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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 268 (December 7, 2009)

Monday, November 30: An interview on the Cellar Book by phone today with Rogers Radio to air in Halifax, Moncton and Saint John.

This evening, a wine tasting at a private party. Sadie Darby sent me over a sample of Brix Chocolate, "specially formulated to complement wine." Apparently it was made by a doctor on California and the suggested pairings, as it says on the packaging, are Zinfandel, Syrah, Rhône, Merlot, Shiraz. It comes in a block and you need a parmesan knife to chip off a piece. Or maybe you can carve it into a chocolate sculpture. I tried it with Masi Tupungato Passo Doble Malbec Corvina 2007 from Argentina. It worked quite well but as a chocoholic I prefer to chocolate naked.

This evening a private dinner party to celebrate the construction manager of the Toronto Royal's new building. We are starting off with Gardet Blanc de Noirs Champagne served with goat cheese crostini with tomato chutney. Then smoked arctic char with crème fraîche and caviar and seared foie gras with Saskatoon berry compote. When we sit at table, the first course is leek and potato soup with crispy leeks and truffle oil, served with Domaine Valery Renaudat Les Lignis Reuilly Sauvignon Blanc 2008. Fish course: roasted black cod with wild mushroom ragout, with Sonoma-Cutrer Russian River Ranches Chardonnay 2006. Main course: roast tenderloin of venison, red cabbage confit, celeriac and potato puree with a red wine reduction, with Storm Bay Pinot Noir 2005 from Tasmania. Then salad – Belgian endive and watercress with green apple and roasted pine nuts, followed by a cheese plate (Bouq Emissaire, Le Ciel de Charlevoix and Christmas Cheddar), with Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 from Israel. Dessert: lemon pot de crème with lime and ginger cookies, with Inniskillin Vidal Icewine 2007.

Tuesday, December 1: Lunch at The Homeway with Brian Watley, whom I hadn't seen for some time. He wanted to buy four copies of the Cellar Book for Christmas presents. Wrote up my wine reviews for 680News. There are some corrections to be made to the Wine Tours of North America book, which is being edited in London. Hard to get email or phone replies for BC wineries. The Rockies are a psychological as well as a physical barrier, it seems. Tasted the following wines today:

Lucente 2007 (Tuscany)
The deep ruby-purple colour speaks to the concentration of extract in this top-flight Merlot, Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon from an excellent vintage. A nose of cedar, red berries and violets suggests the quality to come. A very elegant, seamless wine, medium-bodied with flavours of ripe cherries and blackberries with a tannic lift on the finish. Drinking well now but will hold five years at least. (92) 

Masi Masianco Pinot Grigio Verduzzo 2008 (Veneto)
If you're looking for a Pinot Grigio with character, try Masi's Masianco 2008. What makes this wine interesting is the addition of a grape called Verduzzo to the Pinot Grigio, which gives the wine a richer mouth feel and a touch more fruit. The flavours are white peach and citrus. The wine is medium-bodied, fresh and easy drinking. An ideal aperitif wine. (87)

Masi Tupungato Passo Doble Malbec Corvina 2007 (Argentina)
Masi used the Amarone technique of drying Corvina grapes and adding them to the fermenting Malbec. The result is a more voluptuous and complex style of Argentinean Malbec. Deep ruby in colour, the nose is earthy and woodsy with aromas of dried cherry and spices, The fruit is sweet and raisiny-cherry with a lively acidic spine and a clovey note on the finish. (89) 

Masi Grandarella Appassimento Rosso delle Venezie 2004 (Friuli)
This is an unusual wine made from Refosco and Carménère grapes from Friuli. The Amarone technique of drying the grapes until they lose 30% of the weight, thereby concentrating their sugars and acids, gives the full-bodied wine a rich texture and soft mouth feel. Dense ruby in colour, the bouquet is reminiscent of dried rose petals, vanilla oak and black cherries. The flavour is all black cherry and dark chocolate with a lively acidic spine. It finishes firmly with powdery tannins. (90)

Wednesday, December 2: After recording my 680News reviews at the Rogers studio, over to Doug Towers for a tasting with David Lawrason. At 5 pm a call from the market research company to answer questions about Cellared in Canada wines. The exercise seemed somewhat academic since the government has already gone a long way to fix the issue. Received a copy of a book by Randall Grahm, Been Doon So Long. I'm a great fan. Randall is the most articulate and amusing writer on wine. Looking forward to reading it.

Thursday, December 3: A Vintages tasting today for the January 9th release. Lots of wines under $15. The strategy must be consumers have little cash to spend after Christmas. At 5 pm down to the financial district for a corporate tasting in offices on Adelaide Street. At my stand I was talking about Smith & Shaw Sauvignon Blanc 2008, Alain Gras Saint-Romain Blanc 2006, 7 Deadly Zins Zinfandel 2007 and Coriole Mary Kathleen Reserve Cabernet/Merlot 2005.

Friday, December 4: Another Vintages tasting today, for the January 23rd release. In the evening I conducted a wine dinner at the Mandarin Gold & Country Club in Markham. It was a tribute to Robert Mondavi. Robert Mondavi Fumé Blanc 2007, served with scallop in avocado salad and salmon wasabi puff pastry. With the first course of roasted squab scented with black truffle oil, Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Unfiltered 1990 and Robert Mondavi Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Unfiltered 1994 (some tables had the 1996). With the main course of braised Australian wagyu beef with lotus leaf rice and Chinese baby greens, Opus One 1996. For dessert, lychee fruit tart with mixed berries, with Peller Estates Ice Cuvée. The wine of the night, as expected, was the 1994 Cabernet Sauvignon.




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