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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 290 (May 10, 2010)

Monday, May 3: This is a busy wine week. This afternoon at the King Eddie hotel, the Grandi Marchi tasting, which turned out to be the best Italian tasting I've attended in Toronto. There are 17 family-owned wineries in this event. The quality of the wines was uniformly high and the principals were there to pour their wines, including Piero Antinori, Silvio Jermann, Aloise Lageder, Pio Boffa from Pio Cesare, Giovanni Folonari and Chiara Lungarotti. Each producer offered four wines. I tasted about 40 of 68 wines offered. My top marks went to Alois Lageder Gewürztraminer 2009, Jermann Sauvignon Blanc 2008, Umani Ronchi Plenio Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Riserva 2006, Masi Campolongo di Torbe Amarone 2004, Pio Cesare il Bricco Barbaresco 2005 and Michele Chiarlo La Court Nizza Barbera d'Asti Superiore 2006.

Tuesday, May 4: Today the French Wine Connect 2010 – North America tasting at Roy Thomson Hall. This tasting is also held in Miami and Los Angeles. Many of the 45 producers are looking for agents in our market. The tasting was beautifully organized. The wine press had their own room downstairs where we could sit to make our notes of the 82 products put out for us. My top scoring wines were Domaine Bott Frères Gewürztraminer Réserve Personnelle 2008, Domaine Cabasse Gigondas 2007, Champagne Cuillier Père & Fils Brut Sélection, Champagne Lacourte-Godbillon Extra Brut Premier Cru. Best value: Maison Rigal The Original Malbec 2009 and Loron Bourgogne Chardonnay Montvallon 2008. I was very impressed by the overall quality of the wines of Domaine Joseph Cattin, especially their Crémant d'Alsace, Gewürztraminer 2009 and the stunning Gewürztraminer Grand Cru Hatschbourg 2007.

In the evening Leon and Arlene Chan had invited Deborah and me to the VinCambridge 2010 dinner at Lai Wah Heen. Chef Patrick Lin and his team had prepared a banquet that featured Chinese and European dishes on the same plate, matched with Austrian wines in the presence of Winzer Krems winemaker Franz Arndorfer.

The menu:

(Chinese) Shredded BBQ Duck, Marinated duck breast & tofu, honey glazed barbecue duck liver. (European) Seared marinated duck breast, house made duck liver terrine, duck liver egg custard. This combined plate was served with Winzer Krems Grüner Veltliner 2009 and Winzer Krems Blauer Zweigelt 2008.

Next course: (Chinese) Wok fried king prawn in hot tomato sauce, trio colour cauliflower and x.o. chili sauce; (European) Pan-roasted jumbo sea scallop in Parma ham wrap, steamed asparagus bundle with an aged balsamic reduction, served with Winzer Krems Kellermeister Goldberg Grüner Veltliner 2009 and Winzer Krems Chremisa Grüner Veltliner 2008.

Third course: (Chinese) Sauteed beef mignonette in Szechuan brown peppercorns and garlic confit, egg white and conpoy fried rice; (European) Halibut fillet poached in herb and spice olive oil, Dungeness crabmeat risotto, pearls of vegetables, saffron infused oil, coriander seedlings, served with Winzer Krems Kellermeister Kremsleiten Riesling 2008 and Winzer Krems Chremisa Blauer Zweigelt 2008.

Dessert: (Chinese) Egg tartlette, Deep-fried sesame ball with lotus seed paste; (European) Vanilla crème brûlée, mini moulten chocolate cake and raspberry coulis. A choice of Remy Martin XO Cognac or Glenlivet Single Malt 12 or 15 Year Old was offered.

Wednesday, May 5: After recording my 680News wine reviews I hurried down to George Restaurant to have lunch with Paul Pontellier, the Directeur Géneral of Château Margaux, and several of my wine writing colleagues.

We began with a glass of Pavillon Blanc 2008: (100% Sauvignon Blanc) bright straw colour, a minerally nose of undergrowth, smoky oak, vanilla; a seamless wine with beautifully balanced flavours of apple, fig and fresh-cut grass. (93) This was served with an amuse-bouche of smoked black Alaskan cod, shiitake mushroom and watercress with Pavillon Rouge 2006: dense ruby colour; cedar and creamy blackcurrant nose; medium-bodied, elegant blackcurrant and raspberry flavours; ripe fruit, ripe tannins, firmly structured with a dry finish (90).

The first course: duck sous-vide, potato and duck confit tart.

Second course: braised short rib, white lasagna, olive foam, with Château Margaux 2004: dense purple ruby; a lovely nose – floral, graphite, cedar, blackcurrant and vanilla oak; lovely mouth feel, elegant, medium-bodied with a sweetness in the fruit; well integrated oak and supple tannins (92). And Château Margaux 1996 (close to 90% Cabernet Sauvignon): dense purple colour; on the nose, oyster shell, pencil lead, savoury note (rather like Graves than Margaux); elegant, soft mouth feel, drinking beautifully now with spicy blackcurrant flavours borne on a strong spine of acidity; great structure (93).

Third course:  Avonlea clothbound cheddar from Prince Edward Island.

Dessert: chocolate & passionfruit ganache.

aul Pontellier said that to achieve quality in white wine is ten times more difficult than red. He believes 2009 is the best vintage of Pavillon Blanc ever and that the vintage for red is unique in combining qualities he has never seen before – "the most concentrated vintage we have ever made." A quick couple of hours at my desk before going down to Crush for dinner with Christophe Truin, Export Manager of Les Grands Chais de France. The company is active in six different regions and produces 32 million cases a year. We started off with Helfrich Crémant d'Alsace  (named for the company's founder, Joseph Helfrich). Then we tasted a range of J.P. Chenet wines.

  • J.P. Chenet Cinsault Grenache Rosé 2009: salmon pink with a blue tint; peppery raspberry nose; fresh, light, easy drinking with a touch of sweetness in mid palate. (86)
  • J.P. Chenet Sauvignon Blanc 2009: pale straw colour; leesy, grapefruit and cut grass nose; dry, good variety character; grapefruit rind finish. (86)
  • Helfrich Gewürztraminer 2009: spicy, lychee, rose petal, minerally nose; medium-bodied, exotic, rich, off-dry rose water and lychee taste. Good length. (88)
  • J.P. Chenet Pinot Noir 2008: deep purple; earthy, cherry pit nose; dry, medium-bodied. Not a lot of varietal character. (85)
  • Calvet Reserve 2008: deep ruby colour; woody, red berry flavour, austere and savoury. (85)
  • Château Cantin 2007: dense purple; smoky, struck flint nose with a hint of blueberries; soft, round and fleshy with cherry and redcurrant flavours; medium-bodied and firmly structured. (87)

Thursday, May 6: Wrote my column for Tidings magazine about authenticating an 1874 cognac by taste test and laboratory analysis. My son Guy came over for dinner. I cooked pork loins glazed with Icewine syrup. I opened a bottle of Inniskillin Pinot Noir Three Vineyards 2007.

Friday, May 7: A Wine Writers' Circle meeting to taste 56 wines, mainly whites. Picked up a bottle of Monte Cheval Vranac 2007 from Montenegro as a result of an email to my website. The writer said it was good value for $9.35. Opened it over dinner at The Homeway. Not a bad wine for the price.

 

 

 

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