Weekend Recap - 2014 NSLC Port Of Wines Festival

We just completed a great weekend of wine at the 2014 NSLC Port of Wines Festival. We were fortunate to be able to pour some wines for both the afternoon and evening sessions of the Friday show. It was our first time pouring at the show and it was a super fun time.

We were volunteers for Mer et Soleil a local wine importing company and had a very interesting time pouring some very interesting French wines. Shannon poured the Terraburdigala Roc de Jean Lys (70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc) and Thienpont Bordeaux White (75% Sauvignon Blanc and 25% Semillion). I was lucky enough to pour the Brut and Rose from the Deutz Champagne House as well as the Famille Bougrier Muscadet.

The crowds were very enthusiastic and lively and pouring these wines for them was really great. Friday afternoon was a lot of hospitality industry staff along with some folks who are making a day of things whereas Friday evening was much busier with a more 'traditional' crowd of wine lovers and fun seekers. The wines were well received and both the Terraburdigala wines and the Deutz champagnes were getting rave reviews from the tasters. It was busy but the three hours per show passed very quickly. After Friday we were exhausted and it felt like I had done a double-shift back behind the bar (a place I haven't been in almost 20 years). Sore is probably the best description.

Saturday was a different matter as we were back on the other side of the tasting tables looking for some great finds of which we found plenty.  New Zealand had some very solid wines this year and the two standouts we purchased were the Astrolabe Sauvignon Blanc and the Stoneleigh Pinot Noir. We found a couple of great Malbecs from Argentina (Trapiche Gran Medalla) and a couple of good wines from Australia (Paringa Cabernet Sauvignon). Some great Italian wines (Arele Appassimento), a couple Spanish wines (a couple of Borsao wines), a few Americans (Jekel Cab Sauv) round out the three cases we purchased. That's right three cases because the wine blog's needs are many. We probably would have gotten more if there hadn't been a few sellouts during the show and if we had unlimited luggage space. That should cover us for at least a couple of months. Stay tuned for more reviews coming here very soon.

This is our 8th straight year attending and we haven't really been to many wine festivals like this to compare but each year it seems to get bigger and better. Last year we were lucky enough to be VIP guests of Air Miles where we received a fantastic and more personal look at the wines with food pairings. It was a very unique and memorable experience.

The wines chosen for the show this year were overall really strong. Mer et Soleil came to the show with a great set of wines and we were so happy to pour for them but top to bottom the price points were good with a lot more wines this year in our wheelhouse of $35 and under. There were definitely more this year in the $18 to $25 than in the previous couple of years and that is great to see. We did try a couple of higher end wines well because we could. The Deutz Brut and Rose champagnes were $65 and $80 respectively. We also tried a great 2009 Catena Zapata Nicolás at $68 and a 2011 Penfold Bin 150 Marananga Shiraz at $60. Great wines of that there is no doubt but we then took those taste profiles and tried to find wines where the first digit in the price was a 3 or less. We think we found a couple but we'll let you know.

If you have never attended the festival we can't say enough good things but if you decide to attend here are three tips:

1) Taste and dump (and/or spit) if you can to save your next couple of days from a state of misery
2) Don't try to taste everything - you will only get so far and potentially miss some great regions/wines so try and plan your attack
3) Drink water - lots and lots of water and eat before you go AND during (cheese/veggies/bread)

Other than that it is an absolute blast and we are already planning for next year.

Keep on tasting!

Chris & Shannon


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