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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 252 (August 17, 2009)

Monday, August 10: Picked up the new car today. Its bouquet is beautiful. Wrote my Tidings editorial on Croatian wines. My wife Deborah forwarded a notice about a hotel in Holland called Hotel Restaurant de Vrouwe van Stavoren where three of the rooms are actually old wine barrels. I don't know if she was trying to tell me something.

For dinner, with BBQ hamburgers, a bottle of Oveja Negra Cabernet Sauvignon-Syrah 2008 from Chile (in preparation for tomorrow's big Chilean tasting at Hart House.)

Tuesday, August 11: Torrential rain as I walk from the subway to Hart House. Usually tastings here are held in the great hall but this one, for some reason, is in a tent in the courtyard. Water is pooling on the flagstones under our feet. There are 30 wineries, with 3–5 wines each, many of which have not been in the market before. The most consistent wines for quality were Vina Garces Silva's Amayna label – a Barrel-Fermented Sauvignon Blanc 2007, Syrah 2007 and Pinot Noir 2007. Not inexpensive at $34.95 but beautifully made wines. Other wines I really enjoyed were Vina Chocalan Chardonnay 2008, Vina Maipo Limited Edition Syrah 2006, San Pedro Cabo de Hornos 2006 (a Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Malbec blend – the most expensive wine at the show: $61.95), Vina Luis Felipe Edwards Gran Reserva Carménère 2007, Vina Maipo Limited Edition Syrah 2006, Vina Nativa Gran Reserva Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, GEO Chono Syrah 2007 and Vina Caliterra Tributo Edicion Limitada Carménère/Malbec 2006. The most interesting white was Cousiño Macul Sauvignon Gris 2008; I have tasted it a couple of times before and always found it intriguing. Best value wine: Vina Casa Silver Dona Dominga Single Vineyard Carmenère 2008 at $12.95.

Wednesday, August 12: Recorded my 680News wine reviews. My producer, Stu Hammell, just got married so I gave him a couple of bottles of wine to celebrate. Worked on the BC portion of the Readers' Digest wine touring book. I have to finish the project by the weekend, as I leave on Monday for the annual fishing trip (the camp is 120 miles from Kuujjuaq in northern Quebec). David Weinberg came over for a meeting about Curiosk, his wine kiosk ( For dinner, with salmon, a bottle of Closson Chase Sans Chene Chardonnay 2008. Not quite as good as the oaked version but a tasty wine. Medium straw in colour with a green tint; grassy, green apple and green pineapple nose; medium-bodied, fresh with good acidity and a bitter almond note on the finish (89).

Thursday, August 13: Worked on the Vancouver Island wine tour for the book. The last time I visited wineries there I got a speeding ticket.

This evening I'm conducting a Cantonese Banquet with wines at Lai Toh Heen with Chef Patrick Kin. The menu:

Crackling Pig Pieces of Rice Flat Bread, Hoisin Sauce & Sugar, with Cave Spring CSV Riesling 2007

Peking Duck – First Course: Sliced Duckling on Warm Rice Crepes, Hoisin Sauce, with Scott Cellars Pinot Noir 2006 (Santa Barbara)

Peking Duck – Second Course: Stir-fried Minced duckling with Diced Vegetables served in a lettuce leaf, with Scott Cellars Pinot Noir 2006 (Santa Barbara)

Wok-fried Jumbo Prawns & Scallops with Pine Nuts and Sugar Snap Peas, with Domaine du Petit Coteau Vouvray 2007

Braised Dried Abalone, with Kim Crawford Pinot Noir 2008 (Marlborough)

Steamed Whole Black Bass with Scallions and Coriander Sprigs in a light Soy Blend, with Bouchard Père & Fils Pouilly-Fuissé 2007

Chinese Sweet Petits Fours

Friday, August 14: A Vintages release tasting in the morning. Came back to an email advising me of a new wine product – the Wine Diaper. It's a reusable zip-lock bag for a bottle you put in your suitcase. If the bottle breaks the wine is sealed inside. Good idea.

Saturday, August 15: Our annual joint anniversary dinner this year at Rod & Bessie Seyffert's. Frank & Patti-Ann, Deborah and I, and the Seyfferts all share the same anniversary date (18th, 12th and 35th respectively). Bessie made a great meal of watermelon and shrimp salad, veal chop, roast potatoes and asparagus, cheeses, and chocolate ice cream with lemon tart for dessert. It was the first time this year we dined outside.

The wines (from memory): Pinot Franco Prosecco, Strewn Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé, Lenswood Pinot Noir 2007, Cave Spring Pinot Noir 2007 and Taylor Tawny 10-Year-Old Tawny Port.

Opened a bottle of Niagara College Teaching Winery Meritage 2007 (a blend of all five Bordeaux varieties – Merlot 41.8%, Cabernet Sauvignon 25%, Cabernet Franc 24%, Petit Verdot 5.1%, Malbec 3.2%). Deep ruby colour; lovely floral nose with cedar and currant notes; medium-bodied, harmonious oak, acid and fruit flavours (red berry with a pencil lead note); elegant and focused. Lively acidic finish (90).




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