Question: What are your brief thoughts please on Nomacorc closures?
Answer: My limited knowledge is influenced by long time respected Oregon winemaker Ken Wright. His winery team since 2002 have been using #Nomacorc in their high quality ageable wines with testimonials posted online at Vinventions. PlantCorc technology is utilized for a Reserva (wine preservation up to 25 years) plus 3 levels of Green Line closures (all with different oxygen ingress rates) 100% recycleable containing sugar cane and plant based polymers that claim a zero carbon footprint. Last month I opened a good value South African Chenin Blanc 2021 Terre Brulee from Tania & Vincent Careme that used the Select Green 300 one. Certainly worth exploring this alternative synthetic closures for your wine bottles and your experience with wine aging. Check the websites out for further info.
The 44th Vancouver International Wine Festival just concluded another extensive wine and food program over 8 days with 147 wineries from 17 countries with the theme region of South America (44 wineries) and a global spotlight on Sparkling. Your scribe is described as the only person to have attended all 44 Festivals and some have been written up here previously. So many well organized inspiring educational events were successfully held. Argentina & Chile were out in full force with broad representation but also those emerging countries of Brazil (Miolo), Uruguay (Carrau & Garzon), and Bolivia (Francisco Roig Winemaker at Uvairenda Bodega with Vino De Alturo 1750 of Bordeaux blends plus grape variety Tannat). Lots of outstanding good values from these countries were shown for tasting (and buying) but some wines have now reached the rich collector level – like those fantastic Catena Zapata Adrianna Vineyard Chilean treasures of both 2020 “White Stones” Chardonnay $151 & 2019 “River” Malbec $250. The seminars are full of wonderful opportunities to gain useful wine insights from knowledgeable moderators and winery principals. Some highlights this year for me included “Does British Columbia Have A Wine Identity?”, “Defining the Root of BC Terroir”, “A Global Cru”, “La Crema De La Crema”, “California” with Elaine Chukan Brown (revival of Sauvignon Blanc) and Keynote Speaker Evan Goldstein MS on “Terroir: A Sense of Place” (or is it just Style?). A special soft spot is the recognition of “celebrating excellence” at the 19th Annual Awards Lunch with deserved honours to many including respected restaurateur John Bishop.
The Dining functions really stand out at these Festivals with the wineries bringing in special wines and the restaurant Chefs producing excellent food pairings.
ELISA talented Executive Chef Andrew Richardson and his brigade went all out to match the La Rioja Alta portfolio by Jose Luis Navarro Export Area Manager including importing from Galicia Spain rubia gallega striploin “8-10 years old, 45 day dry-aged beef” wood grilled to firm perfection. Sure a perfect pairing with the complex 2015 Vina Arana Rioja Gran Reserva! Also a recommended buy is Lagar de Cervara Albarino 2021 (with the even better balanced 2022 arriving soon).
Two other functions that impressed your scribe were previews to the 45th #VIWF in 2024 featuring Italy. The traditional Italian Saturday Lunch at LA TERRAZZA was beautifully executed with polished glassware, superb program organization by Carmen D’Onofrio Jr. of Stile Wines, and food matching prowess by the veteran team – super Sablefish & Braised Wagyu Veal Cheeks Garganelli.
The biggest surprise of the Festival for your scribe were the under-appreciated wines from CARPINETO. Their 2016 Chianti Classico Gran Selezione epitomizes what a GS should be a most limited release (only 2 Estate hectares) and not every year (next one will be 2020 – no 2017, 2018, or 2019). The glorious topper though was the dinner at CARLINO where Antonio MIchael Zaccheo brought 3 Library vintages 2010, 2007 and 1995 of Vino Nobile De Montepulciano Riserva. They all had aged beautifully full of complex elegant flavours at lower alcohols (1995 at 13 abv & other two 13.5). The back labels infer that these wines show better when served with wild boar. What a surprise when the culinary team produced the sublime pairing of Wild Boar Ragu Pici Pasta. Outstanding!
Question: What is all this current buzz about Glou Glou wine?
Answer: A relatively new term used for wines that invite glugging – fast gulping with a sound similar to liquid quickly coming out of the neck of a bottle! Glou Glou suits well the lighter young fresh lower alcohol drinkable wines like Muscadet or Beaujolais. Also more widely used in connection with the easy drinking natural wine movement of both white and red.
Last week a horizontal of 2008 Bordeaux followed this week by a vertical of a leading second growth estate Cos d’Estournel in St.Estephe. Your scribe goes way back to the early seventies with his visits to this property then under the management of the amazing Bruno Prats. Fortunate to share wine tasting glasses with him for two days on February 1 & 2 of 1986 in Miami Florida at the historic 1961 Bordeaux event at 25 years organized by IWFS icon Lou Skinner. The Cos 1961 was one of many top highlights among Palmer, Petrus, Mouton & Latour. Also a friend of his son Jean-Guillaume Prats who grew up at Cos and later returned there from 2000 to 2012 as President & CEO of Cos under the present ownership of Michel Reybier. The location of Cos is near to Pauillac and provides a more gravelly soil with limestone but less dominant clay of the other St. Estephe properties situated further north. The resulting terroir is quite unique with more Merlot in the blend, a powerful backward structure plus refined balance for wines that often age very long – but not as ancient as Montrose or Calon Segur. On April 18, 2023 at a tasting-dinner held at Blue Water Cafe in Vancouver we studied at our Group of Eight event 8 older vintages from 2005 back to 1970 (but missing two outstanding younger ones – long aging 2016 & opulent rounder 2009). A few brief impressions:
Wonderful 1996 HENRIOT Cuvee des Enchanteleurs to start with equal Chardonnay (special Chouilly parcel) & Pinot Noir is toasty rich and round still showing the balanced lift of 1996 acidity on the finish.
2005 COS: 78CS/19M/3CF Paler rim than expected. Developing tertiary notes of excellent aromatics showing sage, earth, tobacco, licorice and stylish yet subtle 100% new oak. Palate vibrant and rounding into balance already with a long finish of softer tannins. Not the perfect bottle? Delightfully elegant rather than powerful. Expected more.
2003 COS: 70CS/27M/2PV/1CF Deeper riper dried plums on the nose with bigger richer softer flavours. A bit atypical. Better lively freshness than anticipated for dense 2003. Still young and developing but enjoyable already. A most successful 2003.
2000 COS: 60CS/40M Dark with sweet spicy fig deli-bacon bouquet. Balanced and full but drinking more supple softer forward than expected. Enjoy now.
1996 COS: 65CS/35M More classic (almost Pauillac-like) showing concentrated structure with lots of intense backward tannic cassis fruit. Like the typical COS aromas of smoky cocoa beans. Your scribe is very impressed with the great potential for 1996 aging but not as popular a choice among the group. Perhaps not the best bottle as it is slightly perlant. Another example here of how muscular 1996 Bordeaux (St. Julien, Pauillac, & St. Estephe) tend to be still quite austere even now at 25+ years. Patience is needed.
1995 COS: 60CS/40M Reluctant nose at first but evolved nicely in the glass. Much less intensity here but riper tapenade Merlot is showing brilliantly tonight being so elegant, seductive, and already delightfully approachable. Most popular choice paired perfectly with the roasted chicken and truffles course. Surprise of the tasting!
1988 LAFITE ROTHSCHILD: 72CS/28M This was served as a blind mystery wine. We were all expecting Montrose and it was so deep & darkly coloured that we wondered about 1990. However the open refined bouquet (best of the evening) was exquisite with complex lead pencil cedar notes very Pauillac. The 1988 vintage never crossed my mind. Cos soil is somewhat similar to Lafite. First Growth statement.
1986 COS: 68CS/30M/2CF Dark with paling edge. Less open showing less aromatics. Tough to follow Lafite. Coming around with that savoury graphite extracted power but not quite totally there yet. Certainly has attractive black currant minerals and tannins waiting to mesh just a bit more. Shows better with the lamb dish. Not at the perfect quality level of 1986 Mouton.
1982 COS: 60CS/40M Very dark. What an impressive true rich complex Cos bouquet! Lots of opulent deep fruit and harmonious styling with that marker of smoky incense character that defines the terroir perfectly. Admire the excellent elegance more today than decades ago when it seemed thicker, stronger, with a higher abv statement. Providing lots of pleasure tonight but no rush. COS of the night!
1970 COS: 60CS/40M Red but lighter tones and especially the rim. Drier tart cherry tiring fruit fading but holding on at 50+. Drink up. Shows best with food. Not nearly as alive as the full-bodied profound 1970 Montrose.
Finished up with a fantastic small crop 1989 Chateau D’YQUEM (80 Sémillon & 20 Sauvignon Blanc) that was perfection. Think of 1988 with the acidity balance and 1990 with the richness but this bottle of 1989 combined the best features of both. Orange marmalade is not too sweet. Not too soft or bitter. What a complex treasure finishing so long. A wow wine indeed!
Question: Update please on 2023 vintage wines in Argentina.
Answer: Still a bit early for an assessment of 2023. There was a really bad frost in Argentina on October 31 & November 1 of 2022. In addition record setting Summer temperatures plus less snowpack on the Andes mountains resulted in less available water for irrigation of the vines.The National Institute of Viticulture has reported that as a result the total amount of harvested grapes is substantially down. Some are saying it may be the smallest Argentine grape crop in the last 60 years. Nonetheless the quality of the wines is forecast to be good but expect future price increases due to inflation, increased production and distribution costs, and far less wine being produced from the 2023 harvest.
From Dr. Laura Catena, Head Winemaker of Catena Zapata:
The 2023 wines will be among the most age worthy. After the October and November 2022 spring frosts which provoked a generalized reduction in yields, the climate was very dry with temperatures slightly on the warmer side. Low yields resulted in a harvest 2 to 4 weeks earlier than usual. The wines are quite elegant, with high natural acidity and low alcohols. Powerful minerality and texture are this year’s trademarks. It will be a vintage to be savored slowly, enjoying every sip and every glass…in moderation.