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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 34 (May 9, 2005)

Monday, May 2: On Sunday my son Guy came for dinner. I opened up a bottle of Château de Cruzeau 1988 for the three of us. I've decided that hanging on to old wines for an occasion is dumb. A friend has been diagnosed with a malignant growth. It could be me, so why not enjoy special bottles with ones you love now... Today I worked on the atlas. The deadline is looming. Howard Wasserman from B&W Wines came to the house to show me several of his wines. My notes are:

Cusumano Angimbe Insolio Chardonnay 2002 (Sicily)
Deeply coloured, old gold; intense, rich, buttery caramel, melon; mouth-filling, full-bodied, pineapple and caramel flavours; fleshy, a big gorgeous wine. ****½
($17.95, Vintages May 28th)

Penley Estate Phoenix Coonawara Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 (Coonawarra)
Deep ruby, sweet cedar and blackcurrant with vanilla oak; full-body sweet blackcurrant and raspberry fruit, beautifully balanced, well integrated oak, great length. *****
($30, Consignment)

Jean Luc Colombo Le Prieuré Saint-Joseph (Rhone) - corked

Cusumano Benuara Nero d'Avola Syrah 2002 (Sicily)
Deeply coloured, spicy, plum and chocolate with a pencil lead note; full-bodied, chunky, rustic style with a herby, blackberry flavour with soft tannins, good acidity. ****
($19.95, Vintages, May)

Two Hands Angel's Share Shiraz 2004 (McLaren Vale)
Dense purple, coconut, blackberry; richly extracted fruit, spicy blackberry with a lively spine of acidity. Fully-bodied. ****½
($40 Consignment)

Quinta de Ventozelo Porto Reserva - corked

Two corked wines. Some people suggest that you can taste through corked wines and get a sense of the quality. I don't believe this. The faintest taint of trichloroanisole will deaden a wine's flavour and you're not doing it any favours by reviewing it. Howard promised to send around another bottle of each. He imports some very good wines.

B&W Wines, 1179A King St West, #016
Toronto, Ontario, M6K 3C5
Phone: 416-531-5553
Fax: 416-531-1320

Tuesday, May 3: My deadline to deliver the Ontario section of the Atlas is May 13th, the day before Deborah and I leave for a holiday in Ireland. So it's head down on this project. Went to see Dr. Eli Cass, an old friend. My doctor is on vacation and I have developed what I think is an Achilles tendon problem (from new running shoes!). He puts me on Celebrex. Hope it clears up before we leave for Ireland. It's painful and I can't walk the dog... Dropped in to the trade tasting of wines from the South of France at the Carlu. Best wines I tasted were Château Coupe-Roses Orience 2003 from Minervois (spicy, rich and full-bodied, earthy blueberry and blackberry flavours), Les Coteaux du Pic Cuvée Spéciale 2001 (a Syrah/Grenache blend – floral, honeyed note on the nose with concentrated, blackberry flavour) from the Languedoc and Château Condamine Bertrand Gourmandise 2002 – a Petit Verdot that's foot-trodden (lovely floral nose, rose petal and blue berries). For dinner a bottle of Vereto Salice Salentino 2001.

Wednesday, May 4: Recording this morning for 680 News. This afternoon the Lifford Agency is holding their portfolio tasting at the Eglinton Grand. Steve Campbell imports some great wines, so I don't want to miss this event, even though it's taking time away from the Atlas. There is a photo of Steve on the back of the six-page catalogue shot from belt level; under it: "Steve Campbell, Grand Fromage." There are 243 wines on the tables. I only tasted about 25 wines because I have to go on to Verity to conduct a dinner tasting, an auction item for CanStage. Concentrated on new World wines – from South Africa, Hidden Valley Pinotage 2001, a big smoky, iodine and blackberry-flavoured wine (just the thing for lovers of Laphroaig); from Australia's Adelaide Hills, Shaw & Smith Shiraz 2003 – floral, pencil lead nose, spicy blackberry and licorice with good acidity. Mitchelton Grenache 2001 from Clare Valley – sweet raspberry and chocolate flavours, very elegant (some Sangiovese and Mourvedre in the blend!). I can't find my notes, which I wrote on the menu, so the wines, chosen by the terrific sommelier Kim, are from memory. There were ten of us at table in the Library.

Can Stage Wine Dinner
Wednesday May 4th 2005

Cremant d'Alsace

Red Romaine Salad
Roasted Artichokes, Black Olive Oil
Cave Spring Riesling Reserve 2003 (corked – so they brought us the Cave Spring CSV Riesling 2003, which was fabulous)

Morel Mushroom Rice Cake,
Snow Crab and Cucumber Salad
Hunter's Sauvignon Blanc 2003 from New Zealand

Spicy Veal Tenderloin
Pecan Potato Pave, Chevre Mushroom Gratin
Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2001 (can't recall whose)

Chocolate Caramel Cake
Espresso Mousse, Toasted Pistachio

Thursday, May 5: A day of writing, interrupted by a visit to the dentist for teeth cleaning. He is concerned about the effect of acid on my enamel and recommends that I rinse with a fluoride mouth wash to protect the enamel.

Friday, May 6: A Vintages tasting day. Another huge amount of wine.

For dinner, a bottle of Sacred Hill Whitecliff Merlot 2003 from Hawkes Bay, but I could only drink a couple of glasses before I fell asleep in front of the television. These Vintages tastings are a killer. Seventy wines and nowhere to sit down.

Saturday, May 7: We haven't had a dinner party since we got Pinot the Wheaten puppy, so we invited Steven and Paula Elphick over for dinner. Another couple couldn't make it, which isn't surprising since we invited them on Thursday. We served tomatoes with mozzarella and slivers of salami, followed by filet steak on the barbecue with a great potato dish Deborah does in the oven, with garlic, slices of lemon and black olives; plus grilled asparagus, spinach with pine nuts. Steve brought his chocolate cakes with the molten centres which we had after the cheese. The wines: Martin Steamer Muscat 2002 as an aperitif; Peninsula Ridge Sauvignon Blanc 2004, which is the best Sauvignon made in Canada as far as I'm concerned, and why it didn't win a medal at the Ontario Wine Awards I'll never know; with the steak, Williams Selyem Vista Verde vineyard Pinot Noir 2001 (ravishing wine, in a class by itself) and a bottle Steve brought – Carruades de Lafite 1999 (with the cheese). With the chocolate dessert, Henriques & Henriques 10 Year Old Bual.




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