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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 65 (December 12, 2005)

Sunday, December 4: This morning I went to a surprise party for my fishing buddy Art Silver, who turned 70 on Thursday. It was held at the Hard Times Café on College Street. Then got ready to drive to Peterborough for a blind tasting of Ontario reds against French reds. The event was organised by Larry Patterson ( similar to the one he held in Ottawa in October. Steve Gunning and I got a lift with my wine writer colleague Dick Singer, who owns a vineyard in Hillier, Prince Edward County. Dick is delighted with his harvest this year, although it is small because of the wretched winter. He plans to open a winery called Fieldstone Estate in a couple of years. Larry arranged three flights of six wines (in the three flights were four Bordeaux and three homemade wines). As a warm-up wine he served a bottle of Carone Cabernet Servenyi 2004, from Anthony Carone's Quebec winery in Lanaudière (vanilla, wet bark and spicy red berry nose; fruity, sweet cherry and cranberry flavours that finish as plum with lively acidity. Not a bad effort at all).

Here are the wines in order of group preference (there were 12 tasters) and the aggregate scores and prices:

  1. 86.42 1998 Lakeview Cellars Cabernet Merlot $25
  2. 85.50 1998 Stoney Ridge Wismer Vyd Cab Sauv $25
  3. 85.25 1999 Chateau Dauzac, BORDEAUX 5th, $49
  4. 85.17 2000 Ch Haut-Bages Liberal, BORDEAUX 5th, $85
  5. 85.00 2002 Mission Hill Oculus Meritage, $38
  6. 84.92 2000 Ch Latour Carnet, BORDEAUX 4th, $54
  7. 84.58 1999 Ch Duhart Milon, BORDEAUX 4th, $69
  8. 84.08 1997 Thirty Bench Reserve Merlot, $45
  9. 83.08 2000 Colio CEV Merlot Reserve, $25
  10. 83.08 2002 Fielding Estates Cabernet Merlot, $35
  11. 83.00 2002 Harbour Estates Premier Vintage, $35
  12. 82.67 2002 Colio CEV Signature Cabernet Sauvignon, $49
  13. 81.55 2000/2004 LFW 50/50 Cab Sauv/Landot Noir, Amateur
  14. 80.92 1999 Crown Bench Blend, $45
  15. 80.00 1999 Crown Bench Merlot, $43
  16. 79.00 4 vintages LFW 75/25 Landot/Cab Sauv, Amateur ***
  17. 78.45 79.00 4 vintages LFW 75/25 Landot/Cab Sauv, Amateur ***
  18. 74.36 (bad bottle) 2002 Burrowing Owl Meritage $35

I guessed the three homemade wines and three of the Bordeaux. My rankings put Chateau Duhart-Milon 1999 first, followed by Chateau Latour Carnet 2000, then Fielding Cabernet Merlot 2002 and 1998 Stoney Ridge, followed by Chateau Dauzac 1999 equal with Lakeview Cabernet Merlot 1998.

Monday, December 5: Wrote my wine reviews for 680 News – eight of them that will take me into January. Also worked on the Wine Report 2007. Was meant to drop by the house of Tony Hiron, who was having a tasting of Zind-Humbrecht wines with the winemaker in attendance. But we have a split stack in the house that caused flooding in the basement. The plumber had to open up the kitchen wall and the wall underneath to replace the damaged section. Just what we need coming up to Christmas. A party at Il Fornello thrown by Ian Sorbie to launch the Christmas CD of his partner, singer Michel Berubé. The Chilean wine was awful and when I switched to soda water I dropped an hors d'oeuvre into my glass. I guess Dionysus was punishing me for my lack of faith.

Tuesday, November 6: Today is the "Grand Tasting Wines of France" at the Carlu. Fifty-seven importers' tables showing over 300 wines. I got around to tasting about 45. Best wines: Domaine Pujol Cuvée St. Fructueux 2002 from Minervois (New World style, floral blackberry, elegant, great balance),imported by Curries Wine Selections, and Domaine Charvin Côtes du Rhône 2002 (spicy, peppery, floral, red berry nose; juicy iodine, lavender and red berry flavour), brought in by Carriage Trade Wines. I was also impressed by Guigal Côtes du Rhône 2003, which should be on LCBO shelves in January. Another lovely wine:Leon Beyer Riesling 2004, one of the driest of Alsace Rieslings.

Wednesday, December 7: Recorded my items for 680 News. In the afternoon, a meeting with David Rose and Sandy Kurbis of Forefront Communications to discuss the Ontario Wine Awards. For dinner Campo Viejo Crianza 2002 from Rioja (it went superbly well with the Port Salut).

Thursday, December 8: The first galleys of the wine atlas arrived – the Atlantic Provinces section. It's great to see the book finally taking shape with the photos in place and all the design features. Robert Tomé, a partner in Stem Wine group, came to the house to show me three of the wines he imports. Stem has an interesting and eclectic selection of Italian wines, very well chosen. We started, however, with an Australian Cabernet Sauvignon made by Peter Lehmann's son David Franz in the Barossa Valley. It's called David Franz "Georgie's Walk" Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 (named for his young son) – a well extracted wine with black cherry, cassis and chocolate notes and just the right amount of oak ageing. The second wine was the reason for Tomé's visit. Francesco Bolla had emailed me to say that he had left the family company when it was sold to Brown-Forman and started his own winery, Tenuta Poggio Verrano in Maremma. He wanted me to try his first wine from the 2003 vintage, made from three year-old-vines. It's a blend of Sangiovese, Alicante, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Purple ruby colour with a spicy floral, black cherry and leather nose; firmly structured and elegant with currants and blueberry flavours and ripe, soft tannins. This will be a stunning wine in a few years when the vines are more mature. We finished with Siro Pacenti Brunello di Montalcino 2000 with its animal nose mixed with dried cherries and herbs; a majestic wine, dry and firmly structured with mouth-filling extract and cocoa-powder tannins. A new style of Brunello. On the dog front, Pinot loves the snow and snow-ploughs through it with her nose, then rolls around making dog angels. For dinner, with tilapia – our current favourite fish – Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc 2005 from New Zealand, a delicious combination.

Friday, December 9: A meeting of the Wine Writers' Circle at the Summerhill LCBO's test kitchen to taste some 70 wines on the general list or in Vintages. I tasted about half of them, as I had already written about the others. Neil Fortis of Wine World addressed the group on his new website, He is trying to get his fellow importing agents to put their portfolio of wines (general list, Vintages and Consignment) on the site. So far he has ten companies signed up. You can't buy the wines directly from the site, you have to contact the agents; it's more of a portal of information about what wines are available. The tasting panel that reviews the wines consists of John Tait (a former LCBO consultant), wine writer David Lawrason and Scaramouche sommelier Peter Boyd.




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