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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 90 (June 5, 2006)

Monday, May 29: The TTC is on strike. There are no buses or subways trains in Toronto. It is stinking hot. Dogs are sticking to the pavement. I am meant to have lunch with the winemaker of Con Sur from Chile down at Oro but I have had to cancel because the traffic is just too heavy and I won't be able to get there. Going through old emails yesterday I came across this one while I was away in Italy and got very hot under the collar.

-----Original Message-----

From: Bluebottle Wines [mailto:wines@bluebottleplus.com]
Sent: Saturday, May 06, 2006 9:40 AM
To: tony.aspler@sympatico.ca
Subject: Confirmation of delivery to Mr Tony Aspler

For the attention of: Mr Tony Aspler

Thank you for ordering from Bluebottle Wines
We ship all over the world... all prices quoted in pounds sterling

You have chosen the following wines which will be despatched to:
c/o 680 News, 777 Jarvis St., Toronto, Ontario M4Y 3B7


YOUR ORDER:-

1980 Cabernet Sauvignon Molte Coniglio (with garlic)
Price £122.93
12 bottle(s) ordered. TOTAL = £1475.16

1999 Quattro Formaggi Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico
Price £76.99
12 bottle(s) ordered. TOTAL = £923.88

GRAND TOTAL = £2399.04


Payment is due upon delivery when a signature will be required by our driver.
Please note, we regard fraud as a serious crime and take all necessary precautions, including violence, to stamp this out.

www.wine.bluebottleplus.com

(Then I read the final paragraph)

DISCLAIMER - Bluebottle Wine is a subsidiary of Bluebottle Plus, and neither Bluebottle Wine nor Bluebottle Plus takes responsibility for any lack of understanding this email may provoke, etc, etc. In other words, you've been Bluebottled.

Good one guys. Our friend Joanne came to dinner. It was only after I had prepared two pork loins for the barbecue that Deborah remembered Joanne does not eat pork. Not for religious reasons but it upsets her digestion. I served Balthazar Ress Hattenheimer Schüzenhaus Rheingau Riesling Kabinett 2004 and Sandhill Gamay Noir Burrowing Owl Vineyard 2004.

Tuesday, May 30: This is the hottest may 30th on record. It's 35° Celsius and I am working on the laptop downstairs because my office is stifling in spite of the fan. The air conditioning doesn't reach the third floor and it's not working that well. I called the company with whom we have a maintenance contract and the earliest they can come is June 12th! This evening I'm conducting a dinner tasting of Italian wines at a Toronto law firm (a client appreciation event). Here is the line-up of wines I've chosen.

  • Reception wine: BOTTEGA VINO DEI POETI PROSECCO
  • Anselmi Capitel Foscarino 2004 Veneto
  • Planeta Chardonnay 2004 Sicily
  • Masi Brolo di Campofiorin 1999 Veneto
  • Banfi Brunello di Montalcino 2000 Tuscany
  • Antinori Tignanello 2001 Tuscany
  • La Signora Moscato d'Asti 2004 Piedmont

Wednesday, May 31: Dino Souchleris of Dino's Vinos called this morning and asked me if I'd like to come with him to Greece in September to conduct a tasting of Canadian wines in Athens and to visit some of the regions I haven't seen, like Crete and Samos. Lunch with Stephen Pauwels and his uncle Jack at Grano, to discuss setting up the tour to Bordeaux next May. We've decided on an 11-day trip that includes the Loire Valley, Bordeaux, Cognac and Cahors. Once the details of the winery visits have been finalized I'll be posting them on this site. Dinner at the newly opened Lai Toh Heen restaurant on Mount Pleasant (formerly Square, Steak Frites and before that Pronto). This is a sister restaurant to Lai Wha Heen in the Metropolitan hotel – to my mind the best Chinese restaurant in Ontario. I joined Margaret Swaine and Amy Rosen for an introductory dinner and a tour of the restaurant. We sat at the bar (very sexy, under-lit onyx) for a glass of Moet & Chandon Brut before going to the table. The presentation of the dishes was spectacular. We started with the Dim Sum Platter, which consisted of four items: goldfish-shaped dumpling steamed with shrimp and cod fish, steamed soft rice roll filled with shrimp paste in soy sauce, deep-fried crispy roll with scallops, squash and mixed veggies and baked tart topped with filet of eel and mince veggies. More champagne with this course. Then papaya bowl of double boiled seafood consommé (served in a hollowed out papaya), jumbo prawns wok fried with salty duck yolk served with Henri Bourgeois Sancerre Les Baronnes 2004. Next, truffle-scented crispy chicken followed by wok-fried diced beef tenderloin with orange peels (the dish of the night) accompanied by Penfolds Shiraz Bin 128 Coonawarra 2002. The following course was Mini omelettes of seafood fried rice and then a choice of desserts – I had a coconut and lemon confection.

Thursday, June 1: A busy day today. My old friend Carmen Casterino is in town from Dallas to conduct a Gallo portfolio tasting with Gallo's VP of Winemaking, Peter Valla, at Jamie Kennedy's restaurant. I asked Peter if Gallo was going to move into screwcaps since they have started with their Turning Leaf brand. "As winemakers, we love screwcaps," he said. He told the audience that they had done research in Canada which suggested that Canadians will accept screwcaps for Gallo's higher-priced wines but not their $10 wines. Gallo's entry-level varietals under the Sierra Valley label are very impressive for the price ($9.95), as are the Turning Leaf products, a notch higher in quality at $11.95. The 2003 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the best I've tasted from Gallo. I was meant to meet David Powell, the proprietor/winemaker of Torbreck in the Barossa Valley, at my house for a tasting. But he and his importing agent Zoltan Fekete were having lunch at Jamie Kennedy's. I joined them for a while and had a glass of Henry of Pelham Cuvée Catharine before driving back to my place, where David poured a series of his reds – really outstanding wines. 2004 Cuvée Juveniles (a blend created for Willi's Wine Bar restaurant in Paris – 60% Grenache, 20% Shiraz, 20% Mataro). Very Rhône-like, rich and full yet elegant with powerful blackberry, minerally-spicy notes. Next came The Steading 2003 (same grape mix), but the Shiraz seemed more prominent, giving the wine an iodine note, a wonderful wine. Powell spent several years as a lumberjack in the Scottish Highlands in the Torbreck forest, hence all the Scottish names. 2005 Woodcutter's Shiraz is Torbreck's large volume brand (25,000 cases). Dense purple – it stains the glass – intense and high toned, with sweet blackberry fruit. The 2004 Struie, named for a hill behind the Glenmorangie Distillery and the home of a pub called the Altam Arms, where Powell first a band called Run Rig play, has blackberry and chocolate with spicy and floral grace notes and a hint of iodine – wonderful. 2003 The Factor is dense purple, very concentrated with sweet succulent blackberry fruit and great balance for all its fleshy intensity. Not cheap, though – $135. My favourite of the tasting, at the same price, was 2004 Descendant. Dense purple-black colour, very Northern Rhône in style (probably because of the 8% Viognier blended in), rich, chocolate and sweet blackberry fruit, a seamless wine with everything working gorgeously together. I preferred this wine over the more expensive 2003 Run Rig, which will be the longer-lived wine. Great depth of flavour, full-bodied and firmly structured, smoky, licorice and black raspberry flavours. We finished the tasting with the 2004 The 2004 Bothie, a charming dessert wine made from Muscat à Petits Grains (White Frontignac) – clean, grapey, orange blossom, very easy drinking.

Then on to conduct a private dinner tasting in Markham in aid of the Stratford Chefs School. Hillebrand had donated six Trius wines: 2004 Riesling, 2004 Chardonnay, 2002 Cabernet Franc, 2002 Merlot, 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2002 Red (a Meritage blend).

Friday, June 2: A Vintages release tasting – about eighty wines. For dinner, hamburgers, which I overcooked, with a bottle of Heitlinger Open Air Rosé Baden Trocken 2004, made from Pinot Noir and no doubt bled off to concentrate the colour and flavour of that winery's Pinot Noir. The wine was charming, light in flavour though hefty on the palate with a dry, wild strawberry taste.

 

 

 

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