Vintage Cornucopia helps resuscitate Whistler 

Seminars, wines, restaurants full of surprises and fun

Cornucopia wrapped up last weekend across Whistler and the flood of guests, not to mention some timely snow, appears to have had a bit of a resuscitative effect on the village.

One cab driver told me he his final fare the night of the Bearfoot Masquerave was at six in the morning, but he was not complaining.

Nor were the thousands of tickets holders that made their way through the four-day wine and food bash that is already planning for a bigger and better 10 th anniversary Cornucopia next fall.

One seminar that is sure to return will be The Battle of the Sexes . The action-packed 90-minute, blind tasting pitted the men against the women in two panels of three with the rest of the interested participants divided by gender on either side of the noisy tasting room.

In all, eight wines were served "double blind" to the panels leaving none of the tasters on the panels or in the room with any clues about the wines. Despite the secrecy, six times out of a possible 16, the panels guessed the exact wine in an impressive display of deductive reasoning.

In the end the women’s panel that included D.J. Kearney (instructor, Vancouver Wine Academy), Jane Ferrari (storyteller, Yalumba Wines) and Michelle Bouffard (resident sommelier, Marquis Wine Cellars), narrowly defeated the men’s panel led by (David Scholefield, (consultant to the British Columbia Wine Institute) with Mark Davidson (founder/instructor Vancouver Wine Academy and Joshua Wesson (New York City wine retailer).

It all came down to the final wine that the men described perfectly but failed to put a name to. When the women pegged the label name, a South African Graham Beck Shiraz, they won the final challenge and the entire event by a single point. It was great fun and no doubt a seminar that, should it be repeated next year, will sell-out quickly.

Wine Guys and Their Picks featured another sold-out audience that came to taste an eclectic mix of wines presented by an equally eclectic group of wine types.

Restaurateur Manuel Ferreira has run Le Gavroche for nearly two decades in Vancouver and recently opened a casual Portuguese/Spanish/southern Mediterranean bistro on the west side of town called Senova. He brought along two European picks: a clean, fresh, slightly fizzy, non-vintage Casal Garcia Vinho Verde ($11), and a French pinot noir – Moillard 2003 Mercurey Clos l’Eveque 1er Cru only available at Le Gavroche for about $38.

Bob Bath, a master sommelier who consults to California-based Jackson Family Farms chose the delicious, fruity Quails Gate 2004 Limited Release Dry Riesling ($16) from B.C. and the ultra smooth and savoury Las Rocas de San Alejandro 2003 Garnacha from Calatayud, Spain ($16). Las Rocas was a showstopper with its peppery, licorice, black raspberry, mineral flavours. Turkey would be a perfect partner.

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