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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 167 (December 17, 2007)

Monday, December 10: Wrote my 680 News reviews, which included Xmas turkey wines and how to deal with champagne. David Weinberg, who invented Curiosk, dropped by. David's free-standing kiosk scans the barcode on wine bottles and comes up with tasting note, food pairing notes and cellaring information. The device also allows customers to use a touch screen to choose greetings and type personal messages. It can print out greeting cards as neck hangers. It should be in every LCBO store (see

A 4 pm tasting at the Fine Wine Reserve. Artisanal Wine Imports (416-238-6634) is showing the wines of Maison Henri Boillot, a Burgundy producer I had not tasted before. A range of 2005s and some 2004s. The 2005 were characterized by racy acidity, searingly clean and pure with nicely integrated oak. I really liked the Savigny Les Beaune Les Vergelesses 2005 and the Chassagne Montrachet Les Chevenottes 2005. The best wine was Puligny Montrachet Clos de la Mouchere 2005 and also the 2002 of this wine. The only red available was Boillot's Savigny Les Beaune Lavieres 2004 (very pretty, spicy cherry and violets). Looking forward to a tasting of Boillot reds in February here. For dinner, Chateau Coucy 2003 (a St. Emilion) with Chinese dumplings.

Tuesday, December 11: Am writing an article for Wine Business International on the Canadian wine scene. The editors have been running a series on Who's Who in the wine trade in a given country. I have sent out a survey across the country by email asking wine professionals to vote on the best in the following categories:

  1. The Best Wine Importing agency (national or provincial)
  2. Best Wine Store (private and monopoly store with exceptional staff)
  3. Best wine buyer (again in private stores and provincial monopolies)
  4. Best Public Relations company for promoting wine
  5. Best Restaurant in Canada for wine (and Best wine list)
  6. Best Wine Magazine
  7. Best Sommelier in Canada
  8. Best Wine Club
  9. Best Wine Journalist
  10. Most Influential Wine Journalist
  11. Best Wine Competition in Canada
  12. Most Influential Wine Person in Canada

The problem is, of course, the provincial monopoly on the sale of Beverage alcohol in Canada (apart from Alberta) and few private stores in BC and Nova Scotia.

Dinner, Jackson-Triggs Meritage (white) 2005 from the Okanagan with shepherd's pie.

Wednesday, December 12: Recorded my 680News pieces and battled the traffic to make it to Grano for lunch with Ron Fiorelli. In the mail today, a WineSkin from Neil Fortis of Wine World. This is a bubble wrap in the shape of a wine bottle with an adhesive bottom – for stowing wine bottles in your suitcase now that we are no longer allowed to wrap them in dirty laundry in our carry-on bags. Alan Bland of the Crime Writers of Canada came by to discuss a charity event at the Toronto Reference Library for literacy. He asked me to read from someone else's crime novel. Strikes me I'd rather read from one of my own. But it's a good cause.

Thursday, December 13: Today is the Saintsbury Society's annual Christmas lunch, when Tony Hirons, Irvin Wolkoff and I get together and drink good wine. For the last four years it's been at Grano. I think I should set up a bed there. We all bring wines. The line-up this year:

  • 2005 Simmonet-Febvre Chablis
  • 1982 Guigal Hermitage Blanc (maderised, unfortunately)
  • 1999 Creekside Laura's Blend
  • 1999 Chateau Villa Bel-Air (Graves)
  • 1990 Hermitage La Chapelle

In the evening, John and Nancy Mulvihill's annual Christmas party. Great food and music (Joe Seeley trio) and lashings of Pol Roger champagne.

Friday, December 14: Kind of a lost day, working on the Wine Report and the Wine Business International survey. For dinner, Chicken with Wonambi Shiraz 2003 from South Africa. The worst snow storm in decades is threatened. It has started.

Saturday, December 15: We are meant to have a dinner party tonight for Stuart Piggott, who is arriving via the US from Germany to write a piece on Quebec Ice Cider. He is to stay with us before heading to Montreal. We also invited Frank & Patti-Ann Daley, who live in Caledon, and Sheila Swerling-Puritt who lives five minutes away. The Daleys cancelled in the afternoon because the weather made it impossible to drive and then Stuart called from Detroit to say that all flights had been cancelled and he had to stay the night and fly direct to Montreal in the morning. He was minus his luggage. So it was just Sheila, Deborah, Pinot the Wonder Dog and I. We started with a bottle of Creekside Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2005 (very white Bordeaux) and then Osoyoos Larose 2005 from BC (this is the best vintage yet of their blend that incorporates all five Bordeaux varieties). The menu: tomatoes and bocconcini on a bed of arugula with pine nuts; steak BBQed with fingerling potatoes and French beans tossed in black olive tapinade; cheeses; Sacher torte mit Schlag. The snow is falling fast.

Sunday, December 16: A early morning walk with Pinot and Deborah. I felt like Scott of the Antarctic. This is the most snow I have seen in Toronto. Shovelled the driveway but it was soon covered again. A call from Stuart Piggott, who is still in Detroit minus luggage. No flights to Montreal but he says Toronto airport is open (!) so he's coming here. For dinner, I decided to show him some top Ontario wines. We stared with Creekside Laura's Blend White 2006, followed by Cedar Creek Syrah 2005, Le Clos Jordanne Pinot Claystone Terrace Noir 2004 and Domaine Pinnacle Sparkling Ice Cider.




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