I cannot believe it’s been a year since the previous edition of Top Drop Vancouver, the annual terroir-focused wine event produced by me and a few industry colleagues. Next Wednesday and Thursday (September 7 and 8) will be the third Top Drop, and while a few things have stayed the same, there are plenty of new and exciting aspects of the event in store for Vancouver wine enthusiasts.
Again, we’re being kindly sponsored by the dashing, charismatic folks here at the Georgia Straight. Also similar to the past two editions, the first day of Top Drop features trade seminars during the day and consumer dinners in the evening.
Besides some fun stuff going on up in Whistler, there’s a supergeeky dinner going on at Mount Pleasant’s Burdock & Co., where chef Andrea Carlson’s refined organic dishes are being paired with the wines of Bella’s sparkling house from British Columbia’s Naramata Bench and the natural vintages of La Stoppa from Emilia-Romagna, Italy.
While we’re on the Italian front, La Pentola at the Opus Hotel is hosting an Italian-inspired dinner with Angela Maculan, the proprietor of Veneto, Italy’s Maculan winery. I’m personally salivating over the main course of braised short rib, cauliflower purée, farro, charred onion, and Saskatchewan chanterelles paired with Maculan 2013 Palazzotto, an aromatic herb-and-spice-driven Cabernet Sauvignon.
As we’ve arranged in past years, partial proceeds from these dinners, and all of Top Drop Vancouver’s events, are being donated to the B.C. Hospitality Foundation, which provides financial assistance to those in the hospitality industry facing a major medical crisis.
The main event of Top Drop Vancouver is happening the evening of September 8, and it’s something we’ve cleverly titled the Main Event. (See what we did there?) This is the grand tasting at Yaletown’s Roundhouse Community Centre featuring all participants in Top Drop Vancouver: 35 international, terroir-focused wineries, all with principals in attendance, along with a handful of craft breweries and cideries, with a few food purveyors in the mix. Winerywise, it’s a completely fresh slate from last year, with notables from all around the world. Here’s a small sampling of ones you shouldn’t miss.
M. Chapoutier Domaine Tournon
Yup, this is the M. Chapoutier most of us are familiar with for the legendary wines hailing from the Rhone Valley in France. The famed family have had a way with Syrah for generations, so it’s fascinating to see their take on Australian Shiraz, and they’ll be pouring a few different editions.
Alexander Valley, California
The Jackson family do single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons, Chardonnays, and more, sourced from high-altitude estate vineyard plots in the Mayacamas Mountain Range above the Alexander Valley. Gentle use of French oak by winemaker Lisa Valtenbergs frames all of the pristine fruit on offer so everything is perfectly integrated.
Willamette Valley, Oregon
Sustainably farmed and family-owned since 1983, the wines of Illahe are all small-lot wines, and—talk about old-school—they even use horses in the vineyard for mowing the cover crops and bringing in the grapes at harvest. Pinot Noir fans will want to make a beeline for this table.
Blue Mountain Vineyard & Cellars
Okanagan Falls, British Columbia
Well, we can’t have a wine event in Vancouver without championing the home team, right? This is an auspicious year for Blue Mountain, as they’re celebrating their 25th year of making excellent estate wines from their stunning Okanagan Falls property. A member of the Mavety family will be on hand to share their stories and, of course, a little sparkling wine as well.
De Mour Propriétaire et Négociant
Because the opportunities to sip some kick-ass Bordeaux reds are way too few and far between.
After steady winetasting for an hour or two, I always get a little thirsty for a palate cleanser, and I know I’m not the only one. Keeping this in mind, we’ll have a slew of refreshing beverages on offer too, from the award-winning craft beer made by Mount Pleasant’s Main Street Brewing to local cider from Summerland’s Dominion Cider Co. and Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse from Vancouver Island.
And then, really, what is a winetasting without the opportunity to play around with a little food-pairing? The folks from Nelson the Seagull, Benton Brothers Fine Cheese, and Two Rivers Specialty Meats will be on hand.
So, come join the fun and see what’s been keeping me superbusy during the past couple of weeks, not to mention the event that’s been making me wake up at night with nightmares involving glassware not arriving or things of that nature. (We’ll have plenty of glassware, I promise.)
Pop over to TopDropVancouver.com for more information and tickets; I hope to see you there!
Top Drop Vancouver takes place next Wednesday and Thursday (September 7 and 8). For a complete list of events, visit the website.