Archive for December, 2019

Ask Sid: A wine scene dislike?

December 11th, 2019
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Question: You are usually quite positive and helpful on these questions Sid. I wonder if there is a fad, ritual, or trend on the current wine scene that you dislike?

Answer: I hadn’t thought of that one. Sure there are quite a few including these:

1. Sitting near someone at a wine tasting or dinner who is wearing a prominent perfume or has some other strong scent trail.

2. The hype for “natural” wines (including “orange”) is admirable in concept but quite difficult to perfectly achieve with too many of them not delicious enough with some even undrinkable.

3. Really dislike the sabering of sparkling wine (especially Champagne). This is my #1 pet peeve by far! Can be fun & festive I guess but is over-done and dangerous. Not only do you explode the wonderful contents and lose precious bubbles but subject by-standers to injury. I have seen too many people (including the saber holder) cut by flying glass shards including this year to a spectator near me in the 5th row while watching it being done as part of a celebration on a stage. In any event always know what you are doing and carefully saber towards an empty space or wall away from people and at least cover the bottle over with a towel or use other safety precautions.

What are your dislikes?


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IWFS Vancouver Holiday Celebration Dinner at Four Seasons Nostalgic & Successfully Managed

December 9th, 2019

The IWFS Vancouver Branch has a long history of memorable successful year end holiday celebration dinners. Earlier days focused on member’s doing the cooking of special dishes to show how different countries spotlighted a variety of their key food items in festive menus. More recently these events have been held at hotels or private clubs but four of the last five have been in the historic majestic surroundings of Chartwell at the Four Seasons Hotel. It was most appropriate that this one on Sunday December 8, 2019 was held there for the last time as the hotel will close down on January 31, 2020. A nostalgic evening remembering some of the many outstanding meals enjoyed there since the hotel opened way back in 1977. It indeed was a training ground for so many talented chefs over the 40+ years starting with the brilliant Chef Michel Clavelin preparing French cuisine to the present Chef Benjamin Kilford. Look at the photos of the enticing flavourful dishes prepared by Chef Kilford and his brigade. Member Nick Wright cleverly toasted both Canadian founder-owner “Issy” Sharp’s vision of the importance of service in hospitality from the guest’s perspective plus fondly that outstanding gentleman the late Ruy Paes-Braga with his amazing personable hands-on approach for such a long time as GM-VP. Some great memories but sad it soon all is coming to an abrupt end.

The Vancouver Branch of IWFS is thriving under the leadership of Milena & Jim Robertson who do such an admirable job of organizing a diverse yearly program of food & wine functions that are always stimulating. This latest one again showed how astute they are together with the insightful help of members Kim Mead & Alvin Nirenberg in acquiring delicious excellent wines at the best most reasonable price for the advantage of our members. Other Branches could get valuable tips from them in buying the best Quality-to-Price-Ratio QPR for wines to be served. Kim commented on the wines in her usual well-researched way with a delivery of peronal comments that held your attention. Well done.

Your scribe was impressed with the amazing smart choices QPR of these wines:

2006 Baron-Fuente Champagne Grand Millesime Brut is a negociant but owns vineyards and also buys “sur pied” picking the grapes themselves of this value priced riper vintage blend of 45% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Meunier, and 15% Pinot Noir with long lees aging resulting in a rich creamy toasty style.

2014 Chateau de Nages ButiNages (“gather nectar”) Costieres de Nimes Blanc is from younger vines in Southern France of Grenache Blanc & Roussanne in an unoaked pure rich spicy stone fruit with lots of easy flavours. Dungeness crab is the perfect outstanding “treat” for the holiday season!

2012 Chablis 1er Cru Mont de Mileau Laroche is intense citrus with minerals again good value for a classic Chablis so suited for seafood.

2010 Beaune 1er Cru Greves (one of the best of 36 Premier Beaunes) Louis Jadot is a perfect fairly priced pinot noir from a top vintage matching well with the agnolotti duck confit course.

2008 Chateau Gloria St.Julien unclassified but textbook still underrated from the early days of Henri Martin to the present with this sleeper vintage. Good fruit definitely QPR on lovely drinkable plateau.

1999 Chateau Suduiraut Sauternes with lots of attractive pineapple coconut lush notes paired delightfully with the dessert.

Happy holiday season is under way.


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Ask Sid: What Champagne to buy?

December 4th, 2019
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what's the best champagne to buy

Question: What Champagne should I buy?

Answer: Somewhat surprised by so many enquiries asking which Champagne should I buy for the holiday season. Your scribe expected more interest shown in so many other “bubbles” choice out there from Cava, Prosecco, England’s Sparkling, to underrated British Columbia. Yes go ahead and celebrate with luxury Champagne again for the end of 2019 and ushering in 2020. Big brands still dominate but growers are making some headway. The monopoly of British Columbia Liquor Distribution has several non-vintage blends on sale till month end with a $5 discount including vibrant Piper-Heidsieck Cuvee Brut $59.99, drier Pierre Paillard Les Parcelles Bouzy Grand Cru $62.99, lively Taittinger Brut $64.99, consistent Louis Roederer Brut Premier $68.99, and rich Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve $68.99. My first pick is to order from Marquis Wine Cellars in Vancouver for the newly arrived outstanding vintage 2012 Paul Bara Grand Millesime Bouzy Grand Cru disgorged 05/19 for $86.86 less a 10% discount for 6 bottles or more – plus they have some other Grower Champagnes.


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Best Ways to Mark Wine Glasses for Identification?

December 2nd, 2019

A Burgundy dinner last week where many wine glasses were served together in comparative flights brought back some nostalgic memories. As a wine judge at many blind tastings over the years your scribe is used to having identical glasses placed in front of him with different markings on them to distinguish one wine from another ranging from some numbered system to coloured ribbons. However at a dinner event you are usually looking for some method that is a bit more subtle yet assists you in keeping the wines organized. Franck Krynen the Wine Director-Assistant GM of Global Restaurant in Vancouver on his own thoughtful initiative came up with a clever solution this time. He placed different coloured dots both on the menu and on the corresponding glasses to help guests keep all their wines identifiable. It worked. Well done! At home we generally use one of these 2 ideas: If only 2 or 3 wines are being compared often serve them in different height glasses with matching height decanters – shorter to taller – so simple but easy to distinguish. See photo. If you want all your wines in an identical shaped glasses – say for example when judging different pinot noir varieties – or for more than 2 or 3 wines then use a wine glass writer on the base of the glass to number them. Useful for keeping track and wipes off easily afterwards. What system have you found to work best for your service?

By the way some very short notes on these wines: Big fan of Jacquesson bubbles. Delicious value. Cuvee 739 is outstanding with fantastic vineyard grapes and low dosage of 3.5. Christian Moreau Vaillons 2002 was truly remarkable so fresh and complex but it was the Cuvee Guy Moreau of 80 year old vines compared to 5 year younger vintage 2007 of more typical Dampt. Comparing white Burgundy again confirmed 2005 as a richer softer fully mature vintage while 2006 is lighter but remains fresher with better acidity balance with lovely elegance. Several bottles of Remoissenet “Renomee” were corked. Nonetheless a good flight of whites with the braised leeks course. Reds from 2005 are classic with much more impressive balance than the whites for longer aging. Showed excellent Chambolle stylish character with naturally the 1er cru having more depth than the village wine from the same producer. Monthelie particularly from Parent in 2002 is an underrated value. Grand Crus were at another level of quality complexity but from 4 different producers and all different vintages so educational. Still a very strong endorsement of what an amazing treasure those 1985 red Burgundies still are approaching age 35. Rare treat.


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