Sunday, June 5: Drove down to Niagara Falls to have dinner with Doug Birrell, President of Canadian Niagara Hotels, at Crowne Plaza Niagara Falls’ Fallsview Restaurant to discuss tomorrow’s press conference. It’s the announcement of the new restaurant for the Sheraton on the Falls – Jamie Kennedy on the Falls, for which I’ll be developing the wine cellar and doing the wine list and staff training. We chose Executive chef Damian Harrington’s Tasting Menu:
Grilled Niagara asparagus with prosciutto, parmesan and aged balsamic, served with Tinpot Hut Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Seared Digby sea scallops and Bay of Fundy lobster with oven roasted Chardy Farm tomatoes, pine nut pesto and polenta, with Southbrook Triomphe Chardonnay 2008
Bryan Farms raspberry sorbet
Grilled Wellington County Black Angus beef terderloin, slow roasted stuffed Lakefront Growers Bermuda onions, Holland Marsh carrots, Johnston Farm fingerling potatoes, with Megalomaniac SOB Pinot Noir 2007 and Megalomaniac “Grandeur” Merlot 2007
Culp Farm pear tarte tatin, caramel and French vanilla, with Inniskillin Riesling Icewine 2007
My room at the Sheraton overlooks both the American and Canadian Falls and tonight there are fireworks. How perfect is that.
Monday, June 6: The press conference is in the 14th floor of the Sheraton on the Falls to announce the new restaurant that will be opening there in November. Jamie Kennedy and the new Chef de Cuisine, Ross Midgely, are on hand. We’re creating a signature cocktail for the new restaurant made from rhubarb juice and something alcoholic (possibly Icewine). Have to dream up a catchy name for it, involving Niagara.
Left at lunchtime to drive back to Toronto because this evening is the Grapes for Humanity fundraiser at Rodney’s Oyster House. The wines are donated by New Zealand Wine, with New Zealand oysters and lamb. The deputy High Commissioner, Felicity Buchanan, has brought two of the official balls for the Rugby World Cup for the auction. A terrific line-up of fine wines for the silent auction.
About 90 people in attendance, rather down from the number I would have liked but Monday, it appears, is not a good night to get people out. In the end we raised just shy of $50,000.
Tuesday, June 7: This evening to Origin Restaurant for a Bordeaux event. The idea is an after-work party where participants are introduced to Bordeaux wines. The press release reads: “During these events, five wines from every region of Bordeaux will be poured by the glass at fair prices and the first glass will be on the house for the first 100 guests.” The wines poured were Château Bonnet 2008, Château Boyrein 2009, Rosé de Chevalier 2009, Château Puyfromage 2008 and Château Pey de la Tour 2009.
Wednesday, June 8: Recorded my wine reviews for 680 News. To Quince restaurant for a tasting on wines from Domaine Trimbach. Winemaker Pierre Trimbach conducted the tasting. I’ve always been a great fan of Trimbach wines because they are generally drier than most of the Alsace colleagues.
- Trimbach Riesling 2009: very pale colour; minerally, white peach nose; elegant and refreshing citrus flavour; good length with enervating acidity (89)
- Trimbach Réserve Riesling 2009: very elegant; crisp, minerally, tangerine and preach flavours; great length (90)
- Trimbach Clos St. Hune Riesling 2005: a nose of dried raisins, petrol with a smoky note; minerally, floral, white peach, apricot and grapefruit flavours; amazingly complex with great purity, concentration and length (93)
- Trimbach Réserve Personelle Pinot Gris 2005: golden colour; rich, spicy peach and caramel flavours; lovely mouth feel (89)
- Trimbach Vendanges Tardives Pinot Gris 2000: bronze colour; high toned, honeyed peach nose with a Botrytis note; full-bodied, spicy, toffee flavour; great balance (91)
Pierre Trimbach is the 12th generation of this winemaking family who settled in Alsace from Switzerland in 1626. His most memorable line of the evening (after dissing Michel Chapoutier for saying that the smell of petrol in young Riesling is a winemaking fault – he contends Chapoutier is mistaking petrol for minerality) was: “To produce a great wine you must have three things – balance, balance, balance. The rest is blah, blah, blah.”
After the formal sit-down tasting we all repaired to the basement, where the restaurant served typical Alsace hors d’oeuvres while we tasted the following wines:
- Trimbach Cuvée Frédéric Emile Riesling 2005: light straw colour; minerally, petrol nose; fresh, dry and elegant with focussed citrus flavours (92)
- Trimbach Cuvée des Seigneurs de Ribeaupierre Gewurztraminer 2004: elegant, lychee and grapefruit flavours (89)
- Trimbach Vendanges Tardives Gewurztraminer 2005: This was a stunning wine. I ordered three bottles. A nose of rosewater, lychee and honey; beautifully balanced. One of the best VT Gewurz I have tasted. (94)
Thursday, June 9: A meeting with Julian Hitner to discuss a presentation on Champagne tasting for a Shanghai restaurant. Wrote up my reviews of the July Vintages release for the website and my columns for On The Go and Post City Magazines.
In the evening to Cava restaurant for a dinner featuring the Piemonte wines of Piero Busso. The reception wine was Piero Busso Langhe Arneis 2010: dry, stoney, citrus and green apple flavours, floral nose and that characteristic bitterness on the finish (88)
Grilled Copper River sockeye salmon with morels, with Piero Busso Langhe Nebbiolo 2009
Local wild boar two ways with bagna cauda of vegetables, served with Piero Busso Barbera d’Alba S. Stefanetto 2008 and Piero Busso Barbera d’Alba Majano 2009
Barbary duck breast, lightly smoked & roasted with summer truffles and white purée, with Piero Busso Barbaresco San Stunet 2007 and Piero Busso Barbaresco Borgese 2007
Piemonte cheeses – including a delicious blue – with Piero Busso Barbaresco Borgese 2006
Friday, June 10: This evening is the Ontario Wine Awards gala dinner at Queens Landing in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Deborah and I drove down, picking up Laura Calder on the way. Laura is the host for the evening. A great night. White Wine of the Year (highest aggregate score from the judges) – Château des Charmes Old Vines Riesling 2008. Red Wine of the Year – Flat Rock Cellars The Rogue Syrah 2007. Ontario Wine Awards Winemaker of the Year – Paul Pender, Tawse Winery. A very emotional moment when Barb Paterson presented Deborah Paskus of Closson Chase with the Larry Paterson Award for innovation in the vineyard. Barb also gave Deborah a bottle of wine that Larry had made. (For the full results of the Ontario Wine Awards, see 2011 Ontario Wine Awards – Final Results.)