Ask Sid: What is the punt?

July 26th, 2017
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punt wine bottle bottom

Question: What is a punt?

Answer: The word has various meanings from kicking the ball in football to a flat bottomed boat. However with reference to wine it is that indentation at the bottom of the bottle. Some old wine bottles and some heavy newer ones have very deep punts. It helps to collect the sediment and is a useful design for the pressure build-up in sparkling wines. Also is a place to put your thumb when pouring out the contents of the wine bottle.


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La Grand Paulee Highlights Successful 1st Burgundy Week in London

July 24th, 2017

La Grand Paulee Highlights Successful 1st Burgundy Week in London

Your scribe is an enthusiastic supporter of all Paulee events. These always offer a chance to meet winemakers and fellow wine collectors with an opportunity to share a variety of top Burgundies. The original one La Paulee de Meursault is a long exciting Monday lunch as the final part of Les Trois Glorieuses held on the third weekend each November and has become an important international wine event. Your scribe has been fortunate to taste many memorable bottles there. This has inspired many other versions including those hosted by American sommelier Daniel Johnnes as La Paulee de New York & La Paulee de San Francisco. Montreal celebrated their second edition at the end of April this year. Many branches of La Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin hold their own local Paulees including an outstanding yearly one held each August in Vancouver with a specific theme bottle to bring along – this year any vintage of Grand Cru Chablis. So it was with great anticipation to attend June 22, 2017 the first La Grand Paulee at Cabotte Burgundian restaurant 48 Gresham Street in the East End of London to finish up their inaugural londonburgundyweek.com. Check out the site for more details on the events, the winemakers, and merchants. What a wonderful final evening!

Menu: Confit Rabbit Leg Consomme with Summer Vegetables; Jambon Persille Ham & Parsley Terrine with Capers & Cornichons; Cotswold White “Poulet Gaston Gerard” & Grilled Poitou Asparagus; Selection of French Cheeses from Androuet.

Wines: Beautifully orchestrated by Master Sommeliers Gearoid Devaney & Xavier Rousset. So thrilled to taste so many top Burgundy wines and managed to scrawl short notes on 31 0f them (9 white & 22 red) as they were passed around:

2014 Meursault Les Narvaux Domaine Ballot-Millot Magnum: Fresh lighter bodied stylish very Meursault

2012 Puligny Montrachet Les Referts Louis Jadot 3 Litre: Richer but even fresher this large format & so structured Breed

2002 Puligny Montrachet Les Enseigneres Coche-Dury: Premox issues but still shows some class of top producer

2006 Meursault Coche-Dury: Only an AC wine but so elegant balanced and complex. Arguably the top white for pure class.

1998 Meursault-Charmes Dom. Lafon: Aged surprisingly fresh intense peaches & nuts with refined integrated oak. Wow.

2012 Chassagne-Montrachet Maltroie Bernard Moreau: Stones + tropical + floral combo. Young showing quality. No rush.

1996 Meursault Perrieres Dom. Roulot: Favourite Vineyard & Producer but premox caramel overwhelms so disappoints.

1992 Chablis Valmur Raveneau: So delicious and lively with aged complexity showing outstanding minerality. Classic.

1966 Batard Montrachet Claude Ramonet: Good shape so nutty and rich almost like an old dry Sauternes.

2007 Gevrey Chambertin Le Poissenot Geantet-Pansiot: Solid energetic blackberry fruit from old vines in a lesser year.

1947 Aloxe Corton Charles Vienot: Open enticing bouquet. Aged so well at 70 years for just an AC wine from a super year.

1982 Richebourg Dom. Gros Frere et Soeur: Mature. Weaker year but fragrant charming a bit lean with acidic finish.

2014 Chambertin Clos de Beze Lucien Le Moine: Power & potential. So impressive for aging. Would like to have in cellar.

1985 La Grande Rue Dom. Francois Lamarche: A terroir treat. Mature elegance using low temp ferment. Lovely drinking.

2008 Clos de la Roche Dom. Herve Arlaud Magnum: Shows smoky but well for this tougher year & is still fresh in Mag.

1996 Clos de la Roche Dom. Dujac: Lots of character but more herbal & floral with softer fruit. Easy to like.

1996 Beaune Greves Vignes de L’Enfant Jesus Bouchard: Good juicy fruit coming around now from a harder tannic year.

2006 Vosne Romanee Aux Reignots Dom. du Comte Liger-Belair Magnum: Outstanding delicious plush classy pinot noir!

1999 Vosne Romanee Cuvee Duvault-Blochet: Special treat to try this rare commodity for the first time. DRC revived harvesting young Grand Cru vines separately for this Cuvee in 1999 and this shows pure strawberry fruit with ginger.

1990 Volnay Clos de la Bousse d’Or Dom. La Pousse d’Or Mag: Lighter aromatic graceful 1990 has lovely elegant spice.

1996 Vosne Romanee Les Suchots Confuron-Cotetidot Mag: Classy top 1er cru but stems. Told 1996 but no neck label.

1990 Pommard Hospices de Beaune Raymond Cyrot Louis Jadot: Very attractive Pommard styled. Solid full & rich.

1985 Roumier Grand Cru Mag: Served blind in a decanter. Brown colour + light sediment. Lean but stylish. Told it was a Roumier Grnad Cru. Never saw what it actually was. Doubt a Musigny or Bonnes Mares. Maybe Charmes or Echezeaux?

1966 Clos de Vougeot Charles Noellat: Very pale & cloudy. Drying out but still shows well with some charm. Drink up.

1993 Musigny Comte de Vogue: Always great class edge. Better bottle of the 1991 recently and even more variable 1990.

1985 La Romanee Dom. du Comte Liger-Belair (or Bouchard): Lots of sediment but exquisite! Pure charm & class so harmonious. Never saw the bottle and just told it was La Romanee but not the producer.

1971 Clos de la Roche Armand Rousseau: So intense for 35 years old. Perfumes at a level above most. Long special flavours!

2001 Clos St. Denis Dom. Dujac: Very spicy & distinctive Harder with good acidity. Better with food.

1990 Bonnes Mares Moillard: Some aristocracy but slightly drier coarser soupy styling. Pairs nicely with chicken course.

2001 Bonnes Mares G. Roumier: Deep colour. A bit of VA at first. Needs air to develop in glass. Rich full still backward.

2009 Latricieres Chambertin Dom. Duroche: A baby but love that ripe 2009 fruit with ethereal aromas. Buy this.

Another really marvellous Paulee! Congrats. Please continue with your second one in London next year!

Have you attended a Paulee?


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10 interesting facts about the wines from South Africa

July 22nd, 2017

South African wine facts

By Joseph Temple

No non-European country has a greater winemaking past than the Republic of South Africa.  For hundreds of years after the first Dutch settlers arrived, the country has experienced both highs and lows, emerging as one of the biggest wine producers in the world.  So have a look below at ten interesting facts that have led to this modern era for South African wines.


vineyards in South Africa

1. In 2015, with approximately 3,500 grape growers and 323,000 vineyard acres, South Africa was ranked the eighth world’s largest wine producer.

wine history of South Africa

2. The first vines were planted in the 1650s by Dutch colonists on the Western Cape. Looking to establish an outpost for ships sailing to towards the East Indies, they quickly discovered that native grapes were inferior and asked for French vines to be sent by the Dutch East India Company.

Constantia wine history

3. In 1685, using French Muscat, Simon van der Stel planted vines of what became known as Constantia – the most popular fortified wine of the late eighteenth century, consumed by Russian czars, British monarchs, Frederick the Great, and Napoleon Bonaparte.

wine history cooperatives South Africa

4. Following the devastation caused by both phylloxera and the Anglo-Boer War, a series of wine cooperatives that wielded enormous power for over a century were established throughout South Africa.

wine during apartheid South Africa

5. Despite over 300 years of winemaking, few in Europe and North America had tasted South African wine due to trade restrictions resulting from the country’s apartheid government. This all changed in the 1990s as democratic reform caused the sanctions to be lifted.

wine Coastal Region Western Cape
By Western_Cape_rural_education_districts [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

6. The finest wines in South Africa are produced in the Coastal Region, located within the Western Cape, one of the Republic’s five major wine zones.

popular wine grapes in South Africa

7. The five popular grape varietals are Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, & Syrah.

chenin blanc South Africa

8. For years, Brandy was such an important part of the South African economy that the vast majority of grapes were white. Currently, white grapes represent 55% of all grapes grown in 2011.

5 wine zones geography south african wine

9. Most South African vineyards run parallel to the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, benefiting greatly from cooling deep waters and maritime breezes.

issues involving South African wine industry

10. Today, the South African wine industry is experiencing numerous problems that include labor abuses, inefficiencies, diseased vine stocks and outdated equipment.

Sources:

Clarke, Oz. The History of Wine in 100 Bottles: From Bacchus to Bordeaux and Beyond. London: Pavilion Books, 2015.
James, Tim. Wines of the New South Africa: Tradition and Revolution. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013.
MacNeil, Karen. The Wine Bible. New York: Workman Publishing, 2015.
McCarthy, Ed & Ewing-Mulligan, Mary. Exploring Wine For Dummies. West Sussex: Wiley, 2011.
Parker, Robert M. Parker’s Wine Bargains: The World’s Best Wine Values Under $25. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2009.


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Ask Sid: Why is Port usually served in a smaller wine glass?

July 19th, 2017
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Port glass small

Question: Wondering why a Port wine served at the end of a meal usually comes in a smaller wine glass.

Answer: So do I. A couple of reasons often given are that the amount poured is usually less than for other wines and the higher alcohol would show more prominently if in a large glass. I don’t buy it. A smaller glass makes it more difficult to study both the colour tones and the bouquet of the Port. Therefore I usually pour it into my empty larger red wine glass from a previous course. Also helps to have the Port cooler rather than at room temperature served with cheeses (blue can work well) and roasted nuts (prefer walnuts & pistachios). Enjoy Port in a larger glass!


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Aged Chenin Blanc Always A Great Wine Choice

July 17th, 2017

Chenin Blanc wine
By Original photo by chrisada [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

As noted in last week’s Blog your scribe recently enjoyed with dinner at Stockholm’s superb Oaxen Krog restaurant a bottle of 1998 Clos de la Coulee de Serrant. It is a noted wine from the Savannieres region in the Loire made by the Joly family from Chenin Blanc grapes. I again was impressed about how well this nearly 20 year old white wine from a challenging vintage showed. On requested decanting it showed a deep rich yellow somewhat worrisome colour for a dry wine but it was outstanding. The complex developed bouquet showed wonderful peach, pear, apple and passion fruit honey notes with palate texture and balanced refreshing brilliant acidity. Surprisingly fresh. It matched so well with the varied early food courses of the meal. On many occasions I have enjoyed different vintages of this producer knowing best the high acid 1981 vintage that was collected on sale and stored to present perfection now. In the early days on the advice of Nicolas Joly I opened and decanted it even 24 hours ahead to let it soften and develop with airing but now it shows so well right after pulling the cork. Amazing longevity for a white wine at 35 years of age and a good reason to order an aged wine from Chenin Blanc grapes whenever you see it on a wine list.

Chenin Blanc is such a versatile grape (somewhat similar to Riesling) in styles from dry, off-dry, sweet, and sparkling. Road 13 Vineyards on the Golden Mile sub-region of the Okanagan Valley has vines planted in 1968 that has been producing an excellent dry Chenin with only one row of it experimented for Sparkling. However, it became so successful with that underlying acidity that now all the aged grapes will be used exclusively for their top Sparkling. Look for it. South Africa has textbook Chenin (Steen) sometimes mixed with other grape varieties but more quality examples are being seen in the export market. Check them out as well plus some wines from Argentina & USA. Loire has a diversity of regions including Vouvray, Quarts de Chaume, Pineau de la Loire, and Bonnezeau in a variety of styles. Acidity is key.

Are you trying some exciting Chenin Blanc with bottle age?


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