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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 38 (June 6, 2005)

Sunday, May 29: Sheila Swerling Puritt came for dinner. I opened a bottle of Sacred Hill Whitecliff Sauvignon Blanc 2004 (for the soup made from Stilton and white port – with some Madeira added) and Burrowing Owl's Shiraz 2003 (with the braised beef). The Burrowing Owl Shiraz was a real surprise for such young vines. It had a rich dark chocolate flavour with a herbal-medicinal note, like a Cote-Rotie in a warm year. A very attractive wine.

Monday, May 30: Tanya, the cat, gets her annual shave today, always dramatic since Nancy doesn't recognise her and hisses at her. Working on the Quebec chapter. Every time I have a page of French translated ("Translate this page") I get amusing results – Cabernet Franc becomes "honest Cabernet" and Clos becomes "Closed." Another afternoon tasting for This evening Deborah and I drive to the Mandarin Restaurant on Woodbine, where Vin Cambridge is giving its annual awards dinner. Bonnie Stern and Philip Mirabelli of Noble Estates are receiving awards. Leon Chang, the proprietor and the moving spirit behind the wine and food society, asks me if I'd introduce Philip. I made a remark about Philip as a wine importer labouring in the trenches against the LCBO. Was hissed from a table of LCBO employees.

Tuesday May 31: Spent the day working on the Quebec chapter but find that I have a computer problem. It seems to be in panic mode, opening all kinds of windows which I can't stop and the cursor does not move. Also I can't forward emails or open attachments but I can send emails when the fits stop. Just what I need. Why is it these damned machines act up when you have deadlines?

Wednesday, June 1: An interview by phone for the Wave radio concerning the June 16th Ontario Wine Awards Tasting. Then down to Rogers to record six pieces for 680 News. Tonight I'm invited to Toula restaurant to taste a series of Italian wines brought in by a new importing agency named Grape Brands. Donato Carozza has a very good palate and has chosen some really interesting wines: Piero Mancini Cannanou di Sardegna 2003 (high toned, violets and blackberry, nose, a big delicious wine with sweet fruit, $17.50); Covo dei Briganti Aglianico del Vulture 2001 from Basilicata (earthy plum, black fruity with a honeyed note with lively acidity, $45); Pieve de Spaltenna Alle Fonti Sangiovese di Toscana 1999 (elegant, dried cherries, lovely balanced, $36), and Poderi Morini Ravenna Rosso Traicolli "Centesimino" from Emilia Romagna (highly perfumed, rose petal and blackberry flavour, $36). With the meal (which was really very good) we had a rather boring Vermentino di Gallura from Sardinia but two very classy reds – Azienda Agricola Eubea di Eugenia Sasso Roinos Aglianico del Vulture 2002 from Basilicata (creamy blackberry, intense sweet fruit, chunky, still young, $84) and Azienda Agricola Cerbaia di Fabio Pellegrini Brunello di Montalcino Vigna Cerbaia 1999 (dense purple, sweet cherry and plum, firm structure, quite forward with soft tannins, $77). (Grape Brands can be reached at 416-929-2328.)

Thursday, June 2: Rob, the computer guy came to fix my desktop. Apparently I have been invaded by Spyware from the internet, a sort of inter-galactic invasion, and he had to remove over 100 files that were corrupting my computer. A meeting with Sara Angel, the publisher, and Sarah Davies, who is editing the atlas. They want more colour and more personal observation in the book. Okay. For dinner, a bottle of Masi Tupungato Paso Doble 2003 – a Malbec, Merlot and semi-dried Corvina blend from Argentina. Delicious.

Friday, June 3: A Vintages tasting day. The best wine is Au Bon Climat "La Bauge-au-Dessous" Pinot Noir 2001. I don't know how the wild boar gets into the picture, but this is a Burgundy-style wine that will knock the socks off anything in its price range ($44.95). For dinner, Vina San Pedro Merlot Reserva 2003.

Saturday, June 4: Our friends' 25th wedding anniversary and the husband's 50th birthday. To celebrate they have invited forty-one of their friends and relatives on a Mystery Tour. The guests were to arrive at the Miller Tavern for 9:30 am. We drove to Burlington before they told the group that they were going to Niagara to visit three wineries – starting with Malivoire. The group had to be split in two to tour the facility and taste. Martin Malivoire took one party into the vineyards while winemaker Ann Sperling conducted a tasting of four Malivoire wines – the Chardonnay Musqué 2004, a Chardonnay Estate 2003, Lady Bug Rosé 2004 and Pinot Noir 2003. When both groups had completed the tour and tasting we drove to Vineland Estates for a pre-lunch tasting – Riesling Dry 2003 and Chardonnay Musqué 2003, followed by the Cabernet Merlot 2001. After lunch in the Carriage House (Pinot Gris 2003 and Pinot Noir 2002, which tasted a little lady-bugged) we drove to Flat Rock, where Ed Madronich Jr. gave us a tour of this spectacular, space-age winery, beautifully sited at the top of the Escarpment, and a tasting: Chardonnay 2003, Nadja's Riesling 2003, Pinot Noir Rosé and Pinot Noir 2003. Got home in time to take Pinot for a walk. Cooked a chicken stir fry for dinner with a bottle of Dopff & Irion Riesling 2003 to accompany. Perfect match for the soya sauce.




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