International Wine Fest 2009: live coverage of BC wines at Earls and West
5 Comments Karen HamiltonMarch 23, 2009
Today is the day that the Vancouver Playhouse kicks off its 30th annual International Wine Festival, and yours truly is up to my usual shenanigans in reporting the evening as it happens.
I am not sure whether there will be Wifi at the first venue: Get Uncorked!, hosted by the Earls on Hornby. If there is, I will upload as many tasting notes that Karen (Wine Bard) and I can send your way. If not, I’ll Twitter our thoughts using the hashtags #vpiwf and #uncorked from 4 to 5pm.
There will definitely be adequate infrastructure for me to blog the Road 13 dinner at West from 6:30pm onwards.
Get Uncorked! with Earls and Inniskillin Okanagan
Eek! Looks like Karen and I should already be at Earls for the 4pm Get Uncorked! media event so off we go…I likely won’t be able to blog this live but I’ll return to upload photos and a Twitter summary before I jump over to West.
- Scallop & Grapefruit Ceviche paired with the Chenin Blanc
- Sake Brined Salmon paired with Marsanne Rousanne
- Jasmine Tea Duck breast with Quinoa salad paired with Zinfandel
- Shortrib Crostini paired with Malbec
- Pear & Gouda Tarte Tatin paired with Tempranillo Icewine
The Earls “Get Uncorked!” event is your chance to kick off the Playhouse Wine Festival regional theme “British Columbia” in grand style. Earls and Inniskillin come together to show off varietals that are experimental for the Okanagan such as Malbec, Zinfandel and Tempranillo. Join Earls’ head chef Reuben Major and Inniskillin Okanagan winemaker Sandor Mayer for a truly Canadian culinary experience. Spend the evening indulging in Inniskillin Discovery Series wines, perfectly paired with earls’ locally-inspired eats created exclusively for this special evening. Bring your ehs, your appetite and your bff.
5:30pm – Get Uncorked! Recap
After a whirlwind tasting, rushed hellos, and a race to pick up a new card reader after mine decided to warp shape, I am now churning out this update while waiting for my husband for our dinner at West.
I’ll let the images speak for the event since I’m short on typing time. Briefs follow.
- Marsanne / Roussane: dry honey with white florals and delicate fruit – more first-batch apricot than fuzzy peach candies. My fave of the 2 whites.
- Stellar pairing of the Zinfandel with the jasmine tea smoked duck breast with blueberry and quinoa salad. Nice crunch of candied pecan; smokiness of the duck brought out the best of the spice and umami notes in the Zin.
- Best eats: shotglass of scallop and grapefruit ceviche; duck salad (above); shortrib crostini with mushroom duxelle and horseradish cream.
- Best sights: the eye candy that are the lovely ladies of Earls; Dawn Chubai of Breakfast Television; Sid Cross.
905 Hornby Street | Downtown
Husband’s home. Time to get ready for a sit-down (and hopefully much less harried) experience with West and Road 13. Back soon.
West + Road 13 – A Sense of Place
The wines of Road 13 are being underlined tonight at West with a 6-course celebration of BC. My palate is screaming with excitement.
Executive Chef Warren Geraghty
Pastry Chef Rhonda Viani
Restaurant Director Brian Hopkins
Wine Director Owen Knowlton
Saffron and Red Pepper Arrancinni
Gallantine of Quail En Croute
Arctic Char with Olive Oil Hollandaise
Road 13 Sparkling Chenin Blanc 2006
Cannelloni of Ruby Beetroot, David Woods Goats Cheese and Elderflower Mousse
Road 13 Riesling 2007
Qualicum Bay Scallops, Lobster, Dungeness Crab and Vancouver Island Octopus Cantaloupe and Mild Chili Soup
Road 13 “Jackpot” Viognier 2007
Roasted Pave of Sablefish, Crushed Sunchoke Brandade, Sunchoke and Leek Cream
Road 13 “Jackpot” Chardonnay 2007
Breast of Thiessen Farm Squab with Cinnamon Risotto
Road 13 “Jackpot” Pinot Noir 2007
Pithivier of Okanagan Venison and Foie Gras, Pink Venison Loin, Parsnip Puree and Curly Kale
Road 13 “Jackpot” Syrah 2007
Napoleon of Bitter Manjari Chocolate Custard
Blue Cheese Mousse and Maldon Salt Hazelnut Cream Cheese Wafers
Road 13 “Fifth Element” 2006
8pm – 2 courses down, 4 more to go
My husband and I are enjoying ourselves at our table, seated with illuminaries such as Joan and Sid Cross, West owner Jack Evrensel, and Road 13 reps Michael Bartier (winemaker) and Joe Luckhurst. My netbook is situated off in a corner in order to keep the dinner table uncluttered by tech. I’m equipped with my cell phone for more real-time updates, so check Twitter for those observations.
Highlights so far include the quail canapes with sweetbreads, mushroom, hazelnut cream, and crostini; grassy and surprisingly weighty Riesling, grown from the vines of one of the oldest (if not the oldest) vines in the Okanagan; the springtime fresh beetroot canneloni that was paired with it; the structured and smooth Viognier that followed.
Wine fun fact: Viognier is one of the most bitter grape varieties around.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the seafood course despite the novelty of pea-sized honeydew balls and the vibrance of the cantaloupe and chili soup. My octopus was rubbery at worst, chewy at best; I wished the chili came out more than it did.
8:45pm – 3rd course down, with some Twitter fun in between
A bit of Twitter banter has evolved during the third course of roasted sablefish pave, sunchoke and leek cream, and the Jackpot Chardonnay (my husband’s favourite of the whites).
Black Cloud winemaker Brad Cooper noticed that I was at this dinner and asked me over the Twitternets to greet Road 13 winemaker Michael Bartier with their secret greeting. Upon passing the message to Michael, he requested the opportunity to respond. We stood together in the corner as he typed out his reply. Brad seemed to enjoy the exchange (I know I did). Now to figure out what TABOMA stands for…
[TABOMA shall only be revealed by speaking directly to Brad or Michael...it is their secret greeting, after all.]
9:30pm – 5 courses down and 6 wines in
Kurt leaned over to confess: “This is the best meal I’ve ever had!”
He wasn’t with me when I was blown away by the experience at Atlanta’s Bacchanalia, but admittedly, I can’t recall being this impressed by a meal in Vancouver. My favourite course of the night was Thiessen Farm squab with cinnamon — cinnamon! — risotto. The pairing with the Jackpot Pinot Noir was tremendous; the allspice, nutmeg, and cinnamon of the wine wrapped the risotto and the melt-in-your-mouth squab in a lover’s embrace. Bonus was the complimentary bottle of Pinot Noir that we got to take home at the end of the night. Can’t wait to open it at the end of the week when my in-laws get into town.
The next course was the boldest of them all: a pithivier of venison and foie gras with even more venison to boot. It went well with the Syrah, which I appreciated even more than the Pinot before it, but this dish was the only one that I wasn’t able to finish. I ate half of each item on the plate before I had to decline. All of the Syrah was polished off, however, and kudos to the staff for being generous and frequent with top-ups.
10pm – dinner wrap-up
The last hurrah was a Bordeaux-style blend: Road 13′s “Fifth Element”. It complimented the chocolate Napoleon adequately and mellowed out the layer of blue cheese mousse that was sandwiched between Maldon salt hazelnut cream cheese wafers. While all the wines were consistently delicious, this wine was immensely eclipsed by the Pinot and Syrah that preceded it. My husband was moreover left wanting from the dessert: “I didn’t like that the cheese course and the dessert course was combined into one. They should have kept them separate.”
After I asked him which of the 5 previous dishes should have been replaced by a cheese course, he changed his tune: “Well, I wouldn’t replace any of the courses…I guess my complaint is that they should have had more food!”
Considering my normally peckish appetite, even I found it difficult to disagree with that.
Visuals from the Road
Have fun watching events unfold this evening!