Wine Tips From Samantha Rahn – Get Ready For Cornucopia

“Drinking good wine with good food in good company is one of life’s most civilized pleasures.”
– Michael Broadbent

Samantha Rahn – Wine Director of Araxi Restaurant + Bar (boasting a highly acclaimed 11,000 bottle library), and the 2013 VIWF + Vancouver Magazine Sommelier of the Year takes us through her top-shelf wine picks, covering an extensive range of grape varieties from some of the world’s most celebrated wine regions.

Champagne Le Mesnil ‘Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs’, Champagne, France NV $46.99
Le Mesnil is a famous village in the Champagne region renowned for its complex Chardonnay based wines (blanc de blancs – white bubbles made from 100% white grapes, by law) and this treasure is made by a local co-op there.  It’s far and away the best value in Grand Cru Champagne and is usually in stock in most BC Liquor Store’s and definitely worth keeping a few bottles on hand, just in case.

Bollinger Special Cuvee, Champagne, France NV $69.99
This sophisticated Champagne, the preferred tipple of James Bond now that he’s moved on from just martinis, is finally available again in good supply after several months’ absence in BC.  Great Champagne is always a worthy splurge for your special occasions, celebrations, and just because you deserve it!

Gustav Lorentz ‘Burg’ Riesling, Alsace, France $36
It’s time we started rethinking Riesling!  Many people live under the stereotype that it’s all light, sweet stuff and don’t venture past their Blue Nun memories into the world of Alsace, Austria and Australia (just to name a few) regions to try some glorious, dry examples.  Burg is a ‘lieu dit’, a named place (think: single site or vineyard) and produces a fuller bodied, dry wine that goes with a world of cuisine from fish and veggies to lighter meat dishes, including smoked meats.

Hamilton Russel Chardonnay, Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, South Africa $39.49
We don’t get a huge selection of South African wines in BC in general, but this one, generally considered one of the great Chardonnays of the world by sommeliers and top critics everywhere, arrives in decent quantity once a year and is available now (but likely not for long) in select BC liquor stores.  It’s a steal given the quality of the wine, and very cellar worthy in the short to medium term.  I collect this wine for my personal cellar at home, and always stock up as much as I can for Araxi.  This is great chance to get out of the ‘same old Chardonnay’ rut with something truly special.

Chateau d’Esclans ‘Whispering Angel’, Cotes de Provence, France $28.99
Great value at under $30, this is the world’s #1 rose, and for good reason:  it’s delicious!  Palest pink, totally dry, and rose is so hot, hot, hot even as we roll into the dog days of summer.  Perfect for sipping on its own, and dangerously so, this is a serious example that has a proper French affinity to food.

Foxtrot ‘Foxtrot Vineyard’ Pinot Noir, Naramata, Okanagan, BC $70
If BC had a system like parts of France to classify vineyards on a ‘cru’ system, the Foxtrot Vineyard on the beautiful Naramata Bench would certainly be up there.  Great Pinot Noir is hard to do, but starting with a great ‘terroir’, which includes the soil, the climate, and a smart, committed vineyard and winemaking team, head winemaker Gustav Allander is getting it done vintage after vintage.  The wine ages beautifully and is great local addition to any cellar, and the perfect match for grilled wild salmon on the BBQ.

Barone Ricasoli ‘Castello di Brolio’ Chianti Classico Riserva, Tuscany, Italy $75
Yes, there is a real ‘Barone’ presiding over the historic ‘Castello’ in the heart of the Chianti region.  This is one of the flagship Chiantis of the whole region, in a full bodied, rich style with layers of flavor and gorgeous aromas from its base grape, sangiovese.  Tuscany is on a string of great vintages and this is a good one to collect, or drink with a special Sunday roast dinner with lots of local harvest vegetables.

Quinta do Crasto ‘Reserva Old Vines’, Douro, Portugal $37.99
Do you love Cabernet, or other big, full-bodied reds, but looking for an adventure?  This is the wine for you.  It consistently scores well over 90 points with big critics like Wine Spectator, providing maximum bang for your buck.  Portuguese table wines are trendy right now, and this is one of the big reasons why.  Pour it blind for your red loving friends and family and make yourself the hero of the day.

*all pricing is based on approximation before TAX.

Have a crush on wine? The list of not-to-miss events is extensive, below is just a snapshot.
Cornucopia presented by BlueShore Financial’s Cellar Door event welcomes guests to the world of fine wines, uncorking top-shelf bottles of wine and champagne ($35 and up) to sip, savour and salivate over. Indulge, and live the high-life when Cornucopia opens the Cellar Door.

At Cornucopia’s Top 25 Celebratory Reception, The Picnic Chef’s Choice Cookbook Launch Party, a plethora of winemaker dinners and of course CRUSH Grand Gala Tasting, Cornucopia’s flagship gala event, attendees can swirl, sniff, sip, swallow, and savor wines from the world’s top-most regions, all in the one evening.

You can find Samantha Rahn sharing her expansive wine knowledge at a number of seminars and event; including: He Said / She Said – November 5,  Top Value Wines with acclaimed wine authorities DJ Kearney and David Scholefield – November 8, Whistler’s Wine “Transplants” – November 8 and  The Cool Kids – November 11 with local ‘Whistlerite’ Eric Blouin.

Cornucopia presented by BlueShore Financial brings together the best minds in the business, and gathers them in the stunning coastal mountain resort of Whistler for 11 delectable days. To secure your seat at Cornucopia’s much-anticipated events, parties, demonstrations and seminars visit:

An Abundance Of Gastronomic Journeys Announced – Cornucopia’s 11 Delicious Days Just Got Tastier

From winemaker dinners, to master-mixologist sessions, culinary demonstrations and after parties – Cornucopia has established itself as one of B.C.’s premier food + drink festivals.  This year, Cornucopia presented by BlueShore Financial, boasts a loaded calendar of events, from festival favourites to a multitude of new and exciting seminars, events, tastings and more – and tickets are now on sale!

Curious? Below is a snippet of the new and true to whet your whistle events:

Cornucopia’s kick-off weekend sees the return of the much-loved festival favourites: House Party: Best of B.C. (November 5) opening the doors to British Columbia’s land of plenty, featuring local food, wine, beer and liquor. CRUSH Gala Grand Tasting (November 7), the flagship tasting event, takes guests on a magic carpet ride to the topmost wine regions in the world. With a Twist (November 8), the signature mixology seminar places attendees in the proverbial driver’s seat, to pick and choose their cocktail creations.

There’s a new gala in town – BREWED: B.C. Craft Brewers Guild Winter Beer Market is the tasting event that beer aficionados have long been waiting for. BREWED invites beer-enthusiasts to kick-start the winter season sampling from over 40 local craft brewers’ winter recipes. Chestnut, pumpkin, caramel and chocolate are among the seasonal flavours you might encounter at BREWED – where hops, barley and malt take centre stage.

Fancy yourself more an oenophile? He Said / She Said – Food Fght & Wine Pairing (November 14) is a new and sassy ‘battle of the sexes’ addition to the seminar series, leading this spirited discussion about the pleasures and pitfalls of pairing food and wine are local Sommeliers Eric Blouin and Samantha Rahn. Each host will recommend (and defend) wine pairings for each of four dishes to be plated. Learn how to fearlessly and effectively match food and wine.

The Picnic: Chef’s Choice Cookbook Launch Party (November 12) is the newest celebration of Whistler’s culinary talent. Chefs from some of your favourite Whistler restaurants will prepare recipes from The Chef’s Choice Cookbook – patrons taste the results which are all paired with excellent wines and for “dessert”? Take home a copy of the cookbook!

Explore the diverse selection of events and seminars, led by the best minds in the business – tickets for the highly anticipated fall festival, Cornucopia taking place November 5 – 15 are now on sale!

Whistler’s (Not So) Secret Love Affair With Food And Wine Continues To Grow. Get Your Tickets Today!

It’s no secret that Whistler has a long-standing crush on food and drink – evidence of this can be seen in the multitude of awards and accolades won by Whistler restaurateurs and the wine, liquor, beer and cider choices from the B.C region. Whistler has also become a hub for health and wellness, inspired by the natural bounty all around.  All this and more synthesizes in a grand spectacle and celebration every November at Cornucopia, Whistler’s celebration of food and drink.

BREWED: BC Craft Brewers Guild Winter Beer Market
Now celebrating its 19th year, Cornucopia, renowned for its well-established offering of signature gala tasting events has added a new and exciting tasting for 2015 — BREWED: BC Craft Brewers Guild Winter Beer Market taking place on Sunday, November 15. BREWED kickstarts the holiday drinking season with a grand tasting of craft winter beers from BC’s best breweries and some wintery good-times.

NOURISH: Health & Wellness
The Nourish Health and Wellness series at Cornucopia.  Eat, drink and get nourished in two different ways at Cornucopia. For 2015, Cornucopia launches the brand-new Nourish Retreat at Cornucopia, where soul-seekers can commit, retreat-style to the first dynamic weekend of Cornucopia. This full package of Nourish wellness programming plus Cornucopia spice gives you three nights and four days dedicated to your mind, body and spirit.

Or, choose your Nourish workshops a la carte with the Nourish: Health and Wellness Series and drop in to workshops and sessions that speak to your specific interests.  There is something here to nourish everyone.  From yoga to cooking demonstrations, join us in movement, breath, and farm-to-table dining as you’ve never experienced before. Emerge with an understanding of your personal wellness needs and a greater sense of your place in this vast, beautiful world.

The full schedule of events from gala tastings, Chef’s Table Luncheons, educational seminars to winery dinners are listed on Cornucopia’s brand new website and tickets for this year’s festival (November 5-15) are now on sale.

Check out Cornucopia’s 7 Signature Tasting Events fro 2015:

House Party: Best of B.C. (November 5) is one of Whistler’s most scrumptious events of the year. As the official kick-off for the 2015 festival, House Party invites guests to let their hair down and delight in the best of local talent in music, food and drink, we invite you to our house.  Indulge in BBQ from our backyard, home-grown vodka, micro-brewed beer and much more from BC’s land of plenty. Get your ticket HERE.

Cellar Door (November 6) unlocks the gate to the world of fine wines, uncorking top-shelf bottles of wine and champagne ($35 and up) to sip, savour and salivate over. Indulge, and live the high-life when Cornucopia opens the Cellar Door. Get your ticket HERE.

CRUSH Gala Grand Tasting (November 7) is the signature tasting event of Cornucopia, creating a vibrant atmosphere for attendees to sip, savour and sample their way through the night. From New-World to Old-World, sparkling to Champagne, an opportunity to discover a new gem, or ten! This event is for those who have a (not so) secret wine love affair. Get your ticket HERE.

With a Twist (November 8) places attendees in the proverbial driver’s seat, to pick and choose their cocktail creations, taking world-class mixologists and teaming them with an array of liquors and mixes to deliver cocktails beyond expectation. Get your ticket HERE.

Cornucopia Night Market | Taste of the World (November 13) is a night-market unveiling flavours and aromas from around of the globe. This unique, festival-favourite explores the adaptability of wine, beer and liquor when paired with international cuisine. Explore the exotic, culinary delights of the world all in one evening. Get your ticket HERE.

POURED (November 14) POURED: The Full Spectrum of Taste. POURED is the absolute tasting experience in wine, spirits, cider, beer and food. Anchoring the second Saturday of Cornucopia, POURED doles out the full spectrum of what the industry has to offer in a spirited night of music and revelry.
Get your ticket HERE.

*NEW* BREWED: BC Craft Brewers Guild Winter Beer Market (November 15) provides beer lovers with the opportunity to kickstart the winter season sampling a sneak peek of local brewers’ winter recipes. Get your ticket HERE.

Whether looking to broaden your knowledge of the intricacies in wine pairing, interested in exploring the craft of cooking, or simply looking for a culinary-inspired journey crafted by the best minds in the business – Cornucopia, is the answer.

Visit to purchase tickets now on sale and to stay up to date on the latest information

Save The Date: Cornucopia, Whistler’s Celebration Of Food + Drink Returns November 5-15, 2015

As spring arrives and the digging, planting and growing begins we time travel to harvest when the anticipation ends and the fruits of our labours are ripe for the tasting. Fast forward to November 5-15, 2015 and to Whistler BC, where Cornucopia, presented by BlueShore Financial, Whistler’s Festival of Food and Drink, begins and the incredible variety and flavours of BC and beyond are celebrated with gusto.

Building on the success of Cornucopia’s expanded 11 day format and a 19 year history, this festival continues to be a celebration for the senses, honouring all things food and drink.  From the ever-famous CRUSH Grand Gala Tasting, to Nourish Health and Wellness, Cornucopia brings together worldly gourmands and old world tradition with new craft brewers, and small batch distillers, master gardeners and master chefs. 2015 will feature 6 signature tastings and brand new parties that draw thousands of attendees to daytime and after-dark events.

Check out POURED, a sampling of cider, beer, wine and spirits complimented with a selection of tapas. With a Twist will be back and spirit aficionados can choose their own cocktail adventure. Cellar Door presents a selection of wines when you need to impress. Chef’s Luncheons, The Culinary Stage Series and winery dinners highlighting culinary creations celebrating local fare from Whistler’s renowned chefs and beyond fill out the schedule of events for all tastes and budgets.

As anticipation builds for Cornucopia 2015 builds, check back with us often at for all the latest developments.