During these stressful weeks of this continuing pandemic your scribe has been showing restaurant support with takeaway food orders. Fast staples like pizza are still popular as usual but top flight food choices are also available. The IWFS Vancouver Branch has scheduled on December 10th their Annual Holiday Dinner this year “Boulevard At Home” a four course extravaganza prepared by a talented restaurant brigade led by Alex Chen.
A couple of my takeout dinners that stood out this past week include:
JOEY RESTAURANT GROUP: Like their motto of “We are committed to the highest quality” with the execution of food orders sampled being impressive indeed. Executive Chef Chris Mills and his talented culinary & service team are on a roll. Used pick-up in the past but took advantage this time of early December free delivery promotion offered. The course arrived at the scheduled time hot and delicious. The dish was oven roasted wild Pacific cod steamed & crispy rice, snap peas, cauliflower,Thai peanut coconut curry sauce paired well with full rich aged 2014 CedarCreek Platinum Viognier brought up in a 660 litre concrete egg.
L’ABATTOIR: Chef-Owner Lee Cooper orchestrated a pick-up dinner for our Group dining via Zoom. BC Wine Institute after three intensive competitions just awarded their inaugural title of Wines of BC Top Sommelier 2020 to Andrew Forsyth of L’Abattoir. Choice of main course of roasted venison loin or Ocean trout with detailed final preparation instructions that all worked so successfully. Preceded by smoked oysters with apple & horseradish + remarkable pasta course filled with Dungeness crab tomato sauce & fine herbs + finishing dessert of ginger cake with lemon glaze. Trout matched well with 2009 Savigny-Les-Beaune Les Guettes Blanc Domaine Gagey Louis Jadot. Recommend supporting your own local restaurants as a holiday treat with pick-up or delivery options during these difficult times. A win-win situation for both your own enjoyment and helping the struggling hospitality industry!
Question: What is happening with tariffs by China on Australian wines?
Answer: Trade tariffs on wine have been around for a long time. Last Fall USA imposed 25% (threatened to 100%) on still wines under 14 alcohol from France, Germany & Spain. With climate change you now can find imported Sancerre with higher than usual 14.1 alcohol to avoid this tariff and help lower American prices. However on November 28 China imposed tariffs ranging from 107% to 212% on Australian wine imports. According to Wine Australia China is their biggest wine export market at 39% of total exports by value. Remember that China has a rapidly expanding domestic wine production industry. Interesting to see the immediate strong ground swell of world political support for Australia against China’s alleged “authoritarian bullying”. Already a campaign has been launched to spur the world (including non-drinkers) to buy Australian wine during December as a sign of protest. This tariff war may have more far reaching universal impact than any other one and is worth monitoring closely.
Your scribe is pleased with the continuation of the present opportunity at home to taste older wines. Always amazed at how well-cellared high quality Bordeaux seems to last forever. Sure they don’t have the immediate big fresh ripe accessible fruit of the last three vintages of 2018-2020 but provide something more three dimensional in complexity with particular brilliance for food pairing. It must be a combination of terroir factors led by the remarkable magical trio balance of fruit acid and tannins that make this all possible. These observations were commented on in a previous Blog here on July 27, 2020 of “Looking Back 50 Years to 1970 Bordeaux.” However most of us don’t have that chance to try such old wines but there are other “younger” aged wines that are doing just fine thank you and available for purchase at prices comparable to current releases. A good example is 1986. This vintage has been mostly unpopular and rather unapproachable until recently – particularly in the most successful ACs of St. Julien & Pauillac. They now are opening up nicely onto an exquisite plateau of enjoyment. Almost all the chateaux in those two appellations are singing. Last week was a surprise by the dramatic change in 1986 Château Leoville Poyferre which had been rather closed dull tannic and simple on yearly previous tries but now has opened rounded out and so delicious with roasted duck leg. Predicted this correctly about 1986 in my Leoville Poyferre vertical posted here on January 23, 2017. Recommend buying some of those classic 2016 Bordeaux from various appellations at all price levels to enjoy and to follow their progression with aging.
My enthusiasm for raising this topic yet again was an outstanding bottle treat on the weekend of 1981 Château Margaux. Remember ordering a case of this in New York at $30.25/bottle and picking it up on my way to the airport in May 1984. Not allowed to pay for it by credit card in those days and had only enough cash left to capture 7 bottles (left the other 5 for a lucky friend living in NY) in the good old days of liberal hand luggage to fly on to Vancouver. Well stored since the wine is still a young vibrant red colour with a brilliant so complex bouquet on a perfect plateau of enjoyment with juicy roasted chicken. This wine has to be the best wine of the vintage and my hearty congrats to the Mentzelopoulos family from those early days. Most consumers say drink this up including our own knowledgeable IWFS member John Danza who posted on cellartracker: “The palate has lots of red fruit, tobacco, with good acidity and moderate tannins. Definitely fully mature, and one to not buy to hold. Drink up.” Aged bottles will vary and some of us like well matured drier wines more than others but believe me this 1981 Château Margaux was fantastic claret and will remain IMHO on this perfect plateau for quite a while yet! Appreciate older Bordeaux.
Your scribe is a devoted follower of the superb wine masterclasses on the 67 Pall Mall website. They state they are “founded by wine lovers for wine wine lovers” and have so many live and posted seminars. The Club is located in London England where wine is certainly their passion. Congrats to Ronan Sayburn MS who is the Head of Wine and organizes their continuing outstanding line-up of virtual tastings. Particularly enjoy regular contributions from Burgundy expert Jasper Morris MW, Bordeaux expert Jane Anson MW, The Barolo Boys and so many others. There is something there for every wine and food aficionado. Highly recommend you tune in to check it out.
A recent one on November 10 was family house Champagne Bollinger (since 1829) in Ay with International Sales Director Guy de Rivoire introducing their newest Cuvee – Bollinger PN. This is the first new item added to the Bollinger line since the Rose back in 2008. Appropriately PN is Pinot Noir based to provide a more inexpensive choice from the classic house style in Vieilles Vignes Francaises started first back in the 1969 vintage. They own 178 hectares of vines providing 60% of their supply of grapes with 104 hectares in Pinot Noir, 45 in Chardonnay and the balance of 29 having 27 Pinot Meunier. Always appreciate their large quantity of 800,000 hand riddled magnums as Reserves. The first edition PN VZ 15 in a unique “Antique” bottle is chosen for “the elegance and vivacity of Pinot Noir from Verzenay” at 60% (a cooler region chosen for this hotter vintage) with the balance from Ay, Bouzy & Tauxieres. The base wine is 2015 with 50% barrel ferment plus 20% Reserves back to 2009 disgorged November 2019.The tasting note provided says: aromas of cherry stone, jam-infused fruit and dried fig; rich, complex nose then develops towards toasted, baked notes as well as aromas of elderberry and pear; on the palate, flavours of peach and apricot are enhanced with hazelnut and acacia blossom notes.” Guy de Rivoire calls it “hedonistic”. Will be interesting to follow as well subsequent years from different vineyard holdings of their Pinot Noir with unique blends.