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Ask Sid: When is the word “lychee” appropriately used in wine tasting?

August 14th, 2019
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Question: When could the word “lychee” be appropriately used in wine tasting?

Answer: Whenever you experience that small tropical fruit commonly found in China showing up in your wine. Lychee (or Litchi) has unique very aromatic special perfumes of spicy sweet roses mixed with a somewhat similar fruitiness of fresh Muscat grapes.  You often find it prominent in the aromas of a Gewurztraminer wine – so may be appropriately used when tasting that grape variety.


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Diner En Blanc

August 12th, 2019

The Diner en Blanc idea started in the late eighties from a dinner in the Bois de Boulogne Paris which now has spread to some 80 cities. A somewhat contoversial concept that requires diners to dress in white plus bring their own chairs, table, table cloth and food to set up in a secret public space location announced last minute as a “pop-up” has proved nonetheless to be very popular. The 8th edition of Vancouver’s largest outdoor “picnic” dinner party and fashion soiree was held on August 8 in George Wainborn Park along False Creek just off downtown Yaletown district on a beautiful warm Summer evening with more than 4000 in attendance. Other memorable locations have included Canada Place, Concord Plaza, David Lam Park, Jack Poole Plaza, and Van Dusen Botanical Gardens.There is the opportunity to obtain wine & also excellent food items from Hawksworth Catering on site. An interesting fun outdoors event especially with friends and in good weather but the cost is $53 to participate. The all white photo shoot is dramatic & spectacular indeed. Have you checked out the Diner en Blanc in your location?

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Ask Sid: What is the most well-known red grape in Hungary?

August 7th, 2019
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Question: What is the most well-known red grape in Hungary?

Answer: It is the grape variety Kadarka (Gamza in Bulgaria). It gives a rich full spicy quite tannic red wine and was the mainstay for many years in Egri Bikaver “Bull’s Blood” from Eger. Subsequently more earlier ripening Kekfrankos (or Blaufrankisch) has been used in it but Kadarka is coming back again now. Check it out.


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Fifth Growth Pauillacs Still Solid Relative Bargains

August 5th, 2019

These days you hear comments more often that wine should now show “a sense of place”. Your scribe often smiles and usually holds back on making a smug comment of “I told you so”. Having studied, tasted, and collected quality wine for over 50 years it is an important lesson so well learned. Vineyard place with unique terroir always is the key. That is why Chablis Les Clos, Meursault Perrieres, and Musigny stand above their nearby neighbours. Fond memories of discussing with the late Robert Mondavi that special site of To Kalon Vineyard that made his 1974 Reserve Napa Cabernet Sauvignon so great. There are more and more of these special “places” around the world today now making distinctive wine. In Bordeaux it is hard to go wrong with a wine bearing that textbook Pauillac AOC label. Criticize myself in hindsight sometimes for not buying more First Growth Pauillac of Lafite, Latour and Mouton during the 80s & 90s which were quite cheap then but still more money than excellent lower classed Pauillacs being collected instead. Today the First Growths are out of sight price-wise but some 5th growth Pauillacs have raised their game substantially too yet remain relatively good value. Out of the 60 odd chateaux classified in 1855 there were 18 Fifth Growths 12 of them or 2/3 from Pauillac. Today Pontet-Canet leads this select group with Lynch-Bages & Grand-Puy-Lacoste close behind with several more trying hard to make the podium. They are all making first class Pauillac wine worth investing in throughout this century.

This all came vividly back to me last week at a dinner at the Cactus Club Coal Harbour where 3 decades of Chateau Lynch-Bages held sway with the rich remarkable fruit depth of 1982, more cedar, cigar-box styling of the 1970, and leaner more medicinal mineral long distance runner 1966. These all showed still good youngish colour and surprisingly elegant complexity with a wonderful matching Beef Duo including that Short Rib Classic of celebratory chef Rob Feenie. Cactus Club Group also sports one of the world’s best sommeliers in Sebastien Le Goff who as always served these old beauties to perfection. These old vintages were outstanding value on purchase yet provided rare interesting age ability with an amazing sense of place indeed.
Do you have a favourite Fifth Growth Pauillac or a wine that shows you a real sense of place?


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Ask Sid: What grapes are Pinotage?

July 31st, 2019
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what are pinotage grapes?

Question: What grapes are Pinotage?

Answer: Pinotage is a grape variety all to itself tending towards producing a wine in a more rustic earthy distinctive style. It was developed in 1925 by a South African chemist Professor Abraham Izak Perold by crossing Pinot Noir & Cinsaut (often called Hermitage at the time – hence the name). This grape is still mainly used in South Africa either by itself or increasingly as part of so called “Cape Blends” made more interesting by being blended with other grapes. Try some.


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