Ask Sid: Where to purchase recent vintages of Château L’Arrosee St. Emilion?

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Question: I enjoyed so much older vintages from the sixties of the remarkable Saint Emilion property Château L’Arrosee that I purchased in Brussels Belgium (and the UK) but can’t find any of their current releases from the last 10 years. Can you help me?

Answer: Yes, that is an old fav St. Emilion of your scribe as well. An outstanding 1961 to seek out and just tasted this month the surprisingly lovely 1962. You can’t find it because it no longer exists under that name of Château L’Arrosee but is part of the Domaine Clarence Dillon new wine Château Quintus. They acquired in 2011 the 18 hectares of Château Tertre Daugay, in 2013 the 9+ hectares of Château L’Arrosee, and in 2021 the 19 hectares of Château Grand-Pontet which now are all combined into the 45+ hectares of Château Quintus. I suggest you try a current release of this excellent new St. Emilion.

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On April 2, 2024 the Vancouver Group of Eight held their Event #120 at Blue Water Cafe focusing on older wines from St. Emilion. The aperitif was a fresh vibrant most elegant great balanced vintage 2002 BILLECART-SALMON CUVEE NICOLAS FRANCOIS BRUT blending 60% Pinot Noir & 40% Chardonnay partially 20% in oak with 10 years on the lees and only 4g/l dosage disgorged 04/2019. Still so young and wonderful paired with an artistic scallop & lobster gnocchi starter.

We enjoyed 10 different St. Emilion properties in two flights matched with two well-chosen game birds: a delicious grilled spatchcocked local quail and an exquisite pan-roasted Guinea fowl. The wines widely ranged in age from the youngest 2009 to the oldest 1962 – over 60 years old! Three wines were from 1990 and two from 2000. All had quite different grape blends that added to the individual stylings of each property. Overall the wines were quite diverse but generally showed that plummy full easier approachability of this esteemed Right Bank region. Educational overview.

2009 CANON-LA-GAFFELIERE: Underrated quality property on clay soil with limestone & sand by Comtes von Neipperg from this hotter vintage. This has the darkest deepest look of the First Flight. Shows intense ripe plummy fruit with softer but delicious true impressive flavours. Very St. Emilion.

2005 MAGDELAINE: Jean-Pierre Moueix that is now a part of Belair-Monange. 95% Merlot & 5% Cab Franc from a classic year but even though quite full bodied, is surprisingly open round and forwardly drinking. Nevertheless it is well balanced and should continue to age well.

1996 VIEUX RIVALLON: Disappointing late substitute for early fruit bomb now developing better 2003 Pavie that was scheduled. This one was served blind showing easy drinking and simple mature fruit. However, it was light, and a bit short as a lower rated Grand Cru being outclassed in this stellar Grand Cru Classe line-up.

2000 BELAIR: Dubois-Challon by traditionalist winemaker Pascal Delbeck is more severe in the grip and drier tannins. A bit dumb and reluctant at present. Rather hard. Questionable. Where is the 2000 fruit?

2000 BEAU-SEJOUR BECOT: Second darkest but best prime open lovely aromatics of First Flight. Robust blend of 70/24/6 Merlot, Cab Franc, Cab Sauv. Still young with some tannins to resolve but well done.

1998 AUSONE: Vauthier family leads off as very dark and intense for what turned out to be a much better Second Flight. Small production (2000 cases?) of 50/50 Merlot/Cab Franc with prominent acidity in this excellent Right Bank vintage. Have experienced many mixed results from this property but much better tight cherry fruit showing than expected here. Should continue to develop well. No rush.

1990 FIGEAC: Thierry Manoncourt used 1/3 each M/CF/CS with 100% new oak harvested September 17 to October 6. Lighter look but typical notes of mint, tea, and herbs. Like the freshness but seems less ripe and firmer than expected. Prefer the older vintages like 1964 (or 1949) or newer exciting more current releases from Frederic Faye. May show better with another bottle or later.

1990 ANGELUS: Bouard De Laforest complex stunner of 60% Merlot & 40% Cab Franc. Darkest wine of this flight. Amazing explosive big impressive powerful fruit. Love the concentrated sweet long flavours with ripe tannins. Clearly Wine of the Night!

1990 BEAUSEJOUR DUFFAU-LAGARROSSE: 100 point Parker (in 2009) written up previously on this Blog here. Shows dried fruits, forest floor, and earthy mushrooms tonight with more of that admirable smooth opulence “port-like” in this bottle. Not near a 100 score for me but an excellent unique St. Emilion in 1990.

1962 L’ARROSEE: Old fav from Pierre Rodhain bought at BCLDB in March 1973 for $7.85. Exclusive from the Barriere family (with L’Eglise Clinet Pomerol) sold mainly to the Belgium market. Western Cotes property here 50% Merlot/30 Cab Sauv/20 Cab Franc almost more Graves/Margaux in style. Purchased in 2013 by Domaine Clarence Dillon (Prince Robert of Luxembourg was most impressed with L’Arrosee 1961) who earlier in May 2011 had bought Tertre Daugay and merged both properties into now Quintus. The 1962 was a special old treat with still some red colour left plus open complex tertiary bouquet and superb delicacy. A treasure indeed.

We finished up with a lovely galette dessert matched with a lighter forwardly 1997 CHATEAU GUIRAUD SAUTERNES.

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Ask Sid: André Simon Champagne?

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Question: What about my 4 bottles of André Simon Champagne from the seventies?

Answer: Yes, your bottle shots are quite intriguing. Not much information was ascertained from the labels to help except for Cuvee Speciale Champagne shipped by André Simon Epernay and imported by Barton Brands Inc (used to be a Barton Distillery plus also a wine & spirits store) in Chicago USA. Any back label information? The Founder in 1933 of our International Wine & Food Society was André Simon (1877-1970) who was the English Agent for the Champagne House of Pommery and Greno. Possibly it might be produced by Pommery but slightly suspicious as prominently shows “Produce of France” & “Imported From France”. Also as André died in 1970 perhaps someone else was trading on his famous name in marketing these bottles. No vintage? A blend? Can’t really help you on value. Suggest you open one of your 4 bottles to try it to see the quality and present condition of these bubbles. Can anyone from the Chicago area throw any further light on this issue? Good luck.

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Happy Easter weekend. Hope you all had a good one. We celebrated with sustainable fresh wild Pacific Halibut. First of the Season at introductory promotional prices is so consumer attractive. With our groceries still at all time high levels it is certainly the time to buy it taking advantage of the sales. In our marketplace again this year the best opening prices were at Safeway followed by T & T Supermarket (about to expand into Washington, USA) and Whole Foods. The 3 day sale was advertised as “Line-caught off the coast of British Columbia” with Fillets at $4.99/100 grams. We usually buy the Safeway Ocean Wise steaks also on sale at a cheaper $3.99/100 grams but actually results in a better flavour when cooked on the bone. Halibut is more difficult to cook than many fish (compare the easy moist Sablefish) so you have to be careful not to overcook it and dry it out. En papillote with a julienne of vegetables is an outstanding safe method. We often sear the outside and finish cooking in the oven with excellent results. A sauce can enhance your enjoyment with our fav puree roasted sweet orange (or red) peppers, almonds and smoked Spanish paprika tasting marvellous! Even some pesto or some other sauce of your choice helps retain moisture. Lots of wine choices pair well though we were supporting mainly the BC wine industry with some wonderful whites including a delicious rich mature 2015 Joie Farm Riesling & pure varietal 2022 Noble Ridge Stony Knoll Chardonnay and of course some Chablis. Tried together the better acidity balanced 2020 & softer more ready 2021 Chablis Premier Cru Butteaux Domaine Servin. A real celebratory match with the halibut is two of the very best white wines in the world: classy 2021 M3 Chardonnay Adelaide Hills from Shaw + Smith and the best ever vintage of Chablis 2014 minerally youthful Les Clos Grand Cru Domaine Christian Moreau. A treat indeed!

Are you already enjoying the fresh halibut in your market? Kindly advise.

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Ask Sid: What is Masseto?

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Question: What is Masseto?

Answer: Arguably the best 100% Merlot wine produced in Italy. Like Chateau Petrus in Pomerol (arguably the best 100% Merlot from France) it is grown on deep dark (“blue”) clay soils suitable for obtaining big intense impressive fruit from this grape variety. Originally part of the Tenuta dell’Ornellaia stable with Masseto’s first vintage in 1986 it now has evolved to a unique single vineyard (organic since 2012) with an independent underground modern gravity flow winery since the 2018 vintage. Classy unique Bordeaux-styled Super Tuscan IGT wine worth trying sometime as a very special treat.

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