Doug Sloan

Vancouver International Wine Festival is a must-see

The 38th annual Vancouver International Wine Festival will take place from Feb. 20-28

The 38th annual Vancouver International Wine Festival will take place from Feb. 20-28.  Advance tickets to the VanWineFest went on sale on Nov. 3 and have already sold out.

However, if you are thinking of attending, and staying in a hotel, book a downtown hotel through and get one free International Festival Tasting ticket – up to $95 value!

The theme country at the 38th annual VanWineFest is Italy and will feature 60 wineries from nine regions pouring 240 wines. In the Acura Tasting Room an additional 96 participating wineries from 13 other countries will be pouring  – that’s more that 700 wines for your tasting pleasure.

Italy has vineyards everywhere. Farnese Fantini Primitivo (619163) $9.50 is one of Italy’s versions of California’s popular Zinfandel, made from the same grape.  Earthy black cherry and raspberry aromas and flavours up front lead into a finish of spicy leather, coffee and dark chocolate.

A subtly earthy red, Sangiovese is the most widely planted wine grape variety in Italy. Planted throughout the country it is the backbone of the majority of Italian red wines with its dried cherry fruit flavours and fresh-tanned peppery leather notes.

Farnese Fantini Sangiovese (512327) $10.40 has become the mid-week favourite of many budget conscious shoppers.  A medley of rich red and black berry flavours fill this affordable medium-bodied red.  There’s a wonderful balance of fruit, spicy savoury herbs and tree bark-like ‘grip’ here!

There are not a lot of Italian organic wines currently available here in British Columbia. Villa Teresa’s grapes are grown without using chemical agents, synthetic fertilizers, weed killers, insecticides or genetically modified organisms.

Richly fruited, Villa Teresa Merlot (549659) $14.30 from Veneto in the north-east overflows with spicy plum and cherry flavours underpinned by a whisper of peppery mint. Sparkling, fine and fizzy Villa Teresa Prosecco (268714) $16.10 is made from Glera wine grapes and features soft green apple and pear over a twist of  marzipan.

Theme country Italy will feature 60 wineries in the ITALIA! section with wines from nine distinct regions, including Veneto, Tuscany and Piedmont, as well as regional tasting stations presenting wines from the famous viticultural regions of Valpolicella and Chianti Classico.

An amazingly tasty Italian white from Verona 170km east of Milan, Monte del Fra ‘Ca del Magro’ Custoza Superiore (216077) $22.30 is an incredibly complex blend of mostly indigenous Italian wine grapes that finishes up at 13 per cent alc/vol.  The result is an astonishingly full-bodied dry white that overflows with ripe peach flavours over honeyed lemon drops with a dusting of chalk underlying the tantalizingly tropical fruit.

From  Marchesi Antinori’s ‘Guado al Tasso’ estate southwest of Florence near the medieval village of Bolgheri, Il Bruciato Bolgheri (322248) $29.85 is a remarkably affordable SuperTuscan blend of 65 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon, 20 per cent Merlot and 15 per cent Syrah.

The concentration and density of meaty, earthy black cherry and leathery, peppery spiciness pairs perfectly with the elegance of eight months in French oak. Simply magnificent!

Everyday Valpolicella is a light to medium-bodied and seriously food-friendly red wine made from Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara wine grapes with a refreshingly bright underlying natural acidity.  A step up the scale, Valpolicella Ripasso wines are made on the pomace of leftover grape skins and seeds from the fermentation of the previous year’s wine.

Bolla Valpolicella Ripasso (689364) $23.15 takes ripe hand-harvested grapes, crushed and puts them through a cold pre-fermentation process for about 5 days, total contact with the skins lasts about 20 days.  Oodles of rich plum and berry fruit, a dash of dark raisins and a woodsy twist of leathery oak in the finish!

Next up the Valpolicella ladder, Amarone is made from deliberately dried grapes. Following drying, around the end of January or the beginning of February, the grapes are crushed and go through a long, slow, low temperature fermentation process which can last up to 30/50 days

Seriously rich, Zenato Azienda Vitivinicola Amarone (77446) $51.95  is a full bodied and seductively smooth but strangely ‘dry’ wine.  Like all Amarone it 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.

Keep the last week of February open to attend the Vancouver International Wine Festival!  Maybe see you there?


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