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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 74 (February 13, 2006)

Monday, February 6: Pinot came back from the groomer looking as if she'd had a close encounter with a deranged lawnmower. Apparently, the groomer couldn't control her and phoned to ask us to take her home and bring her back again if we could accompany her. Spent the day on the galleys apart from a visit to my accountant. We both bemoaned the fact that we haven't played squash in eons. For dinner, I tried the Concha y Toro Likan Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 in a litre tetrapak. The wine isn't bad at all but what you save in this format you could spend on dry cleaning bills. I held the box in the middle and squeezed it, causing wine to go everywhere over Deborah's dinner. Deborah and I had earlier celebrated the finishing of the book by opening two 200 mL bottles of Nicolas Feuillatte champagne – the ones with straps. We drank them by the fire with almonds that had been sautéed in olive oil and dusted with rock salt.

Tuesday, February 7: A meeting with Barbara Bardi and Linda Stregger of Up Front Entertainment about making a wine DVD. I have to do an outline for them. This was followed by a meeting at Scotia Capital to plan a Valentine's evening event involving a wine and food tasting. At 1 pm I went over to the offices of Philippe Dandurand Wines for a tasting of the Stoney Ridge portfolio, wines from 2003 and 2004. Dean Tudor was there and he returned the galleys I had given him to proofread. Nothing escapes Dean's eagle eye; he is the bane of Vintages, gleefully pointing out to David Churchill every wrong Vintage and misspelling in the catalogue. Spent the rest of the day going over Dean's notes. This evening Deborah and I are going to the Toronto Symphony for a concert. A light program of pop favourites, such as The Sorcerer's Apprentice. The orchestra seemed to be having fun. The Henry of Pelham Cabernet Baco they served by the glass in the lounge must have been open for a week.

Wednesday, February 8: This is my deadline day to hand in the corrected galleys. After today no changes can be made to the atlas (which comes out in September). I had an email from Dave Gamble in British Columbia telling me of a new winery in the Okanagan called Oliver Twist Estate. I managed to shoehorn it into the "Future Wineries" section in the back of the book. When I googled it to check on the address I found it listed on a page under "Pending Applications." There were 25 new wineries listed. This page was dated as of February 2. In the last five days God knows how many new applications for wineries have been made in BC. I finally cut the umbilical cord to the atlas at about 3:30 pm when a courier came to pick up the pages and take them to the publisher. I felt a mixture of profound relief and a pang of sadness. I expect the onset of post-natal depression soon. This book has occupied my thoughts and time for close to eighteen months. At 5 pm I had a conference call to the Master of Wine North America advisory board meeting in Yountville, Napa Valley. I usually attend this meeting but this year I couldn't get away and Mary Ewing-Mulligan, the president, suggested I call in. It's strange to participate in a two-hour meeting by proxy. I played an awful lot of computer games as I listened to the discussion, putting in my two cents' worth to show that I was actually paying attention and following the discussions. After the meeting I rushed downtown to a tasting of Spanish wines put on by Vintages. Over 50 wines and sherries. There was a delicious Single Vineyard Manzanilla, Bodegas Hidalgo La Gitana "Pastrana," which comes out in Vintages on Feb. 18 at $18.95, and a Martin Codax Albarino 2004 released on the same day at $17.95.

Thursday, February 9: David Lawrason and Doug Tower came over for a Winerytohome tasting. Thirty-one wines. This evening Deborah and I are joining Frank and Patti-Anne Daley, Frank's daughter Regan and her husband, Rob, at the theatre in the Distillery District to see the Soulpepper production of Thornton Wilder's Our Town. But first we dine at Pure Spirit as part of the Winterlicious program. Ironically, Doug Tower had done exactly that the evening before and he told me that the food was so late in coming that he had to leave after the soup to make the theatre on time. Our waiter, when I suggested that we would like to be out in time to make the 8 o'clock curtain, rolled his eyes and said, "Everyone's talking about the couple who weren't served in time last night." We got out in time but the second bottle of wine (Osborne Solaz Tempranillo Cabernet 2004) was corked and the waiter had poured it into our half-filled glasses without giving anyone a taste.

Friday, February 10: Another Vintages tasting day, for the second half of the March release. I went to the Vintages store at Queens Quay to order the wines for the Valentine's evening tasting. I ran into Steve Campbell, the owner of Lifford Wine Agency, whose trucks were loading up cases of wine for delivery. Steve had had a long legal battle with the LCBO over holding too many cases of wine in his office. The court case was finally settled and he had his license revoked for a month. But his customers have rallied around him to ensure his sales will sustain him for the month he cannot trade. His sales, he tells me, are up 45 per cent. Good for him. This is the first of a series of such actions by the LCBO against agents. Tonight is the Ontario Imported Wine Spirits and Beer Association's annual dinner at the National Club. This year the theme is France. I am meant to present Bruce Maclean with his award for having won the Blind Tasting competition in January. Unfortunately, I'm not able to attend, as I had made a commitment for a charity tasting before I knew the date of this event. Deborah is deputizing for me and will present Bruce with the engraved decanter and a certificate for the office wall. My tasting is for the successful bidder in a silent auction in air of Opera Atelier. They live in The Beaches. The wines I am offering are:

  • Inniskillin Riesling Reserve 2002
  • Bollini Chardonnay Barricato 40 2003 (Trentino)
  • See Ya Later Ranch Pinot 3 2004 (a blend of Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir from Hawthorne Mountain Vineyards in BC). This series of wines has a winged dog on the label denoting the dog cemetery on the property – the only winery I know that has such a feature.
  • Château Pey La Tour 2003 (Bordeaux)
  • Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Shiraz 2002
  • Firestick Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 (South Australia)
  • Southbrook Winery Vidal Icewine 2003

When I got home I realized I had left my shoes there (I was wearing snow boots to drive).




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