f it’s just after Halloween, that means it’s almost time to head up the mountain to Cornucopia, Whistler’s celebration of food and drink running from November 8 to 18.
Veterans of the spirited festival know that if there’s one event there that is a can’t-miss affair, it’s the annual Crush Grand Tasting at the Whistler Conference Centre (on Saturday, November 10, at 8:30 p.m.). Tickets, starting at $91, get you into a room full of revelry, with more than 70 tables pouring the good stuff. (For Cornucopia food events, see page 18.)
From British Columbia, there are splashes to be enjoyed from producers like Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars, Joiefarm Winery, Orofino Vineyards, and Play Estate Winery. On the international front, do make a beeline to New Zealand’s Craggy Range, Chianti Classico’s Rocca delle Macie, and Domaine du Pegau from the storied French wine region of Châteauneuf-du-pape.
During the days of Cornucopia, there are many opportunities to slide into seminars for in-depth discussions and tastings on various topics. Come see yours truly, along with my colleagues Rachelle Goudreau and Tyler Dawson, as we present a Top Value Wines seminar on November 11 at noon ($43). We’ll be speaking to everything from zippy Australian Rieslings to rugged Chilean reds, providing a dynamic wine-shopping list to get you through the winter without breaking the bank.
Later in the week, the team at Bearfoot Bistro are hosting a wine dinner with Douglas Elliott from South Africa’s Anthonij Rupert Wines ($195). It’ll all go down in the restaurant’s wine cellar and has the makings of a cozy gathering, with the winery’s pristine whites and sturdy reds paired with chef Melissa Craig’s awardwinning cuisine. Their 2015 Cape of Good Hope Sémillon ($30.58 at Vancouver’s Legacy Liquor Store) is one of my favourite wines they make, loaded with apricots, peaches, and lemons, with gentle oak well-woven through. A charming take on an unsung grape.
For more information on these events, and the myriad of others on offer, hit up whistlercornucopia.com/.
For those not able to hop on the Sea-to-sky Highway for Cornucopia, there’s plenty of action right here in Vancouver, too.
Barbara Philip is Canada’s first female Master of Wine and the European-portfolio manager for B.C. Liquor Stores. She’s also spent much of her career as an educator, teaching for the International Sommelier Guild and the Wine and Spirit Education Trust. Her enthusiasm for all thing vinous is contagious, and there’s no better opportunity to get a front-row seat than her exclusive Burgundy tastings at the B.C. Liquor Stores at Park Royal and 39th Avenue and Cambie Street on Wednesday and Thursday (November 7 and 8).
For $35 per person, she’ll offer casual guidance through the region, highlighting the stunning Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs of some of the smaller domaines and family producers available in our market, pouring them alongside charcuterie and cheeses to illustrate pairing potential. Attendees will also have the chance to purchase the wines at a discounted price. Visit bcliquorstores.com/ for more information.
Over in the West End, Mike West from Okanagan Crush Pad will be on hand at the Marquis Wine Cellars at 1034 Davie Street on Friday (November 9) from 5 to 7 p.m., pouring wines from their Haywire label. It won’t set you back a dime: the tasting is free and you can drop in anytime. The wines from Haywire are authentic expressions of Okanagan Valley terroir, made by winemaker Matt Dumayne in a minimal-intervention style: they are wild-fermented from organically grown grapes and aged in concrete without any use of oak, offering lively and fresh purity of fruit.
Their Haywire Secrest Mountain Chardonnay ($27.74 at Marquis) epitomizes this perfectly. The highish-altitude vineyard’s soils are alluvial with gravel and limestone components, giving the wine a perfectly crisp backbone. The surrounding wild sagebrush and ponderosa pine trees find their way into the nuances of the aromatics, while the palate basks in ripe apples, pears, and peaches. It may be clichéd to say “It’s like the Okanagan in a glass,” but here we are. Details on the tasting are at marquis-wines.com/.
Finally, while you’re in the store, treat yourself to an adorable 375-millilitre bottle of Époque 2015 Collection Terroir (Monbazillac, France; $21.65), a late-harvest blend of Sémillon and Muscadelle from this sweet-wine appellation near Bergerac in southwest France. Perfect for hearty cheese boards that suit this season—intoxicating aromas carry honey, marmalade, and jasmine to lovely heights, while grilled pink grapefruit, roasted peaches, and butterscotch notes fill the palate. The acid is on point too—ensuring the wine isn’t too heavy or cloying.