Thursday, January 14, 2010

Vancouver's wine tasting year gets off to a fast start



Photo: Tinhorn Creek's Sandra Oldfield hosts Vancouver tasting

For Vancouver’s wine lovers, the year does not begin on January 1 but with Taste BC 2010 on January 19. Formerly known as the BC wine and Oyster Festival, this event is organized by Liberty Wine Merchants.

The $50 a ticket event is a fund-raiser for Children’s Hospital-Oak Tree Clinic which provides care and services to those with HIV/AIDS. Over the years, it has generated closed to $170,000 for this good cause.

As it happens, this is but one of several terrific tastings during the last two weeks of January, as various wineries, wine clubs and other sponsors get events out of the way before the 2010 Olympics take over the city and most tasting venues.

Taste BC 2010 is in the Hyatt Regency, beginning at 4.30 p.m., in the familiar format that has now launched Vancouver’s tasting season for perhaps a decade. A large number of British Columbia wineries, represented either by principals or agents, set up their tables throughout the ballroom. There is also plenty of food available, prepared by leading restaurants.

If the past is a guide, this tasting is used by producers to show not only the wines they poured all last year but some of their latest releases. There should be plenty of 2008 white wines – and that was arguably the best vintage of whites so far from the Okanagan. Most of the reds will be 2006 and 2007, both excellent vintages.

Tickets are available at all Liberty wine stores. The event usually sells out.

Here are some of the other stellar tastings in the next few weeks:

* Sandhill Wines celebrates its garnering of the Canadian Winery of the Year Award with a January 18 tasting at 6.30 p.m. in the Vancouver Aquarium. (Now you know what wine to have with fish!)

This tasting is by invitation only. It is noted here because it kicks off the tasting year and because winemaker Howard Soon will be in Vancouver for it.

* Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars is back again with its elegant Blue Mountain and Friends evening at 6.30 p.m. January 26 at the Four Seasons. This $90 a ticket event is a fundraiser for the B.C. Children’s Hospital as well.

Blue Mountain took two years off from bringing this evening to Vancouver. It is one of Vancouver’s most fashionable tastings. The owners of Blue Mountain and their associates are on hand to pour each of the winery’s 10 wines. Next to each tasting table, 10 leading Vancouver chefs prepare foods to pair with the wines.

The tickets are sold through the winery. Check the website, for the event is close to sold out.

* There is a significant other invitation-only tasting on the afternoon of January 27 at the Terminal City Club. It is the first-ever Vancouver tasting of the wines of Ontario’s Le Clos Jordanne, with winemaker Thomas Bachelder.

This winery is an outstanding producer of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines. Until now, none has been available in the British Columbia market. After this tasting, Vincor Canada is releasing eight wines to selected private wine stores.

Some of the wines that are coming were reviewed (enthusiastically) in the blog I posted last March 6, after a private tasting with the winemaker in Ontario.

* The British Columbia Wine Appreciation Society is hosting Tinhorn Creek winemaker Sandra Oldfield on January 27, who will present a vertical tasting of 12 years of Cabernet Franc.

This is almost certain that she has never before offered a tasting quite like this in Vancouver. She is pouring vintages from 1996 through 2007. She will comment, of course, of the conditions of each vintage. This is a rare chance to look at mature examples of a varietal that does very well in the Okanagan but lives mostly under the shadow of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

This tasting is 7.30 p.m. at the Listel Hotel on Robson. BCWAS members pay $30, non-members pay $45. Tickets, which are in short supply, are available through the BCWAS website.

* Bistro Bistro Restaurant at 1961 West 4th in Vancouver has a wine event featuring Stoneboat Vineyards on January 28. Tickets are $70 each and only 50 tickets are being sold.

What a great start to the year!

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