Playhouse International Wine Festival Cheat Sheet 2011

Our 33rd annual wine love-in has kicked off and the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival is celebrating the dazzling wines of Spain and the complex world of fortified wines. In all, 35 top-drawer producers from Spain—plus 700 other wines from 14 countries—are showing off their liquid history. Have a big dinner, have a ride home ready, and have a plan of attack for the busy tasting room. Read on for wine expert DJ Kearney’s tips for tackling this massive wine tasting.



Do not miss the wines of Spain: this country is a wine dynamo. Whites are crisp and pungent or mellow and cask-aged; pinks are spicy; reds range from leathery and wood-burnished to dark-hued, densely-tannined wines that detonate with ripe fruit; bubbles are mineral-rich; and, best of all, Sherries are tangy and aromatic.

The poster boys of Spain are here and you should sip and learn at the booths of Miguel Torres, Telmo Rodriguez, and Alvaro Palacios. Their wines articulate the new Spain eloquently. Martin Codax makes delicious peaches and cream albarinos and Pares Balta’s sparkling wines are benchmark Cavas. Stop by the Marques de Riscal, and Faustino for traditional styles of layered reds, and Ercavio and Juan Gil for vibrant, fruit-forward beauties.


The F-Words are experiencing a lively revival, and fortified wines from around the globe are on show. Learn the difference between vintage, LBV, and tawny Port from Douro boys Cristiano Van Zellar (Quinto do Vale Dona Maria), Miguel Roquette (Quinta do Crasto), and Rupert Symington (Dow & Graham’s). Sip Sherries from Gonzalez Byass, Osborne, and Hidalgo-La Gitana to understand the complexities of finos and oloroso. M. Chapoutier has fortified Grenache called Banyuls, and for down-under stickies, head to Buller. Blandy’s has a brilliant range of Madeira, and Quails’ Gate will pour you a drop of their fiery fortified marechal foch.



Vancouver Magazine’s International Wine Competition top picks: cruise by and taste a handful of our top 100 wines from the 7th annual competition paired to tasty bites from JOEY Restaurants.

Don’t be Mortified about Fortified – Global Focus Tasting Station: Vanmag‘s wine pro DJ Kearney and her ISG sommelier students will give you a crash course in F-Words

Argentina: Decero, O. Fournier

Australia: Langmeil, St. Hallett, Jim Barry/Heggies,  Yabby Lake

BC: Tantalus, Averill Creek, Sperling,  Artisan Sake

Chile: Vina Leyda/Tabali, Montes

France: Champagne Lallier, Perrin & Fils,  Joseph Drouhin

Germany: Bürgerspital, St. Urbans-Hof

Italy: Badia a Coltibuono, Fontanafredda, Bastianich

New Zealand: Astrolabe, Giesen

Portugal: Aveleda, Taylor Fladgate

South Africa: Boekenhoutskloof, Graham Beck

USA: Miner, Signorello, Francis Ford Coppola


Forgot to buy your ticket? Check out which events still have open spaces here.