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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 228 (February 17, 2009)

Monday, February 9: The indefatigable Sandy Ward, who created www.bringmywine.ca site (which lets you know what restaurants across Canada allow you to bring your own wine and how much corkage they charge), emailed me today about another of his ventures: WineCamp (www.WineCamp.ca) – the goal is to help "techies" in Toronto taste and learn more about Ontario wine. It will be held March 11th at the Fine Wine Reserve in downtown Toronto and I've been asked to speak about the history of wine in Ontario. Wrote my Tidings monthly commentary on the Fuzion phenomenon.

Since I am not able to attend the Ontario Importers' dinner on Friday I asked Ian Campbell, OIWSBA's director, to present my blind tasting award at the National Club. I gave him my speech:

Good evening, Ladies & Gentlemen and wine importers.

I'm sorry I can't be with you this evening to present the 10th annual Tony Aspler blind Tasting Award. The reason is either a) I've had a long hard day tasting "Cellared in Canada" wines, b) I've been trying to figure out the success of Fuzion, or c) I have to take Pinot the Wonder Dog to the vet.

Actually, it is none of the above that keeps me from enjoying with you this annual celebration of what OIWSBA members do best: making life tolerable in these dark economic days.

If there are LCBO employees at your table – be nice to them. They are going through hard times too. They can't accept your hockey tickets any more.

If there are wine writers at your table, tell them to shut their note books and just enjoy the stuff.

I must confess that this year's blind tasting competition was fiendishly difficult. Maybe I was in a bad mood when I put the list together. The wines, in order of serving, were:

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

I'm glad I didn't have to take the test. My admiration for those thirteen intrepid souls who put their palates on the line.

This year's winner, who will receive the traditional engraved decanter and a certificate to hang on the wall, is............Andrew von Teichman of Vincor.

Tuesday, February 10: Received the following email from India from a magazine who had commissioned me to write an article about Icewine for them.

Dear Sir/Madam,

In view of the group's strategic consolidation of titles, we have taken a decision to suspend publication of our titles Beautiful People and Brides Now with immediate effect.

It's an extremely tough decision to stop the publication of the magazines, which have gained a lot of positive reviews in the market. However, our focus in the coming years is to strengthen the ELLE and ELLE Décor brands and enhance the diversification of the ELLE brand in line with our international network.

No word as to whether the piece I wrote will appear in ELLE.

Wrote eight reviews for 680News, rather than my customary six, as I shall be away in Greece in early March.

In the evening, down to the Bluma Appel Theatre for a tasting of Creekside wines. Really enjoyed two of the whites: Creekside Laura White 2007, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Viognier and Riesling, available at vintages for $17.95 – an Ontario Conundrum, elegant, grassy, spicy grapefruit and passion fruit with a lavender note and a dry finish; and a beautifully made Select Late Harvest Pinot Gris 2007 ($23.95 for 375 mL): spicy peach and honey flavours, lovely balance of sweetness and citrus acidity (only available at the winery).

Wednesday, February 11: This morning a tasting of wines that will be available at Cuvée. The top scoring wine from each winery was there. Here are my notes on them all with numeric scores and where they are available.

Henry of Pelham Cuvée Catherine Brut
Price: $29.95 (winery)
Colour: pale straw
Nose: minerally, apple, citrus peel
Taste: dry, crisp, green apple and lemon flavours; clean, well balanced ,good length
Style: sparkling, dry, medium-bodied
Drinkability: now
Score: 90

Colio CEV Lily 2007 (77% Riesling, 23% Chardonnay)
Price: $16.25 (LCBO)
Colour: pale straw, lime tint
Nose: honey, floral note, high toned
Taste: spicy, dry, peach and citrus flavours
Style: sparkling, dry, light-bodied
Drinkability: now
Score: 87

Hillebrand Showcase Sparkling Riesling 2006
Price: $35 (winery)
Colour: very pale with a lime tint
Nose: minerally, citrus, light floral note
Taste: good varietal character, green plum, citrus; fresh and light and zesty with good length
Style: sparkling, dry, light-bodied
Drinkability: now
Score: 89

Maleta Estate View Old Vines Brut 2006 (Riesling)
Price: $27.95 (winery)
Colour: light straw with a lime tint
Nose: earthy, grapefruit zest
Taste: dry, green apple, grapefruit; fresh, tart finish
Style: sparkling, dry, medium-bodied
Drinkability: now
Score: 87

Peninsula Ridge Sauvignon Blanc Wismer Vineyards 2007
Price: $18.95 (winery)
Colour: pale straw
Nose: minerally, grassy, nettles, gooseberry
Taste: elegant, lovely mouth-feel, crisply dry with green plum and ripe gooseberry flavours; good length
Style: white, dry, medium-bodied
Drinkability: now
Score: 89

Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Proprietors' Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2007
Price: $13.75 (LCBO
Colour: pale, almost water white
Nose: grassy, minerally, green fruit
Taste: clean, well extracted fruit; delivers more on the palate than the nose suggests; crisp finish
Style: white, dry, medium-bodied
Drinkability: now
Score: 86

Rockway Glen Estate Fergie Jenkins World Series Riesling 2007
Price: $29.95 (winery)
Colour: pale straw, lime tint
Nose: high toned, lilac, citrus with an earthy note
Taste: tart, green apple and lemon with a graphite note
Style: white, dry, light-bodied
Drinkability: now
Score: 86

Tawse Sketches of Niagara Riesling 2007
Price: $18 (winery)
Colour: very pale with a lime tint
Nose: high toned, floral, grapefruit
Taste: honey, green apple, lime; well extracted fruit with a zesty finish
Style: white, dry, light-bodied
Drinkability: now–2010
Score: 89

Angels Gate Riesling 2006
Price: $16 (winery)
Colour: pale straw, lime tint
Nose: minerally, grapefruit rind
Taste: richly extracted, honey, lime and grapefruit flavours with a caramel note on the finish
Style: white, dry, medium-bodied
Drinkability: now
Score: 88

Legends Riesling Reserve 2003
Price: $29 (winery)
Colour: very pale with a lime tint
Nose: honey, dried apricot, mineral note
Taste: mature, honey, lime and apricot flavours; well extracted. A touch of oxidation on the finish
Style: white, off-dry, medium-bodied
Drinkability: now
Score: 86

Calamus Gewürztraminer 2007
Price: $15.20 (winery)
Colour: light straw
Nose: minerally, floral, lychee
Taste: sweet lychee, honey; rose water, hefty on the palate; good length
Style: white, medium dry, medium-bodied
Drinkability: now
Score: 87

Colchester Ridge Estate Gewurztraminer 2007
Price: $13.80 (winery)
Colour: pale straw
Nose: light, spicy nose, mineral note
Taste: dry, spicy, burnt orange peel and citrus acidity; not a lot of varietal character
Style: white, dry, light-bodied
Drinkability: now
Score: 85

Creekside Viognier Reserve 2007
Price: $24.95 (winery)
Colour: light straw
Nose: minerally, apple, faint varietal character
Taste: better on the palate: sweet peach, citrus; well extracted fruit
Style: white, dry, medium-bodied
Drinkability: now–2010
Score: 88

Peller Estates Signature Series Chardonnay Sur Lie 2007
Price: $30 (winery)
Colour: medium straw
Nose: buttery, apple with a floral top note
Taste: finely crafted apple and citrus flavours; great length with a spicy citrus finish
Style: white, dry, medium-bodied
Drinkability: now
Score: 90

Vineland Estates Elevation Chardonnay 2007
Price: $25.20 (winery)
Colour: palest straw
Nose: apple, citrus, mineral note
Taste: clean, elegant, well balanced; apple and citrus flavours with good length. A charming wine
Style: white, dry, medium-bodied
Drinkability: now
Score: 91

Southbrook Vineyards Triomphe Chardonnay 2006
Price: $21.95 (winery)
Colour: medium straw, green tint
Nose: oaky, apple, barnyard note
Taste: rich, spicy, buttery-caramel, apple and toast flavours. Burgundian style, great length. Great value
Style: white, dry, medium-bodied
Drinkability: now–2011
Score: 91

Stonechurch Chardonnay Reserve 2006
Price: $19.95 (winery)
Colour: pale straw
Nose: shy nose of apple
Taste: better on the palate; dry, apple flavour with a toasty-caramel finish; long toffee-like finish
Style: white, dry, medium-bodied
Drinkability: now
Score: 87

Cattail Creek Estate Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2007
Price: $19 (winery)
Colour: pale straw
Nose: oaky, apple
Taste: spicy, oak-driven, apple and lemon flavours; good length
Style: white, dry, medium-bodied
Drinkability: now
Score: 87

Hernder Estates Two Barrel Chardonnay 2006
Price: $32.95 (winery)
Colour: medium straw
Nose: spicy, mature, apple nose
Taste: earthy, minerally, toasty, anise; good length but lacking in mid-palate fruit
Style: white, dry, medium-bodied
Drinkability: now
Score: 86

Cave Spring Chardonnay Musqué 2007
Price: $15.75 (winery)
Colour: light straw
Nose: apple, apple blossom with a mineral note
Taste: well extracted, exotic apple and Chinese pear flavours; well balanced, good length
Style: white, dry, medium-bodied
Drinkability: now
Score: 89

Château des Charmes Chardonnay Musqué 2007
Price: $16.95 (winery)
Colour: pale straw
Nose: minerally, apple, floral top note
Taste: well extracted, sweet apple fruit; some residual sweetness here, toffee-like finish
Style: white, dry, medium-bodied
Drinkability: now
Score: 88

13th Street Gamay Sandstone Old vines 2006
Price: $26 (winery)
Colour: solid ruby
Nose: high toned, black cherry, white pepper
Taste: dry, floral, cherry flavour; clean, well made with good length; nicely integrated oak
Style: red, dry, medium-bodied
Drinkability: now
Score: 90

EastDell Estates Pinot Noir 2007
Price: $14.95
Colour: light ruby
Nose: minerally, cherry pit
Taste: dry, lean, cherry-cranberry flavour with a blunt tannic finish
Style: red, dry, medium-bodied
Drinkability: now–2010
Score: 86

Fielding Estate Jack Rabbits Flats Vineyard Pinot Noir 2007
Price: $24 (winery)
Colour: ruby
Nose: high toned, cherry pit, minerally
Taste: dry, earthy, beetroot and sour cherry; creamy oak in mid-palate; firm tannic finish
Style: red, dry, medium-bodied
Drinkability: now–2010
Score: 86

Flat Rock Cellars Pinot Noir 2007
Price: $19.95 (winery)
Colour: ruby
Nose: minerally, violets, black raspberry with a hint of oak
Taste: dry, black raspberry; firmly structured with a fine balance between fruit, acid and oak. Well made
Style: red, dry, medium-bodied
Drinkability: now–2010
Score: 90

Mike Weir Pinot Noir 2007
Price: $22 (winery, Vintages stores)
Colour: ruby
Nose: minerally, cherry
Taste: dry, cherry, beetroot with an earthy finish; firmly structured, evident tannins on the finish
Style: red, dry, medium-bodied
Drinkability: 2010
Score: 87

Niagara College Teaching Winery Dean's List Pinot Noir 2007
Price: $32.95
Colour: medium ruby
Nose: high toned, floral, cherry with vanilla oak
Taste: well balanced, nicely integrated oak, good length; cherry, plum and raspberry flavours
Style: red, dry, medium-bodied
Drinkability: now
Score: 90

D'Angelo Vineyards Pinot Noir 2002
Price: $30 (winery)
Colour: ruby
Nose: earthy, beetroot, coffee grounds
Taste: dry, earthy, firmly structured with evident tannins
Style: red, dry, medium-bodied
Drinkability: now–2010
Score: 87

Grange of Prince Edward Estate Cabernet Franc Northfield Block 2007
Price: $29.80 (winery)
Colour: light ruby
Nose: minerally, perfumed, vanilla oak, red berry
Taste: light, elegant, cranberry-pomegranate flavours with a smoky, toasty oak background; good length
Style: red, dry, light-bodied
Drinkability: now–2010
Score: 88

Thirty Bench Small Lot Cabernet Franc 2006
Price: $35 (winery)
Colour: deep ruby
Nose: vanilla oak, creamy berry fruit
Taste: well extracted sweet red berry fruit with a white pepper note; firmly structured red and blackcurrant flavours, nicely integrated oak. Well done for the vintage.
Style: red, dry, medium-bodied
Drinkability: 2010
Score: 88

Stoney Ridge Reserve Cabernet Franc 2006
Price: $29.95 (winery)
Colour: deep ruby
Nose: cedar, currants
Taste: dry, redcurrant, blueberry; firmly structured, lean, clean fruit; firmly structured with nicely integrated oak and supple tannins
Style: red, dry, medium-bodied
Drinkability: 2010
Score: 88

Harvest Estates Merlot 2006 (15% Cabernet Sauvignon)
Price: $14.95 (winery)
Colour: ruby
Nose: minerally, cedar, shy fruit
Taste: oak-driven, clovey, sandalwood masking fruit
Style: red, dry, medium-bodied
Drinkability: now
Score: 86

Lakeview Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2005
Price: $24.95 (winery)
Colour: dense purple-ruby
Nose: cedar, vanilla oak, tobacco, red berry
Taste: sweet currant fruit, firm structure, forward with obvious but ripe tannins. Needs time
Style: red, dry, medium-bodied
Drinkability: 2010
Score: 89

Lailey Vineyard Syrah Niagara River 2007
Price: $25 (winery)
Colour: dense purple-ruby
Nose: smoky, peppery, blackberry
Taste: dry, lively blackberry flavour with a fine spine of acidity than thins out the fruit; evident oak on the finish
Style: red, dry, medium-bodied
Drinkability: 2010
Score: 87

Dan Aykroyd Winery Cabernet Shiraz 2007 (74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, 18% Shiraz)
Price: $16.95 (LCBO)
Colour: deep ruby
Nose: vanilla oak, blackberry, cedar
Taste: dry, red berry, redcurrant; well structured with a tannic lift on the finish
Style: red, dry, medium-bodied
Drinkability: now
Score: 87

Wayne Gretzky Shiraz Cabernet 2006 (70% Shiraz, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon)
Price: $22.95 (winery)
Colour: deep ruby
Nose: cedar, currants, white pepper
Taste: dry, red berry, firmly structured with a tannic finish
Style: red, dry, medium-bodied
Drinkability: now
Score: 87

Featherstone Winery Onyx 2007 (Cabernet Franc, Merlot)
Price: $24.95 (winery)
Colour: ruby
Nose: high toned, cedar, red berry
Taste: sweet, red berry fruit; firm structure, nicely integrated oak
Style: red, dry, medium-bodied
Drinkability: now–2010
Score: 87

Pelee Island Winery Cabernet Merlot Reserve 2006
Price: $14.95 (winery)
Colour: deep ruby
Nose: cedar, currants
Taste: dry, well structured, redcurrant-blackcurrant flavours; nicely integrated oak. Good value
Style: red, dry, medium-bodied
Drinkability: now
Score: 87

Marynissen Cabernet Merlot 2006 (51% CS/34% Mer/7% Syrah/4% Cab Franc/4% Gamay)
Price: $14.80 (winery)
Colour: ruby
Nose: cedar, red berry, earthy note
Taste: dry, lean, sour cherry with a firm finish. Some oxidation on the finish
Style: red, dry, medium-bodied
Drinkability: now
Score: 85

Strewn Winery Three Terroir 2006 (48% Merlot/48% Cab. Sauv./4% Cab. Franc)
Price: $26 (winery)
Colour: deep ruby
Nose: cedar, red berry
Taste: lean, austere, red berry flavours; firm structure, light tannins
Style: red, dry, medium-bodied
Drinkability: 2010
Score: 86

Kacaba Vineyards Reserve Meritage 2004 (50% Cab. Sauv./25% Cab. Franc/25% Merlot)
Price: $42.95
Colour: deep ruby
Nose: cedar, red berry
Taste: dry, redcurrant, vanilla oak; firm structure, oak-driven with a tannic lift on the finish
Style: red, dry, medium-bodied
Drinkability: now–2011
Score: 87

Vignoble Rancourt Winery Meritage 2004 (39% Cab. Sauv./30% Cab. Franc/28.5% Merlot – the rest?)
Price: $24.80 (winery)
Colour: deep ruby
Nose: cedar, red berry
Taste: dry, redcurrant, lively acidity; firm structure, tannic finish
Style: red, dry, medium-bodied
Drinkability: 2010
Score: 86

20 Bees Cabernet Franc Icewine 2006
Price: $29.95 (200 mL) (winery)
Colour: deep pink
Nose: honeyed strawberry
Taste: sweet, strawberry jam with lively acidity; well balanced
Style: red, sweet, medium- bodied
Drinkability: now
Score: 90

De Sousa Wine Cellars Cabernet Franc Icewine 2007
Price: $29.95 (200 mL)
Colour: deep pink
Nose: honeyed strawberry
Taste: sweet, strawberry jam with lively acidity, well balanced
Style: red, sweet, medium-bodied
Drinkability: now
Score: 90

Pillitteri Estates Sticky Beak Red Icewine 2007 (45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Cabernet Franc, 24% Shiraz, 4% Sangiovese)
Price: $50 (200 mL)
Colour: deep pink
Nose: sweet strawberry, honey
Taste: intense, sweet, strawberry jam; unctuous, well balanced
Style: red, sweet, full-bodied
Drinkability: now
Score: 91

Royal DeMaria Merlot Icewine 2006
Price: $189.95 (375 mL)
Colour: copper-pink
Nose: funky, dried fruits, honey
Taste: Tokaji-like, honey, dried apricot
Style: red, medium-sweet, full-bodied
Drinkability: now
Score: 89

Riverview Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine 2007
Price: $59.95 (375 mL)
Colour: deep pink
Nose: perfumed, raspberry
Taste: floral, honeyed, raspberry; elegant, well balanced
Style: red, sweet, full-bodied
Drinkability: now
Score: 90

Inniskillin Riesling Icewine 2007
Price: $69.95 (375 mL)
Colour: medium straw
Nose: honey, peach, melon
Taste: rich, full on the palate, beautifully balanced; elegant tropical fruit falvours with balancing acidity
Style: white sweet, medium-bodied
Drinkability: now–2011
Score: 91

Reif Vidal Icewine 2006
Price: $46.95 (375 mL)
Colour: coppery gold
Nose: intense, honey, dried stone fruit
Taste: sweet, rich, spicy, toasty, orange, honey and pried peach
Style: white, sweet, medium-bodied
Drinkability: now
Score: 92

Birchwood Estate Vidal Icewine 2007
Price: $29.95 (375 mL)
Colour: straw
Nose: minerally, honey, peach
Taste: sweet, honeyed peach with good acidity; a touch brittle on the finish
Style: white, sweet, medium-bodied
Drinkability: now
Score: 89

Konzelmann EstateVidal Icewine 2007
Price: $65 (375 mL)
Colour: copper-gold
Nose: intense, honeyed peach, caramel
Taste: rich, unctuous, mouth-filling, honeyed, roasted peach flavour; toffee-like finish; great length
Style: white, sweet, full-bodied
Drinkability: now–2011
Score: 92

Mountain Road Wine Company Vidal Icewine 1999
Price: $39.95 (375 mL)
Colour: copper-bronze
Nose: intense, honey, botrytis note, peach
Taste: elegant, ripe fruit with a honeyed note; great balance, spicy, great length
Style: white, sweet, medium-bodied
Drinkability: now–2011
Score: 93

Dinner at The Homeway with Kurt Chesko, Vice President (East Coast) of HALO, the landmine clearing organization. Didn't feel like wine but when we went back to the condo Deborah had opened a bottle of Savannah Sampson Sogno III 2007, a Rosso di Montalcino, so the three of us polished that off.

Thursday, February 12: Recorded my 680News reviews. This evening a black tie event at the Royal York Hotel – the Book Lovers' Ball in aid of the Toronto Public Library. Highlight of the evening: having my picture taken with Margaret Atwood. Jay Mandarino conducted the live auction with his usual panache. I went for $3,900 for a home wine tasting for eight with wines from Peller Estates library.


Margaret Atwood and me (sorry, Margaret... and I)

Friday, February 13: My son Guy's birthday. Deborah leaves for Chicago this afternoon for a girls' getaway weekend. A Vintages release tasting this morning. This evening a surprise 60th birthday party. I am to conduct a tasting of different wines. The guest of honour was really surprised to walk into a room with seventy-odd people all toasting him with Veuve Clicquot.

The wines I selected for the tasting were:

  • Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2007
  • Sonoma Cuterer Chardonnay 2006
  • Clos de Le Siete 2007
  • Bolla L'Origini Amarone 2004

With the buffet dinner of black cod and

  • Beringer Sbraiga Limited Release Chardonnay 2006
  • Elderton Ashmead Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

With dessert:

  • Campagnola Recioto della Amarone 2006
  • Taylor Fladgate 10 Year Old Tawny

 

 

 

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