Monday, February 18: A morning of working on the novel. As it nears its conclusion I find myself slowing down, not wanting to finish it. Of course, I want to finish it and see it take on a life of its own; but I find myself involuntarily delaying the process, finding things to do that take me away from writing.
I had lunch with Irvin Wolkoff at Shawarma King or King Falafel or something on Bathurst. We talked about the future of the Saintsbury Society – the dinner club that I founded with Tony Hirons and David Rolands in 1982. Unfortunately, Tony has had a stroke and the prognosis is that he will need special care. We decided that the dinner club had had its day and we should honour the memory of it by not revisiting it with a new member. Ordered in Indian food, with which I served Tahbilk Marsanne 2005 (oily, spicy, pineapple, melon and lemon flavours – perfect with the meal (89)).
Tuesday, February 18: At 1 pm down to One restaurant in the Hazelton Hotel to taste a series of Proseccos and sparkling wines from the Veneto producer Bisol. The winemaker, Desidero Bisol, was on hand to lead me through the wines.
- Jeio Cuvée Rosé Brut (a blend of Merlot and Pinot Noir): coral-pink in colour with a nose of red licorice and raspberries; dry, fresh and lively, lovely mouth feel and great balanced. (90)
- Jeio Cuvée Brut (Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Glera): straw colour; apple, citrus peel with a grassy note; dry, apple flavour with a toasty note, creamy mid palate and a chalky finish. (88+)
- Jeio Colmei Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore: minerally, smoky floral nose; soft mouth feel with apple and pear flavours. 16 grams per litre residual sugar. Easy drinking. (89)
- Bisol Crede Prosecco Valdobbiadene Superiore Brut: crisp, minerally, nutty and crab apple flavours; lovely mouth feel, great length with a lemon peel and cardamom finish. (91)
- Bisol Cartizze Prosecco Valdobbiadene Superiore: a nose of white flowers, minerals, Anjou pears and white peaches; lovely mouth feel with a creamy mid palate, beautifully balanced with great length. (92)
Desiderio tells me that the Cartizze hill, which has 100 owners, is the most expensive real estate in Italy.
Dinner, grilled tilapia with Huff Estates Pinot Gris 2011 (bright straw colour; minerally, white peach and citrus nose; medium-bodied, crisply dry with a white peach and lemon flavour. Good length and exactly what Pinot Gris should taste like (89)).
Wednesday, February 19: A full day working on the novel (bliss). Dinner at Boëhmer restaurant on Ossington with Massimilla di Serego Aligheri, whose father, Conte Pieralvise Serego Aligheri, I met nearly 30 years ago at the beautiful estate in Veneto. I was with a fellow wine writer, Robert Black, and the Count poured for us his Amarone. Then he handed around a bowl of After 8 Mints and we thought this was a test; should we refuse them, as they couldn’t possibly gwith the wine, or as his guests would it be rude to do so? Naturally, we accepted the mints – and they stood up to the wine! Massimilla had brought along with her agents, Authentic Wine & Spirits Merchants, a series of Serego Aligheri wines which we had before the meal and accompanying it.
Vaio Armaron 1997
- Serego Aligheri Possessione Bianca 2011 (75% Gaganega, 25% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% local varieties): crisp, grassy, green plum flavour (88)
- Serego Aligheri Possessione Rosso 2011 (70% Corvina, 14% Molinara (Serego Aligheri clone) and 16% Sangiovese): vanilla oak and cherry pit nose with a hint of dried tomatoes; medium-bodied, lean and spicy with a tobacco leaf and floral note. (88)
- Serego Aligheri Valpolicella dell’Anniversario 2009 (70% Corvina, 20% Rondinella, 10% Molinara): dense ruby colour, cherry skin nose; dry, spicy, sour cherry flavour with a note of leather and a firm finish. (89)
- Serego Aligheri Vaio Armaron Amarone Classico 2005 (65% Corvina, 20% Rondinella, 15% Molinara): dense ruby colour; gamey, floral, plum and vanilla oak on the nose; full-bodied and mouth-filling with the flavour of black cherries and toasted almonds; dry but showing good fruit extraction with supple tannins; youthful and mature at the same time, if that could be! (90)
- Serego Aligheri Vaio Armaron Amarone Classico 1997 (65% Corvina, 20% Rondinella, 15% Molinara): dense purple colour; intense floral, plum and raisiny nose; full-bodied, rich and spicy with black cherry and tobacco leaf flavours. (92)
- Serego Aligheri Casal del Ronchi Recioto della Valpolicella 2009: dense ruby colour; porty nose, elegant sweet cherry and date flavours; beautifully balanced. (90)
We finished with Serego Aligheri Grappa di Amarone (smooth on the palate with a dry cherry liqueur flavour (90)).
The dinner menu: baby beet Salad, arugula, goat cheese, blueberry Baco Noir vinaigrette; Ontario venison with squash purée in a juniper berry au jus; cheese platter – Monte Enebro (Avila, Spain), Stilton (The English Blue), Brie de Meaux (France).
Massimilla di Serego Aligheri
Thursday, February 21: A productive day working on both the novel and the wine book. Then in the evening, a tasting to reward myself:
- Wolf Blass Yellow Label Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (South Australia – $14.95): very pale colour; grassy, sweaty, green peapod nose; crisply dry with good mid-palate fruit; smoky, minerally note with tart green plum and citrus flavours. (87)
- Matua Valley Hawke’s Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (New Zealand – $15.95): bright, pale straw colour; grassy, gooseberry and passion fruit nose; green pepper and gooseberry flavour; medium-bodied, crisply dry with good length. (88)
- 900 Grapes Sauvignon Blanc 2012 (Marlborough, New Zealand – $17.95): pale straw; green bean, gooseberry bouquet; richly extracted flavours of gooseberry and lime; soft and round on the palate with zippy acidity. (89)
- Fifth Leg Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (Western Australia – $15.95): pale straw colour; minerally, lanolin and pear nose with a light floral note; soft mouth feel , melon, green pea and pink grapefruit flavours with a fresh, lingering finish. (88)
- Di Profio Riesling 2011 (Ontario): straw colour white honey, citrus nose with a floral note; dry, nicely balanced with tangerine and lime flavours; a note of petrol developing and a hint of sweetness in mid palate. (89)
- Di Profio Gamay Rosé 2011 (Ontario): pink with an orange tint; earthy, cherry with a sulphur note; dry, sour cherry flavour with a candied note on the finish. (86)
- Di Profio Gamay Noir 2011 (Ontario): light ruby colour; again a touch of sulphur on the nose – smoky cherry nose; dry, Beaujolais style, fresh, cranberry and sour cherry flavours. (86+)
- Di Profio Late Harvest Vidal 2011 (Ontario): white gold colour; spicy, tropical fruit with a honeyed note; unctuous, sweet peach and honeyed mango flavours; exotic Turkish Delight notes; a little more acidity would have helped the balance. (89)
Dinner – pasta with spicy Italian sausages, with Giacomo Mori Chianti 2009 (purple ruby colour; minerally, cherry nose with a note of oak and pencil lead; dry, medium-bodied, cherry flavour with cocoa-like tannins (88)).
Friday, February 22: A Vintages release tasting. Came back to finish the Indian food that was smelling up the fridge and work on the edits for the wine book.