A Wine Lover's Diary, part 287 (April 19, 2010)
Monday, April 12: A meeting with Jacquie Davies at the Rotary Club office in the Royal York Hotel to discuss Grapes for Humanity's dinner auction for October 7th. Then onto the St. Lawrence Centre for a Churchill Cellars Portfolio tasting. Lots of wines in the bargain price bracket. Enjoyed Peninsula Ridge Dubois Vineyards Reserve Inox Chardonnay 2006, Robertson Winery Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa and that winery's Shiraz, Dr. Pauly-Bergwieler Riesling Mosel and the kosher Willm Gewürztraminer 2008 from Alsace. At home, tasted two new Inniskillin wines:
- Inniskillin Winemaker's Series Two Vineyards Riesling 2008
Straw-lime colour with an aromatic bouquet of grapefruit and honey with a floral grace note. Light to medium-bodied, off-dry with a spicy (almost Gewurztraminer-like) flavour of grapefruit and tangerine. Good tension between sweetness and balancing acidity (89).
- Inniskillin Winemaker's Series Three Vineyards Chardonnay 2008
Straw coloured with a green tint. A nose of apple and vanilla oak with hint of forest floor. Medium-bodied, Burgundian-style, dry, apple, peach and pineapple flavours nicely dressed in spicy oak; lovely mouth feel and lingering flavours. (90).
Our neighbours Alec and Bonnie invited us up for dessert and Icewine. We watched the Blue Jays lose to the White Sox. Depressing. We need a new closer.
Tuesday, April 13: Joined a group of wine-writer colleagues for a tour of the LCBO's Quality Assurance labs. The Board is in the process of introducing a new designation for sweetness levels – five categories based on the perception of sweetness: Extra Dry, Dry, Medium Dry, Medium Sweet and Sweet. George Soleas, Director of Quality Assurance, told us that the LCBO gets some 60,000 returned bottles a year, 99% of which are because the consumer didn't like the product, not because it was flawed. This costs the Board about $600,000 a year. This unsung department does a great job protecting us from contaminants in wine.
Over to the St. Lawrence Centre again, this time for a portfolio tasting of Hobbs & Co. The revelation here was the discovery of a small Alsace producer, Domaine François Lichtlé in Husseren-les-Château. Hervé Lichtlé who poured his wines, farms 4 hectares. He tends the vineyards, makes the wines and markets it.
The wines – Domaine François Lichtlé Riesling 2009, Pinot Gris 2009 and Gewürztraminer 2008 - are very delicate and feminine, not the powerhouse sweet wines in Zind-Humbrecht style, but discreet and charming. Also liked Tinpot Hut Pinot Gris 2008 from Marlborough (sweet peach flavour with good acidity), Domaine de Bachellery Pinot Noir 2009 from the Pays d'Oc (light cherry flavour with a floral note) and Château de Montmirail Cuvée de Beauchamp Gigondas 2007 (richly extracted, earthy, black fruit and licorice flavours).
For dinner, with shrimp in cream sauce with rice, a bottle of Oyster Bay Sparkling Cuvée Brut (vibrant apple, white peach and citrus flavours; well balanced with good length).
The Grange of Prince Edward
Wednesday, April 14: Spent the day in Prince Edward County. Drove down to the Grange of Prince Edward to interview Caroline Granger for a magazine piece. Over a picnic lunch prepared by Michael Potters we drank Grange of Prince Edward Barrel-Fermented Chardonnay Victoria Block 2007 (full-bodied, toasty oak, spicy, forest floor; nutty and tropical fruit flavours. Broad on the palate, fine mouth feel and good length (89)). On the way I passed a new winery called Lacey (opposite another new winery called The Lift House – this year there will be six wineries on Closson Road), so I dropped in on the off chance that there was someone there. It was closed so I went to Closson Chase to find out the phone number of Hinterland Wine Company. When I asked about Lacey I ran into Kimball Lacey, who was there fixing Closson Chase's labeling machine. Turns out that Kimball is Deborah Paskus's assistant winemaker and has also worked at Carmela
and Norman Hardie.
We drove back to winery for a tasting (Note to self: No-one in the County seems to use turn signals). Kimball poured me:
- Lacey Gewurztraminer 2009 (straw colour; spicy, rose petal nose, full-bodied pink grapefruit flavour, a muscular wine with true varietal character (88))
- Lacey Chardonnay 2008 (golden straw colour; spicy, toasty, buttery-caramel nose; high toned, orange and pineapple flavours; full-bodied with a lively acidic finish, A big juicy wine in Paskus style. (89))
- Lacey Pinot Noir 2008 (light ruby colour; minerally, raspberry nose; Volnay style with a green note, light-bodied with a firm tannic finish (86))
- Lacey Baco Noir 2008 (dense purple-black colour; smoky, blackberry nose with an earthy note; fruity and fresh with lively acidity; medium-bodied, blackberry and blueberry flavours (87))
Jonas Newman of Hinterland
Then onto Hinterland to meet Jonas Newman (who worked at 13th Street) in his big silver barn. This is a new winery dedicated to making sparkling wine (a good decision for the County).
Hinterland made 550 cases in 2007, 750 in '08
and 1200 in '09. Hinterland Rosé Sparkling Wine (orange-pink colour; active and plentiful mousse; a flavour of wild strawberries and redcurrants; light-bodied, very fresh and zesty (89)) and Hinterland Les Etoiles 2007 (pale straw colour; bready, apple nose; dry and elegant green apple flavour. Very crisp, light and clean (90)).
Thursday, April 15: Spoke to Todd Halpern about the wines that will be served at this year's Grapes for Humanity dinner auction (Four Seasons Hotel): Remoissenet Remoissenet Chassagne-Montrachet 2006, Remoissenet Puligny-Montrachet Les Referts 2007, Remoissenet Chambolle-Musigny Echanges 2007, Remoissenet Clos Vougeot 2007. Trying to get a donation of Ice Cider for the dessert.
Friday, April 16: An appointment with George Soleas, Director of Quality Assurance at the LCBO, to try to determine if a cognac labeled 1874 was really that age. There was no capsule and the cork looked newish (and short). I had the client's permission to open it and taste test the spirit. The cork crumbled when we tried to extract it so we had to filter the cognac into a sterile flask. The colour was almost black with an olive green rim. The nose was rancio, woody and spirity, very dry on the palate and smooth. We compared the colour to three old cognacs - Prunier Reserve Très Vieille, Hine Triomphe Grande Champagne and Brillet Hors d'Age Grande Champagne. The "1874" was much darker and evolved. More tests are needed.