Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Beware of pine nuts!

Dwayne Perreault - As David mentioned in his next to last posting, the weekend of October 10th brought beautiful weather to Holland, and we also decided to go “sailing” on my own small boat (a sloep, as the Dutch call it) through the canals of Amsterdam.

It was a beautiful day on board with some delicious snacks and a couple of delicious wines, a white Bordeaux called Grand Bateau and my favourite rosé from Domaine de la Fourmi.

It was later the next evening when I first noticed something was not right. My girlfriend had bought a bottle of Vermentino from Tuscany which she wanted me to try and it tasted horrible. The more I tried to drink it, the more I was assaulted with an extremely bitter, metallic aftertaste.

Figuring it was the wine, I opened a different bottle, a white wine I sell and know well. The effect was the same: it was like I was drinking heavy metals.

The next day was even worse: coffee, juice, water, food and even cigarettes: everything I put in my mouth had a foul taste to it. Coincidentally I had woken up the previous morning with a pain in my side and that, combined with what was happening made me wonder, had I finally destroyed my liver?

But that same evening my girlfriend also noticed the taste in her mouth, and we realized it must have been something we ate. It didn’t take long before we realized it was the pesto, one of the snacks we had on board and bought at Albert Heijn. It turns out that pine nuts, one of the major ingredients of pesto alla genovese, can cause exactly the same taste disturbances we had. I quote here from wikipedia:

A small minority of pine nuts can cause taste disturbances, developing 1–3 days after consumption and lasting for days or weeks. A bitter, metallic taste is described. Though very unpleasant, there are no lasting effects. This phenomenon was first described in a scientific paper in 2001. Some publications have made reference to this phenomenon as "pine mouth". This is a relatively newly noticed phenomenon, which might be caused by the nuts spoiling and having gone rancid. It has been also hypothesised that this bitter side effect is caused by an allergy that some people may have to pine nuts, but this does not explain the recent appearance of this syndrome. Another theory attributes the phenomenon to nuts imported from China. It has been hypothesised that the nut trees are absorbing something and passing it on to the nuts, or the nuts themselves are being treated with something before packaging. Metallic taste disturbance, known as metallogeusia, is reported 1–3 days after ingestion, being worse on day 2 and lasting for up to 2 weeks. Cases are self-limited and resolve without treatment.

I’ve eaten roasted pine nuts in salads for years without a single problem, but I write about this because I know there are wine professionals who read this blog, and they should at the least be aware of the risk of eating pine nuts, particularly before important tastings.

I’m happy to say that after four days, my sense of tasting returned to normal, only now I’ve caught a cold, so I still can’t taste wine. But at least I can’t blame that on pine nuts!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Burgundy trip in pictures

Last thursday Jan van Roekel and I entered an empty freeway at 04h00 at night. The navigation said we would arrive in Meursault at 12h30. So we would have some time to have lunch and relax a bit before our first visit to Arnaud Ente.

All went fine. And around two we sat at Ente's kitchen table to taste all his 2008s. What an impressive range. After the tasting we toured the vineyards.

Arnaud Ente in his 1er cru vineyard La Goutte d'Or, the village of Meursault is on the backgroundArnaud Ente in his 1er cru vineyard La Goutte d'Or, the village of Meursault is on the background

Finally there is a name batch on Ente's doorFinally there is a name batch on Ente's door

Next visit that day: our fellow Dutchman and Ente's almost neighbour Richard Bos from Domaine JanotsBos. With his business partner Thierry Janots Richard vinifies grapes that are bought from several local growers. I was especially enthusiastic about the Santenay 1er cru and both Chassagnes (villages and 1er cru, all wines from 2008).

Tasting the JanotsBos 2008s with Richard BosTasting the JanotsBos 2008s with Richard Bos

In the evening we ate at Le comptoir des Tontons ,and had a very good pick with the rare (red) Monthelie 2007 from Jean-Marc Roulot. Friday we had a slow start, not bad, and at the end of the morning we visited Guillaume Tardy from Domaine Jean Tardy. He was proud to show us his new stainless steel vats.

Guillaume Tardy talking to an employee who was cleaning a vatGuillaume Tardy talking to an employee who was cleaning a vat

Guillaume presented us his 2009s from vat, what a lovely vintage! And we tasted some 2008s from bottle. On the picture Guillaume grabs a Fixin 2008 from a pile of bottles. We left with a loaded car. Had a good lunch with pied-de-cochon, bought some bottles for the private cellar (always some Roncevie from Arlaud and Monts-Luisants from Ponsot, the royal aligoté).

Guillaume Tardy taking a Fixin 2008Guillaume Tardy taking a Fixin 2008

I did not take any pictures when visiting David Clark. I must have been so impressed with his 2009s that I forgot. David's wines are hors classe.

Aurélien Verdet in his (fairly) new vatroomAurélien Verdet in his (fairly) new vatroom

We ended the day with Aurélien Verdet. He let us taste an interesting new cuvée, the Bourgogne rouge. Sort of petit Vosne. I love good ordinary wines, true quality always shows on this level.

Aurélien Verdet in his (fairly) new cellarAurélien Verdet in his (fairly) new cellar

That evening we went to Caves Madeleine. David Clark and a colleague joined us in this candy store of a restaurant. What a joy to dine there, every time again.

Bruno and Isabelle Perraud from Domaine des Côtes de la MolièreBruno and Isabelle Perraud from Domaine des Côtes de la Molière

Saturday we drove up to the Beaujolais. We tasted wines at the small artisanal Domaine des Côtes de la Molière. Bruno and Isabelle Perraud make wines without adding sulfur dioxide, and that's quite exceptional. Very pure wines but almost all was sold out. I'm glad I was able to buy their Chardonnay which I am drinking now. Next year more…!

Bruno Perraud looking at his chardonnay vinesBruno Perraud looking at his chardonnay vines

In the afternoon we went to a tasting in Fleurie with several producers, but all that we tasted didn't even come close to what the Perrauds had presented us, so we decided to drive back to Beaune.

After an evening with a Tête-de-Veau and a very bad red Meursault (forgot the producer) we travelled to the town of Cumières in Champagne to pick up some Brut Natures from Georges Laval (organic since 1971!). After a short talk to the friendly Vincent Laval we headed back to Amsterdam. Altogether, it was a great long weekend again.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Silver Award for Bolomey Wijnimport (and some other facts)

The weekend of 10-10-10 brought extremely good weather in the Netherlands, and the coincidence was that we had planned to spend the weekend with friends on the lakes called De Kaag, between Amsterdam and The Hague. We haven't seen a single cloud this weekend. So we sailed, and drank wine the night long.

Orléans rouge 2009 Clos Saint FiacreOrléans rouge 2009 (new label this vintage) with De Kaag on the background, early in the morning of 10-10-10

But what to drink two long nights (besides beer)? My hobbyhorse that I ride at many tastings is that light red wines are underrated, yet can be the best company throughout a long evening. A heavy wine might impress, but can be tiresome after one glass.

Many wines are simply too heavy, too sweet, or are wearing too much make-up to be pleasant for a full evening. So I brought one of my favourite reds, the Orléans rouge made from the Champagne grapes pinot meunier (80%) and pinot noir. I was curious to see how the wine would be picked up.

First a functional sidestep. October started with two facts worth mentioning. The first: my wines were very well reviewed in the new Dutch Wijnalmanak. Especially the wines from Clos Saint Fiacre (3 stars for the mentioned Orléans rouge) and Delecheneau (2 stars for the gamay and 1 for their rosé). Three stars is quite exceptional, and it was indeed this refreshing red that I brought to the sailing weekend.

Fact 2: my webshop, Bolomey Wijnimport, won the 2nd place in the election Best Dutch Wine Web Shop 2011. Amongst other things, one of the reasons to win silver was the quality of the wine selection. For the complete picture, about 250 shops had participated in this election.

Of course I expected massive sales right after this election, but nothing special happened. It obviously takes more than an election to steer people into the direction of great wines.

Hopefully a tasting works. When you're interested to discover the Bolomey Wijnimport wines, come to the tasting in Amsterdam on Sunday 31 October. The majority of the wines that I import can then be tasted. And both Hubert Piel from Clos Saint Fiacre (the Orléans again!) and Coralie Delecheneau (Amboise) will be present themselves.

Back to the Orléans. The first proof of its drinkability was given during the presentation of de mentioned Wijnalmanak. Some 10 wines were open to be drunk that night, and the first wine that appeared to be finished was the Orléans.

Did I get a second proof of its drinkability at De Kaag? Yes I did, we had a great time.

Got thirsty perhaps? This is the wine I am talking about.