Top Drop Vancouver

drinkthissept92014

There’s a brand, shiny new wine festival happening in Vancouver this month, though, like old vines, the roots run deep and the idea planted years ago. Top Drop Vancouver is a collaboration between veterans of Vancouver’s wine industry, borne from the desire to expose smaller-scale, boutique and terroir-focused wineries from around the world to Vancouver’s thirsty populace. These are the wines that many in the industry are fortunate enough to know about and love, but because of marketing, education, reach and opportunity, the average consumer might not have heard of them – or ever even get the chance to. That block stops with Top Drop.

The plan was spearheaded by wine consultant Kurtis Kolt and The Wine Syndicate co-owner Jeff Curry, and quickly picked up, relayed and ran with by numerous like-minded independent wineries and agencies. For their inaugural event, Top Drop will be highlighting 24 wineries who focus on sustainable practices, minimal intervention and expressing time and place over brand and trend. In addition, there is a small cache of craft breweries and a stack of local food producers to complement the festivities.

When I caught up with Kolt amidst the last minute loose ends-tying, he was happy at how the festival has been received by both trade and public. “We’re excited to launch this new event in Vancouver to shine a brighter light on wineries who pay particular attention to their craft; making honest wines of integrity which express that sense of time and place that terroir offers, and not hiding those elements with too many bells and whistles in the winery. Like many Vancouver wine enthusiasts, the team behind Top Drop are big fans of craft beer and many of our local food purveyors, so it’s exciting to have a handful of like-minded folks from those realms in the fold to enhance the experience for attendees.”

The winery list reads like a somm’s crib sheet shopping list, with numerous cult producers featured. Many wineries will have key principals in attendance, mirroring the success of Vancouver International Wine Festival in doing the same.

The main event, deftly titled THE MAIN EVENT, is a walk-around, grazing-style tasting at Main Street’s Heritage Hall on the evening of Tuesday, September 16th. Proceeds from the $49 ticket benefit the BC Hospitality Foundation, a cause near and dear to all in the industry in this province. A fleet of roving volunteer somms (identifiable by their natty Top Drop Somm t’s) will be in attendance to answer any questions about the wines. And, in line with the event’s sustainable focus, printed booklets are eschewed in favour of Quini’s smartphone app (download here) which provides deets on every drink in the room, and allows attendees to make notes, score and compare ratings with other guests.

There is also the Top Drop Dinner Party at Cinara on Monday, September 15th, hosted by wine consultant and past Sommelier of the Year, Terry Threlfall, and featuring 6 wineries each carrying a couple favourite bottles from their cellars. That same evening, the festival has partnered with Rain City Chronicles to present Top Drop Stories at MakerLabs – an intimate evening of 8-minute stories from people who create, sip and celebrate wine across the globe. Some of the short storytellers include Christie Mavety of Blue Mountain Cellars, Mark Davidson from Wine Australia, John Clerides of Marquis Wines, and Prevail, from the Swollen Members. And Monday morning, Top Drop kicks off with a series of trade-only forums in restaurants around town, hosted by some of the city’s sharpest somms on topics near to their hearts (Minerality, Rocks and Dirt – oh my!)

A complete list of the wineries, event details and tickets are available on the Top Drop Website.

 

For this week’s DRINK This and to prep your palate for Top Drop, I’ve selected 5 favourite bottles from the stellar list of participants.

 

Locavore

Blue Mountain Vineyard
Gold Label Brut NV
Okanagan Falls, Okanagan Valley, BC
*24  + 471672

For as long as I can remember, THE consistent gold standard for BC sparkling wine. So much so, that if I’m in a local restaurant and they don’t list Blue Mountain Brut, I have a passing heartbeat skip of skepticism.

Pinot Noir, chardonnay, pinot gris come together in this crisp, clean traditional method bubble, with 24 months on the lees before disgorgement and an additional 9 months of resting before release. Very fine bubbles and lively acid, with green apple, pear, stone, light herbs, citrus and faint nutty lees notes on the finish. So Okanagan, so good. 89 points.

 

Cellar Dweller

Bodegas R. López De Heredia
Vina Tondonia Rioja Reserva 2001
Rioja, Spain
$50.00  + 39198

Since when is the current red vintage on our shelves more than a dozen years old?  *Have seen the 2002 on shelves now.  LOVE you Rioja! And especially the majestic Bodegas R. López de Heredia, the epitome of old school, timeless, individualistic and ritualistic winemaking. Their wines respect historic traditions, and released when ready to drink. Luckilly for us. This old vines Reserva (75% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacha and 5% each of Graciano and Mazuelo) opens with worn books, old cherry wood and dried strawberries. The palate feels well-worn and welcoming: dried cherry, sweet wild strawberries, aged leather, dried rose petals, earthy salinity a lift of fresh cranberries and a thin rasp of bitter cherry tannins before the mineral-lingering finish. Classic, timeless and mind-boggling value. 92 points

 

Budgeteer

Planeta Wines
Casa Planeta Bianco 2011
Sicily, Italy
$16  +302166

If you’re looking for an easy intro to Sicily’s idiosyncratic wines, Planeta is your gateway and this light-bodied, juicy grecanico/chardonnay blend is your key. Grecanico is the same grape as Veneto’s thriving garganega, and here it enters into a 50/50 blend with  chardy. This Sicilian IGT is a fragrant, tropical wine with notes of pineapple and lime, finishing crisp and bright with a whiff of white flower blossoms. A lovely aperitif wine. 87 points.

Adventurer

Stoneboat Vineyards
Pinotage 2011
Oliver, Okanagan Valley, BC
*$25   +383836

Black Sage Bench Pinotage. Who knew? Stoneboat patriarch Lanny Martiniuk, that’s who. Lanny, a highly respected grapevine propagator, originally prepared the pinotage plants for the original South African owners of nearby Lake Breeze Vineyards. He also planted some on his choice vineyard on the Black Sage Bench. This is no wild and savage beast, in the South African wildebeest vein, but rather a lush, ripe dark plum, wild raspberry and black cherry example. Medium bodied, with velvety mouthfeel, cedar earthiness and powdery-shaded tannins. Alluring baking spice and exotic flowered aromas add intrigue. 88 points.

 

No Wineos

Breakside Brewery
Liquid Sunshine Pilsner
Portland, Oregon, USA

Bright perfumed citrus, crisp citrus hops, light floral blossom, medium body, abundant texture and lovely balance = sunshine in a glass via Portland via Germany. Breakside uses scads of German pilsner malt in this brew, as well as 100% Hallertau Hersbrucker hops. Lengthy natural lagering techniques are employed, but filtration is not, resulting in a complex and evolved, refreshing pils.

 

DRINK This
Each week Treve highlights 5 timely and tasty picks. Her weekly choices include Locavore (BC wines), Cellar Dweller (wines to lay down for a while for maximum enjoyment), Budgeteer (wallet-friendly bottles under $15), Adventurer (wines for geeks, enlightening or pushing the envelope) and No Wineos (a non-wine pro-alcoholic beverage). So what are you waiting for? DRINK This!
 

 

DRINKing Guide: How to use our purchasing information.
*Asterisks denote wines that are only available at the winery or select private liquor stores. All other wines are available through BC Liquor Stores. The price is suggested retail price, and may fluctuate depending on source. Wines are scored out of 100 points.
 

 

 

Written By:

Treve Ring is a wine writer, editor, judge, consultant and certified sommelier, and has been with EAT Magazine for over a decade. In addition to her work with EAT, she is a Wine Critic and National Judge for WineAlign, ...

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