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Victoria International Wine Festival 2023: Highlights and Top Wine Picks

Learn about what to expect at the Victoria International Wine Festival, my experience at the Grand Tasting and Perfect Pairings Seminar, and my top wine picks from the event.

Victoria International Wine Festival 2023: Highlights and Top Wine Picks

Last long weekend marked my first visit to Vancouver Island in two years, where I had the pleasure of attending the Victoria International Wine Festival (VICWF). This trip wasn't just about the wine; it was a wonderful reunion with friends, exploring the city, and hiking at the East Sooke Provincial Park. For those unfamiliar with VICWF, it's a celebration of wines from around the world, offering educational seminars, wine dinners, and grand tastings, all designed to educate attendees about the wine world.


Much like the Vancouver International Wine Festival, VICWF offers attendees the flexibility to choose from various events, including a grand tasting, and provides an on-site wine shop where you can purchase your favourite wines from the event. These festivals offer a fantastic opportunity to explore a wide range of wines that you might not come across in your everyday wine adventures and to discover new wineries and vintages.


During the festival, I had the chance to attend the afternoon grand tasting and the perfect pairings seminar. Let me take you through my experience at these events.


My Grand Tasting Experience

Victoria International Wine Festival

The grand tasting featured some familiar local BC wineries, including Phantom Creek, Wild Goose, and French Door, alongside an abundance of wines from different countries like Argentina, Italy, Spain, and Greece, thanks to importers. The United States was well-represented with six booths dedicated to California wines, and delightful cheese samples from artisan growers in Oregon stole the show.


I was particularly impressed by the American offerings at this event. The California wines were top-notch, and the Oregon cheeses, especially the sweet and spicy Rogue River Blue cheese from Rogue Creamery (voted the best cheese in the world in 2019), lived up to their reputation. With roughly 70 wines to taste, I should mention that the only way I survived was by making use of my spittoon cup, as consuming all of them would have left me quite “merry” by the end of the event. And I had more wine to savour at the Perfect Pairings seminar after the Grand Tasting.


My Top Wine Picks

Here are my top wine picks from the grand tasting, spanning from Spanish to Argentinian, Italian, and local BC wines.


White Wines

  1. Davila Rías Baixas O Rosal (Spain)

  2. Valmiñor Rías Baixas (Spain)

  3. Casale Del Giglio Bellone Anthium Lazio Bianco 2021 (Italy)

  4. Casale Del Giglio Petit Manseng Lazio Bianco 2021 (Italy)

  5. Wild Goose Late Harvest Gewürztraminer 2019 (BC, Canada)

  6. Wild Goose Gewürztraminer 2022 (BC, Canada)

  7. French Door Sauvignon Blanc 2022 (BC, Canada)

  8. Kendall Jackson Chardonnay Vintner’s Reserve 2021 (California, USA)


Red Wines

  1. Bermejo Listán Negro 2021 (Lanzarote, Spain)

  2. L'Erta di Radda Chianti Classico 2020 (Italy)

  3. Tiberio Montepulciano D’Abruzzo (Italy)

  4. Casale Del Giglio Cesanese Lazio Rosso 2021 (Italy)

  5. Cesanese Matidia Lazio Rosso 2021 (Italy)

  6. French Door Heritage French Blend 2020 (BC, Canada)

  7. Cambria Julia’s Vineyard Pinot Noir 2020 (California, USA)

  8. Sand Point Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 (California, USA)

  9. LangeTwins One Hundred Vineyard Petite Sirah 2019 (California, USA)

  10. Diora La Petite Grace Pinot Noir 2019 (California, USA)

  11. Salentein Numina Gran Corte 2018 (Argentina) – Bordeaux style blend

  12. Salentein Malbec 2020 (Argentina)


Perfect Pairings Seminar: The Art of Wine and Food Pairing

Perfect Pairings Seminar | Victoria International Wine Festival

The Perfect Pairings Seminar was a delightful experience where I had the opportunity to savour eight wine and food pairings curated by four local sommeliers. It was a treat not only tasting these pairings but also learning about the inspiration behind each choice. Pairings ranged from sweet and spicy to umami. This event highlighted the principle of "it goes with where it grows" meaning that often, the best pairings often come from the same region because the ingredients are grown in the same terroir. You’ll notice that some of the pairings listed below follow this principle.


Here are the wine and food pairings we enjoyed:

  1. Synchromesh Paddle Shift Riesling Spritzer (BC wine) paired with Kurkure Chilli Chatka chips.

  2. Concerto Lambrusco Reggiano DOC (Italian wine) with Parmigiano Reggiano.

  3. Bernard Defaix Saint Bris Sauvignon Blanc 2022 (French wine) with spinach salad with goat cheese from the Loire Valley and citrus vinaigrette.

  4. Lezèr Foradori Teroldego (Italian wine) with oysters.

  5. Selvapiana Chianti Rufina 2020 (Italian wine) with marinara penne and pecorino cheese (both from the same region).

  6. Little Farm Pied de Cuve Orange organic wine with a marinated boiled egg.

  7. La Frenz NV Liqueur Muscat Non-Vintage wine with Oregon Rogue River Blue cheese from Rogue Creamery and apricot.

  8. Fonseco Organic Reserve Tawny Port with Oregon Rogue River Blue cheese from Rogue Creamery and apricot.

Perfect Pairings Seminar | Victoria International Wine Festival
Wines tasted during the perfect pairings seminar following the numbers above from right to left

In summary, the Victoria International Wine Festival was a fantastic experience that allowed me to explore a wide range of wines and discover exceptional pairings. If you're ever considering hosting a dinner party or event at home, I highly recommend trying some of the wines and pairings listed above. Bon appetite!

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