WINE WISE: Never too early to start thinking about Vancouver’s wine festival

Enthusiastic wine lovers might want to consider marking their calendar and saving the date to attend the 40th Vancouver International Wine Festival which takes place February 24 to March 4, 2018.

Next year’s Vancouver International Wine Festival (VIWF) is moving across the Atlantic to the Iberian Peninsula for 2018’s feature countries: Portugal and Spain.

They expect 60 wineries from these two neighbouring nations to participate, plus 100 additional wineries from around the world.

It is still much too early to know just which Iberian wineries will be pouring their finest wines at the VIWF.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t get a head start and do a little research on our own in the meantime.

Let’s focus on Spain.

A surprise hit at the last Campbell River Rotary Wine &Blues Fest was the inexpensive Spanish white Jana Chardonnay (858399) $10 with oodles of ripe mango and pineapple notes over a rich base of candied lemon rind flavours.

Think about keeping a few bottles of this great little white wine from Catalunya on hand for impromptu guests to enjoy on the deck this summer.

Red wine doesn’t have to be dry and tart.

Sangria is a traditional and popular drink in many Spanish towns, an integral part of the country’s history and tourism, synonymous with the beach, the sun, and a nice beach bar.

Recipes vary from region to region and even from house to house but Lolea Sangria (612440) $16.50 is a perfect pre-mixed combination of red Spanish wine and fruit juices that just needs to be chilled and poured over ice.

The eye-catching red bottle with large cream coloured polka dots stands out.

After the dissolution of the Roman Empire, the Tarragona region in northeast Spain started producing wine again in the Middle Ages, when vines were introduced by monks, who had migrated from the Burgundy region of France and Germany’s Rhine Valley.

Declared its own appellation in 2001, Montsant is known for rich red wines made from Garnacha.

Baronia del Montsant Flor d’Englora Garnatxa (667667) $17.99, the 2011 Flor de Englora ‘Garnatxa’ is made from grapes from 35-year-old vines.

It has a ripe plum and cranberry bouquet that presages the dusky flavours of sun-scorched cranberry, pomegranate and wild strawberries.

Situated in Castilla-La Mancha, southeast of Madrid, Bodegas Y Vinedos Familia Conesa makes a wide range of wines including the coveted D.O. Pago – Denomination of Origin.

A blend of 65 per cent Tempranillo and 35 per cent Syrah and Merlot, Conesa’s La Doncella Rosado (4262) $22.99 is a richly coloured rosé with floral notes and rich candied cherry and strawberry flavours.

This is a very full-bodied rosé that comes on sweet and fruity and finishes distinctly dry.

Paco &Lola is a wide-ranging cooperative based in Rias Baixas in the northwest corner of Spain. Like the clever folks who make Lolea Sangria, Paco &Lola has a fascination with polka dots that permeates the packaging of the entire range of their wines.

Paco Garnacha Tempranillo (625087) $25.05 is a fully fruited blend of Spain’s two best-known red wine grapes grown in the Navarra region east of Rioja.

Dry jammy strawberry flavours lead the medley with ripe red currant and blackberry filling out the back palate and finishing with a sprinkling of peppery liquorice.

One of the few wines available in B.C. from the highest layer of Denomination of Origin appellations – D.O. Pago – Finca La Sabina Cabernet Sauvignon (34252) $37.99 is a well-structured red wine reminiscent of the Bordeaux it emulates.

Aged in French oak, it has nuances of dark fruit, leather and spicy cedar over a core of dry earthy plums and prunes.

Burgundy red of medium intensity with brick-red and ruby rim. Dense tears.

Complex aromas with very good integration of French oak, with a ripe fruit compote, spices and floral notes reminiscent of violets. In the mouth it is pure equilibrium, mature and expressive tannin that adds body.

Tickets for the 40th Vancouver International Wine Festival will be for sale on an early-bird basis as of December 1. They make great gifts for wine lovers. Save the date.

Reach WineWise by emailing


These wines are just some of the offerings at the Vancouver Wine Festival.

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