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Ask Sid: The first organic & biodynamic wine vineyard in New Zealand?

January 20th, 2021
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Question: Which winegrowers established the first organic and biodynamic vineyards in New Zealand?

Answer: Believed to be Annie & James Millton with their eponymous Millton Vineyard established in 1984 with their first plantings from 1969. They are situate on the banks of the Te Arai river on the East coast of the North Island with a Gisborne appellation in New Zealand.

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WYNNS BLACK LABEL COONAWARRA CABERNET SAUVIGNON STILL A REMARKABLE QUALITY VALUE!

January 18th, 2021

Over the decades your scribe has developed a real admiration for Wynns Cabernet from their Coonawarra Estate on Terra Rossa “red earth” soils in Australia. Their Black Label (first appeared as such on the 1965 vintage) wine is an amazing story of consistency from the first one produced in 1954 to the current release of 2018 being the 63rd one. Started to follow them in the seventies and first visited some 40 years ago in 1980 during our trip to the IWFS Australian Festival. Collected many vintages since then and so impressed with the complexity and longevity of cellared bottles like their 1976 Jimmy Watson Trophy winner at 12 alcohol & outstanding 1986 at 12.9. All this came rushing back to me last week while enjoying a bottle of their 58th vintage of 2013 in screw-cap (introduced first from the 2006 vintage) over a dinner of wild widgeon with rice & peas. Hope followers of this Blog took my recommendation here on January 4, 2016 to buy this wine as it is just starting to show development on a wonderful long plateau of graceful aging. Marvel at how winemaker Sue Hodder and her talented team are able to present such intense fruit showing that distinctive Coonawarra minty terroir always at such an easy drinkable elegant balanced 13.5 alcohol so complementary to food. Amazing concentration at lower alcohol levels. How do they do it?

Sue Hodder presented a brilliant Wynn’s wine seminar on February 26, 2015 during the Vancouver International Wine Festival. She spoke about the history of the winery with first plantings back in 1891 and completing their first building in 1896 with this unique strip of land there only 21 kilometres long & 2 km wide. Her focus was mainly on the 2010 vintage using only 20-25% top fruit for Black Label from vineyards over 35 years old showing that typical  “blackberry dark cherry black olive licorice violets tobacco oak and cigar box”. Sue also showed us differences between Coonawarra single vineyards with best aromatics coming from a southern section “Messenger” (4C cooler than Western Australia & Tasmania) compared to the bigger more tannic muscular but only 7 km away “Alex 88” (Alexanders Block planted in 1988) – often used in their iconic “John Riddoch” label. Treat yourself to a bottle of Wynns Black Label to get this memorable value wine experience.


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Ask Sid: A good value widely available all purpose white wine?

January 6th, 2021
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Question: Do you know a good valued widely available all purpose white wine?

Answer: What a question. So many wines from around the world competing for your selection. Difficult to name just one white among the diverse grape varieties and blends. My suggestion would be to try quite a few different examples to find out what style you actually prefer. One good choice to start with might be a Riesling. So many excellent regions for Riesling including classic Germany & Alsace, expanding Austria vineyards, worth-discovering the USA (Washington State & Finger Lakes region of New York State), underrated from Canada (both Ontario & BC), and New Zealand. You might enjoy the drier style from either the Clare or Eden Valley in Australia. OK if your scribe has to suggest one that might fit the bill – how about Pewsey Vale Eden Valley Riesling. You can find 2017, 2018, or 2019 in the marketplace all in screw-cap showing fresh structured dryish fragrant citrus-lime with tropical notes. Useful both as an aperitif or with a variety of food dishes. As it ages in bottle it will keep developing more petrol honey toasty notes of complexity that also are fun to monitor. A rather delicious choice.

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HOLIDAY CELEBRATIONS WERE SO UNLIKE PREVIOUS YEARS!

January 4th, 2021

Happy New Year 2021. We are all expectantly hoping for a better one than the difficult Covid-19 pandemic 2020. Probably your holiday celebrations were curtailed like most of us. We usually have the long standing Christmas tradition of family turkey dinner with all the trimmings. This year there were only two of us. However that didn’t stop us from enjoying over several meals an organic 16 pound fresh big bird spatchcocked with thigh bone removed and legs stuffed. Excellent cuisine treat. Particularly matched with several different pinot noirs, the highlight being on Christmas Day of an outstanding 1985 Latricieres-Chambertin Faiveley that was singing melodic carols superbly. Fortunate to catch it on a perfect plateau of explosive nuanced bouquet with elegant terroir complexity – clearly vying for our very best bottle of 2020! 

New Year’s Eve was different. No large gatherings like at Times Square New York for a TV spectacle to watch. In Vancouver a last minute order for an early nightcap on liquor sales at 8 pm left bars & restaurants scrambling with cancellations and too much left over food ordered for special menus. Bad timing with no advance warning for sure as the BC Provincial health authorities have been so helpful and supportive of the hospitality industry in these trying times. Your scribe and spouse with another couple that introduced us have had a very long standing home dinner date for four held every New Year’s eve since 1966. Only the government ban preventing the mixing of family bubbles stopped us from continuing our wonderful consecutive streak with #55. Too bad. Still we celebrated in fine form with a magnum for two (with some leftover for the next nights) of superbly balanced & toasty 1990 Pol Roger Champagne. Also a developing fresh vibrant rich 2012 Chablis Les Clos Christian Moreau paired brilliantly with our freshly caught thick brill (or petrale) sole dish. We sure missed reminiscing with our close friends about the trials of 2020 and wishing them at the stroke of midnight the very best for 2021.

What about you?  How were your usual holiday plans affected?


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Top Ten Ask Sid Questions of 2020!

December 30th, 2020
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You continue to be a marvellous audience with your widely varied questions posed each week on our #WineWednesday feature. There are similar wine information requests elsewhere on the web that your scribe comes across but am surprised by the differences among them. Most are quite basic elementary simpler bare facts ones that you could look up in good reference material. Therefore must congratulate our followers for a more learned sophisticated level of inquiry. Maybe it is just older demographics already having greater wine knowledge that are able to ask about more difficult issues. Number #1 is a surprise with “most important wine trend in the last decade.” Very subjective issue with lots of possible right answers. Need more dialogue posted on the site by members with you weighing in with your opinion on the best answer. Similarly coming in at #6 “worst wine trend” – subjectively answered as “wine score creep”. What do you think? Even last year #1 was just one person’s bold opinion on “Best & Worst Years This Decade for Burgundy.” Disagree? Impressed by your thirst for continuing wine detailed information and interest in my personal opinions. Always delighted by the challenge to consider the questions raised and pondering over my answers. Please keep up your good work with those interesting questions in 2021.

1. What wine was the most important in the last decade?
2. What is the difference between pinot noirs from Russian River & Sonoma Coast?
3. What about US Tariffs on European Wines?
4. Is it necessary to examine the cork extracted from a wine bottle?
5. What is an “ouvree”?
6. What Is Your Worst Wine Trend of the Last Decade?
7. What is your favourite wine glass?
8. What is this buzz on cheaper US wine on the way?
9. What is the best simple tasting description for a Sangiovese wine?
10. How to stock a wine cellar?
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