Group Score:
1.  Haywire, The Bub                                                                                 3.6/5
2.  Campo Viejo, Tempranillo Rose                                                         3.2/5
3.  Miraval Rose                                                                                          4.1/5
4.  Torres, Viña Esmeralda                                                                        4.2/5
5.  Gray Monk, Unwooded Chardonnay                                                 3.6/5
6.  Maison des Bulliats Regnie Beaujolais                                              3.8/5
Exploring Cabernet: April 2017

Exploring Cabernet: April 2017

Exploring the world of Cabernet Sauvignon!
This was our second Vancity Wine event.  For this event every member brought a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon that was tasted and rated blind then revealed at the end.  Here are the groups average scores in random tasting order:

Average Group Score:

1.  Hess Select, North Coast                                    3.9/5
2.  Edge, Napa Valley                                                3.5/5
3.  Chateau Ste Michelle, Columbia Valley            3.4/5
4.  337, Lodi                                                                3.7/5
5.  Mission Hill, Okanagan Valley                            3.6/5
6.  Irony, Napa Valley                                                3.7/5
7.  Liberty School, Paso Robles                                3.7/5

We also learned a bit more about the Cabernet varietal.  It is one of the mostly widely plated varietals in the world and is actually the offspring of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc.  

Cabernet Sauvignon is predominately a full-bodied red wine with darker fruit flavors and savory notes ranging from black pepper to bell pepper.  Aromas and flavours of Cabernet Sauvignon also change with age, becoming less “fresh” fruit forward and more “dried” fruit, earth and cigar box.