Archive for February, 2019

Ask Sid: Best & Worst Years this Decade for Burgundy?

February 13th, 2019
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burgundy wine best vintages

Question: Would appreciate your opinion of the best and worst years this decade for white & red Burgundy.

Answer: Still a work in progress that is difficult to generalize on because of all the recent vineyard variables due to frost, hail, erratic weather by sub-region, and short crops. However your scribe still prefers the even vintages in Chablis of 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016. For the Cote d’Or proper am finding 2013 to be one of the least consistent vintages for both the reds and the whites (as are some of the 2015 & 2011 whites). My vote for the best vintages would go to the concentrated ripe 2015 reds (with that surprising 2010 vintage) and balanced vibrant 2014 whites (with rich smaller crop 2010 also impressive). Lots of exceptions can be made during this unusual decade to those simple vintage chart numbers. You need to do a more detailed intensive study by both producer and vineyard for each vintage to be more truly accurate – or taste the wine. Hope this helps.

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Burgundy Aficionado Should Widen Searches to Include Negociant Value Wines

February 11th, 2019

We all are experiencing the continuing supply and demand economics for Burgundy wines. There certainly are a lot more consumers (and especially collectors) chasing after and driving up the prices of a very limited amount of top rated small estate producers from Cote d’Or for Cote de Nuits & Cote de Beaune wines. This cherished region has expanded more recently also to include Chablis to the north – especially those Grand Cru and best Premier Cru vineyards from key producers – and to the south for some much improved treasures from Cote Chalonnaise, Maconnais, and Cru Beaujolais. Often some wine critics and buyers tend to give more attention to the smaller estates and downplay somewhat the larger established ones – sort of like what has happened with the increased focus on grower Champagnes vs. the established big house labels. Certainly some of the long time negociants in Burgundy that also own substantial vineyards have developed well deserved excellent reputations for delivering very fine quality wines right across the board. Immediately coming to mind among others are such respected names as Bouchard Pere, Faiveley, Joseph Drouhin, Louis Jadot, and Louis Latour. However there are many more who are making fine tuning changes in their operations with a much better improved product worth checking out at still fair values. These thoughts all came back to me this past week at a trade tasting by the importer The Delf Group held in Vancouver on February 7, 2019 for Domaines Albert Bichot (founded in 1831) by their visiting knowledgeable Directrice Export Delphine de la Fouchardiere spotlighting 15 current releases from Village wines to Grand Cru. This followed on from an earlier tasting and dinner at their premises on the ring road in Beaune in early October of last year. They also have some interesting Climats worth discovering under their Domaine Long-Depaquit (Chablis), Domaine du Clos Frantin (Cote de Nuits including special Vosne-Romanee), Chateau Gris (Nuits-Saint-Georges), Domaine du Pavillon (Cote de Beaune), Domaine Adelie (Mercurey), and Domaine de Rochegres (Moulin-a-Vent). Enjoyed their fresh lively pure Cremant de Bourgogne a blend of pinot noir, chardonnay and gamay grapes but also have a lovely blanc de blancs cremant from only chardonnay. The lower yields from 2015 reds showed characteristic ripe seductive fruit (and stems) with full rich rounder tannins styling while those of 2016 that survived the severe frosts had fresh vibrant mineral acidity. Impressed by the values at the lower end plus the usually southerly leaner Santenay Les Charmes is all spicy ripe raspberries in 2015. At the other end for the avid collector that 2016 Clos de La Roche is the true terroir full of potential.


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Ask Sid: Smokiest Wine Vintages in the Okanagan?

February 6th, 2019
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smoke wine fire wildfires

Question: Sid with so many forest fires in the Okanagan the last two decades I wondered which years you thought resulted in the smokiest wines?

Answer: Yes the wild forest fires in the Okanagan have been a continuing hot topic (pun intended) for the BC wine industry. I would offer my opinion that the worst vintages for smoke taint are 2003, 2015, and 2018. There were also lots of wild forest fires in 2009 but they started quite early on because of above average temperatures and lower precipitation resulting in fewer grape issues. Luckily the 2003 fires were localized more around the environs of the Cedar Creek Estate Winery. In 2015 the fires were much more widely spread out (including extensive Washington State damage) and your scribe has noticed in some of these now bottled wines an extra smokiness with a difference in the tannins particularly in the reds having extended skin contact during the fermentation. Caveat Emptor. 2018 was another bad season with multiple fires but it is still early days for these wines from that year and the final results are still to be assessed after bottling. Always be careful in your selection.

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Canadian Culinary Championships 2019

February 4th, 2019

CCC 2019

Your scribe always enjoys the challenge of judging over three main events this endurance culinary test for eleven talented chefs each coming off just winning their own city competition for Canada’s Great Kitchen Party (

The first task was to shop and cook for several hundred guests on an extremely limited budget of just over $1/per guest with ingredients to match a mystery wine which turned out to be fruity good acidity 14.9 powerful finish 2016 Mission Hill Family Estate Vista’s Edge Cabernet Franc from East Oliver producing only 26 barrels under their Terroir Collection series spending 18 months in French oak (25% new). Chef Christopher Hill of The Taste Restaurant Group of Saskatoon led after this start in a close photo finish with a lovely artistic braised crispy pork belly confit in its own fat for 5 hours with a squid ink agnolotti stuffed with moist brandade of long cod.

The second event is the most difficult challenging Black Box cooking a dish in 1 hour using compulsory all 7 items – this year all vegetarian: Saffron, Sweet Potato, Mushroom, Whole Grain Buckwheat, Sheep Milk 5% Yogurt, Whole Quince, and Sweet Chestnuts. The winner again in a close battle was Calgary Chef Dave Bohati of Murrieta’s who did the best job of utilizing the tough hard buckwheat element in a tuile wafer.

The third concluding Grand Finale on February 2, 2019 spotlighted some very outstanding and innovative cuisine including even aerated foie gras, reindeer moss, sea buckthorn, and shrimp okonomiyaki. Chef Takashi Ito from Aura Waterfront Restaurant in Victoria who stumbled to last place in the Black Box section with a thick undercooked dumpling bounced back to win this event with an amazing Sake poached spot prawn & seared scallops seafood winner.

After the final voting marks from the triathlon were totalled the consistent Chef Yannick La Salle from Les Fougeres in Chelsea Quebec representing Ottawa/Gatineau prevailed with Chef Hill second and Chef Bohati third.

Congrats to the three medalists plus all these participants for the very high quality of their preparations. Very well done indeed!


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