A Wine Lover's Diary, part 18 (January 17, 2005)
Sunday, January 9: The 6th Annual Tony
Aspler Blind tasting Award was held at its traditional venue, The Wine
Establishment. The competition is open to wine agencies that belong to
the Ontario Imported Wine, Spirit and Beer Association. There is always
some reticence among the trade to put their palates on the line, but ten
brave souls signed up when the contest was announced in December. But
when the moment of truth came only six showed up two called in
sick and two just didn't materialize. Here are the wines they had to identify
- Wine # 1: Henry of Pelham Cuvée Catharine Brut (sparkling,
- Wine # 2: Louis de Bruc Le Couvent des Dames Vouvray 2001 (Loire)
- Wine # 3: Roberto Anselmi San Vincenzo 2002 (Soave, Veneto)
- Wine # 4: Jackson-Triggs Meritage Grand Reserve 1999 (Ontario)
- Wine # 5: Tedeschi Capitel Monte Fontana Recioto Valpolicella 1999
- Wine # 6: Graham's Six Grapes Ruby Port N/V (Portugal)
The winner was Scott Montgomery from Churchill Cellars. Churchill Cellars
takes it very seriously; they have a taste-off in their office to choose
their two representatives for the competition. This is the third time
Scott has won the award and he says he will now retire his palate. Past
2004 Scott Montgomery
2003 Rob Jull
2002 Paul Lato
2001 Scott Montgomery
2000 Bruce Maclean
Scott will be presented with an engraved decanter at the OWISBA annual
dinner next month.
Monday, January 10: Wrote a commentary
for Tidings magazine based on a quote from Bill Bryson's Australian
travelogue, In a Sunburned Country how he couldn't understand
why people wanted to visit wineries. When the issue is published the piece
will appear on this site. Philip Mirabelli has invited Deborah and me
to attend a dinner at Toula Restaurant atop the Westin Harbour Castle,
hosted by the irrepressible Sandro Bottega, the grappa producer from Veneto.
Sandro is the Peter Pan of the Italian distilling industry; he never sits
still and never stops talking. Ideas pop out of his head like sparks.
There are twenty or so of us at table and he tells us his business is
up 25% in Ontario, that he has bought a property near Conegilano with
a 400-year-old villa and that he wants to restore and build a new distillery
there. He's designed a new flute for his Prosecco, created a new grappa-based
Amaro and a white chocolate grappa to go along with his milk chocolate
grappa. He's justifiably proud of his Grappa Fume, a grappa that has been
aged for 1820 months in Allier oak. It's a lovely deep amber colour,
with a nose of vanilla and tobacco leaf and very smooth on the palate
with a touch of sweetness.
Toula produced an excellent meal to accompany his wines and grappas:
Portobello, oyster and shiitake
mushrooms with parmigiano slivers and fresh herbs
Vino dei Poeti Sparkling Prosecco
Classic risotto "milanese"
Vino dei Poeti Sparkling Prosecco DOC
Provimi veal chop with black Norcia
truffle and Toula's roasted potatoes
Equinozio IGT "Super Tuscan"
COFFEE, TEA, ESPRESSO
Gianduia Crema Cioccolato Gianduia e Grappa
Alexander Cognac XO
Tuesday, January 11: Deborah drew my
attention to an article in the Toronto Star dated December 31 (she
likes to leave her newspapers to mature). It was about hangover remedies.
"Haitians stick thirteen black-headed pins into the cork of the bottle
that did the damage." Or "Puerto Ricans are known to rub lemons
under their 'drinking arm'." I guess it saves on deodorant... Had
lunch with my old friend Patrick Burroughs at Lai Wha Heen, to my mind
the best Chinese restaurant in Toronto. Patrick has a penchant for Alsace
wines and although there are several on the list we stuck with tea. Cooked
a turkey curry for dinner (frozen turkey left over from Thanksgiving Dinner!).
Served it with Dopff au Moulin Riesling 2003 a great match because
of the touch of residual sweetness in the wine. Patrick should have been
Wednesday, January 12: Deborah's birthday.
I bought her a Majorca pearl bracelet when I was in Spain (it went over
very well). Lunch at Grano with a company that puts together wine tours.
We drank a bottle of Anselmi San Vincenzo 2003 (the wine formerly known
as Soave: Roberto Anselmi took the regional designation off the label
because he was unhappy with much of the wine so labelled.) Worked on the
atlas, then prepared an early dinner of tilapia and veggies which we ate
with a bottle of Guy Saget Sauvignon Blanc 2003 from Touraine. Interesting
to see a varietally-named wine from this region. After dinner I opened
a bottle of Saget's Cabernet Franc 2003, which I liked well enough to
make a Wine of the Week for its bargain price of $11.45.
Thursday, January 13: Sadie Darby came
over today to put together a list of the Quebec wines I gathered on my
trip there for a Wine Writers' Circle tasting on Sunday. There are twenty-seven
in all. It's going to be a big tasting because the circle has sixty-odd
other wines to taste. This evening I hosted a dinner at Canoe. A software
company was the successful bidder for a wine dinner at a fund-raiser for
diabetes donated by Peter Oliver and me. Peter had generously given carte
blanche to his sommelier to choose wines for an eight-course meal in Canoe's
private dining room. There were eleven of us at table. It was a riotous
affair and the food was stunning. Here's the menu:
- Oysters with Pierre Peters Blanc de Blancs Champagne
- Hot & Cold Foie Gras Huet Vouvray Demi Sec 2000 (Loire)
- B.C. Sablefish, Oxtail, Black Trumpets & Mustard Cedar
Creek Platinum Reserve Pinot Noir 2001 (BC)
- Semolina Pudding, Rabbit Confit, Water Spinach and Truffle
Bastianich Vespa Bianco 2001 (Friuli) (a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay
- Blood Orange & Campari Ice with Lemon Balm
- Nunavut Caribou, Chocolate Walnuts and Salsify Robert Craig
Syrah 2001 (Central Coast, California)
- Stick Toffee Pudding Taylor Fladgate 10 Year-Old Tawny Port
- Chef's selection of cheeses Taylor Fladgate 20-Year-Old Tawny
The CEO of the company wanted to show his staff the difference between
Tawny Port and Vintage so he ordered a bottle of Dow 1980. And then grappa.
I left them at it by eleven o'clock (having arrived at 5:30 pm to
taste the wines).
Friday, January 14: It was really hard
to get up at 6:45 am this morning and jog to the gym. But I find
it's good to work out before a big tasting the second half of the
Vintages February release. There has been some email correspondence among
wine writers that it helps your teeth if you don't brush before a tasting.
The plaque or whatever protects your teeth from acidity. I tried it this
morning. Didn't like the feel of furry teeth. With dinner (Italian Wedding
Soup and half a Dr. Oetker pizza) the remains of a bottle of Jackson-Triggs
Cabernet-Shiraz 2002 from British Columbia. An enjoyable wine but heavy
on the American oak.