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Ask Sid: 2018 Bordeaux?

September 15th, 2021
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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!

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September 13th, 2021

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.


– Cherry Tomato, mascarpone cheesecake tart, tarragon
– EVR Chocolate Semifreddo, earl grey poached plums, labneh, tuile
– Pavlova with Raspberries

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Ask Sid: What are the 2 grape varieties most planted in South Africa?

September 8th, 2021
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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.

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September 6th, 2021

Educational to study the pros and cons of the last 20 vintages of Bordeaux. Lots of positive enthusiasm for the current releases that have been more affected by global climate change. Also much dedicated support for that outstanding trio of 2010 precision, more open riper voluptuous 2009 and concentrated 2005. Remember the late Paul Pontellier at Chateau Margaux on July 8, 2015 starting our visit with those 3 vintages he called “the three best vintages of 100 years” – with his fav “the freshness finer dense terroir driven 2010 (90% cabernet sauvignon)”. Paul called the 2005 “perfect with an intense high level of concentration with firm obvious tannins but still too young at 10”. The 2005 vintage now is 15+ and not only the First Growths show that deep ripe fruit from the dry conditions yet still remain somewhat closed up and tannic. All these memories came back to me last week at a 2005 horizontal tasting-dinner held at Tutto for the Commanderie de Bordeaux Vancouver. We tasted 9 properties but
generally the wines, while deeply impressive, were not yet singing or showing quite enough charm. These well stored bottles were still rather tight closed-up waiting to explode in all their glory with more aging. Perhaps it could be a slight bias of your scribe for a more mature claret style. You certainly can enjoy them now. However, please have patience with 2005 IMHO.

The 9 wines were served in 3 flights with some brief impressions:

  1. 2005 CLOS FOURTET: Very dark deep 85% merlot right to the rim. Rich round intense big blueberry chocolate espresso fruit. Impressive.
  2. 2005 CANON LA GAFFELIERE: Also deep and dark. More exotic enticing nose but modern extracted oak styling with some spicy white pepper notes.
  3. 2005 MAGDELAINE: Deep slightly less extract. More typically balanced St. Emilion of 95% merlot + 5% cab franc with acid austerity slowly developing coming out of its shell showing elegance and lift. Recently 1998 was more together with better complexity. Good first flight!
  4. 2005 LA GARDE: Pessac-Leognan from Dourthe. Lighter earthy greener herbal tones are good value against tougher company.
  5. 2005 LES CARMES HAUT BRION: Local connection of 6th generation family of Penelope Roche of the Okanagan winery. Better fruit but harder drier with some elegance. Will improve with time. These two wines of the flight became more drinkable when with the beef tenderloin served.
  6. 2005 GISCOURS: Beginning flight of 4 impressive Left Bank – 2 Margaux & 2 St.Julien. Bit atypical in style as harder and leaner but still a value. Blend of 62CS/32M/6CF&PV. A Margaux AC that is almost St. Julien-like. Should develop further.
  7. 2005 D’ISSAN: Lots of floral, flowers, and fragrant perfumes here. Quality Margaux styling with balanced acidity. Real finesse! Wonderful surprise of the night.
  8. 2005 LEOVILLE POYFERRE: Dark with lots of reluctant St. Julien style. Slowly opening in the glass. Biggest almost opulent fruit but backward. Potential there. No rush. Age it more.
  9. 2005 LAGRANGE: Solid St. Julien favourite with more accessible textbook styling. Intense sweet pure fruit is lovely. Coming around with almost porcini mushroom notes of flavour. Attractive.

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Ask Sid: What is passerillage?

September 1st, 2021
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Question: What is passerillage?

Answer: A French word used to describe the drying process of grapes before making wine – similar in meaning to the Italian “appassimento” in Valpolicella for Amarone. Passerillage usually in the south of France exposes the grapes to air drying under the sun after harvest to increase their sugar concentration. The word is becoming more popular now in the central California region as Randall Grahm (Bonny Doon Vineyard) teamed with Gallo Wine Company is producing a Cinsault with 2-3 weeks of “passerillage” for their project The Language of Yes.

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