How about treating VIWF as a fact-finding mission for everyday drinking?
Hands down one of my fave things about Vancouver International Wine Fest is the crazy on-site liquor store that sells every bottle from the festival. For three days only! It underscores how kooky our liquor situation is, but it's exhilarating in its own way. No hemming and hawing: taste it, buy it or forever hold your peace. Here are five well-priced whites that you have a very limited window to buy.
1. Cabriz Reserva Encruzado 2016, $22
This is likely the greatest (and only) encruzado you'll try all year. And it's a grape that you might just fall in love with: the richness of white Burgundy with an electric vein of citrus acidity. An absolute winner of a wine at a very good price point. Only available at the festival liquor store.
2. Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling 2015, $20
Charles Smith, the mad-vintner of Washington State, has arguably done more to popularize good, affordable riesling than anyone else with this label (its year-in-year-out success was in-part responsible for Constellation's $120,000,000 purchase of this and four other Smith labels). And to be fair, you often can buy it outside of the VIWF—it's actually widely available—but if you haven't tried it you're missing out on what may be one of the 3 or 4 most consistently great wine deals in the world. The world!
3. Niepoort Dialogo Branco 2016, $22
This zippy, playful wine from famed Port house Niepoort hits everything that's good about Douro wines:
- It has a really solid acidity with fresh herbs and citrus, making it a great choice for cold seafood;
- It's made from seriously screwball varieties—Rabigato, Códega do Larinho, Gouveio, Dona Branca, Viosinho, Bical—that no one has ever heard of;
- It has uncommon elegance given that the vines of those screwball grapes are upwards of five decades old;
- The packaging is irreverent and awesome.
4. Bodegas Juan Gil Honoro Vero Blanco 2016, $17
Juan Gill's Monastrell has been a great buy in our market for years, but who'd have thunk that the makers of such a chunky, big red could produce such a youthful, elegant wine from the verdejo grape? Beautiful white flowers and ripe pear make this a lush but balanced affair.
5. Moon Curser Arneis 2016, $20
Ok—we rave about this wine a lot of a lot—but where else can you find an excellent Canadian interpretation of an unheralded Italian grape, for cheaper (dare we say better?) than the imported version. It's usually a tough wine to source—but not this weekend!