There’s no better place to be if you’re a #winelover than VanWineFest. 1700 wines are being poured at Vancouver Convention Centre through Saturday night. I’m posting my picks on social media so make sure you’re following Ron Wilson on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. This is a rare opportunity to try wines that are only available at the Festival. Cheers
For those who like a milder Riesling this is your wine. Some Rieslings are, to me, cloying in their sweetness or the petrol aroma can almost overwhelm. Uber strikes a nice balance with aromas and flavours of lemon and lime and a hint of honey. It still has the right acidity I expect in this varietal. A very quaffable sipper to be enjoyed with company or pair it with everything from soft cheeses to blackened chicken. A very well priced wine.
Price: $12.99 (plus tax)
Available: B.C. Liquor stores
Who doesn’t like wine on sale? Here’s a white and red from Italy that’s just the ticket when you’re having a house party and don’t want to break the bank. The Pinot Grigio has the aroma and flavours of lemon and lime. Clean and crisp with good acidity. Enjoy on its own or with any seafood appies. The Corvina grape is used to make Valpolicella but on its own I thought it was a great value, everyday sipper. Flavours of black cherries in a medium bodied wine that is great with pizza or BBQ ribs.
Price: $14.95 (plus tax)
Available: Sutton Place Wine Merchant
Like many Canadians I have fond memories of backpacking through Greece but my only wine memory is of Retsina. Suffice it to say it was not a pleasant memory. Decades later I’m adding a Greek wine to my website and this is an absolute pleasure. There’s just a handful available on B.C. wine shelves and this is the newest. You couldn’t ask for a better introduction to the wines of Greece. Wine geeks love using “approachable” in their reviews but I’m a simple man so I’m going with drinkable. As in, this wine is deserving of being added to your drinkable list. I loved the flavours of cherries and plums along with a hint of spice. I think it compares quite favourably to Rhone Valley wines. That means Mountain Fish is also very good friendly. From roast chicken to lamb chops this is a terrific match. Give it a try and I bet you’ll be back for more.
Price: $18.99 (plus tax)
Available: B.C. Liquor stores
I’m a big fan of Syrah because it offers so much variety of flavours depending on where its produced. B.C. is rightfully proud of our Syrah and so should our wine neighbours to the south. StoneCap makess an impressive, full bodied Syrah that’s perfect with beef stew now or with BBQ when the weather warms up. The flavour and aroma is black plums with hints of smoke and chocolate. A rich and smooth wine that has a lovely, long finish that begs for a second glass. This is the first time I’ve tasted Stonecap wines but it won’t be the last.
Price: $20.99 (plus tax)
Available: Everything Wine in South Surrey
Price: $21.95 (plus tax)
Available: Dundarave Wine Cellar in West Vancouver
Price: $23.95 (plus tax)
Available: Legacy Liquor at Olympic Village
Lunar or Chinese New Year is a wonderful celebration in the lower mainland and what a feast of flavours. Luckily B.C. produces some perfect wine pairings. To celebrate the Year of the Rooster here’s a gem from one of our province’s best winemakers, Michael Bartier. Gewürztraminer is one of my go-to picks for spicy Asian cuisine and Bartier Bros. nails it with this wine. The aroma signals what you’ll enjoy with first sip. Plenty of tropical flavours….mango, pineapple and grapefruit bring a beautiful cooling influence to the heat of the dish. In my case it was Sichuan beef and green beans and it worked so well. When a spicy dish is on the table you’ll find Bartier Bros. is a welcome guest.
Price: $18.24 (plus tax)
Available: Swirl Wine Store in Yaletown
Everyone needs a good house wine. The one you always have on hand to serve to a surprise guest or when it’s been one of those days. Evolve has just the ticket with their Pinot Blanc. This is an easy drinking, affordable white that’s fine on its own but very food friendly too. A wine true to its Okanagan roots with flavours of apples and peaches and a lovely creamy finish. I paired it with chicken salad on one occasion and roast loin of pork with apple sauce and it stood up nicely. Evolve is a relatively new label in the ever growing B.C. wine world but I’d recommend you track down their wines. I think they offer some of the best value in our province. Please note there’s quite a range in price and I’ve reflected that in this review.
Price: $14.99 (plus tax)
Available: Village VQA Wines
Price: $16.95 (plus tax)
Available: Kits Wine Cellar W. 4th Ave.
Price: $16.47 (plus tax)
Available: Legacy Liquor Olympic Village
I’m such a fan of restaurants that offer interesting wine with their Happy Hour. Mission in Kits is an exceptional food experience complimented by an enjoyable wine companion. Both the red (pictured) and white are French. Each costs $5.00 during Happy Hour when they offer appetizers at 50% off. The red is a traditional red blend, think Rhone valley, while the white from Gascogne was a pleasant, medium bodied and food friendly wine. Speaking of the food, it was superb. The pork terrine (pictured) came with crackers, chutney and mustard and all are house made. They also offer artisanal cheese from Farmhouse cheese in Agassiz which is not to be missed. Other snack choices include beef croquette and hummus. Once you visit for Happy Hour you’ll want to come back for dinner. Another reason to add Mission to your dining out list is their weekend brunch where every bottle of wine on their impressive list is 50% off! That includes Champagne. Enjoy.
2042 West 4th Avenue
Happy Hour M-F 5:30-6:30
Pinot Noir is called the “heartbreak grape” because it can break the heart of many a winemaker to get it right. A good Pinot is usually $20+ but this Chilean beauty comes in at $11. It’s a juicy, fresh and delightful wine that ticks all the boxes for an everyday sipper. Cherries are wafting out of the glass and dance across your tongue when you take your first taste. This red is a throwback to a farmer’s market in summer because it really is a basket of red berries. A medium bodied Pinot that’s great on its own but it’ll pair nicely with grilled salmon or roast chicken.
Price: $11.49 (plus tax)
Available: B.C. Liquor stores
If you like wine then the annual VanWineFest in February should be on your radar already. The annual celebration of the grape is the largest and best wine festival in our country and this year’s event will celebrate Canada.
It’s a unique opportunity to try wine from around the world, chat with the people who made what’s in your glass and make new wine friends. There’s no better way to grow your wine IQ than by tasting something new.
You can also buy tickets to wine dinners where some of Vancouver’s best chefs will create a unique culinary experience paired with wines chosen to compliment each course. A rare opportunity and a sensory experience that’s not to be missed.
Tickets go on sale at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday and you can get all the details at www.vanwinefest.ca. Check out the website ahead of time so you know what’s on offer. I’ll see you next month at VanWineFest!