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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 327 (January 24, 2011)

Sunday, January 16: This morning, a blind tasting of 100 Ontario and BC Chardonnays to determine which will go to New York City to be presented to the wine press and trade at the McGraw-Hill Building on 6th Avenue, March 8. (This will be a reprise of the highly successful Chardonnay tasting in London last May masterminded by Southbrook Vineyards' proprietor, Bill Redelmeier.) My fellow tasters are Linda Bramble, David Lawrason, Gordon Stimmell, John Szabo MS, Konrad Ejbich, Michael Pinkus and Steven Elphick.

Monday, January 17: Went to Costco to pick supplies for the Tony Aspler Blind Tasting Award, an annual competition for members of the Ontario wine importers association. I started it in 2000 to celebrate 25 years of wine writing. I needed a flat of water, plastic beer mugs for spittoons, coffee and cookies. Took two bottles each of six wines from the cellar. For dinner, a wine from India, Sula Shiraz 2008, which Deborah and I consumed with a spicy roast chicken. The wine reminded me of a South African Shiraz with its smoky-tarry flavour.

Tuesday, January 18: Recorded my 680 News wine reviews. At 1 pm a conference call for the advisory board of the Governor General's Award for the Nation's Table – to discuss how to move forward with the new incumbent. This evening, my Blind Tasting competition at The Wine Establishment. Sixteen intrepid souls had signed up but with the bad weather and the massive funeral for the Toronto policeman killed by a snow plough only ten turned up. The contestants are asked to name the variety, vintage, region and – if possible – the producer of six wines, three white and three red. The only clue I gave them is that two of the wines are blends which are representative of their regions. Wines in order of serving:

  • Thirty Bench Riesling 2008 (Beamsville Bench, Ontario)
  • Waimea Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (Nelson, New Zealand)
  • Viewpointe Estate Barrel-Fermented Chardonnay 2006 (Lake Erie North Shore, Ontario)
  • Masi Campofiorin 2006 (Corvina, Molinara, Rondinella – Veneto, Italy)
  • Ravenswood Zinfandel Vintners Blend 2006 (California)
  • Carm Douro 2004 (Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca - Douro, Portugal)

The winner, when the torture was over, was Eugene Mlynczyk of Vincor Canada, who will receive the traditional engraved decanter and a framed certificate at the Drinks Ontario dinner on February 7th. Eugene was a previous winner in 2007.

Wednesday, January 19: Met with David Rose and Sandy Kurbis of Forefront Communications to discuss venues for this year's Ontario Wine Awards. A conference call at 1 pm with Greg Henderson, Business Development Manager at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise in Vancouver and Robert Ketchin, Canadian Marketing Manager for New Zealand Winegrowers, to discuss a Grapes for Humanity event for June 6th at Rodney's Oyster House featuring New Zealand wines. In the afternoon, a tasting of Ontario wines for www.winerytohome with David Lawrason. Got the results of Sunday's tasting from Sadie Darby, who organized the tasting.

54 wines made the cut:

Flight 1 – Sparkling

  • Huff Estates – Cuvee Peter F. Huff  Blanc de Blancs 2006
  • Cave Spring Cellars – Blanc de Blancs Brut 2004

Flight 2 – Unoaked

  • Chateau des Charmes Musque – 2009
  • Casa Dea Estate Winery – 2009
  • Henry of Pelham – 2009
  • Pondview Estate Winery – 2009

Flight 3 – 2007

  • Chateau des Charmes – Paul Bosc Estate Vineyard
  • Lakeview Cellars – Reserve
  • Flatrock Cellars – Reserve
  • Cave Spring Cellars CSV
  • Coyote's Run Estate Winery – Black Paw Vineyard
  • Closson Chase Vineyards – S. Kocsis Vineyard
  • Rosewood Estates – Reserve Renaceau Vineyard

Flight 4 – 2008

  • Norman Hardie – Unfiltered
  • Norman Hardie – Cuvee "L" Unfiltered
  • Southbrook Whimsy!
  • Flatrock Cellars
  • Huff Estates – South Bay Vineyards
  • Closson Chase Vineyards – Closson Chase Vineyard
  • Malivoire Mottiar
  • Lailey Vineyards – Old Vines
  • Angels Gate Winery – Mountainview
  • Malivoire – Moira
  • Hidden Bench Vineyards and Winery
  • Henry of Pelham – Family Estate  Reserve
  • Hidden Bench Vineyards and Winery – Tete de Cuvee
  • Colaneri Estate Winery – "Paese"
  • Burrowing Owl Estate Winery
  • Le Clos Jordanne – Claystone Terrace
  • Le Clos Jordanne – Le Clos Jordanne Vineyard
  • Rosehall Run – Cuvee County
  • Tawse Vineyard – Robyn's Block
  • Tawse Vineyard – Quarry Road
  • Hillebrand Winery Showcase – Oliveria Vineyard Wild Ferment
  • Quails' Gate
  • Rosewood Estates – Reserve
  • The Grange of Prince Edward County – Victoria Block Barrel Fermented

Flight 5 – 2009

  • Southbrook Vineyards – Triomphe
  • Coyote's Run Winery Estate – Red Paw Vineyard
  • Lailey Vineyards
  • Exultet Estates
  • Meyer Family Vineyards – Tribute Series – Kenny McLean
  • Hillebrand Winery – Trius
  • Ravine Vineyard – Reserve

Flight 6 – Library wines

  • Pillitteri Estate Winery – Exclamation Cellar Series 2006
  • Quail's Gate Estate Winery – Stewart Reserve 2006
  • Pelee Island Winery – Barrique 2005
  • Burrowing Owl Estate Winery – 2005
  • Closson Chase Vineyards – Unfiltered 2005
  • Mission Hill – Select Lot Collection 2005
  • Southbrook – Poetica 2003
  • Tawse Winery – Beamsville Bench Reserve 2002
  • Lakeview Cellars – Reserve 2000

Flight 7 – Icewine

  • Pillitteri Estates Winery – 2007

Thursday, January 20: Booked my flight to London for the Decanter International Wine Competition in April. Wrote a column for Lexpert magazine on Icewine. Polished off the remainder of the Waimea Sauvignon Blanc 2009 left over under gas from the blind tasting competition, with sautéed trout.

Friday, January 21: A meeting with Chef Lynn Crawford at Ruby Watch Co. to finalize a menu for the party Deborah and I are throwing form my daughter Annabel's wedding. 'Bel has opted for a destination wedding in Maui in April and many of her Toronto friends won't be able to make the trip. So the party is a pre-wedding celebration for her and her fiancé, Ian Boonstra. Lunch with Sandy Ward (his great website is – listing BYOB restaurants and the corkage they charge). We went to C'est Bon on Yonge Street by Sporting Life. $6.99 set lunch. Really good. In the evening, an invitation to meet the new Ambassador of Greece to Canada, Eleftherios Anghelopoulos, at the apartment of the Greek Consul in Toronto. A group of wine people were invited to sit down with him to discuss the scarcity of Greek wines of quality at the LCBO. I suggested that the Trade Commission start a Greek Wine Club. In a rash moment I said that I would help writing a proposal on how this could come about, with John Szabo MW, who is the ambassador for Greek wines in Canada. For dinner, cold chicken with Mission Hill SLC Chardonnay 2005.

Saturday, January 22: At 1 pm a wake on a brutally cold day for my late friend Philip Holzberg, who was killed in a car crash on the way home from Libourne to his Bordeaux winery Château Franc Cardinal in Nardou. The event for his many Toronto friends was held at the Twisted Kilt pub on Yonge Street just north of Davisville. His brother Ben Marc had put together a photo montage of Philip and on another screen a video played of a TV show that had been made for the Discovery Channel about his winery. Several of his friends spoke very movingly about him and his zest for life. Philip was the first person I ever saw sabre a bottle of champagne. He used to dress up in Napoleonic costume on occasion to perform this stunt. I had emailed Mary Dinnick in Mexico when I heard the news of his death because I had met Philip in the early 1980s when he was working for Mary. She asked me to read the following note on her behalf.

"I wish I could be there with all of you celebrating Philip's life. I count my blessings that I was privileged to know and to love Philip and he has left so many wonderful memories to draw upon. I think one of the fondest memories was during English-Gunn's fifteenth anniversary party when he sabred five cases of Canard Duchene champagne. Ben took a picture of this in mid sabre with bubbles clearly floating all around Philip and perhaps that most clearly defined Philip – charging through life spreading bubbles wherever. I shall miss him as I am sure all of you will. He has a special place in my heart and will always remain there. Be happy and remember all the good things."

A very moving event.

Philip Holzberg with his claret and Deborah

For dinner, with shrimps in cream sauce on a bed of rice and peas, a bottle of Burrowing Owl Chardonnay 2008.




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