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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 214 (November 10, 2008)

Monday, November 3: This morning down to Roy Thomson Hall for a seminar on Sagrantino, the underappreciated grape of Umbria. It was held on stage as a precursor to the Italian wine tasting, featuring 110 producers from all over Italy. Luigi Bonifazi, director of the Consortium of Montefalco wines, told us through a translator that the top vintage for Sagrantino was 2005 although we are tasting six 2004s. Sagrantino is a highly tannic grape that is sometimes made in passito style, although the wines we are tasting are all dry.

Tiburzi Sagrantino di Montefalco 2004: deep ruby colour; floral, blueberry, spicy, earthy, pencil lead nose; firm structure with a sweet licorice note at the core finishing with dark chocolate flavours and chalky tannins. ****

Madonna Alta Sagrantino di Montefalco 2004: deep ruby; spicy, oaky, minty; full-bodied, sweet plum and cocoa flavours with a solid tannic finish. ****½

Fratelli Tocchi Sagrantino di Montefalco 2004: deep ruby; minerally, vanilla oak, lovely floral note with sweet fruit; elegant, firmly structured with a chocolaty finish. The most approachable wine of the flight and the least expensive. ****½

Villa Mongalli Sagrantino di Montefalco 2004: ruby; minerally, rustic nose with a medicinal note; leaner texture with a plum and herb flavour; firm structure with chalky tannins. ****

Perticaia Sagrantino di Montefalco 2004: deep ruby; floral-cherry; fruity with a spicy note and an underlying bitter chocolate flavour. Tannic finish. ***½

Colpetrone Sagrantino di Montefalco 2004: deep ruby; spicy, pencil lead, vanilla oak, cherry and white pepper notes; elegant, firmly structured with a tannic finish. ****

Unfortunately, there were no Arnaldo Caprai wines available, the winery that resurrected the variety from extinction. The best Sagrantino I tried was upstairs at the main tasting: Cantina Tudernum Sagrantino di Montefalco 2004.

Then on to lunch at Grano, where Tony Hirons, The Merchant Vintner, was entertaining the owner of Il Conventino in Montepulciano and his winemaker son. They had brought along two of their wines:

Il Conventino Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 2003: dense ruby; peppery cherry, spicy cedar nose; very ripe fruit with soft tannins; well balanced. ****½

Il Conventino Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 1999: mature ruby; plum, cherry, leather and sweet earth on the nose; mature and supple, very elegant with great length. Ready and a pleasure to drink. ****½

Back home to boxes and dust. Try to set up my office, give up and pour a glass of Il Molino di Grace Chianti Classico 2004, a perfect little Chianti.

Tuesday, November 4: Spent the morning unpacking files. Still trying to make sense of my office. The fax is not working and the phone lines are reversed so I am getting the house line in my office rather than the business line. Lunch with Garrett Herman, a fellow director of Grapes for Humanity, and Rudi Blatter, CEO of Lindt Chocolate, to discuss the possibility of a fund-raiser dinner featuring chocolate in the recipe of each of seven courses – with matching wines. Rudi has brought along a goody bag of Lindt products, including a new bar with Fleur du Sel as an ingredient. Two of my favourite food groups, chocolate and salt! For dinner, with spaghetti and meat sauce, Tempus Two Cabernet Merlot 2006 from the Barossa Valley, a very rich, full-bodied wine with lots of style.

Wednesday, November 5: Lunch with Paul Lokash, who tells me that Barry Saslove, the Israeli winemaker (formerly an Ottawa native), is coming to town. His daughter Roni is studying winemaking at Brock and helping out at Tawse. Dropped wine books down to the Albany Club for a wine and cheese tasting I'm conducting for a financial institution and their clients tomorrow. At home set up the new flat-screen TV Deborah and I purchased on the weekend. For dinner, with salmon, Trapiche Astica Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2007 from Argentina.

Thursday, November 6: The birthday of my daughter Annabel, who is currently in Maui (where I would like to be to escape the building site that is our condo). Meet with Miguel Torres for half an hour at the Four Seasons Hotel to catch up on family news. Then to the library to write my Tidings commentary (on moving my wine cellar) before walking down to Vertical restaurant for a lunch with Miguel and other wine writers. We start with Miguel Torres Brut made in Chile, from Pinot Noir, which is delicious. ****

Lunch menu:

Seared Scallops with Romano Beans, Torres Fransola 2007 (95% Sauvignon Blanc with 5% Parellada): medium straw colour; elderberry, herbaceous hose; medium-bodied, crisp, elegant and well balanced; round on the palate with a toasty oak note. ****

Kent Farms Tenderloin with Glazed Turnips and Roasted Broccoli Florets with three reds:

Torres Mas La Plana 1994 (100% Cabernet Sauvignon): deep dark ruby; cedar, oak, red berry with an animal note; medium-bodied, elegant with a fine structure, fresh acidity and great length. Still youthful and very Bordeaux in style. ****½

Torres Mas La Plana 2003 "‘the greatest vintage of the decade," says Miguel): dense purple-ruby caramel, malty note above the cassis; richly extracted, full-bodied, sweet, spicy fruit with a floral grace note. Lovely mouth feel. *****

Torres Perpetual 2005 (Carinena and Garnacha): dense purple black; high toned, spicy, porty, sweet black fruits with mineral and floral notes; intense with lively acidity, well balanced with a firm finish. *****

Warm Apple Tart, with Torres Moscatel Oro: deeply coloured; sweet orange and honey and carnation notes; rich, full-bodied but well balanced; full and sweet on the palate with good length. ****

Then to the Design Exchange for a tasting of Argentinian wines. Tasted mostly Pinot Noirs. The best I found was Bodega Del Fin Del Mondo Pinot Noir Reserva 2007 from Patagonia (floral cherry nose, minerally and firm ****). The best wines I tasted were Luigi Bosca Gala 2 2006 (a Bordeaux-style blend) and Familia Schroeder Pinot Noir Malbec 2004.

A quick dash over to the Albany Club to conduct the wine and cheese tasting. Signed sixty copies of the wine murder mysteries as gifts for the participants. The wines and cheeses were:

Vineland Estates Sauvignon Blanc 2006 with Indiscretion – Pasteurized Goat Milk

Aymura Chardonnay 2006 with Riopelle – Thermised Cow's Milk

Leonardo Davinci Chianti 2006 with Blackburn – Unpasteurized Cow's Milk

Simon Gilbert Shiraz 2005 with Chèvre Noir – Pasteurized Goat's Milk

Taylor Fladgate First Estate Port with Tiger Blue – Pasteurised Cow's Milk

All the cheeses came from About Cheese.

Friday, November 7: A tasting of general list wines down at the LCBO. Also available were 7 wines that are only available on Vintages' new internet service – Twice a month, on a Wednesday, Vintages will post 50 wines that will be delivered to the LCBO outlet of your choice. The sampling of wines I tasted were terrific.

Domaine Sebastian Magnien Meursault Les Meix Chavaux 2006: the best Meursault I have tasted in years. Straw colour with a green tint; apple, apple blossom, spicy oak nose; beautifully balanced, elegant, fresh and lively with great length. *****

Calcos Do Tanha Reserva 2005 (Douro): dense purple-black colour; spicy blackberry with pepper and leather notes; dry, savoury and rustic with supple tannins.****½

Goldeneye Pinot Noir 2005 (Anderson Valley): tawny plum colour; violets, pencil lead and spicy black cherry nose; full-bodied, sweet fruit; powerful with a slightly hot finish. ****½

Planeta Syrah 2005 (Sicily): dense purple-ruby; spicy blackcurrant and boysenberry; full-bodied with a velvety mouth-feel; firmly structured with a fine spine of acidity. ****½

Magpie Estate The Election Shiraz 2005 (Barossa Valley): dense purple-black; spicy blackberry, mocha and undergrowth; full-bodied, well extracted spicy fruit, juicy. ****½

Renacer Punto Reserva Malbec 2005 (Mendoza): dense purple-black; earthy, black fruits, vanilla oak, chocolate; full-bodied, ripe, spicy fruit richly extracted, savoury finish. ****

Tiezzi Brunello di Montalcino 2003 (Piedmont): tawny ruby; dried roses, cherries, tobacco with an earthy note; spicy, very elegant and well balanced. Drinking well now but will hold for 5–10 years. ****½

Saturday, November 8: Take the VIA train to Ottawa (an excellent lunch in first class). Arrive at 4:45 pm and cab to the food and wine show at the Ottawa Civic Centre, where Ken Kostick and I are presenting a Chilean wine and food seminar. I am leading the group through four Carmenères and then three wines with three dishes Ken has had prepared. Just fighting my way through the crowd to get to the seminar room is hard. People are lined up and queuing for two hours to get in. There 130 people who have bought $45 tickets to attend the seminar, oversold by 30 people since we really only have enough wine for 100. Our lapel mikes keep cutting out so I abandon mine and have to shout to be heard at the back of the room. The organizer of the show, Joan Culliton, apologises to the participants and announces that she will be donating $1000 to Grapes for Humanity – a very gracious gesture. The wines for the seminar:

Carmenère Tasting – serving order:

  • Viña Tarapacá Carmenère Reserva 2007
  • Viña Pérez Cruz Carmenère Reserva Limited Edition 2006
  • Viña Carmen Carmenère/Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2005
  • Viña Concha y Toro Terrunyo Carmenère 2005

As expected, the Terrunyo was the hit of the night.

Wines for Food Pairings – serving order:

  • Viña Errazuriz Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (with salad)
  • Viña Cono Sur Visión Pinot Noir 2007 (with sea bass)
  • Viña Cousiño Macul Cabernet Sauvignon Antiguas Reservas 2005 (with braised short rib of beef)

After the show, dinner at Bekta with Debbie Trenholm, a sommelier/wine writer in Ottawa. We start with a glass of Rabl "Speigel" Grüner Veltliner 2007 and then a bottle of Clos Jordanne Village Reserve Pinot Noir 2005.




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