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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 116 (December 11, 2006)

A Wine Lover's Diary, part 116

Sunday, December 3: A book signing event in Coburg, a dinner in support of the Canadian Landmine Foundation at which Lucy Waverman and I are speaking about our respective books (Lucy's Kitchen and my Wine Atlas of Canada). The publisher has provided a limo to drive us to the Best Western there. The recipes are from Lucy's cookbook and I have recommended wines to match the courses:

  • Sweet Potato Lemongrass and Ginger Soup (Angel's Gate Gewürztraminer 2005)
  • Coriander Scented Cucumber Noodles with Salmon and Red Chili Sauce (Inniskillin Proprietors' Reserve Pinot noir 2004)
  • Duck Breast with Sun-dried Cherries, Port Wine Glaze, accompanied by Season Vegetables (Henry of Pelham Meritage 2004)
  • Apple Cranberry Maple Crumble, Flourless Chocolate Cake, Crème Anglaise and Caramel Sauce (Konzelmann Special Select Late Harvest Vidal 2004)

I am at a table with Bruce Maclean, who won my Blind Tasting Award last January. At last I am able to hand him his trophy (an engraved decanter), which I was unable to do at the Wine Importers' dinner in February. And he was able to pay off a long-standing bet: Bruce is an unrepentant Aussie. He bet me a bottle of wine that Australia would beat England in the final of the World Cup of Rugby in November 2003. Took Bruce that long to lick his wounds – and to part with a bottle of Château Belgrave 2000. (I bet it's corked.)

Monday, December 4: A meeting this afternoon with the executive of Grapes for Humanity to discuss tomorrow's Annual General Meeting and the hand-over of the presidency from Arlene Willis to me. Then on to Reds for a press dinner to meet their new Executive Chef, Michael Steh. Paul Oreskovich, my favourite PR lady, met the press group in the bar, where we tasted De Faveri Prosecco, Hawthorne Mountain Chardonnay 2004 (Okanagan) and the fabulous Darien Seleccion 2002 (Rioja) before dinner. Here's the menu for what turned out to be a terrific meal:

reds bistro & wine bar
Media Tasting Dinner
Monday December 4, 2006

Salt Cod Brandade, Yukon Gold Potato Chip, Shaved Istrian White Truffles
Butter Poached Nova Scotia Lobster
Crispy Frites & Lemon Garlic Mayo

Darien Seleccion 2002 Rioja, Spain
Hawthorne Mountain "See Ya Later Ranch" Chardonnay 2004 Okanagan Valley

Dinner Menu

Yellow Fin Tuna, Truffle Scented Quail Egg, Burnt Butter Vinaigrette
De Faveri Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Veneto, Italy


Candy Stripe Beets
Quebec Chevre Noir, Pingue Smoked Cappicola, Aged Balsamic

Champalou Vouvray 2005 Loire, France


Green Curry Scented Dungeness Crab Cake
Chilean Carica, Shaved Celery, Peanut Coriander Chutney

Hogue Gewurztraminer 2004 Columbia Valley, Washington


Jerusalem Artichoke Soup
Crisp Sweetbread, Foie Gras and Leek Raviolo, Preserved Lemon

Carrick Pinot Noir 2003 Central Otago, New Zealand


Roasted Cumbrea Lamb Rack and Stuffed Saddle
Selle Sur Chere Soufflé
Mint Apple Sauce, Rosemary Garlic Lamb Jus

Masciarelli Marina Cvetic Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2003 Italy


Petite Honey Crisp Apple Bread and Butter Pudding
Earl Gray Gelato, Candied Hazelnuts, Vanilla Anglaise

Pieropan Recioto di Soave 2003 Veneto, Italy
Rabl Traminer Trockenbeerenauslese 2002 Kamptal, Austria

Will have to make the soup, which was delicious, so I got the recipe.

Yield: 8–10 portions


  • 2 lbs Jerusalem artichokes peeled and quartered
  • 3 L Milk
  • Salt to taste


  1. In a large stockpot combine Jerusalem artichokes and milk, bring to simmer and cook until artichokes are knife tender.
  2. When cooked, strain off milk from artichokes through a sieve and puree in a food processor or blender. Reserve milk after straining.
  3. Add back reserved milk to pureed artichokes until desired consistency is reached.
  4. Add salt to taste, and serve.

Tuesday, December 5: The Grapes for Humanity AGM is held at Sam Sarick's house. The directors are Arlene Willis, Joel Rose, Sam Sarick, Garrett Herman, Dr. David Naiberg, Don Triggs, Geddy Lee, Joanne Fraser, Martin Goldfarb, Doug Neal, Philip Craig, Jackie Davis and myself. We present Arlene with an Inuit carving (a polar bear standing on its hind legs). The inscription on the plaque reads: "Arlene Willis, for exemplary service to Grapes for Humanity from your fellow directors. 2006." Sam opens a magnum of Pol Roger Winston Churchill Cuvée 1995.

Wednesday, December 6: Worked on Tom Stevenson's Wine Report 2008. At 5 pm down to Random House to sign books and then over to the National Club where I'm conducting a tasting for a New York financial company for their Toronto bankers. The wines:

  • Janzz Premium Cuvee Sparkling Tasmania
  • Peninsula Ridge Fume Blanc 2004 Ontario
  • Klipfel Riesling Grand Cru 2003 Alsace
  • Santa Barbara Chardonnay 2000 California
  • Benessere Napa Valley Sangiovese 2001 California
  • Chateau Giscours Margaux 1999 France
  • Charles Melton Nine Popes Australia

If one wine had to be corked, guess which. Yes, the Giscours.

Thursday, December 7: A Vintages tasting this morning for the January release. Happily, Zoltan Szabo is available to help me with the reviews and there aren't the usual number of wines out. Someone told me that Helen Lenko had died. Helen was a wonderful woman, Danny Lenko's mother, who would insist on feeding everyone apple pie when they sat down in her kitchen to taste Danny's wines. She will be missed. Then over to Bardi's Steak House to a tasting of A Case For Wine's 2005 Bordeaux selection (Lloyd Evans and Terri Milne's company; their number is 416-482-0241). Their colleague in Bordeaux, Christophe Lillet , Managing Director of Salin, had brought along 18 different petits châteaux from the great 2005 vintage, all at affordable wines in the $20–50 range. My favourites were (estimated prices):

  • Ch. Grand Maréchaux 2005 ($26.65)
  • Haut Colombier 2005 ($21.90) from the Côtes de Blaye
  • Roque Le Mayne 2005 ($27.95) from the Côtes de Castillon
  • Epicurea de Ch. Martinat 2005 ($34.85) from the Côtes de Bourg
  • Larose Trintaudon 2005 ($29.50)
  • Soudars 2005 ($35.95)
  • Verdignan 2005 ($35.95)
  • and my top wine: Ch. Senejac 2005 ($45.50).

Hurried home to walk Pinot the Wonder Dog before being picked by the Danny (the same limo driver that took Lucy and me to Coburg) to drive to Waterloo for a tasting and signing at the new LCBO store, organized by Words Worth Bookstore. I had chosen Vineland Estate Dry Riesling 2005 and Henry of Pelham Meritage 2003. Danny, the driver, who is Greek, told me about a Greek comedian he had seen as a warm-up act for a rock concert. The guy said, "We Greeks invented everything. We invented philosophy, we invented psychology, we invented sex. But it took the Italians to introduce us to women."

Friday, December 8: The second part of the Vintages January release tasting. More wines than yesterday. A meeting with Jeff Lyons to discuss new office space for Grapes for humanity and to discuss new ways to find-raise for the foundation. For dinner, a bottle of Sumac Ridge Pinnacles 2003 (a blend of 60% merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc and 10% Syrah), a huge wine – the Rhône meets California. Great with the steak.




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