Sunday, March 11, 2018

Vancouver International Wine Festival: The host countries!

I had every intention of making detailed notes for all the wines I was tasting. Those intentions went out the window in the first half hour after it became obvious there was just too much chaos in the tasting room and no way for me to hold 2 wine glasses and still type on my iPad; so I had to go back to the iPhone for the app and do the best I could.

To make my notes, I used the Festival app which works well in many ways, but it seems as if I have lost all of my notes for any wines that were "Trade only". That really sucks, as we spent the entire first day tasting "Trade only" wines. I'll do my best to recreate them from memory but I'm going to miss some. It is particularly harsh on Portugal, as we tasted the "Trade only" wine from every single winery that came to the festival, and then didn't get to taste a ton more during the rest of the tastings as they were very, very crowded, as the host countries usually are. Same thing for Spain, although we did get back to taste more of those than we did with Portugal.

So, as with past years' reports on the Festival, I'll just give scores for most of the wines, and full reviews of the wines we bought, wanted to buy but were sold out, and a few extra special ones. Here we go with the first report as we taste as much as we can from the Iberian peninsula!


Quinta do Crasto 2015 Superior Red ($27.49)

Blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinto Roriz and Souzao. Wild berries and spice on the nose. Dark berries dominate the palate, with notes of vanilla and white pepper showing up on the long finish. This one will almost certainly improve with time in the cellar, which is where mine is going.
Quinta do Crasto 2015 Douro ($20.49)

Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, and Tinta Barroca. Intense notes of blackberry, black plum, blueberry, black cherry and violets. Dark wild berries dominate the palate with an impressive finish. This is a nice wine for the price. I didn't buy one of these because it is probably the easiest Portugese wine to find in just about any liquor store (Government or otherwise). I will get one or more at some point.

Quinta do Crasto 2014 Old Vines Reserva ($47.99)
Aromas of dark berries, spice, tobacco and leather. Full-bodied and well textured palate, flavors of dark berries and a hint of earth. Finishes very long. This one should improve for a decade; I will confirm that soon as we have a 2009 in our cellar that will probably come in the next year or so.

Quinta do Crasto 2014 Tinta Roriz - 90

Avaleda 2011 Grand Follies Tinto - 89

Avaleda 2016 Alvarinho ($21.99)
Beautiful aromas of straw, citrus and white flowers. Citrus, white flowers, passion fruit and a hint of spice on the palate. Juicy and delicious.

Fonseca 2003 Vintage Port ($150ish probably)
This was ridiculous. RI-DIC-U-LOUS. Generally we are not the biggest port fans, but wines like this could change our minds. Just about every flavor you could imagine; dried cherries, raisins, dark chocolate, caramel...take everything you've ever enjoyed in a Port and it's in here. We would have bought one, at almost any price, but it was sold out by the time we got there, or was never offered (a lot of the "Trade Only" wines were not there). I've seen it for $109USD on (but sold out), so I'm guessing it's between $150 and $200 Canadian. Got to find this somewhere.

Ramos Pinto 30 Year Old Tawny Port - 90
Global Wines 2011 Casa de Santar Vinha dos Amores Touriga Nacional - 88
Quinta do Mondego 2012 Munda Alfrocheiro - 88
Niepoort 2013 L.B.V. Porto - 88
Herdade Paco do Conde 2011 Winemaker's Selection - 88
Companhia Agricola do Sanguinhal 2009 Quinta do Sanguinhal - 87
Herdade das Servas 2014 Reserva Vinhas Velhas - 88

Caves Messias 2013 Classico Garrafeira Bairrada ($40ish)

Made from the "Baga" grape, one I was totally not familiar with. This was very tasty and we would have bought it had it been available. Rich, dark berries abound on the nose and palate. Finishes very long. Another one I will try to search out.

Taylor Fladgate 1968 Single Harvest Tawney Port ($279.99)
That year is not a typo, and this hasn't been sitting on a store shelf for decades; this was just released. You can actually find these in many of the Signature BC Liquor Stores. Intense notes of toffee, raisins, walnut, fruit cake and a touch of pepper. Butterscotch, dark chocolate and nutty flavors. Look, this was tasty, but given the age and price, I was a bit underwhelmed. I would much prefer the Fonseca above which is nowhere near as old and about half the price.


Rioja Vega 2015 Edicion Limitada Tempranillo - 89
Vivanco - 2016 La Maldita Garnacha - 88

Marques de Riscal 2015 Finca Torrea Rioja - 87

Marques de Riscal 2016 Rueda Verdejo Blanco ($18.49)
Highly aromatic wine, intense tropical fruit with a hint of fresh cut grass. Fresh and well balanced acidity, almost unctuous. Tropical fruit dominates the palate. Great deal for the price.

Marques de Riscal 2013 Rioja Reserva ($29.99)
Blend of Tempranillo, Graziano, Mazuelo. Aromas of ripe, dark berries, balsamic, cinnamon and black fruit. Licorice, black pepper, blackberry and cinnamon on the palate. Finishes well. Probably will improve with another 4-6 years in the bottle.

Marques de Riscal Rioja 2007 Gran Reserva ($60ish)

Blend of Tempranillo, Graziano, Mazuelo. Deep black in colour. Black fruit and spice on the nose. Black fruit on the palate with a long, luscious finish. Tannins are firm yet silky and this has legs to improve for another decade. What a beauty.

Vina Salceda 2012 Reserva - 88
Vina Salceda 2014 Crianza - 88
Baluarte 2016 Roble - 87
La Fincas 2016 Rosado - 87

CVNE 2012 Cune Reserva - 88
CVNE 2012 Cune Crianza - 88
CVNE 2012 Vina Real Reserva - 87
CVNE 2016 Monopole Blanco - 88

Grupo Faustino 2012 V Reserva - 88
Grupo Faustino 2005 Gran Reserva - 91
Grupo Faustino 2016 Portia Ebeia Roble - 88
Grupo Faustino Campillo 2016 Rosé (?)
Aromas of strawberry, pink grapefruit and anise. Juicy and fruity palate, with strawberries and raspberries dominating. 100% Tempranillo. Delicious, and another "Trade Only" wine that we enjoyed and were not able to buy.

Faustino 1994 Gran Reserva ($89.99)
Aromas of leather, earth, dark cherry and menthol. The palate is just about the same, with impressive acidity and a long finish. Has lots of life left in it for a 24 year old wine. A real treat.

Vivanco 2014 4 Varietals - 88
Vivanco 2014 Rioja Crianza - 87
Vivanco 2016 Rioja Blanco - 85

Torres 2016 Vina Esmeralda - 88
Torres 2014 Altos Ibericos Crianza - 88

Torres 2013 Celeste Crianza ($25.99)
Very typical offering from Ribera Del Duero. This is a wine that hasn't been around that long but it seems to get better every year. Black cherry, blackberry, plum, tobacco, black tea and sage aromas and flavors. I've heard that the 2014 vintage is even better, and this one is pretty darn good. So if you go to find one of these and they happen to have a '14, get one of each and let me know which you prefer!

Torres 2012 Mas La Plana ($67.99)

100% Cabernet Sauvignon, 100% delicious. Black currant, cedar, tobacco and plum. Dark fruits overwhelm the palate, with a hint of mint and tobacco showing up on the beautifully long finish. Superb.

BTW, each of the above two wines are on sale at BC Liquor Stores this month, until March 31st. Run and get a couple of each if you are so inclined, they are easy to find, and you can save $3 and $5 respectively.

Well, incredibly, that's it for the host countries. I'd like to be able to really get all the way through the host country(ies) one year, but of course everyone else in the place has the same thoughts and it can be chaotic. Perhaps next year we will take advantage of the trade tasting events to focus just on the host region of California!

Up next: The rest of the world. Lots of great stuff of course!

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