Bauhaus's resident wine enthusiast is back with another story, and this time he's taking us across the Atlantic to Austria and diving into the Austrian Blaufränkisch and it's history.
This time, we're travelling to Austria to learn about a wonderful grape called Blaufränkisch. More specifically, one man’s passion to define a country’s wine industry. Before we get into the man, lets talk about the wine industry in Austria. Based on the availability of Austrian wine in Vancouver, I'm comfortable assuming many readers won't know much about Austrian wines.
The history of Austrian wine is actually a very long one, dating back several thousand years. Wars have disrupted its wine production many times in history, and not just in the 20th century. Of course, in the mid to late 19th century, phylloxera wiped out the vine stock, but eventually this turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It allowed Austria to plant vine stock that was best suited to its climate and soil, with Grüner Veltliner being the predominant grape.
Side note - 80% of the vines in Austria are of a white varietal. About 5% is Blaufrankish.
So, following the First World War, Austria was the third largest producer of wine in the world - who knew, right? Then the Second World War came around, and that changed. The wine regions in Austria are all located on the eastern part of the country, following the borders with Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and the Danube river. If you remember your high school history lessons, you'll remember that Hungary and Czechoslovakia were under the rule of the Soviet Union and the threat of war was very real for decades along the border. During this time, Austria became known for producing basic bulk wine with little structure and flavour. Then came the 'oops' in Austrian wine history: in an attempt to create a better structure in their wines, some producers started adding diethylene glycol. Now, this chemical is used in anti-freeze and is very difficult to detect chemically, but it made wines a bit sweeter and more interesting. This was only discovered because one winery tried to write off a bunch of it as a business expense. Oops! Now the good news is, in 1986, in response, the DOC system was created to ensure the quality of Austrian wines. The guidelines were now in place, and wineries started to see wine for what it could be - world class.
This is where we return to the man, Roland Velich, and he comes from a family of wine makers. The Velich winery began in 1933, and the family winery produces only white wines, with Reisling and chardonnay being the main wines. Early on in his life, Roland was passionate about wine, and became very dedicated to finding a red grape that would best showcase what Austria had to offer. It turns out it was the Blaufränkisch grape. He believed that Blaufränkischcould become what Nebbiolo is to Piedmont, and what Pinot Noir is to Burgundy. So, he began studying both regions. His experiments with Blaufrankish began in 2001, with his new winery, Moric. Over time he developed his style and started creating the vision he had back in his youth. He owns multiple vineyards all in the Mittelburganland, the only red grape DOC in Austria. When it comes to making wine, he focuses on following the traditional techniques used in Burgundy and Barolo, and could apply for certification as organic, but doesn’t want to. Fermentation can be a bit different at Moric, sometimes taking an entire year, or more, to allow a malolactic fermentation to take place. Aging of the Blaufränkisch takes place in only old oak. Now, 16 years later, Roland will argue that the aging potential of his wines are 20 to 40 years, I guess time will tell on that. But what we do know is, he creates beautiful, complex wines that are being recognized as unique world class wines.
We are very fortunate to have 2 wines from Moric on our list. The Blaufränkisch and the Reserve. What does it taste like? Unique is a good starting point. In a blind tasting, you will hear people talk about Gamay Noir, but then the tannins are too present. Others will mention Pinot Noir, but the fruit is much richer than Burgundy. Others may start thinking Barbara, or a Nebbiolo but the structure is wrong in both cases.
What you will find is beautiful and upfront raspberry and current flavours - I call it fleshy as well - finishing with some wonderful minerality and crushed herb flavours. The acidity and soft tannins pair nicely with some of our dishes.
The difference between the two we have, relates to the complexity and intensity. The Reserve shows more dried floral tones and a deeper intensity. We are using the Blaufränkisch as the pairing for our duck course in the tasting menu. The Reserve is available by the bottle for $125. If you would like to buy the Blaufränkisch, we offer it for $95.
Come on by for a taste of Blaufränkisch, Austria’s signature red grape."
- Alan Koller
31 Days of German Riesling at Bauhaus
A German-inspired four course menu, each paired with exceptional Rieslings - 31 Days of German Riesling has arrived at Bauhaus! They say it takes 30 days for something to become a habit, so we're pleased to welcome you to your new obsession.
Each dish is paired with a Riesling that works in harmony with the characteristics of the dish's ingredients. If you're not already in love with Rieslings, this is the menu that will change your mind.
"Wine is sunlight, held together by water." - Galileo
This 4 course menu includes wine pairings is $135 and available only for the month of August.
Bauhaus's wine expert, Alan Koller, is back. This time, with a story about a California man and his vineyard.
Let’s begin by talking about the vineyard. The To Kalon Vineyard is a very old vineyard site near Oakville, originally planted in 1868. Fast forward many years and you will find 3 owners of this vineyard site. Robert Mondavi, Mouton Rothschild and Mondavi from Opus One, and Andy Beckstoffer. Opus and Mondavi own 75% of the site, while Andy owns the rest. The grapes that come from this vineyard are incredibly intense and complex, and are some of the most desired grapes in California. Wines made with these grapes almost always score over 95 points and it is one of the few vineyards that can brag about perfect scores of 100 on what it seems a yearly basis. Janzen, Paul Hobbs, Schrader, B Cellars, and Tor vineyards are all some of the big names that feature wines made from this vineyard. However, he important part of the story at this point is the understanding that only Andy Beckstoffer sells grapes from his vineyard.
Who is Andy Beckstoffer? Well, way back in 1966 he got involved in a marketing company, Heublein, which owned wineries like Inglenook and Beaulieu. In 1970, he created a separate division in Heublein called Vinifera Development Corp. All the wineries would be shifted into this division. As if in a game of chess, this move set up the next, which was to buy out Vinifera and make it his own. Now this is how Andy became owner of his part of the To Kalon vineyard. It was the vineyard that supplied Beaulieu vineyard. From this point is where Andy’s marketing side took control again and he began rebranding and creating the Beckstoffer Vineyards. Here is the interesting part: Beckstoffer Vineyards only grows grapes, they do not make wine. The brand has expanded to include 16 vineyards, and several are the most sought after in Napa, Mendocino and Red Hills.
Perhaps at this point you might be wondering, well why doesn’t he just make a Beckstoffer Winery? Apparently, he has two goals: firstly, to grow the best grapes in the world; secondly, to create vineyard designation as the highest level of wine in California. He is content to let others take his grapes and create wines, but if you think this man is just a nice guy that grows great grapes, you would be mistaken. To call him a shrewd business person would be a polite description, and to call him a confident business person would be very polite. The reports from the vineyards seem to be relatively consistent. He is direct, arrogant, and one of the most difficult people to negotiate with on the planet. All characteristics of a person that would fail as a business person if they didn’t own the greatest grapevines in California.
To illustrate this, let’s say you want to buy grapes from his To Kalon Vineyard. First, you and your winery must be approved by Andy. Second - the best part - the pricing. Believe it or not, the pricing is not the same for everyone. Originally, there was the price per tonne and the price per acre. You paid whichever was higher. Yield per acre can vary from 2.5 tonnes to 4 tonnes in a strong year, and it is because of this that there existed the two pricing options. This created consistency for Beckstoffer in revenue, but inconsistency for wineries. The system worked for a while, but then Andy torched all his contacts with wineries, came back to them and said, "here is how the pricing is going to work now. It is based on a minimum price per acre of $45,000, and we still have a pricing based on a per tonne. BUT we are now charging you based on the price of your wine per tonne. If you are charging $350 for a bottle of wine, then you will pay 350 X $175 per tonne. That would be $61,250 per tonne." Andy used to base it on a set number of 100 times the bottle price. Now the price fluctuates. Well, I guess if your grapes are that good, you can do it.
So, the moral of the story is this: if you find a wine that is from the To Kalon vineyard, the grape cost alone for the vineyard is $100 a bottle USD. Expect to pay a lot more than that.
We have two wines carrying the To Kalon designation: The Janzen and B Cellars. The Janzen is the 2011, and the wine is showing its true colours a little more with each passing moment. Rich black currant and black cherries get wrapped with incredible amounts of herbs and spice all balanced with wonderful mocha and soft tannins in the finish. The B Cellar’s is the 2014; early tastings are putting the score between 98 and 100, with Robert Parker leaning towards the 100. Parker describes this wine as a skyscraper of flavours and textures, it just keeps going for 50 to 60 seconds on your palate. There is no quit in this wine. What do I think of it? I haven't tried it. I had to write a blurb about it so Uwe realizes he hasn’t tried it. That way, when he gets back from Germany he'll want to try one. Based on the price, that's probably the only way I'll get to try some too.
Soak up the sun with the new Summer Tasting Menu, brimming with the season's warm, fresh flavours. This stunning menu is the second Tasting Menu created for Bauhaus by the executive chef team David Mueller and Tim Schulte.
The Bauhaus take on a Vichyssoise. Poached and torched salmon with potato ice cream, leek, and trout roe.
Domane Wachau, Terrassen Smaragd, 2013 (Austria), Gruner Veltliner
A dish that evokes memories of sun-soaked evenings at the neighbourhood baseball fields. Goat Cheese Agnolotti with summer squash, zucchini, spinach, sunflower seed purée.
Kunstler, 2015 Chardonnay (Germany), Limestone
A nod to Vancouver's incredible seafood. Tuna, avocado, radish, sesame, apple.
Hakutsuru Jumai (Japan)
Beef Shortrib, on a sweet corn purée, with torched baby corn and chanterelles, salted and caramelized popcorn
Two Hands, 2014 Shiraz (Australia), McLaren Vale
Like a syrupy-sweet summer evening. Duck breast and leg done 2 ways, with fois gras, beetroot, charred onion, and blackberries.
Brunello di Motalcino 2011 (Italy), Verbena
A summer vegetable garden. A carrot 'cake' with orange, cream cheese foam, chocolate 'soil,' and carrot tops.
La Stella 2016 (Okanagan, BC), Moscato D’Osoyoos
The Summer Tasting Menu is available as four courses for 79
or six courses for 99
Add the wine pairings for 54 / 79
Click below to read Richard Wolack's course-by-course review of the Tasting Menu and wine pairings
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.