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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 140 (June 11, 2007)

Monday, June 4: A tasting with David Lawrason and Doug Towers, sixty-odd Ontario wines mainly from the 2006 vintage. David tells me that the wineries of Prince Edward County are getting together to blend their Chardonnays to produce a composite county wine for auction purposes. This evening I'm conducting a pre-dinner wine and cheese tasting and then a dinner tasting for an insurance company at the Acadian Court. The organizers wanted an all-Ontario wine experience for their staff from across Canada and branches abroad. The reception wine is Hillebrand Estates Trius NV. The wines for four Canadian cheeses are:

  • Angels Gate Chardonnay 2005 (unoaked)
  • Calamus Estate Pinot Gris 2006
  • Chateau des Charmes Gamay Droit 2005
  • Creekside Estate Reserve Shiraz 2004
  • Henry of Pelham Special Select Late Harvest Vidal 2005

For the dinner:

  • Flat Rock Nadja's Vineyard Riesling 2006
  • Mountain Road Reserve Chardonnay 2003
  • Thirteenth Street Gamay Noir Reserve 2005
  • Creekside Reserve Meritage 2002
  • Peller Estates Signature Series Vidal Icewine 2005

Tuesday, June 5: Wrote my Tidings commentary on the future of corks. My theme is that the environmental benefits of cork over screwcap and plastic stoppers will eventually triumph. This afternoon there's a tasting of the wines of Alsace and Rhône at the Carlu. Couldn't spend too much time here because I have to deliver the medal-winning wines from the Ontario Wine Awards to Queens Park for an evening tasting. The House shuts down for the summer so the MPPs and their staff are in party mood. At the Carlu tasting, I enjoyed Allimant-Laugner Cremant d'Alsace Brut 2005 and that producer's delicious Muscat 2006, Gustave Lorenz Gewurztraminer Grand Cru Altenberg de Bergheim Vieilles Vignes 2002, Domaine Weinbach Pinot Blanc Reserve 2005, Domain Albert Mann Riesling Cuvee Albert 2006 and Dopff au Moulin Riesling Grand Cru Schoenenbourg de Riquewihr Sigillé 2003. Of the Rhônes, I liked Domaine Le Grand Vallat Gaia 2004, owned by Canadians apparently and imported by Portfolio Wines; Vignobles Mayard La Crau de Ma Mère 2005 (red) and Chateau Mourgues du Grès Terre d'Argence 2005. The wines of Côtes du Ventoux and Costières de Nimes are still very good value. Hurried over to Queens Park with five cases of Ontario wine for the MPPs' tasting, hosted by Bruce Crozier – a prelude to Ontario Wine Week. For dinner, Daniel Lenko Cabernet Sauvignon 2004.

Wednesday, June 6: A lunchtime tasting of Perrier-Jouët and Mumm Champagnes at Thuet Bistro on King Street West. We started with Perrier-Jouët Blason Rosé (salmon colour with a nose of wild strawberries; light and elegant, dances on the palate). This was accompanied by Wild Red Spring salmon trois saveurs. Next Mumm de Cramant, a blanc de blancs (what used to be called Crémant. To get less pressure they add on 16 grams of sugar for the secondary fermentation as opposed to 24 grams for champagne). Apple and apple blossom notes, lively acidity, lovely balanced, very refreshing. This was served with scrambled eggs and lobsters en cocotte. The next course was soft maple syrup French toast, ragout of rabbit and morels with Mumm Grand Cru (full-bodied, broad and muscular, with more Pinot Noir). Next course: duo of lamb loin and chef's house-made Merguez sausage, poached quail egg, white asparagus, served with Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Rosé 2002 (full-bodied, elegant, minerally apple and strawberry flavours – at a whopping $350 a bottle). The final course was Cendré goat cheese and Saint Benedictine blue cheese panna cotta, truffle pineapple consommé with Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque 1998 (soft and toasty, full on the palate). My favourite of the tasting was the very first – Perrier-Jouët Blason Rosé, which, at $75, happened to be the least expensive. Agnes Laplanche, the Brand Development Manager for the Americas for both brands, told us that Perrier-Jouët has had only eleven winemakers since the firm was founded in 1811. At 3:30 pm I raced over the Herbs Restaurant to meet Gray Hartley, the partner of Frank Ostini who makes Hitching Post Pinot Noirs (the wine and the Hitching Post restaurant made famous by the movie Sideways.) Gray, formerly a commercial fisherman and a falconer, tells me the first wine he and Frank made was a Merlot; ironic given the character Miles' sentiments about Merlot in Sideways. We start with the Hitching Post Sanford & Benedict Pinot Noir 2000. Bright ruby colour, very Burgundian with a sweet raspberry nose, rich and spicy, mouth-filling; full-bodied with a warm finish. Great length.

Hitching Post Fiddlestix Vineyard Pinot Noir 2001 from the Santa Rita Hills: ruby colour; violets and black cherries on the nose with a light mint note; firm and powerful but elegant. Burgundy on steroids.

Cargasacchi Vineyard Pinot Noir 2002 from the Santa Rita Hills: deep ruby colour; minerally, black cherry nose; firm and tight, still young but with a lovely mouth feel; tannic finish.

Highliner Pinot Noir 2003 – a blend of the best vineyards and best barrels from the above-mentioned vineyards and Rio Vista and Bien Nacido: This is a stunningly good wine: ruby coloured with a nose of violets, lilac and black raspberries; intense, spicy and powerful, beautifully crafted; great tension between the fruit, acidity, oak and tannin.

This evening a dinner tasting in the new cellar at Barberians for a group of bankers. We start on the cathedral room that houses the large-format bottles overlooking the 19-foot high cellar below.

Reception wine: Ployez-Jacquemart Champagne N/V

With the dinner:

  • Tawse Riesling Carley's Block 2004
  • Daniel Lenko Viognier 2004
  • Mount Rosa Pinot Noir 2004 (Central Otago, N.Z.)
  • Domaine Tempier 2003
  • Quinta do Noval Tawny Port Colheita 1986

Thursday, June 7: An appointment with my ophthalmologist to check my eyesight. No change from last year, mercifully. I am reading Jose Saramago's novel Blindness – not the book to be reading for such a visit. Take the car in for service to the Acura dealer's by the airport. As I wait I write my address to the participants in the Bacchus to Brock Conference at Brock University tomorrow on my laptop. For dinner, with pork chop, Turning Leaf Merlot 2005 – Gallo's first foray into 1000 mL tetrapak for our market.

Friday, June 8: Drive to St. Catharines to Brock University to deliver my address at lunch. It goes over well in some quarters but some of the winemakers are upset that I say there is not enough co-operation between them. Deborah's sister Suzanne is helping her with the garden when I get back. I open a bottle of Cordorniu Reserva Raventos Cava for the dust of travel. Absolutely delicious on a hot day. For dinner, KWV Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 - smoky, tarry, blackcurrant flavour, perfect for BBQ hamburgers.




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