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2015 VIWF Tasting Room-1

It’s officially Shiraz Week in Vancouver, as Australia takes the stage at the 37th Annual Vancouver International Wine Festival with a global focus on Syrah and Shiraz wines. There are 55 Australian wineries from several regions to choose from this week at the Acura Tasting Room.

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As usual, heading through the Vancouver Convention Centre West can be a daunting experience as the crowds build, wine glasses in hand, to sample from a multitude of wines from around the world.

This year, we decided to spend some time in the Australia area and get our fill of several varietals before moving on to South Africa, stopping to sip two wines from a Croatian winery making its first-ever appearance at VIWF. We’ve highlighted a few favourites here. Hopefully you’ll discover a few of your own!

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Don’t forget to drink responsibly. As you collect your coat after the tasting, there’s a booth a little further on, offering free transit tickets for a safe ride home. Here’s to another successful year of wine tasting!

Quarisa Wines | 30 Mile Shiraz 2012 ($14.99)
Johnny Q wants his wines to have flavour, and this approachable Shiraz with mint and black fruit on the nose is nice and spicy with a buttery, velvety aftertaste on the palate. It’s less sweet than a typical Shiraz too.

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[Fourth generation family wine maker William Hardy]

Hardys Wines | William Hardy Barossa Valley Shiraz 2012 ($24.99)
This fifth-generation family winery dedicates a wine to each family member per decade — this one celebrates William Hardy’s 40 years in the business. The wine’s got a good hit of vanilla and spice, rich plum, and a savoury element to it. It’s also less fruity than your average Shiraz.

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Gemtree Vineyards | Moonstone McLaren Vale Savagnin 2014 ($15.99)
Gemtree is a certified organic and biodynamic winery. The Savagnin grapes are related to the Traminer grape and were planted at Gemtree 10 years ago. This lightly structured wine has floral notes with apple, a bit of white pepper, and a nice citrusy flavour.

Turkey Flat Vineyards | Turkey Flat Rose 2014 ($26.99)
This freshly-balanced Barossa Valley wine contains mostly grenache with a bit of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Dolcetto grapes adding both spice and tannin to this wine. It tastes lovely chilled.

VIWF wine bottles

Brothers in Arms Winery | No. 6 Shiraz ($25.99)
No. 6 celebrates six generations of family winemaking. This 100% Shiraz wine was developed to stand out from the rest of the crowd amongst store shelves back home by way of a colourful yellow and red label. It’s a balanced, smooth, and easy-drinking Shiraz with blackberries, plum, and juicy red currant. Langhorne Creek has an advantageous Maritime climate; its grapes have time to truly ripen on the vine.

Heemskerk Winery | Abel’s Tempest Chardonnay Pinot Noir 2011 ($29.99)
Yep, you heard that right: this Tasmanian wine combines both Chardonnay (60%) and Pinot Noir (40%) grapes for a lush, drier wine with floral bouquet notes that work together with the bubbles. It also has a honeycomb/citrus base for a refreshing acidity on the palate.

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[Don’t forget to nibble!]

After a food break to reset my palate, I found two lovely South African wines and an amazing Croatian red.

Spice Route Winery | Chakalaka 2012 ($32.99)
Produced in the Swartland region, this 29% Syrah, 29% Mourevedre, 13% Grenache, 13% Carignan, 8% Tannat and 8% Petite Sirah blend is robust and spicy, with a fusion of flavours including black cherries.

The Grape Grinder | The Wild Olive Rosé 2014 ($13.99)
This flavourful 2014 Silver Michelangelo International Wine Award winner’s got 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot, its grapes grown in South Africa’s Coastal region.

Stina | Plavac Mali Remek Djelo 2009 ($199.99)
Croatian-based Stina winery is Croatia’s top wine producer, located on Brac Island, nestled against the Adriatic sea. The Remek Djelo is the winery’s top red, and considered its masterpiece. The grapes spend two years in new Slavonian oak barrels and then another year cellared in bottles. This is one classy red, and perhaps I’ve expensive taste in wine, however the wine is so complex, rich, and well-spiced with lots of tannins and cherries, plums, and blackberries, that I don’t doubt it will age fantastically. Only 3,000 bottles were produced, so it’ll likely become highly sought after.

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Here are several more from the evening tasting:

Unsworth Vineyards | Allegro 2013 ($20)
A delicate and floral white wine with a nice acidity. This blend of Petit Milo and Epicure grapes produce a one-of-a-kind taste sensation. These varieties are created by Unsworth and are only available on Vancouver Island’s Cowichan Valley. Purchase directly from the winery (250.929.2292).

Nk’Mip Cellars | QwAM QwMT Chardonnay ($25)
This soft and creamy Chardonnay with a rich and nutty flavour stands out from the Okanagan crowd, offering a nice lingering mineral finish and good value.

Giesen Wines | The Brothers Sauvignon Blanc ($26)
This complex dry white wine with lingering grassy notes compares to a high quality Spätlase but with the faint and refreshing hint of a New Zealand grassy Sauvignon Blanc. Strong quality finish and a joy in the mouth, plus a great value at $26.

Parker Coonawarra Estate | Parker Coonawarra Estate Shiraz 2013 ($28)
Parker’s a classic Coonawarra region Shiraz: we tasted the intense warmth and ripeness of the Syrah grape in this very elegant and not-too-spicy wine.

Jacob’s Creek | Double Barrel Shiraz ($19.99)
This full and generous wine contains nice vanilla and chocolate tones. Aged in French and American oak and finished off with aged Scotch whisky barrels, the Double Barrel Shiraz has a unique almondy and complex finish. Available in Vancouver this fall and worth the wait as this wine will retail for $19.99 – best value of show, if you ask us.

Weingut St. Urbans-Hof | 2011 Ockfener Bockstein, Spätlase Riesling ($45)
Sweet and delicate candy in your mouth, pure joy and decadence, this riesling will only improve with intensity over the years (best from 2014 through 2034). The slate and terroir are unique to the Mosel region in Germany. A special-occasion white, the Spätlase Riesling was crowned 93 points by Wine Spectator.

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The Vancouver International Wine Festival Tasting Room is open for tasting sessions tonight (7 to 10 pm), Saturday afternoon (3 to 5 pm), and Saturday evening (7 to 10 pm). Note that all sessions except for Saturday afternoon are completely sold out.

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