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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 224 (January 19, 2009)

Monday, January 12: It's Deborah's birthday today and I'm taking her to Nota Bene for dinner (and missing the annual Wine Writers Circle Christmas dinner at Oasi). This morning I started arranging for consolidation points for wineries that want to enter the Ontario Wine Awards. This means a central place for Wine Council of Ontario Members in Niagara, one place for non-members of WCO, one for Lake Erie North Shore wineries, one for Prince Edward County wineries and one for wineries north of Toronto. Then worked on the cellar book – which I shall be doing for the next month. Dinner at Nota Bene was spectacular – I brought along Road 13 Jackpot Chardonnay 2007 from BC and Torres Perpetual Salmos 2006 (old Garnacha and Cariñena vines) from Priorato. I ordered Barramundi to start and Braised Short Ribs. Deborah had a hot and sour soup and pulled pork and boudin noir. Absolutely delicious.

Tuesday, January 13: Lunch with Javier Santos at Le Select. Charles Baker and Suzanne Janke from Stratus were sampling John Szabo with Stratus wines at another table. Javier has parted ways with the LCBO and is starting up his own consultancy business. Down to the Wine Establishment for my annual blind tasting award to Ontario Imported Wine Beer and Spirits Association members. Thirteen agents have signed up. This is how the original invitation read:

This event is open to all full-time employees of OIWSBA Member organizations – participation is limited to a maximum of two entrants per Member organization. Entrants will be asked to taste six wines blind and then identify region, grape variety, vintage and, if possible, the producer. This friendly competition among industry colleagues was created in the spirit of fun to test the palates and to enhance the tasting skills of members of the wine trade. There is no risk of bruised reputations – only the winner's name will be announced. Scores are not published and remain strictly confidential.

The winner of The Tony Aspler Blind Tasting Competition will receive a complimentary ticket to attend the 29th annual OIWSBA Annual Awards Dinner (on Friday, February 8, 2008 at the National Club) in order to collect his/her traditional engraved decanter (an office showpiece). Needless to say, the winner will also enjoy industry bragging rights for an entire year. There has been a steady increase in the number of participants over the last number of years. Following is a list of past winners:

2007 Aaron Shaw
2006 Bruce McLean
2005 Scott Montgomery
2004 Scott Montgomery
2003 Rob Jull
2002 Paul Lato
2001 Scott Montgomery
2000 Bruce McLean

This year the selection of wines was really tough to identify. They had to name the grape variety, region, vintage, and if possible, the producer. The wines were served in this order:

  1. Henry of Pelham Non-Oaked Chardonnay 2007 (Niagara Peninsula)
  2. Gallo Family Chardonnay Laguna Vineyard 2005 (Russian River)
  3. Salwey Spätburgunder Oberrotweiler Käsleberg Trocken QbA 2005 (Baden)
  4. Palliser Estate Martinborough Pinot Noir 2006 (New Zealand)
  5. Tarapaca Carmenère Reserva 2007 (Maipo Valley)
  6. Gallo Family Cabernet Sauvignon Frei Ranch Vineyard 2003 (Dry Creek Valley)

I always advise entrants to go with their first impression in blind tastings and not to second guess themselves. Two contestants wrote down Carmenère for No.5 and then crossed it out for Cabernet Franc.

The winner was Andrew von Teichman of Vincor.

Deborah and I had the rest of the Palliser Pinot Noir 2006 for dinner.

Wednesday, January 14: A quiet day spent working at the cellar book. It's consuming my life. Opened a bottle of Villa Saletta Chiave Rosso di Toscana 2005 (a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese and Caladoc) with boeuf bourguignon. Ruby coloured, light-bodied with a spicy note; lovely mouth feel, very contemporary style, with a bright cherry flavour; easy drinking.

Thursday, January 15: Received an email that gave me pause for thought since I own Nortel stock (Nortel is filling for Chapter 11).


If you had purchased $1000.00 of Nortel stock one year ago, it would now be worth $49.00.

With Enron, you would have had $16.50 left of the original $1000.00.

With WorldCom, you would have had less than $5.00 left.

If you had purchased $1000 of Delta Air Lines stock you would have $49.00 left.

But, if you had purchased $1,000.00 worth of wine one year ago, drank all the wine, then turned in the bottles for the recycling REFUND, you would have had $214.00.

Based on the above, the best current investment advice is to drink heavily and recycle.

Friday, January 15: A Vintages tasting for the February 28th release. Then over to the National Club to give a speech at a Rotary Club lunch. The wines were Henri De Villamont Bourgogne Chardonnay 2006 (donated by Eurovintage) and Caves des Papes Oratorio Gigondas 1999 from the club's cellar.

Saturday, January 16: Dinner at the home of James Harbeck and his wife, Aina Arro. James is my webmaster, a Renaissance man who sings in the Mendelssohn Choir and is a great cook. The other guests were Sheila Swerling-Puritt, president of the Wine Writers Circle of Canada (who writes the cocktail column for my site), and Helen Hatton (who writes on food for the site) and her husband, Ron. I brought along Road 13 Riesling 2007, which we had with sushi, and my old pal Jim White's wine which he made with Robert Fanucci. It's called Charter Oak Zinfandel Monte Rosso Vineyard 2006. The wine was hand-pressed and only 280 cases were made. Its personality is rather like Jim's – open-hearted and boisterous. It has a port-like intensity with flavours of sweet blackberry fruit, black olive and pepper. A huge wine that gets you in a bear hug and embraces you till you're warm. Set us up for the snow storm outside at 11:30 pm. Went well with the rare tenderloin with a blue cheese cognac cream sauce, a salad with bacon and blue cheese and sweet potato/Yukon gold potato mash. We finished with Helen and Ron's luscious lemon cake.




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