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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 174 (February 4, 2008)

Monday, January 28: Wrote a piece about touring wineries in the Annapolis Valley for Pure Canada magazine. For dinner, a bottle of Niagara College Teaching Winery Dean's List Sauvignon Blanc 2007, made by Terence Van Rooyen. A really good wine – pale straw in colour with a grassy, passion fruit nose; on the palate concentrated grapefruit and gooseberry flavours; medium-bodied with a touch of sweetness in mid palate; finishes fresh and lively. What a pleasure it is to see some great Sauvignon Blanc coming out of Ontario. *****

Tuesday, January 29: Spent the day writing my monthly article for Lexpert magazine on the subject of wine closures. Spoke with Paul Tsebelis of Brassaii restaurant, where we will be holding the judging this year for the Ontario Wine Awards. For the past three years we've done it at Crush (next door) but Jameson Kerr tells me he's renovating the basement.

Wednesday, January 30: Went to Gamelle restaurant on College Street for 11 am to meet Martin Malivoire and his winemaker, Shiraz Mottiar, for a tasting. The chef, Jean-Pierre Centeno, had prepared a variety of little dishes to match the wines, which were served by the restaurant's award-winning sommelier Jonathan. (The food was so good I'm taking Guy there for his birthday dinner next month.)

We started with Malivoire Melon 2006, Shiraz's take on Muscadet. This is the driest wine you'll find in Ontario: pale straw in colour with a minerally stony, citrus flavour; tart and lemony. Really wakes up the palate and perfect with the mussels we sampled it with. ***½ Martin calls it his oyster wine and has apparently written a poem in praise of the match. But I couldn't find it on his site.

Malivoire Pinot Gris 2006: peach blossom and peach pit bouquet; drier and less extracted than previous vintages with a fine dry, white peach and citrus flavour and a crisp minerally finish. ****

Malivoire Ladybug Rosé 2006 (a blend of Cabernet Franc 60%, Gamay 15%, Pinot Noir 15% and "other varieties"): orange-pink colour; fragrant raspberry nose; medium-bodied, dry tangerine and raspberry flavours with a green pepper note. A real food rosé. **** (well priced at $15)

Malivoire Gamay 2005: deep ruby colour; spicy, black cherry nose; well structured, elegant, fresh and lively with good acidity. Well integrated oak. **** (I agree with Martin Malivoire that this is a sadly neglected variety in Ontario. Grow it at 6 tonnes per acre and green harvest back to 4 tonnes and you'll make a lovely wine. If Cabernet Sauvignon is going for $2,0000 a tonne and Gamay for $1,350 it's certainly an economic proposition.)

Malivoire Chardonnay 2006: medium straw colour; toasty oak, spicy, green apple bouquet; richer on the palate than the nose suggests with spicy pineapple flavours and lively acidity. Great length. ****½

Malivoire Pinot Noir 2005: impressively deep colour; creamy oak and sweet black raspberry nose; firmly structured with concentrated dry extract and supple tannins. ****

Malivoire Pinot Noir Moira Vineyard 2005: a real step up from the last wine; ruby colour; a nose of violets and black cherries – very Burgundian; medium-bodied, firm structure, sinewy and nuanced with supple tannins. A lovely wine, right up there with Le Clos Jordanne. ****½

Malivoire Moira Vineyard Chardonnay 2004: this was the wine of the tasting – straw colour; spicy butterscotch and pineapple nose; full-bodied Chassagne-Montrachet style with lively acidity and great length. *****

Malivoire Gewüztraminer 2005: deep golden colour; with a nose of roses and lychee nuts; spicy, exotic, rich and mouth-filling with just the right tension between fruit and acidity. The best Ontario Gewürz of this vintage that I've tasted. ****½

Malivoire Cabernet Merlot 2005: deep ruby; somewhat closed on the nose; oaky and tannic but the fruit is lurking. Needs a year or two in bottle. ****

Malivoire Cabernet Franc Icewine 2006: tawny ruby colour; strawberry compote nose; unctuous, not overly sweet but nicely balanced with great length. ****½

Thursday, January 31: Received an email from my friend Bill McKetrick:

Hey Tony......... Congratulations on your Order of Canada !! Recognition well deserved !!!

On another front.....I just got back from a couple of weeks in London.....where I ran into Jane Asher at a party, along with her husband Gerald and son Rory. Jane is an old friend, and had seen your name in one of my old Wine Tidings magazines I had laying around my flat when I lived there.......and told me about your old days at the BEEB (....which I never knew you worked at.......). I've attached a photo of the Scarfes to show she's hardly aged a day.....!!!

...and I look forward to catching you at a wine event sometime soon......!!!

And here's how I met Jane 45 years ago (from

Eye Witness Report on how Jane Asher met Paul McCartney

by John Whelan

Introduction: Tony Aspler came in contact with me via e-mail after reading a letter which I had submitted to the editor of the "National Post" (published September 4, 2000) regarding their recent coverage on the Beatles.

In his e-mail, Tony Aspler notified me that he has written a segment in his book describing on how he was responsible for introducing Jane Asher to Paul McCartney. The actual encounter is documented in his book called "Travels With My Corkscrew" (published by McGraw-Ryerson, 1997), please see pages 138 - 139.

Since he identified himself as the person responsible for introducing Jane to Paul, I invited him to do a small write-up on the encounter. Here was the question that I asked Tony Aspler and his response -- which is genuinely appreciated by the Ottawa Beatle Site. "Thank you Tony!"

Question: "Would you care to do a small write-up for the Ottawa Beatle did you first meet Jane Asher, what you were doing at the time (whether you were student or worker) and how did you first meet Paul McCartney?"

Tony Aspler's Answer:

From: Tony Aspler
Sent: Monday, September 04, 2000
Re: Paul

Okay, this is how it happened. After graduating from McGill. I went to live in London and was working as an assistant editor for the BBC program journal Radio Times in the early 1960s. The fact that I was the youngest member of staff meant that I had to cover the pop scene. There was a big concert held at the Royal Albert Hall in London in May 1963 which was recorded by the BBC Light Programme for future broadcast. All the upcoming groups were booked - among which were Gerry and the Pacemakers, Dave Clark Five and this new group fresh down from Liverpool called The Beatles.

I didn't have much experience of pop music so I decided to invite along someone who could give me their impressions of the music. At that time on BBC Television they had a show hosted by David Jacobs which voted new music a 'Hit' or a 'Miss'. One of the panelists was a teenaged actress named Jane Asher. Coincidentally, her family lived around the corner from me (her father was a psychiatrist; her brother was Peter - of Peter and Gordon). Jane agreed to come with me to the concert and as we listened to the various groups she gave me her comments. When The Beatles did their first number she was immediately impressed and said she would like to meet them. In the interval, we went down into the dressing room (which looked like a men's locker room with rows of dark green lockers and benches) and there they were.

I introduced Jane to The Beatles and Ringo immediately said, "Would you like to go to a party?" Jane said she would and asked me if I would join her. I had to get up early next morning for work and said 'no.' As a result of that meeting Jane started going out with Paul.

I got to know George because The Beatles' dentist, John Riley (who, incidentally, made the teeth for the Roman Polanski 'Dracula' movie) was a friend of mine. This gets weirder and weirder - I met John through a Canadian woman named Cindy who was living in London and was the Bunny Mother at the Playboy Club. Anyway, George used to hang out at John Riley's house and I would go over there.

Ironically, I ended up living on Abbey Road opposite the EMI studio in St. John's Wood. If you look at the cover of The Beatles' Abbey Road Album you can see the red brick apartment block on the right. I owned the basement apartment there.

Back to the present: Jane's husband, Gerald Scarfe, is one of the great satirical cartoonists whose work I've admired since his early days contributing to Private Eye.

Lunch at Grano with Tony Hirons ("The Merchant Vintner") and Maurizio Ghiori, the export director for Castello delle Regine in Umbria. It was like an Italian wedding. Several members of the wine press spread out on a long table with lots of bottles and plates of food. We began with a glass of La Riva dei Frati Prosecco di Valdobiaddene for the dust of travel. Then into the Castello delle Regine range.

Poggio delle Regine Bianco 2006 (Trebbiano, Grechetto and Malvasia): deeply coloured; minerally, nose; very ripe fruit with herbal, nutty flavours; dry and mouth-filling. ***½

Bianco delle Regine 2006 (a unique blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Pinot Grigio): spicy, aromatic and fresh; full-bodied, elegant. ****

Rose delle Regine 2006 (Montepulciano d'Abruzzo): deeply coloured with a bouquet of fresh raspberries; firmly structured and flavourful, dry finish. A good food wine. ****

Poggio delle Regine Rosso 2004 (85% Sangiovese, 15% Merlot and Syrah): mature ruby; dry earthy nose; flavours of dried rose petals and cherries, firm structure. Well made. ****

Rosso dei Podernovo 2004 (80% Sangiovese, 10% Montepulciano, 10% Syrah): purple-ruby colour; floral, elegant nose; dry cherry flavour with an earthy note; well balanced and firmly structured. ****

Princeps 2002 (60% Sangiovese, 20% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon): a sot of Bordeaux from Umbria – light, cherry and red berry flavours, dry; very harmonious. ****

Selezione del Fondatore Sangiovese Grosso 2002: purple-ruby; meaty, black cherry nose with a licorice note; flavours, dried flowers and cherries, spicy and fresh; elegant, savoury. ****½

Castello delle Regine Merlot 2004: very elegant and suave; silky, floral, blueberry, cedar with a touch of white pepper. A gorgeous wine. *****

This evening I'm conducting a tasting as a client appreciation event for a bank at Bellvue Manor in Vaughan. The line up of wines is as follows:

  • Reception wine: Cantina Sociale Valdobbiadene Prosecco (Veneto)
  • Te Kairanga Sauvignon Blanc 2006 (New Zealand)
  • Rodney Strong Chalk Hill Chardonnay 2005 (California)
  • Macrostie Pinot Noir Carneros 2004 (California)
  • Concha Y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (Chile)
  • Elderton Barossa Shiraz 2004 (Australia)

Friday, February 1: A big snow storm today. Took Pinot the Winder Dog for her morning walk and she was up to her chest in snow. Snowed all day. This evening we have been invited out to dinner by friends to Didier's to celebrate my Order of Canada award. They raided their cellars for some great wines. We start with Pol Roger Champagne for the dust of travel. Then Château Laville Haut-Brion 2003 (I had a crab salad) and Jadot Chevalier-Montrachet Les Desmoiselles 1999; main course (sweetbreads) Leroy La Romanée 1962, followed by a cheese course with Château Margaux 1979 and Latour 1975. The '75 still has a lot of years to go. The wine of the night though was the Chevalier-Montrachet.

Saturday, February 2: A tasting dinner this evening at Epic in the Royal York Hotel for a group of teachers. An-all Canadian list:

  • Sumac Ridge White Meritage 2004 (BC)
  • Cave Spring CSV Chardonnay 2004 (Ontario)
  • Château des Charmes Gamay Droit 2004 (Ontario)
  • Tawse Cabernet Franc 2004 (Ontario)
  • Jackson-Triggs Cabernet Shiraz Grand Reserve 2005 (BC)




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