Archive for February, 2018

Ask Sid: Names of Wood Barrels Used in Winemaking?

February 28th, 2018
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different types of wine barrels

Question: Quite confused by the names used for different sizes of wooden barrels used in the cellars. Please help.

Answer: Yes it is confusing and there are so many different names and unique sizes used that I can’t deal definitively with all of them here. Important because smaller barrels usually impart more oak or other wood elements plus oxygen into the wine but the age of the barrels and racking are also important factors. However these are a rough guide of some key sizes that are often used that are good to be aware of:

225 Litre: Barrique Bordeaux

228 Litre: Barrique Burgundy

300 Litre: Hogshead – Often found in Cognac but also use bigger Tanks & Vats

600 Litre: Demi-Muid – Bigger French oak size used in the past for boat transport

650 Litre: Pipe of Port – Longer narrower shape

700 Litre: Large Rhone use

1000+ Litre: Very large sizes becoming more popular often called Botte, Botti, Foudres or Butt used in more wineries – like Piedmont. May be referred to in hectoliters (100 litres equal I hectoliter)


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40th Vancouver International Wine Festival Opens with 30th Bacchanalia Gala Dinner+ Auction

February 26th, 2018

Vancouver International Wine Festival 40th anniversary

Canada’s premier wine show The Vancouver International Wine Festival celebrating 40 years has just successfully launched. This year for 8 days 173 wineries from 16 countries spotlight wine & food over more than 50 events. The feature this year is on Spain & Portugal with 58 Iberian Peninsula wineries participating. The opening event 2018 Bacchanalia Gala Dinner + Auction on Saturday February 24 was the 30th and funds raised (this year $225,000) now benefit Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival (previously Vancouver Playhouse Theatre). An amazing growth pattern for this excellent Wine Festival with so much credit over the years going to so many enthusiastic supportive “wine lover” volunteers, the distinguished patronage of Consulate Generals from various wine countries, and our helpful sponsors.

This Gala event has a long history of remarkable cuisine at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver pioneered by Executive Chef Robert LeCrom (assisted by Alan Ferris Director of Catering & Special Events) and now is in the capable hands of Executive Chef Cameron Ballendine and his talented brigade. The Menu had again this year innovative dishes highlighted by a colourful Harvest of the Fisherman and The Hunt in the Air delicious roasted partridge. Diverse matching of quality wines from 10 different regions emphasized the VanWineFest.ca international emphasis. My favourite among several treats was the outstanding 2013 Malbec of Catena Zapata from Adrianna Vineyard Fortuna Terrae (“luck of the land”) at almost 5000 feet elevation in Mendoza Argentina. What a combination of freshness with ripe fruit balanced by acidity yet delicate and complex. Well done! The Auction had many treasures change hands including these: 1990 Chateau Latour magnum $6500, 1964 Musigny Comte de Vogue $4500, 1983 La Tache DRC $5500, Vertical of Chateau Gruaud Larose (75, 78, 82, 83, 85, and 95) & Osoyoos Larose (2001-2005) for $4500, and Vertical of Harlan Estate (1996-2000) for $8500. Superb opening !

Will be reporting more on some of the interesting educational wine seminars and dinners to be held all this week in future posts on this Blog.

Your scribe fortunately has attended each and every one of these 40 Vancouver Wine Festivals. Have you attended one? Encourage you to plan a trip to Vancouver in the future to enjoy these always exciting festivities full of worthy events always held at the end of February each year.


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Ask Sid: Is it proper to invert an empty Champagne bottle into the Ice Bucket?

February 21st, 2018
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Ask Sid: Is it proper to invert an empty Champagne bottle into the Ice Bucket?

Question: When dining recently at a highly regarded Paris restaurant the waiter poured out the last of my Champagne order and then inverted the bottle into the ice bucket neck down. Is this proper wine service?

Answer: Yes this question is an interesting one. I have had several times the same experience as you did. Personally I don’t like it and feel it is a rather lazy way by the sommelier in a busy restaurant to easily see you have finished your wine. Also it almost seems like they are giving you a sign of encouragement to order another. It also deprives you sometimes of the last pour of a few precious delicious drops after the remaining liquid settles at the bottom. Etiquette questions such as this can be quite subjective and therefore are difficult to give you an unanimous answer. Your thoughts or those of others?


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Ever Evolving Versatile Style of Riesling

February 19th, 2018

riesling vancouver top drop

We all admire the versatility in wine styles that result from that amazing Riesling grape. From austere no residual sugar very dry (trocken) to sweet icewine or TBA and everything in between this varietal always seems to excel. This was brought home vividly at a Riesling Summit for sommeliers held last week by @TopDropVancouver (as a preview to their annual Terroir + Craft event scheduled May 17 & 18) led by wine educator Kurtis Kolt at leading Thai restaurant Maenam of Chef Angus An. The seminar featured Johannes Selbach of Selbach-Oster from the Mosel Germany and David Paterson of Tantalus Vineyards in the Okanagan Valley of BC Canada each showing 6 different Riesling wines:

1  Selbach-Oster 2014 Riesling Brut Sparkling has only 15 months on lees (usually 18-24) but 6% auslese dosage results in classy graceful fresh fizz

2  Tantalus Vineyards 2014 Old Vines Riesling Brut produced only 200 cases of these bubbles with 24 months lees in this drier citrus apple vibrant acidity style

3   Selbach-Oster 2015 Zeltinger Schlossberg Riesling Kabinett picked earlier in the hotter 2015 vintage producing this delightful only 9.5 alcohol treat

4  Tantalus Vineyards 2015 Riesling picked starting 21.5 Brix to 23 shows lemon zest with ginger aromatics plus lively texture at good value under $20

5  Selbach-Oster 2015 Zeltinger Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett Halbtrocken is cooler loamy area that ferment at lower temp but spicy quince has versatile use

6  Tantalus Vineyards 2015 Old Vines Riesling from 4 blocks planted in 1978 with Clone 21 (“Weiss” clone – also used by Cave Springs in Ontario) maintaining original Grosset Polish Hill Clare Valley Australia dry standard (but their more recent Alea is less dry) shows pure intense elegance with minerals

7  Selbach-Oster 2011 Graacher Domprobst Riesling Spatlese Feinherb “Alte Reben”  exotic creamy nutty first time “old vines” designated beauty will last well

8  Tantalus Vineyards 2011 Old Vines Riesling has 4 more years bottle age than 2015 and now developing mature complex textures with petrol marmalade

9  Selbach-Oster 2013 Zeltinger Schlossberg Riesling Spatlese shows quality vineyard mineral slate with salty lime from a different cooler year

10 Tantalus Vineyards 2016 Den’s Block Riesling not released for another year using same vineyard as Brut but encouraging “spatlese” top fruit in old oak

11 Selbach-Oster 2012 Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Auslese from old vines with ripe fruit makes a brilliant delicious statement (pleased not turned into a Trocken)

12 Tantalus Vineyards 2012 Riesling Icewine only 60 cases picked January 13, 2013 at 39 Brix for 50 day ferment all honey pineapple & peach + acidity

Liked how each Riesling wine showed so distinctively different. Johannes says Riesling variety is so outstanding at expressing “place plus microclimate”. Both these regions obviously are doing an excellent job in finding their unique terroir. Your scribe brought along an older bottle of 2001 Pinot Reach Cellars Old Vines Riesling at 12. 1 alcohol that was made using the original vines planted May 24, 1978 (now used in Tantalus Old Vines) which showed remarkable mature quality. The winemaking and corks were not at the same high level now reached by Tantalus Vineyards but beckons very well for the long age ability of their Old Vines Riesling!


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Ask Sid: Valentine’s Day Wine?

February 14th, 2018
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what wine to serve on valentines day?

Question: What wine do you serve on Valentine’s Day?

Answer: Happy Valentine’s Day! Lucky me because the wine I have served most often is Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses (in French means “lovers”) – particularly the delicious 1989 Drouhin. Another always go to choice is Chateau Calon Segur Saint Estephe with the drawing of a heart on the label. Remember well enjoying the 50th anniversary of their long distance runner 1966 in 2016. However, unless you were fortunate enough to buy these expensive wines early on they are now rather out-of-touch elitist choices. Nevertheless choose any wine you think signifies romanticism and love where the label message on this special day can be just as important as the contents. Enjoy.


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