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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 156 (October 1, 2007)

Monday, September 24: This is the third anniversary of this diary. I think I'll have a glass of wine to celebrate. Wrote my 680News reviews and prepared material for the AGM of Grapes for Humanity. I'm bringing along a bottle of Yarden Sparkling Wine 1997 and Volker Eisele Cabernet Sauvignon 2004. Both very well received by the directors. It was decided at the meeting to have a Jadot dinner in October 2008 in association with their importer Lifford. Took the remainder of the bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon home to have for dinner with Deborah. "What's this?" says my spouse, "I only get one glass of wine?" But what a wine, richly extracted blackcurrant and chocolate flavours, mouth-filling and sensuous on the palate; mellow tannins and great length. This wine is in the Classics Catalogue.

Tuesday, September 25: Took Pinot the Wonder Dog to the vet (nail clipping, anal glands, ear cleaning) before taking the TTC downtown to Kultura restaurant on King Street East for a 10th anniversary tasting of Thirteen Street Wine Company. I have always been a fan of their wines. The four owners, Erv Willms, Gunther Funk, Herb Jacobson and Ken Douglas have never compromised. They have always used low yields and produce very flavourful wines ( 3,000 to 4,000 cases) sourced from Willms' Sandstone Vineyard and the Funk Vineyard.

Before lunch we tasted:

  • 13th Street Cuvée: a 60/40 blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with 18 months on the lees. Pale straw colour, honeyed apple nose; light-bodied, very dry, crab apple and lemon flavours; good attack with a lengthy citrus finish.
  • 13th Street Funk Blanc de Noir 2000: pale straw colour with a lively mousse; intense white honey and floral nose with a mineral note; medium-bodied, crisp, apple flavour; lemony, apple peel finish. Very elegant (6 years on the lees).
  • 13th Street Riesling 2005: pale straw; lime, honey with a mineral note; off-dry, sweet grapefruit and lime flavours; clean as a whistle, light and delicate like a Mosel Kabinett with a hint of petrol. Good length. (A blend of GM 239 and the Weis 21 clone from the Mosel.) ****
  • 13th Street Chardonnay Musqué Sandstone Déchêné 2005 (a Ken Douglas fantasy French term for "unoaked"): medium straw colour with a fragrant apple, peach and white flower bouquet; full-bodied, soft creamy mouth feel; rich peach flavour, could well be mistaken for Viognier; elegant, clean lined and well balanced. A delicious wine. ****½
  • 13th Street Et Ceteras White 2006: Ontario's answer to Caymus Conundrum but drier – a blend of Pinot Gris, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay and Chardonnay Musqué 2006: straw colour; white flowers, peachy-melon aroma with a spicy top note; initial fruitiness gives way to lively citrus acidity. ***½ (Next year Ken says they will add Savignan to the blend!)
  • 13th Street Chardonnay Reserve 2005: straw colour; spicy pineapple with well integrated oak; initial pineapple flavour gives way to caramel; rich, mouth-filling, concentrated, full-bodied with a toasty oak finish. ****
  • 13th Street Funk Vineyard Cabernet Rosé 2006: deep pink with a nose of strawberries and celery; medium-bodied, well extracted dry strawberry flavour; good length. ***½

Lunch was served with the accompanying wines:

Tuna and Salmon Crudo Plate:

  • 13th Street June's Vineyard Riesling 2006: surprisingly deep colour; high toned nose of honey and minerals; broad on the palate, spicy lime flavour; medium-bodied, crisp with a citrus acidic finish. ***½
  • 13th Street Funk Vineyard Riesling 2006: straw colour, earthy, floral, citrus nose; more elegant and refined than June's Vineyard; lime flavour with a peachy mid-palate note; clean and lively finish. ****

Pork Belly with Whitty Farm Squash and MacIntosh Apple:

  • 13th Street Chardonnay Musqué Sandstone Déchêné 2005
  • 13th Street Chardonnay Reserve 2005

Pan-seared Duck Breast with Juniper Salt and Tomato Salad:

  • 13th Street Sandstone Gamay Reserve 2005: This wine won the gold medal at the 2007 Ontario Wine Awards. Deep ruby colour; high toned peppery plum with a floral note; well extracted fruit, firm finish. ****
    In addition, I tasted some of the older 13th Street wines that are still holding up very well, Merlot 2001 (wonderful), Pinot Noir Reserve 2002, Sandstone Gamay Reserve 2002 and 1998.
  • 13th Street Cabernet Merlot 2004 (33% each Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot aged for 16 months in Allier oak, 50% new, 50% 1 year-old): Deep ruby colour; cedar, plum and red currant leaf bouquet; medium-bodied, light and elegant, lean redcurrant flavour; firm structure. ***½

For dinner, trout with Leaping Horse Vineyards Chardonnay 2006 fro Lodi, California.

Wednesday, September 26: Recorded 680News reviews. Started researching an article on Canadian Icewine for Wine Business International. The editor, Joel Paine, wants to look at Canadian Icewine in light of future competition from China. And cryo-extracted wines from New Zealand.

Thursday, September 27: This morning there is a memorial service for Dave Wilcox, the former VP of Merchandising at the LCBO. The event is at the Bayview Golf Club. Dave was an avid golfer. I remember being on a trip with him – California, I believe - when he bought a driver, the best on the market and lovingly carried it back to Toronto. On the cover of the order of service is a photo of Dave teeing off with the driver. The room is packed with LCBO management, wine importers and his many friends. From there I hurried downtown for the Australian tasting, "Regional Heroes," at the Design Exchange. The tables were set out according to regions. I started at Western Australia (my favourite Aussie region). Tasted a lovely Hamelin Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2007 and their Chardonnay 2006. Also liked Omrah Shiraz 2005. Best value at the show was Wonombi Shiraz 2004 at $13.15. That evening Deborah and I went to the Royal College of Art to see the winners of the RBC Canadian Painting Competition. The winner was Arabella Campbell, who took home the $25,000 prize for a work called "Physical Facts #6 Acrylic" on canvas. A four-foot square canvas that looked like an open blotter, beige borders around two panel of white. It reminded me of a painting I bought at a charity auction for $50, "executed" by the mayor of East Gwillimbury. The painting is titled "The Paint Chip" and features a white paint chip glued to the centre of a white canvas. Deborah and I had a couple of glasses of Rosemount Diamond Label Shiraz 2005 and left for home to walk Pinot the Wonder Dog.

Friday, September 28: Started writing the article on Canadian Icewine. For dinner, lasagna with Umberto Cesari Sangiovese di Romagna 2003.




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