Archive for May, 2018

Ask Sid: Significant Vineyard Occurrence in 2017 Bordeaux Growing Season?

May 16th, 2018
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bordeaux vintage 2017

Question: What was the unique significant occurrence during the 2017 growing season in the Bordeaux vineyards?

Answer:
The vintage will be remembered for those late frosts on April 27 & 28 which severely damaged some of the Bordeaux vineyards mainly on the cooler terroirs but often resulting in lower yields for 2017.


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More Morey Saint Denis The Hot Burgundy AC

May 14th, 2018

More Morey Saint Denis The Hot Burgundy AC

Your scribe wrote up a vertical tasting of Clos des Lambrays on this site on March 19, 2018. Continuing to study Morey Saint Denis (MSD) wines this most trendy of Burgundy appellations where two of the four Grand Cru were recently purchased: Clos de Lambrays in 2014 by LVMH & Clos de Tart from Mommessin by Francois Pinault (of Chateau Latour fame) in 2017. A dinner at Bauhaus Restaurant on May 8th served smoked duck breast, roasted broccolini, orange, and cauliflower veloute plus grilled beef hanger, onions in different textures, and roasted polenta both pairing well with two flights of 8 wines in total as follows:

1. 2002 MSD 1er cru Les Ruchots Frederic Magnien

2. 2000 MSD 1er cru La Riotte Hubert Lignier

3. 1999 MSD 1er cru La Riotte Hubert Lignier

4. 2002 Chambolle-Musigny 1er cru Les Baudes Frederic Magnien

Two stellar 2002 vintage from Frederic the son of Michel Magnien but both these by his son-in-law Patrice Ollivier after they acquired a new press in 2000 that produced a lovely less extracted style then previously made. The other 2 from Hubert Lignier (elder cousin of Georges) but wines made by his son Romain from 1991-2004. Les Ruchots one of twenty 1er cru over 33 hectares (out of 132 total for MSD) situated in a bit of a hollow but deep dark with impressive open nose that improved in the glass while the ringer Chambolle from adjoining south AC more delicate, fragrant and refined but slightly softer in texture as expected. Really like that Les Baudes vineyard and especially enjoying currently the 2009 from Drouhin. What an amazing difference between MSD La Riotte (tried more defined Perrot-Minot last year) Lignier of light peppery almost Rhone-like 2000 and solid young impressive fruit of 1999.

5. 2001 Clos de la Roche Domaine Ponsot

6. 2000 Clos Saint Denis Nicolas Potel

7. 1998 Clos des Lambrays Domaine des Lambrays

8. 2003 Bonnes Mares Domaine Fougeray de Beauclair

These second flight all Grand Cru over roughly 40 hectares with the largest Clos de la Roche just under 17 and other 3 between 6-8 ha naturally show much more impressively. Laurent Ponsot since 1982 a Burgundy legend with a delicious more big bodied balanced example. Potel from the old famous Pousse d’Or family delivers a Clos Saint Denis with textbook gentle delicacy and elegance. 1998 Lambrays picked early and situated in a narrower cool air valley is light forwardly drinking. The Bonnes Mares ringer from Chambolle is the majority of late Bernard Clair holdings leased to Fougeray de Beauclair. Remember this style of fruit from some of Louis Jadot Bonnes Mares over the years. 2003 vintage of much riper fruit with powerful concentration.

Tried yesterday a remarkable value purchase of 2015 MSD from Domaine Dujac that is highly recommended to seek out.

Good review of MSD. Definitely unique without the power & structure of the northern neighbour Gevrey and without the delicacy & fragrance of southern Chambolle but softer than G and more structured than C in a style between the two as expected. Try some.


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Ask Sid: What is an Ortega grape?

May 9th, 2018
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Ask Sid: What is an Ortega grape?

Question: What is the Ortega grape?

Answer: A variety used to make white wine with a German origin but grown successfully now elsewhere including Vancouver Island and some Gulf Islands in BC. It is a cross between Muller-Thurgau & Siegerrebe (itself a cross between Madeleine Angevin & Gewurztraminer).


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Australia’s Alternative Grape Varieties Show Promise

May 7th, 2018

australia wine trends

The annual trade wine tasting for Wine Australia “Up Close” on May 1, 2018 gave Vancouver a diverse showing of 165 wines from 17 regions. Impressed with some Riesling including certified organic limestone soil fresh Grosset “Springvale” Clare Valley 2017 and an older delicious textbook Pewsey Vale “The Contours” Eden Valley 2012. Also some Chardonnay like tangerine notes from BK Wines “One Ball” from Adelaide Hills 2017 and Voyager Estate “Broadvale Block 6” 2015 from moderate maritime Margaret River with that signature grapefruit combined with complexity exquisite balance.

The emphasis of a seminar brilliantly led by the entertaining knowledgeable Mark Davidson was focused on sustainability with 3 flights of wines divided into Organics & Biodynamics, Water Management, and Alternative Varieties. It was this latter category however that was a real eye opener. Mark prefers calling them Emerging Varieties but stats from a few years ago show still small but increasing fashionable plantings in hectares of: Tempranillo 750, Sangiovese 450, Vermentino 120, Fiano 110, Nebbiolo 110, Nero D’Avolo 80 among others. Six wines that were unique and quite “cool”:

1. Paxton Wines “Organic” GRACIANO McLaren Vale 2017: Lovely aromatics here with funky Morello cherries. Mark calls it a “smashable red” for refreshing drinking like a Beaujolais!

2. Alpha Box & Dice “Dead Winemakers Society” DOLCETTO Adelaide Hills 2015: Made from 15 year old vines uniquely different from Italy but so stylish.

3. Brash Higgins “NDV” NERO D’AVOLA McLaren Vale 2016: Made by an ex New York Sommelier in small clay amphora pots spending 180 days on the skins resulting in a soft aromatic style – very pure apple cider nose!

4. Massena “Dadd’s Block” PRIMITIVO Barossa Valley 2017: Different from the usual ripe prunes expected because so much fresher.

5. Lost Buoy “Sand and Pebble” FIANO McLaren Vale 2016: Grape from Italy’s Campania displays here from the sea breezes a dry fresh lemony acidity for the floral notes plus pears and spicy ginger apples.

6. Soumah “Hexham Savarro Single Vineyard” SAVAGNIN Yarra Valley 2017: All lemon & lime in a different take on the Sherry-like Vin Jaune from the Jura. Also check out their more expensive 2015 Wild barrel ferment plus use of full solids.

Have you tasted any of these new alternative grape varieties being grown in Australia? Well worth checking out their progress.


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Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!

May 6th, 2018

beaujolais nouveau day history

By Joseph Temple

Were you a wine drinker back in the 1970s or 1980s?  If so, then you must know what happened every year on the third Thursday of November.  Whether one lived in New York City, London, Paris, or Tokyo, that date on the calendar marked the arrival of the latest vintage of Beaujolais Nouveau—also known as Beaujolais Nouveau day—one of the hottest trends in the history of wine and an act of pure marketing genius.

The concept was simple: while other regions across France transferred their annual harvest to casks for months of aging, the vineyards of Beaujolais (located in Burgundy although its climate and geology differs from other areas in the region) could deliver their vin de l’année to the consumer in less than ninety days. From a late summer harvest to the dinner table just in time for the holidays, Beaujolais Nouveau, a fresh light-bodied red wine made from Gamay grapes and intended for immediate consumption became the first crack oenophiles got of that year’s vintage.  But unlike the wines from Bordeaux or the Napa Valley, tasting Beaujolais Nouveau became an event like no other!

Beginning in the early 1970s, vintner Georges Duboeuf spearheaded a PR blitz to promote the region and its unique sales pitch.  At first, it became a race to Paris as trucks and vans frantically headed out just after midnight on November 15—the fist day they could legally sell the wine—to the various cafes and restaurants.  With signs reading “Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé,” competing establishments fought tooth and nail in order to be the first to offer the newest Beaujolais to their customers. As the phenomenon quickly spread to Great Britain and later to North America and Asia, in 1988, Nouveau represented approximately 60% of all the wines produced in the region.

At Kennedy Airport in New York, models and press agents eagerly watched as the first cases arrived from Paris.  By the 1980s, it was estimated that nine million bottles were shipped to over a dozen countries in a period of 4 to 5 days making it a logistical nightmare for some.  And in order to capitalize on a growing international market, the rules were changed from a start date of November 15th to the third Thursday of that month.  Suddenly, Beaujolais Nouveau day became the unofficial kickoff the holiday season where in the United States, this frantically vinified purple-pinkish wine was promoted as the perfect pairing for turkey on Thanksgiving.

For vintners, it was a financial boom.  While other wineries would have to wait at least a year for the profits to trickle in, the Beaujolais could sell up to half the year’s crop within weeks of the annual harvest, getting paid immediately for their efforts.  It was a gigantic leap from previous decades where the poor and remote region often suffered as its neighbors prospered.  In fact, had it not been for its close proximity to Lyon, a city that eventually became a hotbed for gastronomic excellence, few Parisians, let alone millions across the world, may have never even tasted Beaujolais Nouveau.

Unfortunately, what goes up must eventually come down.  Although there were plenty of fans, many purists scoffed at the trend, considering it heresy to drink something that had just come off the tarmac.  And as the 1990s rolled on, the whole spectacle began to wear thin as Beaujolais Nouveau, described as a happy wine was considered by many to be overhyped.  While some still celebrate its arrival each year, it is a shadow of its former glory.  However, there is no denying the important role that Nouveau played in opening many new eyes to the wonders of drinking wine in the 70s and 80s.  Making it an extravaganza that spread like wildfire across the globe, allowing individuals to partake in a history-making event is something that seems to be sorely lacking throughout the world of wine in the current era.

Sources:

Chapuis, Claude. Sustainable Viticulture: The Vines and Wines of Burgundy. Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2017.
Clarke, Oz. Oz Clarke’s New Wine Atlas: Wines and Wine Regions of the World. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002.
Harding, Julia. The Oxford Companion to Wine. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.
Martin, Scott C. The SAGE Encyclopedia of Alcohol: Social, Cultural and Historical Perspectives. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, 2014.


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