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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 328 (January 31, 2011)

Monday, January 24: This is my day of eating well. Lunch at Splendido to meet Tom Carson, the winemaker at Yabby Lake in the cool Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. Tom, who has been called "The Pinot Ninja," has already made 25 vintages. In the cellar room at Splendido we tasted his Chardonnay and Pinot Noirs over lunch. The menu:

Uncle Willy Malpec Oysters, Caviar, Cucumber, Crème Fraiche
Chardonnay, 2008, Yabby Lake, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia

Qualicum Bay Scallop Tartar, Celery, Lady Finger Apple & Molise Black Trufflle
Chardonnay, 2008, Yabby Lake, "Block 6," Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia

Richview Farms Squab Breast, Boudin Noir, Foie Gras Parfait & Niagara Cherry
Pinot Noir, 2008, Yabby Lake, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia

Butter Poached Klondyke Farms Potato Gnocchi, Molise Black Truffles
Pinot Noir, 2008, Yabby Lake, "Block 2," Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia

Cumbrae Farms Cap of Beef Sous-Vide, Roasted Porcini Mushroom
Pinot Noir, 2008, Yabby Lake, "Block 5," Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia

Selection of Cheese from Cheese Boutique, Onion Jam, Poached Pear, Borage Flower Honey

Yabby Lake Chardonnay 2008: bright straw colour; minerally nose of citrus, crusty bread and oak spice; very lively and full on the palate with flavours of apple, orange and lemon leavened with discreet oak (92).

Yabby Lake Chardonnay "Block 6" 2008: bright straw colour; minerally, citrus and pencil shavings on the nose; citrus, orange and lemon flavours, very fresh and lively like a Grand Cru Chablis and beautifully balanced (93).

Yabby Lake Pinot Noir 2008: ruby colour; minerally, floral, white pepper and raspberry candy on the nose; sweet fruit, lovely mouth feel and great balance (90).

Yabby Lake Pinot Noir "Block 2" 2008: ruby colour; fragrant nose of violets, minerals, raspberry and graphite; very Côte de Beaune in style; silky mouth feel, very elegant (92).

Yabby Lake Pinot Noir "Block 5" 2008: ruby colour; more Côte de Nuits, broader and fleshier than the Block 2; floral nose of blackcurrants and black raspberry with a mineral note; rich and full on the palate with a firm finish (91).

This evening is the annual Christmas Dinner for the Wine Writers' Circle, held this year at Tutti Matti on Adelaide Street. We all bring wine – I've chosen Hester Creek Cabernet Franc 2007 from the Okanagan and Hillebrand Showcase Cabernet Sauvignon Glenlake Vineyard 1999 from Ontario. The menu: Reception: salmon mousse, assorted nuts, focaccia, while we sampled an array of Ontario Chardonnays.

For the dinner I ordered carpaccio affumicato BIS, smoked duck, orange, pecorino Toscano and extra virgin olive oil, smoked venison, figs, crushed pine nuts, arugula and nine-year-old balsamic vinegar. Next: tagliatelle con cinghiale – hand-cut pasta with wild boar stew. Then a plate of assorted cheese, honey, dried fruit, slices of panettone. Dolce: tiramisù.

Tasted the following wines my colleagues had brought along: Le Vieux Pin Sauvignon Blanc 2009, Cantina Ballerina Lange Russo 2006, Client Merlot 2009, Le Vieux Pin Apogee Merlot 2006, Jan Kris Crossfire Cabernet Sauvignon 2004, The Lackey Shiraz 2007, Stephani Pepi Cuore de Vino Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2008, Henry of Pelham Riesling Icewine 2008 and Domaine de Pinnacle Ice Cider 2007.

Tuesday, January 25: I didn't taste all 108 wines on offer at the Vintages Discover Bordeaux tasting at the Four Seasons Hotel this afternoon, but I managed to get through 65 and I was pleasantly surprised. 2008 was a difficult vintage and I was expecting some green flavours, which I found in several of the Left Bank (Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated) wines. The whites I tasted were delicious, led of by Smith Haute Lafitte 2008, Latour Martillac 2008 and Pape Clement Blanc 2008. Generally higher marks for St. Emilion and Pomerol, with the crown going to Angélus 2008, followed by Canon La Gaffelière, Pape Clement Rouge 2008, Figeac 2008, Clos Fourtet 2008, La Gaffelière, Troplong-Mondot 2008 and Gazin 2008. On the Left Bank, St. Julien was the most appealing, with Beychevelle 2008 and Gruaud-Larose 2008 a mark ahead of Lagrange 2008 and Léoville Poyferré 2008. From Pauillac, Batailley 2008 showed well, as did Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2008.

The Sauternes were a delight, very fresh and forward, the best of them Suduiraut 2008 followed by Doisy-Daëne 2008 and Guiraud 2008. Best overall values in reds: Cos-Labory 2008, Lynch-Moussas 2008, Ferrière 2008, La Tour de By 2008, Citran 2008.

Checking my emails at home, I found this video from my pal Dan Berger in California. A must see for wine geeks.

Wednesday, January 25: A 9 am meeting with a construction company to discuss holding a dinner for potential condo customers. A trip to the dentist, who tells me that after six years of making grape juice from Ontario Concord he has now started to make wine. Only he likes semi-sweet wine and wants to add sugar to the wine once it's made. I suggested he add grape juice instead but he is concerned this will add volume and dilute the alcohol. I hope he doesn't insist I try it. In the evening a meeting at home of one of Grapes for Humanity's directors to welcome two new directors to the Board. This was done in style with vintage Pol Roger. For dinner, spaghetti with olive oil and garlic with a bottle of Mirassou Pinot Noir 2009.

Thursday, January 27: A Rhône tasting at George restaurant at 11 am. Representatives from the region were late arriving because they were snowed in in New York and had to spend the night at the airport. Sat next to Sarah Waxman and when my Black Alaskan Cod arrived she said it smelled "fishy." And it did. One taste told me it was off. The server asked if I wanted something else but I was pretty full, having had BC rock shrimp, Belgium endive with Brazil nut curry, followed by duck breast, barley risotto, broccoli confit. Drank some La Vieille Ferme Luberon Blanc 2009 and Les Eygats Cornas 2007. To the Spoke Club in the afternoon with David Rose to talk about Woody's cooler. Trying to clear my desk tonight and pack for France. I leave for the Loire on an 8:15 flight tomorrow, weather permitting.

Friday, January 28: Last minute scramble to cancel papers, change my phone message and clear my desk. Tried to get my boarding pass on line but Air Canada says I'm not booked on a flight today. Wonderful. Called the travel agent in New York who booked the flight and they say I am. So I'll turn up at the airport and hope for the best. To complicate matters I have a conference call at 10 am to discuss a tasting in Niagara in June and then I'm dashing down to the LCBO for a Vintages tasting. Never a dull moment.




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