A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 461: Château Latour

Lip-smacking Latours
Lip-smacking Latours

Monday, September 9: Had to stockpile my 680News wine reviews as Deborah and I leave for Japan a week today for two weeks. A bucket list trip. No wine, thinks Deborah. Wrong. There’ll be sake and some local wine. I’m also contacting Jamie who has a store in Tokyo that sells only Canadian wines. It’s called Heavenly Vines.

Tuesday, September 10: Lunch with Marc Beyer at J.P. Chalet’s Ici bistro – my favorite French restaurant in Toronto. Marc is the thirteenth generation of winegrowers at Léon Beyer in Alsace. They’ve been in business since 1580 in Eguisheim. Canada is their No. 1 export market, mainly because Quebec takes 20,000 cases – one-third of their production. Michel Bettane, the leading French wine critic, has referred to the house as “the white knight of totally fermented wine.” Marc’s son Yann, who makes the wine, is the 14th generation. Before the meal we tasted:

  • Léon Beyer Riesling Reserve 2012: pale straw colour with a lime tint; minerally, lime and grapefruit nose with a floral note; nicely balanced with a fresh finish. (88)
  • Léon Beyer Riesling Les Ecaillers 2007 (named for oyster shuckers): a deeper straw colour than the previous Riesling; petrol, minerally nose; full on the palate, elegant, with peach and lime flavours. (91)
  • Léon Beyer Riesling Comtes d’Eguisheim 2005: straw colour; minerally, aromatic nose of crushed stones and rose petals; spicy and rich, dry, full on the palate with good acidity giving it a fresh, lively finish for such a warm vintage. (90)
  • Léon Beyer Gewürztraminer 2011: straw colour; mature, pink grapefruit nose with floral and mineral notes; elegant, spicy flavour, dry with good length. (90)

Then lunch was served: veal tartar, salmon carpaccio, quenelles; roast squab with potato gnocchi; lemon tart, goat cheese cheesecake and a pot of crème brûlée. The wines with the meal:

  • Léon Beyer Pinot Gris 2011: straw coloured; minerally, peach nose with a light floral note; peach flavour with lively acidity and a long, firm finish. (89)
  • Léon Beyer Pinot Noir 2011: medium ruby colour; cherry nose; fresh and lively on the palate with good extract. (88)
  • Léon Beyer Gewürztraminer Vendanges Tardives 2004: golden straw colour; spicy, honey with a botrytis note; sweet, barley sugar flavour, nicely balanced with acidity; full on the palate. (91)

Wednesday, September 11: Recorded my 680News wine reviews and then walked over to Mideastro restaurant, 27 Yorkville, for lunch with Susan White, the owner of Whitehaven winery in Marlborough, New Zealand.

  • Whitehaven Pinot Gris 2012: light, bright straw colour; mnerally, fresh nose of citrus fruit and peach; full-bodied, dry, lovely mouth-feel, with a touch of spicy sweetness in mid-palate. (90)
  • Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc 2012: light straw colour; grassy, green bean and passion fruit nose; rich, mouth-watering gooseberry and passion fruit flavours, fresh finish. Well balanced. (90)
  • Whitehaven Greg Series Sauvignon Blanc 2012: slightly deeper in colour than the white label; minerally, white pepper, green pepper and green plum nose; crispy dry with flavours of lemon and gooseberry that last for an unconscionable time on the palate. (92)
  • Whitehaven Pinot Noir 2010: deep ruby colour; earthy, beetroot and cherry nose with a light oak note; full-bodied, sweet fruit, discreetly oaked with ripe tannins. (89)

At 6 pm up to the North York Community Hall, 5110 Yonge Street, to lead a tasting of eight Château Latour and a mystery wine for Wine Tasters of Toronto. The wines were served blind and we had to rank them in order of our preference. My order of preference (which coincided with the group ranking for the top two wines) was:

  1. 1990
  2. 1989
  3. 1994
  4. 1976
  5. 1995
  6. 1979
  7. 1987
  8. 1983

The mystery wine (which I thought was a Fort de Latour 1990) turned out to be a 1982 vintage. Amazingly youthful and holding its colour. Then a group of us went on to Earth on Yonge Street for dinner, where we polished off the remainder of the bottles.

Thursday, September 12: A lunch meeting with David Hamilton and David Rose to discuss the 20th anniversary of the Ontario Wine Awards that happens in April. Received an interesting device for preserving wine once it’s been opened. It’s called Savino and it’s a glass column with a stopper and a float that creates a physical barrier between the surface of the wine and air. It costs $44.95 from B & M Marketing Canada Inc. Can’t wait to try it, although I have yet to have had wine left over when I open a bottle.

Friday, September 13: A Wine Writers Circle tasting this morning of 74 sparkling wines, including champagnes. The revelation was Bera Moscato d’Asti 2011, a delicious 5% alcohol wine with flavours of orange and honey with a lavender nose.

Delicious aperitif: Bera Moscato d'Asti 2011
Delicious aperitif: Bera Moscato d’Asti 2011

Then down to the LCBO for a tasting of wines just released on the general list. In the evening I tasted three wines from Sumac Ridge Black Sage Vineyard – all from the not so stellar 2011 vintage: Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The best was the Merlot.

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