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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 61 (November 14, 2005)

Monday, November 7: Another really busy wine week coming up, from the look of my diary. At 10 am there is a Nebbiolo seminar at the Carlu as a prelude to the 10th Italian Wine Tasting that features 93 wineries. The seminar was called for 10 am but didn't start until nearly 11 am. Guiseppe Martelli, Director General of the Italian Oenologists Association, had choregraphed the sommeliers. They marched in, decanted in unison and on his signal marched off the pour the tables. Martelli referred to Nebbiolo as "the flower in the buttonhole of Italian oenology," a felicitous phrase. The wines had been well chosen and each was delicious. Pelissero Barbaresco Vanotu 2001, Bruno Rocca Azienda Agricola Rabaja 2001 (stunning), Sandrone Barolo Cannubi Boschis 2000 (the wine of the tasting for me), Bruno Giacosa Barolo Falletto di Serralunga 2000 (a grerat wine), Fantino Conterno Barolo "Sori Ginestra" 2000 and finally, from Lombardy, Nino Negri Sfursat 5 Stelle di Valtellina 2002. Following this seminar we trooped into the table top tasting. Someone thrust a plate of risotto into my hands and an Italian producer began scraping white truffle on it. I didn't have time to thank him before he was off offering it to others. Ran in to a lot of old friends whom I had not seen for some time, Roberto Bava, Primo Franco, Roberto Anselmi. I was impressed by the wines of Feudi di Gregorio from Campania – rich Taurasi Riserva 1999, a lovely Fiano di Avellino 2004 and a remarkable Primitivo di Manduria Ognissole 2004 that came on like a Turley Zinfandel. Confirmed how much I like Morellino di Scansano. Il Grillesino made a lovely 2001 Riserva. The most impressive wines that I tasted were the 2003 Le Serre Nuove dell'Ornellaia and the remarkable 2002 Ornellaia. For such a difficult vintage this is a tremendous wine, very St. Emilion in style with a lovely floral grace note. Had to leave for a 4 pm meeting with the designer of the atlas to talk about maps and photographs. Then to dinner at Grano, where Philip Mirabelli was entertaining five of his principals. Each course was accompanied by wines from their respective wineries: Foss marai Cuvee Vino Spumante Brut N/V with the stuzzichini; Cantina Calatrasi Terrale Catarratto IGT Sicilia Bianco 2004 with calamari fritti and carpaccio al salmone; Fattoria dei Barbi Brunello di Montalcino 2000 (quite forward) with gnocchi al tartufo; Rocca delle Macie Roccato IGT Toscana Rosso 200 with brasto di manzo con polenta; Tedeschi Capitelk Monte Olmi Amarone 2001 with Italian cheeses; and Tedeschi Capitel Monte Fontana Recioto della Valpolicella 2003 with crostata di fichi.

Tuesday, November 8: A morning tasting at Novotel of the Jeanjean Syrah Primeur 2005 with other products imported by Tom Noitsis' Eurovintage. This is the seventh year that Jeanjean has been chosen by the LCBO as one of the Nouveau wines to be released on November 17. At $9.45 this is really a very good wine, even for someone like me who is not knocked out at the prospect of tasting six-week-old wines. One of the wines Tom previewed was Ted the Mule Red and White (this is a play on tête de mule, the French expression for stubbornness). Much hilarity when Ted Kalaboukis of SOPEXA arrived. He good-naturedly took the ribbing from the wine writers present. Then on to KI, a new contemporary Japanese restaurant on Bay. The printed invitation gave the wrong address and the writers (mostly fashion and lifestyle) had difficulty finding the place. But they persevered because this was the Toronto launch of the 1998 Dom Pérignon. The campaign had been devised and photographed by Karl Lagerfeld. Photos of languid, androgynous models draped over each other in pre-orgy poses. Jean Berchon, Moet & Chandon's VP of Corporate Communications, greeted us with a glass of the 1996 vintage Dom, which has been hailed as the "Vintage of the Century." Well, the 1998 is equally good. Berchon described it as sensual, "like a caress on the palate." It's a seamless Champagne, delicate and complex with green apple and lemon flavours that dance on the palate. But then for $192 it should be.

This evening I conducted another Tuesday night tasting at grano:

  • Reception wine: Foss Marai Prosecco
  • Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio 2004
  • Lungarotti Torre di Giano 2004
  • Rocca delle Macìe Chianti Classico 2003
  • Produttori del Barbaresco Langhe 2000
  • Rivera Aglianco 2001
  • Montezovo Sa' Solin (Ripasso) 2001
  • Feudo d'Elimi Nero d'Avola 2001

The export manager for Tenimenti Angelini, Francesco Vitulli, was in the restaurant and asked if I would mind if he added another wine – Val di Suga Brunello di Montalcino 1999. Would I mind! The wine was lovely, still quite tannic but very richly extracted.

Wednesday, November 9: A dental appointment (cleaning – my dentist who makes his own grape juice, not wine, grape juice, should know that my teeth will be stained because of what I do. But he always seems surprised.) Then down to LCBO to taste the wines that are on the Vintages Essentials list. These are products that should be in stock at Vintages at all times. Tasted about 40 of them and then home to change for dinner at the Carlu. Donald Ziraldo has invited me to join the Inniskillin table at a fundraiser dinner entitled EPCOR Road to Champions – "celebrating Canada's Premiere (sic) Athletes and their Journeys in Becoming Champions." Silken Laumann (rowing), Adam van Koeverden (kayaking), Lori-Ann Muenzer (track cycling), Kyle Shewfelt (gymnastic), Simon Whitfield (triathlon) – all gold medallists – and many other attending Olympians and some Olympic hopefuls were there to help the fund-raising effort. I was struck by how articulate and well spoken these elite athletes are (compared to hockey or baseball players). The dinner for 500 was prepared by Mark McEwan and Jamie Kennedy. Inniskillin supplied the wines – Seeger Vineyard Old vines Riesling 2003, Montague Vineyard Pinot Noir 2003, Founders' Reserve Chardonnay 2002, Reserve Meritage 2002 and Vidal Icewine 2004.

Thursday, November 10: Wrote my monthly column for Post City Magazines on gifts for the holiday season. At 4 pm a meeting here with Stephen Franklin of The Fundraising Network, who is conducting a survey as to whether George Brown College should initiate a project to raise $5 million to expand the college's facilities. I opened a bottle of Jackson-Triggs Sun Rock Vineyard Merlot 2003 while we talked. Pinot update: Deborah took off her collar last night and left it outside her crate. Pinot chewed it in half.

Friday, November 11: Remembrance Day. The Santé advisory board was meant to start blind-tasting the entries for the gala dinner at 9 am. But the Carlu said we can't start until 11 am, the time when beverage alcohol can be served in Ontario. Yesterday I called the Alcohol and Gaming Commission to see if we could get dispensation to start at 9 am. If the Carlu got a Special Occasion permit we would have to write a letter and it would take a month. What a benighted province we live in. At the LCBO we begin tasting at 8.30 am but we have to wait until 11 am to taste behind closed doors at the Carlu. Tasted about 90 wines and then retasted the winners of each flight, so it was a long day. I find that tasting sitting down is much less tiring than tasting standing up.




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