Ask Sid: Which wine region has the oldest Mourvedre vines?

Ask your question here

Question: Which wine region has the oldest Mourvedre vines?

Answer: Might have expected the Rhone Valley in France but it is the Barossa Valley in Australia. Plantings of “selection massale” Old Garden by Friedrich Koch in 1853 for Hewitson are reputed to be the oldest surviving Mourvedre vines. These late ripening deep rooted vines in sand over limestone have adapted so well to the hot dry
terroir existing there. Hard to believe they will be 170 years old next year in 2023 and are still producing those special grapes for wine.

You might also like:


Enjoyed last week another Burgundy dinner using L’Abattoir (last referenced here on December 7, 2020). A repeat pick-up treat procedure of food followed by Zoom sessions in what may be among the last ones for our patient vibrant wine groups in Vancouver anxious to return to restaurants now finally opening up. This Menu (with excellent detailed instructions again) suited mainly white Burgundy. Leftover cellar bottles of Maconnais white (mainly from Les Heritiers du Comte LAFON) were distributed and resulted in different reactions. Those with the younger vintages (or stellar aging 2010) were happy while those of older ones (including 2013, 2012, and 2009) less so. Your scribe had 2009 Macon-Chardonnay Clos de la Crochette Macon-Villages AC (clay-limestone at 200 metres facing south aged in larger barrels & demi-muids) that was tasty being rich, full and rather soft but definitely was better fresher a few years ago. Got me thinking about the best age for drinking these white Macon wines. They don’t age like Chablis Les Clos or Meursault Perrieres. Even though the grapes are picked early the terroir (and climate change) support earlier drinking in their first 5-8 years IMHO.

This event also got me focused on the opportunity to check out and purchase some current “values”. Certainly the Maranges, Cotes Chalonnaise, and Maconnais regions are generally doing better than most realize. Maranges was formed in 1989 from the 3 villages there of Cheilly, Dezize, and Sampigny producing nearly all red wine in a cherry juicy style when consumed young and currently being helped by climate change. Whites and reds from Chalonnaise led by Rully whites, Givry & Mercurey reds with the wonderful raspberries of Clos du Myglands well known from Faiveley. Maconnais too should be considered particularly the 2020 whites. Another underrated region much improved is Auxey-Duresses (better whites now!) as well as red Monthelie for better ripened fruit. 2020 is looking more consistent than 2019 & 2021 with some rather still good values. Monitor the releases – including 2020 Macon-Chardonnay!

You might also like:

Ask Sid: What is Geosmin?

Ask your question here

Question: What is Geosmin?

Answer: Geosmin is a unique musty earthy smell you sometimes can notice in the aroma and taste of wine. It has a connection to a previous question asked here about “Petrichor” – the smell of rain on dry soil. For wine it can be caused by heavy rain resulting in soil bacteria landing on the grapes or contaminated through ground water. There is a good explanation about this issue relating to 2006 red Burgundy in the recent book “Burgundy Vintages – A History from 1845” by Allen D. Meadows and Douglas E. Barzelay on page 506. Geosmin also can sometimes be noticed in the taste of earthy beets and some “muddy” fish like catfish. Be aware of this word.

You might also like:


All Classified Burgundy has seen steadily rising prices starting off this third millennium. The top properties from the top producers have become really out of sight pricewise. The consumer now is looking at newer spots for better affordable values from the three villages in Maranges or even further south into Cote Chalonnaise and Maconnais.
Nevertheless the Auction market for Grand Cru (and even choice Premier Cru) remains bullish for those in that stratosphere led by DRC, Leroy, and the like. However, the strongest demand may well be family Domaine Rousseau that always seems to sell way above those ever increasing catalogue estimated high bids. Any Rousseau bottle is certainly a current “hot” popular auction item!

Your scribe has been a long time aficionado including a buyer of Rousseau up to and including the 2002 vintage. Since then the demand is so great that bottles are almost impossible to find locally and if so at very high prices indeed. Fortunate over the decades to have tasted many sensational bottles produced by Rousseau. Several postings made on this Blog including their Gevrey-Chambertin profile here on June 22, 2015 and more recently a spotlight on their prized Clos St Jacques holdings (vintages 2002, 1999, 1995, 1991, and 1989) here on October
19, 2020
. Still there are a few old time collectors like generous Ian Mottershead who have some of these Rousseau treasures left and rather than sell them at auction are sharing them among friends. Lucky us! This all leads into an amazing wine dinner held for our Group of Eight at Blue Water Cafe in Vancouver on February 15, 2022 featuring 10
Rousseau beauties in two flights. Overall the wines were delightful as expected combining that sublime combo of enough power with perfect balance plus stunning elegance and complexity. Maybe high prices are warranted for those that can afford to cherish such amazing unique “works of art”. Some brief impressions as follows:

2005 CLOS DE LA ROCHE GRAND CRU: Only plot in Morey-St. Denis on calcareous soil with big stones but this one from the great 2005 vintage so typical power but impenetrable as still rather closed in. Needs more time to develop a better more open refined character.

2002 LAVAUX ST. JACQUES 1ER CRU: SE exposure of young vines just replanted 1992 in well drained soils cooler windy climate is paler forwardly softer lovely drinking right now.

2018 LAVAUX ST. JACQUES 1ER CRU: Same wine but 26 year old vines instead of 10 from improved terroir by climate change in warmer vintage all helps. Young dark concentrated big intense fruit already enjoyable but no rush.

1990 GEVREY-CHAMBERTIN AC: Blind: Very light aged rim open fragrant higher acidity of guess 1988? bit lean and simpler but better with the pork dish. Surprised it was 1990 but in tough company here.

1993 RUCHOTTES-CHAMBERTIN CLOS DES RUCHOTTES GRAND CRU: Underrated Monopole on compact rocks in cooler windy plot. Wonderful aromatic elegance with tertiary complexity from aging in bottle. Smooth texture
with finesse and surprise of the night!

1999 GEVREY-CHAMBERTIN CLOS ST JACQUES 1er CRU: More clay at the bottom and white marl at the top. Star of our previous CSJ in 2020 tasting. Again shows impressively with integrated tannins drinking beautifully on a wonderful plateau presently. Admire the power with such delicacy! Wow.

1999 CHAMBERTIN CLOS DE BEZE GRAND CRU: Two northern plots here in deep rich soils is less charming than the same vintage of CSJ. Depth with a touch of classy aromatic Oriental spices but needs way more time to develop fully. Classic sensational treasure from an outstanding vintage.

1996 CHAMBERTIN GRAND CRU: Four parcels with east exposure. Fresh full and well structured. Variable vintage of harder wines from not the ripest year but good grape selection. Quite dense texture and tannins are still firm on the long finish with a touch of spicy licorice. Hope the fruit holds against that abundant acidity and tannins. Hopeful potential here but not as classy as 99 vintage.

1995 CHAMBERTIN GRAND CRU: Same vineyard a year older but a lot paler edge. Dropping some colour and is a lighter more forwardly vintage than 1996. Coming around for enjoyment now but no rush as still can take time in top storage. Don’t underestimate the improved potential and staying power of both Clos de Beze & Chambertin. Property themselves suggest 20-35 years minimum for those two.

1989 GEVREY-CHAMBERTIN CLOS ST JACQUES: Oldest one served from your scribe’s cellar is stylish and now ready. Beautiful bouquet capturing the harmonious delicacy of this site. Doesn’t have the power weight & intensity of that superb 1999 that is 10 years younger with a brilliant future even in 2032. Clive Coates rated this 19/20 in 1993 stating: “Very elegant. Fullish, beautifully balanced. Very ripe indeed, essence of fruit. Subtle. Long. Lovely.” Nonetheless even now 1989 sure shows the quality of this esteemed Domaine probably deserving of those elevated prices. Steal to buy at BCLDB outlet in May 1994 on sale reduced in price from $83.35 to $59.20. As Bob Dylan would say “For the times they are a-changin’. What a special treat to try 10 of their spectacular wines in one evening. Bliss.

You might also like:

Ask Sid: Are wine & food group events now finally returning?

Ask your question here

Question: Are larger group gatherings festival-style for wine and/or food on the way back again?

Answer: Most topical question after two years with those tough Covid restrictions. Certainly things are starting to open up in Canada, USA, and in other countries. 2022 bodes optimistically for this type of event. The latest hot news is the successful return this week (February 14-16) of Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris reported today here by

Looks encouraging presently for many wine events in the future books scheduled to go ahead including Vinitaly in Verona April 10-13, Prowein in Dusseldorf May 15-17 & London Wine Fair June 7-9. Food events and restaurant capacities should be increasing in size too with Gala Dinners like La Paulee in New York March 12 & Los Angeles March 19 and others. Watch out for less virtual meetings and more in-person wine & food functions on the way in 2022!

You might also like: