Archive for October, 2020

Ask Sid: Which Beaujolais age well and best vintages?

October 28th, 2020
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Question: Which Beaujolais age well and what are the best vintages to buy?

Answer: Cru Beaujolais are having a revival helped by climate change plus new investment by Burgundian producers. The 10 crus have some interesting diverse mixed soils ranging from granite, red sandstone to blue clay & volcanic rock. It is generally believed Moulin-a-Vent ages the longest (remember drinking a memorable 1947 with Mommessin) but closely followed by Morgon and Julienas. For a while the fruity early drinking styles of Fleurie & Brouilly and others were en vogue but it is turning back to giving all these undervalued wines some bottle age. My recommendation on best vintages for cellaring are 2018 & 2015 (range 5-25 years) followed by 2016 & 2014 (go say 3-15 years). 2017, 2013, and 2012 are also delicious drinking more forwardly but would easily still hold for 10 years.

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October 26th, 2020
The British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards this year were announced in an excellent virtual video prepared by the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society on October 15, 2020. This is an important historical wine competition started by the Lieutenant Governor of BC at Government House as The Awards for Excellence in BC Wine but this was only the third one in this new format.

The Press Release issued gave some of the details as follows: In 2018, the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, with support from the Government House Foundation, and the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society announced a new partnership to celebrate BC wines with the creation of the British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards. “We look forward to building on this important relationship each year”, says Okanagan Wine Festivals Society General Manager, Elan Morris, “and we were thrilled to have Her Honour, Janet Austin, be a part of the virtual awards ceremony and announce the 2020 BC Lieutenant Governor’s Wine of the Year.”

“As this competition continues to grow, we are seeing not only the number of entries increase but more importantly the caliber of wines entered continues to get better each year,” says Okanagan Wine Festivals Society Judging Chair, Julian Scholefield. “Our expert panel of judges certainly had their work cut out for them!  We look forward to celebrating the list of 2020 winning wines that showcase the excellence our region has to offer and to growing the competition even more in 2021.”

“I am delighted the partnership between the Office of the Lieutenant Governor and the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society has continued to flourish, giving us the opportunity to recognize the best of BC wines,” says the Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, “The wine industry thrives on creativity, curiosity and craftsmanship. It also requires courage and tenacity in the face of many challenges and uncertainties. This year had an added layer of complexity due to Covid-19, but the incredible showing of the 2020 Wine Awards indicates BC wine will continue stronger than ever in the time ahead.” 

The competition, presented by Valley First, TricorBraun, Westland Insurance and ContainerWorld, was open to all licensed BC wineries including those that produce fruit wines and mead. Bronze, Silver, and Gold medals were awarded. Only the top one per cent of medal winners received platinum medals, with one wine receiving the 2020 BC Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Wine of the Year.
The judging was orginally scheduled for late August but because of Covid-19 pandemic concerns were postponed to late September. The important decision was made to go ahead. They were held in Kelowna at Manteo Resort with outstanding safety protocols strictly in place. Lots of masks, physical distancing, gloves, and avoidng multi-touching of glasses and bottles. Successfully orchestrated in careful difficult circumstances. Less mingling than usual and no close face to face discussions. Still it all worked out well and the results are impressive. 
This year’s wine entries faced an esteemed panel of judges (including your less esteemed scribe) from across Canada.

Brad Royale – Calgary
DJ Kearney – Vancouver
Emily Walker – Summerland
Gurvinder Bhatia – Edmonton
Iain Philip – Vancouver
Justin Yamasaki, Vancouver
Kurtis Kolt – Vancouver
Matthew Landry – Vancouver
Mark Filatow – Kelowna
Michaela Morris – Vancouver
Rhys Pender – Kelowna
Sebastien Le Goff – Vancouver
Sid Cross – Vancouver
Veronique Rivest – Gatineau

After tasting over 740 wines, the judges awarded a record number of medals to 107 BC wineries on October 15 during a virtual award ceremony. Rafe Mair was also honoured with the annual Harry McWatters Founders Award. The award was given posthumously to Mair in recognition of his leadership in the creation of estate winery licenses in 1979.  While there were many people who helped promote the idea of smaller estate wineries, it was Mair in his capacity as Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs who brought the legislation forward to the Bennet provincial government.

The 2020 British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine of the Year Award went to Upper Bench Estate Winery’s 2019 Riesling.

The top wines that received platinum medals were:

Lake Breeze Vineyards Riesling 2017
Tantalus Vineyards Old Vines Riesling 2017
O’Rourke’s Peak Cellars Riesling 2019
Arrowleaf Cellars Pinot Noir 2018
SpearHead Winery Pinot Noir Saddle Block 2018
SpearHead Winery Pinot Noir Cuvée 2018
Mission Hill Family Estate Perpetua 2018 – Chardonnay
Therapy Vineyards Chardonnay 2018
Terravista Vineyards Albariño 2019
Deep Roots Winery Parentage Red 2018 – Syrah, Merlot, Malbec, & Cab Franc
Nk’Mip Cellars Qwam Qwmt Syrah 2017
Laughing Stock Vineyards Syrah 2017
Moraine Estate Winery Syrah 2018
Three Sisters Winery Syrah 2018
Deep Roots Winery Syrah 2018

The top wine was a deserving fresh Riesling from the 2019 vintage of Upper Bench Estate Winery. You will see from the 16 highest scored wines listed above that this variety is strong in BC with 4 (or 25%) of the platinum medals. Only Syrah was more dominant with 5. Pinot Noir also excelled with 3. Therefore from among the many varieties and blends judged 75% of thr top wines came from only those three varieties. Check these varieties out and all the worthy full list of winners found at

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Ask Sid: Are there some AVAs that are shared by adjoining states?

October 21st, 2020
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Question: Are there adjoining USA states that share the use of the same specific winegrowing regions called AVAs – American Viticultural Areas?

Answer: Yes. Oregon & Washington State. Both states share the AVAs of Columbia Gorge, Columbia Valley, and Walla Walla Valley. Fun educational idea to put a tasting together comparing the differences and the similarities of their wines. 

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October 19th, 2020

Most of us Burgundy aficionados believe that the unique vineyard of Clos St. Jacques rates among the very best of the Premier Crus and is most worthy of consideration for elevation to a Grand Cru. This walled clos vineyard of 6.7 hectares north of the village of Gevrey-Chambertin presently has only 5 owners: Armand Rousseau 2.21 ha, Michel & Sylvie Esmonin 1.6 ha, Bruno Clair 1 ha, Louis Jadot 1 ha, and Jean-Marie Fourrier .89 ha. The vineyards are parallel to one another with Rousseau to the southwest, Esmonin to the northeast, and Clair, Jadot & Fourrier in between. The 5 owners all have parcels which cover the vineyard’s entire vertical extent. As Allen Meadows of Burghound puts it – “This means that no producer has an unusually favored position within the vineyard.” According to Remington Norman: “A good Clos St.-Jacques can easily be mistaken for a Chambertin. Domaine Rousseau has always considered that it outclasses their (Grand Cru) Ruchottes, Mazis, and Clos de la Roche, fine as these are, and this potential is reflected in its having more new wood. The wine has fine poise and balance and is rich, full and tightly structured, often with a strong mineral undertone. It carries the class and complexity of a Grand Cru with perhaps a shade less finesse and opulence – but that is a minor matter for what is unquestionably Gevrey’s finest Premier Cru and one of indisputable Grand Cru potential.”

Your scribe is a long time unabashed fan of Rousseau wines as are many other Bourgogne collectors as shown by their ever increasing prices at Auction. Set out some information on Rousseau wines in some detail on this Blog with a June 22, 2015 posting. Described Clos St.-Jacques as having soil with clay at the bottom going to white marly up the slope resulting in a wine that is usually “Fresh Very Harmonious & Tannins Well Integrated. Powerful Intense & Lots of Delicacy.” Carrying all this excess baggage in hand at a vertical last week of 8 Clos St.-Jacques with superbly matched cuisine at Blue Water in Vancouver. Some brief impressions:

2006 Domaine Fourrier Vieille Vigne: Lightest most advanced colour of first flight. Complex stylish bouquet with nuances plus clean good grape selection. Like the elegant statement. A producer to follow.

2003 Domaine Bruno Clair: Red paling rim with open warmer riper bigger fruit aromas expressing the vintage. Full rich rather sappy with nice sweetness. A bit atypical.

2001 Pierre Bouree Fils: Darker deeper but more herbal vegetative notes. Funky at first but blew off. A simpler coarser St.-Jacques from purchased grapes with less dimensions.

2002 Dominique Laurent: Believed to be sourced from Sylvie Esmonin. Dark but not overly oaky as some Laurent wines show. Solid fruit.

2002 Domaine Armand Rousseau: Good comparison of this vineyard from the same vintage. Purchased BCLDB retail January 2006 for $190. Much lighter colour here but young & bright. More balance and appropriate “delicacy” expected from this Clos. 100% new oak and 90% destemmed (as all Rousseau 2002s at that time). No rush. Great future development with more cellaring. Brilliant paired with the quail & prunes course!

1999 Domaine Armand Rousseau: Deepest depth of red of all the wines. Developing but slowly. Admire the “powerful” structure and “intense” flavours so typical of this site. Needs years yet for more complexity to show. Memorable with the outstanding rabbit dish. Group favourite.

1995 Domaine Armand Rousseau: Clearly lightest with very pale edge. More evolved than should be but seeing this on some 1995s now. Good but with some heat on the finish. Disappointing.

1991 Louis Jadot: Also very deep and dark close to the 1999. Jadot tends to be underrated being the only negociant house among the owners. But have to give them credit for purchasing Domaine Clair-Dau starting in 1985 with plantings from 1957 & 1962. Surprises with good fruit and balance from that fantastic vintage showing the best silky textures.

Your scribe has been fortunate to try recently 2 other Rousseau Clos St.-Jacques. The 1989 is more mature and earthy but ready for wonderful enjoyment now. Pure delight! The 1991 treasured at the property is so impressive with minerality, “powerful” concentration, “well integrated & tannic” structure, balanced, textbook styling, and huge potential to be one of their best.

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Ask Sid: Who makes a nice dry perfumey, Gewurztraminer in BC?

October 14th, 2020
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Question: I love Alsatian style Gewurztraminer. Local producers seem to have a sweeter richer style (perhaps from California clones.?) Who makes a nice dry perfumey, Gewurztraminer in BC?

Answer: The stylistic inspiration for Joie Farm “En Famille” Reserve Gewurztraminer from their Estate vineyards in Naramata BC is “exotically flavoured, unctuous Alsatian Grand Cru Gewurztraminer.” They use clones 643 & 47 to advantage by fermenting them at higher temperature of 23-24C for rose petal & lychee fruit aromas plus higher glycerol mouthfeel. Their 2016 had fermentation naturally halted at a fresh drier 3.4 g/l of residual sugar (think Trimbach) while the 2017 is at a sweeter 16 g/l (more spicy Zind-Humbrecht in style). Hoping that Olivier Humbrecht MW consulting at Phantom Creek Estates has some of this variety in mind for his newer plantings on those steep slopes of the new Similkameen Valley project.

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