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A Wine Lover's Diary, part 72 (January 30, 2006)

Sunday, January 22: Drove to London to do a seminar ("Tasting Like A Pro") at the first Western Fair Wine Festival. The wines were supplied by agents and Ontario wineries who had booths. Here's what we tasted:

  • Lakeview Riesling Riesling 2004 (Diamond Estates) $10.95
  • Rosemount Estates Sauvignon Blanc 2004 (Foster's Wine Estates) $14.10
  • Fat Bastard Chardonnay 2004 (Brave New Wine) $14.95
  • Hardy's Stamp Gewurztraminer 2005 (Churchill Cellars) $9.25
  • Patriarche Pinot Noir 2000 (Churchill Cellars) $10.00
  • Creekside Estate Reserve Merlot 2001 $29.95
  • Casillero Del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 (Select Wines) $11.95
  • Obikwa Shiraz 2004 (Mark Anthony Brands) $8.55.

Monday, January 23: Election Day. Wrote my wine reviews for 680 News and exchanged emails with Deacon Dr. Fresh ( I learn that he was brought up in Manchester and, like me, is a Manchester United supporter. I've invited him over for a bottle of wine on Friday to learn more about his wine rapping. He is an expert hypnotist, according to his CV. Should be fun. He's bringing his CD on hypnotism in exchange for a copy of Travels With My Corkscrew. Deborah and I took Pinot over to the local polling station. She was wearing her stylish blue coat. The exit pollsters took note. I wonder if that will skew their numbers. This is a liberal riding. My old friend Martha Harrison, who has started her own importing agency, sent me some miniatures of a new Irish whiskey – John Locke distillery. Irish whiskey is usually differentiated from Scotch in that the malted barley is not dried over peat smoke. Well, this one is. Deborah and I tried the Kilbeggan and the Locke's Irish Whiskey. They are delicious, sweetish, almost Bourbon-like in their flavour and mouth feel. We hardly ever have a whisk(e)y before dinner and felt quite giddy, since we took it neat with a single ice cube. But it didn't stop us having wine with dinner (tilapia), a bottle of Jackson-Triggs Delaine Vineyard Riesling 2004, the best they've made yet, lovely grapefruit and white honey flavours.

Tuesday, January 24: Harper in with a minority government. The sky has not fallen. Recorded my 680 News pieces and Jay Stinson, the Promotions Director, loaded me up a with 680 swag – ball cap, work-out towel, calculator, glasses cloth and a green fleece sweater that I shall wear on March 17 (to which I am entitled since my father was born in Belfast – before Partition – and I did my post-graduate work in Dublin. I nearly represented Ireland at fencing in the Rome Olympics in 1960. The last place on the team for epée was either me or the team captain. We had a bout and he was more sober than I was so I didn't get to Rome). Vintages held a tasting of 70 Bordeaux châteaux 2003 – a much-vaunted vintage which I found overall less than vaunted. There were some very good wines at eyebrow-raising prices. Best wines: Lynch Bages, Domaine de Chevalier 2003, Pichon-Longueville-Baron, Angélus; also good: Clos Fortet, Cantenac-Brown, Lascombes, Rauzan-Ségla, Lynch-Moussas, Clerc Milon, Gazin, Petit-Village, Malartic-Lagravière, Lafon-Rochet. Best value: Carbonnieux 2003 at $40, Coufran at $27, Greysac at $20.50, La tour de By at $25. (I didn't get to taste the St. Juliens – Beychevelle, Gruaud Larose, Léoville-Poyferré, Lagrange, Branaire-Ducru – because we only had two hours to taste.) With dinner (spaghetti and meat sauce), the Concha y Toro Merlot in tetrapak, called Likan. A real come-down after all that good claret.

Wednesday, January 25: I got an email this morning asking me if I could identify this wine label. I can't. Any help would be appreciated (email me at I thought it might be a Taurasi from Campania (Taurus the Bull!).

A meeting with Helen Lovekin and Lori Waldbook of the Ministry of Tourism about their sponsorship of two prizes for the Ontario Wine Awards – the Journalism award for the best article on Ontario wines are the Ontario Sommelier award – to be a blind tasting of Ontario VQA wines and a written test on matching Ontario wines with menus supplied by Ontario chefs.

Dinner tonight at Boccaccio restaurant in the Colombus Centre. The Italian soccer legend Paolo Rossi (the Paul Henderson of the 1982 World Cup) is in town to promote his new winery, Borgo Cennina in the Arezzo hills. It seems more and more sportsmen are getting into the fermenting vat: Greg Norman, Ernie Els, Mike Weir and Mario Andretti are the ones who spring to mind. Rossi's wine is made by Rocca delle Macie, and Sergio Zingarelli, the owner, and the irrepressible Vito Candela, his man in North America, were also there, along with a big Italian crowd who love Rossi and hung on his every word. He signed photos of that historic victory celebration in 1982 on St. Clair Avenue when a quarter of a million people jammed Little Italy. The wines we tasted with the dinner were Rocca delle Macie Mandorlo Orvieto Classico 2004 with hors d'oeuvres, Chianti Classico 2003 with Tuscan Bean Soup, Primovolo 2001 (a blend of Merlot from Veneto made by Gordano Emo Capiodilista, Barbera from Piedmont by Andrea Faccio and Sergio Zingarelli's Sangiovese from Tuscany) with egg noodles with rabbit ragu (excellent); then the Borgo Cennina 2003 (85% Sangiovese with Cabernet and Merlot – richly extracted black cherry and chocolate flavours, well integrated oak, with a black licorice finish)with braised beef. Finally, Rocca delle Macie's Roccato 2000 (IGT, 50% Sangiovese, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon).

Thursday, January 26: A meeting this morning of the Borad of Directors of the Independent Wine Education Guild in Steve Thurlow's condo overlooking Lake Ontario. This evening Tony Hirons and John Harrison Brown are coming over at 5:30 pm. Tony represents our mutual friend Philip Holzberg, who has a small winery in Bordeaux called Château Franc-Cardinal in the Côtes de Franc. Philip purchased the property from a local grower and the 2002 vintage is the first wine he made by himself. He has two different bottlings and the object of the tasting was to find out which was the better bottling. We did not know what made them different but on tasting I suspect one was aged in new oak and the other in stainless steel with a short passage in old oak. The latter wine had more structure and character. The new oak bottling could have come from anywhere. Deborah and I finished off the two wines with dinner (pasta and meat sauce).

Friday, January 27: I've had a persistent sore throat which I had hoped would disappear without recourse to antibiotics. I hope that it won't get worse because I fly to Dallas on Sunday to judge in the Dallas Morning News Wine Competition. This evening Deacon Dr. Fresh is dropping by for a glass of wine. I'm serving Norman Hardie's Pinot Noir 2004 with cheese. For his reaction see his blog for this date ( For dinner, curried chick peas with rice and a bottle of Calona Sovereign Opal 2004.




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