Sunday, January 13: A record warm day in Toronto. 14°C. Tasted the following South African wines:
- Boschendal The Pavillion Chenin Blanc Viognier 2011 (LCBO #281311 – $10.95): very pale with a greenish tint; minerally, pear skin with a light floral note; touch of sweetness here with peach and pear flavours, medium-bodied with moderate length. Good value. (87)
- Van Loveren Cramond Sauvignon Blanc Chardonnay 2012 (Robertson; LCBO #294280 – $12.15): very pale, almost water white; gooseberry, green fig nose with a grassy note; medium-bodied, dry with a gooseberry jam flavour. Good mouth feel with a crisp acidic finish. (88)
- Bellingham Chardonnay Viognier 2010 (Franschhoek Valley; Vintages #295345 – $13.95): light straw colour with a green tint; leesy apple and pineapple nose with a touch of oak; full in the mouth, rich and spicy with pineapple and orange flavours with a fine spine of acidity. Good value. (88+)
- Sauvignon.com Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (Western Cape; LCBO #291724 – $12.95): dense purple-ruby colour; smoky, leathery, tarry, red berry nose; blackcurrant with a herbal note; well extracted fruit with a savoury finish. Weighty in the mouth. (87)
- KWV Café Culture 2011 (Western Cape; LCBO #292466 – $12.95): deep purple colour; charred oak nose, smoked bacon and blackberry nose; sweet blackberry and plum flavour with a smoky, tarry tang and coffee bean finish. Distinctive – either you love it or you hate it. (86+)
- Lady Anne Barnard Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (Coastal Region; Vintages #101758 – $16.95): dense ruby-purple colour; smoky, cedar and blackcurrant nose; well extracted flavours of blackcurrant; medium to full-bodied, fruit-driven, dry with soft ripe tannins and balancing acidity. Good length (89)
Monday, January 14: Wrote my On The Go column on South African wines. A meeting with Doris Miculan Bradley and Jimson Bienenstock regarding Baah! The Great Toronto Lamby-Off, Grapes for Humanity’s fund-raiser at The imperial Room on March 21st. For dinner, Shepherd’s pie with Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Series 2 Bench Red 2009 (deep purple-ruby colour; cedar, plum and blackberry nose; pipe tobacco and vanilla oak flavours with sweet blackcurrant and cocoa powder tannins; medium-bodied and firmly structured (89)).
Tuesday, January 15: Wrote my monthly column for Lexpert Magazine on Quebec’s wine industry. A lunch meeting at Mercatto with Stephen Pauwels to discuss winery visits for our tour of Provence in May. For dinner, chicken in tomato sauce with Tommasi Ripasso Valpolicella 2009 (deep ruby colour; cherry and plum on the nose with raisiny notes; medium-bodied, spicy and lively on the palate (88)).
Wednesday, January 16: A day-long seminar on Australian wines, upstairs at Terroni on Yonge Street, conducted by Mark Davidson. Six flights of wines beginning with Riesling and Semillon. My favourite Riesling: Hardys HBR Riesling 2011 (a blend of fruit from Clare and Tasmania). Semillon: Brokenwood ILR Semillon 2005 (Hunter Valley). Chardonnay Flight: Petaluma Chardonnay 2010 (Adelaide Hills) and Eileen Hardy Chardonnay 2010 (Tasmania and Yarra Valley fruit). Pinot Noir flight: Stonier Pinot Noir 2010 (Mornington Crescent). Grenache Flight: Yalumba Grenache 2011 (Barossa Valley). Cabernet Sauvignon Flight: Wakefield Cabernet 2009 (Clare Valley). Shiraz Flight: Smith & Shaw Shiraz 2009 (Adelaide Hills). A fascinating day. I never thought I would use the descriptors “restrained” and “refined” for Australian Chardonnay.
Mark Davidson shows how big Australia is
For dinner, chicken with mushroom sauce and a bottle of 13th Street Essence Pinot Noir 2010 (ruby colour; high tined, cherry and undergrowth nose; dry, sour cherry and mushroom flavour with ripe tannins; medium-bodied, with a velvety mouth feel and a blackcurrant note; finishes firmly (88+)).
Thursday, January 17: Finished writing the introduction to Ontario for the wine book. A session at my chiropractor for my leg and then to Peter Graben’s house for my ManChef lesson. I wanted to recreate a dish I had when I was 14 years old, a dish that turned me on to fine food. I tasted it at Leone’s Quo Vadis restaurant in London’s Soho district. The restaurant is still there but this dish – Fillet of Sole with Sauce Ste. Michelle – is no longer on the menu. It’s poached Dover sole with a sauce of fish stock, cream, egg yolk and diced red pepper. Peter and I made it together. It tasted great but it wasn’t the dish I remembered. I guess you can’t go home again. We drank a bottle of Drouhin Vaudon Chablis 2010 (pale straw colour with a greenish tint; green apple, minerally nose; medium-bodied and fresh and lively on the palate; crisply dry with a lemony finish (89)).
ManChef Peter Graben
Friday, January 18: Wrote my Tidings Commentary on blind tasting. Then got down to some tasting:
- Casale Dello Sparviero Chianti Classico Riserva Sangiovese 2009 ($18.95): ruby colour; cherry, sweet oak nose with a villa note; dry, cherry, lovely mouth feel, well-structured with evident but ripe tannins. (89)
- Château de Monturon 2010 (St. Emilion – $23.95): deep ruby colour; smoky, spicy nose with vanilla oak; medium-bodied, dry, spicy, blackcurrant and blueberry flavours with chocolate and coffee notes. Firm finish. (89)
- Justin Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (Paso Robles – $33.95): deep ruby colour; spicy, tobacco, blackcurrant with a note of oak; richly extracted, full in the mouth with chocolate and black fruit flavours; lovely mouth feel, well balanced with a spicy finish. (91)
- Eradus Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (Awatere Valley, Marlborough – $17): straw colour; mango, passion fruit with a grassy note; ripe gooseberry and elderberry flavours; full on the palate with racy acidity. (89)
- Flat Rock Cellars Chardonnay 2007 (Ontario): golden straw; intense, spicy, forest floor nose; rich caramel, pineapple and citrus flavours, full-bodied, well balanced with a fine spine of acidity, toasty oak and great length and a nutty finish. (91)
- Murphy-Goode The Fumé Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (California North Coast – half bottle is $10.95. I’m tasting a full bottle): bright straw colour; grassy, fig and melon nose with a touch of oak; dry, spicy, sweet gooseberry and grapefruit flavours. (89)
Dinner at Frank’s Kitchen with Deborah to celebrate her birthday. We sat at the bar, as the place was packed. Had a terrific meal – tuna tartare followed by lobster ravioli, with a bottle of Anselmi San Vincenzo 2011.