Archive for November, 2018

Ask Sid: Champagne Recommendation?

November 28th, 2018
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what champagne should i buy

Question: What would be your Champagne purchase recommendation for holiday gifting?

Answer: Yes the upcoming festive season is the time for sparkling wines and Champagne but so is all year long. I am a big fan of the classic balanced 2008 Champagnes and recommend any bottle with that vintage date on it. Both Pol Roger or Paul Bara are two that come to mind immediately as good examples from 2008. Local Vancouver store www.marquis-wines.com lists some 44 Grower Champagnes of interest with 10% discount for 6 bottles and free shipping. Enjoy.


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Bordeaux Paulee of First Growths

November 26th, 2018

Bordeaux Paulee of First Growths

We all think of a Paulee tasting as being only a Burgundy concept. However other wine regions can copy this excellent idea. A Bordeaux BYOB – especially here for a First Growth theme – works fantastically as the same opportunity. Your scribe attends such a dinner-tasting with too much wine knowledge baggage though has great expectations for finding some best bottles as all wines are top shelf but the evolving nature of different vintages matters a lot. A matching menu masterly done by talented Chef Alex Chen and his brigade at Boulevard Restaurant in Vancouver helped by enhancing our overall appreciation of the quality of the wines.

You usually can put 8 top properties into this so called First Growth group. We didn’t have any Petrus or La Mission Haut Brion this time. Did have 3 vintages of Haut-Brion with an elegant classy cool 79 singing well as did the powerful rich caramel dessert-like 1975. 1978 is more vegetal and not the majestic outstanding riper prowess of sister property La Mission in this late miracle vintage. Only 2 vintages of Cheval shown with underrated 1988 still firm and developing that special Right Bank cab franc character preferred over a lovely bouquet but less balanced less fruit 1986. Chateau Margaux showed 4 excellent examples with atypical big bodied still young dramatic 1986 and mature classy flowers long flavours 1978 at 40 years. Wonderful comparison of twins 1983 & 1982 both true beauties. Found 1983 no rush backward younger harder and most concentrated fruit while 1982 forwardly open charming riper rounder delicious already. Thirteen wines were from Pauillac with Latour 2, Lafite 5, and Mouton 6 vintages to compare. 1983 Latour very high fill decanted early and better than expected from a difficult year for them while the under the radar 1970 well stored bottle again much better now than in earlier experiences. Outstanding bouquet of intense spicy plums with cedar! Six Moutons ranged from a fresh youthful 2012 to a mature 1970. Most impressive was 1998 with dense 86% cab sauv for wonderful ageing potential while drinking up the barnyard 1988, smoky lighter 1980, and cherry honey earthy 1976. Lafite made the best overall showing of the evening with 5 quite different lovely vintages. 1999 has that eclipse marking and engraved vintage on the bottle produced from 1/3 of the crop in the Grand Vin but presently more herbal green tea acidity and prominent tannins. The three from the eighties shone better. 1989 quite lush from riper vintage style with elegance but seemed lighter bodied than I expected. 1986 still somewhat tight but has a magnificent explosive cedar nose with big bodied classic dense fruit already showing some brilliant harmony. 1985 more mature with charm and ready to enjoy now. Only off bottle was that tannic year 1975 with some TCA corky issues. All in all 22 most intriguing top First Growths to try in one evening. What an education!

Hope you are thinking about holding a Paulee with wines other than Burgundy. BYOB with a theme works very well. Enjoy the experience.


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Ask Sid: What about Sauvignon Gris?

November 21st, 2018
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Question: What about the grape variety Sauvignon Gris?

Answer: It is a clonal mutation of the better known popular Sauvignon Blanc grape variety. However Sauvignon Gris is seldom seen outside of Chile and France. It can provide a wine with an interesting less aggressive more subtle aroma plus a full richer softer appeal. I particularly like the use of it in a blend say at around 5% or so that is successfully done by the Cathiards for their excellent Chateau Smith-Haut-Lafitte blanc from Pessac-Leognan. Seek it out.


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Three Dinners Confirm Improvement of Red Burgundy With Ageing

November 19th, 2018

We all know the universal agreement on the long ageing ability of the cabernet sauvignon variety and especially quality Bordeaux wines and those increasingly popular “Bordeaux Blends”. However there is less consensus on pinot noir and particularly red Burgundy. Believe there are several reasons for this including the scarcity of limited supply older red Burgundies available plus that many show a delicious accessible sweeter fruit for enjoyment when younger. In fact some consumers actually prefer the style of young fresh fruity pinot noir fruit to the changed version when older. However that usual endemic underlying acidity of red Burgundy (plus many other pinot noirs from around the world) well stored allows it to evolve slowly yet gracefully developing more complex bouquet with those unique seductive textures. Worth the wait IMHO! Three exciting dinner parties within the last 3 weeks featuring top Burgundy certainly emphatically confirmed this opinion for your scribe.

The first was a vertical of ECHEZEAUX Grand Cru from a rather large 37+ hectares (11 distinct climats) producing some 12,000+ cases per year by 84 owners with the largest DRC followed by Mongeard-Mugneret. The young 2013 from Fabrice Vigot surprised with lovely exquisite bright perfumed pinot noir aromas and powerful taste. Enjoyable already. However the 10 years older 2003 Domaine de Perdrix was also still youthful but developing richer style from blacker fruits of a hot year especially in the enhanced flavours. Better still were 93 DRC so structured just coming into its own exotica at 25 years plus the two 1988s (originally a year of prominent acid & tannins) of DRC (open complex enticing soy oriental spice) and Mongeard-Mugneret (mature lighter so elegant showing typical leather with sous-bois). Good food pairing of local Quail with butternut squash, baby kale, pomegranate, toasted hempseed hearts.


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Second evening featured nine VOSNE-ROMANEE all from Dominique Laurent. A region of 8 Grand Cru (including Echezeaux & Grands-Echzeaux both in Flagey-Echezeaux) over 75 hectares, 12 Premier cru (plus 2 in F-E) in 58 hectares & Villages over 105. Premier Crus Les Suchots 2008 proved best over more forwardly two Les Beaumonts 2008 and deeper darker 2007. The six distinct parcels all 1995 were developing better with more age: La Croix Blanche (most southerly by the RN 74) dark but a bit green stems, Le Croix Rameau 1er cru (NE corner RSV) palest silky most finesse, Les Champs Perdrix (above La Tache next to Reignots) mid colour full & rich, Les Petits Mont 1er cru (above La Romanee, Richebourg) best of show amazingly complex with special velvet textures, Les Hautes-Maizieres Serie Rare (below Les Suchots) youthful edgy spritzy, and Serie Rare Cuvee Royale (assorted villages) forwardly but a simpler terroir. Recommended dishes that worked so well with these wines were sustainable Gindara Sablefish (good rich oily texture works), celery roots & hearts, black truffle jus, blood orange, brown butter powder and also Tonka Bean smoked sea salt roasted duck breast (classic pairing), BC blueberry, parsnips, and vanilla emulsion.


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Third dinner party was a joy celebrating freshly shot wild duck with Autumn fruits and top Burgundy. Also fantastic matches were North Coast Brill Sole & Sidestripe shrimp with sunchoke puree in red wine shellfish reduction (red wine with fish worked again!)plus Braised lamb shoulder with subtle Moroccan spices, almond & apricot couscous. Younger Grand Cru all were remarkable of ROMANEE ST. VIVANT DRC 2004 (14754 bottles) picked end of September & structured 2003 (11924b) early end of August with very low yields & Rousseau CHAMBERTIN 2003 & 2000 (both big rich licorice) plus their more delicate aromatic Clos de Beze 2001. Again the older selections showed the most outstanding with both 1990s impressive showing darker most elegant DRC RSV and evolving colour yet exciting honey-licorce of Chambertin by Rousseau (actually prefer their 1991). Another treat this evening which emphasized age worthiness at 40 years was that famous great 1978 vintage Musigny Remoissenet (using Comte de Vogue fruit) with a really special deep mind boggling bouquet and velvet smooth texture. Q.E.D.


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If you have any older bottles of quality pinot noir still around you may be in for an amazing surprise treat indeed!


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Ask Sid: Your thoughts on the winning Bordeaux Red Blends at Judgment of BC?

November 14th, 2018
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Ask Sid: Your thoughts on the winning Bordeaux Red Blends at Judgment of BC?

Question: Surprised by the top 2 red “Bordeaux blends” listed on  your Blog at the recent Judgment of BC wine tasting. Your thoughts on those please.

Answer: Yes quite a marketing boost for the recognition of the overall top quality of BC wines at the 4th Annual Judgment of BC. Around the world people still tend to generally think of Canada as a cold country able to make ice wines and perhaps a few lively whites. Top Bordeaux style red wines like the late Robert Mondavi would have asked “ are we making world class cabernets?” seemed unlikely even just a few years ago. Now the progress for reds helped by global warming has been remarkable. Look out for that pinot noir variety too! Pleased that 2 well established wineries both situated on the cooler Naramata Bench but using fruit from the warmer southern regions of Osoyoos showed their prowess in such a well-organized blind tasting. What amazed me particularly in addition to the fact that the top 2 finishers were from BC was that both were styled so very differently yet both received high voting preference by the tasters.

Number 1 placed 2014 Poplar Grove Legacy is 44% cab franc (a treasured grape) with equal cab sauv & merlot (24%) plus equal malbec & petit verdot (4%) from this ever encouraging balanced top vintage. Big grape change from their 2013 Legacy when the mix was 44% less ripe cab sauv with more malbec 13% but lesser cab franc (27), merlot (13) and petit verdot (3). Your scribe liked how fresh and vibrant 2014 showed with a good future ahead of it for aging.  “Bordeaux-styled” the open aromas were quite green pepper, leafy and dill focused for me as was the finish though the endemic sage character spoke admirably as distinctively Okanagan terroir. Wonderful statement.

Number 2 Laughing Stock Portfolio 2015 has more ripe merlot (45%) in a similar grape mix resulting in higher alcohol (14.9) from this hotter vintage but showed so differently blind. Both are classy using French oak this one 40% new. Deep rich colour with such seductive perfumed aromas plus intense pure almost sweet cassis fruit. So stylish and balanced yet packing power with elegance. Buy this. Gave this my top ranking as #1 and guessed it might be a top smoky California wine but on reflection after disclosure – yes this is indeed another amazing impressive quality Portfolio. Pleased the knowledgeable panel of tasters liked this one too.


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