Anthonij Rupert Wines showcase South Africa's distinct terroir 

Plenty on offer for wine lovers at Cornucopia this month

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - HARVESTING GREATNESS L'Ormarins farm is the flagship estate of one of South Africa's most respected winemakers, Anthonij Rupert Wines.
  • Photo submitted
  • HARVESTING GREATNESS L'Ormarins farm is the flagship estate of one of South Africa's most respected winemakers, Anthonij Rupert Wines.

Cornucopia guests will have the rare chance to sample vintages from one of South Africa's oldest and most respected wineries this month.

Representatives from Anthonij Rupert Wines will be at Whistler's premier food and wine festival, showcasing the distinctive, sun-soaked terrain of South Africa's Western Cape.

"We've got four different terroirs we can select our wines from," explained head winemaker Dawie Botha. "Most of our wines are more site-specific than if we had just one big plain."

The winery was founded on the L'Ormarins farm, which was first established in the late 17th century, and eventually owned by Anthonij Rupert until he passed away in a car accident in 2001. The farm was eventually taken over by his brother Johann and rebranded in his memory. "(Anthonij) did a lot of groundbreaking work for the South African wine industry," Botha said. "L'Ormarins was among the first wineries to import French oak barrels to South Africa."

Since then the winery has added three other estates to its portfolio that exemplify the range and diversity of the region's vineyards. But L'Ormarins undoubtedly remains the crown jewel.

"If you take our main property, what makes it so special is we moved all our venues up in the mountains where the best soils are, the granite soils," Botha noted. " It gives you a much fuller bodied, darker wine. It's very, very good for red wine especially, particularly for cab sauv and cab franc."

Some of Anthonij Rupert's distinguished vintages will be on offer at a handful of Cornucopia events, including a drink seminar on Nov. 13 led by Taste Whistler founder Eric Blouin, Araxi wine director Samantha Rahn, and Anthonij Rupert's North American sales manager Douglas Elliot. Gourmands can also get their fill at an intimate wine dinner the same night at Araxi that will feature everything from the winery's "food-friendly" Chenin Blanc to "rich, full-bodied, limited production, high-scoring red wines."

"We're going to showcase two Chenin Blancs. They'll pair well with your seafood," Bowie said. "It's got that nice, full freshness with a nice balance that will come through."

With events like these on the schedule, it's no wonder that Cornucopia has become a must-attend for any dedicated oenophile in the Sea to Sky and beyond. Here are a few more wine-focused events and tastings on tap at Whistler's annual epicurean extravaganza.

The Cornucopia Wine Summit

Nov. 10-11 at the Whistler Conference Centre

This industry summit brings together winemakers, marketers and restaurateurs to discuss "topics relevant to the wine industry and its changing landscape." Marking Cornucopia's 20th anniversary, the event combines leading speakers, spirited debate and plenty of food and wine in a thought-provoking forum.

Wine Smart with Wine Folly

Nov. 11 at the Whistler Public Library

Something that most amateur wine drinkers hate to admit: with a plethora of options at our fingertips, it can be extremely difficult to suss out the wines you actually like.

Madeline Puckette, author of the New York Times bestseller Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine, wants to help you navigate your way through a wine list with ease, leading a fun, informative talk that will outline everything you need to know to avoid getting lost in the labels.

The event includes a wine tasting of Cornucopia's Top Red and Top White winners, and a signed copy of Wine Folly to take home.

Cellar Door Grand Tasting

Nov. 11 at the Whistler Conference Centre

Any regular Cornucopia attendee knows that Cellar Door is the perfect way to live the high life and sample some of the most luxurious vintages around without breaking the bank. Uncorking top-shelf bottles ($35 and up), guests will have the chance to pair them with some gourmet nibbles from Whistler's top chefs. New this year are the Cornucopia Sommelier Tours for groups of six or less looking to "explore the highlights and nuances of the night's collection through the eyes of the experts." These 45-minute guided tours will be led by local sommeliers who can give you the lowdown on a diverse cast of winemakers spanning a range of styles and genres.

For tickets, or to view the full schedule of Cornucopia events, visit www.whistlercornucopia.com.

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