Monday, August 13: Spent most of the day on Grapes for Humanity business. A meeting with Todd Halpern to discuss the best way to get the white truffles we need for the dinner in November. We’re serving Ceretto Barbaresco Bernadot 2007 and Antinori Cervaro della Sala 2009 amongst other wines and Halpern imports them.
At 5 pm down to Soho House for a meeting with Doris Miclun Bradley and Jimson Bienenstock to discuss another fund-raiser following last March’s RAW! The Great Toronto Tartare-Off. Next March it will be BAAA! The Great Toronto Lamb-Off.
Tuesday, August 14: Spent the morning evaluating a private cellar. Then down to Canoe for a blind tasting of Benjamin Bridge sparkling wines from Nova Scotia against Roederer Cristal 2004 and a grower’s champagne, David Léclapart L’Apôtre Blanc de Blanc 2005. I preferred the Benjamin Bridge Reserve 2004.
Peter Gamble, who consults to Benjamin Bridge, owns a small winery with his partner Ann Sperling in Argentina’s Mendoza Valley called Versado. He brought along two vintages of Versado Malbec. The property is 8 hectares, three of which are planted to Malbec (going back to 1920) with a little Tempranillo.
- Versado Estate Old Vine Malbec 2010: deep ruby colour; vanilla oak, floral, blackberry on the nose; lively acidity, dry, savoury, black olive, tarry flavours with a herbal finish. A very impressive debut. (90)
- Versado Estate Malbec Reserva 2009: deep ruby, denser than 2010; spicy, tobacco, blackberry and lead pencil nose; creamy, rich and spicy, blackberry flavours on the palate; beautifully integrated oak. A stunning wine. (93)
Wednesday, August 15: Received the contract for a new wine book I’m writing. I’m doing the text for a book of photographs by Jean-François Bergeron of Canada’s leading wineries. We’ve chosen 60 across the country. Wrote my column for Tidings magazine based on yesterday’s tasting at Canoe; then wrote a piece for Winefox on matching wine and cheese. In the evening before dinner tasted the following wines:
- Paul Mas Estate Cabernet Sauvignon – Merlot Nicole Vineyard 2010 (Pays d’Oc – $14.95): deep ruby colour; smoky, woodsy, wild berry nose; medium-bodied, with a sweetness at the core; jammy blueberry flavour with enough tannin to give the wine structure. Quite high in alcohol. (87)
- Zonnebloem Wines Place In The Sun Shiraz 2010 (Stellenbosch): deep ruby colour; tarry, herbal nose; mouth-filling, blackberry, iodine and smoke flavours; fruity and savoury. (86)
- Bommarito Cabernet Sauvignon 20101 (Napa Valley – $24.95): dense ruby colour; spicy, oaky nose with a resiny note; creamy, sweet fruit, black cherry and blueberry flavours with an overlay of vanilla oak. (87)
- Cambria Julia’s Vineyard Pinot Noir 2009 (Santa Maria Valley – $29.95, coming September): ruby colour; earthy cherry nose; spicy, sweet fruit, full-bodied, soft and warm in the mouth (14.5% alcohol). Ripe tannins and firmly structured. (88)
- Chateau St. Jean Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (California – $19.95): not as rich as the 20009; deep ruby colour; cedar, red berry nose; medium-bodied, dry, redcurrant and red berry flavours; firm tannic structure with a coffee bean note on the finish. Restrained, almost claret-like but that California lick of sweetness in mid-palate speaks to New World winemaking. (87)
- JP Azeito Tinto 2010 (Peninsula de Setúbal – $8.95) (70% Castelão, 20% Aragonez, 10% Syrah): deep ruby colour; leather, plum nose; medium-bodied, dry, strawberry flavour, well structured, lively acidity with a firm finish and a tannic bite. Good value. (86)
- Calliope Rosé 2011 (BC) (Syrah and Viognier): pale pink with a blue tint; watermelon with a honeysuckle note; medium-bodied, off-dry, strawberry with a nutty note on the finish. (87)
- Banrock Station Pink Moscato 2011 (South Australia – $10.95): eye of the partridge colour; cola, strawberry; off-dry, honeydew melon and orange flavours with light spritz. Soft on the palate, easy drinking. (87)
- Movendo Moscato (Sicily – $12.95): pale straw colour; banana, citrus nose; spritzy, sweet , soft and grapey with some bound in sulphur. (85)
- Woodbridge Moscato 2011 (California – $10.95): very pale in colour; grapefruit, honeysuckle nose; sweet, spicy with a light spritz, a note of Turkish Delight – rose water and cardamom flavours. Well made. (87+)
- Redtree Moscato 2011 (California – $11.95): very pale colour; spicy, perfumed, orange and melon nose; sweet, exotic, intense perfumed, cardamom flavour, full on the mouth for its 9% alcohol. (87)
- Winebow Clean Slate Riesling 2011 (Mosel – $12.95): pale straw with a green tint; minerally, citrus; light to medium-bodied, off-dry grapefruit and honey flavours. (86)
For dinner, the remains of the Indian dinner we had last night with a bottle of Black Hills Viognier 2010 (pale straw colour; a nose of honeysuckle and white peach; medium-bodied, dry and elegant with white peach and citrus flavours (90)).
Thursday, August 16: Wrote up a proposal for a corporate tasting, a seminar on how to match wine and food and negotiate a restaurant wine list. Input tasting notes for September’s Vintages’ release and in the afternoon tasted the following wines:
- Alianca Vinho Verde 2011: ($8.95) almost water white in colour; minerally, stony, citrus peel nose; spritzy, light on the palate, crisply dry with a lemony finish. (86)
- Flat Roof Manor Pinot Grigio 2011 (South Africa – $11.25) very pale, almost water white; minerally, herbaceous, citrus nose; citrus and peach flavours, good fruit concentration. (87)
- Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (Marlborough – $16.95): very pale with a slight lime tint; grassy, gooseberry nose; tart, gooseberry and grapefruit flavours, mouth-freshening acidity, medium-bodied, good length. (88)
- Jacob’s Creek Reserve Chardonnay 2011 (Adelaide Hills – $14.95): pale lemon colour; buttery, apple with vanilla oak; medium-bodied, dry, crab apple and lemon flavours; fresh and lively on the palate. (87)
- Chateau St. Jean Chardonnay 2010 (Sonoma County – $18.95): light straw colour; apple, spicy oak; medium to full-bodied, dry, mouth-filling, caramel and citrus flavours, good length. Well integrated oak. (89)
- Jacob’s Creek Moscato 2011 (Australia – $10.95): very pale; orange, honeysucklenose; spritzy, honey, orange; light on the palate. Easy drinking. (87)
- Cellar Hand Free Run White 2011 (Okanagan – $16): a blend of Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Viognier, Chardonnay, Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc – very pale; aromatic, apple and peach notes; ripe stone fruit flavours with citrus acidity; good length. (88)
- Black Hills Alibi 2011 (Oliver, BC): 75% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Semillon – very pale colour; grassy, grapefruit, green plum; lovely mouth feel, dry, elegant, well balanced, citrus and plum flavours. (89)
- Strewn Cabernet Rosé 2011 (Niagara Peninsula): orange-pink colour; high toned, strawberry and citrus; thick on the palate, strawberry and orange flavours. Touch of volatility here. (86)
- Emperors Nero d’Avola 2011 (Sicily – $15.95): deep ruby colour; earthy, smoky, plum nose; fruity, raspberry and plum flavours with lively acidity. (87)
For dinner, spaghetti with shrimp in a cream tarragon sauce with the remainder of the Black Hills Alibi 2011. Delicious.
Friday, August 17: Our anniversary. Up at 1:45 am to walk Pinot the Wonderdog and couldn’t sleep the rest of the night. Finally got up at 5 am and started work. My mind was turning over all the details of our trip to BC tomorrow, not only to do research for the new book but also to watch my daughter Annabel compete in Iron Man in Penticton. Annabel has seen my schedule of winery visits and has Facebooked: “Iron palate tour. Forget my little race! You’ve got quite the week ahead!”
Nearly falling asleep over my laptop as I try to tidy up loose ends before leaving tomorrow – cancelling papers, phone message, suggesting new wines for Windows by Jamie Kennedy, more inputting. Deborah is driving Pinot the Wonderdog to Innisfil, where she will spend ten days in the country with our dog walker.
Dinner tonight at Cava. Taking along a bottle of Domaine Laroche Chablis Grand Cru Les Blanchots 2009 and Fromm Syrah La Strada 2009 from New Zealand. Geddy Lee and his wife Nancy came in and we sent them over two glasses of the Chablis. Geddy responded with two glasses of Vega Sicilia 1997.