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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 51 (September 6, 2005)

Monday, August 29: I finished the Quebec chapter today and learned from Alain Breault that one winery has closed and another might do so in 2006. Still, finishing this section is like a great weight has been lifted from my chest. Working in French is difficult for me and the translated pages of Internet sites are laughably literal. Hurricane Katrina is wreaking havoc in New Orleans. This is a city that both Deborah and I have never been to and have been thinking of spending a long weekend there. They'll need the tourism when the flooding subsides... For dinner, lamb chops with Peter Lehmann Shiraz Grenache 2003.

Tuesday, August 30: We caught the tail end of Katrina. Luckily there was no flooding in our basement or bathroom off the kitchen. Someone has been eating the grapes in my "vineyard." Two bunches at ground level have been stripped in spite of the fact the vine is netted. Thinking of putting in bird bangers but this will upset the neighbours. Maybe it's racoons so I'll have to install an electrified fence. Received a copy of my wine writer colleague Konrad Ejbich's new book, A Pocket Guide to Ontario Wines, Wineries, Vineyards and Vines. He's done a magnificent job in covering the region. It's very comprehensive and the best book I've seen on the subject. Dinner at Assaggio with our friends Mary (who lives in Mexico) and Karen and Rick (who live in Collingwood). I brought along a bottle of Hartford Pinot Noir 2003 from Sonoma and a Mondavi Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 from Napa. Mary said she hadn't had such good wines in years; she drinks mainly Argentinean wines in Mexico. The Hartford Pinot in particular was stunning. We started with a bottle of Anselmi San Vincenzo 2003. I've had better bottles of this wine. I like Anselmi's wines a lot. Roberto is a speed freak. I remember a white-knuckle drive from his winery in Soave to Verona at 240 km/h one Vinitaly several years ago. He kept turning to talk to me in the back seat.

Wednesday, August 31: I was delighted to read in the papers this morning that Paul Bosc of Château des Charmes had been awarded the Order of Canada. He is only the third member of the Canadian wine community to be so honoured, alongside the late George Hofstetter of Brights and Donald Ziraldo of Inniskillin. Wrote a commentary for Tidings magazine on wine flaws and my monthly contribution of fifteen wine reviews.

Thursday, September 1: Worked on my monthly article for Post City Magazines. The editor asked for a bluffer's guide to wine ("10 things to bluff your way through a dinner with an oenophile"). Had a lot of fun with that one. He also wanted a blurb on the LCBO's tasting room under the tower at the Summerhill store. Dinner: cod with Peter Lehmann Semillon Chardonnay 2003.

Friday, September 2: Well, it looks like there's not going to be any Louise Swenson Icewine from the Aspler vineyard in 2005. When I returned from walking Pinot, Deborah informed me that there wasn't a single berry left on the vine, in spite of the netting. Must have been the raccoons. A Vintages release tasting today... My sister Shirley was in town from Montreal and took us to dinner with her sons David and Mark and Mark's wife Dawn to Giancarlo's on Clinton. That stretch of College is all restaurants. The weather was good enough for us to dine outside. I brought along a Mission Hill Oculus 1999 (beginning to dry out but very St. Estephe-like) and a Cedar Creek Meritage 2001 (excellent).

Saturday, September 3: This is the day that Frank and Patti-Anne and Rod and Bessie decided to celebrate our mutual anniversary (August 17th – couldn't all get together before this date). Frank had booked tickets at Soulpepper at Harbourfront for Ibsen's The Wild Duck (amazing ensemble acting). Then back to us for dinner on the deck. We stared with warmed figs and gorgonzola on a slice of salami with salad greens; then I barbecued a butterflied leg of lamb. Naturally, to celebrate a triple anniversary, we drank copious amounts of wine. Pol Roger champagne to start, followed by Anselmi San Vincenzo 2002 (much better than the wine we had on Tuesday), Norton Chardonnay 2004 from Argentina, Westrey Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2001 from Oregon, Montesole Taurasi 1996, Domaine Saint Gayan Gigondas 2000, Perez Cruz Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2003 from Argentina with the cheese plate. We went for a walk with Pinot before returning to the table for dessert – chocolate cake – with a half bottle of De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon 2003, Australia's best dessert wine that tastes like Sauternes. Frank has a tradition at his home in Caledon of throwing the empty bottles from the deck into the garden (he has a long stretch of grass with trees). He swears that he has never broken a bottle in all the years he has been doing this. Frank decided that we should initiate the same tradition at our house. So he began to toss the empties into the yard. We have a small pie-shaped piece of grass beyond the deck. We heard the second bottle hit the first. Happily it did not break. Frank and Patti-Ann wisely stayed the night.




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