Hope all my readers are safe and hunkered down with a tremendous amount of wine to get you through. We are going to be in this for a while.
Dine Italia is the best event of the VIWF, every year, and the event we look forward to most. It sells out in minutes every year, and one of these times we are not going to be lucky enough to get tickets, but that hasn’t happened yet. Knock on wood.
I would be remiss in not mentioning how incredibly lucky we all were, looking back. Spending a week in close quarters with wine producers and workers from all over the wine world, including France and Italy, which as we all know, have been absolutely devastated by this virus. At Dine Italia, I sat right next to Andrea Bermond Des Ambrois, the Export manager from Gancia wines. We talked, we shook hands, and we ate our meals shoulder to shoulder. Chilling.
To the food and wine we go!
Note – in cases where the price listed is followed by a ?, it means I am not sure where you could find this wine, but the price listed was given to us by the winery itself. It is likely a suggested retail price.
CORNETTO DI SALMONE
This is not totally my thing, I am not a huge fan of caviar OR smoked salmon, but it was still pretty darn tasty. It was paired with a wine we have had before, albeit I can’t remember exactly where.
For the first time in the history of this event, they served me something I couldn’t even try. I don’t like raw fish, I don’t like tuna cooked or not, I despise cucumber and I would rather eat dirt than watermelon. Not exactly a “Dean” dish. No biggie, it was bound to happen. Others enjoyed it.
GARGANELLI AL FUNGHI
It’s not unusual to have a pasta dish with mushrooms, but this is probably the first time I’ve had a mushroom dish with pasta. The mushrooms were the star here, and while mushrooms are not my favorite thing in the world, they can be delightful when done right. THIS was done right.
OH. MY. GOD. This was, probably, the best thing I have ever had here. It was unanimous amongst our group, this was just superb. The flavors melded perfectly, and it was paired beautifully with two excellent wines.
Another really special dish, paired with two fabulous wines.
A perfect way to finish off a fantastic meal. Two wine pairings with this as well, one of which was a lot more successful than the other.
Well, that’s it for today and this officially closes off the 2020 Vancouver International Wine Festival for me. Here’s hoping that the friends we have made at this event year after year are all OK, and that our lives get back to normal before next year’s festival, which is being hosted by South America! Very much looking forward to it.
Next up: Tons of random stuff to report on, and I am starting to taste through the new BC rosés that I have received so far, and will do a special entry featuring a bunch of those. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned!
You’ve heard of “Love in the time of Cholera”? Welcome to “Wine in the time of Covid-19”. Man it feels weird to write a blog post about wine, or anything else, in these uncertain times, but let’s do it anyway.
My wife and I are virtually quarantined; she has autoimmune issues, so she hasn’t been out of the house in over a week, except to take the dog out to do her business. I have only been out twice, to pick up some groceries and run a couple of essential errands. She works from home all the time anyway, and I am lucky enough to have a job where I can do the same for the duration of this pandemic. We know that we are incredibly fortunate, so many people have no ability to work from home, so they either have to stay away from work and lose the income, or take their chances in the face of a pandemic. Neither choice seems very good to me.
Anyway, on to more pleasant topics, the rest of the world that we sampled at the recent Vancouver International Wine Festival. If you read my two entries on the host region of France, you will know that we really focused on France this year, getting to all but (I think) 4 tables. The downside to that, of course, is that we got to a lot fewer tables of all the other countries.
We bought everything we tasted here, except for the trade-only wine which wasn’t available…and we certainly would have bought that too if it had been!
Pascual Toso 2016 Magdalena Toso – 93+
Table 49 – Angove Family Winemakers
Angove Family Winemakers 2018 GSM – 92
Angove Family Winemakers 2018 Family Crest Chardonnay – 88
Angove Family Winemakers 2018 Organic Cabernet Sauvignon – 85
Angove Family Winemakers 2017 Warboys Single Vineyard McLaren Vale Grenache – 90
Table 51 – Jacob’s Creek
Jacob’s Creek 2016 St. Hugo Cabernet Sauvignon – 91
Jacob’s Creek 2018 Steingarten Riesling – 87
Jacob’s Creek 2019 Tea & Wine Chardonnay – 82
Jacob’s Creek 2018 Double Barrel Chardonnay – 88
Jacob’s Creek 2017 Double Barrel Shiraz – 89
Table 52 – Majella Wines
We had the distinct pleasure of speaking at length with owner Brian Lynn, a delightful gentleman who enchanted us with tales about various winery topics; in particular, the story of how this particular wine came about:
Decoy 2018 Rosé – 88
Calera Winery 2017 Central Coast Pinot Noir – 89
Duckhorn Vineyards 2016 Merlot – 90+
Greenwing 2017 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – 90
Table 154 – La Crema
La Crema – 2018 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay – 88
La Crema – 2018 Monterey Rosé – 86
La Crema – 2018 Monterey Pinot Noir – 89
Table 156 – Michael David Winery
Michael David Winery 2017 Petite Petit – 91
Michael David Winery 2015 Freakshow Cabernet Sauvignon – 88
Michael David Winery 2017 Earthquake Petite Sirah – 92
Michael David Winery 2016 Lust Zinfandel – 90
Table 159 – Robert Mondavi Winery
Robert Mondavi – 2016 Reserve Chardonnay Carneros – 90
Robert Mondavi – 2018 Winery Fumé Blanc – 90
Robert Mondavi – 2017 Pinot Noir Carneros – 90
Robert Mondavi – 2015 Maestro – 92
OK let’s get right to it, the rest of the host country of France.
TABLE 23 – Jean-Luc Columbo
Les Abeilles 2017 Côtes du Rhone Blanc – 87
Les Abeilles 2017 Côtes du Rhone Rouge – 88
Terres Brulées 2016 Cornas – 87
Les Bartavelles 2016 Châteauneuf-du-Pape – 90
TABLE 24 – Maison Joseph Drouhin
Joseph Drouhin 2018 Mâcon-Villages – 89
Joseph Drouhin 2018 Chablis Reserve de Vaudon – 89
Joseph Drouhin 2018 Morgon – 92
TABLE 27 – Maison Le Star Vignobles & Châteaux
Maison Le Star 2018 Entre Parenthèses Rosé – 84
Château Cazeau 2016 1560 Bordeaux Rouge – 87
Château Ad Francos 2018 Bordeaux Blanc – 88
Château Picon 2016 La Reserve Bordeaux Supérieur – 90
TABLE 28 – Louis Bernard
Louis Bernard 2016 Côte-Rôtie – 90
Louis Bernard 2018 Côtes du Rhône Cuvée Louis Rosé – 87
Louis Bernard 2016 Côtes du Rhône Cuvée Louis Rouge – 88
Louis Bernard 2017 Châteauneuf-du-Pape – 90
TABLE 29 – Louis Jadot
Louis Jadot 2017 Bourgogne Pinot Noir – 87
Louis Jadot 2018 Bourgogne Chardonnay – 87
Louis Jadot 2018 Beaujolais Villages – 89
Louis Jadot 2016 Clos des Ursules 1er Cru – 90
TABLE 30 – Maison Louis Latour
Louis Latour 2018 Mâcon-Lugny – 90
Louis Latour 2018 Les Pierres Dories – 89
TABLE 31 – Domaine Michel Gassier/Les Halos de Jupiter
Domaine Michael Gassier 2018 Rosé – 87
Les Halos de Jupiter 2017 Côtes du Rhône – 90
TABLE 32 – Château Minuty
Château Minuty 2018 M de Minuty – 88
Château Minuty 2018 Prestige Rosé – 89
TABLE 35 Paul Jaboulet Ainé
Paul Jaboulet 2018 Côtes du Rhône Paralleil 45 Blanc – 89
Paul Jaboulet 2018 Côtes du Rhône Paralleil 45 Rosé – 87
Paul Jaboulet 2018 Côtes du Rhône Plan de Dieu – 87
Paul Jaboulet 2017 Châteauneuf-du-Pape – 89
TABLE 36 – Domaines Paul Mas
Paul Mas 2018 Chai Mas Blanc – 87
Paul Mas 2018 Clos des Mûres – 89
TABLE 37 Château Pesquié
*I reviewed most of these wines at the Ventoux Feast earlier.
TABLE 39 Saget La Perrière
Saget La Perrière 2015 Late Harvest Chenin Blanc – 89
Saget Le Perrière 2017 M de Mulonniere Anjoy Chenin Blanc – 88
Saget Le Perrière 2018 Terres Blanches Poully-Fumé – 90
Saget Le Perrière 2017 Terres Blanches Sancerre – 89
TABLE 40 – Maison Sichel
Château Angludet 2016 Margaux – 94+
Château Trillol 2014 Cucugnan Corbieres – 90
Domaine de Pellehaut 2018 Harmonie de Gascogne Rosé – 88
Château Argadens 2016 Bordeaux Supérieur – 89
Alrighty let’s get to it, and we will start with the host country of France. I hear they make some pretty good wine over there.
As always, I will present scores for everything I tasted and full reviews of anything we bought, and some other special stuff along the way.
As with last year, I will do this “by table”, since many of the tables have multiple labels. For prices, if it says “$XX BC Liquor Store”, you can assume it is on the BCLS website and is available in at least some BC Liquor Stores on a regular basis. If it says “$XX Festival”, then I do not believe you will find it in BC Liquor Stores. Of course, that doesn’t mean you couldn’t find it in private stores if you look hard enough.
There are 43 French wineries, and we got through just about all of ’em. In order to not put all my readers to sleep, I’ll split this blog post into two parts.
TABLE 1 AdVini
Clos de l’Oratoire 2017 Chatautneuf-du-Pape – 88
Haut Combes 2018 Faugères – 88
Domaine Laroche 2018 Chablis St. Martin – 88
TABLE 2 Vignobles Alain Brumont
Château Bouscassé 2015 Madiran – 88
Château Montus 2014 Rouge – 88
Château Montus 2002 Cuvée Prestige – 88
TABLE 3 Arthur Metz
Arthur Metz 2018 Pinot Pinot – 87
Arthur Metz NV Crémant Rosé Pinot Noir – 86
Arthur Metz NV Perle Noire – 86
TABLE 4 Aubert Vignobles
Château Saint Antoine 2016 Bordeaux Supérieur – 85
Château Sessile-Aubert 2015 Montagne Saint-Émilion – 88
Château d’Anielle Saint-Émilion Grand Cru – 88
Château La Couspaude Saint-Émilion Grand Cru – 87
TABLE 6 Borie-Manoux
Château Colbert Canet 2018 Rosé – 87
Château Begadan 2016 Médoc – 88
Château Lions De Batailley – 90+
TABLE 7 Domaine Boutinot
As of the time I am writing this, the only table where we bought everything they were offering.
TABLE 8 Famille JM Cazes
L’Ostal Cazes 2018 Pays D’Oc Rosé – 87
Michael Lynch 2017 AOC Bordeaux Rouge – 85
Château Ormes de Pez 2016 Sain-Estephe AOC Rouge – 86
Château Villa Bel-Air AOC Graves – 90
TABLE 9 M. Chapoutier
M. Chapoutier 2018 Côtes du Rhône Belleruche Rouge – 88
M. Chapoutier 2017 Bila-Haut Occultum Lapidem – 86
M. Chapoutier 2018 Tavel Rosé – 89
TABLE 10 Crus et Domaines de France
Château Lamarque 2015 Bordeaux – 88
Vieux Château des Combes 2015 Bordeaux – 88
Château Bois Pertuis 2017 Bordeaux – 85
TABLE 11 Domaine Duseigneur
Domaine Duseigneur 2016 Côtes du Rhône La Chapelle – 87
Domaine Duseigneur 2017 Châteauneuf du Pape Rouge Catarina – 91
Domaine Duseigneur 2017 Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc Catarina – 90
François Martenot 2018 Aligoté – 88
François Martenot 2018 Petit Chablis – 88
François Martenot 2018 Saint Véran – 88
TABLE 15 François Martenot (Bourgogne/Beaujolais)
TABLE 16 Gabriel Meffre
Château Grand Escalion 2018 Amoureuse Rosé – 87
Laurus 2017 Beaumes de Venise – 89
TABLE 17 Les Vins Georges Duboeuf
TABLE 18 Gérard Bertrand
Gérard Bertrand 2018 Côte des Roses Rosé – 87
Gérard Bertrand 2018 Domaine de L’Aigle Chardonnay – 86
Gérard Bertrand 2017 Grand Terroir Tautavel – 88
TABLE 19 Les Grands Chais de France (Bordeaux/Provence)
Château Terrebonne 2018 Rosé – 86
Château La Grande Clotte 2016 Bordeau – 85
Chãteau de Balan 2015 Bordeaux – 85
L’Endllos Domaines Edmond De Rothschild 2015 Bordeaux – 85
TABLE 20 Les Grands Chais de France (Loire)
La Château O Sauvion Haut-Poitou 2018 Sauvignon Blanc – 86
Château de Fesles 2016 Anjou Blanc – 86
Château du Cléray 2018 Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur Lie – 86
TABLE 22 Hugel & Fils
Hugel & Fils 2018 Gentil – 88
Hugel & Fils 2016 Pinot Noir – 85
That’s about half of the French wineries, so we’ll stop there for now.
Next up: Obviously still have to report on the other half of the host nation, plus everything else in the world, but in a few hours we are heading out to our favorite event of the Festival every year: Dine Italia! Chances are that my next blog post will be a recap of this beautiful lunch.
I discovered lots of fun facts about this AOC while reading various articles. Perhaps most interesting, is that they have been a huge beneficiary of Global Warming. Ironic, actually, for a winery that is 100% organic and Bio-Dynamic, but without Global Warming, they would not be able to produce the world-class wines they are producing. Noted wine critic Jancis Robinson was quoted as saying that the reds from this region were “barely wine” when she visited in the 70’s. Now, this up-and-coming AOC is getting high praise from all the major critics.
To give you an idea of how significant the altitude changes are, everyone reading this is probably familiar with Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which makes world renowned red blends, primarily GSM blends (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre). Ventoux, just 50 miles away, didn’t used to get warm enough for their Mourvèdre to fully ripen. They have some 10-year old Mourvèdre plantings that are just starting to round into shape, but the wines we were going to taste tonight did not contain any at all. They have some other red grapes
Attending the dinner tonight was Frédéric Chaudière, who, along with his brother Alexandre, have taken over the day-to-day operations of this winery, Château Pesquié, from their parents, who had taken over operations from THEIR parents in the mid-80’s. He came around to all the tables to talk about his wines and his region, and he was flabbergasted that I knew as much as I did about the region. I confessed that I had this knowledge for all of two hours, which he found amusing. But, hey, knowledge is knowledge, right?
Frédéric pointed out that if we don’t reverse or slow the effects of climate change pretty soon, it’s going to go too far in the other direction, making it difficult to impossible to grow Syrah and Grenache in this region. What a shame that would be.
OK let’s get to the wine and the food, expertly prepared by the Chefs at Chambar Restaurant.
All kinds of things going on in this dish, the star being the deep fried halloumi, which for those of you (like me) who were unfamiliar with it, is a cheese that you can cook and it won’t melt. Really delicious, and the wine was an excellent pair for it. The wine was quite a treat, and I am hoping to be able to get some of these at the onsite BCLC liquor store at the Festival later today.
Crevettes à L’absinthe
Spiced prawns and rosé? Seemingly an odd pair but it worked; at least, the food and wine didn’t get in the way of each other.
As a substitute for my wife, they provided her a beef dish which was cooked very rare, so we had to ask them to cook it a bit more, which they were happy to do. It was delicious, in fact I ate about half of it.
Carpaccio de Betteraves
I do not like beets, generally, but this was the best beet dish I have ever had, and it’s not close. Still, I gave most of mine to the wife, since beets and pistachios are two of her favorite things on the planet. No surprise, she absolutely loved this dish.
The wine pairing was absolutely perfect; this was one of those pairings that elevated the food and the wine. Lovely.
I really enjoyed the risotto, but my wife insisted that my mushroom risotto is better. It’s tough to imagine a better compliment that a home chef could receive.
She’s wrong, though :). She likes mushrooms more than I do and my risotto has a lot more mushrooms in it. This was more restrained, which I enjoyed.
This was another good wine pairing, although pairing a wine like this with mushroom risotto isn’t exactly rocket science.
Tajine D’azia à L’agneau
I hated this dish. Hated hated hated hated it. All I could taste was Cinnamon. It didn’t matter that this was lamb, this could have been beef, chicken, tuna or tofu. It just tasted like cinnamon.
I would have preferred Cayanne. (Inside joke that only a few people will understand but those people are laughing hard right now).
My wife also hated it. The lady sitting next to me hated it. The two girls sitting across from me hated it.
But, apparently, this is one of their signature dishes, and has been on their menu forever. To each their own, I guess. We mentioned this to the waitress who went to the back to taste it and confirm that it was the same as it always is, and she confirmed that it was. Oh well, we had a lot of great food tonight, not everyone is going to like everything.
The wine was terrific, but I can’t comment on the pairing with the dish. Not even 1982 Château Lafitte Rothschild would have helped THAT dish.
Chèvre et Orange Sanguine
This was a lovely way to end the evening, and I was particularly impressed with the basil sorbet. Everything was very good here, including the pairing.
What a wonderful way to start our week here. Next up: In just a few hours, we head to the Trade tasting, and get to see just how many wines we can taste in 2.5 hours. Then back to the tasting room for the normal Thursday night tasting a couple of hours later. It is going to be quite a night!
Vin Amité, one of the last wineries you will pass as you drive North out of Oliver, is one that you might drive by if you don’t know anything about it. Don’t. I mean, seriously, don’t.
It’s certainly not the only boutique, family run winery in the Okanagan, but I have yet to visit one that makes the guests feel like part of the family as much as this one does.
Sometime in the past couple of years they started up a wine club. No heavy commitments here. One case, of anything, at any point during the year. That’s it and that’s all.
We visited them on our way out of town last summer, and tasted their new releases. Not a bad wine in the bunch, as usual. Let’s get to it!
As a little bonus review, I already ordered my 2020 case which arrived a couple of weeks ago, featuring some of their three new varietals: Merlot, Viognier, and a Rosé. I tasted the latter last night. It’s my least favorite thing they’ve ever done, but still shows some promise for future vintages.
So, nine months later, this Okanagan trip report is finally wrapped up. And talk about good timing, in a matter of hours we are off to Vancouver to begin our four-day-long extravaganza at the Vancouver International Wine Festival.
As I did last year, I’ll try to update the blog every day or two with as much content as I possibly can. If all goes to plan this will start tomorrow, with a full report on tonight’s Ventoux Tour de France dinner at Chambar!
If you haven’t been to Rust Wine Co, you must go. They have a lovely tasting room, excellent staff, and a terrific spot outside to sit and enjoy a little BBQ (although the BBQ closes for the winter so check with them if you are going in off-peak season).
Oh, and the wine is damn good too, top to bottom.
They also have two Syrahs and three Merlots, all from different vineyards, and all are so different. We didn’t taste them on this trip but have in previous visits, and it’s an exciting opportunity to really understand the difference that terroir can make in a wine.
Next up: One more winery to go, and it’s a little family winery that should be on everyone’s radar: Vin Amité!