A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 466: South African Dinner

Jeff Koons’ Dom Perignon 2004 bottle

Monday, October 14: Yes, it’s a holiday, but not for my palate. Tasted the newly released Baron Philippe de Rothschild 2012 Vins de Pays d’Oc, all line-priced at $11.95 and good value. A new label design too. Last vintage the label was black. The 2012 vintage carries a white label with the same stylized vine plant. Frankly, I preferred the black label, which looked sleeker and sexier.

  • Baron Philippe de Rothschild Sauvignon Blanc 2012: very pale straw colour; grassy, green plum with a mineral note on the bouquet; medium-bodied, crisply dry, with a lemony, green plum flavour. Good length. (87)
  • Baron Philippe de Rothschild Pinot Noir 2012: light ruby colour; earthy, cherry nose; dry, lean and sinewy with a sour cherry and wild strawberry flavours, lively acidity and a firm finish. (86)
  • Baron Philippe de Rothschild Merlot 2012: deep ruby colour; plum with a spicy wood note on the nose; dry, medium-bodied, well extracted plum and dark chocolate flavours. Solid on the palate. (86+)
  • Baron Philippe de Rothschild Cabernet Sauvignon 2012: deep ruby-purple colour; cedar, cherry jam nose with a touch of oak spice; good concentration of cherry and blackcurrant flavours with a bitter chocolate finish and ripe tannins. (87+)

My son Guy and his girlfriend Carlee came over for dinner. Opened a bottle of Tinhorn Creek Gewurztraminer 2012 with smoked salmon and Tawse Redstone Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 with flank steak with a spicy rub and green mango salad.

Tuesday, October 15: An 11:30 am radio interview with CBC Quebec’s Jacquie Czemin on my new book, Canadian Wineries. In the evening over to Esther Farlinger’s house for a reception for Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. Esther is being honoured for her work.

Wednesday, October 16: Last minute arrangements for the South African dinner at St. George’s Golf Club on Thursday, proceeds to a South African charity, called MAD (nothing to do with Mothers Against Drunk Driving; it’s for under-privileged kids). My ex-wife Brenda came to dinner with Barbara Wesson, an old friend from CBC Radio days. Opened a bottle of Quails’ Gate Chenin Blanc 2012 with smoked salmon and Rosewood Merlot Reserve 2010 with BBQ filet steak.

Thursday, October 17: A delivery today of two wines to review – Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2013 and a dramatically packaged bottle of Dom Pérignon Brut 2004. The champagne arrived in a black box decorated with Jeff Koons’ limited edition “Balloon Venus.” I’m a great fan of Koons, having discovered his work at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilboa. The bottle has a brassy gold foil. The accompanying notes read: “Jeff Koons’ Balloon Venus symbolizes the continuity of life’s energy, rebirth and sensuality.”

The tasting notes: “On the nose, aromas of almond and powdered cocoa develop gradually into white fruit with hints of dried flowers. Classic toasted notes give a rounded finish and denote a fully realized maturity. On the palate, the wine instantly traces an astoundingly fine line between density and weightlessness. Its precision is extreme, tactile, dark and chiselled. The full taste lingers with the utmost elegance on a sappy, spicy note.” Who writes this stuff!

By 4 pm Deborah and I were at St. George’s Golf Club in Etobicoke setting up the silent auction for the South African wine tasting dinner, presented by the Canadian Southern African Network and grapes for Humanity. The event began at 6 pm with a sparkling wine reception (Graham Beck Brut) before sitting down to dinner and entertainment by South African singer Lorraine Klaasen and her band.

Lorraine Klaasen performing

Here’s the menu with the wines that were served:

Boerwors Rillette
Szechwan Pepper Basket, Caramelized Onion, Peach Chutney
Rickety Bridge Chenin Blanc 2012

Spiced Poached Pear with Grilled Citrus Goat Cheese
Apple Smoked Duck, Walnut Vinaigrette
Hermanuspietersfontein Nr. 3 Sauvignon Blanc 2012
Boekenhoutskloof Semillon 2009

Roast Capsicum and Bilbong Salad
Smoked Cherry Mustard
Lemberg Spencer Pinotage 2011

Braised Water Buffalo
Samp and Bean Potjiekos with Blackcurrant Coulis
deTrafford Cabernet Sauvignon
Meerlust Rubicon 2008

Malva Pudding with Amarala
Thick Vanilla Custard

Served on the table with coffee: Dadel Balletjies

Friday, October 18: A Vintages release tasting this morning. Always nice to start the day off with a taste of Krug Grande Cuvée. Dinner at our neighbour Sally’s. I brought along a bottle of Norman Hardie County Pinot Noir 2011, which went beautifully with Sally’s pork loin wellington.

Saturday, October 19: In the evening Deborah and I drove to Burlington for a fund-raiser for breast cancer, called Beauty and the Bistro. Debbie Levy of Dairy Farmers of Canada conducted three wine and cheese seminar during the course of the evening. Four cheeses from four provinces were matched with four Ontario wines.

  • Comox Brie from BC with Henry of Pelham Sauvignon Blanc 2012
  • Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar from Prince Edward Island with Niagara College Teaching Winery Dean’s List Chardonnay 2010
  • La Belle-Mère (semi-firm washed rid) from Quebec with Casa-Dea Estates Gamay 2010
  • Five Brothers (Gouda/Appenzeller) from Ontario with Burning Kiln Strip Room 2012
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