Having Dinner with M Michael Chapoutier at Hawksworth Restaurant

M Michael Chapoutier

As I write this, I am less than 4 hours away from enjoying a dinner in the York Room at Hawksworth Restaurant in downtown Vancouver, with Mr. M. Michael Chapoutier!  I of course will be amongst others also enjoying listening to Mr. Chapoutier speaking about his wines that we will be drinking tonight and savouring with with wonderful food from Hawksworth Restaurant.  I am so looking forward to this evening as last summer I visited his winery in the Rhone Valley in France, and walked the Hermitage hill.

In case you are not attending, here is today’s menu!

Winemaker Dinner with M. Michel Chapoutier
Wednesday June 20th, 2012

MENU

Reception
Canapés
tuna ceviche avocado, amaranth
beef bourguignon pickled pearl onion, toast
truffled arancini mozzarella
Marius Blanc
Marius Rouge

1st Course
cured fluke
grapefruit, english pea, horseradish, nasturtium
2010 Schieferkopf Alsace Riesling

2nd Course
bacon wrapped squab bitter greens, saskatoon berry, licorice jus
2010 Mathilda Shiraz

3rd Course
heritage angus flatiron
tokyo turnip, baby leek, mie de pain, green peppercorn consommé
2009 Lady’s Lane Shiraz, 2008 Ergo Sum Shiraz

4th Course
pierre robert apricot in various textures, olive oil pound cake
2010 Schieferkopf Alsace Riesling Lieu dit Fels

5th Course
strawberry vanilla capsule summer red fruits, marcona almond soil
2010 Schieferkopf Alsace Riesling Lieu dit Buehl

Favorite Wines from My France Trip

As I blogged across France, you would have seen my reviews of different wines I enjoyed. I thought that instead of leaving the reviews scattered, it might be nice for you to see my top France trip wine picks in one place. Hopefully some, or all, of these wines are available where you live. Enjoy!

M. Chapoutier Les Arènes, Cornas, 2007. This is another wonderful Syrah from the tiny Cornas appellation. I read on Wikipedia that Cornas is Celtic for “burnt earth”, so similar to the “roasted slope” of Côte-Rôtie. Medium to dark ruby in the glass. A very nice nose with mint, crushed herbs, olives and dark fruit. Full body with blueberry and dark fruit flavours.  Medium acidity and tannins.  Long soft finish.  I really like this wine, and bought a bottle to take home.

Chapoutier Deschants and Petite Ruche wines

M. Chapoutier De l’Orée, Hermitage, 2008. This wine is made from Marsanne grapes grown by 60-70 year old vines. The actual plot for this wine is called “Les Murets” and is composed of very old fluvioglacial alluvial deposits that face east, getting the morning sun. The grapes for this wine are hand harvested. About half the grapes are vinified in large wooden barrels with regular lees stirring and the rest fermented in vats. The wine matures on lees with stirrings for 6 months. Maturation is between 10 and 12 months. Very deep golden honey in colour.  Lemon and honey aromas in the glass. Full body, round mouth feel, with medium acidity and lemon and honey flavours.  Long length. A very elegant wine. This is another wine that can age 30 to 60 years!

M. Chapoutier Deschants (Marsanne), Saint-Joseph, 2009. Deep golden, beautiful colour in the nice.  Very nice nose with peaches and flowers.  Medium plus body and good acidity, and flavours of peaches, orange and citrus.  Also a vein of minerality in this wine.  Very refreshing.  Medium length. I liked this wine a lot.

M. Chapoutier Petite Ruche (Syrah), Crozes-Hermitage, 2009. Deep purple in the glass with lots of cassis aromas.  Medium acidity and body.  Lots of ripe cassis and blueberry flavours.  Dry finish.  Very nice!

Domaine Huet Le Haut-Lieu and Clos du Bourg 2010 Sec wine

Domaine Huet Le Haut-Lieu Sec

2010 (€14). Sec means dry so these and the next two wines are dry. This wine was light straw in colour with small bubbles.  Nice lemon and honeycomb aromas with a hint of minty herbal.  Round nice mouthfeel.  Very fruity.  Citrus, flowers, and minerality.  Good acidity.  I really liked this wine.

Domaine Huet Clos du Bourg Sec 2010 (€16). Medium lemon colour.  Light citrus and apple aromas. Medium body, small bubbles, round in the mouth but with medium acidity to keep it refreshing.  Some honey, apple, citrus and spice flavours.  A very elegant wine.

Highlights from the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Fest – Day 2

The second day from the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival is now finished.  A lot of wine again today to taste.  But still probably more than half the wines haven’t yet been tasted.  I did visit many nice wineries and tasted some interesting wines from around the world today.  As I had mentioned in my previous blog article, today I would taste wines from the rest of the world, and then at the end try some Spanish wines I had missed.

Again to keep things brief, here is my 2nd list of recommended wines to try at the #VPIWF.  After the festival is over, I’ll post full tasting notes for these wines and others that I have tried on www.MyWinePal.com. The wines below range from white, red, sparkling, and fortified.

Recommended wines:

  • Babich East Coast Pinot Noir 2009 (New Zealand)
  • Vina Cobos Bramare Malbec 2008 (Argentina)
  • Decero Malbec, Remolinos Vineyard 2009 (Argentina)
  • Decero Cabernet Sauvignon, Remolinos Vineyard 2008 (Argentina)
  • Graffigna Grand Reserve Torrontes 2010 (Argentina)
  • Graffigna Centenario Reserve Malbec 2009 (Argentina)
  • Vina Santa Rita Medalla Real Pinot Noir 2008 (Chile)
  • Vina Santa Rita Pehuen Carmenere 2005 (Chile)
  • Cave de Tain Crozes Hermitage Red Les Hauts du Fief 2007 (France)
  • Cave de Tain Saint Joseph Red Esprit de Granit 2007 (France)
  • Pfaffenheim Steinert Grand Cru Gewurztraminer 2007 (France)
  • Pierre Sparr Mambourg Pinot Gris 2008 (France)
  • Schloss Reinhartshausen Prinz VVN Preussen Rielsing Off-Dry 2009 (Germany)
  • Ca’ Del Bosco Franciacorta Cuvee Prestige (Italy)
  • Mud House Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009 (New Zealand)
  • Man O’War Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (New Zealand)
  • Fonseca Guimaraens 10 Year Tawny Port (Portugal)
  • Quinta do Vale Dona Maria Vanzeller 10-Year-Old Tawny Port (Portugal)
  • Sogrape Vinhos Callabriga Dao Reserva 2005 (Portugal)
  • Sogrape Vinhos Ferreira 20-Year-Old Duque de Braganca (Portugal)
  • Champagne Lallier Rose (France)
  • Joseph Drouhin Chablis Premier Cru 2009 (France)
  • Mission Hill Family Estate Perpetua 2008 (Canada)
  • Juan Gil Monastrell 2010 (Spain)
  • Bodegas Abanico Mencia 2007 (Spain)
  • Bodgeas Abanico Tinta de Toro Eternum Viti 2008 (Spain)
  • Bodegas Abanico Tinta de Toro Los Colmillos 2008 (Spain)
  • Gonzalez Byass Croft, Pale Cream Sherry (Spain)
  • Zuccardi Series A Torrontes 2010 (Argentina)
  • Bodegas San Valero Monte Ducay Cava Brut (Spain)

That is a lot of recommendations, and a lot of wines to try in one day.  There were many more that are also good, but did not make the list.  I wish I had another day or two so that I could try the rest of the wines from the Festival.

Today’s agenda for me is New Zealand Perfect Parings, Good Gracious Grenache seminar, and Cinq a Sept French wines.  Check back tomorrow for a short article on these.  Enjoy the remainder of the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival, and remember to check out the Vancouver Playhouse and what they have to offer!  Support the arts.

What is Old World Wine?

Old World wine, strictly defined, are wines produced by historically the wine producing regions of Europe. France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain would be the top producers of Old World wine. These countries have been responsible for many innovations in wine making, such as selecting vitis vinifera as producing the most enjoyable wines (e.g. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Chardonnay, and Riesling).The Old World region invented the glass bottle for wine, and sparkling wine, among other accomplishments.

Old World wine is also about a style and a mentality about the land. In the Old World, you hear about “terroir“, and how terroir drives which grapes are grown in a region. For example, in the Rhone Valley, Syrah, Viognier, Marsanne, and Rousanne are grown. You would not traditionally find these grapes grown in Bordeaux or the Loire Valley.

What is terroir? Terroir is often used to describe the aspects of a wine region such as soil, climate and topography that are often out of the winemaker’s control. These unique features affect the ripening of the grapes, the nutrients that are absorbed from the soil, and more, which combined make the wine from the syrah grape in the Rhone Valley to taste different from syrah made elsewhere in the world. With the thousands of years that wine makers in the Old World have had with experimenting with different grape varieties on different soils, with different slopes and drainage, and climate, they have found the varieties that produce the best wine in each region.

Another aspect of Old World wine, is tradition. Tradition can be good or bad. Traditions help us learn from the past so that we do not have to go through the learning process that our ancestors have gone through. Such as determining that Syrah grows very well in the Rhone Valley. But on the other hand, tradition can be very prescriptive. Telling you that you can only grow Syrah in the Rhone Valley. Some wine makers, may for example want to grow Cabernet Sauvignon. They can, but the wine would not be accredited as AOC in France by the Institut National des Appellations d’Origine. This has happened in Italy, where some wine makers in the Tuscany region wanted to grow and produce wine with red grapes other than sangiovese. These wines could not be certified as DOCG of Italy at that time. The wine makers were producing excellent wines, and eventually the Italian wine certification body in Italy relented and made a new category for these Super Tuscan wines, called IGT. So change is possible in the Old World, but it can be a long process.

Old World Wines can also be thought of according to style. If you are thinking of a wine from Bordeaux, you are thinking of a wine, with some fruit, a solid backbone from tannins in the grape and from the oak aging. The wines are restrained. Not super extracted fruit driven wines, with lots of vanilla flavour. In time these Old World style Bordeaux reds evolve in the bottle, with the tannins softening, providing support to the fruit, and the flavours and aromas becoming more complex. Some Old World style wines are produced by the wine maker to reach their peak 5 – 10 or more years after the wines are bottled.

That’s a brief overview of what is Old World wine. Much more can be said about Old World wines, and maybe I will discuss more in future blogs. Enjoy.

BC Syrah for Summer Sips

Well, Syrah. A big wine. So maybe Summer Sips is not the correct term. Maybe I should call this one, Summer Gulps. Because you would want a big glass of syrah, and enjoy a good amount in your mouth, probably just before or after you have something nice from the BBQ. Syrah loves heat so that it can fully ripen and you can appreciate all the flavours this grape can produce. The southern Okanagan gets a lot of heat, so there should be plenty around.

Syrah typically has high tannins and high acidity, with flavours of blackberry, blueberry, dark chocolate, mint, eucalyptus, smoked meat, black pepper, white pepper, liquorice, and cloves. The high tannin content of the grapes often makes these wines good candidates for aging.  This grape ranks up there in ageability together with Cabernet Sauvignon.

You may also see the term “Shiraz” instead of “Syrah“.  These are the same grape, just a different style wine making.  In France, you tend to get a more restrained version of the wine produced, with less fruit forwardness and more tannins and acidity.  In newer wine making regions of the world, you tend to get a “New World” style called Shiraz.  Australia has been the poster child for the Shiraz style, which is a big block buster wine full of ripe fruit.  Both styles have their followers and their detractors.

Checking the www.everythingwine.com website, I find the following BC Syrah in the $15-$25 range:

Jackson-Triggs Private Reserve Shiraz 750ml Syrah $19.99
Kettle Valley Syrah 375ml Syrah $23.99
Marichel Vineyard Syrah/Viognier 750 mL Syrah $24.99
Peller Proprietor’s Reserve Shiraz 1.5L Syrah $16.99
Stag’s Hollow Rose Syrah 750 ml Syrah $21.99

More syrah  are usually at a slightly higher price point, so checking everythingwine.com again, in the $25-$50, I have the following additional BC syrah:

Blasted Church Winery Syrah 750 mL Syrah $31.99
Church & State Coyote Bowl Syrah 750mL Syrah $33.99
Desert Hills Syrah 750 mL Syrah $39.99
Hillside Syrah 750 mL Syrah $31.99
Laughing Stock Small Caps Program Syrah/Viognier 750ml Syrah $39.99
Marichel Vineyard Syrah 750 mL Syrah $49.99
Mission Hill Family Estate Select Lot Collection Syrah 750 mL Syrah $37.99
Morning Bay Syrah 750ml Syrah $46.99
Mt Boucherie Summit Rsv Syrah 750ml Syrah $30.99
Nichol Syrah 750ml Syrah $35.99
Peller Prop Res Shiraz 4 L Syrah $38.99
Poplar Grove Syrah 750 mL Syrah $48.99
Quinta Ferreira Syrah 750ml Syrah $29.99
Township 7 Syrah 750ml Syrah $33.99
Twisted Tree Syrah 750ml Syrah $28.99
Winchester Cellars Syrah 750ml Syrah $33.99

You may have noticed that some of the syrah are blended with a white aromatic grape called “viognier“. Syrah’s traditional home is the Rhone Valley in France.  Viognier is also from the same area.  French wine makers in this region have found through many years of wine making that by co-fermenting a bit of viognier with the syrah grape, that the colour from the syrah grape becomes more intense in the resulting wine, plus you get some of the aromatic perfume from the viognier.

I have had the Mission Hill Select Lot Collection Syrah from past years, and this is a very refined wine. The price point for this is on the higher end, so if you are going to sip this wine, make it a special occasion.  On the summer sipping theme, Jackson-Triggs produces enjoyable wines at reasonable prices.  Their 2007 Proprietor’s Reserve Shiraz 2007 won a Gold Medal at the Okanagan Valley Fall Wine Festival (I think this is the same as the Private Reserve Shiraz listed above) and is only $19.99. Last month I was at the Township 7 winery in the Fraser Valley.  I tried their 2006 Syrah and noted that this wine had blueberries and plum on the nose.  South mouth feel, with pulm and vanilla flavours, and a sour cherry finish ($24.99). I had also visited a while back the Therapy Vineyard and tried their Shiraz 2007.  From my notes, I noted a medium purple colour in the glass.  Dark fruit, black berries and slight oak aroma.  Ripe black fruit, plummy with a bit of chocolate on the palate.  Smooth mouthfeel with a long finish.  I marked this wine as a star in my tasting notes.

If you like this post on Summer Sippers, or other of my posts, please tag or tweet them. Merci. Now go and enjoy some Syrah.

Le Vieux Pin Dinner

On Thursday, May 20, 2010, I was fortunate to attend the Le Vieux Pin Winemaker Dinner at the Shangri-La Hotel in Vancouver. The event was at the Market Restaurant in the hotel and the food was masterfully designed by Executive Chef Wayne Harris in consultation with Jean-Georges. Keeping to the blog format, I will keep my notes brief and will then provide more details in www.MyWinePal.com.

Rasoul Salehi, the Director of the enotecca wineries that owns Le Vieux Pin, led us through a tasting of white, red, and rose wines he has recently produced.  James Cambridge, the wine maker was unable to attend, but Rasoul is a very knowlegable man about wine and very interesting to hear speak.  Rasoul also brought a small barrel of a new wine for Le Vieux Pin, his 2008 Syrah / Viognier. For those that do not know, Syrah is a red grape, while Viognier is a white grape. Both varieties come from the Rhone Valley in France. Syrah is a bold, spicy grape, while viognier is very flowery and aromatic. In the Rhone Valley, one of their traditions is to co-ferment Syrah is a bit of viognier. The viognier helps bring out more colour from the Syrah grape skin and adds more perfume to the wine. I applaud James for trying this in the Okanagan.

This Syrah / Viognier was deep purple in the glass, with aromas of vanilla, blueberry, plum and honeysuckle. On the palate you get ripe plum, black cherry and vanilla. Quite spicy, round in the mouth and long length. When this wine is released to the public it will be in the $32-$35 range. Well worth the price. This wine was paired with homemade, melt in your mouth, gnocchi, with morel mushrooms, black pepper, and extra virgin olive oil. The black pepper seemed to bring out the fruit in the syrah.

To start the evening we had the 2009 Vaila Pinot Noir Rose, paired with egg caviar. The Pinot Noir grapes were picked at a ripeness that Rasoul felt did not bring out the tannins of the grapes. Some wineries, when they produce rose wines, use fully ripened red grapes, which have partial contact between skin and juice, then some of the juice is bled off to produce the rose wine, but this also allows the tannins to be imparted to the rose. Rasoul by choosing to pick earlier indicated that the tannin level can be minimized, making a smoother rose. This wine had fresh raspberries and medium cherry aromas. More fresh strawberry and red cherry on the palate with low tannins. Good crisp acidity. The egg caviar was a wonderful mixture of salty, creamy and eggy flavours that blended nicely with the rose.

There are many other wines to talk about from this evening: 2009 Sauvignon Blanc, 2007 Epoque Merlot, 2007 Apogee Merlot, and 2009 LaStella’s Moscato d’Osoyoos, and of course their food pairings. Check on http://www.MyWinePal.com for the full review.

Enjoy!

A new wine and cheese experience

Every region of France has it’s own unique cheese. In Burgundy, one of those cheeses is the Epoisses de Bourgogne. This cheese has a cream cheese type texture and an orangey, wrinkled rind. The rind is washed with the marc de Bourgogne as it ripens. Marc is the left over juices after squeezing out the fermented grape skins and then distilling these juices. The cheese was semi-firm with a woody / nutty aroma. The aroma was not as strong as the previous cheeses. It had a cottage cheese flavour, with nutty flavoured rind, and a hint of saltiness. Quite nice.

The wine I paired with it was from the Rhone valley. It was the Chateau de Beaulieu, La Chatelaine, 2007, Cotes de Rhone. The blend was 60% grenache, and the remainder unknown amounts of Syrah, Cinsault, Mouvedre and Carignan. This wine was the Medaille de Bronze award from the Concours des Grands Vins de France 2008. It was a deep purple colour in the glass. There were intense aromas of meat, pepper, red and black fruits. The red and black fruit flavours continued on the palette. It was very peppery and had a long finish. Very full bodied, low tannins and good acidity. The fruit and black pepper flavours of the wine complemented the creaminess and nuttiness of the cheese. It was a great pairing. Salut!