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Column: 3 delicious drops at the 41st Vancouver Wine Festival

I recently had a preview of some of the 1,450 wines that will be poured starting February 23rd at the Vancouver International Wine Festival.
Image: Pixabay

I recently had a preview of some of the 1,450 wines that will be poured starting February 23rd at the Vancouver International Wine Festival. Here are three of them:

At the Blue Water Café in Yaletown, I was impressed with the Bonterra Organic Vineyards 2017 Chardonnay ($19.99) from Mendocino, Calif.

Organic wines are becoming common in the wine industry. As a former biology teacher I understand how organic farming is good for the ecosystem: the soil, the plants, the animals, and the people who eat the plants and animals. But I’ve never noticed if organic wines taste better than traditionally grown grapes that are sprayed with pesticides and herbicides.

That is until now. Wow! Of the five Chards I sipped at the tasting, this one leapt out of the glass as my favourite.

What’s to enjoy? Fresh fruit like lemon, apple, pineapple, and mango. Minerality for complexity. And there’s crisp acidity, a deft hand of toasted oak and vanilla, and balance!

Bob Blue is the winemaker and a pioneer with organics. He’ll be at the California Crush Mingler on February 26th and the Just Chill Mingler at The Loft at Earl’s Yaletown on February 27th to pour the Bonterra and to answer your questions.  The Bonterra will also be poured at the Festive California Lunch on March 2nd.

Another delicious festival wine was Voyager Estate 2018 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon ($25.99) from Margaret River in Western Australia. Although it only produces 4 per cent of Australia's wine, Margaret River wines account for 23 per cent of the country's premium wine production.

American wine critic, James Suckling has given the 2015, 2016, and 2017 versions 92, 94, and 92 points.

Here is his review of the 2017 Sauvignon Blanc Semillon:

“Fresh, lifted citrus and tropical fruit aromas with some grassy notes and hints of dried herbs. A crunchy palate of fresh flavours of tropical fruits, lemon and lime combined with subtle hints of coconut derived from a small component of barrel fermentation. Lees contact offers additional complexity and texture to the palate, finishing with a clean, crisp, natural acidity.”

I have only tasted the 2018 but it was one of my top five favourites out of thirty wines at the preview tasting. I also found it vibrant, fresh, citrus and tropical fruit with grassy notes. Well balanced with lots to love.

It is available in Richmond at the Ackroyd and Ironwood Liquor Stores. At the Festival, you can taste it at the Coastal Australia meets France Dinner at Provence Marinaside on Monday, February 25th.

Finally, here’s a red that I quickly took a liking to, the Josh Cellars 2017 Legacy Red Blend. It’s a rich, expressive, and approachable blend of Merlot, Zinfandel, Petite Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Produced from grapes throughout California including Sonoma, Napa, Lodi, and the Central Coast, it bursts with flavours of black cherry, plum and toasted cedar with scents of red and black fruit. .

“We call our red blend ‘Legacy’ in honour of the values and high standards that my dad, Josh, instilled in me,” explained Joseph Carr, founder of Josh Cellars.

Legacy Red Blend will be featured in the Festival Toast on Thursday, Feb, 28 with Winemaker Wayne Donaldson discussing this delicious red. Although it is not available in BC Liquor Stores, it might be sold at private wine stores. The Josh Cellars 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon ($19.99) however, is available in government shops as is their 2017 Chardonnay ($16.99 on sale until January 26th).

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