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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 318 (November 22, 2010)

Monday, November 15: Spent the morning at Grapes for Humanity's auditor's office, as the foundation is being audited by the CRA. They quizzed me for an hour about the foundation's structure, how we raise funds and how we choose our projects.

Lunch at Grano with Roberto Martello to discuss a series of wine tastings featuring Italian provinces – as part of the celebrations for the restaurant's 25th anniversary.

In the evening, down to Black Hoof Café for a matching of Alvear Montillas with a meal. Maria Alvear was there and she told me something I didn't know about Montillas: they are all made not from the Palomino grape as in Jerez, but the Pedro Ximenez that makes sweet sherries. They are so high in sugar that the Alvear Fino doesn't need to be fortified and clocks in at 15% alcohol naturally.

We tasted four of Alvear's range, beginning with Alvear Fino, deeply coloured with a nose of chamomile, green nuts and pressed flowers. Dry, with more weight in the mouth than Fino Sherry (87). An amazing aperitif wine for $10.95. We drank this with wild boar prosciutto, spicy sausage and other charcuterie.

Noticed on the chalk board they serve a cocktail called Pumpkin Pie Sour: "Spicy Rye, Pumpkin, Simple syrup, Orange and Lemon." Love pumpkin pie; will have to go back to try it.

Next, Alvear Amontillado with soup: amber colour; high-toned nutty, raisiny nose; off-dry, dried apricot flavour with a floral note. Great length (88).

Alvear Oloroso with lamb chops, quinoa salad: ruby-green olive colour; high toned, nutty, dried fruits, raisiny, honeyed flavour (88).

Alvear Pedro Ximenez Solera 1927 with dessert which, for the life of me, I can't remember since I was so taken with this wine. Boot polish brown in colour with a nose of molasses, leather, prunes and raisins; intensely sweet but delicious (90).

Tuesday, November 16: A meeting at Mediresource offices to discuss the iWineandDine website with Paul Kostoff and Eric McRae. After a quick lunch at home, down to the Board to taste the Beaujolais Nouveaux and other new wines. Not an exciting range given the vintage.

  • Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau 2010 ($14.95): deep purple colour; dry, peppery cherry nose, lean with a slightly bitter finish (87)
  • Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau 2010 ($14.95): deep purple; banana and black cherry nose; earthy, light, easy drinking (86+)
  • Momessin Beaujolais Nouveau 2010 ($13.95): light purple; minerally, raspberry nose; lean with surprising tannic finish (86)
  • Duboeuf Gamay Nouveau 2010 (Pays d'Oc – $8.95): dense purple, cherry and cherry pit nose; lean, sour cherry flavour (85)
  • Reif Restate "The Fool" Gamay Nouveau 2010 (Ontario – $10.95): pale tawny ruby; sour cherry flavour with a touch of volatility, short finish (84)
  • Negrar Novello del Veneto 2010 ($9.95): dense purple-ruby; banana, minerally; lean, banana and cherry flavours with lively acidity (86+)
  • Mezzacorona Novio Vino Novello 2010 ($9.95): dense purple; black cherry, fruity, dark chocolate flavours, well extracted; easy drinking (87)
  • Primeur Syrah Merlot Pays d'Oc 2010 ($9.95): dense purple; plum jam nose, sweet fruit with acidity kicking in on the finish; tannic end (86+)

Wednesday, November 17: Wrote up my Wines of the Week and then down to Salt wine bar on Ossington for a seminar and tasting of Portuguese table wines led by John Szabo MS. Arrived early so I could quickly taste a battery of wines that were set out for the sommeliers, restaurateurs and wine writers to sample.

  • Niepoort Redoma Red 2007 (91)
  • Quinta do Vallado 2008 (90)
  • Peccatore Reserva 2007 (88)
  • Cistus Reserva 2007 (90)
  • Quinta Bons-Ventos 2008 (88)
  • Palha Canas 2007 (87)
  • Serras de Azietao 2009 (90)
  • Periquita 2007 (86)
  • Tinta da Anfora 2007 (89)
  • Baron de B Herdade Da Calada Reserva 2005 (89)
  • Vila Santa Reserva 2008 (90)

At the seated seminar John Szabo led us through a series of wines, the best of which were the Niepoort Redoma White 2009 (90) and Niepoort Batuta 2001 (92). The lunch Salt served was magnificent:

  • Atlantic salmon on a bed of arugula with avocado salsa, served with Prova Regia (Arinto) 2008.
  • Duck confit ravioli on a bed of cauliflower puree with cranberry duck jus, with Marques de Borba Red 2008.
  • Braised lamb on a bed of truffle mash, root vegetables and natural jus, with Meandro do Vale Meão 2007 and Quinta do Vale Meão 2007 (magnificent!).
  • Dessert: Mini poached pear with caramel drizzle and mini chocolate cake with vanilla gelato, with Bacalhoa Moscatel de Setubal 2004.

In the evening, down to The Chef's House for a dinner prepared by Chef Carles Abellan, who cooked at El Bullí with Ferran Adria before opening his own restaurant in Barcelona, Comerc 24, and most recently Bravo 23 in the W Hotel. His dishes accompanied the wines of Campo Viejo.

The evening started with Campo Viejo Crianza 2006 (bright cherry fruit infused with a sandalwood note – 88), which accompanied a series of small dishes called "Los Snacks" – egg surprise (an egg whipped up with finely chopped mushrooms and truffle oil, then put back in the shell), pork rind, yogurt (deep fried pork rind that came out like a Chinese shrimp cracker with a lemony yogurt dip).

Next course, Los Platos – mackerel, citrus, aromatics (raw mackerel marinated in citrus juice with grapefruit and orange segments and tiny mint leaves), served with Campo Viejo Cava Brut Rosé (crisp, peppery strawberry flavour – 87).

Then Seafood "Suquet" Catalan Style (crayfish in a bread sauce) with Campo Viejo Reserva 2005 (the wine of the night, lovely strawberry and spicy oak nose, velvety mouth-feel – 90).

Duck rice, foie, "kikos" (toasted corn kernels), Canadian mushrooms (the foie gras was an emulsion with the texture of ice cream that contrasted the crunchy toasted corn and the rice infused with duck jus). This was served with Campo Viejo Gran Reserva 2002 that showed signs of drying out (88).

Dessert: El Postre – bread, oil, chocolate, salt, chocolate mousse in the shape of a Brazil nut with olive oil and sea salt – absolutely delicious. Partnered with Campo Viejo Domino 2007 (a fascinating New World style – 90).

Thursday, November 18: Beaujolais Nouveau is released today. Didn't bother to pick any up. Worked on the Canadian section of Oz Clarke's Pocket Wine Guide 2012. For dinner, lamb chops with Terra Boa Vinho Tinto 2009. A great combination.

Friday, November 19: Spent a lot of the day walking Pinot the Wonder Dog. She senses something is up because Deborah is leaving for her women's book club weekend and taking with her six bottles of wine from my cellar. There are only five of them at one of the members' cottage in the Kawarthas. The others take wine as well, so I imagine they'll have a good time. I restricted myself to a glass of Black Hills Estate Alibi 2009 that came in what looks like a glass cigar case as a sample of the wine. It's very good with a grassy nose and peach and passion fruit flavours. Probably better out of a full bottle.

Saturday, November 20: Today the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo. I have to conduct a seminar on "How to Build, Stock and Manage a Wine Cellar" (based on my book) at Connoisseur's Corner for the Independent Wine Education Guild. This is at 12:30. Then at 4:30 pm a seminar on Cool Climate Ontario Wines. The wines for the cellar seminar – to show wines that will age:

  • Jadot Beaune 1999
  • Château Divon 2006
  • Renzo Marinai Chianti Classico 2006
  • J. Lohr Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
  • Hugel Riesling Sélections de Grains Noble 1988
  • Graham Vintage Port 1997

Between the two seminars I wandered around tasting at different booths. At the Terroir wine agency booth I tasted Canada's most expensive wine, Blackwood Lane Redemption 2006 from BC's Fraser Valley. It's a Bordeaux-style blend that tastes like a very good St. Emilion. It costs $171 a bottle. I gave it 94 points. At the Cool Climate seminar I chose eight Ontario wines.

  • Lakeview Cellars Sauvignon Blanc 2009 ($17.95)
  • Cave Spring Riesling Estate 2009 ($17.95)
  • Southbrook Farm Triomphe Chardonnay 2008 ($21.95)
  • Thirty Bench Gewurztraminer 2009 ($30)
  • 13th Street Gamay Noir 2008 ($17.95)
  • Flat Rock Gravity Pinot Noir 2008 ($29.95)
  • Vineland Estate Cabernet Franc Reserve 2007 ($40.20)
  • Creekside Broken Press Shiraz 2007 ($34.95)




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