Monday, November 14: Did research on Georgian wines for my tasting at the gourmet Wine & Food Expo on Saturday. These are the wines I’ll be featuring:
- The Vinoterra Kisi 2006 and Vinoterra Mtsvane 2008 (both Qvevri wines)
- Koncho & Co. Kvareli Special Reserve 2007
- Besini Saperavli 2010
- Telavi Marani Saperavi 2009
- Wine Man Saperavi Cabernet 2010
- CheltSuperavi 2007
- Rachuli Wine Khvanchkara 2010
In the evening, down to Modus restaurant for the dedication of the Robert Mondavi Room. Margrit Mondavi was there, as was Mark De Vere MW, the winery’s education director. Mark told me that he got mugged in Santiago by a taxi driver who hit him with an iron bar and he had to be hospitalized.
Tuesday, March 15: Went down to the LCBO to taste the Beaujolais Nouveau and other new wines that the board will be releasing on Thursday. Chris Layton tells me this is the 30th year the LCBO has brought in Beaujolais Nouveau. This year there are only three true Nouveaux from Beaujolais; the rest are from other regions of France and Italy and one from Ontario. Overall, not the best new wines I’ve tasted over the years, but one or two worth trying (see Beaujolais Nouveau at the LCBO).
At 5:30 to the Miller Tavern to have a glass of wine with my friend Paul Lokash. He tells me he’s trying to get a charity barrel auction off the ground in Israel.
Wednesday, March 16: Wrote my Commentary for Tidings Magazine on the effect of tasting with a moustache. My under-nose growth is now 15 days old and it hasn’t endeared itself to me yet.
Picked Deborah up at 6 pm and drove down to Niagara Falls to spend the night at the Sheraton on the Falls. We had dinner in the Rainbow Room of the Crowne Plaza next door. Massimo Capra has done the menu and I did the wine list. We had Executive Chef Kevin Maniaci’s tasting menu, a different one for both of us, which gave us the opportunity to try virtually the entire menu that’s been available for six days now. Corey, our sommelier, reminded me that he had served our table during the Hillebrand Jazz Festival this past summer. He started serving the meal with a full beard and with each course he shaved off part of it. It took us till the dessert to realize what was happening. At the end he was clean shaven. Corey poured us a couple of glasses of Jackson-Triggs Méthose Cuve Close
2006 as an aperitif.
My tasting menu:
Pear Carpaccio – Bartlett pear, pingue prosciutto, gorgonzola cheese, sugared walnuts with pomegranate vinaigrette, served with
Southbrook Chardonnay Triomphe 2007
2nd course: Quail two ways – saltimbocca – roasted with pancetta, sage and Niagara Gold cheese; ravioli – quail egg and truffled ricotta with tomato confit, with 13th Street Merlot 2010
3rd course: Corn-fed beef tenderloin – torta di patata, peperonata, broccolini and balsamic jus, with
Megalomaniac Home Grown Cellar 4579 2008
4th course: Chocolate Explosion – a flourless chocolate torte layered with dark chocolate silk, brownie and cheesecake, topped with locally made white chocolate gelato, with
Jackson-Triggs Vidal Icewine 2007
Deborah’s tasting menu:
Caesar Salad – Baby red romaine roasted garlic vinaigrette, bacon and parmesan phyllo crisp (a “napkin ring” that held the lettuce) and grilled tomato salsa, with Cave Spring Estate Riesling 2009
2nd course: Olive oil poached Atlantic salmon – tender leek and mushroom salad, tomato anchovy relish and tarragon coulis, with 13th Street Pinot Gris 2010
3rd course: Lakeland Farm duck breast, potato latke, garlic braised Swiss chard and bacon broth, with
Megalomaniac S.O.B Pinot Noir 2008
4th course: Cheesecake – creamy white chocolate cheesecake resting on a red velvet cake base wrapped with Belgian white chocolate, with Jackson-Triggs Vidal Icewine 2007
Our room on the sixteenth floor had a magnificent view of both the American and Horseshoe Falls.
Thursday, November 17: Beaujolais Nouveau release day. A breakfast meeting with Don Calaguiro and his design team to discuss how the wine list for the new Jamie Kennedy on the Falls will look. The restaurant is scheduled to open to the public on Friday, February 10th.
This evening, a 300th issue anniversary party for Tidings Magazine. Many of the staff, including the editor, Aldo Parise, had travelled from Montreal to celebrate with the writers and the sales reps. The event was held at the Berkeley Church on Queen Street – a perfect venue for it. My wine writer colleague Gurvinder Bhatia, who flew in from Edmonton, drew my name in a raffle for $500 worth of meat. This is the first time in my life I have ever won a raffle. But Aldo asked him to pull another name. Rats! Still, I don’t know what I would have done with $500 worth of meat.
Friday, November 18: Began work on an article for Wine Business International on the Quebec market. Had to pick up my sister-in-law Suzanne from Pearson Airport. She arrived from Paris via Amsterdam. Missed her connection in Amsterdam because of fog, then her flight was delayed an hour in Montreal because the tractor that pulls aircraft out from their parking bays got stuck to the nose of the plane. She arrived without luggage.
Saturday, November 19: The Gourmet Food & Wine Expo. Sat in on a seminar led by three Australian Winemakers, Sue Hodder of Wynns, Chris Hatcher of Wolf Blass and Oliver Crawford of Devil’s Lair. Wynns Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 and Wynns John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 shone. Proves to me that Coonawarra is the place for Cabernet in Australia. Also liked Wolf Blass Grey Label Shiraz Cabernet 2009 and Devil’s Lair Chardonnay 2011. After this tasting I conducted my seminar on Georgian wines.
Sunday, November 20: Will Predhomme, the sommelier at Canoe, Suresh Doss of Spotlight Toronto and I arranged a tasting of Canadian wines 2006 vintage or older at Canoe. I brought along Lakeview Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 1999, Jackson-Triggs Meritage 1999 and Jackson-Triggs Vidal Icewine 1993. The 20 or so participants brought the following wines:
- Mission Hill Chardonnay Grand Reserve 1998
- Cave Spring CSV Riesling 2003
- Cave Spring CSV Riesling 2002
- Hillebrand Riesling 1986
- Thirty Bench Benchmark Chardonnay 2004
- Thirty Bench Riesling 1999
- Thirty Bench Botrytis-Select Early Harvest Riesling 1995
- Peller Estates Chardonnay Sur Lie 2004
- Daniel Lenko Syrah 2002
- Daniel Lenko Old Vines Merlot 2004
- Peninsula Ridge Arcanum 2002
- Vineland Estates Reserve Cabernet Franc 2005
- Vineland Estates Rosomel Vineyard Reserve Meritage 1998
- Hidden Bench Rosomel Vineyard La Brunante 2005
- Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Sauvignon 2000
- Megalomaniac SOB Point Noir 2006
- Coyote’s Run Red Paw Syrah 2006
- Creekside Broken Press Shiraz 2005
- Nota Bene 2002
- Fielding Estate Meritage 2005
- Osoyoos Larose 2005
- Henry of Pelham Unfiltered Cabernet Merlot 2000
- Hillebrand Showcase Vidal Icewine 2005
- Château des Charmes Riesling Icewine 2000
Interestingly, the whites overall showed better than the reds in terms of keeping their fruit and ageing well, particularly the sweet wines. The revelation was the Mission Hill Chardonnay, which tasted much younger than its 13 years. Cave Spring CSV 2003 and Thirty Bench Early Harvest Riesling also impressed, as did all the Icewines. Of the reds, the stand-outs were Lakeview Cab, Nota Bene and Osoyoos Larose. Only one wine was corked.