Last night was the Hola Chile event, held at the Assiniboine Park Conservatory. And yes, as the name of the event suggests, it was all Chilean wines, music, culture and, ahem, a wee bit of food. More on that later.
With nearly two dozen Chilean producers, export managers and/or winery reps coming in to town for the Winnipeg Wine Festival (Chile is the fest's inaugural theme country), I had hoped to bump in to at least one or two of them at last night's tasting. It appears, however, that none had yet landed. Regardless, there were some nice wines to be tried — some new for the Winnipeg Wine Festival and others familiar revisits.
The white wines probably got a bit more attention than they would have otherwise due to the fact that the Conservatory is incredibly humid and warm. A couple of doors were eventually propped open, thankfully — I made the mistake of wearing a sweater. (I also made the mistake of neglecting to remove the cat hair from my sweater, but I digress.) One pourer was even pouring the same Pinot Noir both at room temperature and slightly chilled. It's amazing how even 15 minutes of chilling time can change a wine. Maybe there's a column in there somewhere in the future...
There were definitely prime and not-so-prime spots to be in if you were pouring wine; the Conservatory has a lot of corners, twists and turns, and I found myself specifically looking for (and not finding) a couple of booths at times. I did manage to get around to all the booths, yet managed not to burn out my palate — I had tried some of the wines being poured when I visited Chile this past November.
Oh yes — re: the wee bit of food... there definitely could/should have been more. I saw a couple of servers come out of the kitchen with plates of appetizers only to be mobbed by those nearby. Many pourers and attendees further away from the kitchen said they didn't get any food at all. I'm not sure if it was under-staffing or just not-so-great planning, but I heard a fair number of people bring it up. ANYway...
Some of my faves from last night:
Casa la Hoya 2008 Gewurztrainer (spicy and racy)
Leyda 2005 Sauvignon Blanc (great mature Sauv Blanc flavours)
Mont Gras 2007 Sauvignon Blanc (nice and crisp)
Anakena 2007 Single Vineyard Viognier (great viscosity and tropical fruit flavours for the price)
Santa Rita 2006 Reserve Pinot Noir (I preferred chilled to room temperature, but it could have been the environment I was in)
Undurraga 2006 Reserve "Sibaris" Cabernet Sauvignon (great fruit with nice peppery notes)
Perez Cruz 2006 Cot (Cot is also known as Malbec: big, inky, nice bell pepper and blackberry notes)
Botalcura 2005 Nebbiolo (the Barolo grape... a very big red and, from what I overheard, a crowd fave)
Vina Maipo 2007Gran Devocion Cabernet Sauvignon-Syrah (full-bodied, nice and peppery, good balance of intense fruit and tannin)
Tonight I'm at the Wines From Spain: Grape Stomp event at the Delta Winnipeg. Local celebs will be competing at stomping grapes. The one year I was asked to be a "celebrity" grape stomper, I finished my second round, stepped off the stage and on to the tiled floor of the Blaze Bistro, and wiped right out. The collective gasp of the crowd prompted me to get up right away, laugh it off, then bolt for the back room, where I immediately doubled over in pain. Incredibly, I haven't been asked to do it since.
It wasn't as bad as the Grape Lady, but it was ugly.
Oh, Don't forget to keep up with where I am during the Winnipeg Wine Festival on Twitter.