Archive for the ‘Viva La France’ Category

Domaine de Nizas Le Mas 2007

July 28, 2010

What an exceptional wine. Twenty dollars worth of a wild herb, pine, stone -garrigue- nose floating over a full body, soft tannin, brooding palate rendered by a most unlikely blend for a typically Languedoc appellation. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Petit Verdot form this winning triumvirate. Lovely on the nose, ditto en bouche and excellent finale. No wonder why this wine merited a bronze medal by Decanter magazine. Make sure you get your hands on this wine before it disappears. You know, LDB, unpredictable. Products in, success, out. That is one of the shames of having a monopoly on alcohol.

ps. sorry for the picture. its a 2004. couldnt get anything closer to 2007. but it looks very much the same.

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Blanquette de Limoux Antech 2008

July 20, 2010

The Languedoc wine tasting was a success, with the Chez Meme Baguette Bistro completely full. The food was delicious and people had a great, festive time. I am glad for my choices of wine, all seven in the flight were greatly enjoyed by all. Of course there were favorites and below I will leave a few notes on each. Looking forward to the next event in August!

Antech Blanquette de Limoux 2008.This sparkling wine came as a great surprise to all attendees. They loved the chalky nose, witness to the limestone/gravel soils of Limoux. Mostly Mauzac grapes, this Blanquette is made in the traditional method, with double fermentaion. The biscuity flavors take the passenger seat and let the lemon stone fruit flavors drive the dry, fun palate saturated with fine, lazy bubbles. Drinks great on its own but will embellish salads, cheese, scallops and other shellfish.

Brought to BC by Terrarosa Imports, this wine should not be missed this summer. Available at Marquis Wine Cellars, Kits Wine Cellar, Everything Wine, Libations, Liberty Wine Merchants and Steamworks for $25.99.

Sauvignon Blanc is In

July 6, 2010

When it comes to wine, nothing says summer like Sauvignon Blanc. Well, there is Pinot Grigio, Unoaked Chardonnay, Tocai, Moschofilero, and all those delicious whites. But talking about Sauvignon Blanc, what a wonderful grape it is. Regardless where the wine is made, it always welcomes your nose with a brushtroke, an aromatic draft of vegetable nature, be it freshly cut grass, rue, lemongrass, gooseberry or a myriad other herbs. Properly made it delivers on that promise, lightning up your palate with shiny acidity and more or less fruit, again, depending on the origin. Some make your eyes tear with citric, limey quality; others are apt at imparting fully ripened apples, pears and peaches, while others offer subtle -or blunt- tropical flavors like guava, banana, passion or even dragon fruit.

More minerally versions, where terroir is highlighted and fruit -though firm- is more subdued, come from the Loire Valley, in the heart of France. Sancerre -right guess- but not the only apellation in the area where you will get delicious Sauv Blanc.  Try Chateau de Sancerre, Pascal Jolivet, Levin. A little less mineral and also riding an deliciously acidic wave, Northern Italy can be home to lovely Sauvignon Blanc. One bottle of Bastianich B will send you looking for more good renditions from the top of the boot-shaped country.

There’s no need to say much about New Zealand’s Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, not much that haven’t been said already. Perhaps the most popular appellation for Sauvignon Blanc these days, the region’s wines are easy to drink, with a purity of fruit that is seldom found elsewhere. A Kiwi winemaker once told me that the high level of aseptique technique developed in the farm and dairy industries was behind this. Apparently, when New Zealand farmers lost some of their international markets due to competition, they redirected their skills at the wine industry. True or not, memorable whites come from the land of tongue-show-off warriors, unidentifiable national flag and bad soccer. Try the spark-studded  acidity of the Matua’s Paretai. Or the savory backdrop of the Wither Hills Rarangi. Or Jackson’s Stich. Not to mention the well known Kim Crawford, Scott or Villa Maria,plus all kind of  wines by names of critter and small mammals pissing on gooseberry bushes or monkeying around bays. Whoa, they sure  are taking after their Australian cousins when it comes to label originality.

Chile does a great job too. Their Sauvignon Blancs are second to none, except to Sancerre and Marlborough, and Pouilly Fume. And…just kidding.  Casas del Bosque is a gem of a finding at 17 dollars. Firm fruit, impeccable acidity (Impeccable. Im starting to sound like Bobby Parker) and 90 WE points make my point. Brilliant. Veramonte and Errazuriz make truly good stuff under 15 dollars. They will shine any night at any party.

Malbec comes next. Er, I meant to say, Argentina. Who would’ve thought they can make anything other than red? Well, think again. Mapema (the only thing going against this delicious wine is its name. And its price @ $21) is a big surprise. Ripe fruit weaved into the firm acidic frame, this Sauvingon Blanc is a sign of better whites to come from Mendoza. And from further north in the country. Paula is another solid Sauv Blanc, leaner on the fruit and with remarkable, kiwi-esque acidity. Trophee winner Pascual Toso, after delighting us with Cab Sauvs and Malbecs, makes a pretty decent SauvBlanc for 13 dollars. And a solid rose, although, that is another matter.

How to finish this without a mention of California? With a touch of oak, Grgich makes a simply beautiful Fumee Blanc. Beautiful, memorable, remarkable. The similarly lightly oaked Supery comes close. And for those with deeper pockets, don’t let the summer go by without trying the superb Spring Mountain Sauvignon Blanc. We’ll taste vicariously through you.

Salud!

Languedoc Wine Tasting in Burnaby Heights / SOLD OUT. Thank You All!

June 30, 2010

Chez Meme Baguette Bistro and wine apassionado Ivan Loyola (winecouver) announce a soiree of French wine, food and fun.

When: Thursday, July 15, 2010

Time: 7:00pm – 8:30pm

Where: Chez Meme Baguette Bistro

4016 Hastings Street Burnaby, BC V5C (Hastings and Gilmore)

Burnaby, BC

Contact: Tel. 778 322 7701 or 604 299 1141

Languedoc, in Southern France, is one of the most exciting appellations for great wine of distinct character and good value. Come join us to explore whites, reds and roses paired with a sampler of French dishes. Wine apassionado Ivan Loyola will guide you through the regions and wines, while the Bistro staff will give insights into French cuisine. There will be a draw to win a French chef knife and a bottle of wine. Tickets $35. Please RSVP as seats are limited.

Menu:

Sliced baguette with brie, poached pears and toasted walnuts

Smoked salmon with dill cream cheese wrapped in crepe

Albacore seared tuna with lemon caper mayo light grenache

ratatouille mousse

Confit de Canard (duck)

Lamb shanks sliders

Chocolate dessert

Wines:

Blanquette de Limoux Sparkling

Chateau de la Galiniere Rose

Lulu B Chardonnay

Domaine de Nizas Rouge

Moulin de Gassac Guilhem Grenache Syrah

Chateau de Camplezans Syrah

Chapoutier Banyuls

To buy tickets visit the Bistro (604 299 1141) or buy online at

www.localwineevents.com

Fried Rice for the Lazy Single

May 11, 2010

Yawn. My first two days off in a row after 3 weeks of work.  Much needed. One-day breaks dont cut it. My fridge looks scarily empty. And I dont have any desire to shed my pijamas and get out grocery shopping. Bread? none. Meats? Zip. All I see is a couple free range eggs, wilting green onions, a red onion starting to desiccate, garlic, fresh ginger and half a red bell pepper. On the counter the rice cooker sits next to a half full bottle of light soy sauce. Together they look like a postmodern  still life painting. Is it possible that there be some left over rice? Yes! some white, fluffly basmati I made yesterday morning survived to see this day. So, time for brunch.

Drink choices: there is a handful of coffee beans ready for grinding. And with sunlight flooding my second floor kitchen, I look again at the fridge. I know what’s in there. A bottle of J.P Chenet bubbly Rose (15.99 at Everything Wine) and a bottle of Joseph Drathen Mosel Riesling (12.99). No. It’s too early. So the coffee gets brewed, the onions, peppers, green onions chopped and sauteed in vegetable oil with chopped fresh ginger and garlic on medium high heat. When they look tender, a few dashes of soy sauce, a cup and a half of rice joins the fray, so do the eggs and I stir until the latter look ready.

That’s all. Brunch is ready. It took ten minutes. I have no pretense anymore of chefing my meals when Im on my own. Vegetables get cut in chunks, potatoes remain unpeeled, parsley or cilantro keep part of the stems along with the leaves.  There is no precise recipe here. Any vegetable will do. Amounts? trust your instinct. Screw up once, twice, you will be satisfied on your third try.  Damn. I wish I had some oyster mushrooms.

The fried rice tastes really good. Too bad that by the time I serve  it the coffee cup is empty and I have no more roasted beans left. I really need a drink with my rice. And its only 1130 am.

I look at the fridge again. That rose is surely tempting.

ps. both wines would go well with this recipe, cutting through the oily coating of the veggies and eggs. The bubbly is light and fruity; the riesling is a la Mosel, with hightened mineral acidity. Both have a touch of sweetness to meet the sweetness of sauteed onions and red pepper.

White Wine, Good Value and the Butterfly Effect

April 7, 2010

Not talking here of the white, fine hail that whipped me on my bike last evening, in Burnaby Heights, my hood. I want to feature a few whites that you should taste. Whites are ever more relevant in the market. I figure that, after a long time being sidelined by consumers, now that they are accepted by mainstream critics and writers, they start to shine. The more open you are  to enjoying something, the more you will enjoy it. Until last year I heard constantly “no, I don’t drink white” or “white wine gives me headaches” or even worse “they have lots of sulphites.” And lots of people still resist white wine; but a lot more are starting to appreciate it for what it is and for it can give to you. No red can exhibit the levels of refreshing acidity a good white can. And with good acidity, flavors are highlighted, focused, sharpened, delimited, underscored. Not to mention aromas. A red offering floral whiffs is like a few flowers, perhaps a bunch. A good aromatic white is like sniffing in the whole garden.

From the top.

Casas del Bosque 2008 Sauvignon Blanc. $17.99. Are you kidding me? 18 bucks for this Chilean gold medallist (Concourse Mondial du Bruxelles 08)? Geologists love minerals and critics love citrics and this one has both plus plenty of alluring fruit.

Jackson Estate 2008 Sauvignon Blanc. You enjoy Sauv Blanc from New Zealand? This is the one you should pick. 20 dollars of pungent grass and persistent tropical, guava flavors that surf down your palate on a wave of shiny acidity. No wonder why the empty spots on the shelves.

Domaine de Grachies 2009. This blend from Cotes de Gascogne will turn heads –and open wallets- at 11.99. Colombard, Ugni Blanc, Gros Manseng and Sauvignon Blanc join forces to render an impressive table white.

The Hermit Crab 2008 by D’Arenberg. $21.99. Oh yummy Viognier/Marsanne blend. Fleshy and refreshing, with solid pear fruit.

Fish Hoek Sauvignon Blanc. $10.49. When looking for a budget white, look at this cheapie. Tropical and limey, with vibrant acidity and  slight background “Southafrican” aromas. Another reason? Great label! Click on pic.

Two in the Bush 2008 Chardonnay. $20.95. Chardonnay lovers, rejoice. A basket of fruit led by ripe banana. Smooth, creamy and nicely oaked.

Claar Cellars Riesling. $22.99. A Southafrican sounding name for this Columbia Valley Riesling with checks in all the right boxes. Bright acidity, check. Lip smacking citrus, check. Sweet tropical fruit, check.

Go white. Have you heard of the Butterfly Effect? It works, its true. If all of us drink more white, the sun will show up more often. Serious.

Of Chablis, Oyster Cebiche, Ocean Floor and Sensorial Glory

April 2, 2010

“I prefer the 2007 Chablis wines to the 08’s. They are more classic, with acidic minerality. 2008, which some favor, shows more fruit. But what makes Chablis different is the electric acidity, unlike that of any other white wine in the world”. I heard those words last night, tasting a flight of Jean-Marc Brocard Chablis wines. Today, enjoying a sip of the 2007  Montmains Premier Cru next to a Royal Miyagi oyster cebiche, I fully understand their meaning. Frederic Brouca, Brocard’s Manager Sommelier for North America, planted the idea in my head, when he saw my card. More precisely, when he heard my accent. “Where is that accent from” asked Frederic, with an accent. “Peruvian. Ok. Taste this. Would this pair well with cebiche?”. As it turned out, Frederic knows his Peruvian cebiche as well as his white wines. I tried to imagine the combination, sipping the Montmains. That intense minerality, like the memory of the soil itself, has connotations of marine scents. Which is not strange at all, given that what makes Chablis’ terroir unique is the presence of billions of marine fossils in the Kimmeridgian subsoil where the vineyards thrive. The acidity exacerbates those “memories” on my palate, tingling with very subtle fruit and a brushstroke of salinity. The finish is long like time itself, memories of ocean floors that have been, of floods, of previous episodes of earth warming. That is what the wine transmits, the vine only acting as a way for the earth expressing itself. “Oysters” I think. “Oyster cebiche.” I have a plan in my mind.

Besides the extremely lean and mean Montmains, Frederic poured a glass of the Boissonneuse, a Chablis of lesser appellation that is yeasty, richer. The lees are stirred on this one, which has also the hallmark acidity but allows the fruit to show more, in a nice balance. A good wine to discover the beauty of Chablis at an affordable price ($36-40). Next in the flight, the Grand Cru Le Clos shines on the nose, a breeze of green apple crushed in a stone mortar. The palate is equally delicious, and had not Frederic told me that this wine spends some time in very old oak vats, I may have not noticed the almost imperceptible trace of wood. Sfumato is the word that comes to mind. The acidity and marine minerality, impeccable. Magnifico. This wine is available in Vancouver in the 80-90 dollar range.

After saying goodbye to Frederic, I walk home with a demi-bouteille of the Motnmains ($25-28), already thinking of the half dozen Royal Miyagis waiting at home. I also think “damn, I wish I could speak French.” Somehow, talking to Frederic about wine, I felt the need for expressing myself in the language of romantic, culinary and enological endeavors. How can you speak in English of la finesse et la mineralite without sounding hopelessly clunky?

THE RECIPE

Enough of that; to the Cebiche. Shucked the oysters with a New Haven style oyster knife, the only kind that really works. Saved every bit of the liquid, the oyster’s “blood.” I used very little hot pepper, a quarter of a red Thai. I could have used even less, as any excess in the heat will negate the subtleties of the wine. Squeezed half a lime, perhaps a bit more. A few flat (Italian) parsley leaves, chopped very fine. Half a shallot, again, sliced very fine and rinsed in cold water. I waited not; oysters are at their best raw. The cebiche was stupendous. Would the pairing work?

I held the glass of Montmains near my mouth. My nose was aflame with the vapors from the lime, the Thai pepper, the oysters: The sea itself. Like a river that meets the ocean, those aromas blended with the ones coming from the glass. The intense acidity of the wine equaled that of the cebiche, the traces of marine minerality from the Chablis encountered their match in the flavor of the oysters still reverberating on my palate. I thanked God for making Chablis possible.

A bientot.

More Wines of IVSA March 21st

March 30, 2010

The week before IVSA, Alejandro Salinas of Marful Consultants told me about some Garagiste wines from Chile they are importing. So I was curious to taste these new products. Finally, on the evening of the 21st at the Four Seasons Alejandro poured the Polkura 2006 Syrah from the Colchagua Valley. I had to concur with Alejandro’s comments: the Polkura deserves all the recent scores garnered left, right and center. 90 Parker points, 90 Wine Spectator, Gold Medal at Syrah du Monde 2008. Decidedly Languedoc-ish in style (must be the dash of Mourvedre and Grenache Noir), smoky and full flavored, plus a very attractive, classic packaging, this Syrah rivals that other Chilean delicious Syrah, the Montes Alpha. The Polkura will retail in Vancouver at around $29. Don’t miss it. 

Robert Smith of Wine Quest was pouring the increasingly popular Scurati Sicilia Rosso IGT 2007. I already lauded this product but there’s always better things to say about it. This unoaked Nero d’Avola is all about being jammy, plump, intense and satisfying. I am sure Vancouver wine enthusiasts will learn to love Nero d’Avola through this rendition. 24 dollars well spent. When Robert poured me a sip of the Brunello di Montalcino Col d’Orcia (a 2003, 92 Parker pointer) he knew I would love it. He asked me, however, for my thoughts on a market for this wine in the 375ml format (32 dollars). I totally believe people will snatch this one. The demi-bouteille market is decidedly full of room for growth. The nose on this wine is so densely packed with aromas of ripe fruit and tobacco and mineral that one might forget to drink it. On the palate, outstanding balance in the medium plus body and great staying power. 

Enoteca Bacco didn’t have the delicious –and rare- Vigna Pedale Nero di Troia on this edition. Where can you buy this wine? I must find out for the benefit of the reader. Instead, signore Bellantoni poured me some Chateau Mourgues du Gres, the 2008 Costieres de Nimes Les Galets Rouges. 92 Parker points for this 20 dollar bottle don’t come across as an exaggeration at all. One of my favorite reds of the night, seething with the spicy waft and red fruit marmalade of a well achieved Syrah-Grenache blend. All the charm of the appellation plus an Argentinian sweetness in the tannins. 

David Herman Wine & Spirits Merchants’ booth was pretty busy and with all good reason. They were serving the Benegas 2006 Luna Cabernet Sauvignon ($19) and the Benegas Don Tiburcio blend ($22), both hailing from Mendoza. The former confirms previous assessments with its ripe dark fruit, sweet tannin and juicy, peppery full-bodiness. The blend, a passé-touts-graines sort of mélange that includes Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon was a surprise indeed, a very well balanced, smooth blend. These two I knew from before but the surprise was the Paradou Viognier and the Paradou Syrah-Grenache. From Cotes du Ventoux and both at 14.99, these are the little siblings of the well established Pesquie (Les Terraces and Quintessence) line of products. At this price they deliver all the quality you would expect from such a competent winery.  

 Sabrina Hira, of Appellation Wine Marketing briefed me on a set of newcomers to Vancouver, the Decero wines from Mendoza. The fairly recent winery has been making waves from the start and the wines tasted here did not disappoint. The Decero Malbec 2008  ($25.99) keeps in line with the plummy, juicy, slightly rustic style that comes to mind when you think of a good drop to push down barbequed steak, lamb and sausages. An “asado” wine. At the same price, I enjoyed the Decero Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, which starts with a breeze of dark fruit and eucalyptus globulus. Rich and satisfying, I see a good future for this CabSav in Vancouver. The Mini Edicion Petit Verdot was the darling at this booth, a blend of Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec. Intense color and fragrant eucalyptus on the nose, medium body and dark fruited closing with a barrage of fine tannins falling on the palate like hail. Not everybody’s cup of tea (??) but surely will have a legion of loyal followers.

 The last Malbec of the night hails not from Argentina but from Australia and it is brought to Vancouver by International Cellars. The Bleasdale Second Innings  Malbec ($16) pleases with its rich plummy fruit and sweet, smooth tannins. You will not miss your Argentinian Malbec if you go for this one. From the Upper Galilee, where vineyards now thrive where decades ago tanks exchanged fire, Galil Mountain brings its Cabernet Sauvignon. Aromas of sweet fruit seethe in the warm nose, followed by a pleasant medium body. This wine is Kosher, tasty and inexpensive: it will set you back only 17 dollars.

 Cheers

Chateau de Montfaucon

March 18, 2010

Baron Louis 2006

Cotes du Rhone

750ml. $32.99.

Blend : Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Carignan, Mourvedre, Counoise 

The 2006 Baron Louis presents a very intense nose with mineral, flinty scents underpinning the dark fruit, green pepper aromas. This is Grenache turf and the variety flexes it muscle: an alcoholic waft blows off the glass, without being impertinent or over the top. The texture is mercurial, runny, playful, with the nose tones reverberating on the palate. Extremely fine tannins lead the lips into a slight pucker with gusto. Medium body, elegance and finesse define this Southern Rhone wine. The finish is long, subtle, with touches of pepper, mint and other herbs crushed on a stone mortar. Delicious.

 

 

Laurent Miquel Bardou 2005 Syrah

March 15, 2010

From the St. Chinian appellation, one of the least known of the French Languedoc region, comes this delicious offering by young winemaker Laurent Miquel. The Languedoc wine wizard has us used to excellent quality vs price wines, all the way from his entry level syrah grenache and chardonnay viognier (both 11.99 in Vancouver) passing through his rich, ripe fruited Nord Sud Viognier (24.99) to this intriguing Bardou, which, besides the wine itself, comes in a beautiful, elegant, classic style packaging.

This Syrah starts with a textbook Languedoc nose, that is, the scents of the Garrigue scrubland that so well define the area. St. Chinian may be said to be no more than a slope covered with vineyards; the appellation is small and the wineries there established, crank out the good stuff. Herbal and wild flower fragrances come off the glass. Lavender, rosemary, mint, pine, rock, muddy stream shore. This is not a monster body Syrah but rather an elegant, sober medium body beauty. Coffeeish notes from the new oak are enmeshed with the full-flavored, dark fruit and closed up by a lingering finish. Tannins are abundant and soft. A lovely Syrah and surprisingly, its price varies wildly in Vancouver. At some locations I found it for 28 dollars; in others you have to pay up to 40. I paid the former. Grin. *_*

My wine mate was making a seafood cioppino. After sipping the first glass we figured the Bardou needed something with more meat -figuratively speaking- so we turned the cioppino into a clam tomato sauce linguini*. It paired beautifully with the wine, each enhancing the other. Another great wine from beautiful Languedoc.

Salut.

*enrich it with anchovy paste….

Ivan Alfonso

ps. Photos, Le Guide de Sud France, Laurent Miquel website