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Column: Takeaways from the Vancouver International Wine Festival 2023

The event took place from April 22 to 30, 2023.

I was so fortunate to attend a wine dinner, a seminar and an international tasting at this year’s Vancouver International Wine Festival. I met some wonderful people and drank some magnificent wines. But most of all, I learned a lot about wine. So here are some of my takeaways from this year’s wine festival.

Masi is not just about Amarone

I had a chance to have dinner with Giacomo Boscaini, export manager and brand ambassador of Masi wines.  Masi is a very successful Amarone producer and their Masi Campofiorin is one of the most popular Italian red wines in the world. 

The winery's two new products are designed to be fun, easy to drink and easy to understand — the Fresco di Masi Blanco (priced at $21.99 with a blend of 60 per cent Garganega, 25per cent Chardonnay and 15 per cent Pinot Grigio) and the Fresco di Masi Ross (also priced at $21.99 and a blend of 70 per cent Corvina and 30 per cent Merlot). Both wines are made for immediate consumption, provide great value for the money and will definitely put a smile on your face.

Chile is about Carmenere

I have never really drunk a lot of Chilean wines because I felt the wines are not that distinctive. But since this year’s festival was focused on South American wines, I got to talk to many knowledgeable people and taste some great selections, giving me a new-found appreciation for the Carmenere grape. 

This grape varietal may not be well-known to consumers, but Chile is one of the leading producers of Carmenere-based wines. Carmenere-based wines are medium-bodied with medium tannins, high acidity and high in alcohol content. They have berry flavors with green vegetables, pepper and mineral elements. So next time you are looking for Chilean red wines, instead of picking your favourite bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah, try a Carmenere-based wine.   

Montes is magnificent 

I have known about Montes wines for many years, but this year I was blown away by the higher-end Carmenere wines. They have a new wine called Wings which is a blend of 85 per cent Carmenere and 15 per cent Cabernet Franc. You will see this wine in liquor stores shortly priced at around $70 a bottle, one of the best values among higher-end wines. Their Purple Angel, which is a blend of 92 per cent Carmenere and 8 per cent Petit Verdot, is also simply amazing and stunning. You have to try this wine to believe its quality.

Don’t forget about Uruguay

Like many, it never crossed my mind that Uruguay produces wines. In fact, their large wine consumption means they don't have to overly rely on the export market. At the Crème de la Crema seminar, Mele Sosa, enologist from Bodega Garzon stood out as the star of the session. Her enthusiasm for Uruguayan wines was infectious. 

Bodega Garzon produces a premium wine called Balasto which is a blended wine using predominantly the grape varietal Tannat. Tannat produces wines that are dark in color, tannic with black fruit, licorice and chocolate flavors. I tried the Balasto 2017 at the seminar, which was very appealing and made me want to drink more Uruguayan wines in the future.

Until next time, happy drinking!

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