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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 253 (August 28, 2009)

Monday, August 17: Fly to Montreal this morning for the annual fishing trip with Steve, Sam, Leo, Art and Harold (who will join us as he's flying in from Sarasota). As is our custom we lunch at the Snowdon Deli on smoked meat sandwiches, French fries, dill pickles and cherry cokes. Then we drive to le Baron, where I pick up more lures before a visit to the SAQ to buy two bottles of vodka (for Leo's Bloody Marys) and a bottle of Scapa 14 Year Old single malt. The weather is boiling. It must be 34°C.

As we wait go out to dinner at Les Infidels on rue Rachel we demolish a bottle of Heidler Thal Grüner Veltliner 2007 and Schloss Gobelsburg Lamm Grüner Veltliner 2007. The restaurant is a BYO so we have two bottles of Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne 2002, Hubert Lignier Morey St. Denis Vieilles Vignes 1993, Vieux Télegraphe Châteauneuf du Pape 1998, and Fuligni Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 1997. The waitress brings us an amuse bouche of duck salad. I order the cream of mushroom soup, feuilleté d'Eescargots au bleu, pintade et côtes levées de bison aux figues confites.

The camp

Tuesday, August 18: Up at 5 am to get all our bags and fishing gear plus boxes of wine and a cooler of foodstuffs Steve has prepared to the airport for the flight on Inuit Air to Kuujjuaq. The flight is full with people who have booked a cruise to Baffin Island and Resolute Bay. We take a twin otter for the 45-minute flight from Kuujjuaq to the camp, which is 112 miles northwest of the city. At the camp we unpack and lunch on chicken noodle soup and cheeseburgers and soggy Rice Krispies cakes.

Tony's first fish of the trip

As I wait for the others to come to the boats I take a few casts off the dock and catch a 6-pound lake trout, which augurs well for the days to come. In the afternoon we fish the rapids and I catch 4 lake trout. At happy hour we get into the Scapa single malt. For dinner, salad, round steak (inedible), mashed potatoes and peas followed by chocolate cake and cheeses. The wines: Louis Latour Meursault Genevières 2003, Tardieu Laurent St. Joseph Vieilles Vignes 2000, Rockford Basket Press Shiraz 1999. Nightcap: Delamain Grande Champagne XO.

Wednesday, August 19: Breakfast: bacon and eggs with raisin toast and tea. This morning we fish a different rapids. On the second cast I get a lake trout but what we are really up here for are Arctic char and in particular the sea-run char. My morning's tally is 7 lakers and one char. Steve, who cooks all the shore lunches, prepares beer-battered char, fried potatoes and onions on the Coleman stove. It's so hot it burns holes in our Styrofoam plates. The wines: Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2004, Dauvissat Chablis La Forest 2001, Chauvenet-Chopin Nuits Saint-Georges Les Murgers 2003.

Steve beer-battering fish

In the afternoon I catch 2 lakers and lost a big one along with three lures on the rocks. The weather is windy, cold and overcast. Back at the camp for happy hour: Highland Park 18 Year Old single malt and Leo's Bloody Marys. Dinner, cooked by Yvonne, who is married to Peter, the head guide. Yvonne's brothers, Don and Jack, are also guiding. They all come from Old Fort Bay on Quebec's Lower North Shore.

Peter the guide prepares shore lunch

Dinner: Tardieu Laurent St. Joseph Vieilles Vignes 2000 (two bottles, one corked), Piedra Hill Purple Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 and Trimbach Gewurztraminer Sélection de Grains Nobles 1983 with Ellie's (Art's wife) amazing cookies.

Don and injured eye

Thursday, August 20: Today is Steve's birthday. For breakfast, scrambled eggs, sausages and toast. Don, the guide, has an ugly cut by his left eye. He tells us he stepped on a rake and the handle came up and hit him. The day starts overcast and raining but by noon the sky turns blue and the sun comes out. An amazing morning's fishing – I catch 20 lake trout. Steve prepares mushroom-crusted char with truffled aioli and peas. We celebrate his birthday with Pol Roger, Dauvissat Chablis La Forest 2002 and Louis Latour Meursault Genevières 2003. Jack, the guide, when tasting the truffled aioli, says, "I'm not much into Miracle Whip."

In the afternoon, 12 more fish, including char. When Steve's boat gets back to camp he is greeted by a large sign tacked up on the cabin facing the water, wishing him Happy Birthday. Dinner: beef soup, fried char, a spice cake birthday cake. The wines: Tardieu Laurent Hermitage 2000, Rockford Basket Press Shiraz 1998, Warre's Vintage Port 1945.

Friday, August 21: Last night Harold turned off the heater in the cabin and I was freezing. I kept getting up and putting more layers of clothes on. Woke up with a swelling under my right eye which turned out to be an allergic reaction to an insect bite. Breakfast: French toast and maple syrup.

Harold in the cabin

Today there is no wind and the lake is like glass. Caught 8 fish in the morning but because there is no wind the bugs are vicious. Steve prepares what he calls Char Creole with pasta. The wines: Louis Latour Meursault Genevières 2003, Dauvissat Chablis La Forest 2001, Chauvenet-Chopin Nuits Saint-Georges Les Murgers 2003. There are cirrus clouds in the blue sky and Leo says we're in for a change of weather.

Waiting for shore lunch

A dreary afternoon's finishing. Only one fish and one lost off the hook. Dinner: char ceviche (marinated in lime juice) that Steve prepared, spaghetti and meat sauce. The wines: Tardieu Laurent St. Joseph Vieilles Vignes 2000, Tardieu Laurent Côte Rôtie 2000, Tardieu Laurent Hermitage 2000. Today six hunters from the States joined camp. They all wear combat fatigues. One of them is a girl who turns thirteen today. She tells us she has already shot six species of trophy animals and reels off their names. Here she and her father are after caribou.

The outdoor privies

Saturday, August 22: Awoke to heavy rain and winds gusting to 60 km an hour. The trip out to the rapids is a bone-jarring experience. I catch 2 fish and we're back at camp for shore lunch at 11:30 am. My rain jacket and pants prove not to be 100% waterproof. My notebook is soaked and I have to dry out the pages by hanging it over the stove by a length of fishing line. The teenage girl has bagged her caribou, the only one of the hunters to get a kill. Two of them are hunting with crossbows.

Steve prepares a lunch of wasabi-crusted char with wasabi mayonnaise, fried rice and has brown potatoes. The wines: Dauvissat Chablis La Forest 2002, Dauvissat Chablis La Forest 2001, Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2004. Slept in the afternoon for two hours since the weather is too bad to fish. Bloody Marys at happy hour. For dinner, chicken and rice soup, turkey, apple pie and cheese. The wines: Chauvenet-Chopin Nuits Saint-Georges Les Murgers 2003, Tardieu Laurent Côte Rôtie 2000, Château d'Yquem 1962.

Steve's Bouillabaisse with accompanying wines

Sunday, August 23: The wind howled all night but we awoke to sunshine in the morning. For breakfast, scrambled eggs, sausages and toast. A good morning's fishing in spite of the roaring wind. 12 fish, including 4 char, 2 good-sized ones. It was too windy for shore lunch so we headed back to camp, where Steve prepared the much-anticipated (and traditional) bouillabaisse with char that we had caught along with the shrimps, scallops, mussels, clams, broth and rouille he had frozen and transported in the cooler. The accompanying wines: Pol Roger, Dauvissat Chablis La Forest 2002, Chauvenet-Chopin Nuits Saint-Georges Les Murgers 2003.

Fishing in the afternoon with Art on the shoreline by the rapids I saw a large lake trout at my feet. I dripped my lure into the water and he took it immediately and raced off with current. My reel sang and before I could do anything the fish had stripped my line and I was left with an empty reel. Caught one lake trout, making my tally for the day 13 fish. Dinner: beef barley soup, roast beef, mashed potatoes with peas, cheeses and cinnamon buns. The wines: Anderson's Conn Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 1997, Rockford Basket Press Shiraz 1999, Fonseca Vintage Port 1970.

An Arctic sunset

Monday, August 24: Packing up day. For breakfast, French toast and maple syrup with bacon. While we wait for the twin otter to arrive we open the last bottle of wine – Wolf Blass Platinum Label Shiraz 1998 – which we have with cheese. A mercifully uneventful trip home, except that we leave Leo's rod holder on the curb at the limo rank and have to go back to the airport for it. Home by 12:30 am. A great week's fishing.




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