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Ask Sid: What about Sauvignon Gris?

November 21st, 2018
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sauvignon gris grape wine

Question: What about the grape variety Sauvignon Gris?

Answer: It is a clonal mutation of the better known popular Sauvignon Blanc grape variety. However Sauvignon Gris is seldom seen outside of Chile and France. It can provide a wine with an interesting less aggressive more subtle aroma plus a full richer softer appeal. I particularly like the use of it in a blend say at around 5% or so that is successfully done by the Cathiards for their excellent Chateau Smith-Haut-Lafitte blanc from Pessac-Leognan. Seek it out.

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Three Dinners Confirm Improvement of Red Burgundy With Ageing

November 19th, 2018

We all know the universal agreement on the long ageing ability of the cabernet sauvignon variety and especially quality Bordeaux wines and those increasingly popular “Bordeaux Blends”. However there is less consensus on pinot noir and particularly red Burgundy. Believe there are several reasons for this including the scarcity of limited supply older red Burgundies available plus that many show a delicious accessible sweeter fruit for enjoyment when younger. In fact some consumers actually prefer the style of young fresh fruity pinot noir fruit to the changed version when older. However that usual endemic underlying acidity of red Burgundy (plus many other pinot noirs from around the world) well stored allows it to evolve slowly yet gracefully developing more complex bouquet with those unique seductive textures. Worth the wait IMHO! Three exciting dinner parties within the last 3 weeks featuring top Burgundy certainly emphatically confirmed this opinion for your scribe.

The first was a vertical of ECHEZEAUX Grand Cru from a rather large 37+ hectares (11 distinct climats) producing some 12,000+ cases per year by 84 owners with the largest DRC followed by Mongeard-Mugneret. The young 2013 from Fabrice Vigot surprised with lovely exquisite bright perfumed pinot noir aromas and powerful taste. Enjoyable already. However the 10 years older 2003 Domaine de Perdrix was also still youthful but developing richer style from blacker fruits of a hot year especially in the enhanced flavours. Better still were 93 DRC so structured just coming into its own exotica at 25 years plus the two 1988s (originally a year of prominent acid & tannins) of DRC (open complex enticing soy oriental spice) and Mongeard-Mugneret (mature lighter so elegant showing typical leather with sous-bois). Good food pairing of local Quail with butternut squash, baby kale, pomegranate, toasted hempseed hearts.


Second evening featured nine VOSNE-ROMANEE all from Dominique Laurent. A region of 8 Grand Cru (including Echezeaux & Grands-Echzeaux both in Flagey-Echezeaux) over 75 hectares, 12 Premier cru (plus 2 in F-E) in 58 hectares & Villages over 105. Premier Crus Les Suchots 2008 proved best over more forwardly two Les Beaumonts 2008 and deeper darker 2007. The six distinct parcels all 1995 were developing better with more age: La Croix Blanche (most southerly by the RN 74) dark but a bit green stems, Le Croix Rameau 1er cru (NE corner RSV) palest silky most finesse, Les Champs Perdrix (above La Tache next to Reignots) mid colour full & rich, Les Petits Mont 1er cru (above La Romanee, Richebourg) best of show amazingly complex with special velvet textures, Les Hautes-Maizieres Serie Rare (below Les Suchots) youthful edgy spritzy, and Serie Rare Cuvee Royale (assorted villages) forwardly but a simpler terroir. Recommended dishes that worked so well with these wines were sustainable Gindara Sablefish (good rich oily texture works), celery roots & hearts, black truffle jus, blood orange, brown butter powder and also Tonka Bean smoked sea salt roasted duck breast (classic pairing), BC blueberry, parsnips, and vanilla emulsion.


Third dinner party was a joy celebrating freshly shot wild duck with Autumn fruits and top Burgundy. Also fantastic matches were North Coast Brill Sole & Sidestripe shrimp with sunchoke puree in red wine shellfish reduction (red wine with fish worked again!)plus Braised lamb shoulder with subtle Moroccan spices, almond & apricot couscous. Younger Grand Cru all were remarkable of ROMANEE ST. VIVANT DRC 2004 (14754 bottles) picked end of September & structured 2003 (11924b) early end of August with very low yields & Rousseau CHAMBERTIN 2003 & 2000 (both big rich licorice) plus their more delicate aromatic Clos de Beze 2001. Again the older selections showed the most outstanding with both 1990s impressive showing darker most elegant DRC RSV and evolving colour yet exciting honey-licorce of Chambertin by Rousseau (actually prefer their 1991). Another treat this evening which emphasized age worthiness at 40 years was that famous great 1978 vintage Musigny Remoissenet (using Comte de Vogue fruit) with a really special deep mind boggling bouquet and velvet smooth texture. Q.E.D.


If you have any older bottles of quality pinot noir still around you may be in for an amazing surprise treat indeed!

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Ask Sid: Your thoughts on the winning Bordeaux Red Blends at Judgment of BC?

November 14th, 2018
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Ask Sid: Your thoughts on the winning Bordeaux Red Blends at Judgment of BC?

Question: Surprised by the top 2 red “Bordeaux blends” listed on  your Blog at the recent Judgment of BC wine tasting. Your thoughts on those please.

Answer: Yes quite a marketing boost for the recognition of the overall top quality of BC wines at the 4th Annual Judgment of BC. Around the world people still tend to generally think of Canada as a cold country able to make ice wines and perhaps a few lively whites. Top Bordeaux style red wines like the late Robert Mondavi would have asked “ are we making world class cabernets?” seemed unlikely even just a few years ago. Now the progress for reds helped by global warming has been remarkable. Look out for that pinot noir variety too! Pleased that 2 well established wineries both situated on the cooler Naramata Bench but using fruit from the warmer southern regions of Osoyoos showed their prowess in such a well-organized blind tasting. What amazed me particularly in addition to the fact that the top 2 finishers were from BC was that both were styled so very differently yet both received high voting preference by the tasters.

Number 1 placed 2014 Poplar Grove Legacy is 44% cab franc (a treasured grape) with equal cab sauv & merlot (24%) plus equal malbec & petit verdot (4%) from this ever encouraging balanced top vintage. Big grape change from their 2013 Legacy when the mix was 44% less ripe cab sauv with more malbec 13% but lesser cab franc (27), merlot (13) and petit verdot (3). Your scribe liked how fresh and vibrant 2014 showed with a good future ahead of it for aging.  “Bordeaux-styled” the open aromas were quite green pepper, leafy and dill focused for me as was the finish though the endemic sage character spoke admirably as distinctively Okanagan terroir. Wonderful statement.

Number 2 Laughing Stock Portfolio 2015 has more ripe merlot (45%) in a similar grape mix resulting in higher alcohol (14.9) from this hotter vintage but showed so differently blind. Both are classy using French oak this one 40% new. Deep rich colour with such seductive perfumed aromas plus intense pure almost sweet cassis fruit. So stylish and balanced yet packing power with elegance. Buy this. Gave this my top ranking as #1 and guessed it might be a top smoky California wine but on reflection after disclosure – yes this is indeed another amazing impressive quality Portfolio. Pleased the knowledgeable panel of tasters liked this one too.

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Tayybeh – A Celebration of Syrian Cuisine

November 12th, 2018

Taybeh restaurant vancouver

By Jim & Milena Robertson (IW&FS Vancouver Branch)

Reprinted with permission

It’s not often that one takes a trip to the Middle East but, in culinary terms, Syria came to us with traditional food prepared by Tayybeh at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts. Tayybeh is a group of Syrian women, refugees from a war-torn country, living in Greater Vancouver and preparing very popular home-style dishes at pop-up restaurants from time to time.

Our evening started with a glass of Giusti Prosecco Extra Dry Rosalia and an animated tour of the PICA kitchens and facilities given by Chef Julian Bond. We were then seated at tables in the classroom with white linen covers for a showing of a video about the origins of Tayybeh and how a group of women are integrating into the community and exciting Vancouverites with their delicious food. A few dips – Hummus, Mhammara (a red pepper and walnut spread) and Baba Ghannouj (eggplant with chopped peppers and pomegranate) with Pita Bread – eased us into the delights to follow.

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Ask Sid: Wine Shops in Bordeaux?

November 7th, 2018
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where to buy wine in bordeaux

Question: Great article on wine shops in Paris. Do you have suggestions for wine shops in Bordeaux?

Answer: Yes I was back in Bordeaux again this May 2018. I always enjoy checking out wine stores. Naturally the shops have a bias for their own outstanding and diverse selection wines from right there in Bordeaux. A controversial  issue is the growing number of Bordeaux and other wines now available at most competitive prices at the chain supermarkets. These have put added pressure on the specialty wine shops. However there is still the hallmark L’Intendant with those spiral stairs of Bordeaux wines of increasing prices as you ascend. Always a must with big bottles and some older vintages. La Vinotheque has a wider selection of French wines. Also Badie for Champagne. Outside Bordeaux – especially in St. Emilion (Martin as well as Vignobles & Chateaux) – have some fun smaller shops to visit. One of my favourites in the Medoc is La Cave d’Ulysse in Margaux! Enjoy your exploration.

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