Wine Festival: White Grapes

by Lauren Mote

So far the first day of the Trade Tasting seems to be a success. Contrary to the problem I encountered last year, where I was aimlessly strutting through the pavilion with brochures, a map and a sticky wine glass, today I have a plan – I’ll start in BC, end “everywhere else” and stick to white wines. Saturday I can effectively scour the earth for the most fabulous reds with my tannin stained teeth. I managed to score a series of “pseudo dates” from random industry gentlemen happy to escort this lady around, but I certainly cherished the time when I could taste and spit in peace without the small talk.

For my first date, Phil Reigh of the Beach House; I started floral – a series of samples from BC’s best producers of Gewurztraminers – Red Rooster, Blasted Church and Wild Goose (which turned out to be the best).

Phil Reigh, Beach House (left) Lauren Mote, Poivre Media (right)

Phil Reigh, Beach House (left) Lauren Mote, Poivre Media (right)

For my second date, Tyler Finnie of Chow.

Aaron, Brewery Creek (left) Tyler Finnie, Chow (right)

Aaron, Brewery Creek (left) Tyler Finnie, Chow (right)

We moved next to fresh, fruity, light, and herbaceous – also know as the Sauvignon Blanc grape – Prospect Winery and Lake Breeze (off dry), and I was quickly swooped away by my third date, Lorenzo Caprilli of Vincor, to try the Sauvignon Blanc offerings of Herni Bourgeois (Loire Valley – arguably some of the best Pouilly Fume and Sancerre) and a random tasting of Chardonnay/Pinot Blanc at the “Great Wall” booth – brought to us by the representatives of this Chinese wineproducer, located just east of Beijing.

Lorenzo Caprilli, Vincor (left) Judith Lane, Writer (right)

Lorenzo Caprilli, Vincor (left) Judith Lane, Writer (right)

For my fourth date, Brad Jones of Vincor; we galloped (well Brad’s not a galloper) towards the delicious citrus, petrolium and mineral character of Riesling, with BC’s Tantalus, JoieFram, Pentage, Wild Goose and finally with See Ya Later Ranch.

Brad Jones, Vincor (left) Winemaker, See Ya Later Ranch (right)

Brad Jones, Vincor (left) Winemaker, See Ya Later Ranch (right)

It’s funny, as all of these wines are passing in and out of my tasting glass, I feel I have more energy, and less like I am being repeatedly punched in the cheeks from over-drinking. Must be from all the talking. Besides the lovely gents that are escorting me around the ballroom, I find myself alone for a few minutes, and take advantage of it. I run into some other characters that I am happier to share a random experience or story with rather then try to steal them away from their wives and girlfriends. I bumped into Iain Phillip, Instructor of the WSET Program at Vancouver Art Institute,  as I often do at wine events, standing strategically in front of the Olivier Leflaive booth… not only one of my absolute favourite wine producers of the old world, but as well producers of my two favouite wines on the planet (that I was fortunte enough to try at a catering event with David Hawksworth, where I presented and tasted wines with a group of 10, while Chef David was in the kitchen plating second courses soon to arrive) “Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 1993″; Domaine Leflaive Batard-Montrachet 1993”. I am, alas, a sucker for Burgundy whites – ahemm – Chardonnay. So, almost verbatum, I repeat the last sentence I have written, with much more information on the other wines had to Iain, and he simply responds, “Isn’t it so exciting to be a part of something like this? Sometimes you will only have the chance to try bottles like this if you go to someone’s house who has an expansive collection, and wants to share it. Well done.” Story on the entire “David Hawksworth Wine Dinner” coming soon, I assure you; the wines were toooo memorable not to share with everyone! After sharing a few words with Michaela Morris of HouseWine (she is preparing for an intense Burgundy seminar the following day with HouseWine co-owner Michelle Bouffard), I am moving on.

Just a bunch of randoms, including Jennifer Hennessey, Goldfish Pacific Kitchen (front right)

Just a bunch of randoms, including Jennifer Hennessey, Goldfish Pacific Kitchen (front right)

I am now really consuming sparkling wines, German Rieslings, and Vinho Verde (crispy, light and refreshing Portuguese wines; well suited to a big ol’ plate of grilled sardines on the beach). “…slow down Lauren, slow down….” my voice mutters.

At every turn, there seems to be the “oh-so palate-cleasing bread piece” but frankly I would kill for more cheese, and then the exhibition of processed pork products appears in the distance – pepperettes and salami for all who clutch its fatty tissue in their teeth!

I pass the pork, and see Michael and Heidi over at JoieFarm; after attending the Joie 5th Anniversary Party this past Monday and Diva(s) at the Met the following day, you’d think JoieFarm Rose and I had retired from eachother’s company – how wrong you are, “more please”!

JoieFarm

JoieFarm

I sample a little more of the Kettle Valley Pinot Gris 2007 (whose pinkish hue is recognizable to anyone fond of crisp, BC’s white wines), chat with my Kettle Valley rep Michael Garret, who up until 5 years ago was camping/commuting downtown from the Okanagan Valley in his retro VW Westfalia Camper Van to sell wine, about how good the 2007 vintage of the Kettle Valley Pinot Gris was, “amazingly complex compared to the 2008” – but there’s no 2007 left for sale – I do remember it well; body, structure, citrus and slightly ripened Okanagan fruitiness.

Terrarossa Imports, Danielle Andrews (left) and associates

Terrarossa Imports, Danielle Andrews (left) and associates

I have a particular love for BC white wines, it helps that the terroir of the Okanagan is excellent for Alsatian varieties like Gewurztramier, Pinot Gris, Riesling (and retro Riesling/Silvaner cross, Ehrenfelser; and Riesling/Trollinger cross, Kerner), and my favourite bright, aromatic grape, Pinot Blanc. Oh, I sure did have the loin’s share this afternoon, leaving all educated attempts at “black grapes” until Saturday night.

Holding Georges Dubeouf hostage, Phillippe Dandurande Wines, with Diana Minnella (centre)

Holding Georges Dubeouf hostage, Phillippe Dandurande Wines, with Diana Minnella (centre)

And really, as it turns out, other then visiting a few reputatble producers, I didn’t venture into the Chardonnays… I love them, but I am driven by the grapes that perform extremely well in BC, and showcase that “crisp fruit basket” that BC winemakers so uniquely demonstrate.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I must get some water and a piece of cheese.

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About Lauren Mote

Lauren has been an intricate part of the food industry for many years. Whether it’s behind the bar, in the kitchen, tasting and learning about wine, or sitting with her laptop writing food stories and reviews at the local coffee house, it was clear at an early age that Lauren’s professional and personal life would be completely consumed by the joy and passion of edibles.
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