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Column: Guide to 2024 Vancouver International Wine Festival tasting room

Nine wines to keep an eye out for at the wine tasting room this year.
This year’s theme country of the Vancouver International Wine Festival is Italy.

With 149 wineries from 12 countries pouring wines this weekend at the Vancouver International Wine Festival Tasting Room, it can be very overwhelming.  So here is a guide to some of the wines I would recommend you try:

Altesino (booth 4)

Altesino is serving a must-try wine: the 2015 Brunello di Montalcino Montosoli. 

In the 1970s, Altesino was the first winery to introduce the concept of the “Cru” (or a wine with grapes from a specific site) to Montalcino with the Montosoli vineyard.

Montosoli is a hillside vineyard and the wine is aged four years before release with at least two years in Slavonian oak barrels.  This is a top-shelf Brunello.

Tenuta di Arceno (booth 5)

This Tuscan producer is serving a tremendous selection of wines including the 2020 Chianti Classico, the 2019 Strata al Sasso Gran Selezione Chianti Classico and their IGT blend, the 2017 Valadorna Toscana.

The 2017 Valadorna Toscana is a blend of 60-per-cent Merlot, 32-per-cent Cabernet Franc, four-per-cent Cabernet Sauvignon, and four-per-cent Petit Verdot.

Damilano (booth 21)

Damilano is serving two aged Barolos to compare and contrast: the 2018 Barolo Lecinquevigne and the 2015 Barolo Raviole.

Lecinquevigne is produced from grapes from 5 vineyards that Damilano owns whereas Raviole is a specific vineyard in the village of Grinzane Cavour and is located 300 metres above sea level.

Fontanafredda (booth28)

Fontanafredda offers a diverse selection of quality wines to taste including a white wine (2021 Gavi di Gavi) and both Barbaresco (2019 Costa Rubin) and Barolo (2019 Serralunga D’Alba) wines that are made from the Nebbiolo grape.

So here you can compare and contrast wines from these popular wine regions.

Inama (booth 33)

If you like white wines and in particular wines from the Soave region (made with Garganega grape), then this is your booth.

Inama is serving three different Soave wines including the 2021 Foscarino Soave Classico as well as an interesting 2021 Carmenere Piu Veneto red wine.

Masi (booth 41)

Masi is a well-known Veneto producer of Amarone wines.  They are serving a 2017 Costasera Amarone, a 2016 Costasera Amarone Riserva.

Another must-try wine is the 2013 Amarone Mazzone, which is a single vineyard expression of Amarone with lots of age.

Ricasoli (booth 54)

The Ricasoli family has been linked to wine since 1141. To understand Chianti, you need to visit their booth, where they will be serving their 2020 Brolio Chianti Classico Riserva, a 2020 Castello di Brolio Chianti Classico Gran Selezione and their signature IGT wine, the 2019 Casalferro Merlot.

Although the theme country is Italy, there are plenty of other countries represented.  I would try some sake from Japan offered at booths 147 to 149 and some Croatian wines at booths 110 to 112.  There is also a spectacular variety of B.C. wines represented.  My recommendation is to visit booth 82, (Blasted Church) booth 83 (Blue Grouse Winery from the Cowichan Valley), booth 99 (Nk’mip Cellars) and booth 100 (Osoyoos Larose), which are serving four different vintages of their Le Grand Vin.

Next year’s theme county is the U.S.A. so get a sneak preview of next year by visiting:

Louis Martini (booth 140)

An underappreciated traditional winery that makes high-quality wines.  You must try their 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Monto Rosso, which uses 100-per-cent Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from the Monte Rosso Vineyard, which is nearly 1,300 feet above the Sonoma Valley and has been owned by the winery since 1938.

Robert Mondavi (booth144)

Another must-try wine is the 2019 To Kalon Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. To Kalon is the most famous vineyard site in Napa and wines using grapes from this vineyard show tremendous depth and mid palate.

There are too many quality wines to try in one night so pace yourself and go to the tasting room on multiple nights.  The important thing is to enjoy yourself, learn a bit about the wines and drink responsibly.  For more of my recommendations, see my video here.

I will be live-streaming from the tasting room on Thursday night and tasting wines with my friends on Friday so I hope to see you in the tasting room.  Until next time, happy drinking!

Tony Kwan is a Richmond News columnist. Lawyer by day, a food and wine lover by night, Kwan is an epicurean who writes about wine, food and enjoying all that life has to offer.