A Wine Lover’s Diary, part 427: Tasting Blind

Monday, January 7: More work on the book – Quebec winery profiles. The percentage growth of the number of wineries in la belle province has been the most dramatic in Canada over the past six years. When I published The Wine Atlas of Canada in 2006 there were 42 producers. Today there are 87.

Worked on putting together the wines for my Blind Tasting award for the importing agencies’ reps. Lunch with Debbie Trenholm, who was in from Ottawa. Down in the Distillery District at Archeo. Ordered pizza.

For dinner, grilled salmon with Chateau St. Jean Pinot Noir 2007 (deep purple-ruby colour; plum and cherry nose overlaid with spicy, vanilla oak; nicely balanced black cherry flavour with a finish of cloves (89)).

Tuesday, January 8: Spent the day working on the Canadian entries for Oz Clarke’s annual Pocket Wine Book 2014. In the evening a meeting of the Board of Directors of IWEG. This is the first time I’ve seen the new offices on Yonge Street opposite the Eaton Centre.

Cold chicken sandwich for dinner with Quails’ Gate Merlot 2010 (dense ruby colour; spicy, oaky nose of blueberry and blackberry; a very harmonious wine, seamless with ripe, grainy tannins, a flavour of blackcurrants and graphite (90)).

Wednesday, January 9: Got an email today telling me that Henry Wu has sold the Metropolitan Hotel and its restaurant Lai Wah Heen to The Bayview Hospitality Group, an Ontario-based hotel management and development company. I had been working with the restaurant to put together a Chinese banquet with matching wines. Guess that’s off the table now.

Worked on Quebec winery profiles. In the evening to Peter Graben’s for the first of two cooking lessons that Deborah had bought for me for Christmas. Peter, a caterer and transplanted Glaswegian, runs cooking classes for men out of his home below Casa Loma. His company is called ManChef and mainly it’s for men who can’t boil water and don’t know where the kitchen is. He interviewed me over the phone and decided I was more advanced than his usual students so we would do a one-on-one lesson. What did I want to do? I said I wanted to know how to make a meat stock and a vegetable stock and how to make great chicken curry. It was a great evening and I can home with a fantastic chicken curry that “perfumed” up the car for days, Deborah was out at a book club evening so I ate part of it alone with Mission Hill Riesling Reserve 2011 (pale lime colour; minerally, floral nose with a petrol note and shades of lime and grapefruit; off-dry with honey and lime flavours with a lively spine of acidity that gives the wine great length (90)).

Thursday, January 10: Recorded my 680News wine reviews and prepared for this evening’s Blind Tasting Award. With the closure of The Wine Establishment I had to find a new venue for the event. Secured the Tasting Room at the LCBO’s Scrivener Square location with the help of Sadie Darby, who assisted in setting up the room. Twelve agency reps entered, though one dropped out at the last moment. I threw a real curve at the participants this year: repeating the same wine to see if anyone could catch it. Nobody did, which just shows how difficult blind tasting is. The wines in serving order were:

  • Joseph Phelps Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (Napa Valley)
  • Rosewood Gewurztraminer 2011 (Ontario)
  • Joseph Phelps Sauvignon Blanc 2009 (Napa Valley)
  • Masi Campofiorin 2006 (Veneto)
  • Lailey Cabernet Franc 2010 (Ontario)
  • Artezin Zinfandel 2010 (Mendocino)

The ultimate winner was Marc Laverdiere of Authentic Wine & Spirits, who will receive the traditional engraved decanter at the Drinks Ontario annual dinner on February 8th.

Friday, January 11: A Vintages tasting today for the February 16th release. For dinner Deborah prepared stuffed peppers. I opened a bottle of Viña Tabali Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (deep ruby colour; a nose of cedar and plums; medium-bodied, fruity blackcurrant flavour with lively acidity and a firm structure. Good value at $14.95 (88)).

Saturday, January 12: this evening I conducted a charity tasting at a private home – an auction item for Project Sunshine. Some amazing wines had been donated for the event.

  • 2000 Ch.Tertre Roteboeuf
  • 1988 Ch. Pichon Longueville Comtesse Lalande
  • 1988 Ch. Lafite Rothschild
  • 1995 Ch. Haut Brion
  • 1986 Ch. Margaux
  • 1985 Conterno Barolo

Researching Tertre Roteboeuf I found out that Roteboeuf does not mean roast beef but comes from the French verb to burp (roter) as opposed to rôtir (to roast) and refers to the oxen that used to plough the vineyards. Apparently they would burp a lot. (Or maybe that should be “fart.”). Mercifully all the wines were in great shape.

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