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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 211 (October 20, 2008)

Monday, October 13: Thanksgiving Day. More packing, the wine cellar this time. Trying to put together boxes by region and taking more time than I thought it would. Also putting some wines aside to have in the condo rather than storing at The Fine Wine Reserve. Brunch with Guy and Laura, Brenda and Annabel at the Sheraton Centre and then drove Annabel to the airport for her flight back to Vancouver. More packing up of the wine cellar.

Tuesday, October 14: A 10 am tasting for the release of Le Clos Jordanne Pinot Noir and Chardonnay 2006. The tasting is held in Curry Hall, a rehearsal room for the National Ballet School. Jay Wright, the Chairman and CEO of Vincor, called it "the most precise definition of terroir to date." This is the fourth vintage of Le Clos Jordanne and probably its most difficult to date. The growing season in 2006 was hot and humid with frequent periods of rain. In September the rain was heavy for two weeks but rescued from complete disaster by hot sunshine between the rains. Winemaker Thomas Bachelder has done a great job in crafting wines that are the most Burgundian to date in a very difficult year. We taste the Pinot Noirs before the Chardonnays in Burgundian fashion beginning with the Village Reserve, a wine blended from declassified barrels of the three single vineyard wines.

Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve Pinot Noir 2006: light ruby colour with a nose of plum, cherry and raisins with a strong mineral thread and lively acidic spine. Medium-bodied, nicely integrated oak, ripe red stone fruit flavours, firmly structured with a cocoa powder note on the finish. ****

La Petite Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006: ruby colour with a minerally, raspberry and rose petal nose accented with cinnamon; very elegant and feminine with a lovely mouth-feel and good length. A seductive wine. *****

Claystone Terrace Pinot Noir 2006: the most deeply coloured of the four Pinots (clay soil). Black raspberry on the nose with an animal note; spicy, intense and fleshy with lively acidity and an earthy-mineral background to the fruit; firmly structured. Needs time. ****½

Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006: Light ruby colour, gamey, raspberry and violet nose; sinewy and silky; the most Burgundian of the four, very elegant with great length. *****

Le Grand Clos Pinot Noir 2006: ruby colour; spicy, cherry with a mineral and pepper note; full-bodied with a sweet cherry and pomegranate flavour. Firm structure with great length. Still a little tight, needs a year of bottle age. *****

Village Reserve Chardonnay 2006: yellow straw colour; spicy apple nose with vanilla oak; mouth-filling, green pineapple and white pepper notes with a firm finish. Very Mâconnais in style with lively acidity. ****

Claystone Terrace Chardonnay 2006: deeply coloured, golden straw; spicy apple and peach bouquet, well integrated oak. Toasty, creamy apple and pear flavours, full-bodied with lively acidity and great length. Caramel and citrus finish. ****½

Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard Chardonnay 2006: bright yellow straw colour; toasty, vanilla, orange and apple notes with a marked minerality; well structured and firm, full on the palate, well balanced with good length. ****½

Le Grand Clos Chardonnay 2006: yellow straw colour; a little closed on the nose but emerging apple, vanilla oak and minerality beginning to express themselves; elegant, refined and fresh with a crisp apple flavour; intense with great length. An Ontario Corton-Charlemagne. Promises to be the best of the four. *****

Then into lunch next door. In the afternoon wrote my 680News reviews. Dinner at Truffles with Marimar Torres, whom I have not seen since the International Pinot Noir Celebration in McMinnville, Oregon, some eight years ago. Her representatives in Toronto, Toni Batet Collado and Jason Nykor, had brought along several opened bottles for Gordon Stimmell and me to taste.

Marimar Estate Don Miguel Vineyard "Acero" Chardonnay 2006 (Russian River fruit, unoaked): full-bodied, lovely fresh tangerine and lemon flavours with a mineral and spicy note; great mouth feel. ****½

Marimar Estate Don Miguel Vineyard Chardonnay 2005: deeply coloured, caramel nose; full-bodied, buttery, honeyed orange flavour with great acidity and good length. A real contrast to the 2006 unoaked wine. ****½

Marimar Estate Don Miguel Vineyard "Dobles Lias" Chardonnay 2005 ("double lees" – lees from other fermentations are added to the barrels and given 16 months ageing): deeply coloured with a creamy, spicy nose; lively lemony flavour with a macadamia nut finish following lively acidity. ****½

Marimar Estate Don Miguel Vineyard Pinot Noir 2004: deeply coloured; perfumed, black cherry nose; cedary, dark chocolate and black cherry flavours. ****

Marimar Estate Don Dona Margarita Vineyard Pinot Noir 2005: broader texture, softer on the palate with beetroot and black cherry bouquet. ****½

Marimar Estate Don Miguel Vineyard "Earthquake Block" Pinot Noir 2005: inky and intense, full-bodied, plum and black cherry flavours; earthy and mouth-filling. ****½

Marimar Estate Don Miguel Vineyard "Cristina" Pinot Noir 2005: spicy, violets, ripe black cherry; full-bodied, elegant and well structured with soft tannins. A seamless wine. *****

Wednesday, October 15: Recorded my 680News reviews but got a ticket because I parked in a 1 hour zone before 10 am. Rats. I usually record at 11 am but today I'm having lunch with Ken Shaw, the CTV News anchor, and Jeff Lyons at The Miller Tavern to discuss Ken's role as MC at next week's Grapes for Humanity dinner. Dinner this evening at Splendido. Jean Charles Boisset is hosting the event that celebrates the launch of Le Clos Jordanne (a Vincor/Boisset joint project) and his own Domaine de la Vougeraie. We begin canapés downstairs served with Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve Pinot Noir 2006. Then seated upstairs. I'm next to Lucy Waverman, whom I haven't seen in a while.

First course is Buttered Poached Nova Scotia Lobster, Jackfruit Purée and Lobster Emulsion, served with Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard Chardonnay 2006. Followed by Lake Huron Pickerel Filet, Cauliflower Purée, Walnut and Apple Salad with Domaine de la Vougeraie Chardonnay "Les Pierre Blanches" 2004 (caramel and apple with great minerality, touch of barnyard, great balance. *****).

Next course: Springbank Farm Bison, Boudin Noir, Maple Bacon and Pomme Purée, with Le Grand Clos Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006 and Domaine de la Vougeraie Vougeot "Les Cras" 2002 (deeply coloured, vanilla, minerally, black raspberry; lovely fruit with a forest floor note; firm finish with bright fruit. ****½).

Selection of Farmhouse Cheeses – Delices de Bourgogne, Langres & Cheshire Cheddar – with Le Clos Jordanne Claystone Terrace Pinot Noir 2006 and Domaine de la Vougeraie Gevrey-Chambertin "Les Evocelles" 2003 (sweet black cherry, violets and cinnamon; velvety with soft tannins, great extract. *****).

Poached Bruce Peninsula Bosc Pear, Fig Jus, Yoghurt Sorbet, with Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve Chardonnay 2006.

The curious thing is that Thomas Bachelder's wines are more Burgundian in character than Domaine de Vougeraie (co-incidentally made by a fellow Montrealer, Pascal Marchand, whose style tens to New World – rich extraction, soft tannins).

Thursday, October 16: A tasting of Vintages Essentials wines this morning. Eighty altogether. At 5:30, a tasting for UJA fund-raisers – five Israeli wines, all kosher.

  • Ella Valley Vineyards Chardonnay 2006
  • Yarden Golan Heights Winery Viognier 2006
  • Yarden Golan Heights Winery Pinot Noir 2004
  • Yarden Golan Heights Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
  • Dalton Winery Reserve Syrah 2005

Friday, October 17: A Vintages release tasting for November 22 release – pre Christmas list. 120 wines out for the press to sample. Mercifully I only had to taste half of them, since Lindsay Groves is reviewing the rest. Lindsay is an accomplished taster who won the Ontario Wine Awards Sommelier Blind Taster of the Year award in 2007. My friend Pooch from Sacramento is in town and came to dinner. Did chicken on the spit and we opened three bottles, none of which were memorable.

Saturday, October 18: Today, Forefront Communications and I are entertaining the sponsors of the Ontario Wine Awards with a tour of Southbrook Winery and Inniskillin following lunch at the Pillar & Post Hotel in Niagara-on-the-Lake. I drove down with David Rose and his wife Marlene. The event begins with a sparkling wine reception (Thirteenth Street Funk Blanc de Noir 2000, the gold medal winner of the sparkling category at this year's OWA). Lunch: Twice Baked Goat Cheese Soufflé with Daniel's Seedlings and Niagara Peach Chutney, paired with Peninsula Ridge Sauvignon Blanc 2006. Followed by Soya Marmalade Glazed Game Hen with Bean and Harvest Corn Cassoulet with Stilton and Garlic Rapini, paired with Henry of Pelham Reserve Pinot Noir 2006. Then the 23 of us got on an old English double-decker bus and drove to Southbrook, where proprietor Bill Redelmeier toured us around. Here we tasted:

  • Southbrook Chardonnay 2006
  • Southbrook Cabernet Merlot 2005
  • Southbrook Framboise (with fresh baked pizza from their outdoor oven, made from flour extracted from grape skins!)

Then onto Inniskillin where Debi Pratt toured the group around. In the Icewine cellar we tasted:

  • Inniskillin Riesling 2007
  • Inniskillin Pinot Noir Reserve 2006
  • Inniskillin Riesling Icewine 2006
  • Inniskillin Vidal Icewine 2006

Debi brought out some Vidal grapes that had been kept in the freezer since the last harvest so the group could experience the taste of grapes that had been frozen on the vine before pressing and fermentation. Then back on the bus to the Pillar & Post for dessert (Vanilla Crème Brulée) and three Icewines – Henry of Pelham Riesling 2006, Peninsula Ridge Vidal 2006 and Birchwood Cabernet Franc 2006.

On the way back to Toronto Sandy Kurbis dropped me off in Oakville, where Deborah and I had been invited to a 50th birthday party of a member of her book club.




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