Doug Sloan

North Island College’s Mad Men Wine Festival

The hit TV series Mad Men features American society and culture of the 1960s

Local North Island wine lovers should mark off Nov. 20 on their calendars.

That’s the upcoming date of the 14th Annual North Island College (NIC) Tourism and Hospitality students’ ‘Third Course Bistro’ Mad Men Wine Festival 7-9:30pm.

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

Backyard Vineyards Nosey Neighbour Red (746883) $14.10 The blend is almost equal amounts of Syrah and Merlot with splashes of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc to provide structure. Expect hints of plum, ripe raspberries, cloves, and vanilla oak.

Creator Matthew Weiner called the TV series science fiction in the past – just as science fiction uses a future world to discuss issues that concern us today, Mad Men uses the past to discuss issues that concern us today that we don’t discuss openly.

From New Zealand’s famed Marlborough region Riverlore Sauvignon Blanc (692863) $16.00 offers up a bouquet of ripe gooseberries supported by understated herbal aromas and tropical fruit. Rich and almost sweet on first sip, it moves through nectarine and kiwi fruit flavours before finishing bright and crisp.

Every year, the NIC ‘Third Course Bistro’ offers the opportunity to taste numerous wines, from all over the world.  Crisp whites from New Zealand are just as likely as earhty reds from Spain.

A beautiful Monastrell (aka Mourvedre) from 40-year-old vines grown in Jumilla, Spain Juan Gil 4 Meses Gold Label (235614) $16.45 is full of spicy ripe blackberry and plum fruit, delicate vanilla and sweet cedar spice. Layers of lush spiced plum and sweet black cherry fruit with a distinctly dry and earthy undercurrent.

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

New from The Hatch winery B.Yanco (772285) $16.90 is a lip-smacking blend of approximately 67 per cent Pinot Blanc grown in West Kelowna with 33 per cent Viognier from the hotter southern hinterlands of Osoyoos. The initial aromas and flavours of lemon and green apple are enhanced by the peach and honeysuckle influence of ripe Viognier.

Stag’s Hollow Riesling (777540) $20.45 is 97 per cent Riesling with just 3 per cent Muscat Ottonel. Bold assertive aromas of Macintosh apple, peach skin and a touch of that telltale smell of gasoline, petrol or diesel that at first sniff masks the fruit. Hunt this one down when you need to cleanse your palate!

Classic California Chardonnays are always a delight. Liberty School Chardonnay (288241) $21.29 opens with aromas of green apple and lemon rind, pineapple, coconut and mango. Bright on first sip the rich and creamy texture and rich flavours of green apple, mandarin and guava fill the palate.

Back in BC, Noble Ridge Pinot Noir (90647) $28.10 exhibits a deep ruby colour and complex nose featuring bright red fruit aromas of strawberry and cherry. The palate follows with dense, ripe red fruit, subtle vanilla and anise with a touch of earthiness.

A bit of a sleeper Thornhaven Syrah (237305) $26.00 has peppery aromas of blackberry, cherry, vanilla and cloves. Fully fruited… and somehow elegant and restrained at the same time.  The 2012 vintage of this very seductive red wine quietly scored Platinum at the 2014 National Wine Awards of Canada.

Recently released, Perseus Eclipse (839209) $40.55 is a tantalizing blend of 35 per cent Syrah, 26 per cent Cabernet Franc, 24 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon, 15 per cent Malbec. Distinct aromas of violets, sweet cherry, cocoa and a charming touch of cigar box transition into a plump and opulent wine that is full of flavour and remarkably smooth.

Hester Creek’s heavy hitter ‘The Judge’ (133124) $45.90 is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in a big, ripe wine, with aromas and flavours of vanilla, plum and figs. Scout out the flavours of coffee, chocolate, and spicy liquorice on the finish.

Haunt the thrift stores or dig around in that old trunk for some retro-chic 60’s threads and come on down!

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


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