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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 221 (December 29, 2008)

Monday, December 21: While researching the Mavrodaphne grape for the Greek section of my cellar book, I came across this gem: "Achaia Clauss claims that the heavenly taste of Mavrodaphne was the reason why the austere Prussian Field Marshal, Helmuth von Moltke (whose nickname was 'The Great Mute'), laughed for a third time in his life right after he was offered a glass of it; the other two being when he was told that a French fortress was impregnable and when he was notified that his mother-in-law was dead."

Tuesday, December 22: A week to go before I have to hand in the manuscript for the cellar book. Panic is setting in. Thank God for the internet. The research is much easier and so is spell-checking the names of producers and wines. This evening a dinner at Grano given by John Switzer of Wine Sights, featuring a selection of old vintages from Ian D'Agata's cellar. Ian, who tells me he has cellars in New York, Chicago, Rome and Toronto, is the director of the International Wine Academy of Roma and author of The Ecco Guide to the Best Wines of Italy. An indispensable book. He generously raided his cellar of wines that needed drinking. We started the evening with Colfondo Prosecco (courtesy of Roberto Martella, who was also present) and then a glass of a wine that John is bringing in on consignment – Constantia Glen Sauvignon Blanc 2007 from South Africa. A terrific wine with tropical fruit, fig and nettle flavours.

  • Schloss Johannisberger Riesling Grunlack 1983
  • Hohe Domkirche Scharzhofberger Riesling 1983
  • Moreau Chablis Clos des Hospices 1992
  • Domaine Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet Morgeot 1992
  • Château Cantenac Brown 1982
  • Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia 1982
  • Cerretto Barolo Bricco Roche Bricco Roche 1982
  • Giorgio Cecchetto Rabosa Gelasaia 2005
  • Hugel Pinot Gris Vendanges Tardives 1990
  • Bretz Bechtolsheimer Homberg Riesling Eiswein 1986
  • Tokaji Essenjia 1976

The Sassicaia turned out to be the wine of the night. The whites were, unfortunately, oxidized to a greater or lesser degree. Also present were Beppi Crosariol and his girl friend Jessica, Angelo Pavan and his wife, and my wife Deborah. Angelo brought along two vintages of his Cave Spring CSV Riesling1999 and 2003 – which stood up very well.

Wednesday, January 24: Worked on California today for the cellar book. This evening, the annual get-together at Arlene and Michael Willis's. We sing carols and eat and drink Pol Roger Champagne and Joseph Drouhin Côtes de Beaune-Villages 2006.

Thursday, December 25: Can't believe I'm working on Christmas Day, but I have to if I am to meet the December 29th deadline. At 4 pm Deborah, her sister Suzanne, my son Guy and his fiancée Laura drive up to Caledon for our customary Christmas dinner at Deborah's niece Nadine and her husband Gary's house. We are 14 at table. I have brought up a half dozen wines that I have to taste.

  • Bestheim Pinot Blanc 2006 from Alsace
  • Inniskillin Chardonnay 2006
  • Barefoot Chardonnay N/V from California
  • Wolf Blass Pinot Noir 2007
  • Inniskillin Cabernet Franc Reserve Series 2006
  • Inniskillin Meritage 2006

Friday, December 26: A full day's work today. The phone did not ring, no emails, so I was able to write much of the remaining material for the book. For dinner, with salmon, Villa Tonino Inzolia 2007 from Sicily.




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