DRINK A new year of wine ad­ven­tures

Fill your 2019 cal­en­dar with grand tast­ings and can’t-miss fes­ti­vals

The Georgia Straight - - Drinks - By Kur­tis Kolt by

I’m do­ing plenty of the com­mon, ex­pected things to start off the new year. I’ve been hit­ting the gym fairly of­ten, go­ing for runs, try­ing to read more, and so on. Eat­ing bet­ter is a big one; my meals have been a lit­tle fresher, less pro­cessed, plant-for­ward, and when opt­ing for meat or seafood, I’m putting ex­tra ef­fort into en­sur­ing they’re sourced eth­i­cally and sus­tain­ably.

I’ve been on the same train of thought with wine lately, too. If I’m look­ing for my food to be au­then­tic and sus­tain­able, I want my wine to fol­low those same lines as much as pos­si­ble. I’m not say­ing that ev­ery bot­tle I reach for this year has to be or­ganic or come out of a Leed–cer­ti­fied win­ery, but I do want to put more of a per­sonal fo­cus on drink­ing wines where the grow­ers, wine­mak­ers, and pro­pri­etors be­hind them err in those sorts of di­rec­tions. While I won’t be mil­i­tant or sanc­ti­mo­nious about these choices, I will try to be much more thought­ful with them, and the wines fea­tured in these pages will likely re­flect that.

We’re cer­tainly primed for a year full of wine-fu­elled ad­ven­tures.

Tourism Van­cou­ver’s an­nual Dine Out Van­cou­ver Fes­ti­val runs Jan­uary 18 through Fe­bru­ary 3, when we’ll see a mul­ti­tude of lo­cal restau­rants of­fer­ing three-course menus at in­cred­i­ble value while pop-ups, food tours, and other events fill the cal­en­dar.

All the events are kicked off on Jan­uary 17 at the Rocky Moun­taineer sta­tion with the Grand Tast­ing. For $99, at­ten­dees will have the op­por­tu­nity to try culi­nary de­lights from more than a dozen lo­cal restau­rants like La Mez­ca­le­ria, the Ar­bor, and Wilde­beest while en­joy­ing drinks from over 30 Bri­tish Columbian craft brew­eries, cideries, and winer­ies—from Cen­tral City Brew­ers and Dis­tillers and Steam­works Brew­ery to Sum­mer­hill Pyra­mid Win­ery and Van­cou­ver Is­land’s Blue Grouse Es­tate Win­ery. More in­for­ma­tion and tick­ets are avail­able at di­ne­out­van­cou­ver.com/. In the past, it’s been a quick sell­out, so don’t sleep on this one.

Fol­low­ing Dine Out fes­tiv­i­ties is the re­turn of the Van­cou­ver In­ter­na­tional Wine Fes­ti­val, run­ning Fe­bru­ary 23 to March 3. Tick­ets have just been re­leased for all events, and the can’t-miss edi­tions of the In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val Tast­ing—with all par­tic­i­pat­ing winer­ies at the Van­cou­ver Con­ven­tion Cen­tre over­look­ing the North Shore moun­tains—go down Fe­bru­ary 28, March 1, and March 2. Al­though wines from all over the globe—in­clud­ing Aus­tralia, Por­tu­gal, Italy, and Chile—will be poured by win­ery prin­ci­pals, the theme re­gion this year is Cal­i­for­nia, where folks from more than 50 winer­ies are head­ing up the coast to show us their best stuff.

I’m par­tic­u­larly look­ing for­ward to sip­ping the dy­na­mite or­ganic fare from Gr­gich Hills Es­tate and catch­ing up with the Trefethen fam­ily, whose sus­tain­able meth­ods span the vine­yard and the win­ery, in­clud­ing em­ploy­ment prac­tices that in­cor­po­rate liv­ing wages and ben­e­fits. Oh, and they make kick­ass wine, too! All you need to know is at van­wine­fest.com/. I’ll have more of a com­pre­hen­sive pre­view in com­ing weeks.

If you’re look­ing to en­hance your wine knowl­edge, mark Jan­uary 24 and Fe­bru­ary 1 in your cal­en­dar. Those are the dates of the lo­cal two­day course from the Wine and Spirit Ed­u­ca­tion Trust of London, where pass­ing the fi­nal exam nabs you the level-one award in wine cer­ti­fi­ca­tion from the most re­spected wi­nee­d­u­ca­tion body on the planet. Lo­cal ed­u­ca­tor Iain Philip will lead two three-and-a-half-hour classes at the Les Amis du Fro­mage digs on East Hast­ings Street, cov­er­ing clas­sic re­gions, grape va­ri­eties, food-and­wine pair­ing, and more. Head to wine­plus.ca/ to lock things in.

Fi­nally, I found my­self smit­ten with a bot­tle of Do­maine de la Pépière La Pépiè Caber­net Franc 2017 (Loire Val­ley, France; $25 to $29, pri­vate wine stores) I picked up re­cently. Out of south­west-fac­ing hill­side granitic soils comes this zesty, bio­dy­nam­i­cally farmed red, which is mac­er­ated for four days posthar­vest, lightly pressed, then fer­mented in stain­less steel. Far from a chunky, Napa-style Caber­net Franc, this one is clean as a whis­tle and light on its feet. On the nose, an abun­dance of fresh herbs like basil, sor­rel, and mint leads to a palate loaded with vi­brant red berry fruit, a lit­tle red bell pep­per, and a pinch of white pep­per on the fin­ish. Served with a hint of a chill, it’s buoy­ant and cheery and will go well with any­thing from duck con­fit to stinky cheeses. I picked up a bot­tle at Rob­son Wine Beer & Spir­its, right across from the li­brary down­town, but it’s also re­cently been spot­ted at Kit­si­lano Wine Cel­lar on West 4th Av­enue. A highly rec­om­mended, bright start to the new year.

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