Italian Day 2019: Commercial Drive piazza will serve up the best of Italy

The Italian Chamber of Commerce–West plans to ensure that wine lovers feel right at home

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      A sure sign that we’re bounding into summer is the return of Italian Day on Commercial Drive, happening this coming Sunday (June 9). The annual cultural celebration features all sorts of revelry and hoopla, and what would a big ol’ Italian jamboree be without a steady flow of wine?

      The Italian Chamber of Commerce in Canada–West is producing an event dubbed the Authentic Italian Table Piazza at the Grant Street intersection, where there’ll be more than 20 stations serving Italian fare like paninis, prosciutto, and artisan cheeses, along with vendors popping corks and twisting caps from wines hailing from all over the country.

      By spending a mere $20 for a ticket purchased via the website, attendees will have the opportunity to imbibe a wide array of wines, including:

      Masi Modello Prosecco Brut


      Made from the Glera grape variety, this amiable fizz features a cavalcade of citrus flavours: lemon, lime, mandarin orange, yellow grapefruit, and pomelo are all in there, sailing across the palate with ease and finishing quite dry with a pinch of fresh tarragon. Keep this one in mind all summer when the sun is shining. Grab a glass, a Solo cup, or any vessel at close reach, pour a solid glug, and giddyup!

      Aldo Marenco Sole Luna Favorita


      I’ve only been acquainted with the Favorita grape variety during the past few years, and this Vermentino clone found in northern Italy has become a fast fave, especially during summer. This take on the grape is quite pristine: fermentation in concrete and aging in stainless steel allows the grape to be awfully showy with its exuberant notes of jasmine, peaches, guava, litchi, and slight hint of roasted hazelnut. The acidity is bright and juicy, and the finish is dry. Great for lapping up salty meats and cheeses. With its freshness and lively acidity, I’m officially putting it out there that someone in the Okanagan should be putting it in the ground.

      Jasci & Marchesani Organic Cerasuolo D’Abruzzo


      A hell of a charmer and so damn fresh, is this Montepulciano d’Abruzzo a dark rosé or is it a light red? Who cares! It’s freaking delicious, and that’s what matters. The hue of the wine is electric cherry red, which is echoed on the palate that also features rhubarb, raspberry, and brandy-macerated Italian plums. Juicy as all get-out. Everything from stinky cheeses to grilled meats to tomato-driven pizzas and pastas will be welcome.

      Savian Vini Organic Cabernet Franc


      A sturdy version of the renowned French variety. Roasted red bell pepper, mulberries, and sun-dried tomatoes are all rather generous, as are the hearty doses of fresh oregano and sage.

      There are plenty of other tastings happening around town. Keeping an eye on the events section of is always a good idea; coming up this month are complimentary tastings of Cono Sur wines from Chile and a good mix of Australian-wine tastings at various locations.

      Getting back to our Italian theme, over at Davie Street’s Marquis Wine Cellars, Raffaele Augelli of Puglia’s Rivera winery will be pouring his wines from the heel of Italy on Tuesday (June 11) from 5:30 to 7 p.m. It’ll be a fun tasting of the region’s white and red indigenous grape varieties and a great chance to discover what makes the appellation unique.

      A little later in the week, next Friday (June 14), British Columbian winemaker Graham Pierce of the Okanagan Valley’s Time winery will be pouring the latest wines to come out of its new downtown Penticton digs. The winery, opened by B.C. wine pioneer Harry McWatters during his 50th vintage last year, has a great restaurant and setting, where local city folk don’t even have to hop in the car to see wine producers hard at work in the cellar.

      Although he doesn’t exactly have 50 vintages under his belt, Pierce is certainly no slouch. After time spent in the kitchen at Summerhill Pyramid Winery, he took the winemaking helm at Mt. Boucherie Estate Winery in West Kelowna, eventually settling into a lengthy tenure at Black Hills Estate Winery in the South Okanagan, crafting many a vintage of their widely lauded Bordeaux-inspired red blend, Nota Bene. He’s an affable guy with a broad knowledge of the ins and outs of the British Columbian wine industry, and his new rosé is one of my favourites of the season.

      Both of these tastings are free: just head to to get yourself on the list!