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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 285 (April 5, 2010)

Saturday, March 27: Drove down to The Prince of Wales Hotel in Niagara-on-the-Lake to conduct a Bordeaux tasting dinner. The hotel's sommelier and I had chosen six wines from the 2003 vintage, representing six communes to be tasted before the main course and to accompany it. The amuse bouche, prepared by Chef Andrew Dymond, was roasted Beausoleil oyster with heirloom tomato water and green chili "escabeche." It was served with Flat Rock Twisted 2008. The same wine accompanied hand-rolled and cave-aged artisan goat's cheese, organic beetroot soufflé and cardamom syrup. The wines we tasted (we were six at table) were:

  • Château Tour de Pez 2003 (St. Estephe) 
  • Château Labegorce Zede 2003 (Margaux)
  • Domaine De Chevalier 2003 (Graves)
  • Château Petit Village 2003 (Pomerol)
  • Château D'Armailhac 2003 (Pauillac)
  • Château Canon La Gaffalière 2003 (St. Emilion)

A triumph for the last wine. The glasses remained on the table for mullard duck of Quebec, lightly smoked and dry-cured prosciutto with rillettes, hand-snipped peppercress and brioche pain perdu. This was followed by a sorbet of Meyer lemon before a fourth course of slow-roasted saddle of lamb, cippolini and leek purée, rosemary roasted cèpes and sauce bordelaise. Dessert: northern spy apple tarte tatin served with Château des Charmes Late Harvest Riesling.

Monday, March 29: Lunch at Harbour 60 to meet my old friend Chris Hancock, whom I haven't seen in years. I first met Chris at Rosemount in 1985. He is now managing Robert Oatley's winery in Mudgee, New South Wales.

  • Robert Oatley Pinot Grigio 2008 (Adelaide Hills fruit): deeply coloured with a touch of pink; a nose of white peach and peach blossom; spicy and fresh, very flavourful with great balance and a lively acidic spine (90)
  • Robert Oatley Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (Pemberton fruit): bright straw colour; grassy, green plum and green pea bouquet; medium-bodied, fresh and mouth-watering but a tad short on the finish (88)
  • Robert Oatley Chardonnay 2007 (the first wine produced by the new winery): straw coloured; peach nose with spicy oak; rich and full on the palate with flavours of peach and melon nicely balanced with oak; good mouth-feel (90)
  • Robert Oatley Tic Tok Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (Mudgee & Frankland River fruit): dense purple-ruby colour; blackcurrant nose with a floral grace note; simple flavours of sweet blackcurrant fruit; medium to full-bodied with a firm tannic finish (88)
  • Robert Oatley Shiraz 2007 (Mudgee fruit): deep ruby-purple colour; peppery, blackberry nose; full-bodied with a soft, creamy texture (87)
  • Robert Oatley Cabernet Merlot 2007 (Mudgee fruit): dense purple-ruby colour; cedar, vanilla oak and mocha nose; sweet blackcurrant and blueberries flavours, firmly structured with good acidity and ripe tannins (90)

My meal: smoked salmon and a hamburger and fries.

Tuesday, March 30: Began writing my monthly column in Lexpert on Clos de Vougeot. In the afternoon, down to the AGO for Portugal's Annual Grand Tasting. Forty-six tables and hundreds of wines. My top wines of those I tasted were Alves de Sousa Abandonado 2007 and that winery's Caldas Reserva 2005, both from the Douro, Quinta do Cotto Grande Escolha 2007, Julio Tassara de Bastos Dona Maria Reserva 2005, Quinta do Mouro 2005, and in white, Quinta de Ventozelo Branca 2008.

Best value wines: Bacalhoa Tinto da Anfora 2007, Campanhia Das Quintas Forgotten Field 2008, Sogrape Heredade do Peso Vinha do Monte Red 2008.

Wednesday, March 31: An interview by phone with a radio station in Prince Edward County. The line breaking up and I felt as if I was talking to myself. I had to keep asking if the host was still there. Lunch across the road at The Homeway with Vincent Hannah, who filled me in on the latest news about bulk wine sales. Prices, he tells me, have doubled since the Chilean earthquake because of the shortage of bulk wine on the market. In the afternoon a walk-around tasting of 21 Bordeaux wines at Germain Hotel. The products were mainly those on the LCBO's general list. Top scores to Château Argenteyre 2005 (deep ruby colour; cedar, blackcurrant and vanilla oak on the nose with a rose petal note; sweet fruit, firmly structured and elegant. Tannin on the finish. Will be terrific in 2–3 years (90)) and Château des Laurets 2007 (ruby colour; cedar and blackcurrant nose; well balanced, focused fruit with a firm tannic finish. A good petit château wine (88)).

Thursday, April 1: Put the following April Fool's joke on my Facebook page: "Just tasted a new wine from Wallaby Ridge Estate in Tasmania, designed to pair with lobster. It's a Sauvignon/Chardonnay blend called Lobster Mobster 2010. Its label depicts two lobsters wearing sunglasses and fedoras, carrying violin cases. They look exactly like The Blues Brothers. 'We had a batch of under-ripe Chardonnay so I thought I'd make an acidic wine for lobster and crayfish,' says winemaker Avril Poisson."

A tasting of Ontario wines with Doug Towers and David Lawrason at Doug's house. For dinner, with veal chops, Surani Pietrariccia Fiano 2008. Boy, is this a delicious wine.

Friday, April 2: Good Friday. Finished off my Lexpert column, sent it off and spent the rest of the day preparing for tomorrow's judging of the Ontario Wine Awards at Crush.




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