A Wine Lover's Diary, part 17 (January 10, 2005)
Monday, January 3: The year always starts
off slowly for wine writers. Our busy time is after Labour Day until mid-December
and then things heat up in February. I use this hibernation period for
writing. The phone hardly rings but the emails keep coming, mostly invitations
for penis enlargement or begging letters from Nigeria. Maybe they should
combine the two. Tonight for dinner a bottle of Hillebrand Showcase Pinot
Noir 2001 with a barbecued hamburger. It was chilly on the deck but worth
Tuesday, January 4: Sent off the entry
forms and condition of entries to Ontario wineries for the 10th annual
Ontario Wine Awards. For this year's competition, with all the new wineries
(including six from Prince Edward County) we should surpass last year's
total of 458 wines. This means we have had to split the judging into two
consecutive Saturdays. Judges can't be expected to taste more than 100
wines in a day-long session and make accurate assessments of the later
flights. Last year we split off the Icewines and dessert wines and had
two panels of sommeliers rating them. Tasting sweet wines after flights
of dry wines is very tiring... Worked on the atlas. The Ontario section
is coming on but I feel like the Sorcerer's Apprentice: every time I think
I've finished something new pops up... For dinner, I defrosted a piece
of Arctic char I had caught in August. When I cooked it, it smelled fishy.
When Deborah arrived home from work she didn't want to eat it and neither
did I. So we settled for a vegetarian dinner and watched Canada's junior
hockey team thrash the Russians. Made me forget about the fish. The wine:
Robert Mondavi Private Selection Chardonnay 2001 which would have
gone beautifully with the fish. Such is life.
Wednesday, January 5: Got two emails
today with sad news. The Chilean winemaker Aurelio Montes' daughter-in-law
is missing in South-east Asia. She was on her honeymoon. And winegrower
William Dickerson, who provided grapes to Ravenswood Winery for their
Dickerson Vineyards Zinfandels, was identified as a victim... This evening
Aaron Bick and Signe Langford of wineonline.ca came to the house to show
me some of the wines in their portfolio. Aaron has sourced some interesting
Burgundies, Rhones, the flashy Tuscan house of Fattoria Le Pupille and
Valtellinas (good for him). The wines are on the pricey side but Aaron
has a good palate and should do well in the business. His Ferraud Brunel
Cairanne 2000 was lovely. The wine of the tasting though: Hudelot-Noellat
Nuits St. Georges Les Murgers 2001. Really terrific. When Burgundy is
good there's nothing to touch it but when it's mediocre it's merely monstrously
For dinner: a fine bottle of Jackson-Triggs Delaine Vineyard Cabernet/Merlot
2002 with a simple pasta.
Thursday, January 6: An email yesterday
from Steve Thurlow reminding me about today's tasting of wines for Santé's
gala dinner in May. We have to taste wines of the world to decide which
ones will be chosen for the multi-course dinner. There are 102 submissions.
I replied: "Will alert my drinking buddies from Parliament and Gerrard.
Please have brown paper decanters available." The event was held
in three meeting rooms at the Four Seasons. Steve, James Chatto, Gord
Stimmell and David Lawrason tasted blind eight sparkling wines, sixteen
dry whites, twenty Chardonnays (with a couple of Chardonnay blends), fourteen
light reds, thirty-three full-bodied reds and eleven sweet wines. The
tasting was beautifully structured so that when we finished one flight
we just moved to another room where the next was set out. Following the
tasting, a discussion with Truffles' chef Lynn Crawford about the menu
for the wines we finally chose.
Friday, January 7: This morning I auditioned
for a spot on 680 News for wine reviews under Post City Magazines' banner.
The security at Rogers was amazingly tight. It was like getting into heaven.
But it was good to get back into a radio studio after all these years.
I now await a decision as to whether the station will go ahead with these
50-second wine spots... This morning was a tasting morning for the first
half of Vintages' February release. A whack of French wines with some
very tasty Burgundies and Bordeaux. An interesting email in my in box:
"Here is a tip for everyone: if you get corked bottle that you may
not be able to return, put the wine in a zip-lock bag overnight. Polyethylene
plastic absorbs TCA from wine." I've got to try this, although I
wonder what the plastic will do to the wine? At De Sousa winery in Niagara
they sell little terracotta drinking cups that ameliorate the rough tannins.
Which is fine, except I don't enjoy drinking wine out of flowerpots.