Archive for October, 2017

Ask Sid: How to retain maximum bubbles in opened sparkling wine?

October 11th, 2017
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How do I keep the bubbles after opening champagne

Question: I often don’t finish a bottle of sparkling wine (sometimes Champagne) I open and wondering about the best method you use to retain those bubbles?

Answer: I find that using one of those hinged stoppers with a rubber insert works best for me. Be sure to keep that bottle really cold in a refrigerator which really helps to keep the most carbon dioxide in the wine rather than escaping. In fact cold temperature is probably the main key factor for retaining the bubbles. Others still suggest using a silver spoon (or some a stainless one) inserted into the neck of the bottle with the handle down that works for them. I have tried this method with poor results but it may be a myth because there seems to be no scientific explanation or support for this procedure. Keep those leftover bubbles very cold!


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Best Fish & Chips is in Newfoundland!

October 9th, 2017

Newfoundland fish and chips

Your scribe confesses to a soft spot for good fish and chips. Certainly have tried a lot of them around the world (including some excellent ones especially in Australia & UK) over the years but often find so many disappointing. The main problems usually arise from both the quality of the fish and the freshness of the oil used to make them. Another big issue can be perfecting that batter crust avoiding the extremes of either a soggy undercooked floury mess or a very hard as nails overdone KFC crunchy style. Many places need to improve on this using a beer batter or a feather light crisp tempura style one which allows the fish to really shine as perfectly cooked. The chips are another discussion entirely coming in so many styles but admire those that are hand-cut just thick enough yet have a crisp exterior. Obviously a much more difficult tricky dish to cook successfully than is usually recognized.

Last week in Newfoundland exploring the much improved dining scene there. Some impressive places in St. John’s led by the amazing Chef Jeremy Charles & knowledgeable Sommelier Jeremy Bonia with their talented culinary and service team at both top spot Raymonds & their popular more informal The Merchant Tavern. Rocket is the perfect breakfast/brunch spot that shows off that unique friendly outgoing Newfie hospitality. Pretty good Fish ‘n Chips too at The Duke of Duckworth. However my recommendation for best Fish & Chips ever experienced goes to The Inn at Happy Adventure (originally Chucky’s Fish and Chips in St. John’s before relocating) on Newman Sound near Eastport on the Road to the Beaches. Fish can be many different varieties but in Newfoundland it always means cod and they obtain such an outstanding high quality product that is so fresh, moist, flaky, and flavourful. Probably helps to have Happy Adventure Sea Products (1991) Ltd. business right next door. The photo looks golden great but doesn’t quite capture how really delicious these Fish & Chips are. Dish pairs well with the Quidi Vidi beers they have on tap. Definitely worth a detour!

Do you have a special Fish & Chips spot to recommend to us?

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fischips3
Click to enlarge


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Ask Sid: Best Vintages for Port?

October 4th, 2017
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what are the best vintages for port wine

Question: What are the best vintages for Port?

Answer: Your question is not really clear but assume you are asking me which Vintage Port years are the best. Generally the year is less important for the many other port styles out there from Late Bottled Vintage to Single Quinta to old vintage Tawny. Our IWFS 2017 annual Vintage Card & Chart lists years 2015 back to 1995 but only gives a top 7 rating to three Vintage Ports: 2011, 2007, and 2000. Good choices though some would add 2003 and the 1997 is now approachable at 20 years.

Going back further here are some of my personal favourites: Classic 1994 with both 1991 & 1990 worthy, 1985, 1977 & 1970, 1963 (collected and enjoyed a lot of these but 1966 often seem to be aging better), 1955 underrated, the pair of preferred 1948 & 1947, 1945, 1931 especially famous Quinta do Noval Nacional (though last time tasted it with the Regular that outshone it), and historic old years of 1927, 1912, and 1908!


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Clos du Marquis Vertical

October 2nd, 2017

Clos du Marquis Vertical
By Tomas er (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

It is a real treat and an honour to conduct each September a red Bordeaux tasting in Vancouver with my good friend “Mr. Sauternes” Bill Blatch. This year we featured 8 vintages of that unclassified St. Julien but equivalent to a 3rd or 4th growth Clos du Marquis. Now a part of the Domaines-Delon.com which includes the prestigious Chateau Leoville Las Cases 2nd growth St. Julien, Chateau Nenin in Pomerol, and Chateau Potensac Medoc it was brilliantly managed from 1976-2000 by Michel Delon and most impressive wines these days by Jean-Hubert Delon. It is not a second wine of Las Cases (which is Petit Lion first started in 2007) but specific vineyard plots used since 1902. The wine is capable of complexity, power, and refinement as was shown here at this tasting. Some brief impressions with detailed stats that Bill obtained for us from the Chateau:

1990: 70/22/8 of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc harvested 20 September to 6 October Alcohol 12.95 Early budburst & flowering, hot dry Summer with rainstorms end of August but optimum conditions for ripeness. Shows mature colour but enticing coffee chocolate elegant bouquet with concentration of seemless balance. Oldest wine and very popular choice at this tasting.

1998: 54CS/36M/7CF + 3 Petit Verdot harvested 23 Sept-12 Oct Alcohol 12.70 Better vintage for Right Bank but seems still quite fresh though in a more herbal style that Bill preferred more than your scribe. I suggested pairing it superbly with a green pepper pizza but Bill felt it would age further and match well with most foods. Quite nice.

2003: 54CS/43M/3PV Early harvest 11-26 Sept. Natural alcohol 13.3 Exceptionally hot March & April + rain in June during blossoming + real heat wave Summer (over 40C) + blessing of early Sept. rain. No acidification. Unique smoky sweet cherries & ripe fennel. Drinking well presently.

2004: 57CS/38M/2CF/3PV Late Harvest 4-17 Oct. Alcohol 13.15 Flowering good but cool Summer. Much softer entry with earthy dank tobacco flavours and outclassed here.

2005: 50CS/37M/12CF/1PV 21 Sept-7 Oct. Alcohol 13.45 Dry cold winter with early budburst beginning of April + even blossoming last week of May. Sunny and very dry Summer resulted in thick skin small berries (Bill says: “dry juice & not opulent sweet”). Cedar forest floor concentrated fruit impress but not singing now. Disjointed. Bill feels the wine confirms the old saying that CS gives round long tannins but high Merlot % gives rougher square tannins that are presently displayed here. Surprisingly low CS for this vintage.

2007: 58CS/35M/5CF/2PV Sept 24-Oct 7 Alcohol 13.44 Very hot Spring but cooler July & August slowed it down with good Sept. On fine drinking plateau now in generous style with their less ideal fruit going into first time 2nd wine Petit Lion. Less depth. Simpler.

2009: 70CS/20M/8CF/2PV Sept 22-Oct 7 Alcohol 13.66 Best possible flowering & berry set. Hot with very little rain. Now a walled enclosed vineyard as the Clos name indicates. Great vintage shows in a fatter velvet silky easier to drink attractive cassis style. Less acid seems almost oily but so charming. Bill feels it is starting to close up and destined for a long life.

2010: 75CS/17M/8CF Sept 28-Oct 13 Alcohol 13.8 Very dry hot April but slowed down by cool May & June. Sunny July-Sept. Bill says it was hot but interrupted by brutal storms and temperature changes that has made the vintage more chunky and evolving. Another outstanding wine that shows a more graphite classic style with a long finish but  is much less showy. Friendly debate between us of comparing old 1959 & 1961 styles to current 2009 & 2010 but of course entirely different times. Will be interesting to monitor how this current pair evolves with time in the bottle and which one ages the best. Asked Bill about preferred service of either one at a dinner presently and he recommends decanting at 8 am.

Finished up with 2003 Chateau La Tour Blanche Sauternes with the highest ever very sweet 191 grams/litre of sugar. Did one picking instead of their usual 3-8 time passes. Bill points out the defining unique “spearmint” of this property and the freshness remaining that will likely turn to butterscotch with more bottle age. He is a big fan of 2001 Sauternes but now feels 2009 will be the best ultimately.

What are your thoughts on the preferred Bordeaux red vintage between 2009 or 2010?


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