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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 220 (December 22, 2008)

Monday, December 15: Chained to my desk now to get on with the cellar book. Today I worked on Champagne and Alsace, still fresh in my mind from the tour I led to these regions in May. For dinner, with roast beef, a bottle of a Tuscan wine that's new to me – Villa Saletta's Borgo Saletta 2004, the first vintage of this wine made from Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Caladoc (a Grenache-Malbec crossing) planted in 2002. It's deep ruby in colour with a lovely cedar and cherry bouquet; very elegant in the mouth, firmly structured with a floral grace note to the black cherry and currant flavours and surprisingly mellow tannins. I have a second bottle from this winery called Chiave from the 2005 vintage, styled as a Rosso di Toscana – a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese and Caladoc – that I look forward to having tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 16: Recorded my 680News reviews and worked on the California section of the book. My favourite moment is selecting the ten wines for a "dream" cellar. I am doing this for all the wine regions mentioned. Recommending producers is fun but having to narrow down to ten the wines I would most like to have in my cellar is an exercise in unbelievable restraint. For dinner: the Chiave 2005, which I was looking forward to with great anticipation, was corked.

Wednesday, December 17: A meeting with Garrett Herman and Rudi Blattner to discuss the chocolate dinner for Grapes for Humanity. Then to Grano for the annual Sainstbury Society Christmas lunch with Tony Hirons and Irvin Wolkoff. I brought along a Clos Jordanne La Petite Vineyard Pinot Noir 2006. Tony brought along La Riva dei Frati Prosecco Spumante, a Trefethen Chardonnay 2005. Needless to say there was not much work done this afternoon. But I did receive an email from my friend Ted Turner (not that Ted Turner), the Ted Turner who introduced me to the Baron de Forrester. We share the same birthday, which just happens to be the Baron's death day. Ed sent me the following:

If you were around in 1919 (just before prohibition started) and came upon the following poster...

I mean seriously, would you quit drinking?

Thursday, December 18: Worked on Oregon and Washington sections of the cellar book. Received this note from Steve Kocsis' agent:

Mountain Road Wine Company just released their latest Barrel Fermented and Reserve Chardonnays (2005 vintage). They've labelled it c"HARD TIMES" and reduced the price accordingly.

These two themes – the growing temperance mood along with the general anxiety over the state of the economy – seem to be the most compelling topics. Winemaker Arthur Harder sent me an email prompted by an article I had published in Tidings magazine ("Welcome to the New Sobriety") quoting from an article he read on line in the German magazine, Der Stern:

Wine and beer may become expensive.

An evening in the tavern may become expensive: The Federal appointed drug-Commissioner Sabine Bätzing demands that the taxes for wine and beer are to be raised. With higher prices it wants to deter young people from drinking. The drug-Commissioner of the Federal Government, Sabine Bätzing, wants according to a newspaper report higher taxes on wine and beer. That's the draft planned by the SPD politician for a national program for alcohol prevention, writes the Leipziger Volkszeitung. The German tax rates for beer and wine are low in comparison to other European Union countries and also the retail prices are relatively low.

And so it goes. For dinner, Dancing Bull Zinfandel 2006 with roast beef.

Friday, December 19: A snow storm today, 15 centimetres of snow. Pinot is in her element. Worked on the Canadian section of the cellar book. The December 29th deadline is looming and I have about seven more sections to do. For dinner, Deborah cooked pork loin with a fig sauce. I opened a bottle of Tempus Two Wilde Chardonnay 2007 with fruit from the Hunter Valley and Adelaide Hills. A lovely wine with a distinctive copper label, though why they spell "Wilde" like that I don't know. Homage à Oscar? Or just natural yeast with ye olde English twist.




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