No need for the organizer to declare that the 40th Vancouver International Wine Festival was a huge success, those who attended can attest to that. The 25,000+ attendees would all agreed that the 8-day festival was well-organized and well received. For one, putting Spain and Portugal in the spotlight allowed these two novelty wine countries with limited exposure in this part of the wine world to be explored and appreciated. Secondly, besides tasting the regular wine types of Red, White, Rose and Sparkling, we got to try and embrace some delicious Port and Sherry. Something new, something different makes festivals of such more enticing - that’s what drinkers always look for. It was an intriguing fact that majority of the indigenous Spanish and Portuguese grape varietals on site were unfamiliar ones, wine lovers do not back away from trying something new. Some of the wine seminars hosted by various prominent Spanish winemakers were fully booked fast. It is a testament to the fact that wine lovers are receptive to learn new things and have an open mind when their taste buds are challenged.
Saying hello to the proprietors and winemakers of 38 wineries from Spain and 20 wineries from Portugal was a great introduction to some of the exotic products brought in. Judging by the crowds gathered at their tasting room tables, everyone was eager to sip their wines while listening to their first-hand description of the varietals, the soil and the history. Stories behind the people and the wines are always equally interesting. There are century-old multi-generation Spanish wineries that were relatively unknown in the BC market but are now gathering attention they deserve.
For good and bad reasons, Spanish and Portuguese wines have not attained the same status as those wines from famous regions such as Bordeaux. Lucky for smart consumers who know what and where to dig for these hidden-gems with wallet-friendly price tags. While most consumers are comfortable with everyday drinking wines, a good treasure hunt in the Spanish and Portuguese shelves in the $20 to $30 range is rewarding. No need to worry about breaking the bank in trying bottles of good value here for sure!
On average Spanish wineries cellar their wines longer before releasing them to the public is one very good reason why Spanish wines deserve our attention. It is note-worthy that their Gran Reserva wines must be cellared for at least five years before consumers can purchase them. Knowing that Spanish winemakers do not release these wines unless they are ready to drink is an encouraging testimony - Spanish wines available for consumers to get at are more than ready to drink; generally speaking further cellaring of most of these wines is a good desire.
Next year at the 41st Vancouver International Wine Festival, California will be the theme wine region. Just imagine the line-ups of big, bold Napa Cabernets… Can’t wait? You bet!