Wednesday, August 1: Slept late because I didn’t get home from the airport till 5:30 am. Pinot the Wonderdog gave me a rapturous greeting and went back to sleep. A day of catching up on emails and finishing an article to deadline.
Thursday, August 2: A tasting for winerytohome.com at Doug Towers’ house with David Lawrason. My son Guy came over for dinner and showed us his photos of his two-week road trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco to Sonoma and back to LA. He brought me a bottle of Donum Pinot Noir West Slope 2009 and I promised to open it with him. While I barbecued veal chops we drank a bottle of Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (pale straw colour with a nose of guava and cut grass; zesty gooseberry and lime flavours with mouth-freshening acidity – 89) and served Black Hills Carmenere 2010 with the chops, corn and wheat berries. Black Hills was the first to plant Carmenere in Canada and their wine has become something of an icon in BC. The nose is very expressive – cedar, currants and plums; very round on the palate with rich blueberry and chocolate flavours wrapped in vanilla oak (90).
Friday, August 3: Wrote my Post City Magazines column and then took the subway downtown to have lunch at Biagio’s with Pedro Costa, Wine Educator for Aveleda. Pedro is a trained enologist and viticulturalist whom I met in Portugal in July, 2011. He had brought along three of his white wines. Aveleda has a 20% market share worldwide for Vinho Verde.
- Aveleda Vinho Verde 2011 (a blend of Loureiro, Trajadura and Arinto): pale straw colour with a greenish tint; minerally, lemony nose; light on the palate with a faint spritz; green apple flavour with mouth-puckering acidity to balance the mid-palate sweetness (86). Great value at $8.95.
- Quinta da Aveleda Loureiro Alvarinho 2011: very pale colur with a lime tint; minerally, spring flowers, lemon peel and white peach on the nose; dry, elegant, grassy-herbal and citrus flavours; light and crisply dry with a light spritz (88). Great value at $9.95.
- Aveleda Alvarinho 2011: pale lime colour; minerally, floral, white peach nose; light and elegant with a lovely mouth feel; dry and lingering. More delicate and lighter in style than the Albariño of the Rias Baixas in neighbouring Spain (89).
With these wines I ordered seafood risotto and grilled salmon with a sauce made with Vinho Verde. For dinner with shrimp in a cream sauce on a bed of rice, Sandhill Chardonnay 2010 (rich and mouth-filling, creamy texture with vibrant flavours of pineapple and mango with a strong spine of acidity – 90).
Saturday, August 4: A blisteringly hot day. Walked Pinot in the park. Took Guy to lunch at the Cente Street Deli for a smoked meat sandwich (hand cut – it really makes a difference!) and then watched the Olympics. Canada got our first gold medal – in trampoline. If they made wine tasting an Olympic sport I’d think of entering. God knows, I train enough.
Took Deborah out to dinner at Simple Bistro, a short walk down Mount Pleasant. I brought along a bottle of Black Hills Nota Bene 2010. I ordered oysters to start with a glass of the restaurant’s Simple White – I think it came from Portugal. I wish restaurants would pour wines by the glass at the table so you can see what you’re getting and how much is in the bottle to start with. It makes so much sense to pour at the table because it can suggest to neighbouring tables that they should be drinking wine. I have come to a point in my life when I don’t really trust people who don’t like wine.
The Black Hills Nota Bene 2010 (57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc) had to spend some time on ice because of the heat. I ordered steak frites and the wine was just perfect. I’m a great fan of Nota Bene and this vintage is a real triumph. Deep ruby in colour with a spicy nose of blackcurrant, tobacco, smoke with a floral grace note. It’s mouth-filling and lush on the palate with sweet fruit and lively acidity. Beautifully balanced and long on finish (92). Gave the chef a glass and he presented us with complimentary desserts. When we finished the rain was bucketing down so we took a taxi the kilometre home.