A Wine Lover’s Diary, part 424: End of the World Tasting

Monday, December 17: Still recuperating from the flu but working on the wine book. No wine today but hoping tomorrow will check the condition of the palate. Wrote my 680News wine reviews.

Tuesday, December 18: After working on the Nova Scotia winery profiles for the book, I sat down to do some tasting of the mountain of samples that have arrived in the last week.

  • Château Rousseau de Sipian 2006 (Médoc Cru Bourgeois – $22.95): deep ruby colour; briary, currant nose; dry, cherry flavour with wood spice; medium-bodied, soft mouth feel with credible length and a dry, dark chocolate finish. (88)
  • François Lurton Janeil Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (Pays d’Oc – $11.95): solid ruby colour; leafy, red berry nose; sweetish and soft on the palate with a black raspberry flavour; weighty on the palate more from alcohol than fruit. Ripe tannins. (85)
  • Santa Margherita Chianti Classico 2008 (Tuscany – $19.95): deep ruby colour; earthy, cherry nose; dry, cherry flavour with herbal and cocoa notes; medium-bodied, soft on the palate. Easy drinking with sustaining acidity. (86)
  • Fontella Chianti 2010 (Tuscany – $11.95): ruby colour; dried cherries and oak wood on the nose; dry and light on the palate, firmly structured and somewhat short. Earthy, mushroom note in the flavour. (85)
  • Tommasi Poggio al Tufo Sangiovese Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (Maremma, Tuscany – $16.95): deep ruby colour; cherry, dried herbs on the nose; medium-bodied, plummy flavour with chalky tannins. (86+)
  • Castello di Bossi Chianti Classico 2009 (Tuscany – $22.95): ruby colour; spicy, herbal, cherry nose; dry, elegant, medium-bodied, nicely balanced with savoury flavours of dried cherry with a firm finish. (88)
  • Tommasi Il Sestante Valpolicella “Ripasso” 2010 (Veneto – $16.95): deep ruby colour; raisins and plums on the nose with a floral top note; sweet and savoury flavours of plum and soy; good balance of fruit and acidity with enough tannin to give the wine structure. (88)
  • Tommasi Il Sestante Amarone 2008 (Veneto – $39.95): deep ruby colour; fruitcake nose; sweet plum, vanilla oak, blackcurrant flavours; soft mouth feel, and warm on the palate. Nicely balanced with good length. (89)
  • Bacalhôa Vinhos Tinto da Anfora 2009 (Alentejo, Portugal – $11.95): deep ruby colour; spicy plum nose; perfumed, plum and cherry flavours; firmly structured, chunky on the palate. Good value. (87)
  • Mitolo Jester Shiraz 2010 (McLaren Vale, Australia – $22.95): dense ruby colour; blackberry, blackcurrant, vanilla oak with a note of mint in bouquet; rich and full on the palate with blackberry and rose petal flavour; full-bodied and ripe with soft tannins. (89+)
  • Alpha Domus The Barnstormer Syrah 2010 (Hawkes Bay, New Zealand – $22.95): dense ruby colour; peppery, blackberry, smoked meat nose; medium-bodied, dry, savoury, herbal flavours, very northern Rhône in style. Good length. (90)

Wednesday, December 19: Recorded the wine reviews at 680, concerned my voice would sound as if I was getting over the flu. But my producer Stu Hammill said it was okay.

Spent the rest of the day with Deborah preparing for tonight’s dinner party. The guests are Natasha and Roger, friends of Deborah’s from Restoration Hardware, and John and Laurie, who are driving in from Burlington and staying in the condo’s guest suite. The menu: appetizers of egg rolls and endive leaves with cream cheese or goat’s cheese and chives with Henry of Pelham Rosé Brut and Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne followed by Serra Gaucha Aurora Pinot Noir Espumante Brut. First course: I had made gravad lax on Saturday and left it weighted down in the fridge. Whipped up a mustard and sour cream sauce with chopped dill. The accompanying wine – Thirty Bench Small Lot Riesling Triangle Vineyard 2008. Main course: boeuf bourguignon with boiled potatoes and French green beans with Remoissenet Père & Fils Clos Vougeot 2007, Bouchard Père & Fils Beaune du Château 2003 and Château Rousseau de Sipian 2006. With the cheeses (6-year-old cheddar and goat’s milk camembert), Cullen Diana Madeline Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2004 from Margaret River and Grant Burge Miamba Shiraz 2010 from Barossa. Dessert: Deborah’s sticky toffee pudding with vanilla-scented mascarpone. A riotous evening.

Thursday, December 20: At 11:30 am François Morissette and Sheila came by to taste their Pearl Morissette wines. Guy and I had visited the winery in the summer.

  • Pearl Morissette Cuvée Black Ball Riesling 2010 (black ball refers to the VQA tasting panel turning it down because of lack of typicity!): old gold colour; floral, peach and lime, crisply dry; rich mouth feel, very Alsace in style, floral, peach and grapefruit flavours. A unique style for Ontario but no reason to be denied VQA appellation. (89)
  • Pearl Morissette Cuvée Dix Neuvième Chardonnay 2010: deep straw colour; vanilla oak, apple, apple blossom and spice on the nose; rich, caramel, pineapple and apple flavours; full on the palate, a seamless wine, very elegant and lingering. (92)
  • Pearl Morissette Cabernet Franc Cuvée Madeline 2010: dense ruby colour; blackcurrant with a touch of oak; lush and firm with great extract, medium-bodied with a savoury finish. Ripe but muscular tannins. (90)

François and Sheila stayed for lunch (we polished off the rest of last night’s Boeuf Bourguignon with a bottle of Penfold’s Bin 128 Shiraz 2010 – an excellent combination).

In the evening I took the subway out to Islington to have dinner with my friend and wine writer colleague Alain Laliberté. Alain has recently started up a wine importing agency called La Liberté Wines. We began a massive tasting of his products.

  • Brouette Sparkling Vourvray Brut: straw colour with a nose of honey and quince augmented by a thread of minerality; off-dry with good length and refreshing acidity. (89)
  • Weingut Burg Ravensburg Weissburgunder Trocken 2011 from Baden: deep straw colour; fragrant musk melon nose; full-bodied and dry with a peachy-mineral flavour and a lovely mouth feel. (88)
  • Weingut Burg Ravensburg Riesling Trocken 2011: straw colour; perfumed, floral, grapey nose, almost Muscat-like; minerally, orange and peach flavours with a touch of bitterness on the finish. (88)
  • Weingut Burg Ravensburg Husarenkappe Riesling 2011: straw colour; floral, peach and apricot notes on the nose, perfumed and spicy; bold and full on the palate, dry, more reminiscent of a Pinot Gris with a pink grapefruit flavour. (89)
  • Clos Torteligotte Knom Malbec Cahors 2009: dense purple-ruby colour; smoky, black plum nose; dry, lean and sinewy with a tannic finish (a little green). (87)
  • Rocche Costamagna Murrae Dolcetto d’Alba 2010: deep ruby colour; black cherry nose with a touch of oak; dry, medium-bodied, sour cherry flavour, firmly structured with a tannic finish. Needs time. (87+)
  • Le Cecche Dolcetto di Diano d’Alba 2011: dense purple colour; smoky, black fruit nose; sweet fruit with lively acidity; chunky mouth feel, firm structure, full-bodied, dry with black fruit and chestnut flavours. (88)
  • Mossio Bricco Caramelli Dolcetto d’Alba 2010: dense purple colour; minerally, spicy nose of black fruits and tar; well extracted fruit, full-bodied and broad-shouldered; firm structure, dry, sour cherry and tea leaf flavours. (89)
  • Mossio Barbera d’Alba 2009: ruby colour; elegant, smoky, tarry, cherry nose; a seamless wine, long on the palate; very elegant, firm with ripe fruit. (91)
  • Rocche Delle Rocce Barbera d’Alba 2009: dense purple colour; spicy oak and black cherry nose; creamy, fruit-driven flavours of black cherry with lively acidity and a firm tannic finish. (88)
  • Mossio Nebbiolo Langhe 2007: deep ruby colour; licorice, smoke and cherry nose; dry, austere and elegant; quite forward with great length, ending with licorice and white pepper notes. (90)
  • Clos Troteligotte Klys Malbec 2007: dense purple-black colour; smoky, black fruits on the nose; dry, firm and tannic, still tight but showing an engaging, delicate floral note. Mouth-filling with ripe tannins. Hold 3–5 years. (89+)
  • Le Cecche Flamingo 2010 (60% Merlot, 20% Barbera, 20% Nebbiolo): deep ruby colour; smoky, herbal, dred cherry nose; fruity but dry with creamy oak overlay, lively acidity with a clove finish. New World style. (86)
  • Le Cecche Langhe Rosso 2010: deep ruby colour; smoky, black fruit nose; sweet fruit on the palate, full-bodied with lively acidity and a firm finish. Easy drinking. (87)
  • Rocce dell’Annunziata Rocce Costamagna Barol 2007: deep ruby colour; vanilla oak and cherries on the nose; oak-driven flavours of cherry, firmly structured but shut down at the moment (going through a dumb phase). Good acidity. Worth holding. (88 but could be 91 in a few years)
  • Rocce Costamagna Langhe Nebbiolo Roccardo 2010: deep ruby colour; leafy, spicy, cherry nose; dry, elegant, firmly structured with a sour cherry flavour and good length. (88)
  • Rocce dell’Annunziata Bricco Francesco Barolo 2006: deep ruby colour; ripe cherry with a herbal note on gthe nose; very elegant on the palate, medium-bodied with great balance. Youthful still, firmly structured. (89 now – with 2–3 years, 91)

Then Alain prepared dinner: sautéed foie gras with two Albana de Romagna Passito (at this point I couldn’t read my writing!) and then seared duck breast. Left in heavy rain.

Friday, December 21: According to the Mayan calendar the world might end today. Deborah and I were invited to a fellow wine lover’s for dinner. On the assumption that the Mayans may be correct he pulled out all the stops when it came to the wine selection. We started with Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne Brut Réserve followed by Huff Cuvée Peter 2008, Piper Heidsieck Brut and the spectacular Piper Heidsieck 1995 Vintage. We sat down a roast turkey and stuffing with – wait for it – Clos Vougeot 1943, Château Pontet-Canet 1959 and Château Batailley 1937.

Château Batailley 1937
Older than most of us are

Château Pontet-Canet 1959
The year I graduated from McGill

I brought along the world’s only bottle outside the winery of Kayra Öküzgözü “Köse Tevek” Sukru Baran Parcel 5 2010 from Turkey (which was well received). Dessert: apple crumble with sour cream and Egon Müller Schartzhofberger Riesling Auslese 1989. Over dark-chocolate-dipped bacon from a specialty chocolate store in New York we had a glass of Cossart Gordon Malmsey 15 Years Old. Have to add a fifth to my four food groups that you should have at each meal – Salt, Fat, Alcohol, Chocolate – and Bacon. Not a bad way to contemplate the end of the world.

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