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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 195 (June 30, 2008)

Monday, June 23: Worked on the cellar book. This evening, a fund-raiser for Merry-Go-Round Children's Foundation, "Kids, Cops and Computers," a steak and wine tasting at Jacobs & Co. I am leading the wine tasting. There are two sittings. Chef Ben Gundy did a sterling job with the four different steaks (popular favourite: the Wagyu).

Tuesday, June 24: Met with Jeff Lyons and Kristin Card to discuss the printed invitation for Grapes for Humanity's October 20th Jadot dinner. The wines that Pierre-Henry Gagey is donating for the event are amazing.

  • Puligny Montrachet Premier Cru Les Folatières 2000
  • Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru 1992
  • Beaune Premier Cru Les Bressandes 1997
  • Clos Vougeot Grand Cru 1985
  • Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru 1969

For the silent auction: a Jeroboam of Chambertin Clos de Bèze Grand Cru 1993.

Interviewed Dr. David Naiberg, a former Grand Sénéchal of the Toronto chapter of La Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, about Burgundy for the burgundy section of the cellar book.

Southbook winemaker Ann Sperling and owner Bill Redelmeier

Wednesday, June 25: Today is the annual Wine Writers Circle trip to Niagara. We meet at the bus in the parking lot at the Allen Expressway. We are to pick up Alex Eberspaecher, "the wine cop," at the Dorval exit of the QEW but our driver sails past and it isn't until the Bronte exit that we realise so we have to double back to pick Alex up – which makes us late, of course. Our first stop is the new Southbrook Winery at the gateway to Niagara with its periwinkle blue wall that stretches for 205 meters. Owner Bill Redelmeier and Ann Sperling tour us around the building and then we sit down for the tasting. Bill tells us that he's getting organic sheep to manure the vines and keep the grass short. In order to be certified as an organic vineyard, apparently the sheep have to be organic too. The 10,000-case winery itself, according to Bill, is the first in Canada to be LEED certified and the second in the world.

The Southbrook Winery wall

2007 Southbrook Triomphe Sauvignon Blanc: straw colour; lively lime, grapefruit and cut grass nose; medium-bodied, very fresh with green bean and gooseberry flavours. ****

2006 Triomphe Chardonnay: straw colour with a lime tint; Burgundian style nose of apple and undergrowth; rich mouth feel – spicy orange and caramel flavours; full-bodied with a long finish. ****½

2003 Whimsy Chardonnay Canadian Oak: deep yellow straw colour; oaky, slightly resinous, pepper, caraway seed; full-bodied with citrus, toast and caramel flavours that finish dry; lively acidity with a nutty, mature final note. ****½

2006 Triomphe Syrah: ruby-purple colour; peppery blackberry nose; fresh with lively acidity behind the juicy fruit. ****

2006 Whimsy Syrah (Lot 19): deep ruby colour; toasty, blackberry bouquet; Rhône style, rich and spicy blackberry with a firm acidic spine; peppery finish. ****½

2006 Whimsy Syrah (Lot 20): plum colour; smoky, toasty blackberry and white pepper on the nose, flavours that follow through on the palate. ****

2001 Triomphe Cabernet Merlot: dense purple-ruby; chocolate. Peanut shell note; acidic, tannic. ***½

2005 Triomphe Cabernet Merlot: deep ruby colour; cedar, currants, high toned, vanilla oak; claret style, chunky, plum and currant flavours; firm structure

In the tasting bar visitors will be offered three vintages to show how Southbrook wines age – Chardonnay 1999, 2004 and 2005; the Bordeaux blends of 2000, 2001 and 2005.

We then try a barrel sample of the Cabernet blend 2007. It's deep purple in colour, fruit and rich and sweet with chocolate notes and black fruit flavours. The Estate version of the same wine is much blacker and more intense, promising well for the future. We eat a boxed lunch in the production area that's removed from the new building. The 8000-litre wood fermenters here are standing on four hockey pucks.

Next stop is Cattail Creek, a new family-owned and operated winery a few minutes' drive away from Southbrook. The family farm 100 acres of vinifera and French hybrids. Their first vintage was 2006, although they have some of the oldest Riesling vines in the province, dating back to 1976. The wine is hand-bottled and hand-labeled. Roselyn Cieszkowski leads us through a tasting in the cellar.

2007 Cattail Creek Chardonnay Musqué: medium straw; sweet pear nose, quite intense; medium-bodied, fruity with an aromatic note in mid-palate, finishing dry with lively acidity. ****

2007 Off-Dry Riesling: pale straw with a lime tint; spicy, grapefruit and honey; off dry, fresh and fruity with lively acidity. ****

2006 Serendipity Rosé: (83% Riesling, 17% Merlot) deep orange-pink; strawberry, red berry nose; off-dry, intense strawberry flavour; full on the palate; touch of sweetness in mid palate. ***½

2007 Pinot Noir: ruby; high toned, slightly volatile cherry-berry nose; soft mouth feel with a touch of bitterness on the finish. ***½

Next stop: Coyote's Run. We taste the wines on the deck at the back of the winery. The owners, Jeff and Patti Aubry, start us off with three 2007 whites.

2007 Coyote's Run Unoaked Chardonnay: pale straw; leesy, minerally, apple and pear; dry, medium-bodied; touch of bitterness on the finish. ***½

2007 Pinot Gris: vale pale, peach pit nose; sweet peach flavour, well balanced; elegant, good length. ****

2006 Chardonnay Reserve Barrel-Fermented: medium straw; Burgundian style, vanilla oak, spicy, pineapple, butter and toast; full-bodied, well made, buttery and macadamia nut finish. ****½

2007 Pinot Blanc: almost water white; peach pit, minerally nose; sweet and peach flavoured, easy drinking with good acidity. ****

We then move into the estate vineyard's Red Paw and Black Paw wines. You can see the line where the soils change colours.

2006 Red Paw Pinot Noir: ale ruby, mature look; intense Burgundian nose – minerally, bright raspberry, lifted nose; well extracted fruit, lively acidity with a firm finish. ****

2006 Pinot Noir Black Paw: same colour as the Red Paw but more intensity on the nose; bright raspberry; more Côtes de Nuits; lively, intense, spicy sweet raspberry; firm structure. ****½

2006 Cabernet Franc Red Paw: light, red berry, firm structure with soft rhubarb and red berry flavours. More Pinot Noir than Cabernet Franc, firm finish. ****

2006 Cabernet Franc Black Paw: pencil lead, violets on the nose; sweet , earthy fruit; spicy flavour with soft tannins. ****

2006 Meritage (40% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc): dense purple colour; a nose of fresh mushrooms, licorice, black cherry; sweet spicy cherry fruit, full on the palate; firmly structured. ****

The historic house that stands over the subterranean Ravine Vineyard winery

Our next stop (unscheduled) is a winery that is about to open – Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery in St. David's. The winery has been dug out under the house, a magnificently restored old Ontario wood frame house originally built in 1802, destroyed in 1812 and rebuilt. The Harber family has an organic vineyard on their 34-acre farm. Apparently, the first vinifera vines were planted here in 1869. 20 acres are planted to Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Riesling. Tried their first wine, an Auslese-style Riesling that bodes well for the future.

Our final stop is Niagara College Teaching Winery. Steve Gill shows us the plans for the new Wine Education Centre before we sit down for the tasting.

2007 Niagara College Riesling: pale straw with a lime tint; minerally, grapefruit skin; off-dry, zesty, grapefruit with lively acidity. ***½

2007 Dean's List Sauvignon Blanc: pale straw; grassy, passion fruit; touch of sweetness, gooseberry flavour; beautifully balanced; good length. ****½

2007 Sauvignon Blanc Fumé: medium straw colour; smoky, toasty, grassy, green plum; rich, full-bodied and flavourful. ****

2006 Barrel-Fermented Chardonnay: deep yellow straw; spicy, toasty, pineapple; mouth-filling, sweet, toasty, tropical fruit; well made, nicely balanced with a nutty finish. ****½

2006 Dean's List Chardonnay 2006: deep golden colour; Burgundian nose – toasty, spicy, apple; sweet pineapple, melon and citrus flavours; smoky toasty oak. Great length. *****

2007 College Red (60% Cabernet Franc, 25% Baco Noir, 15% Dornfelder): dense purple-black; earthy, black fruits; plum, prune and bitter chocolate flavours; acidic finish. ***½

2005 Cabernet Franc: deep purple-ruby; green pepper, firm, earthy; dusty tannins. ***½

2005 Cabernet Sauvignon: dense ruby; pencil lead, licorice, cedar, currants; full-bodied, ripe currants; well extracted fruit with soft tannins. ****

2005 Meritage: dense ruby-purple; cedar, vanilla, pencil lead, red berry; richly extracted, sweet plumy currant fruit, lively acidity; well balanced, firmly structured with a tannic lift on the finish. ****½

Thursday, June 26: Lunch with an old friend, Jeremy Roncoroni, at Hemispheres in the Metropolitan Hotel. Jeremy is in from Vancouver and has set up his consultancy company for restaurants and hotels. Took Deborah to the baseball game. The Jays beat Cincinnati 7–1. A good evening at the ball park.

Friday, June 27: A Vintages tasting for August – 112 wines, the most they have ever put out. Did a telephone interview with Stephen Cipes and Eric von Krosigk at Summerhill Winery in the Okanagan. In the evening a cheese and wine tasting for a Basilian father who is turning 50 who is entertaining his fellow priests.




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