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Ask Sid: Wine vocabulary in a more musical way?

June 16th, 2021
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Question: I am a musician and tend to think of my wine vocabulary in a more musical way. Any ideas?

Answer: Yes I think a new wine vocabulary is evolving. Music is a celebration of life, memories, and emotions just like wine. You will be most familiar with “timbre” that includes so many words (for example piercing, resonant, to rounded) also so appropriate to describe wine. All musical input would be a valuable contribution for describing your own wine impressions. Sometimes wine blends are referred to as the culmination of different instruments coming together in an orchestra. Admire how Krug Champagne have used a musical trio analogy to highlight the elements of their complex Grande Cuvee:

Chardonnay – Violins for backbone of freshness

Pinot Noir – Bass or Trombones for structure and maturity

Pinot Meunier – Trumpet for fun “ting ting ting”

I suggest you go for it!

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June 14th, 2021

Hawksworth restaurant has been a top dining experience in Vancouver since it opened back in 2011. Outstanding Chef David Hawksworth started it with the then innovative concept of “Contemporary Canadian Cuisine” using always best seasonal mostly local ingredients with an interesting Asian seasoning. It became the most popular special dining in the region winning Awards (including many times as Best Upscale from Vancouver Magazine). It even reached number 3 on the Top 100 in Canada and has world-wide respect and recognition. Like everyone in
the industry they have been hard hit by the Covid pandemic but continue to pivot while maintaining high quality standards for both take-out and for the allowed slower restart plan under new government guidelines.

Exciting news to learn that they were going ahead despite difficult circumstances with a 10 year anniversary on Saturday June 12, 2021 presenting an interactive live virtual cooking event. Some 80 guests participated in what turned out to be an extraordinary insight into the culinary masterpieces of talented craftsman Chef Hawksworth and his team. They delivered an at-home dinner anniversary kit including all the ingredients pre-prepped for 4 courses of canape, pasta starter, main course sablefish, and dessert with cherished recipes for each. The first and last courses were by assembly only but all cooked along with the Chef for preparing the appetizer and entree. Their Zoom link opened up a wonderful live cooking class plus entertainment between courses provided by comedian Jane Stanton, magician Matt Johnson, and vocal group The Tenors. Libation chosen by us for pairing was their terrific 24 months on the lees of H’s Brut Sparkling 2017 they partnered with the Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards from 73% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Noir, and 2% Pinot Meunier. Perfect match.

The 10th Anniversary Menu:

Canape: Potato blinis with creme fraiche, smoked salmon, and dill

Appetizer: Ricotta agnolotti with summer squash, parmesan, and pomodoro sauce

Entree: Marinated sablefish with dashi, daikon, bok choy, and shiitake mushrooms

Dessert: Rhubarb, strawberry, and jasmine pavlova

Congrats to Chef David Hawksworth, Annabel and son Heston plus their whole talented team for such a memorable 10th anniversary event. Many more!

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Ask Sid: Which country is credited for the first use of grapes for wine making?

June 9th, 2021
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Question: Please solve an ongoing debate we have on which country is credited for the first use of grapes for wine making?

Answer: Yes this is a really tricky one. There is evidence of early wines in the many countries comprising a wide definition of the Levant (including Mesopotamia, Middle East including Turkey plus Greece to Egypt) Georgia and even Italy (especially Sicily) and other countries. All of this is further complicated by the use of pure 100% grape juice or mixing some of it with apple juice, beer, fermented rice, fruits, honey, or whatever. The latest historical information tends to credit China for the earliest mixed versions and Armenia for actually earliest wine production. Pleased to receive any other thoughts?

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June 7th, 2021

Many cities have small groups of wine-lover friends who get together on a regular basis for wine study. Over the years your scribe has been fortunate to attend quite a few such events around the world as an invited guest. Always results in an enjoyable fun more intimate function providing intense excellent education on a specific wine
property as a vertical or mixed producers, vintage assessment horizontal or other combinations. Most fortunate in Vancouver to have connoisseur Ian Mottershead form and organize dinners (mostly held at Blue Water Cafe) for our wonderful Group of Eight (perfect for one bottle each) that features very top quality wine themes with each
member providing one suitable bottle. Ian generously provides a few extra ones (sometimes blind) and members from time to time host their own event supplying their own wines. Some recent interesting examples from last year written up on this Blog ranged from Gevrey-Chambertin Clos St. Jacques, 2002 Red Burgundy, Chateau Montrose vertical, and 1990 Red Bordeaux horizontal at 30 years of age. The last one was on November 5, 2020 before the Covid shutdown featuring 2000 Red Bordeaux with monthly ones scheduled thereafter but all postponed because of restaurant closures. Appropriate that the restaurant reopening order allowed us after nearly 7 months to celebrate our 90th event on June 1, 2021 with a Chateau Lynch-Bages vertical. It was personally hosted by member Jim Robertson (one of several Group of Eight members who also are long time IWFS Vancouver members) who provided a four decade tour-de-force review plus three classy most useful printed summaries by property, overall vintage details, and Robert Parker Wine Advocate reviews. They are helpfully put together and we have reproduced them for your review. As well here are some of my own brief personal impressions on the wines:

2000 LYNCH-BAGES: Very dark & deep. Structured. Lots of life. Still young yet almost opulent. Lots of concentrated fruit depth here with tannins for further ageing development. Best of first flight in the long term.

1995 LYNCH-BAGES: Paling rim. Evolving. Open presently in a more fruity Merlot year way. Tried with twin 1996 recently that is more Cabernet Sauvignon northern Medoc success for full density more classic styling than 1995.

1990 LYNCH-BAGES: Medium colour. Best bouquet but again still rather primary aromas. All three in 1st flight show younger than 20-30 years old. Good storage. Lovely fruit forward with easy drinking balance always shows with this wine. Improved in the glass. Likeable.

1989 LYNCH-BAGES: Dark intense and deep. Excellent riper charming bouquet. Impressive on the palate. Will age further. Both 1989 & 1990 were given RMP scores of 95 points early on but since in August 2011 the 1990 got 99 from RMP and 5 years later in 2016 the 1989 got 95 points from Neal Martin. On this showing your scribe would tend to reverse those scores giving 1990 the 95 and 1989 the 99 (or maybe not quite that high!).

1986 LYNCH-BAGES: Less deep to the rim than 1989. Reluctant on first smell but with swirling shows big dense rich fruit asking for even more bottle age. Tannic. Different style than 1990 & 1989 but 1975 in a much better way.

1983 LYNCH-BAGES: Aged paler look. Drier nose and tired on the taste with noticeable acidity. Drink up now (or preferably earlier) better with food. Not totally clean either as vineyards needed timely August care & spraying that May de Lencquesaing managed so successfully at neighbouring Pichon Lalande in 1983.

1982 LYNCH-BAGES: Anticipation! Doesn’t disappoint. So stylish on a beautiful plateau of enjoyment. Superb complex round sweeter entry with creamy length. On my last of many visits to the chateau in 2015 Jean-Michel Cazes was proud & enraptured with his 1982. He expressed that “only wished he hadn’t used so many bottles of it early on because just coming into the very best showing over these next couple of decades”.

1978 LYNCH-BAGES: Browning. Weak sister here not benefiting from Harry Waugh “miracle year” late harvest. Simple dried out. “Make a sauce” as the late Gerard Jaboulet would say.

1970 LYNCH-BAGES: An old favourite of your scribe and really showed incredible again! Darkest colour of the flight and doesn’t look 50+ years old at all but youthful like the younger wines of the first flight. Classic cigar-box cedar with textbook Pauillac definition. Almost Mouton-like. Still quite fresh and so delicious with subtlety and lower alcohol. Touch of mint? Way better than the wine described by Neal Martin from his September 2009 tasting rating 91. Old bottle variation strikes again. Group of Eight fav followed closely by 1982 and then 1989 & 2000.

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Ask Sid: Thoughts on buying 2018 or 2019 Napa Valley reds?

June 2nd, 2021
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Question: Enjoyed your comments last week on California 2020 vintage and would like your thoughts please on buying 2018 or 2019 Napa Valley reds?

Answer: Thanks. Yes, Napa Valley 2020 is getting some bullish early reports including from Cathy Corison on her wine but it will be a less consistent vintage overall because of heat & fire-smoke issues than 2019. Also there will be a much smaller crop in 2020 (higher prices?) available to purchase compared to 2019 and the even bigger harvest in 2018. Accordingly it might be prudent to acquire some 2018 & 2019 on release. Today’s Premiere Napa Valley trade seminar praised the fresh bright riper softer more accessible style of 2019 for fruit purity and consistency. Liked the comment of Aaron Pott of Fe Wines that the large leaves of Merlot vines in the vineyard together with the
excellent humidity provided better protection in the hot conditions against dried-out grapes. Tomorrow James Suckling is speaking about 2018 but the early consensus he calls “neo-classicism harmony” are structured reds of better acidity balance with lower pH grapes less consistent but requiring some bottle age. Careful shopping.

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