Vancouver Wine Fest Picks

The 2018 VanWineFest puts the spotlight on the Mediterranean wines of Spain and Portugal. Here, the top bottles from three of these regions’ participating wineries. 

Months before the annual fest kicks off (which runs February 24 to March 4 this year), West Coast wine aficionados start dreaming about the wines they must taste and begin wondering how quickly they can get into the wine festival store.

This year, organizers have chosen to feature the wines of Spain and Portugal. Even though they are neighbours geographically, the Spanish and Portuguese are very different when it comes to their wines and other releases. While Spain is “world-friendly,” Portugal is like the winemaking uncle who never comes out of his basement. (Portugal makes fabulous wines and ports—but until recently seems to have forgotten to tell the rest of us). If you’d like to start training your nose and taste buds for your spring tastings, here are my three suggestions from wineries that will be participating in the festival.

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Taylor Fladgate 20-Year-Old Tawny Port (Portugal). This year, Taylor Fladgate is celebrating 325 years in the port wine business. Fully matured in seasoned oak casks, this port wine gradually takes on its characteristic amber tawny colour, slowly developing the complex mellow yet spicy, nutty flavours and the smooth luscious palate which are the hallmarks of this style of port. The most popular 20-Year-Old Aged Tawny Port in the US is best enjoyed at the end of a great meal, ideally paired with cheese and nuts. $70 at BC Liquor Stores.


Campo Viejo Rioja Reserva 2012 (Spain). You can recognize this wine at a glance. On some bottles the wire wrap makes it stand out, but it’s what’s in the bottle that makes it special. Big full-bodied red with balance and a delightful finish. Black fruit and cherry on the nose. A mouthful of fruit. Cherries, black fruit with clover, pepper, vanilla and coconut notes. Eighteen months in oak and 18 months in bottle. Did I mention it’s well under $20? Wait until you taste this winery’s portfolio. $15.50 at BC Liquor Stores.

Camp Viejo

Quinta do Vale D. Dona Maria Rufo, Douro 2012/2013 (Portugal). This is a blend of red fruit, herb and saddle. Wonderfully juicy, with a driven nutty tannin and a kind finish. Dark black everything: fruit, taste, colour, with a remarkable raspberry finish. It helps that the grapes are foot-trodden. Douro Valley blends like this one are completely redefining the term “field blend”—some have as many as 30 to 40 different varietals in them. $56 at BC Liquor Stores.


When you get to VanWineFest, go straight to the Spain and Portugal section—and stay a while. Cheers!

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