Vancouver International Wine Festival California Wine Preview

Last Tuesday, I was invited to the Vancouver International Wine Festival California Wine preview (phew, that’s a long title!). There were over 250 wines to taste at this intimate gathering (yep, that’s no typo – 250 wines!).

We were welcomed and encouraged to pour whatever we felt like tasting. I’ll have to admit, I am no wine expert, but I enjoy a great wine when I can. Sometimes I feel like people think that they can’t get into wine because there is a lot of ‘snobbery’ that comes with the territory – but I think there is always room for fresh and new palates (myself included) to learn more about wine. The more I learn about what goes into the wine making and how to really find those subtle flavours, the more I learn about what I like and what are my tastes.

While these types of events I leave to Nickie, Gastrofork’s new resident wine/alcohol specialist, I definitely appreciate times where I can learn and experience new wines. I think of it as an adventure and learning how to refine my palate. I can definitely say that the wine choices I was making 5 years ago have greatly changed (for the better!) as my taste buds change.

Here are some of the wines I tasted and what I enjoyed:

Bubbly. With the holidays coming up, I wanted to try both bubblies to see if I could bag a new favourite that I could bring to parties.

 The first one I tried was Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut ($29.99). I definitely liked this one, it was very rich tasting with a hint of sweetness to the wine. The price point is affordable and would probably make a fantastic choice to bring to a dinner party.

The second one I tried was Mumm Napa Brut Prestige ($25.99), and this was a great bubbly. It was light on the palate and refreshing, it had a great light taste to it – a light sweetness but still nice and dry. Again, at the price point, this might be my go-to bubbly for the holidays.


The first one I tried was Hope Family Wines’ Liberty School Chardonnay (2011, $21.99). I enjoyed this wine, it had hints of citrus and was refreshing as I sipped on it. I prefer a lot of the drier, white wines but once in a while I’ll find something that is citrus-y that I like. This is one of them.


The next wine was Benziger’s Chardonnay Carneros (2010, $21.99). This is more of a full bodied white wine that would pair well with a big holiday meal.


Another Chardonnay I tried was Signorello Hope’s Cuvee Chardonnay (2010, $89.99). Definitely another full bodied white wine that could compliment creamy pastas or chicken dishes.


I’m not going to lie, I overheard Grace (from GraceCheung604) recommending the next wine to a fellow attendee and so I wanted to try it out. Hess Chardonnay ($19.99). I think this was probably one of my favourite white wines at the tasting. It was very crisp, slightly sweet and refreshing with a subtle fruity flavour. The wine goes down particularly well, so I really enjoyed it. I could see this being great with seafood.


Okay, food break time. As much as this was a wine event, it was important to find a menu of tapas that could compliment over 250 wines. Well, I firmly believe that Blue Water Cafe did just that. The tapas ranged from red meats, to vegetable wraps, tuna and sushi.

I was also fairly impressed with this plate that also doubled as a wine glass holder. Ingenious. Wine events, please take note that this is a fantastic idea.

Finally, the Reds.

I didn’t try a lot because I find that I’m sensitive to red wines (I get instantaneous headaches). However, the three I tasted were not so bad and didn’t result in a headache!


First, I tried Alexander Valley Vineyard’s Temptation Zinfandel (2009, $21.99). Dianne Chow actually recommended this one, as she said it was very fruity tasting. The taste was very full bodied and did have a fruity taste to it. It was still a little too strong for my taste, but again, I’m not a habitual red wine drinker.


The next one I tried was probably the most expensive wine I tried during the evening. Miner ‘The Oracle’ Proprietary Blend (2008, $99.99). This wine is full bodied and very complex. I think it’s a little beyond my tasting level, so I can’t even begin to describe this.

The last red I tried was recommended to me by May Pang (From Pangcouver). She recommended a wine to me when we were up in the Okanagan and I really enjoyed it, so I definitely do take her recommendations to heart (especially for reds!).  It’s Michael David Winery’s Petite Petit (2010, $27.99). I definitely enjoyed this one the most out of the reds I tried. It was a full bodied wine but it was much drier than most of the other reds (which I like). It was quite sweet and had a great after taste to it. I would definitely recommend this wine for a holiday meal.

I’d like to thank the folks at the Vancouver International Wine Festival and Praxis for inviting me to this preview, it was a great learning experience and I look forward to the VIWF!

Tickets for the Vancouver International Wine Festival go on sale January 8th at 9:30am for the festival that runs from February 25 – March 3, 2013. For more information, visit


About Dee

Inspired by her father’s cooking savvy and impeccable taste and her love of trying out new places, Dee decided to pursue her love of food. Although she much prefers eating at a local restaurant, she has also taken up cooking as a novice who has lots to learn and many recipes to try. Join her quest to rise from cooking mediocrity and fine tune her palate at different restaurants!