Archive for August, 2013

WHITE BURGUNDY

August 27th, 2013

White Burgundy
By Agne27 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

I have been very fortunate this last week to try many white Burgundies. Something I truly enjoy doing as it is my all time top admired white wine category. With so many wine producing areas in the world you would have thought by now that some regional chardonnay would approach what can be such amazing balance and complexity. What about Hamilton Russell from that unique Hemel-en-Aarde Valley in South Africa, Penfold’s Yattarna always using more Tasmanian fruit, or a small producer in the Russian River Valley in California?  Who do you think belongs in the ballpark with the best burg blanc?

In spite of premature oxidation issues the last while I am encouraged by a number of methods being utilized possibly to lessen this risk including the addition of more sulphur and the use of Diam P10 closures.  Time will tell.

Started the week with several Chablis. 2006 vintage seem more and more forwardly. I am drinking mine earlier than I expected. 2007 OK some with botrytis but somewhat similar to that open delicate lower sugar ripeness style of 2011. Contrast the weight of the big ripe rich fat softer forwardly 2009s. I remain a really big fan of those perfect 2008 & 2010 Chablis. 2008 Valmur William Fevre has wonderful acidity balance and upside potential to ultimately show true terroir at its best. Admire also the age ability potential of 2010 Les Clos Christian Moreau with that admirable subdued vibrant energy but with an underlying concentration from the smaller crop than normal.

Mid week tried blind two 1999 Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet Boudriotte (fresh balanced higher acidity smoky) and Les Ruchottes (fuller richer sweeter more fat more forwardly) followed by two Remoissenet Corton-Charlemagne Diamond Jubilee of 1999 (ready full solid touch of caramel) and 1995 (fresh “cabbage” nose I often find with this producer classy more depth and length). No pre-mox.

Sunday a rare treat with our Vancouver Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin holding their annual Paulee summer lunch with everyone required to bring a bottle of one of the 5 Grand Cru “Montrachet” vineyards (comprising Montrachet “M”, Chevalier Montrachet “CM”, Batard Montrachet “BM”, Bienvenue Batard Montrachet “BBM”, and Criots Batard Montrachet “CBM”).  A nice varied selection of some 30+ wines to taste and study. Most were from the last decade except for a 99 Remoissenet BBM, a 85 Paul Pernot BM in mag and my 1957 Doudet-Naudin BM. Obtained directly from Yves Doudet in his cold cobwebby old cellars it showed the high acidity of 1957 but a wonderful old nutty aged character that opened better with some airing 56 years later. Surprisingly only 2 wines were showing slight TCA corkiness and only the 02 Girardin BBM showed some maderizing pre-mox though another bottle of the same wine from the same case was fresh light stony minerals. Bottle variation! On the other hand two bottles of 06 Girardin CM were consistently excellent showing elegance and depth of flavour. All the Bouchard Pere CM were outstanding though the 07 had that corkiness, 04 lighter but a beauty, 06 rich balanced and complex, 08 remarkable balanced structure but way too young. The 05 Jadot BM was rich almost California like in style as was the very full 04 Latour BBM. Several favs included 06 H. Boillot CBM tight vibrant and classy and the 04 Drouhin M – from the Marquis de Laguiche vineyards on the Puligny side of the AC rather than the often preferred Chassagne side – displaying great power, with acid balance and a potpourri of exotica. Impressed with all the 2006 bottles.

My short updated concise summary of recent white Burgundy vintages:

2013: Scary slow start with all the storms and flooding. Serious hail July 23 in Beaune & Pommard. Worrisome price pressures.

2012: Yields down as slow flowering reduced the crop and hail storms end of June in Meursault. Variable quality & prices going up already

2011: Hot June, cool July & early August, less hang time & less ripe with an early harvest starting late August, some easy charming whites

2010: Ripeness with balance, quality helped by a smaller crop level than normal. Some great wines.

2009: Hot weather less than ideal for whites but style is big rich softer opulent textures more forwardly. Some surprising gems like 2009 Meursault Perrieres Bouchard Pere.

2008: Lively balance of acidity impresses with that young fresh character. Underrated. Both Chablis and white Burgundy showing that superb vibrant structure.

2007: Variable because some less ripe but others crisp and lively with enough intensity of fruit to make some interesting bottles.

2006: Drinking fairly consistently and well now. Prefer this vintage for Burgundy whites over Chablis.

2005: Still impressive weight with sweet fruit. Prefer the reds which are truly a very outstanding memorable year but whites are fine too.

Do you like white Burgundy? What vintages? Where else are they making chardonnay at the very highest complex level of quality?

 

 

SWEDISH RESTAURANTS

August 19th, 2013

I was dining out in Sweden all last week and really frustrated by the very restrictive Systembolaget government monopoly on alcohol that doesn’t allow you to bring a bottle of wine into a restaurant. Menu prices are very high and it makes you appreciate how lucky we are here in Vancouver and elsewhere with the reasonable value for price ratio we presently enjoy at our restaurants.

Three places that stood out for me as still worth a detour:

1. GRYTHYTTANS GASTGIVAREGARD www.careofhotels.com/grythyttan

Long name but a wonderful quaint unique historical spot in the countryside near Orebro that has celebrated weddings for centuries. Amazing old underground wine cellar formerly a prisoner holding cell with some special collected treasures including older vintages of Coulee de Serrant. The Grythyttan Inn follows to the letter the Slow Food Movement. Liked a pretty dish of seared scallops with a crisp cheese cracker all sitting on a puree of milk cooked garlic decorated with mirepoix-like yellow and red veg topped by fresh dill; Reindeer carpaccio with pickled chanterelles and lingonberry coulis; and seared cod and pork belly with smoked potato puree and asparagus. Highlights included four Swedish farmhouse cheeses directed to be eaten in a strict order matched with a sweeter apricot figgy wine made from cloudberries (Grythyttan Hjortron). The last cheese tasted was the renowned and expensive Bredsjo Blue Cheese (500 SK /kilo or nearly $100/kilo at the farm) from 100% sheep’s milk that resembles closely a French Roquefort. They will produce even a Woof menu for your dog.

2. FREDSGATEN 12 (F12) www.f12.se/en

Melker Andersson & Danyel Coutet rule Stockholm with their many excellent dining places.

F12 is a special restaurant with excellent French influenced cuisine. Tasting menu with matching wines both served blind at our request highlighted some of their offerings:

-Cold: One long thin strip of coiled radish marinated in oyster   -Hot: Crab on Coastal Potatoes.    2012 Fass 4 Gruner Veltliner  Ott (Wagram Austria)

-Puree slightly smoked Jerusalem Artichokes and Toasted Crumb, Fresh Water Bleak Roe (orange colour), coddled egg yolk.   2011 Silvaner Keller (Rheinhessen Germany)

-Milk Poached Perch, Foamy Crown Dill Crayfish Sauce.    2009 Albarino de Fefinanes III Palacios de Fefinanes (Galicien Spain)

-Cheek of Veal, Sweetbreads, Fresh Chanterelles and Fava Beans.    2009 Corton Pougets Louis Jadot (Burgundy France)

-Almnas Tegel (gruyere style cheese) aged 36 months, Double Malt Marmalade.  2004 Rivesaltes Ambre Domaine Singla (Languedoc-Rousillon France)

-Angssyra, Brannvin (small jar with sorrel greens on the bottom, crumbled sugar biscuit in the middle and foamy aquavit on top) quite delicious.

-White Peach, Raspberries, Almond, Meringue.  2012 Moscato d’Asti Bricco Quaglia La Spinetta (Piedmont Italy)

3. MATSALEN www.grandhotel.se

Outstanding chef Mathias Dahlgren has arguably the best restaurant in Sweden here at the Grand Hotel in Stockholm where “natural produce and natural taste are essential to the natural cuisine”. Also has the more informal bistro Matbaren.  Both feature fresh produce from local farms in a very Swedish style. Impressed talking with their young knowledgeable Sommelier Johan Andersson who is seeking out the story from each of his unique wine producers and who alone is worth your visit. He prefers European wines with higher acidity that go well with food. Johan is encouraged that with global warming Sweden might eventually make some better wines themselves like Blaxsta Vineyard who already makes a sweet expensive Vidal Icewine. The cellar is full of some choice 18000 bottles with 1800 different labels the oldest of which is 1874 Mouton. Some of the world’s best prices on old stock/old prices of DRC wines. Summary of some of our brilliant dishes with amazingly appropriate pairings:

– Tartare of cod and shrimp with ponzu, ginger, radish.    2011 Arbois Blanc Reneaud Bruyere (Jura France) with 80% chardonnay & 20% sauvignon blanc

-Beetroots & Jerusalem Artichokes, hazelnuts, truffle, watercress.    2009 Saignee de Sorbee Vouette et Sorbee (Champagne France) Pinot Noir Extra Brut Disgorged Nov. 19, 2012

-Steamed Coalfish & Bleak Roe, smoked butter sauce, Spring onions, dill.    2009 Matassa Blanc Domaine Matassa (Languedoc-Rousillon France) ripe peachy 70% Grenache Blanc

-Game from Ostermalma (Fallow Deer Filet and Wild Boar Sausage), asparagus, anchovies, lemon, capers.  2005 Les Baltailles Philippe Jambon (Beaujolais France) Morgon but that AC not allowed so shows as Vin de France as was fermented for 6 years and bottled in 2011 at 14.5 alcohol with big rich unique spicy Rhone styling. Great match for the dish.

-Swedish Farm Cheeses, Rye Bread with celery, radish, walnuts and dates.    2009 Vin de Paille Stephane Tissot (Jura France)

-Rhubarb from Flen & Yoghurt, Spanish Chervil, Vanilla.   2012 Foutre d’Escampette Domaine de l’Octavin (Jura France)  Petillant natural bubbles of chardonnay from chalky soil with a fresh slight sweetness works miracles with this dessert.

Three other highly recommended lower budget tips in Stockholm:

(a) Herring at NYSTEKT STROMMING kiosk at Slussen as you cross the bridge from Gamla Stan to Sodermalm. Really super Skane on fried rye bread, herring, sweet mustard and fresh dill for 40SK (less than $8).

(b) HOTORGSHALLEN Basement Market (Subway Haymarket) below the Filmstaden Cinema for a great gastronomical tour of food products.

(c) NK RESTAURANTS Satamakatu 18-20 have some interesting lunch choices including traditional Swedish food at the top of NK house.

 

COPENHAGEN RESTAURANTS

August 12th, 2013

Fortunate last week to study the new Nordic cuisine and try 3 of the top restaurants in Copenhagen, Denmark:
AMASS www.amassrestaurant.com

Just opened in July 2013 by ex-Noma head chef Matt Orlando in an old ship building with high ceilings. The kitchen is on the ground floor but the entrance is up one flight of stairs to the top for a panoramic view of the restaurant and then down to floor level for seating. Offered 2 menus both at 575DKK (about $115) one with no choice 8 courses and a “Simplicity menu” of 3 courses with a choice of dry-aged beef or Danish turbot both with sides of young lettuces, herbs, vinaigrette & new potatoes and egg yolk. Both menus started with fava bean, samphire, creme fraiche, St. John’s Wort & fermented flat bread. Other courses in the 8 course included salted mackeral, grilled skin, spring onion; their already famous crispy oats, hot-smoked foie gras, walnut, marigold;
chicken skin, peas, egg yolk, virgin butter; burnt cabbage, mullet roe; lamb breast, carrot, lavender, and dessert of wild cherry, milk ice cream, croutons, olive oil. Work in progress and daily menu evolving. Offer wine pairing for 375DKK but also their local beers are available. Liked their idea to pour house wine at the table out of special grand format bottles of Aligote and Barbera.
GERANIUM www.geranium.dk

Unique location opened in 2010 on the 8th floor of the Parken National Stadium by talented Chef Rasmus Koefed who won gold at the 2011 Bocuse d’Or in Lyon (after previously earning bronze and silver) and already #45 on World’s Best Restaurants (after 49 last year). Classy 16+ courses matched with 10 sommelier recommended wines.

Particularly liked the delicious Lobster & Red Elements (including beets and tapioca) matched with 2009 Meursault Charmes Francois Mikulski. Expensive but an unforgettable dining experience with artistic displays and intriguing flavours making it truly memorable!
NOMA www.noma.dk

Nordic cuisine pioneered by Chef Rene Redzepi became World’s #1 Restaurant for 3 years in a row and just beaten in 2013 by my fav El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain. Celebrating their 10th year this Fall with a 3 volume cookbook “A Work in Progress” each highlighting Recipes, Photos, or his Journal notes. For 1500DKK offered 20+ courses including 11 appetizers (moss and cep; flatbread and grilled roses; peas, pine and chamomile; caramelized milk and cod liver; leek and cod roe)and 9 mains (berries and grilled vegetables; onion and fermented pears; beets and plums; my fav of grilled cauliflower and pine boughs with cream and horseradish showing simplicity but delicious; potato and bleak fish roe; roasted turbot and celeriac with bitter greens and nasturtium was between sushi and cooked; blueberry and ants; potato and plum). Also took for 1000DKK their 8 matching wines all unique unheard of oddballs bringing the tab to over $500 per person. Controversial dinner.

A friend commented that “it was one of the worst meals I ever had” and called it “the severely handicapped Nordic diet – and not the diet of the proud strong Danish Vikings.” I agree it was more educational and inspiring to see the use of local sources and foraging than it was delicious. A tour of the kitchen displayed a really impressive myriad of dried natural foods as flavour enhancers stored in plastic containers. Certainly they are as far as possible distant from your typical meat and potatoes fare using instead exotic undiscovered local ingredients and the more familiar prepared in new ways. They continue to seek the cutting edge of a unique Nordic cuisine idea. You decide whether they are on track and whether or not it suits your palate.

For all of us on a more limited Frommer budget I suggest trying the Smorrebrod a Danish open face sandwich with a variety of toppings, the new food market and shops at Torvehallerne on Israels Plads square, and highly recommend www.zigzagrestaurant.com for wonderful fresh buffet lunch for 79DKK including tasty pizza & lasagne.

Please chime in with your comments.

PREFERRED GLASS SHAPE FOR CHAMPAGNE OR SPARKLING WINE

August 5th, 2013

Preferred glass shape for sparkling wine

I still remember when the Champagne coupe with the shallow wide bowl was de rigueur.

It was not that long ago when I enjoyed a sensational balanced still young 1988 Krug Vintage poured by the late Henri Krug at the late Thierry Manoncourt’s Chateau Figeac. The preferred vessel that evening was a lovely delicate antique Lalique coupe. The wine was fresh with lots of bubbles so the fact they dissipated quickly wasn’t crucial but the aromas were not focused in that glass shape.

Now the preferred shape seems to be the flute to retain that stream of tiny bubbles. However for me it works best where you are emphasizing the festive social occasion with perhaps a younger very cold Sparkling wine showing little if any complex developing bouquet to appreciate. Anyways it also is difficult for me to get my big nose right into that small opening of the flute glass. I now find myself continuing to prefer a more tulip shaped glass (even use your normal white wine glass) with a very thin lip to get the best out of the nose and taste. After all some experts are even recommending now decanting your Champagne so how important can those long time producing natural bubbles actually be! The bouquet and taste after all are the most important elements to fully appreciate – as they are for any wine.

Maybe we can get a straw poll going here as to those that appreciate flutes and those that prefer tulip shaped for bubbles. Express your opinion!

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