The theme country is Italy for this year's Vancouver International Wine Festival, and never has a festival sold out so quickly.

On The Coast's master of wine, Barbara Philip, says wine lovers are drawn to the depth, diversity and quality of what Italy has to offer.

"Clearly, consumers are excited about Italian wine and want to come out to taste and learn more," Philip told On The Coast guest host Chris Brown. "What makes Italy so exciting is its unparalleled range of grape varieties and wine styles."

With 60 Italian producers attending and well over 300 wines available for sampling in the festival tasting room, Philip says it was difficult to narrow down this week's recommendations to just four.

Specogna Friulano. Friuli Colli Orientali DOC. Friuli. 2014. $22.99

"Friulano is the signature variety of the Friuli region and the best are from the hills in the Colli Orientali DOC. The Specogna has a perfumed nose of dried flowers and preserved lemon, while the palate has a waxy texture balanced by citrusy freshness. This has enough power to stand up to grilled fish or roasted white meats."

Mancinelli. Lacrima di Morro d'Alba Superiore DOC. Marche. 2013. $29.99

"This wine is so unique! Medium-bodied and floral-toned, it should be slightly chilled before serving. Look for crunchy cherries, purple berries and dried roses on the palate. Match it with orange and fennel-scented sausage."

Rocca delle Macie. Roccato. Tuscany. 2009. $43.99

"One of the well-established 'Super Tuscans,' roccato is a blend of equal parts sangiovese and cabernet sauvignon. It has a great deal of finesse and manages to maintain its Italian qualities — savouriness and juiciness — with the black currant flavours and chalky tannins of the cabernet. I recommend rare ribsteak."

Montresor. Amarone DOCG. Veneto. 2012 $40.99

"Semi-dried grapes give amarone its intensity of flavour with dried cherry, sweet herbs and plum. The Montresor has a good, savory freshness that keeps it highly drinkable. Try with a simple pairing like gorgonzola cheese."