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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 188 (May 12, 2008)

Monday, May 5: A tasting of Shaw & Smith wines at Crush. Michael Hill Smith, Australia's first MW, was bemused by the fact that we have to wait until 11am to start tasting in Ontario. Martin Shaw and Michael are first cousins who make what Michael calls "classic wines with a modern twist in an Australian style."

Shaw & Smith Sauvignon Blanc 2007: very pale with a lime tint; grassy, green fig nose; very fresh, minerally with a tart green apple and grapefruit flavour; medium-bodied, good length, fresh finish. ****

Shaw & Smith M3 Vineyard Chardonnay 2006: medium straw colour; Burgundian style, barnyard nose; spicy pineapple, orange and caramel flavours, nicely melded; full-bodied with a leesy note, lovely mouth-feel, great length, very focused with a fine spine of acidity. *****

Shaw & Smith M3 Chardonnay 2007: medium straw colour; spicy, tropical fruit nose; broader than the 2006; well balanced with citric acidity. ****½

Shaw & Smith M3 Chardonnay 2004: mature golden colour; spicy, honeysuckle nose; nutty-citrus flavours, hanging in; a touch brittle on the finish. ****

Shaw & Smith Shiraz 2005: dense purple staining the glass; violets, blackberry and vanilla oak nose with a light medicinal and mocha notes; lively, bright fruit, nicely handled oak; firm structure with a dry finish and a licorice note. ****½

Shaw & Smith Shiraz 2006: dense purple, peppery blackberry nose; not really knit yet but all the elements are there. Nicely balanced fruit and oak, blackberry flavour with fresh acidity. **** (****½ with bottle age).

Back home to work on the article for Lexpert magazine on organic wine, then back downtown for the first Santé event, Landmark Australia, a tasting of "High profile, distinguished Australian wines built on inherent quality and world class reputation." Michael Hill Smith conducted the event, which featured fourteen wines but nothing from the Penfold's portfolio (or Henschke, d'Arenberg, Jim Barry, Leeuwin, Cullen).

  • Jacob's Creek Steingarten Riesling 2006
  • Lovedale Semillon 2006
  • Shaw & Smith M3 Vineyard Chardonnay 2006
  • Yering Station Pinot Noir Reserve 2005
  • Moss Wood 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon (the wine of the night)
  • Parker Coonawarra Estate First Growth 2004
  • Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
  • Petaluma Coonawarra Cabernet Merlot 2004
  • Brokenwood Graveyard Vineyard Shiraz 2004
  • Shaw & Smith Shiraz 2005
  • Yalumba The Octavius Barossa Old Vine Shiraz 2001
  • Hardy's Eileen Hardy Shiraz 2002
  • Grant Burge Meshach Shiraz 2002
  • Mount Langi Ghiran Shiraz 2004

Tuesday. May 6: It is always a pleasure to receive a bottle of Dom Pérignon 2000. But I found that the Chef de Cave Richard Geoffroy's accompanying tasting notes more suitable for a bodice ripper than a wine description: "Fresh, crystalline and sharp, the first nose unveils an unusual dimension, an aquatic vegetal world with secret touches of white pepper and gardenia. The wine then reveals airy, gentle richness before exhaling peaty scents. On the palate, the attack bursts forth, before maturing into a sensual fullness that winds around itself, like a tendril of foliage. Notes of aniseed and dried ginger linger on the skin of the fruit (pear and mango), more textured than ripe. The finish gradually unfurls and then settles, smooth, mellow, all-encompassing..." No wonder the 1999 vintage costs $225 a bottle.

This morning a tutored tasting at Roy Thomson Hall as the opening of the annual German Wine Fair, the eighteenth.

Steffen Schindler, Head of Marketing for the German Wine Institute, came out with some surprising statistics. He told us that Germans now drink more red wine than white wine (53% to 47%), that Germany has 60% of the world's planted Riesling (mainly in the Mosel and Pfalz), that Germany is among the top three producers of Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc and that the Baden region has more Pinot Noir (Spätburgunder) planted than Australia. Nik Weis, Weingut St. Urbans-Hof's winemaker, introduced two wines – the spectacular Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Spätlese 2007 from the Saar and his Piesporter Goldtröpchen Riesling Spätlese 2007 from the Mosel. He was followed by Kathrin Hasselbach-Bordiehn of Weingut Gunderloch, who presented Nackenheimer Rothenberg Riesling Dry 2006 and Nackenheimer Rothenberg Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel 2006. Peter Winter of Weingut Georg Müller Stiftung presented his Hattenheimer Schützenhaus Riesling Kabinett Feinherb 2006 and Cuvée Daniel Spätburgunder Dry 2005. After a buffet lunch, walked the tables and tasted a variety of Rieslings. The revelation was Blue Nun Winemakers Passion Riesling 2006 – grapefruit, honey and passion fruit flavours; off-dry, very well made and inexpensive (but not yet available in our market). Best I tasted: Weingut Forstmeister Geltz-Zilliken Saarburger Rausch Riesling Spätlese 2003 (honeyed lime, petrol, peach, minerally and smoky; excellent balance and length) and the Wegeler Bernkasteler Doctor Riesling Spätlese 2006 (amazing tension between fruit and acidity, dances on the palate).

Tonight is Santé's Ultimate Winemaker Dinner. Deborah and I are seated at a table with Jerome N. Jeandin, National Director of Champagne Taittinger, which meant that we could get more champagne. Which was a blessing, since Taittinger was accompanying Mistura chef Massimo Capra's asparagus risotto with strawberries and black pepper.

Wednesday, May 7: This afternoon is the annual Lifford portfolio tasting. Steven Campbell has an amazing list and many of the winery principals were there pouring at the event theatre on Eglinton and Avenue Road. Particularly enjoyed the Craggy Range wines (2006 Te Muna Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir) from New Zealand and the Telmo Rodriguez wines from Spain.

Thursday, May 8: This afternoon I conducted a charity tasting for Providence Healthcare's 8th annual Cuisine and Cuvée event in the Centennial Ballroom On the Park. The wines were all Super Tuscans:

  • Vigorello 2001
  • Ornellaia 2002
  • Solaia 2001
  • Sassicaia 1998
  • Tignanello 1997

This was followed by a mystery wine served blind: Fattoria Scopone Il Bagatto 2003.

At the walk around tasting I enjoyed a glass of Southbrook Cabernet Merlot Shiraz 2006, the first red wine Ann Sperling has made for the winery.

Friday, May 9: This morning Henry of Pelham is holding a tasting at the St. Germaine Hotel of its Rieslings going back to 1990. The first two flights are of the Riesling Reserve, the first from "long, cool vintages" – 2006, 2003, 2000, 1997, 1997 and 1994 – followed by Reserve Rieslings from "warm, intense vintages" – 2007, 2002, 1998, 1995, 1991 and 1990. Flight three showed the winery's Riesling style from the same vintage: 2004 Dry (corked unfortunately, so not tasted), 2004 Reserve, 2004 Reserve Off-Dry, 2004 Speck Family Reserve and 2004 Icewine.

The 1997 was magnificent – honey and brioche, apple and toast with a lively spine of lime acidity. But my favourite was the 1995, which reminded me of a Rheingau Riesling – elderberry and blackcurrant flavours, very elegant, citrusy with a woody note.

Saturday, May 10: I am to conduct a seminar on organic, biodynamic and sustainable agriculture for Santé. The wines we taste are all organic. I tell the participants that this is the future.

  • Vina Cono Sur Cono Sur Chardonnay Colchagua Valley 2007 (Chile)
  • Fetzer Bonterra Chardonnay 2006 (Mendocino)
  • Salena Estate Wines Salena Organic Rose 2006 (Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre from Riverland!)
  • E. & J. Gallo Winery MacMurray Ranch Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2006 (California)
  • Gemtree Vineyards Uncut Shiraz 2006 (McLaren Vale)
  • Vinedos Organicos Emiliana VOE Coyam Red 2005 (Chile)
  • Paul Dolan/Parducci Paul Dolan Deep Red 2005 (Mendocino)




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