Question: How is the Champagne harvest looking for 2021?
Answer: Lots of concerns on the drastic drop of crop volumes in Champagne for 2021. Good report of September 10 by thedrinksbusiness.com here saying the extreme weather caused a 60% drop. The weather was called “challenging” with April frost (30%) and persistent rain leading to mildew (another 30%). However, the latest report from Harpers.Co.UK of September 21 here is more encouraging while quoting Philipponnat for a “classical” vintage “with crisp acidity” though “Pinot Meunier has caused growers the most headaches.” Still early days so for Champagne lovers it will be interesting to follow the progress of a unique 2021 vintage.
The Annual VanMag Restaurant Awards had been postponed and were delivered live on Instagram today September 20, 2021 at 2 pm by Neal Mclennan Food Editor of Vancouver Magazine. Not your usual classical awards with many categories for normal times but a short hybrid version limited to eight sections to recognize some of the industry leaders during this ongoing pandemic.Thoughtfully done focusing particularly on those who best managed take out orders and pivoting their business for the consumer’s convenience and culinary enjoyment. Presenting any awards at the present time is a delicate subject but this was well done indeed. Excellent summary write-up on the vanmag.com site here with all the details plus pick up the magazine. Congrats!
Question: I am a long time reader of your blog. My question is in regards to Bordeaux 2018 vintage to be released in BC Liquor Stores on September 25th. It has 3 parts and specifically about red wines only: 1) How do you rank 2018 Bordeaux among your favourite post-2000 vintages? 2) Do you have any favourite appellation(s) in this vintage? 3) What are your top three overall picks and what are your top three value picks?
Answer: 2018 Bordeaux shows the results of global climate change in a variable big ripe rich style vintage. Not as consistent and classic as 2005, 2010, or 2016 but more towards 2009 in style. Some excellent wines produced across the different appellations. Today was set for the media tasting for 2018 Bordeaux at BCLDB but cancelled for Pandemic safety concerns. Therefore your scribe is not your best advisor because I have not tasted Bordeaux 2018 wines after bottling – though some barrel samples. However that doesn’t stop me from recommending these: Grand Puy Lacoste Pauillac $190, Branaire-Ducru St. Julien $125, Lagrange St Julien $125, and best value La Gurgue Margaux $55. Good shopping at 8 am September 25!
Last week your scribe was one of fourteen judges tasting nearly 800 wines for the 2021 British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards held in Kelowna. A competent most skilled crew (except for yours truly) was a good mix of educated palates including the first visit of Alder Yarrow from California, Founder & Editor of the interesting wine blog Vinography. This insightful exercise was conducted in well organized safest conditions to determine the worthy Platinum, Gold & Silver medals for wine in BC this year. Report and video of Global TV on the judging is here. Stay tuned for more details and results in early October.
An added bonus was a return trip to that marvellous restaurant Row Fourteen at Cawston BC in the Similkameen Valley. This wine region has ever expanding grape vines being planted that enjoy hot Summer days, cool nights, and brisk winds. Also lots of popular roadside fruit and vegetable stands in Cawston (& nearby Keremeos) with the former now dubbed the organic capital of Canada. The uniqueness of Row Fourteen is that it is truly a collaboration of Chef & Farmer – a farm restaurant with inspired cuisine from the earth! It opened with meritorious praise in August 2019 as a partnership of talented Chef Derek Gray with Annamarie & Kevin Klippenstein of Klippers Organic Acres (since 2001). This latter producer is my go-to each weekend for their produce brought down to Vancouver’s Farmer Markets – especially presently those outstanding ripe heirloom tomatoes and butternut squashes. Yummy. Carrying on has been difficult during the continuing pandemic with all the government restrictions and fewer travelling tourists. Admire their determination to follow their passion with what presently is one of Canada’s finest restaurants turning quality locally grown fresh organic ingredients into most creative amazingly delicious courses. Well done, worth a detour, and hearty congrats! Chef Gray and his brigade plus knowledgeable enthusiast server Ariel showed us the brilliant highlights of two wonderful menus: Field Harvest $50 & Pasture Harvest $65 – suitably paired with an aged cool vintage 2010 two clone pure Syrah Scout Vineyard aged 15 months in French & American oak at 14.6 abv from the excellent local winery Orofino.
Some of the outstanding memorable dishes included:
– Gazpacho of tomato & cucumber with the fresh perfect texture. – Padron Peppers with first press canola oil with smoked salt. – Sarah’s Choice Melon with chili honey, and Grana. – Homemade Whole Wheat Farmer’s Bread with smoked butter,sea salt, black pepper. – Corn on the cob, garlic aioli, allium, jalapeno. – Tomatoes & Peaches, labneh, aged ricotta, fresh basil, Canadian olive oil. – Orange Kabocha Squash, mushrooms, walnuts. – Eggplant, romesco sauce, XO sauce – personal fav among many! – Farmer Chicken, zucchini, hummus, hazelnut salsa.
Question: What are the 2 grape varieties most planted in South Africa?
Answer: Both white. Chenin Blanc (Steen) as expected is the successful number 1. Surprisingly number 2 remains Colombard (or as called locally Colombar). This latter one is used as a varietal but also in dry & sweet blends (usually without wood) and for brandy production. Close battle for #3 led by Cabernet Sauvignon.