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Winnipeg Wine Fest, Day 3

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A favourite among Winnipeg Wine Festival attendees, the Wines From Spain: Grape Stomp was moved from the Delta Winnipeg's Blaze Bistro to one of the hotel's ballrooms to accommodate more people. As a result, it was a less sweaty, elbow-to-elbow affair than previous years. I liked the frenetic feel of the event in Blaze Bistro, but as a whole I think the larger room works better.

The stomping itself happened halfway through the night, with a fine effort put in by both teams (made up of local media personalities and Special Olympics athletes). The Winnipeg Free Press' own Gary Lawless and Doug Speirs performed admirably, although Doug might have bit off (or chugged back) more than he could chew/gulp when he "volunteered" to drink a glass of the freshly-crushed grape juice...

 

This was the fourth country-centric tasting I've been to this week (the others being Canada, Italy and Chile), and there have truly been very few duds among the wines I've tasted. I was disappointed that I could count the number of Spanish white wines being poured on one hand, but both the Torres Viña Esmerelda and Nerola were excellent. The latter came in Torres' new packaging, which looks very sharp and decidedly more modern than the current labels.

As for the reds, I found most fell into one of two categories — lighter and juicy with a hint of acidity, or big and dry with rustic, earthy notes. There were definitely more of the latter than the former, and among the biggies I enjoyed the Care 2004 Cabernet-Tempranillo-Merlot from the Cariñena region, the Palacios 2006 Petalos Mencia from Bierzo, and the Aranleon 2005 Solo.

Not fitting into either of those red categories (but very enjoyable nonetheless) were the Juan Gil 2007 White Label Monastrell (medium-bodied, juicy blueberry flavours) and the Osborne 2004 Dominio de Malpica Cabernet Sauvignon (full-bodied but not as rustic as many of the others - more of a juicy, New World style).

Apologies if I missed an accent here or there...

Of course, there's also the Spanish Cava — their bubblies. I can't recommend Spanish bubbly quickly or enthusiastically enough; there were about a half-dozen at the Grape Stomp and all were great. Of note: there were also two sherries, a sangria, and a Moscatel dessert wine being poured.

As the event was winding down, a few attendees (having likely tipped back a few Spanish wines themselves) decided to climb into the barrels, and were quickly removed. Otherwise, the event seemed to go very smoothly.

Tonight's the Gala Dinner, featuring some pretty nice lots for auction. I'll see if I can keep tabs on final prices for some of the rare and interesting wines that will be featured...

Don't forget to keep tabs on my Wine Fest whereabouts via Twitter. It's not always easy to "tweet" from your BlackBerry with a glass of wine in hand, but I'll do my best...

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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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