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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 239 (May 4, 2009)

Monday, April 27: Caught up with emails that accumulated from last week's sojourn in London. Hard to get back to work since there are no deadlines in sight. Pinot the Wonder Dog demands attention. With spring in the air she wants to be outside all the time.

Tuesday, April 28: At 11 am Bouchard Père & Fils' annual tasting at the RCYC. We are tasting the 2007. Luc Bouchard tells me that  it was an exceptionally early harvest (late August). The reds I found approachable but lacking the concentration you would expect from a warm year. My favourite wines were Volnay Caillerets Ancienne Cuvée Carnot, Chambolle Musigny, Nuits St-Georges and Vigne de l'Enfant Jesus. The whites, as Luc said, were "classic." Beaune du Château, Meursault Genevrières, Montagny were all delicious but my top mark went to Meursault Perrières. The range of William Fèvre Chablis from 2007 were also available and these are terrific – particularly Fourchaume, Beauroy and my favourites Bougros and Les Clos. Then dashed over to reds for lunch with Frederic Heidsieck who, ironically, works for Louis Roederer Champagne. We started with Roederer Brut Premier (2/3 Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, 1/3 Chardonnay, no malolactic fermentation): honey and apple on the nose, elegant and dry with a crisp lemony flavour.

Frederic called for Burgundy glasses instead of the flutes we had in front of us – to taste the vintage champagnes, explaining, "If you consider champagne to be a Grand Vin then you need to let the wine breathe."

  • Roederer Champagne Brut 2003: very elegant with a creamy, toasty, fruit nose; full on the palate with good length
  • Roederer Champagne Brut 1996: an exquisite champagne; rich, minerally, citrus flavours, perfectly balanced and lingering. As close to perfection as champagne can get.
  • Roederer Champagne Brut 1993: soft on the palate with brioche and apple flavours, very elegant
  • Roederer Champagne Brut 1990: showing its age, citrus and hazelnut flavours. The style of venerable champagne that the English like.

Finally, down to the Pantages Theatre for a portfolio tasting put on by Tre Amici Imports. Virtually all Italian wines apart from one Australian producer, Light's View, and Château Roubine in Provence. Fascinating wines from Pescaja – Roero Arneis 2007 and a Barbera d'Asti 2007. Grotta del Ninfeo in Veneto produces a lovely Valpolicella Ripasso 2008, a rich Amarone 2004 and a delicious Recioto. Enjoyed Crea Vini Falanghina Benevenutano 2007, a great value wine from Campania with peachy, citrus flavours.

Wednesday, April 29: After I recorded my 680News reviews I dropped in to the Park Plaza Hotel for a seminar and tasting of wines from the Jura. I'm a fan of Vin Jaune and Château Chalon, but not the rustic Pinot Noir from the region. Macvin du Jura (a kind of Pineau des Charentes) is also not to my taste.

Top wines were Domaine Daniel Dugois Vin de Paille 2005, Château d'Arlay Vin Jaune 2001, Domaine Berthet Bondet Château Chalon 2002, Domaine de la Borde Savagnin Les Écrins 2004, Domaine de la Renardière Arbois Pupillin Les Terraces Savagnin Ouillé 2007, Domaine André & Mireille Tissot Arbois Savagnin 2005, Henri Maire Château Chalon Vin Jaune 1998. My top score went to a new style of Arbois Savagnin aged in 50% new French oak (against the convention): Domaine Désiré Petit Arbois Pupillin Essen'ciel Blanc Floral 2006 – a lovely, spicy tangerine flavour.

Ran into Tod Halpern at this tasting; he tells me that Vintages has lowered the price of Chapoutier Hermitage La Sizeranne 2004 from $100 to $68.25. Now that's worth buying.

Thursday, April 30: An email arrived with this news: "(Bloomberg) – Half a glass of wine a day may add five years to your life, a new study suggests. Drink beer, and you'll live only 2½ years longer. Dutch researchers followed 1,373 men for more than four decades, noting their eating and drinking habits. Men who had about 20 grams of alcohol daily – equivalent to a half a glass of wine – had 2½ years added to their life expectancy at age 50, compared with men who didn't drink at all, according to the research published today in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. Men who consumed only wine had twice as much added longevity." Does this mean that if you consume a full glass of wine a day it could add ten years to your life?

Lunch at George with Arturo Cousiño, from Cousiño-Macul. We started with Cousiño-Macul Sauvignon Gris 2007, a rare variety for Chile. They are the only winery in the Maipo to make it and one of three in Chile. The wine has a lively herbaceous green plum flavour. It reminded me more of Pinot Blanc than Sauvignon.(89)

  • Cousiño-Macul Antiguas Reservas Cabernet Sauvignon 2007: This is one of the few Chilean Cabs that responds well to long cellar ageing. Deep ruby in colour with a blackcurrant and cedar nose; sweet fruit with a mocha note and soft tannins. Great value at $15.75. (89)
  • Cousiño-Macul Finis Terrae 2007 (60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot): vanilla oak and black fruits on the nose; rich, velvety flavours of blueberry and currants; dry, bitter chocolate flavour with a firm finish (1)
  • Cousiño-Macul Lota 2006 (85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot): a very distinguished wine. Rich, full-bodied with intense chocolate and blackcurrant, succulent sweet fruit with concentrated blackcurrant and floral notes; ripe tannins (92)

In the evening I went to St. Mike's arena to watch the hockey game between the LCBO and the Importing agents. The teams were augmented with NHL Alumnae and several players from Canada's women's hockey team. Ian Campbell was in goal for the agents in the third period. He reminded me of the Ancient Mariner who "stoppeth one in three."

Friday, May 1: A Vintages tasting this morning for the June release. In the evening drove out to Stouffville for a tasting won at a Big Brothers silent auction. Brought an eclectic selection of wines.

  • William Fèvre Chablis Champs Royaux 2007
  • Cathedral Cellars Chardonnay 2006
  • Red Rooster Gewurztraminer 2007
  • Daniel Lenko Old Vines Merlot 2006
  • Burrowing Owl Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
  • El Burro Kick Ass Shiraz 2007
  • Inniskillin Vidal Icewine 2006




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