Ask Sid: What is Niuriddu?

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Question: What is Niuriddu?

Answer: The old Sicilian name used by local vine growers for a wine grape variety Niuriddu Mascalisi grown in Catania, Sicily particularly around Mt. Etna that is becoming more and more popular. The English name used for those choice grapes resulting in those beautiful elegant red Mt. Edna wines is usually Nerello Mascalese.

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The annual Bordeaux Futures wine release in Vancouver by the British Columbia Liquor Distribution Branch usually takes place in their select stores each September and has for many decades. Remember buying quite a selection (but never enough) of those fantastic 1982s from them – now 40 years old yet still so delightfully exciting! This year the 2019 extensive release has been delayed due to their labour strike issues resulting in backlogs of product but a well selected inventory from this value vintage will be available on Saturday November 19, 2022. Diarize this date now and review the catalogue soon to be out detailing which wines will be offered. The key media & trade preview tasting is always so informative & outstanding conducted by Barb Philip MW at showcase 39th/Cambie store which was held on September 16. Only 5 Bordeaux properties of 2019 able to be collected out of warehouse storage but a broad selection of other wines tasted carried by BCLDB are worth exploring too. These included several riper red 2018s led by underrated Chateau Saint Pierre St. Julien $145 (plus delicious 2018 whites of lively Chateau Olivier $70, so complex for aging Domaine de Chevalier $225 – now in more consistent Diam 30 closure, and very low yield 100% Semillon Chateau Suduiraut Sauternes), classic still tightly knit treasure 2010 La Mission H-B $1599, and two recommended fairly priced Burgundy: 2019 Chablis Beaufume $42.99 & 2018 Bourgogne Pinot Noir Domaine Cyrot Buthiau $36.99.

The Bordeaux Vintage 2019 generally because of climate change was again a rather hot one like 2018 but benefited more from cooler conditions at the end of August & September – especially helpful cooler overnight temperatures. Some Summer drought issues for vines in gravel and mainly affected sandy soils but clay held the moisture better.  Not as consistent a year overall as 2016 but some wines worth persuing with careful selection necessary.

The five 2019 reds shown at the preview are worth checking out:

1. Chateau Daviaud Bordeaux AOC (Saint-Andre du Bois) $19.99 value from Famille Sichel key blend 45/21/19/15 of Merlot/Cab Franc/Cab Sauv/Malbec 14 abv smooth tannnins.

2. Chateau Bel Air Jean & Gabriel Lussac St. Emilion $50. Right Bank blend of 50% Merlot & 50% Cab Franc at 14.5 abv Earthy spices rather juicy to enjoy.

3. Chateau D’Armailhac Pauillac $125. First of three Pauillacs all from Baron Philippe de Rothschild S.A. This is a 5th Growth which in 2019 blended 62/27/9/2 of Cab Sauv/Merlot/Cab Franc/Petit Verdot. Property usually shows a lovely elegant easier earlier drinking style.  Good black currant fruit with herbal spice in balance for 2019.

4. Chateau Clerc Milon Pauillac $210. Another 5th Growth acquired in 1970 composed here 72/22/4/2 of Cab Sauv/Merlot/CabFranc/Petit Verdot. Riper creamier cassis (higher Cab Sauv) fruit with depth plus more noticeable oak (65% new) has impressive structure from more clay soils for the vines than at D’A. Should age well.

5. Chateau Mouton Rothschild Pauillac $1500. You pay much more for a First Growth! Also has that unique label of “Solar Iris of Mouton” of sunrises & sunsets by Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson. Blend is 90/9/1 of high Cab Sauv/ Merlot/Petit Verdot showing rich ripe blackberries plus opulence with class edge complexity of distinctively Mouton lead pencil style that requests more cellaring. One of the top wines of the Vintage 2019!

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Ask Sid: What is the buzz on a new expensive British sparkling release?

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Question: What is the current buzz on a just released very expensive English bubble?

Answer: Yes there has been a buzz created this month by the 2014 Gusbourne Fifty One Degrees North Traditional Method English Sparkling wine released at the highest price of £195/bottle. They produced about 4000 bottles from 8 different parcels grown in Kent (clay & sandstone) and West Sussex (chalk & flint) of rich textured 2/3 Chardonnay & 1/3 Pinot Noir that spent an impressive 80 Months on the lees. Credentials of a prestigious Champagne with a price to match pushing the $ ceiling on previous top British sparklers including the likes of Chapel Down’s Kit’s Coty, Coates & Seely, Nyetimber, and Ridgeview. Will be interesting to see how this affects the upcoming releases from Pommery (with Hattingley Valley) and Taittinger’s Domaine Evremond.

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Your scribe goes back a long way with this remarkable Bordeaux property of Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste in Pauillac.  Clearly remember my visit to the region in 1970 tasting their exciting still young impressive 1961 (9 years old) with Rene Barriere of Barriere Freres but on his recommendation bought instead a case of “long distance runner” very best value 1966. Also bought as well for a song at that time his exclusive 1961 Chateau L’Eglise Clinet Pomerol. Those were the good old days. Met for the first time the then gourmet owner Raymond Dupin who arrived promptly by helicopter to his locked up Chateau for our 4:00 pm rendezvous back from one of his frequent visits to Paris for a special lunch. Property of 55 hectolitres in one block on the Bages plateau near two other 5th growth neighbours with Lynch Bages to the west & Pontet Canet to the South. He  personally chose Jean-Eugene Borie (of Ducru-Beaucaillou) in 1978 to buy his property and carry on before passing away in 1980. The Borie family (especially sons Francois-Xavier & later Bruno) were instrumental in immediate renovations with upgrades including even more in 2004 & 2016. In the earlier days you could count on GPL for earlier picking good acidity and a property which especially thrived in warmer vintages (though disappointing 2003). The Bories generally picked later with richer riper balanced fruit yet capturing that classic Pauillac styling. Look at the successes of 2014-2016 & their most recent vintages which all are excellent.

September 21, 2022 was another occasion to assess 9 vintages over 28 years of GPL ranging from 1982 to 2010 paired with some brilliant food courses presented by the talented crew at famed Boulevard restaurant in Vancouver.  Check my earlier posting on GPL September 21, 2015 on this Blog and linked below.

Some insights:

1982 GPL: First time 2nd label Lacoste-Borie produced. Outstanding grape selection in this celebrated vintage produced the wine value of the year. Shows complex cedar cigar-box lead pencil textbook terroir bouquet with complete black currants smooth fruit – though less stellar in one bottle variation. Now on mature best plateau of brilliant drinking enjoyment.

1986 GPL: Deeper darker look than 1982 but less forthcoming reluctant nose with powerful structure and rich fruit intensity plus some grippy tannins left on palate. Classic but youthful so patience is required. Unlikely to see this great old style vintage currently or ever again due to climate changes.

1995 GPL: Bright deep dark almost purple shows elegant styling & fresh lively tighter fruit in a broad earthy sense as affected by Fall rains (1996 is more concentrated). Lovely matched with duck & foie gras course.

2000 GPL: Warmer roasty spicy cassis with licorice is attractive and best element. Seems rather modern full fruit but is softer and more rustic approachable than expected. Enjoy.

2002 GPL: Less celebrated year with less ripeness drew expectations of leaner cranberry herbs green olives forest floor styling. However, though this is lighter it is delightful now rating surprise of the night when paired with wild mushroom gnochetti.

2005 GPL: Wow! What a classic. Perfect combo of ripe concentrated fruit (75+% cabernet sauvignon) balanced with ideal acidity levels & velvety tannins. Delicious already but greater heights will be reached with further cellaring. Your scribe’s wine of the night – but Group favs were close vote between 1982 & 1986 both also IMHO outstanding – though have had better bottles 1982 GPL.

2006 GPL: Vintage showing similar to recent 2006 horizontal written up here on September 12, 2022 in that more tannic style. Difficult indeed to follow the amazing 2005 but serviceable and better showing with the Prime beef.

2009 GPL: Exceptional year for Bordeaux and this property with super blend 80/18/2 of Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Cab Franc. Very deep dark colour offering wonderful showy charming sweet fruit plus minerals & tar (though some suggest “porty”) with concentrated generous opulent textures yet has amazing elegant freshness for this hot year.

2010 GPL: Deep more classic in defining the Pauillac terroir better than 2009 showing the beginning of cedar cigar-box lead pencil so prominent in the 1982 with a touch of tobacco. Racy layered solid core of fruit plus more noticeable acid & tannins with structure. Needs time to develop. Buy & cellar.

Excellent GPL update (only missing other top vintages in this range of 1990 & 1996). Encourage you to open older bottles and buy current vintages to experience this unique well managed good value Pauillac. Please let us know which vintages you admire and are enjoying.

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Ask Sid: Any new ideas to prevent frost damage to vines?

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Question: Are there any new ideas being developed to prevent frost damage in vineyards?

Answer: Yes. Good topical question. Especially in Chablis which suffered bad Spring frosts in both 2021 & 2022 and other wine regions they have come up with some new pruning techniques with more careful timing. They are pruning the vines later to help retard early budding due to climate change which though won’t prevent all frost damage should help lessen the extent of it.

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