The 41st Vancouver International Wine Festival glorious week-long event came to a close on Sunday, March 3. This premier food and wine event featured 160 wineries, 16 countries, 54 events, shared 1,450 wines with 25,000 participants and attendees. This year, the theme was “Dream Big: California Style” with 53 wineries from the Golden State. We enjoyed a sumptuous winery lunch at Lift Bar & Grill at Coal Harbour featuring food-friendly wines from Chile and Argentina and enjoyed pours at International Festival Tasting Room inside the Vancouver Convention Centre.
One of the featured wine tasting booths was the Napa Valley Cultivating Excellence. It featured vertical tastings of different vintages of the same wine type from the same winery are tasted. This emphasizes the differences between various vintages. For example, we enjoyed the sharp contrasting difference of the young 2016 Sirah vs 2012 older, smoother Robert Biale Vineyards.
Since there were so, so, so many wines to taste and choose from, this year I focused on California Chardonnays and Organic Wineries. It was exciting tasting the differences between oaked and unoaked vs neutral oaked. Unoaked wine is more likely to be lighter-bodied than its oaked wines, with more fresh fruit flavours and less of any cedary, toasty, vanilla character.
BERINGER VINEYARDS I NAPA VALLEY, CALIFORNIA: Napa Valley Chardonnay 2016 – Aromas of concentrated apple, mango and ripe pear flavors that are intensely spiced. Tastes plush and creamy, aromas and flavours of tart citrus lead with hints of white pear, delicious apple and a bit of lemon meringue and toasted almonds. A buttery finish is mouth-filling and rich tasting.
BONTERRA ORGANIC VINEYARDS I MENDOCINO COUNTY, USA – CALIFORNIA: Organic Chardonnay 2017 – Aromas of green apples, pears, and citrus. 70& of the juice is fermented in a combination of French and American oak, which is allowed to undergo malolactic fermentation to create a rich, creamy wine with just a touch of new oak spice. The remaining 30% is fermented in stainless steel to preserve the crisp fresh fruit flavours. Tastes of neutral oak for these fresh fruit characteristics. Tastes of minerality that is both bright and clean and vibrant tartness and lemon zest.
GALLO SIGNATURE SERIES I NAPA VALLEY / SONOMA COUNTY / MONTEREY COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2016 – Aromas of reshly baked bread and honey (this is a true expression of our Russian River Valley terroir). Tastes full-bodied palate has delightfully bright flavors of crisp apple, ripe peach, lemon meringue and honey, while the long finish has hints of caramel and ginger.
GIRARD WINERY I NAPA VALLEY, CALIFORNIA: Russian River Chardonnay 2016 – Aromas of stone fruit, orange zest and oak spice turn into vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Tastes of quince, pear and juicy white peach flavours with supple palate weight, and integrated acidity and minerality to round out the refreshing but substantial finish.
HAHN FAMILY WINES I MONTEREY COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: Monterey County Chardonnay 2017 – Aromas of subtle notes of pear, peach, lemongrass and green apple with hints of butterscotch and vanilla. Fermented in French oak barrels with a mix of 25% new, balance neutral oak that is less smoky. Energizing tastes of tropical fruits, pear, and peach with hints of toffee and oak wrapped in balanced acidity with a creamy, long finish.
HALL / WALT I NAPA VALLEY / SONOMA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: Walt Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2016 – Aromas of ripe grapefruit, lemon tart and preserved kumquats with touches of honeysuckle, beeswax and allspice. Tastes Medium-bodied, with great intensity of citrus flavours with a racy line carrying the fruit to a long, zesty finish. Barrel ageing 40% New French Oak.
JOEL GOTT WINES I CALIFORNIA, CALIFORNIA: Chardonnay 2017 – Aromas of white peach, papaya and honeysuckle with hints of lemon and jasmine. Tastes of bright fruit flavours, leading to a round mouthfeel on the mid-palate and crisp minerality on the finish.
KENDALL-JACKSON I SONOMA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay 2017 – Aromas of tropical flavours such as pineapple, mango and papaya, with citrus notes. aromas of vanilla and honey. Tastes fruit-forward, complex with a hint of toasted oak and butter.
LA CREMA I SONOMA COUNTY / MONTEREY COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2017 – Aromas of Apricot, lemon, gala apple, subtle oak and spice. Tastes of lemon drop, white stonefruit, yellow plum and honeydew melon. It is richly textured and concentrated with balanced acidity that drives a lingering finish. This is a heady Chardonnay with aromatics that develop over time in the glass.
LAKE SONOMA WINERY I SONOMA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2016 – This Quails’ Gate Estate Winery 100% Canadian owned vineyard down in California offers aromas of heady white stone fruits, Asian pear and a hint of Meyer lemon blossom and buttery shortbread, with underlying crushed stone minerality. Tastes of generous white peach, zesty citrus and a kiss of warm baking spices and marzipan, with well balanced, juicy acidity. Barrel ageing for 18 months for a soft, creamy oak structure and concentration.
Also Loving – Wines from around the world:
STAGS’ LEAP WINERY I NAPA VALLEY, CALIFORNIA: Napa Valley Viognier 2017 – Aromas of classic stone fruit and citrus blossom characteristics, with hints of lemon meringue and white pepper. Tastes of racing acidity and a steely minerality which adds to the wine’s crispness and complexity. Layers of white peach, hints of lemongrass and raw almond, are plentiful on the palate, leading to a very long elegant, delicately floral spiced finish for a silky mouthfeel and roundness on the palate.
BODEGA ARGENTO I MENDOZA, ARGENTINA: Reserva Chardonnay 2017 – Aromas of fresh citrus fruits. Tastes full-bodied wine in the mouth with clean fresh flavours of grapefruit and pineapple complemented by mineral notes. The finish is persistent and refreshing, with a rich texture and crisp acidity.
DOMAINE BOUSQUET | MENDOZA, ARGENTINA – Aromatic intensity of tropical fruits, pear, coconut and vanilla. Tastes of notes of green apple and pear with light tones of mild spices and jasmine. The soft and creamy palate provides a good volume and a refreshing acidity. Well rounded oak and candy flavours remain to the end. The wine is 100% Chardonnay, aged in French oak during 10 months and then 10 months in the bottle. Made from organic grapes from Estate vineyards located in Gualtallary, Tupungato at an altitude of 1200 meters (4000 feet) above sea level, one of the highest points in Mendoza.
TAHBILK WINERY I VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA: Viognier 2018 – Aromas of subtle rose petal and citrus blossom. Tastes well structured with stone fruits, cinnamon and ginger spices, with a delicious textural oiliness that is enlivened with a vivacious acidity. This wine is fresh and youthfully exuberant!
DEINHARD / SCHLOSS JOHANNISBERG I VARIOUS, GERMANY: Schloss Johannisberg Riesling Grünlack Spätlese 2017 – Aromas of remarkably fresh citrus fruit of lemon, apricot, pear and minerals. Tastes of long finsihed mineral with crispy acidity balance.
SEVEN TERRANCES I MARLBOROUG, NEW ZEALAND: Sauvignon Blanc 2018 – Aromas of vibrant fruit aromas of ripe gooseberries, citrus fruits, red pepper and passion fruits. Creamy tastes of grapes and stone fruits.
MISSION HILL FAMILY ESTATE I OKANAGAN VALLEY, CANADA – BC: Legacy Collection Perpetua Chardonnay 2016 – Aromas of bright fruit. Incredibly fresh acidity tastes highlight the notes of pear, lime and hint of oak. The wines were fermented and aged on fine lees for 15 months in a combination of concrete eggs, stainless steel and French oak barrels. 26 barrels produced.
QUAILS’ GATE WINERY I OKANAGAN | VALLEY, CANADA – BC Stewart Family Reserve Chardonnay 2016 – Aromas of tangerine zest, orange blossom, dried sage and buttery shortbread. Tastes very well balanced with alluring fruit aromas, refreshing acidity and lingering stony minerality.
NK’MIP CELLARS I OKANAGAN VALLEY, CANADA – BC: Qwam Qwmt Riesling Icewine 2016 – Aromas of harmonious layers of honey, baked apple, sweet citrus and apricot. Tastes of liquid silk texture that leaves a soft finish on the palate.
The Vancouver International Wine Festival 2020, the host country/region will be “Vive la France!” – wine focus on all things French!
Vancouver International Wine Festival 2019 by the numbers:
- 25,000 admissions in 2018 (97% of all available tickets were sold)
- 16 countries, 160 wineries, 26 venues
- 54 events (including tastings, seminars, winery dinners, minglers, lunches, and brunches)
- 50 participating restaurants, hotels, and caterers
- 1,450 wines
- 725 at International Festival Tastings
- 146 additional wines at Trade Tastings
- 575 at special events (dinners, seminars, etc.)
- 42,000 bottles sampled and/or purchased
- 82,000 wine glasses used
- 450 volunteers