VanFest 3By Tania Thomas

In its 36th year running, Vancouver International Wine Festival has become Canada’s most anticipated extravaganza of the grape. This year, 14 countries participated with 177 wineries pouring more than 780 wines.

In addition to providing educational and entertaining wine events for both public and trade, the Festival also raises funds for the Bard on the Beach Theatre Society.

With France as a theme country and a global focus on Bubbly, it was a sure crowd pleaser for any novice wine lover and a seasoned connoisseur alike. Nine wine growing regions of France were featured, from Alsace in the northeast, to the sunny southwest in an endless array of flavours and styles.

VanFest 1Here are my favourite five:Pierre Sparr Cremant

Pierre Sparr’s Crémant d’ Alsace Brut Réserve

Hailing from the heart of Alsace, this delightful Crémant is always a welcome addition to any celebration. Distinctive and refined, Crémant is a sparkling wine made in the traditional method with a second fermentation in bottle followed by at least 12 months bottle aging on its lees. Crisp and refreshing with pronounced minerality, it delivers aromas and flavours of ripe melons with a hint of tropical fruit and a touch of nuttiness.

Sancerre

 

Château de Sancerre, Loire Valley

Loire Valley contains several wine growing areas, each with a very different wine styles. Sancerre region in the far east of the Valley is home to this complex white. Produced in limited quantities, it is vinified with a 100% Sauvignon Blanc grapes from 30 year old vines, fermented in stainless steel tanks and aged on its lees for a minimum of six months prior to blending. Nose is intensely aromatic with citrus notes and a hint of minerality. The palate brings crisp acidity and flavours of lemon drops and grapefruit, followed by a long finish. For a perfect pairing serve it with a slice of chèvre.

Louis Jadot

 

Maison Louis Jadot, Moulin-à-Vent Chateau des Jacques, Beaujolais, Burgundy
This serious, full-bodied, complex red is made with 100% Gamay grapes grown in the prestigious Château des Jacques vineyards’ granite soil in the village of Moulin-à-Vent in the Burgundian region of Beaujolais. It delivers ripe berries on the nose with a whiff of spice and earth, followed by firm, chewy tannins on the palate with a long, lingering finish. Lay down for 8-10 years and prepare for a delightful surprise. Best served with hearty dishes and roasts.
La Bernardine

 

M. Chapoutier’s Châteauneuf–du-Pape, La Bernardine Rouge
As a style of wine; “Châteauneuf” is a blend of 13 grape varietals (all red) allowed by the AOC as it is the first Appellation Controllee in France. Michel Chapoutier is one of the most respected winemakers in the world and a pioneer in biodynamic winemaking. His La Bernardine Rouge is a full-bodied complex blend of Granache, Syrah and Mouvedre. Bursting with blackberries, ripe cherries and plums with a touch of spice, it is a great companion to a gourmet cheese tray.

Montus Red

 

Vignobles Brumont, Montus Red 2007, Madiran, Southwestern France

Alan Brumont of Vignobles Brumont is one of the most famous and respected winegrowers in France and is known for crafting the best Madiran, Tannat based wines. The challenge is to soften astringent tannins in this robust, highly tannic varietal. Montus Red, a blend of 80 % Tannat and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon is a full-bodied, long lived wine. A great addition to a well-stocked cellar. Pair with a lamb roast.

VanFest 2

Tania ThomasTania Thomas

From a very young age, Tania helped with picking grapes in her family’s Croatian vineyards as well as with wine making. Later, she lived abroad in London, England, Milan and Venice, Italy and explored the food and wine cultures while also traveling extensively throughout Europe.

While living in Toronto, Tania completed studies with the International Sommelier Guild.  She continued her wine education with the prestigious, internationally recognized Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET), based in London, England, and in 2007, received the WSET Level 3,  Advanced Certificate in Wine and Spirits.

In March 2013, Tania was awarded with a Certified Specialist of Wine designation by The Society of Wine Educators, based in Washington, DC, and is currently preparing for their Certified Wine Educator exam.

Tania has since started her own business and offers sommelier services, consulting and wine tastings via RunawayGrape Guided Gourmet Food & Wine Tastings.

Photos: Andrew Chin