Monday, February 27, 2012

#VPIWF: 10 Wines 2 Try

Veterans of the Vancouver Playhouse Wine Festival will attest - you must have a game plan when entering the 50,000+ square foot tasting room. Pros will sometimes split whites and reds over two days of tastings, while others make focus on one or two varieties or styles. Whatever the plan, the reality is most are lucky to taste 40-50% of the wines on offer over multiple visits. If you're neither a wine professional nor a veteran of the festival than let me suggest 10 wines to seek out while you attack the room and, ideally, taste many more. Think of this list as the reason to keep moving and exploring the nearly 2000 wines on offer.

1: Chile - Viña Montes - "Montes Folly"
Chile is the Global Focus for the 2012 festival and talk of the emergence of Chilean Syrah will be buzzing around the tasting floor. None is better than the Folly. Elegant and superbly refined. Tasting notes on the 2006 vintage.

2: Italy - Antinori "Tignanello"
Seek this wine out for two reasons. 1) It's a $100+ bottle of wine that once you taste you'll think to yourself, "Yes it is!" and 2) The Tignanello is the quintessential Super Tuscan that will give you a glimpse as to what all the fuss is about with this popular collectors choice.

3: Canada - Painted Rock Estate Winery - "Red Icon"
If time allows then by all means try the complete Painted Rock portfolio, you won't be disappointed. However, if you have time for only one wine then it must be the Red Icon. It's a worthy member of this top 10 list for its unique blend and gorgeous refinement. A pricey wine to be sure, but one you just might seek out at the BC Liquor Store attached to the festival tasting floor. Tasting notes on the 2008 and 2009 vintages.

4: Australia - Yalumba "FDR1A"
Clearly, this is not Pendfolds' Bin 389, but it is a great Aussie Cab-Shiraz blend with a long history dating back to 1974 when the first "Fine Dry Red 1A" was released by Australia's oldest winery, Yalumba. Force your way up to the front to get poured a sip of Australian history.

5: USA - Stag's Leap Wine Cellars - "Artemis"
The Artemis is a blended Cabernet Sauvignon from multiple Napa Valley lots (only a few from the famed Stag's Leap District) which may not offer a single terroir experience but does deliver constantly expressive fruit, excellent balance and elegant structure year-in, year-out. Yummy, chewy Chardonnays are also worth a taste.

6: Australia - Majella Wines "Sparkling Shiraz"
Most folks like their bubbles blond and French but the growing trend of pink Champagne and Cava may help to bring the fizz drinking public round to Australia's own, Sparkling Shiraz. The Majella offering is made in the traditional method of Champagne and finds the balance of representing the characters of a fine Shiraz with that of a cold, refreshing drink. Must be tasted to be believed. Notes on their 2005 release.

7: Canada - Mission Hill Family Estate - "Oculus"
The 2007 Oculus was worth the hype. When I first tasted it at the 2011 festival it blew me away with its concentration and complexity. Unfortunately, the winery decided to only make it available through their own wine shop and thus I have not tasted it since, nor have I been able to review it. No news yet on which vintage the Kelowna winery will be pouring of their flagship wines. Tasting notes on the 2004, 2005 and 2006 vintages.

8: France - M. Chapoutier "La Bernardine"
Michel Chapoutier has a growing portfolio of wines with new entries from lesser-know regions like Côtes-du-Roussillon, but his heart remains in the Rhone Valley. La Bernardine is a fixture of the portfolio and offers excellent typicity for a Châteauneuf-du-Pape blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. Look for subtle yet complex, cassis and plum fruit with garrique, spice and earth notes.

9: Canada - Tawse Winery - Cabernet Franc
There really isn't anything that Tawse Winery, the sole Ontario firm to make the trip this year, can't do well-to-great. For me it's a toss-up as to what they truly do "best" between Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc but since many regions and appellations make excellent Chardonnay, my suggestion is to make sure and try the Tawse Cabernet Franc - a uniquely Canadian example of the Bordeaux variety. Preferably, request to taste the Laundry Vineyard Cabernet Franc.

10: USA - Chateau Ste. Michelle - "Eroica"
Produced in the Columbia Valley, the Eroica Riesling is a joint venture with Germany's Dr. Loosen. One can only hope that Chateau Ste. Michelle will be wise enough to bring this amazing Riesling with them to the festival. Truly one of the best Rieslings I have yet tasted. Notes on the 2008 and 2009 vintages.
 - Liam Carrier ©copyright 2012

No comments:

Post a Comment