Sunday, September 23: Down to the Fine Wine Reserve for 1 pm for a tasting of wines from the Henriot portfolio, conducted by Luc Bouchard.
- Henriot Champagne Brut (50% Pinot Noir, 45% Chardonnay, 5% Pinot Meunier): toasty, lemony, green apple nose; crisp and lively on the palate. (91)
- Villa Ponciago Fleurie La Réserve 2010 (30% barrel aging): ruby-crimson colour; earthy, cherry nose; medium-bodied, dry, sour cherry flavour, fruity with well extracted mid palate fruit and good acidity. (89)
- Villa Ponciago Fleurie Haut de Py 2010: deep ruby; minerally, floral, black cherry nose; great balance with a firm finish. A very tasty Fleurie. (90)
- Bouchard Père & Fils Côte de Beaune Villages 2010: ruby colour; minerally, raspberry nose; light and elegant; nicely integrated oak, lively on the palate with a firm finish. (89)
- Bouchard Père & Fils Beaune du Château 2010: ruby colour; minerally, pencil lead nose with a smoky touch of oak; ripe, sweet black raspberry flavour with a note of violets; firm finish. (90)
- Bouchard Père & Fils Vigne de l’Enfant Jésus 2009: ruby colour; blackcurrant and raspberry, spicy oak nose; very elegant and firm; lovely mouth feel and beautifully balanced wine. Elegant but powerful. (93)
- William Fèvre Champs Royaux Chablis 2011: pale straw colour; chalky, citrus, green apple; note of fennel, crisp green apple. A touch hard on the finish. (87)
- William Fèvre Chablis Vaillons 2010: bright, light straw colour; minerally, citrus, wet stones on the nose; medium-bodied, dry and crisp, lemony, green apple flavour; firmly structured with good mid-palate richness. (90)
- William Fèvre Chablis Bougros 2009: pale straw colour; minerally nose developing a barnyard note; apple, caramel and citrus flavours; rich middle palate fruit (baked apple and citrus). Unusual for Bougros, speaks to the warm vintage. (88)
- Bouchard Père & Fils Mâcon-Lugny Saint-Pierre 2010: straw colour; fennel, peanut and apple notes on the nose; crisp yellow apple flavour, medium-bodied with good length. Good value. (87)
- Bouchard Père & Fils Pouilly-Fuissé 2010: straw colour; minerally, apple and pear nose; medium-bodied, good fruit extraction, crisp on the palate with a firm finish. (88)
- Bouchard Père & Fils Beaune Clos St. Landry 2010: straw colour; white flowers, apple, spicy oak; medium-bodied, very elegant, dry. A perfectly balanced and seamless. (93)
- Bouchard Père & Fils Beaune Meursault-Genevières 2009: pale straw colur; minerally, struck flint, vanilla oak nose; medium-bodied, apple and green pineapple flavour, rich mid palate and full in the mouth. (92)
Monday, September 24: Worked on the wine book. Then in the afternoon did some tasting:
- Gilles Louvet O Pinot Noir 2010 (Pays d’Oc – $13.95): solid ruby colour; dried cherries on the nose with a suggestion of oak; dry and savoury, short middle palate with a sour cherry finish and a touch of bitterness. (87)
- Inniskillin Niagara Estate Pinot Noir 2011 (Ontario – $15.95): ruby colour; earthy, minerally, red berry nose; dry, medium-bodied, sour cherry flavour, firmly structured with ripe tannins. (88)
- Inniskillin Niagara Estate Merlot 2010 (Ontario – $15.95): deep ruby colour; cedar, blueberry nose; sweet ripe fruit nicely balanced with oak, plum and blueberry flavours with a touch of tannin to give structure. (89)
- Mouton Cadet 2010 (Bordeaux – $14.95): deep ruby colour; cedar and currants on the nose; medium-bodied, dry, blackcurrant and red berry flavours; good mouth feel with a tannic lift on the finish. (88)
- Cantine Rondo Gladiator Primitivo di Manduria 2010 (Puglia, Italy – $16.95): deep ruby colour; spicy plum and leather nose; sweet plummy, raisiny fruit, jammy, full-bodied, easy drinking with a lick of tannin on the finish. (88)
- Manu Pinot Grigio 2010 (Marlborough – $14.95): pale straw with a hint of pink; peachy, melon nose; richly flavoured with good middle fruit; full in the mouth with balancing acidity, a floral note and satisfying length. (89)
- Inniskillin Niagara Estate Unoaked Chardonnay 2011 (Ontario – $12.95): straw coloured; leesy, apple and pear nose; sweet apple flavour, easy drinking with a nutty note on the finish. Good value. (88)
- Southbrook Triomphe Chardonnay 2010 (Niagara – $21.95): straw colour; rich, caramel and apple nose; full on the palate with sweet and spicy candy apple flavours, rescued from fatness by a lively strain of acidity. Quite forward. Drink now. (89)
- Peller Estates Private Reserve Muscat 2011 (Ontario – $14.95): pale straw; aromatic, orange blossom, cardamom; dry and perfumed, grapey with spicy orange flavour, light to medium-bodied. (88)
- Huff Estates Sculpture Series Riesling Reserve 2011 (Prince Edward County – $21.95): golden straw colour; minerally, lime, grapefruit and honey on the nose; lovely tension between sweet grapefruit, honey, white pepper and lively citrus acidity. (90)
- Huff Estates Riesling Off-Dry 2011 (Prince Edward County – $17.95): golden straw colour; minerally, grapefruit skin; off-dry, grapefruit and white peach flavours with a touch of spice and a light spritz. (89)
- Inniskillin Niagara Estate Late Autumn Riesling 2011 (Ontario – $12.95): pale straw with a lime tint; minerally, grapefruit nose; off-dry, honey and grapefruit flavours. Nicely balanced with good length. (88)
Tuesday, September 25: Received a copy of Divine Vintage: Following the wine trail from Genesis to the Modern Age by Joel Butler & Randall Heskett. Read the first chapter about Noah being the first to plant a vineyard. I first met Joel Butler (he and Tim Hanni were the first Americans to become MWs) on a trip to Australia some 25 years ago. I subsequently served with him on the board of Master of Wine (North America). On that Australian trip we had a frightening plane experience flying in a small craft from Adelaide to Piccadilly in the Adelaide Hills. The up and down draughts were so violent we thought the wings would break off the plane. Luggage was flying around the cabin. Joel refused to fly back to Adelaide and rented a car instead…
Worked on winery profiles for the BC section of the wine book and then at 4 pm went down to Canoe for a tasting of Painted Rock wines with the proprietor, John Skinner.
- Painted Rock Chardonnay 2011 ($30): straw colour; a nose of rhubarb and pineapple with spicy oak; beautifully balanced, lovely mouth feel; crisp citrus fruit flavour with well integrated oak. (91)
- Painted Rock Merlot 2009 (3% Malbec – $40): deep ruby-purple colour; a nose of vanilla oak, pencil lead and black cherry; well extracted fruit, firm structure, still tight. Needs 3 -5 years. (90+)
- Painted Rock Red Icon 2009 (30% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Franc, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Petit Verdot, 1% Syrah – $55): dense purple-ruby colour; spicy blackcurrant and vanilla oak bouquet; silky mouth feel, dry, savoury with a firm finish. Very St. Emilion in style. A seamless wine. (93)
- Painted Rock Syrah2009 ($40): dense purple-ruby colour; a nose of white pepper and blackberry; plush and velvety on the palate, medium-bodied Northern Rhône style, dry and savoury, black fruit flavours with a bitter chocolate finish. (92)
An email from my friend and colleague Gordon Stimmell inviting me to a celebration on Sunday. After 44 years he and his wife Carole have become Canadian citizens. Unfortunately, I shall be away in Spain but will raise a glass in their direction.
Took Deborah to dinner at Amaya Bread Box for dinner. I wanted a Vindaloo curry as I fear I am getting a cold. Curry makes me feel better when I am under the weather. Had to send back two glasses of red wine because they were totally oxidized. Must remember to ask for a fresh bottle when I order by the glass.
Wednesday, September 26: Woke up at 5 am with my head full of things I have to do before I leave for a food and wine symposium in Barcelona on Friday. Finished my wine reviews for the Vintages October 13th release, wrote my Wines of the Week reviews, booked a dental appointment, and sundry other odds and ends before sitting down to more tasting.
- Gabbiano Pinot Grigio 2011 (Northern Italy – $12.95): light straw colour; minerally, pear skin nose; dry, medium-bodied, pear and quince flavours, short finish. (86)
- Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery Ogopogo’s Lair Pinot Grigio (Okanagan Valley – $13 approx.): straw colour; minerally, apple and pear nose; apple and pear flavours. Simple and easy drinking. (86)
- Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery Townsend Jack Unoaked Chardonnay 2011 (Okanagan Valley – $12.99): light straw with a greenish tint; apple with a mineral note on the nose; dry, soft and round on the palate, clean, apple flavour. (87)
- Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery Council’s Punch Bowl Sauvignon Blanc (Okanagan Valley – $12.99): light straw colour; grassy, green plum nose; distinctive varietal character, a little short but nice grapefruit and green plum flavours. (87)
- Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (Marlborough, New Zealand – $13.95): straw colour; grassy, green bean nose; sweetish, guava and passion fruit flavours ending with a lychee note; rounder and sweeter than I remember it from previous vintages. (87)
- Woodbridge Robert Mondavi White Zinfandel 2011 (California – $9.95): salmon pink; light strawberry note with a touch of minerality; off-dry, round on the palate strawberry and raspberry flavours. Easy drinking. Confected but clean and well made. (85)
- Kaiken Malbec Rosé 2011 (Argentina – $14.95): deep pink; candied raspberry nose with a struck flint note; intense, cherry flavour with a roasted note, sweet core to the fruit, a little hard on the finish. (86)
Kaiken Malbec 2010 (Argentina – $14.95): deep ruby-purple colour; chocolate, leather, plum nose; sweet blackberry and plum flavours, creamy on the palate, soft tannins with enough grip to give the wine structure. Good value. (88)
- Gabbiano Chianti Classico 2009 (Tuscany – $16.95): ruby with a mature rim; earthy, cherry with a hint of pine needles on the nose; medium-bodied, round on the palate, finishing dry and savoury with ripe tannins. (88)
- Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva 2009 (Tuscany – $21.95): deep ruby colour; cedar, cherry nose; sweet cherry flavour, mouth-filling, finishing dry and savoury with a note of ground coffee. Grainier tannins than the Chianti Classico. (90)
- Montes Limited Selection Cabernet Sauvignon Carmenère 2011 (Colchagua Valley, Chile – $14.95): deep ruby colour; earthy. Leafy, currants and coffee bean nose (the 30% Carmenère sings through); medium-bodied, smoky, sweet red and blackcurrant flavours, firmly structured with gripping tannins. (88)
- Montes Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2010 (Colchagua Valley, Chile): deep ruby colour; herbal, blackcurrant nose with vanilla oak; ripe blackcurrant fruit with coffee bean and dark chocolate nuances; soft and round on the palate with acidity that carries the fruit to a satisfying end. Give it a couple of years in the cellar. (90)
Thursday, September 27: Up early after a sleepless night (a cold) to do an interview in Burlington for CHCH’s morning show. I’m conducting tastings at fund-raiser for breast cancer at an event called “Beauty and the Bistro” on October 20th. Only half awake but the energy of the host kept me from slumping off my stool.
At 2 pm Deborah and I drove down to Niagara-on-the-Lake. I’m conducting a dinner tasting for a group of CEOs at the Charles House. We’re staying at the Harbour House, about a mile away. The menu for the evening:
2010 Hidden Bench Nuit Blanche – White Meritage
House Rolled Gnocchi
2006 Cave Spring Vineyard Riesling
72 Hour Ontario Beef Short Rib
2007 Hidden Bench Terroir Caché – Red Meritage
Crisp Skin Arctic Char
2010 Pearl Morissette Chardonnay Cuvée Dix-Neuviéme
2009 Hidden Bench Felseck Vineyard Pinot Noir
2009 Vineland Riesling Icewine
The food was terrific but I could hardly eat a thing as my cold really developed. Pleased to get to bed.
Friday, September 28: Breakfast at Hidden Bench winery. My appetite’s back. Conducted two tastings (the group was split in two – one touring the vineyards, the other tasting) with Hidden Bench’s winemaker, Marlize Byers. Tasted the following Hidden Bench wines – Riesling Estate 2010, Chardonnay Estate 2010, Pinot Noir Estate 2008 and Terroir Caché 2008. Drove back to Toronto and finished packing to fly to Barcelona for Torres’ Wine & Culinary International Forum.