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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 44 (July 18, 2005)

Monday, July 11: Received a form letter today from Canada Post with the disappointing news that they had not authorized a postage stamp specifically celebrating Canadian Icewine in the 2006 series of monthly new issues. In August 2006 they will issue two commemorative stamps – Duck Decoys and Wine and Cheese ("Four domestic-rate stamps featuring Canadian wines and cheeses"). I phoned Ottawa to find out if one of the four at least is an Icewine stamp. They said they'd get back to me but I wasn't holding my breath. Surprisingly, later that day I get a call from Francois Legault at Canada Post and he tells me the designs have yet to be done. He will let me know if I call him later in the year. So, watch this space.

Dinner, tilapia with a bottle of Henry of Pelham Barrel-Fermented Chardonnay 2003 (very Burgundian in style, spicy, toasty, apple flavour, great length).

Tuesday, July 12: Another day of slogging away at the atlas. Now working on the revisions of the Nova Scotia chapter. This was the first section of the book I worked on, and it seems a long time ago. Dinner: a bottle of Sandhill Merlot 2003. It had been sent a few days ago from BC by courier. When it arrived, along with other sample bottles, the cork in the Merlot was protruding about a quarter of an inch. Obviously the wine had been subjected to intense heat on its journey across the country and I was expecting the worst, a wine cooked and oxidized, but it was fresh and lively with no hint of pruniness – ripe sweet blackberry fruit, full-bodied with a minerally note. Obviously one tough hombre.

Wednesday, July 13: Recorded six pieces for 680 News and in the afternoon dropped in to Il Molino on Eglinton Avenue, where John Szabo and Zoltan Szabo (no relation, curiously), whose Szabo & Szabo offers ORMHA-sponsored one-day and two-day certificate programs in Drinks Trade Service and Management, the Court of Master Sommeliers Introductory Certificate, as well as a series of three-hour specialty workshops designed for professionals in the hospitality industry. There are no pre-requisites for any courses or workshops. The programs are scheduled in 4 locations across Ontario throughout the year. Szabo & Szabo also offers a Wine Council of Ontario–sponsored program aimed at educating licensees about premium VQA Ontario wines. This was their first seminar. Several restaurateurs, chefs and waiters attended. John took us through the theory of why Ontario can produce great wines and Zoltan led us through a blind tasting of three whites and three reds. They also offer staff training and have loads of experience in the hospitality industry between them (John is a Master Sommelier and is currently studying for his Master of Wine). Dinner: since Deborah was out, I had a half bottle of Henry of Pelham Baco Noir 2002 with a bowl of pasta with tomato sauce. Delicious.

Thursday, July 14: Continuing on Nova Scotia. It's really hot out. So hot, to use Thornton Wilder's great line, the dogs are sticking to the sidewalk. Pinot is sleeping a lot under my desk. At 6 pm I drove to Etobicoke to evaluate a wine cellar that in a house that had been fired by an arsonist. The Italian gentleman and his wife lost everything. It was a really sad sight. He made his own wines (and very well – I tasted a bottle to see what kind of damage the fire had done. It tasted of smoke, not oak smoke but from the fire.) The labels of the bottles were covered in soot and those that had been wrapped – he had a great collection of old Bordeaux, Burgundy and Barolos – were stippled with mould. Without tasting the rare wines I don't know if these were affected, but their labels smelled of smoke. Dinner: BBQ hamburger with a bottle of Rosemount Shiraz Cabernet 2004. Much lighter and more elegant that I would have suspected. The winemaker notes say the wine colour is "Blood plum with purple highlight." I had never heard of a blood plum (I thought it might be a misprint for the Aussie everyday expletive "bloody"), so I googled it and here's the result:

Note: Two or three hundred varieties of plums derived from the Prunus domestica are described; among them the greengage, the Orleans, the purple gage, or Reine Claude Violette, and the German prune, are some of the best known.

Note: Among the true plums are;

Beach plum, the Prunus maritima, and its crimson or purple globular drupes,

Bullace plum. See Bullace.

Chickasaw plum, the American Prunus Chicasa, and its round red drupes.

Orleans plum, a dark reddish purple plum of medium size, much grown in England for sale in the markets.

Wild plum of America, Prunus Americana, with red or yellow fruit, the original of the Iowa plum and several other varieties. Among plants called plum, but of other genera than Prunus, are;

Australian plum, Cargillia arborea and C. australis, of the same family with the persimmon.

Blood plum, the West African H[ae]matostaphes Barteri.

Cocoa plum, the Spanish nectarine. See under Nectarine.

Date plum. See under Date.

Gingerbread plum, the West African Parinarium macrophyllum.

Gopher plum, the Ogeechee lime.

Gray plum, Guinea plum. See under Guinea.

Indian plum, several species of Flacourtia.

Who needs a university when you have the Internet?

Friday, July 15: A Vintages tasting morning. The wine of the tasting for me was Domaine de la Serre Hypogée 2002, an extraordinarily concentrated Côtes du Roussillon Villages at $39.95. I read in the National Post this morning an article about a study published in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour that suggests there may be a link between left-handedness and pedophilia. It was based on a study of 400 sex offenders "using phallometric testing – measuring blood flow in their penises when shown different images of potentially erotic stimuli – and questions about their handedness." It turned out that more than 30% of those who showed interest in children were left handed. Well, 30% of our Wine Writers' Circle members are left-handed. In fact, in the wine trade at large there are a disproportionate number of left-handed people. Oh God, not more ammunition for the temperance brigade! Dinner: salmon with a bottle of Wynn's Coonawarra Chardonnay 2003. A bargain at $14.95.




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