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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 102a (September 5, 2006)

  Guy and me on Larry's ATV
  Red Lake
  Hugh takes a Tawny Port break
  Casting for bass

Monday, August 28th: Took the day off to go fishing with my son Guy and Larry Paterson and Hugh Johnson (not that one), both former LCBO employees. Larry has been fishing in Red Lake near Apsley for years. We had to walk in for about a kilometre while Larry drove in his canoe on his ATV. Hugh had brought along Chinese food for lunch, which we reheated in the containers over an open fire. The bass fishing was terrific. Guy got 16 and I caught 7. Larry put it down to Hugh's boat being cursed because the moment Guy joined him in the canoe he began pulling them out of the lake as if there was no tomorrow. Larry brought along a bottle of his homemade Louise Swenson 2005, which has the distinction of being the only wine of its kind made in Canada (and I have two vines of this variety in my back garden which are ripening nicely for the raccoons). Hugh brought the Taylor 10 Year Old Tawny Port. We fished until about 7 pm and on the drive home Guy and I stopped at Wendy's for hamburgers and fries.

Tuesday, August 29th: Flew to Montreal to conduct a tasting for the Opimian Society. The tasting was held in a condo in the old Redpath Sugar plant down by the Lachine Canal. The wines were all Opimian imports:

  • Château de Sours Rosé 2005 (Bordeaux): deep pink, strawberry nose; initially dry but finishes with a touch of sweetness and a blood orange flavour; very clean with a white pepper note on the finish.
  • Château de Fontenille 2004 (Bordeaux): medium straw colour; spicy oak and peach nose with grassy-citrus notes; medium-bodied, very dry with good length.
  • Manuka Hill Sauvignon Blanc 2005 (Hawke's Bay, New Zealand): pale straw colour; grassy, gooseberry, elderberry nose; opens more on the palate to guava and passion fruit flavours, mouth-filling and dry.
  • Lamblin & Fils Bourgogne Passetoutgrains 2004: light ruby with a white rim; peppery cherry nose; light-bodied, fruity, lively and fresh, raspberry flavour; firm with a touch of tannin on the finish.
  • La Source de Vignelaure 2000 (Coteaux d'Aix), a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon: Bordeaux style – cedar and currants on the nose, lovely mouth feel; medium-bodied, blackcurrant and redcurrant flavours with a floral note; great balance.
  • Casa Nueva Merlot Reserva 2002 (Chile): ruby colour; spicy, oaky, vanilla and blueberry on the nose; well extracted sweet fruit with a dark chocolate finish and soft tannins.
  • Geoff Hardy K1 Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 (Adelaide Hills, South Australia): dense ruby showing some maturity at the rim; intense, vanilla oak, mint and blackcurrant; full-bodied, rich, sweet fruit, firmly structured with good acidity and a tannic finish.

Took the last flight out of Montreal at 10 pm. It left half an hour late and we had to wait on the plane for fifteen minutes until they opened the door. Got home at 12:15 am to be greeted by Pinot the Wonder Dog.

Wednesday, August 30th: Finished writing a piece for Fine Wine and Liquor magazine in China. They are devoting two issues to Italian wine and the editor asked me to write the introduction. A tasting at 3 pm of Israeli wines at George Brown's tasting lab. Members of the Wine Writers Circle and the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers were there. The tasting was conducted by Amos Hadas, whom Sheila Swerling-Puritt, the President of WWC, had met earlier in the year in Israel. Until his retirement in 2000 he was employed as a senior research scientist with the Agricultural Research Organization (A.R.O.) at Bet Dagan, Israel, working mostly in soil tillage and irrigation with marginal water (saline and recycled sewage water). He has been appointed as an adjunct Professor at the faculty of Agriculture of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he has been teaching soil physics and soil tillage until his retirement. He also writes books: Wine and Grapevine in the Bible, Olive and Olive Oil in the Bible, Wine and Grapevine in the History and Archaeology of Ancient Israel, and Olive Culture in the History and Archaeology of Ancient Israel. He began the seminar by saying that Canada has twice the acreage under vine that Israel has and that there has been wine production in Israel for 55 centuries, showing us slides of wine presses carved out of the stone that date back 5,000 years. There are 140 wineries now in Israel, apparently. We tasted one white, a Bravdo Chardonnay 2005 (very Australian in style, smoky, buttered popcorn, sweetish but short), and ten red. The best were Carmel Ben Zimra Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 – cedar, floral, blackcurrant nose, very elegant (I gave it ****½) and Yarden Golan Heights Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc/Merlot 2000 – very dense purple-black colour, cedar, plum and licorice nose, intense, chunky, full-bodied with a peppery finish (****). The other wines I found overly extracted and hot – too much alcohol – but interesting. For dinner, chicken breast in tomato sauce, corn and boiled potatoes with Rodney Strong Charlotte's Home Sauvignon Blanc 2005 from Sonoma, a great match and well priced at $14.

Thursday, August 31st: This evening I'm flying to Germany for the Gutswein tasting in Berlin. So I'm trying to clear my desk. I have a press release from Royal DeMaria Wines, Canada's Icewine Specialists. They are launching a new series of Icewine (they have already made 18 different varieties of Icewine.) These are in homage to Billy Myers, a local farmer who has been growing grapes for 40 years. I quote: "The criteria for an Icewine to enter into the Billy Myers Series is that the Icewine would need to have demonstrated quality ongoing for a minimum of 5 years, would need to be a rare varietal used for Icewine and must have a limited volume of 5 cases/60 bottles or less. The first Icewine to be entered into this series will be the Royal DeMaria 2000 Chardonnay Icewine which will be listed at a cool $30,000 per 375 mL bottle." Yes, you read it right. $30,000 a half bottle.

I can just hear conversations at the breakfast table up and down Ontario. "Honey, shall we put $30,000 deposit down on a new home? Or perhaps we should buy a new car. But then again, we could buy a half bottle of Royal DeMaria 2000 Chardonnay Icewine." "But what if it's corked, darling?" "We'll drink it anyway."

My flight to Germany, the birthplace of Eiswein, is at 8 pm.




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