Archive for February, 2015

One Faith Vineyards – Canada’s Most Expensive Wine!

February 16th, 2015

Canada's Most Expensive WinePhoto credit:

Canada is developing a growing reputation for some most unique top quality wines. Riesling, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah are among the most respected grape varieties presently being used. Various blends are becoming increasingly popular too but the old stand-by of the Bordeaux mix is still the most prominent. In fact one of them is now the most expensive Canadian wine: 2012 One Faith Vineyards Grand Vin – $495 for 3 bottles in a remarkable smooth wooden case!

Proprietor Bill Lui has a dream to create a “First Growth” world class wine from grapes grown in 4 special vineyards on the Black Sage Bench of the South Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. Their first vintage was harvested October 25-November 3 blending 45.4% merlot, 30% cabernet sauvignon, and 24.6% cabernet franc producing only 144 cases. Lots of experience behind this new project from pioneer consultant Harry McWatters, viticulturalist Richard Cleave who planted and managed this site since 1992, James Cluer MW, and ex-Napa winemaker Anne Vawter. The yields are impressive between 1.1 to 1.8 tons per acre because of winter pruning and summer green harvest thereby concentrating the juice. Micro fermentations of uncrushed berries in new French oak barrels rolled on designed racks to achieve best maceration was a technique that contributed to the overall success. They admirably drew off 10-15% saigne from each fermentation to make a Rose bottled and sold separately with all the profits going to Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

After extended 20-22 months aging in new and 1 year old French oak barriques the final blend selected was not fined or filtered. I was impressed by this first effort showing wonderful freshness from the sweet mineral fruit blend with balanced smooth textured elegance  Appreciated that they backed off from what could have resulted in a jammy over extracted result from this region. Launched from the good vintage conditions in 2012 I admire their set goals knowing they are on the right track to making their dream a future reality.

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10 of the best Aphrodisiac Foods!

February 13th, 2015

love, sex and food
By Joseph Temple

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow!  So if you’re looking for a dish to prepare at home or an item to order at a restaurant while you’re on a date with that special someone, try one of these ten ideas. Bon Appetit!

sensual foods
1. Crab & Lobster


2. Chocolate


sensual foods
3. Strawberries

sensual foods
By Alpha (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

4. Oysters


sensual foods
5. Pomegranates


sensual foods
6. Bananas


Salmon Avocado
7. Salmon & Avocado


8. Figs


sensual foods
9. Hot Chili Peppers

sensual foods
By Caviar_spoons.jpg: THORderivative work: Saibo (Δ) (Caviar_spoons.jpg) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

10. Caviar


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Ask Sid: New European Wine Classifications

February 11th, 2015
Ask your question here The International Wine & Food Society

Ask Sid Cross

Question: For the first time I have seen a new French appellation marking: protegee. The actual appellation mentioned on the label said “Appellation Saint Joseph protegee”. What can you tell us about this new marking?  Why does it say protected all of a sudden?

Answer: Good timely question. You will be seeing more of this on the labels of the new wines arriving at your local wine shop. Most of us are familiar with the wine appellation systems in France for specific locations defining where the grapes are grown and the wine is produced. Starting with 2012 the European Union has intervened and these systems are now revised. For example there is no longer any wines labelled VDQS. There now are 3 main categories:

1.      VIN DE FRANCE Basic wines formerly called Vin de Table. Quite a general name lacking any specific location but enticing to use because easier to comply with than the stricter regulations of the 2 higher categories. May find more wineries using this including the new natural wines. We should all encourage more information on the back label from the wineries to help the consumer understand where the wine grapes are actually grown.

2.      INDICATION GEOGRAPHIQUE PROTEGEE (IGP) Basically replacing the former Vin de Pays (“country wine”) such as the old Vin de Pays d’Oc from Languedoc-Roussillon and the like.

3.      APPELLATION D’ORIGINE PROTEGEE (AOP) These are the very top wines starting in 2012 such as your Saint Joseph Syrah from the Northern Rhone which are protected (protegee) and basically replacing the former Appellation d’Origine Controlee (AOC) designation.

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Bordeaux Top Twin Vintages

February 9th, 2015

Bordeaux Wine
By Colin (Flickr: the brat pack) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Are the 2010 & 2009 Bordeaux a twenty year reunion of those 1990 & 1989 twins? Tasting recently a lot of the former twins and drinking frequently those hard to believe now 25 year old delicious latter two. Got me thinking about what should be the recognized top twin vintages in Bordeaux history. Some random thoughts:

1864/1865: These 2 pre-phylloxera vintages were probably the first twins. 64 hot and 65 earlier picked but I have tasted both Lafites that showed amazingly complex and lasted so long as has the solid 64 Gruaud Larose.

1869/1870: Could be but fortunately having enjoyed immensely the 1870 Lafite from Glamis Castle on several occasions I vote strongly for that vintage.

1874/1875: Two big good crops at the time but don’t know them well enough to judge which was better.

1899/1900: 99 has a better chance of authentic bottles but 1900 a hotter year and magical with those 2 zeroes but suspicious especially for Chateau Margaux.

1928/1929: 29 delicate showy elegant and best early on but 28 structured balanced and came on late as more complex. Please serve me a Chateau Palmer 1928.

1947/1949: Two hot great vintages not quite consecutive. Port-like 47s like Cheval Blanc & 49s so harmonious and complex like 49 La Mission Haut Brion with better results in Sauternes.

1959/1961: Another not quite twins but the rich 59s like Lafite & classic 61s like Latour make for an intellectual study. Seldom get a disappointing bottle of either year.

1982/1983:  82s so outstanding at many levels including under the  radar Grand Puy Lacoste but 83 unique microclimate with less August rain in Margaux & Pessac-Leognan so Domaine de Chevalier Rouge 83 better than 82.

1985/1986: 85s seductive even early on as a lovely Merlot year while 86 favoured the late ripening Cabernet Sauvignon of St Julien & Pauillac. Love that 86 Mouton.

1989/1990: Another 2 hot years like 47 (90 hottest since it) & 49 (90 sunniest since it) with large crops and lower acids but both with great results. Look at 89 & 90 Montrose. Love the Haut Brion & La Mission 1989s. Some 90 Pauillacs like Mouton & Pichon Lalande underperformed but Lynch Bages super.

2000/2001: Powerful concentrated 2000s helped by the 3 zeros. 2001 lighter favouring the Right Bank but sensational Sauternes- low yield exciting botrytis Climens!

1995/1996: Maybe a lesser quality set of twins than the others listed but some serviceable wines. Hyped after 4 difficult years from 1991-1994. Some excellent wines from the northern Medoc appellations in 1996 with that Pontet Canet improved quality quest starting to assert itself.

2009/2010: The present two “vintages of the century” and maybe even the last one as well. Both years are outstanding indeed. Some producers benefited from learning from their 09s thereby achieving better ripe tannins extraction yet with a firmness for more structure and age worthy style. Jury still is out on which is best.

Do you have a favourite Bordeaux set of twins?

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Big Easy Cuisine: a look at 5 classic dishes from New Orleans

February 6th, 2015

A look at 5 classic dishes from New Orleans
By Joseph Temple

One of the greatest benefits of joining the International Wine & Food Society is the opportunity to travel around the world by attending the various festivals held throughout the year.  Since 2012, members have cruised down the Rhône River, soaked up some sun in Puerto Vallarta and dined in style at our most recent International Festival in Vancouver, British Columbia.

And this year, things are off to a great start as we travel to the city of New Orleans for what promises to be an outstanding culinary weekend.  With images of jazz trumpets, flickering gas lamps and Cajun/Creole inspired foods, the Big Easy is world renown for both its southern hospitality and a proud gastronomic heritage that is older than the country itself.  Writing about Crescent City cuisine, legendary author Mark Twain described it “as delicious as the less criminal forms of sin.”

So for this week’s entry, have a look at four dishes and one drink that were created in the city’s most legendary restaurants, markets and bars:

Antoine's New Orleans
By Pachango (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

1. Oysters Rockefeller

No history of New Orleans cuisine is complete without a reference to Antoine’s – a cornerstone of the French Quarter since 1840.  With thirteen different dining rooms and a wine cellar that stores approximately 25,000 bottles, every foodie and oenophile needs to visit there at least once during their lifetime.

Of course, the restaurant’s most famous dish that’s often imitated but never duplicated is Oysters Rockefeller, created by second-generation owner Jules Alciatore in 1889.  Using a rich puree as the secret ingredient that’s been closely guarded for over a century, no one except the current ownership knows exactly what makes these Oysters taste so delicious.  Bottom line: you haven’t tried them until you eat there.

New Orleans Sicilian culinary heritageBy sailn1 (Flickr: [1]) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

2. Muffuletta

Looking back at the many groups who made New Orleans into what it is today, there is no denying the impact that Sicilians have had on this city.  From St. Mary’s Church on Chartres Street to the annual festivities on St. Joseph’s Day, the fingerprints of southern Italy can be seen all over town.  But in terms of their culinary contribution, look no further than the many Italian-owned grocery stores, some of which are still in operation to this day.  In fact, due to the outstanding quality of food sold in these stores, New Orleans rejected the arrival of big-chain supermarkets for many years.

The most well-known market, which opened its doors for the first time in 1906 is Central Grocery, founded by Sicilian immigrant Salvatore Lupo.  And a big reason for its century-long success is that it can lay claim to being the spot where the famous Muffuletta sandwich was invented.  Consisting of firm-bodied Italian bread loaded with cold cuts that include mortadella and Genoa salami, provolone cheese and olive salad, this delicacy is the quintessential Crescent City dish.  So if you’re looking for that authentic NOLA experience, step back in time and experience what an old-fashioned Italian grocery was like while chowing down on this tasty sandwich.

New Orleans po boy
3. The Po’ boy

Without question, there’s no shortage of fine-dining establishments in the city of New Orleans.  But if you’re looking for a bite to eat for lunch or some moderately priced fare, you’ll need to try the world-famous Po ’boy sandwich that is sold all over the city.

According to legend, the dish got its name during a violent streetcar strike in 1929, when a sympathetic sandwich shop owner fed striking rail workers or “poor boys” as he called them for free during the entire dispute.  Since then, this concoction consisting of French bread filled with either gravy soaked roast beef or fried seafood and showered with fresh toppings has become one of the city’s most popular meals.  Whether you’re young or old, rich or poor, you’ll have to try a Po ’boy when you’re in New Orleans.

New Orleans dessert
By Kimberly Vardeman (Flickr: Brennan’s Bananas Foster Flambé) [
CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
By vxla [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

4. Bananas Foster

Somebody once said that dessert is the whole point of a meal.  And there’s no dessert that’s more synonymous with New Orleans than Bananas Foster.  Created at Brennan’s in 1951 when the restaurant was on Bourbon Street, this is a simple, but satisfying dish of ice cream covered with bananas cooked in a rich brown sugar sauce.  Of course, what makes this dessert a memorable experience is when your server pours rum over this rich dish table side and lights it on fire!

Pat O'Brien's New Orleans drink
By Gary J. Wood (Flickr: Pat O’Brien’s Courtyard) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

5. The Hurricane

From the Grasshopper to the Ramos Gin Fizz, there are many memorable beverages that were born in the bars of the Big Easy  But no signature drink is more recognizable and timeless than the Hurricane and its distinct vase-shaped glass.  Created at Pat O’Brien’s, known today as the “the Mount Rushmore of bars” in the mid-1940s, the former speakeasy owner stumbled upon something incredible when he decided to unload his rum – an unpopular spirit at the time – by mixing it with fresh lemon juice, passion fruit syrup and crushed ice. Selling it in what has become known as the Hurricane glass, this libation went on to be one of America’s most popular cocktails that extends well beyond the boundaries of the French Quarter.


Besh, John. My New Orleans: The Cookbook. Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Books, 2009.
Maruzzi, Peter. Classic Dining: Discovering Americas’ finest mid-century restaurants. Layton: Gibbs Smith, 2012.
Murphy, Michael. Eat Dat New Orleans: A guide to the unique food culture of the Crescent City. New York: Countryman Press, 2014.
Stern, Jane & Michael. Roadfood Sandwiches: Recipes and Lore from Our Favorite Shops Coast to Coast. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2007.

Since 1935, The International Wine & Food Society has had a branch in the city of New Orleans – one of the very first branches founded in North America by André Simon.

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