A Wine Lover’s Diary, part 384: Cuvee 2012

Monday, February 27: Wrote my 680News wine reviews. A meeting with Ekkehard Herling, GM of the York Club, to discuss a Pinot Noir dinner in April. In the afternoon a meeting with Doris Miculan Bradley, who is chairing the RAW! event for Grapes for Humanity, to set the protocols for the judging of the tartars by the celebrity panel. For diner roast beef with Allegrini Ripasso Valpolicella 2009.

Tuesday, February 28: Wrote my monthly column for Lexpert magazine on Chardonnay. In the evening down to Aria restaurant for a dinner featuring duck matched with wines chosen by Canada’s three Master Sommeliers – John Szabo, Jennifer Huether and Bruce Wallner – who introduced their selections and the diners voted on the best matches. James Chatto did a great job introducing the dishes. (My favourite matches are marked with an asterisk.)


“Olive Ascolane,” duck-stuffed green olive
Duck Spiedini, orange sea salt
Crispy Duck Tongue, rosemary + duck egg aioli
Home-cured Duck Prosciutto, apricot jam shaved foie gras
Nicolas Feuillatte Grand Cru Blanc de Noir 2002
and Malivoire Pinot Gris 2010

First course:

Duck Liver Mousse, crispy duck skin orange essence dehydrated cherry herb salad
Jennifer Huether – Barnett Savoy Vineyard Pinot Noir Anderson Valley 2010
Bruce Wallner – Malivore Mottiar Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009
*John Szabo – Louis Jadot Corton Pougets Grand Cru 2002

Second course:

Duck Consommé, duck + porcini mushroom tortellini truffle oil chive
John Szabo – Zinck Rangen Grand Cru Tokay Pinot Gris 2007
*Jennifer Huether – Louis Jadot 1er Cru Beaune Theurons 2006
Bruce Wallner – Ca’ del Bosco Cuvée Annamaria Clementi Rosé 2004

Third course:

Housemade Cavatelli + Duck Ragout, mascarpone cinnamon shaved chestnut
Bruce Wallner – Felton Road Cornish Point Central Otago Pinot Noir 2010
*John Szabo – Carrick Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009
Jennifer Huether – Freestone Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2008

Fourth Course:

Seared Duck Breast, toasted fennel + liquorice crispy polenta fennel gratin
apple + celeriac purée cocoa jucocoa nib and pink peppercorn
Jennifer Huether – Kooyong Mornington Peninsula Estate Pinot Noir 2010
*Bruce Wallner – Sequana Pinot Noir Dutton Ranch 2008
John Szabo – Adelsheim Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2009

Cheese course:

A selection of Fine Canadian Cheeses sponsored by Dairy Farmers of Canada
Aged Lankaaster Glengarry Fine Cheese Ontario
Le Mont-Jacob Fromagerie Blackburn Québec
Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar COW Inc. Prince Edward Island
Bleu d’Élizabeth Fromagerie du Presbytère Québec
Arboleda Pinot Noir Aconcagua Valley 2010


Cioccolato e caramel, salted caramel + chocolate mousse dark chocolate ganache espresso
Bowmore 12 Year Old Islay Single Malt

When the scores were tabulated the winner was Jennifer Huether.

Wednesday, February 29: Wrote my columns for On the Go and Post City Magazines. Pinot the Wonder Dog went to the groomer and she looks stunning. At 5 pm down to the Fine Wine Reserve for a tasting of wines imported by Authentic. Spent some time at the Masi table enjoying the Amarones, especially the Masi Riserva di Costasera Amarone Classico 2006 (91). Other wines I took a shine to: Ornellaia 2008 (92). Impressive for the price was Tasca D’Almerita Lamuri Nero d’Avola 2009 (88). Also really liked the Banfi Brunello di Montalcino 2006.

For dinner, chicken breast with Illuminati Riparossa Montepulciano d’Abrruzzo 2009.

Thursday, March 1: After recording my 680News reviews I went to the Spoke Club to have lunch with Mike Reynolds, President of Hall Wines in Napa. I had visited the winery soon after it opened in 2003. They now own 3,300 acres in California, 500 of which are under vine in all but four of Napa’s appellations (all of which are certified organic), with winery facilities in Rutherford and St. Helena. Before lunch we had an aperitif of Hall Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (pale straw colour with a nose of green plum, lemon and fig; mouth-filling flavours of melon and tropical fruit; a touch of sweetness in mid-palate but finishing dry with evident alcohol – 89). “We view ourselves as a Bordeaux house,” says Mike.

Hall Wines Merlot 2008: deep ruby-purple; blueberry, cedar and vanilla oak nose; generous black fruit, kirsch, dark chocolate and licorice flavours with powdery tannins. Again evident alcohol. (89)

Hall Wines Cabernet Sauvignon 2009: dense ruby-purple colour; creamy, spicy blackberry nose with a floral note; succulent fruit, great energy, well-structured with a firm tannic finish. (90)

Jack's Masterpiece label

Jack's Masterpiece label

Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon 2009: dense purple colour; a nose of blackcurrants, violets and spicy oak; powerful and intense, sweet fruit with great structure and mouth-feel. (92)

Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon 2008: dense purple colour; cedar, concentrated blackcurrant and licorice nose; full-bodied, fleshy and opulent with a firm finish. (91)

Hall Wines Jack’s Masterpiece Cabernet Sauvignon 2009: (this wine was named by Mike Reynolds, whose 18-month-old son did the painting that graces the label as a Father’s Day gift – a Jackson Pollock in the making!) Dense purple colour; spicy, cedar, vanilla, blackcurrant nose; very Bordelais in style, more restraint in the fruit with cocoa-like tannin. (92)

Conducted a dinner tasting at a private home – an auction item in aid of Right To Play. Brought the following wines to accompany a great meal by chef Tom Malycha.

  • Tawse Chardonnay 2009 (Ontario)
  • Mission Hill Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2010 (BC)
  • Helfrich Gewurztraminer 2010 (Alsace)
  • Burrowing Owl Merlot 2006 (BC)
  • Kleine Zalze Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (South Africa)
  • DeLoach Zinfandel 2007 (Sonoma)
  • Peller EstateVidal Icewine 2008 (Ontario)

Friday, March 2: Packed for my Germany trip tomorrow and then picked up Zoltan Szabo to drive down to Niagara Falls for Cuvée at Casino Niagara. We stopped in at Hidden Bench on the way down for a quick tasting with Harald Theil. Harald took us into the cellar to taste the 2011 reds which were stunning in their concentration – especially the Locust Lane Pinot Noir. Bought three bottles of Hidden Bench Estate Pinot Noir 2008 while I was there.

Booked into the hotel and changed into my tux to present my annual Cuvée Award of Excellence, an engraved decanter. This year to winemaker Ron Giesbrecht of Henry of Pelham for his consistent high quality over 22 years with the winery. In an era when winemakers move around like chefs and goalies this is a remarkable achievement. Here are the other winners that were announced that evening.

Cuvée Award 2012

Red Wine
Palatine Hill Estate Winery Proprietor’s Reserve Merlot 2007

Limited Edition Red Wine
Angels Gate Winery Mountainview Pinot Noir 2009

White Wine
GreenLane Estate Winery Riesling 2010

Limited Edition White
2027 Cellar 19th Street Chardonnay 2010

LCBO Red Wine
Creekside Estate Winery Shiraz 2009

LCBO White Wine
Hillebrand Winery Trius Sauvignon Blanc 2010

Dessert Wine
G. Marquis Vineyard Riesling Icewine 2009 1ST PLACE
Inniskillin Wines Sparkling Vidal Icewine 2010 2ND PLACE

Limited Edition Dessert Wine
Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery Riesling Icewine 2007 1ST PLACE
Diamond Estates Dan Aykroyd Signature Series Vidal Icewine 2006 2ND PLACE

Sparkling Wine
Tawse Winery Spark Rosé 2009 1ST PLACE
Featherstone Estate Winery Joy Sparkling Wine 2008 2ND PLACE
Peller Estates Winery Ice Cuvée Rosé NV 3RD PLACE

Stoney Ridge Cellars Excellence Chardonnay 2009 1ST PLACE
Tawse Winery Robyn’s Block Chardonnay 2009 2ND PLACE

GreenLane Estate Winery Riesling 2010 1ST PLACE
Hinterbrook Estate Winery Riesling 2010 2ND PLACE
Cave Spring Cellars Riesling CSV 2009 3RD PLACE

Konzelmann Estate Winery Gewürztraminer Late Harvest 2010 1ST PLACE
Riverview Cellars Winery Gewürztraminer 2010 2ND PLACE

Sauvignon Blanc
Peller Estates Winery Private Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2010 1ST PLACE
Featherstone Estate Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2011 2ND PLACE

White Blend
Stonechurch Vineyards Riesling Gewürztraminer 2009 1ST PLACE
Rockway Glen Estate Winery Chardonnay/Riesling 2010 2ND PLACE
Diamond Estates Winery Hat Trick White 2009 3RD PLACE

Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris
Fielding Estate Winery Estate Bottled Pinot Gris 2010

Fielding Estate Winery Viognier 2010 1ST PLACE
Creekside Estate Winery Reserve Viognier 2010 2ND PLACE

Cabernet Sauvignon
Peller Estates Winery Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 1ST PLACE
Lakeview Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2007 2ND PLACE

Cabernet Franc
Fielding Estate Winery Cabernet Franc 2010 1ST PLACE
Vignoble Rancourt Winery Cabernet Franc 2007 2ND PLACE
Niagara College Teaching Winery Dean’s List Cabernet Franc 2009 3RD PLACE

Kacaba Vineyards Reserve Meritage 2007 1ST PLACE
Vineland Estates Winery Cabernet Merlot Reserve 2007 2ND PLACE
Tawse Winery Meritage 2008 3RD PLACE

Pinot Noir
Angels Gate Winery Mountainview Pinot Noir 2009 1ST PLACE
Niagara College Teaching Winery Dean’s List Pinot Noir 2009 2ND PLACE

Palatine Hills Estate Winery Proprietor’s Reserve Merlot 2007 1ST PLACE
Kacaba Vineyards Reserve Merlot 2007 2ND PLACE

Gamay Noir
13th Street Winery Gamay Noir Sandstone Old Vine 2010

Red Blend
Colaneri EstateWinery Insieme 2009 1ST PLACE
Diamond Estates The Winery Hat Trick Red 2010 2ND PLACE

Creekside Estate Winery Broken PresSyrah 2008 1ST PLACE
Colio Estate Wines Inc. CEV Small Lot Shiraz 2008 2ND PLACE

Tony Aspler Cuvée Award of Excellence
Ron Giesbrecht, Winemaker, Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery

Cuvée Award of Excellence in Viticulture
Duarte Oliveira Sr., Oliveira Vineyards

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