If you’re mad about wine, then this fest is for you

The hit TV series Mad Men is set in the American society and culture of the 1960s

Local North Island wine lovers should mark off Nov. 20 on their calendars.  That’s the date of the upcoming 14th Annual North Island College (NIC) Tourism and Hospitality students’ ‘Third Course Bistro’ Mad Men Wine Festival 7-9:30 p.m.

The hit TV series Mad Men is set in the American society and culture of the 1960s and its penchant for cigarette smoking, drinking, sexism, feminism, adultery, homophobia, antisemitism, and even racism.

From Argentina Bianch’s Finca Los Primos Chardonnay (56382) $9.85 hits all the marks at an affordable price.  Peach and lemon and lime aromatics entice the nose and lead into lightly buttery apple and fresh cut peach flavours. Easy to like, easier to afford!

You don’t have to be an expert to enjoy the fabulous selection of wines The Third Course ‘Mad Men’ Wine Festival offers. Excellent hors d’oeuvres, informative wine seminars and live entertainment add to the excitement.

Dare to be different and make your first taste a red wine! Sibaris Pinot Noir (761205) $14.10 is an excellent introduction to ‘The Heartbreak Grape’.  Lighter bodied than most reds, this Chilean Pinot Noir offers up delicate red berry and spicy strawberry aromas with smooth and silky earthy beet and raspberry flavours.

With those delicate aromas and subtle flavours in mind, remember to forget to put on any scent – even aftershave, guys!  Although you, yourself, don’t have to be serious about sniffing out the fruity nuances of the many and vastly different wines, that doesn’t mean the stranger next to you feels the same away.

Situated on the sunny Mediterranean coast, Valencia is better known for its seafood and oranges. Young winemakers and modern techniques are turning that perception on its head. Hammeken Cellars was established in 1996 to introduce the world to the grape varietals that have deep roots in the history of Spain.

From Hammeken’s wide portfolio Radio Boka Tempranillo (760876) $39.70 for a 3L bag-in-a-box is a mouthful of sunny Valencia fruit. Aromas and flavours of juicy ripe strawberry and succulent dark cherries finish with lingering hints of sweet, spicy cinnamon and vanilla.

Even at the premium level, among similar wines from other Chilean producers, Montes Alpha Chardonnay (390203) $24.65 is a fascinating white wine with a medley of mango, peaches, guava and grapefruit aromas and flavours over a core of fresh sliced lemons and asparagus. Ten months in French oak adds subtle elements of toast, vanilla, butterscotch and caramel.

As well as international wines, there will be an amazing assortment of local wines, grown in the Okanagan Valley, the Similkameen Valley, the Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.

An emerging varietal in British Columbia, Tinhorn Creek Cabernet Franc (55921) $25.60 is satisfyingly rich and overflowing with dark, raspberry and peppery blackberry aromas and flavours.  More elegant than extravagant, this is a structured red that is perfectly suited for pairing with richly sauced pasta and meat dishes.

Professional wine tasters rarely swallow any wine.  The real trick is to sniff deeply, sip generously, swirl the wine around in your mouth, spit it gently back into your glass, then empty the glass into one of the handy buckets and rinse with water before re-using.  If you find this too disgusting to even consider, be sure to have a Taxi or a Designated Driver waiting at the end of the evening.

Track down Montresor Amarone della Valpolicella (855759) $43.40 from Italy towards the end of the evening.  Full bodied and seductively smooth, Amarone is made from Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes that are deliberately air-dried on racks for three weeks to three months before fermentation even begins.  The lush and darkly plummy result is often the last dry red of the evening before moving on to Port and a Death-by-Chocolate dessert.

Tickets to the Mad Men Wine Festival are $55 and are are available at Merecroft Village Liquor Store, Royal Coachman Liquor Store, Gourmet Essentials, MetroLiquor – both Timberline Village and Discovery Harbour stores – and at the North Island College’s bookstores at the Campbell River and Comox Campuses.

For more information call 250-923-9708 or email tourism@nic.bc.ca.

  • And if you can’t make it to the WineFest? Why not join your WineWise guy at The Riptide Pub & Grill for a wine and food pairing featuring bubblies and dessert wines on Nov. 21. Call Doug at 250-914-5569 for details.


Reach Winewise by emailing douglas_sloan@yahoo.com