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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 95 (July 10, 2006)

Monday, July 3: Wrote my wine reviews for 680 NEWS and a piece on Ontario's hottest new wineries for the Wine & Cheese Show's magazine. Since 2000 I find that 48 new wineries have opened in Ontario. Tasted some of Howard Soon's wines from the Okanagan Valley's Sandhill Estate (Burrowing Owl Vineyard). These are really terrific wines and should be available to Ontario buyers. Howard Soon is one of the great unsung heroes of the Canadian wine industry. This afternoon I went to a backyard barbecue at the house of the chair of Michael Ignatieff's Etobicocke Lakeshore riding association. I brought along ten wines in tetrapaks that I have to taste. They went untouched (apart from my tasting portion) as the guests got into the Red Leaf Lager from their local Great Lakes brewery. Ignatieff spoke briefly about Liberal values as exemplified by Wilfred Laurier. I was impressed by Ignatieff and believe he would make an excellent leader of the Liberal party.

Tuesday, July 4: I was browsing to find what Toronto restaurants charge if you bring your own wine. The corkage ranges from nothing (Paese – good on you, Tony Loschiavo) to $60 (Susur). The weirdest corkage formula is at Rodney's Oyster House: "$25 per bottle if you spend under $50, $20 under $75, $10 with a $100 bill." The servers must have recourse to an abacus. Mammina's charges $5 but VQA wines are free. Morton's, whose wine prices are astronomical, only charges $25 corkage. Wrote my monthly column for Post City magazines on critter wines. I'm convinced that the sudden deluge of animal labels on wine takes its inspiration from TV commercials with all those talking geckos and geese delivering the message that talking heads used to. American Independence Day and Deborah and I are invited to our friends the Willises to a celebratory barbecue (Arlene, my co-founder of Grapes for Humanity, is American). We start the evening with Pol Roger, which flows through the night.

Wednesday, July 5: Recorded my 680 NEWS pieces. This evening, a tasting at Bymark of wines imported by Dino Souchleris – Greek and South African. Dino represents Tsantali and Grande Provence. Started with an interesting sparkling Xynomavro (off-dry). The best wine was Grande Provence Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 (under screwcap) – all mint, vanilla and cassis, very creamy and spicy on the palate. Grande Provence also makes a Burgundian-style Chardonnay 2004 of note. I also liked the Tsantali Organic Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 which had an interesting marine note, reminiscent of Haut Brion.

Thursday, July 6: An early morning walk in my vineyard (two Louise Swenson vines in the garden, which Deborah keeps telling me to prune). The bunches look good but not as luxuriant a crop as last year – which were all eaten by the raccoons the moment they ripened. In May I took part in an on-line survey about wine closures and today I got the following email outlining the results.

For the last 6 months, Skalli & Rein Consulting Firm has worked on a 300-page Global Wine Closure Report 2006, an exclusive report order by a dozen of major suppliers in the Natural Cork, Screwcap and Synthetic Cork business.

Key conclusions from the report are :

  • Natural Cork may disappear by 2015 if most of the industry does not react to the TCA (cork taint) crisis and new consumer needs
  • Screwcap will continue its impressive breakthrough (2000–2006 = from less than 1% to 6% market share)
  • Synthetic and Natural Corks have to adapt to new wine consumers (older population, American and Asian, Single, Females) who will enjoy not using a corkscrew
  • The unprecedented rise in the price of raw materials for Synthetic and Screwcap suppliers can slow down the shift from Natural Corks that rely on stable price points.

From the bar graphs there is a definite preference for screwcaps among New World producers and an equally definite preference for cork among Old World producers. I could have told them that.

This evening I conducted a dinner tasting at Grano for my son Guy's company, Direct Energy. The wines were chosen to celebrate Italy's success in getting to the World Cup Final:

  • Reception wine: Sandro Bottega Prosecco
  • Feudi di San Gregorio Fiano di Avellino 2004
  • Anselmi San Vincenzo 2005
  • Frescobaldi Chianti Rufina "Nipozzano" 2003
  • Produttori del Barbaresco Langhe 2000
  • Spinelli Montepulciano d'Abruzzo "Terra d'Aligi" 2003
  • Montezovo Ripasso Ca Solin 2004

Friday, July 7: A Vintages tasting day for the August release. Deborah is going up to a cottage with the ladies from her book club and brought with her a slew of wine. Eight bottles from my cellar. God knows what the other women have brought. I shall have a quiet weekend with Pinot the Wonder Dog and Nancy and Tanya, the cats. But I have to pack for the Okanagan Valley, where I'm headed on Sunday for three days.




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