Vancouver Playhouse 2011: Day 3

Today was the kid-in-a-candy store kick off to trade. I should translate. “Trade” is shorthand for the hospitality industry professionals-only tasting time in the International Festival Tasting Room. See why we call it Trade? Theoretically a little less crowded, a little more technical, and a lot more networking. I spent my 3 hours of Trade today in the Theme Region, Spain. From Penedés to Priorato, Rías Baixas to Rioja, Sherry to Sparkling, the diversity is mind-boggling. I’d take mini siestas over in the Caseta, nibbling on Iberico ham and almonds with chilled Fino. Then repeat.

Playhouse is all about meeting the people behind the labels, and today really exemplified that credo. Firstly, I was fortunate to spend some time in the company of authentically charming Telmo Rodriguez, one of Spain’s modernist pioneer winemakers, and strong advocate of indigenous grape varieties and terroir-driven wine. “Perfect wines are boring” he contended, pouring me a glass of one of his new projects, the Gaba do Xil Red 2009, Mencia grapes from Cigales. Innovative, charismatic, and welcoming, his conversation was an inspiring treat, and a reminder of why I fell in love with wine in the first place. Thank you T-Rod.

And from one pioneering winemaker to another, post-Trade I joined in the seminar The Legacy of a Spanish Visionary – A Conversation with Miguel Torres. The format of this tasting was endearing and unique. Canada’s leading wine journalist/editor/critic/personality, Anthony Gismondi, sat with Miguel Torres and chatted, and the crowd had the benefit of listening in and asking questions. Gismondi is a pro at making his guests feel at ease, asking all the right questions and – let’s face it – this man knows his wine details. Plus Gismondi and Torres have known each other for years, so it really was like a conversation between friends about the Torres brand, his 5 generations of winemaking family, the regions and soils of Torres wines, his commitment to green and sustainable practices, and his retirement plan next year at age 70 (or really, lack thereof). Miguel Torres is one of the top wine people in the world, period. His influence has affected winemaking not only in his native Spain, where he and his family are rightfully revered, but around the globe. A humanitarian, environmentalist, and genuinely gracious man, I will treasure my 90 minute seminar listening to his casual and candid conversations.  All the while we were tasting through a rare and diverse selection of Torres wines from across Spain, Chile and California. Certainly a privilege to attend and listen, and taste wines like Grans Muralles 2005, from Conca de Barbera in Catalan, and only 1000 cases produced annually. The blend of Monastrell, Garnacha Tinta, Garró, Samsó and Carineña is all planted within Grans Muralles, a single vineyard dating from the Middle Ages. Sigh. An exemplary way to end Day 3 at Playhouse.


Written By:

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 ...

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