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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 177 (February 25, 2008)

Monday, February 18: Received an email from the Ravi – The Instant Wine Chiller, a new patent-pending Canadian invention. "We have sold over 16 000 since our launch in the Quebec Market in December. We are now in the process of introducing the Ravi to the rest of Canada. The Ravi, is the modern, convenient, affordable and above all effective way to cool your wine to the ideal temperature. We have work over two years with wine specialists and thermo dynamics engineers to make sure that the wine properties were not affected. The Ravi is a great tool if you want to drink a wine that is not yet at cellar temperature. It retails for $49.95 (" Deborah and I have been using those thermal corsets to keep the wine cool once it has been chilled but this looks interesting. Will have to try it. Spent much of the day inputting wine reviews. A very boring process. For dinner, Rosewood Merlot 2006 Renaceau Vineyard – a new Ontario winery in Beamsville. The winemaker is Natalie Spytkowsky, formerly with Angels Gate.

Tuesday, February 19: Started clearing out my office, getting rid of old files, old photos and wine books (to be donated to George Brown). I'm a hopeless pack rat. Came across albums of wine labels signed by the winemakers or proprietors I have collected over thirty years. Some, like Renato Ratti, are dead now. I can't throw these out. Started work on the wine cellar book. For dinner, Beckett's Flat Cabernet Shiraz 2004, a kosher wine from the Margaret River.

Wednesday, February 20: A tasting at the Rosewater Club of different vintages of Osoyoos Larose, the Vincor Canada/Le Groupe Taillan co-venture in the southern Okanagan. Winemaker Pascal Madevon (who emigrated from St. Emilion) first leads us through a component tasting of the elements that will go into the 2007 vintage – Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon in that order for tasting). The Cabernet Franc is stunning and could be bottled by itself. Then we tasted the finished wines of four vintages:

Osoyoos Larose 2006 (to be bottled in June): dense purple-black colour; floral, blackcurrant and sweet plum with a cedar note on the nose; ripe fruit, mouth-filling mocha flavour; soft tannins. This wine is unlike the others in style, although Pascal insists that he has not changed the winemaking. It is much more New World than the others. *****

Osoyoos Larose 2005: deeply coloured with a peppery, vanilla note behind the floral and blackcurrant aromas; elegant, more St. Emilion in style. *****

Osoyoos Larose 2004: again deeply coloured; red berry and cedar nose; leaner and sinewy, firmly structured with supple tannins and good length. Very claret-like. ****½

Osoyoos Larose 2002: deeply coloured, red berry and cedar with a redcurrant flavour, lean, dry and elegant. ****

Lunch followed the tasting.

Braised Beef Short Rib vol-au-vent, with Osoyoos Larose Pétales 2005 (the second wine of Osoyoos Larose – it costs $25 as opposed to $40 for the Grand Vin). This wine is lighter than the Grand vin but charming.

Roast Lamb Sirloin with vegetable ragout served with Osoyoos Larose 2004. I had to leave before the cheese course.

Osoyoos Larose gets better and better. The 2006 vintage has finally found a style that is uniquely BC and is no longer a St. Emilion wannabe. For dinner, I found tucked away in a corner of the cellar a Jacob's Creek Shiraz Cabernet 1994, a limited release to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Johann Gump's vineyard planted on the banks of Jacob's Creek. The wine, though drying out, was delightful and worked well with the pasta dish.

Thursday, February 21: Lunch with Ivan Landers to discuss the TV pilot we shot for a new wine show. Trying to find funding. This evening, Joel Rose, one of the directors of grapes for Humanity, is throwing a party to celebrate my Order of Canada award. Much champagne taken and William Selyem Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.

Friday, February 22: Another Vintages release tasting. Eighty-eight wines tasted, broken up by lunch at the Toronto Star cafeteria. No wine tonight.

Saturday, February 23: Once a year Murray Marshall, Doug Beatty and I, with our wives, get together for dinner to relive our China experience (we were all there in 2000 trying to sell the Chinese Ontario wines). We gathered at our house over a bottle of Heitlinger Grand Etage Weiss Trocken 1999, a blended white. I thought this might be over the hill (probably Pinot Gris, Riesling, Pinot Blanc) but it was delicious – fragrant and full on the palate. Doug brought over a bottle of Tignanello 1983, which we drank with fresh parmesan cheese. A great wine in perfect condition. Then we went to The Sultan's Tent for dinner. The earliest we could get a booking was the 10 pm sitting. We started with an Angels Gate Riesling, a New Zealand Pinot Noir and Quinta de Ventolezo. Was concentrating on the belly dancer and forgot to take more details. Didn't get home till after one.




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