10 Totally Affordable Wines to Snag at VIWF
How about treating VIWF as a fact-finding mission for everyday drinking?
Hands down one of my fave things about Vancouver International Wine Fest is the crazy on-site liquor store that sells every bottle from the festival. For three days only! It underscores how kooky our liquor situation is, but it’s exhilarating in its own way. No hemming and hawing: taste it, buy it or forever hold your peace. Here are 10 well-priced wines that you have a very limited window to buy.
5 Must-Buy Bottles of White:
1. Cabriz Reserva Encruzado 2016, $22
This is likely the greatest (and only) encruzado you’ll try all year. And it’s a grape that you might just fall in love with: the richness of white Burgundy with an electric vein of citrus acidity. An absolute winner of a wine at a very good price point. Only available at the festival liquor store.
2. Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling 2015, $20
Charles Smith, the mad-vintner of Washington State, has arguably done more to popularize good, affordable riesling than anyone else with this label (its year-in-year-out success was in-part responsible for Constellation’s $120,000,000 purchase of this and four other Smith labels). And to be fair, you often can buy it outside of the VIWF—it’s actually widely available—but if you haven’t tried it you’re missing out on what may be one of the 3 or 4 most consistently great wine deals in the world. The world!
3. Niepoort Dialogo Branco 2016, $22
This zippy, playful wine from famed Port house Niepoort hits everything that’s good about Douro wines:
- It has a really solid acidity with fresh herbs and citrus, making it a great choice for cold seafood;
- It’s made from seriously screwball varieties—Rabigato, Códega do Larinho, Gouveio, Dona Branca, Viosinho, Bical—that no one has ever heard of;
- It has uncommon elegance given that the vines of those screwball grapes are upwards of five decades old;
- The packaging is irreverent and awesome.
4. Bodegas Juan Gil Honoro Vero Blanco 2016, $17
Juan Gill’s Monastrell has been a great buy in our market for years, but who’d have thunk that the makers of such a chunky, big red could produce such a youthful, elegant wine from the verdejo grape? Beautiful white flowers and ripe pear make this a lush but balanced affair.
5. Moon Curser Arneis 2016, $20
Ok—we rave about this wine a lot of a lot—but where else can you find an excellent Canadian interpretation of an unheralded Italian grape, for cheaper (dare we say better?) than the imported version. It’s usually a tough wine to source—but not this weekend!
5 Must-Buy Bottles of Red:
1. Crasto Superior 2012, $28
Crasto has been a stalwart in our market for years—but not this bottle. It’s a step up from the “normal” Crasto we’re used to with tannins that are smoother and fruit that’s more vibrant. Plus it’s sold out in most other markets—this bottle has some nice age to it—and it was #25 on the Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list way back in 2015. Sort of a steal. The proviso—while the BCLDB clearly states they will be selling the 2012, the festival catalogue says it’s the 2015 being poured—still a great wine, just not such a great deal.
2. Lamadrid Bonarda 2015, $24
Bonarda is the fun-loving red grape of Argentina that forever lives in the shadow of the more popular malbec. It’s a cheerful grape, but this iteration from Lamadrid has a little bit more depth and earthy tones than most giving it enough gravitas to stand up to heavier dishes.
3. Marques de Murreita Finca Ygay Reserve 2007, $36
Ok, this has to be a mistake. The BCLDB website says this wine is $36, but the pour list for the festival lists this as Marques de Murrieta Castillo YGay Gran Reserva Especial 2007—which is a wine that sells for $90 US! I assume it’s a typo—but check the listing—if it’s not, back up the delivery truck.
4. Finca Decero Remolinas Vineyard Malbec 2016, $22
Two things separate Decero’s malbecs from the pack—aromatics and acidity. This is a vibrant, lively wine that feels far lighter on it’s feet than most malbecs. And—even though I know you don’t care for lists—it was #34 on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 of 2017. And while it’s technically available at one other BCLDB store in Victoria, practically that ain’t a lot of use.
5. Feudi San Gregario Aglianico Rubrato 2015, $26
Again, we may be dealing with a misprint here as the BCLDB site list this as a 2006. I think it’s more likely that it’s 2015 but it doesn’t matter for a few reasons: aglianico is one of the greatest grapes of Italy that never gets its due (just when it was about to a few years back, in barged Nerello Mascalese to hog all the spotlight). If you know Feudi San Gregario it’s probably for their white falanghina wines that were so good they almost single-handedly brought that grape back into the conversation. This is a big wine now, but not unwieldy and if you choose to lay it down it will easily settle and improve for the next decade.