Friday, April 28, 2023

Kiss - Don't Spit!!" - My advice for the Vancouver International Wine Festival 2023 tastings!


"Kiss Don't Spit!"

It’s not hip to spit in my book!  Especially given Covid-19!

It's not something you often hear from the wine critics and experts.

But it is my contrarian advice to those attending the fabulous Vancouver International Wine Festival 2023 - running now through April 30 - for the International Festival Tastings or wine seminars. And there are still tickets available for Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Saturday nights big International Tastings!

Most wine experts advise you to "spit" the wine after nosing the bouquet in the glass and sipping it into your mouth and swirling it around - then spew it out - but I strongly disagree.

After all, there's a reason I'm called The Wine Barbarian! 

The experts' reasoning makes some sense - you can taste far more wines without getting intoxicated by the alcohol content if it doesn't go down your throat and into your stomach.  

But you - the wine consumer - are not an expert nor are you tasting hundreds of glasses.

First - you simply cannot fully experience a wine without swallowing it, feeling the wonderful elixir float down your throat, discovering the length of the finish - you can literally count the seconds when you can still taste it, and know the satisfaction of having tasted one of the best wines in the world!

Spitting?  Sorry but you just don't get that sensation.

And you are at North America's largest consumer wine festival, with literally dozens of wines priced at $100 to $200 or more per bottle - why the hell would you spit that out?!!!

Plus, you can simply "kiss" a lot of wines without swallowing or spitting!

By kissing I mean you nose the wine in the glass, bring it to your lips and then - unless it's awesomely tasty and probably quite expensive, you simply pour the wine into the conveniently located spit bucket on the table. 

Polite, discreet, saving your sobriety for none but the best and when you do sip and swallow it will be worth it!  

Lastly, proper spitting is hard - don't try to learn it in front of 1,600 people including sommeliers, winemakers, family and friends!  

So enjoy the Vancouver international wine festival and taste lots of the fantastic wines from around the world and BC - and "kiss" lots of them!  I hope to see you there! 


Saturday, April 22, 2023

Hurry hard if you want to attend the Vancouver International Wine Festival - many events already sold out!


The countdown is on to the fabulous 2023 Vancouver International Wine Festival - but you have to hurry hard if you want to attend - many events have unfortunately already sold out and others are nearing full capacity!

To help you out, I've reproduced above - as of Saturday April 22 - the Festival at a Glance with all the VIWF events and ticket status - but you should go to their website  page here and check - then buy tickets here!

Sadly, all the wine dinners are now sold out - but there are still for the four International Festival Tasting events - Thursday, Friday and Saturday night and also Saturday afternoon. 

And there are also a few tickets left for California Wines - Eureka In A Glass on Friday with some of that state's best wines and winemakers - one event I will be at - and La Crema de la Crema - on Saturday with some of South America's best wines and winemakers! 

If you are in the wine, food or hospitality business, there are also still tickets available for some Trade Seminars and events go to VIWF's Trade Days website for more information. 

Also - please stay tuned here at the Wine Barbarian website and follow me on Twitter @BillTieleman for updates on wines you must try and other VIWF information as it happens.

And lastly, for the most comprehensive guide to VIWF, check out Anthony Gismondi and Aleesha Harris' Vancouver Sun article online

Cheers and hope to see you at VIWF this year! 

Monday, April 17, 2023

It's World Malbec Day - April 23, 2023 - time to crack a bottle of Malbec!

Today - Monday April 23, 2023 - is World Malbec Day - an annual occasion to enjoy a great grape that is grown in many places globally but is best known in France and Argentina for their remarkable successes in the bottle! 

Here in British Columbia, you can easily celebrate World Malbec Day - or Malbec World Day - with a quick trip to the liquor store for almost any priced Malbec - from a cheap and cheerful everyday bottle to a collectible wine that will last a decade or more!  And there are even a few rare, delicious BC Malbecs produced here - but a bit harder to find.

If you love or want to explore Malbecs, the Vancouver International Wine Festival running from April 22 to 30, 2023 - is where you will find 27 Argentina wineries participating - and loads of Malbecs, including two noted below - from Catena Zapata and Domaine Bousquet!  But hurry - many events are already sold out - go to the VIWF website to get tickets today!  

Malbec is best known as a grape used in Bordeaux blends but it is also found in 100% concentration in the Cahors region of southwest France and has found a new and exciting home in Argentina, especially the Mendoza district.   
And there are also some fabulous Malbec-based blends, where it stars but shares the stage with other grapes, just as it plays a supporting actor role in Bordeaux wines.

The Wine Barbarian has a few quick picks for you - and don't limit yourself to April 17th only - Malbec is a great year round wine that pairs well with everything from grilled meats on the BBQ to stews and casseroles.

Here are a few personal choices but the options are nearly endless: 

Here are three excellent choices, all available at your BC Government Liquor Stores, from left:  Clos de los Siete 2019 by Michel Rolland from the Mendoza region of Argentina - $25.49 on sale till April 29, regular $29.99; La Lande Cavagnac 2017 from Domaine de Cause in the Cahors region of France - $35.99; and Las Acequias Malbec Oak 2017 from Mendoza, Argentina - $22.99 on sale till April 29, regular $24.99.  All three is very to reasonably available - check the BC LDB website to find a store near you. 

I am a huge fan of the Clos de los Siete - last year's 2018 vintage was picked for the Wine Spectator's famed Top 100 Wines of 2022 and the 2019, like the 2018, is scored at 90 points out of 100!  And Robert Parker scores it at 91+ points.  It's got 50% Malbec, 24% Merlot, 11% Syrah, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot in the blend.  Drink now through 2032. 

You can cherry and plum fruit, coffee bean, graphite, fresh tobacco and pepper on the finish!

The La Lande Cavagnac is new to me and comes from Domaine de Cause.  The Wine Enthusiast scores it 92 points and finds it full of ripe berry flavours and good tannins.  Drinkable now. 

The Las Acequias is also an old favourite - it is such a treat to be able to buy and drink a 2017 vintage when many wineries are only offering 2020 and 2021 vintages - most of which are not really ready to open.  But this Malbec certainly is - Vancouver Sun wine critic Anthony Gismondi scores it 91 points, calling it lavish with plenty of black fruit and dense, slippery tannins. 

You really can't go wrong with any of these three Malbecs, but here are a few more picks that are fairly easily found: 

Catena Malbec 2019 - the ever reliable standard bearer for many wine drinkers and restaurant wine lists alike - at $26.99 you can count on quality. And Robert Parker scores it at 92 points, noting red berries, violets and freshness.

The Domaine Bousquet Malbec 2021 is another vintage after vintage reliable value wine - now on sale till April 29 at $16.99, regular price $17.99.  And with a 90 point review from the Wine Spectator, you simply can't go wrong! 

And another longtime favourite is the Vina Cobos Felino Malbec  - now in the 2021 vintage and on sale for $20.99 till April 29, regularly at $24.99. The Wine Spectator rates this 89 points - great value! 

So please buy and drink a lovely Malbec today - and remember this great wine for many other occasions throughout the year! 

Cheers and I hope to see you at VIWF!