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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 319 (November 29, 2010)

Monday, November 21: Last night Miguel Torres came to dinner. Deborah and I invited Sam and Esther Sarick, who had met him before at Grapes for Humanity events, and Ann Sperling and Peter Gamble, both winemakers. We agonized over the menu and the wines for some time but finally decided on champagne to start – Diadema Champagne Couche Père et Fils Dosage Zero (the sexiest bottle going, with the D spelled out in Swarovski crystals). With the champagne, gravad lox on pumpernickel and proheira tyropitakia (phyllo pastry triangles filled with feta and spinach).

The first course: sautéed jumbo shrimp on a bed of beets with an orange sauce, served with a magnum of Domaine de Montille Puligny-Montrachet 2002. Main course: Osso buco with mashed potatoes and mushrooms, with Château Gruaud Larose 1983. Cheese platter, with Ridge Lytton Springs 1994. Dessert, apple cake with Inniskillin Riesling Icewine 2007. Miguel brought me two bottles of Torres Manso de Valasco 2007 from his Chilean property. A very successful dinner.

This morning I had a meeting with Eric McRae to discuss the website A Torres lunch at the King Eddie for a group of wine writers and sommeliers. Torres Viña Esmeralda 2009 (fresh, spicy, grapey; light on the palate; the 15% Gewurz comes shining through – 87) with hors d'oeuvres, followed by east coast crab cake with Canadian smoked salmon, dill mustard drizzle, served with Torres Gran Viña Sol 2008 (tropical fruit nose with a note of hay and evident oak; spicy pineapple flavour; fresh and lively – 88) and Marimar Estate "La Masia" Chardonnay 2007 (creamy, buttery, spicy nose of tropical fruit; well balanced with discreet oak and good length – 90). Main course: Ontario braised lamb shank with porcini gratin and spiced quince marmalade, with Torres Ibéricos 2007 Alevesa Crianza (100% Tempranillo; cherry and blackcurrant nose with a savoury note; spicy, dry, medium-bodied with a lively spine of acidity and a light floral note – 88) and Jean Leon Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2005 (dense purple-ruby colour that stains the glass; cedar, vanilla oak, blackcurrant nose; full-bodied, dry blackcurrant flavour that finishes dry – 89). Selection of artisanal cheeses with walnut raisin bread, served with Torres Salmos 2007 (Priorat: Garnacha Tinta, Syrah and Cariñena; spicy, lead pencil and plum nose; full-bodied, rich and full on the palate with plum and cherry flavours; well extracted fruit and fresh acidity – 91) and Torres Mas La Plana Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (dense purple colour; cedar and blackcurrant nose; very elegant, beautifully balanced, dry and lingering – 93). Wrote up my 680News wine reviews.

Tuesday, November 22: Drove down to Niagara Falls to meet Doug Birrell and his team at the Crown Plaza Hotel to discuss a new restaurant concept. On the way back dropped in at Costco in St. Catharines to pick up food for a wine tasting I'm conducting in the party room of the condo for residents. Trying to convert them to Ontario VQA wines. Here's the line up.

  • Flat Rock Riesling 2008
  • Inniskillin Chardonnay Reserve Series 2008
  • Thirty Bench Small Lot Gewurztraminer 2009
  • Henry of Pelham Pinot Noir 2007
  • Rosewood Merlot Reserve 2007
  • Calamus Cabernet Franc 2007

Wednesday, November 24: Recorded my 680News reviews and then to Grano to have lunch with Sandy Ward, creator of Roberto gave us a glass of Prosecco, and I ordered a couple of glasses of Serego Aligheri in Toscana 2007 to go with my deep-fried calamari and mushroom risotto. In the afternoon, over to Doug Towers's for a tasting with David Lawrason.

Thursday, November 25: Opened one of the bottles of Torres Manso de Velasco 2007. It's 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from 100-year-old vines. The wine has an intense nose of blackcurrants, cedar and lavender. The mouth-feel is very rich and velvety with spicy, dark chocolate flavours that coat the mouth. The tannins are soft and supple. A big wine that went well with the lamb chops I barbecued (92).

Friday, November 25: A Wine Writers Circle tasting this morning of 70-odd wines from Lake Erie North Shore. Sadly, nothing outstanding. I have tasted much better wines when I was in the region this summer. Our friends Rick and J.J. came to dinner. They brought Pinot a toy, which she couldn't get out of the bag quickly enough, ripping off the tissue wrapping as she carried it away. Rick used to represent Frescobaldi before his father's company Schiralli was sold to Lifford. He brought me a bottle of Frescobaldi Castel Giocondo Brunello di Montalcino 2005. We served Blue Mountain Brut (a delicious sparkler from BC – 90). Then, with the mushroom risotto, Beaucastel White Châteauneuf du Pape 2004. With the pork roast, Le Clos Jordanne La Petite Vineyard Pinot Noir 2004 and Stratus Merlot 2002. With the cheese course, Burrowing Owl Merlot 2008.

Saturday, November 27: Will Predhomme, Senior Sommelier at Canoe, organized a tasting of 2002 Ontario reds at his restaurant at noon. We were all asked to bring bottles. I contributed Pillitteri Cabernet Franc Family Reserve, Peninsula Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon and  Inniskillin Meritage Reserve. The Pillitteri says on the label it's 1500 mL but it's only a bottle. Altogether there are 33 wines from this vintage (including a ringer from Bordeaux) that was characterised by severe drought conditions in July and August. It was impressive to see how many of them still stood up (a couple were corked). The tannins were still quite aggressive still and I wonder if the fruit will sustain until they soften. But my top wines were Château des Charmes Equuleus, Trius Red, Lenko Syrah and Pillitteri Family Reserve Cabernet  Franc. Thirty of us, mainly sommeliers, participated. Loads of fun.




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