Three of 20-odd wines at the WWC dinner (photo by Tyler Philip)
Monday, January 28: Caught the 10 am flight from Frankfurt to Toronto having missed the Sunday evening connection. Deborah picked me up at the airport at 1 pm. Tonight is the annual Wine Writers Circle dinner at Sopra. I brought along a bottle of Alberese Barricato Morellino di Scansano 2010 I had picked up at the winery in Maremma. A fun evening, even with jet lag. It was five o’clock in the morning – according to my body time – when Deborah and I left.
Tuesday, January 30: Wrote my column for Tidings magazine about Sangiovese. There are 51 synonyms for this grape in Italy, and that includes Morellino di Scansano. For dinner, Moroccan meat balls with Yalumba The Strapper Grenache Shiraz Mataro 2010 (dense ruby colour; spicy, herbal, black olive nose; full-bodied, dry, plum, raspberry and black fruit flavours; a sweet core that finishes savoury and dry with soft tannins (88+)).
Wednesday, January 31: Worked on my speech for Insight, an Ontario wine industry conference in Niagara to be held on March 5th. The theme is “What we’re doing wrong and what we’re doing right.” I suspect it won’t make me a lot of friends in some quarters in Niagara.
Picked up my son Guy from the airport. He was returning from a destination wedding in Mexico – with Montezuma’s Revenge.
Thursday, January 31: Spent the day working on an article for Lexpert magazine on Maremma and the Super Tuscan wines made there. Then got down to some tasting:
- Earl Petiteau Gaubert Muscadet Sèvres et Maine Sur Lie 2008 (Loire – $13.95): light golden colour showing some maturity; minerally, apple nose; well extracted flavours. Not your usual austere Muscadet. If I had this wine blind I would have thought it was a Soave. Well balanced with clean lines and a lingering fresh finish. (89)
- Anselmi San Vincenzo 2011 (Veneto – $14.95): smoky, minerally, white peach nose; ripe golden plum flavour, soft on the palate with a mineral thread. Mouth-filling. (88)
- Closson Chase Chardonnay S. Kocsis Vineyard 2010 (Beamsville Bench, Niagara): old gold colour; lovely floral, apple nose backed by oak and a mineral note; ripe and fleshy on the palate, full-bodied, sweet flavours of pineapple, peach and toasty oak. (91)
- Closson Chase Iconoclast 2010 (Prince Edward County): straw colour; high toned, peach and spicy oak nose; rich and succulent mouth feel, flavours of peach and melon with well integrated oak; Full-bodied , fleshy, and sexy. Deborah Paskus’ best Iconoclast to date. Burgundian on the nose; California on the palate. Drinking well now. (92)
- Château de Puisseguin Curat 2010 (Puisseguin Saint-Emilion – $19.95): deep ruby colour; spicy, vanilla, cedar, red berry nose; medium-bodied, black raspberry flavour, soft grainy tannins, nice ripe fruit. (88)
- Closson Chase Pinot Noir J.K. Watson Vineyard 2010 (Niagara River): light ruby colour; good intensity of Pinot perfume on the nose – raspberry, minerally, with a note of violets; lovely silky mouth feel, dry and lifted fruit. Quite a balancing act here, keeping just side of volatility with cherry and raspberry flavours. (90)
- Château des Charmes Cabernet-Merlot 2009 (Niagara-on-the-Lake): deep ruby colour; the Cabernet Franc sings through on the nose, herbal, green pepper notes but good ripeness; reminiscent of Bourgueil in flavour – redcurrant and pomegranate notes. Nicely balanced with lively acidity. (88)
- Fratelli Fabiano Corvina Veronese Negraro Appassimento 2010 (Veneto – $14.95): deep ruby colour; spicy plum and raisin nose with a woody, struck flint note; rustic, plum flavour, full-bodied and mouth-filling with sweet fruit and supple tannins. Good value. (88)
For dinner polished off Closson Chase The Iconoclast 2010 with sautéed shrimp pasta.
Friday, February 1: Finished writing my speech for Insight. Lunch with Norman Hardie at L’Avenue bistro to taste his new wines.
- Norman Hardie Riesling 2011 (65% Niagara fruit/35% Prince Edward County): pale straw colour with a one the nose, honey and lime with an oil note; light-bodied with driving acidity and good tension between the fruit and acidity. Crab apple, lime and honey flavours that linger on the palate. (88)
- Norman Hardie County Chardonnay 2011: light straw in colour with a greenish hue; a minerally nose of green apple with an engaging note of white flowers. Soft mid-palate but finishes crisply. (89)
- Norman Hardie Niagara Chardonnay 2010: straw colour with a bouquet of fennel, vanilla oak and caramel; apple butter flavour, full on the palate, well balanced with a dry, crisp finish. (90)
- Norman Hardie County Pinot Noir 2011: cherry red colour; high toned, red berry nose; lean and sinewy Burgundian style with flavours of raspberry and cherry backed by lively acidity. Volnay in style, elegant and sophisticated. (90)
- Norman Hardie Niagara Pinot Noir 2009: light ruby in colour; meaty, cherry nose with a briary note; dry and full in the mouth with raspberry, beetroot and cherry flavours with a firmly structured finish. (89)
- Norman Hardie Cuvée L Pinot Noir 2009 (60% Niagara/40% Prince Edward County): ruby colour; a nose of cherries, fresh mushroom and vanilla oak; light and lean as a super model; elegant and restrained with cherry and redcurrant flavours. A miniature jewel. (91)
- Norman Hardie Cabernet Franc 2011: deep ruby colour; on the nose, cedar and currants; dry, Chinon style with a sour cherry flavour and pliant tannins. Medium-bodied, firmly structured, unlike any Ontario Cabernet Franc I have tasted (no green vegetal notes here). (90)
For dinner with pork loin, Ringbolt Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (Margaret River): dense purple-ruby colour; a bouquet of cedar and blackcurrant with a top note of rose petals; medium to full-bodied, dry, perfumed blackberry, plum and blackcurrant flavours ending with a dark chocolate note. Rich and ripe (90).