Written By Treve Ring Libations / Wine Festivals Apr 8, 2011 Playhouse 2011 – EAT’s favourite DRINKs SHARE VIA: Facebook Twitter Pinterest I was fortunate to be able to fully immerse myself in the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival last week. I cleared my calendar months in advance, booked a hotel in downtown Vancouver for the week, and jumped in. Seminars, dinners, minglers, tastings, vintage tastings, lunches, grazings, trade events, media events…Over the past 33 years, the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival has grown into one of the top wine festivals worldwide. Let’s just look at the numbers alone: 1650 wines, 176 wineries, 15 countries, 62 events, and over 25,000 attendees. Though the feet were a little sore at weeks’ end (mental note: insoles), the palate was going strong, and the mind was spinning with new wines, regions and producers. I emerged on the other side of Playhouse with a much greater sense of Spain’s traditions and sense of place. There’s a pulsating vein of honour, pride and authenticity – both in the wines and the people. I also developed an even deeper love for fortified wines, and have a renewed purpose to make these special wines less of a rarity and more a part of everyday life. Since I’ve been home, I’ve already worked through a bottle of Gonzales Byass Oloroso, so I’m off to a good start.Here are my top Playhouse Wine Festival 2011 picks. The list is Spain-heavy, since I spent most of the week focused there, but I did break away to taste the rest of the world from time to time. While some of the wines listed below may not be available here yet, keep an eye out for the producers in your local store. *indicates private liquor stores only.# 1 WineReally hard call between my #1 and #2 pick, as both are equally worthy contenders. Both from this year’s theme region of Spain, both are rare and exceptional examples of wine, and both I have added to my personal ‘desert-island cellar list’.Cavas Pares Balta Gratavinum 2πr 2007 Priorat DOCa, Spain $47 +378489*Hailing from the and ruggedly breathtaking and ancient Priorato region, This artisanal, handcrafted red wine is as otherworldly as its landscape. The blend is made up of 60% Garnacha, 25% Samso (Carinena), with the balance Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, and is aged for 12 months in French and Hungarian oak. What comes across is much more than that – what you taste is the terroir (terruno). Stony, crumbly slate, the dusty, dark fruit. The physical texture of this aromatic and spicy, concentrated and powerful red is outstanding.#2 WineGonzález Byass Apóstoles Very Old Palo Cortado VORS Jerez DO, Spain $40 for 375ml +983858This sherry is a minimum of 30 years old, and in reality, much older (the Solera was begun in 1862 with the visit of Queen Isabella to Jerez. Intense, lengthy and complex marmalade, earth and walnut richness. Incredible length and lasting impression.And now, my best of the rest: SPAIN Alvaro Palacios Descendientes de Jose Palacio Petalos 2008, Bierzo DO $33.00 +879221 Bodegas Hidalgo Hidalgo La Gitana Pastrana Manzanilla Pasada, Manzanilla Sanlúcar de Barrameda DO $22 for 375ml Bodegas Abanico Los Colmillos 2008, Toro DO $55.00 +894196* Axial Vinos Otto Bestué Finca Santa Sabina 2008, Somontano DO $30.00 +not yet available Miguel Torres Celeste 2008, Ribera del Duero DO $25 +384040 Ramón Bilbao Vinos y Viñedos Mar de Frades Albariño 2010, DO Rias Baixas $45.00 +157511* Telmo Rodriguez Gaba do Xil Red 2009, Cigales DO $24.00 +624353* Segura Viudas Vintage Brut 2007, Penedes DO $20.00 +394064* Bodegas Olivares Olivares Rose 2010, Jumilla DO $13.00 +803841* Gonzáles Byass Néctar, Pedro Ximénez Dulce, Jerez DO $25 for 375ml +not yet available AUSTRALIA Josef Chromy Pinot Noir 2009, Tasmania $30.00 +142588 Buller Wines Fine Old Muscat, Rutherglen $37.00 +457267* CANADA Meyer Family Vineyards Micro Cuvee Chardonnay McLean Creek Road 2009, Okanagan Valley, BC $65.00 *private liquor stores or winery Tantalus Vineyards Old Vine Riesling 2008, Okanagan Valley BC $30.00 *private liquor stores or winery CHILE Miguel Torres Manso de Velasco 2007, Curico Valley $45 +576868* FRANCE Champagne Deutz Brut Classic NV, Champagne AC $65.00 +56358* Pfaffenheim Steinert Grand Cru Gewurztraminer 2007, Alsace AC $34.00 +615898 NEW ZEALAND Astrolabe Voyage Pinot Noir 2008, Marlborough Not yet available PORTUGAL Blandy’s Madiera 15 Year Old Malmsey $78.00 +920108* LOOKING AHEADThe theme region for 2012 is CHILE, and the global focus is Cabernet(s). Clear your calendars – I’ll see you there.Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival 2012Feb 27-March 4, 2012www.playhousewinefest.com FestivalPlayhouseSpain SHARE VIA: Facebook Twitter Pinterest Written By: Treve Ring Treve Ring is a wine writer, editor, judge, consultant and certified sommelier, and has been with EAT Magazine for over a decade.\r\n\r\nIn addition to her work with EAT, she is a Wine Critic and National Judge for ... Read More You may also like Food Events / Food News September 18, 2019 EAT Buzz Up-Island & Tofino September|October 2019 The Buzz Up-Island It’s high time for festival season! I anticipate this time of the year all year long when fresh produce is in abundance, ... Read More Food Events / Food News July 3, 2019 EAT Buzz Up-island & Tofino July|August 2019 The Buzz Up-island July 2019 “First we EAT, then we do everything else”(M.K.Fisher) – at least I do anyway. Never short of ... 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