Hi all.  I trust you are keeping well and had a few moments of reflection over the Remembrance Day long weekend.  Something about the sound of bagpipes and seeing the expressions on Veteran’s faces truly makes my heart melt…

My family and I headed up to Whistler on Saturday so that I could attend one of Whistler’s Cornucopia events.  This annual event brings both B.C. and international wineries to Whistler as well as showcasing an amazing  ‘foodie’ component with local chefs, suppliers and restaurants taking part.

I selected “Winners at Every Price Point” as the seminar to attend.  It was run by Barbara and Iain Philip from Barbarian Wine Consulting. http://barbarianwine.com  This husband and wife team are quite the dynamic wine duo as Barbara is the head purchaser for the European portfolio for B.C. liquor stores and Iain is an educator at the Art Institutes’ Wine College.

The room smelled delicious as I walked in along with the other 70+ attendees.  In front of us was a tasting circle of 5 whites and 5 reds.  The seminar was set up as a blind tasting so that we could not judge how much we liked a wine based on its name, brand or price.  Brendan, a fellow wine enthusiast,  sat beside me.  He was passionate about wine and we had a fun time trying to guess each wines’ value before it was revealed.

The lovely wines in a circle!

Barbara and Iain spent about 30 minutes educating us on why wine prices vary from $6.99 up to $25,000 for the most expensive bottle of wine you can buy (which is Romanee Conti from Burgundy, France.)  Good grief $25,000 for a bottle of wine?  Holy Dinah…that is pricey!  There are so many factors to consider: land, labour, laws, yield, grape growing techniques – just to name a few!

We had about 7 minutes with the whites and then the results were revealed.  The 5 whites ranged in price from $9.99 to $49.99.  My favourite was Schloss Reinhartshausen Riesling.  At $19.99 this beauty is a wine to stock up on! It is from the Rheingau region in Germany.  The wine was dry and crisp and balanced.  I am still in shock at how fantastic this Riesling tasted at under $20.  I will be heading to the liquor store to stock up!

The champagne we tasted was the $49.99 entry and a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc was the $9.99 entry.  (Send me an email or leave a comment if you would like me to send you a list of all the wines from the seminar).

Next up were the reds.  I consider myself to be more of a white wine drinker, in general, so I felt quite ‘blind’ in the red tastings.  I did discern correctly that there was a French Rhone blend in the flight but that was as far I got.  I chose the most expensive entry this time as my favourite.  It was Masi 2007 Amarone Valpolicella for $49.99.  Here is a PDF of the label and tasting notes from the winery.

It was outstanding and tasted like a $100+ bottle of wine.  This, again, is one I will happily buy a few of and would be great for a 40th or 50th birthday present to a dear friend or family member.  My second favourite, and close behind the Masi was Chateau Labrande Cahors Malbec for $19.99 from France.

Malbec has become the red ‘go-to’ wine of late.  Most people think it is an Argentinian varietal but its’ origin is in France.  This selection was really tasty and, again, for under $20, it is a great deal.  (When I went to buy this at the Park Royal Signature store, they were sold out on the shelves but the manager nicely went into the back and brought 2 bottles to me to have.  A restaurant had put the rest of the stock on hold.  Always ask the store managers – if they can help you – they will.  Thank you, Mike!)

“Winners at Every Price Point” seminar was fantastic and I am thrilled to have attended.  It was $40 for the ticket and the value and knowledge I left the room with was perfect.  Next year, I hope to get a group of people to go up and attend together.  Let me know if you are interested!

Enjoy the week!