It’s that time of year again – the Vancouver International Wine Festival

  • Jan. 4, 2018 2:30 p.m.

Wine lovers who have not yet made any New Year’s Resolution should consider resolving to attend the 40th Vancouver International Wine Festival – particularly if they have never experienced this world class wine event.

Numerous dinners and guided tasting events lead into the International Festival Tastings at the Vancouver Convention Centre on the evenings of Thursday March 1, Friday March 2 and Saturday March 3 from 7-10 p.m., with a Saturday, March 3 matinee 2:30 – 5 p.m.

This year’s theme is “Viva Iberia!” and the Tasting Room will feature hundreds of wines from Spain and Portugal. But much of the rest of the wine world will be attending, with representatives of 115 wineries from other countries and regions.

In 1926, 80km north of Lisbon, Abel Pereira da Fonseca founded the Sanguinhal Agricultural Company in Obidos, Portugal. It is now demarcated into 3 separate estates or ‘Quintas’: Quinta do Sanguinhal, Quinta das Cerejeiras and Quinta de San Francisco.

From one of 20 wineries that will be attending from Portugal, Sanguinhal Cerejeiras Tinto (762526) $12.49 is a fresh and fully-fruited red oozing cherry, raspberry, and soft peppery spice. A blend of Castelão, Aragonez (aka:Tinto Roriz or Tempranillo) and Touriga Nacional grown close enough to the Atlantic Ocean to sprinkle a little saltiness into the finish, it is unoaked and unabashedly fruity.

At least 22 wineries from Italy will be there with some unusual offerings. Aglianico is a red wine grape variety native to southern Italy that makes full-bodied red wines with musky berry flavors, firm tannins and good aging potential.

From a winery built on the Volcanic soils east of Naples, Feudi di San Gregorio Trigaio Aglianico (687244) $18.79 is a dusky dark red wine, that surprises most wine lovers with its bright cherry and raspberry flavours. Savoury notes of salty tar and liquorice fill out the long, silky finish.

Almost 40 wineries from Spain will be attending. One of many Riojas that will be available for sampling, Vivanco Rioja Crianza (395319) $19.99 leads with bright red cherries, violets and red fruit, with a hint of vanilla and spice. Subtle hints of smoke, toasted vanilla, and spicy liquorice balance the fruit.

Although it is an renowned International wine festival, many British Columbia wineries will be there, including one from Vancouver Island. Just outside of Mill Bay, Unsworth Vineyards was purchased by Tim and Colleen Turyk in 2009. Their winemaker Daniel Cosman and his crew currently farm 12 acres of grape varieties at Unsworth Vineyards.

A blend of 95 per cent Cabernet Libre and 5 per cent Marechal Foch which was dried in the Italian appassimento style, Unsworth Vineyards Symphony (666164) $26.35 offers up a medley of red and black berry aromas and flavours. Black cherry, raspberry and blackberry flavours lead with earthy notes of sweet fig and cedar in the lengthy finish.

From Uruguay, Bodega Garzon will be the only winery in attendance. More than 25 percent of Uruguay’s 22,000 acres of vineyards produce deep, earthy red wines from the Tannat grape. Garzón Single Vineyard Tannat (+199810) $44.99 spends 12 to 18 months in untoasted French oak barrels after fermentation in concrete tanks. Aromas and flavours of dried strawberries, black cherries, blackcurrants and blackberries simmer under the first notes of fresh cut tobacco leaf, cedar and dark chocolate.

One of more than 20 California wineries that will be there, Trefethen Family Vineyards consistently produces exceptionally elegant wines. Trefethen Family Vineyards 2013 Oak Knoll Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (830547) $77.99 is a blend of 93 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon, 4 per cent Malbec, 2 per cent Petit Verdot and 1 per cent Merlot. From an exceptional vintage for California, after 18 months in French, American and Hungarian oak, this masterfully crafted red outshines many French Bordeaux.

Out of town visitors to the 40th Vancouver International Wine Festival should start thinking of securing accommodation soon. Not all of the 25,000 wine lovers expected to attend live in Vancouver, so securing somewhere to sleep is critical. And of course, numerous wine professionals will also be attending from around the wine world. Most of them will be seeking accommodation, too.

Meanwhile, pick up a bottle or two to tease your taste buds while you wait for the 40th Vancouver International Wine Festival to burst onto the scene Feb. 24 to March 4.

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