The Very Soul of Burgundy
Bauhaus's resident wine-expert Alan Koller is back, this time diving into the dirt of Burgundy.
My last post explored the German obsession with sugar content. Today, we’re going to explore an obsession with dirt, but perhaps I should use the proper term for it – terroir. Now, terroir is one of the key components to creating a great wine. On a regional scale, there is the limestone of the Loire, the gravel and clay of the Pomerol, the steep terraces of slate in the Rhine, etc. Now, terroir can change from vineyard to vineyard. A great example is that of Diamond Creek’s lineup of Cabernets. They have Volcanic Hills, Red Rock Terrace, and Gravelly Meadow, each of which are the names of the vineyards that produce Diamond Creek Cabs. For Diamond Creek, it is clearly all in the names, as each name describes the terroir. However, there exists a deeper level, and it is only found in Burgundy.
What is it about Burgundy and terroir that sets it apart from the rest of the world? Perhaps it has to do with the vineyards being very particular about sorting grapes according to terroir.
Imagine this: you are in France, walking down a sun-baked dirt road that is no wider than ten feet. There are vines along the road to your left, and vines to your right. What if I told you that the wine made from one side of the road tastes different from that of the other side? You might say that’s ridiculous. Now, what if I told you that the road was purposely put where it is BECAUSE the grapes taste different on each side? That is the level of dedication to terroir that wine producers in Burgundy have.
There is another fun detail to Burgundy as well: you can have one vineyard supplying multiple wineries, but unlike the rest of the world, wineries have the rights to specific rows of vines. Napa, for example, will pick all the grapes from a vineyard and then split them up randomly for each winery that wanted grapes from that vineyard. They don’t know where in the vineyard the grapes come from – but in Burgundy, they do. This is of great importance. Wineries in Burgundy are very proud of their wines and insist that the specific terroir of the row in which the grapes grow is as important as any other part of the wine-making process.
Now that we've covered the level of committment to terroir that Burgundians have, let's talk about a great example of that in the Domaine Chevrot, Le Croix Moines, Maranges. The vineyard is small - only 20,000 square feet, or about 0.4 of an acre. Very, very small - there are some houses in Vancouver that are bigger than this vineyard! Each year they only produce 2 barrels of wine, or equal to 60 cases of wine. What should you expect from this wine? Well, the 16 months of aging in the barrel has created a complex expression of raspberry and other red berry flavours, mixed in with some wonderful spice. Personally, from the times that I have tried it, there is a certain X factor to this wine. There is amazing complexity, there are these layers of the aforementioned flavours into these wonderful earthy tones that show the true expression of the vineyard. This is not a pinot noir for the rookie drinker. It will challenge you, but it is worth the challenge.
We do have a wonderful dish on the menu that this dish works perfectly with: the Summer Tasting Menu's course of duck done three ways. This dish is an incredible combination of cured and seared duck breast, confit of duck leg and foie gras cream, and finished with blackberries and beets. The raspberry flavours of the wine work well with the duck and the blackberry, the more rustic tones of the wine will help soften the sweetness of the beets and just add another layer of WOW to this amazing dish.
Come by Bauhaus, and allow me to show you this great example of what makes Burgundy arguably the greatest wine region in the world. If you go to Wine Searcher and try to find this wine, good luck - it is listed in 2 wine shops in all of North America. In that case, I guess we will see you soon.
The Dr. Peter Pride Crawl Fundraiser
We're excited to announce that we're taking part in this year's Dr. Peter Aids Foundation Pride Crawl! From July 14th to August 6th, simply order the Steife Melone for $14, where $8 will be donated to the Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation.
The Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation is a non-profit organization that raises funds to support innovative health care at the Dr. Peter Centre in the West End of Vancouver. The Dr. Peter Centre provides compassionate care to some of British Columbia's most vulnerable citizens who face poverty, homelessness, mental health and addiction issues in addition to HIV.
The Hungry Couple YVR
It’s a staple on our menu (as either the Cheese Spätzle for the table with crispy onions, or the herb spätzle as a side), and we served it last week alongside our braised pork and housemade kimchi at the Indian Summer Festival Gala. It's an iconic German dish, associated with memories of grandmothers labouring over the hot stove. Today in Germany, spätzle are mainly considered a “Swabian specialty” (Swabia is a cultural, historic, and linguistic region in southwestern German) and are often associated with the German state of Baden-Wurttemberg. In France, they’re associated with Alsace and Moselle. The total estimated annual commercial production of spätzle in Germany is approximately 40,000 tons. That’s a lot of spätzle!
Some say the name comes from the word Spatzen, which means “little sparrows.” Why? Some think that before there were specially made Spätzle tools they would put dough into their hands, as if they were holding a little sparrow, and put small pinches in the water. Another idea is that the dough was formed with two spoons, creating little oval shapes like little sparrow bodies. How it got from Spatzen to Spätzle is unclear.
Swabia is an area of Germany that has a long history. One of the dishes they are most known for is Spätzle . According to a German company, Spätzle Wonder, one of the reasons for its popularity is that Swabia was a poor area, and that this was a dish that was versatile, simple to make, and could be served alone or with a small portion of meat or vegetables and be satisfying.
Spätzle dough typically consists of a few ingredients, primarily eggs, flour, and salt. The Swabian rule-of-thumb is to use one more egg than the number of people eating the spätzle. Water is often added to produce a thinner dough. The flour traditionally used for spätzle is a coarse type known as , or what may be referred to in North America as ‘first clear’ or semolina flour. This gives a chewier texture but can produce a dough too crumbly for scraping if no water is added.
Traditionally, Spätzle are made by scraping llong, thin strips of dough off a wooden (sometimes wet) chopping board, called a Spätzlebrett, into boiling salted water, which they are cooked until they rise to the surface. The dough should be as viscous as to slowly fall apart if cut into strips with a knife, yet hold the initial shape for some seconds. If dropped into boiling water, the egg whites will congeal quickly, while the yolks will keep the eggs succulent. Once the noodles have become firm, they’re skimmed from the water and put aside.
The Joh. Jos. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese 2007
Bauhaus's resident wine expert, Alan Koller, is back with another tale about life, wine, and foie gras.
My German father was trained as a mechanic by Mercedes Benz back in the '50s. I remember growing up listening to his stories about how Mercedes did things. To say they were a little obsessive compulsive is an understatement. One of the things they did was have all the apprentices get their driver’s license, but the testing was to be done with instructors from the Mercedes race team. The first time my dad took the test he failed. Why? Because he failed to shift between 2nd and 3rd gear in the proper RPM range. Slightly different rules than our driving exams. With that, you have a bit of a vision of what childhood was like for me with a Mercedes-trained OCD father. The good news is, my mother was Canadian so I am well-balanced, just like the wine I am talking about. - Joh Jos Prum.
Fine wine in Germany is an exact science. It is the only country in the world that takes its signature varietal and creates 8 sweetness levels on top of its other classifications. There is never a harvest where pickers go into a vineyard and simply pick all the grape clusters. Top vineyards have a tool called a refractometer, which allows a picker to look at a single grape in a bunch and know the sugar content of that grape. If it is the correct sugar content, then they pick the grape bunch. If not, the grape is left on the vine. Robert Weil brags that in their best vineyards, pickers may go through a single vineyard up to 13 times in a season to pick.
Joh Jos Prum will handle their vineyards in a similar manor, except they almost never make a trocken or dry Riesling. They specialize in sweeter Riesling, and by most accounts they are the benchmark for Mosel Riesling. If we use price as an indicator then they definitely they are, their Trockenbeerenausese when it is produced can sell for upwards of $5000 a bottle upon release. Here's the good news: the Auslese we are serving is a steal at $240.
So what should you expect from this wine? Incredible complexity in a wine that is about a 5 out of 10 for sweetness. The flavour profile shows some green apple, but a great deal of peach and exotic tropical fruit. As it works around your palate, new flavours will emerge and keep you engaged. Near the end you will pick up on a hint of botrytis. It has a wonderfully crisp acidity that rounds out the sweetness - this is instrumental in the wine pairing. Without the acidity, pairing this wine to food would be tough.
What should you pair this dish with? At Bauhaus it is unquestionably the Foie Gras torchon. Upon request, we will serve just the torchon and brioche, and substitute the wine as the dish's fruit component. That is what I would do, and if you check with us, we may just have an alternate wine open for you to try as the pairing for the Foie Gras. It truly is an amazing pairing. If you try it at home, I suggest a quality blue cheese or some fatty pork, as both work exceptionally well with Auslese. I hope you get a chance to try it.
Germany's Sauerkraut vs Korea's Kimchi
Kimchi and Sauerkraut - they're both fermented cabbages, so how different can it get? The answer is very! Although sauerkraut, German for sour cabbage, is near and dear to our German hearts at Bauhaus, Executive Chefs Tim Schulte and David Mueller have created the Spring Tasting Menu's third course with the Korean classic dish that is kimchi.
Sauerkraut and kimchi, while possessing similarities, are made very differently and possess distinctive qualities. Sauerkraut is made from shredded cabbage heads and is fermented until sour. Kimchi is a spicy pickled or fermented mixture of cabbage, onions, and sometimes fish, along with various seasonings such as garlic, horseradish, red peppers, and ginger. The cabbage stems are kept intact, and is fermented with more salt and at a lower temperature than sauerkraut. It was originally producced in pots partially buried in the cold earth in late autumn and winter. The fermentation time of sauerkraut is longer, lasting for up to six weeks, where kimchi only ferments for three weeks.
What's the Difference?
When fully fermented and ready to eat, kimchi tastes like a crunchy pungent pickle that is saltier and less acidic than sauerkraut. Sauerkraut is more tart, with an almost flowery aroma thanks to some yeast growth. The two play supporting roles on the plate - kimchi jazzes up bland rice, and sauerkraut is a refreshing side dish for rich meats.
it's believed that preserved cabbage was introduced to Europe in its present form in the 13th century by Ghengis Khan after invading China. Since then, both kimchi and sauerkraut have secured top spots on various 'world's healthiest foods' lists for their amazing health benefits. They are both low in calories an high in fibre, antioxidants, and vitamins C and B. Additionally, sauerkraut is an excellent source of vitamin K, meanwhile kimchi provides generous amounts of vitamin A.
At Bauhaus, we are all about taking classic German and European techniques and creating exciting and modern dishes. With that in mind, East meets West with the Tasting Menu's pork belly. The pork melts in your mouth and is perfectly contrasted with the house-made kimchi, and is provided with textural contrast thanks to the peanuts and pork rinds.
Castiglion Del Bosco, Campo Del Drago Brunello Di Montelcino, 2010
Countless wine enthusiasts will be able to tell stories of different ‘ah-ha’ moments they've experienced with wine. What is an “ah ha” moment? It is that moment when wine went from something you drink to something you experience. My first moment was sitting in the lounge at the Pan Pacific Hotel in 1997. The 1986 Chateau Y’Quem was the wine that made me see what wine could be; the smell, the different layers, how it seemed to evolve in my month, the way it lingered for what seemed liked eternity, and of course the way it made me feel. I felt euphoric. That was my first big ‘ah-ha’ moment.
Thankfully, I have had a few more since then, and Castiglion Del Bosco has provided one of those moments. Five years ago, I was cooking at a friend’s house when he brought out the 1999 Campo Del Drago. I opened it, decanted it, took a sip and announced to my friends that I was going to put dinner on hold for an hour. They looked a bit confused and just shrugged. Then they found out why I stopped dinner. This wine deserved its own moment. It was an incredible combination of dried and aged cherry and dark berry flavours married with these layers of leather, tobacco, and chocolate. More importantly, the wine kept telling its story long after that first sip. It was ‘ah-ha’ moment for me and my friends that day.
Now as wonderful as my story sounds, you may be saying to yourself, “but you are offering the 2010. I won’t get the same experience.” I completely agree, you won’t. The honest truth is, until Brunello is about 15 years old you won’t get the full experience, and some will argue that it can take as much as 20 years or more before Brunello’s true story is told. Having said that, there is a very good reason to try the Campo Del Drago now - there is a great experience to be had in its youth. The moment you raise your glass up you will get this incredible eruption of bright cherry and dark berries all wrapped with a touch of smoke. On the palate, you will again experience the incredible fruit, with some beautiful spice and the beginning stages of an aged Brunello, and hints of tobacco and leather. The finish has soft tannins and a classic Brunello acidity. Trying this wine now adds to your foundation of knowledge of what a great Brunello can be, and if you ask me I will be able to tell you where you can find some to add to your own cellar.
There is one more way we can take this wine to the next level - with our incredible 30 day dry aged beef strip. The combination of the perfectly cooked steak with a light smoke from our charcoal and our chefs’ amazing collection of flavours from the onions will all marry themselves perfectly to this incredible wine. The fruit of the wine will add a new dimension to the dish, the spice and earthy tones add more depth to the onions, while the acidity will keep your palate fresh and lively from the first bite to the last!
I hope you get a chance to try the Campo del Drago, it is well-worth the price of admission.
If design history or design philosophy of the early 20th century aren’t listed in your favourite hobbies, you may not be familiar with the Bauhaus movement. With that being said, you're constantly surrounded by pieces of architecture and design influenced by the movement and philosophy. The Bauhaus, meaning “house of building” in German, was founded in 1919 in Weimar, Germany, by architect Walter Gropius. The school emerged out of late-19th century desires to reunite the applied arts and manufacturing, and to reform education.
The Bauhaus, which translates to “House of Building,” was founded by Walter Gropius as a school of arts in Weimar, Germany, in 1919. The Bauhaus was a combination of both crafts and arts, and as such its nature and concept was regarded as something completely new back then. Today, the historical Bauhaus is the most influential education establishment in the fields of architecture, art, and design. The Bauhaus existed from 1919 to 1933, and today the world considers it to be the home of the avant-garde of classical modern style in all fields of liberal and applied arts. The impact of Bauhaus still resonates today.
Walter Gropius and the Bauhaus strove to create a visionary and Utopian craft guild that would combine beauty with usefulness through architecture, sculpture, painting, and crafts and engineering. Structures built in the style of Bauhaus featured many aspects that would later come to define modern architecture – frame structures of steel, glass facades, etc. The Bauhaus was a trendsetter in architecture and design for a hundred years.
For us, we've taken the philosophy of the Bauhaus movement and applied it to European fine dining here in Vancouver. It's evident in our space with the large unadorned windows, steel beams, and simplistic leather chairs. It's also showcased in the plating and style of food - both elevated and simplistic, simultaneously refined and unpretentious.
Alan Koller, wine connoisseur and a member of the Bauhaus team, has created a new wine feature program called Secrets of the Cellar. We’ll be pairing up exclusive wines with dishes from our menus, breaking down the profile of each wine and why they’re so special. The first wine hails from Rheingau, Germany, August Kesseler’s 2013 Cuvée Max Pinot Noir.
The August Kesseler Winery has been around since 1924, and continues to be one of the few wineries to consistently produce world class Pinot Noirs that can rival some of the best that Burgundy and the New World have to offer. The Cuvée Max is Kesseler's flagship Pinot Noir and is only made in years where Mother Nature allows for the highest quality grapes to grow. This 2013 vintage was one of those years.
What should you expect from the Cuvée Max? Complexity is the first word that comes to mind. The classic black cherry, blueberry, and liquorice are all there as you would expect, but because of extended aging in large toasted barriques there are beautiful tones of black tea, smoke, and earth weaving its way through the rich fruit of the wine. What makes a wine a great wine is the length of conversation about the wine. The Cuvée Max is a long conversation. Each sip adds a new experience to the story.
Pair Kesseler's Pinot Noir with the Quail on the a la carte menu. With barley risotto, mushroom, and nettle, the dish is rich, succulent, and bursting with Spring's flavours, it's the ultimate pairing.
Healthy Oceans and Delicious Dishes