Question: In France is there a wine and a cheese sharing the same name?
Answer: Yes. VALENCAY. It is a Loire Valley AOC (Appellation d’Origine Controlee) wine region in south-east Touraine growing several grape varieties led by sauvignon blanc white and gamay red. It is also the name for an unpasteurized goat’s milk AOC cheese in a pyramid shape from that region. Educational & fun to pair them together to taste.
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La Paulee de Meursault originated this great idea of a celebratory lunch with attendees bringing along bottles of wine to contribute. Nevertheless a Paulee is much more than a simple BYOB but a most sociable lively convivial sharing around in the joys of wine. The original one is now the last key Monday component of the annual Les Trois Glorieuses in Burgundy held on the third weekend in November. However this concept has proved popular and has now expanded with similiar events around the world. For nearly 20 years successful ones in New York & San Francisco feature some of the greatest wines of Burgundy at tastings, seminars and dinners. Other wine regions of the world have been slower to adopt this unique vision for showcasing their wines though I noted on this Blog last year with a November 26 posting a remarkable dinner Bordeaux Paulee of First Growths.
The Robertsons (Jim & Melina) longtime dedicated leaders of the successful Vancouver Branch of the IWFS decided to organize with the outstanding team at Boulevard restaurant a Paulee de Bordeaux dinner on September 4, 2019. The menu by celebrated Chef Roger Ma & his brigade provided food courses that paired well with the variety of Bordeaux bottles that showed up. The event was truly a lot of fun. Executive GM & Wine Director JP Potters expertly opened and decanted many bottles and supplied so many perfect clean Bordeaux appropriate wine glasses. He also provided knowledgeable wine commentary for our group as a most useful educational element on wine tasting that included a white wine blind (a somewhat difficult to identify Italian Soave). There was a 10 question Bordeaux quiz to try and correctly answer for a magnum of 2009 Meursault Genevrieres Bouchard Pere. Your scribe didn’t enter but his wonderful spouse did and won the prize. Joan says “it is amazing what you can learn through long-time osmosis” Some tricky ones. Try and see how many you can get without using a search engine. One of the best parts of this friendly evening was IWFS members going around and providing small pours of their contributed wine to others. This was where magnums became useful like a delicious 2006 Pavillon Blanc du Chateau Margaux. This moving around visiting and sharing of wine with focused conversations proved to be a really big hit!
After starting with a variety of bubbles for the aperitif there were lots of interesting bottles to try and savour with the food resulting in many highlights. Among the whites the quality of Domaine de Chevalier Blanc is always stellar though a 1995 was quite mature showing a lot of distinctive cinnamon notes. The low yields of 100% sauvignon blanc with oak in the 2009 Pavillon Blanc contrasted nicely with the same grape variety but with lively higher yields in 2010 Le Secret Grand Bateau. Liked comparing and studying two vintages of improved Chateau de Fieuzal Blanc Pessac-Leognan with 2009 rich, full but softer & 2010 fresh more vibrant & structured. Mostly reds with a 1978 Chateau Siran Margaux mag still in good shape with that distinctive miracle vintage “herbal” touch compared with a 10 year younger Margaux of 1988 Chateau Fontarney (second wine of Chateau Desmirail). The Right Bank had a drinking well 1995 Chateau L’Arrosee and one of the real stars of the night (my silver medal winner) a concentrated so well balanced youngster of 2010 Chateau Canon (cellar this) both showing lovely St. Emilion terroir. Another Chanel owned wine started the Left Bank “fashion” show with ripe smooth 2009 Segla (second of Rauzan-Segla), solid intense Chateau Leoville-Poyferre St Julien, and very likeable easy quite complex drinking already 2000 Chateau d’Armailhac Pauillac. The Left Bank treasures included two vintages of Chateau Gruaud-Larose a classic text-book St. Julien delight of 1983 and the wine of the night 1982 (my gold medal award) contributed by the Robertsons plus high over 70% cabernet sauvignon 1975 Chateau Montrose St. Estephe finally with those strong tannins dropping and yet with still some fruit left. Finished up with an outstanding pairing of luscious Chateau Suduiraut 1999 Sauternes with that excellent work of art peach tart. Memorable event.
Recommend you try a Paulee event with your IWFS Branch – doesn’t necessarily have to be traditional Burgundy – and it can be a lot of educational fun.
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Question: What is an example of a Single Estate Appellation in France?
Answer: Just that – a single estate that has a monopoly on the wine produced from that appellation. Pretty unique n’est pas? A few examples that come immediately to mind are these:
1. Chateau-Grillet a small 3.8 hectare property of the Neyret-Gachet family in the Northern Rhone producing a small production white from Viognier grapes purchased in 2011 by Francois Pinault (Chateau Latour).
2. Clos De La Coulee de Serrant of the Joly family in the Appellation Savennieres-Coulee De Serrant Controlee in the Loire using Chenin Blanc grapes for a special white.
3. Societe Civile du Domaine de la Romanee Conti in Burgundy with two AOC monopole red wines of both Romanee-Conti & La Tache.
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We see more and more specialized theme restaurants these days. It can be difficult to execute one type of cuisine well yet alone diversify. Steak houses have been around for ages with their emphasis mainly on the top quality beef served. Look at what Wolfgang Puck has done more recently with his successful CUT chain around the world with his latest one in Washington DC. You might expect some complementary sides to accompany that steak like mushrooms, onion rings to feature potatoes – like those legendary one pound “gargantuan” baked Idaho at Canlis, Mortons, and Smith Wollensky. However, generally you don’t think of choosing to go to a Steak House and not ordering steak. That is exactly what your scribe did last week.
Elisa Steakhouse was one of the very best new restaurants to open in Vancouver last year. An ambitious project by the outstanding Toptable Group that already has so many winning restaurants but have added this one with an amazing unique wood-fired grill that lowers and raises the level for ideal cooking methods. It also helps that the capable team is led by the knowledgeable Executive Chef Andrew Richardson who has worked with the On Fire master Francis Mallmann. The beef selections are well chosen from some 9 different producers and are impressive indeed. Patrons also are excited about their whole slow-roasted chicken which has become a big hit since the opening. Lots of other menu choices to suit most everyone’s preference in your dining group. A whole tartare section for appetizers leads off with the “classic” beef or smoked bison but a tasty vegetable one with avocado & taro chips is so popular.
This dinner visit though was a birthday surprise for my wife to celebrate it with a most delicious aged bottle of Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 1998. We wanted to match these special bubbles with the best fish dish in town to go with it. Of course an easy choice let’s go to Elisa Steakhouse for their whole Branzino grilled over that fire with charred lemon and expertly deboned at your table. Wow! Really like too that starter of Roast Eggplant with basil pesto, slow cooked tomatoes, charred pea tip salsa verde & crispy herbs. Q.E.D.
Congrats to the whole Elisa team for taking this outstanding steakhouse to yet another level of diversity! Well done.
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Question: What is the difference in the total number of wineries between Washington State and neighboring British Columbia in Canada?
Answer: Quite a big difference as Washington State (WS) now has about 970 licensed wineries compared to British Columbia (BC) with about 280 licensed grape wineries (and 370 overall). Both are thriving helped by global warming while growing 70-80 different grape varieties but Cabernet Sauvignon is #1 with double the acreage of Merlot in WS while the latter is the main red grape planted in BC. Chardonnay is now #2 and increasing as it has recently overtaken Riesling in WS for white grape production while in BC Pinot Gris is still tops. WS already has evolved to 14 AVAs (American Viticultural Area) while BC is presently establishing their sub-regions with 4 named so far (Golden Mile Bench, Okanagan Falls, Naramata Bench and Skaha Bench) and expanding. Both WS & BC are producing many fine wines that need discovering.
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