A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 473: A.O.C. Lunch

Monday, December 2: Finished updating the Ontario entry for Jancis Robinson’s new edition of the Oxford Companion to Wine and wrote my commentary column for Quench magazine (formerly Tidings) on Heavenly Vines, “the only all-Canadian wine store in the world” in Tokyo. In the evening Jamie Kennedy invited Deborah and me to an opening dinner at Gilead Wine Bar. Jamie gave us a taste of his Jamie Kennedy Pinot Noir 2012 made from his own Prince Edward County grapes by Geoff Heinricks. Very Burgundian in style. The restaurant serves a variety of small plates. Delicious Beet salad and smoked white fish.

Jamie Kennedy and his Pinot Noir

Tuesday, December 3: Lunched with Joe Canavan and Frank Daley at the Children’s Aid Society. Tasted the following wines in the afternoon:

  • Lindeman’s Bin 45 Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($11.95): ruby colour; cedary, red berry nose with herbal-savoury note; medium-bodied, dry, with a blunt, tannic finish. (86)
  • Paul Mas Estate Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot 2012 (Pays d’Oc – $11.95): ruby colour; cedary, red and blackcurrant nose; light to medium-bodied, dry, lean, currant and cranberry flavours with gripping tannins on the finish. (86)
  • Rosemount Diamond Label Shiraz 2012 ($15.95): deep ruby colour; earthy, herbal, blackberry nose; dry, medium-bodied, jammy blackberry fruit; touch of juicy sweetness in mid palate. (87+)
  • 19 Crimes Shiraz Durif 2013 (Victoria): deep ruby colour; sweet blackberry nose with a pinch of white pepper and evident oak; full-bodied, dry, blackberry flavour with lively acidity. (88)
  • 19 Crimes Shiraz, Grenache, Mataro 2012 (Victoria): deep ruby colour; spicy, minty, blackberry nose with some vanilla oak notes; medium to full-bodied, sweet black raspberry flavour carried on lively acidity with a firm tannic finish. (89)
  • Rosemount GSM 2011 (McLaren Vale): ruby-purple colour; spicy, a bouquet of black cherry with a floral note; medium to full-bodied, juicy, jammy raspberry flavour; velvety mouth feel with a firm finish. (89)
  • Wynn’s Black Label Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2008: deep ruby colour; sweet blackcurrant and cedar nose; lovely pure blackcurrant flavour with a floral top note; judicious use of oak allowing the fruit to express itself; great mouth feel. Very youthful but should age beautifully. (90)
  • Beringer Quantum 2010 (Napa – $69.95): blackcurrant, cedar, sweet oak nose; mouth-filling, dry, creamy black fruit flavours, full-bodied milk chocolate, tobacco and currant flavours with ripe tannins. (91)

For dinner, roast chicken with Folie à Deux Chardonnay 2011 from Napa Valley (spicy, apple nose; full on the palate with peach and lemon flavours; well balanced with enveloping oak – 89).

Wednesday, December 4: Worked on material for Grapes for Humanity’s AGM, a week away. For dinner Stuffed Peppers with Buried Hope Tempranillo 2010 (Ribera del Duero – dense ruby-purple colour; earthy, cherry, cedar and vanilla oak nose; medium-bodied, dry, savoury with a bitter chocolate note and a firm, tannic finish – 88).

Got an email that my friend and colleague in Vancouver, John Schreiner, had just given 100 points to Nk’Mip Cellars Qwam Qwmt Riesling Icewine 2012. The first wine in Canada that I know about that’s received 100 points from a wine writer. Still in shock. Had to lie down in a dark room with a wet flannel over my eyes. Somehow the day got away from me. For dinner, Beringer Napa Valley Chardonnay 2011 with roast chicken (straw colour; spicy, creamy, tropical fruit nose with an overlay of vanilla oak; full-bodied, pineapple and melon flavours; great length (90)).

Thursday, December 5: Lunch at Dish. Los Angeles chef Suzanne Goin prepared a meal from her new cookbook, The A.O.C Cookbook. A.O.C. is one of the four restaurants she owns. Her husband David, who owns three restaurants himself, was sous-chefing for her. Suzanne quoted a chef she worked with: “Sometimes you have to lighten things up with a little whipped cream.”

Chef Suzanne Goin

We started with arugula and autumn grapes with goat cheese, pecans and saba vinaigrette, served with Sonoma Cutrer Russian River Ranches Chardonnay 2012. Next, grilled orata with cauliflower, fregola and persimmon-pomegranate salsa, with Sonoma Junction Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (not a great match). Then grilled duck breast with preserved citrus peel and sweet potato purée, with Sterling Vintner’s Collection Pinot Noir 2012. Dessert: vanilla pot de crème with dulce de leche, Marcona almonds and a layer of chocolate, with Robert Mondavi Moscato d’Oro 2011.

Duck breast with preserved citrus peel

Suzanne signed a copy of her book to me. The dedication read: “Thanks for coming to see me in Toronto. Say hi to Pinot the Wonderdog.” Suzanne has a pug called Pug Lentz who is now friends with Pinot on Facebook.

For dinner, studded peppers with Wynn’s Coonawarra Estate Chardonnay 2012 (straw colour with a lime tint; minerally, pear and anise nose; medium-bodied, dry and discreetly oaked (88)).

Friday, December 6: A Vintages release for January. Lots of wines in the under-$20 category, on the LCBO’s assumption that consumers have spent all their cash on Christmas. Went to the LCBO to fill in another form for a Special Occasion Permit for Grapes for Humanity’s May 15th event (Chile Uncorked). I used a form from the internet, which it turns out they no longer accept. And they told me in future people will have to get SOPs from the same office where you get drivers’ licenses!

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