Canada's Wine Show Season (May 10, 2000)
"Toronto is part of the international elite
So said Alexandra Marnier-Lapostolle, proprietor
of the Chilean winery Casa Lapostolle, at the opening press
conference to launch Santé - the Bloor-Yorkville Wine
Festival (May 4-7).
The event was launched officially when Donald
Ziraldo, proprietor of the Niagara-on-the-Lake winery, Inniskillin,
sabered a bottle of his sparkling Vidal Icewine 1998 (which
was quite a feat since he only bottles it in halves!)
The implication of Alexandras effusive statement
is that wine producers from Europe and New World regions cannot
afford to miss our city when they travel to promote their products.
Given the kind of hoops the LCBO makes them jump
through in order to get their wines on the shelves - and the
time it takes for the LCBO to actually pay for the wines they
sell - Im surprised that the overseas producers feel this
way about Toronto. But, on the subject of monopolies, if the
conductor owns the orchestra hes the guy who gets to waggle
the stick, I guess.
Santé, in its second year, did a highly
creditable job in attracting winemakers or winery owners from
12 countries to pour their wines and talk to consumers during
a variety of tastings, dinners and seminars. Including Ontario
producers, there were 75 wineries serving some 300 wines.
The event is modelled on the six-day Vancouver
Playhouse Wine Festival, held at the end of April and now in
its twenty-second year. Vancouver drew 158 wineries from 16
countries this year, including a massive contingent from the
theme country, Italy.
We have a lot to learn from Vancouver on how to
bring wine to the people. There was a real buzz in the city
about the event and all the educational seminars and dinners
appeared to be booked out, especially "Riesling - Wine
for All Reasons," which featured six German producers with
eight wines matched to different national cuisines.
Certainly, Santés Education Day on
Saturday (May 6) offered wine enthusiasts a host of wine seminars
conducted by leading international vintners at Bloor-Yorkville
hotels, restaurants and museum venues. I was particularly impressed
by the "Comparative Examination of Shiraz/Syrah" which
featured wines from Delas Frères in the Rhône alongside
two Australian Shiraz producers, St. Hallett and Mildara Blass
(got to admit, I still prefer Hermitage and Côte Rôtie).
The only disappointment was the low turn-out for
the VQA Ontario Winemakers Lunch. There was only one winemaker
from outside the province who showed up.
Best value wine I tried during Santé: Quinta
do Crasto 1998, a red from the Douro Valley, coming to Vintages
in August at $14.95.