A Wine Lover’s Diary, part 420: Divine Vintage

Monday, November 19: A winerytohome.com tasting with David Lawrason and Doug Towers at Doug’s house. Worked on the wine book in the afternoon. For dinner, lamb chops with Moon Curser Border Vines 2009 (a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carmenère, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc – great depth of flavour here, beautifully balanced, spicy blackcurrant, black cherry and blueberry, judiciously oaked – 90).

Tuesday, November 20: Spent the day working on the BC winery profiles for the book. At 4:30 pm down to L’Avenue Bistro on Bayview to film a sequence for Wine Wire TV – tasting Hospices de Beaune Cuvée Nicolas Rolin 2008, a wine the importing agent Rolando Maya of Argentum had purchased in barrel at the Hospices de Beaune auction in November 2008. It was raised and bottled by David Butterfield in Beaune. (Watch it at www.winewire.ca/winewiretv/video_blogs/episode-16-checking-in-to-the-hospices-de-beaune-with-tony-aspler.) My notes on the wine: lovely ruby colour; raspberry and minerals on the nose; velvety mouth feel, beautifully balanced, elegant but powerful. A fabulous Beaune (92).

Hospices de Beaune 2008
Hospices de Beaune 2008

My friend Joel Butler MW, whom I first met on a trip to Australia in 1986, is in town to promote his new book, “Divine Vintage: Following the wine trail from Genesis to the modern Age,” which he wrote with Biblical scholar Randall Heskett. Joel, Randall and his wife Kim and their friend Anne came to dinner. Gave them all a crash course in Ontario wine following a welcoming glass of Cattier Champagne Brut (the best bargain in champagne at the LCBO), which we served with smoked salmon. Started with Hidden Bench Riesling 2011 and Rennie Estate Chardonnay Heron Pond Benchland Vineyard 2010 with the green mango salad. With the barbecued pork, Le Clos Jordanne Claystone Terrace Pinot Noir 2006 and Hidden Bench Terroir Caché Meritage 2007; and with the cheeses, Stratus Merlot 2002. For dessert, G. Marquis The Silver Line Vidal Icewine 2009 and Château des Charmes Riesling Icewine 2004. I think they got the message that Ontario is making very fine wines.

Wednesday, November 21: Another day of writing profiles of BC wineries. As a self-reward I opened a bottle of St. Hubertus Dry Riesling 2010 (straw colour; honeyed, spicy nose of lime and grapefruit, flavours that repeat on the palate with a floral note (89)). Later, went over to Guy’s condo to help him write his speech for a wedding he has to emcee in December. We ordered pizza and I brought over a bottle of Castello di Nieve Barbaresco 2009 (ruby colour; a nose of dried cherries and earth with floral and mineral notes; medium-bodied, dry, elegant with a lovely mouth feel and a tannic lift on the finish. I’d like to try it in 3–5 years’ time (89+).

Thursday, November 22: More BC winery profiles written. Went to Joel Butler and Randall Heskett’s book launch at The School of Theology, St. Michaels College, where Randall studied for his PhD. With a slide show as a backdrop they spoke about the origins of wine from the time of Moses. According to the bible, the first thing Moses did when he beached the ark on Mt. Ararat was to plant a vineyard. If wine was his priority he must have had a decent cellar on the ark. Otherwise, how would he have survived the voyage with all those animals on board?

Joel Butler MW and Randall Heskett with Divine Vintage
Joel Butler MW and Randall Heskett with Divine Vintage

For dinner Deborah cooked tilapia and I opened a bottle of Domaine Laroche Chablis St. Martin 2011 (straw colour with a nose of white flowers and green apples; fresh and lively on the palate, medium-bodied, with a lemony, minerally, green apple flavour and good mid-palate fruit. Well priced and a versatile food wine with a long lemony finish (89)).

Friday, November 23: A Wine Writers Circle tasting this morning of 56 sparkling wines plus ports and sherries – some 92 products in all, although I did not taste them all. My favourite sparkling wine was Pol Roger Brut Extra Cuvée de Reserve, at 92 points, one ahead of Tarlant Zero Brut Natur.

Top-scoring sparkler
Top-scoring sparkler

Had a late lunch with Doug Birrell from Canadian Niagara Hotels at Café Buloud. Spent the rest of the day working on the wine book. For dinner, Deborah made pasta and I opened a bottle of Burrowing Owl Cabernet Sauvingon 2009 (dense purple colour; creamy oak and blackcurrant nose. Very California in style with an oak-dominated palate (88)).

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