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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 147 (July 30, 2007)

Monday, July 23: This morning a tasting at Canoe of Penfold wines with head winemaker Peter Gago. He tells us that this year was the first time in 163 years that Penfolds had to water the Magill vineyard, such was the effect of the drought. All Penfolds whites are now under screwcap and the reds are moving in that direction. Can't wait to see Grange with a screwcap.

Koonunga Hill Chardonnay 2006: straw colour, intense and oaky with buttery, tropical fruit aromas; sweet and spicy on the palate, clean lined with good acidity. Good value at $14.95.

Bin 311 Tumbarumba Chardonnay 2006: straw colour, developing a barnyard note; spicy apple, elegant and crisp with lively acidity; orange and peach flavours; good lnength. A lovely wine.

Koonunga Hill Shiraz 2004: dense purple, high toned nose of blackberry and dark chocolate; sweet and fruity, full on the palate; easy drinking.

Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon: dense ruby-purple; cedar, blackcurrant on the nose; sweet chunky fruit with well integrated oak, nicely balanced with good length.

Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2004 (what Gago calls "the poor man's Grange"): dense purple; cedar, blackberry and blueberry nose; sweet spicy fruit with the Shiraz showing through at the moment. Well balanced, good length.

St. Henri Shiraz 2003: dense purple-black; high toned, old world style Syrah; lively acidity with a great mouth feel, very European, with great length.

Bin 128 Shiraz 2004: deep purple; cedar, blackberry, spicy, peppery, leaner than the Bin 389.

Thomas Hyland Shiraz 2005: dense purple-ruby; pencil lead and spicy blackberry nose; elegant, nicely balanced, clean and fleshy with good length. Good value at $19.95.

Bin 28 Shiraz 2004: dense purple, high toned pencil lead and blackberry nose with vanilla oak; medium- to full-bodied with a great mouth feel; sweet blackberry with a touch of spice.

Magill Estate Shiraz 2004: along with Grange, the best red at the tasting – dense ruby colour; cedar, meaty, red berry nose; elegant, lovely balance, firm structure. A terrific wine.

Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon2004: dense purple-black; floral, cedar, high toned nose; great extract, chunky on the palate, hefty with vanilla oak and blackcurrant flavours and a tannic finish.

RWT Shiraz 2004: dense purple colour; earthy, mouth-filling sweet blackberry; succulent fruit wit well integrated oak and a firm finish.

Grange Bin 95 Shiraz 2002: dense purple-black; high toned nose of sweet sun-ripened blackberries; intense, sweet chunky fruit; smoky blueberry and blackberry notes, firmly structured with a massive mouth feel. Still a baby.

At lunch we started off with Penfolds Bin 51 Riesling 2006 from Eden Valley: pale straw colour with a nose of lime and grapefruit; tart with good length.

Bin 144 Yattarna Chardonnay 2004: medium straw colour. Spicy barnyard note with a lively pineapple flavour, ripe and full on the palate; full-bodied, great length. More elegant and Burgundian than I remember it from two years ago.

Pinot Noir Cellar Reserve 2004: mature ruby, sweet beetroot and raspberry nose; full-bodied, with raspberry, strawberry and pencil lead flavours; mouth-filling – one of the best Aussie Pinots I've had. I must say I find these Bin numbers very confusing, hard to keep them in my head. I guess you have to be an accountant.

We finished the meal with Penfolds Grandfather Tawny. Delicious.

After lunch I made my way over to the Savoy Restaurant on Victoria Street, where Larry Paterson had arranged a large tasting of mainly Ontario fruit wines and table wines from outside Ontario's designated viticultural areas. Coffin Ridge near Georgian Bay and Villa Nova at Simcoe show a lot of promise. With global warming soon there will be vineyards in Timmins.

For dinner, shrimps in a spicy sauce with Jackson Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2006. A spectacular Sauvignon.

Tuesday, July 24: In the mail today, Shafer Vineyards Line on Wine, a large postcard with wine trivia they send out monthly or maybe quarterly. Examples: "A vintner in Duluth, Minn., makes wine from what source? Answer: Mashed army worms (According to a local newspaper it tastes like Pinot Grigio.)" But then it would, wouldn't it. And "Of the 438 table wines introduced in the US between 2003 and 2005, nearly one in five featured what on the label? An animal."

A day of clearing my desk preparatory to leaving for a week's fishing. I was meant to be filming in Niagara today but the shoot was called off because of unpredictable weather. After as grey morning the sun did come out, though. For dinner, BBQ hamburgers with El Burro Kickass Garnacha 2005.

Wednesday, July 25: A tasting for, some 40 wines. After this a meeting with the publicist from Whitecap Books with Gurth Pretty and his wife Joanne to discuss the release of the cheese recipe book we have done together. Gurth brought a few cheeses over and I opened a bottle of Hope Chardonnay 2005 from the Hunter Valley and Magnotta Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 from Ontario.

Finished the evening by packing for the fishing trip, so there will be a hiatus until I return. Dinner: beef stew with Ravenswood Vintners Blend Zinfandel 2005.




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