The Vancouver International Wine Festival begins next week and — with 177 wineries and over 1600 wines — it can be a little overwhelming deciding what to taste. So here is a “cheat sheet”of 10 wineries for you to go to, and their best wines.
This winery is owned by the famous California winemaker Paul Hobbs, who has been making “cult Cabs” for years. He has brought his touch to Argentina, so make sure to check out both the Cabs and the Malbecs. They are incredibly ripe and concentrated, and some of the $40 versions taste like $100 wines!
Great Aussie Shirazes in all price ranges, that’s what you get from Henry’s Drive. Really ripe, not too jammy and great concentration of fruit!
Andy Johnson makes unbelievable, Burgundy-like Pinot Noirs…on Vancouver Island! A master craftsman, just taste what he did with the 2008 in a rainy year. Nothing woody or diluted here, just pure, ripe Pinot fruit.
While this Kelowna area winery also makes an interesting Pinot Noir, it is increasingly famous for its Riesling, which is second only to La Frenz’s in quality. Try the regular bottling and also the reserve if they have it; both are classic, German style Rieslings.
This Rhone wine maker makes a range of wines from the ultra expensive to good values. Not sure what they will have, but any of the northern Cotes du Rhones (Crozes Hermitage, probably) and southern Cotes du Rhones (Gigondas, Chateauneuf du Papes) are worth a taste.
This Rhone negotiant has really stepped up in recent years, particularly with northern Cotes du Rhone wines like Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, Cornas and St. Joseph. While not cheap, they are classic expressions of French Syrah – peppery, meaty, and full of black fruit.
Perrin & Fils
One of my favourite producers in the world, they are responsible for Chateau de Beaucastel, arguably one of the best Chateaneuf’s made in the Rhone. But they also make great Gigondas, Vacqueras and even their regular Cotes du Rhones are great values.
If you go to one Italian wine booth, check out Antinori. While their prices have gone up a lot over the years, this is a chance to taste some beautiful wines from this leading Tuscan producer, including their Tignanello, one of the first “super-Tuscans” that was every made.
Spain is the “host” country this year and one of the leaders is this winery, which makes the legendary Vega Sicilia. Not sure if this will be available to taste in the tasting room, but worth a look — at $200 – $300 a bottle, it is supposed to be one of the great wines of the world.
Last, but certainly not least, if you can only go to one US winery, drop by Ridge. They were one of the first producers of truly great Zinfandels, and still make two of the best — the Lytton Springs and Geyserville. Paul Draper, the winemaker/owner, might even be there, so a chance to meet one of the legendary figures in California wine.
So there is a start — ten wineries and a selection of their wines to try. Next week I will report back on my tasting experience.