Playhouse Wine Festival Cheat Sheet

The 2009 Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival pours 1,600-plus wines from 183 wineries representing 15 countries. Even the most committed oenophile can’t possibly quaff a glass of everything. We asked our international wine awards judge, David Scholefield, for his don’t-miss list:

“One of the great things about the festival isn’t just the wine, but the people. Miguel Roquette and Cristiano van Zeller are powerhouse winemakers from Portugal and absolute icons, extremely charming and knowledgeable. Chat them up as they’re pouring Quinta do Crasto and Quinta do Vale Dona Maria from the Druro Valley, a lunar landscape in the middle of nowhere that produces some very special wines.”

“Yalumba, the oldest family winery in Australia, will have their booth staffed by Robert Hill Smith, the company president. It’s a big deal that he’s coming (and a nod to the significance of the festival), so take advantage—he’ll be pouring signature bottles and interacting with festival goers.”

“Mendocino County in California is the center of organic farming, and the Magnanimus Wine Group brings biodynamic, organic, and sustainable wines for tasting. Their most interesting is the Buddhist wine—do give it a try.”

Galil Mountain wines from Israel (see Vanmag’s 2009 International Wine Competition, Best Medium White Wines) is a top-quality wine from an unexpected place.”

“British Columbia is the theme region this year. Of the 58 participating B.C. wineries, 25 or 30 most people have never heard of. Be sure to check out these five producers whose wines are hard to come by:

Dunham & Froese
Avrill Creek

“Every year there’s a dessert wine you must taste before leaving. This year it’s Elephant Island Framboise, the most delicious “after” you could ever imagine—it’s like drinking the essence of raspberry.”