We might be a province that produces just fruit wines (two wineries at last count) but we certainly know how to enjoy a wine festival! This afternoon was some of the best wine tasting I've had in a long time.
My sister in law managed to snag a free ticket to the Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival and passed it on to me (a $27 savings- thanks Sharon) and I asked my mom to come with me to the event. Both Kristin and Craig are sick so they were out this year. Mom and I split the cost of the second ticket and bought $30 worth of tasting tickets and headed inside.
On the way in we were given a tasting guide and a wine glass. We were ready to go.
There must have been over two hundred wineries and distributors in the Shaw Conference Grand Hall. And along with wineries there were restaurants and hard liquor booths and other booths that I couldn't quite figure out the relevance (pet food anyone?)
So with a couple of hundred booths to visit, that meant hundreds of wine tastings. $30 worth of tickets is 60 tickets and most of the samples ranged from 3 to 8 tickets. Mom and I needed a plan.
We went through the list (took us a while even at a skimming pace) to find wines I hadn't already bought for the weekly grape. This will give you an idea just how tough this challenge is going to be. Of all the hundreds of wines available- there were only four wines that I hadn't tried (of course I'm excluding any blend wine- just the one grape variety). We highlighted those four, found them on the map and set out to find them.
It is so much fun to go and taste wine! If you haven't gone to a festival like this, you definitely should, especially if you are a little weary of trying new wines. It's a great way to learn about wines even before you try. The wineries are so knowledgeable about their wines they can tell you all sorts of things about them- what other wines they're similar too, what taste you should encounter, what to eat with the wine etc. We had one gentleman tell us to wait on trying the Semillon wine because it was so sweet that it would ruin our palette for the rest of the day so to come and try it last. Good to know!
I won't bore you with the details but mom and I made our way over a two hour period and tried 12 wines. Without trying to, we evenly split the tasting between six white and six red. Mom also tried the Southern Comfort as she had never tried that liquer before (she liked it, like- a lot!).
We asked a ton of questions and read little tid bits on all the wines we tried. I asked where we could purchase them and made notes about our first impressions on all the wines. Oh, and we ate too. Mom and I were hungry so we made sure to get some food samplings while we were there. We had a cheese and cracker platter where we had the best Swiss Cheese I'd ever tasted. Thank-you Paddy's Cheese! I know where I'll be stopping by for Christmas!
We also tried garlic prawns with orzo and Asiago cheese from the Chateau Louis Hotel. Our last dish was a dessert- carrot cake stuffed with an amazing goat cheese from Sunshine Village ski resort in Banff. All were very delicious.
Overall my mom and I had a ridiculously good time and will definitely be coming back next year. We will however make sure we buy tickets early as the price ($27 is steep) especially when an early bird ticket is $17.
There is another wine festival coming up in February called Celebrate Wine Fest. Guess where we'll be?\
Our 12 wines list (in alphabetical order of the winery, not in the order that we drank them) and some quick tasting notes. I hope to be reviewing at least 4 of them in the near future!
1. White- De Bortoli and Vina Tarapaca- Noble One Botrytis Semillon 2007 Australia (one I will review in the future). We actually drank this one last because it was so sweet. Very viscous. We both liked this one and of the two very sweet wines we drank, I liked this one better.
2. White- Gladstone Vineyards- 12,000 Miles Sauvignon Blanc 2008 New Zealand. Mom really liked this wine and I have to agree, it's good. Very crisp and as mom put it "not too sweet, not too dry, just right!"
3. Red- Organic Wine Collection- Girasole Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 USA. Chosen because it had sunflowers on it. Mom could immediately taste the smoke and oak without knowing that's exactly what you should taste based on the reading notes given to us. It was quite good.
4. Red- Painted Wolf Wines- "The Den" Pinotage 2009, South Africa. One of my favourite wines for sure. I found this wine delicious. Loved that I could really taste the fruit (berries) in this wine. Will definitely buy this wine.
5. Red- PMA Canada- Spadina Una Rosa Nero D'Avola 2003, Italy. (one I will review in the future). When she handed me the sample, she described it to me as dark and inky. That's all I'll say other than do not drink this wine while eating cheese, specifically Brie.
6. White- Spy Valley Wines- Sauvignon Blanc 2009, New Zealand. Another nice wine, we were 2/2 with the Sauvignon Blancs. Both had very strong citrus tastes to them that we both loved. Nice to drink.
7. Red- Tinhorn Creek /Tapiz- Yabby Lake Pinot Noir 2008 Australia. It was recommended to us by the merchant as we showed up at her booth with the plate of garlic prawns and looking to try a white. She recommended the light body pinot noir instead. While it was fine to drink, I'm guessing this would finish last on our list of 12.
8. White- Tsantali Wines- Organic Assyrtiko, Greece. (one I will review in the futre). This get the nods up from mom and myself. A great white wine.
9. Red- Tsantali Wines- Rapsani Reserve 2005, Greece. The only booth where we tried two wines. And it's because Greek wines are so hard to come by. This one was a blend of three grapes that are indigenous to Greece. It was ok but nothing to write a blog about (wow, lame).
10. White- Vintage West #2- Middle Sister Drama Queen Pinot Grigio 2009 USA. I have to say, it was the name of the wine that caught our attention. And when you want people to drink your wine, a name says a lot. We loved this wine!! (and no Kristin, there is no hidden message here...says the oldest sister...). I will also recommend to our local liquor store to bring in this wine. They're fairly new but mom and I enjoyed the wine for sure. They had other wines with equally good names as well.
11. Red- Voga/ Giorgio & Gianni- Negromaro 2008, Italy. (one I will review in the future)The first wine of the day and I didn't make a note! But if my short term memory serves me right, my mom and I liked it and knew we were off to a good start. And I'll be reviewing it more in depth in the future so my memory failure is okay in this instance.
12. Warrego Wines- Ice Wine Impersonator, Australia. Lockup Liquer. So much to say about this wine! First, the merchant was fabulous and gave us great information. The wine is an imposter ice wine because it's Australian and they don't get a freeze up so they mix the wine with a brandy to get it to ice wine sweetness. Mom super enjoyed this wine (family member who picked mom for Christmas take note about this wine-- Sherbrooke Liquor carries it!)
There was one wine we really wanted to try but unfortunately the shipment hadn't arrived so we were left to wait until the shipment comes in. It is also with Warrego Wines at it is a red bubbly called Scarlet O'Bubbles (great name don't ya think?) I'll be sure to pick up a bottle of this bubbly stuff for the Christmas season as well.
Two thumbs up to a great day with great company, my mom! Cheers.