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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 64 (December 5, 2005)

Monday, November 28: A magazine in China wants to pay me for the articles I have written. It's only $150 US for two pieces but trying to get money out of China is very difficult. I went to the Western Union office nearest me but the editor had not registered my passport number with Western Union in China so no dice. Had lunch at Grano with Ron Fiorelli, whose company represents the German Wine Information Bureau. We had a bottle of Castello di Vicchiomaggio Pesce Rosso 2004 with spaghetti vongole. In the afternoon I met again with the builder of the condo to discuss the possibility of putting a personal wine cellar in the parking garage. The decision as to where it will be has been deferred until the concrete has been poured. They should start breaking the ground in a couple of weeks. I have been asked to speak to Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque at a Vintages' dinner at Splendido this evening. Champagne will be served with each course. Here's the menu:

Vintages Champagne Dinner


Canapés :
Foie Gras Cuit Sous Vide, Brioche
Butter Poached Yukon Gold Potato Gnocchi, Caviar
Brier Island Sea Scallop, Lime Coriander Hass Avocado
Taittinger Brut Réserve Champagne


Lemongrass Scented Nova Scotia Lobster
Three Citrus Ginger Champagne Emulsion
Veuve Clicquot Vintage Réserve Brut 1998
Moët & Chandon Brut Imperial Vintage 1999


Quebec Duck Breast with Potato Confit
Bollinger Grande Année Champagne 1997
Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé Brut Champagne


Selection of Fine Cheeses:
Brie de Meaux, Etorki Basque, Vento d'Estate
Krug 'Grande Cuvée' Champagne
Perrier-Jouët 'Belle Époque' Champagne 1998


Preserved Niagara Strawberry Sorbet
Champagne Float
Nicolas Feuillatte Rosé Brut Champagne


A really great meal. I've reserved a table for Deborah's birthday on January 12th.

Tuesday, November 29: Spent the day working on the Wine Report 2007, the Tom Stevenson book published annually. I am writing the Canadian chapter. This afternoon there's a tasting of Greek wines at La Maquette on King Street. Steve Kriaris, president of Spondi Fine Wines, has mounted a mini Greek wine fair with eleven producers he represents. The wines of Skouras and Papaioannou, Hatzimichalis and Gaia are impressive for the price. The problem in our market will be the grape names – Agiorgitiko, Assyrtico, Xinomavro, Moschofilero – difficult to pronounce but a refreshing change from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Heard today that Dan Aykroyd is investing $1 million in Niagara Cellars Inc., the holding company that owns four Ontario wineries – Lakeview Estates, Birchwood Estates, Thomas & Vaughan and EastDell Estates, as well as the wine importing agency Diamond Estates Wines & Spirits. I had to sign a non-disclosure agreement before the PR lady would give me the information that was embargoed until 8 am tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 30: Worked on Wine Report 2007. Lunch at Grano (I'm spending far too much time there, but it is convenient, a twenty-minute walk from the house). Toby and Martine O'Brien wanted me to meet Laurent Courbis, the winemaker of Domaine Courbis with holdings in St. Joseph and Cornas. Laurent had has his briefcase stolen from his car in Lille earlier in the week. He lost his air ticket and all his company brochures. We tasted five of his 2003 reds – St. Joseph, the single-vineyard Les Royes St. Joseph, Cornas Champelrose, Cornas Les Eygats and Cornas La Saboratte. They are wonderfully rich and intense wines, beautifully made. Especially Les Royes and les Sabarottes. A meeting with the atlas designers about the maps and illustrations. The initial pages look great. For dinner, a bottle of Beringer Founder's Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2002.

Thursday, December 1: Because of Christmas there's an early tasting of Vintages' January release. And it was massive, some 90 wines. Jeff Davis, who reviews wines for Wine Access on line, and I went for lunch in the Toronto Star canteen halfway through the lineup. I came home exhausted and slept for an hour. Could only face a glass of wine with the stir-fry for dinner (a open bottle of Andre Millot Merlot 2003).

Friday, December 2: A tasting of the second half of the Vintages January release. Mercifully smaller than yesterday's – about 65 wines, but it seemed to take a long time. There's a big Syrah release, nothing as good as Domaine Courbis though. Again, I broke off to have lunch at the Star canteen. No time to nap. A pile of emails and phone calls to answer. Received an invitation to judge at the Decanter International Wine competition in London at the end of April. No wine tonight. Only water.




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