Wine Gourmet  

Are we a nation of wino’s or suds drinkers?  (Photo: Flickr user, riebschlager)
Are we a nation of wino’s or suds drinkers? (Photo: Flickr user, riebschlager)

Wine news and oddities

by - Story: 60711

Wine Cellars:

Whenever I meet someone that is new to the wine industry, at some point we ask each other if we have a wine cellar and what there is in it. Sometimes the answers are a modest one while others claim to hold 1000 or more bottles. Some of the finer restaurants in Vancouver have extensive cellars, from the excellent Cin Cin or the Vancouver Club, which boasts a $2 million inventory. However, there is one restaurant which the offers its guests the largest wine list of any restaurant in the world and that is Bern’s Steak House in Tampa Bay, Florida.

Offering its customers a selection of about 500,000 bottles to choose from, a vinous nightmare for the indecisive, it was founded by Bern Laxer in 1956 and not only has the biggest wine cellar but they also have the biggest charcoal grill, 20 feet long which holds up to 200 steaks at once. As well, the steak menu is four pages long, devoted to the sourcing and preparation. Truly a wine lover and carnivores delight.

Are we a nation of wino’s or suds drinkers?

Canada has long been known (and a little proud of) as a nation of beer consumers. However, a recent study has shown that wine consumption in Canada is growing at six times the world average. Conducted by British research firm ISWR for Vinexpo, the biennial international wine and spirits trade show, researchers examined worldwide wine consumption trends from 2005 through to 2014 and found that between 2005 and 2009, Canadians increased their wine consumption to a total of 40.4 million cases, an increase of more than 22.5 per cent. If this trend continues, ISWR predicts that from 2010 to 2014, Canada's consumption will increase to 49.7 million cases, an increase of 19 per cent. By contrast, the world average consumption from 2010 to 2014 is predicted to rise to 2.73 billion cases, an increase of only 3.18 per cent.

Wine names:

Over the past decade, wineries have been engaging in brand marketing by attaching quirky and sometimes screwball names to their wines. The following are some bizarre names found on wine labels:

  • Elephant on a Tight Rope
  • Mad Housewife
  • Cleavage Creek (a winery in Napa Valley which actually donates 10% of its gross sales to fund breast cancer research and support)
  • Frog’s Piss
  • Le Vin de Merde (look it up, I can’t translate it for you here)
  • Cat’s Pee on a Gooseberry Bush (who would want to try a wine that smells like kiwi and ammonia)

    Expensive wines:

    The last time you went out for dinner and shared a bottle of wine with your date, what was the price of the wine? Typically they are marked up 100%, which is just part of the cost of operating a restaurant. Most of us will pay $50-$60 for a bottle of wine in a restaurant. But what about that rarefied category, estimated at around 2-3% of the population, who will part with the price of a small mortgage for a bottle of wine.

    Here is a list of some very pricey bottles of wine.

  • Heidsieck Champagne Vintage 1906 $275,000 per bottle. In 1916, about 3000 bottles of this wine were sent to the officers of the imperial army of Tsar Nicholas II, when the ship carrying the precious cargo was sunk by a German U-boat off the coast of Finland. Discovered in 1997, it is only sold at the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow.

  • Chateau Lafite 1787 $156,000. One of classic 5 Bordeaux wines in the world, Lafite was a favourite of former U.S. President Thomas Jefferson who would etch his wine with the initials “Th J”. The wine was sold at auction by Christie's London in 1985 to the Forbes Group. So the question remains, what did the wine taste like? Well, we'll never know. The Forbes family displayed the bottle improperly under a hot light and the cork shrank and fell in, ruining what was probably undrinkable as wine does not last that long.

  • 1945 Chateau Mouton-Rothschild Jeroboam (3L), $114,614. The wine crowd claim this vintage to be one of the finest of the 20thC. The 1945 Jeroboam bears a rare label by Baron Phillipe de Rothschild of a V mark for victory to indicate the end of World War II. In 2006, an unknown buyer bought a magnum case of 6 bottles for $310,000 at an auction by Christie's.

  • 1784 Chateau d'Yquem, $56,588. Thought by almost everyone on the planet to be the best dessert wine in the world, the 1784 vintage of the Chateau d'Yquem is also said to be a favourite of Thomas Jefferson's. A Premium Cru wine from Sauternes in southern Bordeaux, it has been given many excellent reviews and in the wine classifications of 1855, Chateau d'Yquem was the only Sauternes to receive the prestigious ratings given other top wines, explaining its superiority and high price.

    Food Event:

    The Kelowna Jaycees are busy organizing the 4th Annual Smoke on the Water BBQ Festival, which has grown from approximately 1000 spectators in 1997 to roughly 10,000 and has become a great place to spend Father’s Day in Kelowna. This year the event takes place on June 19th.

    However, the event is so big now that the Jaycees are no longer able to provide all the volunteers required to organize the event and are looking to the community for volunteers to assist with the organization of this year’s event. You need not even have experience organizing events as they have roles for pretty much anyone and the time commitment is relatively small (a couple of hours a week) and very flexible. There are also some very delicious perks that come with being part of their team. I can attest to this from being a judge the past few years.

    Interested individuals may contact Tim Lynch who is the 2011 BBQ Head Organizer by e-mail at [email protected]. Hope to see you there.

    In Vino Veritas

    Weekend Wine Picks:

    The past three years has been tough on the imported wine sector with a lot of importers having to slash prices to move their stock. We and you the consumer are the beneficiaries of these reductions. Here are some wines for us to enjoy.

    An exception wine, the Bodegas Benegas Don Tiburico 2004 ($23 PWS...reduced from $30) reveals an opaque ruby/purple colour with intense aromas of black cherry, blackberry, ripe plum and dried black olives with smoked meat, chocolate, tobacco leaf and baked earth.  The concentrated core of rich black fruit, smoke and luscious, mouth coating texture is backed up by full-bodied, inky, black fruit flavours, balanced acidity and tannins and a heady, long finish.  This wine is a terrific value, even better that it's reduced.

    The 2004 Bodegas Barahonda Heredad Candela Petit Verdot ($29.90 PWS...reduced by $20 (was $49.90) from Spain is a deep, dark black cherry/purple coloured wine with huge rich, ripe blackberry and blueberry aromas followed by ripe black olive, sweet tobacco leaf, creamy milk chocolate/vanilla, licorice and a touch of Asian and black pepper spice. Full bodied with lots of ripe fruit on the palate, the texture is silky smooth, long and flavourful on the finish. Tastes like a $50 bottle of wine for $30. Great concentration and complexity at this price!

    One of the finest red wine values in on the market and under $17 a bottle, the 2006 El Burro Kickass Shiraz ($16 PWS) from the tiny Campo de Borja in Spain is a steal. Rich, deep purple colour with an approachable nose of sweet black cherry liqueur, raspberries and black pepper mixed with sweet melted licorice, roses and rich loamy earth. Full-bodied, amazingly elegant with a luxurious texture, this is a wine for enjoying over the next 1-3 years.

    The 2008 Fontanafredda Barbera D’Alba ($18 PWS…reduced from $23) is quite powerful and intense for a wine at this ridiculous price with aromas of ripe plums, black cherry, roses, licorice, truffles, leather and tar. Deep and concentrated but not overpowering, the palate is loaded with rich black fruit, spice, tobacco, smoke and cedar and a long finish with spice, dried herbs and berry flavours towards the end. An excellent candidate for the cellar, it will reward with another 2-3 years of cellaring.

    Dark-ruby in colour with tawny-reddish hints on the rim, the 2000 Bodegas Navalon Anciano Gran Reserva Tempranillo ($23 PWS) displays aromas are of sweet cherries and vanilla over a faint scent of fresh butter. The tart-cherry fruit flavours are surprisingly fresh for a ten-year-old wine at a modest price for a Gran Reserva, which would normally cost at least three times as much. There’s aromatic oak in the background but it doesn't dominate. A solid red for weekend consumption or cellar for another 5 years. Great value!!!

  • More Wine Gourmet articles

    About the Author

    The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

    Previous Stories