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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 149 (August 13, 2007)

Monday, August 6 (Simcoe Day): My son Guy and I drive up to Apsley north of Lakefield to go fishing with Larry Paterson, the Little Fat Wino and Scourge of the LCBO. We have to take an ATV to get to Rock Lake from the highway, a bone-jarring journey of ten minutes that felt like an hour. I brought along a bottle each of Babich Sauvignon Blanc 2005 and Flat Rock Pinot Noir 2005. Caught three small-mouth bass before lunch (steak and beans cooked on an open fire) but really started catching after lunch – twelve more. For dinner, BBQ hamburgers with Calona Vineyards Artist Series Merlot 2005.

Tuesday, August 7: Wrote my monthly column for Post City Magazines on Riesling and why it deserves more acclaim than it's getting. Wine for wine it's the best varietal that Ontario makes. For dinner: grilled lamb chops with Peller Estates Heritage Series Cabernet Franc 2005 from BC, a very good wine indeed.

Klaus Reif

Wednesday, August 8: Drove down to Niagara to conduct a tasting seminar at Reif Winery, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. Ewald Reif, who bought the farm and planted the vineyards in 1979, was there. His nephew Klaus has been running the winery and making the wine for the last 20 years, latterly with Roberto DiDomenico. The format was that the participants tasted a wine and then I spoke about its context within the history of the Ontario wine industry. The first wine was Reif Riesling 2006, a great buy at $10.45 (minerally, grapefruit and lemon nose with a ripe pear note in mid palate). Then we moved on to Reif First Growth Cabernet Sauvignon 2002, which won a gold medal at this year's Ontario Wine Awards. Dense colour, still holding its purple to the rim; cedar, pencil shavings and blackcurrant on the nose; medium- to full-bodied in spite of its 14% alcohol, opening to a black licorice and savoury taste; mellow tannins. Very Bordelais in style ($50). Finally, Reif Vidal Icewine 2004 – golden bronze colour with an intense, honeyed peach, minerally nose; unctuous and rich with a sweet dried apricot and English toffee flavour. Nicely balanced acidity. Received two new bottlings from Niagara College Teaching Winery. NCT Winery Classic Chardonnay 2006 Dean's List. The teaching winemaker is South African Terence Van Rooyen, late of Stonechurch and Cilento. The character is very different from Jim Warren's, the previous instructor, more in European style than New World. This Chardonnay is deep golden colour with a spicy, vanilla and tropical fruit nose; full-bodied, rich, spicy pineapple, tangerine and melon flavours, well integrated oak, lively acidity and great length. A lovely wine.

Thursday, April 9: At lunch time an informal table-top tasting of all the Spanish wines currently on general release at the LCBO. It was held on the roof of the Globe Restaurant on the Danforth, a restaurant that specializes in local and Canadian produce. The most interesting wine was Etablissements Paul Boutinot Toro Tinta de Toro – a Tempranillo with lots of flavour (the company that marketed Chat-en-Oeuf – one of my Wines of the Week last October). Also like the consistently good Torres Coronas Tempranillo from Catalonia and Bodegas Piqueras Castillo de Almansa Reserva. For dinner, mussels with the remainder of the NCT Chardonnay 2006.

Friday, August 10: A tasting this morning of 20 Ontario wines that will be released in Vintages stores next month. The Rieslings from 2005 and 2006 confirmed my earlier opinion that this is the best grape for Ontario. Also tasted Villa Stephen Hajosi Kekfrankos 2003, which shows the desirability of having an English-speaking person vet the back label notes. I quote exactly as it is written, spellings, punctuation and all: "A true 'Hungarian' wine, found only in a few other countries. Has a deep rubin colour. The bouquet is harmonic warm like blue plums and sourcherries. The taste is rich of tannin perfectly matched with acids. One tastes a runge of fruits from plums to strawberries and wants proper dishes to accompany this wine."




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