A Wine Lover’s Diary, part 439: A Week of Loss

Monday, April 1: I’ve been commissioned to write an introductory essay on the impact of Italian wine on Toronto. A fun assignment for a book to be published by the Italian Trade Commission on the Italian contribution to life in this city. Today I interviewed Franco Prevedello who, more than anyone else, introduced Toronto to Italy’s fine wines. He was the first to bring in wines by producers like Quintarelli, Avignonesi, Maculan, Primo Franco and Gaja for his string of restaurants – Biffi, Pronto, Centro, Aqua. For dinner, Panko Shrimp with a bottle of The Grange of Prince Edward Chardonnay 2011 (pale straw colour with a green tint; minerally, apple, herbal nose; dry and medium bodied with a floral, green pineapple flavour (87)).

Tuesday, April 2: Lunched with Angela Aiello at Richmond Station. Interviewed Lucy Waverman and Donald Ziraldo on their thoughts about Italian wine in Toronto.

Wednesday, April 3: Today I interviewed Charles Grieco, who used to own La Scala Restaurant, the first upscale Italian restaurant in Toronto, which he and his father started in 1962.

Recorded my 680News wine reviews and then drove over with Phil Pendry to see my old radio colleague Peter Reynolds at his house in Cabbage Town. Peter was my boss when I was freelancing for CBC radio in London. The three of us reminisced about those London days and the characters who passed through the office on Little Titchfield Street. In the evening I interviewed Bonnie Stern.

For dinner, salmon with The Grange of Prince Edward Trumpour’s Mill Pinot Noir 2009 (deep ruby-plum colour; high toned nose of cherries and vanilla oak; cherry compote flavour with lively acidity and a licorice note on the finish. (88)).

Thursday, April 3: Spoke at length with James Chatto about Italian restaurants in Toronto. James wrote the book The Man Who Ate Toronto, which he recently updated, so he was a mine of information about the history of Italian restos in the city. Spent some time inputting wine reviews for the April 13th Vintages release. Dinner: pasta with of The Grange of Prince Edward Gamay 2009 (ruby colour; high toned nose of cherry and pear; sour cherry flavour with lively acidity. (86+)).

Friday, April 4: A very sad day. Learned that Barb Ritchie, a fellow wine writer, died of a heart attack; and David Churchill, an LCBO consultant, died of cancer of the esophagus. Also Kildare Dobbs, whom I knew at CBC, died at the age of 86.

A Vintages release tasting today. Had a nap before helping Deborah to prepare dinner for Doris Miculan Bradley and her husband K.B. Started with a sparkling wine from Vancouver Island, Rock Creek Winery Jubilee. Black cod, baked squash with pecans and blue cheese and green mango salad, with Hidden Bench Chardonnay 2009. Then a selection of cheeses with Mitolo Jester Shiraz 2009.

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