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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 69 (January 9, 2006)

Monday, January 2: I tried to work today but couldn't get anyone on the phone. Went to the bank and it was closed. Someone told me it was a holiday. This cold is getting the better of me. I have been resisting the idea of taking antibiotics, mainly at Deborah's insistence, but she too has a cold. What a way to start the new year. Couldn't really concentrate once I learned it was a holiday so I put off writing a commentary for Tidings magazine ands took Pinot for a long walk instead. For dinner, Tourtière that Deborah made with a bottle of Vineland Estates Carriage House Red, a non-vintage blend, a touch sweet and commercial.

Tuesday, January 3: Went to see my doctor and he advised me to start antibiotic treatment since he detected a respiratory infection. Thank heaven I can still taste wine though. Started on my commentary, the idea being that the next white grape fad will be Chenin Blanc. Dinner with Anthony and Penny Bourne. Penny's sister Fiona Campbell was visiting from England. She does PR for the AXA Group wineries that includes Quinta do Noval. I brought along a bottle of Sumac Ridge Pinnacles 2000. We drank Highland Park single malt before dinner, my favourite. But I should not have had the second one. What with the wine and the port I woke up with a headache. I should know better by now.

Wednesday, January 4: A miserable, drizzling day. Decided to rewrite the Tidings commentary as a conversation with Dionysus. Everyone I talk to seems to have suffered a cold this season. Mine drags on and drags me down. For dinner, a bottle of Thomas & Vaughan Cabernet Franc 2002 (well made, a good expression of Ontario Cabernet Franc) with Tourtière.

Thursday, January 5: Another day in front of the computer writing up wine reviews for Tidings magazine and six items for my 680 News slot. Also got my assignment for the February column in Post City Magazines – it comes to me by email, like Mission Impossible: "The assignment for the February issue is wine & food matching specifically for all the foods we associate with Valentine's Day and love! So, wines that go with chocolates, with strawberries, with oysters (and other aphrodisiac foods)." I shall have fun with that. Dinner: Tilapia with Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc 2004 from New Zealand.

Friday, January 6: The first of the Vintages tastings for the February release. Mercifully, the number of wines was much less than the previous six months. I guess everyone will have spent their wine budget in December. That must be the Board's reasoning. Tonight I am conduction a tasting for the winner of a silent auction for The Fred Victor Centre to raise month for women's hostel. The tasting is in an apartment in the West End. The wines from my cellar are:

  • Henry of Pelham Sauvignon Blanc 2004 (Ontario)
  • Bollini Pinot Grigio 2004 from Trentino
  • Beringer Founder's Estate Chardonnay 2003 from Napa
  • Errazuriz Max Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 (Chile)
  • Palatine Hills Cabernet Franc 2002 (Ontario)
  • Boekenhoutskloof Porcupine Ridge Syrah 2004

After the tasting twelve of us sat down to dinner prepared by one of the guests, a Quebecker who was an excellent cook. One of his recipes for lamb came from Susur Lee's new cookbook.

Saturday, January 7: A shopping day. I had to pick up the wines and the cookies and cake, coffee, etc. for my blind wine tasting competition tomorrow. For dinner: roast chicken with a bottle of Lakeview Baco Noir Reserve 2003.

Sunday, January 8: The blind tasting for members of member agencies of the Ontario Imported Wine & Spirit Association is held at The Wine Establishment. Thirteen had signalled their intention to participate, but when the dust settled only eight turned up. Congratulations to those who put their palates on the line in what is the hardest (and most humbling) thing you can do in the wine trade. The wines I had chosen – and asked for participants to identify the grape type, the region, the vintage and, if possible, the producer – were, in order:

  1. Reichsrat von Buhl Forster Bischofsgarten Riesling Kabinett 2003 (Pfalz)
  2. Chateau St. Jean Robert Young Vineyard Chardonnay 1999 (Alexander Valley)
  3. Southbrook Winery Cabernet Franc 2002 (Ontario)
  4. Penascal Tempranillo 2000 (Castilla Y Leon)
  5. Ravenswood Vintners Blend Zinfandel 2003 (Sonoma)
  6. Delheim Pinotage 2003 (Stellenbosch)

Not an easy bunch of wines to identify.

The winner, who also won the very first award when I started it in 2000, was Bruce Maclean of Philippe Dandurand Wines. (For dinner, I finish off what was left of the Delheim Pinotage, which I must say had less Pinotage character than I thought it would – and no-one guessed the variety.)




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