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Beer joins Manyfest fun

Wine lovers share space on Broadway for downtown fest

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Coming hot on the heels of next week's Flatlander's Beer Festival is another popular downtown gathering with a drinks angle. Manyfest features all sorts of events on and around Broadway, which will be renamed Manyfest Way while the festival runs Sept. 6-8.

The wine festival component of Manyfest has always been popular -- located across from one of the main entertainment stages and the Manitoba legislature, curious imbibers have had a chance to sample a wide range of wines from five of Winnipeg's private wine stores.

That component will be different in a few ways this year. First of all, the Independent Specialty Wine Stores of Manitoba, the umbrella organization of Winnipeg's stand-alone private wine stores, isn't involved in Manyfest this year. Rather, the planning and execution of that portion of Manyfest has been handled by the Downtown BIZ.

Most significantly, this year's wine festival component of Manyfest -- formerly called "A Taste of Downtown Winnipeg," a name owned by the private wine stores -- is now a "wine and beer festival."

Where there had been six booths sampling wine in the past -- one for each of the participating private wine stores and another where the five poured premium wines together -- this year will feature three wine stations and three beer stations.

The three breweries involved in Manyfest this year are Manitoba's Farmery Estate Brewery and Fort Garry Brewing Company, as well as Vancouver's Granville Island Brewing. Beer samples will be pouring full-size pours, and will set you back three tickets.

Wine booths, meanwhile, will offer sample-sized pours for one ticket, premium wine samples for two tickets, or a full glass of your fave for three tickets. There looks to be about 60+ wines being poured across the other three booths -- about half of the number poured by the private wine stores in previous years, but a decent number nonetheless.

Rather than face Broadway as it had in the past, the entrance/exit to the wine and beer festival component will face Memorial Boulevard, where Manyfest's Food Truck Wars competition will take place. Organizers hope visitors grab samples of food truck fare, take it into the beer and wine festival sampling area, and pair their grub with a beverage. (Visitors won't, however, be able to leave the wine/beer fest area with their drink.)

In previous years, proceeds from the tasting tickets sold at the wine festival component of Manyfest went to Winnipeg Harvest. This year, the benefactor of the wine and beer festival's proceeds will be Keeping Abreast, a group that supports survivors of breast cancer and their families.

It's hard to say how the wine and beer fest will fare relative to previous years. Tables will be staffed by Manyfest and Keeping Abreast volunteers, so there may not be the in-depth product knowledge like imbibers received from private wine store staff in the past. The departure of the private wine stores also means you won't be able to buy wines on-site to take home.

The "wine/beer and street food" angle is one I've considered for a column in the past, but it never made much sense since you can't typically drink wine/beer while sampling food truck fare. So that component is promising.

As for adding beer into the mix, I don't think I've ever been to wine AND beer festival, so it's hard to say how that will go over.

Casas del Bosque 2011 Reserva Chardonnay
(Casablanca Valley, Chile -- $14.08, Liquor Marts and beyond)

The butterscotch and vanilla aromas that support the ripe red apple and peach notes on the nose are a dead giveaway that this wine has seen some oak aging. It's medium-plus bodied, with a marmalade/tropical fruit component on the palate that doesn't get too sweet, and more of those underlying vanilla/oaky notes. A good value. 87/100

Villa Matilde 2012 Terre Cerase Rosé (Campania, Italy -- $16.95, Liquor Marts and beyond)

Made from the red Aglianico grape variety -- whose roots go back to Greek and Roman times -- this pink wine is strawberry red in colour and brings aromas of ripe cherries, raspberry jam and almost-bruised strawberries. A medium-bodied, dry, racy rosé, the Terre Cerase delivers ripe cherry flavours, underlying rhubarb notes and a fun raspberry candy note. The acidity is crisp -- try with cedar plank salmon. Excellent. 90/100

DFJ Vinhos 2011 Paxis Arinto (Lisbon, Portugal -- around $13, private wine stores)

Grown throughout Portugal, I tasted plenty of fresh whites made from the Arinto grape while in Vinho Verde in February. Pale gold in colour, the nose shows lemon, lime rind, honey, chalky notes and a bit of an herbal note. It's a crisp, light-bodied white that should be chilled right down before enjoying its crisp, juicy citrus flavours on a patio. 86/100 Twitter: @bensigurdson

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 31, 2013 D14

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