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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 117 (December 18, 2006)

Monday, December 11: Working on a piece for Wine Business International on the Liquor board of Ontario. The magazine, based in Germany, wants to compare the LCBO with Scandinavian monopolies. Juggling this piece with finishing off my contribution to Tom Stevenson's Wine Report 2008. Lunch with Paul Kostoff at Grano to discuss the website. Paul's company, MediResource, hosts the site. Confirmed with Mark Dorfman, the Banquet Manager at the Four Seasons Hotel, the date for the next Grapes for Humanity Dinner. Thursday, May 10th. The wine sponsor will be Bouchard Père et Fils. Waiting to hear if Henriot Champagne will also participate.

Tuesday, December 12: Nothing much happened today. Finished off the section on Canada for Tom Stevenson and emailed it off. For dinner – a bottle of Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Sun Rock Vineyard Merlot 2004 with Beef Bourguignon.

Wednesday, December 13: Recorded my 680 NEWS wine reviews. The weather is so mild there is concern about the Icewine crop. Picked up a bottle of 1953 Yquem from Jerry Good for the next Grapes for Humanity auction. It's the colour of brown boot polish. It reminds me of the 1938 Yquem I once had. Jerry also donated three bottles of Pierre Cartier Sauternes 1961. These will be part of the silent auction for the May 10th event. Also picked up wines from the Spanish Trade office for my next Tuesday tasting at Grano in January.

Thursday, December 14: An interview with Ralph Benmurgui at Jazz FM about the atlas. Their new studios are miles away off King Street West. This evening there's an event at the Gardiner – Jamie Kennedy's food, Ontario wines and the atlas as part of the ticket price of $100. Jamie has set up food stations where the 30-odd guests pick up a dish and a glass of wine to match.

The menu:

Fish and Chips, with Peninsula Ridge Fumé Blanc 2005

Choucroute Garni, with Cave Spring Riesling Reserve 2005

Mushroom Sauté with Marrow Crouton, with Henry of Pelham Merlot (Unfiltered) 2002

Duck and Apple Stew, with Jackson-Triggs Delaine Vineyard Syrah 2004

Artisan Cheese, with Henry of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Riesling 2004

Apple Strudel with Crème Anglaise and Apricot, with Stratus Riesling Icewine 2003

The food was terrific; the only match that didn't really work was the duck with the Syrah. The sauce was too sweet for the wine.

Friday, December 15: This was one of those days that I just couldn't get down to work. Tried to tidy my desk but gave up. Walked Pinot the Wonder Dog a lot. Didn't realize that there is a photo of Pinot and me in the current issue of Post City magazines (North Toronto edition), talking about the atlas. A neighbour pointed it out.

Saturday, December 16: An early drive down to Niagara to get to Tawse Winery for 10 am. A group of 50 from a medical technology company are touring and I am leading the tastings. On Monday I had cut myself on my right thumb with a cheese knife and Deborah insisted I get stitches. I was convinced it would heal on its own. When Moray Tawse gave me a crunching handshake this morning the cut opened up and there was blood everywhere. He patched me up and I had to shake left-handed for the rest of the day. At Tawse we tasted the Bench Chardonnay 2004 and the Cabernet Franc 2004. Then we headed over to Cave Spring for a tasting and lunch at On The Twenty. In the cellar Brian Kelly, Cave Spring's Wine Consultant, spoke us through three wines: CSV Riesling 2004, Chardonnay Reserve 2004 and Cabernet Merlot 2002. While the group was shopping for wines in the store upstairs, Brian poured me a glass of Cave Spring Select Late Harvest Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, a delicious dessert wine, tawny pink in colour, not too sweet, with a flavour of wild strawberries and honey ($21.95 for 375 mL). The weather was positively balmy with warm sunshine. Brian said, "If you want to know what kind of winter we're going to have, ask Cave Spring if they're going to make Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine. If we are, it's going to be mild."

A three-course lunch was prepared in a private room upstairs accompanied by the Chardonnay and their Gamay 2004. I ordered the duck confit, arugula salad, quail and chocolate crème caramel. On the way home I stopped off at a walk-in clinic to have my cut looked at. The doctor prescribed an antibiotic gel that looked suspiciously like the same tube we're using on Pinot the Wonder Dog's paws. For dinner, a bottle of Sandhill Phantom Creek Vineyard Petit Verdot 2004 from the Okanagan. Another tasty wine from Howard Soon's Small Lot Collection. He must have a lot of fun making these wines.




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