Question: Which vintage of Château Lafite-Rothschild has the Happy Face Emoji right on the bottle?
Answer: Entertaining question! Not really an emoji happy face but sure looks like one. You are right. It is the 1999 with that vintage date beautifully engraved on the bottle below the neck. Also underneath that is the “happy face” to celebrate the solar eclipse that occurred on August 11th when the Moon passed between the Earth and the Sun. All making 1999 a very unique special bottle – and an underrated Lafite wine too.
One of the real joys of getting older is to rejoice in the disciplined hard work leading to success of so many younger people in all walks of life. Especially during these most difficult Covid times for the hospitality industry it is a definite positive note to follow on social media and television those bringing us both entertainment and knowledge about food & wine. If you have a local personal long time connection with that person it makes it even more heart warming and grateful for their contribution. There are several that deserve recognition from British Columbia but two that immediately come to my mind are Mijune Pak & Steve Hodge.
MIJUNE PAK is a television personality from Vancouver on the Food Network Canada featured in Top Chef Canada. You can also catch her on @followmefoodie on Twitter and @mijunepak on Instagram. Her bubbly enthusiasm is really catchy. She continues her journey of curious culinary exploration of international flavours with wonderful flair. Your scribe knew her way back in 2008 when she first started out as a blogger and travelled to Banff on her own ticket to cover the Canadian Culinary Championships. Mijune showed such enthusiastic passion for food even in those early days and her write-ups and fantastic photos were the best coverage of the popular event bar none! Deserves all the recognition and admiration she has now. Your scribe is very proud of her. Congrats to Mijune and please follow her. You will enjoy the experience.
STEVE HODGE is a Pastry Chef following in the footsteps of his mother who owned a bakery. Well trained from California to London he learned skills from many mentors including star chef Thomas Haas. His own style emerged starting in 2013 with the opening of his Temper Chocolate & Pastry 2409 Marine Drive in West Vancouver. Remember many connections with Steve including criticizing his early declasse boxes he used for his exquisite looking cakes – which he quickly remedied. Also personally presenting to Steve on September 26, 2013 an International Chocolate Award at the ceremony held at Xoxolat 1271 Homer Street Vancouver for his winning classy dessert entry in that competition. Steve told me then that “it will be one of many more to come”. Since then Steve has embarked on an impressive Food Network Canada career with two successful shows Great Chocolate Showdown & Project Bakeover. This new last one helps bakeries who are struggling using Steve’s sage understanding most empathetic advice to transform to a more updated popular style. So well done indeed. Recommend these shows and to follow Steve on Instagram @chefstevehodge. Please let us know in the comments about emerging culinary media stars from your region.
Question: Was there just a change made in the Chianti regulations?
Answer: Very topical. Yes the Chianti Classico Consortium this month for only Gran Selezione for now are focusing on 11 new geographic markers using MGA (Menzioni Geografiche Aggiuntive) like Barolo codified since 2010. Appreciate that they are zoning in on specific delineated places that can be listed on the label. This will be helpful for the wine consumer. Well done. Hopefully eventually it will extend as well to Chianti Classico & Chianti in the future. Another important change for Gran Selezione is moving the Sangiovese minimum from 80% to 90% with the balance if any using only local indigenous (autochthonous) red grapes.
It seems your scribe has always been obsessed over vintages. Back in my earliest days of wine collecting, emphasis was mainly on finding some cherished 1961 Bordeaux (or 1959) followed by underrated 1966 & 1970. During the infancy of California we were seeking out 1968, 1970, and 1974 BV Georges de Latour Cab, Heitz, Mayacamas, Ridge and Mondavi Reserve among others but focusing in on the best vintages. Lesser vintages were deemed earlier drinking and served primarily for comparison purposes next to a still ageable better year. Remember how we all thought it was so ironic that Mouton-Rothschild was elevated to a First Growth in such a poor vintage of 1973 but with that glorious collectable Pablo Picasso painting of Bacchanale. As the long-time Chair of the IWFS Wines Committee every year in London we looked in detail at each wine region for a critical assessment and consensus agreement score out of 7 for every listed vintage on the new annual Vintage Card. Many spirited discussions among Committee members on the merits of vintages usually ensued (later on with the help of input reports from regional specialists) such as whether the white Burgundies of 1985 or 1986 deserved a higher rating! Fun memories. More recently during this century even though grape growing and wine making has been fine tuned to consumer advantage there is a tendency to generalize on the high quality of wines from each and every new year. There have been some very outstanding ones for sure. However global climate change doesn’t always help and less heat can actually be more beneficial. Looking specifically at red Burgundy, lots of hype for the last 5 years and certainly deep fruit 2015 is encouraging as are the earlier 2010 and 2009. Over the last few years we have opened several AC and 1er cru of 2005 and every time are impressed by their freshness of cool intense healthy fruit with remarkable structured balance. Examples: Domaine Pavelot Savigny-Les-Beaune (lovely Les Peuillets & dense La Dominode), Alain Jenniard Gevrey-Chambertin, and surprisingly improved so elegant Bouchard Pere reds like Beaune Marconnets are so clean, excellent and reasonable value. 2005 has been my favourite and still is after a tasting-dinner last week that clearly endorsed the overall consistent quality of this year. Shows you how a cooler drier Summer & perfect Autumn, lots of sunlight plus slow steady ripening of smaller berries retaining acidity with thicker skins can produce the very best wines. Reminds me a little bit of those amazing glorious 1978s that provided so much joy. Some brief tasting notes from June 15, 2021:
So celebratory to start a memorable dinner with Champagne. A salmon coloured forwardly creamy no hard edges touch of cinnamon-ginger in 2005 Bollinger La Grande Annee Rose (72% Pinot Noir, 28% Chardonnay) entirely vinified in small old oak barrels and disgorged May 2017 of 100% Grands Crus & Premier Crus with that 5% special red Cote aux Enfants wine is charming indeed. Nine 2005 red Burgundy in two flights followed:
First Flight Premier Cru:
VOLNAY LES TAILLEPIEDS DE MONTILLE Deep darkest right to the edge. Exquisite dense fruit. This South end vineyard is complete with full textured elegance. Developing still. Age it. Impressive. Personal fav.
POMMARD LES EPENOTS PARENT Lighter aging rim. Bouquet is typically open aromatics showing some wood. Soft & Broad. Forward – Easy drinking. Don’t differentiate northern Les Petits or Les Grands near the village but just Les Epenots.
MOREY-SAINT-DENIS AUX CHESEAUX ARLAUD Dark but a bit cloudy as unfiltered throwing sediment. Vineyard is next to Gevrey-Chambertin just below Clos de la Roche shows a similar structure with sweet quality fruit plus vanilla oak. Harder edges. Time needed.
BEAUNE CLOS DES URSULES LOUIS JADOT Palest with watery edge. Some cherry fruit but simpler. Forward. Seemed to miss the best of this vintage in usually dependable Ursules. Least favourite of flight.
GEVREY-CHAMBERTIN LAVAUX ST.-JACQUES ROUSSEAU Anticipated as best of flight. SE exposure on well drained cool mineral soils. Lighter depth of colour than Volnay. Tight rather closed nose. Quality sings on the palate. Depth of concentrated fruit, flavour interest, superb balanced structure, with great potential. Usually softer than other Rousseau vineyards but no rush. Group fav of first flight.
Fish served with red Burgundy but an appropriate whole grilled white fish with herbs that matched well.
Second flight Grand Cru:
CLOS DE LA ROCHE CUVEE CYROT-CHAUDRON H/B REMOISSENET EN MAGNUM Young look in big format. Turned out to be Cuvee Georges Kritter instead. Bigger with more lush seductive textures of Clos de la Roche than first flight wines. Some Remoissenet styling there.
CLOS VOUGEOT LOUIS JADOT Good look with lighter edge. Solid full presence. Less defined commune with variability. Approachable soon.
CHARMES-CHAMBERTIN VINCENT GIRARDIN First of two Charmes with this one quite light yet charming. Lovely. Forward Grand Cru in style typical of Charmes and also this producer.
CHARMES-CHAMBERTIN BACHELET So deep and dense looking right to the rim. Much more so than all the others. Concentration and intense special fruit. Wow wine from this producer. Congrats! Don’t normally get this brilliant pure complex fruit from this Grand Cru. Will turn out to be truly outstanding with some patience. Already “Wine of the Night”.
What a shining endorsement these 2005 red Burgundy are turning out to be in showing how important a vintage really is. Try to find some or have patience with your collected smart purchases. Talk about a perfect wine pairing. Here it is prepared by talented Chef Frank Pabst and his brigade. Together the cedar wood roasted squab really improves these wines and the dish sings with the wines. Q.E.D.
Question: I am a musician and tend to think of my wine vocabulary in a more musical way. Any ideas?
Answer: Yes I think a new wine vocabulary is evolving. Music is a celebration of life, memories, and emotions just like wine. You will be most familiar with “timbre” that includes so many words (for example piercing, resonant, to rounded) also so appropriate to describe wine. All musical input would be a valuable contribution for describing your own wine impressions. Sometimes wine blends are referred to as the culmination of different instruments coming together in an orchestra. Admire how Krug Champagne have used a musical trio analogy to highlight the elements of their complex Grande Cuvee:
Chardonnay – Violins for backbone of freshness
Pinot Noir – Bass or Trombones for structure and maturity