Although the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival has been going for a couple of days, this morning’s plenary was the official kickoff (well, that and the Bacchanalia gala last night, I suppose). This morning was our first chance to really explore wines from the two theme countries, New Zealand and Argentina, and all I can say is what a great way to start a day, not to mention a festival.
We got to taste 14 different wines from the two very different countries, while the producers and their reps got up and told us a little about how they were produced. The wines ranged from the exquisite champagne-like Argentinean sparkler Bodega Vistalba Progenie Extra Brut NV ($54.99, special order only) to the tropical fruit explosion of the Babich Family Estate Vineyards Cowslip Valley Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand ($21.99) to the big, bold Argentinean reds such as the Bodega Catena Zapata Adrianna Malbec ($86, special order) or the luscious Xumek Syrah ($22.99) or the exotic lavender-and-pepper bouquet of the Crossroads Winery Elms Vineyard Reserve Syrah from New Zealand’s Hawke’s Bay ($32.99, special order).
What was particularly interesting is that all the wines were chosen as truly tasting of the terroir, the land where they were produced. And there is no way you could confuse, say, a syrah from New Zealand, with its lean, dry, floral notes, with a big, bold, juicy and peppery Argentinian one.
I know this split theme has been a bit of an organizational headache for the fest, but I have to say, it’s brilliant from the perspective of an attendee. I have a very happy palate right now, and since I’m heading off to the Tasting Room followed by a very intriguing wine launch and a celebration of some local icons, i figure things are only going to get better as the week goes on.