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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 187 (May 5, 2008)

Monday, April 28: A seminar this morning conducted by Paul Dolan and Ann Thrupp, entitled, "Certifiably Green with Envy," about sustainable agriculture, organic winemaking and biodynamics. This is the future since consumers will soon demand eco-friendly wines. This was a prelude to the 16th annual California Wine Fair lunch at the Fairmont Royal York and the trade tasting that follows. Paul Dolan gave a 15 minute précis speech of the seminar that took 90 minutes with a tasting of Fetzer Chardonnay 2006, Parducci Chardonnay 2006, Paul Dolan Zinfandel 2005, Bonterra Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, Parducci Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 and Paul Dolan Deep Red 2004 (60% Syrah, 35% Petite Sirah and 5% Zinfandel). At lunch I was seated at a table where the following wines were on the table: Bonny Doon Le Cigare Blanc 2006 (Roussanne, Marsanne), Le Cigare Gris 2006, Le Cigare Volante 2004, Waterstone Pinot Noir 2006, Alexander Valley Vineyards Syrah 2005 and Laurel Glen Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma Mountain 2004.

The meal:

  • First course – Manitoulan Smoked Trout and Brain Fanning's Smoked Salmon, Yukon Gold Potato and Bacon Salad, Organic Greens, Taragon Crème Fraiche.
  • Second course – Rome Farms Naturally Raised Beef Tenderloin on Braised Short Rib Ravioli, St. Lawrence Market Mustard and Black Pepper Sauce.
  • Third course – Selection of Ontario Artisanal Cheeses: Comfort Cream, Niagara Gold, Back Forty Highland Blue with Quince Paste, Baguette and Candied Walnuts.

125 wineries were showing over 400 wines as a kick off to a "California Style" promotion in the LCBO's 601 stores. I concentrated on Pinot Noir at the tasting. The best were Byron Bien Nacido Pinot Noir 2004 and Byron Nielsen Pinot Noir 2004, Landmark Grand Detour Pinot Noir 2006, and Tandem Sangiacomo Pinot Noir 2005. Also enjoyed Nichols Winery Silver Fox Merlot 2005 and Duckhorn Merlot 2005. Discovered a great new winery – Tom Meadowcroft's Magito Wines. Loved his Magito Meadowcroft Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 from Mt. Veeder fruit and his rich Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 2006. At 5pm Mark de Vere MW, Mondavi's in-house wine educator, conducted a tasting covering three decades of Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. Mark began with the oldest, saying that he had picked the vintages at random.

  • 1987: (Robert Mondavi's 50th harvest in the Napa Valley – this year he turns 95) Ruby colour with a mature rim; minty, rhubarb, blackcurrant and cedar with a floral note and touch of smoke. Light but intense showing good red berry fruit with lively acidity, soft tannins but firm still on the finish. A gorgeous wine with some life ahead of it. *****
  • 1993: Deep ruby, holding colour well; denser nose of cedar, pencil lead, vanilla and raspberry; firm structure, very youthful. Medicinal note, cocoa flavour with a fine spine of acidity. *****
  • 1997: Deep ruby; earthy, dusty orange peel and cedar nose; rather closed and tight but showing good fruit with a chunky mouth feel. Ripe tannins with a tarry note on the finish. ****½
  • 2001: Deep ruby; cedar, red berry, smoky, pencil lead nose; Tannins are apparent riding above the fruit. Could be going into a dumb phase. ****
  • 2004: Dense purple ruby, vanilla, mocha and oak dominant; sweet, chocolatey fruit, youthful but well balanced and mouth-filling with ripe tannins. Will be a terrific wine with 4 to 5 years more bottle age. ****½

Tuesday, April 29: Recorded 680 News reviews. Began writing my Lexpert column based on the organic seminar yesterday. My friend Pooch from Sacramento who is in town for the California Wine Fair came by on our way to dinner at Matahari. We opened a bottle of Sumac Ridge Black Sage Merlot 2005 before going to the restaurant for an excellent Malaysian meal. I brought along a bottle of Mission Hill Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2006 and Sumac Ridge Meritage 2005.

Wednesday, April 30: A meeting with the Friends of the Hebrew University to discuss the possibility of leading a wine tour to Israel in February 2009. Dinner with Mark de Vere at Crush, newly renovated. He brought along a bottle of Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 1997, which we both thought was more evolved that the bottle we had tired last evening. We ordered a bottle of Prince Poniatowski Clos de L'Avenir Vouvray 1997, which I had with white bait although it was a little on the sweet side. Then a bottle of Foreau Vouvray Clos Naudin 2004 follow by the Mondavi (which I had with lamb). Mark showed me a technique he said he had developed with Tim Hanni to make any wine palatable with meat or fish. Simply add salt and lemon juice to the dish. Not only does it work but as Mark said, "You get the full beauty of the wine." Who needs a sommelier – you just ask for salt and lemon on the side once you’ve ordered the wine you want.

Thursday, May 1: Doug Towers and David Lawrason came over for another tasting. Began clearing out my office for the showing of the house which goes on the market in three weeks. Pack rat that I am, it's hard to throw memorabilia out. For dinner: with tilapia, Villa Sandi Pinot Grigio 2006 from Veneto.

Friday, May 2: A Vintages tasting for the June release. A whole slew of champagnes, obviously for Father's Day and June weddings. For dinner with ordered-in Chinese food, Crémant St. Nicolas Quebec Cider – a perfect match for all the spicy dishes.




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