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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 153 (September 10, 2007)

Monday, September 3 (Labour Day): My brain is not yet wired to my body. Jet-lagged after the South African trip. Returned home to find that the raccoons had stripped my vineyards bare (two vines). But Deborah had the foresight to harvest a couple of bunches a day before the critter attack. They (Lucy Kuhlmann, a cold weather variety) tasted tart but refreshing, like Vinho Verde. Wrote my 680News reviews. Hard to get back to work after such a trip. For dinner with BBQ hamburgers, Vieux Chateau Landon 2003, an excellent Medoc, very rich, chocolate and currant flavours.

Tuesday, September 4: A brush with the law. Had to report for jury duty this morning, the first time my name has come up. With my luck I'll get landed with a six-month trial involving a randy accountant who embezzles his clients' money to support a drug habit, a bevy of mistresses and a home for retired racing greyhounds willed to him by his mother. There are about 300 of us in the holding area, where we are invited to watch a twenty-minute pep-talk orientation video telling what an honour it is to serve on a jury, that it is our civic duty; we are the "conscience of the community" and that it will be the experience of a lifetime, seeing democracy in action, etc., etc. Then a court official steps forward and tells us all that there are no trials scheduled for today and that we can all go home. We won't be called again for another three years. The room is suddenly energized, a lots of fists pumping the air. Celebrated at dinner with Thirty Bench Red 2003 with pork loin.

Wednesday, September 5: Finally cleared the emails that had accumulated while I was in South Africa. A preview tasting of wines that will be presented at the Wine Australia cross-Canada event – Australian Regional Heroes – beginning in Vancouver on September 18th and coming to Toronto at the Design Exchange on September 27th. This tasting is held at Kultura, a new restaurant on King Street East. The wines are set out on tables by region. We begin with a Jansz Sparkling wine, delicious, lemon, crisp with a mineral finish. The first table has wines from Orange, Hunter Valley, Yarra Valley and Grampians. My favorites here are Climbing Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 for Orange (concentrated, sweet blackcurrant fruit) and Yering Station Pinot Noir 2005 (elegant, raspberry flavour, medium-bodied, well balanced, good length). The next table has wines of the Clare Valley, Riverland and Barossa. Best wines – Skillogalee Basket Pressed Shiraz 2004 (intense, spicy, sweet blackberry with vanilla oak) and Nugan Estate Manuka Grove Durif 2006 (dense purple, floral, blackberry and elderberry flavours, concentrated, great length). Table three was all McLaren Vale. Best wine here, d'Arenberg D'Arry's Original Shiraz Grenache 2005 (firm, intense, richly extracted blackberry and spicy raspberry flavours). Over all, I was disappointed in the McLaren Vale wines otherwise.

The final table offered wines from Adelaide Hills, Southern Fleurieu, Limestone Coast and Wrattonbully. My favourite here was Nepenthe The Rogue Shiraz Cabernet Merlot, the best value at the tasting (full-bodied, earthy, black fruits, good length).

Thursday, September 6: Recorded my 680News wine reviews. This evening a party at Anna and Julian Porter's to launch my friend Eric Wright's new book, Finding Home. Ran into many people I hadn't seen in ages, Robert Fulford and Geraldine Sherman, Jack Batten and Marjorie Harris, Michael Enright. This is beginning to sound like a Shinan Govani column. It was Bob Fulford who gave me my first wine writing assignment – an article about champagne for Saturday Night magazine in 1975. For dinner, a New Zealand wine, Margain Pinot Noir River's Edge 2004 – very Burgundian, ripe raspberry, spicy, velvety mouth-feel.

Friday, September 7: A Vintages release tasting for October. I tasted 86 wines and a few malt whiskies. Broke up the chore by having a bowl of pea and ham soup at the Toronto Star cafeteria next door. No work this afternoon. For dinner, Lungarotti Pinot Grigio 2005, excellent value at $13.95 – white peach and pear flavour, very refreshing.




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