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Winnipeg Wine Festival, part 1

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Despite the thin blanket of snow covering the city, things heated up pretty quickly on Sunday afternoon as the Winnipeg Wine Festival officially kicked off at Niakwa Golf and Country Club. Dubbed World of Wine, the kickoff ancillary event seemed to go off without a hitch. I remember being there two years ago on a beautiful, hot afternoon and watching golfers tee off. This year? Not so much.

I really enjoyed the wide cross-section of wines being poured - one booth featured a German Riesling, Austrian Gruner Veltliner, Spanish red and a red Bordeaux. Another table featured red and white Burgundy squaring off against a New Zealand Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (the grapes used in the Burgundies). And hey, I didn't even get heckled this time around - last year I was chided by one attendee for showing up in jeans. You only make that kind of mistake once...

I had to leave the World of Wine event a bit early to make sure I got to 4Play Sports Bar in good time for the (new this year) Wines of Chile Trivia Experience. Wine Access was one of the presenters of the event, and as a contributor/member of their National Tasting Panel I was tasked with representing the mag in some capacity. (Shameless plug - I wrote the cover story on wine apps for mobile devices for the most recent issue.)

The trivia component of the event came via a Family Feud-style game show format, complete with Chile-themed wine categories and local media personalities teamed with members of the general public to try answering the questions. The giant theatre seats at 4Play filled up pretty quickly, as did the outskirts, where Chilean wines were being poured and Latin American-inspired apps were being devoured.

As with the past few years', Monday night I hit Joe's Italian Wine Night at Bellissimo Restaurant. Hosted by 92 CITI FM's Joe Aiello, the event features wine and food stations throughout the restaurant and lounge. People can either fill up on both at one station or mix and match wine and food. Despite the fact that the format rarely changes, I never miss this event - the food is always awesome (the wines are none too shabby either).

I'm heading to two events Tuesday night - the Wines of Canada VQA tasting at Boston Pizza in cityplace and the Espana - Everything Under the Sun tasting at Blaze Bistro in the Delta. The "grape stomp" component of the Spanish tasting is no more (hence the local media angle of the Wines of Chile event) - I'll miss seeing Doug Speirs thrash around in a barrel full of grapes. Oh well.  

More to come - in the meantime, check out my tweets or follow the #wpgwine11 hashtag to see what others are saying as well.

Here's a quick list of some noteworthy wines I've tried so far over the last couple of days, all of which should be available at Liquor Marts (and, in many cases, at private wine stores). Hopefully there aren't too many typos in here - my chicken scratch can be pretty messy:

Sparkling

  • Alain Veselle NV Brut (Champagne, France) $40.16
  • Pasqua NV Prosecco (Venezie, Italy) $12.53

Whites

  • Laforet 2009 Bourgogne Blanc (Burgundy, France) $19.02
  • See ya Later 2006 Pinot 3 (Okanagan Valley, British Columbia) $20.05
  • Michael Schafer 2004 Burg-Layer-Schlossberg Riesling Auslese (Nahe, Germany) $17.50
  • Kanu 2008 Chenin Blanc (Stellenbosch, South Africa) $10.75
  • Anselmi 2009 Capitel Foscarino (Veneto, Italy) $17.15

Reds

  • Terra Noble 2009 Reserva Pinot Noir (Casablanca Valley, Chile) $16.66
  • Penfolds 2007 Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz (South Australia) $39.99
  • Rivera Cappellaccio 2005 Riserva Aglianico (Puglia, Italy) $17.19
  • Alvaro Palacios 2008 Camins del Priorat (Catalunya, Spain) $23.95
  • Osoyoos Larose 2007 Petales D'Osoyoos (Okanagan Valley, British Columbia) $26.79
  • Vina Ventisquero 2008 Yali Grand Reserva "Three Lagoons" Cabernet Sauvignon (Maipo Valley, Chile) $13.91
  • Vina Maipo 2009 Gran Devocion Syrah Viognier (Maule Valley, Chile) $15.95
  • Vina Koyle 2008 Reserva Syrah (Colchagua Valley, Chile) $15.99
  • Masi 2008 Frescaripa Bardonlino (Veneto, Italy) $12.99
  • Damilano 2005 Nebbiolo D'Alba (Piedmont, Italy) $26.99
  • Tommasi 2006 Amarone della Valpolicella (Amarone della Valpolicella, Italy) $57.09

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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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