A Wine Lover’s Diary, part 375: New Year’s Eve

Monday, December 26: Boxing Day. Have spent the whole day with my leg up trying to rest it after the sprain. They say it will take six weeks until it’s back to normal. Don’t know if I have the patience. The only compensation is that I can work on Nightmare in Napa. I think if I had my druthers I would like to sit back and write fiction only.

Guy came round for dinner and we had spaghetti and meat sauce with a bottle of Joie Farm PTG 2009 (the only Canadian version of Passetoutgrains I know). A beautifully made wine, youthful and fruity cherry flavours with a strong acidic spine (89). I think Ontario could make a good version. Have to talk to my pal Martin Malivoire.

Tuesday, December 27: Much the same as yesterday – foot up, working on the novel. It’s amazing how what you thought would be a minor character muscles her way into the story and her voice has to be heard (in this case it’s a woman winemaker). There comes a point in the book when you’re not creating characters anymore but recording what they have to say. That’s the magic moment. Not quite these yet but feel the time is coming soon.

Took a break from writing to taste Black Hills Nota Bene 2009. I have always been a fan of this Bordeaux blend (Meritage). This vintage didn’t have the succulence of previous wines I’ve tasted but was more Bordelais than BC – very elegant and magisterial with plum and blackcurrant flavours tinged with herbs and baker’s chocolate. A real keeper (91).

This has been a BC day because for dinner with lamb chops we had a bottle of La Stella Allegretto 2008. This merlot is not as bold and all-encompassing as the
2007 but offers great richness of fruit extraction; it’s dry and velvety on the palate with black cherry and tobacco flavours (90).

Wednesday, December 28: Another day on the novel but am getting cabin fever from bring in all day. It’s begun to snow and Deborah tells me that Pinot is having a great time making snow angels in the park. Decided it was time to get out and see a movie. We walked to the Eglinton Centre (a painful experience made more so by a biting wind) and had a Japanese meal before going to see Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Fun movie, like fin de siècle James Bond

The book is moving along nicely. Have about 22,000 words and the plot is beginning to gel. My hero, Ezra Brant, is no longer the omniscient wine-writer detective but finds himself on the defensive a lot of the time. Enough said. For dinner, baked salmon, squash and sweet potato fries – a very orange meal, so I added some broccoli. The wine: Quails’ Gate Chardonnay 2009, a big, bold Chardonnay with flavours of pineapple, peach, toast and spicy oak (89).

Friday, December 30: Took my ankle to the doctor’s this morning. He’s suggested an X-ray and an MRI. It will happen on Tuesday. Worked on the novel in the afternoon and in the evening started cooking for tomorrow’s dinner party. Preparing hummus, mushroom soup, osso buco. For dinner cooked up some leftover lamb with a tomato sauce on rice and served it with a chickpea salad and a bottle of Poggio al Tufo Sangiovese Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (deep ruby colour; inky black cherry nose with graphite notes; medium-bodied, dry, savoury cherry and blackcurrant flavours with powdery tannins (88+)).

Saturday, December 31: To Mr. Costco’s with Guy to pick up some cheeses for tonight’s dinner party, then lunch at Panzer’s – chicken soup with matzo ball and a smoked meat sandwich. Walked the Wonder Dog in the park and watched her make dog angels in the snow and wrestle with a poodle-lab cross. Spent the rest of the day cooking.

We had invited our guests, Gord and Carole Stimmell and Steve and Paula Elphick, for 8:30 but the Stimmells arrived at 8pm (their cab flew) and the Elphicks at 8:15. Started with hummus, smoked salmon, guacamole and sautéed almonds with Henry of Pelham Cuvée Catharine and then switched to Louis Roederer Brut Premier. Sat down to seared scallop in a mushroom broth with two Puligny-Montrachets – Jean Féry et Fils Puligny Montrachet les Nosroyes 2008 and Remoissenet Père et Fils Puligny-Montrachet 2007 (both drinking beautifully, the 2008 surprisingly rounder on the
palate). Then osso bucco with potatoes mashed with parsnips and French beans with La Stella Maestoso Merlot 2007 (the hit of the night) and Charles Melton Nine Popes 2002. With the cheeses, Hahn Winery Pinot Noir 2008. Carole Stimmell had brought a flourless chocolate cake with which I opened a bottle of Domaine du Mas Blanc Banyuls 1989. Just before midnight Gord opened the bottle of Dom Pérignon 2002.

During the dinner we discussed our New Year’s resolutions. Mine is to finish the murder mystery novel I started seven years ago – Nightmare in Napa. At midnight we all wished Pinot the Wonder Dog a happy birthday. She turns seven on January 1st.

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