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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 54 (September 26, 2005)

Monday, September 19: Pooch, my California friend, arrived last night to stay with us for a week. He is in town to sell some California wines he represents. Pooch drinks more wine than I do, so it will be an interesting week. Wrote my December commentary for Tidings magazine, ranting about the use of French terms on Canadian wine labels. We are meant to be bilingual, but "Sans chêne" – give me a break. In the afternoon Arlene Bynon came over to the house to interview me about champagne for a new radio show she's going. An hour later Ernesto Remon Navarro of Iberowine Imports came over to taste some of the wines he represents. Pooch arrived just as we poured the first of the wines, so he joined in.

  • Dominio de Tares "Baltos" Tinto 2003 (Mencia grape from the Bierzo region): Deep ruby, minerally, pencil lead nose with black cherries; sweet fruit, concentrated, good acidity with a dry finish. ****½
  • Vina Prodigus Roble 2001 (Tempranillo from Toro): Deep ruby colour; earthy plum and prune nose, showing some oxidation; full-bodied, reminds me of Amarone, raisiny with lively acidity. ****
  • Pago Florentino Tinto 2002 (Cencibel – the local name for Tempranillo – from La Mancha): Dense purple ruby colour; vanilla, spice, meaty, smoky – very new World Shiraz in style; full-bodied, fleshy and well balanced with a clean, rich blackberry flavour. *****
  • Tinto Arzuaga Crianza 2001 (Ribera del Duero) – the most expensive of the tasting at $33.75 and it was corked. I guess we will never see Spanish and Portuguese wines under screwcap. That would, I imagine, be considered high treason.
  • Miguel Merino Reserva 1998 (Rioja Alta – Tempranillo with 3% Graciano and 2% Mazuelo, old vines): Ruby colour; earthy, strawberry, spicy, minty nose; lean and firm, quite elegant but showing signs of oxidation. ***

For dinner, a bottle of Bodegas Felix Solio Los Molinos Gran Reserva 1997, a new LCBO listing.

Tuesday, September 20: A meeting of the Sante 2006 committee this morning to discuss next year's festival. Worked on the Table of Contents for the book. It's Deborah's Book Club night and she's throwing me out of the house with Pooch – so I took him down to the Fine Wine Reserve to show him that facility and pick up some wine for the Ontario Wine Awards sponsors' tasting on October 15th. Pooch was very impressed with the security. Then to Lloyd Evans' apartment for dinner. Lloyd lives on the 37th floor high up at Don Mills, which gives him a fantastic view of the city and the lake. We picked up some food from an Afghan take-out place near him, called Bamiyan Kebob, and went back to his apartment. He opened Tinel-Blondelet Pouilly-Fumé 2002 (absolutely delicious), then Burnt Spur Pinot Noir 2003 from Martinborough (sweet raspberry flavour, very good), then Inniskillin Pinot Noir 1991 (oxidized) and finally Pierre Gaillard Saint-Joseph Clos de Cuminaille 2000 (light and delicious). Pinot disgraced herself by taking a flying leap into Pooch's lap as we watched the news, spilling his red wine all over the silk shorts his girlfriend had bought him.

Wednesday, September 21: An Independent Wine Education Guild meeting this morning. Lunch at Grano with my ex. We had a glass of Anselmi San Vincenzo 2002, my favourite Soave. Finished off the Table of Contents and did some research into Canadian oak barrels. As an afterthought, I really should do something on this subject for the atlas. At 6 pm dropped in on the portfolio tasting of Abcon at Jamie Kennedy's on lower Church Street. Pooch was behind one of the tables pouring his Bogle wines and other California offerings handled by Abcon. The star of the night for me as Paracombe Sauvignon Blanc 2005 from the Adelaide Hills. The winemaker was there, which made it taste even better. I also liked Cantine Salvalai Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2003, De Bortoli Willowglen Shiraz 2004, Porta Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2003 from Chile and Jardin Merlot 2003 from South Africa. On the way home I picked up some curry, since Deborah was out. No wine tonight, only water.

Thursday, September 22: Wrote up a new BC winery for the book – Noble Ridge in Oliver. Today I drive to London to conduct a dinner tasting of Burgundies at the London Club. My old friend Laszlo Buzas is the General Manager there. Here's the menu he's put together.

~

Chevre and Roasted Beet Gâteau
Chateau de Maligny Chablis 2003

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Seared Striped Bass
Creamed Puy Lentils
Petit Frisée Salad
Louis Latour Puligny Montrachet 1999

~

Veal Cheeks a la Souvavou
Green Beans a la Bordelaise
Potato Galette
Louis Jadot Santenay Clos de Malte 2002

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Baked Camembert with Poached Pear and Fig Jam
Louis Latour Corton Grancey 1999

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Brioche French Toast
Pistachio Maple Brandy Sauce

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Club "Exclusif" Blend Coffee
Selection of International Teas

Executive Chef ~ Kent Phillips

Sous Chef ~ Brandon Walters

Kent Phillips is a young chef who is doing great things for the club's dining room. Slept the night in London and will leave in the morning.

Friday, September 23: Drove back from London, virtually all the way on cruise control since gas prices are crazy and the Acura RL takes the highest premium gas. Love the GPS, I'll never get lost again, but then CSIS knows my every move. This evening Deborah and I have been invited by Southcorp to performance by Matt Dusk at the Boiler Room in the Distillery District. They're pouring Rosemount wines.

Saturday, September 24: This is the day that Craighurst has its street party. They block off the area from Yonge to Duplex and have games for the kids, street hockey (north side versus south side with a replica of the Stanley Cup for the winner (north side – boo, hiss)), face painting, a fire engine, etc. Our event was awarded Best Street Party in the neighbourhood apparently. We missed the evening event – three different bands – because we had to drive to Niagara-on-the-Lake. I was invited to speak about Grapes for Humanity at a Rotary Club event for landmine eradication. Then on to dinner at On The Twenty. My friends Peter and Ellen Safir were up from Washington DC on a winery cycle trip. Great dinner with Cave Spring CSV Riesling 2003, Malivoire Moira Vineyard Chardonnay 2002 and Henry of Pelham Cabernet Merlot 2002.

Sunday, September 24: This afternoon I conducted a tasting at a birthday party for a young couple who live in the Merchandise building where my sister-in-law Suzanne has a condo. This is what we tasted:

  • Inniskillin Riesling Reserve 2003 (Ontario)
  • Vineland Estates Sauvignon Blanc 2003 (Ontario)
  • Sandhill Chardonnay 2003 (British Columbia)
  • Inniskillin Meritage 2002 (Ontario)
  • Osoyoos Larose 2001 (British Columbia)
  • Coyote's Run Cabernet Franc 2003 (Ontario)

After tasting the wines by themselves, we tried them with a variety of cheeses to show how the flavours can change.

Dashed home to help Deborah prepare a dinner party for Alex Dale, a winemaker from South Africa whom I had met several years ago on a plane coming back from somewhere. He is the godfather of Philip Holzberg's daughter Amelie. Philip owns a small château in Cote de Franc called Franc Cardinal. John Harrison Brown, who has a financial interest in the chateau, joined us with his wife, as did Alex's friend Dan Legault. Philip, Dan and Alex used to own an English pub in Beaune called Pickwick's. My son guy and his lady friend Janine also joined us. We tasted Mission Hill Chardonnay Reserve, Radford Dale Chardonnay 2003 (Alex's wine), two vintages of Château Franc-Cardinal - 2001 and 2002- Radford Dale Gravity 2004, Osoyoos Larose 2001 (second bottle today!), Colio Signature Meritage 2002 (in the heaviest bottle I've ever lifted) and Inniskillin Riesling Icewine 2002.

 

 

 

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