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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 143 (July 1, 2007)

Sunday, June 24: Fly to Calgary today to judge tomorrow in the Wine Access International Value Wine Awards competition (for wines available in Canada under $25).

Gordon Stimmell and I are seated in the very last row in front of the toilet of our West Jet Flight. The smell is incredible. The pilot tells us that one of the flight attendants is going on maternity leave tomorrow with her husband or whoever is the father of the child. He wants us to write parental advice on a napkin and give it to her. We're staying at the Arts Hotel. Tonight the judges are having dinner at the River Café and have been asked to bring an interesting bottle. I've brought along Coyote's Run Bob Izumi White 2005. The other judges brought:

  • Winzer Krems Grüner Veltliner 2002
  • Schloss Gobelsburg Lam Grüner Veltliner 2002
  • Yarden Chardonnay 2001
  • Château de Fieuzal 2001
  • Château Carbonnieux 2001
  • Summerhill Pinot Gris 2005
  • Fielding Reserve Riesling 2006
  • Château Lafleur Pétrus 1999
  • Uvarara Frecciarossa 2004
  • François Parent Chambolle Musigny 1999
  • Red Rooster Pinot Noir Trial Batch 2006
  • Cuvelier Los Andes 2004
  • Casa Lapostolle Cuvée Alexandre Merlot 2004
  • Clos de los Siete 2005
  • Domaine de Lises Crozes Hermitage 2005
  • Château Sainte Eulalie La Livinière Minvervois 2003
  • Tenuta S. Gionvanni Duesanti 2003
  • Domaine Joblot Grand Manole Givry 2005
  • Cookthamana Botrytis Semillon 2006

Monday, June 25: The tasting is held in the Ballroom (!) of the University of Calgary. There are three tables of judges. Stuart Tobe from Vancouver is the panel captain at my table. The other judges are Nicole Barette Ryan, editor of Vins & Vignobles magazine from Montreal, Jean Aubrie, a wine writer from Montreal now resident in Paris, where he writes for Le Devoir, and Peggy Perry, who runs Willow Park wine store in Calgary. Before lunch in the student restaurant we taste four flights: Sauvignon Blanc (13 wines), Carmenere (6), Pinot Gris/Grigio (18, the weakest flight) and red Rhônes (11). After lunch, three flights: Unoaked Chardonnay (20), Cabernet Sauvignon (11) and Shiraz (13). Dinner at Cellini. The wines – William Fevre Petit Chablis 2004, Adamas Chardonnay 2005 (a Burgundy!), (served blind) Giorgio Odero Frecciarossa Pinot Nero 2002 from Oltrepo Pavese. I thought it was a California Pinot Noir. Then Patrice Rion Chambolle Musigny Les Charmes 2003 followed by The four Graces Pinot Noir 2003 from the Willamette Valley. Next Sassetti Brunello di Montalcino 2001 and a couple of dessert wines – Inniskillin Cabernet France Icewine 2002 and an Austrian Eiswein which I wrote down as Beisteinus Eiswein 1998 but I guess I couldn't read my own writing since I can't find it on the net to check the spelling.

Tuesday, June 27: Looked at my watch and thought it read 7:30 am so jumped out of bed, showered and shaved in no time since I had to check out and have breakfast. Met Jean Aubrie in the elevator with my bags and Jean – an early riser – was surprised to see me up. At breakfast I remarked that none of our colleagues was up. Must have been the dinner. Then I looked at my watch and it read 7 am. We are ferried from the hotel to the University of Calgary by a minivan except the driver gets hopelessly lost and after taking several wrong turns which effectively gave us a grand tour of the city the bus mutinied and took away his map. Eventually got to the tasting room. Today our panel started off with Italian Red Blends (11), followed by White Other Single Varieties (14), Sangiovese (13), White Aromatic Blends (8), Bordeaux Style Blends (10) and Other Red Blends (9). At lunch had a pint of Rickards with a pizza (very good beer). After lunch Spanish/Portuguese Red Blends (12), another flight of Sauvignon Blanc (13) and Cabernet Sauvignon (11). A car took Gord Stimmell, Sid Cross and me to the airport. Our flight had been cancelled and we had to take an earlier one. Got into Toronto at 10:30 pm. Took a dog's age for the bags to arrive, finally home by 11:45 pm to a rapturous welcome from Pinot the Wonder Dog. Deborah was pleased to see me too. Toronto apparently reached 35°C today and it was still hot when I arrived.

Wednesday, June 27: Spent the day answering phone message and going through emails before writing a piece for Decanter on Dan Aykroyd, sketching out a piece for Pure Canada magazine on my five favourite wines across the country and writing some reviews for my Wines of the Week. My office is like an oven in spite of the ceiling fan and a floor air cooler. Can't lift the air conditioner into the window for fear of aggravating a pulled muscle in my back that's been driving me nuts for the past week. For dinner, Drostdyhof Chardonnay 2006 from South Africa with a light curried chicken dish.

Thursday, June 28: Cleared my desk of stuff before tomorrow morning's departure for San Francisco and Pinot Days conference. Lunch with my friend Silke Rudelbach at Six Steps on Colborne Street (formerly Trattoria Spinello). The restaurant is literally six steps up from the curb. Exposed sand-blasted brick, oversize mirrors that lean into the room on chains, black tables and chairs, all very elegant. At the far end of the long bar is a glassed-in area to the high ceiling for the wines, climate controlled, with two separate sides with their own access door – one side for white and sparkling, the other for red. The wine list is extensive, well chosen and reasonable compared with other eateries in the King and Yonge area. We both had buffalo mozzarella and tomatoes, followed by a pizza featuring four cheeses including a truffled pecorino. The wine: a glass of Malivoire Lady Bug Rosé 2006. The waiter said they had to open a new bottle but since there were wine diamonds in my glass I suspect it was the end of an open bottle. Tasted fine anyway, drier than previous vintages of this wine. For dessert, fresh fruit and zabaglione. Emptied out the Grapes for Humanity office. All the files and computer stuff will have to find a place in the house. Deborah will not be pleased. Tonight, a party at a neighbour's up the street. Am bringing a case of wine which I have to taste.

Friday, June 29: A limo to the airport at 9:30 am along with six bottles of Flat Rock Pinot Noir Gravity Feed 2004 for the seminar I'm conducting at Pinot Days in San Francisco. This event has been arranged by

  Appellation Study Vineyard Study Misto (A little bit of everything)
  Noon to 12:35 pm 12:40 to 1:15 pm 1:20 to 2:00 pm
Series 1
Russian River Valley Le Clos Jordanne (4 single vineyard Niagara Pinots) New Producers
Series 2
Santa Lucia Highlands Hirsch Terroirs of Oregon and California
Series 3
Santa Cruz Mountain Rosella's Alcohol Study
Series 4
Eastern Pinot Appellations (New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ontario) Keefer Ranch Wines of Westside Road, Russian River Valley
Series 5
Santa Rita Hills Kanzler Women in Pinot
Series 6
Oregon Rancho Ontiveros Organic
Series 7
Central Otago, New Zealand Bien Nacido Clonal Study




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