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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 265 (November 16, 2009)

Monday, November 9: Finished off an article on Icewine for Post City Magazines. A meeting with Paul Kostoff at Mediresource with Ian and Jeremy Lightstone about For dinner with Thai chicken stir fry a bottle of Joie Farm Riesling 2008 from the Okanagan, a magnificent accompaniment (minerally-petrol nose with notes of grapefruit, lime and white flowers; off-dry, beautifully balanced with mouth-watering acidity (90).

Tuesday, November 10: A meeting to discuss the possibility of holding the Ontario Wine Awards celebrations in a Toronto venue. In the afternoon, over to the Design Exchange for a tasting of Argentinean wines. The organizers had put out 22 wines for the press to taste. The tablecloths covered power outlets on the tables, which meant when a bottle was place on them they tipped over. Happened three times while I was there. The wines were mainly Malbec and Malbec-based blends but the best wine was Navarro Correas Alegoria Cabernet Sauvignon 2005. Best value: Pascual Toso Malbec 2008 ($12.95). I'm finding that Argentinean Malbecs under $20 are beginning to taste all alike.

After this press tasting I went downstairs to the main room, where 26 wineries were pouring their products. The most impressive: Xumek in the Valle de Zonda, San Juan. Also enjoyed the wines of Chakana, especially the Yaguarete Collection Malbec 2009 and Cabernet 2009. Other delicious wines were Familia Schroeder Saurus Pinot Noir 2007, NQN Coleccion Blend 2006 and Nieto Senetier Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2008. But my top mark of the day went to Fincha Flichman Dedicato 2006 (85% Cabernet Sauvignon with Malbec and Shiraz). Could it be the Argentinean Cabernet has been overshadowed by inexpensive Malbec?

In the evening I conducted a tasting of Israeli wines for the Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University. The wines were chosen by Paul Lokash, who imported them.

  • Pelter Winery Unoaked Chardonnay 2008
  • Golan Heights Winery Yarden Odem Vineyard Organic Chardonnay 2006
  • Tulip Winery Just Cabernet 2007
  • Golan Heights Winery Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (the wine of the night)
  • Saslove Winery Aviv Marriage 2007 (65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 10% Shiraz).

Wednesday, November 11: Took the train to Ottawa. I have been invited to have dinner at Rideau Hall with Prince Charles and Camilla, along with 100 Canadians across the country. It's a black tie event with medals. At the reception before dinner I run into Ed Madronich from Flat Rock Cellars and Charles Baker from Stratus, as well as old friends Anita Stewart, James Chatto and Sinclair Philip from Sooke Harbour House. I see George Smitherman and approach him, asking how he enjoyed the Grapes for Humanity dinner, then congratulate him on throwing his hat into Toronto's mayoral race. He gives me an odd look. It's not George Smitherman. He's Larry O'Brian, the mayor of Ottawa. Hasty retreat to the bar for a glass of Wild Goose Gewurztraminer 2006 followed in quick succession by a glass of Lailey Cabernet Sauvignon 2004. Interesting to see Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the same room as Opposition Leader Michael Ignatieff. Each table is named for a previous Governor General. Mine is Leger. At dinner I am seated between Peter Milliken, speaker of the House, and Jason Kenny, Minister of Immigration. Also at the table is Joy Camm, assistant private secretary to The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall. Joy, it turns out, lives very near to where I was born in Herne Hill, London, and now lives on Marylebone Street, where I once had a flat. The speeches go on for about forty minutes and I am ravenous, having eaten only a VIA rail lunch (which was very good, better than Air Canada). The menu tonight covers the country and is the longest one I've ever seen:

Lake Winnipeg Goldeye, Northern Pike, and Western Wild Mushroom Rillette, Courtland Apple Prairie Grain Croquette, Saskatchewan Mustard Seed and Colza Oil Emulsion, served with Flat Rock Cellars The Rusty Shed Chardonnay 2004.

Appalachian Red Deer loin roasted with Rideau Hall Herb Garden Chai, Outaouais Cranberry and Shishigatani Squash Pot Pie, Maple-braised Salsifi Bundle, Autumn Root Vegetable Celebration, Late Harvest Laurentian Pimbina and Niagara Cabernet Sauvignon Reduction, served with Mission Hill Quatrain 2005.

Baby Micro Greens from Cookstown, Ontario with Okanagan Apricot, and Golden Plum Vinaigrette with a choice of five cheeses: Dragon's Breath (Nova Scotia) Le Sieur de Duplessis (New Brunswick), Le Riopelle de l'Isle (Quebec), Toscano (Ontario) and Blue Juliette (British Columbia).

Tartlet of Newfoundland and Labrador Screech Rum-soaked Pear Confit, Nova Scotia Bakeapple Frosted Soufflé enhanced with Quebec Ice Cider and Ontario Wild Ginger, Nunavut Ukiurtatuq Tea and Wild Eastern Berry Quenelle, served with Peller Estates Ice Cuvée Sparkling Wine.

After the meal we retired to another room for a glass of cognac. Got to my hotel, the Westin, at 12:30 am.

Thursday, November 12: Slept in till 10 am. Must have been tired. At noon taxied back to Rideau Hall for a meeting over lunch with Michaëlle Jean and Jean-Daniel Lafond, the inaugural meeting of members of the Advisory Committee of the Governor General's Award in celebration of the Nation's Table. This is a new award in lime with the Governor General's awards for literature, architecture, etc. We start with a glass of Henry of Pelham Cuvée Catherine Brut as we wait for their Excellencies, who are all (a red oak). Over lunch we discuss the criteria for the award and how it might be implemented. The lunch menu was delicious:

Grilled Lobster and Fried New Brunswick Oysters, Lemon Risotto Cream and Prosciutto Jus, served with Stoney Ridge Charlotte's Chardonnay 2002.

Roasted Rankin Inlet Caribou Tenderloin and Laurentian Lamb Sausage, Parsnip and Sumac Velvet, Swiss Chard and White Mushroom Rosemary Spikes, with Cedar Creek Meritage Platinum Reserve 2005.

Apple Feuilleté, Cranberry Quenelle, Honey-poached Melon Balls with Cave Spring Riesling Indian Summer 2003.

After lunch we continued the meeting downstairs. Broke off at 4 pm to take a taxi to Ottawa Station for the train ride home.

Friday, November 13: Up early to appear on Canada AM to promote the new cellar book. And then a couple of live interviews at Random House's office before returning home for two telephone interviews with 680News and the Calgary Herald. For dinner with roast pork loin, Pillitteri Merlot 2007, very rich and concentrated as an Ontario red from the 2007 vintage should be.




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