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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 170 (January 7, 2008)

Monday, December 31: Spent much of the day answering emails. Started writing my monthly piece for Lexpert Magazine on champagne. For New Year's Eve Deborah and I are going to Toula on top of the Westin Harbour Castle with Silke Rudelbach and her friends. We're six at table. The evening begins with a glass of celebratory champagne with Zoltan and John Szabo and then a glass of Prosecco. We have two wine tickets, one for this pre-dinner drink and one for the midnight glass of Prosecco. I have brought along a bottle of my friend Paolo di Marchi's Isole e Olena Collezione di Marchi Cabernet Sauvignon 2001. The room is freezing. Our party orders a bottle of Langhe Bussia Chardonnay 2006 for the Alaska King Crab and Fresh Avocado salad with Crème Lime and Pink Peppercorn. This is followed by Champagne Lobster Risotto with Fresh Herbs, Beef Tenderloin with Amarone Reduction, Artichoke and Robiolla Cheese Fondue, Truffle Oil Essence. A trou normand follows – Strawberry and Peach sorbet with Prosseco (sic) and then Chilean Sea Bass alla Giorgio (fish, following the meat course; must be influenced by Susur Lee!). The menu is printed in gold on parchment-coloured paper and is almost impossible to read in the semi-dark. By this time it's after 11 pm and the fire alarm goes off. We look down to the street – 38 floors below – where there are fire trucks arriving. We decide to wait it out even though the waiters are scrambling to bring the checks before the dessert has arrived. It turns out that somebody's cigarette had set off the alarm and the fire trucks withdraw. By this time we can't see the CN Tower because it's snowing heavily. We have dessert – Chocolate Suffle (sic) Cake with Vanilla Gelaton on Coffee Orange Glace. We drink the glass of Prosecco at midnight and leave to take the subway home. It's free tonight (thanks, Citibank) and it's packed. Only it breaks down at Wellesley and we have to find a taxi to go the res of the way. Tomorrow, Deborah is putting us on a diet.

Tuesday, January 1: Deborah is serious about this diet. Her friend Carolina has sent us the following regime from Dr. Perricone's 3 Day Diet for a Nutritional Facelift! And it seems Deborah is sticking to it like a zealot. Here is what we are subjected to for three days – and wine is not meant to be included. (This cannot be a serious diet.)

Wake Up
8 to 12 ounces spring water

3 egg whites and 1 whole egg and/or a 4- to 6-ounce piece of broiled salmon
½ cup cooked oatmeal (not instant)
4 oz cantaloupe + ¼ cup fresh berries
8 to 12 ounces spring water minimum (more if desired)

4 to 6 ounces grilled salmon or tuna packed in spring water
2 cups romaine lettuce
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste
4 oz cantaloupe + ¼ cup fresh berries
8 to 12 ounces spring water minimum (more if desired)

Mid-afternoon snack
2 ounces low-salt, sliced chicken breast
4 raw, unsalted hazelnuts
1 green apple
8 to 12 ounces spring water minimum (more if desired)

4 to 6 ounces grilled salmon
2 cups romaine lettuce
1 tablespoon olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste
1 cup steamed asparagus, broccoli, or spinach dressed with a little olive oil
4 oz cantaloupe + ¼ cup fresh berries
8 to 12 ounces spring water minimum (more if desired)

Before-bedtime snack
2 ounces low-fat low-salt turkey or chicken breast
½ pear or green apple
3 or 4 almonds or olives
8 to 12 ounces of spring water

After a day of this I'm starving and sneak a shortbread cookie left over from Christmas but had no wine today.

Received in the mail a wine game called Wine Teasers, created by one of my favourite wine writers, Jennifer Rosen, the Cork Jester. It's a wine trivia game that is also educational. See Jennifer, along with my old pal Deacon Dr. Fresh, actually makes wine fun and funny.

Wednesday, January 2: Repeat of yesterday's breakfast. Don't mind having the same breakfast every morning, but the same lunch and dinner! Recorded my 680News reviews and then had lunch with Charles Jewett of Trilogy Wines at Grano. I actually ordered salmon and a salad, even though I am tasting Mario Schwenn's new wines. (Mario did a great job at Dievole.) We start with I Magredi Tocco Pinot Grigio 2005 from Friuli (straw coloured, peachy minerally flavour with lemony acidity and a long lively finish). Great value at $13.95 (not sure if this includes the bottle deposit).

  • Sorelli Sol Toscana 2004: deep ruby-black colour; dry, earthy, vanilla nose; medium-bodied, fruity, lively acidity. A good restaurant wine for $14.95.
  • Sorelli Sòoi! Chianti Classico 2005: dense purple ruby, earthy cherry flavour with vanilla oak; bright fruit, firm structure well made. A very tasty Chianti for $19.95.
  • Sorelli Scuola Toscana 2004 (a super-Tuscan made from different clones of Sangiovese): dense purple-black; pepper, violets and black fruits on the nose with vanilla oak, medium-bodied, mouth-filling, chocolate, coffee bean notes; full-bodied. A delicious wine. $27.95.
  • Castello di Uzzano Chianti Classico 2005: dense purple-ruby gamey, black cherry with a graphite nose; creamy vanilla and black cherry flavours with lively acidity. $23.95.
  • Sono Montenidoli 2001 (I was familiar with this winery's Vernaccia di San Gimignano – one of my favourite Tuscan whites – but not their 100% Sangiovese): deep ruby colour; elegant, cherry and almond nose; firmly structured, spicy, dry earthy cherry. Still youthful. An excellent wine but pricey at $49.95.

With the salmon for dinner we had a bottle of Ewald Drathen Piesporter Michelsberg Riesling QbA 2004. I'm beginning to get sick of salmon.

Thursday, January 3: Walter Luedtke of Watershed Magazine dropped by the house to chat about Prince Edward County and its future as a wine region. I said that they could ultimately produce the best Pinot Noir in Ontario and should rally get into making sparkling wines in the champagne method. Wrote a Commentary for Tidings on the current problems in Australia. A Greek tragedy in the making. Or is it Malthusian population theory at work? Too many vines.

For dinner – salmon again, with Reif Chenin Blanc 2005.

Friday, January 4: A tasting this morning for Vintages' February release. After this Zoltan Szabo took me to lunch at Biff's and then on to the Cosmopolitan Hotel. Zoltan has done the wine list for Eight Wine Bar in the hotel and we tasted the wines with the staff. Here is Zoltan's list with his notes.


NV Cuvee Tradition Brut, Marquet, Champagne
Lime pulp, nutty, toasty. Full and flavoursome with generous mousse and apple skin finish.

NV Rose Brut, Tarlant, Champagne
Red currants and strawberry aroma accents. Focused, with orange confit tones.

NV Lanson Brut, Champagne
Citrus and yeast, fresh bread. Fairly soft with a long apple-flavoured finish.

NV Rose Brut, Jansz, Tasmania, Australia
Strawberry, spicy red licorice candy. Bright and refreshing.

NV Cuvee Thirteen Brut, Thirteen Street, Niagara
Sharp and zesty with persuasive effervescence.


2006 Pinot Grigio "La Lot", Peter Zemmer, Alto Adige, Italy
Light and fresh and orange blossoms.

2006 Pinot Gris Reserve, Mission Hill, Okanagan, British Columbia
Ripe stone fruit, floral fragrances and lingering flavours.

2006 Villa Angelo Pecorino, Velenosi, Campania, Italy
Light, fresh with vivid citrus and mineral aroma and flavour combo.

2006 Calcari – Xarel·lo, Pares Balta, Penedes, Spain
Citrus fruit peel and hawthorn petals. Light with great mineral composition and chalky-dry.

2006 Albarino "Val Do Sosego", Bodegas As Laxas, Rias Baxis, Spain
Tropical bouquet displaying mango and passion fruit scents. Light, dry and tart. Thirst-quenching.

2006 Tscharke "Girl Talk" Albarino, Glaymond, Barossa, Australia
Pear and kiwi with intriguing wax and mineral notes. Its body has a few extra pounds, but it's balanced by a stiff core of acidity.

2004 Roussanne, Bien Nacido Hillside, Qupe, Santa Maria Valley, California
Honeyed tropical fruit on its nose and palate, very flavoursome, satisfying and balanced with minutes long finish.

2006 Israeli Journey Viognier – Gewurztraminer – Colombard, Vitkin, Carmel Mountain, Israel
Luscious flavours with implicite sweetness and ripe pineapple, avocado.

2004 Riesling Speck Family Reserve, Henry of Pelham, Short Hills Bench, Niagara
Concentrated and lemony with typical traces of limestone. Serious Riesling with just a touch of residual sugar and brisk acidity.

2006 Viognier, Daniel Lenko, Niagara
Exotic with star anise and viscous mouthfeel.

2006 Semillon, Legends, Niagara
Gooseberry and riverbed stone. Just off dry and with yellow apple taste.

2006 Chardonnay Reserve, Organized Crime Winery, Beamsville Bench, Niagara
Pear and tropical fruit, vanilla, butter. Medium bodied and creamy with oak spice and acidity kickin' in.


2004 Zinfandel, Brandlin Vineyard, Peter Franus, Napa, California 120 - 14 - 22 - 35
A lighter style, elegant Zinfandel with plums, currants, vanilla oak and Napa terroir shining through.

2004 Lima Mayer Tinto, Quinta de Sao Sebastiao, Alentejo, Portugal 75 - 8 - 14 - 22
Modern, mid weight red with red currant, raspberry preserve flavours and dusty tannins.

2004 Chateau Teyssier Grand Cru, St. Emilion, France 105 - 12 - 20 - 30
Polished, well structured with a lovely texture.

2004 Agiorgitiko, Old Vines, Papaioannou, Nemea, Greece 75 - 8 - 14 - 22
From Ancient Nemea, the homeland of legendary Hercules. Ripe, full and bold and delicious.

2004 Cabernet Franc, Margalit, Shomron, Israel
Just simply, this wine is a crowd pleaser! Cassis, tobacco, spice. Sweet cherry berry flavours and soft tannins.

2006 Pinot Noir, Westrey, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Bright, sexy, exotic and silky smooth.

2005 Pinot Nero, Peter Zemmer, Alto Adige
Light, fresh and pretty and delicious.

2005 Dolcetto d'Alba, Castello di Verduno, Piedmont
Lively with red berry driven aromas and flavours and underlying spicy tones.

2000 Barbaresco Rabaja, Castello di Verduno, Piemonte
A blockbuster! Powerful, yet classy!

2003 Barolo, Brovia, Piemonte
Pomegranate and roses. Very elegant with integrated tannins and a cranberry, herbal touch. A sexy beast!

2005 Rosso di Montalcino, Siro Pacenti, Tuscany
Baby Brunello! A classic example of Sangiovese and Tuscany!

2005 Chianti Classico, Il Tarocco, Torraccia di Presura, Tuscany
Fleshy black cherries, clove and leather. Dry with lots of flavour and grippy tannins.

2003 GEA, Sant'Antimo Rosso, Tuscany
Full bodied with broad flavours. A modern style Super Tuscan.

2004 Aglianico del Vulture, Cantina di Venosa, Basilicata, Italy
Raspberries and sweet cacao dust. Medium bodied with an uplifted finish.

2003 Petit Verdot, Pirramimma, McLaren Vale, Australia
Cherries, raspberry, cinnamon. Medium body with plenty of blue fruit flavours and soft tannins.

2005 Tscharke "The Master" Montepulciano, Glaymond, Barossa, Australia
Blueberry, red plum and vanilla oak. Juicy with supple tannins and cardamom, cracked pink peppercorn

2006 Valley Floor Shiraz, Langmeil, Barossa, Australia
Currants and dried flower aroma nuances. Mid weight and fruity with spicy, earthy accents on its finish.

2005 Bad Impersonator Shiraz, Two Hands, Barossa, Australia
Raspberry jam, exotic spice, potpourri. Medium bodied, juicy and warm.

2002 Syrah, Daniel Lenko, Niagara
One of the finest Syrah around! Would rival any of its Rhone counterparts! Its maker, Daniel, loves women, fast cars and bulldozers! Don't we all?!

2002 Cabernet Merlot Speck Family Reserve, Henry of Pelham, Niagara
This red would put many Bordeaux to shame!


10 Year Old Tawny Porto, Reccua, Douro
Melted figs and dried dates all the way and soul-warming.

2007 Moscato d'Asti, Nivole, Michele Chiarlo, Piemonte
Cheerful with tiny and happy bubbles and appealing sweetness.

2003 Vinsanto, Sigalas, Santorini, Greece
The Greeks say they made Vinsanto first... Ask the Italians...! They might have something to say about that!

2001 Vin Santo, Fanti Sant' Antimo, Tuscany
Almost like a cross between cream sherry and tawny Port...

NV Ume no Yado, Sparkling Blueberry Sake, Nara, Kinki
A fun, raspberry, sweet rice powder scented sake with bubbles atop!

2006 Cabernet Franc Icewine, Coldhearted, Megalomaniac, Niagara
Just think of chocolate coated strawberries...

Saturday, January 5: Our friends Gordon and Shirley Pape took Deborah and me to the Donalda Club for dinner to celebrate my award. Gordon brought his own wine and called me earlier in the day to allow me to choose from a short list. I opted for Château Calon-Ségur 1989 and Caymus Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon. We had lamb (not salmon) and both were terrific.




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