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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 122 (January 29, 2007)

Monday, January 22: Spent the day working on consolidation points for wineries to the Ontario Wine Awards. One for Wine council of Ontario members, one for non-members in the Niagara regions, one for SW Ontario and one for Prince Edward Council. The rest of the day I worked on wine, spirit and beer matches for the book that Gurth Pretty and I are writing – his cheese recipes matched with beverage alcohol. I was so blindsided by that 14,900-word email accusing me of "promoting and glorifying" wine that I totally forgot to mention the tasting I attended last week at Verity. SOPEXA organized a tasting of seven sweet wines from Languedoc-Roussillon that the LCBO has listed.

  • Cornet & Cie Banyuls Rimage 2003 (100% Black Grenache): blackberry, blackcurrant and chocolate flavours with lively acidity and dusty tannins. $19.45.
  • Croix-Milhas Maury Muté sur grains (100% Black Grenache): deep purple-ruby colour, port-like, black cherry nose with a floral note, lively and fruity, spicy mulberry flavour. Great value at $10.95 for 750 mL.
  • Croix-Milhas Banyuls 4 ans d'âge (50% Black Grenache, 50% Grey Grenache): Tawny port style, nutty, raspberry flavour; firm finish, well balanced. Well priced at $12.45.
  • Henriques AOC Banyuls (100% Black Grenache): quite dry, alcoholic, hot, baking chocolate flavour. $13.95.
  • Croix-Milhas Rivesaltes Ambré (blend of Grey Grenache, White Grenache, Macabeu and Muscats): deep amber colour, crystallized fruits, orange and celery notes on the nose; medium sweet, thick and nutty. $10.95.
  • Vignerons Catalans Gamme Collection Rivesaltes Ambré Hors d'Age 1974 (White Grenache with some Muscat): deep amber colour; marmalade nose, rich, nutty and fig flavours reminiscent of Madeira; great length. $21.95.
  • Muscat de Saint Jean de Minervois Clos Bagatelle 2005 (Muscat à petits grains): golden yellow colour, fresh and delicate with sweet carnation and orange nose and taste; sweet but not cloying. Delicious. $17.85.

Tuesday, January 23: Delivered the Spanish wines to Grano for tonight's tasting. Roberto tells me we have 50 people booked and he has had to buy more wine. The same thing happened last year at this time for the Austrian tasting. We thought people had made a mistake and thought it was an Australian tasting. But it must be the time of year when wine lovers begin to emerge from their post-Christmas cocoon. But before this tasting I attended another of Larry Paterson's Ontario versus Bordeaux events at Sette Mezzo on Eglinton. The group had to taste thirty-four wines blind (two repeats), seventeen each of Ontario Cabernet blends and Bordeaux reds, served blind. They ranged in vintage from 1995 to 2004. We had to mark each from 70 to 100 points and say where we thought it was from. The final rankings of the group were:

  1. 88.17, 2002 Southbrook Triomphus Cab Merlot ONTARIO $50
  2. 88.15, 2001 Ch. Pouget BORDEAUX 4th $52
  3. 88.00, 2001 Ch. Margaux BORDEAUX 1st $339
  4. 87.77, 2001 Reif First Growth Cabernet ONTARIO $50
  5. 87.46 (TIE), 1995 Stoney Ridge Cabernet Franc Merlot ONTARIO library wine
  6. 87.46 (TIE), 2001 Ch. Lafite Rothschild BORDEAUX 1st $349
  7. 87.38, 1998 Konzelmann Cabernet Merlot Reserve ONTARIO library wine
  8. 87.17, 1995 Ch. Langoa Barton BORDEAUX 3rd $89
  9. 87.00, 2002 Pillitteri Trivalente ONTARIO $75
  10. 86.77, 1999 Ch. Gruaud Larose BORDEAUX 2nd $97
  11. 86.73, 1998 Ch. Lafon-Rochet BORDEAUX 4th $60
  12. 86.62, 2002 Fielding Reserve Cabernet Merlot ONTARIO $35
  13. 86.46, 1998 Lakeview Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon ONTARIO library wine
  14. 86.23, 2002 Colio Carlo Negri Signature Cab Sauv ONTARIO $50
  15. 86.08, 2001 Ch. Pichon Lalande BORDEAUX 2nd $149
  16. 85.85 (TIE), 1998 Ch. Leoville Barton BORDEAUX 2nd $119
  17. 85.85 (TIE), 1999 Ch. Durfort-Vivens BORDEAUX 2nd $56
  18. 85.85 (TIE), 2001 Ch. D'Issan BORDEAUX 3rd $62
  19. 85.85 (TIE), 2002 Hillebrand Trius Grand Red ONTARIO $52
  20. 85.31, 2002 Kacaba Meritage ONTARIO $40
  21. 85.00, 1999 Ch. Trotanoy POMEROL BORDEAUX $100
  22. 84.92, 2001 Clos Beauregard Mouiex POMEROL BDX $42
  23. 84.55, 1996 Ch. Pedesclaux BORDEAUX 5th $49
  24. 84.46, 1996 Ch. Duhart Milon BORDEAUX 4th $89
  25. 84.23, 2000 Ch. La Tour du Pin Figeac Mouiex ST. EMILION BDX $56
  26. 84.08, 2000 Colio CEV Merlot ONTARIO library wine
  27. 83.85, 1998 Marynissen Cabernet Sauvignon ONTARIO $18 library wine
  28. 82.23, 2003 Huff South Bay Red ONTARIO library wine
  29. 81.23, 2004 Huff South Bay Cabernet Merlot ONTARIO library wine
  30. 77.42, 1999 Crown Bench Beamsville Bench ONTARIO $40

I haven't yet got my individual score back since each taster's set of glasses was random.

The Spanish tasting was a hoot in spite of the noise level. The wines were:

  • Reception wine: Segura Viudas Brut Reserva
  • Esencia Divina Albarino 2005
  • Torres Gran Vina Sol Chardonnay 2004
  • Conde de Valdemar Tempranillo 2002
  • Gran Fuedo Reserva 2001
  • Torres Atrium Merlot 2003
  • Torres Mas Borras Pinot Noir 2004
  • Torres Mas La Plana Cabernet Sauvignon 2001

The next tasting on February 27 at Grano will be Israeli wines.

Wednesday, January 24: Worked on the cheese book and prepared for this evening's tasting for the Verity Wine Club. The theme is Argentinean wines. The eight wines come from the portfolio of Rolando Maya of Argentum Wine Imports.

  • Bodega Familia Barberis Cava Negra Chardonnay 2004 (with 10% Torrontes): straw colour, melon and citrus nose; rich, unctuous mouth feel with a spicy Muscat note.
  • La Riojana Coop. Pircas Negras Organic Torrontes 2004: very elegant, Muscat-like, grape, light and floral with orange blossom notes.
  • Familia Vargas Arizu Casillero Privado Malbec/ Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon 2004: ruby colour; leather, redcurrant, sour cherry, light-bodied and tannic with an apple peel note on the finish.
  • Bodega Familia Barneris Blason del Valle Tempranillo 2004: lovely floral note on the nose, firmly structured with ripe raspberry taste; tannic finish.
  • Familia Vargas Arizu Tierras Altas Malbec 2003: delicate, red berry nose; fresh, firmly structured, tight.
  • Familia Vargas Arizu Tierras Altas Malbec de Crianza 2002: an oaked version of the previous wine. Spicy, pine needle note on the nose; firmly structured, chocolate and tobacco leaf flavours.
  • Bodega El Lagar de Carmelo Patti Cabernet Sauvignon 2002: cedar, blackcurrant; dry, well extracted fruit, full-bodied and very stylish.
  • Familia Vargas Arizu V.V.V. Founder Malbec de Crianza 2001: deep ruby colour, vanilla and chocolate nose, beautifully balanced blackcurrant fruit, great length.

Needless to say the last two wines were the wines of the night – both were oaked.

Michel Rolland

Thursday, January 25: Elizabeth Lavis, the Canadian Account Executive for WNED Television in Buffalo, came by to get some information on the Ontario wine industry. They want to shoot a two-part TV series on the Finger Lakes and Niagara wine regions and are looking for funding. She thought Grapes for Humanity might be interested. As a charitable foundation that's not what we're about. Lunch with Michel Rolland, the flying-est of winemakers. Rolland makes wine in thirteen countries, including India and Canada (he consults to Mission Hill). We lunch at Epic in the Royal York Hotel with my colleague Beppi Crosariol of the Globe and Mail and three senior executives from Vintages. Basically we are here to taste a vertical of Clos de los Siete from Argentina. The Siete part refers to the seven investors. Rolland is not happy with the serving temperature of the wine and chews out his international sales director in French in front of us all. His business card says Chateau Fontenil in Fronsac although he is better know as the producer of Le Bon Pasteur in Pomerol. I asked him of all his 34 vintages which he considered the best. Unhesitatingly, he replied, 1982. 1989 and 1990 were good but the next best is 2005. "It has the same profile as 1982 but with 25 years of technique difference." To a question about acidification, he said: "I stopped to read the law (regulations) years ago. I just do what's good for the wine. I try to make the wine as natural as possible."

  • Clos de los Siete 2002 (the first vintage): Dense purple-black colour; earthy, black fruits on the nose with an animal note rather like a northern Rhône; rich, sweet mulberry and dark chocolate flavours, lovely velvety mouth feel.
  • Clos de los Siete 2003: Dense purple; more elegant than the 2002 with pencil lead notes on the nose; elegant but firm and well integrated oak; great length with a firm tannic finish.
  • Clos de los Siete 2004 (50% Malbec, 30% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah): dark ruby, rich chocolate and blackberry nose; full and lush on the palate with great length. Not as full as 2002 but delicious.
  • Clos de los Siete 2005 (50% Malbec, 30% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah): Similar in style to the 2002; deep and dense with ripe black fruits on the nose; rich and full-bodied with chocolate flavours. A big wine.

For dinner, a bottle of Ornellaia Le Volte 2004 with Rock Cornish hen. What a terrific wine it is for the price.

Friday, January 26: Received this email that's been doing the rounds:

It has been scientifically proven that if we drink 1 liter of water each day, at the end of the year we would have absorbed more than 1 kilo of Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria found in feces. In other words, we are consuming one kilo of Poo.

However, we do not run that risk when drinking wine (or rum, whiskey, beer or other liquors) because alcohol has to go through a distillation process of boiling, filtering and fermenting.




Free yourself of Poo, drink WINE!!! It is better to drink wine and talk shit than to drink water and be full of shit. There is no need to thank me for this valuable information; I am doing it as a public service.

This is a scatological version of what Andre Simon used to say, that no man ever got sick from drinking wine but from water you can get cholera, yellow fever and heaven knows what. Dropped in to see Eberhard Buehler, who served a South African Chenin Blanc as a prelude to a Cave Spring Chenin Blanc Icewine 2002. Eberhard, a collector of wine books, says that he like to try the dry version of the variety and then compare it to the Icewine. Tonight a dinner party at our house so I am running around picking up stuff to cook. I have to throw out a melon (to go with prosciutto) because it tasted like balsa wood, so I improvised by serving the prosciutto with thinly sliced pineapple. Almost works but not quite. The guests are Mike and Heather Mandel, Frank and Paddy-Ann Daley and Sam and Joanne Paradiso. A raucous, conversation-filled night, fuelled by the following wines, all Canadian:

  • Château des Charmes Aligoté 2004
  • Mission Hill Fork in the Road Oliver Block 212 White 2004
  • Cave Spring CSV Chardonnay 1999
  • Hawthorne Mountain See Ya Later Pinot Noir 2004
  • Pillitteri Family Reserve Trivalente 2002
  • Colio CEV Signature Merlot 2002
  • Burrowing Owl Merlot 1998
  • Mike Weir Winery Vidal Icewine 2005




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