As this lock down due to the Covid-19 pandemic persistently continues more restaurants have ventured into this take out mode which have reached all-time records. In Vancouver lots of innovative approaches are being tried and even starting this Wednesday iconic John Bishop of his eponymous Bishop’s is entering the game. This after announcing on March 3rd his retirement effective August 1 of his popular 35 year old Kitsilano spot he seems to have had a change of heart. There has been a national celebration of #TakeoutDay on Wednesdays with on line live concerts organized by Canada’s Great Kitchen Party. In the USA tagged everywhere on social media are meals of #TheGreatAmericanTakeout. Everywhere in the world is the same. A favourite restaurant of ours in Paris is Akrame in the 16th arrondissement of Michelin starred chef Akrame Benallal. The teams of his 3 restaurants have united to bring you home cooking by delivery at akramehome.com. As well as focusing on “optimal hygenic conditions” they promote use of “electric or bio-methane powered vehicles to minimize the carbon footprint” and “packaging of the dishes will be biodegradable.”
Certainly have viewed a lot of different take out dishes in person, on line, and from enthusiastic diners sending photos. Some are most impressive indeed. Your scribe is awarding his most intriguing presentation seen so far to Vespertine in Culver City LA California a 2 star Michelin with talented Chef Jordan Kahn known to be expensive but an “otherworldly” dining experience using unique quality ingredients. Some entertaining reviews on dining in including the NY Times, Eater, & by Jonathan Gold in the LA Times. However now a rather reasonably priced $59 for something special to take out. They have been pulling out some rolling theme menus to challenge themselves in the kitchen and to give interesting variety to their customers featuring Carolina Lowlands, New Orleans Cajun, and most recently Yucatan cuisine. Look at the attractive packaging and interesting dishes provided with exciting educational insights. Well done. Let’s see more of these innovative menu ideas from everybody in the Take Out World! Please support take out in your own community.
Question: Opened and liked a bottle of 2018 Saignee of Culmina Family Estate Winery from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. What is a Saignee?
Answer: Saignee comes from the French “to bleed” and is a popular method for making Rosé. Culmina bleeds off a portion of the juice from their best reds (including flagship Hypothesis) for Saignee while still in fermenters following 2 to 6 hours of skin contact for completion in small 100% stainless steel tanks and casks. The 2018 was a blend of all Golden Mile Bench fruit of Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon varieties as 53%/25/16/6. Just tasted their excellent 2019 Saignee $24 using the same respective grape varieties but in different proportions of 31/32/26/11 that is so charming with only 1.42 residual sugar.
Your scribe enjoyed an interview on Saturday May 2nd from Napa Valley Valley Academy on Facebook Live by Peter Marks MW of Fiona Morrison MW. My first connection to Fiona goes back decades to rather frequent wine meetings with her in London, Bordeaux, and America often in connection with my position as Chair of the IWFS Wines Committee. Always liked her outgoing personality plus respected her outstanding knowledge and reasoned analysis on all things vinous. Since then she has earned her Master of Wine in 1994, married in 1997 to Jacques Thienpoint of Chateau Le Pin in Pomerol, and gone on to become an award winning wine writer. It was a pleasure to connect with her again virtually. Pleased to learn she authored another interesting book titled 10 Great Wine Families A tour through Europe. Fiona had the remarkable experience of actually spending some days with each of these ten families and sets out her personal insights about them over four seasons listed in Contents as follows:
1. Familia TORRES – Penedes, Spain: Regeneration in Catalonia
3. Weingut Emmerich KNOLL – Wachau, Austria: A phoenix rising next to the Danube
4. Famille THIENPOINT – Bordeaux, France: Belgium colonizes the Right Bank of Bordeaux
5. Descendientes de J PALACIOS – Bierzo, Rioja, Priorat, Spain: Pilgrims, pioneers and matadors
6. NIEPOORT Ports & Wines – Douro Valley, Portugal: A varietal uprising in the Douro
7. GAJA -Barbaresco, Italy: Maestros and earth goddesses
8. EGON MULLER – Scharzhof, Moselle, Germany
9. LIGER-BELAIR – Burgundy, France: Restoring a Grand Cru heritage
10. Famille PERRIN – Rhone, France: Family collaboration
The interview highlighted many insights into all the families including the enormous hours they all worked with their drive to succeed. All focused on long term but problems because of succession laws and dependence on nature. Difficult to plan with climate change and your crop could be wiped out by frost. Two vintages no Le Pin was produced. Sounded like there was a future possibility of a second one including wineries in the world outside Europe that would certainly include Catena in Argentina and Henschke in Australia among others. Even more likely might be an update 10 years on as as to how these ten iconic wine families are doing. Fiona made some quips about these present unique family principals which I am sure must make this book a most interesting read. She stressed the importance of having her photographer next to her to capture her behind the scenes visits. This is not a book review but was inspired to buy and look forward to learning more from reading it.
Question: Who do you think from the social media/Silicon Valley world is most into wine?
Answer: Would have to go with Kevin Systrom the co-founder of Instagram in 2010 that was acquired in 2012 by Facebook. Kevin’s 2015 wedding in Napa included stops at Beaulieu Vineyards and the wine caves of Clos Pegase Winery. His recent interview with Antonio Galloni on Vinous Live on April 22 demonstrated his continuing passion for varied quality wines from around the world while he is working presently on possible solutions to the Covid-19 virus. He loves learning and going deep as an essential to his enjoyment so the study of wine is right up his alley. He sees the future of wine producers using more computer analysis to advantage in both the vineyards and in the winery. Who would you nominate?
Hard to believe this unusual 2020 year is nearly one third over already. Started out by attending many wine and food Masterclasses in person but the past 6+ weeks has seen a plethora of them on line. This last week your scribe monitored over 25 of them. Get a life! Perhaps too many are disguised seminars as simply marketing tools to stimulate sales for a specific product or brand. Still there are some fantastic insightful educational ones out there you need to watch. For everyone in lockdown stay at home mode it is an unbelievable opportunity to learn more about our favourite subject of wine and food. Referenced this happening of Virtual Tastings in last week’s Blog but it has exploded more so in just one week. So many highlights including BC wines 2019 Vintage Preview Part 1 (Part 2 on April 29), 67 Pall Mall in depth wine features, California Wine Institute Episode 3 with Rory Williams on Frog’s Leap Winery (Episode 4 with Jason Haas of Tablas Creek on April 28), Benchmark with Sommelier Eric Segalbaum, Justerini & Brooks interview of Katharine Prum on Mosel, Chefs’ Table Society of BC on Comfort Foods, Blackbird with winemaker Aaron Pott, Churchill’s Port, Red Mountain Washington among others. Two that are standing out as especially informative for can’t miss appointment viewing are Acker Wines with Sommelier Arvid Rosengren, Northern Rhone focus, and Jean-Marc Roulot (upcoming Riesling with Paul Grieco April 27 & Carlton McCoy of Heitz Cellars April 29) + Vinous Live with Antonio Galloni (and sometimes Neal Martin) Monday to Friday one hour in depth with Roberto Conterno, Andy Beckstoffer, Kevin Systrom, Saskia de Rothschild, and Whitney & Rob Fisher (with 5 more scheduled this week).
For IWFS branches not presently able to hold meetings suggest members catch a 90 minute substitute now posted on You Tube by Halpern Wines of Crew Classe At Home with Chef Daniel Boulud & Frederic Engerer Volume 7 from April 24. Tour de Force event organized by Adam Halpern with winemakers from 5 properties of Artemis Domaines paired with appropriate food courses as follows:
1. Domaine D’Eugenie with Michel Mallard: 2014 Batard Montrachet showing young, fresh, stone expressive, with a long palate paired with Daniel Boulud delicate lightly smoked Danish smoked salmon with caviar and buttered brioche. Raj Vaidya his head sommelier chimed in with the wine needing rich food for the taut firm character of acid tension in 2014 white Burgundy.
2. Chateau Grillet with Jaeok Chu Cramette: 2017 Chateau Grillet just released from tiny 3.5 hectare monopole from a hot year is golden yellow intense and powerful with some spice & alcohol. Daniel from nearby Lyon suggests Sole Polonaise (or mushrooms) with a bit of black pepper. Raj finds the wine earthy with stone fruit pairing well with the cauliflower, capers, and bitter almonds in the dish.
3. Michel back with 2016 Vosne-Romanee Clos de Eugenie red (neighbour of La Tache) with energy, aromatics of spice & mint from this elegant vintage. Paired with Tuna wrapped in Panchetta an original recipe from 27 years ago when Daniel restaurant was first opened in NY. Not smoked and crisp outside from cooking plus chanterelles, sweet & earthy young garlic with pork jus in the sauce. What a pairing.
4. Clos de Tart with Alessandro Noli with 2017 from this legendary winery now undergoing major renovations having cellars now finished with 15 new tanks (replacing 8 stainless steel ones) for different sectors of the vineyard all to be completed by next year. 100% whole bunch complex aromas with red & black fruits plus roses & violets with structured silky tannins matched with whole roasted duck with rhubarb & braised turnips. Raj impressed with charming 2017s so forwardly aromatic so young and approachable.
5. Chateau Latour with Helene Genin (since 2002 & winemaker since 2007) showing 2012 to be released soon. Wet & cool Spring with long slow ripening extracted very gently to keep tannins easier. Tight but elegant and though less concentrated is balanced, delicate and spicy. Course to match is perfectly grilled juicy lamb seasoned with herbs of mint, sage, and thyme plus dried black olives for earthy tones but soaked in water first to get out the salt and then add in EVOO.
6. Eisele Vineyard with Helene Mingot showing 2016 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon (also have a citrusy flowery Sauvignon Blanc from heavier clay soils at the back of the canyon) paired from Daniel’s kitchen with quintessentail American Burger with spinach, avocado, homemade tomato sauce, smoked Hawaiian salt and garlic grilled bread.
Time to check out some of these Masterclasses. Do you have any recommendations for us of your own picks? Wonderful substitute for the old real in person connections and likely will be seeing a lot more of these in our future. Stay safe!