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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 37 (May 30, 2005)

Wednesday, May 24: Woke up at 5 am and tackled the 120 emails that had accumulated in my absence – this, in spite of the efforts of my friend Sadie Darby, who was house sitting (to look after Tanya and Nancy, the cats – Pinot was boarded with her breeder). I had asked Sadie to delete all jokes, newsletters, spam, anything in a foreign language so as not to clog the mail box. Today is the New Zealand wine fair at Alice Fazooli's. Always a great event. It starts with a seminar for the trade and wine wine press. My colleague Steve Thurlow, who had been down in New Zealand last year, led us through a dozen wines on the theme of "Sauvignon Blanc and Beyond." Three 2004 Sauvignons, Kim Crawford, Wither hills and Sacred Hill – all very different, then Matakana Pinot Gris 2004, Villa Maria Gewurztraminer 2004 (delicious), Morton Estate Black Label Chardonnay 2002 (rich, Burgundian style, lots of oak). Then three 2003 Pinot Noir – Seresin, Voss Estate and Mount Difficulty. Finally, Matua Valley Bullrush Merlot 2003 from Hawkes Bay, the wine of the tasting (floral, blueberry and mint nose; pure fruit flavour, elegant and powerful. There should be some of this wine left at Vintages on sale for $23.95). This was followed by CJ Pask Declaration 2002 (a Bordeaux blend), which was a bit corked but tasted much better when I tried it later at the table-top tasting after lunch; and Trinity Hill Syrah 2002, which was a little green (young vines). Forty-two wineries were represented. The best wines I tried were Dog Point Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2004 from Marlborough – all nettles and gooseberries with a sweet core and a fresh, tangy finish – and Waitiri Creek Pinot Noir Otago 2003 (light but powerful, rich raspberry flavour, very elegant in Burgundian style). Also good were the Huia Vineyards Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2004 and their Pinot Noir 2003, Fairhall Downs Sauvignon Blanc 2004, Forrest Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2004 and their Pinot Noir 2003. What I found impressive was the overall quality of the wines and their bright, pure fruit flavours. The lively acidity of New Zealand wines is very attractive.

I had to leave early because I'm conducting a dinner tasting for a corporate client at Susur's restaurant. This is not an easy task, since Susur Lee only tells his staff what the menu will be at 5:30 pm on the night and, to complicate matters, your neighbour does not get the same dish as you. There are the wines chosen blind to match the dishes.

  • Bollinger Special Cuvée Champagne
  • Charles Joquet Chinon 2002 "Clos de la Dioterie" (Loire)
  • Brigaldera Amarone 2000 (Veneto)
  • Stratus Chardonnay Reserve 2002 (Ontario)
  • Jaboulet Condrieu Les Cassines 2002 (Rhone)
  • Domaine de Tragnier Banyuls 1997 (Roussillon)

As it turned out the wines, went pretty well with the dishes.

Thursday, May 25: Started writing the Quebec section of the atlas. I have until June 30th to finish it – and all the rest of the book if it's to be published in 2006. A second evening at Susur's – same client with the same menu and the same wines. The reason being every invitee accepted and the group had to be split into two. Tonight was a larger group but equally enjoyable.

Friday, May 27: A full day working on the atlas. All the questionnaires are in French, which makes for slower working. Most of the Quebec wineries have websites, but when I click on "Translate this page" some of them are almost unreadable. My son Guy is having dinner with us. We open an Raimat Abadia 2003 and a Wyndham Estate Bin 555 Shiraz 2002, two very different styles of wine. I'm surprised how much Guy enjoys the Raimat. I would have thought that he would have preferred the fruit-forward Shiraz.

Saturday, May 28: After doing the usual chores – the weekly food shop, dry cleaning, dropping off empty beer bottles to the beer store (a twice-a-year process since we don't drink much beer in this household), I prepare for another corporate tasting wine dinner tasting. Tonight it's at Auberge du Pommier. Ever since the restaurant opened, Peter Oliver has had the legend on the wall to the men's room, written in French: "When I have enough money there will be a cellar here." About time to fish or cut bait, Peter. It's be there for fifteen years at least, probably longer. Here is the lineup of wines for the evening:

Reception wine: Vitteaut-Alberti Crémant de Bourgogne Blanc de blancs Brut (a great sparkler)

Dinner wines:

  • Staete Landt Sauvignon Blanc 2004 (New Zealand) (quintessential Kiwi Sauvignon)
  • Kurt Angerer Grüner Veltliner 2003 (Austria) (powerful, peachy and green pepper flavour)
  • Les Brulières de Beychevelle 2000 (Bordeaux) (a very forward claret)
  • Jackson-Triggs Shiraz 2002 (British Columbia) (an oaky, spicy blackberry flavour)
  • Cave Spring Indian Summer Riesling 2002 (Ontario) (delightful late harvest Rielsing, nicely balanced grapefruit and honey flavours)




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