A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 394: California Uncorked

Monday, May 7: Wrote my columns for Post City magazines and On The Go. Lunch at Patachou with Liza Gallery and Cathy Martin to discuss final arrangements for Grapes For Humanity’s “California Uncorked” fundraiser at the Gardiner Museum. In the evening sat down to a tasting of eight white wines.

  • Piera Martellozzo Blu Giovello Sauvignon Blanc 2010 ($12.95 – Veneto): light straw colour; not a lot of varietal character on the nose, rather like sun-warmed hay; medium-bodied, dry, herbal note, not a lot of character. (85)
  • Obikwa Sauvignon Blanc 2011 ($8.95 – South Africa): very pale colour; gummy, bound-in sulphur note; light-bodied, sweet lemon grass flavour; short on the palate. (85)
  • James Oatley Tic Tok Chardonnay 2009 ($14.95 – Mudgee & Pemberton): pale lemon colour; apple, tobacco leaf nose; sweet, spicy fruit with a whisper of oak, nicely balanced with lemony acidity. Good value (87)
  • Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Series 2 Bench White 2011 (52% Chardonnay, 31% Sauvignon Blanc, 11% Viognier, 3% Semillon, 3% Muscat – $22.99 – Okanagan Valley): pale straw colour; aromatic, peachy nose; full on the palate with a soft mouth feel, nicely balanced, melon and peach flavours with good length. (88)
  • Quails’ Gate Chardonnay Stewart Family Reserve 2010 (Okanagan Valley): deep straw colour; rich, toasty, spicy nose with tropical fruit notes; sweet pineapple and mango flavours with a buttery note; nicely oaked and balanced with citrus acidity. Great length. (91)
  • Tinhorn Creek Pinot Gris 2011 ($17.99 – Okanagan Valley): pale straw colour; minerally, peach nose; medium-bodied, dry, peach flavour with a light floral strain; rests nicely on the palate with peach and apple flavours that linger. (89)
  • La Stella Vivace Pinot Grigio 2011 ($25 – Okanagan Valley): pale straw colour; fragrant, peach and mineral nose; off-dry, ripe peach and musk melon flavours, good length. Well balanced and fresh. (89)

Tuesday, May 8: Spent the morning going over the silent auction items for Grapes for Humanity’s “California Uncorked” event at the Gardiner Museum.

In the afternoon, down to Mars for the “Somewhereness – Old Soils, New Wines” event. Ten Ontario wineries were pouring between two and six wines each. The highlights were 13th Street Essence Syrah 2010, Cave Spring Blanc de Blancs Brut CSV 2004, Flat Rock Cellars Reserve Pinot Noir 2009, Hidden Bench Terroir Caché Red Meritage2008, Malivoire Pinot Noir 2009, Norman Hardie Pinot Noir 2009 and his County Chardonnay 2010, Southbrook Whimsy! Uncloaked Merlot 2010, Stratus White 2008 and Stratus Semillon 2009, Charles Baker Riesling Ivan Vineyard 2011, Tawse Quarry Road Chardonnay 2010.

Judging by the overall quality of the wines Ontario is showing very well these days. For dinner, tasted two wines from Hawkes Bay’s Trinity Hill.

  • Trinity Hill Sauvignon Blanc 2011: pale straw colour with a lime tint; floral, grassy. Elderberry nose; lively green plum and kiwi flavours, medium-bodied and very fresh. (90)
  • Trinity Hill Syrah 2011: deep purple-ruby colour; a floral-herbal nose of black raspberries; elegant, peppery blackberry flavour, juicy fruit that finishes dry and savoury. Reminiscent of a St. Joseph. (89)

Wednesday, May 9: Wrote up the introduction to the Canada pages in Decanter magazine to be published in October with all the results of the World Wine Awards; plus profiles on four wineries that won Regional trophies. Then, with the help of Jan Didriksen of the Fine Wine Reserve, delivered all the dinner wines and the auction to the Gardiner Museum for tomorrow night’s Grapes for Humanity event.

Thursday, May 10: Attended a seminar on pinot noir as part of the New Zealand Wine Fair at the Design Exchange. Two pinots from six regions – Nelson, Marlborough, Waipara Valley, Waitaki, Central Otago and Wairarapa. A great divergence of styles. My top wines were Te Mania Pinot Noir 2009 (Nelson), Ostler Caroline’s Pinot Noir 2010 (Waitaki), Akarua Pinot Noir 2010 (Central Otago), and Gladstone Pinot Noir 2009 (Wairarapa).

Couldn’t stay for the wine fair itself as I had to rush over to the Gardiner to help set up the wines for the silent auction. One hundred and ninety-five guests knocked back twelve cases of California wine and three cases of California sparkling wine. A great event. We raised $45,000 for A Place of Rescue in Cambodia – we’re building a dormitory and seeing ten students through three years of university.

Friday, May 11: Spent the day cleaning up details from last night’s event. Someone left two bottles of Turley Zinfandel unclaimed and a woman left a Gap bag with some purchases.

Dinner, tilapia with a bottle of Joie Farm Pinot Blanc 2011. This is without doubt the best Pinot Blanc I’ve tasted from BC this vintage. Rich peachy flavour, beautifully balanced.

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