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Ask Sid: Did 2017 or 2016 have the worst drop in Chablis production?

August 15th, 2018
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chablis production wine
By Robert S. Donovan [CC BY 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

Question: Which of the last two years in Chablis had the lowest production of wine and is this affecting the prices?

Answer: Yes both 2017 & 2016 vintages in Chablis have seen a fair drop from their normal harvest due to weather conditions including frost, hail, and the like. This has contributed to the average Chablis village price nearly doubling in the last 2 years from over 600 euros to now about 1200 per feuillette barrel of 132 litres. You will notice in the wine stores that this is reflected in the prices of all 4 levels of Chablis being raised for the 2016 vintage. The stats show that the average Chablis harvest of about 293,000 hectolitres (100 litres) was reduced to 237,000 in 2017 and more substantially in 2016 to 159,000. Therefore 2016 had the bigger drop in production.


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Food Day Canada 2018 Well Celebrated by Fairmont Chateau Whistler

August 13th, 2018

Sunday August 4, 2018 was #FoodDayCanada highlighting the diversity of food in Canada. @FoodDayCanada is about many things including celebrating the beautiful produce you have #HomeGrown as #LocalFood in your own #BackyardGarden. We have been growing food on a small scale for many years first mainly unique heirloom tomatoes (now widely available seasonally at all the farmer’s markets) but more recently most successfully with “mangetout” snow peas (eaten whole in its pod) and delicious “extra fin haricot vert nain filet sans fil” (fine bush green beans without any string). Enjoyed these local special treats during all of July and early August.

However an outstanding menu shared @FairmontWhistlr at the base of Whistler Mountain on The Wildflower patio really raised the quality bar of this admirable concept. Executive Chef Isabel Chung, Executive Sous Chef Derek Bendig & brigade prepared a delightful picturesque seven course menu that used only produce grown in the hotel rooftop herb garden (including now 12 hives of bees) or their own personal gardens. A remarkable feat well done! Also featured were grass fed beef from Hanceville Cattle Company, sustainably land farmed West Creek’s Coho Salmon, and Langley’s Berezan Shrimp sweet and fresh as alive in tanks just prior to cooking. Each course was appropriately paired with the hands-on artisanal farming plus quality winemaking @RocheWines on #Naramata Bench #Okanagan. The meal certainly reached their excellent goal of “marrying tradition with innovation” but indeed celebrated the idea of Food Day Canada in just the right way. A remarkable feat very well done!

Do you have a special annual day on which you celebrate the glorious local food in your city or country?


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10 interesting facts about Madeira

August 12th, 2018

Madeira wine facts

By Joseph Temple

Since the discovery of the island of Madeira by Portuguese explorer João Gonçalves Zarco in the early fifteenth century, it has become world renowned for a toffee-caramel like fortified wine bearing the same name. For hundreds of years, sailors bravely crossed the oceans bringing with them pipes of this exotic drink that was loved by the likes of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Today, whether it’s paired with dessert or used to cook with, Madeira can definitely enhance many evenings with family and friends! So have a look below at this wine and its unique history.



1. The wine is named after the island of Madeira, located 370 miles from the Moroccan coast. After being colonized by the Portuguese in 1420, they began planting both sugarcane and grape vines across the island.
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2. Madeira became an important outpost for sailors due to the winds that blew from the northeast. With the prevailing winds in the British Isles coming from the west, it would be impossible to sail directly from London to the Americas. As such, Madeira became a vital stop in order to get to the New World, which boosted sales of its wine.
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3. Although Madeira is a fortified wine, it started out unfortified. During long voyages across the world on board merchant ships during the 1500s, the wine would spoil while under the intense heat.
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4. Using brandy as a preservative by the late seventeenth century, this new and improved Madeira actually got better in a tropical climate, making this wine basically indestructible.
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5. Today, in order to simulate this heating effect, the wine goes through a process known as estufagem. This involves placing the wine in casks, vats or cement tanks where the temperature is set to an average of 105 degrees Fahrenheit for anywhere from three to six months. Fine Madeira however is heated naturally.
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6. Because of Madeira’s near-invincibility, it became a hit in the southern colonies and coastal towns such as Charleston and Savannah. One blend that proved to be extremely popular included the addition of rainwater to slightly dilute the wine. “Soft as rainwater” became the saying!
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7. The founding fathers of the United States drank Madeira after signing the Declaration of Independence.
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8. With over 5,000 acres of vineyard land, which produce approximately 38 million gallons on an annual basis, just 10 percent are planted with the four noble varieties—Sercial, Verdelho, Boal and Malmsey.
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By Alexander Baxevanis (Flickr: Vineyards) [CC BY 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

9. After phylloxera hit the island, the Portuguese opted for cheaper grapes and hybrids to replant. As a result, nearly half of all Madeira production today comes from Tinta Negra Mole, which can be used either to drink or to cook with.
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By star5112 (JOH_0242) [CC BY-SA 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

10. Although extremely popular in the eighteenth century, Madeira faced tough times as shipping technology evolved, no longer requiring vessels to stop there. Also, with the Russian Revolution and American Prohibition, the wine lost two of its biggest markets during the twentieth century. However, interest in Madeira appears to be gaining steam again!

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Sources:

Clarke, Oz. The History of Wine in 100 Bottles: From Bacchus to Bordeaux and Beyond. London: Pavilion Books, 2015.
Dominé, André. Wine. Hamburg: Könemann, 2004.
MacNeil, Karen. The Wine Bible. New York: Workman Publishing, 2015.
Robinson, Jancis. The Oxford Companion to Wine, 4th Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.


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Ask Sid: Are you aware of an Asian cartoon mentioning wine?

August 8th, 2018
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Question: Are you aware of an Asian cartoon mentioning wine?

Answer: Suggest you must be thinking of the popular hit comic series “The Drops of God” by two Japanese manga authors. It was a lot of fun because they selected “The Twelve Apostles” of wine with two brothers searching around the world to find them. They picked some classic wines including Les Amoureuses in Chambolle-Musigny by Roumier, Chateau Palmer, Barolo Cannubi from Sandrone and Chateau d’Yquem but not always from the very best vintages. The series provoked an interesting discussion in Asia on the specific wines chosen and and certainly helped their sales. However, most important of all it encouraged consumers to seek out and find their own special “Drops of God” bottle. Have you found yours? For more details check the series out online.


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Purchase of Foxtrot Vineyards a Big Quality Endorsement for Naramata Pinot Noir

August 6th, 2018

foxtrot wine british columbia pinot noir
Image courtesy: Foxtrot Vineyards IG @foxtrotvineyards

BC wines are distinctly unique and deservedly receiving more respect now around the world. The diversity of the 80+ grape varieties (almost equal white and red) grown over 929 vineyards expanding across 10,260 acres for 271 licensed wineries makes it somewhat difficult to get a handle on what is currently happening but BC Wine Institute (www.winebc.com) marketing helps. However outside interest in the region continues to build with some consolidation taking place such as the recent purchases by Andrew Peller of Black Hills, Gray Monk & Tinhorn Creek and Arterra Wines of Laughing Stock Vineyards. Last year saw the purchase by Phantom Creek Estates of south end Black Sage Bench land estimated for around $50 million with an equal amount expected to spent on plantings winery etc. An exciting alive wine region for sure.

Several grape varieties (and blends) are certainly becoming world class by finding the right terroir, taking advantage of older vines, and using much improved viticulture and winery expertise. A big favourite of your scribe is pinot noir and following the development of this variety in BC has been most encouraging. The level of complex elegance now shown in the wines produced by pinot noir specialists is remarkable. Therefore the news just released of the change in ownership of leader Foxtrot Vineyards (www.foxtrotwine.com) was of prime interest. Not only another smaller winery purchase but an amazing endorsement by Burgundy experts on the very high quality of the existing pinot noir wines that are produced there. The press release says that New York attorney now co-director of Foxtrot Douglas Barzelay is an authority on the wines of Burgundy and co-author of a forthcoming book Burgundy Vintages – A History from 1844 and is quoted as “We were attracted by the consistent high quality of the wines produced at Foxtrot and believe that the Naramata Bench is poised to claim its place among the top terroirs for pinot noir in the world. Noted is Nathan Todd Operation Manager Private Cellar Selections LLC in Greater New York City area also a new co-director stating “We have no plans to change the formula that has brought Foxtrot such success. We salute the achievements of Torsten and Kicki Allander (Founders who have announced plans to retire) and under son Gustav Allander’s direction (winemaker who will be retained in charge of viticulture & winemaking) we look forward to carrying out the expansion plans that Foxtrot has already put in motion.”

What a ringing endorsement of Naramata pinot noir & Foxtrot Vineyards that is!

Hope you have been fortunate to experience a Foxtrot pinot noir. Your impressions? Anyhow recommend perhaps you buy a few bottles of the 2015 before the price is likely to go up.


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