Food and Drink 

Cornucopia’s conspicuous and copious consumption

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I’m still recovering from Cornucopia, Whistler’s food and wine celebration that wrapped up last weekend. The village-wide party is officially a decade old and, in this writer’s opinion, it’s now the best wine party in the country.

This is not a weekend for the staid, buttoned-down wine sipper, nor is it particularly suited to those who require a normal, daily ration of sleep. Just ask the folks at Bearfoot Bistro, who spent most of the week deconstructing the restaurant in preparation for Masquerave and its hundreds of party-goers that ran Friday night right through to sunrise Saturday, before putting it all back together in time to host an extraordinary formal dinner party and tasting for 100 on Saturday night.

With little if any voice left, Whistler bad-boy Bacchus Andre Saint-Jacques greeted a sold-out dinner crowd with his sabre and magnums of Pommery Cuvée Louise. His diners would be the first, and likely the last, to experience three vertical tastings involving Pommery Cuvée Louise, Chateau Beaucastel Roussanne Vieilles Vignes, Chateau Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape and, the rarest of the rare, Hommage de Beaucastel.

It’s not easy to outshine such wines but chef Melissa Craig managed to do it most of the night. Highlights included an exquisite weathervane scallop and water chestnut with several vintages of Champagne Pommery Cuvée Louise and, even more notably, an immaculate Kobe beef dish done three ways: a scampi tartar, braised short rib, and tenderloin paired with 2004, 1989 and 1981 Chateau Beaucastel Châteauneuf du Pape.

The Cornucopia seminars also saw some real excitement. At the Telus Conference Centre, the second edition of The Battle of the Sexes was a Saturday afternoon thriller. The 90-minute, double-blind tasting, which pitted the men against the women, was a see-saw battle that went down to the last wine.

In all, eight wines were served “double blind” and the effort put forth by both panels — with plenty of help from the audience — was impressive to say the least. By the end of the tasting the men’s panel, led by consultant/educator Mark Davidson along with sommelier/manager Sebastien Le Goff of Lumiere, Raffaele Boscaini of Masi (Italy) and writer Bruce Stephen of Vancouver Lifestyles Magazine , narrowly defeated a strong panel of women that included Michelle Bouffard and Michaela Morris of www.housewine.ca , sommelier and Master of Wine candidate Barb Phillip, and Peller Estates winemaker Stephanie Leinemann.

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