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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 192 (June 9, 2008)

Monday, June 2: Working on the cellar book much of the day, interspersed with filling in forms for Special Occasion permits for Grapes for Humanity events. Also getting Directors' insurance for the board. For dinner, lamb burgers with Carmen Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 from Chile.

Tuesday, June 3: A meeting with Dirk Weins to see the first Permacharts printings of wine information I'm consulting to. These will be sold in wineries. Two have been printed so far – Understanding Wine: Amateur to Connoisseur and Dining With Wine: The Pocket Sommelier. Then over to the Summerhill liquor store to choose wines for a wine and cheese event on June 29th, before subwaying it to the Royal York for "Wines of Portugal." A much bigger event than last year. Ran into an old friend, João Nicola Almeida, who tells me that half of Ramos Pinto's production is table wine now. And that was what I tasted, as much as I enjoy port. Could only taste 25 wines or so. Best wines: Quinta Nova Carmo Grande Reserva 2005 (Douro), Quinta da Cortezia Touriga Nacional 2005 (from Estremadura). Most interesting was the contrast between the father-and-son wines of Miguel Antonio de Orduna Viegas Louro from the Alentej. For dinner, Joie Riesling 2007 from BC. A lovely bottle of wine, off dry with spice, white honey and grapefruit flavours.

Wednesday, June 4: Drove down to Niagara to conduct a corporate wine tasting and dinner at Hillebrand and Peller Estate. On the way I dropped into Southbrook's new winery, designed by Jack Diamond. It's the first winery you see on Highway 55 driving towards Niagara-on-the-Lake. Southbrook used to be housed in a couple of century barns in Richmond Hill before Bill and Marilyn Redelmeier sold the farm and bought vineyard land in Niagara. Ann Sperling is the winemaker. The first thing you see is a dramatic 200-metre-long wall painted lavender blue with a glass-door entrance reached by a bridge over reflecting ponds. The facility was designed by Jack Diamond, the architect for Toronto's opera house. The back of the winery is all glass that looks out onto the vineyard. The only curves in the building are the barrels and the supports on which they rest. Everything else is rigorously horizontal, which is ironic since the motif on their labels is lines in gentle curving waves. Tasted the Southbrook 2007 Sauvignon Blanc. Elena Galey-Pride, Director of Customer Experience (reads her card), showed me around and told me that Marilyn Redelmeier chooses poetry for their flagship line called "Poetic." Her own card carries lines from Pablo Neruda:

I love the light of a bottle of intelligent wine upon a table
when people are talking, that they drink it, that in
Each drop of gold or ladle of purple, they remembered that
autumn worked until the barrels were filled with wine.

Poetic will carry verses from Canadian poets too, apparently.

The corporate group numbers 92 people and I have to sign 92 copies of The Definitive Canadian Wine & Cheese Cookbook that will be placed in their rooms at White Oaks tonight. But first a tour of Hillebrand, the vineyard and cellars, and a tasting of Trius Riesling 2007, Trius Red 2006 and a Vidal Icewine 2006. Then on to Peller Estates where a long table has been set in the barrel cellar for dinner, candle-lit with a harpist playing us in. The menu:

Asparagus Soup with Truffled Crème Fraiche, served with Peller Estates Dry Riesling Private Reserve 2006

Grilled Cabernet Glazed Quail with Mushroom and Spring Salad, with Peller Estate Chardonnay Private Reserve 2006

Canadian Beef Tenderloin, Niagara Gold Boulangère Potato & Vegetable Meritage, with Andrew Peller Cabernet Franc 2002

Cabernet Franc Icewine Poached Apple Tart Tartin with Blue Ice, with Peller Estate Private Reserve Late Harvest Vidal 2004

Buttermilk Cake, Rhubarb Compote & Fresh Strawberries, with Andrew Peller Cabernet Franc Icewine 2006

(The last two courses with the wines were served together because time was marching on.) Spent the night at White Oaks.

Thursday, June 5: Up at 7:15 am to drive back to Toronto and a 10 am dental appointment. Spent the rest of the day working on the cellar book, writing about Bordeaux and Burgundy. Pinot went to the groomer for her summer cut. The temperature is meant to be 33°C tomorrow. Just in time. For dinner, pork ribs with The Spanish Quarter Cabernet Sauvignon Tempranillo 2006.

Friday, June 6: Doug Towers and David Lawrason here for another tasting – 39 VQA wines. Then Deborah drives us up to Caledon to meet our friends Frank and Patty-Ann Daley and Rod and Bessie Seyffert (we all share the same anniversary) to go to a Rotary charity event in Palgrave – three large tents in the show grounds with wine and food stations. Hang out at the Lorac booth with Carol Slatt drinking Goldwater Chardonnay 2006 from New Zealand (delicious on a hot day).




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