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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 57 (October 17, 2005)

Monday, October 10: Spent the day writing a piece for Wine Access's book on Canadian wines, an introduction to Ontario. I had interviewed Rob Davidson, the TV journalist, who has a small vineyard at Roseneath. He intends to open his own winery called Burnley Ridge. I have to get book jacket quotes for the Atlas so am sending off begging emails to influential writers asking them to say nice things about the book. For dinner, lamb chops and a bottle of Henry of Pelham Cabernet-Merlot 2002, consistently their best red wine.

Tuesday, October 11: Wrote my monthly column for Post City Magazines. They wanted a piece on ten great buys under $20, white and red. There was a time when people would ask me, "What's the best wine under $10?" Came across a new Ontario winery called Chesslawn in Caledon. Nadine and Gary Walters (who are related to Deborah through marriage) have us up to their place for Thanksgiving dinner every year. Gary had bought a bottle of Chesslawn Riesling. So I have to add it to the book. For dinner, Piazza Tomasso's Lasagne with a bottle of Inniskillin Okanagan Meritage 2003. I used to go to Piazza Thomaso's as a kid in Montreal. It was at the end of the streetcar line on Decarie. There was a magician there called Magic Tom.

Wednesday, October 12: Walking Pinot I passed a man who looked like his front teeth met a hockey puck. He came towards us grinning ear to ear. "Magnificent dog," he said, "Makes you look good, guy." Felt better about the dog because this morning she took a chunk out of a Persian carpet. This in addition to other objects she has gnawed on around the house. I have renamed her The Furni-chewer. Finished off the line editing on the Maritime provinces chapter and sent off the bio on Chesslawn to be included. Going to see the Canstage production of Habeas Corpus tonight.

Thursday, October 13: David Lawrason and Doug Towers came over for a tasting of Ontario wines – our reviews for At 5:30 pm I dropped over to talk to Susan Kates, who runs a singles club and wants to do a tasting next month (Nouveau wines). Angela Lyons, public relations director for Foster's Wine Estates Canada, invited us to dinner at Centro with Peter Gago, Penfold's winemaker, whom I hadn't seen since the Banff Springs Wine festival last October. We started off with Penfold's Reserve Bin OOA Chardonnay 2000 (very rich and full, remarkably Burgundian in style). Then the Penfold's St. Henri Shiraz-Cabernet 1994, which was remarkable for its freshness abd lively purple colour. At the next table Franco Prevedello, who used to own Centro, was entertaining a Lombardy winemaker. They sent us over glasses of Benincasa Cabernet Sauvignon 1997. It was corked but they were happily drinking it. We ended the evening with a 1997 Grange. Still a baby but delicious. I really shouldn't have had that grappa at the end.

Friday, October 14: Tasted 19 Ontario Icewines in next month's Vintages' release, plus five other wines that were missed last Friday.

Saturday, October 15: Today Sandy Kurbis from Forefront Communications and I drove down to Niagara-on-the-Lake to entertain the major sponsors of this year's Ontario Wine Awards. We met at The Prince of Wales for a sparkling wine reception (Peller Estates Cristalle) and then half the group of 20 went down to the cellar for a tour and tasting with Fred Gamula, their sommelier. I gave a little seminar on sparkling wine and repeated it with the second group. Then lunch followed.

2005 Ontario Wine Awards Sponsor Luncheon

Orange Dusted Sea Scallop with Sweet Pea and Vanilla Cappuccino
Creekside Pinot Grigio 2004

Pumpkin Crusted Australian Lamb, Wild Mushroom, Pork Belly Jus
Henry of Pelham Meritage 2002

Wine can of their wits the wise beguile,
Make the sage frolic, and the serious smile.

After lunch we all got on the N-O-T-L trolley (a converted San Francisco tram with a Ford Engine) for a tour of Jackson-Triggs and Marnissen. At J-T we tasted in the barrel cellar Sauvignon Blanc 2004 (tart, grassy, very crisp), Gewurztraminer 2004 Proprietors' Reserve (spicy, correct if a little dilute) and Merlot Proprietors' Grand Reserve 2002, which was very good, rich and well extracted. The place was packed with visitors, as was Marynissen. Sandra Marynissen led our tasting in spite of having a heavy cold. She poured Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 Lot 31 (floral, more Merlot in style), Syrah 2002 (which was delightful for such young vines) and a very rich Cabernet Franc 2002. Then we got back on the trolley and headed for Queens Landing, where we had an Icewine and dessert tasting: three Riesling Icewines and a cabernet Franc. Hillebrand Riesling Icewine 2003, Chateau des Charmes Riesling 2001 (showing lots of petrol notes) and Vineland Estate Riesling Icewine 2000 (which tasted more like Tokaji with its honey, marmalade and tea leaf notes). I'm not a great fan of red Icewine – the Reif Cabernet Franc Icewine 2002 tasted of strawberry compote. Home for dinner – roast chicken with a bottle of Vineland Estate Baco Noir 2004.

Sunday, October 16: Today Deborah and I are entertaining Marchese Leonardo de' Frescobaldi for dinner with two of the other directors of Grapes for Humanity: my co-founder, Arlene Willis, and her husband, Michael, and Sam Sarick (our treasurer) and his wife Esther. Filling out the table were Peter Ventura from California (formerly manager of Opus One winery) and Rich Schiralli, whose importing agency represents Frescobaldi. Leonardo has graciously agreed to conduct a dinner tasting of his wines on Wednesday to raise funds for Grapes for Humanity. Overwhelmed by thought of providing a dinner in his honour, Deborah and I decided to have it catered by Sequel restaurant. And I have raided my cellar for the very best wines I could find. Here's the menu.

Dinner in honour of
Marchese Leonardo de' Frescobaldi
Sunday October 16th, 2005

the hors d'oeuvres
southern crab cakes infused with chive sour cream garnished with chervil
grilled striploin with a béarnaise mayo served on endive spears
chevre with calabrese olives & shaved candy cane beets on puff pastry
Dom Perignon 1990
Krug 1988

the appetizer
gravlax of norwegian salmon with chive pancake & dijon foam with arugula
Olivier Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet 2000
Cave Spring CSV Riesling 2003

the main course
duo of lamb "portolaise"
dijon herbed crusted rack of lamb & braised lamb shank in a port shallot reduction
Marchesi de' Frescobaldi Luce 1997

the cheese course
Bouchard Père & Fils Beaune Les Marconnets 2000
Clos de Vougeot 1929

the dessert
crispy apple tarte tatin served with crème anglaise
Inniskillin Oak-Aged Vidal Icewine 2003

gourmet coffee, espresso, tea

Delaforce Port 1977 (magnum)

The 1929 Burgundy was a revelation – 76 years old and still deeply coloured, high fill and still showing great fruit and structure.




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