Archive for March, 2014

Louis Jadot Burgundy

March 31st, 2014

Louis Jadot BurgundyPhoto credit: louisjadot.com

One of the real highlights of the 36th Vancouver International Wine Festival was the active participation of Maison Louis Jadot (www.louisjadot.com) through their Directeur Commercial Export Sigfried Pic. All this enlightening education was possible due to the arrangements made by International Cellars (founded in 1983 and actively managed by owners Michael Shuster & Norman Gladstone) and their talented Business Development Manager Peter M. Rae (Sommelier ISG, Diploma WSET) at www.internationalcellars.ca. Peter and his staff prepared the best tasting booklet I have ever experienced including not only extensive vintage and tasting notes but even detailed full page coloured maps for each wine presented. Outstanding work! Not only was Siegfried pouring tastes of 4 of their top Burgundies for thousands each of 3 consecutive nights at the Convention Centre Festival Tasting sessions but also leading a seminar panel (including this scribe) called Wine 305-Advanced Burgundy and a special “Nothing But Burgundy” dinner.

February 27, 2014 tasting of 17 wines in 7 flights (last one blind) highlighted mainly 2011, 2006, and 2001. Early picking in 2011 to maintain acidity showed in both Domaine Ferret Pouilly-Fuisse Autour de Fuisse (warmer air stays in the theatre of Fuisse for riper fruit, only used oak) & Tete de Cru Le Clos (bigger rounder richer with mineral finish, 30% new oak). Three more 2011 white Burgundy all quite different Puligny- Montrachet 1er cr Les Folatieres (largest 1er cru fresh structured but less depth than 2010), Monopole of Duc de Magenta Chassagne Montrachet Morgeot 1er cru Clos de La Chapelle (aromas honey white flowers broader fatter softer), Corton-Charlemagne Grand cru (more austere higher acidity – almost like a Grand cru Chablis at this stage – will age well as still enjoying their 1986) which plot will celebrate 100 year anniversary in 2014. Rare exotic spicy 2004 Beaune Greves Le Clos Blanc was open & mature. Gamay on granitic soils shows well in 2011 Moulin-a-Vent Chateau des Jacques (acquired in 1996) always good value and the steep south facing single vineyard older vines of Clos de Rochegres on the way to Fleurie was fresh in 2011 and delicious Burgundy like with aged 1999.

The last three flights showed the ability of Jadot reds to age gracefully and with time to develop nuances with complexity. Compared 3 vintages of one of the very best of the 36 Premier Crus in Beaune 1er cru Vignes Franches Clos des Ursules (plus the structured 2010 at the Festival tasting): 2011 so young showing elegance and purity rather than the powerful concentration of 2009; 2006 in a transitional state between earthy primary fruit and aged bouquet; and 2001 austere year underrated cherries with lively acidity. Two vintages ten years apart for Corton-Pougets: 2011 already fragrant showing more elements of a Grand cru but deserving preservation for improvement; 2001 shows how 10 years helped round out the textures and develop a sweeter finish. Really appreciated both 2006 Vosne-Romanee 1er cru Les Chaumes (just below Malconsorts & La Tache) pure refined already slightly round and silky – memories of their recent impressive 2009 Vosne-Romanee 1er cru Les Suchots Jadot; and underappreciated superb Grand cru 2006 Chapelle-Chambertin just below Chambertin Clos de Beze with a similar rich plummy slightly less concentrated statement.

February 26, 2014 was a memorable dinner prepared by one of the world’s most talented chefs and culinary mentor Michel Jacob and his brigade at Vancouver’s perennial best French restaurant Le Crocodile. Talk about the perfect wine and food pairings! One could wax on poetically about some of these magical matches of food courses and Jadot wines:

Lobster & Scallop Terrine Saffron Beurre Blanc: Puligny-Montrachet 1er cru La Garenne 2011 & Chassagne Montrachet 1er cru Morgeot Clos de la Chapelle 2011

Choucroute aux Poissons Noilly Prat Veloute: Corton Charlemagne Grand cru 2010

Duck Confit Citrus Sauce Curly Endive Salad: Vosne-Romanee 1er cru Les Chaumes 2006 & Gevrey-Chambetin 1er cru Les Cazetiers 2006

Tournedos Rossini Truffle Jus: Corton Pougets Grand cru 2001 & Latricieres-Chambertin Grand cru 2001

French Fresh Cheese Selection: Moulin-a-Vent Clos de Rochegres 1999

Thanks Maison Louis Jadot for your continuing worthy motto of “The land does not belong to us: we are merely its caretakers” and congratulations for delivering such brilliant textbook examples of the special terroirs of the vineyards for which you have care over!

Have you tasted wine from Maison Louis Jadot?

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The Sideways Effect 10 years later

March 28th, 2014

 

The Sideways Effect

By Joseph Temple

In the fall of 2004, oenophiles everywhere arrived at their local movie theater to watch the Academy Award winning film Sideways.  The tale of Miles Raymond, a failed writer and wine-aficionado traveling through California wine country with his womanizing best friend Jack for an unforgettable week-long bachelor party became a certifiable smash hit, grossing over $100 million dollars in worldwide ticket sales.

With its enormous crossover appeal, anytime someone mentions “wine” and “movies” in the same sentence, Sideways is likely the first flick that comes to mind.  And an astounding number of columns, blog entries and even peer-reviewed academic journal articles have been written about the so-called “Sideways Effect.” Full of anti-Merlot sentiments, one of the movie’s most memorable lines is when Paul Giamatti’s character bluntly states, “if anyone orders Merlot I am leaving. I am not drinking f—–g Merlot!” Throughout the film, Pinot Noir is his clear preference, describing its flavors as “brilliant,” “thrilling,” and “subtle.”

Ever since audiences heard those words, wine geeks have tried to prove a correlation between Merlot’s decline and Pinot Noir’s rise based on the movie’s influence.  But in 2009, several academics writing for the Journal of Wine Economics concluded: “… Sideways did have a small negative impact on the consumption of Merlot while increasing the consumption of Pinot Noir.  However, far from having a “devastating” affect, the positive impact on Pinot Noir appears greater than the negative impact on Merlot.”

What do you think?  Ten years later, can you still feel the impact of that film whenever you attend an event?  Are you or somebody you know still hesitant to drink Merlot?  Share your thoughts by voting and/or posting a comment below.

Has "The Sideways Effect" impacted you?

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2012 BURGUNDY – BOUCHARD PERE

March 24th, 2014

Bouchard Pere & Fils
Photo Credit: www.bouchard-pereetfils.com

On March 19, 2014 Luc Bouchard was in Vancouver for his annual visit showing 37 different bottled wines of Bouchard Pere from the difficult conditions in the 2012 vintage. Another short crop like 2010, 2011, and 2013. Vine development was slowed by a cooler wetter April, May & June (flowering in second week) with hail (especially in Cote de Beaune above Puligny, Pommard, Monthelie, and Volnay) end of June and beginning of August. Concerns with mildew as well as coulure and oidium but mid-July on the weather showed improved warmer drier conditions with an especially sunny August.

Approached the tasting with mixed thoughts but delighted to get a feel for the 2012 Burgundy vintage and especially this spotlight on the Bouchard Pere wines. They have Villa Ponciago in Fleurie with Beaujolais-Villages fresh acidic, la Reserve heavier fruit at 21hl/ha covering the acidity well, and successful Cuvee les Hauts du Puy using 30-35% whole clusters with less time on the skins, less punching down & more pumping over for a smoother tannic structure.

Reds showed better & cleaner than I anticipated (Gevrey Chambertin AC more gamey) using some riper whole clusters and all with reduced new oak. Impressed with the very small crop of old vines on rocky clay in Volnay Caillerets Ancienne Cuvee Carnot so clean and elegant with Luc commenting that in 2012 it shows as “an iron fist in a velvet glove”. Interesting to compare it with the very small production Pommard Rugiens 1er cru (Grand cru wannabe) on limestone making the tannins seem somewhat drier and with broader fruit. Vosne Romanee Les Suchots has more vanilla from the higher 55% new oak bottled February 6 but all class not far off the 1990 quality. The Monopole Beaune Greves Vigne de L’Enfant Jesus harvested first as usual on September 17 when Luc says there is “no mud on your shoes” has 25% full cluster which is more than usual giving good fruit and balance. Grand cru minerally Le Corton, fragrant Echezeaux (33% new oak, 30% whole cluster & February 10 bottling), spicy Clos Vougeot, and especially impressive Chambertin Clos-De-Beze (38% new oak, 34% whole cluster, & February 12 bottling) showed more weight and concentration.

BPF Vinification of white wines
Photo Credit: www.bouchard-pereetfils.com

Whites were  more variable. Weather favoured Cote Chalonnaise with easy drinking, round forwardly Macon-Lugny, fuller more aromatic Rully, delicate more precise value Montagny 1er cru and rich 50% barrel fermented Pouilly-Fuisse. Talented winemaker Philippe Prost wisely reduced the pressing process in 2012, used less new oak, and more de-stemming to avoid having the wines show too much green vegetal character because of too many stems when there were less berries per cluster than usual from low yields. Chassagne Montrachet Morgeot has extract but forwardly soft while Meursault Genevrieres more generous than the underrated tight 2010 but is consistent with that usual finesse picked September 21 with only 13% new oak and bottled December 4, 2013. Also first vintage from a new grower contract for Puligny Montrachet Les Combettes, delicious Corton Charlemagne, and vines from all 4 terraces of Chevalier Montrachet in 15% new oak and by far the highest acidity of 4.3 but doesn’t show it because of the intense concentrated exotic mandarin fruit.

Encouraged there are some good 2012 wines to be purchased but they may be difficult to find as well as expensive because of the small crop and in Canada the deteriorating dollar.

Have you tried Bouchard Pere 2012 Burgundy?

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Peace through Sangria and Egg Rolls: A look back at the culinary impact of the 1964/65 New York World’s Fair

March 21st, 2014

Peace through Sangria and Egg Rolls: A look back at the culinary impact of the 1964/65 New York World’s Fair

By Joseph Temple

Fifty years ago this April, millions of people came from across the globe to Flushing Meadows Park in Queens, NY for the experience of a lifetime.  Surrounded by Space-age domed theaters, roaring fountains and multi-colored cubed lighting, the 1964/65 World’s Fair came to symbolize both the optimism and innocence of a pre-Vietnam, pre-Watergate America where anything seemed possible.

And of course, who can forget the food!  Undoubtedly, the sweet aroma of the now famous Bel-Gem (later Belgian) waffles drew millions to the concessions. That’s because for just ninety-nine cents you could devour a thick and delicious waffle topped with juicy strawberries and billowy whipped cream.   Five decades later, this dessert alongside the 900,000-pound steel centerpiece known as the Unisphere are perhaps the fair’s two most recognizable legacies still with us to this day.

But what about all the other dishes served over this two-year period?  What impact did this expo have on the food and drink we serve in 2014?  The answer is quite a bit, but surprisingly, it was mostly by accident.

While most historians view the 1964/65 World’s Fair as a culturally significant event, it is also seen a monumental economic disaster.  With rules clearly stating that a country could host only one exposition in a ten-year period (Seattle hosted the 1962 World’s Fair), New York City planners went ahead without approval from the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE) – the governing body that sanctioned all world’s fairs.  Adding fuel to the fire, a slight by Robert Moses, one of the expo’s key architects against the BIE resulted in them asking all member-nations not to share in the festivities.

The resulting boycott by Canada, Australia, the Soviet Union and most of Europe sent organizers scrambling to find replacement attractions.  Additional problems of cost over-runs and financial mismanagement plagued organizers throughout the fair’s run, including the cancellation of an 86,000 square foot World of Food Pavilion only one month before the fair’s start.

Without this central location to purchase food and losing the participation from most major countries, smaller and more exotic nations that would have been overshadowed by France, Germany and Italy took center-stage.  And with the nearby restaurants fleecing tourists with over-priced meals, the resulting backlash led many fair goers to seek out cheaper – and as a result, more international alternatives offered by these exotic pavilions.

The final product turned out to be a far more diverse expo than anyone could have probably envisioned.  In his book The End of Innocence: The 1964/1965 New York World’s Fair Lawrence Samuel writes, “Of the 110 or so eating places at the Fair on opening day, 61 were in the International Area, creating an astounding multicultural buffet for the more adventurous fairgoer.”

For starters, the Spanish Pavilion offered its guests a drink that most Americans had never seen before: Sangria.  With its dark red color and refreshing taste, this fruity wine drink has now become a staple for backyard barbecues and summer parties across the United States.

Traveling from the rocks of Gibraltar to the Far East, Asian food also went mainstream after Middle America fell in love with it at the fair.  Most memorably, at the Chun King Inn, diners enjoyed an entire Chinese buffet, which included a beverage of their choice for just ninety-nine cents.  And if you wanted to cross over the Sea of Japan, beautiful kimono-clad waitresses were there to serve up the exotic dish known as sushi at the Japanese Pavilion.

Of course, for the meat and potatoes crowd afraid to fully bridge the cultural divide, a series of faux-ethnic foods were also made available.  The most popular of these dishes was a sort-of Asian Big Mac, consisting of a double-decker hamburger, cheese, lettuce, bean sprouts and a special sauce, known as the “Hong Kong Burger.”

And so the fair’s culinary legacy became a mix between the familiar and the unfamiliar.  For every hamburger sold at the Brass Rail, you could also try some authentic smoked reindeer from Sweden.  The person eating French fries could be seen next to someone trying Indian tandoori or a Lebanese falafel.  Like the fair’s popular “It’s a Small World” ride, many experienced a small taste of different cultures for the first time at an expo whose motto was “Peace through Understanding.”  Of course, with this new understanding came a plethora of new foods, many of which are now embedded in the palates of millions of Americans.

Were you or anybody you know at the World’s Fair during those two years?  Then tell us about your experiences by posting a comment below!

What was the most important culinary trend from the 1964/65 World's Fair?

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Fresh Olive Oil

March 17th, 2014

Fresh olive oil

I am compulsive about using really fresh extra virgin olive oil. The early months of each new year brings out a renewed passion in me to find and enjoy the latest harvest. So exciting to be consuming already every day this month the “Raccolta 2013 Olio Extra Vergine Di Oliva” that says it is produced and bottled (actually in excellent tins of half litre size) by Argiano (www.argiano.net) in Montalcino Italy. Admire the hand written best before date on the back of the tins of “31 Mag (Maggio – May in English) 2015”. Recommends “Keep in a cool dry place, away from sunlight and heat sources.” This EVOO is really FRESH!

Not only is this oil delicious for versatile use but healthy as well. As we know all fats are not equal and the monounsaturated fatty acids (instead of saturated and trans fats) have growing health benefits for their polyphenols with wonderful anti-inflammatory properties. This has to be a high priority for your Mediterranean diet! We have come a long way since 1959 when First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was promoting Good Luck Margarine in a TV commercial.

So look out now for the brand new 2013 olive crop. Remember that those assertive, peppery, grassy, pungent flavours are a good sign of a fresh top olive oil and of a healthy experience!

Are you enjoying the 2013 olive oil harvest?

Are you enjoying the 2013 olive oil harvest?

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