Monday, October 7: October and November are always busy months in the wine calendar. It’s the time when winemakers can travel. I was meant to go to a tasting of 70 wines from Lake Erie North Shore wineries but I attended Harold Halpern’s funeral instead. I had known Harold for 30 years but didn’t know that he was a keen photographer and a pianist. Wrote my 680News wine reviews and went to dinner with Barry Chaim at EDO to tell him all about our Japanese trip. Still feeling some effects from jet lag.
Tuesday, October 8: A meeting this morning with Suresh Doss, David Rose and Sandy Kurbis to discuss the 20th anniversary of the Ontario Wine Awards and the 10th anniversary of sip&Savour Ontario. Then on to the ROM for the annual Wines of Chile tasting. There were 25 tables and 117 wines available for tasting. I concentrated on the red wines and was delighted to discover a winery whose wines I had never tasted before – Villaseñor in Talca. They make a very tasty blend of Carmenère, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon called Villaseñor Ensamblaje 2009 and a beautifully balanced Villaseñor Cabernet Sauvignon-Syrah 2010. Other wines I scored 90 points were Volcanes de Chile Parincota 2010 (a Syrah-Carignan blend), Anakena ALWA Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Pérez Cruz Carmenère Limited Edition 2011 and Carmen Gran Reserva Carmenère Syrah 2009.
Wednesday, October 9: Recorded my 680News wine reviews and then drove up to the Profile Wine group to pick up wines for the annual Pauwels/Aspler reunion dinner.
Thursday, October 10: Down to the ROM for the annual Ontario wine tasting. Forty-three wineries showing 169 wines. I wanted to taste all the Pinot Noirs before I moved on to other varieties. Pinot Noir, the most fickle and demanding of grapes, is alive and well in Ontario. Winemakers like Norman Hardie, Thomas Bachelder, David Sheppard at Coyote’s Run, Paul Battilana at Casa Dea, Deborah Paskus at Closson Chase, Angelo Pavan at Cave Spring, Marlize Beyers at Hidden Bench, Ross Wise at The Organized Crime Winery and Shiraz Mottiar at Malivoire are all very respectful of this demanding variety, even in a wet vintage like 2011. Made in Burgundian style rather than emulating New Zealand or Oregon, Ontario Pinots are restrained and elegant, speaking to the soil in which they were grown.
I was particularly struck by the difference in flavours of Coyote’s Run Red Paw and Black Paw Pinots, both from 2011 vintage. These two plots are contiguous but the wines they produce, because of the soil structure, are very different. Like the diversity between a Côte de Beaune and a Côte de Nuits. Other wines I really enjoyed were Jackson-Triggs Niagara Grand Reserve Shiraz 2011 and Charles Baker Ivan Vineyard Riesling 2012.
Across the road at the Gardiner Museum, Wines From Spain was holding a sherry tasting they punningly called “Drink More Sherry. Get Flor’d.” On the inside of the program was this note: “We would like to remind you that the sherries in this tasting contain anywhere from 15 to 22 percent alcohol by volume. Please taste responsibly, and please make liberal use of the provided spit buckets.” I happen to love sherry and every year I predict that it’s going to make a comeback. On the strength of what I tasted here I certainly hope this is the year. Particularly struck by the wines of El Maestro Sierra, Fernando de Castilla and Bodegas Traición. Best value: Gonzáles Byass Leonor Palo Cortado at $18.95.
In the evening Deborah and I went to Rossini’s for the reunion dinner. We were 18 in all and enjoyed wines from the region we’ll be touring next May, Tuscany and Umbria: Poggio al Tresoro Solosole Vermentino 2011, Fattoria di Magliano Heba Morellino di Scansano 2010 and Tenuta di Martucino Brunello di Montalcino 2008.
Friday, October 11: Went down to the LCBO to taste the new general list release. Stunning Piper Heidsieck and an Avantegarde Dornfelder Red worth $14.95 for the bottle alone. Soft & fruity with a touch of residual sugar.
Avantegarde Dornfelder Red Bottle
Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Bodyguard Brut
Wrote my On The Go magazine column and began researching the wineries that we will try to visit on the May wine tour. Dinner, spicy Italian sausages with Quails’ Gate Merlot 2011 (dense purple; intense, vanilla, black fruits, spicy oak bouquet; well extracted sweet fruit with dark chocolate flavours and grainy tannins. Good length (90)).