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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 162 (November 12, 2007)

Monday, November 5: This morning the Italian Trade Commission put on a seminar about Amarone prior to a large tasting featuring 107 wineries. The seminar was conducted on the stage at Roy Thomson Hall by the secretary of the Consorzio di Tutela Vini Valpolicella, Emilio Fasoletti, and my wine writer colleague David Lawrason. Six Amarones were poured – Begali Lorenzo 2004, Guerrieri-Rizzardi 2003, Tenuta Sant' Antonio Campo dei Gigli 2003, Brigaldara Case Vecie 2003, Tedeschi Capitel Monte Olmi 2003 and Bertani 2000. Very different styles, the most traditional being Tedeschi.

Afterwards we went up to the main tasting. I tasted about 25 producers. Too big, too many products. The most interesting wines were Caldora Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2006 (great value), Collemassari Montecucco Vermentino Irisse and Collemassari Bolgheri Vermentino Grattamacco 2006, Allegrini Amarone 2003 and Allegrini Valpolicello Classico 2006, Donnafugata Sicilia Sedara 2005 (Nero d'Avola) and their Contessa Entellina Mille e Una Notte 2004 (90% Nero d'Avola, 10% other indigenous varieties), and Masi's new venture in Tuscany – Toscana Rosso Poderi del Bello Ovile Serego Aligheri 2004. The best wines were the three Tenuta dell'Ornellaia – Toscana Le Volte 2005, Bolgheri Le Serre Nuove dell'Ornellaia 2005 and the stunning Bolgheri Ornellaia Superiore 2004.

In the evening Jim Savone invited me to a dinner with two of his principals, Francesco Ferreri, president of the Consorzio di Tutela del Vino Cerasuolo di Vittoria, and Lorenzo Rispoli, export manager of Val d'Oca. We started with Val d'Orca Pinot Grigio Marca Trevigiana "Pigia" 2006, followed by Valle dell'Acate Insolia Vittoria from Sicily. Next a very interesting local grape, Il Frappato Vitoria 2006 (fruity, floral, raspberry flavor). A bigger red followed, Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classic 2005 (70% Nero d'Avola, 30% Frappati). Next Domodimonti Picens 2005 and Il Messia 2004 from Marche, finishing with Castello di Nieve Barbaresco 2003.

Tuesday, November 6: Dropped off seven cases of wine books and cookbooks to George Brown. Deborah has been on at me to start culling my stuff for the move next year. As a pack rate I find this very difficult. If I have three of something it becomes a collection to be built upon. Recorded my 680News reviews. Then lunch at Crush with Deborah's niece-by-marriage's husband Gary (easier to say my friend Gary). Ordered a bottle of Calamus Unoaked Chardonnay 2006 with my mussels and fries. Spent the afternoon doing an evaluation of a wine cellar for insurance – great cellar, full of Bordeaux. For dinner salmon with Red Rooster Pinot Gris 2006 – wonderful match.

Wednesday, November 7: David Lawrason and Doug Towers were over for another Winerytohome tasting (really good Pinot Gris and Chardonnay from the Grange of Prince Edward). Then David and I drove down to Jamie Kennedy's restaurant on Church Street for the launch of the Plantatree wines. Steven Campbell of Lifford Wine Agency went to one of his principals in California, Ironstone, and negotiated to buy Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in bulk to be shipped to Ontario and bottled in PET bottles in order to reduce the carbon imprint of hauling heavy glass bottles. The wines are line-priced at the Liquor Control Board of Ontario at $14.95 and $2.50 from the sale of each bottle will be donated to TreeCanada to plant a tree. The LCBO's initial order of 2,700 cases will result in the planting of over 30,000 trees if the wine sells through. The first plantings will be in Sudbury, whose landscape is so reminiscent of the surface of the moon that NASA used the location for moon-exploration experiments.

Plantatree wines will be rolled out across Canada in 2008. Campbell's goal in the first year is to plant 100,000 trees. Over their life time, these trees will absorb approx. 35,380 tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere.

Plantatree's distinctive labels were designed by Bernie Hadley-Beauregard, who masterminded such out-of-the-box marketing concepts for such Canadian wineries as Blasted Church, Meglomaniac, Dirty Laundry and The Organized Crime Winery. After tasting the three wines I went over to The Fine Wine Reserve, where the iYellow Wine Club was having a social. Spoke about Ontario wines and sold a few copies of the atlas and wine murder mysteries. For dinner, braised beef with Coppola Diamond Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2005.

Thursday, November 8: Wrote my monthly piece for Post City Magazines about champagne and the coming shortage. In the evening I conducted a wine tasting dinner for a staff party at Crush (in their private room where we do our setup for the Ontario Wine Awards judging). The wines tasted before the meal and served with it (mushroom soup, sirloin steak, fruit-topped cheesecake):

  • Calamus Riesling 2005 (Niagara Peninsula)
  • Andre Millot Chardonnay 2003 (Vin de Pays d'Oc)
  • Colio Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 (Lake Erie North Shore)
  • Jackson-Triggs Shiraz 2003 (Okanagan Valley)
  • Castello d'Alba Tinto 2004 (Douro Valley)
  • Tedeschi Capitel Monte Fontana Recioto 1997 (Veneto)
  • Inniskillin Vidal Icewine 2003 (Niagara Peninsula)

Friday, November 9: Spent much of the day emptying boxes stored from the last move eight years ago – old files, wine memorabilia, photos. It's going to be hard to throw all this out. Started reading George Taber's new book, To Cork or not to Cork. Fascinating. Didn't know that suberin, "a complex fatty acid is the basic material of cork," and that nearly 90 per cent of cork's volume is made of tiny cells (800 million!) that contain microscopic amounts of air. Curious to see if he answers the question whether there is transference of air through the cork during the wine's life in bottle. Dinner, roast chicken with Coyote's Run Unoaked Chardonnay 2006.




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