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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 296 (June 21, 2010)

Monday, June 14: Worked on the wine list for the Rainbow Room. Grilled some lamb chops for Long Flat Shiraz 2008.

Tuesday, June 15: Attended the Trade Comparative Masterclass at which a moderating panel conducted a blind tasting of Australian Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Shiraz/Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. In each flight of five (six for Shiraz) there were a couple of ringers. We were asked to rank the wines by preference and say which were Australian. The only flight I didn't put a ringer first was in the Pinot Noir Flight (Bouchard Père et Fils Savigny-les-Beaune 2007). My top wines were Xanadu Limited Release Chardonnay 2008 from Margaret River, Kangarilla Road Shiraz 2007 from McLaren Vale, and Thomas Hardy "Eileen Hardy" Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 from Margaret River. This tasting confirmed my preference for the wine styles from Margaret River. Dined at Chris Boland's new restaurant, Boland's Open Kitchen at 575 Mount Pleasant. He offers free apps, an eclectic wine list and well-prepared dishes by Chef Brian. I brought along a bottle of Jean-Marie Fallault Chinon Les Picasses 2007 for the Cornish hen I ordered.

Wednesday, June 16: Wrote my Commentary for Tidings magazine on yesterday's Australian tasting. In the evening, down to the Carlu for an 80th anniversary celebration dinner for Mouton Cadet. This wine is the largest selling French brand and has been in our market since the early 1950s. Fitting that the event should be held here, since Jean Carlu designed the first Château Mouton-Rothschild label in 1924. The evening began with a couple of glasses of a new product – the three branches of the Rothschild family have joined forces to make a Blanc de Blancs champagne called Barons de Rothschild Champagne. It's produced by the co-operative Goutte d'Or and is really delicious. At dinner I was seated next to my old friend Xavier de Eizaguirre, the general manager of Mouton-Rothschild, who tells me that he intends to retire to the Caribbean. Xavier is Basque from San Sebastian and talked about the great food there. The menu tonight:

Green and white asparagus risotto with a seared scallop and heirloom carrot reduction, served with Réserve Mouton Cadet Graves Blanc 2008.

Rosemary black pepper and Dijon brushed rack of lamb with Yukon gold potato mash and season vegetable bundle, with Mouton Cadet Pauillac Edition Limitée 2006 from a double magnum. (This wine was the same proportional blend as the first Mouton Cadet made by Baron Philippe de Rothschild in 1930 – uniquely from Pauillac fruit – 43% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc and 22% Merlot. These days Mouton Cadet is made from grapes from across Bordeaux).

A selection of artisan cheeses, with Château Mouton-Rothschild 1978. The label was designed by Jean-Paul Riopelle. After 32 years the wine still tastes great.

Local Ontario strawberry short cake with vanilla bean custard, with Réserve Mouton Cadet Sauternes 2007.

A highly enjoyable evening.

Thursday, June 17: Today is Sip & Savour Ontario. This year the event is being held at the Pantages Hotel in Toronto instead of Queens Landing in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Another change is that the presentation of gold medals for the Ontario Wine Awards is a lunch rather than a dinner. Kevin Brauch, "The Thirsty Traveller," is the host again this year. For the winners, see 2010 Ontario Wine Awards – Final Results.

We had to resort to subterfuge to get Darryl Brooker to Toronto from the Okanagan to receive the Winemaker of the Year Award, since he recently decamped from Hillebrand to take up the position of head winemaker at CedarCreek. His new employer, Gordon Fitzpatrick, graciously agreed to fly Darryl back on the pretext of doing some promotion in Toronto for his winery. More subterfuge to get Linda Bramble to the lunch from St. Catherines to receive her Journalism award for her book Niagara's Wine Visionaries.

Gold medal wines were served with each course (The White Wine of the Year – garnering the highest aggregate scores from the judges – was Huff Estates South Bay Chardonnay 2007 and the Red Wine of the Year was Vineland Estates Cabernet Franc Reserve 2007.) Following the presentations there were three seminars for the trade – Bill Redelmeier of Southbrook spoke on Chardonnay, Norman Hardie addressed Pinot Noir and Natalie Reynolds discussed Riesling. Then the Trade tasting, followed by the Consumer tasting in the evening. I couldn't attend the Consumer event, as I had a charity tasting to conduct at a private home in aid of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. The wines I took from my cellar for this evening were:

  • Thirty Bench Riesling 2007 (Ontario)
  • Creekside Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2006 (Ontario)
  • Mk'Mip Qwam Qwmt Chardonnay 2006 (B.C.)
  • Château des Jacques Moulin-à-Vent 2005 (Beaujolais)
  • Coyote's Run Black Paw Vineyard Pinot Noir 2007 (Ontario)
  • Castello d'Alba Tinto 2004 (Douro)
  • Stoney Ridge Cabernet Franc Icewine 2004 (Ontario)

Some of the guests said they never bought Ontario wine but were impressed by the ones they tried tonight.

Friday, June 18: Another charity tasting this evening, for the Toronto Public Library. The wines had been donated by Hillebrand from their library.

  • Hillebrand Showcase Riesling Ghost Creek 2007
  • Hillebrand Showcase Chardonnay Single Barrel # 6038 2006
  • Hillebrand Showcase Merlot Unfiltered 1998
  • Hillebrand Showcase Cabernet Sauvignon Unfiltered 1998
  • Hillebrand Showcase Cabernet Franc 2004
  • Trius Grand Red 2002
  • Hillebrand Showcase Cabernet Franc Icewine 2007

I was amazed how well the 1998 Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon showed. They came across like a St. Emilion and a Margaux – both delicious and drinking beautifully now. Who said Ontario wines can't age?




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