Thursday, December 20, 2007

Wine then, now and in ......the future!

As 2007 draws to a close and we are near 2008, I thought that I would do my final entry for this year with an "out with the old and in with the new"approach. In my September 26 post, I asked the question "I wonder what it would have been like to buy a good bottle of wine 300 years ago?" Peter May, the founder of The Pinotage Club left an interesting comment. I followed up on that with Simon Berry of the Berry Bros.&Rud Limited, the oldest wine shop in the world fame. I left his reply as a comment on the same post. So have a look at that post and the comments since it is relevant to this current blog entry.
If glass bottles were rare 300 years ago, will wine bottles made of glass become rare again?
The "green" theme and carbon "foot prints" has vintners considering the plastic bottle alternative but at least one Bordeaux wine producer may be heading that way because of a shortage of glass bottles. Castel is considering PET bottles.
The French Wine & Spirits company, Boisset, is in the forefront of alternative packaging. Following up on the success of the French Rabbit in a tetra pack, their recently released Yellow Jersey series in Ontario, will soon be a familiar wine in PET bottles in North America. Check out the "Boisset shakes things up with alternative packaging" at Boisset America's site.
So is it time to start collecting corks before they disappear? Soon you may be able to sell your cork collection on eBay. I have had a head start. Did not know what to do with them all, so I covered one wall in my wine cellar with some of them. No snobbery there, the best mingle with

the every day types. Along with that are you saving your wine labels? Will they become a collectors item? I have some wonderful labels from a few memorable wines but if you want to see some funky, fun labels head over to Peter May's unusual collection of wine labels.
So what may we expect in 2008? A continued surge in interest in all things wine. Consumption of wine, whether for health reasons or for the pure pleasure of enjoying it, will increase. And marketing will be at the forefront. Now that the EU has come to some sort of watered down agreement, expect to see a major push in attempts to regain sales dominance in world markets for European wines. Speaking of marketing and world dominance, watch Constellation Brands to become involved in the EU wine scene. Having sensed US consumers thirsting for better quality wines and their acquisition of Fortune Brands, I am sure the renewed interest in French, Italian and Spanish wines will see them looking at European wineries for future expansions.
Watch also for continued research into the healthful benefits of wine consumption and its antioxidant effects. Sadly, the antioxidant band wagon will lead to unscrupulous exploitation as well. But the fruit of the vine and its grape-seed extracts will bring us many joyful benefits in 2008. I love my red wine and I love a good steak and soon I might be enjoying a well preserved steak with that special "bottle", be it in real glass or otherwise.
So here is my wish for all of you. May Peace and Joy, Happiness and Health be yours during this Christmas season and throughout the New Year!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Wine is fine for Beef....but Dairy Cows prefer music!

What music do you play with your favorite wine? Clark Smith, founder of Vinovation, apparently has the answer. In an interview with Smith and reported in a recent article by Blake Gray in the San Francisco Chronicle it is suggested that perhaps Metallica goes better with a Napa Cab than Mozart. But what if I do not like Metallica Mr. Smith? Is this really such a startling revelation? Everybody responds to the sound of music and a little bit of background music while enjoying your wine is bound to make the experience more pleasurable. Even dairy cows know that Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony turns them on and makes for a better environment to produce more milk.
In a reversal of the classic question "Where's the beef?" some beef herds prefer to utter "Where's the wine?". Forget the music just give me my litre a day, please!
Back in 1869, Johan Strauss already knew that wine and music go together when he composed his famous Wine, Women and Song. And of course he also understood that in the company of a lovely lady it tastes even better.
Nick, over at Vintage Direct suggests that perhaps our wine drinking experience may be enhanced by viewing great works of art and even makes some wine recommendations.

All this music and wine and art had me thinking about what wine should we be drinking when we read a book. During a recent visit with renowned
local chef/author Bill Jones I brought up the subject while discussing his
Salmon- The Cook Book. The book is edited by Bill and has everything you need to know about smoking, curing,baking,
barbecuing,steaming,poaching, etc. salmon. Over 120 recipes, including 10 of Bill's best.
In my mind I had settled for a Pinot Noir to enjoy while perusing his book and when I asked Bill what wine he would drink while reading "Salmon",well
Pinot Noir of course. So if music and wine go together and wine's pleasures can be enhanced by viewing art, why not match a good wine with your reading preferences? If you are into reading a thrilling mystery, perhaps you should consider a dark and brooding
Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Astrology books? A Champagne might be your choice. After all who exclaimed "Brothers, brothers, come quickly for I am seeing stars!"? Why Dom Pérignon of course. Ah, you are into romantic novels. Why not consider
a
Rosé? To me the sound of music comes when I hear the delightful pouring of wine into my glass. Roger Corder brings it all together for us... wine, a good book and your diet. Any suggestions what wine you might drink with your reading preference?








Monday, November 26, 2007

Food and Wine matching... don't drink vintage wine!

Much has been written these past few weeks about what wine to drink with your Thanksgiving turkey. Now that the entertaining season is here I am sure we will see lots more on the subject of food and wine matching.
"WHAT to DRINK with WHAT you EAT" is a great source of information and is a must have if you are interested in food and wine matching. Another good source is the extensive list offered by Natalie MacLean at Nat Decants
Hugh Johnson received a flurry of attention when he recently claimed that vintages do not matter any more. And of course he is right and of course he is wrong. Modern wine making technology can almost rescue even a bad vintage but
some years the wine gods do smile particularly favorably on
vineyards with resulting outstanding wines. But I don't think Hugh meant it literally, he just meant that wine makers have a lot of options today to make better wines on an almost yearly basis. After all, as one writer observed, Hugh's Annual Pocket Wine Book would become obsolete if every vintage turned out the same. Got me thinking though about outstanding vintage wines. Would you really match them with a great meal? Or does a special meal deserve to be matched with a good wine and the great vintage wine left to be enjoyed all on its own? I love matching food and wine but I would rather save my collection of better wines for a special occasion. In fact drinking them is the special occasion.
So now that we don't have to worry about great vintages anymore what is left? Terroir of course! Can you believe it? Those Germans have proved the concept of terroir actually matters.
But then this is something the French have known forever. Talk to any wine maker in the Bordeaux, Burgundy or Champagne regions.
I took this photograph while visiting Champagne.
It is just down and across the road from Taitinger. That's pure chalk and its a perfect terroir for the great wines from Champagne!
As Frank Sinatra once crooned about "Love and Marriage, Go together like a horse and carriage" But I tell you, vintage or non vintage, when you get that perfect match of food and wine, now that is a marriage made in heaven!! Bon appetite!


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wine&War


Wine bloggers everywhere look forward to reading and participating in the very popular blogging feature called
"Wine Blogging Wednesday". A different
host blog and a different theme each month. The theme for this month is "Silver Burgundy"and is hosted by
Brooklynguy's Wine and Food Blog
My first inclination was to participate. Then I read a review of the book pictured here and realized I was in possession of that very same book. And of course this past weekend multi television shows and documentaries covered the special day of November 11. Commemorated throughout the world, it is variously known as Remembrance Day in Australia,Canada and the United Kingdom, Poppy Day in Malta and South Africa, Armistice Day in France and New Zealand and Veterans Day in the United States. So my mind started wandering and wondering about what Burgundy would have become had it not
been liberated by the brave and heroic efforts of the Allied forces. "Wine & War" by Don and Petie Kladstrup gives an excellent account of these wartime events. Then I received an email with John Gebhardt picture taken in Iraq along with this note.

John Gebhardt's wife, Mindy, said that this little girl's entire family was executed. The insurgents intended to execute the little girl also, and shot her in the head ...... but they failed to kill her. She was cared for in John's hospital and is healing up, but she continues to cry and moan. The nurses said John is the only one who seems to calm her down, so John has spent the last four nights holding her while they both slept in that chair. The girls is coming along with her healing.
So instead of reviewing a Silver Burgundy for my post
I am taking a moment to remember and praise those heroic men and women who sacrificed themselves and continue to do so today, so that we may enjoy the remarkable wines from Burgundy. Be sure to visit
Brooklynguy's Wine Blog for what should be a very interesting round up of excellent Burgundians.
Take a moment in your busy hectic day and remember.

Friday, November 09, 2007

More Green Wine, Please!

One of the leading producers of fine wines sold in alternative packaging is the Boisset family in France. The French Rabbit in the Tetra pack first released in Ontario has become popular all over North America. Another recent release is the Yellow Jersey series and again Ontario was chosen for its release. The Yellow Jersey of course was made famous by the Tour de France.
The wines come in plastic bottles the size of a water bottle used on bikes. Enjoy your wine, then recycle it to your bike. How green can that be?

In a recent posting on Dr.Vino's wine blog,
Tyler Coleman discussed the "carbon footprint of wine"
This thoroughly researched paper was published as a working paper for the American Association of Wine Economists, and
may be viewed
here in pdf format. While there are some fascinating facts, lets put some of the figures in perspective. The production and distribution of wine represents 0.08 percent of global GHG emissions.
Meanwhile over at Good Grape, Jeff Lefevere informs us that manufacturing cement is really bad for GHG emisions. In fact, it accounts for 7% to 8%
of global greenhouse gas emissions. Now that is significant. And while we are at it how about the burning of those Indonesian peatlands? That contributes another 4%.
Lets go back for a moment to wine's contribution of 0.08 percent. We are told that is an equivalent to fuel combustion emissions of 1 million passenger vehicles over one year. The latest figures available from a DOT study done in 2004 shows there were 243,023,485 registered passenger vehicles in the US. The latest figures out of China show an increase of 10 to 20% annually in cars and that by 2010 that country will have 55 million vehicles on the road.

When you know that a Hummer only gets you 9 miles to a gallon (31 L/100 km), wine is obviously not a major culprit. Singling out wine drinkers and expecting them to drink their wines according to a green line seems a bit too much to ask. Especially since the
US is set to become the largest wine consuming nation on earth. Oh and yes the Chinese are also increasing their consumption of wine. How green do you think their vineyards will be with increased demand for the fruit of the vine? Now don't get me wrong , I am all for saving the environment.

And the wine industry should be concerned and involved. One of the leading voices on climate change and its effects on vineyards is Pancho Campo, the president of the Wine Academy of Spain. He has been preaching the message for years now. I just hope that wine drinkers everywhere will not have to carry an unfair proportion of taxes to fix the problem. By the way according to Tyler Coleman's report wine shipped in 1.5 liter bottles weigh 4kg less per case than 750 ml bottles. So as you can see, I am doing my bit with that Nebuchadnezzar. And oh yes, my car is a convertible and just think how much energy I am saving by not turning on the air conditioner.
So in the meantime I will think green while drinking my red.

Monday, October 22, 2007

To Drink or Not to Drink Wine!

Consumption of red wine increased by 44% in the United States after the
airing of the French Paradox as reported by Morley Safer on 60 Minutes back in November of1991. Ever since, more and more research seems to confirm the healthful benefits of drinking red wine. Its those nice little
polyphenols at work when we consume red wine. There is even hope for diabetics as recent research indicates. And of course we know that a little wine is good "for thy stomach's sake." St.Paul, in his letter to Timothy advised drinking wine for stomach and other ailments. Take your pick as to which translation of the bible you prefer, the advise is the same. Paul may not have known the reason why it worked but it was sound advice. Conquering Roman armies always mixed wine with their drinking water because of concerns about the safety of their water supplies. And wasn't it nice of them to plant vineyards all over Europe while doing their conquering? Fast forward a couple of thousand years and you have governments trying to restrict the consumption of wine.
The imposition of the National Prohibition on the American public from 1920-1933 was a disastrous experiment doomed to failure. A lot of people suddenly seemed to have found religion as the consumption of sacramental wines soared. Of course the repeal of prohibition gave governments a wonderful source of tax revenues. UK wine drinkers are in for a tax increase on their wines if Health minister Dawn Primarolo has her way.
Middle class wine drinkers came under attack as she proclaimed:'[They] have drunk too much for too long.This has to change.'
"Should we be worried about middle-class wine drinking?" was the question posed by The Daily Telegraph. Some very interesting comments were received in response to the article.
I was not even aware that I am only supposed to drink 28 units of wine weekly until I read this report filed by Times wine critic Jane MacQuitty
Click on the lovely glass of red wine and tell me how many units I was drinking. I don't know and I certainly don't care. I pour myself a glass of a good red wine and then prepare to enjoy. So "Please" leave us wine drinkers alone. But as Plato once said: "Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber."

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Waiter, there is a carbon footprint in my wine!!


A recent survey in the UK has shown that the public is ready to accept light-weight bottles for their wines. I discussed the issue of moving from the standard 500 gram wine bottle to a 300 gram bottle
in a September 2006 entry on my blog and the reasoning behind it. At the same time there is a movement to increased bulk shipments of wine. Better technology in bulk shipments, without sacrificing the quality of wine, will see more and more international wine companies moving in that direction in order to reduce their carbon footprint.
Plastic wine bottles will also be weighing in on the issue and as the technology improves we may see more public acceptance. And it is all about "carbon footprint". What is a carbon footprint? According to the founders of this family business, "A Carbon Footprint is a measure of the impact human activities have on the environment in terms of the amount of green house gases produced, measured in units of carbon dioxide." And yes it is a business, complete with job opportunities. Now that Vice-President Al Gore has won the Nobel Peace Prize I am sure his fees will increase nicely. After all, he is leaving a big footprint. "Peace" prize? I guess there is nobody out there who has done much for peace these days, but I did not think that green house gases were considered a war. War on terror? Yes. War on greenhouse gases or global warming?
Back to bottles now. OK, apart from lighter weight bottles costing less to ship, will there be an increased breakage problem? And if so there will be a lot of messy foot prints. At least Champagne and sparkling wines won't see light weight bottles any time soon. They have to withstand a lot of pressure.

Considering that the average tire is inflated to somewhere between 30 and 40 psi, these bottles have to be able to handle up to 100 psi. As you can see, in spite of my giving some do's and dont's about how to saber a bottle of sparkling wine, my friend Kevin Doyle caught this moment of pressure and breakage on film. As I said no light weight bottles in the near future.
And finally here is another footprint; my kind.
Kristoff Coates, Founder of Grapefoot, is working diligently to constantly improve the Beta version of this website. He was kind enough to include some issues of my newsletter in his "All About Wine" section.
Until next time, enjoy your wines, no matter what form of packaging they may be using.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Wine sales...Wine info.....then and now!

Received an email from one of my wine friends in California with a link to a well done video on the sixties scene. Have a look and be sure to have your sound on. Sums it up quite well. They forgot one important bit of information, though. One of the best vintages in Bordeaux just happens to be 1964 and 1966 was an outstanding Champagne vintage. It got me thinking though. About wine sales then and now, about wine information then and now. Pictured here is Simon Berry, standing
(photograph courtesy Telegraph.co.uk)

in front of the oldest wine shop in the world.
Berry Bros & Rudd Ltd. dates back to 1698.
Step back in time and read a good summation of the firm's history.
I wonder what it would have been like to buy a good bottle of wine 300 years ago? No internet sales, of course but Berry Bros have kept up with the times and now sell wines world wide through their internet sales. Today internet sales are commonplace. But nothing really replaces buying in person from a reliable shop with knowledgeable staff. They can specialize and have access to some real gems. One interesting wine shop that sells wine on line and has a fine, entertaining and informative blog is Nick's Bordeaux Undiscovered Wine Shop.
The internet has also been a boon for anyone wanting information on wine. As I mentioned in my September 9 blog post, put "wine" into Google and you will be kept busy with 177,000,000
entries. Again Berry Bros has plenty of good information and now that it is easy to post a video on my blog, I have one of their info series in video format here that took a little time to download but is of very high quality. I certainly view many wine sites and blogs and there is a wealth of info out there. But there is something special about a good wine book, a good glass of wine and a comfortable chair to while away a little special time. Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson come to mind immediately.
When I first got seriously interested in wine ( and I don't mean quaffing Mateus in college) there was no internet. Most of my wine information came from books and belonging to several wine societies and organizations. One of my favourite books was, and I still use it as a reference text today, the 1976 edition of Alexis Lichine's New Encyclopedia of Wines & Spirits.
video
Then and now! I wonder what the future will hold for the world of wine. Any thoughts, anyone?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Martha's Vineyard



By now everyone is aware of Marvelous Martha's entry into the world of wine. Might the label look something like the one displayed here?
Its the back label that will be more telling. I would expect aromatic descriptors like "fresh
raspberry and strawberry aromas just like the ones growing in my beautiful backyard" and how about "your palate will be caressed by a lovely silky texture reminiscent of my satiny, velvety
sheets". Only 15,000 cases of Gallo?? wine will be released initially. Smart move Martha. That way if they sell out you can claim it to be a huge success. Wouldn't do if you made 150,000 cases and have a whole lot left unsold. Not good for your image. Here is a tip for you, Martha.
7-Eleven already sells Gallo wines. Why not approach them to sell yours? So how do you trump this marketing move into the American wine scene? You don't, unless of course you are the Donald himself. Watch out Martha and here is a little insider information for you; expect Donald Trump to move in. No love lost between these two. Of course if Donald gets into the game it would need a little primer to stimulate some interest. Expect to see a new version of the "Apprentice" to introduce the public to his foray into wine. The successful "apprentice" would become the project manager for a complete wine package. This would include a Trump Tower hotel, a state of the art winery and a housing development surrounding a vineyard. Move over Martha. In the end, what is all this contributing to the wonderful world of wine? I suspect it is just another contribution to the bottom line of Martha's millions. I think this madness is going too far. I therefor take a moment to salute all the wonderful, dedicated, hard working winemakers from around the world struggling to bring us their finest and equally the knowledgeable wine merchants from the many private wine shops seeking them out. They deserve our support!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

WBW #37: Indigenous Varieties.



My entry for Wine Blogging Wednesday, which this month is hosted by Dr. Vino, came from South Africa. The grape used in making this wine is the Tinta Barocca grape from Portugal where it is one of the five principal grapes used to make port.It is rarely used to produce a red varietal wine. While it is not indigenous to South Africa it is grown there to produce port and is practically considered indigenous. A few wineries will make a red table wine with it as well. I believe that South Africa is the only country in the world where wineries use the Tinta Barocca grape as a dry red wine cultivar.
One of them is the Allesverloren winery in the Swartland region of South Africa. The Swartland area is dotted with green vineyards among rolling golden wheatfields. Allesverloren is the oldest wine estate in the Swartland Wine of Origin district. The history of the estate dates back to 1704 and the first grape harvest was in 1806. The original farm house was destroyed by fire in 1704, hence the name Allesverloren, which translated from South African Dutch means "all is lost".

It was first planted in 1945 as a port making varietal and immediately won many awards. By 1961 it was decided to produce a dry red wine with it as well. The Allesverloren Tinta Barocca spends 18 months in oak barrels. Displaying a ruby red color with a youthful violet in the rim, it offers typical port aromas of lush fruit and vanilla. It is medium to full bodied weighing in with a 14.5% alcohol which gives it some warmth on the mid palate. It has a delightful silky texture and a complex fruity taste leading to a lingering well balanced soft and round finish. A great match for grilled or roasted meats. This is what I call one of my "book" wines, meaning you get a good book, sit in your favorite chair and sip and ponder on what a good wine is all about. It sells for $22.50 Can. here and unfortunately does not appear to be widely available. I have seen it on a few UK sites where it sells for an average of $13 US. Allesverloren may mean "all is lost" but I was happy to find this one.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Golden Age of Wine....!!

We are said to be enjoying the Golden Age of Wine and truly there are some real nuggets out there. I am referring of course to the magnificent selection of wines available to today's consumer. The internet has made information on wine widely available and likewise there are some real nuggets out there. Type "wine" into Google and you will find 177,000,000 entries. Have you got a lifetime or two or three to spend checking all that info out? There are some outstanding websites and blogs out there and I have my own personal favorites. However the ease with which information can be published on the web has led to a landslide of misinformation and next to useless information. Its human nature I guess, to want to be in on the publishing. Have a look at this invitation. Did you know that you could become a sought-after wine expert by sharing your ratings on wine? WineLog was " started because some believe the professional wine rating systems reflect personal preferences and may not give a good overall impression of that wine." Now just re-read that quote. It is saying that professional wine ratings are subjective but apparently when you write your own evaluation that won't be subjective. What a load of nonsense! Or how about throwing a little sales pitch into the mix? What a sublime idea. No experience necessary! As I said in my previous August 19th post , "perhaps we are spending too much time analyzing and not enough time just appreciating "the fruit of the vine". Congratulations to all the great wine bloggers out there who do such an outstanding job keeping us well informed!!

Friday, August 31, 2007

When Wine is Not Vinegar....



I have been making vinegar for some years now. Part bottles of red wine that have sat around for a few days and I do not want to consume in their oxidized condition find their way into my trusty little vinegar barrel. I have to top it up regularly because like all oak barrels and especially in smaller ones, there is a significant amount of evaporation. I let it sit for up to 9 to 10 months and then bottle the contents of the barrel, making sure I leave enough to start my next batch with the remaining "mother". Rummaging through some of my old files I ran across this certificate from the Vinegar Man. Check it out if you are into making vinegar or are contemplating to start doing so.
The reason I am getting carried away with all this vinegar stuff is because of this "just in" bit of news about this new machine.
Sounds good but only one small problem.
This machine looks for acetic acid. Acetic acid is produced by Acetobacter aceti which is a gram negative aerobic bacterium.
When air leaks past a faulty cork and if the Acetobacter is present, the ethanol is oxidized into acetic acid. And there in lies the problem. Not all wine contains the Acetobacter bacteria and therefor not all oxidized wine automatically becomes vinegar. Good winery practice by restricting exposure to oxygen and making sure the must is properly sulphited, will all but eliminate the problem. Having said all that it has recently come to light that the Acetic acid bacteria can remain viable in wine for years even under anaerobic conditions. Take a moment and read how. All the more reason for careful winery practices. In the meantime I don't think I will be rushing in to spend fifty bucks to have my wines analyzed. I will continue to store my wines properly and whatever is left over after I open a bottle and not drinking it all, will end up becoming some awesome vinegar because that little old barrel of mine has plenty of Acetic acids bugs waiting for it.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Too much Wine.... not enough time!


I recently had the opportunity to attend the grand opening of the largest wine shop I have ever visited and came away wondering. Wondering about many things regarding wine but especially about the vast number of wines available to today's consumer. Everything Wine is over 11,000 square feet of wine, wine, wine. Close to 3000 wines from around the globe. I wondered how I could ever try all 3000 of them and I posed that question to the two lovely wine tasters pictured here.(Photo courtesy Rob d'Estrube) We are getting a good head start. Remember the little ditty about 99 bottles of beer on the wall? If one of them should happen to faaaa...lll, 98 bottles of beer on the wall. Well how about 3000 bottles of wine on the wall... if you should happen to drink one of them..
there are 2999 bottles more on the wall. The world of wine has become so very complex and we are inundated with wine info from marketers, wine critics, wine writers, etc. all vying for our
attention. Snooth reportedly has 1,689,590 recommendations for you to consider. It makes my head spin. Parker Points, Wine Spectator Points, everybody has a point. But are we not
forgetting something here? Are we not forgetting to stop once in a while to smell the roses or in this case the wine? My wine travel friend from California and I spent a marvelous few days during the 2005 harvest in Burgundy at the delightful family owned Premier Cru "Domaine
Violot-Guillemard"
in Pommard. Needless to say we were treated to some of Thierry's finest. What a welcome relief to sit back, taste and just enjoy without someone's, ultimately subjective opinion, about this, that or the other wine. And I guess"my point" is, perhaps we are spending too much time analyzing and not enough time just appreciating "the fruit of the vine".

"The spirit of wine sang in my glass, and I listened with love to his sonorous music, his flushed and magnificent song" William Ernest Henley

Sunday, August 05, 2007

No need to shiver...but try a Naked Chardonnay!

Never say never! When I started this blog I promised myself not to ever review any wines and post an entry on them. My feeling was and still is that any wines I may review are not necessarily available to readers of my blog and therefore not really useful. But much has been in the news both local and internationally about BC's new Wine Authority. Well Fed Network did a good summation on the subject. At the same time Wine Blogging Wednesday now has its own blog. So that is where the never say never comes in because I have decided to review a couple of BC's Naked Chardonnays. But before I do, you may very well ask if British Columbia makes any chardonnays of note. You bet it does! In 1994 the Grand Reserve Barrel Select Chardonnay from Mission Hill Family Estate Winery won the coveted International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) for Best Chardonnay. Mission Hill, under wine maker John Simes also went on to bring home North America's only gold medal from the 2001 Chardonnay du Monde Competition.
Both of the unoaked chardonnays I reviewed happen to match up perfectly with grilled seafood. How often do you get a chance to use two of the links on your blog? Well for one, my friend from California was up in this neck of the woods and with his favorite fishing guide, went out and caught his limit of beautiful Pacific Salmon. Couldn't keep them of the hooks. I was the beneficiary of that bountiful catch. So what do you do with fabulous fresh Pacific salmon? You go to another favorite link of mine and use the marvelous recipe for grilled salmon David , over at Cooking Chat, put out there. David, matched his salmon with the Dutton Estate Sauvignon Blanc and I am sure it was a great match but the two wines I am about to describe worked magically well with his recipe.
One of my favorite BC wineries is Mt. Boucherie Estate Winery. It is BC's largest family owned and operated winery. An outstanding young
winemaker, Graham Pierce makes award winning wines.
A fine example of his talents is the :

Estate Collection Chardonnay 2005 (unoaked)
The grapes for this clean, crisp, fresh Chardonnay came from the estates' southern Okanagan vineyards. Stainless steel fermentation only, with no malolactic fermentation, it clocks in at 2g/L residual sugar and 7.8 g/L total acid. Lush lively aromas of green apple, pear and lemon lift up to greet you, followed with rich flavours of ripe tree fruit the Okanagan valley is known to produce. On the palate a mingling of apple, pear and citrus flavours lead to a well balanced lingering finish. A perfect summer sipper wine for those long warm summer days, but oh so delicious to match up with those grilled fish or chicken dishes we all love to enjoy at this time of the year. Sells at $13.90 Can.
This wine is ready for consumption now but could develop some nice complexity if cellared for 2 to 3 years.


My second choice was the: Gray Monk Twenty Fifth Anniversary 2006 Chardonnay Unwooded.
Gray Monk's unoaked chardonnay has been a very popular
wine at any time of the year but it is an extremely pleasant patio summer sipper. It is medium
dry with a residual sugar of 8.6o g/L and a total acidity of 6.90 g/L.

Grey Monk was established in 1972 by George and Trudy Heiss. George Heiss Jr. the winemaker, spent four years in Germany
learning the art of wine making and became the chief winemaker beginning with the 1984 harvest. Countless medals have been
awarded to his wines at major International competitions.
Again like the Mt. Boucherie chardonnay this wine was
fermented entirely in stainless steel and without malolactic
fermentation. Showing off a brilliant yellow green in the glass,
layers of tropical fruit enticingly greet the nose. A mouth filling
rush of melons, tangerine and lush tropical fruit greet the palate.
A long lingering finish of sweet fruit lets you know that
you are savoring a definite summer sipper.
Should be served well chilled if matched
with grilled seafood or chicken. This wine retails at $16.49 Can. So there you have it. My two entries for the
Wine Blogging Wednesday's naked Chardonnays.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Goodbye wine stains .......and Hello Wine Spectator!

These are too good, not to pass on. Sorin, a wine loving young fellow from Edmonton, Alberta came up with this interesting little video. He obviously likes his red wines but does not like the stains they can leave on your shirt. You could bring a spare shirt or top to the party but have a look at this anyway.

How To Remove Red Wine Stains - The most amazing home videos are here

Oh and yes, Jathan MacKenzie over at Winexpression came up with this brilliant way of getting at Wine Spectator. Have a look at this entry on his site. Easy to follow instructions and below is what you should end up with when you have followed the directions and as Jathan directs be sure to switch back to default when you are finished visiting the Spectator.
Now pour yourself a glass or two of red wine,
mosey on over to the Wine Spectator and if in
all the excitement you should spill some of that
precious wine, you will know how to deal with it. Happy drinking everyone!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Wine is a food.....and its Good for you!

Lets begin with a definition of "food". According to regulation (EC) No 178/2002 of the European Parliament the definition of food includes drinks. So now that we have established that wine is a food, consideration should be given to the many health benefits it bestows on humankind and then reduce all taxes on wine. Imagine my dismay when I read about a proposal for a "carefully targeted fat tax" on food by a group of UK academics. Over 3000 deaths due to cardiac disease could be prevented if we could just stop people from consuming fat. You can accomplish the same of course by consuming a moderate amount of red wine.
But NO, add more taxes. and magically people will stop consuming all those fat inducing foods. Heard anything more ridiculous lately? I have quoted him before but it bears repeating. Thomas Jefferson had the right idea when he said " "I think it is a great error to consider a heavy tax on wines as a tax on luxury. On the contrary, it is a tax on the health of our citizens. " Today research is carried out in an institute bearing that wise man's name. The Jefferson study once again shows the benefit of red wine for cardio-vascular health.
It is obvious is it not? More wine, less tax and voila... better health.
I think the Iris
h have it right.
According to folklore from the Emarald Isle:"The Irish believe that fairies are extremely fond of good wine. The proof of the assertion is that in the olden days royalty would leave a keg of wine out for them at night. Sure enough, it was always gone in the morning."
I believe in fairy tales and have left a keg of wine outside my front door. Perhaps all the fuzzy thinking academics would do well to come and take it away, have a party and forget about dreaming up this nonsense. Cheers everyone!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

No New Zealand Wines........!!





Food-Mile Researchers are on a roll.
Who would have thought a few short years ago that you could earn an income by becoming a "food-mile researcher". There is a whole new industry out there funded by your tax dollars. In a recent article by British journalist Anna Shepard she suggested to : "Buy a bottle of French wine instead of a New Zealand vintage" to reduce "food miles" This of course had New
Zealanders up in arms.
According to professor Gareth Edward Jones, a
"leading" researcher on food miles the answer perhaps in saving the planet is "don't drink any wine". Not so fast says Dave Pearce, chief winemake of the New Zealand Wine Company.
"Don't be fooled by food miles".
Meanwhile according to a report published last year by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, the global livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transport. But if you are a potato farmer in the UK, things are looking up. According to Julie Sloan "With potatoes on our doorstep, there is little doubt that more modern carbohydrate alternatives, such as rice and pasta, cannot compete with the clear conscience
shopping of buying home grown potatoes"
So if you are a "meat and potato" kind of person, like myself, you will only get half the enjoyment. Lots of potatoes but no meat please! Now I am all for cleaning up the environment and not just for future generations. Lets start with fines for people who spit their gum on sidewalks and an equally repulsive habit by those who throw their cigarette buts there as well.
And all you food mile researchers, I am sure the bike pictured above is available in a beautiful environmental green. So get a group of you together and bike to work. And perhaps you can have your local wines delivered by this energy saving mode of transportation. Click on the picture to the right to get the idea. But PLEASE, lets not get carried away. I love my meat, I love my potatoes and above all, I love my wines. But an even more important issue is that people are going to suffer badly because of an over-enthused approach to this "food-mile" fad. Now that I have got that out of my system, I am going to enjoy a delicious glass of Spanish Tempranillo, all the way from Spain.

Monday, June 18, 2007

100 Point Wine = 100 % plus increase in price!

Two of the most distinguished "Grand Ladies of Wine" have spoken out on the future and pricing of Bordeaux wines. Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, at a lavish dinner at her Chateau Mouton Rothschild spoke of her concerns about the Bordeaux wine trade and suggesting wine was not for investing but rather for drinking.
Meanwhile Jancis Robinson in a podcast conversation with Berry Bros and Rudd's Bordeaux sales director Simon Staples, openly states "I hope 2006 will not be a success. I hope it will really show the Bordelais the shortcomings of the system" Listen to the podcast.
Could these excessive prices be blamed on the Emperor? You can find an interesting observation on pricing and who is to blame over on Slate . However the status seeking nouveaux riche in China, Russia and other Asian countries are driving prices into the stratosphere as well.
According to Timothy Tong ( that name has kind of got a ring to it, doesn't it? ) imports to Asian countries will increase dramatically. Imported wines make up only 5.6 % of Chinese wine consumption. Currently there are over 500 wineries in operation in China. The top 10 Chinese producers make around 10-12 million litres of wine annually. Expect plantings to increase as the Chinese become a wine consuming society. I recently had the opportunity to taste the the 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon from China's Great Wall vineyards. Certainly not great but quality will improve dramatically over the next decade. Then watch for a flood of their wines to hit the export market. A survey carried out for Vinexpo 2007 by the London-based International Wine and Spirit Record (IWSR) predicts global wine sales will increase 45 percent by 2010 and production by 41 percent with subsequent price increases. Europe's wine lake may be drained but is there a new one in the making behind the Great Wall of China?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Hurray for...Rosé!


Just a quick follow up on my previous post. It seems that Rosés
are getting more popular. According to the the Nielsen Company's annual state of the industry as reported in Wines&Vines, they are up 23.9%. And these are real
Rosés, not your blush kind of pink drink.
Also they are coming from all over the map, not just home grown varieties. Happy summer time sipping everyone!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Rosé wine by any other name.... just not the same.


You might say I have come full circle. In college the "in" wine to drink was pink and was none other than Mateus. A light and sweet Portuguese rosé in that cute little dark green bocksbeutel.
From the archives of Wines&Vines comes this interesting article on rosés. Then 1973 saw the "invention" of White Zinfandel at Sutter Home.Today they sell more than 4 million bottles annually. Beringer Vineyards produces one of the most popular white Zinfandels on the market and today White Zinfandel accounts for 10% of all wine sold by volume, making it the third most popular varietal in the US. Had not touched much of anything pink or blush for years till visiting France during the 2005 vintage. Even ordinary "house rosés" are very quaffable and very enjoyable, especially on a hot day.
Couldn't resist going to The Great Canadian Pub on the left bank in Paris though, for a quick Canadian brewsky.
More than half of the wines produced in Provence are rosés. Some of the very best rosés in the world come from the Southern Rhône Valley. The appellation of Tavel produces rosés only.
Rosés are becoming more popular with North American wine drinkers and there is a trend to produce a drier style of rosé. British Columbia produces some outstanding rosés and now that
they are done in a drier style I am beginning to quite enjoy them. The two bottles on the left in the picture are a couple of the best examples.
St.Hubertus and Quails'Gate. ( click to enlarge )
So a Rosé by another name may not be the same but a Riedel glass by another name is the same. Riedel has just released a Vinum Rosé glass. They claim of course that a lot of tasting and testing went into the production of this glass. But other than a "pink" stem it is the same glass as the one that used to be called their Chianti glass. This then, again after much tasting and testing became the Zinfandel glass and then the Riesling Grand Cru. Talk about a misnomer. Grand Cru Riesling? And now its also the Rosé glass. Look at the pretty box with the pink ribbon. That's the Rosé glass. Look at the glass on the right. That is the Zinfandel glass. Some smart marketing going on? White Zinfandel popular, rosés more popular. Hmmm! Give Riedel credit though. Riedel will donate 15% of the proceeds from the sale of this glass to support "Living Beyond Breast Cancer". Living Beyond Breast Cancer, founded in 1991, is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering all women affected by breast cancer to live as long as possible with the best quality of life. A very worthy cause indeed. I have my order in for a few sets of these. Besides liking the funky pink stem, this glass (Zinfandel, Chianti, Riesling) is one of my favorite all around good wine glasses. I often take one to various wine tastings around town.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A New Wine Star ......on the Yellow Brick Road!


"Il est arrivé" Another first for Boisset, La Famille des Grands Vins. Two years ago Boisset teamed up with the Liquor Control Board of Ontario and became the first French winery to launch a vintage-dated wine in a cardboard Tetra Pak called the French Rabbit. It has since expanded to other provinces and countries, including the United States, Ireland and recently in France, where it goes by the English name. According to Mr. Boisset "The French love it" Now Ontario has again been chosen to launch what is sure to become another winner, the Yellow Jersey. David Bantey of Boisset Canada confirms that plans are well in hand to launch the product in British Columbia and then into the US and other markets. Boisset, known for quality wines and with this unique packaging is sure to have another successful product in their line-up. Alder, over at Vinography, with a recent post on another yellow product, should be happy with this one. My bike is ready and waiting to travel down the yellow brick road.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Terroir in a Tank!

A lot of research went into this project and the results are in. Shipping wine in bulk is the answer! According to this report "Results of a Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) report revealed bulk wine imports to the UK offer the greatest potential reduction of CO2 emissions." Imagine that!! Who would have thought. Bring a bunch of think tankers (WRAP) together and come up with this brilliant idea.
I am all for energy conservation but it appears to be creating a whole new industry. You have to wonder whether a "profit" motive is not involved. Shipping wine in bulk will lead to significant cost reductions . Will those savings be passed on to the consumer? I think not!
And how about those new "voluntary" labeling proposals? Voluntary is the key word here. It won't be long before some British parliamentarian will introduce legislation to make it mandatory. Another nightmare and great cost for vintners and in the end for consumers. Think and drink locally while the drinking is good. As Roger Dial proclaims "somewhereness" is good.
Bulk tanker wines with "anywhereness" wines not good.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Its the water... or rather its in the water!



A short 5 minute drive from my home gets you to Gold Stream Park and then another short 5 minute hike along a rocky trail gets you to this beautiful scenic waterfall. (Click on the pic.)Pure, fresh, clean water.
The Olympia Brewing Company with their well-known slogan "Its the Water" has attributed the excellence of their beer to the high quality of water used to make their beer.
The most famous beers in the world have always depended on a special source of water to create their version of the highest quality beer. Its not just the water, its what's in the water that counts. Switching thoughts slightly, its what is in the irrigation water derived from the Murray-Darling river system in Australia and subsequently returned to the river, that is a cause for great concern. An increase in salinity in vineyard soils is becoming a significant problem. With the severe drought that Australia has suffered, an increased dependency on irrigation is inevitable. But not so fast says John Howard, the Australian prime minister, who in April announced that irrigation will not be allowed next year without significant rainfall in the next few months.
European vineyards are now starting to use irrigation on a larger scale. Global warming is one of the triggering factors here. France has just recently allowed the use of irrigation but on a restricted basis.Organic and bio-dynamic vineyards with their reduced dependence on irrigation will become more prominent.
It will be interesting to see how the new rules will play out in tradition bound Burgundy. I am betting the dynamic trend setter, the Boisset Family with their corporate family of wineries called La Famille des Grands Vins, will lead the way. (See my March 18 entry "Snap a Cap.." on a bold move by this Burgundian firm.)

Monday, May 14, 2007

A Pressing Problem.....!

An excellent review of wine press terminology and types of presses available today, may be found in the reference library at WINE BUSINESS.com
As well an interesting article in the January issue of Wines&Vines discusses the re-appearance of basket presses on winery cellar floors. Basket presses use the force of grape against grape as opposed to grapes being pressed against a screen. This less grinding action
results in less extraction of harsh components from grape skins and seeds. According to some winemakers this results in higher quality wines.
While basket presses are still used in the making of Icewines,(scroll down to my Dec. 3 Entry) bladder presses are faster and more efficient. The first Willmes bladder presses appeared in the 1960s and resulted in a significant increase in German Eiswein production. Icewine grapes in their frozen state are as hard as marbles and require considerable pressure to extract their golden nectar. The bladder can be inflated rapidly and result in a fast extraction of the juice. By Icewine law grapes must remain in their frozen state while being pressed. So time is of the essence. The newer versions of bladder presses are gentler and operate at lower pressures so as not to impart harshness to the must but are also slower. If temperatures rise before the extraction is complete, the grapes will thaw and cannot be used for Icewine. One of British Columbia's best Icewine producers, the Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery in the Okanagan Valley, snapped up the old Willmes presses when the German Eiswein producer Schloss Schonborn, replaced their presses in the mid-1990s. So there you have it. Basket presses may be making a comeback but not in the Icewine sector.
As always my thanks to the world renowned Icewine expert, John Schreiner for his invaluable information on Icewines.