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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 181 (March 24, 2008)

Monday, March 17: St. Patrick's Day. Since my father was born in Belfast I wore a green T-Shirt today. Worked on the Ontario Wine Awards – setting out the judging panels. Dinner: veal chop with Dancing Bull Merlot 2004. Worked well together.

Tuesday, March 18: Down to the Fine Wine Reserve to judge the label competition for the Ontario Wine Awards. The ten finalists that we chose today will be judged by the Ontario Wine Award panels. Then off to the Ministry of Tourism for a meeting with the Minister, Peter Fonseca, to tell him about Ontario Wine Week and what could be done to make the public aware of it. This evening at Far Niente, a press preview tasting of wines that will be shown at the California Wine Fair – 8 flights of different varietals.

Wednesday, March 19: Down to The Wine Establishment to record an interview with Laird Kay, who designed my wine cellar for the condo parking lot. He took me through the drawings and explained the construction process. This will make a chapter in my wine cellar book. Sourced wines at Vintages for a corporate tasting next month. For dinner: with tilapia, a wine that had been sent to me from Lebanon by Dr. Dargham Elias Touma – Heritage Blanc de Blancs 2007, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Ugni Blanc. A little eccentric.

Thursday, March 20: Spent the morning on the Ontario Wine Awards and in the afternoon a meeting with Alan Crawley of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs at Forefront Communications' offices. David Rose, Sandy Kurbis and I told him and his two colleagues about the Ontario Wine Awards and sipOntario (the consumer event for the competition, held at the Fermentation Cellar of the Distillery District on June 17). We want OMAFRA to collaborate with us for this event.

Friday, March 21: Spent the morning trying to clear out stuff from my office – old photos from wine trips years ago, old wine folders, etc. Being a pack rat I find this hard to do. I have a great collection of wine labels signed by the winemaker or winery owner (some of whom are no longer with us). Maybe a collector will be interested in them. The software program for the Ontario Wine Awards still hasn't arrived and the competition begins tomorrow morning. Jeff Baker, who created the program and updates it every year, is in Curaçao and communications with the island are dodgy at best. He is meant to call at 6:30 pm but hasn't called yet and I'm getting concerned. We're invited to neighbours across the street for dinner. Home by 11:30 pm and still no word from Jeff. I'm beginning to panic. Without the program we'll have to write down all the scores and then average them out. At midnight Jeff phones and talks me through copying the program (which has arrived by email) onto my laptop.

Gordon Stimmell's panel tasting Gewürztraminer

Sheila Swerling Puritt's reaction on seeing the Meritage flight

Saturday, March 22: Up early to walk Pinot the Wonder Dog, have breakfast and then down to Brassaii on King Street West, where the judging will be done. There is a record number of entries this year – 465. I have three panels of four judges each. They will taste about 65 wines today. Their scores will be averaged out to find the winner in each category. The entire judging process will take three days; the third day will be devoted to the sweet wines. Finish the judging by 4:30 pm, then race home to walk Pinot and drive to Caledon for Easter dinner with Nadine and Gary, Deborah's niece and her husband. I bring along the rest of the wines that Dr. Touma has sent me, three reds in Rhone style, Le Fleuron 2005, Heritage Grand Vin Bourgeois 2000 and Heritage Chateau 2000. These are very tasty, especially the flagship Chateau 2000.




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