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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 249 (July 27, 2009)

Monday, July 20: Finished writing my profile on Norman Hardie for The County Grapevine Magazine.

Tuesday, July 21: Lunch with Marc Nadeau at Grano, catching up after not seeing each other in several years. With my Spaghetti Vongole, a glass of Frescobaldi Santa Grilli' Rosato di Castiglioni 2008. A very abstemious lunch because Deborah and I have been invited tonight to a barbecue at our friends Sharon and David's. Except it begins to rain at 4:30 pm, which means the dining room rather than the patio. David has pulled out all the good stuff. We begin with a magnum of Taittinger Brut with hors d'oeuvres. When we sit down (10 of us) David pours Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalalande 1986 with gazpacho, followed by a magnum of Bouchard Père et Fils Beaune Clos de La Mousse 1978 (with roast beef and the following cheese tray) and Hugel Gewurztraminer Sélection de Grains Nobles 1996 with the dessert. A very generous host. Which reminds me yet again not to hold on to my old wines just because they are venerable. You wait for an occasion to open these wines, only the occasion is never big enough; and by the time you get around to pulling the cork, they're over the hill. Or you are.

Wednesday, July 22: Worked on the Reader's Digest project – wine touring in Canada. Today tackled Lake Erie North Shore. At 4:30 pm a bus leaves the Royal York Hotel for Jackson-Triggs in Niagara. An event for wine writers and lifestyle journalists to sample J-T wines from Ontario and BC with food to match. The bus is rather like an elegant Brinks Truck with a disco-like interior: black leather seats, a bar, strobe lights, starry ceiling and even a pole. The trip takes nearly two and half hours since there is traffic and we have to detour off the highway at Oakville to pick up The Wine Ladies. We are served a sparkling wine on arrival at 7 pm. The idea is that we will have dinner in various locations around the winery and leave at 10 pm. In the Tasting Gallery we are served our first two courses.

The first dish contains two items, one prepared by J-T's BC chef and one by their Ontario chef – Heirloom Tomato Carpaccio with Roasted Upper Canada Ricotta and Riesling Vinaigrette and Salt Spring Island Chevre, Basil Panna Cotta, Shaved Fennel with an Okanagan Stone Fruit Emulsion, served with Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Proprietors' Grand Reserve Riesling 2007 (straw-coloured with a green tint; high toned bouquet of honey and grapefruit with a petrol note; peachy-citrus and honey flavour, off-dry; good length but a little light on acidity (87)) and Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Delaine Vineyard Riesling 2006 (straw-lime in colour; minerally, lime and petrol nose; spicy, dry but a touch of sweetness in mid palate with a fresh lime finish (89)).

Second course: Pan-seared Lake Erie Pickerel, Warm Lobster Potato Salad with Tarragon Vinaigrette and Queen Charlotte Island Sable Fish, Sautéed Corn, Okanagan Summer Squash and Tomatoes, Tiroler Bacon with Okanagan Estate Verjus Gastrique, served with Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Proprietors' Grand Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (pale straw in colour; grassy green plum nose; fresh and lively grapefruit and gooseberry flavours; crisp finish (89)) and Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Proprietors' Grand Reserve White Meritage 2007 (medium straw colour; herbal, green bean nose with a touch of oak; ripe fruit with a touch of sweetness in mind palate (88)).

Then downstairs to the barrel cellar for the next two courses. First, Foie Gras Stuffed St. Ann's Quail, Baby Leeks, Celeriac Pave with Niagara Corn Foam and Caramelized Sea Scallop, BC Hazelnut Infused Dungeness Crab Brandade, Okanagan Quince with Vanilla Butter, served with Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Sun Rock Vineyard Chardonnay 2007 (oaky, creamy, tropical fruit, barnyard nose; California style, sweet pineapple, spicy vanilla oak; sweet core with a caramel finish but nicely structured (89)) and Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Proprietors' Grand Reserve Chardonnay 2007 (smoky, toasty, barnyard nose; Burgundian style – spicy apple and pear flavours, elegant with great length (91)). Next course: Slow Roasted Ontario Lamb Loin and Braised BC Lamb Shank Terrine with Sautéed Chanterelle Mushrooms and Truffled Gnocchi with Shiraz Jus, served with Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Proprietors' Grand Reserve Shiraz 2006 (dense purple colour; richly extracted nose of blackberry and iodine notes with a floral lift; full on the palate with vanilla oak, sweet blackberry, pepper and dark chocolate with a medicinal note; richly textured (92)) and Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Delaine Vineyard Syrah 2006 (deep ruby colour; medicinal, peppery, blackberry and tobacco nose; medium-bodied, firm but fruity; nicely integrated oak; Northern Rhône style (89)).

The upstairs to the Estate Lounge for dessert: Selection of Canadian Cheese, Lindt Chocolate Crème Brûlée Spoons, Ontario Raspberry Icewine Sabayon, Thyme and Stone Fruit Terrine, White Chocolate Lemon Crisp with Crème Fraiche, served with four 2007 Icewines, Riesling, Cabernet Franc and Gewurztraminer. Also available were two barrel samples: Jackson-Triggs Delaine Vineyard Puncheon Pinot Noir 2007 and Jackson-Triggs Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 2007 (with 3% Viognier). Got on the bus at 11:30 pm. Home by 1:45 am.

Thursday, July 23: A telephone interview with Meghann O'Hara, who is doing her MBA dissertation at Cambridge on the Canadian wine industry. Received in the mail another device to make wine taste better as soon as it's poured. The Vinturi is an acrylic column through which you pour the wine into your glass, making a decanter redundant, according to the inventor. Two small air channels on either side suck in air as you pour the wine, making a gurgling sound that you might not want to hear at a smart dinner party. I tried it on a bottle of Château Chercy Desqueroux 2005 (a Graves, currently available at Vintages), pouring one glass through the Vinturi device and another without it. I must confess that I preferred the bouquet and the taste of the sample poured through the device. More experimentation required.

Friday, July 24: Down to the LCBO to taste a dozen new releases. At last some wines I can recommend on the general list (which the LCBO now calls LCBO Wines).

Grapes for Humanity donated US$30,000 to the Cambodian Children's Advocacy Foundation in Phnom Penh recently. We received these heartwarming photos. Made my day.




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