France + Bubbly = Vancouver International Wine Festival 2014

Vancouver International Wine Festival‘s 35th year came to an end early March, finishing yet another successful festival by announcing France as the theme for 2014.

France is recognized as being one of the world’s most prolific winemaking nations, famous for its diverse regions, including Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Loire, Rhône and the South of France. However, rather than highlighting the country’s bold reds and flavorful whites, the Vancouver International Wine Festival’s 36th year will shine light on Champagne and the country’s bubbly. Rare bottles and vintages will be poured during the week-long festival that features wine pairing dinners, seminars, tastings, wine lunches and opportunities to speak with talented winemakers.

The theme region of the 2013 VIWF was California, which was represented by 62 wineries out of the total 175 wineries in the festival. Roughly 22,000 people attended the 54 events — most of which were sold out — to collectively taste 1,850 wines from 15 countries. The last time France was the theme region of the festival was in 2006 when the festival focus was on Pinot Noir.

Pouring wine

Click the photo to check out more photos from the tasting at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

The Vancouver International Wine Festival was in past a fundraiser for the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company, which after 29 years is now closed. Because of this, the event (as of 2013) now benefits the popular Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival.

“It’s been an outstanding first season together, capped by a magical Bacchanalia Gala Dinner + Auction,” said Bard on the Beach Artistic Director Christopher Gaze. “As we continue to work in partnership with the Wine Festival, we have a unique opportunity to strengthen both our own organization and theirs. We’re excited and respectful of that gift, and the opportunity in turn to make a greater contribution to Vancouver’s arts and cultural community at large.”

The 2014 Vancouver International Wine Festival, presented by The Vancouver Sun, runs February 24 to March 2 at the Vancouver Convention Centre West for tastings, many of Vancouver’s finest restaurants for dinners and lunches, and select venues throughout the city for other seminars and wine minglers. Advance tickets go on sale November 1, 2013 while all public events go on sale Tuesday, January 7, 2014. Tickets to the Trade Days Conference go on sale Tuesday, January 21, 2014.

Random facts about French wine:

•  France is the world’s second largest wine producer behind Italy.

•  French wine traces its history to the 6th century BC, with many of France’s regions dating their wine-making history to Roman times.

•  Wines from the North of France (e.g. Alsace) are usually made from a single variety of grape (e.g. Pinot Noir), whereas wines further south are typically blends of varietals (e.g. Carbernet Sauvignon + Merlot).

•  France produces more wine than any other country (550 million cases produced per annum which is five times more than Australia at 110 million cases pa).

More info on French wines by region via Wikipedia:

Alsace – Because of its Germanic influence, it is the only Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée region in France to produce mostly varietal labelled wines. Along with Austria and Germany, it produces some of the most noted dry Rieslings in the world, as well as highly aromatic Gewürztraminer wines.

Bordeaux – Bordeaux is the largest wine growing area in France. Average vintages produce over 700 million bottles of Bordeaux wine, ranging from large quantities of everyday table wine, to some of the most expensive and prestigious wines in the world. 89% of wine produced in Bordeaux is red, with sweet white wines (most notably Sauternes), dry whites, and in smaller quantities rosé and sparkling wines, collectively making up the remainder. 

Burgundy – The most famous wines produced here are the “Burgundies”, which are dry red wines made from Pinot Noir grapes, and white wines made from Chardonnay grapes. Red and white wines are also made from other grape varieties, such as Gamay and Aligoté with a small amount of rosé and sparkling wines also produced in the region.

Champagne – The Champagne wine region is best known for the production of the sparkling white wine that bears the region’s name. EU law and the laws of most countries reserve the term “Champagne” exclusively for wines that come from this region located about 100 miles (160 km) east of Paris. The principal grapes grown in the region include Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. Pinot Noir is the most widely planted grape in the Aube region and grows very well in Montagne de Reims. Pinot Meunier is the dominant grape in the Vallée de la Marne region. The Côte des Blancs is dedicated almost exclusively to Chardonnay.

Loire – Loire wines tend to exhibit characteristic fruitiness with fresh, crisp flavors-especially in their youth. The Loire Valley has a long history of winemaking dating back to the 1st century. In the High Middle Ages, the wines of the Loire Valley were the most esteemed wines in England and France, even more prized than those from Bordeaux.

Rhône – The Rhône is generally divided into two sub-regions with distinct vinicultural traditions, the Northern Rhône and the Southern Rhône. The northern sub-region produces red wines from the Syrah grape, sometimes blended with white wine grapes, and white wines from Marsanne, Roussane and Viognier grapes. The southern sub-region produces an array of red, white and rosé wines, often blends of several grapes such as in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

South of France – A wine region in France covering several wine-producing areas situated respectively inland from, and south of, the wine region of Bordeaux. These areas, which have a total of 16,000 hectares (40,000 acres) of vineyards, consist of several discontinuous wine “islands” throughout the Aquitaine region (where Bordeaux region itself is situated), and more or less to the west of the Midi-Pyrénées region.

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3 thoughts on “France + Bubbly = Vancouver International Wine Festival 2014

  1. A great event, I visited it this year and realised just after this that it belongs to the list of top 10 Vancouver festivals! However, I didn´t know that it supported the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company, such an amazing idea! Definitely gonna go back in 2014 and maybe I will even be able to use your random facts about French wines.

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