Salut!: Best of the Vancouver International Wine Festival

Want to know which booths to target? Where to spot a winemaker after-hours? Which bottles showcase the best of B.C. winemaking? Wine expert Anthony Gismondi is here to help.

If you want to rub shoulders with the wine mob, Nightingale on West hastings is one of the likely spots to find them hanging out. PNG


Chardonnay is undergoing a style tweak globally: the wine is fresher with brighter acidity and there is more lees contact for texture and complexity.

The result is a much better wine with food which must be the goal of any wine in our estimation. Don’t worry about the end of that unabashed California Chardonnay style, it still exists and in its best format it is hard not to like. Don’t miss this list of standouts.

Bodega Argento Reserva Chardonnay 2017, Mendoza, Argentina, $20.99

Brewer-Clifton Chardonnay 2016, Sta. Rita Hills, Santa Barbara County, California,  $39.99

Davis Bynum River West Chardonnay 2016, Sonoma County, California, $31

Familia Zuccardi Q Chardonnay 2017, Valle de Uco, Argentina, $22.99

Gallo Signature Series Chardonnay 2016, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California $50.00

J. Lohr Arroyo Vista Chardonnay 2016, Arroyo Seco, Monterey, California, $32.99

Kendall Jackson Jackson Estate Chardonnay 2017, Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbra County, California, $42.99

Mission Hill Family Estate Perpetua Chardonnay 2016, Okanagan Valley, $38

Vasse Felix Chardonnay 2017, Western Australia, $45.99


Cabernet Sauvignon remains irresistible to most consumers and lucky for them the grape does invariably well around the world, although Bordeaux and Napa Valley set the trend.

Global warming is making things interesting, especially in northern regions like the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia where traditionally Cabernet Sauvignon struggled to physiologically ripen in time. There’s a lot to taste inside the room this year.

Aquilini Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Red Mountain, Columbia Valley, Washington, United States, $59.99

Beaulieu Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Napa Valley, California $65

Beringer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Napa Valley, California $48

C.C. Jentsch Cellars Small Lot Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Okanagan Valley, $49.90

Culmina Family Estate Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Okanagan Valley, $39

Duckhorn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Napa Valley, California, $84.99

Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Napa Valley, California, $53.99

Kendall Jackson Jackson Estate Hawkeye Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, $60.99

Louis M Martini Monte Rosso Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Napa Valley, California, $125

Ridge Vineyards Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Santa Cruz Mountains, California, $97

Silver Oak Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, $119.99

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Napa Valley, California, $88.99



One of our favourite festival lists to compile comes from analyzing all the wines they are pouring in the tasting room.

If you want to stand out from the crowd you best bring your finest. Here are 8 wineries that fit the bill, along with a top pick from their lineup. Expect long lines in front of these booths.

Altesino, Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy (Brunello di Montalcino 2016, $56.99)

Achaval-Ferrer, Mendoza, Argentina  (Achaval Ferrer Finca Mirador 2014, $125)

Château Pesquié, Rhone Valley, France (Château Pesquié Artemia 2016, $48.99)

Bodega Garzón, Uruguay (Reserva Tannat 2016, $24.49)

Louis M Martini Winery, California (Louis M Martini Lot 1 Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, $200, pictured)

Ridge Vineyards, Santa Cruz Mountains, California (Geyserville 2016, $65)

St. Supéry Estate, Napa Valley, California (Rutherford Estate Vineyard Merlot 2015, $80.99)

Familia Zuccardi, Valle de Uco, Argentina (Jose Zuccardi Malbec 2014, $60)


The festival wine shop is becoming a must-stop for collectors given the regular lineup in B.C. Liquor Stores is severely tilted toward the masses.

Each wine poured at the festival must be available for sale at the on-site liquor store and that means there will several limited release bottles for sale at the show. Be prepared to strike quickly as soon as the on-site store opens and look for the following highly collectible labels.

Aquilini Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Red Mountain, Columbia Valley, Washington, $59.99

Di Lenardo Vineyards Comemivuoi Ribolla Gialla 2017, Friuli, Italy $23.99

E&E Black Pepper Shiraz 2014, Barossa Valley, Australia $98.54

Fairview Cellars Cabernet Franc 2017, Golden Mile Bench, Okanagan Valley, $30.99

Bodega Garzon Reserva Tannat 2016, Garzon, Uruguay, $24.49

Korta Katarina Reuben’s Private Reserve 2008, Croatia, $62.99

Lightfoot & Wolfville Blanc de Blanc Extra Brut LD 2013, Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia, $72.99

Louis M Martini Lot 1 Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Napa Valley, California, $200

Mission Hill Terroir Collection Cabernet Franc 2016 No. 32 Vista’s Edge, Okanagan Valley, $33.50

Chateau Pesquié Artemia 2016, Ventoux, France, $48.99

Stina Pošip 2016, Croatia, $46.99

Zuccardi Concreto Malbec 2017, Uco Valley, Argentina, $45



It’s hard to imagine where B.C.’s wine industry would be today without the wine festival. Four decades of education and competition has been good for local producers keen to take on the world’s best.

Today most of the innovation in the tasting room is local, so make sure you check out some of these picks you are likely won’t see in local liquor stores.

Burrowing Owl Meritage 2014, Okanagan Valley, $39.04

Culmina Family Estate Winery Hypothesis 2014, Okanagan Valley, $46.00

Okanagan Crush Pad Free Form Cabernet Franc 2017, Okanagan Valley, $39.90

Lake Breeze Vineyards  Roussanne 2017, Okanagan Valley, $28

Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve Meritage 2016, Okanagan Valley, $21

Nk’Mip Cellars Qwam Qwmt Syrah 2016, Okanagan Valley, $30.49

Noble Ridge Vineyard & Winery the One Sparkling 2015, Okanagan Valley, $40

One Faith Grand Vin 2013, Okanagan Valley, $132

Painted Rock Cabernet Franc 2016, Okanagan Valley, $45

Poplar Grove Cabernet Franc 2015, Okanagan Valley, $33.99

Quails’ Gate Stewart Family Reserve Pinot Noir 2016, Okanagan Valley, $43.49

Time Winery White Meritage 2017, Okanagan Valley, $22.99

Tinhorn Creek The Creek 2015, Okanagan Valley, $55.99

Wild Goose Vineyards Mystic River Gewürztraminer 2017, Okanagan Valley, $19.99


It is always considered poor form to taste only the most expensive wine at any one booth, but it never hurts to know where they are in the room.

Our advice is be cool, chat up the principal, and taste all the wines at the table — preferably in the order the winery suggests. But don’t miss any of the following:

Achaval Ferrer Finca Mirador 2014, Mendoza, Argentina, $125

Asahi Shuzo Co. Dassai 23 Sake, Japan, $119.99

Grgich Hills Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Napa Valley, California, $105.99

Justin Vineyards and Winery Isosceles 2015, Paso Robles, California, $117.99

Marchesi di Barolo Cannubi Barolo 2014, Piemonte, Italy, $86.99

Ridge Vineyards Estate Chardonnay 2016, Santa Cruz Mountains, California, $86

Silver Oak Cellars Twomey Cellars Merlot 2014, Napa Valley, California, $97.99

St. Supéry Rutherford Estate Vineyard Merlot 2015, Napa Valley, California $80.99

Talbott Vineyards Sleepy Hollow Pinot Noir 2015, Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey, California, $65



No need to worry about the Old World in 2019. There is plenty to discover across Europe, as evidenced by the following Old World stars.

Altesino Rosso di Montalcino 2016, Tuscany, Italy, $27.99

Antinori Estates Pian delle Vigne Brunello di Montalcino 2013, Tuscany, Italy,  $71

Tenuta Argentiera Superiore 2015, Bolgheri, Italy, $65.99

Chateau Pesquié Artemia 2016, Ventoux, Rhone Valley, France, $48.99

Donnafugata Tancredi 2015, Sicily, Italy, $42.99

Real Companhia Velha Carvalhas Vinhas Velhas Tinto 2016, Douro Valley, Portugal, $59.99

Rocca delle Macie Riserva di Fizzano Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2013, Tuscany, Italy, $40.99

Schloss Johannisberg Riesling Grünlack Spätlese 2017, Rheingau, Germany, $50


Vancouver restaurants are well known to most visiting winery principals, and some will feature late-night menus for post-tasting diners. If you want to rub shoulders with the wine mob, here’s a list of likely spots to find them hanging out. Reservations are highly recommended.

Nightingale, 1017 W Hastings Street. PNG

L ‘Abattoir, 217 Carrall Street, (604) 568-1701

Bao Bei, 163 Keefer Street, (604) 688-0876

Botanist, 1038 Canada Place, (604) 695-5500

Chambar Restaurant, 568 Beatty Street, (604) 879-7119

CinCin Ristorante + Bar, 1154 Robson Street, (604) 688-7338

Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill, 1133 Hamilton Street, (604) 688-7466

Blue Water Café, 1095 Hamilton Street, (604) 688-8078

Hawksworth Restaurant, 801 W Georgia Street, (604) 673-7000

Kirin Restaurant, 1172 Alberni Street, (604) 682-8833

Miku, 200 Granville Street, (604) 568-3900

Mott 32, 1161 West Georgia Street, (604) 979-8886

Nightingale, 1017 W Hastings Street, (604) 695-9500

Verre, 550 Denman St, (604) 428-4843

Vij’s, 3106 Cambie Street, (604) 736-6664

Wildebeest, 120 W Hastings Street, (604) 687-6880


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