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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 308 (September 13, 2010)

Monday, September 6: Started writing a wine book proposal for Random House. Spent much of the day picking up wine for the Grapes for Humanity dinner auction on October 7th. For dinner, BBQ-ed spare ribs with a bottle of Jackson-Triggs Delaine Vineyard Syrah 2006.

Tuesday, September 7: Down to Crush for a portfolio tasting of Louis Latour Burgundies and Simonnet-Febvre Chablis from the 2008 vintage. Not a stellar year but some interesting wines. I liked Simonnet-Febvre Chablis Les Clos 2008 and Simonnet-Febvre Chablis Mont de Milieu 2008. The white Burgundies were better than the reds. Enjoyed Louis Latour Corton Charlemagne 2008. My top red was Louis Latour Chambertin Cuvée Heritiers 2008.

Then over to The Four Seasons for the test dinner for Grapes for Humanity in the Studio Café. Tweaked the dishes with Jackie Davies and my wife Deborah to match the Remoissenet Burgundies that will accompany them. The menu will be:

Hors d'oeuvres to accompany Champagne Roederer

Lobster & Leek Quiche
Rabbit Rillette, Thyme Biscotti, Quince Jelly
Duck Liver Parfait, Toasted Brioche, Spicy Maple-Cider Glaze
Squash Cider Shooter, Muscat grapes

Dinner Menu

Smoked Ontario Kolapore Springs Speckled Trout with Celery Root & Cranberry Remoulade, Green Onion Aioli
Goat Cheese Beignet, Chestnut & Pear relish

Remoissenet Chassagne Montrachet 2006
Remoissenet Puligny-Montrachet Referts 2006

Slow Roasted Venison, Pumpkin Puree, Sauteed Wild Mushrooms, Truffled Brussels Sprout Salad, Confit Shallot Jus

Remoissenet Chambolle-Musigny Echanges 2006
Remoissenet Clos Vougeot 2007 


Lemon Almond Saverin with spiced Apple Compote and Lindt Orange Chocolate

Domaine Pinnacle Ice Cider

Coffee, Decaffeinated, Tea

Remy Martin Cognac XO

(Tickets for the wine auction dinner are available by calling Annette at 416-445-9920 or emailing

For dinner, the remains of the barbecued ribs with a bottle of Henry of Pelham Baco Noir Reserve 2007. I'm always amazed how good this wine is for a hybrid.

Wednesday, September 8: Finished the book proposal and then went down to St. Lawrence Hall for Lifford Wine Agency's "Fête de Pinot Noir." Steve Campbell had all the Pinot Noirs (plus other wines) from 18 of the principals his company represents. What could be better than a roomful of Pinot? All it needed was the presence of Pinot the Wonder Dog to make it complete.

Great to catch up with old buddies like Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat. Thomas Bachelder was there and he told me about his next enterprise since leaving Le Clos Jordanne as head winemaker (he's still consulting). Thomas is making three Pinot Noirs at Southbrook under his own label, 300 cases of each – Bachelder Niagara Pinot Noir, Bachelder Bourgogne (in Burgundy) and Bachelder Pinot Noir d'Oregon (from Lemelson Vineyards, where he made wine before coming back to Ontario).

I really liked the New Zealand contingent. My favourite wine was Felton Road Block 3 Pinot Noir 2009 as well as their Calvert Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009 and their Bannockburn Pinot Noir 2009. Also enjoyed Ata Rangi Pinot Noir 2008. Staete Landt Pinot Noir 2008 from Marlborough was more Burgundian in style and more modestly priced. The Louis Jadot Burgundies also showed well. Loved the Louis Jadot Beaune Couchereaux 2002 and Louis Jadot Corton-Pougets 1998, which was remarkably youthful. Didn't have time to do the white wines on offer but didn't want to miss Ata Rangi Craighall Chardonnay 2008 from Martinborough – just too delicious for words.

To dinner across the road at The Homeway. Brought along a bottle of Estate Papaioannou Agiorgitiko 2006, a Xinomavro from Nemea that tastes like a mature red Burgundy.

Thursday, September 9: Wrote my column for Post City Magazines. Went down to The Fine Wine Reserve for a tasting of two Grant Burge wines. Grant was there with his wife to lead us through a vertical tasting of The Holy Trinity Grenache Shiraz Mourvèdre (from five vineyards, all over 50 years old, some over 100) and the Filsell Shiraz (50 acres planted in 1920).

  • Grant Burge The Holy Trinity 1999: deep ruby colour with a tawny note at the rim; chocolate and soy on the nose with a minty-herbal note; lively acidity carries the raspberry flavour. Tannins still firm. The fruit is drying out a bit but there's still some ageing possibility there. (89)
  • Grant Burge The Holy Trinity 2002: deep ruby; leafy, raspberry and blackcurrant nose with a lead pencil note on the nose; fresh and savoury raspberry flavour with a firm tannic finish. (90)
  • Grant Burge The Holy Trinity 2004: deep ruby colour; spicy, savoury nose with plum and prune flavours. Firmly structured but a little short. (87)
  • Grant Burge The Holy Trinity 2005: deep ruby; rich blackcurrant, pencil lead and vanilla oak nose; spicy-earthy flavour of ripe black fruits; juicy on the palate but firmly structured with ripe tannins. (91)
  • Grant Burge Filsell Shiraz 2002: deep ruby; lovely lifted spicy sandalwood nose; blackberry and herbal flavour, full on the palate with a firm finish. (89)
  • Grant Burge Filsell Shiraz 2004: dense ruby-purple; smoky, blackberry and toasted herbs; chunky on the palate with a dark chocolate flavour, dry, firm finish. (88)
  • Grant Burge Filsell Shiraz 2005: dense purple-ruby; mocha and blackberry nose with a spicy note; well extracted black cherry flavour. Mouth-filling and concentrated black fruit flavours with a long savoury finish. (90)
  • Grant Burge Filsell Shiraz 2008: dense purple colour; high toned, smoky, plummy nose with a spicy edge. A big wine with aggressive tannins at the moment. A little disjointed. Needs a couple of years in the bottle. (88+)

For dinner, a bottle of Tinhorn Creek Merlot 2008: deep ruby colour; a nose of vanilla oak and blueberry pie; medium-bodied, soft mouth feel, sweet blueberry and chocolate flavours; beautifully balanced and seamless with a spicy note in mid-palate; finishes firmly. (90)

Friday, September 10: Driving down to Essex County to participate in the Shores of Erie Wine Festival. The event is being held at Fort Malden in Amherstburg. A line of tents housing restaurants and wineries strung out along the bank of the Detroit River – a magnificent setting. I'm staying at Maison La Roos, a luxurious B&B in Colchester about 20 minutes' drive from the festival grounds.

Before the Winemakers' Dinner at which the gold medals will be presented to the winning winemakers, I have a chance to taste many of the award winners. Enjoyed Aleksander Pinot Grigio 2009, Muscedere Vidal Blanc 2009, Pelee Island Chardonnay Non-oaked 2009, Alvar Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2009, Vinepointe Ideal Point Barrel-Fermented Chardonnay 2006, Muscadere Syrah 2008 and Pelee Island Stepping Up To The Plate Cabernet Merlot 2008.

At dinner was seated at John Fancsy's table. John is the owner Viewpointe Estate Winery in Colchester. Also at the table: food writer Elizabeth Baird and her husband George, Rosemary (with whom I wrote a cookbook called Cellar & Silver), Wayne Bentley, who sells Riedel glasses in the London area, John Parent, Director of Research and Product Development for tourism Windsor Essex and Pelee Island, and his partner Marla. At the meal the gold medal wines from the competition were served:

Butter Nut Squash Agnolotti with Sage and Brown Butter, served with Muscadere Cabernet Franc 2008

Boston Bib and Roasted Apple Salad, Baby Spinach, Granny Smith Apples, Candied Almonds with Late Harvest Riesling Vidal Vinaigrette, with Pelee Island Riesling Dry 2008

Panko Crusted Lake Erie Perch, Roasted Corn, Pancetta Bacon, Black Beans, Red Pepper Aioli, with Aleksander Chambourcin 2008

Blanc de Noir Sorbet, with Viewpointe Auxerrois 2006

Lamb Duo, Rack chop, Slow Braised Shank, Gemolada, Garlic Whipped Potatoes, Roasted Root Vegetables, with Mastronardi Vineyards Syrah 2007

Black Forest Crêpe, with Colio CEV Vidal Icewine

Saturday, September 11: Fortified by an enormous breakfast of grapefruit, eggs Benedict, baked tomatoes and tea I headed out to Viewpointe Estate, a short drive from my B&B in Colchester. Tasted through their range of wines. Really liked the Viewpointe Riesling 2006, Viewpointe Ideal Pointe Barrel Fermented Chardonnay 2006 and Viewpointe Pinot Noir 2007. Viewpointe has developed a unique grape – a crossing of Cabernet Sauvignon with a hybrid grape (John wouldn't tell me what it was) to create a more winter-hardy variety. Unnamed at the moment, it goes under the acronym HG for Harrow Graft. Colchester Cuvée 2008 is a blend of three different crossings. It has a flavour of cranberries and pomegranate with a floral note and finishes with a firm tannins.

Then I drove to the festival site past a phalanx of wind turbines which I hadn't noticed in the dark last night. Set up for my seminar at 2 pm under the same tent where we had the Winemakers' Dinner the night before. During my tasting the rain started bucketing down and people took shelter in the tent, which swelled the audience but made it difficult to communicate over the chatter. At then end of the tasting I signed copies of Tony Aspler's Cellar Book and the three wine murder mysteries, Blood Is Thicker Than Beaujolais, The Beast of Barbaresco and Death on the Douro. Then John Parent took me into a room where five wineries had gathered some wines for me to taste.

  • Muscadere Pinot Noir 2008 is very Burgundian in style, high toned with lean, sinewy, raspberry and violet flavours.
  • Colchester Ridge Crew Meritage 2007 is light and elegant with expressive red berry flavours. I also liked their Merlot 2006.
  • Aleksander Cabernet Franc 2008 is a new direction for the winery. Good varietal character with clean lines and good mouth-feel.
  • Sprucewood Shores Cabernet Franc 2007: well made, cherry and redcurrant flavours; firm structure with supple tannins.
  • Mastronardi Brianjë Riesling 2008: perfumed, off-dry, peachy with grapefruit acidity. Long finish.

To dinner with Elizabeth Baird and Rose Murray plus spouses at Caldwell's Grant Restaurant in Amherstburg. We consumed two bottles of Mastronardi Syrah 2008. I ordered calamari to start followed by roast beef. For dessert, carrot cake. Got lost going back to the B&B. Ended up in a pizzeria in Harrow asking for directions.

Sunday, September 12: After another massive breakfast of grapefruit, scrambled eggs, bacon and baked stuffed portobello mushroom with tea and brown toast, headed back to Toronto. A fascinating couple of days in Lake Erie North Shore. I was impressed by the Syrahs that are being made here, a unique style that has nothing to do with Northern Rhône, Australia or, for that matter, Niagara Peninsula. Pinot Gris does well here, as does Chardonnay, and the Bordeaux varieties seem to ripen better than they do in Niagara.




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