Monday, October 21: 11 am at Momofuco in the Shangri-La Hotel for a tasting of Henriot Champagne with winemaker Laurent Fresnet. Nothing like champagne to start off the week even if we have to wait till 11 am to pop or pull a cork. (Ontario drinking laws! How antediluvian.)
- Henriot Brut Rosé N/V (60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay): The colour was pale amber (“We don’t blend for colour,” says Laurent); a nose of cranberries and pink grapefruit with a yeasty note; crisply dry, red apple flavour with lively acidity. Tasty, engaging fruit. (90)
- Henriot Brut Souverain N/V (equal parts Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with 8% Pinot Meunier): light straw colour with a green tint; brioche, apple, honey and ginger nose; green apple, lemon flavours, fresh and lively on a palate but a touch brittle on the finish. (89)
- Henriot Blanc de Blancs N/V: straw colour with a green tint; minerally, citrus and brioche nose with a top note of white blossoms; citrus, green apple and caramel flavours; clean and long with a nutty finish. (91)
- Henriot Brut Millésimé 2005 (50/50 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir): straw colour with a green tint; apple pie nose; rich and full on the palate with apple and honey flavours finishing dry. (90)
- Henriot Cuvée des Enchanteleurs 1998 (50/50 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir): straw colour with a green tint; mature nose of white flowers with a mature, slightly maderized nose (“le goût anglais”); lemony, baked apple flavour. (89)
- Henriot Cuvée des Enchanteleurs 1990 (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir): (magnum) light golden colour; youthful, green apple, white flowers on the nose; surprisingly young and vibrant; beautifully balanced and elegant; long on finish. (93)
Cabbed over to the ROM for a Napa Valley tasting, starting with a seminar on “How Does Age Affect Napa Valley Wines?” conducted by John Szabo MS. Five wineries – Cain Vineyard & Winery, Long Meadow Ranch Winery, Shafer Vineyards, Silverado Vineyards and Somerston – brought two wines. As Doug Shafer said: “If they (Napa Cabs) taste good right out of the chute, they’ll age.” Really like the Cain Red Blend 2004. Then into the main room for the tasting. I concentrated on Merlot. My top wine was Amuse bouche Merlot 2010 (94 points – despite its $225 price tag), followed by La Jota Merlot 2010 (92), then, all with 90 points, Freemark Abbey Merlot 2011, Silverado Vineyards Merlot 2009, Twomey Cellars Merlot 2009. Best value: Napa Cellars Merlot 2011 (89).
In the evening, I went over to Villa Colombo for a Cambridge Food and Wine Society awards presentation. Delighted to see Sheila Swerling-Puritt receive an honour.
Tuesday, October 22: Spent much of the day inputting wine reviews for Vintages’ November release.
Wednesday October 23: Got a new Samsung S4, which means a new learning curve, since I’ve been using a Blackberry Bold. Amazing what this device can do. Already loving it.
In the afternoon, down to Crush for a tasting of Flat Rock Cellars 2011 Block Series Pinot Noir. Proprietor Ed Madronich explained that his vineyard is divided up in to 13 blocks and he and his winemaker Jay Johnston decided to bottle 100 cases each of three specific blocks of Pinot Noir because of the distinctive terroir character. “The bottom of the vineyard is warmer than the top, a 50–60 foot difference in terms of elevation. The top ripens three days later than the bottom.” We tasted the blocks at different locations in the vineyard,
- Flat Rock Bruce Block Pinot Noir 2011 (clone 115): light ruby colour; minerally, cherry nose with a leafy-floral note; dry and firm and tight, lean and sinewy (reminded me of a Santenay).
- Flat Rock Summit Block Pinot Noir 2011 (clone 667): slightly deeper in colour than the Bruce Block; black cherry nose with a floral graced note; spicy cherry flavour, with lively acidity (Chambolle-Musigny style).
- Flat Rock Pound Block Pinot Noir 2011 (clone 777): ruby colour; cherry pit nose, light and delicate (Volnay style).
Fascinating comparison showing the effect of specific clones in different soils produce very different wines. But then, the Burgundians have known this for over 200 years.
Then we tasted Flat Rock Estate Pinot Noir 2011 (ruby colour; minty, earthy, cherry nose; lean and sinewy with a tannic finish) and the Flat Rock Gravity Pinot Noir 2011. Frankly, I preferred the Estate. I found the Gravity had a soapy note on the nose. I’ve tasted this wine three times, and on two occasions I found that soapiness, so it wasn’t the glass.
In the evening, I joined the Speck family at the Wine Bar on Lower Church Street for a dinner celebration of their 25th anniversary as a winery. A grand evening with the following menu:
Wild mushroom croquette accompanied by truffle aïoli
2007 Speck Family Reserve Pinot Noir
Butter-poached, lobster-stuffed puff pastry garnished with dill and capers
2010 Speck Family Reserve Chardonnay
Panko-crusted brie with preserved Ontario heirloom tomatoes
2008 Cuvée Catharine Carte Blanche Blanc de Blanc
Smoked wild salmon ravioli with pink peppercorns, pea sprouts, and citrus beurre blanc
2008 Speck Family Reserve Riesling
Seared Muscovy duck breast & crispy duck confit, parsnip and black truffle purée, butter fried Brussels sprouts, and Niagara sour cherries
2002 Reserve Cabernet-Merlot & 1999 Reserve Baco Noir (Magnums)
Lemon & icewine-poached pear raspberry anglaise and praline almonds
2004 Riesling Icewine.
Thursday, October 24: Wrote my Post City wine column and in the evening, I conducted a corporate wine tasting featuring budget-priced wines:
- Louis Miguel Père et Fils Chardonnay 2012 (France)
- Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (New Zealand)
- The Wolftrap Viognier Chenin Blanc Grenache 2011 (South Africa)
- Georges DuBoeuf Beaujolais Villages 2011 (Burgundy)
- Cono Sur Pinot Noir Biciclata 2012 (Chile)
- La Vieille Ferme Rouge 2012 (Rhône)
Friday, October 25: A Vintages release tasting. And in the evening to a funeral parlour on Dundas West with Deborah, to pay final respects to Sam Schiarelli. His son Rick told us that Sam died peacefully in his sleep just shy of his 98th birthday. What a wonderful life.
Saturday, October 26: An early start. At 9:15 am, in the rain, joined a busload of sponsors of the Ontario Wine Awards, and their guests, in the Yorkdale parking lot to drive down to Niagara. Our first stop was Strewn Winery where we drank 13th Street Premier Cuvée, the gold-medal winning sparkling wine at the Ontario Wine Awards 2013. After touring the winery and tasting Strewn Terroir Riesling Gewurztraminer 2012, Strewn Three Terroir 2010 and Strewn Noble Cabernet Botrytis Affected 2011. Followed by lunch at the winery’s restaurant, Terroir La Cachette – salad, roast chicken in a mushroom and tarragon sauce and cheesecake.
13th Street bubbly
Then, the short drive over to Pillitteri. Winemaker Alex Kolundzic tasted us through Pillitteri Red Blend 2010, Pillitteri Cabernet Franc 2010 and two appassimento wines from 2012, a Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Siciliana cart at Pillitteri
Crazy traffic, once we got back to the Yorkdale parking lot. For dinner, pizza and a bottle of Delvina Amfora Vranac 2011 from Macedonia.