A Wine Lover's Diary, part 100 (August 21, 2006)
Monday, August 14: This is my 100th week. When I started writing this blog I never thought it would get into my blood. I guess it's the equivalent of a long distance runner's high. Received an email invitation to be a judge for the World Food Media Awards in Adelaide in 2007. Unfortunately, it doesn't mean a trip to Australia. They send you the stuff to evaluate. I've done this for two previous years. Had to excuse myself from the wine book judging as I want to enter my atlas this year. A conference call this morning with Roger and Adam Dial in Halifax about their fabulous website www.appellationamerica.com. I'm their Ontario correspondent. They want interviews with winemakers explaining the terroir in their appellation.
Dinner, Deborah cooked a chicken breast in lemon and rosemary and I opened a bottle of Fontanafredda Barbera 2003. Good match because of the acidity.
Tuesday, August 15: David Lawrason and Doug Towers here for a www.winerytohome.com tasting of Ontario wines. Much of my time these days is taken up with thinking of promotional ideas for the wine atlas. Dinner: I cooked a chicken curry on the BBQ because it smells up the house for days if I do it on the kitchen stove. To accompany it a bottle of Southbrook Winery Riesling 2004 (enough residual sugar to take the heat).
Wednesday, August 16: Went to the dentist to have my teeth cleaned. He regales me with stories of how he makes his own grape juice. Not wine, grape juice. He buys four bushels of labrusca (Niagara and Concord) or Vidal. My mouth is full of instruments and he wants to know my reaction to blending Niagara juice and Vidal. I once had barber who would bring in his homemade wine at Christmas time and ask me what I thought of it while he was razor-cutting my hair. Lunch with my old friend Luiz Conceição (I shot a 10-part TV series on port with him in Portugal several years ago). Luiz runs the port club (www.portwine.com). We ate at Amadeu's, a Portuguese restaurant on Augusta in Kensington Market. The waiter recommended a bottle of CARM Grande Escolha 2001. He says it's the best red wine made in the Douro. I think perhaps his uncle is the winemaker. It's good but not as good as Dirk Niepoort's Redoma or Batuta. For dinner, some Ace bread and Pâté with a bottle of Cookoothama Shiraz 2004 from Southeastern Australia.
Thursday, August 17: I have seen the future and it's Wolf Blass Bilyara Reserve Chardonnay 2005 that is, for consumers who want to buy wine for tonight's dinner. The Chardonnay, at $14.95, comes in a plastic bottle and we in Ontario are the first market in the world to get it. The PET bottle (polyethylene terephthalate, a plastic resin and a form of polyester) is half the weight of glass, shatter-proof and fully recyclable. According to Wolf Blass's press release, the PET bottles can be recycled as polar fleece lining, carpeting, T-shirt fabric, fibrefill for sleeping bags and winter coats, automotive parts such as luggage racks, fuse boxes and door panels. But it's what's inside the container for the price that matters. All the hype around tetrapacks can't obscure the fact that, for most of them, the wine inside the cardboard is rubbish. The Bilyara Reserve Chardonnay 2005 is light and fresh with a clean apple and lemon flavour and a hint of residual sweetness. Its companion red is Bilyara Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 ($16.95), which tastes similar to the Wolf Blass Yellow Label (cedar, tobacco leaf and red currant nose; red currant and cranberry flavour with soft tannins, fruity with decent length). I carried both bottles home and it felt like only one.
Today is our anniversary and I'm taking Deborah to Cava, Chris Macdonald's new restaurant in the location where he used to cook some thirteen years ago (Delisle Court). I'm bringing Château Lafite 1983. Crossing my fingers it's not corked. Before dinner, a meeting at home with Bevan Roberts, a wine entrepreneur from South Australia. He tells me about the parlous state of the Australian wine industry. Three bountiful harvests have caused a huge wine lake and prices for grapes have fallen dramatically. We drink a bottle of Vincor Unity Chardonnay 2003 actually, an apposite choice since the concept of this wine is quite Australian: Chardonnay from BC and Ontario blended together. A terrific wine, rich, pineapple and citrus flavours, full-bodied with well integrated oak. Then to dinner. Cava's menu is a series of Iberian dishes, small and very tasty. I start off with a glass of Lustau sherry, a very crisp fino, from my favourite producer; Deborah has a glass of Henry of Pelham Riesling 2005. The Lafite is terrific, thank God.
Friday, April 18: As an anniversary present, Deborah has bought me four sessions with a trainer at our gym. Is she trying to tell me something? This morning, a tasting of the first half of the October Vintage's release. A whole slew of red Bordeaux, mainly of the 2003 vintage. My teeth are black; so much for yesterday's cleaning. Dean Tudor brought in a newspaper clipping about a study that says that university-educated men who are left-handed earn more than those who are right-handed. The same does not apply to women, however. Mercifully, I'm left-handed, like many wine writers. One third of the Wine Writers Circle is left-handed but we all plead poverty. Finished off the bottle of Cookoothama Shiraz, which for some unaccountable reason was not finished on Wednesday.