A Wine Lover’s Diary, part 398: I4C Winemakers’ Dinner

Monday, June 11: Today seemed to slip away in a welter of phone calls and emails. Wrote my 680News wine reviews.

Tuesday, June 12: Went into 680News to record and to voice an ad for Acura. My last five cars have been Acuras. Wrote my monthly column for On the Go magazine on white wines for summer drinking.

Wednesday, June 13: An appointment with my doctor to see if anything can be done about my leg, which still hurts from the hairline fracture of the ankle and Maisonneuve fracture of the tibia (which activated an old knee injury). He’s sending me back to the bone specialist. Then he asked me for my advice on the best reds to buy on a gift card a patient had given him.

Thursday, June 14: My daughter Annabel and her husband Ian arrived this morning from Vancouver and are staying in the guest suite downstairs. Annabel is in training for Iron Man in Penticton in August. Deborah and I will be going out to the Okanagan to cheer her on.

Lunch at grano with Brett Wells, who is looking to get into the wine business. Dinner at Didier – the first ever I4C winemaker’s dinner, featuring three Ontario winemakers’ Chardonnays matched with off-shore cool climate Chardonnays.

The evening began with a glass of Blue Mountain Blanc de Blancs 2006 served with a variety of hors d’oeuvres. Norm Hardie led off with his Norman Hardie County Chardonnay 2010 (“The best I’ve ever made,” he said) which was matched with Ataraxia Chardonnay 2009 from South Africa. This was served with smoked salmon, haddock, boiled egg and fingerling potato with a curry note.

Next up to bat, Thomas Bachelder who, in introducing his Bachelder Chardonnay 2009, said, talking about cool climate Chardonnay, “Listen to the glass.” He also introduced Laroche Chablis Les Vaillons 2007.

The assistant winemaker at Pearl Morrissette introduced Pearl Morrissette Chardonnay 2009 for the chicken breast in creamy mushroom sauce, along with Fred Loimer Schell Mann Gumpold Chardonnay Reserve 2008 from Austria.

The Ontario wines showed very well but the star was a bottle Thomas Bachelder brought along – Joseph Drouhin Meursault 2008. When the French get it right there’s no touching them.

Friday, June 15: A Vintages tasting this morning. I was on my third wine when the fire alarm went off and everyone had to evacuate the building. Turned out to be a drill. They wouldn’t let us “rescue” a bottle of wine.

In the evening took Annabel and Ian, Guy and Deborah to dinner at Debu, the nouvelle Indian restaurant on Mount Pleasant. They seated us at a table for four and the wait for food was interminable. But it was good when it finally arrived. Went for a drink after dinner at Aristotle McGregor’s pub across the road. Big mistake. Guy ordered a double Jameson’s. They asked him if he wanted a shot because there was only a single measure left in the bottle. Moved on to The Longest Yard.

Saturday, June 16: Did some tasting this afternoon to get through the accumulating samples.

  • Inniskillin Barrel Aged Pinot Gris 2010 (Niagara): light straw colour; peach pit nose with a touch of oak; lightly spiced peach flavour, nicely balanced with refreshing acidity and good length. (88)
  • Bartier Scholefield Okanagan White Table Wine 2010 (a blend of Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc from Oliver): straw colour; minerally, earthy apple nose; medium-bodied, dry, crab apple flavour, tart acidity with a lemony, cheek-puckering finish. (87)
  • Trapiche Broquel Chardonnay 2010 (Mendoza, Argentina): medium straw colour; buttered popcorn nose; medium-bodied, spicy oak and pineapple flavours with lively acidity; deftly oaked with a mouth-freshening finish. Good value at $13.95.
  • Closson Chase The Loyalist Chardonnay 2010 (Prince Edward County): unfiltered – deep straw colour; intense, spicy nose, richly oaked; full on the palate with orange and pineapple flavours backed by vanilla oak; creamy mid palate, soft but persistent. (91)
  • Closson Chase South Clos Vineyard 2010 (Prince Edward County): unfiltered – deep straw colour; undergrowth, spicy oak, baked apple nose; soft on the palate, almost velvety, poised and elegant with peach-melon flavours – a seamless wine. (90)
  • Closson Chase Vineyard Chardonnay 2010 (Prince Edward County): unfiltered – deep straw colour; very Burgundian on the nose – undergrowth, spicy oak, apple nuances; spicy and pure flavours of apple and melon, beautifully balanced and seamless. Great length. (92)
  • Obikwa Shiraz 2011 (South Africa): deep ruby colour; smoky nose of charred oak, black fruits; medium-bodied, sweet and fruity with enough tannin to give it interest; smoky, toasty finish. Good value at $9.95. (86)
  • Graffigna Centenario Malbec Reserve 2010 (San Juan, Argentina): deep ruby colour; smoky, cedar, plummy nose; spicy, inky, currant flavour; soft on the palate belying its 14.5% alcohol. (87)
  • Graffigna Centenario Shiraz Reserve 2010 (San Juan, Argentina): deep ruby-purple colour; spicy, fruit cake nose; soft mouth feel, blackberry flavour with a firm tannic finish. (87+)
  • Errazuriz Syrah Max Reserva 2010 (Aconcagua Valley, Chile): dense purple colour; herbal, blackberry nose with a touch of pepper; well extracted black fruit flavours tempered by vanilla oak; firm finish with a savoury black olive note. Well made. (88+)
  • BBQ Barbera 2009 (Piemonte): ruby colour; minerally, cherry nose; light and fruity, sour cherry flavour with a dry finish. Not enough extract to stand up to BBQ meats. (85)
  • Sandbanks Estate Winery Foch Reserve 2008 (Prince Edward County): deep purple ruby colour; funky, smoky, blackberry nose; dry, medium-bodied, savoury with soft tannins. Easy drinking. (87)
  • Cidrerie St-Nicolas Pom’Or Tradition Crackling Cider: I don’t normally review cider but this company makes some delicious products that reminded me of my time in England, drinking cider from Devon. This product is really dry with a refreshing sparkle and an intense apple flavour. (87)
  • Cidrerie St-Nicolas Brut: This cider has more weight and – surprisingly – more elegance with 8.5% alcohol (as opposed to 7% for Pom’Or). Lovely balance of dry apple extract with bubbles. (89)

Sunday, June 17: Father’s Day. Guy took me to the Jays game. A very satisfying 6–2 win for the home team over Philadelphia. Sheila Swerling-Puritt came to dinner. We started with a bottle of Erraruriz Don Max Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2011 (intense passion fruit and mango nose; richly flavoured with grassy, tropical fruit notes – 89). I found a bottle of Robert Mondavi Pinot Noir 1999 in the cellar but unfortunately it was decrepit with pruney flavours; so we put it aside and enjoyed with the roast beef a bottle of Long Shadows Vintners Pedestal Merlot 2007 from the Columbia Valley (richly extracted blueberry and currant flavours, beautifully balanced , spicy and succulent – 92).

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