Monday, February 13: Yesterday tasted a bottle of Hungaria Dunántúli Sauvignon Blanc (Hungary), a bargain-priced Sauvignon. Pale straw colour with a nose of green plum, cut grass and grapefruit; medium-bodied, crisply dry, clean and fresh with a grapefruit and passion fruit flavour. (87)
Wrote my Post City Magazine column and then went down to Crush to have lunch with Marimar Torres.
As an aperitif she served our gathering of wine writers and sommeliers Marimar Estate “La Masia” Chardonnay Arceno 2009 from the Russian River Valley. This is an unoaked wine from the Don Miguel Vineyard which has an amazing amount of flavour. Deep straw in colour, it has a spicy, minerally, creamy nose of orange, peach and pineapple. Very aromatic and expressive on the palate (91).
With my order of grilled Calamari I had Marimar Estate “La Masia” Chardonnay 2008. Deep straw colour with a rich, spicy orange blossom, peach and vanilla oak with a touch of forest floor. Full-bodied with a lovely mouth feel, great length with a nutty finish (and a nod to Burgundy (92)). With a dish of beet risotto, Marimar Estate La Masia Pinot Noir Don Miguel Vineyard 2007: deep ruby colour; minerally, raspberry nose with notes of vanilla oak and violets; concentrated cherry and raspberry flavours with lively acidity and lovely mouth feel; supple tannins. Oregon meets Burgundy (91).
By way of comparison David Lawrason suggested we try Keint-He Pinot Noir 2007 from Prince Edward County. Pale ruby in colour with a lifted nose of raspberries and minerals; light on the palate, nicely balanced (89).
Home to finish a load of emails before choosing some wines for dinner tonight at Canoe to celebrate Guy’s birthday. I chose Jadot Puligny-Montrachet Les Folatières 2000 and Bouchard Père et Fils Vigne de L’Enfant Jésus 2001. Canoe’s sommelier Will Predhomme poured Lamandier-Bernier Blanc de Blancs Champagne to start the meal. Will poured me a glass of wine blind and asked me what I thought of it. I recognised it as the Keint-He Pinot Noir 2007 I had at lunch. My street creds with the sommelier society just sky-rocketed. A great evening all round.
Tuesday, February 14: Spend a very pleasurable day working on Nightmare in Napa. There comes a point in fiction when you no longer write dialogue – you just record what you hear the characters in your head are saying. For dinner a bottle of Closson Chase Vineyard Chardonnay 2009 with chicken breast. Winemaker Deborah Paskus is on the top of her game with this wine. (Deep straw in colour; spicy, minerally, apple and pear nose with a leesy lemony note; well integrated oak with a fresh, lingering finish. A triumph of terroir and technique. (92))
Wednesday, February 15: Lunch with Lindsay Groves at Grano. Lindsay has decided to take the Master of Wine course. Lindsay, just back from Austria, brought along an interesting red wine – Judith Beck Blaufrankisch Altenberg 2007 (fruity, sour cherry flavour, rather like a carbonic maceration Beaujolais). I had this with gorgonzola risotto.
Spent the rest of the day wrestling with Mr. Ikea. My office is being re-designed. My old desk of 25 years has gone, the clunky bookcase has gone and so has my bulky old computer desk. Much more space now, but I have to put together the cabinet with drawers and a modern bookcase.
For dinner, with grilled salmon, MacMurray Ranch Chardonnay 2009 (Sonoma Coast). A Gallo property making highly individual wines. Straw colour; a spicy, tropical fruit nose with a buttery note. Full-bodied, sweet pineapple and caramel flavours balanced by citrus acidity with a hint of vanilla oak. Soft, creamy mouth feel. (89)
Thursday, February 16: My colleague Rick van Sickle, City Editor at the St. Catharines Standard, called to discuss Royal DeMaria and Joseph DeMaria’s claim to have sold a bottle of his 2000 Chardonnay Icewine to a Saudi prince for $30,000 in 2006. The transaction, Joseph told me, took place in New York’s Central Park. I had written a piece for Decanter Magazine about it and Rick was trying to substantiate Joseph DeMaria’s claim.
Lunch with Angela Lyons at The Miller Tavern to discuss a Grapes for Humanity event in September. Peter Gago, Penfolds’ head winemaker, will conduct a dinner tasting at Sopra of the company’s top wines – including Grange and Penfolds new Cabernet blend Bin 620, which sells for $1000 a bottle. I ordered a Thai chicken curry with a glass of Grüner Veltliner.
Friday, February 17: Down to the LCBO for a tasting of 42 wines recently released on the general list.
Then to Didier’s for lunch with Marc Nadeau and his friend Brent, an Australian aerospace guy who is looking to get into the wine business. Marc brought along a bottle of Bouchard Père & Fils La Romanée 1988 which, unfortunately, was mildly corked. I ordered Didier’s steak tartare (which I think is the best in town). Didier will be competing in RAW! The great Toronto Tartare-Off on March 29th at The Imperial Room, Fairmont Royal York in a Grapes for Humanity fund-raiser.
Put together an Ikea bookcase, quite a feat in a small room. At 4:30 Max Nokhrin picked me up to drive down to Azure in the InterContinental Hotel to meet Antoine Malassagne. Antoine and his sister Anne own Lenoble Chamapgne and I had the opportunity to taste four of their products. The house was founded in 1920 by their grandfather, who came to the region from Alsace. They produce some 350,000 bottles a year from 18 hectares in Chouilly and Bisseuil, buying in 40% of their grape needs.
- Lenoble L’Epurée Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut (50% not put through malolactic fermentation): light straw colour with tiny bubbles; elegant, green apple and lemon nose with a mineral note; light on the palate, crisply dry, clean with good length (a breakfast champagne!). (90)
- Lenoble Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut (25% of the reserve wine aged in barrel): straw colour; creamy nose of white flowers, apple, ginger and a leesy note; round on the palate, very dry peach and green apple flavours, finishing with a nutty, chalky note. (91)
- Lenoble Cuvée Gentilhomme Blanc de Blancs 2006 (30% barrel fermented): straw colour; toasty, minerally, apple nose; dry, elegant, and winey; beautifully balanced apple and lemon flavours with a stroke of oak. (92) When I mentioned that I found the champagne very “winey,” Antoine lit up. “We are a wine producer,” he said, “not a bubble producer.”
- Lenoble Cuvée Rosé 2006 (10% Pinot Noir added): amber-pink colour; minerally, raspberry and green apple nose; very elegant with delicate raspberry and lemon flavour, good length with a crisp finish. (90)
Came home with the rest of the bottle of Cuvée Gentilhomme, which Deborah and I drank before dinner. “Why don’t we do this every night?” she asked.