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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 242 (June 8, 2009)

Monday, June 1: Received a copy last week of Andrew Brooks's Crush on Niagara. The title is something of a misnomer because the book covers all of Ontario's wineries with a short description of each and the author's recommendations as to what wines to buy. Since he's a sommelier, his choices are usually spot-on. Wrote my Commentary for Tidings magazine on the maverick Beaujolais producer Jean-Luc Bourbon, whose Syrah is labeled "L'Anticonformiste" and features on the back label a poem he wrote castigating his critics.

Tuesday, June 2: Deborah showed me an article in the Toronto Star written by two doctors on how to prevent teeth grinding. They advise holding "a wine bottle cork lengthwise between your front teeth. Relax your jaw and mouth muscles around it for at least a few seconds. This helps ease some of the built-up tension." I can just picture a line of drivers on the Don Valley Parkway with corks in their mouths.

Am testing a set of GoVino glasses. Actually they're made of thermoplastic polymer resin and have no stems. Like Riedel's O series but with a thumb print indentation for ease of holding. They are shatterproof and just the thing for poolside or travelling. The manufacturer says they can be recycled. The wine tastes fine out of them too ( Recorded my 680News reviews.

Wednesday, June 3: Lunch at the Globe Bistro on The Danforth with J.L. Groulx, Stratus' winemaker, Charles Baker and Suzanne Janke. They had brought along some of their new release for me to taste:

  • Stratus Wildass Rosé 2007 (Cabernet Franc, Gamay, other reds and some Viognier): deeply coloured with a floral raspberry and spicy oak nose; rich, silky mouth feel, lots of heft here; a serious rosé with real structure, firm but elegant with good length (89).
  • Stratus Red 2006 (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot): ruby-purple colour; a bouquet of cedar, rose petal, currants and tobacco with a peppery note; spicy redcurrant flavour with lively acidity; elegant with good length and remarkably concentrated for the vintage (90).
  • Stratus Merlot 2006: deep ruby colour; cedar, vanilla oak, lilac and blueberry on the nose; richly extracted with well integrated oak; beautifully made and surprising ripeness for the vintage (91).
  • Stratus Petit Verdot 2006: deeply coloured; floral, leather, red berry nose; leaner on the palate than the nose suggests; lively acidity; a little short on the finish, with a brush of tannin on the end taste (88).
  • Stratus White 2006 (Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Semillon, Viognier and Riesling): deeply coloured; spicy, aromatic, musk melon nose; mouth-filling peach and melon flavours, lovely mouth-feel. Full-bodied, well balanced and lingering (92).
  • Stratus Semillon Icewine 2008: golden colour; honey, pineapple and mango on the nose; soft, orange and tropical fruit flavours; spicy with enough acidity to give it balance. Good length (91).
  • Stratus Riesling Icewine 2008: deep gold colour; honey, grapefruit with a mineral note; spicy peach and honey flavour with lively acidity. Sweetness kept in check by the fruity acidity (93).
  • Stratus Icewine White 2008 (Semillon, Riesling): golden colour; honey, Botrytis note, spicy peach; unctuous mouth feel, tropical fruit flavours with grapefruit zest; luscious, mouth-filling with lively acidity. Good length (94).
  • Stratus Icewine Red 2008 (Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah): light ruby colour; raspberry rhubarb nose; semi-sweet with racy acidity; cranberry, pomegranate flavours; clean and lingering (91).

J.L. tells me that he has Tempranillo, Tannat, Mourvedre, Sangiovese and Marsanne planted at Stratus which will be available next year. In the late afternoon, a meeting for Grand Cru.

Thursday, June 4: A test dinner this evening for a Covenant House fund-raiser on June 17th. Without the wine. So I had to imagine what it would taste like and suggest menu modifications to fit the wines that will be donated. Tasted two Icewines from Niagara College Teaching Winery:

  • Niagara College Teaching Winery Cabernet Franc Icewine 2008: tawny pink colour; high toned strawberry and honey notes; unctuous, mouth-filling, candied strawberry flavour with balancing acidity. Good length (92).
  • Niagara College Teaching Winery "Savant" Icewine 2008 (Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir): tawny ruby colour; a nose of strawberry jam; richly extracted, sweet strawberry and rhubarb flavours (91).

Friday, June 5: Another Vintages release tasting. Finished evaluating a private cellar. A lot of wines that should have been consumed years ago.

Saturday, June 6: This evening it's our turn to entertain The Saintsbury Society for dinner. Eight of us at table, Tony and Diane Hirons, Carol Wolkoff and Catherine Gardiner (subbing for Irvin Wolkoff who is in New York) and Joe and Larissa Canavan.

Started off with Drappier Champagne Brut with prosciutto-wrapped asparagus grilled on the BBQ and Cambozola-stuffed dates warmed in the oven. First course, mushroom risotto with Anselmi San Vincenzo. Main course: osso buco with Frescobaldi Lucente 2001, Castello di Gabbiano Bellaza 2005, Capezanna Ghiaie della Furba 2001, Frescobaldi Montesodi 2005. The salad followed by a cheeses with Gaja Barbaresco 2001, Antinori Pian dell Vigne Brunello di Montalcino 1999 and Masi Amarone 1996. Dessert: fresh berries and ice cream with Niagara College Teaching Winery Cabernet Franc Icewine 2008.




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