Prep for the 40th Vancouver International Wine Festival by pouring wines from Iberia

  • Aug. 3, 2017 1:30 p.m.

Widely considered to be one of the best wine events in the world, the 40th Vancouver International Wine Festival (VIWF) will showcase the wines of Portugal and Spain.

Plan to attend at least one of the 55 events that will take place February 24-March 4, 2018 at the Vancouver Convention Centre and 25 other venues around the city. In the meantime, start prepping yourself by exploring a few Iberian wines.

From Castilla-La Mancha in central Spain, Marques de Luna Tempranillo (56689) $12.45 is all juicy red berry fruit up front. Made from 100 per cent Tempranillo this dry red is entirely unoaked and finishes with a twist of anise and a whiff of white pepper.

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

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 salt into the finish, it is unoaked and unabashedly fruity.

Vinho Verde originated in the historic Minho province in the far north of Portugal. Start any meal with a refreshing and palate cleansing sip of ever so slightly effervescent Vinho Verde – ‘green’ wine.

The Loureio, Arinto, Azal and Trajadura grape varietals used in making Lago Cerqueira Vinho Verde (273318) $13.79 give this white lightly floral nuances, bright flavours of dried pineapple and subtle tropical characteristics as well as almond notes and vivid acidity with a touch of chalky minerality.

Known as Estremadura until 2009, the wine growing region of Lisboa covers a wide range of territory and includes Carcavelos, Colares and Bucelas – close to Lisbon, Alenquer, Arruda and Torres Vedras – further north, Lourinha – near the sea, and Obidos and Encostas d’ Aire in the far north.

Carefully sourced from various sub regions and exceptionally elegant – with fascinating floral overtones! – Paxis (4083) $13.99 is a medium bodied red from Lisboa. A blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz, it is full of mixed berry fruit aromas and flavours. Awarded 90 points, this wine was #5 in Wine Enthusiast’s 100 Best Buys in 2016.

The Val do Salnés region is one of 5 Rias Baixas regions, Spain, north of the border with Portugal (…where the most revered white wine grape is called Alvarinho). Regional wines have natural affinities that know no political boundaries. In Spain they call it Albarino.

Vina Vedra Albarino (555805) $16.99 is an elegant single varietal Spanish version of Portugal’s Vinho Verde. Lemon rind, grapefruit pith and fresh crushed almond notes come together in a bright, sassy white wine that starts and finishes with a whiff of wave-washed beach and salty ocean air.

If you can only attend one event at the 40th Vancouver International Wine Festival choose one of the four International Festival Tastings. More than 700 wines will be poured – many from Spain and Portugal. Start planning to attend, now!

Aged in new French oak barrels for 6 months, old French oak for 18 months, from Lisboa’s Sanguinhal Agricultural Company, Quinta das Cerejeiras Tinto Reserva 2011 (29655) $40.99 is an earthy blend of 40 per cent Castelão, 30 per cent Aragonez (Tinto Roriz, Tempranillo) and 30 per cent Touriga Nacional. It offers a silky medley of dusky berry fruit framed by notes of salt and tar with intriguing echoes of liquorice, molasses and soy in the finish.

In the north east of Spain, Rioja is the most renowned wine region in Spain, subdivided into three different zones: Rioja Alta, Rioja Baja and Rioja Alavesa. Wines range across the possible – white, rose and red from everyday quality to extraordinary.

A powerhouse red from the well-respected Bodegas Marques de Caceres, Gaudium Gran Vino (580977) $99.99 is a dark and dusky mouthful. Made from inky old vine Tempranillo with a splash of Graciano, it boasts concentrated aromas and flavours of blackberries and blackcurrants, cherries, fresh tobacco and leather.

Start planning now if you intend to attend the 40th Vancouver International Wine Festival – February 24-March 4, 2018. Details are available online at

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