A Wine Lover’s Diary, part 336: Close Encounter with Paul Hobbs

Monday, March 21: Spent the day sorting out the winners of the first day of judging for the Ontario Wine Awards. Wrote up my 680 News wine reviews and then in the evening up to Wildfire Grill for a dinner with Mantras winemaker Santiago Margozzini.

  • MontGras Amaral Sauvignon Blanc 2010: pale straw, high toned, grassy nose; dry, fruity gooseberry and grapefruit flavors with a leeches note on the finish. (87)
  • MontGras Reserve Carmenère 2010: deep ruby- purple colour; a nose of cedar, currants, peppery blackberry and coffee beans; well extracted fruit, sweet with a floral note. (88)
  • MontGras Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009: deep ruby; mint eucalyptus nose with a licorice note; medium to full-bodied, fruity with soft tannins. (87)
  • Antu Neuquén Syrah 2009: deep purple ruby; high toned nose, inky, vanilla oak, blackberry, minty with a floral note; creamy mouth feel, dry and savory with pencil lead notes and powdery tannins. (87)
  • Antu Neuquén Cabernet Sauvignon-Carmenère 2009: deep ruby-purple; blackcurrant, vanilla oak; fruity but firm with a soft mouth feel and dark chocolate finish. (88)
  • Intriga 2008 (100% Cabernet Sauvignon): deep ruby; spicy blackcurrant nose; sweet fruit that finishes dry and savoury with a licorice note. (89)

Tuesday, March 22: At noon down to Art Gallery of Ontario for Terroirs & Signatures de Bourgogne, a huge tasting of Burgundies presented by 37 houses. Two tables were set up offering Exhibitors’ Choice, a single wine from 28 of the producers. Spent a lot of time at the Domaine Parent table, enjoying Domaine Parent Corton 2008, and next door at Domaine Daniel Rion & Fils for their Nuits-Saint-Georges Les Grand Vignes 2009 and Nuits-Saint-Georges Aux Vignerondes 2009.

Sat down with François Labet to talk about Burgundy. I said that I preferred the 2008 vintage for whites (2009 I found lacked acidity). He called the much-vaunted 2009 a “lipstick vintage.” But it will restore the faith in Burgundy reds. Other wines I really liked were Domaine d’Ardhuy Clos des Langres 2007, Maison Chanson Chassagne-Montrachet les Chenevottes 2008, Domaines François Labet Clos Vougeot Château de la Tour Vieilles Vignes 2007, Latour Château Corton Grancey
, Domaine Parent Pommard Les Chaponnières 2007, Domaine des Malandes Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2009 and Domaine Marcel Servin Chablis Grand Cru Les Preuses 2006.

Wednesday, March 23: A snow storm today that killed our thoughts of spring. Recorded my 680 News wine reviews and struggled through the snow to One Restaurant for lunch with Louis-Fabrice Latour and Jean-Philippe Archambaud, the winemaker at Simonnet-Febvre. We had a glass of Simonnet-Febvre Crémant Rosé Brut which is a stunningly good sparkler for the price (around $20 apparently). A tasting before the lunch of generally available wines, Louis Latour Ardèche Chardonnay 2008, Bourgogne Chardonnay 2009, Henry Fessy Moulin-à-Vent 2009, Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2009. Then the big guns with lunch.

First course: Seared scallop with salsify puree, spring pea broth and caviar, with Louis Latour Meursault Château de Blagny 2009 (pale straw, minerally, soft mid palate, clean but lacking excitement (87)).

Second course: Wild northern woods mushroom risotto, with Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne 2009 (straw colour; minerally, apple, spicy with a touch of barnyard; full in the mouth with smoky, toasty flavours; rich mid-palate (91)).

Third course: Roasted rack of lamb, celeriac, baby leeks, pearl onions and rosemary scented jus, with Louis Latour Corton Grancey 2009 (ruby colour; vanilla oak, raspberries with a light note of violets; forward, elegant with a firm finish. Drinking well now (91)).

Fourth course: Local artisan cheeses and fresh fruit, with Louis Latour Valmoissine Pinot Noir 2009 (from the Var region – dark ruby, floral black cherry nose; black cherry and blackcurrant flavours; full on the palate, a little rustic but soft and flavourful (88)).

Then on to a meeting with my publisher Random House to discuss new book possibilities. Deborah and I were meant to have dinner with Martin Malivoire and Moira Saganski at Ici but the weather was so bad that they didn’t want to take to the highway from Niagara. So we ate at home – spaghetti carbonara and a bottle of Wyndham Estate George Wyndham Shiraz 2007.

Thursday, March 24: Worked on food and wine pairings for the new website www.iWineandDine.com. In the evening to Scaramouche for a structured tasting of Paul Hobbs wines and dinner. The first flight consisted of Paul’s Vina Cobos Malbecs from Mendoza. 2000, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008. These are beautifully crafted wines that caress the palate, The impressive thing about them is their mouth feel along with their vibrant, succulent fruit. Really taken by the 2004 and 2006 (both scoring 92) followed by 2007 and 2008 (both at 91). Then a flight of four wines from California – Napa and Sonoma. Loved the Paul Hobbs Cuvée Agustina Chardonnay 2008 (named after his daughter, fruit from the Richard Dinner vineyard). (straw colour; smoky, minerally, toasty nose; lovely mouth feel, spicy orange, apple, pineapple and caramel flavours; great length
(92)). But the wine of the tasting was Paul Hobbs Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer Dr. Crane 2007 (concentrated blackcurrant flavour  rich and elegant; beautifully balanced – 93). Paul Hobbs Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard 2007 is no slouch either, more muscular, cedary and tannic but richly extracted (92).

At dinner more Paul Hobbs wines were served with the meal. We started with a reception wine, Roederer Estate Brut.

Lobster ravioli, pan-seared scallop, beurre fondue, lobster reduction, with Paul Hobbs Lindsay Estate Pinot Noir 2008 and Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir 2008.

Hickory smoked and roasted salmon, apple, grilled sweet onion, lentils, veal jus, parsley sauce, with Paul Hobbs Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 and Paul Hobbs Cabernet Sauvignon 2007.

Elk, smoked bacon, leeks, mushrooms, hazelnuts, whipped potatoes, crispy shallots, red wine jus, triple crust mustard, with Vina Cobos Bramare Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 and Paul Hobbs Bramare Malbec 2007.

Friday, March 25: Today, a Vintages tasting with about 130 wines. Exhausting. For dinner, grilled tilapia with CedarCreek Chardonnay Platinum 2008, which prompted Deborah to say, “This is the best Chardonnay we’ve had in a long time.” And I agreed.

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