Archive for March, 2018

Clos Des Lambrays Vertical

March 19th, 2018

Clos de Lambrays burgundy wine tasting
By Arnaud 25. [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Morey-Saint-Denis is a special village in Burgundy situated between more famous neighbours Gevrey-Chambertin to the north and Chambolle-Musigny to the south. Generally the appellation M-S-D tend to be softer and less sturdy than the former G-C and more structured but less fragrant than the latter C-M. The appellation is rather small but still has 20 premier cru over 33 hectares with 4 Grand Crus covering about 40 hectares. The biggest in vineyard size (nearly 17 hectares), production by different proprietors, and the most body in the resulting wine is the most northerly Clos de La Roche. Next is the smallest in size (less than 7 hectares) of the more gentle classy delicate Clos Saint-Denis. The 2 most southerly Grand Crus are Clos des Lambrays (surface 8.84 hectares previously owned 8.66 by Domaine des Lambrays with the tiny remainder still in the holdout hands of Jean Taupenot-Merme) and Clos de Tart (surface 7.53 hectares monopoly  of the Mommessin family since 1932 until recently). These last two Grand Crus are very unique with a bright spotlight on them presently because of key ownership changes: the Domaine des Lambrays interest was purchased in 2014 by LVMH & Clos de Tart was acquired last year 2017 from Mommesin S.A. by Francois Pinault (also the owner of Chateau Latour in Bordeaux). Morey-Saint-Denis is the hot wine region!

A double blind vertical tasting over dinner in 3 flights of 9 vintages (2007 back to 1998 except for 2000) of Clos de Lambrays this month was both topical and educational. Reference to this property goes back to the 14th century but was divided among many proprietors following the French Revolution. Consolidation was occurring over time but with declining vineyard maintenance this climat was not promoted to Grand Cru status until 1981. However your scribe did enjoy tasting the historic vintages of 1947 & 1949 of this wine during the eighties that both showed very well. Major replanting took place 1980-1981 with the arrival of long time (37 years) winemaker Thierry Brouin. This property has more limestone in 3 parts with the top section cooler on rocky red marl soils, bottom on heavier clay with limestone, and biggest middle section of the undulating slope choicest exposure as often is the case with the best drainage.

Double blind tastings are always challenging but this one was particularly so because of the mixed up service order of 9 Clos des Lambrays as follows:

2004: Maturing look with an aged rim. Older open sensual inviting bouquet with complexity of a top Cotes de Nuits red Burgundy with some bottle age. Texture rounder and delicious with pure elegance here a delightful surprise. Ready to enjoy now. (Showed improvement over an earlier “stemmy” tasting of this vintage)

1999: Best young red ruby look of first flight. Solid bigger fruit in a classic style. Excellent. Like very much the fresh cherries with earthiness plus framed structure here. No rush.

1998: Second oldest look of first flight. Vibrant nose with some spicy iodine. Lighter but has glycerol with prominent acidity and lengthy tougher tannins. Sings more clearly with ricotta gnocchi wild mushroom black Perigord truffles course.

2005: Looks youngest here. All 3 second flight wines appear younger than the first flight. Impressive aromas of dark plums & top quality cherries. Really like the elegant balance making a full rich deep young packed fruit statement. Purity of fruit outstanding Wrote down Clos de Tart in my notes. My fav. What a fabulous future! Patience needed.

2003: Lots of open ripe “Heering Cherry Liqueur” with touch of menthol on the nose. Big sous bois heavier concentration but some finishing elegance. Lovely.(Property usually picks earlier than neighbouring Clos de Tart but the hot 2003 vintage characteristics showed here tasted double blind)

2001: Less dark colour with a lighter look. Lovely open perfumes of pinot noir. Taste forwardly leaner with some charm peeking through. Tastes much better with the delicious braised rabbit with two mustards pairing.

2007: Very young medium colour. A greener eucalyptus spearmint New World fruit aromas. Seems quite different from the first six wines. Hard to guess what this one could be. Unusual showing presently.

2006: Riper than first wine in third flight. Some herbal plums with a note of mint again. Is this a ringer of top California pinot noir among earlier Burgundy style of first 6 wines? Some potential. Different again.

2002: Darker and deeper fruit. Riper again but more of a “cherry pie” focus. Smoky with some mineral notes here are attractive. Much prefer the terroir of this over two other ones in this flight. Confusing last flight which seems quite different from the first two flights. Has to be a red Burgundy spotlight but not clearly a vertical from oldest to youngest or vice versa. This wine is a rich appropriate match with wood grilled flat iron Alberta beef Wagyu.

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Ask Sid: Royal Tokaji Essencia

March 14th, 2018
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Ask Sid: Royal Tokaji Essencia

Question: I have been gifted a bottle of Royal Tokaji Essencia. Should it be consumed the day it is opened or will it keep well after opening?

Answer: What a treat you have there! Fond nostalgic memories of visiting some of those old cellars with the black moldy walls and drinking the exquisite 1964. Wonder what vintage you have. The only 6 years declared by RT are 2008, 2007 2003, 2000, 1999, and 1993. Amazing free run juice of Essencia (takes 20 kilograms of botryized aszu grapes to produce one 375 ml half bottle) has a long slow fermentation over several years resulting in unique very low alcohol with residual sugar over the moon and the highest acidity. Best enjoyed by the small cherished spoonful! It is more like a Madeira or Chateau-Chalon vin jaune oxidative style from the Jura rather than a normal table wine. It should keep very well and for a long time after opening retaining that original freshness and complex exotica. Just out of extra precaution I would pour it into smaller bottles as the level in the original bottle goes down and keep it cold in the frig. Enjoy over many special memorable occasions.

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Restaurants Play a Key Role in Continuing Success of Vancouver International Wine Festival

March 12th, 2018

Restaurants Play a Key Role in Continuing Success of Vancouver International Wine Festival

Exceptional dining opportunities are certainly an important part of the Vancouver International Wine Festival.  Blogged on February 26 about the outstanding dinner celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Bacchanalia Gala again held at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. There are always enticing special winemaker dinners spread out across the city that sell out very quickly. None faster than the annual Saturday Dine Italia lunch at La Terrazza (established in 1998 open 20 years) on March 3 of 12 quality Italian wines with principals speaking on same matched so well with excellent Italian fare of simplicity and elegance – their 17th in a row! Congrats to the fast moving entertaining “Three Musketeers” of Chef Gennaro Iorio, Sommelier Giulio Miceli and Manager Iqbal Grewal on their most impressive record. The Sunday Vintners Brunch has been another popular event held at the Vancouver Convention Centre featuring about 15 restaurants and a like amount of featured wines. So many participating restaurants over the 40 years have played such a key role in the success of our Wine Festival. One who deserves special mention is creative talented chef/owner Pino Posteraro of Cioppino’s who has an amazing record of memorable winemaker dinners including two more this year one featuring Rocca delle Macie “Tuscany Shines” and a second pairing special wines from Niepoort, Marques de Murrieta and Artadi. Well done Pino.

This year the winery focus was on Spain & Portugal. Executive Chef Neil Taylor of Espana restaurant stepped up with two amazingly cuisine appropriate events. A big bold and beautiful winemaker dinner featuring Miguel Gil (Gil Family Estates) & Nathalie Bonhomme (les vins Bonhomme) with Spanish goodies including Marcona almonds, chorizo, peppers, and Iberico pork. At a Paul Wagner keynote speaker lunch Chef Taylor highlighted paella & estofado with local BC wines. Another highlight for your scribe was enjoying Jean-Luc Colombo wines at West restaurant with their new chef Bobby Milheron and his brigade with Wine Director Owen Knowlton serving brilliant food courses of Parsnip Agnolotti & Braised Lamb Neck. Don’t forget to book early for next year February 23 to March 3, 2019 (featuring California) to take advantage of the many exciting food adventures (with wines) that will be available.


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Ask Sid: Same Grape Variety – Different Names?

March 7th, 2018
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same grape variety wine but different name

Question: Confused at the 40th Vancouver International Wine Festival featuring Spain & Portugal by several red wines made from the same grape variety but using different names. Can you clarify?

Answer: Noticed that too but need more specific information from you to answer your question definitively. Tempranillo the well-known grape variety from Rioja in Spain was very prominent. But it was called Tinto Fino (or Tinta Del Pais) for Ribera Del Duero wines. Similarly Tempranillo was going by Ojo De Liebre (and Ull De LLebre) in the Penedes of Catalonia, Tinta de Toro, and the name Cencibel from the Valdepenas wine region of La Mancha. Moreover in Portugal Tempranillo wines are called Tinta Roriz (and sometimes Aragonez). Yes this is confusing! Other less recognized grape variety “nom de plumes” you may have encountered include Garnacha (Grenache), Mazuelo (Carignan), and Monastrell and Mataro (both Mouvedre). Hope this helps clarify.

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Outstanding Graham Tawny Ports

March 5th, 2018

5 Graham Tawnies from left to right - under 10, 10, 20, 30, 40!
5 Graham Tawnies from left to right – under 10, 10, 20, 30, 40!

Ports were very prominent (and impressive) at the 40th Vancouver International Wine Festival in 2018. One trade seminar showed the magic of the exciting new 2015 Vintage Ports from 8 producers, another tasted key vintages of Dow as well as 2 single Quinta ports, and The Fladgate Partnership highlighted 5 decades of history by Taylor & Fonseca. This last one was presented by David Guimaraens head winemaker as a true masterclass on Vintage Port starting with 1977 (maturing as the finest in the seventies with 1970) followed by 1985 (outstanding Fonseca best of the decade), 1997 (browning from a hot year but yields were down 30% with Taylor still having that typical firm grip and Fonseca the big deep fruit), 2003 (clean pure spirit now being used so shows fruit better earlier on in Taylor) and 2011 (young well balanced explosive fruit with tannins). Fun to try in the tasting room for comparison the also lovely elegant 1985 Warre Vintage Port.

Founded in 1820 by 2 brothers from Scotland W & J Graham it was one of the first Port companies to invest in Portugal’s Upper Douro acquiring in 1890 the now famous Quinta dos Malvedos. Now owned and managed by the Symington family (producers of premium port for 5 generations) it continues to flourish combining innovation with tradition. On May 2, 2016 your scribe detailed here an educational tasting of 10 vintages of Graham Vintage Port over 30 years from 1955 to 1985. This time the focus was on Tawny Ports and again the wines shown brightly indeed. This tasting was led by Rupert Symington (4th generation) with help from his marketing manager Gustavo Devesas who both spoke on the 3 arts of blending, cooperage, and ageing required with a key emphasis on soil and fermentation. Volcanic activity resulted in porous soil on a bedrock of granite and mud going to schist. This helps when the October & April rains filter through the 1 to 7 metres to collect underground for vine availability in the Summer when there is no rain. Vines are over 50 years old resulting in thick skins with aggressive maceration resulting in that opaque colour “the highest natural concentration in the world”.

First up “The Tawny” is a mature reserve port $35 averaging 8-9 years in wood with consumer value appeal of attractive orange peel. The 10 year old $40 still has some red shading averaging 12 years with “eucalyptus and sweetness”. The 20 year old Tawny $66 is usually the most popular perfection choice now showing more of the artisan craftsman cellar master in a fine balanced elegant benchmark with caramel and hazelnuts but still fresh and complex. The 30 year old $119 is amber showing more maturity and a “bit more edgy and sticky with lovely fresh acidity but concentrated glycerol in the mouth plus notes of spicy cigar-box”. The 40 year old $180 is “pure age with meaty leathery savoury notes and as just a wine is irrelevant because it has become now something different and very special”. Probably 50-53 years in wood. Can be volatile acidity (VA) issues on occasion and a “bit of a good tawny prickle” so recommend serving it chilled a little below room temperature. Also sampled the amazing 1994 Single Harvest Port $170 from their last remaining Cask #9 which will be introduced at this year’s Prowein later this month in Dusseldorf. Finished with 1972 Harvest Tawny Port $242 bottled last year “the ultimate sipping wine” with exotic orange and fragrant citrus bergamot still fresh and vibrant with a “precision of flavours finishing with a salty character.” Evaporation from the casks held at the Lodge in Vila Nova de Gaia varies with the humidity and drier years are resulting in increased levels. Generally a Tawny loses 22% of volume after 10 years, 40% after 20, and about 67% after 40. Amazing indeed.  What is left to bottle is a real treat and definitely “history in a bottle”!

On February 27, 2018 at Bodega on Main this Vancouver restaurant featured Spanish cuisine by Chef Maritza Orellana well paired with Graham’s diverse Port portfolio. 10 year Tawny was served with Iberian pork cooked pink and deglazed with port while 20 year Tawny matched well with Crème Brulee (Crema Catalana) a Rupert favourite of caramel pairings. He also likes it with Reblochon or Munster cheese. I prefer my Tawnies with roasted pistachio nuts which Rupert approves of and says is superb. Find your own Tawny Port matches or enjoy it by itself.

Some useful social media port connections: Graham’s Websites:;;; Blog:; Vintage Port Site:; Roy Hersh:

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