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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 245 (June 29, 2009)

Monday, June 22: Drove to Nirvana, an Indian restaurant in Mississauga, to do a taste dinner for a wine and food event there on August 27. My job: choose wines to match the flavours. Wrote my reviews for 680 News. Though it might all be hypothetical since LCBO employees are threatening to strike – the first time in their history. I imagine an eleventh hour resolution will happen since the government can't afford to lose the revenue. It's tough on restaurateurs who have to buy product when they are already hurting from the downturn in the economy. 680 News called to interview me about the potential strike. They wanted to know how listeners could get wine during the strike. This could be a boon for Niagara wineries and online wine delivery services like Opened a bottle of Joie Farm Rosé 2008, the best pink wine I've tasted out of BC. A beautifully poised wine between strawberry sweetness and lemony acidity.

Tuesday, June 23: Headlines this morning of consumers emptying LCBO shelves, stocking up on wines in case of a strike. Apparently the Argentinean shelves emptied first followed by Chilean shelves. Worked on the Readers Digest North American Wine Tours book. Trying to get them to change the title to Readers Digest US and Canada Wine Tours.

Wednesday, June 24: Well, as I thought, a last moment agreement between the LCBO and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union has averted the strike. Imagine how irritable Torontonians would be with the garbage strike and no booze. Met with Jean-Francois Bergeron about a photo essay book on Canadian wineries. The concept is to choose the 50 top estates in Canada.

Thursday, June 25: After recording at 680 News I went over to Grano to have lunch with John Nadeau, winemaker Craig MacDonald and Doug Maybury of Wayne Gretzky Estates. They had brought along a raft of wines to taste.

  • Wayne Gretzky Estates Founder's Series Riesling 2008: Pale straw colour with a lime tiny; youthful, leesy, grapefruit and mineral nose; a touch of sweet grapefruit and honey in mid palate before finishing dry; light-bodied and well balanced (88).
  • Wayne Gretzky Estates Estate Series Riesling 2007: Deeply coloured with a time tint – speaking to a really arm year; forward nose of petrol and tangerine with a mineral note; soft mouth feel, mature apple flavour; light-bodied. A little over ripe (87).
  • Wayne Gretzky Estates Founder's Series Unoaked Chardonnay 2007: Light straw colour; a nose of hay and apple with a barnyard note; mineral and apple flavour with an apple peel taste on the finish (86).
  • Wayne Gretzky Estates Estate Series Sauvignon Blanc 2007 (30% barrel ferment): Pale straw colour; minerally, green bean, passion fruit, apple and cut grass bouquet with a sweaty note; mid-weight and flavourful, fleshed out with a touch of oak, grassy finish (88).
  • Wayne Gretzky Estates Founder's Series Merlot 2007: Deep purple-ruby; plum and blueberry nose with a lick of vanilla oak and a cedar note; medium-bodied, well structured with a spicy, floral note; good length with a tannic lift on the finish (87).
  • Wayne Gretzky Estates Founder's Series Cabernet Merlot 2007: Dense ruby colour; cedar, perfumed redcurrant nose; claret-like, medium-bodied, fleshy and firmly structured; dry with good length. Great value at $15.45 (88).
  • Wayne Gretzky Estates Estate Series Pinot Noir 2007: Deeply coloured ruby; high-toned, vanilla, and peppery cherry aromas; medium-bodied, dry and tight. Well structured and constraining tannins. Needs another year at least in bottle (88).
  • Wayne Gretzky Estates Estate Series Shiraz 2006: Dense ruby colour; peppery, blackberry, sweet tobacco and cedar on the nose; medium-bodied, dry, firmly structured with a fine spine of acidity; good length. An Ontario style of Shiraz (89)
  • Wayne Gretzky Estates Estate Series Cabernet Merlot 2007 (43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 23% Cabernet Franc): Dense purple-black in colour; vanilla oak and chocolate; spicy and richly textured with red and blackcurrant flavours. Well balanced and elegant; supple tannins on the finish – a steal at $18.95.
  • Wayne Gretzky Estates Icewine Vidal 2005: Old gold colour; honey, dried apricot nose; intense, toffee and burnt sugar flavours, rich mouth feel with great length (91).
  • Wayne Gretzky Estates Icewine Shiraz 2006: Tawny orange; high toned, strawberry compote and honeyed nose; red peppers, red berries, spicy flavour; firm and full on the palate with a warm alcoholic finish (90).

Friday, June 26: I'm interviewing Norman Hardie for a piece I'm writing about him for The County Grapevine in Prince Edward County. We meet at Grano and Norm has brought some of his wines with him.

  • Norman Hardie Pinot Gris 2008 (PEC fruit): Straw colour; minerally, peach pit nose; lemony, white peach flavour. Fresh and lively on the palate with a long zesty finish (89).
  • Norman Hardie Chardonnay 2007 (PEC fruit): Straw colour; apple and apple blossom nose, minerally and very Burgundian in style; sweet apple fruit, medium-bodied with a finish of oranges and grilled nuts (90).
  • Norman Hardie Pinot Noir 2007 (PEC fruit): Light ruby; minerally, violets and raspberry nose; light-bodied, fresh raspberry and cranberry flavours. Reminds me of Volnay (91).
  • Norman Hardie Cuvée L Pinot Noir 2007 (60% Beamsville fruit, 40% PEC – hence its VQA Ontario designation): Deep ruby colour; minerally, black cherry bouquet; elegant, well balanced, firmly structured and bursting with youthful charm. Tastes like a Pommard in a warm year. A lovely glass of wine (91+).




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