Column: Food and drink at the Vancouver International Wine Festival

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Taste the world at the Vancouver International Wine Festival.

One of the joys of the Vancouver International Wine Festival is the opportunity to experience wines you’ve never tasted before! And several events have paired wines with gourmet cuisine showcasing the two partners. On the first night of the festival, I attended the Bodega Garzon Uruguay dinner at Hydra Estiatorio Mediterranean in Vancouver.

Wine lovers in British Columbia are very familiar with South American wines from Chile and Argentina, but Uruguay is often unfamiliar. It is a small nation next to Argentina, but it ranks fourth in wine production of this continent.

Bodega Garzon’s iconic wines continue to amaze the world and make Uruguay’s history. Their premium wines have been included in Wine & Spirits Magazine’s and Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines.

Throughout the celebratory dinner, Winemaker Garzon Mele Sosa and North America Wine Educator expertly guided us as her award-winning wines were paired with a sumptuous seven-course Mediterranean dinner prepared by the Executive Chef of Hydra, Brad Scharien.

The party started with a refreshing scallop and watermelon ceviche with cilantro oil, citrus fruits and black sesame. It was served with a 2019 Garzon Estate Pinot Noir Rosé de Corte ($20.99). Vinified in a delicate dry Provençal style, this rosé had notes of strawberry, cherry and blackberry with freshness and minerality, which was a good start for the festive evening ahead!

Next was Shrimp Tortellini Saganaki with Warm Potato Feta Dressing. This was paired with a delicious 2020 Garzon Reserva Albarino ($25.49) which scored 95 points in Decanter Magazine. The Albarino was intense with peach and citrus notes. Sosa called it “a sip of the ocean” with its minerality. There is also freshness with remarkable acidity and a crisp finish.

Next comes a salad of heirloom beets and Myzithra cheese, with a crispy mushroom and walnut “sol” and micro arugula. Their wonderful flavors and textures were complemented by the 2019 Garzon Reserve Tannat ($25.49). Tannat is Uruguay’s number one wine. I loved the juicy, full-bodied red with its seductive aroma of violets and flavors of plum and licorice. The tannats have a reputation for being very tannic, but the Garzon had ripe, smooth tannins, which paired beautifully with the earthy beets, Greek cheese and mushroom and nut “soil”. It ends on a distinctive spicy note.

Course #4 was Ahi tuna carpaccio with marinated wild mushrooms, grilled kataifi and aioli. The tuna was accompanied by a 2018 Garzon Estate Cabernet de Corte ($20.99), a splendid blend of Cabernet Franc, Tannat, Merlot and Marselan. Aromas of spice, fresh herbs, raspberries, plums and pepper with flavors of sweet dark fruits and berries along with a silky texture were so delicious that I bought a case!

The #5 Braised course featured Short Rib Dolmades with Avgolemono Cabbage, Crepe and Sour Pasta Pearls. To accompany it, we sampled a 2016 Garzon Single Vineyard Petit Verdot ($42.99), a complex red with dark fruit and vanilla on the nose, with blackberry, raspberry, blueberry on the palate. . A delicious Greek-Uruguayan wedding!

Course #6 was grilled rack of lamb with cauliflower skordalia, baby carrots, roasted radishes and wine reduction. We were served a 2017 Garzon Balasto ($102.99), which was awarded 93 points by Wine Spectator. It is a blend of 50% Tannat, 40% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot and 5% Marselan, fermented in cement vats and aged for 20 months in unroasted French oak barrels. Expect notes of blackberries, cassis and sweet oak on the nose and dark fruit and pepper with forest floor and chewy tannins on the palate. Balasto and lamb, a superb pairing!

Finally, course #7 was dark chocolate olive oil cake with pistachio and meringue. To close out the wine and food extravaganza, we sipped on a 2017 Garzon Reserva Marselan ($24.49). Marselan is a cross between Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon created in France in 1961. A complex bouquet is born from the glass with red fruits, minerals, mint and eucalyptus. On the palate, there were expressive red fruits and minerals with chewy tannins and a long finish. Red wine and dark chocolate! Enough to end a gastronomic adventure of 3h30!

To order any of these Garzon wines by the case from Uruguay’s premium winery, contact Mark Anthony Wines & Spirits at [email protected] or 604-264-4043.

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