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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 235 (April 6, 2009)

Monday, March 30: Met with Craig Pyette, my editor at Random House, to discuss illustrations for the cellar book (which has been retitled Tony Aspler's Cellar Book – How to design, build, stock and manage your wine cellar wherever you live. Doesn't cut it as a movie title but at least the readers know what they're getting. I say readers because I have a large family).

Spent the rest of the day making final arrangements for glass rentals for the Ontario Wine Awards judging this weekend. At 5 pm dropped into the Churchill Cellars portfolio tasting that was held in The Berkeley Church on Queen Street East. It only seems fitting to hold a wine tasting in a deconsecrated church, given the contribution of the Church over the centuries to the development of the beverage alcohol industry.

Tuesday, March 31: Wrote my monthly column for Lexpert magazine on the Symington family and their port and Madeira holdings. From my research I see that they have abandoned foot-treading in favour of mechanical robots who replicate the action of the human foot. I have done foot-treading a couple of times and it is not great fun. It feels like wading though like warm porridge that scratches your legs.

Wednesday, April 1: Received this brilliant April Fool's email.

Science-like Group Claims Screwcaps Cause Impotence

SANTA MARIA DE LAMAS, PORTUGAL – A recent study released by the Miroma Labs has shown that extended and prolonged exposure to wines that employ screwcaps as a closure lead to a 66% increase in the instance of impotence among the male members of the study over those who drank wine that was closed with cork.

Dr. Anayanse Obrigado, who chaired the independent study, reports: "First and foremost I would like to thank Corticeira Amorim for their gracious endowment towards our brand new Miroma Labs facility here in Portugal. We are very pleased to help in the fight against screwcaps, and the damage they are causing not only to our environment, but to our greatest natural resource, our people."

The report entitled: "Screwcaps: Putting The Cap on Your Screwing," a 1,024 page document, outlines the controlled study of 1,000 men, ages 17–86 who were then divided into two groups, half of them drinking wines closed with screwcaps, the other half drinking wine sealed with cork. The results, in graphical form, are to be found on page 598, a copy of the graph can be seen below:

When asked to explain the data, Dr. Obrigado simply stated: "Explain what? It's all right there. We even had it printed in color. Okay, look, if that graph doesn't help, try this one on page 601…"

When our reporter couldn't make hide nor hair of the graphs, Dr. Obrigado intervened: "No? hmm. Can I ask you a question? Do you drink wine from a screwcapped bottle yourself? You seem to be having some cognitive issues, we'd like to include you in an upcoming trial..."

Page 332 of the study reveals the wines used: the cork closure wine being a 1990 Domaine de la Romanee-Conti la Tache,

whereupon enough bottles of the wine were sourced for this test by appealing to the Domaine itself as well as some of Europe's most diligent cellarhounds. While the screwcapped wine used for the study was a jug of Carlo Rossi Hearty Burgundy from the same year.

Dr. Obrigado states: "We felt for the integrity of the study, we should adhere to the strictest of scientific guidelines and keep the varietal and the vintage the same, lest one closure receive an unfair advantage over the other by virtue of the wine itself."

Dr. Obrigado continues: "We are also very interested in some of the ancillary findings we discovered during the course of this study. We found that children of parents who drank screwcapped wines were less likely to become professional athletes, that those who drank wine with cork closures were ten times more likely to have a working knowledge of Credit Default Swaps, and most damaging, among those who drink wine with screwcaps, there were 145 documented homicides at the hands of masked gunmen with a decidedly Portuguese accent. Coincidence? We think not, though we are having difficulty in finding another thousand men to volunteer for a study that "targets" this specific phenomenon."

Recorded my 680News reviews and then to lunch with Martin Malivoire for a tasting at Gamelle on College Street. Martin wanted to show me the winery's newly designed labels and to taste winemaker Shiraz Mottiar's latest bottlings. The labels are a great improvement with bold, contemporary type setting – images that are recognizable at a distance across a restaurant which is the ideal marketing tool.

  • Malivoire Chardonnay Musqué 2008: pale straw with evident effervescence; fresh, apple, melon and peach blossom on the nose; off-dry, light-bodied. Fresh, sparkling on the palate, easy drinking, orange and apple flavours. Clean as a whistle, good length. A great summer aperitif. (89)
  • Malivoire Lady Bug Rosé 2008 (Cabernet Franc with 30% Gamay): orange-pink; minerally, raspberry; crisp, rich elderberry and raspberry flavours; elegant and well structured with a dry finish. Light-bodied with lingering berry notes. (90)
  • Malivoire Pinot Gris 2008: pale straw; minerally, peach pit nose; medium-bodied, fresh, white peach, dry, fresh and lively on the palate. Good length. (88)
  • Malivoire Gewürztraminer 2008: medium straw colour; already showing great varietal character; spicy, lychee, rose petal; medium-bodied, lovely aromatics, Turkish Delight flavours of cardamom and tangerine; intense and forward. Good length. (90)
  • Malivoire Gamay 2007: dense purple; high toned, plum; dry. peppery black cherry with a lively acidic spine. The acidity is complemented with a floral top note. (87)
  • Malivoire Estate Chardonnay 2006: straw colour; minerally, spicy oak and apple nose; medium-bodied, dry, apple peel. Clean finish. (86)
  • Malivoire Moira Chardonnay 2006: deep straw; toasty oak, apple. Caramel with a mineral note; sweet, caramel, orange and apple flavours; full on the palate; rich and satisfying. Beautifully integrated oak. A wine for lobster. (92)
  • Malivoire Estate Pinot Noir 2006: light ruby colour; minerally, sour cherry; hint of violets, firmly structured with a tannic lift on the finish. (87)
  • Malivoire Moira Old Vines Foch 2007: dense purple-black, stains the glass; spicy, mulberry, vanilla oak; dry, medium-bodied with a savoury finish. Fine spine of acidity. (88)
  • Malivoire Moira Pinot Noir 2006: light ruby, showing some maturity; high toned, pencil shavings and raspberries on the nose; elegant, red berry with lively acidity. Firm structure. Not a lot of concentration, but well made for the vintage. (87)

For dinner, Sileni Cellar Selection Pinot Gris 2008 from Hawke's Bay, with BBQ guinea fowl.

Thursday, April 2: Final preparations for the Ontario Wine Awards judging – getting the judges' sheets, their voting slips for The Wine Maker of the Year, collecting pens, etc. For dinner, Deborah and I went across the road to The Homeway. I opened a bottle of Château Hauchat 2005, a Fronsac. Unfortunately, it was mildly corked, enough to flatten the flavours without rendering the wine disagreeable.

Friday, April 3: Drove up to Vaughan in the rain to discuss forming a wine tasting club for Bellevue Manor. The idea is to set up a monthly tasting beginning in September for six months. Got an email from Susan Puff, who is heading up a new wine festival called Salute (which takes over from Santé in May). The proceeds from a fund-raiser at the Carlu on May 5th will go to Toronto East General Hospital to purchase a da Vinci operating system, which is specially designed for kidney and prostate surgeries. Susan writes: "In addition to the food and wine part of the event, I have also organized an auction component.  We have one outstanding item – a private viewing of the Mona Lisa at Louvre Museum in Paris. I wrote to the French Ambassador in Ottawa back before Christmas and explained about the charity and why it was important to me personally and asked for his help to secure this prize. He went to the President of the Louvre and was able to get the museum to agree – this has never been offered before. My friends at the Four Seasons here in Toronto then went to their colleagues in Paris and secured a two-night stay at the George V; and, we are hoping that Air France will come on board with two return flights. The winner of this package will be able to go whenever they wish; the only stipulation is that their visit to the Mona Lisa will have to be on a Tuesday when the museum is closed to the public. So it truly is a very private viewing of da Vinci's masterpiece."

Dinner with my old friend Gordon Pape at the Donalda Club. Gordon brought along some Californian wines to have with the meal: Sonoma Loeb Chardonnay 2005, Philip Togni Cabernet Sauvignon 1991 (unfortunately corked), Calera Mount Harlan Pinot Noir 1992. I brought a 200 mL bottle of Fischer Binger Klosterweg Eiswein 1991.




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