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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 158 (October 15, 2007)

Monday, October 8: Thanksgiving Day. Worked out in the gym, took Pinot to the park. Drove by the condo to see how the building was progressing. They have started to put in the windows so maybe it will be ready by next summer. Dinner – Roast Chicken with Creekside Chardonnay Reserve Butler's Grant Vineyard 2005 (very Burgundian-Chablisesque).

Tuesday, October 9: Called Marc Russell of the Fine Wine Reserve on his cell number and got him in Halifax. Asked him if he would be the fine wine acquisitions guy for Grapes for Humanity's Jadot dinner next October. He agreed. Terrific! A tasting at lunchtime down at Crush – wines from La Spinetta put on by Peter Bodnar Rod of Tannin Fine Wines. We begin with Bricco Quaglia Moscato d'Asti 2006: fragrant, grapey. Carnation nose; semi-sweet, delicate and clean, dances on the palate and remains for a long time. Just delicious but $25 a bottle.

La Spinetta Il Nero di Casanova 2005, a Sangiovese from Tuscany: deep purple-ruby colour; earthy, black cherry nose, medium-bodied, inky flavour, firm and tight at the moment ($30).

Ca di Pian Barbera d'Asti 2005: deep ruby-purple; earthy, black cherry, well extracted fruit; full-bodied and mouth-filling ($36).

Bionzo Barbera d'Asti Superiore 2005: Dense purple-ruby, spicy black cherry, vanilla oak; cassis flavour, lovely balance, firm structure, ripe tannins ($62).

Gallinia Barbera d'Asti 2005: dense purple-ruby; roasted note, black cherry; well extracted sweet blackberry and black cherry flavours ($62).

Langhe Nebbiolo 2005: deep ruby colour; tobacco and cherry nose; elegant, rich sweet cherry fruit, dry finish with supple tannins ($38).

Barbaresco Cru Starderi 2004: ruby colour; spicy oak, tar, cedar and yellow cherry nose; firmly structured, elegant red berry flavour, still tight but showing great length. My favourite of the tasting ($165).

Barbaresco Cru Gallina 2004: ruby colour; tobacco leaf, cherry nose; elegant more rustic than Starderi, more masculine; sweet fruit, firmly structured with a tannic finish ($165).

Barbaresco Cru Valeirano 2004: ruby; earthy, cedar, floral; well extracted fruit, firm and tight, dry tannins with a licorice note on the finish ($165).

Barolo Cru Campé 2003: ruby colour; this wine is a steel fist in a velvet glove; cherry on the nose, powerful yet elegant and fragrant; firmly structured by a greenish note on the finish from unripe tannins. My colleague Konrad Ejbich suggested that the vines may have shut down in the heat of that vintage and the tannins didn't ripen fully. He could well be right ($190).

In the evening, Deborah and I were invited by Rick Schiralli to a concert at Roy Thomson Hall by the Filarmonica della Scala. Before the concert there was a stand-up dinner at Monsoon with Santa Margarita Pinot Grigio 2006 and a couple of that winery's reds. My friend Pooch from Sacramento is staying with us. He tells me about a new competition in Lodi he's starting up with Tim Hanni based on the responsiveness of tasters. This explanation from Tim's website, where you can take a simple on-line test to zero in on your wine preferences. "We use this information," writes Tim, "to get a general idea what you might like or dislike in wine based on your coffee tastes, food salting habits, etc. However Taste Technology really gets powerful if you rate wines on our site. For every wine you try and rate we remember whether you liked it or not. The more wines you rate, the more accurate and useful Taste Technology becomes. In the beginning you'll notice that Taste Technology is only able to identify a small handful of wines you might like or dislike, but as it learns more the number of wines we can recommend increases."

Wednesday, October 10: A meeting this morning at Steve Campbell's office on Bathurst to discuss the Jadot dinner next October for Grapes for Humanity. Steve's importing company, Lifford, represents Jadot (who will be celebrating their 150th anniversary in 2009). Lunch at Grano with Jon Ogryslo, Steve Gill and Sean Kennedy from Niagara College. They are looking for ways to raise funds for the new Ontario Wine Discovery Centre. The provincial government has pledged $1.5 million and they need that amount again to build it. Trout for dinner with Creekside Chardonnay Reserve 2005.

Thursday, October 11: Wrote an article on Port for Post City Magazines. At 1 pm, David Lawrason and Doug Towers came over for a tasting. At the Carlu this evening for Vintages' pre-auction gala tasting. Fourteen tables with 72 great wines, including Figeac 1961, Talbot '45, Mouton '82. I didn't get to taste them all but these were my "Wow!" moments: La Lagune '82, and Lynch Bages '82, Domaine de Pegau Cuvée de Capo 2000, Chave 1990, Ornellaia Masseto 2003, de Fargues 1975 Sauternes, Warres '77 and Fonseca '77. The Yquem 1989 ran out before I got there.

Friday, October 12: Started work on the 2009 edition of Tom Stevenson's Wine Report.

Saturday, October 13: Drove to Niagara for our annual wine tour for sponsors of the Ontario Wine Awards. We begin with a sparkling wine reception (Trius Brut) before lunch at The Pillar and Post in Niagara-on-the-Lake. We are 27 people altogether. With the salad we have Château des Charmes Riesling 2006 and with the chicken Flat Rock Pinot Noir. A trolley takes us to Peller Estates. They are really busy with tours but they don't have our group down. Eventually we are escorted up to a private room for a taste of Ice Cuvee (their Icewine-dosed sparkling wine) and a tour of the cellars. Then on to Lailey, where winemaker Derek Barnett takes us into the vineyard to taste Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. They are as sweet as table grapes and Derek says they're the best he has tasted. In Lailey's upstairs tasting room we taste eight wines, including Impromptu, a blend of Syrah, Malbec and Petit Verdot. I buy three bottles of Lailey Pinot Noir 2004, which is delicious and tastes like a Beaune. Then on to The Prince of Wales, where I conduct an Icewine tasting with dessert – four different wines: Ch. Des Charmes Vidal, Birchwood Vidal, Stoney Ridge Chenin Blanc and Royal DeMaria Cabernet Sauvignon.




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