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A Wine Lover's Diary, Part 200 (August 5, 2008)

Monday, July 28: Have I really been writing this diary for 200 weeks? Started trying to nail down a date for the annual general meeting of Grapes for Humanity, sending emails to the directors with a choice of three dates in September. Consulted Charles Metcalfe's new book, A Wine & Food Lover's Guide to Portugal, for the Portuguese entry in the cellar book. Charles gave me a copy when I saw him in Germany. He wrote it with his wife Kathryn McWhirter, a very impressive piece of research. I emailed Elliott Mackey, who runs the Wine Appreciation Guild in California and distributes Charles' book, to see if it's available yet in Canada. Elliott replied that he's actually coming to Toronto next week and we should get together to raise a glass. I asked Allison Fryer at The Cookbook Store (the most likely place to find the book in Toronto) but she was unaware of it. Dinner at Lai Wah Heen with Henry Wu, Canson, the restaurant's manager, and Dorothy Hatt, the hotel's business development person, to discuss a tutorial on Chinese food matched with wine at the James Beard House in New York in November. Great food at Lai Wah Heen – with a bottle of Tiefenbrunner Pinot Grigio 2007.

Tuesday, July 29: A meeting with David Rose and Sandy Kurbis of Forefront Communications to discuss next year's Ontario Wine Awards. This will be our 14th year. Went over to Lynn Matthews to select wines from her cellar that she wants to donate to Grapes for Humanity's auction in October. For dinner, a bottle of Vineland Estates Dry Riesling 2007 – this is a real winner, the best Dry Riesling I've tasted from this winery.

Wednesday, July 30: The new owners of the house are coming by to take measurementswith their architect. Deborah and I have to be out of the house but Pinot the Wonder Dog can stay. I have a doctor's appointment (all's well) and then lunch at the Pilot Tavern with Doug Paddey. I have passed this place on Cumberland Avenue hundreds of times but never been in. My pizza was undercooked. Now I know why I haven't been in. Scott Russell, the Resource Development Coordinator of Houselink, called seeking input on the wine auction at his fundraiser. Drove out to Mississauga to an Indian restaurant called Nirvana who want to do an Indian banquet with a wine tasting. After much discussion I left not knowing if they wanted to proceed. I guess I'll have to wait.

Thursday, July 31: David Lawrason and Doug Towers here for another Winerytohome tasting. Nancy, the cat, had peed on the rug under the table, so David and I rolled it up and put it over the deck banister to air – otherwise everything would have smelled like Sauvignon Blanc. Deborah has this stuff called Urinoff that breaks down the enzymes in cat pee to get the smell out. If it's left whenever the weather is damp the smell comes out. Nancy is in the dog house. Didn't feel like cooking so we ordered in food from C'est Bon, the Chinese restaurant around the corner. Not as good as it used to be. The crispy duck was very dry, the General Chou chicken had too much batter, but the optimistic tenor of the messages inside the fortune cookies redeemed the evening. As did the bottle of really splendid Tabali Sauvignon Blanc 2007 from Chile – the best Sauvignon I've had from there.

Hugh's dog, Pete

Friday, August 1: Guy and I are going fishing with Larry Patterson, Hugh Johnstone (and his dog Pete) and Jim Warren up at Apsley, a two-and-a-half-hour drive from here. We are camping overnight by the lake with two other friend's of Larry's. We stop in Peterborough for lunch and Guy asks a garage hand for the nearest greasy spoon. He lets us park on the site since the restaurant is only 100 yards away. I ask the Albanian owner how many inhabitants Peterborough has. He doesn't know but he says that there are 3 million people in Albania. I tell him 2,999,999 since he's here (actually there are 3,6600,523 inhabitants of Albania according to census figures of June, 2007 – ain't the internet wonderful. Now everybody's a doctor). We run into Jay Stinson's husband, Bruce, who must have told the owner that I'm on 680News because the owner comes rushing out and tells me to put his restaurant on the radio. Can't do that, but take a photo of it to post here (the scrambled eggs, bacon, home fries and brown toast were perfect. Coffee a little weak).

We arrive at the appointed meeting place five minutes north of Apsley and transfer our gear to Larry's ATV. Larry tells us it's about a mile's walk through the trails to Rock Lake. Somehow Jim, Bob, Guy and I miss the turn off and walk for about 30 minutes in the wrong direction. We come to a wooden bridge which we know is not the way so we turn around. The trail is muddy with frequent bodies of water that have to be circumnavigated. Guy has my Wellington boots but I only have old sneakers, which will get thrown away. Eventually we find our way to the boats at Rock Lake. We pitch the tents and then fish. Larry is pulling bass out of the lake as if there's no tomorrow. Guy and I are skunked. We return to the camp and the Chinese food that Hugh has purchased in Peterborough is heated up on the Coleman stove. A second night of mediocre Chinese food but somehow it tastes better out here. Then out comes the wine:

  • Danzante Pinot Grigio delle Venezie 2007
  • Burgans Albarino 2001 from Rias Baixas
  • Didier Dageneau Pur Sang Pouilly-Fumé 1997 from the Loire (a great wine with lychee and melon flavours)
  • Mission Hill SLC Merlot 2004 from BC
  • Leopard Park Tantra 2004 from South Africa (a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot)
  • Taylor Fladgate Quinta da Vargellas 1986

The sky here is full of stars, visible without the city lights. Then to bed.

From left to right: Guy, Larry, Hugh, Bob, Jim and Paul

Guy with memorial hotdog

Saturday, August 2: Larry wakes us up at 5:30 am to fish Anderson Lake, a trek of twenty minutes through the woods. Guy and I in one canoe, Larry in another. He promises us big fish here and after twenty minutes without a strike we begin catching bass of 2 to 3 pounds. We return to the campsite after 8 am having bagged 12 fish between us, caught on barbless hooks and returned to the lake. I cook up some bratwurst sausages for breakfast. We fish some more in Rock lake but only get a bite. Then prepare for home. Both my legs are itching from what I thought were bites. When I get home and take a bath with Epsom Salts Deborah tells me it's hives. Probably an allergic reaction for a mosquito bite. A bottle of Salviano Orvieto 2006 to take my mind off it. Very delicious wine.




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