It's year 43 for the Vancouver International Wine Festival, and while the show has been pared down as the wine industry returns from the pandemic, over 100 wineries are pouring 500 wines in the room.
This week's expanded Top Ten highlights wines, wineries and people, to include in your exploration of the big room.
ANTHONY GISMONDI - Don't miss Vini Alois from Campania, Italy. Twenty-seven years ago, the Italian government launched a project devoted to cultivating grape varieties that survived phylloxera but were no longer in commercial production. Vini Alois has been a champion for the forgotten indigenous grapes resuscitating the likes of Casavecchia, Pallagrello Bianco and Pallagrello Nero. Don't miss this table.
The region of Ventoux in the Rhone valley will put its best foot forward courtesy of Château Pesquié. The bio-dynamic producer will pour an array of traditional wines including Terrasses Ventoux Blanc, Edition 1912 Rouge, Terrasses Ventoux Rouge and the signature Château Pesquié Quintessence. It is easily one of the best lineups in the room.
Haywire co-founder, owner and Okanagan legend Christine Coletta will be in town to pour her organic wines at the Haywire booth. Coletta has become a leader of innovation in the valley and one of the most intelligent people I know in the wine business. Don't miss a chance to chat with Christie about organics, natural winemaking and where to go in Summerland.
Ray Signorello is still a year out from reopening his Napa Valley winery that burned to the ground amid the Napa/Atlas Mountain 2017 wildfire. However, his vineyard remained unscathed. Get the full story from Ray and discover his latest red wine offering: S by Signorello.
Rocca delle Macìe has a long history of pouring wine at the festival, and Sergi Zingarelli and Marco Toti return to tell the story of the Zingarelli family, from films to Chianti Classico Gran Selezione. If you are heading to Tuscany, this booth is a must-stop to chat about the wines and the hospitality options available to visitors at Rocca delle Macìe.
TREVE RING - My favourite thing about VIWF is the truly International aspect of the show. It is your chance to explore new wine regions and grapes, so take full advantage. Indeed, don't miss this year's impressive Croatian contingent, with Coronica Winery, Vinarija Korta Katarina, Vinarija Krolo, and Vino Vuinaall. Be sure to taste the reds made from Plavac Mali and the whites from the Pošip grape.
Another country you may not be so familiar with is Georgia, said to be the birthplace of wine. Marniskari will be at the show, pouring both white and red wines. Ask them about their use of Qvevri.
It's always a treat to taste through Northern Italy's Piemonte, so make your way to Cascina Galarin and their lofty reds and whites. This family-run operation dates to 1700, so you can expect they know their way about the region.
A bit mortified over fortified? Leave it to the experts at González Byass, one of Jerez's historic sherry producers, to lead you through their impressive lineup of sherries, including the Apostoles Rare Old Palo Cortado, from a solera begun in 1862.
GEOFFREY MOSS MW - There may not be a theme country this year, but the spotlight is undoubtedly on British Columbia. BC wineries have stepped up, with some of the province's best in attendance. And many are pouring their best, too.
I would be racing to Blasted Church's booth to taste their 'Small Blessings' Refosco and Teroldego-Lagrein. After a strong performance at the National Wine Awards, ranking third in Canada, winemaker Evan Saunders brings some of his more unusual wines to show a different side of BC wine. Don't worry, though. You'll still find Okanagan stalwarts like Syrah and Viognier.
Speaking of renaissance wines, Monte Creek feels like it's been reborn. The new look is on point, and what I've tasted recently is even better. Don't miss the 2019 Ancient Waters Chardonnay, a stand-out at the National Wine Awards.
If you're in the mood for bubbles, Township 7 has you covered. They're pouring four sparkling wines from their Seven Stars tier. And if you want delicious, crisp whites, look no further than O'Rourke's Peak Cellars. From the 2020 vintage, they're pouring their Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Grüner Veltliner.
Lastly, try the mini-vertical of Osoyoos Larose's Le Grand Vin with winemaker Michael Kullman. He's pouring the 2013, 2015, 2016, and 2018 vintages, which happen to be some of our favourites.