It’s that time of year again; a time when the wine world descends on Vancouver and, for one week in April, we devote ourselves to the magnificent grape. This is the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival, where 197 wineries from 14 countries bring more than 1,700 wines to Vancouver for a major celebration of wine.
Now in its 32nd year, the festival is one of the world’s biggest wine and fundraising events. Each year a different theme is chosen to highlight and introduce us to some of the unique wines of the world. The 2010 theme pairs the unlikely bedfellows of New Zealand, Argentina and rosé.
While this might seem like an odd combination of themes, it actually makes a lot of sense. New Zealand is renowned for producing clean and intense aromatic whites and light red wines, particularly sauvignon blanc and pinot noir. Argentina is known more for its forthright and flavoursome malbec. In B.C. we have a current love affair with Argentinian wine and during this festival we can get to know it just a little better, discovering Argentina beyond malbec. And, finally, rosé must be one of the success stories of the decade—we’ve gone from hating it to loving it.
The focus of the festival is always the vibrant throng in the International Festival Tasting Room, but it is well worth looking beyond this sometimes overwhelming proliferation of wine to the educational seminars. This is where you really learn more about the theme regions and wines. Not only do you get to taste many great wines but you get to hear the fascinating stories behind them.
With the 2010 festival lineup we are spoiled for choice. There is the New Zealand–focused seminar “Passionate about Pinot”, and for malbec lovers there is “Bodega Catena Zapata: Now and For All Time”. Meanwhile, “Going for Gold” explores the diversity of Argentina beyond just malbec. To explore your love of pink, check out “Rosé-Rama!” or the rosé tasting booth in the main tasting room.
There are too many great wineries in the tasting room to recommend just a few, but there is no question that one tasting room session is never enough. The best way to experience the festival is to invest in a Gold Pass and get access to all five tasting sessions plus many more perks. You won’t be disappointed. After all, how else are you ever going to attempt to make your way through all of the wines in the tasting room?
Photos: Wayne Mah.