There is no shortage of wine festivals for the avid wine lovers looking to swirl, sip, and savour. Cornucopia is one of the many festivals held annually, and because it is hosted in Whistler, it appeals to locals and international visitors alike. Previously a 5-day event, it is now an 11-day wine and food extravaganza that takes place throughout the village, with many of the events and seminars being held in the Whistler Conference Centre. Local participating restaurants serve their own culinary creations with featured wine pairings, while private homes host luncheons and dinners prepared by regional chefs.
Presented by BlueShore Financial, this year’s festival incorporates a healthy eating component, and yoga classes are offered to those looking for a break from the wine drinking. Now in its 17th year, you can bet that they’ve got this all down to a science by now. We were fortunate to be in Whistler for the first weekend to attend a few events.
Crush Gala Grand Tasting
This flagship tasting event offers an abundance of wines from dozens of international wineries. The Sea to Sky Ballroom of the Whistler Conference Centre is transformed into a vibrant atmosphere where wine lovers can connect with winemakers over 2 nights. Several distilleries were also in attendance for the spirits lovers.
The following is a list of wineries and vendors at this year’s Crush Gala:
Small canapés were available to complement the wines, but we were encouraged to eat beforehand. Wild mushroom ravioli and steak bites (from Sidecut Restaurant) are shown above.
Top 25 Celebratory Reception
This year’s festival charity recipient is the Whistler Public Library, and it was only fitting for the Top 25 Celebratory Reception to be held there. Ticket holders sampled the wines that made the top 25 wines list, which was selected by an expert panel. These wines represent the best of Cornucopia’s offerings. Also on site were Dairy Farmers of Canada’s award-winning cheeses to help pair the incredible wines.
Winners of 2013:
Top Bubble – Charles de Cazanove Brut Premier Cru NV
Top White – Fort Berens Estate Winery Chardonnay 2012
Top Red – Stoneboat Vineyards Pinot Noir 2011
Best of the Rest, in alphabetical order:
8th Generation Merlot 2011
8th Generation Riesling 2012
Antinori Bramito del Cervo Chardonnay 2011
Blasted Church Cabernet Merlot 2010
Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars Gold Label Brut NV
Calliope Viognier 2012
Chaberton Estate Winery AC 50 2008
Chateau Ste Michelle Columbia Valley Riesling 2011
Michael David 6th Sense Syrah 2011
Michael David 7 Deadly Zins 2011
Michael David Freakshow Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Michael David Petite Petit 2010
Mission Hill Family Estate Quatrain 2009
Noble Ridge Reserve Meritage 2008
Perseus Merlot 2011
Ramos Pinto Douro Duas Quintas Red 2010
Salvatore Molettieri Riserva Taurasi – Vigna Cinque Querce 2006
Santa Ana La Mascota Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Stoneboat Vineyards Piano Brut NV
Stoneboat Vineyards Pinotage 2011
Tightrope Winery Pinot Noir 2012
Bubbles Brunch: Quattro at Whistler
We enjoyed 4 sparkling wines from Italy that were paired with a 4-course lunch prepared by Executive Chef Jeremie Trottier. Quattro is part of the Quattro Restaurants that is owned and operated by Antonio Corsi, who also owns Gusto di Quattro in North Vancouver. It was a fabulous way to start our day.
Giusti Prosecco Doc Dry with Insalate Con Rucola (above centre)
Seared foie gras, arugula, apples, Giusti prosecco vinaigrette (above left)
Batasiolo “Bosc SLA Rei” Moscato D’Asti Docg 2012 with Zabaglione
Fresh fruit custard (strawberries and kiwi)
Alta Bistro – Test Kitchen
On our last night, we visited Chef Nick Cassettari and his culinary team to try their new winter menu. Having just expanded and doubled their main dining room, they re-opened just a few days before the start of Cornucopia. We were both pretty wined out, so we settled for cocktails and beers instead. We started off with a Sloe Gin Fizz for me, and the feature cocktail for Dennis called Nectar 75. Below are the dishes that we sampled.
Chilled Salt Spring Island Mussels (Left) – Crushed potatoes, srispy bacon, duck fat toast, egg yolk, hearts on fire mizuna salad, garlic aioli. It looks like there’s only one mussel, but the rest of them had actually been de-shelled. It’s a nice size for an appetizer, and being de-shelled made it really easy to eat.
Alberta Elk Tartar with Duck Liver Parfait (Right) – Parsley, endive, molasses rye bread, apple, sauteed shallots, cocoa nibs, duck fat powder. I got a little confused looking at this dish as it arrived, thinking it was dessert because I saw cocoa nibs and what looked like chocolate powder on the board. Upon further inspection, it was an interesting presentation and great execution by the chef. The elk meat was lean, and the duck fat powder just melts in your mouth.
Pork Cheeks Braised in Apple Cider (Left) – Rootdown Farm Fall squash, German butter potatoes, radicchio, grilled almonds, mustard vinaigrette, pickled raisins, fresh pear. These pork cheeks were tender and full of flavour from the cider. The mustard seeds looked a bit intimidating but were actually quite subtle in taste. This was our server’s favourite, and it’s easy to see why.
Rootdown Farm’s Organic Borlotti Bean Cassoulet (Right) – 2-hour poached hens egg, kohlrabi and zucchini noodles, fried salsify, orange butter, red Russian kale. The egg was beautifully poached and once broken, it coated the noodles and beans nicely. I find cassoulets can be bit on a heavier side, but this was a light dish that we both thoroughly enjoyed.
Textures of Organic Dark Chocolate (Left) – Cinzano Rosso, lemon, dried plum and star anise; Pink Peppercorn Semifreddo (Right) – Lemon curd, fresh raspberries, young basil, pistachio daquaise, Pink Lady apple
This weekend, we experienced the Cornucopian magic that took over Whistler. We normally enjoy Whistler during the ski/snowboard season, and we love the activities offered during the summer, but now there’s also a reason for us to visit Whistler in the fall. For more information on Cornucopia, check out their website. It’s running from now until November 17, so you still have time to go check it out!