Archive for August, 2016

Ask Sid: Torrontes?

August 31st, 2016
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torrontes wine grape
By nomad_sw18 (originally posted to Flickr as torrentes grape) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Question: A friend served me a Torrontes wine. Your thoughts Sid?

Answer: A unique increasingly popular white grape variety that is native to Argentina. For me Torrontes shows very distinctive floral aromatics on the nose of quite ripe peaches combined with some sweetness like a combo of muscat, gewürztraminer, riesling and pinot gris grapes. The best examples often are grown in the northern higher elevation region of Salta. Can be a good aperitif or a food match with particularly Indian and Asian dishes. Try it.

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Spotlight on Puligny Montrachet

August 29th, 2016

Puligny Montrachet

Yesterday was the Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin Vancouver Chapter’s annual Summer Paulee focusing this time on only the whites from the commune of Puligny Montrachet. Last year was Meursault Perrieres (blog posting August 24, 2015). Corton Charlemagne was the theme in 2014 and the other 5 Grand Cru Burgundy whites in 2013. Always approach this exciting yearly event with great enthusiasm using it as an educational opportunity to study the specific commune characteristics, how the vintages are developing with bottle age, differences in vineyard terroir, who are the top producers and other insights into top white Burgundy. After tasting some 30+ samples and speaking about them at this event these are some of my brief conclusions:

1. Best bottles were clearly showing that special stone minerality with racy verve of balanced acidity and structure that puts this commune into medal contention for producing the most outstanding dry white wines in the world. Outstanding wines from Puligny usually have less of that Meursault AC accessible softer nutty hazelnuts though some of the same admirable characteristics of the more minerally outstanding Meursault Perrieres Premier Cru vineyards we explored last year.

2. Vintage Impressions:

(a) Oldest vintages included a surprisingly fresh complex 30 year old 1986 Clos de la Pucelle Domaine Jean Chartron and a solid 1990 Folatieres (by far the largest 1er cru vineyard) of Fabien Coche-Bouillot.

(b) Youngest year was the encouraging intense fruit shown by 2013s (Les Pucelles Paul Pernot & Champs Gain Latour Giraud).

(c) 2011 seemed in an easy lighter more forwardly style.

(d) 2010 had more depth (again Champs Gain from Latour Giraud was fresh and well balanced) but some bottles more forwardly (Clos du Cailleret Domaine de Lambrays).

(e) 2009 rich and softer especially 2 bottles of Batard Olivier Leflaive and Folatieres JL Chavy.

(f) 2008 was mixed with the most disappointing bottle of all a highly anticipated but badly pre-moxed Domaine Leflaive Clavoillon (similar issues with 2005 Garenne Magenta Louis Jadot – though their 3 year older 2002 was still alive and singing beautifully!). Cailleret from Pousse d’Or was delightful but for me the most complex complete wine of the day – though still a youthful treasure – was a magnum of 2008 Chevalier Grand Cru Bouchard Pere (another mag of 2004 Truffiere Bernand Morey was also a treat).

(g) 2007 generally preferred as a cleaner, crisper, fresher and more lively year (excellent value from just an AC Puligny from Domaine Leflaive) over yet again the rich softer 2006s (Drouhin AC) for this scribe but Ramonet AC was superb & a Criots-Batard-Montrachet Henri Boillot 2006 showed a fair amount of oak plus lovely fruit depth – though really was a Paulee interloper because Criots is wholly situated within the Chassagne-Montrachet AC and not Puligny!

(h) 2005 whites are celebrated with concentration but again here are not reaching the top quality or age ability of the reds. Garenne pre-mox as mentioned earlier with both the family run Domaine Jomain Referts & Jean Marc Morey Batard quite mature and ready for drinking up.

3.  Lots of producers showing high quality but the standout yet again was Henri Boillot. All three of his wines showed very well indeed. Not only his Criots but also a delicious cool fruit complex Mouchere 2007 and more forwardly Mouchere 2006. A name to remember and buy.

Enjoy these white Burgundy treasures – Puligny Montrachet is a great appellation!

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10 Great and Delicious Icebox Cake Ideas

August 26th, 2016

Icebox Cake recipes

By Joseph Temple

Nothing quite conjures up heartwarming images of yesteryear more than the quintessential “icebox cake.” During a time that saw the meteoric rise of time-saving appliances and convenience foods, it was almost inevitable that a dessert which first got its start during the Roaring Twenties as the “no-bake” cake would become extremely popular in kitchens all across America.

Considered by many to be an evolution of Marie-Antoine Carême’s charlotte, this cake began its ascent after several companies including the National Biscuit Company (now Nabisco) printed recipes for the dessert on their packaging. By utilizing a new and revolutionary appliance known as the icebox—a precursor to the modern day refrigerator, housewives simply couldn’t get enough of this incredibly simple and easy-to-make cake.

Traditionally, the dessert is made by layering sponge cake, wafers or ladyfingers and coating them in whipped cream, custard or pudding. However, there is great room for variation as seen in the hundreds of different recipes that have appeared in various newspapers, cookbooks and magazines for nearly a hundred years. So why not give this cake a 21st century makeover with ten ideas that are sure to impress your friends and family as you put a modern spin on this classic dessert!

traditional - chocolate wafer cookies, whipped cream

 birthday - vanilla cookies, vanilla whipped cream with sprinkles

lemon cookies with thyme infused whipped cream, candied lemon peel, lemon curd

orange ginger - gingerbread cookies, orange marmalade, cream whipped with orange liquor

black forest - chocolate cookies, cherry pie filling, vanilla whipped cream, chocolate shavings

cheesecake - graham crackers, no-bake cheesecake filling, fresh fruit

vanilla cookies, fresh strawberries sliced, vanilla cream

caramel peanut - chocolate cookies, chocolate pudding, caramel, peanuts, peanut butter whipped cream

ice cream - any kind of sandwich cookie (like oreo), any ice cream, chocolate drizzle, whipped cream and cherry on top

chocolate cookies, espresso, coffee liquor, mascarpone cream, cocoa powder


Byrn, Anne. American Cake: From Colonial Gingerbread to Classic Layer, the Stories and Recipes Behind More Than 125 of Our Best Loved Cakes. New York: Rodale, 2016.
, Jean & Sheehan, Jessie. Icebox Cakes: Recipes for the Coolest Cakes in Town. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2015.

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Ask Sid: Band-Aid Aromas?

August 24th, 2016
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wine that tastes like a band aid

Question: I opened a red wine that smelled just like a box of Band-Aids in a jar of grape jam. What would cause that?

Answer: Quite a description! Not sure what your wine is but quite likely to be a young ripe Shiraz (or syrah) with that typical jammy sweet fruit that was tainted by the antiseptic-like notes of brett (brettanomyces). This is a wild yeast (pronounced brett-TAN-oh-MY-sees) that can provide some complexity at low levels but more usually gives lots of acedic acid with off odors like a Band-Aid smell. Also can intensify the flavours so is now being deliberately used in the making of some beers for that reason. Did you like the wine? Most tasters would consider it a fault.

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1982 Saint Julien AC Something Special

August 22nd, 2016

1982 Saint Julien AC Something Special
By Megan Mallen [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Fortunate this month to enjoy quite a few wines from Bordeaux of the 1982 vintage. I have been impressed by these beauties since their initial release at what turned out to be a very cheap price and their delicious drinking over the past 30+ years. They are of course now expensive and not always from well stored providence but they continue to amaze and can be of relatively good value compared to the high release price of current vintages available. Advanced vineyard methods including lower yields and cellar management with much less of the Grand Vin produced herald the more consistent recent vintages from say 2005, 2009, and 2010 than from 1982. However there still are some 1982 jewels that you may have hidden away for a special occasion or to be searched out for at auction.

Just had a superb bottle of 1982 Cheval Blanc from St. Emilion that has been my favourite from this vintage so far this year though 1982 Mouton Rothschild Pauillac made it a close race. St. Emilion was not the most successful appellation in 1982 but this particular bottle was still singing with complex rich full smooth opulence particularly in the mid palate and so balanced with integrated tannins. Neighbouring Pomerol is a more consistent AC in 1982 and La Conseillante served with the Cheval held its own particularly on the spectacular aromatic bouquet using the same grape mix of merlot & cab franc but in different ratios. I haven’t tried this year the impressive Petrus but have tried bottles of the other highly acclaimed First Growths including Latour, Lafite and La Mission Haut-Brion but they were not showing as 100 point bottles. Bottle variation!

However let’s leave the First Growths out of this. St Estephe are drinking well now with Montrose, Cos & Calon-Segur leading the AC. Graves & Margaux generally are less consistent in the 1982 vintage. There are other fantastic 1982s! Most Pauillac AC are outstanding now! Lucky to drink 1982 Grand Puy Lacoste quite often and it never seems to disappoint with the latest one tried showing explosive cedar tobacco with attractive complex round smooth textures. Just compared 78, 79, 82, and 83 Pichon Lalande and 82 beautifully ripe but given a close battle by the 83 in a different style. As I noted last year in my July 20 blog posting Jean-Michel Cazes says their “1982 Lynch Bages may have been consumed too early”.

My vote for best value most consistent AC in 1982 goes to Saint Julien. Served blind 4 top properties this month and all were impressive. Branaire-Ducru most advanced in colour and development but so elegant and marvellous currently. Leoville Barton classic deep more reluctant touch of iodine no rush but will improve further. Talbot a winner so solid with dense sweet black and herbal red fruits and approaching best plateau. Cordier big sister Gruaud Larose has more cedar cigar box but a tad rustic here – not the best bottle as usually is more outstanding! Other St Juliens not in this tasting all show exemplary now – led by Leoville Las Cases, Leoville Poyferre, Ducru Beaucaillou, Beychevelle, Langoa Barton, plus even St Pierre, Clos du Marquis, and Gloria. Treat yourself.

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