Archive for May, 2021


May 31st, 2021

Your scribe is an avid fan of Chablis and is a frequent consumer of it with dinner. Very fortunate to have tasted over many decades thousands of bottles of Chablis. Overall it is a pretty reliable juice that ages surprisingly well with less pre-mox issues than other white Burgundy. Also matches so perfectly with our normal food choices that includes lots of fresh seafood. Petit Chablis & Chablis AC both are still good values with a fresh quite vibrant attractive style. Premier Cru can really step up the quality staircase with old vines and vineyards such as Montee de Tonnerre & Vaulorent leading the way. Sometimes they can be even more distinctively “minerally” flinty Chablis than the richer Grand Cru. The latter have that famous hill with fantastic soils and micro-climates for 7 different Grand Crus (plus Albert Bichot Domaine Long-Depaquit Moutonne monopole) but my clear favourite for aging is Les Clos. Experienced some exciting memorable bottles from celebrated producers of Domaine Raveneau and Domaine Vincent Dauvissat plus some of the other popular newer names including Patrick Piuze & Roland Lavantureux. Frankly surprised that the quality larger producers like William Fevre & Christian Moreau don’t seem to get enough respect (especially at auction markets) probably because they are large when often the focus is on smaller boutique properties. It is difficult to find bad Chablis these days though global climate change is having an influence on both crop sizes and style.

Mentioned previously in this Blog my admiration for the work of Christian & Fabien Moreau and their wines which always show superb terroir. Drink a lot of their 1er cru Vaillon Cuvee Guy Moreau old vines from 1933 plus their Grand Crus (hold 12 hectares). On May 23, 2021 opened a bottle of their 2010 LES CLOS to pair with dinner of a
Salad of Fava Beans, Fennel & Quinoa followed by a fresh Halibut main course. On previous occasions (last one September 2020) this wine was excellent showing balance but still a little too citrus and reticent on bouquet and palate. However, this bottle was SENSATIONAL! Best dry white wine we have enjoyed the past 2 years and a Top 5 all time. Really has come together onto a fabulous plateau showing the dry extract intensity from the shorter 2010 crop with the inherent acidity beautifully in saline balance and textbook complex Chablis on the nose and taste. Check out the fresh green hints of the young colour of the wine in the glass photo. No rush. Impressive structure indeed and so delicious making the food course pairing sing brilliantly. Big salute to Domaine Christian Moreau for a superb classic Chablis Les Clos. Outstanding wine!

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Ask Sid: How is the 2020 California wine vintage looking?

May 26th, 2021
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Question: How is the 2020 California wine vintage looking?

Answer: Well as we all know California is now a very diverse region for vines and wines. Even Napa Valley has 16 distinct subregions of different soils and micro-climates.As always there will be some excellent wines produced. However the early general buzz for 2020 is not that encouraging because of the Covid pandemic, heatwaves, and extensive wildfires including possible smoke taint issues. Next week there are wine seminars for trade & media by Napa Vintners as part of the 25th Premiere Napa Valley. On Tuesday June 1 Jeb Dunnuck is discussing “First look at 2020 Vintage Wines” so expect to learn more there. Early days. For comparison purposes on Wednesday June 2 Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW has “2019 Vintage Preview – Rich, Plush, and Fantastically Pure.”

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May 24th, 2021

Long time followers of this Blog will know your scribe’s fondness for aged white wines made from the Chenin Blanc variety. Chenin is becoming more popular these days with more regions having success with it including especially outstanding examples from South Africa. Also there is more media exposure like Jancis Robinson’s May 15 posting of “Chenin – a transhemispherical marvel” stating it “may well be the most underrated white wine grape in the world”. In the pre-Covid days of travel it was always an exciting adventure for me particularly in Europe to search out restaurant wine lists for old bottles especially from the Loire Valley that hadn’t sold but remained on offer at low
prices. A write-up here on July 17, 2017 while dining in Stockholm pointed out a superb nearly twenty year old 1998 Clos de la Coulee de Serrant that was pure delight but that Joly owned property is now rather expensive. However my experience has been that many Loire whites (dry & sweet) continue to age almost indefinitely.

Fond memories of more reasonably priced old moelleux Anjou Coteaux de la Loire and a special 1928 Coteaux de L’Aubance (best vintage between 1921 & 1937) showing complex orange marmalade. Also those cases of memorable 1933 Moulin Touchais imported for our 50th anniversary of the International Wine and Food Society Festival held in Vancouver in 1983. In fact your scribe since the early eighties has been an avid collector of dry Savennieres, a very small (less than 1% of total Loire vines planted) respected appellation (since 1952) on the north
bank of the Loire on clay, schist, & slate soils with a volcanic base. The two earlier decades had seen some really bad vintages (1963, 1965, and 1972) and several severe frost affected years (1975, 1977, and 1978) so the eighties were optimistically to be the beginning of a new era for the growers. Purchased in November 1986 at the BCLDB for $15.10 some 1983 Savennieres from Chateau de Chamboureau of Pierre et Yves Soulez (also have a share in esteemed La Roche aux Moines) enjoying last week our final bottle with a grilled cauliflower steak and fresh halibut dinner. Also another evening their 1986 matched with steelhead trout & quinoa plus especially well matched to our finishing course of French cheeses. Monitored these collected wines over many years of cellaring and though they started out quite austere still were drinkable early on with interesting young aromas of bright flowers and yeasty vibrant fruit – perfect with oysters. As they aged they came together to a more honeyed dried flowers complex bouquet and concentration of rich creamy flavours yet still dry but held together with that underlying brilliant acidity. Like that distinctive narrow green bottle they use with that identifying unique crest.Underrated wines for aging as the last bottles nearing 40 years of age were the best ones opened yet! Might consider buying some current examples (like 2016 Chateau de Varennes $32.99) to try currently or age longer for an enhanced exhilarating experience. After all that is wonderful assurance to buy a wine you can enjoy early on but still feel confident in cellaring for some time. Certainly looking forward to opening later this year our last bottle of 1981 Clos de Coulee de la Serrant celebrating the longevity of a 40 year old dry white wine!

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Ask Sid: What are the early reports on the 2020 vintage for wines in British Columbia?

May 19th, 2021
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Question: What are the early reports on the 2020 vintage for wines in British Columbia?

Answer: The Wine Growers of British Columbia (formerly named BC Wine Institute) have posted a detailed report by region on their website at Check it out. Growing Degree Days (GDD) varied from 1616 in southerly hot Osoyoos to 1341 in northerly cooler Summerland. Good diversity. WGBC summarize the year 2020 overall by stating “wines showing natural acidity, moderate alcohol levels, excellent flavour concentration and ripe tannins making for elegant, fresh, and balanced wines.” Encouraging. Already tasted some bottled 2020 whites and Roses with fresh vibrant fruit all under 12 abv lovely for easy early enjoyment but reds still at their early stages of development with an encouraging pinot noir harvest among other varieties.

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May 17th, 2021

During this continuing Covid pandemic we have joined the throngs who have been experimenting with homemade sourdough bread. We had rather a good robust sourdough yeast we used in the old days but with our then busy travel schedule it was difficult to keep it active. We finally let it lapse but continued to make and be satisfied with just old fashioned healthy whole grain loaves for toast and sandwiches. However we missed a delicious versatile sourdough! Now being more home bound we got another active sourdough culture going but not without some
difficulty after trying various “donation” starters from friends. Our current vibrant yeast seems to really thrive on good quality flour with a patient baker. After many experimental trials we have hit on the magic formula resulting in big dense moist interior hard crusted heavy boules (around 3 lbs./14 ounces) as shown in the photo attached. Worth all the effort!

We believe some of the credit for our success in sourdough bread making should go to the high premium quality flour we found and are using from FLOURIST. They are supporting Canadian smaller farmers (write-ups on them on their Flourist website) by sourcing only 100% traceable products and stone-milling the flour in 2 kg bags fresh to order. What amazing pure flour they are able to provide! We have discovered that using a mixture of Organic Sifted Red Spring (the one recommended by them for bread) and some Organic Whole Grain Red Fife has brought the best results for producing the fantastic bread we covet. They have lots of other flour treasures too including Rye, Spelt, Einkorn, and Durum “00”. Also like their Linen bread bags (get rid of that plastic that traps moisture & mold) with a beeswax-lining that allows the bread to breathe and stay fresh longer. All hIghly recommended. Otherwise be sure to seek out your own local best flour provider. Worth it.

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