Vancouver International Wine Festival 2014 – France

The Vancouver International Wine Festival (VIWF)’s theme country this year was France and the global focus was bubbly (fantastique!).  If you have never attended the VIWF, here is a snapshot of the festival:

  • This is Canada’s largest wine festival, and one of the biggest and oldest wine events in the world.  This year attracted 25,000 attendees and included 47 participating hotels and restaurants.
  • The festival raises money for performing arts, and to-date has raised $8.3 million. Since 2012, fundraising goes to The Bard on the Beach Theatre Society.
  • The festival’s inaugural year was 1979, making this year its 36th.
  • Its first year hosted only one vintner (Robert Mondavi!) at a two-day event attended by 1,000 people at the Hycroft Mansion.
  • The festival grew to 45 wineries in 1982, with all the wineries from California.
  • The first international event occurred in 1987, with wines from 7 different countries.
  • 1996 marked the first year of showcasing one specific region or country as its festival theme, with Bordeaux as the theme.
  • The now week-long festival has expanded to include wine tastings, parties, lunches, brunches, dinners, seminars, etc. with this year boasting 54 different events.
  • The major attraction is the large international wine tasting event on the weekend, where 177 wineries from 14 countries gathered to showcase their wines this year.


Walking into the Acura Room where the international wine tasting event took place was somewhat daunting. With so many options – 777 different wines to taste – where does a girl start?

We devised a plan of action for tackling the hundreds of wines – challenge accepted!  We would begin at the front after flipping through our tasting room program to plot out which wines we wanted to try, then we would circle our way through the stations on either side of that first row, as if we were clinically investigating a crime scene, ensuring that we missed nothing.  That plan lasted exactly two minutes.  We ended up running around the place like the kids in a candy store that we were.

Having no plan is a good plan though! VIWF Executive Director Harry Hertscheg thinks so too.  He suggested the following in his message to attendees: “Don’t just head to the busiest tables.  All the wineries at VanWineFest are pouring fascinating wines, and you’ll have more time to talk with the winery representatives at the table, all of whom are winemakers, owners or senior executives, with unique insights into their product and the stories behind them.” We like your style, Harry!

After awhile, our note taking skills dwindled, but here is our list of favourites that we managed to capture before our writing became illegible:

Let’s start with the Queen of Bubbly, Champagne:

  • Lanson Extra Age Brut NV: $84 – Chardonnay and Pinot Noir Blend
  • Lanson Extra Age Blanc de Blanc NV: $114 – This was a favourite which we all loved. It was smooth, not too sweet or too tart (which seemed to be our complaint about some of the other bubblies. Yes, we cannot believe that we were complaining about bubbly either).  This is 100% Chardonnay.
  • Laurent-Perrier Cuvee Rose NV: $99.  This 100% Pinot Noir is extra dry, delicious, and comes in an esthetically pleasing bottle for those who judge a Brut by its Bottle. This was one of my favourites, and I liked it much better than the Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle, which was more than double the price ($249), and double the sweetness, with the double the bubbles (which I wasn’t so much into).
  • Champagne Taittinger Prelude Grands Crus NV: at $69, we thought this was a very good Champagne for its price point.  Blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
  • Charles de Cazanove Chateau de Bligny Blanc de Blancs NV: 100% Chardonnay. This was a delicious wine.  Not sure about the pricing (and this is not currently carried by the BC Liquor Store).
  • H. Blin Champagne Millesime 2005: $69. Blend of Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, vivacious bubbles. “Yum!”



  • Maison Louis Latour Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru 2010: $199. This is a delicious full-bodied, dry Chardonnay. One of my favourites.
  • Cave de Lugny Cremant de Bourgogne Cuvee Millesimee 2011: (I think this was priced at around $20 – tbc!).  This was a light, refreshing, creamy alternative to champagne, and a great price point (if we remember the pricing correctly!)(Yikes, we haven’t even made it out of France, and our notes are getting unreliable! I blame the delicious wine).
  • Jean-Claude Boisset Gevrey Chambertin Les Murots 2011: 100% Pinot Noir, $72.95.



  • Marrenon Classique Luberon Blanc 2012: My notes said “tasty, nice, for a lower price point” (which I didn’t record)(I hope we headed to the bread table at this point).
  • Famille Perrin Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-Du-Pape Blanc 2012: My notes said, “$92, 94 pts, smooth like butter, my favourite!”



  • Baron Phiippe de Rothschild Pauillac Baron Nathanial 2010: $29.



  • Marchesi Antinori Prunotto Barolo Docg 2005 (Various): “good, earthy.”
  • Marchesi Antinori Guado Al Tasso Bolgheri Superiore Doc 2010 (Various): $93.99. “98 pts, smooth, amazing.”
  • Castiglion Del Bosco Dianero 2011 (Tuscany): “Ole tuni es tasty” (my favourite tasting notes yet. If you think you know what I meant here, let me know).
  • Damilano Barolo Lecinquevigne Docg 2008: “Good. $99”
  • Damilano Barolo Liste Docg 2007: “92 pts, $99, smooth”

I believe this was the point where my pen and notebook got tucked into my purse for the night, which is a shame because it would have been great to read more about my favourite “ole tuni es tasty” wines.

Maybe, just maybe, we’ll have to use the wine spit bucket next year (but, do friends let friends spit out $200 wines?)

xx Winecouverites



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