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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 323 (December 29, 2010)

Monday, December 20: Spent the morning inputting wine reviews for Vintages' January release. Could hardly read my own handwriting, there were so many wines.

Lunch at the Miller Tavern with Leo Chan, to welcome him as a new director of Grapes for Humanity. Returned home to do more inputting of wine reviews. Dinner, finished off the roast beef from Saturday's dinner party with a bottle of Cat Amongst The Pigeons Alley Cat Shiraz Grenache 2008. As I was closing down the computer for the night I received an email telling me that my old friend Philip Holzberg had died in France. Philip owned Château Franc Cardinal in the Côte de Franc, Bordeaux's smallest appellation. Deborah and I visited Philip in 2007. My diary for that day reads:

Sunday, May 20: A free day today and Deborah and I are going to spend it with my friend Philip Holzberg, a Torontonian who now owns a 4,000-case property called Château Franc Cardinal in Bordeaux's smallest region, Côtes de Franc. Philip, whose label styles him Earl du Cardinal, lives in the hamlet of Nardou (population 13) with his wife Sophie and children Amelie and Benjamin. So they collectively represent just shy of 25% of the inhabitants. Philip took us into his small barrel room adjacent to the house, where we tasted the 2006 from about a dozen barrels before lunch. Philip cooked a chicken and green beans, salad and Epoisses with three vintages of Château Franc Cardinal 2002, 2003 and 2005. Philip calls his Cabernet Franc "Bouchet," the local name. He gave us a bottle of the 2005 and bottle of Domaine Clivet Pierre Blanche 2004, a tiny Burgundy property in Ladoix of which he is a part owner. (I have subsequently learned that red Burgundy taken after Tums tastes like Vermouth.) Philip booked a taxi to take us back to the hotel, Burdigala, because the police are active on the roads on holiday weekends and the limit is 0.05. Two glasses of wine would put you over the limit.

We don't know yet how he died but it's suspected it was an accident. It's been a lousy three months, what with the passing of Dick Singer and Larry Paterson – and now Philip.

Tuesday, December 21: Lunch at Didier's with Zoltan Szabo. He brought along Andres Signature Chardonnay Sur Lie 2008 and Le Clos Jordanne La Petite Colline Pinot Noir 2007. I ordered Crottin de Chavignole salad and Risotto aux Champignons. Excellent meal. Ran into Miriam Rogers, who was also lunching there. In the evening drove up to Caledon with Rob & Reagan Daley. A surprise dinner party at Gourmandissimo for Reagan's father Frank, who turns 70. Frank thinks he's going to dinner in Orangeville. There are nine of us sitting around the bar watching Gilles Roche cook. I am supplying the following wines from my cellar:

  • L. Bérnard Pitois Champagne Brut
  • Henriot Souverain Champagne Brut
  • Remoissonet Puligny-Montrachet 2007 (two bottles)
  • See Ya Later Chardonnay 2005
  • Le Clos Jordanne Le Grand Clos Chardonnay 2006
  • DeMartino Cabernet Sauvignon 2002
  • DeMartino Familia 2005
  • Dow's Vintage Port 1997

The menu:

Warm Crab Salad
Spiced Tiger Shrimp Risotto
Poached Black Cod
Herb crusted Rack of Lamb
Chocolate Grand Marnier Soufflé

Wednesday, December 22: Wrote up my Wines of the Week for the website and worked on Ontario Wine Awards matters. Received an email informing me that the book I wrote with Dan Burger, Wine Routes of North America, has won the Gourmand Wine Books Award in the UK and now qualifies for the next Gourmand Best In The World Competition. The results will be announced on March 2, 2011, at the annual Awards event in Paris. For dinner, chili con carne with Robertson Shiraz 2010.

Thursday, December 23: A meeting with Geddy Lee to discuss a Grapes for Humanity event for next September-October. We're thinking of replicating the very successful Grapes Under Pressure tour by VIA Rail to a winery in wine country. Last time it was Tawse in Niagara. We're leaning towards Huff Estates in Prince Edward County, but first we have to take the train down and figure out travel times, etc. Went to Ming to pick up a Rocket Stick for my laptop to take to Chile next month. In the evening dropped in to John Maxwell's annual pre-Christmas soirée. John is a very generous host and food is fantastic. He served Roberto Martella and me a measure of Abelour A'bunadh Single Malt which tasted like a very fine cognac.

Friday, December 24: Wrote the Afterword for a book about the Ontario wine region to be published by Brock University's CCOVI. In the evening to Arlene & Michel Willis's annual Christmas Eve carol-fest at their home in Rosedale. Lashings of Pol Roger and Antinori Peppoli 2007.




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