The Vancouver International Wine Festival 2023 kicked off the week with a renewed sense of vibrant celebration. It feels like Covid never happened. The celebration of food, wine and theater kicked the doors of international wide open counting down in Portuguese as South America features as the wine region of focus. Not to be overshadowed, Brazil makes wine too!
The Global "Cru" Seminar Wine Review 2023
The traditional Grand Tastings and seminars are back and totally switched on to what’s new and what’s happening in the wine world. Seminars are a great way to continue your wine education and discover the best wines of the event. In this seminar, The Global Cru, the discussion focused on meaning. Is a "cru" wine something more delicious? Or more expensive? Cru is a French word with no real translation and it refers to a site or single vineyard that is unique in some way making extraordinary wine versus the plot of land just around the corner.
A good example is Chambertin - Clos de Bèze. This 15 hectare vineyard was planted by nuns in the 6th century and 15 centuries later the vineyard is designated grand cru where terroir is considered better here than on the 6 other grand cru sites that hyphenate with Chambertin. Cru one could argue then refers to a unique history, the best terroir for the grapes and passionate Vignerons producing a style of wine that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world. In this delicious session we explored top grape varieties and producers from around the world, each presenting his or her own definition of the word “cru”.
The Global Cru was moderated by the energetic Italian wine guy Filippo Barolotta and local wine guy James Nevison (Province, @hadaglass) along with a panel of international wine celebrities demonstrating the specific character and style unique to their property and brands. Many spoke to best efforts, tiny plots, careful selection and focused attention to shepherding the wine from fermentation to bottle. And while the discussion explored cru’s meaning, it was concluded that the only way to provide answers was to taste wine. And lucky for the attendees, the wines were exceptional.
Adrianna Vineyards "White Stones" Chardonnay 2020, Catena Zapata
The panel discussion kicked off with Dr Laura Catena of Catena Zapata Wines. She reminded us that there is no better word to describe a sense of place than “cru” and culture plays into “cru”. Presenting Adrianna Vineyard “White Stones” 2020, the only white wine in the room, we heard a story of chardonnay planted in 1992 at high elevation which brings ripe fruit and freshness to the wine. White stones are made of calcium carbonate and cover this 2 acre parcel which results in a thrilling style of 100% Chardonnay in a Chablis-esk, mineral driven, style.
Tasting Note: Lean, mineral and focused chardonnay with no apparent oak. It has good structure, age-ability and profound length.
Ocio Pinot Noir 2019, Cono Sur Vineyards,
Carol Anai Koch Gonzalez from Cono Sur Vineyards and Winery presented Ocio Pinot Noir 2019 from Casablanca Valley in Chile. 2003 saw the first vintage of what is now a cru wine. While historically only 20 years old, this wine is more about time and place. Casablanca and San Antonio are in close proximity to the Pacific ocean. The cool oceanic influence brings more red fruit to the wine. Grapes are planted on red clay and granite soils which give mineral character to this Pinot Noir expressing elegance as well as concentrated aromas and flavours that are distinctive to this vineyard.
Tasting Note: Salty and vibrant with great acidity and alluring texture. It’s juicy with lots of concentrated flavour and a good finish. Look out Burgundy.
Reuben's Private Reserve 2011, Korta Katarina
With vineyards overlooking the Adriatic Sea, the romance of Croatia can’t be missed. Petar Delic from Vinarija Korta Katarina presented Ruben’s Private Reserve 2011 made from old vines Plavic Mali grown to the south on the Dalmatian coast. Vines grow on limestone and brown soil which absorb water needed during the very hot summers. Grapes ripen with help from 2000 sunlight hours, lots of heat and UV light reflected from the sea. There are only 3000 bottles made of this special cru wine defined by its unique and specific terroir.
Tasting note: The aromas and flavour profile are tertiary. The garnet color in the glass is the first clue that this wine has developed in the bottle. Aromas of bruised black berry fruit, balsamic crema, dark chocolate and sea salt. In its youth this would be very tannic but with age it’s showing smooth integrated tannins, concentration of flavour, with full body structure.
You may not recognize Jose Luis Muguiro Jr, our fourth panelist, but it’s likely you will recognize the name Marques de Riscal Winery and Hotel along with the 2018 Rioja Reserva. Architect Frank Ghery provides the Canadian connection having designed this iconic, whimsical, colorful wave-like structure. Complete with a Michelin star restaurant, the reputation of high quality goes beyond age worthy wines made from indigenous Tempranillo and Graciano. Jose says cru is a “sense of place”. His family has been making wine here since 1858 in the Basque region of the Rioja DOCG. Located between the Sierra des Cantabria mountains and the Rio Mayor, this exceptional site is a microclimate that features a lot of heat and wind. This wine is made from 100 year old vines giving flavour to history, terroir and the meaning of “cru”.
Castello Fonterutoli Gran Selezione 2018,
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