Archive for August, 2020


August 31st, 2020

One of the traditional annual highlights in Vancouver is the La Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin Summer Paulee. This is always a fun educational event usually with a specific wine region theme many of which were previously written up on this Blog. However this year on Sunday August 23 precautions against Covid-19 were in place so rather than one large group of 48 we were wisely split into six hosted locations of members each with eight persons. Everyone enjoyed the same outstanding French-styled lunch expertly prepared by Chef-Proprietor Jean-Francis Quaglia and his culinary team from Provence Marinaside Restaurant with identical wines served as shown on the menu. In addition each location had some special white Burgundy wines brought along to be tasted blind during the reception. Zoom meeting arrangements were set up for the end of the lunch to provide wider discussions among all locations. Sensible organizational idea to suit the times and most successfully executed. Maybe consider this innovative dine-around idea for one of your upcoming IWFS events.

As always the Paulee mystery wines were exciting to study. A varied selection at our venue included full ripe forwardly 2015 Meursault Charmes Chateau de Meursault, solid 2013 Puligny-Montrachet Les Folatieres Louis Jadot, disappointing pre-mox 2009 Meursault Perrieres Domaine Lafon, and charming elegant 2006 Corton Charlemagne Bonneau du Martray, Your scribe provided an old but sound mature 1985 Puligny-Montrachet Les Referts from Etienne Sauzet. It is remarkable how those 1985 & 1986 white Burgundies have stood the test of time with little concern for pre-mox issues. This 1985 wine was supposed to be a comparison with the same producer from the same vineyard in 2007 (22 years later) but La Garenne substituted for Referts vineyard at last minute. Both showed the producer style well with the older Les Referts spicy rich mature while La Garenne is younger leaner showing more acidity from both higher slopes and the vintage.

The reds were a mixed bag of three consecutive vintages featuring Gevrey-Chambertin mainly from Frederic Esmonin (a long time grower and also a wine producer from 1988 finding his really outstanding path during this present decade). 2005 is an outstanding classic year but “Clos Prieurs” is in 2 parts of 1er cru Haut next to Mazis & Village Bas further south-east all in Gevrey. Still it showed breeding and clean stylish delicious underrated fruit from Patrice Rion. Remember visits with him during the eighties at Daniel Rion before he broke away in 1990 with wife Michele and their son Maxime from 2005 for their own firm. The other two vintages of 2006 & 2004 are not classic. A few lovely 2006 out there but this Estournelles St. Jacques is rather typical in a somewhat leaner unripe style from the cooler year plus the cold winds of this site. This vineyard is benefiting from climate change and one to watch in hot vintages of 2018-2020 from Frederic Esmonin, Louis Jadot and others. The two Grand Crus suffered from being that controversial 2004 vintage. Many like to overly generalize the year 2004 as being tainted by pyrazines from lady-bugs but probably not the total picture as the the whites seem cleaner. Your scribe feels it is complicated by several factors including hail during July & August resulting in oidium (more usually a problem for whites) & rot conditions requiring rigid selection of grapes plus overall less ripeness of pinot noir. These resulting greener herbal notes shown here detract from the complex terroir lying underneath these two superb sites of Ruchottes and Chambertin (that prefers hotter conditions than even Clos de Beze). Still they showed better with the wonderful food courses. Wished they were from 2005 instead but what a difference a year can make with top Burgundy!

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Ask Sid: Which vineyard in Burgundy is benefiting most from climate change?

August 26th, 2020
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Question: Which vineyard in Burgundy is benefiting most from climate change?

Answer: Fascinating question. Yes vineyards everywhere are seeing grapes ripening earlier. In Burgundy those more outlying areas at the top of the hills and on the ridges have become warmer especially over the past five years than previously. Many places are much improved. If I had to pick one spot I would say Estournelles-Saint-Jacques is a top candidate because of their classic rocky soils of limestone & clay helping to retain moisture but with colder west winds (more so than in already deservedly celebrated neighbour Clos St. Jacques) that in the past produced generally leaner wines. Those winds become an ever increasing advantage with continuing climate change. Similarly for just southerly Lavaux-Saint-Jacques. This is all encouraging news for all producers from those spots including Louis Jadot, Frederic Esmonin and others. Tip: Look for their wines from 2015-2020.

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August 24th, 2020

As many of you kind followers on this Blog know your scribe is one of the biggest supporters of fresh local Dungeness crab. The natural sweetness of the meat is uniquely fantastic so it is IMHO best served quite simply prepared as not to detract from that pleasure. Also fascinating is to find your perfect white wine to match and enhance the crab. Big fan of pairing top Premier or Grand Cru Chablis as hard to beat except perhaps the luxury of a quality balanced chardonnay but not one too heavy or oaky.

Usually a keen locavar eater supporting the local producers we do as a special treat indulge with friends once a year in a king crab dinner. Always a lot of fun to compare the differences between Dungeness & King. These king crabs are monster size seafood that easily weigh 8 pounds but bigger ones come in around 10 that are even better for more “meat”. Mostly we have enjoyed those coming in fresh from Alaska but also remember tasting while in Chile the delicacy of Patagonian Southern Red King variety. We had admired over the years each Spring the excellent service at Fortune Garden at 1475 West Broadway in Vancouver BC (now closed) with photos from April 4, 2019 showing the excitement of having these king crab and their tasty preparation. This year on August 17 we moved to the highly regarded Dynasty Seafood Restaurant at 777 West Broadway for a new king crab experience. What a delightful surprise of outstanding culinary preparation this turned out to be! A large 10 pounder we were told had arrived live from Russia via Norway and was truly other worldly. Not at all stringy but so delicate and naturally sweet. Remarkable! The steaming technique used together with finely chopped non invasive best garlic in the legs and knuckles only enhanced this so delicious experience. The best yet. It turned into 3 courses in order of legs, knuckles, and rice all splendid with Champagne plus fresh local Synchromesh 2018 Riesling Storm Haven Vineyard. What a way to celebrate a big occasion in your life during these difficult continuing days of Covid-19. Still need to indulge and celebrate once in a while. Highly recommended.

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Ask Sid: What is your favourite wineglass?

August 19th, 2020
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Question: What is your favourite wineglass?

Answer: I am sure many of you just use an all-purpose glass for all your wines. There now so many good choices out there to serve the purpose including several from the Riedel Vinum series or Spiegelau Universal. I am fortunate to have quite a wide choice of glasses to use. Here is a photo of just seven of them that get a lot of use starting from the left:

1.      Champagne tulip (not a flute) for Sparkling – especially Champagne.

2.      All-purpose – especially good for whites or Chianti style

3.      Bordeaux style wines (though for very old bottles prefer a smaller glass)

4.      Syrah style wines

5.      Pinot Noir – especially younger New World

6.      Zalto versatile one for best Burgundy and Piedmont

7.      Gigantic Riedel one for younger aromatics

Also like using the new Zwiesel Sensory one designed by Roberto Conterno of Giacomo Conterno winery similar to the Zalto but with a wider bowl base accentuating the aromas. Excellent of course for Barolo!

What is your best wine glass choice?

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August 17th, 2020

La Commanderie de Bordeaux Vancouver Branch held a tasting-dinner carefully organized for 30 members at the Blue Water restaurant on August 10, 2020 under strict pandemic logistics. They always serve Bordeaux wines at these events with the theme this time a so-called “House of Mouton”. We started appropriately enough with NV Champagne Barons De Rothschild Brut a fresh cuvee of 60% chardonnay & 40% pinot noir with some blended reserves in the blend. The first flight was a 3 vintage vertical of their fifth growth Pauillac property of Chateau Clerc-Milon, a mystery wine second flight, and a third flight of 3 vintages of the famous Mouton itself. A fun game developed of try to identify the blind wine with each member around the table asked in turn for their opinion of what it was. Opus One was an obvious thought as it is a joint venture of Mouton & Robert Mondavi with their first vintage 1979 released in 1984. However in the reality of the situation it was a much more difficult thing to do. Your scribe second in line luckily but bravely blurted out “Opus One from the nineties” despite background knowledge that our Bordeaux cellar didn’t have California wine, hard to find bottles of older vintages of top quality ones, and such were very expensive. For example at Benchmark Wine Group one bottle of Opus One from the nineties if available is currently in the US $400+ range (1997 is $455). However, the popular choice suggested around the table after me was definitely Bordeaux from the eighties and probably another vintage of Mouton or perhaps another Clerc Milon, d’Armailhac or different classed growth Pauillac. Amazing how many excellent tasters were influenced in their tasting opinion by what was expected likely to be served in the surrounding circumstances of the occasion. Interesting factor.

The wines with some brief impressions:


1986: Dark with some lovely open cedar cigar-box notes. Nice richness but somewhat atypical with more accessible softness than most 1986 Pauillacs are showing plus rather elegant.

1995: Palest maturing rim of the flight shows better bigger cabernet fruit in a richer style than expected for this vintage more like the twin 1996.

1998: Very dark for youngest in the flight. Concentrated with more cassis black currant notes and contribution of some petit verdot (3%). No rush with lots here to develop for a vintage that often favours the Right Bank. All three wines rather good paired with smoked bacon wrapped around that halibut.


Thicker glycerol tears or legs on inside of glass. Powerful mocha herbal menthol notes developed on bouquet. Very ripe rather roasted cabernet sauvignon of softer styling blend (82/8/5/4/1 cabernet sauvignon/cab franc/merlot/malbec/ petit verdot) showing more sappy weight on the palate. Delicious truffled cannelloni matched this wine well.


1983: Maturing pale rim with depth. Smokey stylish classic bouquet. Good underlying acidity with admirable clean grape selection showing. Elegant, long, and complex. One of the best 1983 Pauillacs (with Pichon Lalande) even with those rather difficult August mildew conditions in the rainy vineyards. Surprise and Wine of the Night. Under-rated!

1989: Dark look. Always prefer this year over their 1990. Cedar and developing already. Less body and complexity than hoped for. Certainly not in the classic 1986 or delicious 1982 ball park. Have had better bottles of this year.

1995: Very young and dark. A bit closed in still but good deep intensity of fruit. Dense attractive Pauillac styling has length for sure with an excellent future ahead. Impressive. No rush. Got to admire also the innovative trio presentations of Wagyu beef so perfect with this flight.

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