Wine Fest – Beyond France & Bubbly


DRINK This: Wine Fest – Beyond France & Bubbly

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying you shouldn’t taste streams of French wine and bubbly wine at Vancouver International Wine Festival this week. In fact – taste as much French bubbly as you can (I know I will be). I just want you to be aware that even though France is the theme region, and Bubbly is the global focus, there are wines from all around the globe, covering a wide range of styles, price points and palates. This is your opportunity to meet 1750 wines over the next 6 days (an astounding 30,000 bottles). But we’re best to start slowly; here are 4 that you should seek out on the tasting room floor, plus one pick for after the tasting. Trust me.



Unsworth Vineyards & Winery
Cuvée De L’ile 2010
Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC
*$24  +520304

This. THIS! This is what I’d like to see more people doing on the Wine Islands. Sparkling wine. NOT, contrary to popular belief, because it’s a way to use up ‘under ripe’ grapes. Because our cool, maritime climate and ancient volcanic soils can support grapes naturally high in acidity and create wines at the mountain top of freshness. This traditional method sparkling wine is a new project for Cowichan Valley’s progressive, young Unsworth Vineyards, and I hope their compatriots take note. Granny smith crisp on the nose and palate, this 100% pinot noir spent two years on the lees after full malolactic – certainly needed to calm the raging acidity. The result is apple dominant, with light stone and a cushion of lightly creamy lees on the mid palate. Lemon zest and apple peel finishes off the ending. Fantastic first effort – certainly worth toasting. 88 points.


miguel-torres-mas-la-plana-cabernet-sauvignon-2008-e1393303160864Cellar Dweller

Miguel Torres
Mas La Plana 2009
Penedès, Catalunya, Spain
$55  +315838

‘Icon Wine’ is a term that gets bandied about so often it has lost its lusture. But this is exactly the type of wine that deserves ‘Icon’ status, for its groundbreaking history. Miguel Torres made the audacious move of planting ze most Franςais of grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon, in a small vineyard in Penedès, Spain in the 1960’s. The wine from these grapes won the 1979 Paris Wine Olympiad (yes, the Olympics of wine), with the 1970 vintage of Mas La Plana beating out all the stalwart Bordeaux, including Chateau Latour. 40 years later, cabernet sauvignon grapes from this small (29 ha) vineyard are still reserved for the reliable, regarded and refined Mas La Plana. Intense black flowers, blackberry, tar, spice and anise open, leading to a structured, present and expressive palate of savoury wild black fruit, spiced cedarwood, tobacco, cacao and dried herbs. I enjoyed this wine last weekend at the Bacchanalia Gala with braised lamb cheek, though it would certainly continue to meld and build with cellaring for 3-6 years. 92 points.



Quinta da Aveleda 2012
Vinho Verde, Portugal
$13  +114223

The stunning 150 ha Aveleda estate feels like you’re in a fairytale. Historic, ivy-clad buildings, intricate fountains, 7 ha of lush gardens, vines everywhere you look (many of them on the traditional pergola system) and strutting, regal peacocks. The estate has been owned by the Guedes family since the 15th Century, and viticulture has been practiced here for 5 generations, dating back to the 1870s. Today, Aveleda is a highly successful winery, mainly focused on export markets and across various tiers – all smart value buys. The Quinta Da Aveleda is a blend of well known grapes from the region, Loureiro, Trajadura and Alvarinho, aged in stainless on the fine lees, granting both freshness and added creaminess on the palate. Dry, fresh and bright, with red and yellow apple, peach blossom, ripe cantaloupe, orange oil and a spiced lime pith finish. 87 points.



Longview Vineyard
Yakka Shiraz 2010
Adelaide Hills, South Australia, Australia
$30  +405985

The Yakka is a prehistoric looking plant with spiny leaves and an asymmetric black trunk. It is also Aussie slang for ‘hard work’. I think the only hard work that comes with this idiosyncratic wine is the challenge to what most consumers think “Aussie Shiraz” is. From a single estate vineyard on the SE Ridge of the Mt Lofty Ranges comes this characterful shiraz. Fresh thyme and rosemary dominate a warm herbal nose, with dark chocolate and red cherry fruit. The full bodied palate teems with black cherry, perfumed violets, cracked pepper and wild blackberry blossoms, with downy plush tannins and a distinct herbal twist to the lengthy finish. This is a big, striking wine – possibly Yakka to absorb at first, but impossible to turn away from. 89 points.


fat-tug-e1393303066166-300x106No Wineos

Driftwood Brewing Company
Fat Tug IPA
Victoria, BC
$5.50 for 650ml  +844399

We all have different personal barometers for gauging success. If I sit down in a pub/bar/restaurant and they have Fat Tug on the menu, the needle swings towards a win. If it’s on tap, bonus points. If Fat Tug is absent, the pressure plummets and tiny alarm bells chime. The presence of the humble but mighty Fat Tug is one of my indicators that someone in charge here knows and cares enough about craft beer to share it with valued customers. Judgemental? Fine – that’s my vocation. But I’m not alone in my love for this IPA. Numerous awards, a widespread fan base and critical acclaim back me up; just this week Fat Tug was announced as Best BC Beer in the 2014 CAMRA Vancouver Awards, and Driftwood named Best BC Brewery. Fat Tug is full on, and hop lovers will appreciate the intense grapefruit citrus hops off first whiff. This North American styled India Pale Ale is buoyed by a hefty shove of earthy malt and sea salt, with a persistent resin/orange peel finish and an anchor of malt to support. Aggressively flavourful and beautifully balanced in its bitterness, this refreshing IPA is exactly what you need to drink after a day of wine tasting.


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!


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*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:

Colin is the Assistant Editor at EAT. You can contact him via Colin was born in Nova Scotia and spent his first five years there. His mother and father owned an inn and restaurant and Colin spent his time ...

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