A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 474: Dinner Party

Monday, December 9: On the advice of my new literary agent I have gone back to make some revisions in the manuscript for Nightmare in Napa. I was toying with the notion of self-publishing but since there are three other books in the Ezra Brant series I thought it might be better to get an established publisher so that I could bring back the other three titles – Blood Is Thicker than Beaujolais, The Beast of Barbaresco and Death on the Douro. Spent much of the day writing my President’s report and Agenda for Grapes for Humanity’s AGM on Wednesday.

Tuesday, December 10: Put together the paperwork for the AGM and then down to 100 Lombard Street, a wine storage facility, for a tasting of Australian wines. There were two flights – one as a preview to the LCBO’s general list mini-thematic happening in January and a Vintages release for February 1st. Apparently the whites arrived too late for me to taste them. Best of the red wines from the mini-thematic were Fowles Wines “Are You Game?” Shiraz 2010 and Mitolo Junior Cabernet Sauvignon 2010. Best of the Vintages release wines were Penfolds Bin 128 Shiraz 2011, Dandelion Vineyards Lioness of McLaren Vale Shiraz 2011 and Katnook Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2010. But I’m finding too many of the Aussie Shiraz in the under-$20 price range are tasting the same.

Wednesday, December 11: Wrote my Lexpert magazine piece on wine in Las Vegas and then chaired Grapes for Humanity’s AGM.

Thursday, December 12th: Today seemed to slip away with not much accomplished. December is a dead zone for work from a freelance perspective so I concentrated on drumming up future writing work. With the number of wines currently being produced by Ontario wineries using dried grapes, I’m thinking of introducing two new categories for appassimento reds and whites – if we get at least six entries in each category.

Friday, December 13: A dental appointment. My dentist usually regales me with stories of his grape juice-making. This time he tells me about his forays into the production of root beer. Apparently the main constituents are sassafras and sarsaparilla (which sounds like a firm of shady Sicilian lawyers). Wrote to Gaia Gaja asking if she would be interested in hosting a Grapes for Humanity fund-raiser the next time she’s in Toronto. In the evening I made hummus in preparation for tomorrow night’s dinner party.

Saturday, December 14: The first snow storm of the winter. Spent most of the day food shopping and preparing for the dinner party. We’ve invited Michael Vaughan and his partner Rosie and Steven and Paula Elphick. We began with hummus and toasted pine nuts and gravad lax on pumpernickel bread, with Huff Cuvée Peter J. Huff and No.1 Family Estate Cuvée No.1 Blanc de Blancs. When we sat down to table, the first course was spicy sautéed shrimp on arugula with Châtea La Nerthe Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc 2011 and Domaine Caillot Santenay 1996 (from Michael’s cellar, served blind).

Domaine Caillot Santenay 1996

Main course: roasted filet of beef with a herb rub, baked Brussels sprouts with chanterelles and cream and black lentils on the side, served with Château Mars 2008 (which I brought back from Japan and served blind) and Château Cantemerle 1989. A selection of cheeses with Stoneboat Pinot Noir 2010 followed by dessert – sticky toffee pudding and chocolate cake, with Château Peyruchet 2005 (Loupiac) and Southbrook Cassis. The star of the night was the Cantemerle.

Château Mars 2008

Château Cantemerle 1989 
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