Events to fill your wine-tasting agenda

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      Perennially one of the best values on B.C. Liquor Stores shelves, José Maria Da Fonseca Periquita Original 2017 (Setúbal, Portugal; $9.99, B.C. Liquor Stores) just keeps on trucking.

      I recently enjoyed a couple glasses of the latest vintage and am still impressed by what a killer deal it is. Castelão, Trincadeira, and Aragonês are grown in sand, clay, and limestone soils, then blended and aged for six months in a mix of American and French oak.

      As usual, the wine carries a good dose of earthiness, with a mix of red and black currants and blackberries, along with some good lashings of espresso and cocoa. What was already a steal is coming in at an even better price; it’s currently one dollar off at B.C. Liquor Stores through October 26. Consider this advance notice to stock up for the holidays.

      Speaking of advance notice, and perhaps a little holiday shopping, the Vancouver International Wine Festival has announced its roster of featured wineries for its next edition, which will run February 22 to March 1, 2020. Tickets for the big International Festival Tastings are on offer as of November 6, and because these sessions end up selling out, it’s a good idea to jump on them sooner rather than later.

      France is the theme region for the 2020 festival, which will be featuring a who’s who of icons, from Hugel & Fils of Alsace to the Rhone Valley’s M. Chapoutier to Burgundian royalty like Maison Joseph Drouhin; all major regions are covered.

      Of course, that’s not all. We’ll see more than 30 Canadian wineries, a couple dozen Italians, and most other major global regions; there’s even a quartet from Croatia!

      A little closer on the calendar is Cornucopia, Whistler’s celebration of food and drink, running November 7 to 17. Although the dinners and walk-around tastings are always a lot of fun, my favourite aspect of the festival is always the seminars, where various themes and wine styles are focused upon in a casual setting and you always walk away having learned something new (and maybe a bit tipsy, too).

      Bubble-icious (November 10, 11:30 a.m., Whistler Conference Centre, $43) is always a quick sellout. Each year, wine writer Daenna Van Mulligen pours an array of sparkling wines from local gems to Spanish Cavas to, yup, Champagne, comparing styles and illustrating why this category of wine shouldn’t just be reserved for special occasions.

      If those tickets go quick, all is not lost! Inside Scoop: Australian and South African Wine Revolutions (November 10, 11:30 a.m., Whistler Conference Centre, $43) is happening at the same time, and is sure to be one of Cornucopia’s highlights. Vancouver-based sommeliers Maude Renaud-Brisson and Kelcie Jones recently returned from South African and Australian travels and are eager to go beyond the better-known regions like Stellenbosch and the Hunter Valley. They’ll be sharing wines and stories from Swartland, Western Cape, Adelaide Hills, Geelong, and beyond. These are countries that were largely known to many for big-brand cheapie wines but in the past few years have been seeing a renaissance of authentic wines of place that are dynamic, exciting, and delicious.

      Of course, the Crush Grand Tasting (November 9, 8:30 p.m., Whistler Conference Centre, $91) is the big can’t-miss shindig of Cornucopia. The walk-around gala tasting is always full of feasting and revelry in a colourful room where things can be as casual or fancy as you’d like. It’s not often you see people walking around together in everything from tuxedos to snow pants, but it’s certainly not unheard-of here. Wineries from home like Laughing Stock Vineyards and Burrowing Owl Estate Winery are joined by the likes of Oregon’s Elk Cove Vineyards, California’s Paul Hobbs Winery, and many more.

      Rounding out my trio of seminar recommendations is Craft Beers for Wine Lovers (November 16, 11:30 a.m., Whistler Conference Centre, $43). Veteran wine retailer Tyler Dawson is joining forces with Ken Beattie, the executive director of the British Columbia Craft Brewers Guild, to draw parallels between various beer and wine styles. As an example, those who are into those hoppy India pale ales that carry citrus and coriander may find similar traits in dry Rieslings, whose mineral flavours can echo that of coriander, with citrus usually in abundance. I’ve sat in on a few seminars with this theme and they’re always quite enlightening, with plenty of food (well, beer and wine) for thought.

      I’ll see you up on the mountain!