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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 261 (October 19, 2009)

Monday, October 12: Thanksgiving Day. Took the time to wrap up the loose ends of the Grapes for Humanity dinner, sending off thank-you letters and putting the uncollected wines from the auction together. For dinner, Wente Southern Hills Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 with hamburgers.

Tuesday, October 13: Recorded my 680News reviews and then to lunch at Pancer's deli with Sheila Swerling Puritt prior to meeting Mrs. Adler of Mazel Wines to discuss a tasting of kosher wines at Baycrest. I usually order a Montreal smoked meat sandwich at Pancer's but the waitress talked me into trying their pastrami – which was delicious. Going to save Montreal smoked meat for Montreal. This evening, the Junior Diabetes Research Foundation ball at the Sheraton Hotel. Deborah and I are sitting at the table of my old neighbours, Audrey and Alex Davidson. Our children used to play together and both Guy and Meredith have diabetes. The foundation raised $1.6 million this evening.

Wednesday, October 14: To Kultura on King Street for 10:30 am to do a vertical tasting of Peter Lehmann Stonewell Shiraz, conducted by Peter's son Phil. Twenty vintages of the wine were offered from 1987 to 2006. The wines showed very well, holding their colour and youthfulness and expressing their vintage. I really liked their restraint and elegance. These were not bruising Barossa fruit bombs that take you on for the best of three falls. My favourite wine was the 1998, which had a real northern Rhône character, beautifully balanced and full on the palate with blackberry, medicinal and mint notes. My other favourites were 1991 (very claret-like), 1999 (smoky, floral), 2000 (dates, chocolate, sweet fruit with a medicinal note) and the very young 2006 (spicy fruitcake flavours that will develop well).

At 3:30 pm to Caffé Doria to meet Geddy Lee and present him with a framed photo of himself and Alex Lifeson as a thank-you gift from Grapes for Humanity for masterminding and hosting the Grapes Under Pressure harvest picnic at Tawse Winery on September 26th.

This evening on to the Carlu for the Vintages Auction pre-tasting. There were 13 tables pouring 59 wines that most collectors would love to have in their cellars. Barry O'Brien, the LCBO's Director of Corporate Affairs, who runs the auction, told the crowd not to miss the white Burgundies but I made a beeline for the red Burgundies of Armand RousseauChambertin 1998, Chambertin Clos de Bèze 1998 and 1976 and Gevrey Chambertin Clos St. Jacques 2000. The Bordeaux I enjoyed most were Château Latour 1999 and Mouton-Rothschild 1989. Boy, are these wines great. Other amazing wines were Turley Earthquake Zinfandel 1996, Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon 1990, Peter Michael Belle Côte Chardonnay 2000, Heitz Martha's Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 1996, Domaine Pierre Usseglio et Fils Réserve des Deux Frères 2001. At the end was the "sweet table" where I enjoyed Jos. Christofell Jnr. Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese 1989, Château Climens 1988 (spectacular) and Graham Vintage Port 1977. Altogether a very satisfactory tasting.

Thursday, October 15: A meeting at 11 am this morning of the Ethics Committee of the Wine Writers Circle of Canada at Grano. We thrashed out principles for a code of conduct and ethical behaviour for our members and then had lunch. Six of us and no wine ordered. Must have been a first. I might just as well have stayed for the afternoon since I was back at Grano at 6:30 pm for the reunion dinner of the group I toured to the Rhône and Burgundy last May. Stephen Pauwels, whose travel company arranges the logistics, and I told the group about next May's tour to Spain. We are already over half booked. It was a noisy evening because there were two other functions happening in the restaurant – a Liberal party find-raiser with Michael Ignatieff and a children's charity find-raiser. The wines we had for dinner:

  • Joie Reserve Chardonnay 2007
  • Castillo Monseran Viura N/V
  • Fèvre Chablis Bougros 2004
  • Thirty Bench Steel Post Riesling 2006
  • Paul Bara Bouzy Rouge
  • Strewn Terroir Merlot 2007
  • Clos de la Vougeraie Clos Vougeot 2006
  • Jean Claude Boisset Gevrey-Chambertin 2006
  • Bodegas Piqueras Marques de Rojas 2006
  • Pintia Toro 2005 (owned by Vega Sicilia)

I underestimated the capacity of the group. We had to order a couple of bottles of F. d'Elimi Shiraz/Nero d'Avola 2003.

Friday, October 16: This morning a sparkling wine tasting at the Summerhill liquor store for members of the Wine Writers Circle, 42 in all, including 7 champagnes. Best value: Segura Viudas Brut Reserva at $14.95 and Bottega Petalo "Il Vino dell'Amore" Moscato at $12.95. At 6 pm to the Austrian Consul's house for a blind tasting arranged by Michael Thurner. There were 8 flights, each of which featured two Austrian wines and one ringer (except for the Riesling flight, in which there were only two Austrian Rieslings). The assembled tasters had to announce their favourite of the flight and guess which was the ringer.

Flight One: Grüner Veltliner. My favourite was Jurtschitsch Grüner Veltliner Käferberg 2007 (the ringer, obvious, was a white Burgundy)

Flight Two: Riesling: Of the two I preferred Jurtschitsch Riesling Zöbinger Heiligenstein 2007.

Flight Three: Sauvignon Blanc: my preference was Zieregg Sauvignon Blanc 2007 (the ringer was Didier Dagueneau Pouilly-Fumé Silex 2006)

Flight Four: My choice was the delicious Markowitsch Pinot Noir Reserve 2006, which I guessed as a Gevrey-Chambertin (the ringer was Méo Camuzet Clos de Vougeot 2006)

Flight Five: St. Laurent: my top wine was Chapoutier Ermitage Le Pavillon 2004; the ringer, which I guessed, was a Northern Rhône wine.

Flight Six: Super Austrians: my vote went to Mouton-Rothschild 2004 (the ringer), which I identified as a Bordeaux and put one point ahead of T.FX.T Arachon Evolution 2004.

Flight Seven: Super Austrians: My choice was Château Margaux 2004 (which I recognized a Bordeaux), two points ahead of Weninger Blaufränkisch Dürrau 2004.

Flight Eight: Sweet wines: I could have sworn that Tschida Sämling Trockenbeerenauslese 2005, the wine I gave the highest score of the evening, was a Sauternes. To everyone's dismay the actual Sauternes ringer in the flight was Château d'Yquem 2005 that smelled like sun tan lotion. All in all, a really fascinating tasting to show some real quality in Austrian wines.

Saturday, October 17: Today is the annual Ontario Wine Awards Niagara tour to say "thank you" to our sponsors. The group of 37 gathered at Jackson-Triggs for a glass of Maleta VIEW Old Vines Brut Sparkling Riesling before a tour of the facility and lunch in the barrel cellar. The menu: Vidal French onion Soup with Niagara Gold crouton, matched with Le Clos Jordanne Village Reserve Pinot Noir 2006, followed by pan-seared capon, truffled arugula, quinoa and confit cherry tomato with Le Clos Jordanne Estate Vineyard Chardonnay 2005. Winemaker Thomas Bachelder and his wife Mary had been invited so that Thomas could be presented with his "Winemaker of the Year" award. He was unable to attend the gala dinner in May to receive the traditional watch that accompanies the award.

Tony presents Thomas Bachelder with "Winemaker of the Year" Award

After lunch we mounted a double-decker London bus to drive to Château des Charmes for a  tour and tasting of four white wines (Riesling, Sauvignon Gris, Chardonnay Musqué and Late Harvest Riesling). Back on the bus to Inniskillin's Icewine cellar where Debi Pratt led us through a tasting of four Icewines followed by a dessert of lemon mousse with almond praline. The wines were Inniskillin Sparkling Vidal Icewine, Inniskillin Riesling Icewine, Jackson-Triggs Gewuztraminer Icewine and Inniskillin Cabernet Franc Icewine




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