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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 157 (October 9, 2007)

Monday, October 1: The weather is still warm. Much rejoicing in Niagara as the fruit ripens. This should be a terrific red wine year. Spent the day working on the Icewine article for Wine Business International. At 4 pm, down to Reds Bistro for a Chilean food and wine event. Chef Pilar Rodriguez has flown in from Chile to cook this week in Toronto. The tasting menu we (the wine and food press) enjoyed was as follows:

  1. Seared Scallops in Garlic Perfumed Olive Oil and Pebre Verde Chilean Shrimp, Yellow Chili and Pink Grapefruit Cervice, served with Miguel Torres Brut Pinot Noir (a delicious sparkler with a nose of raspberries and fresh leather, dry and elegant). (Pebre Verde, so the glossary in the press kit noted, is a special "Creole" Chilean salsa made with onions, garlic, tomatoes, cilantro, olive oil and chili paste.)
  2. King Crab Marinated in Tangerine Dressing, Celery, Fennel and Red Onion Salad, with Errazuriz Sauvignon Blanc 2006 (minerally, green plum, grassy, guava flavours, medium-bodied, crisp with lively acidity).
  3. Corn and Sea Food Crème Brûlée (an odd, sweet dish which did not help the wine – Concha Y Toro Winemaker's Lot #7 Chardonnay 2006 (straw coloured, spicy pineapple; sweet, spicy fruit, full-bodied with toasty oak and fine acidity)).
  4. Caramelized Baby Pork Ribs with Ulmo Honey and Pan Seared Pork Loin, Onion Marmalade, Potatoes Sauteed in Merquen Olive Oil and Fresh Thyme; Baby Green Salad (merquen is a spice originating with Mapuche Indians of southern Chile – red chili peppers dried over a wood fire then combined with coriander seed and sea salt). The accompanying wine – Viu Manent Carmenère Reserva 2005 – one of the best of this variety I have tasted: dense purple-black; concentrated, creamy, oaky, blackberry and mint nose; sweet fruit, rich and spicy, well extracted, full-bodied with a smoky, dry finish; mellow tannins.
  5. Pan Seared Lamb Chops with rosemary and Garlic Infused Oilve Oil, Sweet Potato Purée, Garlic Confit, Cherry Tomatoes and Mint Salad, with Errazuriz Cabernet Sauvignon Max Reserva 2005 (deep ruby colour; pencil lead, smoky, vanilla oak, creamy tarry note on the nose; well extracted blackcurrant and plum flavours; full-bodied, soft tannins.)
  6. Seared Beef Tenderloin, Mushrooms and Sun Dried Tomatoes, Creamy Barley Wheat, Baby Arugla Salad, served with the Errazuriz wine above.
  7. Lucuma and Quinoa Mousse, Berries and Lavender Salad, Carica Semifreddo with Seared Carica and toasted Almond Salad, with Concha Y Toro Vendanges Tardives Sauvignon Blanc Reserve Particulière 2004 (honeyed peach with a touch of Botrytis). Lucuma is an orange pulpy fruit that grows in Chile and Carica is Chilean papaya.

An excellent meal with mercifully small potions.

Tuesday, October 2: Discovered that Pinot the Wonder Dog loves Medjool dates. A meeting late this morning with Robert Mara, proprietor of a new banqueting hall in Vaughan called Bellevue Manor. We discussed the possibility of conducting wine tasting events in the 45,000-square-foot facility. A meeting at 5 pm for Grand Cru, the fund-raiser for Toronto General Hospital. This is one event: "A $10,000 per person wine tasting led by world-renowned wine critic Robert Parker and luncheon prepared by US Chef Daniel Boulud and Toronto's Massimo Capra happens Friday, November 2. Two of the many outstanding wines offered are 1899 and 1900 Château Lafite." Apparently, it is already sold out to 24 people. Pity.

Dinner, trout with Leaping Horse Vineyards Chardonnay 2006 from Lodi.

Wednesday, October 3: Lunch with Alexandra Marnier-Lapostolle at George restaurant to taste the new wines from her Casa Lapostolle winery in Chile. She showed me photos of the spectacular new facility – the $20 million Clos Apalta winery in the Colchagua Valley. We started off the tasting with:

Casa Lapostolle Chrdonnay 2005: deep straw colour; rich, spicy apple nose; lovely mouth feel – sweet tropical fruit and peach flavours with citrus acidity; full-bodied.

Casa Lapostolle Syrah 2005: dense purple-black; spicy, black olive, blackberry nose; intense, sweet, licorice and herbal flavours; full-bodied and chunk on the palate with a roasted note. Lovely sweet fruit.

Casa Lapostolle Cabernet Sauvignon 2005: dense purple colour; cedar, tobacco leaf and cassis nose; rich sweet blackcurrant fruit with chocolate and coffee bean notes; full-bodied, firmly structured with dusty tannins (15% Merlot added).

Casa Lapostolle Clos Apalta 2004 (84% Carmenère and Merlot in equal proportions, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon): dense purple ruby colour; creamy, blueberry and cassis nose; rich, blackcurrant flavour, lovely velvety mouth-feel; firm structure, great balance. Lovely lines. Alexandra tells me that 44% of the wine was hand destemmed. It took 80 women in one day to do what a machine would do in an hour. The 2005 vintage she says is totally hand-destemmed.

The final wine she served me blind and asked what I thought of it. When it was poured it stained the glass, dense purple. The nose was intriguing, a mix of lavender, cassis, blackberry and licorice. Full-bodied with flavour of dark chocolate, very harmonious with soft, yielding tannins. I loved it. Alexandra told me that I was the first person in Canada to taste this wine. It turned out to be Borobo 2002 – a blend of Bordeaux, Rhone and Burgundy grapes: 35% Syrah from Las Kuras Vineyard in Requinoa, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon from Apalta Vineyard, 20% Carmenère from Apalta Vineyard, 15% Pinot Noir from Atalayas Vineyard in Casablanca and 10% Merlot from Apalta Vineyard. A sensational wine.

A quick change into dinner jacket at home. Picked up by a driver to go to the Hamilton Club in Hamilton for a Rotary fund-raiser. The proceeds are to be shared between Grapes for Humanity and a local children's charity. I am to lead a tasting and then speak to the wines at dinner.

Thursday, October 4: Walking Pinot the Wonder Dog in the park. The conversation among dog owners got around to my work. "You must be looped half the time," someone said. Now I know how lawyers feel about lawyer jokes. "No," replied, "just looped all of the time." This evening, a reunion dinner at Grano for the participants of the tour I led to Loire, Cognac and Bordeaux in May. There were 15 of us and we managed to make a major dent in the following wines:

  • Strewn Barrel-Aged Chardonnay 2006
  • Billy Goat Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2006
  • Casa Lapostolle Sauvignon Blanc 2006
  • Red rooster Pinot Gris Reserve 2006 (a revelation)
  • DeLoach Russian River Pinot noir 2005
  • Sandhill Sangiovese 2006
  • Casa Lapostolle Merlot 2005
  • Strewn Terroir Three 2005
  • Phelps Innisfree Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
  • Peter Lehmann GSM 2006

Friday, October 5: A Vintages tasting day for the November release. Best wines: Antinori Solaia 2003 and Antinori Tignanello 2004 in half bottle. Received the following email: "How can I become a successful wine maker in Ghana, Africa?

"The economy of the country is booming due to the stability in the country. There are more foreigners and inverstors (sic) enjoying this advantage and also using the market there as a lunching (sic) pad to the wide African market. Please advice me on this issue and how to meet interested Investors." Wonder if it may have originated in Nigeria, although the writer mentioned listening to me on 680News.

Dinner, Chinese dumplings with ginger honey sauce and Jackson-Triggs Delaine Vineyard Gewürztraminer 2006.

Saturday, October 6: Drove to Prince Edward County to see "Taste the County" at Crystal Palace grounds in Picton. En route I dropped into see Norman Hardie. His pickers were hand-sorting Pinot Noir and Norman was ecstatic with the quality of the harvest. I tasted his Melon de Bourgogne 2006, Chardonnay Sans Barrique 2006 (Beamsville fruit – smelled like Sancerre, tasted like Chablis) and Pinot Noir 2006 (Norman's first estate Pinot Noir – raspberry and rhubarb flavours, very well made). At "Taste" sampled Huff Pinot Gris 2006 and Sandbanks Cabernet Franc 2006 – both delicious wines. Jamie Kennedy had a stall serving his version of poutine – braised beer with cheese on French fries. Jamie tells me that he has moved his family to the County and will be opening two restaurants on his farm. In the main hall I found Gurth Pretty and his wife Joanne behind a booth serving a pork dish that is in the cookbook we did together. What's more, he had advance copies of the book – The Definitive Canadian Wine and Cheese Cookbook. It looks terrific and was selling like hot cakes. Should be in the stores in three weeks' time. Spent most of the time at the booth signing copies. On the way home I dropped into Closson Chase and tasted their Chardonnay 2004 (spicy, green pineapple and apple with citrus acidity; good length and well-integrated oak). Deborah Paskus is a deft hand with oak. Iconoclast Chardonnay 2005 – Deborah had sent me a bottle of this wine from the cask. I loved it then and I love it even more now that the oak has melded with the fruit. It reminded me of the Temkin-Paskus wines she used to make – rich, intense, tropical fruit, mouth-filling, pineapple and citrus flavours. Like a Chevalier Montrachet on steroids. Worth its $65 price tag.




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