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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 240 (May 11, 2009)

Monday, May 4: Started writing a piece on Champagne for Lexpert Magazine. Lunch at Osai with two oenologists, Joao Portugal Ramos and José Maria Soares Franco, tasting wines from Alentejo and their joint project in the Douro called Duorum. Before lunch we tasted J. Portugal Ramos Loios 2007 (a great value white made from Rabo de Ovelha and Roupeiro), Conde de Vimioso 2008 (Ribatejano), Marques de Borba Red 2008, Villa Santa Aragonez 2008 and Duorum 2007. At lunch, Marques de Borba White 2008 and Vila Santa White 2008 with assiette de canard, foie gras and maple, rillettes & rhubarb and prosciutto & pine nuts. Second course, roasted skate wing & artichokes, Mennonite bacon and genevoise sauce with Conde de Vimioso Reserva Red 2005 and Vila Santa Reserva Red 2007. Third course: grilled spring lamb chops, truffled polenta with cilantro mint pesto, served with Marques de Borba Red 2004 and Duorum Reserva Red 2007. These last two wines were delicious.

This evening I'm hosting a dinner at Truffles in The Four Seasons for Saluté. The wines are supplied by Alex Nokhrin of Nokhrin Wines. Reception wines: La Maison Pierrel Oressences Chardonnay Champagne and La Maison Pierrel Tradition Rosé. The meal, prepared by Executive Chef Claudio Rossi and Lynn Crawford, Executive Chef at the Four Seasons in New York, begins with lobster accompanied by Domaine de la Poulette Côte de Nuits-Villages 2007 (a rare white wine from this commune). With the lamb dish to follow, Château du Grand Mouëys 1er Cotes du Bordeaux 2000 (the hit of the night); and with the cheese plate Machard de Gramont Pommard 1er Cru 2006 and La Maison Pierrel Tradition Brut Champagne.

Tuesday, May 5: Today is the annual German Wine Fair at Roy Thomson Hall. Twenty-five tables, smaller than last year. But some wonderful wines in classic German style (enough with this Trocken business). Really enjoyed Gunderloch Jean Baptiste Riesling Kabinett 2007, Lingenfelder Scheurebe Kabinett 2007, Balthasar Ress Hattenheimer Schützenhaus Riesling Kabinett 2007, Bischöfliche Weingüter Eitelsbacher Marienholz Riesling Kabinett 2007, Weingut St. Urbans-Hof Wiltinger Riesling Kabinett 2007 – but the table I lingered longest at, going through the full range, was Markus Molitor. A very impressive Zeltinger Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett 2007 and a Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett 2007 here.

Wednesday, May 6: Lunch with Harald Theil of Hidden Bench at George. Harald brought along a range of wines for us to try. He believes in holding back his wines a year before release, which means we are tasting a range of 2007.

  • Hidden Bench Riesling Estate 2007: pale straw with a lime tint; petrol and grapefruit on the nose with notes of honey and a thread of mineralogy. Very Rheingau in style with a dry, lime finish. Good tension between sweetness and acidity (89).
  • Hidden Bench Locust Lane Riesling 2007: pale straw-lime colour; elderberry, mine rally nose; very dry, crisp and elegant; more in Mosel style; lovely mouth-feel with a lemon-lime finish (90).
  • Hidden Bench Riesling Fleck Vineyard 2007: petrol nose, tart lime; very elegant with tangerine and lime flavours. The driest 2007 Riesling I've tasted from Ontario. Needs 2–3 years of bottle age to develop its bouquet but remarkably good. (92)
  • Hidden Bench Riesling Roomer Vineyard 2007: pale straw, very bright and shining; mine rally, white honey, white flowers on the nose; more grip than the previous Rieslings with lime and grapefruit flavours. Tight at the moment; will develop well with bottle age (89).

These Rieslings are a real exercise in terroir, all grown with Weis clone fruit.

  • Hidden Bench Gewürztraminer Fleck Vineyard 2007: intense leeches and ginger notes, very dry. Again, some bottle age will help the bouquet to express itself (89).
  • Hidden Bench Chardonnay Estate 2006: deep golden colour; concentrated butterscotch nose; Californian style Chardonnay, nutty, butterscotch flavours with tropical fruit and orange notes. Mouth-filling caramel finish (91).
  • Hidden Bench Fume Blanc 2007: straw colour; oaky, spicy, smoky nose with grassy, green plum flavours; full-bodied but marred by a touch of sulphur which will probably blow off (87).
  • Hidden Bench Locust Lane Rosé 2008 (Pinot Noir, Malbec, Ligonier): light ruby colour; sour cherry nose; dry, full-bodied with some tannin to give it grip; more like a light red wine (89).
  • Hidden Bench Verity Rosé 2008 (Bordeaux varieties) – the entire production has been sold to the women's club Verity: Deeply coloured with a nose and flavour of wild strawberries; flavourful, dry and well structured. (87)
  • Hidden Bench Terroir Cache 2006 (50% Merlot, 35% cabernet Franc, 11% Mable, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon): deep ruby colour; elegant, Currant nose with cedar and vanilla oak notes; Petit Château style with a lively acidic spine. A floral grace note adds to its charm (89).

Thursday, May 7: A tasting with Doug Towers at his house for

Friday, May 8: This evening is the gala dinner for the Ontario Wine Awards, but first I have a tasting at the LCBO for the June Vintages release. Deborah is picking me up and we will drive to Queens Landing in Niagara-on-the-Lake for the OWA event. The host this year is Kevin Brach – The Thirsty Traveller. There is a story in the globe & Mail this morning about Thomas Bachelder. His 2005 Clay stone Terrace Chardonnay captured the top spot for Chardonnay in the "Judgment of Montreal" experts' tasting put on by the SAQ's magazine. According to the press release: "The Judgment of Montreal panel was a who's who of Quebec wine writers: Marc Chapeau (tasting organizer), Jean Aubry (Le Devoir), Gilles Mangy (SHAQ wine advisor), Patrick Days (Collier), Don Jean Landry (Cole Hotelier de Laval), Nadia Fournier (Le Guide du vim), Marc Lesage (SHAQ wine advisor), Véronique Rivets (Chatelaine), Jacques Benoit (La Presser), Claude Langlois (Le Journal de Montréal) and Bill Zahakis (the Gazette). Among the whites, Le Clos Jordanne's 2005 Claystone Terrace Chardonnay, an 'outsider' wine that was included in the tasting unbeknownst to the panel, beat out all the wines from France and the United States. 'Good, well-contained opulence, lots of freshness and volume' was a typical assessment from the panel. (A 2004 Château Mouton Rothschild, a Bordeaux Premier Cru, took top honours among the red wines.)" This could not be more timely, since the Ontario Wine Awards judges voted Thomas "Winemaker of the Year." Thomas could not be at the event so we had arranged for him to appear electronically in a short video. Here are the winners:

2009 Ontario Wine Awards – Final Results

Blue Glass Water Company Limited
Sparkling Wine Award
Gold: Maleta Estate 2006 View Old Vines Brut
Silver: Henry of Pelham Family Estate NV Cuvée Catharine Brut
Bronze: Hillebrand Estates 2006 Showcase Sparkling Riesling
Bronze: Thirteenth Street Winery 2004 Premier Cuvée Traditional Method Brut
Dry Riesling Award
Gold: Thirty Bench 2007 Riesling
Silver: Thirty Bench 2008 Small Lot Riesling Triangle Vineyard
Bronze: Château des Charmes 2007 Estate Bottled Riesling

Semi-Dry Riesling Award
Gold: Tawse 2008 Misek Vineyard Riesling
Silver: Vineland Estates 2007 St. Urban Riesling
Bronze: Thirty Bench 2008 Small Lot Riesling Wood Post

Luxor Realty Inc.
Dry White Varietal Award
Gold: Fielding Estate 2007 Viognier
Silver: Château des Charmes 2007 Estate Bottled Sauvignon Gris
Bronze: Château des Charmes 2007 Estate Bottled Aligoté

Pottruff & Smith Insurance Brokers Inc.
Gewurztraminer and Aromatic Varietal Award
Gold: Tawse 2008 Quarry Road Vineyard Estate Bottled Gewurztraminer
Silver: Rosewood Estates 2008 Gewurztraminer
Bronze: Malivoire Wine Company 2008 Gewurztraminer
Bronze: Magnotta Winery 2007 Special Reserve Muscat Ottonel

VINES Magazine
Pinot Gris Award
Gold: Pelee Island Winery 2008 Pinot Grigio
Silver: Inniskillin 2007 Varietal Series Pinot Grigio
Bronze: Malivoire Wine Company 2008 Pinot Gris
Bronze: Creekside Estate 2007 Reserve Pinot Gris

The Wine Establishment
Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon Award
Gold: Creekside Estate 2007 Reserve Sauvignon Blanc
Silver: Peninsula Ridge Estates 2008 Wismer Sauvignon Blanc 20 Mile Bench
Bronze: Nyarai Cellars 2008 Sauvignon Blanc

The Distillery Historic District
Oaked Chardonnay Award ~ Under $20
Gold: Mike Weir Estate 2007 Chardonnay
Silver: Hillebrand Estates 2007 Barrel Fermented Trius Chardonnay
Bronze: Cattail Creek Estate 2007 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay
Bronze: Inniskillin 2007 Winemaker's Series Montague Vineyard Chardonnay

Ottawa Wine & Food Show
Oaked Chardonnay Award ~ Over $20
Gold: Peninsula Ridge Estates 2007 Reserve Chardonnay
Silver: Closson Chase 2006 Chardonnay
Bronze: Southbrook Vineyards 2006 Triomphe Chardonnay

Niagara-on-the-Lake Chamber of Commerce
Unoaked Chardonnay Award
Gold: Vineland Estates 2007 Chardonnay Non-Oaked
Silver: Château des Charmes 2007 Estate Bottled Chardonnay Musqué
Bronze: Jackson-Triggs 2007 Proprietors' Reserve Unoaked Chardonnay

VINES Magazine
Rosé Award
Gold: Legends Estates 2008 Malbec Rosé
Silver: Peller Estates 2007 Private Reserve Rosé
Bronze: Kacaba Vineyards 2008 Summertime Rebecca Rosé

Crush Wine Bar & Restaurant
Gamay Award
Gold: Malivoire Wine Company 2007 Gamay
Silver: Peller Estates 2007 Private Reserve Gamay Noir
Bronze: Cattail Creek Estate 2007 Gamay Noir

Grape Growers of Ontario
Pinot Noir Award
Gold: Tawse 2007 Cherry Avenue Vineyard Estate Bottled Pinot Noir
Silver: Coyote's Run Estate 2007 Black Paw Vineyard Pinot Noir
Bronze: Pelee Island Winery 2007 Reserve Pinot Noir

Red Hybrid Award
Gold: Malivoire Wine Company 2007 Old Vines Foch
Silver: Pelee Island Winery 2007 Monarch Red
Silver: Sandbanks Estate 2006 Maréchal Foch

NOW Magazine
Cabernet Sauvignon Award
Gold: Creekside Estate 2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Silver: Magnotta Winery 2007 Special Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Bronze: Magnotta Winery 2005 Limited Edition Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Franc Award
Gold: Colio Estate 2005 Reserve Cabernet Franc
Silver: Vineland Estates 2007 Elevation Cabernet Franc
Bronze: Lailey Vineyard 2007 Cabernet Franc

Bullfrog Power
Merlot Award
Gold: Creekside Estate 2005 Butler's Grant Vineyard Reserve Merlot
Silver: Colio Estate 2005 Reserve Merlot
Bronze: Rosewood Estates 2007 Reserve Merlot
Bronze: Kacaba Vineyards 2006 Merlot

Dairy Farmers of Canada
Syrah/Shiraz Award
Gold: Stonechurch Vineyards 2007 Reserve Syrah
Silver: Coyote's Run Estate 2007 Red Paw Vineyard Syrah
Bronze: Jackson-Triggs 2006 Delaine Vineyard Syrah

The Ontario Wine Society
Meritage and Cabernet/Merlot Blends Award
Gold: Vineland Estates 2005 Reserve Cabernet Merlot
Silver: Creekside Estate 2005 Reserve Meritage
Silver: Magnotta Winery 2004 Enotrium Gran Riserva
Bronze: Calamus Estate 2006 Meritage

VIA Rail Canada
Late Harvest Award
Gold: Château des Charmes 2007 Estate Bottled Late Harvest Riesling
Silver: Peller Estates 2006 Private Reserve Late Harvest Vidal
Bronze: Konzelmann Estate 2006 Special Select Late Harvest Vidal
Bronze: Creekside Estate 2007 Select Late Harvest Pinot Gris

Vintage Hotels
Vidal Icewine Award
Gold: Wayne Gretzky Estates 2005 Vidal Icewine
Silver: Reif Estate 2006 Vidal Icewine
Bronze: Konzelmann Estate 2007 Vidal Icewine

Vinifera Icewine Award
Gold: Riverview Cellars Estate 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine
Silver: Jackson-Triggs 2007 Proprietors' Grand Reserve Cabernet Franc Icewine
Bronze: Lakeview Cellars Estate 2007 Gewurztraminer Icewine
Bronze: Lailey Vineyard 2007 Riesling Icewine

Niagara Airbus
Sparkling Icewine Award
Gold: Inniskillin 2006 Sparkling Vidal Icewine
Silver: Inniskillin 2007 Sparkling Vidal Icewine
Silver: Magnotta Winery 2006 Sparkling Ice Vidal Icewine

Blended White Award
Gold: Caroline Cellars 2006 Momentum Enchantment
Silver: Creekside Estate 2007 Laura White
Bronze: Jackson-Triggs 2007 Proprietors' Grand Reserve White Meritage
Bronze: Smith & Wilson Estate 2008 Smith's Vidal

Blended Red Award
Gold: Wayne Gretzky Estates 2006 Estate Series Shiraz Cabernet
Silver: Pelee Island Winery 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Petit Verdot
Bronze: Dan Aykroyd Winery 2007 Discovery Cabernet Shiraz

All Stick Label Limited
Best Label Design Award
Gold: Fielding Estate 2008 Sauvignon Blanc
Silver: Colio Estate 2008 Girls' Night Out Chardonnay
Bronze: Dan Aykroyd Winery 2007 Discovery Series Cabernet Shiraz

Savour Ontario – A Program of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
Wine Journalism Award
John Szabo

Savour Ontario – A Program of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
White Wine of the Year Award
Thirty Bench 2007 Riesling

Savour Ontario – A Program of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
Red Wine of the Year Award
Vineland Estates 2005 Reserve Cabernet Merlot

Vintage Hotels
Winemaker of the Year Award
Thomas Bachelder, Le Clos Jordanne




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