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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 5 (October 18, 2004)

Monday, October 11: Why am I working on Thanksgiving? Because it's quiet and the phone is not ringing. Had a call from Mark Lewisohn in London, who is writing an exhaustive three-volume work on the Beatles. He is a freelancer who writes for Radio Times, the magazine I worked for for nearly three years in the 1960s. He wanted to know more about the time I introduced Jane Asher to Paul McCartney in 1963.

Made my notes for a tasting of Lombardy wines I'm conducting in a couple of weeks and put together the tasting sheet for tomorrow's tasting at grano. Four Pinot noirs, a Pinot Gris, a Pinot Blanc and a Chardonnay. Why am I listing the reds first although the whites will be tasted first? My old wine teacher in London, God have mercy on his soul, used to say, "White wine is foreplay." Only red wine is serious.

I don't write about my weekend wine activities here – some of my life is private – but for the record the wines Deborah, her mother, Sheila Puritt and I drank with the turkey dinner were Bellavista Cuvée Brut from Franciacorta, a Hillebrand Trius Chardonnay 2002 from Ontario and Burrowing Owl Merlot 2002 from BC.

Tuesday, October 12: Spent the morning writing. My computer is acting up and I lost the entries I had done a few days ago for the wine atlas. Bloody annoying.

It was a Tuesday tasting night at grano. The theme was Oregon wines. This was what the tasting sheet looked like:

Washington State Wines; grano, October 12, 2004

Reception wine: Westrey Chardonnay 2001


Amity Pinot Blanc 2002
Willamette Valley

Westrey Pinot Gris 2002
Willamette Valley

Firesteed Pinot Noir 2001

Westerey Pinot Noir 2001
Willamette Valley

Evesham Wood Pinot Noir
2002 Willamette Valley

St. Innocent Seven Springs
Vineyard Pinot Noir 2001

Next Tuesday tastings at grano:
November 16th (California)
January 25th, 2005 (Austria)

Wednesday, October 13: A tasting at my house with wine writer Linda Bramble and Claudius Fehr from Vintages to describe wines for the first Niagara Barrel Auction. We tasted thirteen wines blind and made our notes. Then we had to think what film star they resembled in character, just to liven up the auction (they are generally pretty dull). That afternoon the British wine writer Stuart Piggot arrived from a trip around Niagara. He lives in Berlin and was here to promote his new book, Planet Wine. In order to give him a sense of what Ontario wine is all about (he'd already visited a half dozen wineries) I started pulling wines from the cellar. Stuart was very impressed by Cave Spring Reserve Gamay 2002 and Sandstone Gamay Reserve 2000. I've always said that Ontario should put more effort into producing Gamay. BBQ-ed some steaks and polished off the Gamays.

Thursday, October 14: Up at 6 am for a breakfast meeting followed by a tasting here of wines with David Lawrason. Our notes appear on that website, which offers Ontario wines delivered directly to your home, wines that are not generally available at the LCBO. 2 pm meeting with David Rose and Sandy Bavington of Forefront Communications to discuss next year's Ontario Wine Awards. 2005 is the 10th anniversary of the competition and we want it to be special. In the evening, attended the launch of Lucy Waverman and James Chatto's new book on matching food and wine. It's an impressive tome, weighing in at 4 pounds. Beautifully written, as one would expect from these two. Was to attend the tasting of wines for the LCBO Vintages' auction at the Carlu but a domestic incident involving the cat and a raccoon kept me at home. Probably a good thing. I was tasted out and tomorrow is the bi-monthly Vintages release, which is a monumental number of wines.

Friday, October 15: Picked up a copy of Decanter magazine on my way downtown for the results of the international wine competition I judged at in London in April. 234 pages! Pillitteri Riesling Icewine 2002 won the North America Sweet White trophy. At 10 am I arrive at the LCBO lab for the Vintages' release tasting. Karen Rossi, who reviews wines for this site, is already there. It's another big tasting. But there are some terrific wines – Zind-Humbrecht Gewurztraminer 2002 and Chateau d'Angludet 1999 being the stand-outs.

Tomorrow and Sunday I'll be attending the Vintages Auction.




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