Archive for February, 2016

Ask Sid: Why is Picasso on a wine bottle?

February 17th, 2016
Ask your question here The International Wine & Food Society

Why is Pablo Picass on a wine bottle label?
By Gilbert LE MOIGNE (Collection personnelle) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Question: How did my 1973 Chateau Mouton Rothschild come to have a Picasso on the label?   Thanks!

Answer: The Mouton label has been an important truly unique one since the initial 1924 Jean Carlu marking the very first chateau bottling of the entire harvest. Mouton was classified as a Second Cru in the 1855 classification but in 1973 was officially proclaimed as a Premier Cru. Before the coat of arms stated “Premier ne puis, Second ne daigne, Mouton suis” (First I cannot be, Second I disdain, Mouton I am) but was changed to “Premier je suis, Second je fus, Mouton ne change” (First I am, Second I was, I Mouton do not change). To celebrate this promotion and “en hommage a Picasso (1881-1973)” they used one of his paintings “Bacchanale” they already had in the Mouton Museum to illustrate this special label.

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Riesling 10 Year Vertical – Tantalus Vineyards

February 15th, 2016

Riesling 10 Year Vertical - Tantalus Vineyards

The Riesling variety has shown good adaptability finding success in many cooler wine growing regions around the world expanding from its original home in the Rhine in Germany. One of these is British Columbia and more specifically the southwest facing slopes in Naramata of Tantalus Vineyards in the northerly Okanagan. Wonderful foresight in planting the Riesling variety originally in 1978 by both the Dulik family of Pinot Reach Cellars (sold in 2004 to proprietor Eric Savics and renamed Tantalus) and the nearby Sperling family vineyards.  Wise decisions. More plantings of Riesling has followed.

On February 9, 2016 Tantalus Vineyards held a vertical tasting of their Riesling back to the first one produced in 2005 by their first winemaker Matt Holmes from Australia using 4 blocks of Clone 21B old vines. Some impressions:

2005: 12 degrees alcohol. Maturing bouquet with complexity showing typical “petrol” (or preferred “marmalade”) notes. Smooth balanced flavours expressing easy drinking Riesling variety character.

2006: 13  More flowery herbal statement shows thick rich body with more length.

2007: 12.4  Floral more vibrant nose. Soft entry but lovely elegant delightful middle and seems fresher.

2008: 13.2 The start of using some of the younger vines. Deeper intense fresh fruit with better structure impresses. Lots of middle depth here. Super flavours in balance. Presently my favourite of the whole tasting.

2009: 13.3 Construction broke ground on a new winery and the talented David Paterson joined as their second and current winemaker. Frost, a very warm year and dominated by young vines coming on stream results in this less open highest alcohol quite soft very ripe flavoured ready for drinking Riesling.

2010: 12.2 Classy cooler aromas vibrant & lively. Leaner with more acidity. Like the delicacy & encouraging age ability promised. Tasting Room & Wine Shop opened with their first vintage of Old Vines fruit used in a Sparkling Brut.

2011: 12.4 Refined petrol yet greener with more floral minerals and a developing creamy texture.

2012: 12.3 Alsace-like statement with full impressive balanced fruit with thicker oily mouth feel.

2013: 12.8 Younger more backward vegetal fruit. Almost searing acidity on entry but lots of fruit underneath for potential depth with more time.

2014: 13 More floral grassy but full of verve. Undeveloped but fresh smooth and balanced. Impressive.

2015: Tank Sample. Possibly their best one yet. Classy in spite of the recent sulphur. Would bet on this vintage developing very well.

All 11 wines showed vintage differences I like but also a one property “terroir” commonality that is encouraging for producing top Riesling. Their commendable beehive program on the property with Arlo’s Honey Farm has grown to 52 hives and is typical of the total environment. Good work and please continue your passionate commitment to world class Riesling!

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A look at 5 famous Atlantic City restaurants

February 12th, 2016

A look at five famous Atlantic City restaurants

By Joseph Temple

From its humble beginnings as a small seaside village in the early nineteenth century to a powerful gambling mecca that dominated most of the 1980s, Atlantic City has seen many highs and lows as America’s playground. Images of Victorian style architecture, Miss America pageants and a world famous Boardwalk where visitors could observe the sandy beaches from the comfort of a rolling chair all made “AC” the top tourist destination of the Roaring Twenties. But with railroads being replaced by inter-state highways and cheap airfare, the city fell on hard times as the conveniences of post-war suburbia made Atlantic City seem hopelessly outdated.

New Jersey residents however, would give their resort town a second wind in 1976 when they voted to allow legalized gambling in Atlantic City. With that decision, the shore’s crumbling skyline was quickly replaced with lavish multi-billion dollar hotels and casinos, turning AC into the Las Vegas of the east coast. And unlike its competition that was tainted by the influence of organized crime, Atlantic City succeeded throughout the 80s with fresh faces that included real-estate mogul Donald Trump and a young pugilist named Mike Tyson who would have some of his biggest fights on the Jersey Shore.

Of course, beyond the bordellos, the carnival barkers and the casinos—both legal and illegal—there were also some outstanding restaurants, some of which are still in business to this day. So let’s look at five famous joints (it’s incredibly hard to name just five) that became part of Atlantic City’s unique culture and identity.


Dock's Oyster House Atlantic City restaurant
1. Dock’s Oyster House

Featured on the fifth season of CNN’s Parts Unknown, host Anthony Bourdain informs us that Dock’s Oyster House is one of the few restaurants in Atlantic City to survive “Prohibition, the Depression, two world wars, numerous declines—and rebirths.” Founded in 1897 by Harry “Dock” Dougherty when the popularity of oysters was at an all-time high, this classic seafood and steak restaurant is an Atlantic City institution with a wine list that has been recognized by the Wine Spectator. If you’re looking to soak in some AC nostalgia, try the lobster tail, fried oysters or crabmeat au gratin—they have never left the menu since the day Dock’s first opened its doors.


Angelo's Fairmount Tavern in Atlantic City
2. Angelo’s Fairmount Tavern
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When talking about authentic cuisine from Atlantic City, it’s impossible not to mention Italian food. In the late nineteenth century as laborers migrated north, mostly from neighboring Philadelphia, the town became much more ethnically diverse. Author Nelson Johnson, whose book inspired the HBO series Boardwalk Empire, writes, “Thousands of building tradesmen and laborers came to Atlantic City looking for work and many remained to make it their home … The Italians started local firms involving all the building trades and opened restaurants, food markets, and bakeries.”

One of these restaurants, founded in 1935 when Atlantic City had more debt per capita than any other city during the Great Depression, was Angelo’s Fairmount Tavern. Located on Fairmount Avenue near the convention center, this family-owned establishment is renowned for its Italian dishes served in larger-than-life portions, surrounded by an ambiance of sports memorabilia and framed photographs of its celebrity customers.


Hackney's Seafood Restaurant in Atlantic City
3. Hackney’s Seafood Restaurant

Being right next to the ocean, it’s no surprise that seafood became an integral part of AC. One of the city’s first carnival barkers, “Captain” John Young, simply wowed tourists with a “deep sea net haul” that was lowered onto the floor of the pier, where Young would then try to name up to 50 different species to a working-class clientele that kept coming back for more every weekend.

Continuing this theme, Harry Hackney, also known as the “lobster king” turned a small lunch wagon that he used to serve clams into a gigantic seafood restaurant that ended up seating over 3,000 patrons. With the slogan “Eat Them Where They’re Caught,” supposedly coined by New York Governor Al Smith, Hackney proved to be a true marketing genius! Building a pier next to his restaurant, he would invite guests to fish for themselves and while inside, they could pick their own lobster from a pool he had built – a gimmick that proved to be enormously successful and is still with us today.


La Victoire Restaurant in Atlantic City
4. La Victoire Restaurant

During Atlantic City’s most lucrative run in the early twentieth century, its hubris was a Boardwalk that blurred the lines between rich and poor. “The working class craved opportunities to participate in festive occasions and the Boardwalk gave them just such a chance,” writes Johnson. “The Boardwalk created the illusion that everyone was part of a huge middle class parading to prosperity and social freedom. There were no class distinctions while strolling the Boardwalk; everyone was someone special.”

One specific restaurant on this landmark strip that catered to throngs of working class vacationers was La Victoire. Owned by Harry Katz, it became one of the hottest spots on the Boardwalk with a special blue-plate platter that contained a number of different seafood items that included a half lobster—all for just $1.50!


Wash’s Restaurant in Atlantic City
5. Wash and Sons’ Seafood Restaurant

Without the arrival of African-American workers from the Upper South, the history of Atlantic City would have been very different. Actively seeking cheap labor to help build and sustain a tourist economy, the black population in AC would grow from just under 200 in 1870 to nearly 11,000 by 1915 – making this group close to 25% of the city’s permanent residents and even more during the off season. Working in mostly menial jobs and with de facto segregation firmly in place, an area known as Northside took shape, becoming ground zero for the isolated African-American experience in Atlantic City.

And at 1702 Arctic Avenue in Northside, a popular spot for black hotel employees after a long day’s work, was Wash and Sons’ Seafood Restaurant, which began as a small sandwich shop in 1937. Recognized as the oldest black-owned establishment in Atlantic City, the restaurant catered to such stars as Red Foxx, Moms Mabley and Count Basie. Wash’s granddaughter, Turiyah Raheem, describes the cultural impact writing: “Wash’s probably employed at least one person from every black family in A.C. and became an unofficial social services agency by doing so. It was sometimes called the “black Cheers” — where everybody knew your name.”



Johnson, Nelson. Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times and the Corruption of Atlantic City. London: Ebury Publishing, 2011.
Legato, Frank. Atlantic City: In Living Color. Macon: Indigo Custom Publishing, 2005.
Miller, Jen A. Explorer’s Guide Jersey Shore: Atlantic City to Cape May: A Great Destination. New York: The Countryman Press, 2011.
Raheem, Turiya S. A. (2013, July 2). Wash’s, Not Just a Business. Atlantic City Weekly. Retrieved from
Ristine, James D. Atlantic City. Mount Pleasant: Arcadia Publishing, 2008.
Schnitzspahn, Karen L. Jersey Shore Food History: Victorian Feasts to Boardwalk Treats. Charleston: The History Press, 2012.
Sokolic, William H. &  Ruffalo, Robert E. Atlantic City Revisited. Mount Pleasant: Arcadia Publishing, 2006.

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Ask Sid: Is this 1998 white wine still good?

February 10th, 2016
Ask your question here The International Wine & Food Society

Ask Sid: Is this 1998 white wine still good?

Question: I have a bottle of white wine from 1998. The label says Grand vin de Bourgogne Vincent Girardin 1998 Chassagne-Montrachet ler cru “MORGEOT”. I opened it and although it tasted OK it has a darker than white colour. Will it be OK to drink the rest of it I only had one glass?

Answer: Top white Burgundy! Surprisingly I enjoyed last night a delightful bottle of the very same wine and producer from the 2002 vintage that showed so fresh & vibrantly balanced. Morgeot is a large vineyard including many smaller lesser known climats that are allowed to use the Morgeot name and tends to be softer and more forwardly than some other top Chassagne vineyards. 1998 whites are from a fruity easy vintage that have evolved more quickly than other longer aging vintages like 2002. Most 1998 Burgundy whites should have been consumed. You describe a darker than white colour that is an indication that the wine is getting older but may also be showing alarming oxidation or maderization. It should be OK to drink the rest of it but the sooner you do so the better. Keep it stored very cold until you consume it all.

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Culinary Skills of Canadian Chefs Shine Brightly

February 8th, 2016

Culinary Skills of Canadian Chefs Shine Brightly

I posted previous blog missives in February 2013 & 2014 on The Canadian Culinary Championships. It is now a well established event that brings together the winning chefs from 11 successful regional competitive fundraiser events for Gold Medal Plates ( to raise funds for Canadian Olympic athletes – now totaling a contribution of $11 million dollars! I just concluded judging another one. I admire the culinary skills and the endurance of the talented chefs competing. There are 3 main parts as follows:

1. Cooking on a very low budget to best match a mystery wine – Wine Compatibility 30% of total marks:

The mystery wine turned out to be the 2014 Tawse Gamay from Ontario showing young fresh fruity easy drinking good acidity non tannic style that allowed versatility resulting in dishes with varied success ranging from salmon to bison.

2. Preparing 1 dish out of 7 ingredients in a blind Black Box – Creativity 40%:

Ground Elk; Whole Squid; Red Lentils; Ontario Roasted Non-Salted Peanuts; Black Salsify; Ox-Eye Daisy Flower Caper Heads; and Nova Scotia seaweed Hana Tsunomato.

3. Grand Finale Dinner Dish – Taste 40%:

The 11 chefs and their brigades went all out for the Grand Finale choosing an innovative main course and their matching wine. Details of dish & pairing:

Marc Lepine Canadian Culinary Championships

Marc Lepine – Atelier, Ottawa.  Smoked steelhead trout with miso-molasses glaze, cured pork belly, barley and corn porridge, corn cob broth. 2012 Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard Chardonnay Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Peninsula.

Matthew Batey Canadian Culinary Championships

Matthew Batey – The Nash Restaurant & Off Cut Bar, Calgary. Alder Smoked Sablefish, Pacific Octopus Compression, Northern Divine Caviar, Yukon Gold Potato, Sabayon. 2011 Road 13 Sparkling Chenin Blanc, Oliver, BC.

Alex Chen Canadian Culinary Championships

Alex Chen – Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar, Vancouver. Truffle scented chicken, celeriac fondant, foie gras stuffed celery, “Umani” consommé. 2009 Foxtrot Vineyards Pinot Noir, Naramata, BC.

Jan Trittenbach – Solstice Seasonal Cuisine, Edmonton. Duo of Stuffed Pork Roulade and Pork Belly Pistachio and Beet “Soil”. 2012 Sandhill Small Lots Three, Sandhill Estate Vineyard, Okanagan, BC.

Jonathan Thauberger – Crave Kitchen & Wine Bar, Regina. Fruits De Mer in Dashi. 2014 Ava blend Viognier/Marsanne/Rousanne from Le Vieux Pin, South Okanagan, BC.

Stuart Camneron – Byblos, Toronto. Pressed Quail, Foie Gras Mousse borek, Rose Jam, & Iranian Pistachio. 2013 Benjamin Bridge Nova 7, Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia.

Norm Pastorin – The Cornerstone Bar & Restaurant, Winnipeg. Confit salmon, bacon-quinoa-salmon roe, pickled shallots, tamagoyaki, soy ginger anise glaze. 2013 Burrowing Owl Estate Winery Chardonnay, Okanagan Valley, BC.

Darren Craddock – Riverside Country Club, Saskatoon. Golden Prairies Saskatchewan Wild Boar, Spiced Neck & Birch Syrup Glazed Belly, Textures of Crab Apple, Sunchoke & Cherry, “old Vines” Infused Saskatchewan Mustard. 2014 Hester Creek Estate Winery Old Vines Block Trebbiano, Okanagan Valley, BC.

Guillaume Cantin – Les 400 Coups, Montreal. Suckling Pig with Maple Glaze, Blood Sausage, “Pois au Lard”, Saskatoon Berry Ketchup, Butter Nuts, and Tarragon. Amber Ale Beer a Table, Brasseurs du Monde de Saint-Hyacinthe.

Roger Andres – Relish Gourmet Burgers, St John’s. Acadian Sturgeon Premium Caviar, Sea Urchin Bavarian, Scallop Bottarga, Shallot Toast, Crisp Buckwheat, Sour Cream and Lemon Curd, Pink Peppercorn Meringue. 2014 Benjamin Bridge Tidal Bay, Gaspereau Valley, Nova Scotia.

Martin Ruiz Salvador – Fleur de Sel, Halifax. Rabbit & Snails. 2013 Lightfoot & Wolfville Ancienne Chardonnay, Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

These chefs all showed brilliant culinary skills in this tough competition. Marc Lepine received the Gold and is the first 2 time winner having won gold also in 2012. Matthew Batey won Silver & Alex Chen Bronze. All were worthy of recognition. If you are a tourist in any of these cities in 2016 I recommend you check their restaurants out for an interesting dining experience!

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