Archive for May, 2017

Ask Sid: Europe Wine Fairs in 2018?

May 31st, 2017
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what wine festivals are in 2018

Question: We run a wine shop and are organizing our European trip for Spring 2018. Sid are there any Wine Fairs you recommend we should check out?

Answer: Yes the increasingly popular Prowein in Dusseldorf will run for 3 days March 18-20; taste 2017 Bordeaux Primeurs on April 9-12 followed by Vinitaly in Verona April 15-18. In fact those 2 events now have organized their schedules so you can visit both consecutively with already fixed dates for 2019: April 1-4 BP & 7-10 V + 2020: March 30-April 2 BP & April 5-8 V. Also London England Wine Trade Fair at Olympia May 21-23. Stop off in Hong Kong on your way back for their 20th Vinexpo celebrations. Enjoy.

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1999 Bordeaux Horizontal

May 29th, 2017

1999 bordeaux wine horizontal tasting

The 1999 vintage is already approaching 20 years old and yet most Bordeaux of that year has been largely forgotten by collectors. It was a very hot Summer and rainy September with hail in St. Emilion early on that month. Certainly didn’t help 1999 to be a big crop sandwiched between the very successful Right Bank wines of 1998 and the magical triple zero of millennium quality vintage 2000! However the release prices were fair value and I bought a few including the presently lovely drinking Pauillacs – especially the delicious Chateau d’Armailhac and more structured Chateau Pontet-Canet. This month I enjoyed an outstanding dinner experience of top Chinese food prepared at the new Mott 32 Restaurant (originated 1891) in Vancouver paired with 11 of the very best wines of 1999:

Roederer Cristal: Lovely iconic bubbles to start off with from a more generous elegant drinking vintage!

Tertre Roteboeuf: Dark deep enticing ripe Merlot blend very soft textured being almost 2003-like.

Pavie Macquin: Similar smooth St. Emilion styling with more intensity of mellow herbal notes.

Petrus: Higher class level of structured density with complex iron notes in harmonious concentrated fruit.

Domaine de Chevalier: Big surprise with open more balanced drier fruit but elegant delicious drinking.

Haut Brion: Easy winner of 2nd flight with mineral loaded graphite so stylish terroir singing brilliantly.

Palmer: Full easy forwardly sweet blend with impressive textures but less flowers than anticipated.

Lafite: Best bouquet of pure ethereal cedar with power + elegance from strict selection for Grand Vin definitely impresses and is arguably wine of the night!

Margaux: Very dark look more floral than expected with slightly dank cellar notes making it less pure for me as not the best example of a highly rated wine but has very solid richness nonetheless.

Latour: Also very deep but more closed in nose with concentrated full plums on entry with tannins so this should develop further and age well.

d’Yquem: Rich concentrated more accessible fruit here developing some complexity of apricot-orange, ginger and chocolate.

In summary these 11 wines from 1999 were all of much higher quality than expected from this under-rated vintage. Recommend them.

Check out the menu shown below for the different food matches they suggested go with top Bordeaux. Some less assertive flavoured protein dishes worked better than others showing spices and chili peppers but all proved interesting. Some excellent freshly chopped last minute made dim sum dumplings and siu mai paired perfectly with top Bordeaux.

Have you found any special Chinese dish that you prefer with aged red Bordeaux?

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Movie Review: Red Obsession (2013)

May 28th, 2017

Red obsession movie film review

By Joseph Temple


From the legendary vineyards of Bordeaux to the prosperous skyline of Asia’s financial hub, the 2013 documentary Red Obsession is much more than a simple lesson in supply and demand. Through the use of stunning visuals and revealing interviews, the film successfully puts an exclamation mark on China’s insatiable thirst for First Growths—and what it means for the rest of us as this emerging superpower begins to flex its economic muscles. Wine becomes a metaphor as the dragon awakes, ready to shake the world!

Narrated by Academy Award-winning actor Russell Crowe, this Australian produced documentary begins in Bordeaux, arguably the most famous wine region in the world today. Examining why its terroir is the envy of oenophiles everywhere, the film interviews several heavyweights in the world of wine such as Oz Clarke and Jancis Robinson, who both excel at providing candid yet memorable responses. Indeed, a key strength of Red Obsession is that despite it being tailored towards aficionados, anyone with a casual interest in the subject can watch it without feeling left out. Explaining the climate, soil, and pivotal events such as the 1855 Classification in such a straightforward fashion (and with great cinematography to compliment the narration), the first twenty minutes are an important history lesson that’ll get everyone up to speed.

Moving on to the meat of the film, we travel nearly 10,000 kilometers to Shanghai where we see a booming metropolis showcasing the latest fashions and designs for avid Chinese consumers. Ironically, as time lapse footage shows us a hyper-capitalist society where its people are clamoring for brand names and material goods, it’s so easy to forget that on paper, it’s still officially the People’s Republic of China. Thankfully, the producers provide us with important historical context, allowing us to make the link between the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s and the present day. By opening up its markets (and its ideology) to Western culture, a gigantic genie has escaped from the bottle, ready to indulge itself in a hobby that was outlawed only a few decades before by the Communists.

This brings us to the subject of wine collecting, and how China has suddenly taken a strong interest in what Chairman Mao would’ve condemned as a bourgeoisie obsession. As one interviewee explains, in just ten short years, the country has jumped from 1 to a reported 271 billionaires. So with all this disposable income lying around, its nouveau riche have driven prices through the roof when it comes to Bordeaux, and especially the First Growths. Unfortunately, since wine is largely inelastic, French winemakers are increasingly boxed in between their traditional customers in Europe and North America and this new market that is more than willing to bid them up. However, a key watershed moment in the film happens when Château Lafite Rothschild (a favorite amongst Chinese collectors) stamps the number ‘8’ on its 2008 vintage, a highly symbolic number that signifies China’s entry onto the world stage and more importantly, France’s recognition of this new power player.

However, after watching Red Obsession, the whole idea of wine as an investment makes you wonder just how many people have actually drank the latest “vintage of the century”? With such an impressive return on investment, should we now think of wine (or at least the prominent labels) as an asset in one’s portfolio rather than something to be enjoyed between our friends and family? And with prices skyrocketing over the past several decades, is it any surprise that counterfeiting has also taken off, especially in China? These are the questions I had after watching this film, and questions I’m sure you’ll have too after witnessing the Chinese experience.

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Ask Sid: How do I get a Vintage Card?

May 24th, 2017
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IW&FS vintage card chart wine

Question: I have a friend who was using his vintage wine card to make a wine purchase and I found it to be a valuable tool. Is there any way I can order one for myself?

Answer: Yes thanks for this opportunity to promote it. Founded in 1933 by Andre Simon the annual Vintage Card & Chart is a “valuable tool” using 7 as the highest score with helpful guides on current drinkability. A lot of research and yearly reviews by the Wines Committee and Consultants goes into making it a reliable general guide to wine vintages by wine producing regions around the world. It is widely reproduced in diaries and other publications but to order one contact IWFS at 4 St. James’s Square London SW1Y 4JU, UK or email

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Riesling & Spatburgunder are Stars in the Pfalz!

May 22nd, 2017

Riesling & Spatburgunder are Stars in the Pfalz!

Impressed with the Riesling and Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir) on my trip to the Pfalz this month. This region has the largest area in the world planted in Riesling and they are producing superb wines from this variety. Really impressed with the dedicated focus on terroir and the resulting Riesling definition in the wine depends on the soil where it is grown. Generally slate soil shows elegant minerals, sandstone (yellow & red) gives more apricot fruit flavours, and clay results in a more citric character. However there are still issues because the hot 2015 vintage has resulted in some dry Trocken at a tiring 15 degrees of alcohol lacking the usual wonderful freshness and vibrancy they usually do so well. Spatburgunder is thriving with global warming especially on limestone soils but is still only just over 7% of the vineyard area (there is 3 times that amount planted in Baden) well behind the dominant easy drinking red Dornfelder. Highly endorse the delicate round complex pinot noirs from Weingut Friedrich Becker ( now into their 6th generation. The winery is in the south Pfalz at the French border with a key unique 50 year old vineyard planted in 1967 with Swiss clones which actually is still in France! This results in some labelling and legal issues which I won’t get into here.

During my trip I was able to attend the annual Pfalzer Lagen Art held at historic Hambach Castle with the opportunity to taste some 400+ wines from 89 producers. Lots of worthy wineries showing some excellent wines so here are just 20 of them that impressed me in the order I tried them:

KNIPSER: 2015 Mandelpfad Riesling GG (VDP. Grosse Gewachs); 2012 Kirschgarten Spatburgunder GG

PHILIPP KUHN: 2015 Schwarzer Herrgott Riesling GG

FRITZ-RITTER: 2015 Herrenberg Riesling GG

PFEFFINGEN: 2 Riesling 2015 GG – Herrenberg & Weilberg

PFLUGER: 2014 Durkheimer Fronhof Spatburgunder “R” – Balanced big cherries with lots of richness!

DR. BURKLIN-WOLF: 2 Riesling 2015 with 100% barrel fermentation – minerally Ruppertsberger Hoheburg & more peachy on sandstone soil of Wachenheimer Goldbachel

GEORG MOSBACHER: 2015 Ungeheuer Riesling GG

HEINRICH SPINDLER: 2015 Forster Ungeheuer Riesling Auslese

DR. BASSERMANN-JORDAN: Do 90% Riesling – 2016 Deidesheimer Kieselberg Riesling

VON BUHL: Good wines from Deidesheim including apple aromas of Sparkling Riesling

GEORG SIBEN ERBEN: 2014 Langenmorgen Riesling GG

VON WINNING: Winemaker Andreas Hutwohl likes screwcap for up to 5 year consumption & uses cork for his Grand Cru. Good 2016 Rieslings.

A.CHRISTMANN: Delicious maturing 2013 Reiterpfad Riesling GG but sold out.

MULLER-CATOIR: Family owned since 1744 with historic Manor House in Haardt built in 18th century using 100% own vineyards for refined wines by owner Philipp David Catoir & Winemaker Martin Franzen. Interesting to taste the difference between 2 Haardter Riesling 2016 –  one from Burgergarten yellow sandstone with layers of clay & loess against Herrenletten sandy soil with layers of limestone & marly clay.

BERGDOLT KLOSTERGUT ST. LAMPRECHT: Lovely Kalkberg Spatburgunder 2013 GG

THEO MINGES: Impressive GG 2015s Weissburgunder & Riesling (but 14.5 a bit hot)

OKONOMIERAT REBHOLZ: Talented experienced winemaker Hans Jorg Rebholz has a wonderful portfolio of wines. Great 2015 Ganz Horn Im Sonnenschein Riesling GG at 12.5 very fresh with petrol. Making superb Spatburgunder on only limestone soils.

GIES-DUPPEL: Young dynamic Volker Gies in Birkweiler is looking for freshness in a modern German style. 2 years on yeast for 2104 Weissburgunder (70%) & Chardonnay (30%) blend at reasonable 13.50 euros. Juicy cherries in 2014 Ilbesheimer Kalmit Spatburgunder.

SIEGRIST: Top quality with 2015 Sonnenberg Riesling GG (24 euros) & marinated sweet cherries of 2012 Kalmit Pinot Noir GG at 14 alcohol is delicious (35 euros)!

FRIEDRICH BECKER: Admire everything this amazing Schweigen winery does. The 2 Spatburgunder 2013 they showed were both so balanced elegant and complex. Winners with both bigger style from limestone clay of Rechtenbacher Herrenwingert & more delicate ethereal Schweigener Steinwingert.

Have you tried any of these exciting wines from the emerging Pfalz region of Germany? If not you should!

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