Vancouver International Wine Festival 2014

In 2014 I volunteered for the Vancouver International Wine Festival benefiting Bard on the Beach.

OMG Productions Vancouver International Wine Festival
Bard on the Beach costumes on display at the Vancouver International Wine Festival

Theme Country – France

The theme country was France with 52 wineries from nine regions participating including three of my favourite: Alsace, Beaujolais and Champagne.

OMG Productions Blair Hirtle
Find your French Wine Style. In a wine glass. Santé!

Fortuna, the blessed (or sometimes cursed) goddess of the future smiled and clinked her wine glass in my direction: my name was recognized by the festival volunteer coordinator. She let me leap frog the dreaded first year qualifying volunteer duty – emptying spit buckets. A ghastly business.

Instead, I was assigned me to coordinate two events:

  1. A wine makers dinner at Le Parisien restaurant (since revised to Left Bank and now Blind Sparrow) featuring  Gerard Bertrand
  2. Life of Pie: An Aussie Adventure in Food & Wine hosted by Wine Australia

Both events went smoothly, were well-organized, and offered the benefit of take home/left over vino. (Let’s not mention that to the liquor control nazis.)

For my volunteer service I was given a free ticket to the Festival Tasting signature event at the Vancouver Convention Centre. With so many wines to sample I wisely decided to stick to one colour (white) and one French wine region: Alsace.


The Alsace wine region has the lowest rainfall in France and is blessed with a semi-continental climate; hot, dry and sunny. The slow ripening of the grapes allows for elegant and complex aromas.


Alsace is located in the north eastern part of France. The wine route stretches from the north near Strasbourg to the south for more than 170 km along the easter foothills of the Vosges mountains. The Vosges shelter the region from the ocean. It’s this location at the junction between Germanic and Roman influences that the Alsace area gained a highly respected reputation for “stimulating wine that makes you feel happy”.

France Alsace


Seven Varietals

The varietals range from very dry to light-bodies to the most opulent and full flavoured. This diversity allows Alsace wine to be enjoyed at any occasion.

The Alsace Indicator

You’ll know it’s an Alsace wine with its instantly recognizable long and slender distinctive “flute” shape bottle. This shape is compulsory for all still wines from the Alsace region.


Domaine Zinck

While swirling my glass and palate through the wine tasting I discovered the delicious Domaine Zinck. And its handsome wine maker owner Philippe Zinck. Somehow I always gravitate back to their booth.

Philippe Zinck of Domaine Zinck Vins D"Alsace
Philippe Zinck of Domaine Zinck Vins D’Alasace displays the goods.

OMG Productions Domaine Zinck

Their Eichberg 2009 was my favourite. The nose hinted at grapefruit and candied lemon highlighted by mint, citronella and apple.

This vintage was rich in flavour without the sugary sweetness of some rieslings. The Wine Spectator scored it 92/100 among its many international awards and recognition.

Among my upcoming travel destinations the Alsace wine region is now in the top five.

The onsite liquor store offered delivery to your closest liquor store. Advice: get to the liquor store early.
The onsite liquor store offered delivery to your closest liquor store. Advice: get to the liquor store early to avoid crowds and snatch your bottles. I grabbed as many Zinck as possible.


Thanks to a friend’s recommendation, I purchased a 1974 vintage Rivesaltes. This naturally sweet wine is made from 50% grenache gris and 50% grenache blanc.

It’s deep gold in colour with complex aromas of dried figs, coffee, walnut and nuances of soft spices. Sweet honeyed notes and candied orange on the palate with a hint of oak and a long lingering finish.

OMG Productions Rivesaltes 1974
Rivesaltes is superb with foie gras, a variety of cheeses, chocolate cake, or as an after dinner drink.
 The bottle of Rivesaltes still rests on my wine rack, unopened, waiting patiently waiting for that special occasion. I’ve come close a few times.
Final Recommendations 
My final wine recommendations from the 2014 Vancouver International Wine Festival are:
Hugel & Fils Gentil 2012
  • Sylaner & Pinot Blan 41%
  • Pinot Gris 23%
  • Riesling 20%
  • gewürztraminer 14%
  • Muscat 2%
Hugel & Fils Pinot Gris 2011
  • Dry yet soft, juicy and full-bodied
  • Tasty finish
Sieur D’Arques
  • 70% Chardonnay
  • 20% Chenin Blanc
  • 10% Pinot Noir
  • Bubblie, strawberry, raspberry and brioche
  • Not available in BC
Domaine Zinck