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Sun Peaks Winter Festival of Wine3-1

The WestJet Progressive Tasting was a fun, casual way to mingle with friends through the village on Friday evening, tasting BC wine from 30 Okanagan wineries. The creators of the popular WestJet YouTube holiday video (with over 35 millions views to date) were also in town for the event.

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The three-hour event was held at 15 venues, including lodges, small cafés, an art gallery, and spa, with live music at one end of the village and an ice carver at the other. The self-guided evening was a perfect way to learn about our wine growers, nibble on cheese, and check out the other lodges around the village.

Sun Peaks Winter Festival of Wine-1

The sold-out event was packed in some of the smaller venues, so we skipped around until some of the busier locations were quieter.

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If a casual stroll with wine glass in hand through an Alpine village sounds like your idea of a perfect night out, save the date: The 17th Winter Festival of Wine will return from January 17 to 25, 2015.

I will link a feature on my top wine picks later this week.

Executive Chef Paul Paboudjian
[Executive Chef Paul Paboudjian]

The newly-created Conversation with the Chef event took place on Saturday night at the Delta Sun Peaks Resort. Executive Chef Paul Paboudjian prepared guests a five-course wine and food pairing dinner inside one of the resort’s ballrooms. Chef Paul’s culinary career goes back to age 11, as he spent time looking over his Mom’s shoulder while she wrote food-related articles for the Toronto Sun. Watching one particular chef in action wielding a kitchen knife further fueled his curiosity about cooking. Years, countries, and several worldwide venues later, he’s arrived in Sun Peaks to work his magic (I’ll be featuring Chef Paboudjian in a later article).

Wine consultant Didier Toutain hails from Normandy and is a wealth of knowledge on all things wine and spirits. Currently serving as Sun Peaks Food and Beverage Director, Didier is a familiar fixture on the Canadian resort scene, having worked and consulted for numerous dining programs throughout the years.

Our evening started with wild mushroom soup with essence of rosemary and maple, paired with Harper’s Trail Rose 2012, a well-balanced Rose that’s crisp and has a beautiful acidity, perfect for the enjoyable creamy soup containing half a dozen foraged mushroom varieties.

16th Annual Sun Peaks Winter Festival of Wine-11
[In-house smoked duck, cured proscuitto, ceviche of scallops, prawns with citrus aioli]

The second course was more challenging for Didier as the dish was a combination of in-house smoked duck, cured proscuitto, ceviche of scallops and prawns with citrus aioli. He decided to go with a glass of Red Rooster Chardonnay 2011, with its pale yellow colour and versatile nature for food pairing. My husband and I discussed the choice and thought that perhaps a Sauvignon Blanc would have paired better, or even a few different pours for that dish. In fact, this course led to more discussion after dinner in the resort bar!

A refreshing port wine and mint granite served as a palate cleanser, made with Taylor’s 10 Year Old Tawny and freshly ground mint.

16th Annual Sun Peaks Winter Festival of Wine-12
[Pepper-seared beef tenderloin with double-smoked bacon, horseradish jus]

Pepper-seared beef tenderloin with double-smoked bacon and horseradish jus was perfectly paired with Quails Gate Pinot Noir 2011 (a Pinot that made my top 10 favourite festival pours list). A velvety-smooth wine with notes of leather, dark chocolate, and cherries had a beautifully combinable acidity to savour with the seared beef. The wine is partially oak-barred-aged for six months to give it a light, non-obtrusive oakiness that lets the raspberries and cherries shine through on the palate.

16th Annual Sun Peaks Winter Festival of Wine-13
[Evoking Canada: Warm apple and cranberry bread pudding, cinnamon crème Anglaise, caramel apple compote]

Dessert featured all the flavours of Canada – apple, cranberry, cinnamon, and caramel. Chef Paboudjian likes to evoke memories and experiences in his cooking – meals reminiscent of his own youth – then put his own creative spin on them. Our dessert was warm apple and cranberry bread pudding, with cinnamon crème Anglaise and caramel apple compote. It was served with a glass of Gehringer Brothers Late Harvest Riesling 2012, a wine that I could go on about for another few paragraphs.

The late-harvest varietal is a dessert on its own, containing aromas of peach, nectarine, and melon, with a bright nose of honey. It makes for a very well-balanced after-dinner sipper without the heavy sugars of a typical ice wine. The grapes are picked later in the harvest, right at first frost rather than in winter as in typical ice wine production.

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We’re already looking forward to the 17th Annual Winter Festival!

Read part one of this series here. Our meals and events were provided by Tourism Sun Peaks.

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