Archive for July, 2015

Chateau Lynch Bages: Jean-Michel Cazes

July 20th, 2015

Lynch Bages Sid Cross(L-R) Serena Sutcliffe, Ambassador Ron Weiser, Jean-Michel Cazes, Sid Cross.(L-R) Serena Sutcliffe, Ambassador Ron Weiser, Jean-Michel Cazes, Sid Cross.

Attended this month a memorable celebration lunch in Bordeaux at Chateau Lynch Bages hosted by respected collector Ambassador Ron Weiser. Actually there were really 2 Ambassadors present as legend Jean-Michel Cazes not only has established his property for producing outstanding wine with quality for value far above the 5th growth status given in 1855 but has been an Ambassador for all Bordeaux wines. Following in the footsteps of first Henri Martin of Chateau Gloria and joined in by Bruno Prats of Cos d’Estournel, May de Lencquesaing of Pichon Lalande, and others Jean-Michel travelled to North America on so many occasions tirelessly not only spreading the word on his properties but spotlighting the high quality of everyone else’s claret. Enjoyed reminiscing with him about this important mission of his including 2 historic tastings held in 1986 of 52 different Bordeaux properties from 1961 in Miami on February 1 and 26 more from 1945 in LA on February 14 at which only he, myself and Michael Broadbent were in attendance for both events. More details are set out in my IWFS Monograph An Appreciation Of The Age Of Wine. Lynch Bages as expected showed so well in both those outstanding vintages. Now at age 80 JMC continues his valuable involvement and the property for the 2015 vintage will start a first “Winegrid” technology for their special white wine using a micro-computer in the barrel monitoring all the stats including colour, temperature, alcohol levels etc. Like combining the respect for history but the innovative use of progressive ideas as well.

At the lunch 3 of their more recent celebrated vintages were served:

2000: Bold concentrated still very backward even at 15 years of age. Can clearly see the wonderful potential of this wine for fantastic complexity with further aging.

1990: Less structured than expected. Softer more forwardly fruit shows herbal notes with charm but already on a plateau of enjoyment but still no rush.

1982: Sensational. JMC says ” shows that some collectors may have consumed this vintage too early”. Now making a brilliant complex round seductive statement. So delicious. Often find almost a touch of mint showing with this property but these 3 vintages didn’t display that element on this occasion.

As noted in the headlined photo with Serena Sutcliffe of Sotheby’s who also was in attendance with this scribe, Ambassador Weiser and Jean Michel who is holding a celebratory bottle of 1988 Chateau de Fargues Sauternes. This was a memorable favourite ideal wine pairing of all of us showing the maturing golden colour, complex but not now too sugary sweet with the refreshing acidity served with the food course of a block of cold duck foie gras.

Congratulations to Jean- Michel Cazes and to Chateau Lynch Bages for all you have done for Bordeaux wines and for what you continue to do for us Bordeaux wine lovers!


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10 fascinating facts about Hungarian wine

July 17th, 2015

facts about wines from Hungary

By Joseph Temple

A great benefit of joining the International Wine & Food Society is the opportunity to travel the world by attending the many events and festivals held each year.  In 2014, IW&FS members cruised down the Rhône River on Uniworld’s newest super ship, the SS Catherine, which stopped in Lyon, Avignon and Châteauneuf-du-Pape.  This November, our sold-out International Festival takes place in Melbourne, the cultural and sporting capital of Australia.  Knowledgeable food and wine experts, tours, tastings and unique dinners are a phenomenal way to learn about the culinary arts while fostering life-long friendships from across the globe.

Continuing this rich tradition next year, members will arrive in the beautiful city of Budapest to begin a seven-night cruise across the Danube River.  Possessing some of the world’s most historic vineyards that date back centuries, the chance to sample Hungary’s best wines will no doubt be a memorable highlight from this trip.  Being on the other side of the Iron Curtain for so many years, western oenophiles have been playing catch up—trying to learn more about this nation’s wine industry, which made a spectacular comeback following the end of the Cold War.  To help peak your interest for next year’s trip, below are ten interesting facts about Hungary and its outstanding wines.


wine regions in Hungary

1. Hungary has 22 official wine regions.
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Vineyards in Hungary wine

2. Approximately seventy-five percent of Hungarian wines are white (Fehér Bor) and are mostly produced in the north.
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Hungary's topography and wine industry

3. Despite Budapest having the same latitude as Canada’s Quebec City, Hungary’s climate is relatively warm due to the surrounding mountains, which greatly benefits several wine regions.
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Phylloxera and its impact on Hungarian wine

4. In the late 19th century, Phylloxera reduced yearly wine production in Hungary from 4.5 million hectolitres to just 1.1 million.
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Tokaj wine region

5. Hungary’s most prominent wine region is Tokaj-Hegyalja (Pronounced: toe-KYE heh JAH yah), which is located in the northeast and is world famous for its Tokaji Aszú dessert wines.
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Hungary Botrytis Cinerea wine grapes

6. Aszú refers to the botrytized grapes that are used to make the wine.  Also known as noble rot, the mold punctures the grape’s skin, allowing water to dissipate, leaving a higher concentration of sugar and acid inside the fruit.
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Levels of sweetness in Hungary Tokaj wines

7. Tokaji Aszú wines are labelled based on their sweetness.  Starting at 3 Puttonyos, the sweetest bottles are 6 Puttonyos.
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wine classification of Tokaj wine region in 1700

8. The world’s very first vineyard classification based on quality was established for the region of Tokaj in 1700.  Through a royal decree by Prince Rákóczi, a system of classes (primate classis, secunde classis, etc..) were set for 173 vineyards.
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Hungary red wine bull's blood

9. Egri Bikavér is Hungary’s most popular red wine.  The name – which translates to “Bull’s blood of Eger” – is said to have originated in 1552 when Hungarian soldiers defending the Castle of Eger were seen with red wine all over their beards.  Thinking it was blood coming from their mouths, the invading Turkish armies were apparently so scared that they abandoned the entire siege.
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Hungarian wines during Soviet era

10. During the Soviet era from 1949 to 1989, a collectivist policy forced Hungarian vintners to focus on quantity instead of quality, making the classification system in place useless.
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Sources:

MacNeil, Karen. The Wine Bible. New York: Workman Publishing Company Inc., 2001.
McCarthy, Ed and Ewing-Mulligan, Mary. Wine For Dummies. Hoboken: Wiley Publishing Inc., 2006.
Molnár, Miklós. A Concise History of Hungary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.
Phillips, Adrian. Hungary. Guilford: The Globe Pequot Press Inc., 2010.
Zraly, Kevin. Windows on the World Complete Wine Course. New York: Sterling Publishing, 2010.


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Ask Sid: What fruits continue to ripen after picking?

July 15th, 2015
Ask your question here The International Wine & Food Society

What fruits continue to ripen after picking?

Question: In an argument with my spouse about whether watermelon and cantaloupe improve after picking. Are melons continuing to ripen? What about other fruits?

Answer: Debatable subject. Based on my personal experiences I trust only avocado and banana to continue ripening after picking. I have seen lots of lists out there but believe the best flavours are achieved when the fruit is fully ripe when picked. Certainly mostly unanimous are watermelon, orange, grapefruit, apple, pineapple, strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, cherry, and grape among a group that don’t continue to ripen. Some fruits seem to improve like kiwi, peach, pear, apricot, nectarine, plum among others but remember they usually are shipped very cold and probably need a few days to warm up and revive themselves. More controversial are melons particularly cantaloupe. I am not a scientist but I don’t think the fruit can get any sweeter once it is picked but it does continue to soften up and therefore seems juicier to you. Your thoughts please.

A few random tips:

– Check the aromatics of the fruit before you buy it.

– Careful when storing fruit and vegetables. Example: Never store onions and potatoes together!

– Hasten ripening by the brown bag trick – particularly add an apple or banana in the bag.

– Store fruit and vegetable unwashed and only wash it just before use.


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Chateau Margaux: What are their best vintages?

July 13th, 2015

Chateau Margaux: What are the best vintages?

Just back from a short visit to Bordeaux. After 3 previous vintages of mixed results many producers are bullish on their 2014 vintage particularly for the cabernet sauvignon from the Medoc. Prices remain relatively high. Impressive tour last week of the new building at Chateau Margaux with their talented Managing Director Paul Pontallier a key component of the Corinne Mentzelopoulos team since 1983 – an outstanding vintage for their wine! No material additions had been made since the original construction in 1810-1815. Under the guidance of London architect Norman Foster they met the important challenge of making these additions new and efficient but not distorting the harmony of those traditional old structures. The expansion had 3 main purposes of extending the red wine cellars, having the white wine cellar closer at hand, and an experimental research and development facility. The design of the amazing spiral staircase to the top floor labs is breathtaking. They also have a magnificent new wine library of older bottles in progress to be held at a temperature of 15 Celsius. The 1st & 2nd year cellars remain unchanged except for noticeably improved lighting. Encourage you to visit.

Paul is so modest but a real fountain of knowledge. He loves using wood for fermenting his red wine and appreciates how it shapes and evenly controls the temperature. Now have an oak cooperage room in the old tasting room with experimental oak treatments using 25-30% Seguin-Moreau and other coopers. So many past great vintages of Chateau Margaux including last week where I enjoyed the still vibrantly alive and complex 1945 & 1959 both in magnum. What a treat! Also such fond memories of 2000, 1996, 1990, 1986, 1983, 1982, 1981, and 1953 among others -including authentic 1928 & 1900 when you can find them. In spite of these great old treasures Paul started our visit with a wine tasting of what he calls the best 3 vintages of Chateau Margaux in the past 100 years:

2010: Precision, certainty, purity, and structure. Perfect balance. Terroir is the key with a dense finer freshness that will easily last 15-20 years or more. Before there was 60-70% selection for the Grand Vin but lately using only 35% of the crop. The weather conditions are now more favourable with global warming and the way they work and the way decisions are made are different from when Paul arrived in 1983. This vintage has 90% cabernet sauvignon and I believe Paul tends to prefer this one.

2009: Riper, lush, seductive, open, generous, more obvious, and very voluptuous. Another outstanding pair to contemplate over future years like 1899/1900, 1928/1929, 1982/1983, 1989/1990 etc.

2005: Perfection, intense, classy, high level of concentration, obvious firmer tannins which are still more noticeable at 10 years than 2010 and 2009 but the quality really shows and patience is required.

All three of these are still very young but certainly should be added to the wonderful record of outstanding vintages of Chateau Margaux!


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5 Famous Restaurants from Miami Beach

July 10th, 2015

5 Famous Restaurants from Miami Beach
By Joseph Temple

From dreary swampland to America’s Riviera, the city of Miami Beach has gone through an extraordinary transformation over the past century.  Known for its pastel colors and Art Deco style architecture, the urban decay that once plagued its streets is now a distant memory.  Today, tourists from around the world flock to Miami Beach to soak up some sun while enjoying all that this exciting and culturally diverse city has to offer.

Of course, in addition to the white sands and historic buildings, there is no denying the important role that cuisine plays.  Whether it’s food trucks or fine dining, there’s no shortage of great places to eat as you stroll through South Beach and beyond!  It is a proud gastronomic heritage dating back to the early twentieth century when frigid Northerners eagerly bought up real estate along the shore.  So take a trip down memory lane as we look at five iconic restaurants that put Miami Beach on the map.

Special thanks to FloridaMemory.com for providing most of the photos for this entry.


Joe's Stone Crabs history miami beach

With a Jewish community deeply embedded into the cultural fabric of Miami, it’s easy to forget that at one time anti-Semitism was on full display as numerous businesses along the beach posted signs reading NO JEWS ALLOWED.  So when New Yorkers Joe and Jennie Weiss opened a restaurant on the edge of town, many residents predicted that it wouldn’t last a single year.  Fast-forward to 2015 and Joe’s Stone Crabs—now a Miami Beach institution—has been in operation for almost 100 years!  A favorite hotspot amongst celebrities, author Mandy Baca writes, “No trip to Miami is complete without a visit to this iconic restaurant, even if it is just for a slice of key lime pie … Like Delmonico’s and Peter Luger’s in New York, Joe’s is a cult classic known the world over and popular with anyone that enjoys stone crabs, fried chicken or keeping up with Joneses.”
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Wolfie's Miami Beach restaurant

“Find me a Jewish person in Miami Beach who didn’t go to Wolfie’s” declared one Miami resident.  “Go ahead–just try.”  A staple amongst the Borscht Belt, this deli-style restaurant became famous for its large portions that made customers go home both stuffed and satisfied.  And if you were a fan of the hit television show Miami Vice, you’ll remember Sonny and Rico cruising past its 21st street location many times throughout the series. Operated by Wilfred Cohen who also owned Wolfie Cohen’s Rascal House delicatessen on 172nd street, the iconic name was the result of a contest asking residents to create one for the restaurant.  When a University of Miami student came up with Wolfie’s, it was such a hit with the owner that he later had his own name legally changed to Wolfie Cohen.
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Forge Restaurant Miami Beach

Back in the 1980s, if you ever wanted to see a cocaine cowboy or a real-life Tony Montana up close, then you had to dine at The Forge Restaurant and Wine Bar.  Originally built during the twenties, it re-opened in 1969 after an extensive renovation that included the installation of a 300,000 bottle wine cellar.  Having an interior that one critic described as a “bordello meets Louis XVI,” the expensive decor attracted everyone from A-list celebrities to associates of Pablo Escobar.  One former maitre d’ recalls a story told in Gerald Posner’s book Miami Babylon: “One Latin guy walks up and says, ‘We are seventeen and we don’t have a reservation’ … The man took out a wad of cash and peeled off seventeen hundred-dollar bills. “That’s just to seat us.  We’ll spend ten times that inside.”
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Embers restaurant miami beach

During the 1950s when middle-class Americans could suddenly afford to travel by plane while the invention of air conditioning shielded tourists from the unrelenting heat of South Florida, Embers was definitely the place to dine.  Situated at Collins Avenue and 22nd Street, this restaurant became known for its sizzling steaks, which were cooked over an open pit.  Adding to the friendly ambiance was a maitre d’ named Mario who would personally welcome you as you walked through the front door.  Sadly, the original location burned to the ground in 1984.  Attempting to recapture the magic, a copycat restaurant was erected on the same lot in the 1990s. Unfortunately, tastes had evolved in the city since the heyday of Embers and the reincarnation proved to be bust.
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Latin Quarter night club Barbara Walters

Palm Island, located between Miami Beach and the mainland is where an extravagant and posh nightclub called the Latin Quarter entertained the city’s elite for more than twenty years.  Owned and operated by Lou Walters, the father of legendary journalist Barbara Walters, the club was a magnet for attracting celebrities that included Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.  The 20/20 reporter would later credit her time at the Latin Quarter hobnobbing with the rich and famous as an essential part of her education, learning not to be intimidated later in life by the same type of people she would go on to interview.
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Sources:

Baca, Mandy.  Discovering Vintage Miami: A Guide to the City’s Timeless Shops, Hotels, Restaurants & More.  Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2014.
Baca, Mandy. The Sizzling History of Miami Cuisine: Cortaditos, Stone Crabs and Empanadas. Charleston: The History Press, 2013.
Biondi, Joann. Miami Beach Memories: A Nostalgic Chronicle of Days Gone by. Guilford: The Globe Pequot Press, 2007.
Bramson, Seth. Miami Beach. Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2005.
Brown, Joseph. (2004, May 16). The Latin Quarter Nightclub. South Beach Magazine.  Retrieved from http://southbeachmagazine.com
Posner, Gerald. Miami Babylon: Crime, Wealth, and Power—A Dispatch from the Beach. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2009.
Staubach, James. The Magic City Captured by Miami Vice, Scarface, Movies, and Burn Notice a guide to 80s Locations and Culture. Raleigh: Lulu.com, 2014.


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