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The rest of the fest / heading Down Under

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It seems, dear readers, that I left you in the middle of the 2011 Winnipeg Wine Festival — at least blog-wise. Apologies, my friends, but the last few days more hectic and tasting-filled than previous years — I'm still reeling...

The gala dinner was a ton of fun, with MC Leah Hextall doing a great job despite the absence of Rod Black, who was to co-MC the event with her. It's the third year running that Black has been MIA at the gala; regardless, Hextall did a great job. Not much else to report on that front other than the substantial purchase I made at the silent auction - but you can read all about that in my column this weekend. Let's just say my MPI rebate couldn't have come at a better time...

Friday night's Champagne tasting at Blaze Bistro took place right before the public tasting, and was fabulous. While it wasn't a huge event, it was a truly awesome opportunity to tasty a couple dozen Champagnes, making the $50 price tag absolutely worth it. Attendees were even treated to Manitoba Liquor Marts' Al Bowness sabring a bottle of Champagne using some sort of machete he apparently picked up on sale at Canadian Tire.

Now, full disclosure — I skipped the Friday night public tasting at the Winnipeg Convention Centre. I was feeling intense burnout from the number of events I had already attended (including two that day), and Saturday was busy, with both the matinee and evening tastings on deck. I came back with both proverbial guns blazing on Saturday, though, and it was worth it.

The matinee tasting was the best attended I've ever seen it — yet still provided plenty of elbow room for note taking. The evening tasting was, as per usual, a sellout, but attendees seemed much better behaved than in previous years. Not to say that they're typically badly behaved — it's just that there are typically a few people who get a bit too tipsy, a few broken glasses, etc., and I didn't really find too much of that this year. Maybe all the rowdies were at Elton John.

Anyway, I haven't had much time to process my tasting notes since the end of the fest, as I'm leaving for a two-week wine trip to Australia tomorrow. Maybe I'll have a chance to reflect more on the sixteen-ish hour plane ride. I'll continue to update this space as time and internet access Down Under allow while I'm gone. I'll also try to tweet as regularly as possible while at the wineries, although you may be in bed when I do — I still haven't entirely figured out the time difference between here and Australia.

Oh, have I ever mentioned I've got a wine-related Facebook page too? I guess I have now.

Next update from Sydney!

 

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About Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson

When he wasn't bashing on a drum kit in local punk rock bands, Ben spent the mid '90s hucking cases of wine around to pay for two English degrees. Now he's the Winnipeg Free Press wine columnist and blogger.

The extent of Ben's wine experience in the mid-90s was memories of accidentally leaving a bottle of White Zinfandel in the freezer overnight, and the ensuing mess he was left with. Between 1996 and 2005 Ben absorbed all he could about wine while working at wine shops to pay for school. Meanwhile, he was churning out papers for his BA and MA in English (from the Universities of Winnipeg and Manitoba, respectively).

Ben became the Winnipeg Free Press' weekly wine columnist in 2005, and two years later joined Wine Access magazine as a contributor, a member of their national tasting panel and a judge at the Canadian Wine Awards and International Value Wine Awards until the magazine closed up shop in 2013.

In 2013 Ben joined the Winnipeg Free Press as a copy/web editor.

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