#1 Wine Festival 27th
am wrapping up five days of seemingly endless tastings at the 27th annual
Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival, which ended last Sunday.
Festival activist Betty Verkuil asks me: “How
come you don’t cover our event back east?” I reply that I’m
actually helping them out as all the events completely sell out! “Do you really want Torontonians filling up the spots reserved for
enthusiastic Vancouverites?” I ask.
course, it is unlikely that many Torontonians would bother making the trip.
They smugly think that TO has Canada’s biggest and best wine events –
demonstrating that ignorance is bliss. Let me shatter this Hogtown illusion
- there isn’t a better-organized, in-depth wine festival in Canada than
the weeklong fundraiser for the Playhouse Theatre Company.
that it features 49 events, serves over 1,100 wines (700+ in the International
Festival Tasting Room alone) from 174 wineries representing 17
countries (to see the list of wineries click
here; to see the wines presented click
here). Of course, why would a
self-respecting Torontonian want to visit Vancouver where the trees are in
full blossom and daffodils and tulips the order of the day, when one can
enjoy our everlasting ice and snow?
year’s Playhouse theme region was South Africa and 31 wineries were
pouring 124 wines in a special “Discover South Africa” section. The
seminars were the stuff dreams are made of and included extended panels of
professionals each of whom addressed the wines being presented.
trade buyers, the event is a shopper’s paradise. There are two trade days
when restaurateurs can meet the winemakers. Better yet, the BC liquor board
waived the 50% deposit required for all private licensee orders during the
Festival. They also waived all taxes on the extensive Nederburg fundraising
wine auction! Indeed, I was surprised to find BC liquor board buyers
proactively prowling the floor looking for great buys! Of course, all 700+
wines on show were available for consumers to buy, many at great prices,
right at the show itself.
I didn’t see anyone from the LCBO at the show, which is too bad because
they might have learned a thing or two! LCBO buyers, for instance, might
have rediscovered the delicious, well-priced (under $14) Bodegas
Castano 2003 Hecula - a Spanish red, which hasn’t been seen in
Vintages for much too long!
of the great things about the Playhouse is the quality and enthusiasm of
attendees, which reflects the wines on display. How often will you ever see
a German winemaker, in this case Rainer
Lingenfelder, dolling out small amounts (25 microlitres to be
exact with the help of a medical syringe) of his stunningly delicious Lingenfelder
2003 Scheurebe Trokenbeerenauslese Goldberg, which retails for
$298 per half bottle? Here is a luscious dessert wine that is actually worth
the $23.84 per ounce price tag! If Burgundy was on your mind, you could
drift past Louis Latour stand for a small fix of Louis
Latour 2002 Corton Charlemagne. Great stuff!
great thing about the Playhouse is that you can actually smell the wine.
Unlike Toronto’s wine shows (consumer and trade alike), there is no
penetrating odour of deep fat fryers! And despite being an all-you-can-drink
event, there is an amazing level of restraint. The sheer lack of clutter is
also refreshing – all “booths” are essentially the same, featuring
just four wines each.
for the best buys, there were so many that it is hard to know where to
begin. I was struck by the juicy fruit flavours of many recent BC releases.
Especially pleasing was Sumac
Ridge Private Reserve 2003 Gewurztraminer
(142893), a delicious Easter wine for only $12.95 with spicy, gently
honeyed, ripe melon lychee flavours. While available in many LCBO stores (to
check availability click
here), it is perplexing that Canada’s # 1 best
buy Gewurz has never been listed in the LCBO Price Book. It is one of those
invisible LCBO “destination” wines, which never appears anywhere making
it virtually impossible for anyone to know that they exist. Search the LCBO
website under “destination” and nothing about these wines/stores
appears. Unfortunately, my LCBO request for an updated list of wines in this
programme went unanswered.
the enthusiasm (may we say chauvinism?) of BC buyers, few Ontario wineries
dare present their wares. It was refreshing to see Charles Pillitteri
working the floor with his cedary, ripe, lemon meringue flavoured Pillitteri
2002 Barrel Aged Chardonnay (349175) - my
winery-only best buy selection at a mere $18.
is the last day sale for some 213 General List LTO/AirMiles offers. From
2002 Cabernet/Merlot (585653) at $11.95
(reduced from $13.95) would be a tasty Easter treat with its juicy,
ready-to-enjoy, ripe blackberry-cherry flavours. Full sale details are
available on my website (click
here to see the combined LTO/AirMiles list).
National Post readers wishing for a free download of our March edition of
Vintage Assessments may use the npreader
password for access. Happy Easter!
Tasting Note Database
use our winefind.ca Tasting
Notes Database: click
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