Sunday, June 24: Visited Roy Thomson Hall to taste Chardonnays from the International Cool Climate Celebration. I’m writing an article for The Niagara Grapevine magazine and needed some quotes from Harald Thiel, the chair of the event, and Matt Kramer, the keynote speaker. Matt came to dinner later in the evening. The wines overall were very impressive. Loved Josef Chromy Chardonnay 2009, Evening Land Blue Label Chardonnay 2009, Champagne Fleury, Gambal Puligny-Montrachet 2008, Fred Loimer Chardonnay/Pinot Gris 2009.
For dinner we served Matt gazpacho, steak with grilled vegetables and corn, cheeses and lemon ice. Opened the following wines: Château de Brézé 2009, a Chenin Blanc from the Loire, Chave Hermitage Blanc 2002, Valle dell’Acate Tané 2005 from Chile, Burrowing Owl Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 from BC, and Jackson Triggs Riesling Icewine 1998. Big discussion about the Icewine, which had lost its Riesling character but was enjoyable nonetheless.
Monday, July 25: At 10 am, a radio interview with a Kelowna radio station about the effects of the hot weather on the vintage. Wrote up my 680News reviews and tasted a range of wines from Niagara College Teaching Winery:
- Niagara College Chardonnay 2010: Straw colour; minerally, forest floor and pencil lead nose with toasty oak; soft mouth feel, peachy, pineapple flavour with tangerine acidity. Sustains well on the palate. (90)
- Niagara College Pinot Noir 2009: Light garnet colour; minerally, raspberry bouquet with a smoky note; dry, raspberry flavour; supple tannins, round on the palate. Could use a little more acidity to give the wine energy. (89+)
- Niagara College Pinot Noir Canadian Oak Project 2010: Light garnet colour; oak driven, earthy nose that hides the fruit; firm structure with evident tannin but the oak flavours dominate the fruit. (87)
- Niagara College Cabernet Franc 2009: Solid ruby colour; cedar and red berry nose with a floral note; lovely redcurrant flavour; beautifully balanced oak and fruit with a fine spine of acidity to carry the flavour. An elegant wine. Reminds me of Chinon. (91)
- Niagara College Cabernet Franc Icewine 2010: Deep orange-amber colour; a nose of chocolate-dipped strawberries; sweet, unctuous strawberry jam flavour; rich and satisfying. (91)
- Niagara College Savant Icewine 2010: Tawny ruby colour; strawberry jam with an earthy note; sweet, strawberry flavour with a lifted note (touch of volatile acidity) and a burnt edge; flavour fades to an acidic finish. (89)
- Niagara College Prodigy Icewine 2010 (Vidal/Chardonnay/Riesling blend): Old gold colour; struck flint, honey, Botrytis note on the nose; soft mouth feel, honeyed peach flavour that fades on the palate to a dried apricot taste. (89)
- Niagara College Teaching Winery “Savant” Icewine 2008 (Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir): Tawny ruby colour; a nose of strawberry jam; richly extracted, sweet strawberry and rhubarb flavours (91).
Tuesday, July 26: Wrote my monthly column for Lexpert on Portuguese wines. Thinking about what lures to bring on my fishing trip to the Northwest Territories next week. Tasted three BC wines:
- Burrowing Owl Pinot Gris 2010: Pale straw colour with a green tint; minerally peachy nose; crisp, peach and citrus flavours, beautifully balanced with great acidity. (90)
- Le Vieux Pin Equinox Chardonnay 2009: Bright straw colour; high toned nose of apple and pineapple with a touch of undergrowth. Full in the mouth, good acidity with a dry finish. Nicely integrated oak. (90)
- Le Vieux Pin Merlot 2008: Dense purple colour; a nose of tobacco and licorice with a floral grace note; full-bodied, rich, spicy blueberry, plum and chocolate flavours; ripe tannins with a savoury finish. (91)
Wednesday, July 27: Recorded my 680News wine reviews and wrote my Commentary for the 300th issue of Tidings Magazine – about destination wineries. Started filling out forms for the renewal of my British passport, which I still keep up. Nostalgia really, but one of the benefits is that you don’t have to pay the $125 visa fee on a British passport.
Dinner at The Homeway. Took along a Bottle of Santa Rita Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva. For some reason didn’t mark the vintage but it’s the current wine at the LCBO. Always good vale. Worked well with the lamb kefte I ordered.
Thursday, July 28: Started clearing my desk to leave for the fishing trip. Wrote the wine reviews for Tidings. Cancelled the newspaper and changed my phone message. Dinner at the Miller Tavern with David Rose and Derek Mossman who just flew in from Chile. Derek and his winemaker wife own Garage Wine Company, part of MOVI, an association of small Chilean producers. He brought with him Bravado Sauvignon Blanc 2010, Garage Wine company Lot 27 (Carignan/Grenache) 2010 and Erasmo Late Harvest Torrontes 2008, all MOVI wines. Derek tells me that Casa Lapostolle will be making Pisco in Elqui.
Friday, July 29: A Vintages release tasting for September. They put out 146 wines. Lots of grumbling from the wine press.
Saturday, July 30: Packed my fishing gear. It’s hard to get under the 50 lb weight limit. Went to Le Baron to buy new line and some lures. In the afternoon, tasted the following wines which have been accumulating in my cellar:
- Bertani Soave 2010 (Veneto, LCBO #231860, $11.95 [$10.95 until August 14]) (Garganega 80%, Chardonnay 10%, Trebbiano di Soave 10%): Medium straw colour; minerally, peach pit nose; dry, with a soft mouth feel, crisp two-dimensional finish. (86)
- Salterio Alberiño 2010 (Rias Baixas, Vintages #2774, $17.95): Light straw colour; minerally, tropical fruit bouquet; medium-bodied, spicy, peach and lemon flavours; fresh and lively on the palate with good length. (89)
- Lurton Pinot Gris Valle de Uco 2010 (Argentina, LCBO #556746, $11.95): Very pale; earthy, white peach nose; touch a sweetness in mid palate; easy drinking, not much length but quaffable. (86)
- Pillitteri 23 Chardonnay 2010 (Ontario, LCBO #64790, $9.95): Pale straw colour; baked apple and citrus nose; soft on the palate, dry, red apple flavour; touch of browning apple on the finish. (85)
- Groth Chardonnay 2008 (Napa Valley, Vintages #225672, $37.95): Straw colour; Burgundian style nose – touch of barnyard, vanilla oak, toast and apple; rich and full on the palate with some sweetness, giving the wine a caramel toffee note; but held in check by balancing citrus acidity. Full-bodied and satisfying. (91)
- Henry of Pelham Reserve Pinot Noir 2007 (Ontario, Vintages #268391, $24.95): Solid ruby colour; smoky, toasty oak, raspberry, violets on the nose; ripe black raspberry and beetroot flavours; firmly structured with supple tannins but just a little green. Well balanced, though, and enjoyable. (89)
- Pillitteri Straight Up Red 2009 (Ontario, LCBO #219089, $12.95): Ruby colour; redcurrants, green and red pepper nose; red berry flavour with an engaging rose petal and lychee note; soft and easy drinking. Chillable. (86)
- Allegrini Valpolicella 2009 (Veneto, LCBO #230789, $13.95): Deep ruby colour; minerally, cherry nose; dry, light on the palate, plum and cherry flavours with a floral note. Well made and very well priced. Firm finish with the taste of red apples. (89)
- Cusumano Nero d’Avola 2009 (Sicily, LCBO #143164, $9.95): Deep ruby colour; earthy, black cherry nose; well extracted black plum and black cherry flavours with a minty note; chunky mouth-feel; short, blunt finish. (86)
- Cusumano Syrah 2009 (Sicily, LCBO #145490, $9.95): Deep ruby colour; spicy blackberry nose with a hint of black licorice; dry and fruity, firmly structured with a licorice and rose petal finish. Good value. (87)
- Wonambi Shiraz Limestone Coast 2008 (Australia, LCBO #599100, $12.95): Dense purple colour; minty-eucalyptus, blackberry, oak spice nose; fruit-driven, blackberry and sandalwood flavours; full-bodied, nicely balanced with a firm tannic finish. Good value. (87)
- Thelema Mountain Red 2007 (South Africa, LCBO #222570, $11.95): A blend of Shiraz and Merlot. Deep ruby colour; cedar, red berry (reminiscent of a Cabernet Franc!); sweet fruit with a hint of tar; ripe tannins with a lively acidic spine. Good value. (86+)
- Bodegas Julian Chivite Gran Feudo Reserva 2005 (Navarro, Spain; LCBO #479014, $15.95): Ruby; cedar, sandalwood, strawberry nose; dry, with dry rose petal and strawberry flavours; firm, lingering finish. Very fresh for its age. (88)
- Domaine Boudau “Le Clos” Côtes du Roussillon-Villages 2009 (Vintages #149989, $16.95): Grenache Noir, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Carignan. Deep ruby colour; cedar, blueberry nose; rich mid palate flavours of sweet blueberry and rose petal flavours; medium- to full-bodied with a firm tannic structure and fresh acidity that carries the flavours. Great value. (88)
- Palazzo Brunello di Montalcino 2004 (Tuscany, Vintages #660746, $49.95): Ruby with a tawny note; cedar, dried cherries, tarry note; elegant, beautifully balanced and fresh (still quite young); firmly structured and elegant with evident tannins but these are ripe and give shape to the wine. Hold for another two years. (91)