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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 179 (March 10, 2008)

Monday, March 3: A tasting at the Summerhill liquor store this morning of Maison Champy 2006 Burgundies arranged by Harry Drung of HHD Imports and conducted by the winemaker Dimitri Bazas. In the past I have not been a great fan of Champy as a producer but I was surprised by the quality of these wines.

2006 Bourgogne Signature Chardonnay: bright straw colour; high toned, apple and spicy oak nose; medium-bodied, with lively acidity; fresh peachy-apple flavour. ****

2006 Pernand-Vergelesses White: straw colour; minerally citrus and apple nose with vanilla oak; spicy, elegant, well balanced with a lovely mouth feel; lively and fresh on the palate. ****½

2006 Beaune Les Reversées White: straw colour; apple and spring flowers on the nose; elegant, light and lacy, apple and pear flavours; beautifully balanced with great length. *****

2006 Corton Charlemange: bright straw, minerally, spicy oak, apple and caramel bouquet; citrus flavours – orange; full on the palate with a youthful, nutty finish; fresh acidity. ****½

2006 Bourgogne Pinot Noir: light ruby; kirsch and cherry nose; light and fresh raspberry flavour; medium-bodied, easy drinking. ***½

2006 Pommard Grands Epenots: medium ruby; minerally, violets and raspberry nose; light raspberry flavour, elegant, lovely velvety mouth feel; soft and feminine; well structured. ****½.

Hurried over to lunch at Oro where Steven Campbell was entertaining LCBO Vintages buyers at a tasting by Jacques Lardière, Technical Director of Maison Louis Jadot.

2005 Jadot Savigny les Beaune "Les Guettes": caramel, soft and nutty flavours with a toasty oak finish. ****

2004 Jadot Puligny Montrachet "Clos de la Garenne": elegant, fresh, apple and citrus flavours; powerful with great length. ****½

2002 Jadot Beaune "‘Les Greves": peach and caramel and citrus nose; very elegant and beautifully balanced; pineapple and peach flavours carried on lively acidity to a nutty finish. *****

2005 Jadot Savigny les Beaune "Les Guettes": ruby colour; peppery, black raspberry and licorice; lean, sinewy and firm with a dry, tannic finish. ****

2005 Jadot Beaune "Clos des Couchereaux": ripe raspberry fruit, very flavourful and firmly structured. ****

2004 Jadot Pommard "La Commaraine": dry savoury raspberry flavour, silky mouth feel but firmly structured. ****½

2004 Jadot Clos Vougeot: sweet fruit, candied raspberry, spicy and elegant; well balanced. ****½

2001 Jadot Gevrey-Chambertin "Le Clos Saint-Jacques": earthy beetroot and oaky nose; more charming on the palate, very elegant and perfectly balanced. *****

The lunch:

Potage of roasted sweet onion and parsley root, port poached pear, cabrales cheese

Grilled veal paillard with arugula, tomato confit and pedano salad

Port pear and raisin upside down cake, nutmeg and ricotta gelato

Tarik must have had a lot of port-poached pears around.

Tuesday, March 4: Lunch at the Inter-Continental Hotel with Jean-Charles Boisset to taste De Loach wines. But first he served me blind a chilled glass of red wine and asked me to guess what it was (a wine writer's recurring nightmare). It tasted like a carbonic maceration which suggested Beaujolais. It turned out to be a Mommessin Beaujolais. Like its sister wine, a Mâcon-Villages Chardonnay, it comes in an aluminum bottle which is printed with thermo-sensitive ink "cool dot" on the back that changes to blue when you chill the container to the desired serving temperature. The aluminum bottle chills four times as fast as a glass bottle and is much lighter. Jean-Charles believes this concept could be the saviour of the Beaujolais region which has been suffering with loss of market share for years. He could well be right. The wine has a bright cherry flavour, fruity and easy drinking and sells for $14.95.

Then we tasted a range of Greg La Follette's wines from DeLoach Vineyards in Sonoma. Greg is one of my favourite winemakers in Sonoma; he has his own small winery called Tandem.

2006 Russian River Chardonnay: floral, vanilla, elegant, light and ethereal on the palate with a spicy note. ****½

2006 O.F.S. Chardonnay: spicy oak, pineapple on the nose; elegant, well balanced with a toasty finish (belies its 14.5% alcohol). *****

2006 Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay: pale straw, very Burgundian in style; spicy pear and tangerine flavours, very elegant with great length. *****

2006 DeLoach California Pinot Noir: light ruby colour; cherry nose; rich and sweet with a mineral thread; soft mouth feel. ****

2006 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir: cherry colour; pencil lead, vanilla, spicy black cherry; lovely mouth feel, soft tannins. ****½

2006 O.F.S. Pinot Noir: intense plum and cherry flavours, firmly structured and full-bodied. ****½

2006 Green Valley Pinot Noir: floral, cherry and raspberry nose; very Burgundian in style, drier and learner than the other Pinots; more feminine and subtle. ****½

2006 Golden Coast Pinot Noir: high toned. Black cherry flavour with well integrated oak. ****

2005 Sonoma Stage Pinot Noir: A big wine – vanilla and ripe blackcurrant on the nose; well extracted fruit; rich red berry and mocha flavours. ****½

2006 O.F.S. Zinfandel: sweet rhubarb, spicy blackcurrant, fruity but well balanced and very elegant. (I am not a biggest Zin Fan but this wine was absolutely Deloachious – sorry about that). *****

2004 Gambogi Ranch Zinfandel: old style California Zin, leather and plum, full-bodied. ****

2006 Nova Vineyard Zinfandel: Powerful and brooding, intense sweet strawberry and plum flavours, ending in bitter chocolate; soft mouth feel. ****½.

Drove out to Oakville for the local chapter of the International Wine and Food Society wine and cheese tasting. Chef Gurth Pretty (The Definitive Canadian Wine & Cheese Cookbook) selected the menu that was prepared by the Oakville Club's chef.

These were the cheeses we tasted during the evening and the menu into which they were incorporated:

Drumloch – a Scottish, Guernsey cow's milk medium cheddar

3 Year-Old Cheddar – A raw cow's milk cheddar, coloured with annatto, produced by Jensen Cheese in Wilton, Ontario.

Le Cru du Clocher – a five year-old raw cow's milk cheddar, produced by Le fromage au Village in the Abitibi region of northern Quebec.

Oka Classique – produced in Quebec by Agropur, the country's largest dairy cooperative. Styled on the Port-Salut cheese from France, this raw cow's milk, semi-soft, washed rind cheese is one of Canada's best known cheeses.

Crotonose – an Italian firm, natural rind Pecorino cheese, traditionally made with goat and sheep's milk.

Port Cheddar – produced by Fromagerie Perron in the Lac Saint–Jean region of Quebec. A two year-old white cheddar is soaked in a 10 year-old port.

The menu:

Hors d'oeuvres: Nurnberg canapé, Kinder Spanokapita, served with Vineland Estate Dry Riesling 2006

Garlic Soup, served with Namana Clos del Pinell 2005 (a blend of Garnacha Blanc, Macabeo and Moscatel)

Stuffed Baby potatoes with Horseradish Cheddar, served with Four Vines Zinfandel 2005

Sicilian Pasta Timbale, served with Salento Doppio Passo Primitivo 2005

Port Cheddar Apple Tart Tartin, served with Lakeview Vidal Icewine 2006

The snow was heavy when I left and it took me almost two hours to get home, a drive that would normally take 40 minutes. Scary, with tractor trailers in the fast lane of the 401.

Wednesday, March 5: Doug Towers came over with the wines for our tasting but David Lawrason couldn't make it from Belleville because of the snow. Tasted a raft of 20 Bees wines and did not learn until this evening (in Ottawa) that the winery (a co-operative of 19 Ontario growers and winemaker Sue Ann Staff) had declared bankruptcy. Flew to Ottawa at conduct a fine wine auction for the Ottawa Public Library Foundation and Canada Dance Festival at the Hampton Inn and Conference Centre. I was meant to arrive at 5:10 pm but with weather delays I didn't get there until 6:45 pm. The organisers were getting panicky. Konrad Ejbich, whose flight left before mine, arrived after me and he was to deliver a talk on wine before the auction started. In addition to 53 Silent Auction items (half of which were fine wines), the live auction featured 128 lots. Since there were only about 200 people in the auditorium there were bargains galore (there were not reserve prices). Loads of Sassicaia, Tignanello, Ornellaia, great Barolos, Barbarescos, Brunellos, as well as classed growth Bordeaux of great years, stunning Burgundies and iconic California Cabernets.

Thursday, March 6: Luckily I arrived at the airport for the flight back to Toronto at 8:30 am for a 10 am flight, because Air Canada had overbooked my flight and I would not have been able to get on. They put me on the 9 am instead. A tasting this evening at Summerhill, featuring some 80 wines from California that are either on the General Product list or in Vintages Essentials. Worked my way dutifully through them all.

Friday, March 7: Snow is threatened tonight – 25 cm. This winter is becoming a drag. They say that we will surpass the record for snowfall in Toronto set in 1939. A tasting this morning for the April Vintages release. The best wine there was Darting Ungsteiner Herrenberg Riesling Spätlese 2006 from the Pfalz. Must pick some what when it's released ($19.95. A steal).




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