Ask Sid: Who is quoted for wine as the most healthful of beverages?

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Question: Who said wine was the most healthful beverage?

Answer: Louis Pasteur. A French chemist who discovered pasteurization and other innovative scientific procedures. The actual quote is “Wine is the most healthful and most hygienic of beverages.” This is most topical with the current issues raised against any alcohol consumption including wine – as not being healthy. Another good one by him is “A bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books in the world.” In fact, he had many excellent wine quotes with some listed here on Good Reads. Interesting perspective!

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Eating cooked (or raw for sushi fans) fresh wild fish is a longtime favourite dining experience treat for your scribe. In the old days supplies of wild fish were abundant (even Atlantic Cod & Chinook King Salmon) and much easier for fishers to catch. They were commonly found in supermarkets at low prices that were affordable for everyone. Fast forward many decades later where supply is more limited with many wild fish species endangered and a substantially increased demand (including the influences of a healthy diet) has resulted in an expensive ticket.

One type of fish IMHO still has a very good QPR score. This is Flatfish which can come in many varieties ranging from a simple thin sustainable Flounder or popular Plaice to a delicious tasty Turbot or nutty firm Dover Sole. My fav continues to be a thicker sweet delicate and flaky Petrale Sole (in Europe a similar Lemon Sole). It is available freshly caught locally nearly every Friday at my local Vancouver fish market. They sort the thicker Petrale (which they label as Brill) from the thinner Flounder fish but still at a reasonable retail price of $18.99/lb Canadian. Petrale has a nostalgic warm spot for me having enjoyed it many times cooked at its finest during the late seventies and early eighties heyday of two amazing San Francisco restaurants Tadich Grill (on California Street is the oldest continuously run restaurant in California from 1849 and 3rd in the USA) and Sam’s Grill (from 1867 now on Bush Street 5th oldest in the USA). Long line-ups taking no reservations but a wonderful wine corkage fee of $1 or less. The Sand Dabs were also excellent! Usually brought along a California Chardonnay to match with the grilled fish which were great value and so tasty even produced from young vines. My records show us drinking Judgement of Paris winner 1973 Chateau Montelena & 1973 Freemark Abbey (both bought $6.50/btl & $70.20/case) while more money were three other 1973 Napa chardonnays of Mayacamas ($7/$75.60), Spring Mountain & Heitz Pinot Chardonnay Lot Z-32 (both $7.50/$81) and Hanzell (Sonoma $8). The good old days for sure. Today still enjoy regularly excellent thick local Petrale but often paired with a lively mineral Chablis. The last few weeks have been forwardly rich 2020 Butteaux 1er Cru Domaine Servin & remarkable now 90 year old vines from Christian Moreau – the outstanding complex 2015 Vaillon Cuvee Guy Moreau.

Look for value fresh fish in your local market which will undoubtedly taste somewhat different depending on their habitat and feeding patterns. What is your best QPR fish?

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Ask Sid: Worrisome outlook for Okanagan Wineries?

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Question: I hear many Okanagan wineries in British Columbia have experienced severe weather problems affecting their vines. Would you kindly update us?

Answer: Yes serious vine damage in the Okanagan has become very widely spread. First the extremely low temperatures in early 2023 greatly lessened harvest production of that vintage plus really frigid weather again in mid-January of 2024 damaging vines has resulted in a pessimistic forecast for this year’s crop. Wineries are now questioning the risks of replanting successful Syrah and other top grape varieties that can not survive these very cold winters. What does the future hold? Summer 2023 wild fires during the high tourist season has also affected visits and important direct wine sales. Many wineries are suffering loss of revenue and lots of them are for sale. An excellent current article in Wine Enthusiast linked here provides more details on these worrying issues and states “25% of the valley’s wineries are for sale”. Stay tuned.

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As a long time follower of Chateau Rauzan-Segla (R-S changed its name in 1994 from Rausan-Segla back to original spelling) from the Margaux appellation your scribe was pumped with anticipation for our Group of Eight Vancouver event #118 for dinner at Blue Water Cafe on January 23, 2024 – a vertical of ten vintages. Started with 1999 Rare Brut Millesime with an insightful article in the Finest Bubble here. During the seventies under the very restrictive listings of the British Columbia Liquor Board one of the few Bordeaux wines available for purchase was Rausan-Segla provided to them by exclusive negociant rep Eschenauer. Often from very poor vintages (72, 74, 77) with even the better years (70, 75, 78) showing rather disappointing lean austere wines having hard dry tannins but not enough pure fruit. My initial experiences questioned the quality of this property and IMHO R-S certainly didn’t deserve the high ranking Second Growth from the 1855 Classification. During this earlier period got to know David Orr & especially John Kolasa both at First Growth Chateau Latour in Pauillac and was surprised to learn in 1994 that they were joining the Chanel Group (Wertheimer family) who had just purchased R-S. As John Kolasa told me “we like the interesting new challenge plus are encouraged by the high reputation of R-S in 1855 and believe we can restore that”. Issues dealt with included Many visits over the years both in Vancouver & in Bordeaux with good friend John Kolasa until his retirement in 2015. Several memorable ones including two on November 17, 2008 for lunch including 2005, 2000, 1996, and 1983 at Blue Water Cafe (written up here by Jim Tobler in Montecristo on March 15, 2009) and dinner at West with a repeat of their spectacularly fragrant and beautiful 1996. Visiting R-S on June 16, 2011 John presented your scribe with a vertical from 2001 to 2010 inclusive for analysis and comment. The following decade has continued this raised level with a difficult but successful 2013 using only 39% of the crop in the Grand Vin (Second label Segla started in 1995) and 2016 a classic beauty. Impressed and admired the R-S wines clearly showing the substantial progress that had been made under his leadership and continuing to bring R-S back to deserved prominence. Well done!

Fun study with the first four wines at 5 year intervals. Some brief personal comments on the 10 vintages just studied:

2015 RAUZAN-SEGLA: Very dark primary modern almost a barrel sample backward at 14.5 abv with 63/33/3/1 of CS/M/PV/CF. Almost too big and powerful at this stage and presently prefer the more classic Margaux balance finesse of 2016. Potential.

2010 RAUZAN-SEGLA: Rich fruit purity of 37 hl/ha at 14 abv using only 45% of the crop in the Grand Vin that spent 18 months in 60% new oak shows brilliantly. Like the ripeness level and the smooth integrated tannins. John mentioned in 2011 that “2010 will be released at 84 Euros (2009 at 60E) and like the 1959 vintage with equilibrium, tannin & acidity.” Top of the flight!

2005 RAUZAN-SEGLA: A fav vintage of mine but this seems somewhat atypical. Less colour to the rim with elegant floral styling of riper red fruits at 13.5 abv. Lovely but an unusual year in that the high 39% Merlot in the blend was so late picked on October 21-24 & 27-28 (way after the other 3 grapes including high 5% PV were harvested end of September with Cab Sauv at 54% finishing up October 3-7).

2000 RAUZAN-SEGLA: Only 13 abv but note how the alcohol has creeped up 1/2 degree every 5 years from 2000- 2015. Only 51 hectares were planted (but expanded to 62 in 2010 with more Cab Sauv). Rounded mellow balanced with Margaux terroir and complexity while drinking superbly. Ian stated ” it showed more strawberry raspberry notes than usual cassis”.

1998 RAUZAN-SEGLA: Surprisingly dark but firm chunky with more acidity in two half bottles that varied but rather disappointingly dank & rustic. Lacking some of the Margaux power & elegance you look for.

1996 RAUZAN-SEGLA: Significantly longer and better quality cork than the others. One year after the first Segla second wine was produced in 1995. Again that special bouquet and fresh palate with elegance that it showed back in 2008. Excellent bottle.

1990 RAUSAN-SEGLA: LIghter look than 1998. No Segla made yet. Fleshy with nice spicy fruit flavours on the best plateau for drinking now. Not typically Margaux.

1989 RAUSAN-SEGLA: Much darker colour than 1990 with loads more fruit. Like the subtle elements of roses, sous bois, and classy herbs at 12.8 abv. Perfectly matching the duck course.

1986 RAUSAN-SEGLA: Excellent structure with energy still young. Solid at 12.5 abv. Anticipate this developing further into a wonderful bottle. Like several of these that have high quality Medoc fruit yet perhaps lacking a little in a specific terroir of R-S in Margaux definition. Know the big Cab Sauv statement of amazing powerful yet elegant Chateau Margaux & the plush attractive sensual higher Merlot of Chateau Palmer but less certain of what defines R-S. Probably still developing and coming around. Interesting.

1982 RAUSAN-SEGLA: Much lighter look and paling at 12 abv.. Sensational first smell complex flowers & licorice bouquet but rapidly dissipates with a drying leaner acidic palate. Not a top 82 now if it ever was. Robert Parker didn’t think so but John Gilman tried it in 2000 with laudatory comments and a 92 score here. Bottle variation of very old bottles yet again.

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Ask Sid: Wine Trade Fairs in early 2024?

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Question: What important wine trade fairs are upcoming this Spring that I should consider attending?

Answer: I will reference a few of the biggest ones:

1. MILLESIME BIO in Montpellier France January 29-31. Big focus is on Organic. Presently monitoring preview of exhibitors on line (Jan. 22-24).

2. WINE PARIS & VINEXPO PARIS at Porte de Versailles Paris, France February 12-14. Lots of educational and interesting seminars including Sue Hodder of Wynns Coonawarra Estate and Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux featuring 2021 vintage etc.

3. VANCOUVER INTERNATIONAL WINE FESTIVAL celebrating the 45th edition over 8 days from February 24-March 3 in Vancouver BC Canada featuring 149 wineries from 12 countries including 71 wineries from the theme country this year Italy. Check out

4. PROWEIN in Dusseldorf Germany March 10-12 has been going for 30 years highlighting in depth international wines & spirits.

5. VINITALY in Verona Italy April 14-17 has 55 years of connections. Also there is the now merged SOL & AGRIFOOD including the 28th International Olive Oil Trade Show. Be sure and visit the amazing ANTICA BOTTEGA DEL VINO while you are in Verona!

6. LONDON WINE TRADE FAIR at the Olympia in downtown London England May 20-22 the UK’s largest drinks trade event. Will be lively discussions on trending No & Low alcohol & emerging wine territories.

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