In Vegas for 6 magnificent nights last week, and we decided to make our last dinner of the trip, our “date night”, particularly special. It turned into the most expensive dinner we have ever had, which was pretty much 100% because of the wine.
We started at the bar, while we waited for our table, with a couple glasses of this little gem.
For appetizers, my wife chose a salad while I had lobster bisque. To accompany those, we bought a half-bottle of this. The Eiffel Tower has the most incredible selection of half-bottles that I have ever seen.
Now, for the main event, and pairing with a couple of Filet Mignons (both so big we could not possibly eat them all), how about a 33-year old Bordeaux??
We finished off the meal with a sublime chocolate soufflé, and then rolled ourselves out the door back to our hotel. What a meal, and a perfect way to end a simply spectacular vacation. Cannot wait to go back.
Up next: Lots of random stuff we’ve been drinking to update you on. Stay tuned!
Well I had this blog post about 90% done last weekend and was all ready to get the VIWF finally finished when we suddenly lost my mother-in-law, making blog posts seems pretty unimportant. As if that wasn’t enough, I came home from the hospital with the flu. I cannot remember ever being that sick. My wife, who had JUST got over that same flu she picked up in the same hospital, while visiting her mother a few days earlier, did yeoman’s work taking care of me and nursing me back to health, all while dealing with the loss of her mother. I am a very lucky man.
Life goes on. And so does the blog. Let’s get to it.
We tried hard to get to at least one booth from every represented country, and I think we did a pretty good job. One year it would sure be nice to taste everything at the Festival, but in order to do that, I’m pretty sure we would need a time machine. We even picked up our first-ever bottles from Croatia and Romania. To the wine!
Familia Zuccardi 2016 Q Malbec – 90
Familia Zuccardi 2017 Q Chardonnay – 89
Familia Zuccardi 2016 Tito Zuccardi Paraje Altamira – 92
Familia Zuccardi 2014 Jose Zuccardi Malbec – 92
Barossa Valley Estate 2016 Shiraz – 92
Barossa Valley Estate 2016 GSM – 88
Barossa Valley Estate 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon – 91
Barossa Valley Estate 2015 E&E Black Pepper Shiraz – 94
Ville Le Calvane 2013 Colli della Toscana Centrale Borro del Boscone – 88
Ville Le Calvane 2011 Toscana Matriarca – 88
Ville Le Calvane 2016 Chianti Colli Fiorentini Quercione – 88
Ville Le Calvane 2011 Super Tuscan Oltre Strade – 87
Real Companhia Velha 2015 Evel Tinto – 87
Real Companhia Velha 2015 Touriga Nacional – 89
Real Companhia Velha 2016 Evel Branco – 86
We spent enough time tasting wine from France this year that I am going to give them their own blog entry. Also, there are some pretty spectacular rosés in here, including my new all-time favorite. To the wine!
Table #108 – Borie-Manoux
Château Morillon 2015 Bordeaux – 87
Château Herve-Laroque 2010 Fronsac – 90
Table #109 – Calvet
Calvet NV Crèmant de Bordeaux Rosé – 87
Table #110 – Chartron et Trébuchet
Chartron et Trébuchet 2016 Mâcon-Villages – 88
Chartron et Trébuchet 2017 Pouilly-Fuissé – 89
Table #112 – Les Grand Chais de France
Domaine de la Baume 2017 Viognier – 88
S de la Sablette Rosé – 90
Domaine de la Baume 2017 Pinot Noir Rosé – 87
Château de la Galinière 2017 Rosé – 91
Table #113 – Château Minuty
Minuty 2017 M de Minuty – 88
Château Minuty 2017 Prestige – 89
Table #115 – Ulysse Cazabonne
OK that’s it for France. Can’t wait to really dig into their wines at next year’s VIWF!
For now, just one more blog post to finish it off, as we tour around the rest of the world. Coming up!
Interesting host region for us this year: We already know a ton about California wine. We have belonged to four California wine clubs (three in Napa, one in Sonoma) and we frequently buy wine from California and have it shipped to our package place in Sumas and drive it across the border. So, we figure this week would be about finding some new wineries we weren’t familiar with, and maybe finding some gems that we have previously overlooked. It seems unlikely that we are going to suddenly discover something completely new and different, but you never know.
As in previous years, I will give just my scores for a bunch of the wines (let’s face it, if I did an in-depth review of every wine I tasted I wouldn’t be finished in time for NEXT YEAR’S festival), and full reviews of everything we bought, or wanted to buy but was sold out, and a few other interesting wines as well. Here we go!
I will post the table name and number, which are in alphabetical order. Some booths have labels that may seem out of place but I assure you they are not. A lot of times they have subsidiary labels (ie Silver Oak and Twomey). There were 53 California tables. If a table number is missing, we just didn’t get there.
Don Sebastiani & Sons 2016 Gunsight Rock – 88
Don Sebastiani & Sons 2016 B Side Chardonnay – 88
Don Sebastiani & Sons 2016 B Side Pinot Noir – 88
Don Sebastiani & Sons 2016 Crusher Petit Sirah – 87
Table 8: Duckhorn Wine Company
Duckhorn Vineyards 2016 Napa Valley Chardonnay – 88
Duckhorn Vineyards 2015 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – 89
Paraduxx 2015 Napa Valley Proprietary Red Wine – 89
Table 9: Gallo Signature Series
We had the most lovely chat with winemaker Gina Gallo. Yes, Gallo. THAT Gallo.
Don’t let the name “Gallo” scare you off; they make a lot of great wine in addition to the entry-level Ernest and Julio Gallo stuff that comes in boxes and tastes closer to turpentine than fine wine. There is a market for that stuff (OBVIOUSLY), but they also make a million other wines, many of which are of excellent quality. And Gina was a delight….knowledgeable and giving and so pleasant. I think she would have chatted with us for an hour if we didn’t have other wines to taste!
Gallo Signature Series 2016 Russian River Valley Chardonnay – 88
Gallo Signature Series 2016 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir – 90
Calling a bit of an audible here, since my festival wine has not yet arrived in my local BC Liquor Store and I need that to properly finish off my festival reports….so I’m going to do the finale first.
In cases where the wine would be tough to find in local markets, I have provided the importer and their contact info in the “Notes” sections of the wine reviews.
It’s tough to imagine a better way to end this festival every year than this event. This year we had company, as our dear friends Travis and Melissa joined in on the fun. The four of us were seated at the smallest table, which sat only six, and we were joined by Valentina Abbona, the lovely Director of Marketing for Marchesi di Barolo, and Jason, a local agent for her winery (and others). They were both delightful company for the afternoon.
Valentina, in particular, was passionate about her brand. It took us a while to find out that she was not just the Director of Marketing, but the SIXTH generation of this family winery! She travels almost 200 days a year to promote her brand. Her father is the winemaker. This is a huge family business in a little town in Barolo.
She is the kind of person who could convince a drowning man to buy water, if you know what I mean. What a pleasure it was to sit and chat with her during this amazing lunch.
Although, I was a little nervous rating her wine while she sat right next to me; hopefully it didn’t suck!! 🙂
As always, they started us off with a little bubbly as we waited for the main courses to begin.
Not a fan of tuna OR cucumber, but this was pretty tasty.
They substituted a beautiful caprese salad for my wife who can’t eat scallops. Both dishes were fantastic.
Two wines with this course. I felt the first one was a better pairing, but I was in the minority at my table I believe.
Every year we come here they serve us a fantastic pasta dish, and this one might have topped them all. Incredible. Oh, caciocavallo is a smoked cheese….I had to look that up!
At this point we switched over to the reds, and two more pairing with this course. The Chianti paired beautifully with the food, the other one, not at all.
Oh my. I have become quite the fan of veal. Another dish that was off-the-charts delicious.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, lamb is not my thing, but this was freaking spectacular. I guess I am becoming a lamb fan, too.
Let’s face it, I’m a fan of almost anything when cooked by world-class chefs. Makes all the difference in the world.
OK, here we go, first blog post of this year’s VIWF; I was not expecting to be able to get one done while the festival was still ongoing, not because of time constraints, but because using only my laptop presents quite a challenge. You see, the boxes that have all the information on the wine, including the score and price, etc, are just images that I create by using a snapshot program. Basically I highlight what I want, and take a “picture” of it and insert that image into the blog. Easy, normally, but because I have only my laptop, and not my large monitor, I can’t actually select the entire image; my laptop screen is too small. I’ve found a workaround that entails copying and pasting from Excel to Word and then creating an image…problem is that the images are smaller than I like. I’ve made them bigger below, but that causes them to look a little blurry. Apologies if anyone has issues with reading anything in those images. Now, enough of the housekeeping, let’s get to it!
Full disclosure: This is one of the last restaurants in Vancouver we would frequent on a normal night. Nothing against the restaurant, but it specializes in oysters which the wife is allergic to and I don’t like, and seafood which the wife doesn’t eat. But, given that this was a Barolo tasting, and it was unlikely that they were going to pair Barolo with shellfish, or fish in general, we decided to give this event a shot.
One more note of housekeeping below: The prices that are listed as at the “BC Liquor Store”, as far as I know that is only at the on-site BC Liquor Store at the festival itself, not in regular BC Liquor Stores. You may have to search to find these after the festival is over.
The event was a tasting of Sardo, a well-known winery from Barolo, who brought us their entry-level offering plus three single-vineyard wines, and a white and a surprise at the end. We were joined by their Director of Marketing, Elisa, straight from Italy, and their local agent, Italo. Both were terrific, friendly, warm and knowledgeable. There were a few VIP’s at our table as well, including Sid Cross, the co-founder of The Chefs’ Table Society of BC. I honestly did not know who he was, but apparently he is kind of a big deal in the world of local food and wine.
Going in, we thought this was kind of a nightmare menu for us. The wife can’t eat oysters, has never had Beef Carpaccio in her life, and doesn’t much enjoy duck. I was pretty much in the same boat, minus the oyster allergy.
Thankfully they were more than willing to prepare her a chicken dish to replace the oyster. They were very accommodating.
To say this was the best oyster I have had in my life would suggest I have had a bunch of oysters which is untrue…..but this was really delicious. It might make me reconsider my distaste for oysters. And it paired beautifully with the only white wine served tonight.
To say this was the best Beef Carpaccio I have had in my life would suggest I have had a bunch of Beef Carpaccio which is untrue…..but this was really delicious. It might make me reconsider my distaste for Beef Carpaccio. And it paired beautifully with our first Barolo of the night.
And yes, I was able to simply copy and paste that paragraph above and change “oyster” to “Beef Carpaccio”.
To say this was the best…..OK, enough. I would never in a million years order duck in a restaurant, but in previous instances I have had no trouble eating in when served to me in fixed menu dinners like these. In this case, though, I could not eat this, even after asking the chef to cook it a bit more for me (which he happily obliged). Duck goes against my “no cute animals” stance and this one just wouldn’t go down.
Two wines to pair with this course.
Prime rib that looks like Filet Mignon. Delicious, and a beautiful pairing with the gorgeous wine they served with it. I was so full by this point I couldn’t even eat it all, so I brought the rest of it back to the hotel. The dog is going to get a treat tonight.
And, the wine that went with it was just as special as the beef.
If any of you are interested in purchasing this, the agent’s name is Italo Fionda, and he can be reached via Email. Tell him I sent you and get a 75% discount.
Not exactly my idea of “Black Forest Cake”, but since I am not a huge fan of Black Forest Cake, I didn’t care. This was tasty. The wine they brought with it was something I have never heard of before, a dessert-style Barolo!
All in all, a fun night. Not our menu, for sure, so next year we may stick to wine dinners where the menu is pre-published (some are, some are not) when buying the tickets.
Next up: In just hours, our first event in the tasting room at VIWF, the Thursday trade tasting. The blog will return…..soon.