Archive for November, 2020

Amazed Again By The Longevity of Bordeaux Wines

November 30th, 2020

Your scribe is pleased with the continuation of the present opportunity at home to taste older wines. Always amazed at how well-cellared high quality Bordeaux seems to last forever. Sure they don’t have the immediate big fresh ripe accessible fruit of the last three vintages of 2018-2020 but provide something more three dimensional in complexity with particular brilliance for food pairing. It must be a combination of terroir factors led by the remarkable magical trio balance of fruit acid and tannins that make this all possible. These observations were commented on in a previous Blog here on July 27, 2020 of “Looking Back 50 Years to 1970 Bordeaux.” However most of us don’t have that chance to try such old wines but there are other “younger” aged wines that are doing just fine thank you and available for purchase at prices comparable to current releases. A good example is 1986. This vintage has been mostly unpopular and rather unapproachable until recently – particularly in the most successful ACs of St. Julien & Pauillac. They now are opening up nicely onto an exquisite plateau of enjoyment. Almost all the chateaux in those two appellations are singing. Last week was a surprise by the dramatic change in 1986 Château Leoville Poyferre which had been rather closed dull tannic and simple on yearly previous tries but now has opened rounded out and so delicious with roasted duck leg. Predicted this correctly about 1986 in my Leoville Poyferre vertical posted here on January 23, 2017. Recommend buying some of those classic 2016 Bordeaux from various appellations at all price levels to enjoy and to follow their progression with aging. 

My enthusiasm for raising this topic yet again was an outstanding bottle treat on the weekend of 1981 Château Margaux. Remember ordering a case of this in New York at $30.25/bottle and picking it up on my way to the airport in May 1984. Not allowed to pay for it by credit card in those days and had only enough cash left to capture 7 bottles (left the other 5 for a lucky friend living in NY) in the good old days of liberal hand luggage to fly on to Vancouver. Well stored since the wine is still a young vibrant red colour with a brilliant so complex bouquet on a perfect plateau of enjoyment with juicy roasted chicken. This wine has to be the best wine of the vintage and my hearty congrats to the Mentzelopoulos family from those early days. Most consumers say drink this up including our own knowledgeable IWFS member John Danza who posted on cellartracker: “The palate has lots of red fruit, tobacco, with good acidity and moderate tannins. Definitely fully mature, and one to not buy to hold. Drink up.”  Aged bottles will vary and some of us like well matured drier wines more than others but believe me this 1981 Château Margaux was fantastic claret and will remain IMHO on this perfect plateau for quite a while yet! Appreciate older Bordeaux.


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Ask Sid: Proper names for big wine bottles

November 25th, 2020
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Question: I am having an argument about Jeroboams and the proper names for 3 litre & 6 litre wine bottles. Would you please help me clarify this?

Answer: Yes all rather confusing because different names are used in the different wine regions.

We all know about the usual ones of .75 litre (750 ml.) standard bottle plus half-bottle of .375 litre (375 ml.) & Magnum two bottles 1.5 litre or 1500 ml.

Less well known are the Split of .1875 litre or 187.5 ml. and Marie Jeanne of 3 bottles or 2.25 litres – enjoyed some great old vintages of Chateau Pichon Lalande in this size!

3 litre are 4 standard bottles or naturally Double Magnums in Bordeaux. However they go by the Jeroboam name in Burgundy & Champagne. Jeroboam in Bordeaux may be 5 litres.

6 litre are 8 standard bottles or 4 Magnums called Imperials in Bordeaux but Methuselah in Burgundy & Champagne. Also may see Rehoboams of 4.5 litres – especially bubbles.

Rather confusing.

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SUPERB MASTERCLASSES ON 67 PALL MALL – eg. BOLLINGER PN

November 23rd, 2020

Your scribe is a devoted follower of the superb wine masterclasses on the 67 Pall Mall website. They state they are “founded by wine lovers for wine wine lovers” and have so many live and posted seminars. The Club is located in London England where wine is certainly their passion. Congrats to Ronan Sayburn MS who is the Head of Wine and organizes their continuing outstanding line-up of virtual tastings. Particularly enjoy regular contributions from Burgundy expert Jasper Morris MW, Bordeaux expert Jane Anson MW, The Barolo Boys and so many others. There is something there for every wine and food aficionado. Highly recommend you tune in to check it out.

A recent one on November 10 was family house Champagne Bollinger (since 1829) in Ay with International Sales Director Guy de Rivoire introducing their newest Cuvee – Bollinger PN. This is the first new item added to the Bollinger line since the Rose back in 2008. Appropriately PN is Pinot Noir based to provide a more inexpensive choice from the classic house style in Vieilles Vignes Francaises started first back in the 1969 vintage. They own 178 hectares of vines providing 60% of their supply of grapes with 104 hectares in Pinot Noir, 45 in Chardonnay and the balance of 29 having 27 Pinot Meunier. Always appreciate their large quantity of 800,000 hand riddled magnums as Reserves. The first edition PN VZ 15 in a unique “Antique” bottle is chosen for “the elegance and vivacity of Pinot Noir from Verzenay” at 60% (a cooler region chosen for this hotter vintage) with the balance from Ay, Bouzy & Tauxieres. The base wine is 2015 with 50% barrel ferment plus 20% Reserves back to 2009 disgorged November 2019.The tasting note provided says: aromas of cherry stone, jam-infused fruit and dried fig; rich, complex nose then develops towards toasted, baked notes as well as aromas of elderberry and pear; on the palate, flavours of peach and apricot are enhanced with hazelnut and acacia blossom notes.”  Guy de Rivoire calls it “hedonistic”. Will be interesting to follow as well subsequent years from different vineyard holdings of their Pinot Noir with unique blends.


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Ask Sid: Tip for Texas Wine?

November 18th, 2020
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Question: I am in Austin this weekend and hope you might have a Texas wine tip for me?

Answer:  Haven’t visited Texas wine country for a while but it now has over 400 wineries in 8 American Viticultural Areas. Plantings of impressive Tempranillo continue to increase. Your scribe recommends that you seek out some top examples of this most popular variety. The Becker Vineyards Reserve Tempranillo from Texas Hill Country is concentrated rich and complex – the best Texas one I have ever tasted. Worth searching for but may be easier to find their value priced 2019 regular one with the addition of some Grenache & Zin in the mix. Good trip. 

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BCWI Fall Tasting: Smart Marketing in Difficult Times!

November 16th, 2020

Your scribe is a big fan and supporter of the British Columbia Wine Institute (winebc.com) and admire the outstanding job they do to market BC wines. Every year the trade and media in Vancouver really look forward to their annual Bloom/Chef Meets BC Grape event in April and Colour in the Fall. These are usually held at the Convention Centre and are a must attend function with nearly 100 wineries in attendance showing their current wine releases. BCWI had to be more creative this year because of the continuing Covid-19 pandemic but that didn’t stop them from putting together a well organized tasting well spaced in a smaller ballroom of the Wall Centre on November 5. It was so innovative how days ahead they gave you an extensive list of wines from which you could choose up to a maximum of 42 different ones to taste over 3 hours. When you arrived on the scheduled date and time on November 5 everything was superbly organized including your own mask and table number. Your 5 flights of 42 wines were personally delivered to you for study at your own pace. Perfect!

My flights were specifically chosen by me to get a better handle on the newer Riesling (6 in Flight A & 2 in Flight B), Chardonnay (7 in Flight B), Pinot Noir (6 in Flight C & 3 in Flight D), and blended reds. This also made for an instructive comparison of the same varieties produced in different styles by the wineries. Overall it was a wonderful educational experience and the new wines generally showed very well indeed. Excellent!

Some highlights included these brief impressions:

2017 Phantom Creek Pinot Gris – Well made Alsace influenced singing variety.

Rieslings showed well but so differently from fresh most acidic 19 Monte Creek; vibrant stylish 19 The View; powerful Aussie like 19 Tantalus; to sweeter 19 Wild Goose. 17 Little Farm was a very mature bottle while 19 Moraine was dry but subdued. The two with the most assertive interesting petrol notes were the balanced complex 18 Kitsch Esther’s Block & the more aged terrific value 16 Intersection.

Chardonnay showed mostly juicy apples with attractive fruit led by elegant delicate 18 Meyer McLean Creek and intense buttery textured 18 Joie Farm. 17 Little Farm showed pure smooth fruit, 18 Kitsch lively leafy leaner, 18 Culmina more developed softer almost sweeter style, and more oak on both 18 Quails’ Gate Stewart Family & youngest concentrated 19 Laughing Stock.

Pinot Noir is always a fav of mine showing here young and promising. Lightest were acidic 18 Harper’s Trail  & herbal 18 The View compared with the darkest most backward 18 Tantalus and raw 19 Quails’ Gate Estate. 18 Meyer has that attractive earthy sous-bois character and 18 Baillie-Grohman in the Kootenays impresses with improvement shown every year. Fresh 19 Ex-Nihilo displayed lovely seductive cherries. Pleased to see open best varietal aromas from classy Foxtrot 18 The Waltz joined by 16 Foxly Reserve new label exciting softer richer more forwardly delicious fruit.

Red Blends continue to improve with more aged vines and better vineyard and cellar management. Both 2017 Painted Rock Syrah & Red Icon have tremendous depth & concentration for aging. Liked the buckets of fruit in best ever 16 Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin and smooth intense 17 Hester Creek The Judge. More Bordeaux-like styling to cooler fruit 17 Clos Du Soleil Signature & aged 14 Culmina Hypothesis. Black Hills on a roll with juicy Merlot 18 Addendum & more big Cabernet Sauvignon 18 Nota Bene.

Final words for some excellent whites that need exploring by the wine consumer:

18 Clos du Soleil Capella – classy sauvignon blanc-semillon blend

19 Terravista Figaro – fresh vibrant 44% Roussanne, 30 Marsanne both barrel fermented & sur lie plus all stainless 26 Viognier

19 Bartier Bros. Semillon – impressive again so creamy & pure – Ageable

19 Hester Creek Trebbiano Blanc – best one yet with useful food pairing drier vibrant old vines speaking clearly

19 Summerhill Gruner Veltliner – very floral almost Gewurz like – Compare with Culmina

Congrats to WineBC with leadership from the Board & President/CEO Miles Prodan together with everyone else involved for their valuable contributions. Special kudos and thanks from me to Kim Barnes Marketing Director & Laura Kittmer Communications Director for all you and your fantastic team do to keep us so well informed. Great job.


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