Dreaming of California wines...

....at VIWF 2019?

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!

California's oldest continuously operating winery, Beringer Vineyards makes a wide range of wines in a variety of styles and price-points. Beringer’s everyday wines recently transitioned into their own label:  Beringer Main & Vine.  Fresh and smooth, Beringer Main & Vine Pinot Grigio (774133) $10.99 oozes aromas and flavours of pear and apple, white peach mandarin orange and pineapple, finishing with a chalky minerality.

Bear Flag is a winery founded by artistic young winemakers Beth Culter and Hillary Forbess in Modesto, California. The winery is named for the Bear Flag Revolt that gave California its independence from Mexico in 1846. Muscat of Alexandria, Symphony, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and French Colombard are blended together in Bear Flag Soft White (121194) $12.49 an off-dry white with flavours and aromas of peach, apricot, apple, and pear infused with hints of tropical fruit salad.

In France there is a long tradition of négociants – wineries who have few if any of their own vineyards but acquire grapes or even partially finished wines from independent growers, as well as commercial wineries. Sebastiani & Sons have evolved into one of California’s most dependable négociants. Pepperwood Grove Sauvignon Blanc (514943) $12.49 comes from Don Sebastiani & Sons and incorporates a splash of Chenin Blanc. Aromas of fresh bananas and red apple lead into flavours of mango, melon, lime and pineapple.

Back in 1985, around a friendly game of Liar’s Dice, Tim Murphy, Dale Goode and Dave Ready decided to make their love of fine wines official. Murphy and Goode were growers who helped to pioneer grape growing in the Alexander Valley, introducing wire trellising and broad scale drip irrigation. Murphy Goode Chardonnay (891507) $20.99 is a big, bold and unapologetically fruit-driven California Chardonnay. Bursting with tropical fruit tones with pear, apple, lemon and melon supported by light oak and vanilla, it is balanced and fresh with a creamy, round ripe finish.

Robert Mondavi created his first Fumé Blanc in 1968 to distinguish his unique dry Sauvignon Blanc from other sweeter styles produced in California at that time. To indicate the change to their customers, they came up with the name "Fumé Blanc", derived from Pouilly-Fumé, one of the most popular dry-style Loire Valley wines made from Sauvignon Blanc. "Fumé" literally translates to "smoke," but this has nothing to do with a "smoky" flavor in the wine - it refers to the morning fog that covers the Loire Valley and is "as thick as smoke." Zingy, zesty lemon, lime and orange citrus, fragrant peach, and fresh pineapple fruit aromas and flavours sizzle in Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Fumé Blanc 2014 (221877) $23.99 blends 94 per cent Sauvignon Blanc with 6 per cent Semillon – a common practice in France’s classic white Bordeaux.

Grown on the hillside above the Santa Maria Bench in Santa Barbara, the premium blocks of Camelot Highlands Chardonnay vineyard are dedicated to the Jackson Estate bottling. The ancient vines in these blocks have struggled through daily dense fog for over forty years on their own roots stretching down to the prehistoric, seabed soils below. Jackson Estate Camelot Highlands Chardonnay (603191) $54.99 melds pineapple, mango and papaya with a creamy, lush, rich palate. Notes of cinnamon and vanilla crème brûlée add an appealing and lingering finish.

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. California is 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