Monday, November 4: Flew Porter Airlines to Montreal to conduct a dinner tasting for executives of the International Wine Clubs Association at L’Entrepont Bistro on the Plateau. But first had lunch with my sister Shirley at the Snowdon Deli, a favourite haunt. Shirley dropped me at Nelligan’s Hotel in Old Montreal where I’m spending the night.
L’Entrepont is a tiny restaurant seating 24 and we took it over for the night. Several of the club owners – from France, the Netherland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Brazil and the US – had never tasted Canadian table wines before and were mightily impressed.
Benjamin Bridge Nova 7 2012 (Nova Scotia)
Assiette de gravlax de saumon fait maison
(Délicate, tranchée bien mince, avec accompagnement de saison)
Inniskillin 2 Vineyards Riesling 2011 (Ontario)
Joie Farm Pinot Blanc 2011 (British Columbia)
Festin de pleurotes, shiitakes et truffes
Champignons frais, sautés en sauce Madère parfumée à la truffe d’été italienne
Tantalus Riesling 2012 (British Columbia)
Hidden Bench Nuit Blanche 2011 (Ontario)
Le solo de canard, sauce au vinaigre de framboise
?(Du lac Brome, magret de canard cuit à la perfection)
Norman Hardy County Pinot Noir 2011 (Prince Edward County, Ontario)
Mission Hill Martin’s Lane Pinot Noir 2011 (British Columbia)
Malivoire Stouck Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (Niagara, Ontario)
Painted Rock Syrah 2011 (British Columbia)
Gâteau au fromage ou crème brûlée (au choix).
Domaine Pinnacles Ice Cider (Quebec)
Tony with Bruno Le Breton of BLB Vineyards at the IWCA dinner in Montreal
Tuesday, November 5: An 8:30 am flight back to Toronto. Went straight to the 680News studio to record my wine reviews and then to Rogers’ store to buy an Otter protective cover for my new Galaxy S4. It’s a great phone with a voice recognition system but it’s obviously not attuned to an English accent. I want to access my website so I spoke into it, “Tony Aspler.” It directed me to a site called “Tiny Ass Porn.” Maybe I should use that as my Twitter handle.
In the afternoon down to Brassaii for a Rogers & Co. portfolio tasting. Loved the Shafer wines. Dinner at Wildfire Steakhouse with Jane Ferrari of Yalumba in South Australia, a winery that has gained an admirable reputation for its Viognier.
- Yalumba Y Series Viognier 2013: straw colour; spicy, minerally, honeysuckle and peach nose; rich and full on the palate with a tangerine flavour (88)
- Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier 2012: straw colour; apricot and peach aromas with a honeysuckle note; rich and full on the palate, beautifully balanced with apricot and honey flavours balanced by fresh, citrus acidity. (90+). ( Jane said of this wine: “It’s the bottled version of ‘Hair.’ This is the Age of Aquarius – everything is in balance”‘)
- Yalumba The Strapper Grenache Shiraz Mataro 2011: deep ruby colour; black raspberry and pepper nose; full-bodied, jammy, sweet fruit with a light oak flavour, nicely balanced. And well priced at $19.95. (90)
- Yalumba Organic Shiraz 2012: deep ruby colour; herbal, blackberry and blackcurrant nose; medium-bodied, dry and savoury. Licorice and black fruit falvours; St. Joseph in style. (91)
- Yalumba The Signature Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz 2009 (85-year-old Cabernet vines and 100-year-old Shiraz vines): deep, dense ruby; spicy blackcurrant and cedar nose with a floral grace note; richly extracted fruit, firmly structured yet elegant and beautifully balanced. Still youthful. (92)
- Yalumba Barossa Patchwork Shiraz 2011 (from 14 vineyards across the Barossa valley floor): dense purple-ruby colour; clove and black fruits on the nose; medium to full-bodied with a plum flavour, dry and rustic. (88)
Wednesday, November 6: Thomas Bachelder and Mary Delaney came to the condo to present Thomas’s wines to a group of sommeliers and wine writers. We held the tasting in our conference room. Thomas said that these wines represent “the world’s only experiment in doing Pinot in three ways in a Burgundian style.” His goal: to reveal terroir, using French oak.
- Bachelder Oregon Pinot Noir 2011: medium ruby colour; cherry with a mineral note, a light florality and a peppery note with evident oak; firm, elegant, more Burgundian than Oregon style, firm structure with chalky tannins. (89)
- Bachelder Johnson Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011: deeper ruby colour; fleshier, cherry and mineral nose with the same floral nose; well balanced, elegant; firm tannic finish. (90)
- Bachelder Lowrey Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011 (St. David’s Bench): ruby colour; minerally, raspberry, touch of violent perfume; again very Burgundian in style but with a fleshiness. Firm finish. (90)
- Bachelder Pernand Vergelesses Creux de la Net 2011: ruby; spicy, vanilla oak, red berry fruit with a violet scent; elegant, lean and sinewy, very elegant, with lively acidity and ripe tannins. (91)
- Bachelder Beaune Premier Cru Beaune Les Réversées 2011: ruby colour; violets, raspberries; very elegant, seamless, firm structure; lovely mouth feel. (92)
- Bachelder Côtes de Nuits Villages aux Montagnes 2011: ruby colour; good depth of ruby colour; earthy, beetroot, chunky mouth feel, lots of muscle, dry. (88)
- Bachelder Nuits-Saint-Georges La Petite Charmotte 2011: ruby colour; black raspberry, anise nose; rich, full on the palate but soft and charming as the name suggests; firm tannic finish. (90)
Then we moved on, in Burgundian fashion, to taste Thomas’s Chardonnays from the three regions:
- Bachelder Oregon Chardonnay 2011: straw with a lime note; vanilla oak, peach and lemon; driving acidity with apple and green pineapple flavours; great balance with a touch of bitterness on the finish. Full-bodied. (89)
- Bachelder Oregon Chardonnay Johnson Vineyard 2011: straw with a lime tint; minerally, peach; rich and full on the palate, spicy, pineapple and peach; firm finish. (91)
- Bachelder Niagara Chardonnay 2011: light straw with a green tint; spicy, vanilla oak, apple with an apple blossom note; elegant, apple flavour, firm, medium-bodied, with a touch of bitterness on the finish. (89)
- Bachelder Niagara Saunders Vineyard Chardonnay 2011: light straw with a green tint; minerally, forest floor nose; bright, high toned, apple and green pineapple flavours. (90)
- Bachelder Niagara Chardonnay Wismer Chardonnay 2011: straw with a green tint; Burgundian nose, forest floor, creamy, lemony, great mouth-feel, beautifully balanced. (92)
- Bachelder Bourgogne Chardonnay 2011: bright straw colour; minerally, funky, apple; crisp, lemony, fresh and lively. Medium length. (89)
- Bachelder Beaune Les Longes 2012: straw colour; minerally, apple; great sense of terroir, lemony, green apple, fresh and lively; firmly structured. (89)
- Bachelder Puligny-Montrachet En Corvée des Vignes 2011: straw with green tint; minerally, green apple with evident oak; firmly structured, tight with great flavours.
At 5 pm down to the bar in One restaurant in the Hazelton Hotel to meet with Leo Chan and Sheila Swerling-Purrit. Leo wants us to select the winery of the year and the South American winners of best wine, beer and spirit for the Cambridge Food & Wine Society’s 2014 gala.
For dinner, with grilled tilapia, Blue Mountain Sauvignon Blanc 201 (straw colour; grassy, tart green plum nose; nicely balanced green fruit flavours, full on the palate with a crisp finish (89)).
Thursday, November 7: Wrote up my Wines of the Week and my Post City Magazines column on Champagne and sparkling wine. At 6:30 down to the ballroom of the Ritz Carlton Hotel for the launch of Toronto Life’s 50 Most Influential Torontonians issue. The gods of journalism must be smiling on them, because the cover features cartoon images of Police Chief Blair and Rob Ford with the cover line, “The mayor, the cop who could bring him down, and everyone else who matters.” That cover must have been designed three months ago.
Friday, November 8: A Vintages release tasting for December. Tasted a brilliant Joseph Cattin Gewurztraminer 2011 that will sell for $17.95. Killer Gewurz. In the evening, down to the Trump Tower to meet Olivier Krug , Directeur de la Maison Krug. I remember a great tasting when his uncle Remy came to Toronto in the mid-1980s. We tasted a 1961 Krug that had lost most of its bubbles but tasted like a magnificent Meursault. I was escorted up to the 38th floor of the building to a penthouse that was basically a construction site. Olivier was seated in a black leather chair in front of a table set with three glasses. I was informed that the penthouse condo was on three floors and covered an area of 13,000 square feet. The asking price, undecorated, was $38 million.
Olivier Krug in unusual surroundings
Olivier told me that Krug’s most important market is Japan. He gave me a brief history of the firm: in 1843 Joseph Krug, a German, the son of a butcher, left the firm of Jacquesson, to start his own champagne house at the age of forty-three. He wanted to offer two cuvées – one a blend, and one depending on the year. These would be institutionalised in the company as Grande Cuvée (a blend of several years) and Vintage.
- Krug 2000: golden colour, with dramatic flow of tiny bubbles; toasty, biscuit nose and fresh mushrooms; very elegant, lemony, green apple; layered winey flavours that meld with oak to give a fresh, creamy finish. Very slender and feminine for Krug in spite of the fact that 2000 was one of the warmest years. What a joy to drink. (95)
- Krug Gande Cuvée: old gold colour; nutty, white flowers, honey, toasty nose; rich and full on the palate, a majestic wine more voluptuous and fleshy than the 2000 vintage with an amazingly long, lemony finish. (94)
- Krug Rosé: salmon pink in colour; biscuit, wild strawberries and citrus nose; silky mouth feel in spite of its power; honey, cranberry and citrus flavours with a firm structure and long refreshing finish. (93).
A great way to end the working week.