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Wine Fest, part deux

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When we last spoke, I was getting ready for Tuesday night's Winnipeg Wine Festival ancillary events. The first was a VQA wines of Canada tasting in the lounge of the cityplace Boston Pizza. I'm a big booster of Canadian wines, and for $20 this tasting might have been the deal of the week.

This was the first year the tasting has been at this venue - in previous years it has been hosted at Tavern United downtown, typically on the rooftop patio. I'd be surprised if the VQA tasting was back at the Boston Pizza - it was cramped, and the shape of the room (sort of oblong-ish) meant the tables at each end had a fair bit of space while those along the middle were quite squished. Anyway, there were some really elegant whites and a couple dynamite reds, especially from CedarCreek, Inniskillin Okanagan, and Sandhill (whose winemaker, Howard Soon, was on hand).

From Boston Pizza it was straight over to the Espana - Wines from Spain event at the Blaze Bistro in the Delta. As I mentioned somewhere, the "grape stomp" component of the event was gone, but I didn't really hear many complaints about its absence. Some Spanish Cava (bubbly) cleansed the palate nicely before starting in again on the few whites and piles of reds (and one sherry - drink more sherry, people). Flamenco guitar serenaded tasters as they wrestled with a room full of big, earthy reds. Good stuff.

Last night was the California wine event at The Current at Inn at the Forks, and it certainly didn't disappoint. There were a bunch of California-inspired food stations, an instrumental surf-rock band, and plenty of wine to go around. The white wines were mainly Chardonnay, with a few other grape varieties thrown in for good measure. Among the reds wines there were surprisingly few Pinot Noirs, but a whole pile of Cabernet Sauvignons and a healthy helping of Zinfandel.

According to Rick Slomka, Canadian Director of the California Wine Institute, sales of California wine in Canada continue to climb, with healthy growth in most areas of the country. As for what's hot in California, the Paso Robles winemaking region is catching fire these days (not literally, although it's bloody hot there), as are red blends from the Golden State. We're not necessarily talking cheap blends either a-la a lot of Australian entry-level Shiraz-Cabernets - California is making more and more red blends in the mid-tier price category (let's say $20-25 and up).

Some of my faves from these events include:


Freixenet NV Elyssia Gran Cuvee (Cava, Spain) $24.99

Freixenet NV Elyssia Pinot Noir Brut (Cava, Spain) $24.99

Segura Viudas 2007 Vintage Brut (Cava, Spain) $16.98


Sandhill 2009 Chardonnay (Okanagan Valley, BC) $16.99

Lake Breeze 2007 Gewurztraminer (Okanagan Valley, BC) $23.68

CedarCreek 2009 Pinot Gris (Okanagan Valley, BC) $18.99

Pelee Island 2008 Late Harvest Riesling (Pelee Island, Ontario) $14.95

Beringer 2008 Private Reserve Chardonnay (Napa Valley, California) $49.52 

Kendall Jackson 2009 Vintner's Reserve Chardonnay (California) $17.07

Ironstone 2008 Obsession (California) $12.95 

Stork's Tower 2009 Sauvignon Blanc Verdejo (Castilla, Spain) $13.50

Miguel Torres 2009 (I think - I forgot to write down the vintage) Vina Esmerelda (Catalunya, Spain) $12.95


CedarCreek 2007 Cabernet-Merlot (Okanagan Valley, BC) $23.99

Henry of Pelham 2008 Pinot Noir (Niagara Peninsula, Ontario) $16.95

Greg Norman 2006 Zinfandel (Red Hills Lake County, California) $22.99

Beringer 2004 Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley, California) $149.99

Wente 2007 Charles Wetmore Cabernet Sauvignon (Livermore Valley, California) $25.33

Paso Creek 2008 Zinfandel (Paso Robles, California) n/a - coming to Manitoba soon

Clos du Val 2009 Zinfandel (Napa Valley, California) $23.99

Liberty School 2009 Zinfandel (California) $19.99

Bodegas Campo Viejo 2002 Gran Reserva (Rioja, Spain) $29.95

Bodegas Juan Gil 2008 Silver Label (Jumilla, Spain) $24.95

Descendientes de J. Palacios 2008 Petalos (Bierzo, Spain) $23.95

Marques de Caceres 2004 Reserva (Rioja, Spain) $32.74


Tio Pepe NV Extra Dry Fino Sherry (Jerez, Spain) $13.55 


More to come! For my thoughts (and others' thoughts) on the events as they go down, follow the #wpgwine11 hashtag on Twitter <> .

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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.


Blogs that Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson follows:

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