Countdown to the

Vancouver International Wine Festival

The 40th Vancouver International Wine Festival is less than a month away. The Bacchanalia Gala Dinner and Auction opens the festival on Saturday, February 24 at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver… and there are still a few tickets available.

Running from February 24 to March 4, 2018 the festival features wines from Spain and Portugal, Iberian Peninsula neighbours that share numerous wine grapes under an astonishing variety of names and aliases.

Also known as Tinto del Toro, Tinta Fina, and Tinto del Pais in different regions of Spain, Tempranillo is the country’s most widely planted red wine grape.  Clever winemakers have discovered how to ‘internationalize’ their export wines by adding ‘foreign’ wine grapes to their Tempranillo blends.

Castilla La Mancha is south of Madrid. Cal Y Canto Tempranillo Merlot Syrah (497560) $10.99 is a serious bargain, a luscious blend of 80 per cent Tempranillo with Merlot and Syrah. Rich, fruity and intense, it is oozes raspberry and black cherry aromas, cedar and floral violet notes with a spritz of vanilla.

As well as 115 wineries from 13 other countries, the festival will focus on 38 wineries from Spain and 20 from Portugal. In 1926, 80 km north of Lisbon, Abel Pereira da Fonseca founded the Sanguinhal Agricultural Company in Obidos.  It is now demarcated into 3 separate estates or ‘Quintas’: Quinta do Sanguinhal, Quinta das Cerejeiras and Quinta de San Francisco.


Sanguinhal Cerejeiras Tinto (762526) $12.49 is a fresh and fully-fruited red oozing cherry, raspberry, and soft peppery spice. A blend of Castelão, Aragonez (aka: Tinto Roriz or Tempranillo) and Touriga Nacional grown close enough to the Atlantic Ocean to sprinkle a little wisp of saltiness into the finish, it is unoaked and unabashedly fruity.

Along with hundreds of industry professionals involved as participants, curious wine lovers come from all over North America to attend the Vancouver International Wine Festival.  More than 25,000 visits are expected this year.

Wines from Lisboa – the area around Lisbon and the most westerly wine region in Europe – are among the most interesting and affordable we’ve seen in the last few years.  DFJ Vinhos Segada (517649) $13.49 is a blend of Tinta Roriz, Alicante Bouschet), Cabernet Sauvignon, Caladoc, Castelão, Pinot Noir and Touriga Nacional, aged for 3 months in new French Alliers oak.  It is a luscious mouthful of tart and sassy fruit flavours that turn sweetly jammy before that first sip is swallowed.

VanWineFest has been named the #1 Food, Wine and Hospitality Event in Canada by New York’s BizBash for five years running. Take advantage of the opportunity to attend and expand your knowledge and experience of the wines of Portugal and Spain amongst other countries.

Elegant – with fascinating floral overtones! - Paxis (4083) $13.99 is a medium bodied red from Portugal. A blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz, it is full of mixed berry fruit aromas and flavours.  Awarded 90 points, this wine was #5 in Wine Enthusiast’s 100 Best Buys in 2016.

Since it began in 1979, the festival has raised $9 million for the performing arts. After the closure of the Vancouver Playhouse, the festival adopted Bard on the Beach, one of Canada’s largest not-for-profit, professional Shakespeare festivals. It is presented on the waterfront in Kitsilano’s Vanier Park, adjacent to Vancouver’s downtown core.

Since the mid 1990’s, many top winemakers from other regions have gone to Toro in the northwest corner of Spain and used modern winemaking techniques to capture the distinct qualities of the Tinta del Toro variety.

Made from ‘Old Vines’ with an average of 75 years Monte Hiniesta (879007) $16.30 is 100 per cent Tinta de Toro (aka) Tempranillo. Aged 12 months in new French Allier and Troncais oak barrels. Black fruit aromas mingle with subtle spicy notes of cumin and coriander. This is old fashioned Spanish winemaking at its best!

Monastrell, Syrah and Petit Verdot make up the internationalized blend of Ego Bodegas El Goru (822429) $17.99 grown in Jumilla in southeast Spain, between the Mediterranean coast and the high plains of Castilla-La Mancha. Luscious ripe blueberry and blackberry aromas and flavours predominate.

Check out https://vanwinefest.ca/ for full details… but soon!  Tickets to many events are already sold out.  Hope to see you there!

Reach WineWise by emailing douglas_sloan@yahoo.com