Anthony Gismondi: Create your own tasting room at home with these festival-approved wine picks

You can hold tastings at home with cohorts or collaborate with friends and share costs.

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This year our annual Insider’s Guide to the International tasting Room looks back over some of our favourite lists — but with no festival wines, we invite you to seek out these wines in your local retail stores.

You can hold tastings at home with cohorts or collaborate with friends and share costs by pouring off the contents of a full bottle into halves or thirds before meeting up, via Zoom, with other tasters.

You can hold a tasting and order takeout for the price of a couple of tickets.

And consider donating to your local arts community so that they can return to some level of normalcy as soon as possible.

See you in the tasting room next year.


SPARKLING ADVENTURES

One of the pandemic’s bright spots has been the rise in sparkling wine consumption except for Champagne. A delicious sip of any of these labels will refresh and prepare your palate for any food you choose to serve.

Torres Estelado Brut Rosé 2018 Pais, Valle del Curicó, Chile, $22

Albet i Noya Petit Albet 2017 Brut Reserva, Penedès, Spain, $27 

Domaine Rolet N/V Crémant du Jura Blanc Brut, Jura, France, $34      

Haywire The Bub 2013, Okanagan Valley, $39

Champagne Laurent Perrier Cuvée Rosé Brut N/V, Champagne, France, $96


BEST OF CHILE

Over the years Chile has been a featured theme region but judging by what is available in B.C., we need them to return and relight the flame.

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Chile has worked hard to shed its cheap wine image, a tag that has dogged it since the 1990s. It’s not that we are opposed to value wines, but the long, thin country needs an image adjustment in this market, and it has to be a two-way street. They send us their best. We list their best. You buy their best.

There’s a new Chile to discover, and we can’t wait for them to return to Vancouver next year.

Emiliana Coyam, Valle del Colchagua, $28

Emiliana Novas 2017 Carmenere Cabernet Sauvignon, Valle del Colchagua, $15

Concha y Toro 2013 Terrunyo Las Terrazas Cabernet Sauvignon Pirque Vineyard, Valle de Maipo, $40

Le Dix de Los Vascos 2013, Valle del Colchagua, $60        

Purple Angel by Montes 2017, Valle del Colchagua, $86


A PERFECT CASE FOR COLLECTORS

Great vintages, top producers and top sites all conspire to make a wine collectible — often, they’re not inexpensive, but they can be moderately priced and in the case of the most famous, buying young is almost always advantageous. Here’s some to look for now and to drink a decade down the road:

Frescobaldi 2014 Brunello di Montalcino, Tuscany, $53

Altesino 2013 Barolo, Piemonte, Italy, $57

Alvaro Palacios 2916 Gratallps VI de Vila, Priorat, $70

Henri Darnat 2018 Clos Du Domaine Meursault, Burgundy, $69

Chateu Rouget 2015, Pomerol, Bordeaux, $85


A MULTITUDE OF MALBEC

Malbec is underrated mostly because the best are under-represented in the market. There are only 61 malbecs on the B.C. Liquor Stores’ list, and the highest price is $61.99. Here is a shortlist of top-value picks for the price:

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Amalaya Malbec 2018, Calchaqui Valley, Salta, North, Argentina, $22

Catena Malbec High Mountain Vines 2017, Mendoza, Argentina, $25

Felino Malbec 2018, Mendoza, Argentina, $24

Valle Las Acequias Malbec Oak 2015, Mendoza, Argentina, $24

Van Westen Vineyards Violeta 2017, Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, $35


LOCAL HEROES

B.C. wines have been so successful that Alberta, Ontario and Quebec have blocked online, direct-to-consumer sales. Oh well, more for us, I guess.

The better news is wineries are finally starting to release some of their better labels in government stores, giving you wider access. Otherwise, the largest retail selection is now at Save-On-Foods wine stores.

Mission Hill Family Estate 2018 Perpetua, Okanagan, $60

CedarCreek Estate Pinot Noir 2018, Okanagan Valley, $27

Painted Rock Syrah 2017, Skaha Bench, Okanagan Valley, $42.99

Poplar Grove Winery Cabernet Franc 2017, Okanagan Valley, $34                                                                             

Quails’ Gate Stewart Family Reserve Chardonnay 2017, Okanagan Valley, $44


SPAIN

There is something very desirable about Spanish wine and its producers. Maybe it’s the underdog thing when measured against France or Italy, perhaps it’s the small-producer culture, or is the lack of conformity the charm. A plethora of indigenous grapes and naturally low-yielding vines that won’t overproduce is another asset.

Alvaro Palacios Petalos, Bierzo, Spain, $38

Izadi Rioja Blanco 2019, Rioja, Spain, $30

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Mas Donis Negre 2018, Montsant, Cataluña, Spain, $18

Torres Celeste 2017 Crianza, Ribera del Duero, Spain, $26

Torres Purgatori 2013, Costers del Segre, Cataluña, Spain, $60


PORTUGAL

Portuguese winemakers have made the courageous decision to preserve a heritage of more than 250 native grape varieties, most of which don’t exist elsewhere in the wine world. This diversity and its direct connection to a rich past propel the country’s modern wines.

Quinta De Chocapalha Castelão, Portugal, $25

Carm Douro Tinto 2014 Reserva, Douro Valley, Portugal, $25

Fonseca 10 Year Old Aged Tawny Port N/V, Douro Valley, Portugal, $39

Meãndro do Vale Meão Douro Red, Douro Superior, Portugal, $34

José Maria da Fonseca Albis 2019, Setúbal Peninsula, Portugal, $13.50

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