Sunday, October 27: Down to the CNE grounds to judge the competing Ontario VQA wines for the Royal Winter Fair. When the dust settled the winning wine was Stanners Pinot Noir 2010. Other finalists were Strewn Barrel Aged Chardonnay 2012, Black Prince Riesling 2011, Megalomaniac Home Grown Riesling 2012, Lailey Merlot 2011, Willow Springs Testa Vidal Icewine 2011.
Monday, October 28: Wrote my 680News wine reviews and then to Buonanotte to have lunch with Gaia Gaja, Angelo’s daughter. She told me that Angelo named her Gaia in case he didn’t have a son so that the name would survive. He had another daughter, Rossana, and then he had a son, Giovanni. She also said that “Our America was Bolgheri” (a twist on the old Italian saying that the discovery of America opened a whole new life for Italians). Bolgheri is the only Italian DOC that is exclusively international varieties. Sangiovese grown here is IGT. You have to love Italian pragmatism.
- Gaja Ca’Marcanda Vistamare 2011 (Viognier, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Vermentino): straw colour with green highlights; minerally, white peach nose with white blossom top notes; dry, medium-bodied, very elegant, a seamless blend (90).
- Gaja Ca’Marcanda 2009 (50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc): deep ruby colour; cedar, blackcurrant, vanilla oak nose with floral and tobacco notes; medium-bodied, dry, savoury with ripe tannins and great length (92).
- Gaja Sito Moresco 2011 (Nebbiolo, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon): deep ruby colour; a nose of violets, tobacco, licorice, cherries and raspberries; dry, medium-bodied, firmly structured with lively acidity – another seamless wine (91).
- Gaja Barbaresco 2009: ruby colour with a brick rim; licorice, cherry, tobacco, sage with a floral top note; dry, medium-bodied, elegant with ripe tannins (90).
- Gaja Pieve S. Restituta Sugarille Brunello di Montalcino 2008: deep ruby colour; spicy cherry, vanilla oak, white pepper with a floral grace note; dry, elegant, fresh and lively on the palate. Another seamless wine. Just a joy to drink. (94)
In the evening, down to Brassaii for a portfolio tasting of Rogers & Company wines. The California properties that Rogers represents showed very well. My top scores went to Altamura Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Chateau Montalena Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Shafer One Point Five Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon 2010, Shafer Hillside Select Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 and Caymus Special Selection Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010. Other wines I enjoyed: Domaine Henry Pellé Sancerre “La Croix au Garde” 2011, Giovanni Rosso Barolo Serralunga 2008, Alain Graillot Crozes Hermitage 2011 and Alex Gambal Chassagne-Montrachet 2011.
Tuesday, October 29: Spent three hours in a CBC studio doing a series of seven radio interviews with local hosts across the country for my new book, Canadian Wineries. Came home to taste the following wines:
- Amado Sur Black Syrah Malbec 2012 (Argentina; 89% Syrah, 11% Malbec; $19.95) Dense purple-black colour that stains the glass; rich savoury-herbal nose of black fruits, chocolate and pencil lead; concentrated, sweet fruit flavours with a floral grace note, unctuous and full on the palate with soft tannins and enough acidity to give it length. Delicious with rack of lamb. (89)
After dinner, opened two half bottles of port:
- Taylor Fladgate Vintage Port 2011 ($75 for 375 mL, $130 for 750 mL): Dense purple colour with a lovely lifted nose of blackberries, chocolate and pencil lead with a floral top note; silky mouth feel with sweet blackberry/mulberry flavour. Surprisingly approachable but will age beautifully. (93)
- Croft Vintage Port 2011 ($70 for 375 mL, $120 for 750 mL): Dense purple colour with an intense mulberry and licorice nose topped with wood spice; great structure with tannins that will allow it to age well. A bit spirituous at the moment with fig and black fruit flavours. A real body-builder’s port. (91)
Wednesday, October 30: A fund-raiser for the Jordana Lokash Foundation at Fieramosca on Prince Arthur. Paul Lokash served seven Israeli wines: Golan Heights Winery Yarden Chardonnay 2010, Yarden Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Gilgal Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Yarden Pinot Noir 2008, and a really impressive Gilgal Sparkling Brut (50/50 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir) that was the most champagne-like wine I’ve had from Israel. Also at the tasting: Vitkin Winery White Israeli Journey 2011 (an interesting blend of Viognier, Gewurztraminer and Colombard), Pelter Winery T-Selection Pinot Noir 2008 and Sea Horse Winery Elul 2008 (72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Syran and 14% Petite Sirah).
Thursday, October 31: A home tasting day today:
- Dalvina Astraion Chardonnay 2011 (from Macedonia): light straw colour; minerally, citrus and apple nose; dry, medium-bodied, peach pit flavour. (86)
- Dalvina Godsin Muscat Trollinger Rosé 2012: deep pink colour; aromatic, orange blossom andcherry nose; perfumed, dry and exotic flavours of cardamom, orange and cherry. (87+)
- Dalvina Tiver Merlot 2011: dense ruby-purple colour; black fruits and leather on the nose; rich, sweet blueberry and blackberry flavours with dark chocolate notes. Full-bodied with a savoury, black olive finish. Very Rhône-like in style. (89)
- Dalvina Amfora Vranac 2011: deep ruby colour; spicy plum nose; savoury-sweet fruit, firmly structured; rustic but nicely balanced plummy-peppery flavour with good acidity. (87+)
- Dalvina Synthesis Cuvée Barrique 2009 (Vranac, Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot): deep ruby colour; leather, red berry nose with an earthy note; spicy, currants and blackberry flavours; firmly structured with a savoury finish. (87)
- Dalvina Ar-Magedon Cuvée Barrique 2008 (Vranac & Cabernet Sauvignon): deep ruby; cedar, blackcurrant nose; medium to full-bodied, dry, savoury, currant and plum flavours with a touch of spice on the finish. Well extracted fruit with ripe tannins. (88)
- Bodega Norton Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (Argentina – $10.95): deep ruby colour; cedar, red berry nose with a sandalwood note (American oak?); medium-bodied, dry, blackcurrant flavour with enough tannin and acidity to give structure. Good value. (86+)
- Bodega Norton Privada Malbec 2009: dense ruby colour; intense, floral, pencil lead, blackberry nose; full-bodied, dry, black fruit flavours with a cinnamon note. Chunky mouth feel. (89)
- Bodega Norton Malbec Reserva 2010: dense ruby colour; cedar, blackberry and tobacco leaf nose; medium to full-bodied, dry, savoury, black olive flavour; firmly structured and still tight. Needs a year or two in bottle. (88)
For dinner, sautéed shrimp and rice with a bottle of Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (pale straw colour; a grassy nose of passion fruit and green peppers; crispy dry, concentrated green plum and gooseberry flavours. Great length. (91)).
Friday, November 1: A Vintages tasting this morning and then down to the Automotive Centre for the annual Grand Cru tasting. Ran into old friends – Etienne Hugel (who introduced me to his new wife, Koaru), Marchese Armando Fumanelli and Paolo di Marchi. Stayed for dinner and the auction.
Etienne Hugel and his wife Koaru
Saturday, November 2: Joe Canavan, Chariman of Children’s Aid, invited Deborah and me to join his table at the Teddy Bear Affair. A great California-themed evening, hosted by Sean Cullen. Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys and Canadian Idol winner Theo Tams provided the entertainment. A great evening.
Miss California at The Teddy Bear Affair