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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 326 (January 17, 2011)

Monday, January 12: First day back from a trip is always hard. 249 emails to deal with. One interesting note: "Benziger Family Wineries, has just released the 2009 vintage of its popular North Coast White Burgundy... This year, Imagery pushed the boundaries of wine label art and broke with tradition: Instead of a painting, drawing, or photograph, Imagery commissioned an original musical composition. 'Imagine a Waltz' is by Richard Darlington of Mount Shasta, California, and the label for Imagery's 2009 White Burgundy label is emblazoned with the musical score. Click Here to Watch Richard Darlington Perform 'Imagine a Waltz'."

Great idea, but I wish they'd respect appellations and drop the White Burgundy name.

Tuesday, January 13: Wrote my Post City Magazines column and caught up on emails and phone calls. For dinner, with pasta, Spelt Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2005.

Wednesday, January 14: Wrote up my 680 News reviews. Today is Deborah's birthday and tonight I took her to J.P. Challet's new restaurant Ici, on Harbour Street. I brought Bouchard Père et Fils Meursault-Genevières 2004 and Dominus 1994. We sat at the bar and watched J.P. and his cooks prepare the meal. Great food in a French bistro atmosphere. Got to sign J.P.'s wall.

Thursday, January 15: Left Toronto at 2:15 pm for Kitchener to beat the traffic. Am conducting a wine tasting with food stations for a bank. The event is being held in the Kitchener Museum, which currently hosts the Titanic exhibition. In 1989 I wrote a murder mystery set on the Titanic, entitled Titanic, and had to do a lot of research on the ship and the era both in England and the US. So, it was fascinating to see the artifacts that had been salvaged. I always thought my novel would have made a better script for the movie – but then I would. There were four food stations at the tasting – risotto, shellfish, filet and cheese, each paired with a wine. Here were the wines I talked about:

  • Reception wine: Vino dei Poeti Prosecco
  • Risotto: Graffigna Pinot Grigio Reserve 2010 (Argentina)
  • Seafood: Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (New Zealand)
  • Carving Station: Kim Crawford Pinot Noir 2008 (New Zealand)
  • Cheese: Peter Lehmann Shiraz 2008 (Australia)

Friday, January 16: A Vintages release tasting of 130 wines. I shared the note-making with Zoltan Szabo. At 1 pm a group of wine writers (Zoltan, Konrad Ejbich, Michael Pinkus, John Szabo, Alan McGinty and I) were picked up by a small bus and driven down to the Niagara Fallsview Casino to witness an attempt by Ontario wineries to get into the Guinness Book of Records. They had to defeat an Italian record of 16.5 litres of sparkling wine in one glass, established in 2008.


Ed Madronich unveils the Icewine glass with Magdalena Kaiser-Smit

To do this, the Wine Council had ordered a replica of Inniskillin's Icewine glass designed by Riedel – with a capacity of 44 litres. Ed Madronich, proprietor of Flat Rock Cellar and Chair of the Wine Council of Ontario, introduced the winemakers in pairs as they came to empty two bottles each of their Icewine into the giant glass. Thirty-eight winemakers in all, the last being Karl Kaiser and Donald Ziraldo who put Canadian Icewine on the world's radar with their Grand Prix d'honneur at Vinexpo 1991 for Inniskillin Vidal Icewine 1989. When Donald & Karl finished pouring, there were 26.4 litres of Icewine in the glass.


Donald Ziraldo and Karl Kaiser fill the glass


Tony and the Icewine record glass

The Guinness certificate

Ed Madronich invited me up to taste the blend (which was a bit warm but delicious). Danny Girton, corporate adjudications manager with Guinness, had flown up from New York to verify the record and he presented Ed with a certificate.

After this event I had dinner with Donald Ziraldo and had to borrow a jacket from him, as I hadn't packed one for the Xerox Icewine Gala in the hotel. It started with a cocktail party, where they served Vice, the Vodka Icewine martini, on the rocks. Then inside to the ballroom where there were food stations manned by local restaurants and winery booths. A beautifully orchestrated affair. Got to taste the newly-released Vineland Estate Riesling Icewine 2009, which was delicious. Slept the night at the Hilton next door.

Candy floss strawberries at the Icewine Gala

Saturday, January 15: After breakfast, our wine write group was transported by bus to Jordan for the 2nd Annual Twenty Valley Winter WineFest held in the parking lot opposite Cave Spring. It was snowing and cold. The 35 wineries and 11 local restaurants had tables set up in tents. Ideal weather for tasting Icewine. The best were Henry of Pelham Riesling Icewine 2008, Peninsula Ridge Cabernet Franc Icewine 2008, Tawse Oak Chardonnay Icewine 2008 and Malivoire Riesling Icewine 2008. Then our group sat down (in a tent) for a structured tasting of five wines led by the winemaker of each.

Len Pennachetti introduced his Cave Spring CSV Riesling 2008: straw coloured with a nose of petrol, grapefruit and minerals; elegant, clean lined and bright as a pin with flavours of honey, grapefruit, apricot and lemony acidity (90).

Paul Pender talked about Tawse Robyn's Block Chardonnay 2008: medium straw colour; Burgundian nose – spicy, minerally, apple; on the palate, fresh, toasty, apple and citrus flavours; full in the mouth with great balance and length (92).

Sebastian Jacquet explained Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008: pale ruby; high toned, floral, beetroot and mineral nose; dry, lean, sinewy, raspberry flavour with just a hint of oak; firm finish. Not a lot of extract but a true Pinot (88).

Rob Power talked about his Creekside Broken Press Shiraz 2007: deep ruby colour; smoky. Peppery, blackberry, vanilla oak and tobacco on the nose; lovely mouth feel, dry, savoury, lively acidity with a rose petal note (90).

Finally, Meg McGrath (Angels Gate winemaker Philip McDowell's wife) spoke to Hidden Bench La Brunate 2007 (53% Merlot, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon with Cabernet Franc and Malbec): dense ruby colour; claret-like nose – sweet red berry fruit and cedar; elegant, firmly structured with a silky mouth feel, beautifully balanced. A lovely drop of wine (92).

After tasting some tasty food – clam chowder, spicy pork belly and French fries – back on the bus for the trip back to Toronto.

Sunday, January 17: After walking Pinot the Wonder Dog in the park, I went down at 11 am to the LCBO for a blind tasting of 100 Chardonnays from Ontario, B.C. and Nova Scotia to decide which wines would go forward to a press and trade tasting in New York on March 8th. The other tasters were David Lawrason, Gordon Stimmell, Konrad Ejbich, Linda Bramble, John Szabo, Michael Pinkus and Steven Elphick. Dinner tonight with my son Guy – pork roast stuffed with apple and raisins, matched with Joie Muscat 2009 from BC. A sensational match. Joie is making terrific wines across their portfolio.

 

 

 

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