Sunday, November 27: Down to The Fine Wine Reserve for a tasting of Domaine de la Roquète and Vieux Télégraphe Châteauneuf du Pape conducted by the owner/winemaker Daniel Brunier.
- La Roquète 2008: fresh and lively, peppery raspberry flavour; lovely balanced. Very drinkable now. (90)
- La Roquète 2005: my kind of Châteauneuf; elegant, herbal, round on the palate with a lovely blackcurrant flavour. (92)
- La Roquète 2003: the really hot year. Licorice and black olive flavours, rich and herbal, thick on the palate. (90)
- Vieux Télégraphe 2008: floral, minerally nose; rich black raspberry flavour, lively and fresh on the palate. An elegant wine. (90)
- Vieux Télégraphe 2001: meaty, herbal, smoky savoury red berry flavours, sustians well on the palate. (91)
- Vieux Télégraphe 1998: inky, herbal nose of blueberry pie with a floral grace not; lovely mouth feel and great balance; an enticing sweet core to the wine that finishes dry and savoury. (93)
Monday, November 28: I’m hearing that the EU wants to “boost the wine sector’s competitiveness by reducing production costs.” They intend doing this by liberalizing planting rights from January 2016. If the reform goes through, says the report, “by 2019 there will be no restrictions to planting vines across the European Union, even in countries that today have no vineyards. Bordeaux vineyards could theoretically rise from 120,000 hectares (ha) to 220,000ha, and Burgundy from 28,000ha to 59,000ha. Other areas affected include Rioja, currently with 59,212ha planted, which could go up to 350,000 ha, and the Douro: 45,000ha to 250,000ha. The new plantings will all be AOC.” What are they thinking! This could double the size of Burgundy’s appellation. Rather like expanding the NHL from the original six with the corresponding diluting of talent.
On a happier note, Bytox I learn has come up with a cure for the hangover – a patch that replenishes vitamins and nutrients the body loses from consuming more alcohol than you should. Think I’ll lay in a gross, although I don’t know how seriously to take this, because in the same email the company is offering a “Peeing Santa Liquor Dispenser – Your guests will giggle as you prepare their favorite mixed drink with a little help from Old Saint Nick. Santa pees out the booze – no promises he won’t hit the rim!” Just what I need.
Phoned Paul Beeston to ask if he would agree to have a Blue Jay visit a school as an auction item for Grapes for Humanity’s May 10th fund-raiser at The Gardiner Museum. Left a message. Finished off the piece on the SAQ in Quebec. Couldn’t get any of my sources to go on the record with their names. Fearful of economic retaliation from the monopoly.
Tuesday, November 29: The mustache is driving me mad. Can’t wait until December 1 to get rid of it. This is the season when wine books are published, and two arrived in the mail today: Tom Stevenson’s The Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia and Ian Mount’s The Vineyard at the End of the World: Maverick Winemakers and the Rebirth of Malbec. When I was judging with Tom at the Decanter World Wine Awards in April he told me his updated encyclopedia was coming out. He didn’t mention it’s much thicker that the 2007 version. In his six-page coverage of Canada (737 pages in all) he lists 25 Ontario wineries. Curiously, Hidden Bench and Closson Chase are not among them. Looking forward to reading Ian Mount’s book on Argentina, a region I have yet to visit. This evening a corporate event at Sopra. I’m conducting a dinner tasting to match Massimo Capra’s food.
Bufala Mozzarella, Roasted Eggplant, Tomato, Arugula Basil & Celery, with Armani Pinot Grigio Sequals 2009
Risotto with Lobster Confit and Crispy Garlic, with
Paua Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Choice of mains – Sea Bass, Pancetta-wrapped Cornish Hen or (my choice) Alberta Beef Tenderloin, Sautéed Late Harvest Greens, Parmesan Frico, Roasted Cherry Tomatoes & Garlic Confit, with Pago de Cirsus 2008
Assorted mini desserts and five Ontario and Quebec cheeses, with Tenuta di Lorano Vin Santo 1999
Wednesday, November 30: Wrote up my Wines of the Week before heading down to Canoe to have lunch with Luc Bouchard and Thomas Henriot. While we were drinking a glass of Henriot Brut Souverain, Thomas explained this plans for the Beaujolais property in Fleurie the family purchased in 2008, Villa Ponciago. Through this wine he wants to restore the reputation of Fleurie, inspired by a bottle of 1929 Ponciago he tried. Fifty hectares of the 120 on the property are under vine ranging in age from 45 to 75 years old. Abandoning the traditional en goblet system for modern trellising and practicing green harvest, his intention is to make this Fleurie comparable to a fine Burgundy.
Over mushroom soup with truffle oil, we first tasted William Fèvre Champs Royaux Chablis 2010 (crisp and elegant with minerally green apple flavours (89)) before tasting Villa Ponciago La Réserve 2009 (deep ruby with purple highlights; cherry and violets on the nose; elegant,
plum and cherry flavours, lovely mouth-feel, fruity but firm and well balanced (90)).
With my order of tourtière and lentils, I tasted the following Bouchard Père et Fils 2008 Burgundies:
- Bouchard Père et Fils Beaune Clos Saint-Landry 2008: straw color; minerally, green pineapple, peach and citrus nose; creamy texture, spicy oak; great balance and poise. (91)
- Bouchard Père et Fils Beaune du Château 2008: ruby colour; earthy, beetroot nose with oak spice; dry, elegant, sinewy; a classic Beaune. (90)
- Bouchard Père et Fils Volnay Caillerets Ancienne Cuvée Carnot 2008: deep ruby colour; earthy, cherry, mint with a thread of minerality on the nose; richly extracted for this vintage, cherry and blackcurrant flavours, velvety mouth feel. (92)
At home, wrote up my wine reviews for Tidings magazine. At one minute past midnight tonight I get to shave off my mustache. This evening, Deborah and I went to see Two Pianos Four Hands. Had a quick Thai meal before the theatre at Ginger on Yonge Street. The show was fantastic. My favourite scene was their send up of bar pianists with Billy Joel’s “Piano Man.”
Thursday, December 1: My Movember moustache is now a memory. My family, friends and colleagues sponsored my growing effort to the tune of $1000. Which is just fine. Paul Beeston called me back and we’re on for a Blue Jay to visit a school as a silent auction item for Grapes for Humanity’s May event. What a nice guy he is.
Wrote up my wine reviews from the last vintages tasting and then to lunch at The Boulevard Café with Luiz Conceição and Ronaldo Maya – a Brazilian and an Argentinian lunching with me in a Peruvian restaurant. With empanadas I had a glass of Bodega Gotica Adajo 2010, a Verdejo from Rueda.
Friday, December 2: I’m getting rid of the desk I’ve had for 30 years because it’s too big for my office and blocks the door to the balcony. This means emptying its contents. Sorry to see it go. I love old furniture as much as I love old clothes – much to Deborah’s chagrin.
Dinner at Toca in the Ritz Carlton Hotel with Pascal Madevon, winemaker at Osoyoos Larose, and Zoltan Szabo. Pascal had brought along some vintages of his wine. Chef Tom Brodi prepared a sensational menu to match the wines.
We started with fish and chips – only this was battered chunks of lobster and deep-fried wedges of avocado. Sommelier Taylor Thompson matched this dish with Champelou Vouvray 2009. Next course, Dungeness crab mixed with bone marrow and served in a half bone with a foam on top, accompanied by Osoyoos Larose 2007 (dense purple colour with a floral nose of cedar and blackcurrant; very Bordelais in style with chocolate, tobacco, blueberry and blackcurrant flavours, elegant with great blance. A blend of 70% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot and Malbec. A very cellarable wine (91)).
Mushroom risotto with white truffle shavings, with Osoyoos Larose 2009 (a nose of spicy cedar, chocolate and cassis; velvety on the palate and richly extracted and full on the palate with a spicy plum flavour; soft tannins with cocoa finish (92)).
Rib eye steak and lamb loin, with the individual component wines for Osoyoos Larose 2010 – Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Cab Sauv. was amazing. The wines are still in barrel.
Saturday, December 3: Delivered my old desk to the purchaser through Craigslist. Then after lunch we drove up to Caledon to see our friends Frank and Patty-Ann Daley before dropping in on the annual Christmas party of Deborah’s niece, Nadine and her husband Gary. Then another annual Christmas party back in Toronto where the hosts invite you to dress up to a theme. This year the theme was “Heroes and Villains.” This was my “costume” – a sign around my neck: