We are fortunate to have an annual visit to Vancouver by my long-time friend Bill Blatch. Bill started in Bordeaux way back in 1974 (nearly 50 years ago) but has become the highly respected (yet so modest) authority on so many Bordeaux wine trade matters which include his valuable daily record of weather conditions for his Vintage Report each year. He seems to know every wine property there in amazing detail including all the value priced Cru Bourgeois and Sauternes. What a resource of important key information. Now Bill is the International Wine Consultant for Christie’s based in Bordeaux but previously he was with Vintex supplying many Bordeaux Futures to the British Columbia Liquor Distribution Branch and helping Barbara Philip MW responsible for selection choose wisely. Bill continues to come back to BC regularly (he loves the salmon fishing) and provides helpful background information to BCLDB store key employees on the current Bordeaux releases. This year it is the 2019 Bordeaux vintage scheduled for sale on November 19, 2022.

Doug Eakins of Les Chevaliers takes advantage of Bill’s visits to organize a Bordeaux wine tasting for his group inviting your scribe to help with the presentation. Previously on this Blog here on October 5, 2015 we reviewed the 2003 Vintage and other tastings subsequently like Clos du Marquis St. Julien vertical & 2000 Vintage horizontal were all most insightful. This year on September 14, 2022 was the opportunity for an exciting update tasting of all three Leovilles held appropriately at Herve Martin’s French Table with a superb dinner of home grown beet salad, Beef Bourguignon, and cheeses to follow: Bill opened with a historical look way back when Domaine de Leoville was one Estate before the French Revolution then in 1826 Hugh Barton bought 47 hectares and in 1840 Poyferre split off 60 hectares leaving Las Cases with the remaining 97. Today LB is situated behind the town of St. Julien heading West towards Talbot, LP has underrated terroir, and LLC has choice land adjoining Latour. They showed their similarities of the St.Julien AC but also their differences:

  1. 1986 LEOVILLE POYFERRE: Replanting with Didier Cuvelier who took over in 1979 and consultant Emile Peynaud. Briary, “sous bois” forest floor mushroom notes with bramble fruit. Elegant, charming, lovely balanced drinking now. Bill noted that 1986 was “a hot Summer but Fall not good resulting in less successful Merlot but late ripening Cabernet Sauvignon shone in St. Julien & Pauillac.”
  2. 1986 LEOVILLE BARTON: Year Ronald Barton died during this 3rd vintage of Anthony Barton. Wine was backward for a long time but starting to evolve (“loosen-up”) as bouquet shows licorice subtle “iodine” medicinal blackcurrants. Powerful dense intensity of fruit with tannins in an older style but less charm presently. Always such a great value property!
  3. 1988 LEOVILLE BARTON: Lighter (“cool August resulting in a later vintage”) racy with more acidity from perhaps the last classic vintage is improving with food.
  4. 1995 LEOVILLE BARTON: Bill calls “1995 a Merlot year with a hot dry Summer with Fall rain” compared to “1996 a Cabernet vintage with better heat”. Michel Rolland took over as consultant in 1994 using more new oak and built a new cellar. Rich red fruits robust yet with smoother softer tannins almost a textbook St. Julien in harmony. Excellent.
  5. 1995 LEOVILLE LAS CASES: Probably the best St. Julien property (though Ducru-Beaucaillou has remarkable distinct terroir too). Fuller riper blackberries with minerals has real depth that impresses. Almost Pauillac-like. No rush. Not as powerful as 1996. Outstanding.
  6. 2001 LEOVILLE LAS CASES: Bill believes “a cool dry September not beaten down by the sun made the vintage in this reserved style.” Low yields of 32hl/ha less than 2000 (43hl/ha) helps display typical LLC intense elegance for a long life ahead. Like the lead-pencil cassis complexity already showing. Classy.
  7. 2001 LEOVILLE POYFERRE: Can be be very good but these two bottles strange rather light quite cheesy and the disappointing wine of the tasting.
  8. 2002 LEOVILLE POYFERRE: “June, July & August dry & cool (no sun) but not wet then harvested in September sun (but not hot sun).” Challenging year gives that earthy menthol not totally ripe style but still admirable and enjoyable drinking. Not 3 best vintages for LP. This property has improved substantially in the last 20 years (though an excellent 1982) with more cab sauv planted and big success 2009, 2010, 2015, 2016.
  9. 2003 LEOVILLE LAS CASES: “Hot early harvest” gives rounder opulent riper figs and sweet tobacco notes with a touch of dark chocolate. 2003 Clos de Marquis showed excellent in that vertical and expectations for LLC are met here for this unique vintage. Delicious.

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Ask Sid: What is the latest on the reclassification in St. Emilion?

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Question: What is the latest on the reclassification in St. Emilion?

Answer: Yes I answered this same question here on September 29, 2021 referring to substantial changes coming in the future to the 2012 ranking. However your question is most topical because the INAO has just released the new 2022 classification. Pleased to see Figeac raised to the highest level of Premier Grands Crus Classe A joining Pavie with 12 other Premier Grand Crus (not A) and 71 Grands Crus Classe. Promoted to this latter Group is Montlabert with an old Canadian connection where your scribe first stayed way back in 1970. It was profiled on this Blog here on April 26, 2021. There is an excellent update on the new classification posted on plus with more details and reactions.

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Always enjoy the educational opportunity for a horizontal wine tasting to assess how a maturing vintage from a specific wine region is developing. Such a retrospective presented itself with red Bordeaux 2006 held by La Commanderie de Bordeaux for a dinner at Tutto restaurant in Vancouver on September 6, 2022. This vintage is now 16 years along from a challenging harvest often during September rains following a cold wet winter, hot dry sunny June & July, and a cooler August with more rain & less sun than average. This year had difficulty following the fantastic outstanding 2005 vintage but generally resulted in overall better results than the unripe greener large crop 2004 & delicate earlier drinking 2007. On release 2006 was called another “6” vintage comparing it to 1996 & 1986 but hasn’t developed as well as those two worthy ones. Today 2006 is perhaps likely to be most successful for late Cabernet Sauvignon Pauillac and early ripening Merlot Pomerol (less Cab Franc) but some very good wines can be found as well from Pessac-Leognan and St. Julien. The style of the reds tends towards burly hefty structure being rather tannic and needing time to round out. Whites did better with cool August weather preserving that wonderful zesty acidity. Some personal notes:

2010 DOMAINE DE CHEVALIER BLANC PESSAC-LEOGNAN: Gorgeous blend of SB (70) & Sem (30) concentrated balanced and complex! One bottle is very pale, fresh, and youthful plus another has more yellow tones while others are in-between but all are excellent. This is exactly the aged bottle variation problem that caused Olivier Bernard to switch from cork to Diam closures.

First Flight 2006 RED:

LE BON PASTEUR POMEROL: Home estate of Dany & Michel Rolland. Higher 90% Merlot with highest 13.5 abv in this Group. Simpler terroir for a Pomerol with less complex bouquet but easy drinking lovely ripe fruit. Good example of how subjective wine tasting is because some liked this best in the first flight though your scribe ranked it 4th. Delicious with beef short rib agnolotti course.

Usually depends on more Merlot (here 33%) in their perfect blend but showing rustic menthol medicinal notes. Good bit dumb but mixed feelings. 3rd.

PONTET-CANET PAUILLAC: More brilliant severe selection work by Alfred Tesseron and his team with one of the top wines of the vintage. Still backward but so intense, tannic and buckets of clean fruit so Pauillac waiting to explode. No rush. 1st. Wine of the Night.

RAUZAN-SEGLA MARGAUX: Another lovely wine from Chanel showing rounder charming and elegant. This is more forwardly just now starting the plateau of drinkability. Enjoy. 2nd.

Second Flight 2006 RED:

LEOVILLE-BARTON ST. JULIEN: Property has always been such an amazing value. One bottle here has a touch of TCA but others show solid purity of fruit inviting with that typical L-B iodine spice note on the nose. Another classic in the making full of rich powerful fruit with robust tannins but so well balanced. Patience needed. 1st.

GRUAUD-LAROSE ST. JULIEN: Found it OK but a bit briary with loosely disjointed lower fruit level. Where is dense fruit and that classy complex text-book cedar cigar box bouquet of the marvellous run of treasures from 1982, 1983, 1985, and 1986? Disappointment for me yet others preferred it as best in this flight. 4th.

Underrated dependable property with delightful fragrant perfumes of St. Julien in a lighter charming style. Successful in 2006 at good value. 3rd.

MONTROSE ST. ESTEPHE: Great property sold by the Charmolue family in the Spring 2006 to brothers Martin & Olivier Bouygues who immediately hired the late Jean-Bernard Delmas (ex-Haut Brion). Typical St. Estephe terroir here but needs time for coarser tannic fruit to blossom out to the best plateau of enjoyment. Almost approachable now with the rack of lamb. 2nd.

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Ask Sid: What are your thoughts on the Mouton wine project in Chile?

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Question: What are your thoughts on the Mouton wine project in Chile?

Answer: Yes it is a joint venture started in 1997 with Concha y Toro. Their Bordeaux-styled ALMAVIVA showed a bit too much unripe green Carmenere in the early vintages but presently at the celebratory 25-year mark is producing excellent Cabernet Sauvignon-focused red wine blends in Chile. Now also do a solid second label EPU (indigenous word for “two”) from younger vines usually with more CS and less C than the Grand Vin. For example, the 2020 current release of Epu is 81%CS/12C compared to Almaviva at 68%CS/24C. They have prime vineyard elevated land in the respected Puente Alto region to produce these unique terroir-driven top quality wines. Check them out.

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The new list of the so-called “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants” has been released. Two initial reactions were joy because a favourite of your scribe is the fantastic GERANIUM in Copenhagen as #1 and surprise that three restaurants in Lima Peru made the Top 50: #2 CENTRAL. #11 MAIDO, AND #32 MAYTA. However, I believe you have to take it all with a grain of salt because how many of the judges do you think actually travelled to Lima in the past year to dine at those 3 Peruvian restaurants. Nonetheless, it is a different cuisine that is finding more popularity around the world. Like the influences of Africa, China, France, Italy and Japan on what has now resulted in the unique cuisine flavours of Peru. In Vancouver we are fortunate to have the new opening of SUYO (Modern Peruvian) meaning “homeland” under talented Owner Chef Ricardo Valverde and his enthusiastic team. Amazing space and dedication in preparing authentic Peruvian dishes yet with a modern twist. Sustainability, lots of vegetables, limes, different causas, outstanding Pisco Sours all so colourful together with exciting intoxicating interpretations. Well done! The opening dinner celebration was so tasty & well presented as the photos show. Super bar area. Wine service by their conscientious GM/Partner James Reynolds was in classy glassware with an unusual mixed progression of reds before whites but actually worked quite well with the matched courses. Aji de Gallina is usually made with walnuts but this one was very creamy with substituted cashews. Check out their website at and be enticed by the opening celebration menu with photos. Are there any Peruvian hot spots in your community?

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