Monday, March 12: Last night I made Moussaka, the first time in my life. I had no idea how complex the recipe is. But it turned out well and we ate it with a delicious wine from BC – N’Kmip Qwam Qwmt Meritage 2008 (dense ruby colour with a nose of cedar, blackcurrant and blueberry; medium-bodied, dry with flavours of blackcurrant and dark chocolate, finishing with powdery tannins (89)).
Wrote up my 680News wine reviews and spent the rest of the day sending out email invitations to “RAW! The Great Toronto Tartare-Off” (March 29th at The Imperial Room Fairmont Royal York Hotel). At 5 pm a meeting of the RAW committee. We decided that we need to have ticket sales on PayPal as they are moving more slowly than we had anticipated. For dinner, pork loin with Quails’ Gate Pinot Noir 2009 (deeply coloured with a nose of black cherries and oak spice; full on the palate with well extracted fruit, dry and firmly structured – 88).
Tuesday, March 13: Got all my tax stuff delivered to my accountant and then went to my doctor to discuss my ankle problem, which is still painful. He recommended a bone scan.
In the afternoon to Barberian’s for the Grandi Marchi tasting of Italian wines. An odd event built around a film the LCBO had made on Italian wines in co-operation with the members of Grandi Marchi. A dozen or so wines were put out on a table but nothing from Gaja, Alois Lageder, Mastroberadina or Rivera, all of whom are members of the instituto del Vino Italiano di Qualità. My top scoring wines were Antinori Pian delle Vigne Brunello di Montalcino 2006 (91) and Tasca d’Almerita Lamuri Nero d’Avola 2009 (90). Also enjoyed Antinori Badia a Passignano Chianti Classico 2007 (89), Umani Ronchi Rosso Conero 2008 (89) and Lungarotti Sagrantino di Montefalco 2009 (89).
For dinner, grilled salmon with a bottle of Rodney Strong Reserve Russian River Chardonnay 2009 (straw coloured with a spicy, tropical fruit nose; full-bodied, rich and toasty, well balanced with a nutty finish (89)). Also tasted Black Hills Alibi 2010 (75% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Semillon), a truly great wine: very pale but amazingly concentrated and complex. Grassy, passion fruit nose with flavours of fresh gooseberry and pear. Long on the palate with a refreshing citrus acidity (91).
Wednesday, March 14: Recorded my 680News reviews and then Deborah dropped me at Doug Towers for a winerytohome.com tasting. Made an interesting dish for dinner – pork loin stuffed with prosciutto and falafel mashed with lemon juice. Opened a bottle of Flat Rock Pinot Noir Reserve 2009, a wine, as it turned out, too good for the dish! Light ruby colour with a minerally, cherry nose; elegant raspberry and cherry flavours, velvety on the palate with a dry, firm finish (90).
Thursday, March 15: The temperature is meant to go up to 21°C today! Pinot the Wonderdog will like that. Spent much of the day inputting wine reviews for Vintages’ March 31st release. Then got down to some tasting:
- Laurent Miquel L’Artisan Languedoc 2008 (Syrah/Grenache – $13.95): purple-ruby colour; earthy, black cherry nose; well extracted sweet fruit with lively acidity, medium to full-bodied. Easy drinking. (86)
- The People’s Pinot Noir 2010 (Central Otago – $16.95): light ruby colour; cherry, minerally, with a hint of oak on the nose; soft, velvety mouth feel, a little light on extract given the alcohol (13.5%) but well made with sufficient tannins to give the wine structure (86+)
- Quails’ Gate Merlot 2009 (British Columbia): deep ruby colour; smoky blueberry and mineral nose; rich palate, chewy, full-bodied, black fruit flavours with chocolate notes and ripe, dusty tannins (89)
- Yellow Tail Limited Release Shiraz 2006 (only 1500 bottles were made to mark the 10th anniversary of Yellow Tail, the most successful Australian brand ever): dense purple colour; minty blackberry carried on cedary oak; richly extracted sweet blackberry flavour, juicy on the palate and beautifully balanced with lively acidity and vanilla oak (90)
- Inniskillin Tenacity White (a non-vintage dated blend – $13.95): pale straw colour; minerally, white peach and citrus peel nose; dry and fragrant, flavours of peach and pear ending on an apple note (86)
- The People’s Pinot Gris Corner 50 Winery 2010 (Hawke’s Bay – $16.95): pale straw colour; minerally, peach pit nose; full on the palate with peach and citrus flavours, nicely balanced with a soft mouth feel (87)
- Barefoot Moscato (California, E&J Gallo – $9.95): light straw colour; aromatic, orange, orange blossom and honey nose; grapey flavour with a light spritz, sweet but not cloying. Well made, light on the palate and well priced. (88)
Had a call from Mount Sinai Hospital that they could schedule my bone scan tomorrow at 8 am!
Friday, March 16: Up at 6:30 am in order to get down to the hospital for my 8 am appointment. First they inject me with some kind of dye that takes two hours to work its way around my system; then they do a 40-minute body scan. During the two-hour wait I worked on Nightmare in Napa in the hospital’s nuclear medicine’s waiting room.
After the procedure, down to Harbour 60 to have lunch with Roger Randolph and his principal, Roderick Mackenzie of Ian MacLeod Distillers. Apart from owning Glengoyne Highland Single Malt, Isle of Skye, Lang’s Blended Scotch, Hedges & Butler, King Robert II and several other malt whiskies, they also own Wincarnis Aperitif Wine. They acquired it when they bought Hedges & Butler, one of the conditions of sale in 1998.
I remember Wincarnis as a tonic wine from my days growing up in London. It used to contain extract of malt and extract of beef along with some secret herbs, wine and fortifying spirit to 18% alcohol. Now it’s vegetarian-friendly without the meat extract. Wincarnis (a name made up of “wine” and “carnis” – “of meat”) is one of the oldest products on the LCBO list, first on the shelves in 1958. It’s a brown as boot polish with a nose of dates and a sweet sherry-like taste of black cherries, dates and chocolate with a herbal note. Very big in the Jamaican community apparently. We all had Dover Sole for lunch and to introduce Roderick to Ontario wine I ordered a bottle of Thirty Bench “Wood Post” Riesling 2008, which was perfect with the fish.
Deborah and I didn’t feel like cooking so we went out to a neighbourhood Thai restaurant.