Saturday, January 12, 2019

UPDATED January 15! Vancouver International Wine Festival 2019 tickets selling fast - many events already sold out! Wine fest on from February 23 to March 3

Wine Barbarian Bill Tieleman, left, with Jim Robertson of Stoneleigh and Babich Wines and fans!

UPDATE!  Yet more events sold out! Hurry! 

Just since this item was posted January 12, several more Vancouver International Wine Festival events tickets have sold out!

I have updated the sold out events below and there are links to what's still available at VIWF in my post:

Tickets are on sale for the fabulous Vancouver International Wine Festival 2019 - and not only selling fast but some events are already sold out! 

So do not delay - head to the Festival At A Glance page to see what's still available and the the Tickets page to make your purchase today - don't miss out on the premier wine event of the year in Vancouver!  Or go to the Available Events page for more info on the event.

This year's focus wine region is California - and it will be great to taste hundreds of wines from 53 wineries in that state, meet winemakers and other winery principals at either pouring tables or seminars and buy some exclusive wines brought in only for the Festival, which runs from February 23 through March 3.  

And of course, there are dozens of wineries from other countries, including France, Italy, Spain, Australia, Canada, the U.S., New Zealand, Germany, Argentina, Portugal, Chile and Japan and even lesser known wine countries like Croatia, Uruguay and Romania!  In total, 160 wineries will participate in 54 different events.

Whether you want to go to one of the four International Festival Tastings - Thursday night 7 to 10 p.m.; Friday night 7 to 10 p.m.; Saturday afternoon 2;30 p.m. to 5 p.m. or the flagship Saturday night tasting from 7 to 10 p.m. or the dozens of winemaker dinners, special seminars on grapes or regions or the minglers, now is the time to quickly make your plan and buy tickets.

If you check my posts from last year you will see that eventually every single Vancouver Wine Festival event sold out - all of them.  So don't make the mistake of thinking you can always pick up a last minute ticket - it just won't happen and you will be losing out.

Already I can report that several dinners, brunches, lunches and a few seminars are sold out - even though tickets only went on sale January 9!

The Hy's Caymus Wine Dinner; the Icons of Italy Cioppino's Dinner; the Discover Robert Mondavi Winery Dinner at Ancora; A Taste of Croatia Dinner at L'Abbatoir; the California In Blue Water Ocean Dinner at Blue Water Cafe; Sordo's Century of Barola Dinner at Boulevard Kitchen; Artisan Evening of Food and Wine Dinner at Elisa; and the Zivjeli and Namaste Dinner at Vij's Rangoli are all sold out as of today!  

Also sold out are seminars: Pinot Noir's Siren Call of Seduction and the Icons of Napa Valley. 

UPDATE: The Next World Chardonnay; Rhone Around The World  seminars are now sold out as of January 15.

But other excellent events are still available, including what sounds like a fantastic seminar with the godfather of Zinfandel - Joel Peterson of Ravenswood fame!

Wine Barbarian Bill Tieleman, left, with Joel Peterson of Ravenswood Zinfandel fame!
And most lunch/brunches are sold out, including:  The Vintners' Brunch; Dine Italia and Gusto LatinoAmericano.


But there are still many great dinners and events with tickets left, so rush on over to the website and make your picks - you won't be sorry!

And see you there!  

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Fantastic food in Seville, Spain! Abantal - Michelin 1 Star restaurant - delivers the goods!

Abantal - Course 5: Tuna tartar with aubergine [eggplant] black olive crumble and cucumber mayonnaise - a favourite!
Fantastic food in Seville Spain! That's what we enjoyed at Abantal, a 1-star Michelin restaurant we visited in September.
My wife Shirley Ross and I went all-in for the Grand Chef's Daily Tasting Menu - 13 courses for 90 Euros each.
Abantal Chef and co-owner Julio Fernández Quintero takes great pride in being recognized as Best Andulusian Chef in 2005 and winning a Michelin Star in 2008, continuing to hold that honour ever since.  Abantal is the only Michelin-starred restaurant in the city - and we were fortunate to get a reservation on fairly short notice.
Abantal is in an unassuming building and nondescript part of Seville just outside the main tourist section of the old town. But what's inside is anything but ordinary! 
Dinner started with 4 amuse bouches: dry onion with black garlic sauce; cookies with leeks and potato jelly; mushroom meringues and sea anemone! All delicious.
Course 1: Clam with cauliflower emulsion and microseaweed;

Course 2: Tomato sponge, codfish drop, black garlic aioli, pepper and potato crisp;

Course 3: Oyster with citrus foam sweet potato puree, fried rice grains and a spiced infusion;

Course 4: Spinach puree with anise, broccoli and white asparagus & artichoke heart, dried peas;
Course 5: Tuna tartar with aubergine [eggplant] black olive crumble and cucumber mayonnaise - a favourite - see above 

Course 6: Red Prawn - very large - steamed with wild rice [from Spain] foam and prawn oil aioli [yes!];
Course 7: Meagre - a fish like sea bass - with tomato, pepper jelly and basil jelly - garlic-aioli like but lighter!;

Course 8: Lamb sweetbreads with chickpea puree and beet puree; [sorry - no photo]

Course 9: Suckling pig, roasted endive slice, black garlic aioli and tomato puree;

Course 10: Foie Gras cream, coffee gelee, sweet and sour quince - another favourite - super light and sweet!;

Course 11: Fennel frappe, apple sorbet and coriander sponge cake with lemon;
Course 12: Passion fruit cream, frappe mint and chocolate;
Course 13: Orange wine zabaglione, anise cookie and cinnamon with orange blossom jelly and orange!
We enjoyed all this with a beautiful Spanish red wine from Ribera del Duero - Pagos de Matanegra Vendimia Seleccionada 2012, rated 93 points by Robert Parker, for 53 Euros. It was dense and rich, with concentrated red cherry flavours - and as lovely as you would expect from over 80 year-old-wines!
I also enjoyed a Malaga sweet dessert wine - Molino Real from Telmo Rodriguez. 
I should add that every serving plate was different - shapes, textures, colours - all fascinating. And service was impeccable, as one would expect.
This was an astonishingly good meal at any price but for 90 Euros - $135 Cdn - it was truly remarkable! I highly recommend a visit - and an earlier reservation than we made - if you are visiting Seville.
This was the first time either of us had been to a Michelin-starred restaurant - most are in Europe - and we hope to be so lucky as to do so again. One of our most memorable meals ever - thank you to Chef Fernández!
Abantal website at:

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Happy International Malbec Day! April 17 we celebrate Malbec wine!

Happy International Malbec Day!  

On April 17 we celebrate Malbec wine around the world!

April is a great month to drink Malbec - rainy, windy or even sunny but cool - that's the perfect weather for a beautiful, heart-warming glass of Malbec.

It can come from Argentina - where it most famous - or France - where it originated, primarily in the Cahors region as well as in Bordeaux blends - or British Columbia and other parts of the globe.

Malbec is great with steaks and grilled meat - I did mention Argentina - but it is an adaptable wine and pairs perfectly with vegetarian meals too.

Today in BC there are about 80 Malbec or Malbec blended wines in the BC government liquor stores, plus more in private outlets.

The Wine Barbarian recommends these Malbecs but this is a rare grape where you will hardly ever go wrong on a bottle.  And Malbec's range from very cheap to very expensive, so there is something for every budget.

Trivento - Malbec Lujan de Cuyo Golden Reserve 2015 - Argentina

A beautiful, deep wine that gives you chewy cherry and spices - smooth and superb.

The Wine Spectator rates it 89 points and says: "This shows good cut to the dried cherry and green olive flavors, matched to lively acidity. Slate and spice details emerge on the crisp finish." 

A great buy at $21.99 and widely available across BC at government liquor stores - $2 off till April 28.

Vina Cobos - Felino Malbec 2016 - Argentina 

Vina Cobos is always a good bet for Malbec - or Chardonnay - as it is part of the Paul Hobbs empire and Hobbs is known for quality at all price ranges.  The Wine Spectator scores this at 87 points and previous vintages higher, and offers this description:

"Offers lots of tealike notes to the red plum, dried berry and ripe currant flavors, supported by crisp tannins. Bittersweet chocolate details show on the finish." 

There are about 1,000 bottles available around the province at government liquor stores and even better - it's on sale for $21.99 - a $2 discount till April 28.

Bench 1775 - Cabernet Franc-Malbec 2015 - Naramata BC

Bench 1775 produces some very nice wines and this Malbec blend is definitely one of them!  Not widely available but in 20 stores around BC at $22.99.

Lots of cherry and blackberry flavours here.

But whatever your taste - be sure to crack open a Malbec today and join the wine world in celebrating this great grape!