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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 129 (March 19, 2007)

Monday, March 12: Spent the morning writing my wine reviews for 680 NEWS. One of the problems is the price change of all wines now that the LCBO has tacked on 20 cents per 750 mL bottle as a deposit to offset a collection fee. I'd be curious to know exactly how much it costs to administer this program. I suspect the LCBO is walking away with a few cents a bottle profit. Ordered my new computer today. The old one still smells as if it was struck by lightning – rather what hellfire must smell like. Had a meeting with a young woman from Moscow named Sacha who is a recent immigrant to Canada with her Russian husband. She writes on food and wine, from an historical perspective. She gave me a copy of a book she has written on Bordeaux, in Russian. The photos as beautiful. We shared a bottle of Vineland Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2005 as she talked about finding markets for her writing. The majority of my time today was spent on the phone to Ontario winemakers telling them that tomorrow is the deadline for entries to the Ontario Wine Awards.

Tuesday, March 13: Doug Towers and David Lawrason came to the house for another tasting. We tried several 2006 whites from Ontario. I was impressed by the whites of Château des Charmes and Cave Spring. It must be very galling for Cave Spring when everyone refers to it as Cave Springs. Wrote a piece about organic wines for Post City magazines. I really like the wines that Alvaro Espinoza is making under the Sincerity label in Chile. I met Alvaro first of all when he was the winemaker at Carmen in the early 1990s. Furiously entering late entries for the Ontario Wine Awards. It's a complex business, consolidating wines in three different wineries for delivery to the Fine Wine Reserve in Toronto. North of Toronto wineries are delivered to my house. They all all have to arrive on this Friday when Sadie Darcy and her crew of elves put the wines into flights.

Wednesday, March 14: Recorded my 680 NEWS wine reviews and spent the rest of the day entering the Ontario Wine Awards wines into spread sheets. This evening I'm speaking about Canadian wines to the International Good and Wine Society at Coppi Restaurant. The wines we're tasting are:

  • Malivoire Pinot Gris 2005
  • Henry of Pelham Sauvignon Blanc 2004
  • Malivoire Chardonnay Estate Bottled 2003
  • Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve Chardonnay 2004 (a real hit)
  • Malivoire Pinot Noir 2004
  • Inniskillin Cabernet Sauvignon Klose Vineyard 1999
  • Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin 2001 (the first from the vineyard)
  • Pelee Island Meritage Grand Reserve 2000 (still very youthful and tannic)

Thursday, March 15: Still hounding the wineries to get their entries in. Today is the day the wines leave their consolidation points for delivery tomorrow to the Fine Wine Reserve. This evening, a tasting dinner at Alice Fazooli for the wines of Yellow Tail. Phillip Casella, a member of the family who owns this phenomenally successful winery – a winemaker now in charge of marketing – tells me that Canada is the largest consumer per capita of Yellow Tail in the world. Their importing agent introduced the evening by saying that every day the LCBO sells 6,000 bottles of Yellow Tail. I don't know if I heard that correctly. Maybe I had a glass too many of the Yellow Tail bubbles that will soon hit the market here. A blend of Semillon, Viognier, Traminer, Gordo and Sauvignon Blanc, it's soft and fruity , sweetish and fragrant and easy drinking. Should give Seaview Brut a run for its money. At dinner we had:

  • Yellow Tail Chardonnay 2006: deeply coloured, sweet and spicy with a soft mouth feel; pineapple and vanilla flavours with a touch of oak; short finish.
  • Yellow Tail Chardonnay Reserve 2005: a little disappointing; I was expecting a leap up; there is more of a mineral note here with ripe tropical fruit flavours and a nutty finish but a little flat.
  • Yellow Tail Shiraz 2006: I believe this is the top selling wine of the range. An easy drinking wine with earthy blackberry flavour, firm and well made.
  • Yellow Tail Shiraz Reserve 2006: more character here with a floral note on the nose; sweet blackberry fruit with a eucalyptus note.

Then we had two reds which were above my expectations of this 21-million-case winery:

  • Yellow Tail Premium Cabernet Sauvignon Wrattonbully 2003, which won Australia's Jimmy Watson Trophy (for the best one-year-old red wine). A very elegant wine with sweet blackcurrant fruit and cocoa flavours.
  • This was followed by Yellow Tail Premium Shiraz McLaren Vale 2003, which won the Stodart Trophy at the Royal Brisbane Wine Show for the best one-year-old dry red wine. This wine showed coconut and lead pencil on the nose with forward blackberry fruit, good length, full on the palate with a soft tannic landing.

Friday, March 16: A tasting this morning of 78 tetrapaks and alternative packaged wines currently at the LCBO. Not a fun event but at least I shared the agony with Zalton Szabo. Alain Laliberte, a colleague, took one look at the room and with a Gallic shrug walked out. But then his clientele at the Granite Club wouldn't be interested in seeing tetrapaks in the dining room. But then I can't think of any restaurant that would. For dinner, with veal chop, a bottle of Frankland Estate Isolation Ridge Vineyard Shiraz 2002 from Western Australia, a delicious wine very much in northern Rhine style.




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