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2005 AN EXCELLENT BORDEAUX VINTAGE BUT STILL RATHER RETICENT

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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THE MOST MEMORABLE WINE & CHEESE PAIRING EVER!

August 30th, 2021

There are lots of classic matchings of wine and cheese. Your top 5 might include some of mine:

  1. Sauternes with Roquefort
  2. Port with Stilton
  3. Chianti Classico with Pecorino Toscano
  4. Gewurztraminer (off-dry) with Munster
  5. Almost any wine with my fav Parmigiano-Reggiano but prefer Champagne, Pinot Grigio, or a richer white Rhone blend.

Often in the old days the cheese course was served at the end of the meal paired with the oldest red wines. Not ideal. Influenced May de Lencquesaing ex-Pichon Lalande to serve her youngest Pauillac with the cheeses. However, usually white white works better with cheese than red. The acidity and sometimes sweetness of white seems preferable with many cheeses over the drier tannins of red wine.

Last week at Cactus Club Cafe Coal Harbour in Vancouver your scribe orchestrated (for only the 3rd time) the most magical wine and cheese pairing he has ever experienced. Both items are the finest made from the Jura. The cheese was Comte de Montagne Fromageries Vagne, Jura, 24 months affinage. The wine was 1972 Vin Jaune (“yellow wine”) D’Arbois from Henri Maire La Plus Grande Reserve Mondiale from the Chateau Montfort caves Arbois, Jura, France. It was 12.4 abv in the traditional 62 cl bottle (called a Clavelin) having thrown at nearly 50 years a lot of sediment. Opened ahead, decanted, mineral water washed and returned to the bottle by talented respected sommelier Sebastien Le Goff it showed to perfection. Made from 100% Savagnin grapes in barrels not topped up for 6 years allowing a yeast layer to form called “le voile” (the veil) like the flor of Sherry. Colour was
not brown but clear and not too oxidized (with no maderization) but a perfectly aged remarkable bottle indeed. My friend Wink Lorch in her masterclass book Jura Wine accurately captured the highlights of our bottle: “From Arbois especially, the wines will be nutty – walnuts in particular, sometimes fresh walnuts (also known as green or wet walnuts), even hazelnuts. Also a French (rather than Indian) curry powder mix of turmeric, coriander, cumin, and cardamom, sometimes with ginger and fenugreek.” This Vin Jaune (also would match well with buttery escargots) was very dry (all grape sugar had fermented out) with some candied lemon notes plus all that high acidity. Yet was so complex and really singing brilliantly with an astounding roundness of texture when tasted together with the neighbouring aged nutty Comte. Combined for a rich palate but almost an ethereal sensation too. Much better enjoyed together than by themselves. Hard to explain in words but believe me this is a truly outstanding wine & cheese matching! Try it.


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Ask Sid: What is an unctuous wine?

August 25th, 2021
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Question: What is an unctuous wine?

Answer: Not that commonly used in wine terms but is appropriate to describe the texture of some smooth rich thick wines – often sweeter ones. The Concise Oxford Dictionary describes unctuous as “having a greasy or soapy feel; oily” and that is sort of the mouth feel you should experience in order to use that word appropriately for wine tasting.


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HATS OFF SALUTE TO ALL RESTAURANTS THAT HAVE PIVOTED SO ADMIRABLY DURING THE PANDEMIC – GOLD STAR TO BOULEVARD!

August 23rd, 2021

These present days continue as the most difficult for all restaurants. Some have pivoted well carrying on pretty much as formerly but with more limited onsite & patio dining yet with increased delivery and pick-up orders. Others have altered somewhat their menus sometimes simplified and with fewer choices. The higher end places especially
have found it particularly hard to produce their attractive designer art work high quality cuisine for take away orders. But no problem for Boulevard Vancouver! The creative talented culinary team is so well trained and includes award winning Chefs Alex Chen and Roger Ma. This brigade have taken seriously the big challenge of replicating their on site menu (though missing their outstanding table service) of fine dining in your own home. Instructions on how to do the final preparations were so thoughtfully written down for the “home cook”. Blown away by the attention to detail of the plenitude of finishing items perfectly prepared each in their separate containers including
fresh tarragon in cool water, crisp potato chip topping, shaved fennel, porcini, summer vegetables, poached local strawberries, and many more. So impressive indeed as you can see by the photos. One small quibble would be the environmental impact of using so many plastic containers that are not biodegradable. However this experience was special. Next
best and very close to actually being in the fantastic restaurant itself.

The function on Sunday August 22 Chez Cross was one of six groups assembled for Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin Summer Paulee. This involves members bringing a themed wine (this year Corton-Charlemagne) to taste and discuss before the Boulevard lunch to follow (ours lasted 6 hours from 1 pm to 7pm).Your scribe in past years tasted all the wines provided and gave an overview impression but this year was a “vacation” only having to taste 7 of them. In total over 30 C-C were tasted from different producers ranging in vintage from 1994 to 2018.
By far the most popular submission was Bonneau du Martray with 8 vintages (11, 10, 09, 06, 05, 04, 02 and 94) all showing well with none of the premature oxidation issues that have arisen with some producers from the mid-nineties. Advised 2004 was fresher and better than celebrated 2005. Also 4 vintages Louis Jadot  improved from their lesser period during late nineties to early new century (after old treasures of 85, 86, and 89) with stellar 16, 15, 11 and 06. My favourite white Burgundy (plus Chablis) vintages 2014 (only had Clos de la Chapelle) and 2010 (Bonneau du Martray, Henri Boillot, and Faiveley) were reported by the other groups to be showing impressively. Our group enjoyed 3 vintages of Louis Latour excellent fresher less oak persistent 2017, unusual very light less rich
youthful 1998 acquired offshore no abv listed, and classic mature 1997 so round and creamy at 13.7 alcohol. Also tried 1999 Vincent Girardin greener balanced ready; delicious elegant underrated consistent 07 Bouchard Pere; value priced 2017 Marius Delarche; and exclusive newcomer only 2 barrels using “Black Chardonnay” method 2018 Pierre Milleman/00 Wines. Suggest you check out further details about this star Oregon winery of Chris & Kathryn Hermann at 00wines.com. The four 2006 red Burgundy served with lunch surprised. Coming after the perfect but not quite ready 2005, the vintage was initially downgraded  as not being ripe enough and variable. However it has
developed rather well and is coming around to start drinking now. Les Pruliers vineyard is an old time fav from Daniel Rion and sometimes shows sweet red cooked plums rustic like the Taupenot-Merme while the lighter browner rim Louis Boillot has a more elegant expressive bouquet with more style. The Grand Crus were all typical intense cherries of Griottes from Rene LeClerc and serious concentrated classic Chambertin Clos de Beze Drouhin-Larose. Rather good.

The lunch courses were all terrific. So artful in concept and execution and tasty. WOW event. Check out the menu and food photos. Remarkable indeed. Highly recommend you try Boulevard or find another top restaurant in your home city around the world that will go to this amount of effort to make your dining experience at home this
memorable. Thanks. Big congrats!


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