Question: Attending the 45th Vancouver International Wine Festival on Friday, March 1st and would like to know a couple of Italian wines you would recommend I must try?
Answer: Great opportunity this year to learn more about the many wine regions of Italy from 71 producers. Also some excellent British Columbia wines. Here are 5 great Italian ones to taste:
–TIMORASSO 2021 from Piedmont CANTINE VOLPI – revived white grape variety producing fantastic aromatic wines becoming a cult gem. –BAROLO SERRALUNGA D’ALBA 2019 from FONTANAFREDDA – Value Classic Nebbiolo –CHIANTI CLASSICO GRAN SELEZIONE Compare the two top Tuscany selections one from ROCCA DELLE MACIE with another CASTELLO DI BROLIOby RICASOLI. Fun & educational. –BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO 2018 from ALTESINO – Sangiovese Grosso lush beauty! –REDIGAFFI 2021 from TUA RITA – Classy expensive Tuscan IGT treat with smooth complex Merlot. Enjoy!
Always fascinated by the subtle differences shown by Burgundy wines. So many unique terroir smaller vineyards all close together that are impacted by the weather variations each vintage resulting in wines that once bottled are continuing to change. Rather complicated. This impression is often markedly noted at events featuring several wines from similar regions but in comparative vintages. Such was the case again on February 20, 2024 at a wine tasting dinner at Forage in Vancouver held by the Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin. After an aperitif of ripe 2015 Gobillard Cuvee Prestige Champagne from Hautvilliers of 60% Chardonnay & 40% Pinot Noir we moved into the First course comparing the same vintage 2015 of Louis Michel two top 1er Cru Chablis:
2015 CHABLIS 1ER CRU MONTEE DE TONNERRE LOUIS MICHEL 2015 CHABLIS 1ER CRU VAULORENT LOUIS MICHEL
This is a respected producer dating back to 1850 and since 2007 managed by Guilliaume Michel. Your scribe last visited with Guillaume in Chablis on October 5, 2023 and tasted their excellent pure old style no wood used with usual lower alcohol Chablis from mainly 2021 & 2020 vintages. Impressed served blind the 2009 Les Clos with more spice and exotica but softer rounder and smooth textures. Guessed 2015 Les Clos (not the structure of 2014) but surprised on revealing that it was that old from another ripe year of 2009. Developing slowly. Classic with a wonderful future.
Tonight arguably the very best 1er crus from the Right Bank adjoining the Grand Crus but at opposite ends. This MdT adjoins Les Blanchots as a special one parcel of 4.5 hectares all on the main plateau in Chapelot. 2015 picked quickly and earlier in September because of the hailstorms. The terroir is usually naturally more opulent with smoky complexity. Here it shows minerals with lemon & spicy white flowers but is leaner and fresher than expected. The often steely Vaulorent (carved out as a special part of Fourchaume) on the other side adjoining Les Preuses is here atypically a richer rounder wine already at maturity. C’est la vie.
Next, an educational study of the best vineyard of Meursault in Perrieres. Two vintages from Albert Grivault of their Monopole Clos des Perrieres being .95ha of more clay topsoil over white marl than the rest of their Perrieres holdings of 1.55 ha (totalling largest of 2.5ha of total AC plantings of 13.72 followed by Bouchard Pere at 1.2ha). The 2015 at 14 abv as expected was powerful combining the minerals of Genevrieres plus the roundness of Charmes in an excellent ripe orange & hazelnut complexity asking for more bottle age. The 2011 at 13 abv was a lighter, most elegant, yet very stylish vintage. However, your scribe discovered that 4 bottles of 2015 were served but 2 were not the Clos but the Grivault regular Perrieres but our servers didn’t tell us which one we each received. Unfortunately a lost opportunity for an insightful comparison between the Clos & the regular Meursault Perrieres 2015 by Grivault.
Third course was a delicious lamb shoulder that improved the following two red Burgundies:
2012 CHAMBOLLE MUSIGNY VILLAGE GHISLAINE BARTHOD 2013 CHAMBOLLE MUSIGNY VILLAGE GHISLAINE BARTHOD
This domaine evolved from a fusion in the late twenties of the Marcel Noellat & Barthod families. Ghislaine started in the 1980s as an apprentice for her father and built a respected house which originally only labelled Les Charmes but now have 11 small top parcels on limestone gravel soils resulting in wines of finesse & delicacy. Since 2019 her son Clement is helping manage plus also with his father Louis Boillot but they keep the two domains separate. 2012 is generally a riper thicker skin tannic year compared to 2013 a cooler late harvest less ripe one. However, a big surprise here is that 2012 is much lighter and drier with less ripe fruit than 2013 as the later harvest delivered lovely raspberry sour cherry fruit. Both still in a primary stage with the sensual fruit waiting to come together but the village level is not as adorably balanced with charm as are Premier & Grand Crus of this wonderful AC.
The final educational lesson was shown by 2 magnums each of these Grand Crus:
2007 ECHEZEAUX DOMAINE GROS FRERE ET SOEUR 2006 GRANDS ECHEZEAUX DOMAINE GROS FRERE ET SOEUR
A wine with the Gros name is admired and now widely spread by many producers. In 1963 the Vosne Romanee estate for 160 years was divided into 4 parts with 2 combined into GF&S run by Bernard Gros. Significant replanting was done from the mid-eighties. As with the last flight 2 adjoining vintages to compare but again not years of the highest consistent quality. 2007 had bad summer weather resulting in variable wines with higher acidity while 2006 was ripe but with rot issues requiring crucial sorting of the fruit and so also is variable. Echezeaux is a large 37+ ha on a higher slope above smaller 9+ ha Grands Echezeaux ( adjoining Clos Vougeot) gentle slope with thicker clay. The name Grands is an unfortunate choice because it gives the indication that it is always better but is not necessarily so though often shows a fuller texture. Here the 2007 is way lighter in colour though has the most exquisite pure nose with palate acidity to age well. This 2006 has a darker look and riper more concentrated as expected but less clean not as pure aromas – more rustic. Backward Grand Crus – especially in magnum format. Some members actually preferred the two younger Village Chambolle Musigny over these higher classified older backward ones. Wonder how this report will change with 5 years more time for these wines to age in the bottle?
Question: Know you again are involved at the upcoming International Wines Festival in Vancouver. What will be your most anticipated event to attend?
Answer: Yes, I am pumped to attend the upcoming 45th edition of vanwinefest.ca over 8 days from February 24 to March 3. I have been involved in #VIWF since day one we started in 1979 and have participated in all of them. Many exciting functions this year with 148 wineries (71 from theme country Italy & 27 from British Columbia) totalling 12 countries serving 1150 wines. Can’t really pick out just one event from 42 available at 25 venues including Festival extensive wine tastings at the Convention Centre with a spectacular view plus many restaurants matching outstanding food courses with wine. OK my greatest anticipation is for a vertical wine tasting of 8 consecutive vintages (2012-2019) of the exciting Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG from Sergio Zingarelli president of Rocca delle Macie with Italian wine expert moderator Filippo Bartolotta. Stay tuned for my Blog report on it here in March. Also hurry to check out attending an interesting educational event of your own choosing – though many are already sold out.
Château Figeac has been a good friend of your scribe for over 50 years. I first got to know it back in 1970 as a friendly neighbouring property to Chateau Montlabert (written up here on April 26, 2021) where I stayed then and on several later visits to Bordeaux. Many wonderful events were gracefully hosted by the Manoncourts at their Figeac home plus they generously contributed outstanding bottles on other occasions. A very memorable one was a dinner “Millesimes De Collection” on June 15, 1999 held at Chateau Beausejour (Heritiers Duffau Lagarrosse) where the top 12 St. Emilion properties collaborated for contributing wines starting with the 1989 vintage and going back to the 4 oldest of complex unique fruit 64 Cheval Blanc, spectacular bouquet 61 Trottevielle, browner sweet forwardly 55 La Gaffeliere and chocolate/mocha big amazing tannins of most youthful 49 Figeac at 50 years of age!
Somewhat frustrating for many that distinctive Chateau Figeac wasn’t promoted to the highest St Emilion classification of Premier Grand Cru Classe “A” until September 2022 under the new management regime headed by talented winemaker Frederic Faye. With a brand new state-of-the art cellar, more cabernet sauvignon planted, and conscientious attention to detail for pure precise wines it is well deserved now – and probably earlier.
Therefore it was with excited anticipation to attend a dinner at Forage restaurant on February 12, 2024 held by the Commanderie de Bordeaux Vancouver under the able leadership of Fred Withers for a vertical of 9 vintages served wisely from oldest to youngest. Knowledgeable Ian Mottershead provided a detailed introduction to the property from the Manoncourt family acquisition in 1892 through the history of the great Thierry Manoncourt (1917-2010).
We started off by two whites 2012 & 2010 from CHATEAU SMITH HAUT LAFITTE BLANC both had aged well using around 32hl/ha yield with a 90% Sauvignon Blanc, and 5% each of Sauvignon Gris & Semillon. 2012 was bigger richer and more complex with a higher 14 abv finish while 2010 was very sauvignon in a lovely lighter more elegant style at 13.5.
A few personal comments on the 9 Figeac wines:
1983 CHÂTEAU FIGEAC: Lovely open enticing floral bouquet made this a mature popular group choice. Showed better charm tonight than on many earlier tries (including here on October 4, 2021) where more drying “herbal dill green olives” notes. Drink.
1985 CHÂTEAU FIGEAC: Bottle variation. Mine has a paling rim with a touch of TCA corky too rustic. Other bottles showed better Merlot spice but disappoints in this vintage. Drink.
1986 CHÂTEAU FIGEAC: Much better younger red colour compared to 83 & 85. Typical lovely Figeac terroir of fresh cherries and solid structured Cabernet tannic grip impress. Excellent & should develop further.
1989 CHÂTEAU FIGEAC: Dark to rim with similar depth of 86. Attractive bouquet of licorice, cloves, & Provencal herbs. Like the elegant smooth textures with sweet anise seed flav. Not that concentrated but a rich intensity. Well done. Delicious with the duck. My fav of First Flight.
1990 CHÂTEAU FIGEAC: Second Flight off on a fast stunning start with 1990 which is deeper red look plus touch jammy ripe figs with earthy mushrooms. Harder Cabernet tannins than 1989 but not as seductively styled. Fred’s favourite wine of the tasting!
2000 CHÂTEAU FIGEAC: Ten years younger with much younger impressive fruit depth. Very perfumed exotic nose of tobacco, spice and Cabernet. Refined tannins are integrated now developing more finesse elegance and complexity. Stylish. Showing magnificently on the plateau of enjoyment. Matches lamb and grilled octopus choices.
2005 CHÂTEAU FIGEAC: Made by Eric D’Armon using 100% new oak at 37hl/ha. Outstanding Bordeaux vintage brought big expectations for me. Not disappointed with dense classic graphite Figeac styling (showing 35% each of both Cabs & 30% Merlot) but softer yet not singing presently. Promise.
2008 CHÂTEAU FIGEAC: Lower yields 29hl/ha and long 20 months in 100% new oak results in surprise of the night. Dark purple. Already rather soft & smooth. Leaner and less ripe year but much better than expected.
2015 CHÂTEAU FIGEAC: New regime statement here. Hot year but fresh and polished. Quite supple already for the buckets of fruit. Label states 14 abv while 08 & 05 both 13.5 and earlier years at 13. Several 100 point scores for this high Cab Sauv 43%, 29% Merlot & 28% Cab Franc blend. Long cellaring future.Your scribe prefers the more balanced structure in 2016 which IMHO approaches closer to that elusive perfection. Figeac is on the right track for sure.
Question: Is there a listing in 2024 for specific days celebrating various wine types?
Answer: Yes a Calendar listing dates for specific wine grape recognition! It has nearly gotten out-of-hand with the plethora of different grapes now out there for international recognition. Suggest you check a good Calendar here from Wine Country with more detailed explanations for each one. Your scribe likes among others Chardonnay on May 23rd & Pinot Noir on August 18th. Always a wonderful idea for an excuse to celebrate different wines.