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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 283 (March 22, 2010)

Monday, March 15: Wrote up my 680News wine reviews. In the evening an invitation to dine with Meliza Jalbert, a Quebecker who is the Canadian representative for Hope Family Wines, a company which has four labels – Liberty School, Treana, Austin Hope (the winemaker for the group) and Candor Winery. We dined at Vertical with Philip and Debra Mirabelli, the Hope Family importing agents. Before sitting we had an aperitif of Liberty School Chardonnay 2007, which has 5% Viognier in the blend. Deeply coloured with a nose of fennel, citrus, green apple, undergrowth and vanilla oak. A flavour of green pineapple, no great length, very good value for $17.95 (88 points). This wine was also served with the first course – seared white tuna, red fife bread salad, roasted eggplant & shallots, salsa verde – alongside Liberty School Zinfandel 2007 (dense purple colour; vanilla oak and sweet plum; spicy, sweet and clovey with a creamy mouth-feel; soft, plum and blackberry flavours (88)). The second course of smoked duck breast, grilled eggplant, peppers & mushrooms, and Ontario pecans was served with Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 (the nose is sweet blackberries with a note of leather; the flavours of black fruits and mocha fill the mouth, finishing dry and savoury (87)). Third course: lamb rack, green beans, housemade lamb bacon, roasted potatoes, Kozlik's mustard jus with Liberty School Syrah 2007 (dense purple colour; a nose of blackberries with a medicinal note; red berry and almond flavours with chalky tannins (87)). With a selection of cheeses we were served non-vintage Candor wines: Candor Merlot Lot 2 (cherry pit nose, fruity, firm, dry and tannic with a sweet spicy black cherry flavour. A little short on the finish (87)) and Candor Zinfandel (the wine of the evening: dense purple colour, full-bodied, creamy mouth-feel with a sweet spicy blackberry flavour (90)).

Tuesday, March 16: The weather turned warm and Pinot the Wonder Dog is getting frisky. The National Post printed my letter in response to Conrad Black's column on Saturday about dogs and cats. The simple truth about dogs and cats, I wrote, is that dogs make make a bee-line for people who love them while cats instinctively gravitate towards those who hate them.

Spent the day rewriting an article on investing in wine for Expressions magazine. Patrick Imbert, the French Trade Commissioner in Toronto, came to dinner. Deborah invited her sister, Suzanne, who lives in Paris half of the year. We opened a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Brut with hors d'oeuvres – asparagus wrapped in prosciutto and BBQ'd and dates stuffed with blue cheese and warmed. Sat down to an amazing lobster risotto that Deborah prepared, served with Le Clos Jordanne Grand Clos Chardonnay 2006. The main course was BBQ'd New York steak with boiled potatoes and peas with Stonechurch Syrah 2007 (this wine won a gold medal at last year's Ontario Wine Awards and tastes just like a Northern Rhône Crozes-Hermitage). For the cheese course, a bottle of Château St. Jean Pinot Noir 2006. Dessert: Deborah's lemon pie. A great evening.

Wednesday, March 17: A really warm day for St. Patrick's Day – up to 17°C. Recorded my 680 News wine reviews and then did a final polish on the article for Expressions. Checked the weather on the internet for Beaune, where I'm going on Saturday. It looks about the same as Toronto only they're predicting rain for virtually the whole time I'm there. For dinner, the leftovers from last night with a bottle of Jackson-Triggs Proprietors' Grand Reserve Merlot 2007 (dense purple colour; cedar, blueberry and vanilla oak on the nose; medium-bodied, dry and savoury with well defined blueberry flavour; firmly structured with ripe tannins, though I was expecting more fruit concentration for a 2007 (88)).

Poster for John Gundy's exhibition

Thursday, March 18: Wrote up wine reviews for Tidings Magazine. Drove over to a gallery opening on Dundas West. A photography exhibition by John Gundy. John tells me, over a glass of Norman Hardie County Pinot Noir 2007, that he has taken 150,000 photos of food and wine over the past five years. He is a terrific photographer. My favourite image of this exhibition (it runs at The Department Gallery Mainspace, 1389 Dundas West, until March 27) is of chef Jamie Kennedy contemplating a huge haunch of beef like a sculptor visualizing what he can unlock from a hunk of marble.

Friday, March 19: A vintages' tasting for the May release. Picked up my passport from the passport office. Thank God it was there.  In the evening drove to Uxbridge to conduct a charity wine tasting at a private house. The wines were:

  • Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc Private Bin 2008
  • Weingut Brundlmayer Gruner Veltliner 2007
  • Cono Sur Viognier 2008
  • Chateau des Charmes Droit Gamay Noir 2007
  • DeLoach Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
  • Catena Malbec 2007



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