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Don’t get fooled by October’s unusually warm embrace. Fall is here, or at least it’s on its way. Truly. But in the meantime, we may as well continue to seize the days of sun that linger on.
There’s no way the barbecue is getting covered and corralled away just yet, it’s time to continue having some wine and food fun, a theme emphasized by this week’s three fresh and exciting bottles.
Ernesto del Palacio 2020 Toro Blanco, Spain ($19.99, #439112)
White wine from Spain doesn’t get enough attention. Yes, the reds are easy to love — not to mention fairly omnipresent — making the whites easy to overlook. But take a gander and there are some real gems, from White Rioja to the Albariño-based whites from Rías Baixas. There’s also this new bottle from the Toro region just west of Rueda. Similar to its neighbour, Verdejo is the white grape of focus in Toro, and this enticing blanco is 95 per cent Verdejo with a five per cent splash of Malvasia. The result is wonderfully textural, aromatic wine showing honeysuckle, apple, and tropical fruit. Pair with chicken or fish in a cream sauce.
Bottom line: B+, Robust yet fresh
Quinta da Lixa 2021 Vinhão, Portugal ($16.99, #494269)
Red Vinho Verde? Yes, indeed. While more likely to associate Vinho Verde with crisp, lively white wines, the Vinhão grape reminds that the region produces reds as well — about 40 per cent of total production, in fact. It’s an interesting grape: thick-skinned yet typically producing a lighter-bodied wine. So while Quinta da Lixa pours a dense, vibrant purple in the glass it actually tastes quite lively, with evident acidity complementing its bold, floral and crushed berry fruit nuances before a fresh finish. The wine’s a heady mix overall, one that takes well with everything from burgers to tacos, and could even stand a quick chill in the fridge on warmer evenings.
Bottom line: A-, Great value
Pino Román 2021 Páis, Chile (around $37, available at select private wine stores)
Finally, a red that is not just fun and fresh, but also funky. In all the right ways, it should be added. Pino Román’s Páis is sourced from old bush vines grown in Chile’s cooler-climate, southern Itata Valley zone. Páis was historically planted here for workhorse, high-yielding bulk wine production, but in the right hands, as this case, the grape shows its true potential character and raw elegance. Juicy berry fruit, brambly funk, spice, and a nice mineral streak are highlighted in this engaging, deft red. If the BBQ is still out, bring on grilled lamb chops or smoky eggplant.
Bottom line: B+, Rugged elegance
The Swirl: Township 7 Grape Stomp
It’s back. Township 7 is again hosting their harvest-celebrating Grape Stomp at their South Langley winery (21152 16th Avenue — at 212th St.). Taking place the weekend of Oct. 22-23 with multiple heats running from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Each day teams of six to eight grape stompers will gather to crush the competition alongside live music and food trucks. Costumes are encouraged, and prizes will be handed out for Best Stomp, Best Team Spirit, and Best Costumes. The cost is $320 per team and includes a bottle of Township 7 wine, with proceeds for this fundraiser benefiting Ronald McDonald House B.C. & Yukon. For complete details and to register a team head to township7.com/events/.