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A Wine Lover's Diary, Part 480: Wine Writers at Play (January 27, 2014)

Monday, January 20: Bad night's sleep. I was sitting awkwardly in the theatre because of the space between the rows and must have strained some leg muscles, as I was in pain all night. Not much better this morning. Took a bath with Epsom Salts and knocked a fresh roll of toilet paper into the water. One of those days.

Wrote my 680News wine reviews and did more inputting of reviews to my website. This evening is the annual Wine Writer's Circle dinner at Le Paradis. My contribution was Eszterbauer Tüke Szekszárdi Bikavér 2007 (which turned out to be suffering from a corkily-transmitted disease, i.e. TCA) and Neyen Espiritu de Apalta 2006 from Chile's Colchagua Valley, which was terrific. The menu was perfect for then night. I had fricassé d'escargots, brined veal bone marrow, betteraves au chèvre frais, entrecôte du boeuf with béarnaise, followed by trio of sorbets. The wines I sampled: Soalheiro Alvarinho 2011, Art 2009 (Mencia from Bierzo), Comte Armand Pommard 2007, Zebras Brunello 2004, Comte Armand Pommard 2007, Château Pichon Longueville Lalande 1998, Rostaing Côte Rôtie La Landonne 1998, Kangaroo Springs Shiraz 2005, Urla Tempus 2010 (from Turkey – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc; a stunning wine), Graham 30 Year Old Tawny Port and Kopke Colheita 1974. Carolyn Evans-Hammond brought the weirdest wine of all: Yatta White Wine in a tetrapak – from Kenya.

Turkish delight

Carolyn Evans-Hammond and her Kenyan mouthwash

Tuesday, January 21: Minus 33 with the wind chill factor. Pinot had me up at 6 am to go out for a walk. She soon wanted to come back. Did some tasting in the afternoon.

  • La Haute Févrie Le Fils des Gras Moutons Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine 2012 ($14.95): Very pale colour; minerally, acacia blossom; medium-bodied, crisply dry, lemony flavour; well-made and well-priced. (88)
  • Gustav Adolf Schmitt Niersteiner Spätlese Rheinhessen 2012 ($10.95): very pale straw; minerally, honey, citrus rind on the nose; off-dry, grapefruit and lychee flavours. A little short with a blunt, hard finish. (85)
  • Huff Estates Riesling Off-Dry 2012 ($17.95): pale straw colour; minerally, grapefruit and honey on the nose; off-dry, lime and grapefruit with lively acidity. Nice balance of citrus acidity and sweetness. (87)
  • Flat Rock Twisted 2012 ($17.15): a blend of Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Chardonnay: almost water white; aromatic nose, grapefruit, apple with a floral note; off-dry, light-bodied, fruity, pink grapefruit flavour; touch of bitterness on the finish (over-pressing?). (87)
  • Bodegas Valsacro Dioro Rioja 2005 ($32.95): deep ruby; spicy, black cherry with evident oak; dry, full-bodied, richly expressive fruit (cherry, plum flavours with chocolate notes) carried on lively acidity. Lovely mouth feel. (40% Grenache, 40% Syrah, 20% Carignan) (90)
  • Kacaba Syrah Terrace Vineyard 2011 ($24.95): ruby with a purple note; peppery-herbal, black fruit nose; medium-bodied, dry, savoury with fresh acidity; soft tannins. (88)
  • Les Vignerons de Castelas Signargues Côtes du Rhône Villages 2014 ($16.95): ruby-purple colour; herby, blackberry nose with vanilla oak; dry, savoury, toasted herbs, blackberry flavour with a firm tannic finish. (87).

Wednesday, January 22: Another brutally cold day, minus 34 with the wind chill factor. Had a conference call with the Wine Council of Ontario to discuss the consolidation point for entries to the Ontario Wine Awards by Niagara wineries. And then arranged for consolidation points in Prince Edward County and Lake Erie North Shore. This year is the 20th anniversary of the awards.

My web master James Harbeck sent me an article he wrote for The Week magazine, entitled "17 disgusting descriptions for delicious wines" – well worth reading at Wrote my wine reviews for Quench magazine (formerly Tidings).

Thursday, January 23: Yet another freezing day. Glad I'll soon be out of it. This evening I fly to Montpellier for the Millèsime Bio fair and conference on biodynamic and sustainable winegrowing. I fly overnight to Paris at 8:20 pm and then to Montpellier. Spent the rest of the day clearing my desk and packing (I'm advised to bring an umbrella).




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