Trying to drag an Australian into the B.C. red wine section of a liquor store is no easy task. Even the harvesting seasons are polar opposites.
While B.C. will boast one of its best pinot noir vintages ever this year, I recently explored the fruits produced by the clay soils of the land Down Under, where some of the most famous lip-staining elixirs arise.
Not familiar with anything beyond the Aussie shiraz, I explored other varietals during an afternoon at the Wine Australia trade tasting in Vancouver last week. All wines are available at Whistler’s liquor stores, except for one that needs to be special ordered.
De Bortoli’s Yarra Valley Estate Grown Pinot Noir 2004 requires a little more organization if you want to serve it at a dinner party, but it’s well worth the effort. The second-largest family estate in Australia boasts a pinot noir rich with peach flavours and a finish that wakes your taste buds with a start. This $34 bottle is my favourite pick from my Down Under adventure.
I’ve also fallen in love with anything Viognier. Yalumba exploits the fruity fragrance in shiraz blends, including the Yalumba 2005 Hand Picked Shiraz Viognier. The entry-level wine, priced at $18, is one big flirt. A sip opens the floodgates on peach and apricot fruitiness then steps out with a dry finish. A next step up, the 2003 Barossa, another Shiraz and Viognier blend, also flirts with a seductive nose, but definitely puts out with big taste for $24.
The Wolf Blass 2002 Gold Label Cabernet Sauvignon for $23 was the biggest bang for your buck in kangaroo land. This classic wine with hints of mint is aged 20 months in American oak. The wine rep recommended a rosemary lamb dish as the perfect pairing.
Thorn-Clark 2003 Cuvee Terra Barossa, a blend of cabernet franc, merlot and shiraz, drank like a schizophrenic — this is a good thing. Wine Spectator rated the multi-faced $20 product of Barossa at 89 points. The winemaker explained the cabernet is fruity yet hollow, leaving the big rich fruit of the shiraz to fill in the gaps.
Thorn-Clarke’s Quartage Shotfire Ridge, again another blend with cabernet sauvignon instead of shiraz, was the grown up version of the Thorn-Clarke series with a savoury/sweet combination that was smooth and sensible. This jack-of-all-trades sells for $29.73.
The 2001 Wynns Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, rated 90 points by Wine Access, was a big finish with spicy, black cherry flavour. The southern Australian red clay soil produces plenty of layered flavours, and the product sells for $22.
After an afternoon with Australian wines, I am beginning to understand why Australians like to drink so much.
Food Power in Whistler
Discover the Power of Food at a Whole Foods Living presentation Friday, Oct. 20 from 6 to 7 p.m. at Meadow Parks Sports Centre.
The evening, presented in part by Slow Food Whistler, will be led by Adam Hart of Dynamic Core Fitness, who will share his personal journey from unhealthy to healthy living.
Some of the topics discussed include disease prevention, reducing stress levels, better weight control, improving energy levels, controlling food allergies and enhancing immune functions.
Following the presentation, people can sign up for a free one-on-one consultation with Hart.
Tickets are $10 with proceeds benefiting the Whistler Food Bank. Register by calling 604-938-9467.
Cornucopia not only celebrates wine and food, but also provides guests with a better understanding about food and wine’s complexities.
In addition to winemaker dinners and after parties, Whistler’s biggest wine and food festival hosts a variety of daytime educational seminars.
There is nothing dry about them — pun intended. All classes involve active sampling of whatever subject you are “studying” and take place between Nov. 9 and 12 at the Telus Conference Centre.
Like to drink during the day? Michelle Bouffard and DJ Kearney will give you eight more reasons to do so by introducing wines best drunk in the a.m. and afternoon hours in the It’s 5 O’clock Somewhere seminar.
Pairing your favourite spicy Asian dishes with wine isn’t always easy. The West Eats East: B.C. Wines and Asian Flavours seminar tosses out the rule book on curries not pairing well with wines and puts B.C. wines to the test of satay, ginger and galangal.
Swish and swirl the finest at the 5 th annual Rare Wines seminar. The afternoon of cellar bests and quirky commentary from David Scholefield and Chris Perry sells out every year. For the festival’s 10 th anniversary, the seminar pays tribute to top 10 wines.
The girls won last year, see whether they come out on top again at the Battle of the Sexes: An Interactive Blind Tasting, which puts female and male tasters in opposite corners of the ring then lets them sip at it to see who is the wine heavyweight champion. Kasey Wilson and Anthony Gismondi will coach on the sides as participants try to detect a cabernet or narrow a wine to a region. Place your bets and get drinking.
Other less winey seminars include ones on chocolate, latte art, oysters and more. The Afternoon of Decadence caught my taste buds with boutique after-dinner beverages and desserts from Cin Cin’s Michelin-starred chef patissier Thierry Busset.
Classes range from $50 to $150.
For more information, visit www.whistlercornucopia.com.