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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 131 (April 2, 2007)

Monday, March 26: Lunch today at Hanna's Kitchen with Eric Wright. We haven't seen each other for nearly two years since Eric and his wife Val had an extended stay in England. We talked about our mutual friend Howard Engel and his award of the Order of Canada. We were all members of the Crime Writers of Canada when it first started 25 years ago. Bought wines and cheeses for tomorrow night's tasting. It's going to be a busy evening. I'm booked to conduct a tasting for Sunnybrook Hospital and then I have to dash over to Grano to do my usual monthly tasting there. My daughter Annabel, proud owner of the world's smallest condo in Vancouver, is in town and is coming to dinner tonight. We start with Evans & Tate Chardonnay.

Tuesday, March 27: Finished off my 25 Best Wine Experiences piece for Post City Magazines. Then over to MacLean House for the Sunnybrook tasting. The wines come from a cellar that was donated to the hospital.

  • Highfield Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2005
  • Hochheimer Holle Domdechant Werner Riesling Kabinett 2004
  • Clos Pegase Chardonnay Mitsuko's Vineyard 2005, Napa
  • Albert Bichot Santenay Clos Bellefond 1996
  • Clos du Bois Malbec Marlstone Vineyard 1995, Alexander Valley
  • Grgich Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 1996, Napa Valley

Then hared over to Grano, where Deborah had set up the tasting of French wines and Canadian cheeses – Fleurmier de Charlevoix, BioBio Organic Cheddar, That Dutchman's Gouda and Ciel de Charlevois.

The Reception wine was Blanquette de Limoux Brut, followed by:

  • William Fèvre Chablis Champs Royaux 2005
  • Pierre Sparr Gewurztraminer 2005
  • Château de Puligny Montrachet Montelie 2003
  • Château Moulin de Curat 2003
  • Château St. Germain 2004
  • E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône 2003
  • La Cave de L'Abbé Rous Banyuls Rimage 2005

Wednesday, March 28: Worked on the Grapes for Humanity dinner program and wrote up my Wines of the Week for this site. In the evening Lloyd Evans of A Case for Wine brought Alan Heath to the house with his Lizard Flat tetrapaks. Alan, who comes from Perth, has a thick Aussie accent and his press material reads, "Alan Heath... Driven to Drink." When I asked him to explain the statement, what I heard was, "I used to raise cows." Oh, I said, that would drive anyone to drink. It turns out what he said was: "I used to race cars." All his wines are under screwcap, including his 100 Year Old Vine wines. His Lizard Flat Cabernet Merlot 2002 is by far and away the best red I've tasted in tetrapak.

Thursday, March 29: Wrote my Tidings article about wine and cheese. Lunched with my daughter Annabel at Shatzy's. She is training for a triathlon. I don't know where she got those genes. Met Matey Nedkov de Lacamp, a new director of Grapes for Humanity, at the Spoke Club. They have an excellent wine list, which we explored with alacrity. Our party of four all ordered sweetbreads, which is unusual, but then two of them were French. The wine of the evening: Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir 2004, made by my old friend Jim Clendenen.

Friday, March 30: A Vintages tasting this morning for the May release. Some very decent inexpensive Portuguese wines. I am beginning to get a cold and tasting is difficult. Tomorrow is the Ontario Wine Awards' second day of judging. Luckily, I only have to adjudicate if there is a difference of opinion about a specific wine rather than having to taste 70-odd wines.

Saturday, March 31: My nose is running like a tap. I would rather be in bed. The judging goes well and there are no major differences among the panels. Sadie Darby has done a great job to make sure everything runs seamlessly. There are surprisingly few corked wines. At two o'clock the competitors for the Sommelier Blind Tasting Award arrive. I have chosen three whites and three reds from Ontario's four appellations. They have to determine the grape variety, vintage, appellation and, if possible, the producer of each. The winner is Lindsay Groves, who was six points ahead of the second-placed sommelier. By the time Deborah and I get home I need chicken soup in the worst way. Can't even face the idea of a glass of wine so I must be sick. I spend the evening watching a lousy movie, inputting the April Vintages release wines into my data base, feeling very sorry for myself.

Sunday, April 1: Today is the last part of the Ontario Wine Awards judging – the dessert wines. We convene at The Fine Wine Reserve tasting room on King Street. There are two panels made up of sommeliers, chefs and wine writers. They have about 35 wines each to taste. The computer is acting up and I have to call Jeff Baker in New York who set up the program for entries and scoring systems to talk me through it. Otherwise I would have had to record all the scores by hand and tabulate the averages. This was the way we used to do it. Computers are a boon and a curse.




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