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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 185 (April 21, 2008)

Monday, April 14: Wrote my 680News wine reviews before going to the dentist for a wash and brush-up. The wine is staining my teeth. This afternoon a wine tasting reception for a law firm in Scotia Plaza. Great view. Only four wines. My wine tasting had to compete with a cigar roller in a low-cut blouse, but there are only so many cigars you can watch being rolled. The wines:

  • Cave Spring Riesling 2007 (Ontario)
  • Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2007 (New Zealand)
  • Poulleau Père & Fils Côte de Beaune Les Mondes Rondes 2005 (Burgundy)
  • Wolf Blass Gold Label Shiraz 2005 (Australia)

For dinner: Chinese dumplings (pork and mushroom) with Ca'Rome Barbaresco 2003. Great match.

The incomparable Willi Opitz

Tuesday, April 15: A large Austrian tasting today at an event space on Rosehill Avenue. Reconnected with Willi Opitz, whom I first met at Vinexpo in 1989. Robert Joseph introduced me to him and Willi gave us both a rusty strand of barbed wire in a plastic case. It came from the top of the Berlin Wall. When I visited him in Neusiderlersee he gave me a CD a recording of his various wines fermenting. He is, without doubt, Austria's best wine marketer. His page in the catalogue of wineries reads: "After 'Pink Kiss' (a delicious rosé – my comment), you start from the McLaren Pole Position (another of his wines) via the Silver Lake – watch out for the St. Laurent with the Rotschenkel – refuel with Goldackerl to finish at the Schilfmandl. Awaiting you on the podium is 'Mr. President' and Opitz One, to register you at the C.I.A. Watchlist for Criminally Good Food!" That's Willi.

Spent most of the time tasting Grüner Veltliner, the world's most under-rated variety. The best I tasted were Bründlmayer Grüner Veltliner Alte Reben 2006 and Kamptaler Terrassen 2007, Schloss Gobelsberg Grüner Veltliner Tradition 2005, Kurt Angerer Grüner Veltliner Spies Reserve 2007 and Barrique 2006. (Didn't make it to Nigl's table, a producer I enjoy immensely.) My other favourite Austrian wine is Sauvignon Blanc from Südsteiermark – three terrific wines from Walter Skoff: Sauvignon Blanc Hochsultz 2006, Obegg Reserve 2006 and the amazing Royal Sauvignon Blanc 2006, which comes on like a Laville Haut Brion. There were dozens of wines to taste and I couldn't do justice to them all, but I did taste some very fine, though costly, red wines: Weingut Stadlmann Rotgipfler Tagelsteiner 2006 from Thermenregion and the best red of the day, Leth Zweigelt Gigama Reserve 2006 from Wagram.

For dinner: Pasta with Cono Sur Merlot 2007 from Chile.

Wednesday, April 16: Wrote a piece for Outdoor Canada magazine about wine and game. A meeting of the Robert Home Smith Private Wine Society. The theme was Canadian wines. We started with two wines before dinner, served with Curried Digby Scallop Cakes – Henry of Pelham Riesling Reserve 2006 and Nk'Mip Vineyards Pinot Noir 2006 from BC. At table, Asparagus and Leek Soup with Stratus Chardonnay 2002 and Closson Chase Chardonnay "The Iconoclast" 2005 (which, unfortunately, had maderised)

Main course: Apricot and mint crusted rack of Ontario Lamb with a port wine demi-glace. Grilled Fennel, Maple-glazed carrots over Gnocchi, with Mountain Road Gamay Noir 2002 and Marynissen Cabernet Franc 2004.

Cheese plate with Reif First Growth Merlot 2002 and Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Shiraz 2003.

Dessert: Chocolate Molten Cakes with fresh berries, with Magnotta Vidal Icewine 2006.

Thursday, April 20: The annual Bouchard Père & Fils Burgundy tasting for the new vintage (2006) at the RCYC. Luc Bouchard comes over every year for this important tasting, which also features the Chablis of William Fèvre. This is definitely a white wine vintage – the whites from BP&F and Fèvre were stunning across the board. Meursault Les Clous, Beaune du Château, Meursault Genevrières and Perrières all showing beautifully. Corton-Charlemagne and Chevalier-Montrachet still tight but beautifully balanced. The reds were classic but on the light side. I liked the Beaune-Teurons, Volnay Caillerets and particularly Pommard. Chambolle Musigny was very tasty and Le Corton was the hit for me. Clos Vougeot was disappointing for its lack of expression but could be going through a dumb phase. Of the Chablis, my favourite was Les Preuses.

Lunch at the Albany Club with Jeff Lyons and Aine Curran to discuss Grapes for Humanity. A bottle of Thirty Bench Riesling 2006 with a Serrano ham and fig salad. Felt really clubbed today, since dinner was at the National Club. Philip and Debra Mirabelli invited Deborah and me to a dinner for Francois Labet of Château de la Tour. We started off with 2003 Blanc Bourgogne Vieilles Vignes Chardonnay (nutty, dry, caramel, lively acidity for the vintage, great length). This was served with Herb-Crusted Kona Kompachi (a dense white fish from New Zealand) with Chablis Beurre Blanc, plus the 2006 vintage of the same wine. Next, Beef Carpaccio with Tête de Moine Frisée, Pear and Truffle Vinaigrette served with Labet Savigny Vergelesses 2006 (Chardonnay with 20% Pinot Gris, co-fermented – very fragrant, spicy pear flavours; an unusual wine but delicious).

Roasted Canadian Bison Tenderloin with Coffee crust, served with Chocolate Salt and Parsnip Silk, Spring Vegetable bundle and Hazelnut Pomme William, served with Beaune Coucherias 2006 and Château de la Tour 2003 Clos-Vougeot (a massive fruit-driven wine but with good acidity and tannic structure).

Friday, April 18: Went down to the LCBO for a tasting of new products for the general list but there were only six or so. Spent the rest of the day finishing off work in order to fly to London tomorrow.




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