A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 452: LG Awards

The Lieutenant Governor of Ontario accepts a copy of Tony's latest book
The Lieutenant Governor of Ontario accepts a copy of Tony’s latest book

Saturday, July 6: A hot, humid day. Did some tasting in the afternoon.

  • Quails’ Gate Chasselas Pinot Blanc Pinot Gris 2012 (BC – $18.99): very pale colour; minerally, smoky, peach pit nose; medium-bodied, fresh, green peach flavour with citrus acidity. (87)
  • Oyster Bay Pinot Grigio 2012 (Hawkes Bay, New Zealand – $18.95): light straw colour; peach pit nose with a light floral note; dry, medium-bodied, green melon and green peach flavours, finishing cleanly. (87)
  • Tic Toc Pocketwatch Sauvignon Blanc by Robert Oatley Vineyards 2012 (Western Australia – $14.95): very pale colour, almost water white; herbaceous, green plum nose; medium-bodied, green fig and lemon flavours; a touch of sweetness in mid-palate but finishing crisply dry. (87)
  • Emiliana Adobe Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2012 (Casablanca Valley, Chile – $12.95): pale straw with a lime tint in colour; a bouquet of crushed elderberries with a grassy note; medium-bodied, crisply dry, gooseberry flavour with a lemony finish. (88+)
  • Frescobaldi Albizzia Chardonnay 2011 (Tuscany – $12.95): medium straw colour; minerally, apple nose; light on the palate with apple and pear flavours. A versatile food wine. (87)
  • See Ya Later Ranch Belle 2011 (BC, Viognier with 15% Pinot Gris – $18.99): medium straw colour; aromatic, spicy, peach nose; medium-bodied, dry, peach with lemony acidity. A little spare on mid palate fruit. (86+)
  • Folie à Deux Ménage à Trois 2010 (California – Chardonnay, Moscato, Chenin Blanc): light straw colour with a greenish tint; spicy, floral, apple nose; medium to full-bodied, off-dry, melon with fresh tangerine acidity. Conundrum writ small; well made with an orange and orange blossom finish from the Muscat. (89)
  • Stratus Vineyards Tollgate Fumé Blanc 2009 (Ontario – $24.95): golden straw colour; white Bordeaux-style nose – minerally, lanolin, vanilla oak; full on the palate, richly extracted flavours of mango and lychee backed by oak. Richer than the 2008. Well balanced. (90)
  • Inniskillin Pinot Noir Rosé 2012 (Ontario – $14.95): deep salmon pink; candied raspberry nose; medium-bodied, raspberry and strawberry flavours with enough acidity to balance the sweetness of fruit. (87)
  • E &J Gallo Ghost Pines Cabernet Sauvignon Winemaker’s Blend 2010 (70% Napa and 30% Sonoma – $21.95): dense purple-ruby colour; cedar, blackcurrant with a meaty note; full-bodied, sweet blackcurrant fruit, good intensity of flavour, supple tannins, floral top note. Easy drinking. (88)
  • Tic Toc Pocketwatch Cabernet Sauvignon by Robert Oatley Vineyards 2011 (Central Ranges – $15.95): deep ruby colour; cedar, currant nose; dry, medium-bodied, savoury, acidic with a dry tannic finish. (87)

Monday, July 8: A lunch at Ciao with Jean-Charles Boisset. Jean-Charles told us about the winery for dogs he had created on the ground of Raymond Vineyards in Napa. It’s called Frenchie after his and Gina’s French bulldog. The walls are decorated with portraits of dogs dressed up as characters from French history. Frenchie appears as Napoleon. Visitors can leave their dogs in an enclosed area while they taste (www.frenchiewinery.com).

Jean-Charles also showed us a blending kit, “Winemaker for a Day.” It contains a bottle of 2011 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon oaked and unoaked, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, with four graduated cylinders and four pipettes. A video shows you how to blend and, in the US, if you like your blend you can have the winery make up the wine to your specifications. We also got to taste some wine and have lunch.

  • JCB #21 Crémant de Bourgogne Blanc: pale straw colour; minerally, lemon peel and lemon blossom nose; elegant, medi8m length with a crisp, green apple flavour. (90)
  • JCB #69 Crémant de Bourgogne Rosé: pale salmon colour; tiny bubbles; fresh, cherry nose with a spicy, crisp cherry pit flavour and lively acidic spine. (89)
  • Raymond North Coast Chardonnay 2010: straw colour; melon and apple nose with a touch of oak; full on the palate with a soft mouthfeel. (88+)
  • Raymond Vineyards 2012R Collection Field blend Red Wine: a blend of seven varietals from Napa and Sonoma vineyards – ruby colour with a nose of plums and licorice; well-balanced cherry and plum flavours with just a hint of oak. (89)
  • Raymond Family Classic Cabernet Sauvignon 2010: small amounts of Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Franc added – deep ruby colour; cedar and red berry nose; medium-bodied, fresh and dry with lively acidity. (88)
  • Raymond Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2010: dense ruby colour; vanilla, cedar and blackcurrant nose; rich and full on the palate, dry, tangy black fruit flavours; nicely balanced oak. (91)
  • Raymond Generations Cabernet Sauvignon 2010: dense ruby colour; cedar, sweet oak and black fruits on the nose; spicy, rich and concentrated bramble and blackcurrant flavours with a dark chocolate finish. (93)

For dinner, baked cod with Calliope Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (Burrowing Owl’s second label in BC – very pale colour; floral, herbaceous, grapefruit nose with a vanilla note; full-bodied, green plum and citrus flavours with lively acidity – 89).

Tuesday, July 9: Wrote my On The Go column on Summer Rosés. Then down to The Miller on Bay for a seminar on the wines of Victoria by Steven Worley, winemaker at The Hairy Arm Wine Company in Northcote, Victoria. Tasted through flights of Alternative Whites (Pinot Grigio and Savagnin), Chardonnay, Alternative Reds (Tempranillo and Sangiovese) and Shiraz. Tempranillo, says Steve, will be the next big thing from Australia. My top white wines were Galli Estate Pamela Chardonnay 2010 (90) and Soumah Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2011 (89). In reds, Fowles Wines Ladies Who Shoot their Lunch Shiraz 2010 (90) and Fowles Wines Are You Game? Shiraz 2009 (best value – 89).

For dinner, pork loin, lentils, roasted cauliflower with Quails’ Gate Riesling 2012 (light straw with lime tint; petrol, lime with floral and mineral notes; dry, mouth-watering lime and grapefruit flavours (90)).

Wednesday, July 10: Spent much of the day on a plot line for a new wine murder mystery, then down to The Miller on Bay again – this time to meet Stéphane Vedau, the proprietor-winemaker at La Ferme du Mont in Valreas. Stéphane had just arrived from Paris and came straight from the airport, jet-lagged.

  • La Ferme du Mont Le Ponnant Côtes du Rhône Villages 2011: deep ruby color; floral, savoury, blackberry nose; dry, full-bodied and mouth-filling with licorice, sage and blackberry flavours, firmly structured. Great value at $17. (89)
  • La Ferme du Mont La Truffiere 2011 Côtes du Rhône Blanc 2011: Grenache Blanc, Viognier and Clairette: deep straw colour; spicy, tropical fruit nose with a floral note; richly extracted peach and melon flavours, full-bodied, with a star anise note. Good mouth feel. Great value at $14.95. (89)
  • La Ferme du Mont Première Côtes du Rhône 2009: deep ruby colour; peppery, smoked bacon nose; full-bodied, dry and savoury with black raspberry and bitter chocolate flavours. (88)
  • La Ferme du Mont Vendange Châteauneuf du Pape 2011: Roussanne. Marsanne, Calirette: deep straw colour; peach, lemon and mineral nose; very elegant, full on the palate, rich and fleshy, well balanced with a great mouth feel; a seamless wine with flavours of peach and apricot. (91)
  • La Ferme du Mont Gigondas Côte Jugunda 2010: deep ruby colour; elegant and stylish; dry, peppery, fennel and blackberry bouquet, flavours replicated on the palate; full in the mouth, dry with a firm tannic finish. (91)
  • La Ferme du Mont Châteauneuf du Pape Côtes Capelan 2010: deep ruby colour; floral, black raspberry, cherry and peppery nose with a hint of cedary oak; velvety mouth feel, seamless almost Burgundian in style but with more weight. A gorgeous wine. (94)

Thursday, July 11: An early morning start today. Down at Queen’s Park at 7:45 am to take a bus tour of Prince Edward County with 17 members of the foreign diplomatic corps. They were invited by the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, David Onley, to visit two of the wineries which had won the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in Ontario Wines: Exultet Estates and Huff Estates.

Exultet makes a mere 1,000 cases of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio and Vidal Icewine (one of the few producers of this dessert wine in The County). Unlike most of the new PEC wineries that operate out of refurbished barns, Exultet is housed in what used to be the Royal Street Cheese Factory, which flourished in the 1870s in the hamlet of Milford, deep in the heart of Prince Edward County. Its vineyards were planted in 2004.

In addition to tasting Exultet The Blessed Chardonnay 2011 and their Pinot Noir 2010 and 2009, I sampled a wine that bore the label of Gerry and Lia Spinoza’s sons, 12-year-old Mario and 8-year-old Joseph. Last fall they went through their parents’ Pinot Noir vineyard after the harvesters had finished their work and collected the grape bunches that remained on the vines. These were crushed, fermented and bottled as Mario & Joseph Knucklehead Red 2012. It was light and deliciously refreshing.

Mario & Joseph Spinoza with their Knucklehead Red 2012
Mario & Joseph Spinoza with their Knucklehead Red 2012

Then on to Huff Estates, where we were greeted with Huff Estates Cuvée Peter F. Huff 2007 before sitting down to lunch accompanied by Huff Estates Rosé 2012 and Huff Estates Pinot Gris 2012 and First Frost Vidal 2008. The bus took us back to Queen’s Park, where the Lieutenant Governor presented his Awards of Excellence to the twelve wines that won this year.

  • Exultet Estates “The Blessed” Chardonnay 2011
  • Henry of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Riesling 2008
  • Huff Estates Cuvée Peter F. Huff 2007
  • Konzelmann Estate Vidal Icewine 2010
  • Malivoire Stouck Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
  • Peller Estates Signature Series Riesling Icewine 2008
  • Rosewood Estates Merlot Reserve 2010
  • Southbrook Whimsy Cabernet Franc 2010
  • Stratus Vineyards Chardonnay 2010
  • Stratus Vineyards Stratus Syrah 2010
  • Tawse Winery Carlys Block Riesling 2010

For dinner, with grilled Italian sausages, Ghost Pines Zinfandel 2011 (deep ruby colour; spicy, sweet blackberry and tobacco nose; creamy and soft on the palate. Easy drinking – 88).

Friday, July 12: Went down to the LCBO to taste 15 new releases to the general list. In the evening, to Grano to celebrate Steven Campbell’s 60th birthday. After the Bruno Paillard Brut Première Cuvée Champagne, a succession of old wines from Steven’s cellar. A riotous meal followed.

Steven Campbell and his brother Scott
Steven Campbell and his brother Scott   

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