Monday, January 13: A tasting of Ontario wines at Doug Towers’s house with David Lawrason for www.winerytohome. For dinner, spaghetti bolognese with Allegrini Palazzo della Torre 2010 (sour cherry and blackcurrant nose; dry, raising plum flavour with a lilac top note; firm structure – 89).
Tuesday, January 14: Lunch with Samuel Guibert, winemaker and owner of Mas de Daumas Gassac in the Languedoc and his importing Tom Noitsis of Eurovintage at San Tropez restaurant on King Street West. Arrived late because of a signal problem on the TTC. Moulin de Gassac, the winery’s second label, offers great value Chardonnay and Merlot. The Mas de Daumas red and white are field blends of great complexity and finesse.
In the evening, down to Nota Bene to meet the new winemaker of Osoyoos Larose, Mathieu Mercier. The 25-year-old Mathieu, who takes over from Pascal Madevon (now at Don Triggs’s Culmina winery in the southern Okanagan), was born in the Cognac region. His father sold wine to Hennessy. He has an impressive resumé having made wine at Concha Y Toro’s Don Melchor in Chile; at Swanson Vineyards and at Cain Vineyard and Winery in the Napa Valley; and in Bordeaux, working at several estates owned by Groupe Taillan. Le Groupe Taillan now owns 100% of Osoyoos Larose, having purchased Constellation’s 50% share.
The wines we tasted – 2008 and 2009 Osoyoos Larose and 2009 Osoyoos Larose Petales – were all made by Madevon, so I’m looking forward to Mathieu’s first vintage (2013) to see if there is a change in style. I loved Pascal Madevon’s 2009 wines.
Wednesday, January 15: Lunched at Cibo with Chris Hancock to taste the wines of Robert Oatley. Very impressed with the Robert Oatley Signature Series Riesling 2012 (pale straw colour with a hint of lime; a nose of petrol, honey and grapefruit; medium-bodied, crisply dry lime flavour with bracing acidity (89)). Also enjoyed Chris Hancock’s Four In Hand Barossa Shiraz 2012 – not your usual beefed up Barossa Shiraz but more elegant with savoury blackberry and bitter chocolate flavours and lively acidity (90).
Chris Hancock’s Barossa Shiraz
In the evening, got down to some tasting at home:
- Baron Philippe de Rothschild Mouton Cadet Réserve 2011 (Graves – $15.25): bright, light straw colour; grassy, grapefruit, white peach and green herbs on the nose; medium-bodied, dry, green apple and passion fruit flavours with a touch of baked apple on the finish. Lively acidity but blunt and hard on the finish. (86)
- Simi Sonoma County Chardonnay 2012 ($19.95): light straw colour with a green tint; minerally, struck flint and green pineapple nose, developing barnyard notes; medium-bodied, sweet pineapple and melon flavours, creamy mid-palate with just enough clovey oak spice to give it a lift. Good mouth feel. (89)
- Clos du Bois Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (California North Coast – $15.95): deep ruby colour; cedary, cherry and redcurrant nose with a touch of oak: medium-bodied, dry, fruity and sweetish with a creamy mid palate and a dry, tannic finish. (87).
- Clos du Bois Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma Reserve 2011 (Alexander Valley – $24.95): deep ruby colour; cedary, pencil lead, red berry nose; medium-bodied, dry, firmly structured with cherry and currant flavours backed by vanilla oak; well extracted fruit with cocoa powder tannins. (89)
- Clos du Bois Marlstone 2010 (Alexander Valley – 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 7% Malbec, 4% Petit Verdot; $49.95): dense ruby-purple colour; cedar, blackcurrant, plum, vanilla oak with a floral top note (rose petals); richly extracted, full in the mouth with generous black fruit flavours melded with spicy oak. Lovely mouth feel with ripe tannins and great balance. (91+)
- Ravenswood Vintners Blend Petit Sirah 2011 (California – $17.95): deep ruby colour; spicy plum with evident oak on the nose; medium to full-bodied, dry and fruity blackcurrant and blackberry flavours with a touch of sweetness. Firm finish. (88)
- Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel 2010 (Sonoma County – $21.95): deep ruby colour; spicy plum, black cherry and leather nose with a smoky note; medium-bodied, sweet plummy fruit with a creamy vanilla note. Nicely balanced with fresh acidity and a firm, lingering finish. (88+)
For dinner, Rock Cornish Hen with Simi Russian River Chardonnay Reserve 2009.
Thursday, January 16: Wrote up wine reviews most of the day. For dinner, salmon steaks with Domaine Jean Hauller Riesling Grand Cru Muenchberg 2011 (straw colour; minerally, citrus and honey nose with a floral note; dry, full-bodied, spicy, peach, tangerine, grapefruit and honey flavour – 89).
Friday, January 17: A tasting at the LCBO of French and Australian wines as well as some new releases. Zoltan Szabo and his wife Joanna came over for dinner. Started with Daniel Lenko Reserve Riesling 2009 with mushroom risotto and Huff Estates South Bay Vineyards Unoaked Chardonnay 2012. With the barbecued filet, braised fennel and chestnuts, fingerling potatoes, Gallo Family Cabernet Sauvignon Barrelli Creek Vineyard 2006. With the cheeses, Hidden Bench Terroir Caché Meritage 2008.