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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 16 (January 3, 2005)

Monday, December 27: Spent the day with my children, Annabel and Guy, shopping and arranging the house for what has become an annual post-Christmas, pre-New Year's party. Both kids have invited their friends and Deborah and I have invited our friends and neighbours. Thank God for Costco and M & M. This is an opportunity to open all those wines that have been accumulated for tasting. There is a real generational gap, though – my friends drink wine, the kids' peer group drinks beer. What does that say to the future of the wine industry and all those vineyards that are being planted in the New World? Annabel had said I should have lots of vases ready for those who brought flowers. No-one brought flowers. They all bought chocolate. Which, as Martha the Jailbird would say, "is a good thing." My friend Gordon Pape brought a bottle of Château de Cruzeau 1988. Too good to put out for the guests. Call it oenological fascism, but there are some wines you don't drink standing up. I might open it on New Year's Eve, since Deborah and I will probably dine in with a movie since we have made no plans... Annabel, who likes wine, was much taken by a bottle of Moon Dog Acre Shiraz 2002 from Australia. Guy tells me he has discovered a new Shiraz from Australia that he likes – it's called Yellow Tail. He was a little crestfallen when I told him that he and the rest of the world likes this wine, it seems.

Tuesday, December 28: A quiet day with no phones ringing which I spent working on the Atlas of Canadian Wine. It's taking longer than I thought to compile all the details about the wineries and write a short profile of each. For the chicken stir fry dinner I opened a bottle of Hillebrand Showcase Cabernet Franc Glenlake Vineyard 2001, an Ontario wine that mercifully escaped the Lady Bug taint. Cabernet Franc, with its natural bouquet of green peppers, would emphasize the problem if it were present.

Wednesday, December 29: These days between Christmas and New Year when everyone seems to be on holiday the phones do not ring and I can get on with work uninterrupted – except for Tanya the cat, who insists on sitting on my lap while I work at the computer. She caterwauls until I pick her up and then purrs loudly. When I move her she leaps up on my papers, falls asleep and snores... The news out of Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and India grows worse and worse. I had misread a National Post headline walking past one of their street corner boxes, thinking it said the death toll had risen to 126,000. Today it seems it might reach that number. The earthquake was 8.9 on the Richter scale. I remember the 6.7 earthquake in Chile, March 3rd, 1985. I was in Curico, two hours' drive south of Santiago, having a glass of wine with Miguel Torres in his vineyard manager's house. It sounded like an express train coming towards the house. The walls started shaking and wall sconces fell along with plates and glassware. We got out of the house, fearing it would collapse on us. The ground was heaving under our feet as if we were standing on a water bed. The asphalt on the road was waving like a black ribbon a foot above the surface. My greatest fear was that the earth would open up, I would fall in and it would close over me. To my recollection there was no tsunami, although the epicentre was off the coast at Valpariso.

Thursday, December 30: Another quiet day. The television coverage of the devastation in Asia is heart-rending. I cannot understand why the seismologists did not phone out warnings to government officials in the affected countries. They called their "clients" in the Pacific in the full knowledge of what was about to happen... Otherwise, another day of working on the wine atlas. For dinner, a bottle of Tilenus Mencia 2000 from the small region of Bierzo in northwest Spain. The indigenous Mencia grape is said to be related to Cabernet Franc. The wine tastes of black cherries with an ink earthy note, soft tannins and good acidity.

Friday, December 31: Deborah and I had made no plans for New Year's Eve – just too busy to think about it; so a last minute decision to go out to dinner. We booked at 1055 (the address on Yonge Street). We knew Chef Brian Vallipuram from his old restaurant north of Lawrence on Yonge Street and knew the food would be good. I started off with oysters, Deborah a pear and blue cheese salad, accompanied by a glass of Swartland Sauvignon Blanc 2002 (which came on more like a Viognier than a Sauvignon Blanc!). For the main course I had duck and Deborah ordered the surf and turf. We demolished a delicious bottle of Forrester Pinot Noir 2002 from New Zealand – perfect with the duck. Brian kindly sent over a dessert plate. We danced for a while and left about 11:30 pm, cabbing home past a RIDE program under the bridge by the LCBO's flagship liquor store. Deborah had been stopped at the same spot last Christmas but, happily, she was the designated driver that night. We arrived home at 11:45 pm and I opened a half bottle of Piper-Heidsieck Brut and we watched the ball drop in New York City, activated by Colin Powell and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Celebrations seemed muted this year because of the disaster in the Indian Ocean.




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