Monday, December 24: This evening to our friends, the Willises, for their annual Christmas Eve carol fest. The wine flows to get us in the mood, especially for the part song, A Partridge in a Pear Tree, which we have to rehearse with Bernie, the Jewish pianist. Pol Roger Cuvée de Réserve Champagne, Domaine du Chalet Pouilly-Fuissé 2009, Antinori Peppoli 2010 and – when most of the guests left – a bottle of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Romanée St. Vivant 1985 made by Bize Leroy. As we entered the Rosedale subway we witnessed a fist fight. It seemed that two friends were going at each other. One had taken off his jacket and folded it neatly on the ground before trying to karate-kick his opponent. The spirit of the season…
Tuesday, December 25: A light dusting of snow for Christmas Day but nothing that lasted. Up to Caledon for Christmas dinner at Deborah’s niece Nadine and her husband Gary’s house. I brought along seven wines I had to taste, which I did before I carved the turkey – my annual job.
- Hardy’s HRB/D648 Chardonnay 2009: pale straw with a green tint; lemon and apple nose; medium-bodied, dry and elegant with grapefruit and green apple flavours. (89)
- Lindemans Bin 95 Sauvignon Blanc 2012: very pale, almost water white; green pepper and grassy nose; crisp gooseberry, elderberry and grassy flavours. (86)
- Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay 2012: light straw colour; fennel, licorice and apple bouquet; medium-bodied, dry, crab apple flavour with citrus acidity. Smooth on the palate, easy drinking. (86)
- Lindemans Bn 85 Pinot Grigio 2012: pale straw colour; minerally, peach pit nose; dry, lemony and white peach flavours; fresh and lively on the palate (86+)
- Peller Estate Private Reserve Meritage 2010: ruby colour; cedar and red berry nose; dry, lean, claret-like; medium-bodied, firmly structured with pliant tannins. (87)
- Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Series Cabernet Franc 2010 (Okanagan Valley): ruby colour; blackcurrant and cedar nose with a vanilla oak note; dry, savoury with a floral top note; well extracted fruit and ripe tannins. (89)
- Madfish Sideways Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2009: (Margaret River) deep ruby colour; blackcurrant and bramble berry nose; well extracted sweet blackcurrant fruit, medium to full-bodied. (89)
Wednesday, December 26: Braved the Boxing Day sales at Future Shop looking for a tablet. Decided not to buy one as the model I was interested wasn’t on sale so why fight the crowds. To dinner at L’Avenue Bistro on Bayview. Ordered bone marrow and steak frites. Brought along a white wine from one of my favourite South African producers, Boekenhoutskloof The Wolftrap Viognier/Chenin Blanc/Grenache Blanc 2011 (straw-coloured with a minerally pear nose. It offers good weight on the palate with well-defined pear and quince flavours (88)), and Burrowing Owl Pinot Noir 2010 from the Okanagan (good depth of colour; rich cherry and oak spice nose; medium-bodied, beetroot and black cherry flavour with a lively acidic spine (89)).
Thursday, December 27: Took Pinot to the park for the first real snow fall of the winter. She gamboled in the drifts, having a great time. How she loves the snow. Amazing to think she’ll be eight years old on January 1st.
Wrote my Winefox monthly column on the most versatile Ontario wine for food (Gamay – chill it for fish, serve at room temperature for meat and cheese). Tasted the following wines:
- Nuance Sauvignon Blanc Pinot Grigio 2011 (South Africa): straw colour; smoky, minerally, green peach nose; crisply dry, tart, smoky, Meyer lemon flavour. (87)
- Colio CEV Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (Lake Erie North Shore): light straw colour; lifted, green plum and cut grass nose; dry, green pea and green plum flavours with a surging acidity and a struck flint note. (87)
- Road 13 Old Vines Chenin Blanc 2011 (Okanagan Valley): pale straw colour; oily, quince and pear nose; sweetish pear and citrus and tangerine flavours with a mineral thread. An exciting wine, full in the mouth; cellarable. (89)
- Mission Hill Pinot Gris 2010 (Okanagan Valley – $19.95): light straw colour; minerally, peach pit nose; dry, medium-bodied, good heft on the palate with a white peach, pear and citrus flavours that sustain well on lively acidity. (88)
- Stratus White 2009 (Niagara) (32% Semillon, 31% Sauvignon Blanc, 18% Chardonnay, 15% Viognier, 4% Gewurztraminer – $42.20): straw coloured with a nose of lychee, melon and peach; full-bodied, rich and layered, dry but honeyed with beautifully integrated flavours of peach and lychee with citrus acidity. Great length. Just a delight, a seamless wine. (92)
- Tinhorn Creek Gewurztraminer 2010 (Okanagan Valley): light straw colour; light varietal character on the nose, spicy, grapefruit; dry, lychee, grapefruit flavour. (87)
- Sokol Blosser Evolution Red (an Oregon Syrah-based non-vintage blend): ruby colour with a tawny note on the rim; stewed raspberry nose with a suggestion of oak; dry, light-bodied, sour cherry and raspberry candy flavours with lively acidity that gives the wine unexpected length. (86)
- Valiano Poggio Teo Chianti Classico 2008 (Tuscany – $17.95): ruby colour; earthy cherry, nose;tobacco and sour cherry flavour with a fine spine of acidity; medium-bodied, dry, lean and sinewy. (87)
- Colio CEV Small Lot Syrah 2010 (Lake Erie North Shore): ruby with a mature, brick-coloured rim; white pepper and blackberry nose; medium-bodied, dry and savoury red berry flavour with a herbal finish and soft tannins. (87)
- Beringer Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2009: dense ruby colour; cedar and currants on the nose with a leafy, vegetal note; dry, creamy, chocolate flavour; full in the mouth with a firm but rather blunt finish and grainy tannins. (87)
- Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010: dense ruby; vanilla oak, cedar, blackcurrant nose; ripe blackcurrant, licorice and plum flavours, well balanced but costly for $34.95. Firm tannic finish. (88)
- Atlantis Niagara Angelo Rossi Cabernet Franc 2011: light amber, eye of the partridge colour; intense, licorice wood and dried apricot nose; full-bodied, off-dry, dried peach and dried apricot flavours; heavy on the palate. Unlike any Cabernet Franc I’ve ever tasted! (86)
Friday, December 28: Worked on the wine book, finishing off Nova Scotia winery profiles. Dinner at The Monkey Box on Yonge Street, north of Lawrence, with Frank and Patti-Ann Daley and Paul and Gail Gaffney, who were in from Ottawa. I brought along CedarCreek Pinot Gris 2011 from the Okanagan Valley (light straw colour; spicy, peach and citrus nose; richly extracted fruit peach and pear flavours, full on the palate, medium-bodied and beautifully balanced with a lovely mouth feel (90)) and and Concannon Captain Joe’s Petite Sirah 2007 (Livermore, California: dense purple-black colour; spicy, floral, blackberry nose with vanilla oak nuances; dry and fruity blackberry flavour. (88)). I drank them respectively with Shiitake Mushroom spring rolls and calf’s liver.
Saturday, December 29: After the weekend shop settled down to some tasting before dinner.
- Peller Estates Private Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (Niagara Peninsula – $18.95): pale straw colour; grassy, cat’s pee nose; dry, crisp, gooseberry flavour. Varietally correct with good length. (88)
- Peller Estates Andrew Peller Signature Series Chardonnay Sur Lie 2010 (Niagara Peninsula – $31.95): straw colour; on the nose, caramel, apple and oak spice; medium to full-bodied, dry with flavours of apple and Poire William (88)
- Peller Estates Private Reserve Pinot Noir 2010 (Niagara Peninsula – $25): ruby colour; woodsy, tobacco leaf and cherry nose; dry, sour cherry flavour with lively acidity and ripe tannins. Medium-bodied. (87)
- Peller Estates Andrew Peller Signature Series Cabernet Franc 2010 (Four Mile Creek – $40.20): purple-ruby colour; cedar, blackcurrant and plum bouquet; ripe blackcurrant and black cherry flavours, dry, medium-bodied, with a savoury dark chocolate note and refreshing acidity. (89)
- Peller Estates Andrew Peller Signature Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (Niagara-on-the-Lake – $40.20): red ruby colour; cedar, smoke, blackcurrant nose with vanilla oak notes; redcurrant flavour, dry and grainy tannins, somewhat green on the finish. (87)
- MezzoMondo Negroamaro 2011 (Puglia – $7.95): deep ruby colour; rustic, fresh mushroom and plum bouquet; dry, light on the palate for its 13% alcohol, lean and sort on the finish but you can’t beat the price. (86)
- Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (Central Coast – $17.95): deep ruby colour; cedar, blackcurrant, toasty oak with a floral note; medium-bodied, sweet fruit with plum and currant flavours; soft on the palate with a tannic lift on the finish. Easy drinking. (88)
- Hardy’s Butcher’s Gold Shiraz Sangiovese 2011 (Australia – $15.00): deep ruby; savoury, herbal nose, pepper and cherry notes; dry, medium-bodied, herbal flavour, earthy, truffle notes. The Sangiovese seems to accentuate the herbal notes of Syrah. (86+)
- Ravenswood Vintners Blend Old Vine Zinfandel 2010 (California – $17.95): deep ruby colour; plum and leather nose with wood spice; dry, medium- to full-bodied, rounded edges with enough acidity and a tannic finish to give the wine structure. (87)