For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been training for the 10-mile run happening in conjunction with ManyFest, the downtown festival taking place next weekend. The fest, formerly known as Lights on Broadway, returns with another batch of activities highlighting our city’s downtown.
Included in the weekend’s activities is the Taste of Downtown Wine & Cheese Festival, an event that won’t require as much training on my part. The other day I figured out that I’ve already tasted nearly 2,000 wines this year — in training terms, that should put me in Olympic athlete territory.
But I digress. The wine and cheese component of ManyFest, presented by the Independent Specialty Wine Stores of Manitoba and the Manitoba Chefs Association, runs all weekend (Friday and Saturday from noon to 11 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 11, from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.). Admission is free, with sampling tickets available for purchase on-site — proceeds go to Winnipeg Harvest.
Despite some hit-and-miss weather on the Friday, last year’s event was a huge success, and I really enjoyed myself, despite swatting mosquitoes and having to taste out of tiny plastic cups. There was a stage with music set up right nearby (the fest was across from the Manitoba Legislative building), the wines I sampled were stellar, and the trees were lit up all down Broadway. Fun stuff — visit www.manyfest.ca for details.
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Condolences to the family and friends of Ken Hildahl, who passed away last Friday. While best-known for his work with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Hildahl was the president and CEO of the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission when he passed away. Hildahl played a key role in shaping the proposed liquor-law legislation scheduled to be implemented later this year.
This past Monday, I attended a whisky tasting and dinner at Fort Gibraltar featuring John Hall of Forty Creek. While I never had the chance to meet Hildahl during his short tenure at the MLCC, both Hall and Hildahl’s colleagues spoke of him very fondly.
MLCC chief operating officer Roman Zubach will serve as interim president/CEO until a replacement for Hildahl is found.
Labour Day means questions on where and when to buy booze this long weekend. Most private wine stores will be open regular hours today and Sunday, and will be open holiday hours on Monday. The same goes for beer vendors, bars and the like — as always, call ahead if you need beer or wine on Monday. Manitoba’s Liquor Marts, meanwhile, will be open regular hours today and tomorrow, but will be closed on Monday.
Finally, don’t forget Winnipeg Liquor Marts, the Winnipeg Free Press and Wines of British Columbia have a contest running until Sept. 7. You could win an invitation to a special wine and food evening at the Winnipeg Free Press News Café on Thursday, Sept. 15 — and one lucky person will win a trip for two to the Okanagan Valley (with me as the third wheel, for better or worse). Visit winnipegfreepress.com/tasteofbc for details and to enter.
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I’ve been tasting so many Canadian wines that I figured I’d give my palate a break. As a result, here are a few Old World wines for ya…
Masi 2009 Modello Bianco (Venezie, Italy — $11.99, Liquor Marts and beyond)
A blend of Pinot Grigio and indigenous Italian grapes, the Modello white shows remarkably ripe, rich peach notes on the nose, as well as light nutty and floral notes. This medium-bodied white is a bit weightier than most Italian Pinot Grigios, with the nutty notes coming through on the palate with the peach flavours in a big way. It’s still a crisp, fresh white — drink with mussels or other shellfish. 86/100
Bodega Gótica 2010 Badajo (Rueda, Spain — around $12, private wine stores)
This blend of Verdejo and Viura grapes brings some big citrus notes on the nose, offering lemon juice, lime rind and some chalky minerality. It’s very light and racy, with the lemon-lime flavours brightened by crisp acidity and with mineral and floral notes adding welcome and surprising complexity. While great on its own, try it with crisp salads or light cheeses — this killer value is available at Calabria and The Winehouse. 88/100
DFJ 2008 Touriga Nacional Touriga Franca (Lisboa, Portugal — $17.55, Liquor Marts and beyond)
Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca are the grapes here, and they impart caramel, stewed cherry and plum notes on the nose. Blueberry, raisin and plum notes on the medium-plus-bodied palate are soft and juicy, but there’s still some light tannin and acidity there that helps make this wine a great match for burgers, ribs or other barbecued fare. 87/100