Archive for July, 2015

Ask Sid: Is the vintage date on wines still important?

July 8th, 2015
Ask your question here The International Wine & Food Society

Are vintage dates on wine bottles really imporant?

Question: Is the vintage date on a bottle of wine still important?

Answer: Of course it is. That is why the IWFS continues with their sought after valuable Vintage Chart membership card every year! We try to keep you informed on the current vintage buzz from around the world. However you are right that for most commercial wines released for current drinking it may now be less important than some other factors. For warmer areas with more consistent harvest ripeness (including with global warming more and more wine regions) it becomes less critical. Nevertheless vintage is often reflected in the price you pay. I am presently at Chateau Smith-Haut-Lafitte in Bordeaux where this issue is clearly reflected in their wine shop where the last 4 vintages for sale are priced in Euros per bottle for 2012 (71), 2011 (66), 2010 (140), and 2009 (256). Vintage still does matter!


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Muscadet: Melon de Bourgogne

July 6th, 2015

Muscadet: Melon de Bourgogne

I have spent the last 10 days in the sauna bath high temperatures of the Loire Valley and Bordeaux. Certainly the 2015 vintage is ahead of all normal schedules and the buzz is already for another hot 2003 like vendange. I remain impressed with the upside potential on the world stage for Muscadet. The average consumer is becoming more open minded to dry white wines with refreshing acidity which will match well with food – especially seafood. Classic Chablis is in demand as an increasingly popular pairing but prices are already rising. Here is a great value opportunity to try a Muscadet substitute.

Muscadet is made from a single grape variety Melon de Bourgogne which left its native Burgundy in the early 17th century and found a new home in the Loire Valley around the town of Nantes in far Western France. There are 4 main appellations: Muscadet, most important Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine, Muscadet Coteaux-de-la-Loire, and Muscadet Cotes-de-Grandlieu. Closer to the ocean as most westerly also check out Gros-Plant-du-Pays-Nantais for their dry white from Folle Blanche grapes for that unmistakeable taste of the sea. Note also that in 2011 three terroirs of Clisson, Le Pallet & Gorges were promoted to “crus Communaux” with AOC Muscadet Sevre-et-Maine to reflect their pursuit of excellence.

Currently from June to October 2015 there is a tourism program spotlighting 32 top producers at www.levignobledenantes-tourisme.com. A useful address for wine information is Maison Des Vins De Loire 15 place du Commerce 44000 Nantes or mdesvins-nantes@vinsdeloire.fr
I visited Chateau du Coing de St. Fiacre (www.chateau-du-coing.com) with Veronique Gunther Chereau and tasted many of their quality wines. Represented in Vancouver BC by Liberty Wines agency. Formerly Ch. du Coin “Castle of the Corner” because the estate results from its unique location at the corner of 2 rivers – Sevre & Maine. it is a historic property that dates back to the middle ages but destroyed by the wars and rebuilt 1810-1820. Noticed 3 distinct terroirs from their 3 owned properties:

1. In Saint Fiacre Ch du Coing on 45 hectares of “le schiste” soil displays tender perfumed generous floral white flowers.
2. In Gorges Ch. de la Gravelle on 17 hectares of “le gabbro” or volcanic rock under a layer of 40 cm. clay gives much more citrus high mineral “chablis-like” styling.
3. In Monnieres Le Grand Fief de la Cormeraie (organic since 2010) has “le gneiss” of sedimentary rock.

Various cuvees are made parcel by parcel on their fine lees right up to bottling. Also impressed that the natural acidity and minerality in their wines allow fabulous aging. Tried 2010, 2007, 2000, and 1996 of 100 year old vines Comte de Saint Hubert low yields 25hl/ha all still fresh and vibrant but more complexity depth and texture now. Most wines selling at 8-12 euros per bottle and the two oldest only 15 & 20 euros each – a bargain. Since 2002 aging some as long as 5 years on the lees and a Cuvee Excellence of 60-100 year old vines showing stronger aromative range with yellow fruits perfect at 15+ years of aging. Younger wines never racked so have a small amount of CO2 giving “perlant” slighty fizzy fresh perfect as an aperitif or with fish – or the abundant oysters and mussels grown here. Recommend!


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5 authentic and patriotic dishes to enjoy for the Fourth of July

July 3rd, 2015

5 authentic and patriotic dishes to enjoy for the fourth of July

By Joseph Temple

Tomorrow is Independence Day!  And what better way to celebrate the birth of America than by preparing some dishes that our Founding Fathers loved to eat.  In previous posts, we’ve documented that during the revolutionary period, patriots were quite fond of Madeira, whiskey and hard cider throughout the thirteen colonies.  But what did they pair with these drinks while they wrote the Declaration of Independence or prepared for the Battle of Saratoga?  Have a look below to see five dishes you might want to consider making if you’re looking to commemorate a truly authentic 4th of July! Cheers.


Turkey dish

Did you know that instead of a bald eagle as the national emblem of the United States, Ben Franklin wanted it to be a turkey?  That’s probably because in the dense forests surrounding the revolutionary city of Philadelphia, wild turkeys were in abundance and an easy source of food for colonists.  Additionally, the turkey according to Franklin symbolized early America because it “minds his own business, respecting the rights of others.”  But if you’re not up to cooking an entire bird like you would for Thanksgiving and Christmas, how about some BBQ turkey legs or turkey pot pie for your patriotic gathering?
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Roasted pig

If game bird isn’t really your thing, you might want to consider roasting an entire pig this Fourth of July.  Just like turkey, there was no shortage of swine roaming the streets of Boston, Philadelphia and New York during colonial times.   In fact, pigs became an important trade item before and after independence, being shipped in mass to the Caribbean.  So how about cooking up some luau style pig for your summer festivities?
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African Slaves bought pepper pot soup to the American colonies

Brought to the thirteen colonies by African slaves arriving in Philadelphia, this heavily spiced West Indian recipe traditionally consisted of tripe, pig’s feet, fish, vegetables and hot peppers spread like wildfire.  The dish known by many as “Philadelphia pepper-pot” became so popular that General George Washington requested it to raise the morale—and the temperature—of his troops fighting at Valley Forge in 1777.  To modernize the dish, try replacing the tripe with spicy chicken sausage.
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Cabbage was a popular vegetable for German Americans

After crossing the Atlantic Ocean, America’s first settlers successfully planted many European vegetables such as lettuce, carrots and turnips.  But cabbage, which could endure the cold winters and was rich in nutrients, became a vital food staple. Being grown extensively across the Hudson River, the food was especially popular with German immigrants living in Pennsylvania and New Jersey who used it to make their traditional Sauerkraut.  If that isn’t up your alley, try making it into a salad with some bacon, garlic and olive oil for a twist on summer coleslaw.
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Cherries were abundant throughout the American colonies

Although the story of George Washington famously chopping down a cherry tree proved to be a myth, there certainly was no shortage of cherry trees during colonial times.  Unfortunately, native cherries proved to be too sour for the palates of most Americans who generally preferred the sweeter varieties from England.  However, you can use sour cherries for everything from brandy to jams and the best way to celebrate this national fruit would be with a fresh cherry pie for dessert.
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Sources:

Goucher, Candice. Congotay! Congotay! A Global History of Caribbean Food. London: Routledge, 2013.
Lewis, Jenny. Midwest Sweet Baking History: Delectable Classics Around Lake Michigan. Charleston: The History Press, 2011.
McLagan, Jennifer. Odd Bits: How to Cook the Rest of the Animal. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 2011.
Mizelle, Brett. Pig. London: Reaktion Books Ltd., 2011.
Smith, Andrew F. The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.
Staib, Walter. The City Tavern Cookbook: Recipes from the Birthplace of American Cuisine. Philadelphia: Running Press, 2009.


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Ask Sid: Maremma

July 1st, 2015
Ask your question here The International Wine & Food Society

Ask Sid: Maremma
By http://www.flickr.com/people/sherseydc/ (http://www.flickr.com/photos/sherseydc/2939637726/) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Question: I really like how those savoury Italian Chianti go so well with dinner. Lately finding that as the prices are increasing that I am experimenting now with Maremma for better value. Similar?

Answer: Good choice. Yes both are using the delicious sangiovese grape. I too enjoy it with pasta and find excellent value of Morellino (local name for Sangiovese) from Scansano in Maremma. They got their DOC in 1978 requiring a minimum of 85% morellino and then their DOCG in 2006. Quality is much improved recently but often their wines seem to me in a style which is riper, softer with less acidity and more accessible than Tuscany – not necessarily a bad thing for current drinking use. Also check out the wines from their more northerly neighbour around Suvereto. This region uses Sangiovese/Morellino but often mixes it with oaked cab sauv, merlot, and syrah for a blend of IGT labelling. I spotlighted one of the top producers Tua Rita in my February 2, 2015 IWFS blog. Enjoy Maremma while saving yourself some money.


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