Archive for June, 2016

Ask Sid: Difference between rose, pink and blush wines?

June 29th, 2016
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Ask Sid: Difference between rose, pink and blush wines?

Question: I am confused by wines being called rose, pink and blush. What is the difference?

Answer: It is confusing! As a long time Champagne lover I understood rose to mean a sparkler showing various shades of pink produced from either a little time spent on the dark skins of the grapes or with some red pinot noir wine later added to the clear juice. There were also those special still roses from Provence including Tavel AOC & Anjou in the Loire as well as rosato from Italy and rosado from Portugal. Sweeter styled Mateus became a big seller in the seventies along with the commercial pink “white Zinfandel”. As more red grape varieties were being used for still roses around the world the name evolved to include blush for those showing less red colour. Hard to know by the use of the name alone which wines are going to taste dry or sweet. Now it is all rather confusing and the three words you mention seem to be used interchangeably.

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2nd Annual Judgment of BC Wines: Riesling & Pinot Noir

June 27th, 2016

BC Riesling and Pinot Noir

I enjoyed last week in Summerland participating with some 30 other “pros” in The Second Annual Judgment of BC Wine blind tasting to see how British Columbia wines are stacking up to comparable values around the World. British wine critic Dr. Jamie Goode, and American wine writer Elaine Chukan-Brown currently the American Specialist for and a contributing writer for Wine & Spirits, scored the wines along with 29 expert Canadian wine judges You may recall the first one was written up August 31, 2015 on this Blog as BC Bottle Shock with Steven Spurrier where Chardonnay disappointed but Syrah triumphed with CC Jentsch 2013 ranked #1. This time the choices were Riesling and Pinot Noir again curated by wine educator DJ Kearney (@djwines) and Wines of British Columbia (@WineBCdotcom; pitting 6 BC wines against 6 acknowledged global benchmarks for both grape varieties. The goal of these tastings is to honestly assess the current state of grapegrowing and winemaking in BC in order to provide a clear perspective of the distinct characteristics of British Columbia wine in relation to global standards, and to achieve a focused vision for the continued evolution of the BC Wine Industry.

The Press Release issued on the event included these comments:

“I am so pleased with the results. This is not about win or lose, good or better. This is about putting BC Wines up against really stiff competition and what great results.” noted DJ Kearney curator of the event. “The global wines were all chosen for a reason to challenge, to push, and to help us realize that we are in great company. This should be a tough competitive set, and it was. It had to be. And BC did well. What this shows is that we can hold our own among acknowledged classics.”

“What was really interesting when I tasted through those 12 wines blind, I couldn’t pick out the BC Wines which tells me they belong in their peer group which is a ringing endorsement for BC Wine that we’re on the right track,” noted Dr. Jamie Goode. “I think BC Riesling really put in a strong performance. The key aspect was the purity and beautifully integrated acidity in these wines. I thought it was a well chosen set of wines, if I saw the lineup before tasting, I wouldn’t have expected to see the BC Wines do so well. I was pleasantly surprised with the results.”

“I was pleased we were doing a tasting with Pinot Noir and Riesling, they are two varieties that BC is doing very well and they should be celebrated.” said Sid Cross. “I thought the results were very pleasing to see BC Pinot Noir right in the midst of the pack. The top three Pinot Noirs are classic wines from the top recognized regions in the world for Pinot Noir, a Premium Cru from Burgundy, Oregon and Central Otago. To come in right behind those wines shows that BC is right there for Pinot Noir. Very impressive.”

“BC showed very well. I was more interested in being able to identify BC characteristics within the wines. I was able to pick out five of the six Pinot Noirs and four of the six BC Rieslings. It had to do with the energy of the wines. The bright fruit energy presence. Not so much elegance, finesse and depth, more that upbeat intensity. And my first place Pinot Noir was a BC!” remarked David Lawrason.”


1. Max Ferd. Richter Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett 2013 | Mosel Valley, Germany | 9% $42.99 2. CedarCreek Platinum Block 3 Riesling 2014 | Okanagan Valley, BC | 12.2% | $22.99
3. Wild Goose Stoney Slope Riesling 2013 | Okanagan Falls, BC | 13.3% | $20
4. Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen Eroica Riesling 2013 | Columbia Valley AVA, Washington State | 12% | $29.49
5. Leeuwin Art Series Riesling 2012 | Margaret River, Australia | 12% | $42.49
6. Synchromesh Storm Haven Vineyard Riesling 2015 | Okanagan Falls, BC | 8.9% | $35
7. Culmina Decora Riesling 2015 | Okanagan Valley, BC | 13.5% | $26.99
8. Pewsey Vale Eden Valley Riesling 2014 | South Australia | 12% | $19.99
9. Robert Weil Kiedricher Riesling Trocken 2012 | Rheingau, Germany | 11.5% | $47.99
10. Tantalus Old Vines Riesling 2013 | Okanagan Valley, BC | 13.1% | $30.35
11. Orofino Hendsbee Vineyard Riesling 2013 | Similkameen Valley, BC | 12% | $22
12. Trimbach Riesling 2012 | Alsace, France | 12.5% | $35.99

Riesling is the 4th white variety by acreage planted (some like Tantalus Old Vines date from 1978) behind Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Gewurztraminer. Drier more backward wines seemed to get less votes than sweeter ones with Tantalus having very high quality but presently austere with vibrant high acidity hiding the underlying intense fruit from older vines. Give it a couple more years to integrate and it will show very well indeed. The Top Two were truly outstanding wines and deserving of their top ranking. Impressive showing to have two BC wines in the top three.


1. Bouchard Père Premier Cru Beaune Clos de la Mousse Monopole 2012 | Burgundy, France | 13% | $66.99
2. Bachelder Oregon Pinot Noir 2012 | Willamette Valley AVA Oregon, USA | 14% | $49.99
3. Felton Road Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2014 | Central Otago, New Zealand | 14% | $67.99
4. Haywire Canyonview Pinot Noir 2014 | Summerland, Okanagan Valley, BC | 13% | $39.90
5. Meyer Family Reimer Vineyard Pinot Noir 2012 | Okanagan Valley, BC | 13.5% | $40
6. Quails’ Gate Richard’s Block Pinot Noir 2013 | Okanagan Valley, BC | 14% | $55.17
7. Blue Mountain Vineyard Reserve Pinot Noir 2013 | Okanagan Falls, BC | 12.5% | $39.90
8. Thibault Liger-Belair Bourgogne Les Grands Chaillots 2012 | Burgundy, France | 13% | $65.99
9. JoieFarm Reserve En Famille Pinot Noir 2012 | Naramata, Okanagan Valley, BC | 13.6% | $29.90
10. BK Wines Skin n’Bones Pinot Noir 2013 | Lenswood, Adelaide Hills, South Australia | 12.5% | $39.99
11. Moraine Pinot Noir 2013 | Naramata, Okanagan Valley, BC | 13.1% | $28.90
12. Meomi Pinot Noir 2014 | California, USA | 13.7% | $25.99

Pinot Noir is 2nd behind Merlot among the red varieties by acreage planted in BC. The Top 3 were all very worthy from the proven regions for the grape of Burgundy, Oregon and Central Otago in New Zealand followed closely by the BC wines solidly in 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8th positions. A top BC contender could have been the outstanding Foxtrot Vineyards but it was not shown in this tasting. Interesting to note that the style of the top commercial selling “very sweet” Meomi was not supported by these judges. Excellent future for pinot noir in British Columbia and the best is yet to come!

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10 Interesting Facts About Romanian Wine

June 24th, 2016

Wines from Romania

By Joseph Temple

For the people of Romania, viticulture is a cherished art that has been practiced on their land for over six thousand years.  Producing more wine than any other Balkan state, this republic currently ranks as the fifth largest area for wine acreage in Europe, behind only France, Italy, Spain and Portugal.  Surviving both phyloxxera in the late nineteenth century and a collectivist system that diminished the quality of its wines for decades, Romania appears to making a comeback with certain regions standing out to foreign investors and wine buyers.  So have a look below at ten facts that cover the basics of a wine industry that is one of the oldest in the world.

Romanian wine during the Roman Empire

1. It has been said that when the Romans conquered Dacia in 106 AD, they found the local wines to be superior to their own.


Romanian wine climate and topography

2. In Romania, the Black Sea provides a moderating influence and the Carpathian Mountains serve as a barrier to cooler weather from the north.


Red and white wines in Romania

3. Generally, the northern regions produce white wines and the southern regions are known for their red wines.


Wine production in Romania

4. In 2008, Romania was the sixth-largest producer of wine in the EU, representing roughly 3.1% of their total wine production.


Types of wine grapes in RomaniaBy Vincon Romania (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

5. In addition to indigenous grapes like Fetească, Romanian vintners also grow many vitis vinifera varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Riesling.


Sweet wines in RomaniaBy Ulrich prokop (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

6. Romanian wines tend to be sweet or off-sweet, which is the preferred style for domestic consumption.



7. One of the most famous wine regions in Romania is Cotnari in the northeast, which produces dessert wines that have been compared to Hungary’s Tokaj region.


Dealu Mare

8. Located on the 45th parallel, another famous region is Dealu Mare, which means “big hill” and has excellent conditions for winemaking.


Communism Romania wine exports

9. Under Communism, quantity was preferred over quality in order to get stable western currency. This resulted in destroying the image of Romanian wines abroad.


Exporting Romania wineBy Vincon Romania (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

10. Despite its production, exports have historically represented less than 10% of the Romanian wine market. In comparison, Hungary exports approximately 40% of it wines.


Clarke, Oz. Oz Clarke’s New Wine Atlas: Wines and Wine Regions of the World. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002.
Facts on File Incorporated. Romania. New York: Infobase Publishing, 2004.
Harding, Julia. The Oxford Companion to Wine. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.
Jackson, Ronald S. Wine Science: Principles and Applications. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2014.
Oxford Business Group. The Report: Romania 2008. Oxford: Oxford Business Group, 2008.
Roberts, James. The Mountains of Romania: A guide to walking in the Capathian Mountains. Milnthorpe, Cicerone Press Limited, 2013.
Shakespear, Nigel. Times New Romanian: Voices and Narrative from Romania. Leicester: Troubador Publishing, 2014.

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Ask Sid: New York Wine Tour?

June 22nd, 2016
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New York wineries and vineyards

Question: I will be visiting New York this summer and would be pleased with some winery visit recommendations.

Answer: Very topical to tour this region. Both the Finger Lakes for a focus on Riesling and Long Island for sauvignon blanc and chardonnay whites plus merlot and cabernet reds are all doing well. Of course the historic Dr. Konstantin Frank winery on Keuka Lake is a must. Also nearby Hermann Wiemer. Ravines has an interesting Alsace-like riesling and Sheldrake Point sweet dessert examples. Lots of tips on the web for visiting there. A new good one this month is on by James Molesworth spotlighting among others Bedell, Wolffer & Lieb. Lots of fine choices!

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Bordeaux 2000 Update

June 20th, 2016

Bordeaux 2000 vintage

Privileged to try recently quite a few classified growths from the 2000 vintage of Bordeaux. These wines are now just over 15 years of age and showing some development. The vintage was special right out of the gate not only for that unique triple zero but following a weaker decade of the 1990s including the lesser 97, right bank favoured 98, and lighter variable 99. They are now being challenged in some properties by excellent underrated wines from 2001 but not the disappointing 2002.

The Vancouver chapter of the Commanderie de Bordeaux just held a dinner featuring 9 chateaux of 2000 served in 3 flights. Some brief impressions by this scribe:

1. FIGEAC: Deep red colour. Shows that herbal cabernet sauvignon component on the nose. Still young and a bit raw but with depth and intriguing flavours. No rush.

2. LA CROIX ST. GEORGE: Lighter more mature red look. Some cranberry fruit but is drier than on its release and simpler in this exalted company.

3. NENIN: Darkest of first flight. Shows a lovely bouquet of complex plums with a touch of medicinal iodine. Very stylish with minerality and balance. Best of flight but had expected even more.

4. RAUZAN SEGLA: Prefer the lovely elegance of the flowery bouquet here. Young but excellent depth underneath and will still develop further in bottle.

5. BRANE CANTENAC: Lightest of second flight but surprises. Very Margaux terroir with a floral nose and softer approachable tannins now. Enjoy sooner.

6. PAPE CLEMENT: Darkest look of second flight. Big with a forwardly earthy Graves character. Would like more complexity.

7. BRANAIRE DUCRU: Juicy intense fruit. Good effort here with smooth rich excellent St. Julien expression. Needs more time.

8. GRAND PUY LACOSTE: Classic Pauillac but more youthful and backward than expected. Still seems quite herbal primary and with growing pains presently. Wait a few more years.

9. PONTET CANET: Another favourite chateau of mine making outstanding wines. So rich, deep full intense powerful ripe cabernet sauvignon fruit here. Again quite backward at 15 years.

Overall summary would be an excellent 2000 vintage with some consistency overall including several other properties not listed here. Still believe the better wines are still quite youthful, structured and backward which can be rewarded with further patience. Hope you have some bottles tucked away for a future special occasion when they will be really shining brightly.

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