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Chile takes center stage at top North American wine festival

Winemakers from Chile are preparing to wow an international crowd gathering on Canada’s west coast for the 2012 Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival.

The International Festival Tasting Room. Photo by Dave Niddrie.

The International Festival Tasting Room. Photo by Dave Niddrie.

One of North America’s largest celebrations of wine, the festival runs from February 27 to March 4 and brings together more than 25,000 wine lovers and experts.

Every year, the festival chooses a theme country to highlight – and this year, that country is Chile! Wines of Chile will present a delegation of 35 visiting Chilean wineries and 500 Chilean wines, with Chile featuring in 12 festival events.

Chile is set to make a big impression on Vancouver, says the festival: “Chile’s amazing viticultural range, unique varietals like Carmenere, seafood-friendly wines, sustainable commitments and world renowned winemakers make it a country festival attendees will never forget.”

Juan Somavía, Managing Director of Wines of Chile, said that Vancouver is a huge opportunity to communicate today’s Chilean wines: “Canada is a key market for Chilean wines, and we are delighted to have the opportunity to share the New Chile with Canadian industry heads and wine lovers alike.”

Spotlight on Chilean wineries

Visitors can explore all participating Chilean wineries in one special section of the festival’s enological heart: the International Festival Tasting Room at the Vancouver Convention Center.  Here participants will also find the Wines of Chile Focus Station, comparing three different varietals from Chile: Sauvignon Blanc, Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon.

The wineries themselves will take the spotlight in specific events such as Monday’s “Excellence of Nature” dinner, where Viña Emiliana showcases organic and biodynamic wines, and Wednesday’s “Northern Gem, Southern Icon,” where Concha y Toro’s Enrique Tirado will lead guests through the vineyard’s iconic wines at the acclaimed Blue Water Cafe.

Also on Wednesday is “West Coast Montes,” where Viña Montes Chairman Aurelio Montes will host an event at Vancouver’s West Restaurant, serving up the best food and wine on offer from the Pacific coasts of Chile and Canada. On Friday, wine lovers will join Viña Santa Rita to “Celebrate Casa Real,” sampling eight vintages of the historic winery’s much-admired super premium wine.

Eduardo Chadwick, the pioneering president of Viña Errázuriz, will take the stage on Thursday in “Chadwick’s Iconic Quest,” discussing his vision to produce greater expressions of Chile’s terroir, inspired by some of the world’s top wine regions. Visitors will have the chance to try some of the key Chilean wines that shaped the country’s journey towards the super premium world wine stage.

Concha y Toro’s iconic Don Melchor will be the focus of the Wednesday seminar “Don Melchor: Behind the Blend,” where Tamara Baeremaecker, a Don Melchor winemaker, will discuss the historic Cabernet Sauvingon that is credited with bringing Chilean premium wines to the attention of the world. Participants will be able to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime intimate tasting of the seven parcels of Don Melchor, as well as two selected vintages.

Flavors of a top wine nation

And it’s not just Chile’s rich and varied wine flavors that will be on show in Vancouver. Lucky guests will also get a taste of the Andean nation’s unique culinary flavors, as Wines of Chile flies out top Chilean chef Pilar Rodriguez to add a local touch to the festival’s many Chilean food-and-wine events.

Rodriguez’ Cordon-Bleu trained eye and wine expertise will leave their mark on events like “Taste Chile,” a wine and canapé evening at the Waldorf Hotel, as well as the “Excellence of Nature” and “Chilean Crush” dinners.

And for those after some real gastronomic magic with a Chilean twist, the “Celebrate Chile” event is a must. Wines of Chile has challenged chef Blair Rasmussen to create a Chilean-themed menu to pair with 70 Chilean wines, and guests will be expecting some amazing synergies between Canada’s Pacific Northwest cuisine and the authentic flavors of Chile.

For a full schedule with dates, times and locations of events, see the festival website.

The International Festival Tasting Room. Photo by Dave Niddrie.

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