We walked in to the Shaw Conference Centre and the first thing Rebecca remarked was "It's like Disneyland for adults!" And that basically set the tone for us for the whole evening. The Rocky Mountain Wine & Food Festival is basically just that- playtime for adults; an annual event sure to please and electrify your tastebuds! It's one of our evening out pleasures of the year.
In a couple of words: a blast. The four of us (my mom, my sister Kristin, our good friend/adopted sister Rebecca and myself) got a ride from my brother in law Mark to the Festival (no driving for us!) and arrive just before 6 pm. We had 4 hours to do our damage. With four of us, we had 160 tickets to start (and yes, we went back and got 80 more, possibly 120...). Tickets were $0.50 each. And we dove right in. We tried all sorts of food, wine, spirits and chatted with so many different people- all very nice and chatty. Can you see why we loved this place?
To make it easier to follow the night and touch on the highlights, I'm actually going to separate them into four separate blogs (don't worry, I'll post them all today). The four write-ups will be: wine, food, people and spirits and causes. I've got some categories going- wine, spirits, food, people and causes. For the wines, I'll also list all of the wines we managed to try from the Wine Access 2011 International Value Wine Awards. In the 4th blog, I'll end with my overall impression (can you guess what it is?) The pictures are from Thanksgiving a couple of weeks ago- but the actors (myself, my mom, Kristin and Rebecca are very real!) Let the reviewing start!
The whole point of us going to the Festival is really and truly for the wine. There were some definite winners (and a few losers too) but overall we were really pleased with all of our wine selections. With 4 of us trying wines, we all shared so we managed to try over 45 wines. Here are my favourites:
Imported by Purple Valley Imports here in Canada ( Facebook and Twitter) It was only available at the Festival for $73.99 (and I didn't pick a bottle up darn it). By far my favourite wine of the night. It received 95 points by Robert Parker, this 2007 vintage wine is a Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah blend. To me, the wine had a very earthy smell to it and the spice kicked me hard (in a good way). I found this wine to be very full bodied and balanced. Lots of flavour as it danced around my mouth. I could pick out the berry flavour, especially the blackcurrant! I hope to get my hands on a bottle of this again soon (even if it means a trip to Walla Walla Washington to do it).
Runner up wine: Persuasion Wine (Website, Twitter, hastag #persuasionwine). If you watch the Dragon's Den, you'll recognize whose wine this is- none other than Arlene Dickinson. From the Sonoma Valley in California, this wine is just an enjoyable glass of wine. Fluid Imports is the distributor of the wine here in Alberta. Again, I should have picked up a bottle so I'll be heading out to grab myself a bottle!
Best Label and Name combo: I have enjoyed this wine since it arrived here in Alberta last year. I was excited to see they've expanded their line up of wines and I have yet to have a bad wine from them. My mom and I originally picked up a bottle of Middle Sister Wines last year because we loved the names of the two wines we tried (Rebel Red and Drama Queen). This year they were back with a few more wines to try- Surfer Chick and Mischief Maker. Both excellent wines. But visit their website and see what I mean by a great label! They are imported by Vintage West Wine Marketing and I'm really excited to try all 10 of their wines currently available (maybe we'll have a Middle Sister Wine Club Meeting). Check them out for sure (Facebook and Twitter)
Best Canadian Wine(s): We tried a few Canadian wines and I can't wait until Canada becomes just as well known for their wines as we are for our Canadian hockey players and maple syrup. I do think Canadian wines are often overlooked, especially by our southern counterpart. We're known more for our icewine than anything but we've got some great wines out there and the best of the night came from Desert Hills in Oliver, BC. Oliver is The two wines we tried were their Gamay and their Mirage Wine (a Bordeaux type of wine using all 5 grapes found in a traditional Bordeaux). The Gamay is a Judges Choice from Wine Access. The 2010 Gamay has accents of black cherry, vanilla and a spicy finish. The Mirage is full of flavour like black currents, black cherries and plum that are predominate on the nose. Mid palate with spice and dark chocolate lingering in the aftertaste. And kudos to the winery for such a beautiful websites. Doing this blog, I've visited a ton of wine websites and I have to say this is by far one of the most beautiful and well organized sites out there. (Facebook and Twitter)
Most Fun Table: Who brings an acrobat to a wine tasting? Australia's Peter Lehmann - that's who! And not just any acrobat, she was very Cirque du Soleil like and if you were lucky enough to be around her when she unpeeled herself from her hanging fabric, she handed you goodies (we go our hands on some very nice berry flavoured lip gloss). To be fair, it's likely the wine importer, International Cellars brought the acrobat in, and it was a very nice touch. We also got some nice double pours at the table and tried three of their wines- Barossa Blonde, Barossa Brunette and Eight Songs. So do blondes or brunettes have more fun? I really enjoyed the Brunette, a Grenache and Shiraz blend. I tasted the raspberries and some cherries and enjoyed the finish on this wine. Kristin enjoyed the Blonde (coincidence that Kris is blonde at the moment and I am Brunette? Hmmmm). The Blonde is a Riesling, Chenin Blanc and Semillon blend and had great aromas of pineapple and ginger and pear with similar flavours. This is a great refreshing wine. Rebecca tried the Eight Songs Shiraz and that was also an excellent wine. (Facebook and Twitter)
And last but not least, the wines I was able to try that are on the Wine Access International Wine Award list. They are broken into three categories- Category Champion, Judges' Choice and Killer Value. I managed to only try the Judges Choice (and not on purpose either) I'll list whether it was a like, dislike or neutral for us overall.
Zuccardi Q Malbec 2009, Argentina- Like!
Gruner Veltliner Grasshopper 2010, Hungary- Like!
Boutari Moschofilero 2010, Greece- Dislike.
Kung Fu Girl Riesling 2010, USA- Like!
Desert Hills Gamay 2010, Canada- Like! (see review above)
Whitehaven Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010, New Zealand- Like!
Vila Real Colheita White DOC Douro 2010, Portugal- Neutral.
Manium Crianza 2007, Spain- Like!
Cotes de Rouisson Villages Bila-Haut Rouge 2009, France- Like!
Santa Margherita Prosecco 'Valdobbiadene' NV, Italy- Like!
Robert Oatley Vineyards Chardonnay 2009, Australia- Like!
There are so many other great wines to try and I couldn`t list them all here but I`ve got my booklet on the ready and perhaps over the next few months I can try them again and write a review. Up next- the food!