A Wine Lover’s Diary, part 438: Ticket to Tonawanda

Seder Night, Adrienne Rosen standing
Seder Night, Adrienne Rosen standing

Monday, March 25: I left the hotel in Rochester at 8 am. In Tonawanda I was driving on the throughway at 72 mph (apparently) when I was pulled over by a cop – flashing lights, the whole bit – who told me I was in a 55 mph zone. He gave me a ticket. I was so upset and preoccupied by this that when I came to the toll booth I went through the wrong entrance, the one for transponders. I was expecting more police activity but I wonder if they took a photo of the car plate and will track me down and have me extradited.

Given a rapturous welcome by Pinot the Wonderdog, which improved my mood. Caught up on emails and did a tasting of BC wines and two from Australia to start.

  • Casella Wines Lucky Penny White 2011 (Chardonnay, Viognier, Pinot Grigio): light straw colour; peach and honeysuckle nose; fresh, easy drinking with a touch of bitterness on the finish. (86)
  • Casella Wines Lucky Penny Red 2011 (Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot): dense ruby colour; minty-eucalyptus, blackberry nose; vanilla oak and richly extracted red berry flavours with coffee notes. Full-bodied with a warm alcoholic finish. (87)
  • Cassini Cellars Pinot Gris 2011: light straw colour; peach pit nose; sweet, peachy-pear flavour, mono-dimensional, commercial style. (86)
  • Meyer Chardonnay 2011: light straw colour; minerally, apple nose; dry, apple and green pineapple flavours, fine balance of acidity and fruit enhanced by judicious use of oak. (89)
  • St. Hubertus Gewurztraminer 2011: pale straw colour; gummy, spicy nose – not a lot of varietal character; lychee and bruised apple flavours, off-dry with oxidative notes. Lacks balance. (85)
  • St. Hubertus Frizzante Rosé 2012: ruby-pink colour; raspberry and cranberry nose; light prickling on the tongue; cranberry, watermelon and pomegranate flavours. Easy drinking and refreshing. A good summer glass. (87)
  • Aces Straight Flush Blush 2010 (Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Syrah, Merlot): orange-pink colour; toasty, smoky, cherry nose; full on the palate with strawberry and cherry flavours and a spicy aromatic back note from the Gewurztraminer. A strapping rosé in Tavel style with a New World twist. (88)
  • Mt. Boucherie Family Estate Winery Gamay Noir 2010: light ruby colour; peppery, rhubarb and cherry nose; light and soft on the palate with rhubarb and cranberry flavours and lively acidity. (86)
  • Saint Hubertus Estate Winery Oak Bay Pinot Noir 2010: ruby colour; woody, cherry nose; tart, lean and sinewy, sour cherry flavour; acidity overwhelming the fruit. (85)
  • Summerhill Pyramid Winery Cabernets 2009: ruby with a tawny hue; cedar, red berry nose; dry, medium-bodied, claret-style with a warm alcoholic finish and supple tannins. (88)
  • Cassini Cellars Quattro 2010 (67% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc, 1% Syrah): deep ruby-plum colour; cedar, licorice, toasted herbs and red berry fruit; full-bodied, dry and savoury but fleshy and warm with an unctuous mouth-feel. (89)
  • Desert Hills Estate Winery Mirage 2007 (40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 15% Malbec, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot): dense ruby colour; spicy, cedar, blackcurrant nose with tobacco and oak notes; rich and full on the palate with dark chocolate and black fruit flavours; muscular and solid with ripe tannins. Drink soon. (91+)
  • Moon Curser Syrah 2010: dense purple-ruby colour; savoury, peppery, blackberry nose; bright fruit flavours of black raspberry and dark chocolate with a floral note; full-bodied with ripe tannins and an enervating thread of acidity. (90)

Tuesday, March 26: Doing the final edits on the Canadian wine book. Lunch with Suresh Doss at Grano (frittata and a glass of Anselmi San Vincenzo 2011). Deborah and I were invited to the second seder at Joey Bersani’s Cantine. The service was led by Adrienne Rosen. Apparently Joey puts on two seders every year. The first night, families can have their own individual celebrations with tables curtained off from each other. The second night is communal. All the traditional foods, chicken soup, gefilte fish, brisket, chicken, flourless chocolate cake and coconut macaroons. A fun evening.

Wednesday, March 27: Lunch with Liz Curtain and Cathy Martin to discuss “Australia Uncorked” – Grapes for Humanity’s next fund-raiser event on May 9th at the Gardiner Museum. In the evening Deborah and I were invited to dine with Rick Schiralli and his partner J.J. at their house in the west end. Amazing food and wine. I should have made notes but was having too good a time.

Thursday, March 28: A tasting of Ontario wines at Doug Towers’s house for www.winerytohome.com. At these tastings Doug orders pizza. For dinner, roast chicken breast marinated in soya sauce, lemon and oil, sweet potato and broccoli with Rosemount Shiraz 2011 (dense purple colour with a spicy blackberry and vanilla oak nose; sweet raspberry jam flavour with soft tannins; easy drinking with enough acidity to give the wine structure (87)).

Friday, March 29: Good Friday. At 10 am my old friend from CBC London days came by and we sat and reminisced about that time. Phil is 86 and looks amazing, still working. He’s about to shoot a documentary with Ken Taylor, called Argo, about what really happened in Iran with the rescue of the American diplomats. For dinner, chicken and ricotta cheese ravioli in tomato sauce with Pillitteri Cabernet Merlot 2010 (deep purple-ruby with a nose of cedar, currants and plums; medium-bodied, creamy mouth feel, dry finish (88)).

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