A Wine Lover’s Diary, part 364: God bless Heather Robertson

Monday, October 10: Worked on the agenda for tomorrow’s Grapes for Humanity meeting to decide where we will donate funds raised from Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson’s trip to Huff Estates in Prince Edward County. Spent a long time researching articles I had written for the Toronto Star from 1985 (the year they digitised) until the present – to claim for electronic rights under the Heather Robertson class action suit against Torstar and Canwest. God bless Heather Robertson.

My very first wine column was in the magazine her husband Andrew Marshall published in the 1970s called FM Guide. Tasted Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2011. This is the best vintage I’ve had from this consistently reliable winery – packed full of zesty passion fruit and gooseberry flavours.

My webmaster and friend James Harbeck sent me a fascinating Metro map of France’s wine regions. Makes it easy to understand the relationship of the AOC’s. It was created by architectural historian and wine buff Dr. David Gissen.

Tuesday, October 11: Had a meeting with The Clutter Lady. Deborah wants me to clean up my office. Daunting prospect. I do need a new desk and furniture arrangement though. Made a list of craft beers for the wine list at Jamie Kennedy on the Falls. The meeting of Grapes for Humanity went well. After the meeting, down to Earl’s on King Street West for dinner tasting of the wines of the Perrine Family, led by Thomas Perrin. We tasted seven table wines before the meal was served and the dessert wine with that course.

  • Coudelet de Beaucastel Blanc 2009: straw coloured with a minerally nose of white flowers and peaches; full-bodied, spicy pineapple flavour, beautifully balanced with a lovely fresh finish (91).
  • Perrin Vinsobres Les Cornuds 2009: deep ruby colour with a cherry nose and a floral note; dry, dark chocolate and cherry skin flavour with a tannic finish (87).
  • Perrin Rasteau Andeol 2009: deep ruby in colour with a nose of vanilla oak, raspberry and an inky note; dry, plumy flavour with a firm finish (88).
  • Perrin Vacqueyras Les Christins 2009: deep ruby colour with a peppery nose and notes of raspberry, vanilla oak and dark flowers; sweet fruit with a lychee flavour, firmly structured with an earthy finish. Very tasty (89).
  • Perrin Gigondas La Gille 2009: deep ruby colour with a nose of lavender and red berries; very elegant and beautifully balanced, medium-bodied, with great length and ripe tannins (90).
  • Coudelet de Beaucastel 2009: deep ruby colour; minerally, raspberry and blackcurrant jam nose; elegant and firmly structured; rich fruit, ripe tannins, great length and balance (90).
  • Château de Beaucastel Rouge 2009: deep ruby colour; a herb-tinged nose of iodine and blackberries; richly extracted, dry, savoury and firm; very elegant and lingering on the palate (92).
  • Perrin Muscat Beaumes de Venise 2009: golden colour; spicy, fragrant nose of carnations and honey orange; medium-bodied, fruity and grapey. Nicely balanced and not too sweet and cloying (89).

The meal: Potato leek soup; pear & beet rocket salad; gnocchi with Italia rose sauce; lamb popsicles and chocolate banana cake.

Wednesday, October 12: Meetings always create work and I spent most of the day on Grapes for Humanity business. In the evening, a very rainy evening, Deborah and I went to dinner at Debu with Joe and Laurissa Canavan. Excellent meal as usual. Managed to get through two bottles of La Vieille Ferme Côtes du Luberon Blanc 2010 which went very well with Debu’s nouvelle Indian cuisine.

Thursday, October 13: Delivered the files of some 1,200 Toronto Star articles I had written over the years to the lawyers who are handling the Heather Robertson class action suit and then on to Canyon Creek restaurant for a unique lunch. Canyon Creek is running a local harvest menu, sourcing its produce from 20 farms across south-western Ontario (the menu runs until October 31st). The four-course lunch pitted a beer against a wine with each dish prepared by Executive Chef Mark Jachecki. We were asked to vote on our preference as to which beverage went better with the dish. All of the wines were supplied by Henry of Pelham and the beers by the Muskoka Brewery.

  • Harvest mushroom soup with sautéed king oyster and cremini mushrooms, white truffle essence, fresh whipped cream and chives, with Henry of Pelham Chardonnay Speck Family Reserve 2009 and Muskoka Cream Ale. (For my palate the wine won).
  • King Cole smoked duck breast salad, Carron Farms pickled tomatillos, Ontario goat cheese, arugula, cape gooseberries, Vineland tart cherries and Wellesley apple cider-raspberry dressing, with Henry of Pelham Family Tree 2009 (a blend of Viognier, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer and Chardonnay Musqué) and Muskoka Craft Lager. (I actually preferred the beer as a match).
  • Wellington County flat iron steak with Canyon Creek’s fully loaded baked potato, ravine mushroom sauce, with Henry of Pelham Baco Noir 2009 and Muskoka Dark Ale. (The wine by a long shot).
  • Pumpkin Crème Brûlée, with Henry of Pelham Riesling Icewine 2009 and Muskoka Harvest Ale. (I preferred the icewine but the Harvest ale went surprisingly well with the dessert.)

Altogether a very enlightening experience and thanks to Laurel Keenan for providing it. And the excellent food at Canyon Creek. Back at home I tasted a series of British Columbia wines.

  • Lulu Island Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2009: (Okanagan Valley) dense purple colour; cedary, oaky, blackcurrant nose with a hint of mint; dry, acidic, cranberry and currant flavours with gritty tannins on the finish. (86+)
  • Oak Bay Pinot Noir 2008: (Okanagan Valley): deep ruby colour; spicy, black cherry nose; minerally, graphite, plum and cherry flavours with a strong spine of acidity that overpowers the fruit (86)
  • Aces Seven Deuces 2009: (Merlot, Shiraz, Cabernet – Okanagan Valley) dense purple-ruby colour; cedar, white pepper, herbal blackberry nose with evident vanilla oak; red fruit flavours with lively acidity and ripe tannins. (87)
  • Orofino Belza 2009: (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot – Similkameen Valley) deep purple-ruby colour; cedar, black fruits on the nose; nicely balanced oak with well extracted blueberry fruit flavour but marred by chalky tannins on the finish. (87)
  • Blackwood Lane Vicuna Roja 2008: (60% Cabernet Franc, 30% Merlot and 10% Malbec – Okanagan Valley) deep ruby colour; cedar and curranty nose; elegant, floral, red berry and blackcurrant flavours; light and airy on the palate, velvety mouth feel. Good length. (89)
  • Cassini Cellars Syrah 2009: (Okanagan Valley) deep ruby-purple colour; smoky, white pepper and blackberry nose tinged with a herbal note and evident vanilla oak; full-bodied, sweet blackberry fruit with a dark chocolate flavour, rich and generous on the palate. (90)
  • Cassini Cellars Maximus 2009: (48% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc, 1% Malbec – Okanagan Valley) lovely cedar and blackcurrant nose; mouth-filling blackcurrant and chocolate flavours; well-structured with a great mouth feel. Still young but promises well for cellaring 2 – 3 years (90+)

Friday, October 14: When I typed the date it came out as Driday, but it was anything but. The Vintages release for November 12th is some 143 wines plus 13 samples of the Vintages Online wines that were put out for tasting. Brutal.

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