Monday, June 13: Wrote my Tidings Magazine column on Nero d’Avola and Nerello Mascalese, which I believe are two coming grapes. Tasted new wines from a well-known Ontario winery. The proprietor asked me not to divulge the name because the wines are currently only available at Duty Free shops. They go under the label G. Marquis. The initials are a clue.
- G. Marquis The Silver Line Chardonnay 2008: Straw coloured with a lifted nose of pear and apple, flavours that repeat on the palate with tangerine acidity. Medium-bodied with well-integrated oak with moderate length. The best Chardonnay I have tasted from this winery. (89+)
- G. Marquis The Silver Line Pinot Noir 2010: Ruby colour with an earthy, raspberry nose and a not of violets; sweet cherry and raspberry flavours with a velvety mouth feel; firmly structured with good varietal character and ripe tannins (88)
- G. Marquis The Silver Line Riesling Icewine 2009 (200 mL): Light straw colour with a green tint; intense, lifted nose of honey and peach with a botrytis note; unctuous and very sweet with honey, orange and dried peach flavours with racy citrus acidity, giving the wine a long, clean finish (91)
- G. Marquis The Silver Line Vidal Icewine 2009 (200 mL): Bronze colour; concentrated honey, apricot and mango bouquet. Think and viscous on the palate, intense and rich tropical fruit flavours with balancing citrus acidity. (92)
Tuesday, June 14: Drove down to Niagara Falls to conduct a tasting for a company. Two hundred and fifty people at the Edgewaters Tap & Grill, overlooking the Falls. There were five food stations, each paired with a wine. As the group arrived they were handed a glass of Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava.
With scallops, Fielding Estate Riesling 2009.
With chicken sate, Peninsula Ridge Barrel Aged Chardonnay 2009.
With salmon cubes, Henry of Pelham Gamay 2008.
With lamb cutlets, Wayne Gretzky Estates Series Shiraz/Cabernet 2007.
With fresh fruit tart, Château des Charmes Late Harvest Riesling 2008.
Fireworks at the end of the evening. Spent the night at Crowne Plaza Hotel.
Wednesday, June 15: Lunch with my sister Shirley and her husband Sam. Deborah and I took them to Loire Restaurant on Harbord Street. In the evening down to the Drake hotel to have dinner with Henry Kotzé, the cellar master at Morgenster in Somerset West. They specialize in the Bordeaux varieties, making blended reds from 23 hectares. In addition they have a little Sangiovese and Nebbiolo planted. The chef, Anthony Rose, suggested we have the BBQ plate to match the wines. A good choice.
- Morgenster 2005 (85% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon): dense purple black colour; lovely mouth feel; ripe fruit – blueberry and curranty nose, discreetly oaked with a floral note; rich, smoky and spicy (91)
- Morgenster 2003 (1/3 Cabernet Sauvignon, 1/3 Merlot, 1/3 Cabernet Franc): dense purple colour; the Cabernet Sauvignon sings through with blackcurrant and cedar notes; sweet cassis flavour, very elegant and beautifully balanced with ripe tannins. Very St. Emilion in style. A gorgeous wine. (93)
- Morgenster 2001 (60% Merlot, 20% each Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc): deep ruby-purple; leaner style, elegant, dry, nicely balanced with red and blackcurrant flavours and a licorice note (90)
- Morgenster Lourens River Valley 2005 (60% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc + Petit Verdot – the less costly line): deep ruby, smoky, tarry, red berry nose; firmly structured. Recognizably South African flavours. (88)
After dinner I dropped in at Mavrik, a new wine bar at 676 Queen Street West. Interesting story:
Liz Choi is an engineer with a minor in statistics who worked as a Wall Street trader in the Big Apple. Her best friend, Joanne Park, was a practicing criminal defense lawyer in Toronto. But when they got together the 20-something entrepreneurs decided to put their careers on hold to follow their dream. “The lack of a true wine bar scene in Toronto that I grew to love while in New York spurred my decision to leave the finance industry to create one here at home” says Choi. “I made the decision to place my legal career on hold to leverage my own hospitality experience and various skills obtained throughout my career to help build this great venture with Liz,” adds Park.
Together, they came up with the idea to create a wine bar that would appeal to everyone – “We wanted to take the intimidation factor away from wine and show Torontonians that people with all levels of experience could learn to love and appreciate wine and wine pairing.”
Mavrik is a specialty wine bar, focused on showcasing small production wines and cheese/charcuterie tasting plates.
Thursday, June 16: One of my oldest friends, Mike Prior, a lawyer in London, flew in from New York where he had been delivering a paper on international solvency to spend the day with us. My son Guy joined us fro dinner. I pulled out some good stuff from my cellar: Stratus Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (very white Bordeaux – with shrimps sautéed in a cream sauce on a bed of rice), then Guigal Côte Rôtie Brune et Blonde 1988 and Roumier Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses 1988, which we drank with BBQ steak and a cheese course. Mike wanted to try and Icewine so I opened a bottle of Inniskillin Sparkling Vidal Icewine 2008.
Friday, June 17: A Vintages tasting. 130 wines. Mercifully, I shared the tasting with Zoltan Szabo. Deborah and Mike picked me up and we went for lunch at Didier’s. Ordered his spectacular steak tartare with frites and mayonnaise. Drove Mike to the airport for his flight back to New York where he is to catch a Virgin flight back to London. When we got home a call from Mike to say his American Airlines flight to New York has been cancelled and he’s trying to rebook. Ultimately, he had to rebook a direct flight BA to London. Ah the joys of air travel these days. Dinner, chicken with a bottle of Mission Hill Five Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2010. Delicious.