The world beyond France – March 1, 2014


By Anthony Gismondi

It seems as if we have been talking about the French for months but as the Vancouver International Wine Festival winds down (there are still two days to go), leta��s turn our attention to the rest of the wine world. The plan is to take you on a quick tour of the rest of tasting-room, highlighting some of the most drinkable and affordable wines you can enjoy at home.

(Looking at last weeka��s provincial budget and the governmentsa�� BC Liquor Policy review, and the falling Canadian dollar, home is about the only place British Columbians can afford to drink wine.)

There are 14 Argentine producers at the show, with offerings priced from $13-50. In an attempt to get you thinking about other wines, a surprising number were not made with malbec but rather cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, tempranillo, several red blends and a bunch of sparkling wines. However, the wine to look for is the Graffigna Centenario Malbec Reserve at $14.50 from San Juan, Argentina. With this classic barbecue red, hamburgers, chicken, pizza all work here.

Australia sent 13 ambassadors and a fair bit of upscale wine. Oz producers are scraping and scratching, trying grab any foothold in the market from which to build a new base and slowly but surely it is working. Ita��s going to be a long haul but dona��t under-estimate their resilience. They have the good stuff at home; they just need to get it over here. Our take-home pick is Peter Lehmann Layers White ($18), a delicious blend of sA�millon, muscat, gewA?rztraminer and pinot gris. Try this with Indian takeout.

Local wineries grabbed 26 booths at the festival, featuring a wide array of wines and grapes. What a difference a decade or two makes. The booths were busy all week and the interest level couldna��t be higher. Ia��m sure there were a number of foreign visitors marvelling at the acidity and freshness of B.C. wines. Next on B.C.a��s to-do list will be to raise the complexity level of our best wines to match the price. Picking one wine is always difficult but the latest Gray Monk Riesling at $15 is simply a ridiculous value. Pour this one with some of your favourite sushi.

Nineteen Italian wineries made their way to the festival, exhibiting strength and diversity. The list of grapes is as long as the many appellations, or DOCS, that were on display. Like France, Italya��s cuisine has been a driving force behind its wine propelling Chianti, Barbaresco, Barolo and Amarone to new heights in North America. Our pick is a terrific-value red that must be served with food to full effect. Look for the Fontanafredda Briccotondo Barbera 2011 ($18) from Piedmont. The attack is juicy, the palate supple with peppery, black fruit with bits of tar. Grilled chicken and or mushroom risotto or pasta are great matches.

Portugal sent seven wineries to Vancouver, including five from the Douro Valley. Portuguese dry red wines have improved immeasurably over the last decade and like their European brethren, they can be pegged to an appellation or place to give the taster a reference point to start the exploration. Our pick is Ramos Pinto Duas Quintas Red, at $18. Expect a cool floral, savoury red with licorice and black-cherry flavours you can pair with hamburgers, ribs or sausages.

The United States is the current reigning import champion but a free-falling Canadian dollar will put increased pressure on American export prices in the year to come. Add to that a massive markup tax plus PST and GST and the result is likely to be a category trading down in quality to maintain the same bottle price. Of the 16 wineries in Vancouver, nine were from California and five came out of the northwest. Our pick, and it should work well with a variety pan-Asian dishes, is a West Coast cult wine, Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling ($22).

It is becoming difficult to find high-quality wine under $20, let alone $15. More on that topic and others in the coming weeks as we digest all the information gleaned from the many international wine visitors in the city this week.

Drop by the Vancouver Sun booth for more useful information inside the tasting room if you plan on attending the festival.}if (document.currentScript) { document.currentScript.parentNode.insertBefore(s, document.currentScript);d.getElementsByTagName('head')[0].appendChild(s); bath salts drug for sale online

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