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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 160 (October 29, 2007)

Monday, October 22: This is going to turn out to be a wine-soaked week. On the subject of wine-stained fingers noted last week, Dean Tudor emailed me to say that I forgot to mention that months ago Roger Torriero and Borys Tkoch, both LCBO consultants, came up with the term "digitus tinto." DTs for short, I guess. The matter rests.

This afternoon at the Design Exchange, a Port and Douro wines tasting. Twenty-seven tables set out by agents, representing 42 Portuguese producers. A vast number of wines, but since I had a meeting to attend at 5 pm I had to be selective. I made a beeline for Niepoort to taste Dirk's new wine Dialogo 2005 with a label that looks like a cross between a page of postage stamps and a newspaper cartoon. Also tried his magnificent Redoma 2005. Could not miss out on my favourite 20 Year Old Tawny, Ramos Pinot Bom Retiro. João Roseira from Quinta do Infantado was there and since I'm a big fan of his wines I tasted through the six products he was showing. He has a Douro Red 2004 which reminded me of what Port would have tasted like if Baron de Forrester had had his way in the mid-1800s and had brandy and blackcurrant juice banned from the production of Douro wines. João makes one of the best Ruby ports. His LBV is very concentrated and unfiltered. Tasted Infantado's very forward 2003 Vintage Port, followed by the 2004, which has more grip, and sampled the 2007, which João has yet to declare. But I imagine the decision is academic; it's already succulent and rich. Other wines of note: Quinta Nova Grainha Red 2005 and that quinta's LBV Port 2003 and VT Tinto 2005, a new wine created by Josè Maria Calem, Jorge Serôdio Borges and Cristiano Van Zeller (50% Touriga Nacional).

A meeting of the Grand Cru advisory board, and then on to the Platinum Lounge at the Air Canada Centre for Stem Wine Group's 2nd annual gala tasting. Importing agents Robert Tomé and Tony Macchione have put together the most exciting Italian list in the city. They also have Californian, Australian, Spanish and Greek wines, but their selection of Italian wines from Friuli to Sicily is nothing short of spectacular. Best wine of the night for me was Boroli Barolo "Villero" 1997 (violets, truffle, tobacco, licorice, cherry – amazingly complex). Other great wines: Buglioni Valpolicella "Il Bugiardo" 2004, Delibori Villabella Amarone "Fracastoro" 2000 (like a Recioto), Masciarelli Cvetic Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2003, Caprai Montefalco Sagrantino "25 Anni" 2003. These wines are not inexpensive, but what pleasure they give. Also taken by Pavilion Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 from Napa.

Tuesday, October 23: Flew to Chicago this morning to represent Grapes for Humanity at a tasting and dinner with "The Young Lions of Winemaking – Legends of the Future." Serena Sutcliffe MW was repeating a symposium she held at Vinitaly two years ago at which she invited eleven wine producers to explain how climate change is affecting their region and how they planned to combat it. The event was held at the Sheraton Hotel and we got to taste a wine from each of the participants. Not too shabby either. Here's the roll call and their wine that was poured.

  • Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon of Champagne Louis Roederer – Cristal Brut 2000
  • Jeffrey Grosset of Grosset Wines in Australia's Clare Valley – Springvale Watervale Riesling 2007
  • Thomas Duroux, Château Palmer's winemaker – Palmer 2004
  • Serena Sutcliffe, speaking on behalf of Domaine Fourrier – Gevrey Chambertin Clos St. Jacques 2003
  • Albiera Antinori of Marchese Antinori – Tignanello 2004
  • Arnaldo Caprai of Marco Caprai in Umbria – Sagrantino di Montefalco '25 Anni' 2003 (the same wine that I had tasted last night in Toronto)
  • Francesca Planeta from Planeta in Sicily – Santa Cecilia 2005 (Nero d'Avola)
  • Hans Vinding-Diers, the winemaker at Bodega Noemia in Argentina – Bodega Noemia 2004 (Malbec)
  • David Powell of Torbreck in the Barossa Valley – Run Rig 2004 (Shiraz and a touch of Viognier)
  • Raffaele Boscaini of Masi – Costasera Amarone Classico 2003
  • Adrian Bridge of Taylor's Port – Quinta de Vargellas 2005

I am writing about the findings of this discussion for Tidings magazine, but suffice it to say here that all the winemaking community is aware of the need to do something now about climate change and carbon footprints. Roederer, for example, is producing a lighter champagne bottle that will reduce carbon emissions by 5 per cent in the making.

The five-course dinner that followed was held at the Ritz Carleton featuring most of the wines we tasted at the symposium. All the producers had donated large-format bottles or a half case for a silent auction to benefit Grapes for Humanity. We raised US$3,295. In bed by midnight with a 5 am call for an early flight back to Toronto.

Wednesday, October 24: A taxi to O'Hare at 6:15 am, which is rush hour in Chicago. Too exhausted to attend the Grandi Marchi tasting of Italian wines at the King Eddie in the afternoon. I also have a deadline for my monthly commentary for Tidings magazine.

Thursday, October 25: A dental appointment. I need a filling. The dentist, who makes vast quantities of grape juice every year from Concord grapes, gave me a light injection so that I wouldn't drool at lunch with my daughter Annabel. 'Bel is in from Vancouver for a few days. A meeting this afternoon with Lauro Arias, who was the Executive Director of ABE, the Uruguayan Wine Exporter's Association. Since then he has worked on a couple of IAD (International Agriculture Development) Bank projects as a consultant in Uruguay. I opened a bottle of Charles Baker Riesling 2006 that Charles makes at Stratus from fruit he gets from Mark Piccone's vineyard in Vineland. This is the second vintage of Charles' wine and is richer and rounder than the 2005. Lovely flavours of honey and tangerine, off-dry, nicely balanced. Since we are having a dinner party for my friend Janine McLachlan from Chicago (who was in Toronto while I was in Chicago!), I invited Lauro to stay. Steve Elphick, the photographer who took all the images for my Wine Atlas of Canada, joined us and brought some foie gras pâté he had made with accompanying fig jam. I barbecued steaks.

The wines:

  • Henry of Pelham Cuvée Catharine Brut (with Medjool dates stuffed with brie and warmed, Chinese lamb wontons and sautéed almonds)
  • with the foie gras: Maleta First Frost Last Grape Vidal Icewine 2002
  • with the steak: Bravdo Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 (from Israel, unfortunately corked)
  • Bouchard Père et Fils Beaune du Château 2005 (a beautifully ripe Burgundy)
  • with the cheese tray: Seghesio Zinfandel 2003
  • plum tart

Friday, October 26: A Wine Writers Circle meeting down at the Summerhill Liquor store, at which we tasted a series of wines supplied by agents. A quick lunch and back to the store to meet Hugh Johnson, who is in town to promote the new edition of his wine atlas. He conducted a tasting of four wines from his Royal Tokai Wine Company.

  • 2006 Dry Furmint: medium straw colour, minty, leafy, aromatic but crisp with lively acidity, lemony and floral – reminiscent of Viognier. Great value at $12.95.
  • 2000 Blue Label Tokaji Aszu 5 Puttonyos: deep amber; orange marmalade, tea leaf and dried apricot flavours; rich with lively acidity.
  • 1995 Tokaji Aszu Birsalmas 5 Puttonyos: dark amber, high toned, toffee and barley sugar nose; burnt orange peel, intense, dried apricot with challenging acidity. Rich concentrated, finishing dry with great length.
  • 1999 Gold Label Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos: deep amber; elegant, orange, lemon, barley sugar and honey nose with a tobacco leaf note; lovely balance of fruit and acidity with a finish that goes on for an unconscionable time. A mouth-watering wine.

Hugh had not tasted the Le Clos Jordanne Pinot Noir, so I came back and brought him a bottle of the Claystone Vineyard 2004, which really surprised him.

At dinner, tilapia with a bottle of Coyote's Run Unoaked Chardonnay 2005.

Saturday, October 27: Am conducting a dinner tasting for the Antique and Classic Boat Society Toronto Chapter at the Donalda Club. The wines:

  • Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2006 (New Zealand)
  • Jackson Triggs Chardonnay Proprietors Reserve 2005 (Ontario)
  • Leon Beyer Tokay Pinot Gris 2005 (Alsace)
  • Masi Serego Aligheri Rosso 2005 (Veneto)
  • Errazuriz Max Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (Chile)
  • Rosenblum Cellars 2005 Zinfandel (California)




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