Archive for August, 2018

Ask Sid: What is blue wine?

August 29th, 2018
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What is blue wine?

Question: What is this I hear about a blue wine?

Answer: Yes blue wine is a relatively new fashion fad. Not really something to consider IMHO unless you are looking for a cocktail to match your blue sartorial splendor or a unique pairing for a dinner course of roasted blue grouse with a blueberry sauce! It started a few years ago in Spain with Gik using the pigments from grape skins with natural dye from the woad plant (a member of the cabbage family originally used for blue dye indigo). This year Vindigo has a Chardonnay labelled Vin Bleu De Mediterranee and Saraceni has Italian Blumond bubbles. I haven’t tried either one but advised they are rather sweet.


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PAULEE: CHASSAGNE MONTRACHET

August 27th, 2018


By Olivier Colas [CC BY-SA 4.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons

The annual Vancouver Tastevin Paulee was held this year on August 26, 2018 featuring wines from the appellation of Chassagne-Montrachet. Last year the spotlight was on Grand Cru Chablis and my impressions were blogged here on September 4, 2017. The last time we featured the Chassagne region was back in 2012 so this provided a useful update. The wines are difficult to know well because there are so many producers from such a large vineyard area making both white and red between Puligny-Montrachet & Meursault to the north and Santenay to the south. It covers about 370 hectares (865 acres) over 2 1/2 square miles with some 140 hectares of 1er Cru on the slopes (75% white) and 150 of Village AC on the flatter areas (only 45% white). You will recall that they also have 3 of the 6 Grand Cru whites with just under half of Montrachet & Batard-Montrachet (both shared with Puligny) plus all of Criots-Batard Montrachet but none of Chevalier-Montrachet & Bienvenues-Batard Montrachet and of course Corton-Charlemagne to the north. This event had some nearly 40 Chassagne to taste at the reception followed by an outstanding meal with other Burgundies so well organized by caterer Culinary Capers CEO Debra Lykkemark and beautifully prepared by Chef Stewart Boyles and his brigade. Menu and photos attached show some of the excitement but you had to be there to enjoy the real “joie de vivre”. Some brief comments follow.

The featured 40 Chassagne had no Grand Cru but a broad selection of the 50+ different 1er Cru whites in the appellation showing many diverse producers covering vintages from 2015 to 2002. Some of the premier cru vineyards you most commonly find available include Caillerets (elegant flowers), Chenevottes (often richer but two 2011 from Marc Morey & Bruno Colin both lovely), Morgeot (largest but can be softer more variable with about 20 climats allowed to use this more familiar name), and Les Vergers (like the reliable quality for the price). As with the Chablis the 14, 12, 10, and 08 vintages showed best consistent balance though some of the young 15s were more vibrant than expected (Vergers from Fontaine-Gagnard, light racy Chaumees from Philippe Colin, & Boudriotte from Ramonet). In fact all the Ramonet wines showed consistently well with 14 Boudriotte fresh and full of energy, 06 Morgeot rich exotic spices, and 08 Vergers one of the best – so complex! Another good producer was Domaine Fontaine-Gagnard with a lively magnum of 14 Clos des Murees and aged 02 Caillerets. Louis Jadot had several entries from a softer as expected 09 Abbaye de Morgeot, balanced 10 Morgeot Clos de La Chapelle compared with the same smartly decanted full toasty mature 02. Surprised to see several Embazzes from forwardly 13 Drouhin, most expensive bottle 06 Leroy rich but disappointing cheese rind notes, to delicious magnum of full minerally 04 Bernard Morey. Quite a tasting experience.

Kudos to the superb food. Choice of courses for pescatarians was a nice touch. Three Chambolle-Musigny from Ghislaine Barthod found 2004 Les Cras 1er cru outstanding from more clay soils than Bonnes-Mares  contributing big bodied ripe selected fruit from a difficult vintage. Grand Cru flight impressed with hot vintage 2003 Corton Bressandes from Chandon de Briailles showing remarkable cool complex true terroir while more lauded 2002 vintage Chapelle edgy more acidic and 2000 Latricieres quite spicy.

Really enjoy these educational focused study of a specific wine region. Do you have a preferred Chassagne-Montrachet 1er cru vineyard or producer?


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9 Campfire Cookout Ideas to celebrate the end of summer!

August 26th, 2018

campfire recipes summertime

By Joseph Temple

As summer comes to an end, we all try to fit in one last great weekend adventure. And what better way to say goodbye to those hot summer days and hello to cooler autumn nights that an outdoor celebration. Whether you have one last beach party cookout or go camping in the woods, here are some classic and a few new ideas to feed the crowd!



1. Cowboy classic chill. You can also try a vegetarian stew (don’t forget to pre-prep) or baked beans.
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2. Whether you call then flapjacks, hot cakes, or pancakes, who wouldn’t love waking up to these for breakfast?
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3. Kids love marshmallows and chocolate, but adding granola and dried fruit to you banana boats will give them a more sophisticated flare.
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4. Baked apples are made even better with a simple oat crumble perfect for anytime.
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5. For a new twist on a fun snack, bake muffin batter in orange halves after eating the refreshing fruit inside. It’s a great way to unwind after a long hike.
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6. Hot dogs and campfires go hand in hand. Why not try some sausages for something a little bit different?
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7. Nothing says camping like a good old fashioned eggs and taters breakfast!
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8. One word: S’mores!
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9. Feeling like you really want to live off the land, go fishing! It won’t get fresher than this!
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Ask Sid: Is it OK to pick the grape crop while it is raining?

August 22nd, 2018
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picking grapes while it's raining

Question: Is it OK to pick the grape crop while it is raining?

Answer: As we approach Fall harvest time in the Northern Hemisphere this question always comes up. Grapes seem to be ripening forever earlier with Champagne & Alsace yesterday starting already their Vendange 2018. There usually is less chance of rain when picking in August than in September/October. Generally for better quality you want to avoid picking in the rain which tends to swell the grapes up diluting the juice inside with even the possibility of cracks or splits developing resulting in mold. Sometimes it is necessary to do so particularly if there is a forecast for stronger storms with heavy rains continuing. This year there are major wildfires near several wine growing regions – especially in the B.C. Okanagan Valley. Some growers are hoping for a little rain just before or even during harvest to wash away the worst of the smoke taint presently sitting on the surface of the grape skins. May be OK to pick in the rain but usually it is not ideal.


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Longtable Dinner 2018 Outdoors At North Arm Farm in Pemberton BC Under Smoky Conditions but Still Memorable!

August 20th, 2018

The highlight of outdoor dining in BC the 8th Annual Longtable Dinner was held on Sunday August 19, 2018 again in the fields of North Arm Farm at Pemberton British Columbia. It is usually set under the clear bright blue high sky surrounded by majestic mountains of this unique location. However this year presently there are so many active wildfires throughout BC displacing thousands from their homes which has resulted in a state of emergency declaration. There were no fires at the dinner except for the BBQ but there was a thick pall of smoke over the whole region. You couldn’t see the mountains and only the outline of the sun was visible through the hazy conditions. Nonetheless though Mother Nature was different the event again was a memorable event of high quality food and wine matching. Under the direction of Executive Chef James Walt and Restaurant Director Neil Henderson the family-style food platters were prepared by three Toptable Group chefs of Araxi’s Quang Dang, Il Caminetto’s Brad Masciotra, Bar Oso’s Jorge Munoz Santos and brigade. The beverage side was well taken care of by Bar Oso’s Bar Manager Jason Redmond (fun cocktail “Stop Calling Me Shirley” using Sheringham Distillery Seaside Gin) at the barn-side reception together with Wine Director Jason Kawaguchi serving LaStella “Vivace” Pinot Grigio & Arrowleaf Rose. Service throughout was so admirable being attentive, personable, and friendly. Your scribe wrote up here on September 7, 2015 a more detailed review of this special event that year. Also the menu from last year is attached here where the grilled Octopus was such a big hit and so in demand that it just had to be repeated this year. What a course!  The reception too showed to advantage the local just-picked produce in hors d’oeuvre ranging from arancini of sweet corn with roasted red pepper agrodolce, citrus marinated cucumber, local gem tomatoes, beets, shiso, to fresh figs. Back to clear sunny conditions hoped for next year.


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