A Wine Lover's Diary, part 43 (July 11, 2005)
Monday, July 4: My father used to have the same breakfast everyday of his life for as long as I can remember. I am becoming my father. Deborah and I have a bowl of fresh fruit with cottage cheese and flax seeds, a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice and black coffee. My only coffee of the day. I get up and walk the dog around 66:30 depending on when Pinot wakes. I report back to Deborah about her toilet habits. I read the paper and am in my office by 8:30 am. I work out Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, running to the gym (about a mile away), do the machines, weights, stretching and then run back. I work in the morning, lunch, take Pinot for a walk (report on her toilet habits), work on the book till 6 pm. Take Pinot for another walk (report on her toilet habits). Then dinner. Such is my routine. Now the atlas has become part of that routine. I work on it every day till my eyes ache. I am currently rewriting the section on British Columbia (every time I wake up there's a new winery opening, it seems). This evening Guy is coming to dinner. Deborah and I will have chicken; he will have a steak. I open Vinas del Vero Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 from Somontano in Spain. It's a lovely wine, imported by Celebrated Cellars. Guy prefers the Black Opal Shiraz 2002 from Australia, which is sweet and tastes of raspberry jam.
Tuesday, July 5: Amber, who is helping me with the research, emails me to say that she phoned a winery in BC to get some information and the owner shouted at her, telling her he didn't want to be any book. Looking back on my profile of that particular winery I see I have called the proprietor "amiable." I shall have to change that to "irascible." Tonight, dinner at Grano with Andrew Green and Peter Toth, the agents who bring in Lungarotti wines. Chiara Lungarotti is in town with her husband, Matteo, whose family owns a winery in Chianti's Colli Senesi. I have a great affection for the Lungarottis. The late Giorgio Lungarotti was a wonderful man who put Umbria on the wine map. I have fond memories of the hotel they run in Torgiano and the wine museum and the Banco d'Assaggio competition that used to he held at the hotel. Lungarotti wines went through a rather dull patch but I am delighted to say that they're back on form. The simple Torre di Giano white 2003 is a terrific wine for $9.95, reminiscent of an Anselmi San Lorenzo (Anselmi opted out of the Soave DOC, quite rightly, because his wines were simply much better than anyone else's, apart from Pieropan and Inama). The Rubesco 2001 and Rubesco Riserva 2000 and the San Giorgio 2000 (the first Super-Umbrian) are all very pleasing wines. It's only when Lungarotti gets away from the indigenous varieties and tries to make international wines like Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and the jammy Giubilante 2003 (Syrah, Merlot and Sangiovese) that I find them lacking style and character. Steve Thurlow was also at the dinner. He told me that there is an extra Vintages tasting for the July release on Thursday. That means we'll have a big tasting on Thursday and one on Friday for the August release.
Wednesday, July 6: I read in Dave Gamble's BC Wine Trails that the sculpture of a naked man carrying a suitcase that caused such a fuss when displayed at a roundabout in Penticton, BC, has found a home at Red Rooster Winery, upstairs in the tasting room. Apparently the man is called Frank and Red Rooster is coming out with a wine, in homage, called Cabernet Frank with a picture of the man on the label. Dinner, a bottle of Creekside Cabernet Merlot 2002 with BBQ hamburger.
Thursday, July 7: On the news, the London bombings. I was born in London and I am sick at heart. There are no refuges against international terror... An added Vintages tasting today, luckily only 43 wines. Worked on the book in the afternoon. For dinner, a bottle of chilled Chateau des Charmes Gamay Droit 2003 with grilled salmon. Delicious.
Friday, July 8: A Vintages tasting for the August release. Thankfully, Zoltan Szabo is here to take some of pressure off. His reviews now appear on this site. He's an excellent taster and an enthusiastic wine instructor. One of my colleagues, who shall remain nameless to protect his marriage, told me that when his parents-in-law come around for dinner he opens up his best red wines because they only drink white... My vineyard is doing extraordinarily well; the grapes look really healthy. Vineyard perhaps is something of an over-statement. I have two vines of a winter-hardy white variety called Louise Swenson which Larry Patterson gave me three years ago. I have netted them against the birdlife in my North Toronto back yard and will see how they do... Tonight, dinner at Arlene and Michael Willis' home. Starting with a magnum of Drappier 1993 (their millennium bottling) and then a series of fine red Burgundies that I did not have the good sense to write down.