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Vive la France at the Vancouver International Wine Fest

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Maison Louis Latour is among the more than 40 French wineries pouring at the 2020 Vancouver International Wine Festival. (Photo by Claudia Laroye for Vacay.ca)

The 42nd annual celebration of the Vancouver International Wine Festival has seen the culinary event’s focus return to that powerhouse of viticulture, France.

There are 42 French wineries featured at the festival this year, including Maison Louis Latour. Founded in 1797, this 11th-generation, family-owned winery located on the hill of Corton in the heart of Burgundy remains committed to preserving its heritage while adapting to 21st-century challenges such as shifts in the environment and consumer tastes.

“To date, changes in the climate in Burgundy have resulted in an acceleration of the phenological cycle,” noted Mark Allen, area director of Maison Louis Latour. Vineyard managers have noted earlier budding, flowering and harvest of the grapes, but no decline in yield or wine quality.

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Sea bass, served with mascarpone-thyme tortellini, was paired with Louis Latour’s 2016 Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru at Coast Restaurant during the 2020 Vancouver International Wine Fest. (Photo by Claudia Laroye for Vacay.ca)

This was welcome news for the fans of French and Maison Latour wine who converged in downtown Vancouver for “Burgundy and Beyond”, one of the Vancouver wine fest’s sold-out dining events taking place nightly until March 1. The spectacular meal, hosted by Allen and Maison Louis Latour, paired the winery’s offerings with an outstanding west-coast menu from Brad Scharien, executive chef of Coast Restaurant.

Over the span of the six-course menu, diners were treated to locally sourced produce and seafood like crab and lamb, with flavours amplified by French classics such as pommes Anna, pea consommé, and foie gras. The complex notes of the “Grand Dame”, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2016, paired beautifully with the pan-roasted sea bass, mascarpone-thyme tortellini, roasted carrot puree, sweet pea consommé, and uni emulsion. Allen noted that the 2016 production of Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru is equal to that of 1990, one of the best years in the history of Latour wines.

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Oysters and French wine — two of the best things in life — were beautifully matched at Vancouver’s Coast during the city’s annual wine festival. (Claudia Laroye photo for Vacay.ca)

Diners were introduced to the new darling of Maison Latour, the “Les Pierres Dorées” Pinot Noir. Maison Latour began planting pinot noir grapes in 2010, with its first harvest in 2015. The 2018 Pierres Dorées has a deep garnet colour, rich palate of strawberry and fig flavours. It complemented the porcini-crusted lamb rack with mixed wild mushrooms, braised sunchokes, and sage-walnut pesto very well.

The flagship Château Corton Grancey Grand Cru 2015 wine offered an intense and balanced palate of cassis, blackberry, and licorice for Scharien’s tenderloin-foie gras Wellington and pommes Anna with caramelized apple purée, and buttered asparagus.

The final course pairing of the Volney 1er Cru “En Chevret” 2015 with the dessert of a small round of roquefort cheesecake with a cocoa crust and poached pears made diners’ eyes light up with surprised delight. The classic flavour combinations of cheese, pear, and wine made for a wonderfully satisfying finish to a memorable dining experience.

MORE ABOUT THE 2020 VANCOUVER WINE FEST

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French wines are always in style, especially so at the 42nd Vancouver International Wine Fest. (Adrian Brijbassi photo for Vacay.ca)

Dates: February 22 to March 1
Details: The festival features more than 50 events, with 44 of them open to the public. The heart of the festival is the Tasting Room at the Vancouver Convention Centre, where the public can choose from around 725 wines at four International Festival Tastings during the course of the event’s eight-day run.
Tickets: Purchase online at the festival website or telephone 604-873-3311 or 1-877-321-312 (toll free). Tasting Room events range from $105-$125 per person. Many winery dinners at restaurants and symposium have sold out early. This link lists what events are still available for purchase.

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Claudia is a travel writer and editor in Vancouver, Canada. She writes about adventure, family, food and wine, luxury and sustainable travel for print and online publications around the world. In addition to travel, Claudia loves chocolate, guacamole and pineapple margaritas.