Question: Thanks Sid for your Wednesday “Quora” on wine. Realize wine sales are down but is there a specific wine that is bucking that trend on an upwards curve?
Answer: Not sure we qualify as a “Quora” but we have fun trying to help out on your wine questions. Yes, lighter wines and those with less alcohol are on the rise. Sparkling wines are doing OK and of course always Champagne. My nomination for upward movement is Albarino from Rias Baixas in Spain. Perhaps not that surprising as Albarino provides a lovely crisp, fresh lighter style at good value compared to Chablis and other more expensive similar types.
The Burgundy group in Vancouver celebrated 40 years in Vancouver with a nostalgic look back to the perseverance over several years of the Founding Members in obtaining approval from both Jacques Chevignard Grand Chambellan in Nuits-Saint-Georges in France and Jim McConnel Grand Senechal Toronto Ontario (established earlier in 1977). The founding day for Vancouver was on December 16, 1982 at a Terminal City Club lunch with the dedicated seven original officers (as shown in the attached declaration) led by our first Grand Senechal Walter Van Vloten. Toasts were made then with fond memories of a 1975 Dom Perignon and 1978 Chassagne Montrachet Rouge Tastevinage from Mommessin. The Inaugural Chapitre dinner was held on May 31, 1983 at the Hotel Vancouver Waddington Room with visiting dignitaries as shown. Feature wines included 1971 Corton Pougets Reine Pedauque, two 1978s Beaune Clos De L’Ecu & Clos de Vougeot both from Jaboulet Verchere. On February 28, 2023 our 40th anniversary celebration was held at the Vancouver Club with an excellent dinner prepared by Executive Chef Matthew Taylor and brigade including an appropriate 40 year old Mazys-Chambertin 1982. Three of the founding members (Edward Chiasson, Kenneth Cross, and your scribe) were present and reflected on the formation of the group, the early days, and showed older menus of some wonderful past events including a memorable La Tache vertical dinner.
The detailed preparation of the courses with the attentive table service at The Vancouver Club was outstanding. Brief comments on the wines:
The Champagne was a rather unknown reasonably priced NV P. Lancelot-Royer (appropriately for our event named Cuvee des Chevaliers) with 100% Grand Cru Chardonnay from Cramant with lees aging in rather a full ripe creamy style for Blanc de Blancs with 30% reserves. Good value.
Always a rare treat to enjoy Dauvissat Chablis especially comparing three left bank Premier Crus of Vaillons, Sechet, and La Forest all 2011. Softer, lighter, and less grip than expected but elegant & pure. Your scribe found La Forest richer but here the Vaillons had the best lift though Sechet was group fav. Slightly disappointing as all are a bit too easy, quite similar, and ready to drink. 2011 often show a lack of intensity from harvesting after the rainy July & August conditions without the deep complex vibrant minerality of a classic vintage 2014 Vaillon Cuvee Guy Moreau 80 year old vines. Interesting comparisons.
The reds were a mixed bag with two Beaune Greves solid while superb vintage 1985 Vosne-Romanee Les Suchots from Alain Hudelot-Noellat is the most charming round complex true Burgundy WOTN tertiary bouquet and velvety textures. The bigger 1990 Mazis-Chambertin Drouhin was deep dark concentrated fruit so structured and still developing well. Fun to have a 40 year red Burgundy to celebrate 40 years of the Tastevin in Vancouver but this 1982 (better than moldy 1983s) needs drinking as drying out and would have been fresher earlier on from this old fashioned house of Pierre Bouree. Divided opinions on whether the lovely sparkling Huet Vouvray 2007 was sweet enough to go with the magnificent St. Honore or was better alone as a first dessert. Top Wine, Food, Music make for an enchanting evening!
Question: Please clarify for me the difference between the wines called Gavi & Gavi di Gavi?
Answer: Gavi is an underrated top white wine from Piedmont Italy produced from the indigenous Cortese grape under the highest quality level of DOCG. Gavi di Gavi is the name used for the best vineyards coming from within the main town of Gavi itself.
Red Burgundy from a large 1999 crop (now over 20 years of age) were highly rated initially (coming after the lesser 1998 & 1997) drinking so well early on but lauded even more presently as showing their true dense character with successful aging. Your scribe has enjoyed the underrated mostly consistent reds of Cote de Beaune (especially Volnay) in this vintage because of wonderful clean pure intense fruit from early picking before the September 24 rains which affected some later picked thick skinned Cote de Nuits. As a result there is some variability in 1999 Burgundy reds because some producers picked too early and some picked too late so harvest timing and grape selection became most important.
Our Group of Eight in Vancouver on February 21 at Blue Water Cafe enjoyed a horizontal tasting-dinner of nine selections from this formidable 1999 vintage. A treat to start with 1996 DOM PERIGNON P2 ROSE beautifully boxed with a lovely bright pink copper look in the glass. Bouquet of fine raspberries but all rather delicate soft rounded classy styling for current drinking enjoyment.
Some brief impressions of the 1999 reds:
DOMAINE MICHEL GAUNOUX, BEAUNE AC Aged paler red brown rim tastes lighter and is drying out. Picked early? Ready with excellent acidity to refresh a unique local fresh sturgeon dish on delicious “roesti” potatoes. This traditional producer owns vineyards in southern Beaune next to their home base of Pommard which they use in this blend. Also check out their Corton Renardes.
DOMAINE JACQUES PRIEUR CLOS DE LA FEGUINE, BEAUNE 1ER Much redder and darker – quite dense. An attractive open tertiary bouquet with lovely clean cherries and so balanced. Shows Côte de Beaune 1999 high quality potential. Perhaps a tad simple but on a perfect plateau.
DOMAINE SYLVIE ESMONIN CLOS SAINT-JACQUES, GEVREY-CHAMBERTIN 1er CRU Deeper red with minty earthy slightly musty notes. A bit dank but the nose cleared up somewhat yet still not perfectly clean on the palate. Bottle variation? Picked too late? Small producer Sylvie Esmonin is recommended by your scribe using 100% new oak on her powerful Clos Saint-Jacques (one of 5 owners) from 3 vineyard sections blended together for best results from top marly, middle rocky, and bottom clay.
DOMAINE HUMBERT FRERES ESTOURNELLES ST. JACQUES, GEVREY-CHAMBERTIN 1er CRU By far the darkest of this first flight. Deep reluctant aromas. Intense cherries. Lacks elegance. May develop further.
MAISON LOUIS JADOT BONNES MARES GRAND CRU First of the second flight, all Grand Cru. Lighter paler rim. Exquisite open bouquet by far the best complexity so far. Amazed at how solid it is yet so very charming & elegant. Delightful pairing the Chicken Supreme. Great juice! No rush.
MAISON BERTRAND AMBROISE LE ROGNET CORTON GRAND CRU So big ripe concentrated “porty” like Pinot Noir. Full rich and a touch alcoholic. Too big perhaps as it lacks desired elegance. Needs way more time to soften and develop more.
DOMAINE MEO-CAMUZET CLOS DE VOUGEOT GRAND CRU Opposite style of the Corton wine displays delicious beautiful drinking medium weight no stems most delicate so elegant admiration. Really like this producer and this wine!
DOMAINE RENE ENGEL CLOS-VOUGEOT GRAND CRU Your scribe received a pour from the bottom very cloudy and a disappointing early impression. Tried a neighbour’s wine glass that was so completely different, clear and bright. Service on these older wines with sediment is crucial. Mixed feelings on this wine as a result of the look and grainy texture at first. Enjoyed more with the black winter truffles in the main chicken dish. Great historic producer now acquired and renamed Domaine Eugenie owned by Francois Pinault (Chateau Latour).
DOMAINE ARMAND ROUSSEAU CHAMBERTIN CLOS DE BEZE GRAND CRU This is young dark and intense. The two northern deep rich soil plots of 1 ha 42a results in an unbelievable wine here. So aromatic with just the starting of that sophisticated spice note of complexity. Layered with black ripe fruits & minerality with an amazing touch of silky elegant delicacy developing. Showing better every time your lucky scribe has tried it. Even more open less tannic more charming than the last experience a year ago at the Rousseau spotlight reported here on February 22, 2022. Need to put this wine on your Bucket List. Profound!
Question: Which wine region has been most affected over the past year by Mother Nature?
Answer: Interesting question with several possible correct answers because Mother Nature seems to be adversely affecting so many vineyards around the world. So many natural key influences on vineyards include frost, hail, drought, climate change, forest fires, smoke, earthquakes, volcanoes, bugs & pests, Covid, etc. Your scribe’s nomination would be Hawke’s Bay on the East coast of the North Island of New Zealand. A tropical Cyclone Gabrielle hit the area this past week causing extensive damage and mass flooding which obviously will affect the 2023 grape harvest. Watch for updated news on the popular tropical Sauvignon Blanc 2023 production plus many vineyards including Esk Valley’s famous limestone hillside “Terraces” and inland warmer iconic Gimblett Gravels. Stay tuned!