A Wine Lover’s Diary, part 406: My Olympian Week

Monday, August 6: Went to Princess Margaret Hospital for a blood test. As it was a holiday there was no-one there, no waiting, in and out in seven minutes.

A meeting with Adrienne Rosen of Access Education Guatemala Children’s Fund to discuss Grapes for Humanity’s possible funding for the construction of a school in La Union. Then I tasted these wines:

  • Niagara College Dean’s List Chardonnay 2011: Burgundian style – lemon yellow colour with a nose of spicy pineapple, underbrush and smoke; medium to full-bodied with ripe fruit flavours of pineapple and orange backed by toasty oak and finishing with lemony acidity. If you like oaked Chardonnay subjected to lees stirring you’ll enjoy this one. (90)
  • The Good Earth The Good Wine Rosé 2011 (Ontario): deep pink; strawberry and watermelon nose; light and fresh on the palate, dry, strawberry flavour with a touch of sweetness in mid palate and a lively acidic finish. (88)
  • The Good Earth The Good Wine Betty’s Blend 2011 (Ontario – 50% Chardonnay, 25% Riesling, 25% Sauvignon Blanc): very pale lime colour; a nose of grapefruit. Lime and apple; medium-bodied, crisp grapefruit and kiwi flavours. (87)

Tuesday, August 7: Somehow the day got away from me (maybe because I was watching the Olympics and had to pick up the car from the dealer after its service).

For dinner, smoked meat with broccoli and Smoking Loon Zinfandel 2009 (deep ruby colour; smoky plum and blackcurrant flavours with vanilla oak and a floral note on the nose; creamy, sweet plummy fruit with a firm tannic finish – 89).

Wednesday, August 8: Recorded my 680News wine reviews and wrote wine reviews for County Grapevine Magazine. In the evening I tasted the following wines:

  • Gazela Vinho Verde 2011: very pale, almost water white; stony, peachy nose with a light floral note; immediate impression of spritz, light on the palate with tart lemony flavour and a zesty finish. (86)
  • The Good Earth The Good Wine Sauvignon Blanc 2011: very pale colour; herbaceous, sulphur note on the nose; south mouth feel, not a lot of Sauvignon character, sweet and sour flavours. (85)
  • Viña Maipo Vitral Chardonnay Reserva 2011: medium straw with a green tint; leesy, smoky, buttery, apple; thick and unctuous on the palate, full-bodied with sweet tropical fruit flavours and overarching acidity. (87)
  • Chateau St. Jean Fumé Blanc 2010: pale straw with a lime tint; first impression of oak, pear, apple and a light floral note on the nose; medium-bodied, sweet fruit balanced by lemony acidity. Definitely a warm-weather Sauvignon. (88)
  • La Casona de Castaño Old Vines Monastrell 2011 (Yecla): deep purple colour; spicy, black cherry, pipe tobacco nose; full-bodied, richly extracted, perfumed blackberry, mouth-filling. Great value at $8.90. (88)
  • Familia Canstaño Hécula Monastrell 2009: deep ruby colour; savoury, herbal nose, reminiscent of a Côtes du Rhône; dry, elegant, inky, black raspberry flavour; full-bodied, licorice and black raspberry flavour; warm alcoholic finish. Powerful. (89)

Thursday, August 9: Apart from walking Pinot The Wonderdog three times I spent the whole day working on Nightmare in Napa. A very productive session – 2500 words. Am about two-thirds of the way through and can’t wait to see how it ends. Actually, I know but the plot has been changing as I go along. Broke off at 6 pm to taste the following wines:

  • Baron Philippe de Rothschild Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (Pays d’Oc): deep ruby colour; redcurrant and plum nose; dry, light-bodied, fruity and fresh, pure red berry flavours with enough acidity and tannin to give it interest. Good value at $11.10. (86)
  • Mezzo Mondo Negroamaro Salento 2010 (Puglia): deep ruby colour; minerally, tobacco leaf and red berry nose; medium-bodied, spicy, raspberry flavour with evident acidity and firm tannins on the finish. Good value at $7.95. (86)
  • Hardy Twice Lost Shiraz Rosé 2011 (South Australia): deep pink with an orange note; raspberry nose with an earthy note; medium-bodied, sweetish red berry flavours, soft and round on the palate with a tangerine flavour on the finish. (86)
  • Ruffino Orvieto Classico 2011 (Umbria): very pale colour, almost water white; minerally, pear skin nose; medium-bodied, slight spritz, thick on the palate with a touch of sweetness, pear flavour. (86+)
  • Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (Marlborough): very pale colour, almost water white; sweet grass, passion fruit nose; medium-bodied, more restrained than previous vintages; crisply dry with gooseberry, green bean and passion fruit flavours. (88)
  • Toasted Head Barrel Aged Chardonnay 2011 (California): quite pale in colour for a barrel-fermented wine – a shade of light straw; spicy, oaky tropical fruit nose; sweetish fruit with coconut notes (American oak?); full on the palate but well balanced. (87)
  • Fish Hoek Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (South Africa): white straw colour; grassy, green bean, green fig nose; starts of sweetish with flavours of gooseberry and grass and finishes crisply dry. Good value at $9.95. (87)
  • Baron Philippe de Rothschild Viognier 2011 (Pays d’Oc): light straw colour; light floral nose with peach pit aromas; varietal lite but engaging for the price ($11.10); white peach and citrus flavours. (87)
  • Mouton Cadet Reserve Graves 2009 (Bordeaux): pale straw colour; grassy, green plum nose; dry, medium-bodied, crisp and lively on the palate with a gooseberry note. Well made. Good value at $14.95. (88)

For dinner, BBQ hamburgers with Mirassou Pinot Noir 2011 (dense ruby colour; a nose of cedar, raspberry jam; spicy, sweet flavour, soft on the palate; not a lot of structure, but easy drinking. Medium-bodied – 87).

Friday, August 10: A Vintages release tasting today – 139 wines were put out, plus ten wine on General list. I can only ascribe it to the LCBO’s revenge on wine writers. Came home and fell asleep on the sofa watching the Olympics.

Saturday, August 11: Spent the day preparing for a dinner party for two couples who share the same anniversary as Deborah and I. Every year we alternate hosts. We are preparing ceviche to start, flank steak, corn salsa and fingering potatoes, cheeses and lemon pie. The wines: Lanson Champage Brut 1999 and Château des Charmes Sparking Rosé 2008 with edamame, grilled sausage and red pepper dip. With the salmon ceviche, Thirty Bench Small Lot Riesling Triangle Vineyard 2008 and Sperling Vineyards Old Vines Riesling 2009 from B.C. With the flank steak – Golan Heights Winery Yarden Syrah 2004 (the hit of the night). With the cheese – Arrowood Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 (also delicious, at its zenith).

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