It is the festive season 2018 and now only two weeks until Christmas. The family of The International Wine & Food Society comprises members from around the world organized into 3 zones of The Americas, Asia/Pacific, and Europe/Africa. The largest membership is in The Americas with over 70 branches of more than 2400 members. Also vibrant are both Asia/Pacific of 26 branches with over 900 members across 14 countries and the far reaching Europe/Africa ranging from Cape Town to Moscow and many stops in between. Many of our branches will be holding events this month to celebrate the Christmas season plus acknowledging thanks for a successful 2018 program and welcoming in 2019. Your scribe is a long time member of the Vancouver Branch and has been fortunate to attend so many such events each December. Variety has been a key but in the old days we worked specifically to present our annual Christmas dinner with a theme using the traditional food specialities from a different country including England, Holland, Norway, Denmark (delicious Cauliflower & Shrimp) etc. Remember excellent goose (weihnachtsgans) & stollen from Germany, herring from Sweden, plum pudding “pud” from England, Buche de Noel from France, panettone from Italy, gazpacho from Spain and so many more. At that time in the Vancouver group a committee planned and cooked these ethnic dishes for a sit down dinner in a private home for as many as 50 members. Well done!
Great nostalgia for older members to return to The Four Seasons Hotel where we have held so many past wonderful dinners. The Vancouver Four Seasons has a marvellous room named Chartwell which is so suitable for such an occasion with decorated trees and a warm fireplace fire burning. Marvellous décor. Our branch is fortunate to have the amazing organizational talents headed by Milena & Jim Robertson who put together another memorable menu served on December 9, 2018 as shown, that was exquisite. The singing of Christmas carols led by members who sing in a choir was another togetherness feature enjoyed by the enthusiastic group attending. It would be exciting and informative to learn from all of you what the other IWFS branches do for their holiday event at this time of year. Please share this by posting a comment on this site.
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Question: Tried an older red Bordeaux Château L’Arrosee I liked and want to know more about current ownership please.
Answer: An old favourite wine property of your scribe and have been drinking it often since they produced that brilliant 1961. It is a Grand Cru Classe on the western slopes of the village of Saint-Emilion “cotes” and was in the hands of maverick Rodhain family making powerful wines. Since 2013 now in the capable hands of Domaines Clarence Dillon of Haut-Brion and the future is bright indeed. Full and powerful style with a good mix of cab franc & cab sauv in the blend. Seek it out.
On the upswing yet again to produce another treasure like that 1961 one in a more modern style.
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A tour of the Emilia Romagna region of Italy is a always a special treat enjoyed by your scribe. Headquarter yourself in Bologna and see all the culinary sites from there. What a place for fantastic food and classic restaurants serving authentic tagliatelle Bolognese. Visit the remarkable market of Mercato di Mezzo, Mortadella Bologna IGP (protected geographical indication), and wonderful bakeries such as Paolo Atti & Figli. Might also want to check out the Carpigiani Gelato Museum in nearby Anzola Dell’Emilia and the Lamborghini Factory & Museum in Sant’Agata Bolognese. More controversial is the newly opened monster-sized Fico Eataly World (www.eatalyworld.it/en) Food Park some 20 minutes transport from Bologna. Particularly recommend taking a day journey to Modena to check out their wooden barrel aged balsamic vinegars (Aceto Balsamico di Modena IGP) just tasted Sapore Platinum (10 year) including the Museum of Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale of Spilamberto & perhaps the Ferrari Museum (plus their historical factory one in Maranello). Another fascinating day trip is to Parma for the most thrilling insights into outstanding ham and cheese of revered nine months aged Prosciutto di Parma DOP (protected designation of origin) tasting last month the Ermes Fontana product & of course long aged (at least 24 months) Parmigiano-Reggiano DOP.
All of these memories vividly returned on November 21, 2018 at a tasting of special food products followed by a dinner from the province of Emilia-Romagna organized by the Italian Chamber of Commerce of Canada -West (www.iccbc.com) at the Westin Bayshore Hotel in Vancouver. Impressed by the pasta making talents shown by Casa Artusi the very first centre of gastronomic culture to be established in Italy. Also the skills in opening a whole wheel of a Parmigiano-Reggiano. A fantastic product is Nero Di Voghiera Garlic PDO with natural fermentation (no additives, preservatives, or yeasts) for 60 days changing white to black garlic with such tasty gentler notes. Another favourite of mine are top quality fish preserve from Rizzoli operating since 1906. Particularly outstanding are anchovy fillets and especially tuna fillets both in olive oil. The dinner executed by visiting chefs was well done indeed as the menu courses show. Appropriate regional white and red wines from Nespolino featured blends of trebbiano with chardonnay plus sangiovese with some merlot. A wonderful day. In fact the day stimulated a return visit to this region for your enthusiast already booked for the Fall 2019. Recommended.
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Question: What would be your Champagne purchase recommendation for holiday gifting?
Answer: Yes the upcoming festive season is the time for sparkling wines and Champagne but so is all year long. I am a big fan of the classic balanced 2008 Champagnes and recommend any bottle with that vintage date on it. Both Pol Roger or Paul Bara are two that come to mind immediately as good examples from 2008. Local Vancouver store www.marquis-wines.com lists some 44 Grower Champagnes of interest with 10% discount for 6 bottles and free shipping. Enjoy.
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We all think of a Paulee tasting as being only a Burgundy concept. However other wine regions can copy this excellent idea. A Bordeaux BYOB – especially here for a First Growth theme – works fantastically as the same opportunity. Your scribe attends such a dinner-tasting with too much wine knowledge baggage though has great expectations for finding some best bottles as all wines are top shelf but the evolving nature of different vintages matters a lot. A matching menu masterly done by talented Chef Alex Chen and his brigade at Boulevard Restaurant in Vancouver helped by enhancing our overall appreciation of the quality of the wines.
You usually can put 8 top properties into this so called First Growth group. We didn’t have any Petrus or La Mission Haut Brion this time. Did have 3 vintages of Haut-Brion with an elegant classy cool 79 singing well as did the powerful rich caramel dessert-like 1975. 1978 is more vegetal and not the majestic outstanding riper prowess of sister property La Mission in this late miracle vintage. Only 2 vintages of Cheval shown with underrated 1988 still firm and developing that special Right Bank cab franc character preferred over a lovely bouquet but less balanced less fruit 1986. Chateau Margaux showed 4 excellent examples with atypical big bodied still young dramatic 1986 and mature classy flowers long flavours 1978 at 40 years. Wonderful comparison of twins 1983 & 1982 both true beauties. Found 1983 no rush backward younger harder and most concentrated fruit while 1982 forwardly open charming riper rounder delicious already. Thirteen wines were from Pauillac with Latour 2, Lafite 5, and Mouton 6 vintages to compare. 1983 Latour very high fill decanted early and better than expected from a difficult year for them while the under the radar 1970 well stored bottle again much better now than in earlier experiences. Outstanding bouquet of intense spicy plums with cedar! Six Moutons ranged from a fresh youthful 2012 to a mature 1970. Most impressive was 1998 with dense 86% cab sauv for wonderful ageing potential while drinking up the barnyard 1988, smoky lighter 1980, and cherry honey earthy 1976. Lafite made the best overall showing of the evening with 5 quite different lovely vintages. 1999 has that eclipse marking and engraved vintage on the bottle produced from 1/3 of the crop in the Grand Vin but presently more herbal green tea acidity and prominent tannins. The three from the eighties shone better. 1989 quite lush from riper vintage style with elegance but seemed lighter bodied than I expected. 1986 still somewhat tight but has a magnificent explosive cedar nose with big bodied classic dense fruit already showing some brilliant harmony. 1985 more mature with charm and ready to enjoy now. Only off bottle was that tannic year 1975 with some TCA corky issues. All in all 22 most intriguing top First Growths to try in one evening. What an education!
Hope you are thinking about holding a Paulee with wines other than Burgundy. BYOB with a theme works very well. Enjoy the experience.
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