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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 49 (August 22, 2005)

Saturday, August 13: Shopped for lures at Le Baron in preparation for my fishing trip to Prince Edward County tomorrow with Guy. In the evening I conducted a wine tasting at home as a surprise 40th birthday present from Deborah's chiropractor to her fiancé. The guests arrived and I opened a bottle of Mission Hill Pinot Grigio 2004, awaiting the arrival of the guest of honour who was schedule to be there at 7 pm. At 7:30 pm there was a phone call from the distraught chiropractor saying that they were still waiting for the cab they ordered (Co-op). They arrived at 8 pm, by which time we had demolished the Mission Hill and a bottle of Inniskillin Riesling Reserve 2002. Then we sat down to the all-Canadian tasting: Jackson Triggs Meritage White 2004 from BC, Jackson-Triggs Proprietors' Grand Reserve Riesling 2000, Hillebrand Trius Chardonnay 1998, Inniskillin Cabernet Franc 2002, Stratus Red 2002 and Malivoire Old vine Foch 2002 (the group's preferred wine of the evening). With the buffet catered by Grano we toasted the birthday boy with Veuve Clicquot.

Sunday, August 14: After dropping Annabel at the airport at 6:30 am, I returned home to pack the car for the fishing trip. Bottled water, apples and bananas, bagels, cheese, fried apricots and oatmeal bars (Guy's requirements) and salami (mine), jackets and pants in case it rains, sun tan lotion, changes of clothes, fishing tackle. We left at 10:30 am for Prince Edward County. Debra Marshall, secretary of the County's Winery Association, had arranged for us to go fishing with chef Michael Potters of the Milford Bistro on Monday and have a commercial fisherman guide on Tuesday.

We had lunch with David Lawrason in Belleville at his new house (he had some Veuve Clicquot Grande Dame open from a tasting and we polished that off with a cold lunch on his deck). Then we drove to the Waring House to meet Debra and her husband Tom, who had the key to the house we were staying at in Macaulay Village. We dropped in on Closson Chase to taste their Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Winemaker Deborah Paskus wasn't there but we tasted her 2004 Pinot Noir out of the barrel (she's experimenting by separating the primary and secondary bunches and fermenting them separately. I put my name down for a six-bottle case). Geoff Heinricks, who makes his Domaine La Reine at Closson Chase, was also there and we tasted his Grand Hiver 2003 and his 2004 out of barrel. Bought a bottle of his 2003. We drove to The Black Prince winery to see Ann Walby (who used to be my managing publisher on Wine Tidings magazine). She had just left, but we got directions to her house. Ann's boyfriend, Willi, owns Angéline's in Bloomfield, a restaurant with an inn and spa. So we dined there (excellent food). Willi served us an Ice Cider from the County Cidery.

Monday, August 15: Guy and I had breakfast at a greasy spoon in Picton and walked around the town. When I got back to the car I had a parking ticket (expired meter) for $5. We drove out to meet Catherine Langlois of Sandbanks Estate Winery. She has 5.5 acres within sight of the lake and is making very flavourful wines – the reds in the basement of her house, the whites at Black Prince. Guy and I tasted her Dunes Vidal 2004. Riesling 2004, Baco Noir 2004 and Cabernet Franc 2004 and 2003. Catherine studied winemaking in Burgundy and her wines are very precise and clean with true varietal flavours. A winery to watch. Next, Norman Hardie's new winery, where Norm gave us a course in winemaking in one hour with samples of his 2004 Pinot Noirs from the barrel and Chardonnays from the tank. Norm, who has made wine in Burgundy, South Africa, New Zealand and Oregon, is making some wonderful wines here. He believes in lees stirring of his juice, both red and white, before fermentation to extract more flavour. He will be bottling all his wines under screwcap... We met Michael Potter at 3 pm outside his restaurant in Milford. His boat was hitched to his old Chrysler. When I went to transfer all the equipment to the boat I discovered I had forgotten to pack the two rods! Fortunately, Michael is a mad keen fisherman and had lots of rods aboard. He drove to Long Point and we fished for four hours in South Bay. I caught a small bass and Guy caught two. Not a very productive outing, but it was great to be on the water and away from phones and computers. That evening we went to The Waring House and had a burger and beer in the pub while watching the Blue Jays lose to the Angels.

Tuesday, August 16: Debra Marshall called at 8 am to tell us that the guy who was meant to take us out fishing today had broken his leg and his back-up had gone fishing in Lake Erie because the local waters weren't productive. She said we could go to the marina and hire someone, but I think God was telling us not to fish that day. The last time something like this happened to me was also in Prince Edward County. About four years ago I was thinking of buying a small piece of land here to plant a vineyard. Geoff Heinricks was showing me around and we found an ideal site of 8 acres. It was planted to soya beans at the time but would make an ideal Pinot Noir Vineyard. I had visions of producing the Romanée-Conti of the County and selling it at an extortionate price. At 8:30 the next morning I went to the real estate agent's office to buy the property and the woman told me that I was too late: she had sold it the night before. So much for my grape-growing dream. Now I am restricted to the two Louise Swenson vines in my back yard (which, incidentally, are thriving in spite of Pinot's mad dashes around the garden). So, Guy and I drove into Belleville and then home. Deborah had had a wretched day with movers contracted to the Bay to deliver a new king-size mattress which they could not get up the stairs because they couldn't get our other mattress down the stairs first. Her computer also was not working. So I decided that we had better go out to dinner tonight to celebrate our anniversary, which falls tomorrow. Deborah had never been to Jamie Kennedy's wine bar on Church so we went there with a bottle of 1982 Château Belair. Great meal.

Wednesday, August 17: Back to the book, the rewrites of the Quebec chapter. In the evening I participated in a seminar on the business of wine for the 22 Independent Wine Education Guild diploma students, held in the auditorium of George Brown. A spirited exchange about LCBO policies regarding their shelf space allotment (acres of facings for best-selling wines) and their magazine, Food & Wine, that hoovers up advertising revenue from the private-sector magazines. It started at 7 pm and broke up at 9:45 pm. Came home and opened a bottle of Koala Creek Shiraz 2002 with some six-year-old cheddar.

Thursday, August 18: Another day on the book, but it's coming along well. In the evening Deborah and I drove up to the Rexall centre to watch the Roger's Cup women's tennis. The box we were viewing from was sponsored by California Wines. They had a selection of Mondavi, Beringer and R. H. Phillips wine for tasting and a very tasty buffet dinner while we watched the tennis. Pinot's bladder imperative made us leave early, however.

Friday, August 19: I awoke to rain for this first time in many weeks. Walked the dog and ran to the gym in the rain. Had a small tasting down at the LCBO, new releases for the general list and some Vintages products that were missed last week. Thirty-two in all. One of the general list products.

Saturday, August 20: This evening it's my turn to host the Saintsbury Society dinner. The Saintsbury Society is a dinner club that Tony Hirons, David Rowlands and I founded in 1982. The idea is that each of us hosts a dinner in our home with a wine theme and invites another couple. It used to be once a month but over the years we all got too busy so now it's every two months. When David Rowlands moved up to Collingwood a few years ago we invited Irv Wolkoff to join. There are only two rules: the first loaf of bread cannot be cut and has to be passed around the table and each person breaks off a bit. The second rule is that the invited guests can never come back to another Saintsbury dinner in your house (this way we get new blood all the time). Deborah's sister Suzanne is in town from Paris so we invited her to join us. The theme tonight is Burgundy. We were 9 at table (our guests were David and Sharon Naiberg). Suzanne arrived early so we opened a bottle of Roberto Anselmi's Capitel Foscarini 2003 to catch up on her news. Suzanne is a make-up artist for the movies and is in Toronto to work on a film with Harvey Keitel. When everyone arrived we opened a bottle of Bouchard Père & Fils Beaune Clos Sainte Landry 2000 (which was a little oxidized), to drink with the hummus, tapinade and slivers of pizza before sitting down to dinner. Since the timing was a little off on my preparations, I opened a bottle of Hartford Sonoma County Chardonnay 2001 (okay, so it's not Burgundy; we do throw in other wines). First course: figs with Cambozola cheese (warmed in the oven so the cheese is molten) on a bed of salad greens. With this we had Lequin-Colin Corton-Charlemagne 2002. With the BBQ-ed butterflied leg of lamb, BBQ-ed vegetables and Deborah's potatoes baked in the oven with lemon rings and black olives, we had Albert Morot Beaune Teurons 2002. Tony Hirons, a wine importer, wanted us to try a mystery wine he is submitting to Vintages. I guessed it was a New Zealand Pinot Noir. It turned out to be Nepenthe Charleston Pinot Noir 2003 from Australia's Adelaide Hills (a fruity, forward Pinot, very enjoyable and worth its $20 price). I brought out another mystery wine at this point: Winchester Pinot Noir 2003 from Vancouver Island; it turned out to be acetic, unfortunately. Back to the good stuff, a bottle of Roumier Chambolle-Musigny Amoureuses 1996 that David Naiberg brought, followed by the wine of the night (from my cellar, I'm pleased to say), Drouhin Bonnes Mares 1985. Irv somehow got the idea that it was a Barbaresco night and had brought along Paitin Sori' Paitin Barbaresco 1997 and Rinaldi Barbaresco 1947. To show the poor fellow that there were no hard feelings we drank them both with the cheese course. Dessert was Deborah's lemon tart with which we drank a Pillitteri's Sparkling Icewine 2001 followed by Inniskillin Sparkling Vidal Icewine 2002. Pinot behaved in exemplary fashion all night.




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