Coming up faster than you think, Feast of Fields is the remarkable FarmFolk CityFolk al fresco fundraiser, which always sells out way ahead of time . . . so better move fast. This
year's extravaganza - Sunday Sept. 9 at Golden Ears Cheesecrafters in Maple Ridge - features leading metro chefs and producers, including not a few local brewers and vintners.
While the emphasis at "Feast" tends to be on the cuisine and produce (not surprisingly, given it's harvest time), the year's biggest outdoor graze has evolved into a significant showcase for local brewers and vintners of all stripes.
This year's edition features no less than 18 wineries, including Langley's Vista D'Oro, Neck of the Woods and Domaine de Chaberton, as well as Okanagan stalwarts such as Summerhill, Blasted Church and Gray Monk, and Saanich's Sea Cider, to mention but a few.
On the hop side you'll find R & B Brewing and Whistler, while Victoria Spirits and Pemberton Distillers represent the region's growing community of craft distillers. There's plenty more, too much to include here. Feast of Fields still reigns as one of the most enjoyable and tasteful outdoor events of the year. If you've never been, you owe it to yourself. Hop on the return shuttle from downtown Vancouver. Details and tix available now at www.feastoffields.com.
The Hired Belly's virtual, global wine trail continues this week with a budget theme very much in mind. This quartet of widely available wines all share the theme of tremendous value at their price, and all are under $20, many considerably so. In short, they're "drink not think" wines - but they'll do your next barbecue or patio party proud. You might even want to buy a few bottles.
- Errazuriz Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (Aconcagua). From one of Chile's longest established and most respected producers, this "entry-level" tropicaltoned Sauvignon, with citrus, herbaceous notes and a touch of mineral wrapped in juicy acidity, adds up to the perfect summer sipper. Think lightly cooked scallops, or barbecued white spring salmon with dill. BCLS $12.99; 90 pts.
- Finca Los Primos Chardonnay 2011. You can't go wrong with this well-made (on a huge scale), un-oaked Chardonnay from Argentina's long-established Finca Flichman (now owned by Portuguese giant Sogrape). Look for some honey on top with a citrus, tropical and stonefruit palate that certainly delivers more than you might expect for just $9.98, at BCLS; 89 pts.
- Leyda Pinot Noir 2010 (Leyda Valley). It's tough to find good Pinot anywhere for under $20 but this Chilean is a trailblazer that underscores plenty of excitement to come from this emerging coastal region. Medium-bodied, with approachable tannins but great structure, we like its finesse, with earthy and mineral notes wrapped in dark cherry tones with firm acidity. It's the priciest of our picks - and still the absolute deal: BCLS $16.99; 91 points.
- Valdepeñas Gran Reserva Anciano, 2004 aged seven years. It all sounds very grand but essentially what you're getting here is a very drinkable and wellaged red (Tempranillo) that still shows remarkable fresh cherry fruit with a touch of anise, good structure and acidity over some earthiness. You could splurge on the "aged 10 years" (also worthy and a bigger wine but four bucks more and a tad less interesting) but why would you when you can quaff a bottle of this with the next round of burgers on the barbie? BCLS $12.99; 89 pts.