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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 282 (March 15, 2010)

Monday, March 8: A meeting of the directors of Grapes for Humanity to discuss disbursement of funds in our account. The main direction we're looking at is the prosthetic needs of children injured in the Haiti disaster and Canadian troops wounded in Afghanistan.

Tuesday, March 9: Went to get my passport renewed. Since I'm travelling to Burgundy on March 20th I had to get the "express" method, which adds $30 to the cost. My passport, they assure me, will be ready for pick-up on Friday, March 19th, from noon on. It better be there.

Konrad Ejbich entertains the room
(photo by John Gundy)
Chef Chris MacDonald
(photo by John Gundy)
Preparing the paella
(photo by John Gundy)

A meeting with Justyn Szymczyk to hear about his company Greed Free's concept of raising charitable funds through wine sales. The purchaser can direct the donation of an embedded amount in the purchase price to the charity of their choice via a website. Interesting idea.

In the evening, an invitation to Chris MacDonald's Cava Restaurant for a paella and Ontario wine matching contest, conducted by my friend and fellow wine scribe, Konrad Ejbich. The evening began with a glass of Codorníu Clasico Brut and tapas – mussels, grilled sardines, serrano ham. Then representatives from six Ontario wineries introduced the wine they considered the best match for Chris's Muscovy duck, escargot and chorizo paella, exalting their product and trash talking their rivals. The wines were Southbrook Vineyards Cabernet Rosé, Henry of Pelham Reserve Baco Noir 2007, 13th Street Gamay Noir 2007, Stratus Wild Ass Rosé 2007, Norman Hardie County Chardonnay 2008 and Château des Charmes Gamay Droit 2008. We had to taste the paella with each wine and vote our top three matches. I voted for Château des Charmes, but when the votes were tallied from all the guests (the restaurant was full), the clear popular choice was 13th Street, followed by Norman Hardie and Château des Charmes. Peter Bognor Rod of 13th Street got the paella pan trophy and the bragging rights. Konrad tells me that he intends to expand the concept to other national dishes.

We ended the evening with a plate of manchego and a glass of Gonzales Byass Del Duque Amontillado Viejo.

Wednesday, March 10: I have to evaluate a bottle of Fine Champagne cognac dated 1874 and bottled by a Bourgogne & Co. in Newcastle on Tyne. There was about 2 inches of ullage in the brown gooseneck bottle. There is no seal around the cork and it looks as if the cork is new and a short one at that. There's no telling whether the brandy is authentic or not without tasting it and this is the recommendation I shall make. The integrity of the cork has already been compromised so another (and better) cork will not make a difference in that regard.

Thursday, March 11: Wrote a piece for Post City Magazines about Ontario's celebrity wineries – Mike Weir, Dan Aykroyd and Wayne Gretzky. Overall, I think Wayne Gretzky is doing the best job. Then in the evening to Globe Restaurant for a winemaker dinner featuring the wines of Natalie Spytkowsky of Rosewood Estates. Before dinner we were offered either a 2007 Mon Cherie Martini (using Rosewood's cherry-flavoured mead with vodka) or a glass of Rosewood Semillon 2008. I opted for the latter. And what an interesting wine it is: pale straw colour with a grassy, quince and lemon nose and a floral grace note; very fresh on the palate with a sweet pear flavour in mid palate and good length (89).

First course: "Canada's Finest Bouillabaisse" (Nova Scotia scallop, PEI oyster, BC albacore tuna, smoked organic tomato & saffron broth), served with Rosewood Süssreserve Riesling 2008 (minerally, grapefruit and honey nose; off-dry, lime and honey flavour, nicely balanced (87)). I preferred the Semillon as a match for this dish. Next course: Second Wind Farms elk choucroute (dried cherry chorizo, smoked ham, confit fingerling potato, swiss chard, maple whiskey mustard) with Rosewood Pinot Noir 2008 (ruby colour; minerally, earthy, cherry and red berry bouquet; firm, spicy cinnamon and clove notes, medium-bodied, good mouth-feel and lively acidity (88)). Third course: roast leg of Kingsview Farms lamb (organic red quinoa, heirloom carrots, argan oil, toasted almond milk) with Rosewood Merlot 2007 (the wine of the night – dense ruby with an earthy, savour nose of pencil lead, dried blueberries and herbs; dry, elegant and firmly structured with a dark chocolate flavour and nicely integrated oak. A steal at $18 though there's not much left at the winery (90)). The cheese course: artisanal Ontario cheese, fig compote, red fife crostini, with Rosewood Harvest Gold 2007 (a mead. I have to confess that I am not a fan of wines made from honey. Mead and Australian sparkling Shiraz are my two bêtes noires). A very impressive showing by Natalie Spytkowsky who had just driven up from Pennsylvania to introduce her wines at this dinner.

Friday, March 12: A Wine Writers Circle tasting of 45 wines with a presentation of 6 Closson Chase Chardonnays from Beamsville vineyards in Niagara (rather than Prince Edward County fruit).

  • Closson Chase Chardonnay 2001: Old gold colour; toasty, caramel nose showing some maturity; rich, full-bodied, spicy, sweet apple fruit; mouth-filling, intense and lingering (89)
  • Closson Chase Chardonnay 2004: Old gold colour, buttery, high toned nose of winter apples; spicy Burgundian style with a fine spine of acidity; elegant with great length (92)
  • Closson Chase Chardonnay 2005: straw colour; minerally, toasty vanilla oak with ripe red apple bouquet; mouth-filling sweet fruit with a tropical note; full-bodied, toasty, nutty finish; beautifully balanced with great length (91)
  • Closson Chase Chardonnay 2006: straw colour; high toned, floral, spicy tangerine nose; clean and crisp, more Burgundian in style; elegant, full on the palate with great length (93)
  • Closson Chase Chardonnay 2007: straw colour; minerally, peach with vanilla oak on the nose; fresh apple and citrus notes, well integrated oak; full-bodied and fat – speaks to the vintage; good length (90)

Another meeting with Barb Stuart, Ivan Landers and David Reilly to further to TV food show concept. In the evening a charity wine dinner for the Fred Victor Centre at a private home in the west end. The wines:

  • Fielding Estate Riesling Reserve 2007 (Niagara)
  • Jadot Pouilly-Fuissé 2008 (Burgundy)
  • Matua Valley Paretai Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (New Zealand)
  • Quails' Gate Old Vines Foch Reserve 2007 (Okanagan)
  • Felino Vina Cobos Malbec 2008 (Argentina)
  • Wynns Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Australia)
  • De Loach Zinfandel 2007 (California)
  • Daniel Lenko Viognier Icewine 2002 (Niagara)

The Jadot was the wine of choice for the fish dish and, surprisingly, the Marechal Foch from Quails' Gate created the most excitement.

Saturday, March 13: This evening, a Saintsbury Society dinner at Carol and Irv Wolkoff's, with Diane and Tony Hirons. The guests tonight are Rodney Clark, of oyster fame, and his daughter Bromwyn. Hilarious evening. The theme was red Bordeaux. We started with Dominic Piron Crémant de Bourgogne with phyllo pockets filled with goat's cheese and salsa.  The dinner started with ceviche of shellfish, followed by rack of lamb, a variety of cheeses and chocolate soufflé. The wines:

  • Maison des Princes Sauvignon de Touraine 2008
  • Henri Bourgeois Sancerre Les Baronnes 2008
  • Château Larose-Trintaudon 2005
  • Château Ramage La Bastide 2001
  • Château La Vieille Curé 2000
  • Château L'Esquisse de la Tour Figeac 1999
  • Château Smith Haut Lafitte 1985
  • Château Meyney 1983 (unfortunately corked)

Ended the evening with Quinta do Noval Nacional 1978. Then out into the rain.




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