Archive for December, 2020


December 14th, 2020

Your scribe continues to be amazed by the importance of knowing your Burgundy vintages. Yes we know wine is an agricultural product made from grapes with a variation in results from year to year. Of course there is the annual ritual hype of the brand new vintage but older ones tend to be forgotten. Yet lately we see more emphasis placed on two other important factors for top quality wine being the place and the producer. We are being “terroired” to death with detailed information from around the world of where the grapes are grown, the unique soils and the now ideal micro-climate with global change. Also you just have to check the recent wine auction results to see the continuing rise in successful very high bids for the famous name producers we all know. However vintage is a third most important consideration in finding yourself that amazing aged bottle. Our IWFS Vintage Card 2020 is a valuable resource rating vintages from 2018 back to 1998 with many wine regions included. Their highest rating is 7/7 with red Burgundy divided between Cote de Beaune (7’s: 2009, 2005) and Cote de Nuits (7’s: 2015, 2010, 2009, 2005, and 1999). Admire the work done by Allen D. Meadows and Douglas E. Barzelay in their impressive tome Burgundy Vintages A History from 1845 with an amazing Vintage Guide rating years up to 2015 with 1 to 5 stars. They awarded “Superb – among the best of the century” 5’s recently to only 2015, 2005,1999,1978 and 1962. Lots of 4’s for “Excellent -many very fine and even some great wines were made” plus a special 4 1/2 given for 2010. 
Vintage has been clearly focused in my mind this past month being fortunate to drink some older Burgundy cellar treasures from the eighties. Some tough difficult years in that decade including often moldy 1983s. 1988 seems to be ever improving if they have enough fruit left to match that more austere styling we don’t see with current vintages. Certainly the best are 1985 and 1990 both classic years. Finding 1985 more charming and consistent though 1990 has riper power. Tried several Domaine wines of Thomas-Moillard Nuits-St.-Georges Clos De Thorey 1990 & 1985 and Clos De Vougeot & Corton Clos du Roi both 1990. Also their Negociant ones of Bonnes-Mares 1990 &  Charmes-Chambertin 1990. All were quite good but the most enjoyable one of all with a surprisingly complex bouquet plus young fresh fruit structure was 1985 Echezeaux from “mis en bouteille par Moillard” (better even than the same 1990 wine tried last year). Nirvana of brilliant velvety texture you search for in a top Echezeaux paired perfectly with an organic fresh chicken dish plus sweet potatoes, fennel & freekeh. All this can be because of bottle variation but believe that the dependable 1985 vintage as well had lots to do with it!  

Another delight this week was an old bottle of 1990 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru Clos de la Mouchere Monopole from Jean Boillot et Fils (Volnay). Another good vintage choice for whites but am having more dependable success generally with 1985 & 1986 without pre-mox. This bottle carried exciting nostalgic memories with it being invited by the late Michael Broadbent to join him for a wine tasting in London October 1993 for his selection of wines for British Airways. I admired Michael’s intense dedication and note taking while searching out the very best wines at the tasting. We both liked the young elegant steeliness and perfect balance of this wine – they kindly later gave me this bottle. Now opened perhaps too late some 27 years later it was stupendous nonetheless in a different way showing the glory of a rich ripe smooth honey flavoured yet still balanced beauty to match with fresh black cod (sablefish) course at dinner. Vintage was important here for white Burgundy too!

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Ask Sid: Decant Burgundy?

December 9th, 2020
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Question: Friends say never decant an old burgundy.  How old does a burgundy have to be so you do this, or do you never decant a burgundy, regardless of age?

Answer: Yes this continues to be a debatable question with strong views. Burgundy tends to be more delicate and fragile than most other wines. You don’t see a lot of decanting when you visit Burgundy but their normal routine is slowly changing. Chardonnay can be closed and often reductive at first so usually it helps to open them up with decanting – especially younger ones. Pinot Noir is an even more difficult decision – especially older ones. Certainly you don’t want to leave those best early impressions of your Burgundy wine for the decanter. On the other hand you don’t want to disturb any sediment with a repeated pouring action resulting in a cloudy hazy appearance in your wine with less velvety textures. Sometimes we pour all the wine out directly into all the glasses in one continuous pour which can work quite well too. Firmly believe you should be able to slowly pour an old red Burgundy (of any age) into a decanter just immediately before service without undue air exposure thereby obtaining the clearest bright true colour of the wine plus smoothest mouthfeel. You soon will be swirling that poured wine glass and getting the initial best first impression of the wine and also have the opportunity to see how it develops. Your scribe always decants all Burgundy immediately before service. However, this is a personal decision and you should decide what you prefer. Certainly different opinions are out there making for an interesting discussion.

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Support Impressive Takeaway Food Choices from Local Restaurants!

December 7th, 2020

During these stressful weeks of this continuing pandemic your scribe has been showing restaurant support with takeaway food orders. Fast staples like pizza are still popular as usual but top flight food choices are also available. The IWFS Vancouver Branch has scheduled on December 10th their Annual Holiday Dinner this year “Boulevard At Home” a four course extravaganza prepared by a talented restaurant brigade led by Alex Chen.

A couple of my takeout dinners that stood out this past week include: 

JOEY RESTAURANT GROUP: Like their motto of “We are committed to the highest quality” with the execution of food orders sampled being impressive indeed. Executive Chef Chris Mills and his talented culinary & service team are on a roll. Used pick-up in the past but took advantage this time of early December free delivery promotion offered. The course arrived at the scheduled time hot and delicious. The dish was oven roasted wild Pacific cod steamed & crispy rice, snap peas, cauliflower,Thai peanut coconut curry sauce paired well with full rich aged 2014 CedarCreek Platinum Viognier brought up in a 660 litre concrete egg. 

L’ABATTOIR: Chef-Owner Lee Cooper orchestrated a pick-up dinner for our Group dining via Zoom. BC Wine Institute after three intensive competitions just awarded their inaugural title of Wines of BC Top Sommelier 2020 to Andrew Forsyth of L’Abattoir. Choice of main course of roasted venison loin or Ocean trout with detailed final preparation instructions that all worked so successfully. Preceded by smoked oysters with apple & horseradish + remarkable pasta course filled with Dungeness crab tomato sauce & fine herbs + finishing dessert of ginger cake with lemon glaze. Trout matched well with 2009 Savigny-Les-Beaune Les Guettes Blanc Domaine Gagey Louis Jadot. Recommend supporting your own local restaurants as a holiday treat with pick-up or delivery options during these difficult times. A win-win situation for both your own enjoyment and helping the struggling hospitality industry!

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Ask Sid: What is happening with tariffs by China on Australian wines?

December 2nd, 2020
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Question: What is happening with tariffs by China on Australian wines?

Answer: Trade tariffs on wine have been around for a long time. Last Fall USA imposed 25% (threatened to 100%) on still wines under 14 alcohol from France, Germany & Spain. With climate change you now can find imported Sancerre with higher than usual 14.1 alcohol to avoid this tariff and help lower American prices. However on November 28 China imposed tariffs ranging from 107% to 212% on Australian wine imports. According to Wine Australia China is their biggest wine export market at 39% of total exports by value. Remember that China has a rapidly expanding domestic wine production industry. Interesting to see the immediate strong ground swell of world political support for Australia against China’s alleged “authoritarian bullying”. Already a campaign has been launched to spur the world (including non-drinkers) to buy Australian wine during December as a sign of protest. This tariff war may have more far reaching universal impact than any other one and is worth monitoring closely.

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