Monday, November 21: Deborah and I met Liz Gallery and Cathy Martin for lunch at Earth restaurant to discuss a Grapes for Humanity event next May at the Gardiner Museum. We decided to make it a California theme. Ordered a bottle of Henry of Pelham Chardonnay 2010. Did more research on wine sales in Quebec, wading through the SAQ’s annual report. In the late afternoon tasted the following wines:
- Meyer Family Chardonnay McLean Creek Road Vineyard 2010 (Okanagan Falls, $35): bright straw colour; minerally, oak spice, apple and apple blossom nose with a touch of toastiness; fresh and lively on the palate with apple and green pineapple notes; medium- to full-bodied, lovely mouth feel and great balance. Elegant with great length. (91)
- Meyer Family Chardonnay Tribute Series – Sonia Gaudet Old Main Road Vineyard 2010 (Naramata Bench, $35): Sonia Gaudet is a medal-winning wheelchair curler. A deeper shade of straw than the McLean Creek Road Vineyard; broader nose of vanilla oak and tropical fruit; a sweetness at the core giving way to lively citrus acidity; full-bodied and fleshy. (90)
- Meyer Pinot Noir 2010: ruby with a purple tint; minerally, cherry nose with a light note of violets; medium-bodied, tobacco and raspberry flavours; full in the mouth with a sweetness of fruit in mid-palate, finishing dry with supple tannins. (87)
- Meyer Family Vineyards Pinot Noir Reimer Vineyard 2010 (Kelowna, $40): deep ruby colour; minerally, raspberry nose with well integrated oak; firmly structured, ripe fruit flavours of raspberry and cranberry with a lively acidic spine and a tannic lift on the finish. (89)
- Meyer Family Vineyards Pinot Noir McLean Creek Road Vineyard 2009 (Okanagan Falls – $40): deep ruby colour; smoky, black cherry nose; full-bodied, well extracted black cherry flavour with an earthy, beetroot note; firmly structured and fleshy on the palate with ripe tannins. Needs a year or two in bottle. (90)
- Meyer Family Vineyards Pinot Noir McLean Creek Road Vineyard 2010 (Okanagan Falls, $40): deep ruby colour; minerally, black cherry nose; elegant, light on the palate with a spicy-clovey note; nicely balanced with a firm finish and lingering acidity. (89)
Tuesday, November 22: A tasting of ports this morning with Konrad Ejbich. Twenty-five of them. Deborah and I dropped in to Whole Foods at the invitation of Laurel Keenan. A display of Christmas goods – very inviting. Tasted some delicious chocolate caramels dusted with sea salt. Interviewed my colleague Marc Chapleau in Montreal, who is editor-in-chief of the SAQ’s magazine, Cellier, for the article I’m writing on Quebec for Wine Business International magazine. Tasted the following BC wines before dinner:
- Black Hills Syrah 2009: deep ruby colour; smoked meat, herbal nose; dry, medium-bodied, blackberry flavour with a floral note, spicy with lively acidity. Mouth-watering finish. (90)
- Le Vieux Pin Syrah 2008: deep ruby colour; toasted herbs, peppery, blackberry nose; fruity and fresh, dry and full-bodied with chalky tannins on the finish. (89+)
- Le Vieux Pin Equinoxe Merlot 2008: deep ruby colour; concentrated blueberry overlaid with oak; well extracted savoury fruit, dark chocolate flavour, firmly structured; full-bodied with evident tannins. Needs 2–3 years. (91)
Wednesday, November 23: Roland Maya invited me down to JAM Cafe on Carlton to taste David Butterfield 2008 Burgundies, which he imports. David’s father, George Butterfield, the founder of Butterfield and Robinson, joined us.
- David Butterfield Bourgogone Chardonnay 2008 (Licensee $25.95): yellow straw colour; minerally, ripe peach and apple ; crisply dry with green apple acidity, finishing with a dry caramel and lemon flavour; medium-bodied with a good mouth feel. (89)
- David Butterfield Meursault 2008 (Licensee $59.95): straw colour; minerally, citrus, lemon grass, toast; dry, elegant, citrus and apple flavour with a nutty finish; full on the palate with great length. (91)
- David Butterfield Meursault Charmes 2008 (Licensee $104.95): straw colour; mineral, crushed stones, citrus; smoky, youthful, lots of energy, lemony, green apple flavours; clean and elegant with a buttery macadamia nut finish. Needs time. (92)
- David Butterfield Puligny-Montrachet Les Folatières 2008 (Licensee $104.95): straw colour; smoky-tarry note, minerally, nicely integrated oak, lovely floral note; spicy, citrus and apple flavours; lovely mouth feel. (93)
- David Butterfield Corton 2008 (Licensee $114.95): deep straw colour; spicy, minerally, smoky, nicely integrated oak; smoky orange and tangerine flavour, rich and full on the palate, beautifully balanced with singing acidity. Amazing length. (93)
- David Butterfield Pinot Noir 2008 (Licensee $25.95): ruby colour; spicy, cherry, raspberry nose; dry, elegant, raspberry flavour; fine spine of acidity, fresh and lively cranberry finish with a touch of tannin. (88)
- David Butterfield Beaune 2007 (Licensee $59.95): ruby colour; developing barnyard notes, raspberry, hint of oak; medium-bodied, dry, raspberry flavour, firmly structured; youthful, elegant. (90)
- David Butterfield Corton 2008 (Licensee $104.95): ruby colour; minerally, earthy, raspberry nose; lovely violet note, raspberry flavour; beautifully balanced, great acidity; drinking now but will give pleasure for several years. (92)
Stayed at JAM for dinner and ordered liver, which is something I love but never cook at home. The meal was accompanied by the opened Butterfield wines.
Thursday, November 24: A tasting with David Lawrason and Doug Towers for winerytohome. An email today informed me that the Boisset family had bought Skalli. Sent a note to Jean-Charles Boisset congratulating him and asking if he would donate a case of DeLoach (which the family also owns) for the Grapes for Humanity event. Gracious as ever, Jean-Charles replied that he would.
Friday, November 25: This morning I drove to Niagara College for a press conference to announce that Grapes for Humanity has donated a scholarship in the name of Geddy Lee for a second-year student of winemaking. Geddy has been a director of the foundation since its creation ten years ago and has been a great supporter of GFH projects. Wrote a story about this for Decanter.com and for grapesforhumanity.com.
On Friday, November 25th, Niagara College held a press conference to witness Grapes for Humanity Canada’s donation of $26,500 to create a scholarship in perpetuity in the name of Geddy Lee. GFH’s directors wished to honour Geddy Lee for his on-going contributions to the foundation and its projects. From left: Steve Hudson, Acting President, Niagara College, Jon Ogryzlo, Dean, Canadian Food & Wine Institute, and me. Geddy could not be there for the presentation but Tony Aspler read the following message from him.
I’d like to thank my fellow directors of Grapes for Humanity Canada for this generous gesture in creating and supporting this valuable scholarship program for the students of Niagara College. I feel deeply honored and I am extremely proud to be associated with such good and generous people. GFH Canada is a unique organization of wine lovers such as myself, who have found a way to help people around the globe through their passion, and as such it seems appropriate that we now help to provide some support for our own blossoming wine industry here at home.
In the evening to Gilead Café for a dinner thanking the volunteers who worked on Geddy’s and Alex Lifeson’s “Grapes Under Pressure” tour to Huff Estate last September. I had to miss the event since I was in Georgia. Jamie Kennedy had prepared the menu and Geddy brought wines from his cellar.
We started with Agrapart Avizoise Cuvée Champagne
Chowder amuse with smoked fish and Digby scallops, with Lucien Le Moine Hospices de Beaune Meursault 2009 (Geddy had purchased a barrel of it at the hospices auction)
Porchetta with cider and poached apples
Quail and foie gras with lentils, with Chave Hermitage Rouge 1999
Alex Lifeson said he would donate to my Movember mustache-growing effort and he was as good as his word.
Saturday, November 26: Conducted a home wine tasting dinner for a 50th birthday. Chose the following wines from my cellar to complement an amazing meal for 14 prepared by Carley Caldwell of Absolute Catering. Carley used to cook at Canoe and showed grace under pressure cooking an 8-course meal in an antediluvian kitchen. The menu:
Cauliflower soup, with Creekside Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Halibut with matcha and pistachio crust, with Michel Colin-Deléger & Fils Puligny Montrachet La Truffière 2003 and Hahn Estates Chardonnay 2009
Pork belly and scallop with a coffee glaze, with Château des Charmes Old Vines Riesling 2008
Beef tartare, with CedarCreek Merlot 2008
Lemon sorbet intermezzo
Lamb with grainy mustard crust, with Domaine de la Vougeraie Gevrey-Chambertin La Justice 2000 and Domaine de l’Arnesque Châteauneuf du Pape Cuvée Capelane 2009
Chicken curry, with Tedeschi Amarone 2006 and Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch Shiraz 2008
Croquembouche, with Henry of Pelham Riesling Icewine 2009 and Mission Hill Reserve Riesling Icewine 2010