NOTABLE POTABLES: Wine fest features cross-country flavours

Vancouver International Wine Festival on this week

If you’re reading this column, chances are you’re interested in wine and are maybe planning a trip to the Vancouver International Wine Festival.

Yes, it’s that time of year when the whole city puts on its wine-lover hat and heads down to the convention centre. But this year there are even more reasons to celebrate than usual, as Canada is the theme region.

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Even 10 years ago it would have been unthinkable to be putting Canada’s wines beside the leaders from Italy, France, Australia and elsewhere. But that is the reality of what’s happening this week.

The big challenge for anyone heading to the big International Tasting room this week is deciding how to spend the time most productively. One check of the substantial list of wineries attending, especially including those from B.C., Ontario, and Nova Scotia, and your eyes might well glaze over. But never fear. Here’s a few ideas to help you successfully navigate the room.

It pays to have a plan

The best way to start any tasting is with a glass of bubble. Also it’s here that you can really kick things off with a cross-Canada sampling.

Start on the East Coast

Because Nova Scotia has figured out what it can do best: sparkling wine. A couple of trendsetters not to be missed: L’Acadie (where ex-B.C.-er Bruce Ewart will pour his Prestige Brut 2010 and other sparklers), and Benjamin Bridge for their very convincing methode classique wines. Then head over to Ontario for some Trius Brut, and Pelee Island Secco, before winding up in

B.C., where the choices range from Haywire Pink Bub to Maverick Ella, Sperling Brut Rosé and Summerhill Cipes Brut.

Palate primed, you’re ready to go

While it can be hard to stay focused, it really does pay to, first and foremost, always spit. But also restrict yourself to two or three varieties. My suggestion is to focus on what people do well.

In Ontario you should focus on Pinot Noir (don’t miss Domaine Queylus) and Riesling (Hidden Bench, Trius). But don’t overlook Chardonnay while you’re there. In B.C. you’ll find plenty to tempt, from Pinot Noir stars like 50th Parallel, Averill Creek, Cedar Creek, Foxtrot, Haywire, Quails Gate, Spierhead and Howling Bluff (plus many others). For Riesling be sure to catch

Tantalus, Culmina, Harpers Trail, Wild Goose and many more.

The final red focus has to be Syrah, which has emerged as the B.C. trendsetter, and arguably the wine that (perhaps along with Cabernet Franc) best defines B.C. The choices here are wide-ranging and excellent. Not to be missed: Black Hills, CC Jentsch, Painted Rock, Laughing Stock, Moraine and more.

Finally, save some time for the rest of the world, which also has plenty to offer. Plus, to keep things interesting, focus on the same varieties, so you can really get a sense of how B.C. and

Canada at large is making waves in the wine world. Last of all, the six rules of survival:

1. Eat before you go.  
2. Take cabs or free transit.
3. Dress comfortably.  
4. Make room for others to taste.
5. Don’t wear aftershave or perfume.
6. Spit. Spit. Spit.

Tim Pawsey writes about wine for numerous publications and online as the Hired Belly at hiredbelly.com. Contact: info@hiredbelly.com.

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