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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 206 (September 15, 2008)

Monday, September 8: This is the fourth anniversary of this diary. In wedding terms this would be a gift of flowers or fruit. I think I'll have an apple. Today spent at The Miller Tavern making final arrangements for Grapes For Humanity's "Restock Your Cellar (or Your Kids' Cellar) Event." We are selling boxes of twelve bottles of wine donated to the foundation by the Santé International Wine Festival. We have 107 boxes to sell at $200 each. Participants draw a number and take home the corresponding box, wrapped up so they don't know what's inside. Kurt Chesko, Vice President of Halo International, is flying up from New York to speak at the event. The proceeds are going to Nagorno Karabakh to buy two ambulances. This autonomous region is the most heavily mined place on earth. Rick Montgomery has donated the food. Haven't had final figures yet but we raised roughly $29,000. This is a prelude to our major Jadot dinner on October 28th.

Tuesday, September 9: To Reds for a Penfold's tasting and lunch, led by their head winemaker, Peter Gago, who had contracted a bug on the flight from Australia and could hardly speak.

Yattarna Chardonnay 2002: Straw-gold with a buttery, caramel nose with vanilla oak notes; rich, spicy, full-bodied with lively green apple acidity. ****½

Yattarna Chardonnay 2005: A completely different style. Pale straw with a lime tint; smoky, toasty, Burgundian barnyard note; lemon curd, leesy, orange and pear flavours with lively acidity. A great wine. *****

Penfold's Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 1990 (known as "Baby Grange" for its ability to age): 63% Cabernet, 37% Shiraz, aged in American oak. Deep ruby with a tawny rim; cedar, vanilla, blackcurrant-blackberry nose; bright fruit, sweet mulberry flavour; great balance of fruit, acidity, oak and soft tannins. Mature and drinking beautifully. *****

Penfold's Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2005: 52% Cabernet, 48% Shiraz. Dense purple-black; cedar, peppery blackberry nose; mouth-filling sweet blackberry fruit; firm structure with a coconut note; well extracted fruit with supple tannins. ****½

St. Henri 1991: Tawny ruby; minerally nose with vanilla and blackcurrant; plum jam flavour with dark chocolate notes; fine acidic spine, very focused fruit; more northern Rhône in style. ****½

St. Henri 2004: Dense purple colour; meaty, vanilla and blackberry aromas; intense, concentrated sweet fruit with lively acidity; full-bodied, youthful, dark chocolate flavour; good length. ****½

RWT Shiraz 1998 (Barossa fruit): Dense black plum colour; high toned, cola, sweet nose; sweet jammy fruit, ripe and full on the palate; soft and easy drinking in mid palate but well structured with a firm tannic finish. ****½

RWT Shiraz 2005: Dense purple colour; cedar, blackberry nose; sweet coconut, blackberry and sweet plumy fruit with lively acidity; youthful but very drinkable already. ****½

Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon 1990: Dense purple, mature rim; intense blackcurrant, cedar and vanilla oak notes; elegant, sweet blackcurrant fruit; well balanced with lively acidity. Drinking perfectly at the moment. *****

Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon 2005: Dense purple-black; floral note, blackcurrant, vanilla oak nose; rich, sweet tobacco and juicy blackcurrant fruit; firm structure with a touch of greenness on the finish. ****

Grange Shiraz 1990: Not one of the best Granges I've tasted but very elegant. Dense ruby colour with a mature rim; earthy, cedary, black fruit nose; lovely velvety mouth-feel; firm structure with great length. ****½

Grange Shiraz 2003: Dense purple colour; medicinal note, blackberry, smoky, tarry; rich spicy blackberry flavour with well integrated oak; soft tannins with a firm finish Needs time but should develop beautifully. *****

Peter Gago told us that a bottle of the Grange 1951, the first vintage ever made by Max Schubert, sold recently for $53,900 Australian.

We then broke for lunch – Ahi Poke with Penfold's Eden Valley Riesling 2007 (pale straw with a lime green note; minerally, petrol, honeyed nose; medium-bodied, off-dry, peach and lime flavours; well balanced. ****)

With the Sirloin Fingers, Magill Estate Shiraz 2002 (youthful, dense purple colour; intense, well extracted sweet blackberry fruit flavours; unctuous, full-bodied with soft, pliant tannins. ****½)

Magill Estate Shiraz 2005 (dense ruby; sweet blackberry nose with a floral note; well extracted fruit; generous but simple fruit flavours. Easy to drink. ****½)

Kalima Bin 7 Pinot Cabernet Shiraz 1967 (browning ruby; leather, soy, coffee bean nose; still very much alive with ripe red berry flavours, showing its aged but drinking beautifully. ****½.

In the evening to Peridot on Bloor Street to conduct a charity wine, cheese and bread tasting for MS Climb (of Machu Picchu). The wines are supplied by Flat Rock Cellars, the cheeses by About Cheese, the breads by Ace. The wines:

  • Nadja's Vineyard Riesling 2007
  • The Rusty Shed Chardonnay 2007
  • Twisted Red 2007
  • Pinot Noir 2006
  • Icewine 2007
Cheese Cheese Tasting Notes Wine Pairing
Pasteurized Goat Milk
Monforte Dairy (Artisan)
The indiscretion is the newest treat from cheese maker Ruth Klahsen. Made with goat's milk instead of her signature sheep, the cheese is dense, rich and tart. The cheese is washed in Grappa and then allowed to ripen slowly inside a blue crust. The taste has rich, sweet notes and a hint of grape that comes through at the end. Serve it with crisp clean whites like sauvignon blanc or a fruity gamay. Riesling

Thermised Cow's Milk
Société Agricole du Île-Aux-Grues (Artisan)

Named after the famous artist on the condition that part of the proceeds help local students get a higher education, Riopelle is produced on Île-aux-Grues, Québec. It is an opulent triple cream with hints of hazelnut, mushroom and cultured butter that, once tasted, will quickly replace mediocre bries from your cheese board. Chardonnay

Unpasteurized Cow's Milk
Fromagerie Blackburn (Artisan)

This namesake cheese from Fromagerie Blackburn is carefully aged for 5 months on the same family farm where the cheese is produced. The Blackburn is a wonderful example of a large format washed rind cheese. A semi-firm texture conveys a deep and earthy flavour which mellows as it is tasted to give notes of blackberry and sweet fruit. Twisted Red

Chèvre Noir
Pasteurized Goat's Milk
Fromagerie Tournevent (Small Industrial)

A goat's milk cheddar, Chèvre Noir's name derives from the black wax that protects the crystalline whiteness of the cheese. Sharp and delicately herbal, this Québec cheese won top honours at the 2005 Sélection Caséus contest, and has garnered international awards and acclaim. Pinot Noir

Tiger Blue
Pasteurised Cow's Milk
Poplar Grove Cheese (Artisan)
British Columbia

Made at Poplar Grove, the only cheese and wine producer in Canada, the Tiger Blue is one of British Columbia's most popular and acclaimed cheeses. Just one look at the center of this cheese shows why it's so incredible – rich, thick veins of blue streak the entire interior, giving the cheese a sharp and spicy flavour and feel. Taking the best features of Roquefort and Stilton, the Tiger Blue is uniquely strong and flavourful among Canadian blues. Icewine


Bread Bread Description
White Baguette Traditional French white bread with a golden crisp crust and a light airy interior. Great with meals and as a sandwich. Also excellent for French toast or bread and butter pudding.
Multigrain Oval Nutritious and filled with ten different grains and seeds. Goes well with smoked meats and fish, vegetables, chutneys and jams.
Raisin Walnut Oval A substantial bread loaded with chunks of walnuts and plump raisins. Wonderful with all cheeses and autumn fruits.
Fig & Almond Boule A lightly sweetened bread loaded with puréed figs, almonds and a hint of cinnamon. Serve with fruit flavoured butter or creamy blue cheese. Great toasted as an all-day breakfast.

Wednesday September 10: Down to Crush Wine Bar for a tasting of Chilean wines, blind by flights. Impressive overall quality. Forty-one wines altogether. Lots of Carmenère as expected but very shy on Pinot Noir – only one (Cono Sur). Wine of the tasting: Errazuriz Shiraz Max Reserva 2006. Wrote my monthly column for Post City Magazines on Pinot Grigio – The Paris Hilton of white wines. Enough said. Received in a copy of 1001 Wines You Must Taste Before You Die, compiled by Neil Beckett, who invited 44 wine writers, mostly British, to contribute their reviews. Naturally I searched the index to find if there were any Canadian wines that I have to drink before I die. My colleague Stephen Brook recommends two, both from BC and both Icewine: Inniskillin Okanagan Vidal Icewine 2003 and Mission Hill SLC Riesling Icewine 2004. He obviously hasn't tasted Le Clos Jordanne Claystone Vineyard Pinot Noir 2004 from Ontario. Will have words with Stephen when I see him next April at the Decanter International Wine Competition. But the book is fascinating, not only for what it includes but for what it leaves out. Predictably, lots of entries for Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne and, surprisingly, seven entries for Tokaji. It runs 960 pages. The cover shows a waiter's arm with a tray holding a glass of red wine and an unopened bottle of Pétrus 1989. Yes, I'd like to taste that before I die.

Thursday, September 11: Wrote a piece on Port for Taste Magazine in BC. In the afternoon Undurraga's winemaker, Hernan Amenabar, and the company's export manager for Canada, Asia and Caribbean, Christian Blanco, came to the house with their importing agent, Dan Rabinovitch, for a tasting. I first visited Undurraga in 1985 and my earliest memory is of their Mateus-like bottle of a Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon blend. The company was purchased from the Undurraga family and Alvaro Spinoza, one of Chile's greatest winemakers, is consulting. The results are first rate.

Terroir Hunter Sauvignon Blanc Leyda Valley 2007
Straw, green tint
Ripe fruit, grassy, ripe gooseberry; lively acidity, green fig and gooseberry; tart with good length. ****

Terroir Hunter Sauvignon Blanc Leyda Valley 2008 (tank sample)
Straw, green tint
Ripe guava and cut grass; more extract, touch of residual, green plum and apple flavours; full on the palate. ****

Terroir Hunter Casablanca Sauvignon Blanc 2008
Straw, lime tint
Sweaty, creamy grassy; broader, grapefruit, not as focused as the Leyda Valley Sauvignon; a little heavy on the palate. ***½

Sibaris Carmenère Reserva Especial 2007
Deep ruby; smoky, black cherry, meaty, spicy, well extracted; full on the palate with soft tannins. ****

Terroir Hunter Syrah 2006 (Maipo Valley)
Deep ruby-purple; meaty, medicinal, Northern Rhone style; sweet blackberry with a smoky note; full-bodied, well balanced. Lovely peppery note. ****½

Founder's Collection Carmenère 2006
Deep ruby; vanilla, cedar, blackcurrants; sweet fruit, concentrated, currant fruit with red pepper note; chocolate note, beautifully balanced (one year in new French oak). ****½

Founder's Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (Maipo)
Deep ruby colour; concentrated cassis, vanilla and cedar nose and eucalyptus/tar notes; crushed blackcurrant and vanilla flavour; velvety mouth-feel with a tannic lift on the finish. Medium-bodied to full-bodied, firm structure. ****

Founder's Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Maipo)
Deep ruby; cedar, redcurrant; lighter bodied than the 2005, good acidic spine; somewhat tight at the moment. Will improve with a year or two in bottle. Firm tannic finish. ***½.

Altazor Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Maipo) (60% Cab. Sauv./15% Syrah, 15% Carmenère, 10% Merlot)
Dense ruby; smoky, tar, eucalyptus, red berry fruit; intense, sweet fruit; firm structure, well made, great balance; very elegant and juicy. ****½

Undurraga Late Harvest 2006 (85% Semillon, 15% Gewurztraminer from Maipo)
Golden amber; honeyed peach and toffee; rich, sweet, orange marmalade, honey; full-bodied, well balanced with food acidity. ****½

In the evening, a private tasting for a local orthodontist in his office (for other referring dentists). Grano catered the food and I introduced the following wines:

  • William Fèvre Chablis Champs Royaux 2006
  • Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2007
  • Terra d'Agli Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2006
  • Serego Aligheri Poderi del Bello Ovile 2004
  • Peninsula Ridge Merlot 2006

Friday, September 12: Wrote my monthly Commentary for Tidings magazine on the insidious growth of the temperance movement in western countries. To counter their tactics I had a bottle of Rocca delle Macie Campomaccione Morellino di Scansano 2005 all by myself and thoroughly enjoyed it.




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