Monday, April 17, 2017

Celebrate World Malbec Day - Monday April 17

Time to break out the Malbec - and celebrate World Malbec Day today - April 17 

Dona Paula Malbec
Malbec is one of the world's great red grapes - and while relatively popular, it's nowhere near a big seller as Shiraz/Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon - the two big reds.

So the smart folks in Argentina - Malbec country, along with parts of France - had a brilliant idea awhile back - create a World Malbec Day - to help promote their favourite grape.

I love it - Malbec and World Malbec Day - and I'm drinking a great bottle as I write to help out.

Malbecs come in every price range - so here's a few to try, whether it's today or any day! 

Malbec is particularly great with grilled steak and other grilled meat but it's vegetarian friendly and yes, if you insist, you could pair it with fish.  I'd go for a lighter, fruitier style over a big, bold Malbec and match it with a strong flavoured fish or fish sauce but it will work.

On the lower price end - try Dona Paula Malbec Estate 2015 - with a bouquet of blueberries and violets as well as red berry fruit.  
BenMarco Expressivo

It sells for $18.99 at BC government liquor stores and others plus tax and will give you an authentic taste of Argentinian Malbec.

I'm loving the BenMarco Expressivo 2014 that I'm drinking today - it's a blend of 80% Malbec and 20% Cabernet Franc - a big wine with dusty, chocolatey, smoky notes along with cherries and violets.

Robert Parker's website rates it 92 points - a very impressive score that I concur with.

And it's available in BC government liquor stores across the province - at a price of $46.99 plus tax - a special occasion wine to be sure but well worth it if you can buy one.

Last but not least, we can't celebrate World Malbec Day without a bottle from the south of France - renowned for the grape, especially in Cahors.

The Paul Mas Pays d'Oc Estate Single Vineyard Collection Malbec Gardemiel Vineyard Malbec 2015 - that's a mouthful but so is the wine - is a very reasonable $13.99 a bottle plus tax at BC government liquor stores and elsewhere - and it delivers real value.  

Paul Mas Malbec
Look for currants, red fruit, licorice, floral and pepper notes in this one.  Anthony Gismondi rates it 89 points while the Wine Spectator gives it an 86 - either way, you are getting lots of wine for your dollar.

So enjoy a Malbec today or any other time - and watch this space for more wine recommendations in the near future!


Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Wine Barbarian's Tables to Taste At and Quick Quaffs for the 2017 Vancouver International Wine Festival!

Mission Hill winemaker Darryl Brooker and Bill Tieleman - The Wine Barbarian
UPDATED: So many wines, so little time - and such limited ability to taste them without unfortunate inebriation consequences! 

That's always the problem with the fabulous Vancouver International Wine Festival - and each year it actually gets worse - because the selection and number of wines gets better.

This year there will be 1,700 wines from 180 wineries located in 16 countries!  And the 25,000 wine drinkers will have sampled or purchased about 43,000 bottles of wine!

Fortunately you can count on the Wine Barbarian for some timely and helpful advice to guide you through that massive amount of wine - and so here are the first of my Tables to Taste At and Quick Quaffs for the 2017 Festival.   Rest assured, all the wines at VIWF are worthy and have their champions - and omission is no insult here - I just give you some wines I've tasted already; some more where I know the winery is awesome and others that I'll add as the Festival goes on.

And check my Twitter feed and Facebook for additional wines!

Oh Canada - our host and native wine land

Where to start?  

Mission Hill Family Estate - Increasingly complex reds as winemaker Darryl Brooker makes great wines even better - and I was able to taste his work in the Oculus vertical tasting earlier this week, along with previous John Simes vintages - outstanding wines.  Tonight I was tried the 2012 Compendium at $82 and the Terroir Collection Organic Merlot No. 39 Whispering Hill 2013  at $60 - long name, longer finish!  Both very fine wines.  Their Perpetual Chardonnay is also fabulous.

Don't miss Foxtrot - love their Pinot Noirs - and tasted two great ones Thursday night - The Walls and The Waltz - both beautiful. Winemaker Gustav Allender is at the table.

Laughing Stock - a Naramata favourite, with great red blends Portfolio and Blind Trust.  Owner David Enns is in the house.

Bench 1775 - Enjoyed my visit this past summer and their wines - lots of good value and particularly like their reds - try the Cabernet Franc/Malbec. Winemaker Val Tait is in attendance.

Averill Creek Vineyard - Some BCers still don't know the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island makes great wines!  I'm a big fan of their Pinot Noir and tonight winemaker Andrew Johnson poured me their Somenos Series 2014 - a reserve Pinot Noir that is elegant, along with their regular 2013 Pinot Noir that is always a great drink.

Osoyoos Larose - France meets Okanagan, makes finesse wines!  Thursday night I tasted three vintages of their Le Grand Vin - 2011 - 2012 and 2013 - all awesome but loved the 2011 most!  Their Petales d'Osoyoos is also a great buy and immediately accessible for current drinking, while the Grand Vins should be aged. And yes, this winery is part of the Gruaud Larose Bordeaux family.

One Faith - the most expensive wine in the house and certainly one of the best - pouring three red Bordeaux-style blends from 2012-14 and star winemaker Pascal Madevon and owner Bill Lui at the table.  At $200 a bottle this is not to be missed.  Their Certitude is the second label as at $42.  Pascal previously made Osoyoos Larose!
Chateau d'Armailhac is $147 a bottle

Cedar Creek - makes lovely Pinot Noir among others - I tried their Platinum Block 2 and Platinum Block 4 from the 2014 vintage - extremely fine wines at $54 each.  Will be back for their Chardonnay and Riesling. And for $19 they produce a very good value 2014 Merlot with lots of character.

Pentage - Another of my love-to-drink Okanagan wineries - try their Pentage red blend and the Rosanne, Marsanne, Viognier white blend.  With co-proprietor Julie Rennie at the festival.  

From Ontario - I love, love, love Closson Chase from Prince Edward County!  Big, beautiful, balanced Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Domaine Queylus - I know nothing but that they have three different Pinot Noirs froml the Niagara Peninsula and I am tasting them all soon!

Nova Scotia - Yes, they make wine and it's excellent!  Particularly sparkling - try Benjamin Bridge - with two Brut Methode Classique wines - and Blomidon Estate Winery - their $41 Late Pick Chardonnay sparkling is super dry and delicious!  Also from Nova Scotia is L'Acadie Vineyards - try their excellent 2010 Prestige Brut Estate - a different, toastier style.

France - Of course - always one of the must-visit countries and tables like that of Baronne de Philip Rothschild don't get any better.  With Chateau d'Armailhac 2010 running at $148 a bottle and Chateau Coutet Sauternes-Barsac dessert wine at $87 there will be no shortage of drinkers lined up. And for good reason - they are outstanding!

Sadly no Champagne houses this year - don't understand why - but lots of other superb wineries.  

And from the Rhone Valley - Louis Bernard is a winery with enormous values in all the produce. Try their Vacqueyras 2014 and Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2014 - both excellent and under $40 amazingly.  Meet Guillaume Blisson - Canadian Sales Director but also a former winemaker I shared a delicious dinner with at Provence Marinaside!

Be sure to visit the Borie-Manoux table - four excellent Bordeaux selections including Chateau Beau-Site at $50 in both the 2005 and 2010 vintage - great opportunity to compare two different vintages! Plus Chateau Herve Baroque - at $38 a Bordeaux bargain.

Italy - Another wine region you can't miss - go to Rocca delle Macie for their excellent Tuscan bottles - and meet charming General Manager Marco Toti - who I shared dinner with at Cibo earlier this week - it was amazing.  Their Super Tuscan Roccato 2011 is superb and a longtime favourite at $47 - a blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon in equal parts - and their Chianti Classico Riserva is always great and great value at $26.
Bill Tieleman, Greg Corra and wine agent.

Allegrini - This winery from Veneto produces wonderful wines at many price points.  Try their Palazzo della Torre at $29 and La Grola at $33, then don't miss the $100 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico.  Magnifico!

Australia - Inland Trading - This is absolutely always a must-stop-at table - because Greg Corra brings the most amazing Australian wines and every one of them is a winner!  This year is no exception - try the Masseno Mataro 2010 - stunning wine.  Mataro is also known in France and elsewhere as Mouvedre.  And the Kelleske Pirathon Shiraz 2013 is also astonishingly good - super smooth and a real finesse wine.

Majella - Another great Australian table - you do not want to miss their 2009 Sparkling Shiraz - it will turn your head about bubbly upside down!  A full blown red full of intensity - and it sparkles!

United States - Justin Vineyards makes great wines out of Paso Robles, California and I've visited them in the past - don't miss their Justification at $75 and Isosceles at $118 - both powerhouse reds of enormous concentration and longevity. 

Etude - It means study in French and their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay definitely went to school in Burgundy!  Four exquisite Pinots but my favourite is the Santa Rita Hills Fiddlestix 2013 at $77 - really an exceptional wine from Santa Barbara, not that their two Carneros versions are anything but tasty.  And a $29 Lyric from Santa Barbara is a true bargain!

Bill Tieleman and Shirley Brooks of Elk Cove.
Elk Cove Vineyards - Oregon - Another real treat with Pinot Noir - loved extremely much their Clay Court Pinot 2014 - super soft and yet powerful. And the Mount Richmond is also awesome.   Had a nice chat with VP Shirley Brooks - she is their Vine Star at the Festival.

Chile - Vina Montes - I was lucky enough to taste their fabulous Purple Angel Carmenere 2013 at the trade tasting Thursday and sorry it isn't going to be there for the other tastings but I'm also a huge fan of their Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon - the 2014 vintage is on tap along with their 2014 Syrah.

Bill Tieleman and Jim Robertson with photobombing friends!
New Zealand - Stonleigh - Simply outstanding value every time with all their wines.  I particularly like their Rapaura Pinot Noir at $32 and Rapaura Sauvignon Blanc at $25 - loads of delicious fruit!  And their Latitude versions of the same grapes at $22 and $21 are also lovely.  Say hi to my buddy Jim Robertson - Global Brand Ambassador who is here.

Greece - Alpha Estate - I'm a big fan of their wines - and if you haven't tried Greek wines recently, please do!  Their Florina Turtles Vineyard Syrah and Red Blend SMX will convince you that there's more to this wine country than Retsina!
Thursday afternoon at the Trade Tasting - VIWF

Croatia - Stina - Another revelation when they first came to VIWF a while back - great wines and from grapes we don't know. Their exceptional Plavac Mali Maestro is $63 a bottle and the Posip $47 - these are world class wines.  Stina means "white stone" in the Dalmatian dialect. This year Coronica winery from Croatia also visits - I look forward to trying their wines as well.


BUT This blog post will be updated AGAIN when I have had a few MORE drinks!

Vancouver International Wine Festival - Thursday and Saturday night tasting SOLD OUT! Friday and Saturday afternoon still available.

Cibo Trattoria manager Mark Taylor, Rocca delle Macie General Manager Marco Toti and Bill Tieleman, Wine Barbarian at winery dinner Wednesday night.
If you love wine and want to attend any of the big International Festival Tasting events - MOVE QUICKLY - because not only is the ever-popular Saturday February 18 night event sold out but so is the Thursday night tasting!

Fortunately the Friday night tasting and the Saturday afternoon matinee tasting still have tickets available but you have to act now if you want to go.

Head online directly to the Vancouver International Wine Festival ticket sales site - linked here - and purchase your tickets now.

There are also a few tickets left for Thursday afternoon's "Ontario Cool" tasting with wines from that province and Saturday's noon Celebrating Canada's 150th lunch - both sound great!

This is an incredible tasting - North America's largest consumer wine festival!
Rocce delle Macie wines at Cibo dinner
And with Canada featured as the regional country focus for our 150th anniversary celebrations - its a unique opportunity to try many fine wines from not just British Columbia and Ontario but also Nova Scotia - where there are some really interesting wineries producing award-winning sparkling and still wines.  

And of course, there are lots of wineries from France, Italy, Spain, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Chile and the United States - as you would expect.

Then there's the unexpected countries - Turkey for the first time I believe; Croatia on a return visit after surprising and impressing previously; Uruguay - another first if memory is correct - home of some great Tannats; Greece and Japan.

So don't miss out - this is your once a year chance!  See you there - and check this blog, my @BillTieleman Twitter feed and Facebook page for updates and recommendations for top wines you shouldn't miss!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The fantastic Vancouver International Wine Festival is only weeks away - and tickets go on sale Tuesday January 10 at 9:30 a.m.!

Barone Ricasoli of the famous Italian winery with Bill Tieleman - Wine Barbarian, at 2016 Vancouver International Wine Festival

The fantastic Vancouver International Wine Festival is only weeks away - and tickets go on sale Tuesday January 10 at 9:30 a.m.!  

Make sure you move quickly as most event sell out very fast - and you don't want to miss a special focus on Canada's great wines as our country marks its 150th anniversary of confederation!

Here's the information and links you need from the Festival: 
Get Ready to Get Your VanWineFest Tickets
Tickets to all public events at Canada's premier wine show go on sale Tuesday morning at 9:30 a.m. The Vancouver International Wine Festival is an eight-day celebration of wine and food that features 54 events, including dinners, the Bacchanalia Gala Dinner + Auction, lunches, minglers, educational seminars and the Tasting Room, where the 180 participating wineries gather to serve 780+ wines. This year, the spotlight shines on Canada, as we celebrate our country's 150th birthday!

Trade Days events, restricted to those in the hospitality and food and beverage industries, go on sale Tuesday, January 17.

Our apologies to anyone who had trouble getting on the site over the past few days. We've switched to a new server and expect smooth sailing now. 

The Tasting Room

The Tasting Room is home to all 180 participating wineries, as well as Regional Tasting Stations from Australia, British Columbia, New Zealand, Nova Scotia and Spain. Choose from four sessions: Thursday, Friday, Saturday evening or Saturday matinee.

Want to kick it up a notch? Enhance your Friday or Saturday evening tasting with the VIP experience in the Delta Air Lines Tasting Lounge. Enjoy some great bites, select wines and comfortable seating, then head next door to the Tasting Room.

Or go all in on a Gold Pass that gives you access to all six sessions in the Tasting Room (four International Festival Tastings and two Trade Tastings, presented by ContainerWorld), the invitation-only Festival Taste on Thursday, plus the Delta Air Lines Tasting Lounge on Friday and Saturday.

International Festival TastingsDelta Air Lines Tasting LoungeGold Pass

Monday, October 31, 2016

Advance Ticket Sales start November 1 for 2017 Vancouver International Wine Festival featuring Canadian wines

This news release from the Vancouver International Wine Festival outlines the 2017 event featuring wines from across Canada and ticket sales information - hope to see you there!

Discounted tickets & Gold Pass on sale November 1 to December 15
Free ticket with hotel booking

IN BRIEF... Discounted tickets to select 2017 Vancouver International Wine Festival events go on sale Tuesday, November 1 at 9:30 a.m. Save $5 to $15 until December 15, or while quantities last, on International Festival Tasting tickets, the Delta Air Lines Tasting Lounge and the Gold Pass. Or get a free ticket by booking a hotel via In 2017, The Wine World Celebrates Canada from February 11 to 19, showcasing 181 wineries from 16 countries. Buy at or call  604-873-3311, toll free 1-877-321-3121 (weekdays 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.).

VANCOUVER, BC (October 29, 2016) - A limited number of discounted advance tickets to the 39th Vancouver International Wine Festival go on sale November 1 at 9:30 a.m. The festival runs February 11 to 19, 2017, welcoming 181 wineries from 16 countries. All wineries and their principals gather in the Tasting Room to showcase their wines at the four International Festival Tastings (February 16 to 18), available in advance for $5-$9 off the regular price until December 15, or while quantities last.
In celebration of Canada's 150th Birthday, the 2017 festival features Canada as the theme country with 76 wineries from British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia, nearly one third of which are participating for the first time. This marks the largest gathering of Canadian wineries ever at an international festival. "VanWineFest 2017 offers an unprecedented showcase of Canadian wineries, principals and wines alongside their international counterparts in the Tasting Room," says VIWF executive director Harry Hertscheg. "Attendees will discover untold connections amongst Canada and the wine world throughout the festival, amidst the backdrop of Vancouver's vibrant wine and food scene. Let's celebrate!"
Overall, nearly one quarter of the wineries are new to the 2017 festival, including wineries from Turkey and Nova Scotia for the first time. This year also features the return of Uruguay to the festival, which has a winery participating for the first time since 2007. Last year's theme country Italy is back with a strong contingent of 20 wineries.
BUY NOW AND SAVE! Advance tickets on sale November 1
Discounted passes and tickets to select events go on sale at VanWineFest.cafrom November 1 until December 15, or while quantities last. Tickets make a great holiday gift for the wine lover on your list and you won't have to battle any Black Friday crowds to get these bargains. The advance sale offers savings on International Festival Tasting tickets and associated events. To get a ticket for zero dollars, simply book a stay at a downtown hotel via See details below.
International Festival Tastings
Festivalgoers can save $5-$9 off the regular price of International Festival Tasting tickets (Thursday, February 16Friday, February 17 and Saturday, February 18). Advance tickets for evening tastings, 7 to 10 p.m., are $80 for Thursday and $90 for Friday and Saturday. The Saturday matinee tasting from 2:30 to 5 p.m., set against the stunning backdrop of Coal Harbour, is available for the low advance price of $70. Only a limited number of tickets are available at the advance rate for each of the four sessions. Once they sell out, tickets may be purchased at regular prices.
Delta Air Lines Tasting Lounge
Enjoy an enhanced International Festival Tasting experience with tickets to the exclusive Friday and Saturday evening Delta Air Lines Tasting Lounge and still save $5 (advance rate $185). Located in the Ocean Foyer in VCC West, right next to the Tasting Room, the lounge is open 5:45 to 9 p.m. and offers easy access to the corresponding International Festival Tasting. Enjoy a respite from the Tasting Room with comfortable seating and spectacular views. Select wines, light bites and cheeses are served.
Gold Pass
For those wanting the full tasting experience, Gold Passes go on sale for only $480, a $15 savings. Gold Passes include access to six tastings (four public IFTs and two Trade Tastings, presented by ContainerWorld), the Delta Air Lines Tasting Lounge and the exclusive Festival Toast VIP reception. Purchased individually, the Gold Pass events are valued at $706.
For a third consecutive year, Vancouver Hotel Destination Associationoffers a free International Festival Tasting ticket(a $79 to $95 value at regular rates) to festivalgoers who book a stay via at any of its ~35 participating downtown hotels. Quantities are limited and Saturday evening sold out well in advance in 2016, so book early. The initiative is an important cornerstone of the festival's Don't Wine and Drive program.
See the full list of participating wineries
The Tasting Room at the Vancouver Convention Centre is where all 181 participating wineries gather to pour 700+ select wines. Discover exciting new wines, or return to your favourites, sipping from premium wine glasses. The room will also feature regional tasting stations from Australia, British Columbia, New Zealand, Nova Scotia and Spain. You can also find wine-friendly food and beverage exhibitors, many of whom offer tasting samples.
Theme Country: Canada
The Wine World Celebrates Canada at VanWineFest 2017 with 76 wineries from across the country featured at the festival. Explore the selection, diversity and quality of Canada's terroir-driven wines, highlighting the best of Nova Scotia, Ontario and British Columbia in a special section of the room. 
Vine Stars
What makes VanWineFest unique is the presence of global "vine stars" - winemakers, proprietors, senior executives - who come to Vancouver every year to pour and discuss their wines with festivalgoers. Each winery will be represented in the room by a principal, someone closely involved in the wine-production process. Seek out the royal blue lanyards at tastings and special events to meet our vine stars face-to-face.
More Room, Smaller Crowds  
Both the Thursday evening and Saturday afternoon sessions are guaranteed to have a lower capacity than Friday and Saturday evening, offering more room and more time to interact with winery principals. 
BC Liquor Stores Festival Wine Shop
Included in the price of each ticket is the opportunity to shop at the on-site BC Liquor Store where wines from all participating wineries will be available for purchase. Purchased wines can be shipped at no cost to your nearest BC Liquor Store for pick-up after the festival. The BC Liquor Distribution Branch will also help everybody Get Home Safe by providing a complimentary transit ticket to patrons as they leave the tastings.
Buy the Case - Shop the World
Festival partners BC Liquor Distribution Branch and the Import Vintners & Spirits Association (IVSA) have teamed up to allow festivalgoers to order case lots of select wines. Wines available by the case will be identified with a neck tag. Place orders for those must-have wines directly at the participating winery tables and they'll be delivered to your closest BC Liquor Store within two weeks of the conclusion of the festival.
HOW TO PURCHASE ADVANCE TICKETS (Nov. 1-Dec. 15, while quantities last)
Phone604-873-3311, toll free 1-877-321-3121 (Monday to Friday, 9:30a.m.-5 p.m.)
In person202-162 West 1st Avenue, Vancouver (Monday to Friday, 9:30a.m.-5 p.m.)
*Note the new address: the festival moved offices to the BMO Theatre Centre in Olympic Village.
Prices inclusive of taxes, service charges and gratuities.
All public events go on sale Tuesday, January 10 at 9:30 a.m.
All Trade Days Conference events, presented by Sysco, go on sale Tuesday, January 17 at 9:30 a.m.
Stay in Touch:
For more information, go to
Facebook & Instagram: /VanWineFest
Twitter: follow @VanWineFest for news on tickets and sold-out events. Join the conversation at #VIWF.
Canada's premier wine show will mark its 39th edition of pairing wine, food and the performing arts from February 11 to 19, 2017. The festival features The Wine World Celebrates Canada as the theme. The festival will showcase 181 wineries from 16 countries (including 76 wineries from Canada) pouring a projected 1,550+ wines at 55 events to a projected 25,000 admissions. The Bacchanalia Gala Dinner + Auction opens the festival on Saturday, February 11 at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. The festival is produced by the Vancouver International Wine Festival Society, which has three mandates: provide an informative, educational and entertaining wine experience for public and trade; be a premier marketing opportunity for the wine industry and festival partners; and raise funds for the Bard on the Beach Theatre Society. Since inception in 1979, the festival has raised $8.7 million for the performing arts. Major sponsors are Delta Air Lines and the Vancouver Sun; major industry partners are the BC Liquor Distribution Branch, Canadian Vintners Association and the Import Vintners & Spirits Association. The festival is made possible through the gracious support of our participating countries' consulates and embassies.
Wines of Canada is a collaborative initiative of the Canadian Vintners Association and regional wine associations - British Columbia Wine Institute, Wine Marketing Association of Ontario, Vignerons indépendants du Québec and the Winery Association of Nova Scotia - to bring the country's best wines to the world. Partial funding for this project has been provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the AgriMarketing program through Growing Forward 2.
Celebrating its 28th season in 2017, Bard on the Beach is one of Canada's largest not-for-profit, professional Shakespeare festivals. It is presented on the waterfront in Kitsilano's Vanier Park, adjacent to Vancouver's downtown core. Bard on the Beach offers Shakespeare plays, related dramas and popular special events in two performance tents every June through September. In 2016, attendance exceeded 100,000 and more than 1.4 million patrons have experienced Bard since its inception. Next year's festival dates are June 1 to September 23, 2017 and the lineup includes Much Ado About NothingThe Winter's TaleThe Merchant of Venice and The Two Gentlemen of Verona,plus a special limited-run presentation of Shylock.
Bard also offers a range of education programs, including Young Shakespeareans Workshops for 8-18 year-olds at its Vanier Park site during the summer, and Riotous Youth for 19 to 24-year-olds. During the school term, Bard also offers workshops for educators and youth in schools and community centres throughout BC's Lower Mainland, as well as at its new administrative home, the BMO Theatre Centre (162 West 1st Avenue). Full details and education program information are at


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Celebrate World Malbec Day Today - Sunday April 17-2016 - with a great Malbec!

Today is World Malbec Day - and a worthy event worth celebrating with a bottle of great wine - from the Malbec grape!

Malbec can be found most notably in Argentina and France, where it is used as a 100% varietal and also blended with other grapes.

Malbec is often referred to as a perfect "steak wine" - but even vegetarians can fully enjoy it's juicy, chocolatey, full dark red fruit flavours with all sorts of meals.

One of the great things about Malbec is that it is very tasty at just about every price point - a lower cost Malbec is usually the best bet over other grapes and in the mid range it is magnificent.

Here's a few Malbec suggestions for today at various prices from two of my favourite wineries - and believe me, if you splurge, you will thank me for the excellent idea!

These Malbecs are available in British Columbia, with links to info - and beyond but seriously, you can't go wrong with Malbec!

Bramare from a previous vintage.
The Catena Mendoza High Mountain Vines is one of the staples of Malbec in BC and all over the world - always a great value and vintage after vintage - the current 2013 is widely available in BC Liquor Stores on sale for $20.49 right now and also found in many private stores.

Even less is the Vina Cobos Felino 2014 - on sale for only $17.49 and a real bargain at that price

If you want a special Sunday dinner treat - try one of these two:

Vina Cobos Bramare Lujan de Cuyo 2012 - $39.00 plus tax at BC Government Liquor Stores.  

This is a killer wine developed by Paul Hobbs - everything Vina Cobos does is awesome in my book.  Silky, smoky layers of black cherry and chocolate - mmmmm! Robert Parker rates it a 91 point wine.

Another awesome alternate is the Catena Zapata Catena Alta 2011 - on sale at Liquor Stores for $45.99 plus tax till April 30 - also delicious.

Always open to more suggestions - post your favourite Malbec here!


Friday, February 26, 2016

Wine Barbarian UPDATED Quick Picks for the Vancouver International Wine Festival - great Italian wines and more!

Barone Francesco Ricasoli and Wine Barbarian Bill Tieleman!
If you are going to the Vancouver International Wine Festival tonight - Friday - or Saturday at 7 p.m. or Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. you are a lucky person indeed - because not only is Italy rocking the place with fantastic wines but so are the other countries in the tasting room!

If you don't have tickets the bad news is both nights are sold out - the good news is that a limited number of tickets are made available in person only at 6 p.m. each night for the evening's tasting - worth a try.

And if you get in, I'm going to help out - by giving you my Quick Picks of some the many great wines being poured in the International Tasting 

I have been attending several events - including 1,000 Years of Tuscany with the charming Barone Francesco Ricasoli showing his marvellous wines going back to some 1997s - and was at Thursday's tasting working hard to do research for you!

Let's start with the regional focus - Italy.  And as with all tables - it's polite to try all 4 wines available but these are the ones I particularly liked:

Ricasoli - The Barone is pouring - himself - some of their fine Ricasoli wines - try in particular the marvellous Colledila 2011- a Gran Selezione Chianti Classico full of black cherry goodness.  I tried the 2010 and the 2011 - which is in the tasting room - both excellent.

Castello di Gabbiano winemaker Frederico Cerelli & Bill Tieleman
Castello di Gabbiano - Winemaker Frederico Cerelli is here and I enjoyed a fantastic dinner sitting next to him at Mark Taylor's Siena with some fabulous Tuscan wines.

I would recommend highly their Alleanza IGT 2010 - a SuperTuscan blend of 60% Sangiovese and 40% Merlot - outstanding!

Rocca delle Macie - I also had the pleasure of attending a dinner as well as a vertical tasting of Roccato wines with owner Sergio Zingarelli - and he too is very charming!  

I have been drinking Roccato - a blend of 50% Sangiovese and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon - since their 2003 vintage - and it is simply delicious year after year!  The Roccato 2010 is being poured at the Festival and the 2009 - which I love - is still available in BC Liquor Stores - both are beauties!

San Polino - These are astonishing wines - not simply because they are all Brunello di Montalcino wines, not only because they are stunning but also because they are very expensive to be pouring - from $105 to $135 a bottle!  

All great but I particularly enjoyed the Helishrysum Brunello 2009 - really amazing.

Sergio Zingarelli of Rocca delle Macie with Iain Philip
San Felice - Another Tuscan winery with top notch wines at the table!  I especially liked the Il Grigio Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2011 - wow!  And for $44.

Tenute Sette Ponti/Feudo Maccari - Yes, I didn't get out of Tuscany for the most part but it is such a great wine region.  Their Crognolo has been a staple wine for me for many vintages - buy some - but their Tenute Sette Ponti Oreno IGT 2013 was a revelation!  Yes, it costs $86 - over double the Crognolo - but what a wonderful wine.  Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot - all Bordeaux grapes - grown in Tuscany.  Smooth, big and velvety goodness!

I am running out of time and space - but in the Italian section don't miss Damiliano for their Barolos - Argentiera for their SuperTuscan Bolhgheri Superiore 2012 - Argiano for their Solango IGT Toscana 2012 and Brunello DOCG 2011- and Biondi Santi for their Braccale IGT Rosso Toscana 2011 - a $37 bargain!

Also Allegrini and Vieti and Cesari - but there's so much more I haven't yet tasted!

Leaving Italy, reluctantly, there are lots of other great wines from other countries represented.

Australia - Always so very impressive is Inland Trading Co., with managing director and Festival regular Greg Corra - a lot of fun to talk with every year!  Their lineup is magnificent throughout but don't miss the Kay Brothers Block 6 Shiraz 2012 - absolutely stunning wine!

New Zealand - Another great guy to talk about his great wines is Jim Robertson at Stoneleigh - a regular visitor to Vancouver - pouring two Sauvignon Blancs and two Pinot Noirs from one of my favourite wine regions.  I really loved the Rapaura Pinot Noir 2014 - and for $32 it's a bargain.

Canada - There are just loads of great BC wineries in attendance - how to choose?  But I will based on my limited time tasting - Painted Rock is marvellous - visited them in Penticton this summer too - try the Red Icon 2013 flagship.  

Osoyoos Larose - three vintages of Le Grand Vin to choose from - all fabulous!

Mission Hill - See my friend Ingo Grady there and taste their new Terroir Collection - an exciting new line of wonderful wines!

France - Famille Perrin - always great wines from top to bottom but I adore Beaucastel Chateauneuf-Du-Pape - a 2012 is being poured by Thomas Perrin - a charming fellow.

Laurent-Perrier - the only Champagne in the room and one of the best!  All beauties and pricey but none more than the Grand Siecle NV at $173 a bottle - mmmm!

Croatia - yes, from the Dalmatia region Stina returns to Vancouver with some amazing wines you've never heard of or tasted - till today!  I enjoyed their offerings last year and it's a great chance to try their reds and whites - all priced in the $40-$60 range.  Stina means "white stone" in Croatian and their labels are stunning.

That's all for now but watch for Tweets - @BillTieleman - and updates as best I can between glasses!


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