Ask Sid: Proper names for big wine bottles

November 25th, 2020
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Question: I am having an argument about Jeroboams and the proper names for 3 litre & 6 litre wine bottles. Would you please help me clarify this?

Answer: Yes all rather confusing because different names are used in the different wine regions.

We all know about the usual ones of .75 litre (750 ml.) standard bottle plus half-bottle of .375 litre (375 ml.) & Magnum two bottles 1.5 litre or 1500 ml.

Less well known are the Split of .1875 litre or 187.5 ml. and Marie Jeanne of 3 bottles or 2.25 litres – enjoyed some great old vintages of Chateau Pichon Lalande in this size!

3 litre are 4 standard bottles or naturally Double Magnums in Bordeaux. However they go by the Jeroboam name in Burgundy & Champagne. Jeroboam in Bordeaux may be 5 litres.

6 litre are 8 standard bottles or 4 Magnums called Imperials in Bordeaux but Methuselah in Burgundy & Champagne. Also may see Rehoboams of 4.5 litres – especially bubbles.

Rather confusing.

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SUPERB MASTERCLASSES ON 67 PALL MALL – eg. BOLLINGER PN

November 23rd, 2020

Your scribe is a devoted follower of the superb wine masterclasses on the 67 Pall Mall website. They state they are “founded by wine lovers for wine wine lovers” and have so many live and posted seminars. The Club is located in London England where wine is certainly their passion. Congrats to Ronan Sayburn MS who is the Head of Wine and organizes their continuing outstanding line-up of virtual tastings. Particularly enjoy regular contributions from Burgundy expert Jasper Morris MW, Bordeaux expert Jane Anson MW, The Barolo Boys and so many others. There is something there for every wine and food aficionado. Highly recommend you tune in to check it out.

A recent one on November 10 was family house Champagne Bollinger (since 1829) in Ay with International Sales Director Guy de Rivoire introducing their newest Cuvee – Bollinger PN. This is the first new item added to the Bollinger line since the Rose back in 2008. Appropriately PN is Pinot Noir based to provide a more inexpensive choice from the classic house style in Vieilles Vignes Francaises started first back in the 1969 vintage. They own 178 hectares of vines providing 60% of their supply of grapes with 104 hectares in Pinot Noir, 45 in Chardonnay and the balance of 29 having 27 Pinot Meunier. Always appreciate their large quantity of 800,000 hand riddled magnums as Reserves. The first edition PN VZ 15 in a unique “Antique” bottle is chosen for “the elegance and vivacity of Pinot Noir from Verzenay” at 60% (a cooler region chosen for this hotter vintage) with the balance from Ay, Bouzy & Tauxieres. The base wine is 2015 with 50% barrel ferment plus 20% Reserves back to 2009 disgorged November 2019.The tasting note provided says: aromas of cherry stone, jam-infused fruit and dried fig; rich, complex nose then develops towards toasted, baked notes as well as aromas of elderberry and pear; on the palate, flavours of peach and apricot are enhanced with hazelnut and acacia blossom notes.”  Guy de Rivoire calls it “hedonistic”. Will be interesting to follow as well subsequent years from different vineyard holdings of their Pinot Noir with unique blends.


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Ask Sid: Tip for Texas Wine?

November 18th, 2020
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Question: I am in Austin this weekend and hope you might have a Texas wine tip for me?

Answer:  Haven’t visited Texas wine country for a while but it now has over 400 wineries in 8 American Viticultural Areas. Plantings of impressive Tempranillo continue to increase. Your scribe recommends that you seek out some top examples of this most popular variety. The Becker Vineyards Reserve Tempranillo from Texas Hill Country is concentrated rich and complex – the best Texas one I have ever tasted. Worth searching for but may be easier to find their value priced 2019 regular one with the addition of some Grenache & Zin in the mix. Good trip. 

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BCWI Fall Tasting: Smart Marketing in Difficult Times!

November 16th, 2020

Your scribe is a big fan and supporter of the British Columbia Wine Institute (winebc.com) and admire the outstanding job they do to market BC wines. Every year the trade and media in Vancouver really look forward to their annual Bloom/Chef Meets BC Grape event in April and Colour in the Fall. These are usually held at the Convention Centre and are a must attend function with nearly 100 wineries in attendance showing their current wine releases. BCWI had to be more creative this year because of the continuing Covid-19 pandemic but that didn’t stop them from putting together a well organized tasting well spaced in a smaller ballroom of the Wall Centre on November 5. It was so innovative how days ahead they gave you an extensive list of wines from which you could choose up to a maximum of 42 different ones to taste over 3 hours. When you arrived on the scheduled date and time on November 5 everything was superbly organized including your own mask and table number. Your 5 flights of 42 wines were personally delivered to you for study at your own pace. Perfect!

My flights were specifically chosen by me to get a better handle on the newer Riesling (6 in Flight A & 2 in Flight B), Chardonnay (7 in Flight B), Pinot Noir (6 in Flight C & 3 in Flight D), and blended reds. This also made for an instructive comparison of the same varieties produced in different styles by the wineries. Overall it was a wonderful educational experience and the new wines generally showed very well indeed. Excellent!

Some highlights included these brief impressions:

2017 Phantom Creek Pinot Gris – Well made Alsace influenced singing variety.

Rieslings showed well but so differently from fresh most acidic 19 Monte Creek; vibrant stylish 19 The View; powerful Aussie like 19 Tantalus; to sweeter 19 Wild Goose. 17 Little Farm was a very mature bottle while 19 Moraine was dry but subdued. The two with the most assertive interesting petrol notes were the balanced complex 18 Kitsch Esther’s Block & the more aged terrific value 16 Intersection.

Chardonnay showed mostly juicy apples with attractive fruit led by elegant delicate 18 Meyer McLean Creek and intense buttery textured 18 Joie Farm. 17 Little Farm showed pure smooth fruit, 18 Kitsch lively leafy leaner, 18 Culmina more developed softer almost sweeter style, and more oak on both 18 Quails’ Gate Stewart Family & youngest concentrated 19 Laughing Stock.

Pinot Noir is always a fav of mine showing here young and promising. Lightest were acidic 18 Harper’s Trail  & herbal 18 The View compared with the darkest most backward 18 Tantalus and raw 19 Quails’ Gate Estate. 18 Meyer has that attractive earthy sous-bois character and 18 Baillie-Grohman in the Kootenays impresses with improvement shown every year. Fresh 19 Ex-Nihilo displayed lovely seductive cherries. Pleased to see open best varietal aromas from classy Foxtrot 18 The Waltz joined by 16 Foxly Reserve new label exciting softer richer more forwardly delicious fruit.

Red Blends continue to improve with more aged vines and better vineyard and cellar management. Both 2017 Painted Rock Syrah & Red Icon have tremendous depth & concentration for aging. Liked the buckets of fruit in best ever 16 Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin and smooth intense 17 Hester Creek The Judge. More Bordeaux-like styling to cooler fruit 17 Clos Du Soleil Signature & aged 14 Culmina Hypothesis. Black Hills on a roll with juicy Merlot 18 Addendum & more big Cabernet Sauvignon 18 Nota Bene.

Final words for some excellent whites that need exploring by the wine consumer:

18 Clos du Soleil Capella – classy sauvignon blanc-semillon blend

19 Terravista Figaro – fresh vibrant 44% Roussanne, 30 Marsanne both barrel fermented & sur lie plus all stainless 26 Viognier

19 Bartier Bros. Semillon – impressive again so creamy & pure – Ageable

19 Hester Creek Trebbiano Blanc – best one yet with useful food pairing drier vibrant old vines speaking clearly

19 Summerhill Gruner Veltliner – very floral almost Gewurz like – Compare with Culmina

Congrats to WineBC with leadership from the Board & President/CEO Miles Prodan together with everyone else involved for their valuable contributions. Special kudos and thanks from me to Kim Barnes Marketing Director & Laura Kittmer Communications Director for all you and your fantastic team do to keep us so well informed. Great job.


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Ask Sid: Name of Greek goddess used for biodynamic certified wine?

November 11th, 2020
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Question: What is the name of the Greek Goddess that is being used for the certification of biodynamic wine?

Answer: DEMETER. Yes she was the goddess of agriculture, grains, and the harvest in old Greek mythology. Now appropriately it is the name used for a certification system around the world to verify that a food or product (including wine) has been produced by biodynamic methods.

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