Dreaming

of

California

Wines?

As well as featuring fabulous wines from around the world, next year’s 41st Annual Vancouver International Wine Festival will focus on the many and varied wines of California.

 
The Festival will run in many venues across Vancouver from February 23 to March 3, 2019 but the International Festival Tasting room in the Vancouver Trade & Convention Centre will be open February 28 to March 2.  Save those dates!

From the ridiculously affordable through the ingenuously inventive to the luxuriously sublime California has a wine for every taste and budget.

Vista Point Pinot Grigio-Colombard (328989) $7.99 is a ridiculously affordable white - light and crisp, almost dry. Aromas and flavours of peach, pear and candied lemon rind swirl out of the glass and onto your tongue.

A decidedly California red blend, Cupcake Black Forest Cake (873455) $12.99 is a surprisingly dry red. Cabernet Sauvignon provides the structure, Merlot adds ripe fruit, Zinfandel contributes blueberry notes and peppery spice, Petite Verdot and Petite Sirah add dark fruit complexities.

A phenomenon from Australia, Yellow Tail Shiraz (624544) $8.99 made its amazing debut in the U.S. in 2001 it shook the wine world.  By 2003 it was by far the best selling imported wine and by 2005 it had sales of 7.5 million cases in North America.  People loved that sweet fruity red!

An ingenuously California blend of Zinfandel and Syrah, balanced with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot – and a little sweeter than Yellow Tail - Apothic Winemaker’s Blend Red (125617) $12.99 pushed Yellow Tail out of the best selling imported red wine slot, here in Canada, within a year of being released.

The original and outrageously successful Apothic Red was sweet and soft and jammy, overflowing with dark cherry berry flavours and finished deliciously smoothly. It now comes in a variety of red wine styles – as well as Apothic White and Apothic Rosé - and continues to dominate the market. Apothic Crush, Apothic Dark and Apothic Inferno have just been joined by Apothic Brew in the U.S. – a red wine infused with cold brew coffee!

The best known white wines from California are Chardonnays.  Regardless of price or style – and there is a wide range of both - well-made California Chardonnays are deliciously drinkable. 

From vineyards in Santa Barbara County, Monterey County and Mendocino County, Kendall Jackson Avant Chardonnay (325936) $16.99 is a 50/50 blend of wines made in stainless steel and oak. Bright chalky lemon and lime flavours are highlighted by notes of apple, pear, mango and pineapple with a twist of sweet oaky vanilla in the finish.

Blended California red wines are available for every budget. Chateau St. Jean Soirée (473025) $19.99 is a wonderfully mellow mix of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Sirah and Malbec from California's North and Central Coast appellations.  The judicious use of French and American oak adds spice to this serious fruit bomb of a red that is neither sweet nor jammy.

In 1976 Chateau Montelena helped put California at the forefront of the wine world at the famous “Judgement of Paris” blind tasting when their Chateau Montelena Chardonnay beat out 4 Chardonnays from Burgundy and 5 other premium Chardonnays from California. Burgundies. Established in 1882 and still going strong, Chateau Montelena also makes exceptional red wines.

Barely a blend but luxuriously sublime, Chateau Montelena 2013 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (289819) $239.99 features 97 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon with the addition of 1.5 per cent Cabernet Franc and 1.5 per cent Petit Verdot.  Aged for 24 months in 100 per cent French oak barrels, the red leads with aromas and flavours of blackberry and blackcurrant, cloves, coffee and cedar.

California wines have a long history of participation in the Vancouver Wine Festival, in fact the first few years featured California wines exclusively.  The wines of Robert Mondavi were featured in 1979, with Chateau St. Jean taking up the corkscrew in 1980. The Festival showcased 22 California wineries in 1983 and 45 California wineries attended in 1984.

The wines of California have been featured several times since the Vancouver International Wine Festival first showcased theme regions in 1996 with France’s Bordeaux. Our faithful winemaking friends are coming back to dazzle us once more at the 41st Annual Vancouver International Wine Festival, February 23 to March 3, 2019.  Mark those dates on your calendar!

Reach WineWise by emailing douglas_sloan@yahoo.com