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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 154 (September 17, 2007)

Monday, September 10: A 10 am tasting at Summerhill liquor store with Grant Burge from Barossa. Five generations of Burges have been growing grapes and own some very old vines, some dating back to 1886. We began with Summers Chardonnay 2006 made from higher-elevation Eden Valley fruit: Straw colour; spicy, vanilla oak, pineapple and a floral note on the nose; fresh and crisp on the palate with lively acidity and a toasty finish.

  • Barossa Vines Cabernet Merlot 2005: Deep ruby-purple colour; cedar and pencil lead nose with a menthol note; dry, medium-bodied, currant flavour and a lively acidic spine. Good value for $16.15.
  • Barossa Vines Shiraz 2004: Deep purple colour with a creamy, peppery, blackberry bouquet; medium-bodied, black raspberry fruit, quite elegant and not in-your-face Aussie Shiraz; medium-bodied with a spicy finish. Again, good acidity.
  • Miamba Shiraz 2005: Dense purple, creamy blackberry and pepper, cedar, plum and pencil lead on the nose; spicy, juicy black cherry and plum flavours with lively acidity.
  • Filsell Shiraz 2005 (80-year-old vines): dense purple – stains the glass, vanilla oak, spicy blackberry, richly extracted; firm structure with a good spine of acidity, full-bodied, lovely concentration of fruit, full-bodied, soft tannins. Gorgeous.
  • The Holy Trinity 2002 (Grenache, Shiraz, Mourvedre): Made in Rhône style; deep ruby with a sweet raspberry nose, firm structure, well balanced with grainy tannins on the finish.

In the afternoon wrote my Post City Magazine column on the best restaurants in Toronto for wine-by-the-glass service. For dinner, cod with Jackson-Triggs Riesling 2006.

Tuesday, September 11: The sixth anniversary of 9/11 and the first anniversary of Tanya the cat's death. Wrote my commentary for Tidings magazine on wine gadgets to age wine quickly. My feelings are let Mother Nature take her course. If I want soft tannins I'll save my claret and drink New World Cabernet Sauvignon. Dinner at Vertical in First Canadian Place – a winemaker dinner with Grant Burge and his wife Helen. Some of the proceeds will be donated to Grapes for Humanity. Not a lot of people, about 24 in all. Must be the Toronto International Film Festival that's getting all the business. Can't compete with Brad Pitt and Paris Hilton. We started off with Grant Burge Barossa vines Sauvignon Semillon 2006 as an aperitif. With oysters and zucchini blossoms we drank Grant Burge Thorn Riesling 2006 (developing fine petrol and lime flavours, very fresh). Gnocchi with roasted tomato and braised oxtail: Barossa Vines Cabernet Merlot 2005. Roast elk loin with a potato and wild mushroom tiella with Grant Burge Cameron Vale Cabernet Sauvignon 2005. Next, Seared Duck breast in sour cherry mostarda with braised chicory, served with The Holy Trinity 2002. With a blue cheese, a glass of Grant Burge 20 Year old Tawny – a wine that won the best Tawny Port award at this year's Decanter International Wine Competition. Grant won the same trophy for this wine in 2004.

Wednesday, September 12: A press preview tasting this morning for A Taste of Chile. A well-organized blind tasting held in The Boiler Room in the Distillery District. We could taste at our own pace through 8 flights of wine. Twenty-five wineries were represented with 46 wines. My top wine in each flight was:

  • Vina Garces Silva Sauvignon Blanc 2006
  • Vina Casa Lapostolle Chardonnay Cuvee Alexandre 2005
  • Vina Anakena Carmenere Single Vineyard 2005
  • Vina Porta Reserve Pinot Noir 2006
  • Vina Errazuriz Shiraz Max Reserva 2005 tied with Vina Tabali Shiraz Reserva 2005
  • Vina Caliterra Merlot Reserva 2005
  • Vina Casa Lapostolle Cabernet Sauvignon Cuvee Alexandre 2005 (closely followed by Miguel Torres Cabernet Sauvignon Santa Digna Reserve 2004 at less than half the price)
  • Vina Santa Rita Cabernet Sauvignon Medalla Real 2004.

The main Chile tasting takes place on Wednesday, October 3rd in the Fermenting Cellar, Distillery District. David Lawrason and I shared a cab back to my house for a www.Winerytohome tasting of 38 Ontario wines. Dinner with Deborah to welcome in the Jewish New Year at my friend Rene Simmons, an old school friend from McGill days.

Thursday, September 13: My editor at Tidings magazine has sent me a request for a Terry Fox donation. He's shaving his head. I said I would subscribe if he publishes the photo in the next issue of the magazine. Worth twenty-five bucks to see him shorn like a convict. Dinner at the National Club with Andrew Henry of Coopers Creek. Andrew has a new range of wines under the Select Vineyards label and some new varietals.

  • Gisborne Viognier 2007: Honeysuckle and peach, medium-bodied with a sweet core but good acidity.
  • Select Vineyards Marlborough Pinot Gris "The Pointer" 2007: Spicy pear, again with a touch of sweetness.
  • Select Vineyards Gisborne Arneis "The Little Rascal" 2007: This wine was a revelation – fragrant and charming with a lovely white peach flavour. I didn't know that this Piemonte variety was grown in New Zealand.
  • Select Vineyards Hawkes Bay Viognier "Chalk Ridge" 2007: Soft, off-dry, peach and pear flavours, spicy but a little short on the finish.
  • Select Vineyards "The Clays" Huapai Malbec 2006: Sweet berry fruit, well extracted with spicy chocolate notes.

Friday, September 14: A tasting of new releases at the LCBO and then across the road to Tula restaurant for a tasting of Brazilian wines. Seven producers in all. The event began with a sit-down tasting at which each producer introduced his or her wines. The room was very hot, which made tasting difficult. I liked the Miolo reds (Cabernets and Merlots) but I was looking for a more regional flavour. Many of the wines had an international taste with no sense of terroir. At 4 pm I went over to Jamie Kennedy's restaurant to meet Santa Rita's chief viticulturist, Sebastian Warnier. He showed me the company's vineyards on his laptop, which could zero in from a map of the area to show vertical and lateral projections of each site. We tasted five of their flagship wines – two the Floresta range.

  • Floresta Sauvignon Blanc 2006: Very pale colour; intense, herbaceous, passionfruit nose; rich grapefruit and passionfruit flavours, firmly structured with lovely pure fruit flavours.
  • Floresta Apalta Cabernet Sauvignon 2004: Dense purple colour; spicy, cedar and black currant; sweet, concentrated blackcurrant flavour; medium to full-bodied, clean as a whistle, lovely fruit.
  • Triple C 2004 (Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere: Dense purple-black; blueberry, vanilla, meaty nose; chunky mouth-feel, firm structure, a touch green on the finish.
  • Pehuen Carmenere 2004 (with 5% Cabernet Sauvignon): Dense purple-black; cedar, black raspberry, vanilla with a roasted note; a big, fleshy wine with mouth-filling coffee and chocolate flavours.
  • Casa Real 2003: The best wine of the tasting: dense purple colour; cedar, crushed blackcurrants; intense, sweet blackcurrant flavour; lovely integration of oak; great architecture.

For dinner, spaghetti and meat sauce with a bottle of Grant Burge Cabernet Merlot 2005.




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