Archive for September, 2019

Ask Sid: What is the style of 2017 Chablis?

September 18th, 2019
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2017 chablis wine

Question: 2017 Chablis are arriving in the wine shops so what is your opinion on the style and quality of them?

Answer: Visited in Vancouver yesterday with Luc Bouchard of William Fevre tasting several examples of 2017 & 2016. They describe 2017 Chablis  as “a vintage full of elegance, very fruity, and excellent minerals with a lot of freshness & precision.” Luc says it will be a vintage that “should develop and age well”. Your scribe liked the intensity from lower yields showing more vibrant acidity balance in the 2017 compared to the rich full softer 2016 style. Check them out.


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CELLARBRATION: What Hospitality With Wine Education!

September 16th, 2019

Long time IWFS members and major contributors to the development of the Vancouver wine and food scene celebrated their birthdays & anniversary in grand style on September 8. Alice & David Spurrell invited some 50+ friends for a wine tasting & dinner in what was truly a “Cellarbration”. Everyone was in a good mood extending to the Spurrells all their best wishes and blown away with the remarkable quality of the older wines served. Originally they generously planned to open 100 bottles but wisely brought that total down to the 70 listed on the program set out in 4 separate rooms of their home. The aged wines were in such fine shape and so drinkable (with only one corked wine 1975 Chateau La Lagune) that 59 were more than sufficient (plus one more delicious top vintage 2001 Chateau Suduiraut). Treasures of Gruaud-Larose, Lafite, & Latour listed were not needed and saved for another occasion. Out of the 60 wines your scribe tasted 21 were from California & 39 from Bordeaux. Most delighted were the 4 top sommeliers from local restaurants skillfully opening the bottles at their table all with very old drying out cork closures (not a screw-top in sight) and some with difficulty requiring a Durand. Well done indeed. What a wonderful opportunity for them and everyone else attending to receive a Masterclass in older “Bordeaux-style” wines. Much excitement for all and a lifetime experience so well learned!

The California selection were all from the seventies a grand decade for old style cab. Both the 1977 & 1976 vintages expressed the noteable drought conditions of those years. However 1976 Ridge Montebello was stellar from 100% cab combining both young & old vines coming in at an elegant 12.7 alcohol. Fun to compare it with 100% cab from 1978 Ridge Jimsomare with the least “Bordeaux-like” styling showing a ripe big alcoholic 15.3 finish. Other 1978s showed well led by structured stylish Mt. Veeder Bernstein (also intense softer savoury 1975 B. and concentrated regular), solid Stags’ Leap Wine Cellars and classic Villa Mt. Eden. Highly rated 1974 lived up to reputation with that still singing complex Mondavi Reserve (more depth in mini-vertical of 75, 76, 77) as did American oak BV Reserve and intense lovely Mount Veeder Napa. Again educational to compare Napa, Sonoma, & South San Francisco Bay styles.

Red Bordeaux selection was simply spectacular! All 1979 or older so in that earlier picked ageable style that ended with 1988. Wines generally now produced riper with softer tannins and less acidity. All communes were represented:

POMEROL 2: Two key “iron” terroir examples with both delicious powerful 1978 Certan de May & surprisingly fresh 1970 Clos Rene.

ST. EMILION 5: Led by historic 1961 L’Arrosee (convinced Haut-Brion to buy the property) in mini-vertical with lighter 1970 & exquisite balanced acidity of 1966 plus herbal distinctive 1978 Figeac and more controversial 1964 Ausone – some loved but some found rustic/cellary.

PESSAC-LEOGNAN 1: What a representative with those aggressive tannins of 1975 now coming into balance with that brilliant concentrated old style La Mission fruit!

LUDON 2: Of course it was La Lagune from that region but a corked 1975 and 1978 miracle year in typical greener style but a touch musty. Not the best showing for this usually fine property.

MARGAUX 6: All wines were excellent. 4 year mini-vertical Palmer shone with stylish elegant 1970 and ever improving powerful 1975 (heading to become another 1928?) with tannins finally softening. Lively 1978 & higher acid 1979 also beauties in a lighter display. Mature 1978 Margaux exciting to compare with the Palmer 1978 and both holding their own style well. 1966 Giscours coarser but underrated long distance runner of that vintage.

ST. JULIEN 5: Some beauties here with two 1961s Beychevelle & Leoville Barton (also 1978) plus bit earthy bottle of usually better Las Cases 1979. Talbot 1966 was still carrying on after 50 years but not the brillance of sibling Gruaud-Larose 1966.

PAUILLAC 9: Probably the favourite region of the group. Some good comparisons of both vintages and chateaux. Four labels of Mouton are always interesting to study and special to drink. 1979 the surprise with complex fruit in an open stunning cedar bouquet with 1978 more herbal toned, 1975 more mature than some bottles tried recently but very Mouton while off year 1969 very browning colour drying out but nose still had enticing interest. May de Lencquesaing’s 1978 & 1979 Pichon showed as expected with wonderful balance and Lynch Bages both solid with 1979 good length above the reputation of the vintage yet again. Old style Pontet-Canet can be good as 1966 showed and of course current Alfred Tesseron examples are mind bending.

ST. ESTEPHE 8: Also a good AC showing with three mini-verticals of the top properties there. Showed their unique common more austere styling from clay soils but each property distinctly different. Montrose big rich powerful with a good bottle of the variable 1975, still fresh 1979 (another good 1979); Cos lighter than Montrose not going through their best period at that time; and Calon-Segur super adorable “heart label” is a slow developer needing more decanting time but still most admirable. 1961 & 1966 both impress.

SAUTERNES 1: Hard to beat that top intense vintage 2001 with Suduiraut.

Most memorable Cellarbration by an amazing couple! Your scribe’s 5 favs among many outstanding beauties were: 1961 L’Arrosee, 1979 Mouton Rothschild, 1974 Mondavi Reserve, 1975 La Mission Haut Brion, and 1970 Palmer. Doubt the range of these generous rich treasures of wine cellar gems could ever be repeated. Many thanks and many more birthdays & anniversaries.


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Ask Sid: In France is there a wine & cheese sharing the same name?

September 11th, 2019
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wine cheese same name

Question: In France is there a wine and a cheese sharing the same name?

Answer: Yes. VALENCAY. It is a Loire Valley AOC (Appellation d’Origine Controlee) wine region in south-east Touraine growing several grape varieties led by sauvignon blanc white and gamay red. It is also the name for an unpasteurized goat’s milk AOC cheese in a pyramid shape from that region. Educational & fun to pair them together to taste.


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PAULEE BORDEAUX IS SUCCESSFUL EVENT FOR IWFS VANCOUVER BRANCH

September 9th, 2019

La Paulee de Meursault originated this great idea of a celebratory lunch with attendees bringing along bottles of wine to contribute. Nevertheless a Paulee is much more than a simple BYOB but a most sociable lively convivial sharing around in the joys of wine. The original one is now the last key Monday component of the annual Les Trois Glorieuses in Burgundy held on the third weekend in November. However this concept has proved popular and has now expanded with similiar events around the world. For nearly 20 years successful ones in New York & San Francisco feature some of the greatest wines of Burgundy at tastings, seminars and dinners. Other wine regions of the world have been slower to adopt this unique vision for showcasing their wines though I noted on this Blog last year with a November 26 posting a remarkable dinner Bordeaux Paulee of First Growths.

The Robertsons (Jim & Melina) longtime dedicated leaders of the successful Vancouver Branch of the IWFS decided to organize with the outstanding team at Boulevard restaurant a Paulee de Bordeaux dinner on September 4, 2019. The menu by celebrated Chef Roger Ma & his brigade provided food courses that paired well with the variety of Bordeaux bottles that showed up. The event was truly a lot of fun. Executive GM & Wine Director JP Potters expertly opened and decanted many bottles and supplied so many perfect clean Bordeaux appropriate wine glasses. He also provided knowledgeable wine commentary for our group as a most useful educational element on wine tasting that included a white wine blind (a somewhat difficult to identify Italian Soave). There was a 10 question Bordeaux quiz to try and correctly answer for a magnum of 2009 Meursault Genevrieres Bouchard Pere. Your scribe didn’t enter but his wonderful spouse did and won the prize. Joan says “it is amazing what you can learn through long-time osmosis” Some tricky ones. Try and see how many you can get without using a search engine. One of the best parts of this friendly evening was IWFS members going around and providing small pours of their contributed wine to others. This was where magnums became useful like a delicious 2006 Pavillon Blanc du Chateau Margaux. This moving around visiting and sharing of wine with focused conversations proved to be a really big hit!

After starting with a variety of bubbles for the aperitif there were lots of interesting bottles to try and savour with the food resulting in many highlights. Among the whites the quality of Domaine de Chevalier Blanc is always stellar though a 1995 was quite mature showing a lot of distinctive cinnamon notes. The low yields of 100% sauvignon blanc with oak in the 2009 Pavillon Blanc contrasted nicely with the same grape variety but with lively higher yields in 2010 Le Secret Grand Bateau. Liked comparing and studying two vintages of improved Chateau de Fieuzal Blanc Pessac-Leognan with 2009 rich, full but softer & 2010 fresh more vibrant & structured. Mostly reds with a 1978 Chateau Siran Margaux mag still in good shape with that distinctive miracle vintage “herbal” touch compared with a 10 year younger Margaux of 1988 Chateau Fontarney (second wine of Chateau Desmirail). The Right Bank had a drinking well 1995 Chateau L’Arrosee and one of the real stars of the night (my silver medal winner) a concentrated so well balanced youngster of 2010 Chateau Canon (cellar this) both showing lovely St. Emilion terroir. Another Chanel owned wine started the Left Bank “fashion” show with ripe smooth 2009 Segla (second of Rauzan-Segla), solid intense Chateau Leoville-Poyferre St Julien, and very likeable easy quite complex drinking already 2000 Chateau d’Armailhac Pauillac. The Left Bank treasures included two vintages of Chateau Gruaud-Larose a classic text-book St. Julien delight of 1983 and the wine of the night 1982 (my gold medal award) contributed by the Robertsons plus high over 70% cabernet sauvignon 1975 Chateau Montrose St. Estephe finally with those strong tannins dropping and yet with still some fruit left. Finished up with an outstanding pairing of luscious Chateau Suduiraut 1999 Sauternes with that excellent work of art peach tart. Memorable event.

Recommend you try a Paulee event with your IWFS Branch – doesn’t necessarily have to be traditional Burgundy – and it can be a lot of educational fun.


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Ask Sid: What is a Single Estate Appellation in France?

September 4th, 2019
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Ask Sid: What is a Single Estate Appellation in France?

Question: What is an example of a Single Estate Appellation in France?

Answer: Just that – a single estate that has a monopoly on the wine produced from that appellation. Pretty unique n’est pas? A few examples that come immediately to mind are these:

1. Chateau-Grillet a small 3.8 hectare property of the Neyret-Gachet family in the Northern Rhone producing a small production white from Viognier grapes purchased in 2011 by Francois Pinault (Chateau Latour).

2. Clos De La Coulee de Serrant of the Joly family in the Appellation Savennieres-Coulee De Serrant Controlee in the Loire using Chenin Blanc grapes for a special white.

3. Societe Civile du Domaine de la Romanee Conti in Burgundy with two AOC monopole red wines of both Romanee-Conti & La Tache.


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