Goodbye Vancouver Wine Festival 2015

10.52pm, Sunday 1st March, Downtown Houston, Texas, USA

Evening folks, it’s been a very long day. We kissed the Vancouver Wine Fest goodbye last night with a packed house consumer tasting session, and with all the best intentions to go to the after party put on by our fabulous distributor in British Columbia – Pacific Wine & Spirits – I went to drop my gear in the hotel room and both legs cramped up, and I couldn’t walk. So after rubbing a tube of deep heat in to the poor bloody stumps masquerading as legs – I put them to bed!! In the cold light of the 4am start this morning needed to get the 7.30am flight to Houston….the cramp might have been a blessing in disguise. I am disappointed to have missed having a drink with the Pacific team though, but I did tell them that during this incredibly busy week of events – compounded by having the bonus of Australia being the spotlight wine producing region at this years Festival – all of those Pacific sales rep / area manager/ marketing / admin organiser / delivery  / marketing / management folk were tremendous! I felt like the Force was with me……and it was Pacific! Thanks folks, and more trinkets will be heading to them once I get back to the winery.

We had even more muscle with us – Australia’s wine producing regions under the spotlight this last week – as Wine Australia was with us, shipped in a magic timber pallet construction style ‘night market’ framework for us all to physically work within – all of us having individual tasting benches of a similar fashion in our ‘Oz Wine precinct’. It was tops and folks flocked in to see us at every opportunity. Thanks Vancouver, and everyone else from across Canada, and even a few from the USA who trekked up – for coming by to taste our wares. We won a lot of new hearts and palates, and caught up with a lot of long time mates. So after the week…..for our house, we can say “job done!”. We were in everything but a ham sandwich!, and being so busy because folks want to see us is a really good problem to have. I’m going to blog whatever pictures I have from the events that we were involved with, and hopefully this gives you a bit of an idea what the Festival week is like. I reckon I’ll get one event out of the way tonight, and the rest tomorrow on my ‘rest day’ here in Houston.

 “Past, Present, Future” – this was the opening seminar session, put on by Wine Australia under the Savour Australia banner. Mark Davidson – our Wine Oz man on the west coast of Canada & the USA – put an excellent progression of the following wines together to give the folks attending a ‘snapshot’ of what our complete Australian Wine World is up to. Channelling all the discussion on the wines with Mark was the long time ‘even when Australia wasn’t wine flavour of the month’ supporter of what we all put into the bottle was Vancouver Sun wine super scribe Tony Gismondi – you can never have too many informed opinions on your collective side!!

***I was on the panel for this one and wherever I remembered to write down my thoughts, I’ve put my tasting notes in. The wines were in the order as I’ve listed them

****got to meet for the first time, and sit next to – the very eloquent and easy on the eye Matt Fowles – winemaker and owner of Fowles Wine and bloke who hunts and eats the catch up there in Victoria’s Strathbogie Ranges. 

****was actually ‘sandwiched’ between Matt Fowles and the very passionate about the Hunter Valley – Neil McGuigan – custodian of sensational Semillon up in their part of ‘our’ Oz wine world

1. 2013 McWilliams Appellation Series Orange (NSW) Sauvignon Blanc – “super pungent Passionfruit and fresh grass lift”

2. 2013 Jacobs Creek Steingarten Eden Valley Riesling – one of my all time fave wines, super memorable vines clinging to the side of the hill location – “lemon lime sorbet with the marmalade already lurking in the background  & it flags Eden Valley in big flashing neon lights” – ticks all the boxes for mine.**another wine that shows how strong the 2013 vintage seems to be……and should convince folks that the “even vintages are good, odd vintages not so much” pre conceived idea is out the window with the 2013s.

3. 1999 McGuigan Wines Bin 9000 Hunter Valley Semillon – “16 years old and still a Bub! Wow! Endless lemon steel palate” As Neil said – this Semillon was made in the old clean as a whistle ‘Riesling’ style 

4. 2012 Fowles ‘Ladies that shoot their lunch’ Chardonnay , Strathbogie Ranges (VIC) – “all pears and apples with an elegant palate dancing on a nice stage of integrated French oak”  quite possibly the shape of chardonnay to come – especially according to stacks of comments I heard after the event

5. 2013 Wolf Blass White Label Chardonnay, Adelaide Hills – forgot to write down what I thought, too interested in listening to Chris Hatcher – boss of winemaking for Blass – as I worked a vintage for him in their White cellar back in 1988

12.09am  folks – running out of steam! Will return in the am when I go downstairs for brekky. I’m staying with the La Quinta people, and they have Texas shaped waffle machines. In the spirit of showing you what they are…..I’ll have one tomorrow…warm crispy waffle drowned in corn syrup…..mmmm Yep – I do 

12.23am the next day – just back from dropping the rental car off – will add a couple more wines from this event

6.2013  Tolpuddle Vineyard (Tasmania) Pinot Noir – Pinot Noir is a bit out of my area of expertise, but this one has lovely lift, I get the hint of strawberry and I’d put bacon wrapped scallops with it!

7. 2012 Pirramimma (McLaren Vale) Petit Verdot Reserve – has the deep darks on the nose, fairly solid tannins, on that mid palate, and is destined to be a partner for…….anything in the butcher shop.

8. 2013 Wakefield Wines (Clare) Wakefield Estate Cabernet Sauvignon – really pretty floral Cabernet with lovely fruit that carries right through the palate

9. 2009 Brothers In Arms (Langhorne Creek) Cabernet Sauvignon – All leather and earth, with warm fruit and spice over granuley tannins that roll out the palate as the wine cools down. Nice stuff.

10. 2012 Majella (Coonawarra) Cabernet Sauvignon – berry fruit and a bit of bell pepper, juicy fruit landing on solid French oak rails – Prof, it looks like it’s locale!

11. 2010 Wynns Coonawarra Estate John Riddoch Cabernet Suavignon – OK! This is how it’s done! Core lift of black currant berries and mushroomy earth – endless tunnel of fruit telescoping out over sturdy but elegant tannins that will make sure this wine sticks around for a long long time…..looking good!

12. 2009 Tahbilk (Nagambie Lakes, VIC) Eric Stevens Purbrick Shiraz – old school stuff! Big solid bucketful of spicy dark fruit in very elegant shape. I liked it!

13. 2012 St Hallett (Barossa) Blackwell Shiraz – This is Barossa in a nutshell. Lush juicy fruit landing elegantly on a solid vein of drying tannins, and I suggest putting it in a dark corner, and come back to check on it in a couple of years. A keeper.

14. 2010 Henschke (Barossa) Euphonium Shiraz – what a fabulous combination – shiraz laced with Cabernet Franc – look up ‘power with elegance’ in the wine dictionary, the Euphonium will be looking back at you.

15. 2008 Yalumba ‘The Signature’ Cabernet Sauvignon & Shiraz – still pretty much in its primary fruits, this is more old school Australian dry red in that magic old ‘claret’ style. The spice and berry fruit from the Cab is up top, and the shiraz is rolling out nicely underneath. Look for some short ribs with the meat falling away in fibres from dry bones…and open a bottle.

There you go, and the verdict? Australia, in the wine stakes, you’re looking good – and you could have put a whole different set of 15 wines on for the same event, and it would have looked just as strong.  Looking good as we went into the Vancouver Wine Fest with this as our opening event.



**i didn’t have any photos of the event as I’d misplaced my phone – but found it again later

And this is our moderator man Mark Davidson – Global Education Manager – Wine Australia. That’s Mark second from the left, when we were all on the radio together. The program host is Daenna Van Mulligan, next to Mark is Chris Hatcher (Wolf Blass) and next to Chris is Sam from Thorne Clarke



And our other moderator man Tony Gismondi – The Vancouver Sun, Wine Align, Gismondionwine.com , and on the BC wireless with Kasey on CISL 650am ‘Smooth & easy’



see Ya tomorrow with the other 10 wines from this event

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