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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 163 (November 19, 2007)

Monday, November 12: Laird Kay from the Wine Establishment came over to the house to discuss the architectural drawings for the cellar I intend to have built in the condo. It will have a capacity for 1400 bottles but in my mind that's already too small. Fred Alonzi, who imports Italian wines as a sideline to his bridge business, invited me to dinner at Posticino on Queensway West to taste his wines matched with an all-rice menu by Gabriele Ferron. Ferron owns the Antica Pila Vecia restaurant outside Verona as well as his own artisanal rice field. Here is his menu with the matching wines:

  • Reception wine: Prosecco
  • Verdure Pastellate in Tempura
    Vegetables in Tempura
  • Poggio Paoli La Cresta Blanco 2005 (Sauvignon Blanc Chardonnay blend from Lazio)
  • Polenta con I funghi misti di bosco con pancetta
    Polenta with mixed mushrooms and pancetta
  • Tenuta Pederzana Lambruco Grasparossa 2004 (Modena – the best Lambrusco I have tasted)
  • Risotto con gamberi e radicchio
    Risotto with shrimps and radicchio
  • Risotto con la zucca mantovana
    Risotto with Acorn Squash
  • Poggio Paoli Toscana Capel Rosso 2004
  • Bratteline con farina di riso All'Ortolana
    Bratteline (linguni cut) with rice flour together with mixed vegetables
  • Risotto all'amarone
  • Ca' Pignetto Valpolicella Ripasso 2005
  • Gropetti di pollo con riso pilaf al rosemarino
    Chicken breast with rice pilaf and rosemary
  • Ca' Pigneto Amarone 2001
  • Formaggi con marmelata e pera
    Cheese with pear marmalade and pears
  • Ca' Pigneto Recioto 2003
  • Torta di riso di Mamma Ada
    Mother Ada special rice cake

A great meal with wonderful wines that Fred brings in privately (416-717-0048).

Tuesday, November 13: Up at 6 am in order to get to the Canada AM breakfast TV show at CTV's studios. Gurth Pretty and I are being interviewed for the new book (The Definitive Canadian Wine & Cheese Cookbook). Then downtown to First Canadian Place for two sessions of wine and cheese tasting using Malivoire Chardonnay Moira's Vineyard 2005 with two different cheeses. Then an interview with Malcolm Jolley of Gremolata newsletter at the Duke of Westminster pub, after which a meeting with the publicists in the bar over a bottle of Wyndham Estate Shiraz Bin 555 2005.

Received an email from Etienne Meneau ( with photos of his imaginative decanter sculptures (right). They must be hell to pour, but what a conversation piece. (See

Wednesday, November 14: A meeting at Rosehill event space to discuss next week's charity fund-raiser. Carlos Vilchez of has sent me a sample of a 12-bottle holder. It's a metal cylinder punched with 12 holes to support the neck of a bottle. You screw the device to the wall and slot in the bottles, alternating sides. Ingenious. I'll keep it for the condo as a space-saving device. This evening a corporate event for a law firm. They wanted an all-Burgundy tasting followed by dinner.

  • Reception wine: Segura Viudas Brut (Spain)
  • William Fevre Chablis Champs Royaux 2006
  • Chateau du Puligny Montrachet Meursault Poruzots 2005
  • Domaine de Montille Beaune Les Perrières 2004
  • Bouchard Père & Fils Pommard 2003
  • Faiveley Nuits St Georges Villages 2003
  • Bouchard Père & Fils Beaune Greves Vigne de L'Enfant Jesus 2005

Not surprisingly, the favourite wine was l'Enfant Jesus. The Meursault was amazing too.

Thursday, November 15: Wrote a piece about Donald Ziraldo and Karl Kaiser on their contribution to the Canadian wine industry for It's really incredible how two totally different people could get together in the first place. I describe them as "Ziraldo – the quintessential salesman, sports car-loving, extreme skiing extrovert, with the Italian blood of Friuli racing in his veins, and Austrian Karl Kaiser, patient, professorial, priest manqué, totally dedicated to the cellar and the lab." Peter Sharp of Maxxium came by the house to taste some wines from Cono Sur with me.

  • Cono Sur Viognier 2006: medium straw colour; honey, floral, peach nose with a flavour of ripe peaches; full on the palate with lively acidity and a touch of residual sugar. Great value for the price, which I believe will be $9.95 when it arrives in January.
  • Con Sur Merlot 2006: deep ruby with a nose of cedar, blackberry and currants and a touch of oak; rich mouth feel, fruity, firm with soft pliant tannins. Medium-bodied. Again, great value ($10.15).
  • Cono Sur Vision Merlot 2006 (a block selection): deep purple-ruby, blackcurrants and creamy oak on the nose; ripe blackcurrant, blueberry with an enticing floral note; firm structure with a savoury finish ($17.95).
  • Cono Sur Pinot Noir Vision 2006: ruby colour; black raspberry, tomato leaf and rust on the nose; well extracted raspberry fruit, slightly green on the finish with an acidic note.

This evening I am conducting a seminar on Ontario wines at the Gourmet Wine & Food Show for the Independent Wine Education Guild. Six wines: Jackson-Triggs Delaine Vineyard Riesling 2006, Château des Charmes Aligoté 2006, Malivore Moira's Vineyard Chardonnay 2004, Malivoire Pinot Noir 2005, Château des Charmes Gamay Droit 2006, Hidden Bench Terroir Caché 2005 (Meritage).

Friday, November 16: A tasting at the Summerhill liquor store for the Wine Writers Circle – champagnes, sparkling wines, a couple of Quebec ciders (42 in all) and (14) ports. Best value: Remy Pannier Sparkling Brut at $10.95. Some fabulous champagnes – Henriot Brut Souverain, Ayala Rosé Majeur, Bollinger Special Cuvée Brut. For sheer pleasure you can't beat Bottega Petalo Moscato and Neirano Brachetto d'Acqui (deep pink), which tastes like a black Muscat. In the evening I attended an event at 1 King Street to celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau, an annual event put on by the French Chamber of Commerce. I had a table where I could sell copies of Blood Is Ticker than Beaujolais and my two other wine murder mysteries, The Beast of Barbaresco and Death on the Douro. Why is it people pick up books and riffle through the pages? They don't read anything. They just riffle. Maybe they want to ensure that there is printing on both sides of the page. Anyway, it's most tiresome, especially when they leave their dirty plates and empty glasses on the table from which I am meant to be selling books. One woman came up and took a book. I told her that it costs $10. She said, "Oh, I thought it was free. Can I have it?" "Yes," I said, "for $10." She put it back and left in a huff.

Saturday, November 17: Dropped in to the Christmas show at the International Centre en route for dinner in Caledon at our friends Frank and Patti-Ann Daley's. I brought a bottle of Stratus Petit Verdot 2004 for the osso buco Patti-Ann had made. Frank served Seaview Brut and Georges Duboeuf Gamay Nouveau before dinner. Patti-Ann had just bought a half dozen Riedel stemless glasses, which caused much debate at the table. I know her well enough to say how much I hate these glasses that get covered with your fingerprints. In addition to the Stratus (which was terrific), Frank served Cantine de Negrar Amarone 2004, Hoya de Cadenas Tempranillo Reserva 2001 and finally Osborne Vintage Port 1995. Frank has the endearing custom of lobbing empty wine bottles out of the kitchen door onto the back garden. In all the years I've known him he has yet to break a bottle.

Sunday, November 18: Today is Mendy Sharf's annual Cognac tasting, which starts with Tommy Schwartz's rendition of "O Sole Mio." This is the 20th year the tasting has taken place in the party room of Mendy's apartment building, although it has been going on for thirty years. The four Cognacs are tasted and the 16 participants stand up and deliver their verdict on each, ranking them in order.

  • A.E. Dor Vieille Reserve: apple and caramel on the nose, rich and intense with a soft, dry finish. Great length (I rated it No. 2)
  • Hennessy Paradis Extra: the deepest colour of the four. Sweet butterscotch nose with evident oak and a nuance of mushroom, very smooth and mouth-filling with a sweetness throughout. (ranked No. 4)
  • Ragnaud Grand Champagne Heritage Mme Ragnaud: elegant, floral nose; the most feminine of the four, dry, spicy and velvety with a coffee bean flavour. (No. 1 – and the group's No. 1)
  • Tesseron No. 29 (purportedly a single vintage from 1929): the most woody, deeply coloured with an olive green rim; honey and chocolate on the nose, intense and spicy. (No. 3)

Deborah and I dropped into Allen's, where John Maxwell was celebrating his 20th anniversary on the Danforth. Rodney was there with his oysters (his son is a world champion oyster dresser). The food was amazing, spicy king prawns, lamb chops, chicken rolls, filet mignon. Tables of Henry of Pelham and Flat Rock wines, Guinness and a martini bar.




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