Let’s raise a glass to B.C.’s best sommelier

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      This may surprise some readers, but I almost never have a glass of wine in hand while writing this column. Today I do.

      I’ve just poured myself a spot of Finca Las Moras Tannat Reserva 2015 (San Juan, Cuyo, Argentina; $13.99, B.C. Liquor Stores). A simmering blueberry compote with a few flecks of fresh anise is wafting out of the glass, and the juicy palate is brimming with ripe blackberries, dark chocolate, espresso, and basil, all dusted with some fine tannins.

      I’m raising this glass to Sean Nelson of Vij’s Restaurant, who was named 2018’s best sommelier of British Columbia by the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers, B.C. chapter. Thirteen local candidates participated in the competition at Rogers Arena early last week, with a written exam and blind tasting in the morning followed by the three top-scoring sommeliers (Nelson, along with Todd Prucyk of Hawksworth Restaurant and Matthew Landry of Stable House Bistro) competing in various challenges in front of an audience of colleagues and supporters.

      Nelson’s wine list at Vij’s is stellar, offering plenty of by-the-glass options to complement the restaurant’s much-lauded Indian cuisine. Personal favourites include Orofino’s Hendsbee Vineyard Riesling 2014 from B.C.’s Similkameen Valley, shimmering with fresh lime, pomelo, and a good crack of minerality, and Medici Ermete Concerto Lambrusco Reggiano 2015 from Emilia Romagna, Italy: fizzy and bright, with red berry fruit and Italian herbs. Do drop into Vij’s to congratulate him and have him pour something delightful into your glass to go with those legendary wine-marinated lamb popsicles in fenugreek-cream curry.

      You’ll likely also spot the guy attending numerous events at the next edition of the Vancouver International Wine Festival, running February 24 through March 4 at various venues across the city. This year’s edition features Spain and Portugal as theme countries, but overall we’re looking at 173 wineries from 16 countries pouring more than 1,400 wines. As always, events are selling out quickly. Although attending a night or two of the grand International Festival Tasting is an absolute must (I’ll have a preview coming next week), there are still tickets left for a couple of events that local wine enthusiasts shouldn’t miss.

      Torres: History Builds Future ($65; March 1, 5:15 p.m., Vancouver Convention Centre West) sees the Vancouver Sun’s Anthony Gismondi in conversation with Miguel Torres Maczassek, a fifth-generation member of the famous Torres wine family. Numerous wines will be discussed and poured, from iconic Spanish regions like Priorat and lesser known appellations like Conca de Barberà. There will be lots to talk about, from winemaking philosophies that have guided the family during the years to sustainable methods being practised in their vineyards.

      Then on March 3 at 5:15 p.m. at Vancouver Convention Centre West, $65 gets you the opportunity to sit in on the Decanter World Wine Awards session. Decanter is known as the world’s best wine magazine, and its annual awards are the pinnacle of achievement for wineries spanning the globe. Attendees will not only have the chance to taste through an assortment of silver, gold, and platinum winners, they will also be entertained by the producers of these wines telling their stories. Moderator Barbara Philip is a Master of Wine and the European category manager for B.C. Liquor Stores, and she also heads to London each year to help judge these coveted awards. Joining her are international luminaries like Spain’s Álvaro Palacios—who will be sharing his eponymous 2015 “Les Terrasses”, an old-vines Garnacha and Cariñena from Priorat—and Sergio Zingarelli, family proprietor of Chianti’s Rocca delle Macìe in Italy.

      For more information and tickets to all events, visit www.vanwinefest.ca/.

      Your palate is indeed in for a bit of a workout, and it’s always good to stretch before any workout—even a wine-soaked one, right?

      Well, keeping that in mind, I’m going to go awfully literal here and mention the upcoming Woga (wine and yoga) event on Sunday (February 11) at Marquis Wine Cellars (1034 Davie Street) from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

      Yup, it’s just as it sounds. In the store, the folks from RYU Apparel are leading a 45-minute power flow, which will be followed by the Marquis team sharing samples of some of their favourite in-store wines. It’s all free, but you do have to head to ryu.com to register. A little Downward Dog, then swirl and sip. Sounds like the makings of a fun Sunday night.