Sid Cross has been kindly contributing to Scout this week as we cover the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival. Widely considered one of the finest palates in the world, Sid’s list of honours and accomplishments are staggering. He is Wines Committee Chair for The International Wine & Food Society (www.iwfs.org) headquartered in London England; an Officer in France’s prestigious Ordre du Merite Agricole; a Membre d’Honneur of the L’Academie du vin de Bordeaux (and the only Canadian to receive that honour); and he has been named The Gourmet of the Year by The Society of Bacchus America. He’s also co-founder and an advisor to The Chef’s Table Society of BC, and an all around gent, first class…
Leave it to this man to lead you through a long day that you didn’t have. Sid Cross, live from WineFest…
Day 3 saw the Wine Festival in full swing. Two outstanding verticals held at the Vancouver Club were memorable…
– First, Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (they have made this every year since 1979) conducted by chief winemaker Laurie Hook showing 9 vintages from 1993 to 2004. Event nicely organized by Foster’s Wine Estates Canada media contact Angela Lyons. Beringer uses the best of their Howell Mountain fruit for backbone and firmer tannins combined with balancing factors from other sites like Bancroft Ranch, Chabot, Steinhauer and Marston plus some Cabernet Franc. All the wines still showed quite youthfully. The 1997, 1999, 2001, 2002, and 2004 shone brightest. John Clerides of Marquis noted that the wines up to 2001 were more Beringer styled while the 2002 & 2004 were very California Napa styled. Keith Nicholson sommelier formerly of Bearfoot Bistro and now at Le Crocodile chimed in that 2002 & 2004 were ripe and voluptuous Cabernets while the older wines were more elegant.
– Second, all 11 vintages of Oculus the Mission Hill Family Estate signature Bordeaux inspired wine from 1997 to 2007. Congrats to Proprietor Anthony von Mandl, winemaker John Simes, Director of Wine Education Ingo Grady and Director of Public Relations Lori Pike. The 1997 was drying out and begging for food but the 1998 still had some riper creamy fruit even though a touch of brett showed through. The progress really shows through the years. A bit of a continuing struggle to get the cabernet sauvignon grapes ripe enough. 2001 was much better and 2002 well structured with attractive riper fruit. While the earlier vintages had 50% merlot or less in a harder Cabernet style the 2004 shone with 74% Merlot in a rounder more approachable delicious statement. 2005, 2006 and barrel sample of 2007 are much better showing they have come a long way and the potential is very optimist.
– Off to the Gala Auction at the Hotel Vancouver in black tie. Somewhat controversial event but it is the key in raising all the money to make the rest of the week’s activities of wine and food possible.
– The aperitif of magnums of De Venoge Champagne was a generous and lovely start. This scribe was the joint MC with the CBC’s Gloria Macarenko who did a great vivacious job. Auctioneeer Hugh Bulmer of Maynard’s kept the live bidding going.
– Andre St Jacques and chef Melissa Craig Bearfoot Bistro dinner for 10 raised $11,000 with live additions by Gilles de la Bassetiere President of Champagne de Venoge of 2 magnums of speical 1978 and Thomas Perrin co-owner of Chateau de Beaucastel ading in vintages of his 1990, 1989, and 1956.
– I got Iron Chef Rob Feenie now the Food Concept Architect of Cactus Club up on stage to promote his dinner for 8 with our donated wine package to bring in another $6500.
– The meal by chef Robert LeCrom and his brigade was excellent for that many people matching the array of wines with highlights of Fireweed honey roasted quail breast with fennel and Okanagan Granny Smith salad with Saltspring Island goat cheese, Lobster ravioli, and boeuf Bourguigon en croute with sweet yams and root vegetables. Too many people to thank for all their support but would point out the Consulates of Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, and USA for the wine help; Alice, Allison, Joe and the gang at Les Amis de Fromage (new spot at Au Petit Chavignol at 845 East Hastings). Terra Breads with baker Mary Mackay and the crew and Lesley Stowe of the successful Raincoast Crisps.