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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 244 (June 22, 2009)

Monday, June 15: Last night Deborah and I attended Toronto Taste, a fundraiser for Second Harvest, ambitiously held outdoors on Cumberland Street. The length of the avenue was taken up with tented stalls for the restaurants. Best dish: Nota Bene's Wagyu burger. Today is my deadline for an article on wine and cheese for the BC liquor board's magazine Taste. Spent the day working on it. In the evening Guy's friend Pete Edelberg, who is a computer genius, came over to get rid of a virus. There is a special circle of hell reserved for those misanthropes who create and propagate computer viruses.

Tuesday, June 16: Spent the day down that the Fermentation Cellar in the Distillery District for Sip & Savour Ontario. The event kicks off Ontario Wine Week. At the trade lunch for 120 licensees and sommeliers we were served Inniskillin Sparkling Vidal Icewine 2007, which won a silver medal at this year's Ontario Wine Awards. Chef Cory Vitiello from The Harbord Room cooked the first course: Lightly cured and smoked Creemore Springs Arctic Char salad, shaved asparagus, morel and pine nut salad with a brown butter and pickled wild leek vinaigrette, served with Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve Chardonnay 2006 and Le Clos Jordanne Claystone Terrace Chardonnay 2006. Winemaker Thomas Bachelder introduced the wines. Second course prepared by Chef Nick Liu of the Niagara Street Café: Rabbit Roulade with house cured bacon, fresh bean cassoulet and natural jus, served with Pelee Island Reserve Pinot Noir 2009 (OWA Bronze medal winner). The main course was prepared by Executive Chef David Chrystian of Victor Restaurant and Bar: Ontario Texel Lamb Curry "Tamil Style," served with Stonechurch Reserve Syrah 2007 (an OWA Gold medal winner and one of the best wines I've tasted from this winery). With the cheese course, introduced by my friend and co-author of The Definitive Canadian Wine & Cheese Cookbook, Gurth Pretty, we tasted Creekside Estate Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2007 (OWA Gold Medal and Vineland Estates Chardonnay Non-Oaked 2007 (OWA Gold Medal). Finally, Winemaker Ann Sperling introduced Southbrook Vineyards Cabernet Rosé 2007 – the first certified biodynamic wine in Canada (and a beauty). Anne talked about the growth of organic and biodynamic wines in the province. Cynthia Beretta of Beretta Organic Farms, spoke about growing organic meat. Kevin Brauch did a great job as MC for the lunch, instructing Ann Sperling on how to saber a bottle of Ontario sparkling wine - barefoot.

A tasting for the trade followed before the room was broken down for the consumer tasting in the evening. Thirty-five wineries poured their wines, including those that had won medals at the Ontario Wine Awards. In the evening there were cooking demonstrations by three Ontario chefs: Martin Kouprie of Pangea matching his rabbit roulade with Creekside Reserve Meritage 2005 and Château des Charmes Estate Bottled Chardonnay 2007; Michel Wilson of Crush Wine Bar whose beef carpaccio dish was matched with Stonechurch Reserve Syrah 2007; and Tim Dunnill of Old Mill Inn & Spa's lamb dish with Coyote's Run Red Paw Vineyard Syrah 2007.

Wednesday, June 17: This morning a Wine Writers Circle tasting of Chilean wines. A lot of high alcohol wines there. In the evening a charity fundraiser at The Four Seasons for Covenant House. Steve Ranger of Ritchie's conducted the live auction before the dinner in his inimitable fashion, making people feel good about spending more than they had intended on the wines. I introduced the dinner wines.

  • At the reception – Cheese/Dips/Crudité: Trimbach Pinot Blanc 2007 and Angels Gate Cabernet Franc 2007
  • 1st Course – Frisee & Watercress Salad, Roasted Pears, Spiced Walnuts and Cider Vinaigrette; Brampton Sauvignon Blanc 2008 from South Africa
  • 2nd Course – Slow Roasted Beef Tenderloin, Truffle Whipped Potatoes, Roasted Organic Beets & Carrots in a red-wine sauce: Conterno Fantino Dolcetto d'Alba Bricco Bastia 2007
  • 3rd Course – Ice cream and cookie - Gonzales Byass Pedro Ximenez

Thursday, June 18: A meeting with Geddy Lee to finalise plans for the harvest picnic fundraiser at Tawse for Grapes for Humanity. Geddy's office has designed a great label for a special bottling of Tawse wine. Reminds me of Ralph Steadman. Got a commission from London to write the Canadian section of a book about wine touring in North America for Reader's Digest. My old pal, Dan Berger in California is doing the heavy lifting with the US section. This evening I conducted a tasting as a fundraiser for Revera Living at the Silver Circle retirement home in the West End. The wines (all are under $15):

Reception wine: Seaview Brut (Australia)

Tasting with the dinner:

  • J. Portugal Ramos Loios White 2007 (Alentejo, Portugal)
  • Cono Sur Viognier 2007 (Chile)
  • La Vieille Ferme Blanc 2007 (Cotes du Luberon)
  • Château de Gourgazaud 2007 (Minervois, Languedoc)
  • Dan Aykroyd Winery Cabernet Shiraz 2007 (Ontario)
  • Aresti Reserva Carmenère 2006 (Chile)

Friday, June 19: A Vintages tasting this morning for the July release. In the evening John and Laurie Nadeau came to dinner. John, a Senior Vice President at Creekside, brought along one of the winery's new products – Creekside Undercurrent 2007 – a blend of Muscat and Sauvignon Blanc that reminded me of Torres Vina Esmeralda 2008, a wine that I had just tasted this morning. I opened a half bottle of Melaric Billes de Roches 2007, a Chenin Blanc from Saumur given to me by the winemaker Mélanie Cunin when I was in Greece in March. Rich and well extracted quince and pear flavours. This was followed by Schloss Gobelsberg Grüner Veltliner 2008, served with the pear and pine nut salad. For the main course, baked salmon, boiled potatoes, French beans and lentils, a bottle of Norman Hardie's latest wine, Norman Hardie Pinot Noir Cuvée 'L' 2007. (This is a wine in homage to his late sister, a blend of Beamsville and Prince Edward county fruit, so it's labeled VQA Ontario. A kind of Ontario IGT. A perfect wine for the salmon.) For the cheese course, a bottle of Finca El Peral Reserva 2006 from Argentina (a blend of equal parts Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot – and a steal at $17 as a member of the Woodside Wine Appreciation Club (




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