Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Out with the Old, in with the New

Yes, out with the year 2012 and welcome to 2013. It has been quite a turbulent year and the economy has taken its toll in the wonderful world of wine as well.

This is my first post since June of 2012 and yes some turbulence in my own life as well has put regular postings on the back burner. Fortunately I have not been affected by the economy but friends, family and acquaintances know how much the loss of my dear little Madeleine in September has affected me. Maddie Lou  lived till she was 18 years old. A long time to have a devoted little friend. Her biggest thrill was to stand on my lap while going for a drive,  rest her front legs on on my left arm and stare at everything and every one. Shortly after her passing I bought a Shelby GT 500 Mustang and of course I call it my "MadMobile".
But now moving forward into 2013 let me wish one and all a Happy, Prosperous and Healthy.New Year!

What a shocker it was when Canadian wine writer Natalie Maclean found herself accused of being a content thief on Palate Press. It will take you hour upon hour just to wade through all the comments.
Too many writers and critics out there? Well, our beloved fruit of the vine, work of human hands certainly does not need this style of writing.
Speak about writing, the three J's have recently released  "Wine Grapes". 
 This book by Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding, and José Vouillamoz is very detailed, informative and will provide hours of outstanding reading.
 I have read a few reviews that while on the whole were positive, also had some minor negative comments.
 I ask, could you have done better?
 Its like when some wine critics have to find a fault of some sort about a wine they have tasted and are now blabbing about. I ask them, if you were given the same grapes and could use the same equipment, could you produce a better wine? 
Back to "Wine Grapes"
 The little Bacchus grapes certainly seem to be very happy with the write up they received.
For a thorough review I refer you once again to Palate Press  

I am like the little Bacchus grapes. Quite happy to add this tome to my library of wine books.
I promise to be much more diligent about postings to my blog in this year of  grape expectations !!
Once again Happy New Year !!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Like a Bridge Over.... the Troubled Mosel Wine Region....!

Its on again...its off again. I am referring to the highway and bridge in the Mosel. Could not help it, but it made me think of the hugely popular song recorded and released by Simon and Garfunkle in 1969. So just to remind you what a great song it this video.

As reported by Decanter back in April, the work on the Mosel bridge had been halted indefinitely. is a little stronger language expressed by Sarah Washington writing an article for Jancis Robinson.
With an equally strong language in a follow up article by Sarah on the failure by the Green Party to make good on a pre-election promise to have the project cancelled.

I decided to contact Johannes Selbach to get his opinion on the Mosel Bridge. I had met Johannes a few years back while he was on a visit to Victoria. I had the opportunity at that time to taste his really impressive wines.

I quote Johannes' opinion on the subject.
"As far as the bridge goes: indeed there seem to be some missing number for the statics calculation of some of the pillars and this has caused a temporary moratorium. Unfortunately, this will be relatively easy to remedy by providing new calculations of the stability of the pillars which will have the work commence again.
I would be very happy if these were serious enough problems to completely halt the construction of the bridge but I’m afraid this isn’t more than a dream."
Meanwhile back to Sarah's article and I quote again.
 " Envy forged from mistrust is the backbone of German society and therefore politics. Or is it caused by rotten politics?
Why do I quote Sarah? Because it points out the basic difference between the German approach and the Italian way of looking at a similar situation.

A year ago I had the great pleasure of visiting Liguria or as the Brits like to call it, the Italian Riviera. I was the guest of my cousin Ton and his wife Thea from Amsterdam. They have a delightful place in Finale Ligure and they flew me down to visit. Could not stay away from wine and vineyards too long, so Ton drove me to a local vineyard where he buys his wines while staying in Finale Ligure. In my next post I want to get into more details about that visit and focus on the Vermentino grape variety.
The A10/E80 Highway goes right through the vineyards. This major highway starts in France and continues in the North West of the Italian Riviera.
In the upper picture the house and winery show just at the right hand  top of the picture. In the lower left hand corner of the lower picture you can see the railing of the patio sundeck. ( click on the pictures to enlarge them)
 Now, how is that for having some bridge and highway cutting through your vineyards? I asked the owner/winemaker his opinion on this and what if anything the locals had tried to do about this before construction.                                                                 
Domenico looked at me and with a shrug of his shoulders asked 'What can you do about it? Now tell me what do do think of my wines?'
Awesome!!! my reply.
Oh, yes, that is the highway and bridge showing in the  background. 
And that is the difference between the German way and the Italian way 

Monday, May 07, 2012

Wines, Vines and Tattoos !!

Recent "research" conducted outside bars in France, suggests that tattooed individuals drink moreHow unscientific can you get? And if you have seven or more tattoos you fall into the high risk category and may even be violent. 
This type of research is not really useful and leaves many questions unanswered. For instance are these beer drinkers or do they have a preference for hard liquor? And were there any wine connoisseurs involved?                      

Apparently Amy Jade Winehouse ( Yes Winehouse is her name ) liked her wines and her tattoos
Amy Jade Winehouse (14 September 1983 – 23 July 2011)) was an English singer and songwriter, known for her eclectic mix of various musical genres including R&B, soul, jazz, rock & roll, and ska. Winehouse was best known for her soulful, powerful contralto vocals.

And how about Jennifer? Looks like a happy mix of tattoos and a good full bodied red wine.
 But Jennifer that is not how you hold a glass of good wine. Your finger prints will be all over that glass and if that was a white wine you would be warming it up pretty fast. 
Recently attended a birthday party of a good friend of mine. Great food, good friends and yes the beautiful hostess shows how to hold a glass correctly.
 So I would like to make a suggestion to the French researchers. Go to Paris and talk to Olivier Magny owner of the very successful  O Chateau.
  O Chateau logo 
Olivier and his staff have just celebrated their first anniversary and have become the hot spot wine bar in Paris. I wonder how many of his patrons have tattoos and is there a difference between someone just liking a glass of wine and a connoisseur? I am just being inquisitive for the sake of research. 
   Be sure to click on the wine label and discover a new grape variety!                                                                          

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Chinese Wine.....Color me Red !!

There is not a week that goes by without some news about China's wine consumption or production.
The key players are all names that are instantly recognized in the world of wine.
 Among them are Lafite and Moet Hennessy.

But its not just wine companies moving into China, it is also a Chinese invasion into traditional wine regions and ventures outside of China. Can't afford the rent in Bordeaux anymore? No problem. Just make sure you clean up before you leave. New Chinese merchants are moving in. And of course while you are at it, if you are in the mood for it, why not buy a vineyard in Bordeaux. 

On a more serious note looking into the future, there maybe no future for the famed Chateau Latour. Or at least there will be no more negociants handling their futures. Is this Latour's way of ensuring a good chunk of the lucrative Chinese market? 

While we are at it, we should consider another lucrative market. I am surprised that the world's number one wine glass company, Riedel, has not started a huge promotional effort or better yet, built a glassware factory in China.                  
 But never mind, The Wine Enthusiast will take care of that aspect. The wine accessory side of  The Wine Enthusiast does a huge online business selling every conceivable wine gadget and of course wine glasses are a large part of that. Smart move Mr.Strum !

So I have discussed the more serious note about Chateau Latour. But now to the real serious matter of this blog post. Do you remember as a child coloring with crayons or pencils? How proud we were to bring home our master piece. My father was a great artist and his paintings were loved by all. Unfortunately I did not inherit his talent. I even had a hard time staying within the lines. But it was great fun. Put the fun of coloring and wine knowledge together and what do you get? Why of course Louise Wilson's brilliant idea of "The Wine Lover's Coloring book".                                          You can get your copy at Amazon.               When it arrives, take a break, pour yourself a glass of wine, preferably from the region you are about to color and let the world go by one color at a time. But for the purposes of this post be sure to color!                                          

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Red Wine is Good for Your Health..Yes...No...Maybe!

It all started when 60 Minutes with Morley Safer aired their "French Paradox" show on November 17, 1991.
Over 33 million people watched 60 Minutes that evening. Sales of red wine increased dramatically and were up 44 percent over the same month of the previous year. Sales of red wine for the entire year following the initial broadcast went up 39 percent. The American public embraced red wine as the newest health food. That was over 20 years ago but lets have a look at the show that started it all.

Much has been said and written about the subject of wine and health since then. In April of 2009, the Wine Spectator published an article titled  Is Drinking Wine a Breast Cancer Risk?  
Yes, according to this article!
Fast forward to January 2012 and the good news is NO.
Red wine could lower risk of breast cancer.           
    A Google search for breast cancer and red wine consumption turns up a staggering 32,500,000 entries.        For your enlightenment I chose the following from the Huffington Post    
Along with the good, there is the bad.
Getting plenty of news coverage, especially in the wine press, is the startling revelation about  fraudulent  results from researcher Dr. Das at the University of Connecticut. And yes a Google search will once again show plenty of entries. Here is what  Reuters   reported on the incident.

But I can report on research that is both reliable and truthful. Years of personal research conducted by myself can attest to the very healthful benefits of wine consumption, particularly red wine.
I can also attest to the fact that no cuddly, furry little creatures were sacrificed in my extensive research.

 All that remains now for me is to wish you all a very healthy 2012. And may I encourage you to do your own research. All with moderation of course.   
 à votre santé

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Trips to Wine Regions in France....Begin in Paris!!

There has been a noticeable absence of posts to my blog for a while. All for good reasons which belong in 2011. But this is 2012 and one New Year's resolution I am going to keep is to post regularly again.
Let me begin with wishing every one a Happy and Healthy New year.
I think we will see some significant changes in the wonderful world of wine, although I am not quite ready for paper wine bottles.
One thing that will not change for me is that I begin and end my trips to French wine regions in Paris.
More on that in a moment. But first if you are planning a trip to Paris, I can highly recommend Bonjour Paris  
Visit their site and be sure to sign up for their newsletter or sign up for their premium membership. 
Bonjour Paris is the ultimate guide to Paris and France.

The city of light has been fascinating to visit but now there is another good reason.
When I first started blogging I had the pleasure of receiving a comment from one of the first French wine bloggers, Olivier Magny and I have been following his career since then.
Olivier has recently opened a wine bar in Paris that has become an overnight success and I am looking forward on my next trip to Paris, to visit him there.
The Ô Chateau Wine Tasting and Wine Bar is not your average wine bar. To give you an idea, visit their website and have a look around    O Chateau
After you have signed up at Bonjour Paris and got the scoop on where to eat, stay and visit, there is something else you must do. Get a copy of the Olivier's recently released book titled 'Stuff Parisians Like'.

So what are Parisians really like? And what do Parisians really NOT like? You will get an insiders close up look in this 'hilariouslly perceptive' book. In impeccable English Olivier gives us an insight into what Parisians think, do and like. It is cool to drink San Pe and love cherry tomatoes. It is also hyper sympa to go away on a ' le p'tit weekend'. And Parisians love their 'le metro' or at least till its on strike. Ah, but line 14 never goes on strike, it is fully automated.
I took this picture the last time I was in Paris and call it 'Art in Motion'. Click on it and enlarge it, you will see some of Olivier's Parisians. So are these graffiti artists considered sympa or are they 'beaufs' Olivier?
In his final chapter, Olivier laments the fact that Parisians do not drink enough wine and finds it quite disconcerting. He is doing his best to change that. So am I, Olivier, so am I.
Have to go now. I have a glass of a great Burgundy waiting for me. Picked it up while in Burgundy a couple of years ago. A votre Sante!!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Wine, Women and a Cardinal Rule of Tasting.....!!

It is good to see more and more women involved in the wine industry as writers, wine makers and on the sales side of the industry.
There are also some great web pages and blogs written by women.  
Women for Wine Sense is an organization that has recently celebrated its 21st birthday.
As well on the consumer side, women outnumber men significantly in the purchase of wine.
Women  buy 77 percent and consume 60 percent of the wine in the United States.  
It is generally known that women can smell and taste wine better than men. In my own experience I have observed this time and again. I write an email wine newsletter in which I review wines. I have a panel of 8 tasters, 4 women and 4 men ( not always the same tasters ) and we blind taste the wines. The ladies give me better descriptors both of aromas and flavor profiles. As an added bonus, I can read their notes better. I hasten to add that I have a couple of gents who are regularly on my panel and who are outstanding tasters.
My annual sparkling wine tasting just before the holiday season starts is usually more ladies than men and they have a blast.
 Six ladies and two men. I am taking the picture and therefore not visible. 
Given all this, why in the world does a marketing firm come up with what I consider a put down of women's wine sense and knowledge by creating a wine and  bottling  it in a perfume shaped bottle?

 One of the cardinal rules when tasting wine is not to wear perfume or any other scents. Obviously the marketers and makers of this product show their lack of knowledge and sense. At least that is the way I see it!!

Monday, May 09, 2011

Is That Isinglass in my Wineglass??

The backroom beurocrats are at it once again. If you need a make work project, pick on wine labels. This time it is the ever vigilant crew at Health Canada. 
And isinglass is one of the culprits the unsuspecting public must be protected against. Isinglass is a derivative of swim bladders in fish and most often sturgeons are used in its production.

Living on the west coast of Canada on Vancouver Island, home to our beautiful salmon, naturally I show you a picture of a Sockeye salmon swim bladder. What a magnificent piece of equipment to have on board.The air in the bladder provides buoyancy and thus allowing them to float. The amount of air can be adjusted so they can hover at different levels in the water.
But I am straying away from the point of my blog entry. The point being that this new label requirement is another bit of idiocy foisted upon the wine industry. 
I won't go into details because in his usual right on style   
BEPPI CROSARIOL  of the Globe and Mail
has written an article that says it all and is well worth reading. The most telling fact of all is that between 2000 and 2011 there were 700,000 bottles returned to the LCBO and of that number 380 were investigated for causing alleged illnesses and only 'one' was related to an allergic reaction and this was due to quinine found in an Italian bitter. 
What insanity and what an incredible waste of taxpayers money.

I smell something fishy here or is it the belch of a powerful beer lobby?                                                       

Sunday, April 10, 2011

To Blend or not to Blend....that is the question!!

A short while ago I read an article by a well known wine writer proclaiming that in a few years all wines will be blended wines.
I had just tasted a blended wine made up of and get this... Pinot Noir..Cabernet Sauvignon and Gamay Noir. Really now?
I chose to ignore this off the cuff remark. Then I read it again by another wine writer. Had these two gents attended the same wine conference? 

Now,as we have seen it reported over and over again, the US total yearly consumption of wine is now greater than in France. But those figures are like comparing apples and oranges. On a per person basis consumption, the US is still far behind France. But this statistic is based on a total population figure.
The significance however lies in the fact that wine is finally becoming much more a part of our culture.
Along with this new found thirst comes an eager search for more knowledge about wine. And thus statements such as the above might be taken seriously by our new wine loving friends and should not be made by responsible wine writers. There is just too much nonsense out there. At least that is my opinion. 
So I thought I would check with a couple of people who I respect highly and get their opinion.
First I checked with Alice Feiring. I take you to a post I did on her a couple of years ago. I loved reading her very interesting  book.
So here is what she had to say as per quotation.

"I have been in the blend camp for quite some time. I sort of feel it's the salvation of California as well as other regions that might have spotty 'great' terroir". 

Yes of course. Bordeaux, the 'King of Wines' producing some of the best blended wines in the world. 

Since I had used Burgundy's Pinot Noir and Germany's Rieslings as examples of single variety wines her response was as follows.

"The comparison to Burgundy or the Mosel is pretty unfair as those regions have been one grape grape one bottle for quite a while, but they spent 100s of years fine tuning which grapes grow best on the soils"
Ah, yes..Burgundy Pinot Noir ..the 'Queen of Wines"
Along comes modern day science and technology to help us out and it is now possible to determine which grape variety is most suited to a specific vineyards plot.
Dr. Pat Bowen has done extensive research in this field and by means of the GIS or Geographical Imaging System, site specific grape varieties can be determined. 
Poof.... hundreds of years can be bypassed by modern science.
Read the highlights of that research here. 
Going back to my archived blog entry on Alice Feiring, I realized that I had written about one of my favorite German vintners as well on that same blog entry. 
 Why are we smiling so much? Me ...because I had just tasted some wonderful Mosels and Johannes Selbach.... because he is justifiably proud of his single variety wines.
So I contacted him and again as per quote.

"We do NOT blend our Selbach-Oster Rieslings with anything else and have no intention to do so.
There are grapes that are suitable for blending and there are grapes with little flavour that benefit from blending but good, genuine Riesling certainly doesn't need it.
I firmly believe in the future of handcrafted, authentic varietal wines if they are grown in suitable climate and soil because they will offer the wine drinker a sense of place, terroir, as well as the pleasures of varietal character.
That being said, if the individual components don't have enough character to make a distinctive wine or if the blend is better than its components, blending makes sense. Blending also makes sense where the married components together enhance complexity and typicity ( and here Bordeaux certainly is a classic example for successful blends )."
So there you have it.
Let me finish with an image of my family blend of wine which consists of 55% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Noir and just to add a touch of complexity... 5% Pinot Noir. 
 I raise my glass of blended wine, straight from the above bottle, to you my dear readers!!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Global Cooling in Wine Country.....!!

On February 2, 2011 Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow and thus according to tradition an early spring was predicted. Within a week, I was snowed in and could not get out of my driveway. I finally managed to get out but on the way back in, I ended up teetering on the edge of the ditch and had to get a tow truck to help me out. Ended up parking my car at the start of my driveway and carry two big bags of groceries for about a 1/2 kilometer stretch down my driveway to get home. Miserable unseasonably cold weather. Fortunately I had plenty of wine on hand and a raging fire in my fireplace to keep me warm.

On the 26th of February, I received an e-mail from my dear friend, Jan in California with a series of pictures, including the Myers lemon tree in her garden. The subject title was 'It never snows in Scotts Valley????'

California Wine Country was in for sub freezing temperatures on that day.

On Tuesday January 13th 2009, featured speaker Kim Cahill, a viticulture associate at UC Davis, spoke to the concerned Napa Sustainable Winegrowing Group and detailed a predicted warming trend due to climate change for Napa vineyards.

Now hold on a minute and fast forward to February 7, 2011. Forget about that warming trend because now a new in depth study carried out for the Napa Valley Vintners Association suggests that climate change may cool the Napa Valley.

Of course these days it is no longer called 'Global Warming'. There is no money to be made with such a scary concept and terminology. 'Climate Change' is the in thing and there are plenty of greenbacks to be made. 

Why not attend the III World Congress on Climate Change and Wine? For a mere 575 Euros you can get your VIP ticket and hear Kofi Annan speak. But you better hurry because after April 1st, the ticket price goes to 675 Euros.

The one that really gets me is the Carbon Credit concept. If you want to really understand what that is all about, look at this article on Carbon Credits.
This informative article was written back in 2008 and a mere $60 billion had already been traded worldwide. What are the figures for today?
Imagine trading and making money on Hot Air??

I think, I must do my part and trade my car in for a much more fuel efficient green car.                                                                                                 

And I cannot get the lyrics of Johnny Rivers' song "Green Green" out of my mind.
So sing along with me while we join the New Christy Minstrels.

I do hope that our Vancouver Island and surrounding Islands vineyards see a much warmer 2011 year. Most did not see their grape crops reach maturity because of the cold and wet weather. We want to see a return of Global warming!
Lets all drink to that!!