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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 197 (July 14, 2008)

Monday, July 7: Met a group of wine writers at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel at 8:45 am to take a stretch limo down to Jackson-Triggs. Eleven of us piled in. A tasting has been set out for us of the much-vaunted 2007 vintage. I'm sitting next to Allan Jackson, who says in his 37 vintages this is best he has seen.

Bruce Nicholson, head winemaker at Inniskillin

Jackson-Triggs Delaine Vineyard Gewurztraminer 2007 is the best of this variety I have tasted in Ontario – spicy, rose petal nose with exotic mango, orange and Turkish Delight flavours. Also enjoyed a barrel sample of Inniskillin Winemaker's Series Three Vineyard Chardonnay 2007 (medium straw colour with a minerally, spicy nose of baked apple and caramel, nicely balanced with a biscuity finish). The whites were followed by four reds which show just how good 2007 is. Inniskillin Winemaker's Series Montague Vineyard Merlot 2007 is so dark purple-black in colour it stains the glass. The wine is blueberry pie on the nose, fresh and fruity with lively acidity and soft tannins. Jackson-Triggs Delaine Vineyard Syrah 2007 is dense purple with smoky blackberry and plum aromas tinged with white pepper and a pine needle note; lovely textured fruit, firmly structured in Northern Rhône style. I also liked Jackson-Triggs Cabernet Franc 2007 (destined to be their Proprietors' Grand Reserve). Bruce Nicholson, formerly Jackson-Triggs's Okanagan winemaker, is now at Inniskillin and doing a great job with the red.

Inniskillin's newly renovated Braeburn barn loft

We have lunch in the cool barrel cellar after an aperitif of rosé outdoors in the blistering heat. Then over to Inniskillin for the formal opening of the newly renovated Braeburn barn and piazza inset with stones chronicling high points in Inniskillin's history, beginning with 1975 ("Inniskillin established by Don Ziraldo and Karl Kaiser") and ending in 2008 ("Launch of Founders' Hall, the Piazza and rejuvenation of Braeburn Barn"). Jim Bradlee, Minister of Transport, was on hand to speak, as was Peter Fonseca, Minister of Tourism.

Tuesday, July 8: Received in the mail a copy of Wineries of Wisconsin and Minnesota by Patricia Monaghan. She writes that there are 55 wineries in these two states. Lunch with Danielle Iverson of That PR Thing at Didier's to tell her about Grapes for Humanity. Dinner at Lolo's around the corner with Rod and Bessie Seyffert. The place was packed because of Summerlicious. We sat through a torrential rainstorm which, mercifully, ended by the time we left the restaurant. A bottle of Landskroon Sauvignon Blanc 2006 and Egoista Tinta 2005 from Portugal.

Wednesday, July 9: Recorded my 680News reviews and prepared for a tasting at Grano, an auction item at a fund-raiser for The Esprit Orchestra. The wines, provided by Grano's proprietor, Roberto Martella:

  • Produttori di Valdobbiadene Prosecco 2007
  • Cavit Pinot Grigio Terrazze della Luna 2006
  • Tommasi Bardolino Chiaretto 2007
  • Terra d'Aligi Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2005 (Spinelli)
  • Rocca delle Macìe Chianti Classico Straccali 2005
  • Cantelle Primitivo 2004

The Rocca delle Macìe was the firm favourite.

Joseph Macerollo, one of the world's greatest accordion players and a member of The Esprit Orchestra, turned up to play for us. I have never been a great fan of the accordion – about on the same level as the bagpipes as far as I'm concerned – but I was mesmerized by Joe and what he could do with that instrument. In his hands it sounds like a whole orchestra. And he's a very entertaining speaker. "What's the definition of an optimist?" he asked us, rhetorically. "An accordionist with a cell phone." Opened a bottle of Benziger Syrah 2005 to have with cheese with Deborah.

Thursday, June 10: A meeting with Paul Kostoff and Paul DeMeester to discuss at website project, then rushed home to take Pinot the Wonder Dog to the groomer for her summer cut, then on to lunch at Vertical with my old friend Anthony von Mandel of Mission Hill. I first met Anthony in the cellars of Roederer in Rheims in 1976. With lunch we had Mission Hill SLC Chardonnay 2005 and Oculus 2004. Then on to a meeting with Steven Campbell of Lifford Wine Agency to discuss the Grapes for Humanity dinner on October 20th. We have already sold 84 of the 120 seats.

Friday, July 11: A Vintages tasting for the August 16th release. Some ninety wines. Then over to David Rose's office at Forefront to check on his design for the invitation to the Grapes for Humanity dinner. He's done a stunning job. For dinner with hamburgers, KWV Café Culture Pinotage 2007. A good wine, lots of fruit, that leaves you without feeling you've been licking the tarmac on a hot day, which is the fate of a lot of South African Pinotages.




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