Sunday, February 9: After breakfast went shopping at the Coconut Point shopping mall, large enough you have to drive around it. There was an open air art fair which we walked around because the stores didn’t open until noon. In the evening we were invited to a soiree at Gordon’s former neighbours in Fort Myers. They had hired a very talented piano player, Brian Gurl, and his vocalist, Katherine Alexandra, a beautiful Russian girl. They entertained us with two sets of Gershwin show tunes and some virtuoso piano pieces.
Monday, February 10: We all went to find a Valentine’s Day gift for Gordon’s lady at Miromar shopping mall and lunch at a French bistro. Put my feet in the pool at Gordon’s condo and then we all drove to Pelican Marsh in Naples to see Aris Kaplanis in his magnificent house. Dropped into Costco in Estero and purchased a bottle of each of the following wines: Frescobaldi Nipozzano Chianti Riserva 2009, Meerlust Rubicon 2007, Sonoma-Cutrer Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2012, Flowers Chardonnay 2011, Etude Pinot Noir 2010 – and a bottle of Costco’s own brand champagne, Kirkland Brut. (Subsequently learned from my question on Twitter that Costco gets its champagne from the vineyards of Roland de Brayne and Manuel Janisson, in Sezanne.)
Wines at Costco, Estero, Florida
In the afternoon visited Aris Kaplanis in Naples. Drank some Chateau Montalena Chardonnay 2012 with shrimp and some of Aris’s homemade, spicy tomato relish. Then on to dinner at The Capital Grille. Aris ordered a bottle of Beaulieu Valley Georges de la Tour Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2007 and Fisher Vineyards Coach Insignia Cabernet Sauvignon 2010. I ordered lobster bisque and a sirloin steak Pittsburgh style. Great dinner.
Tuesday, February 11: Back to Toronto and snow today. Dropped the Budget rental car off at Fort Myers airport (nearly forgot my jacket in it) and sailed through security, although they did confiscate a sealed tub of cottage cheese. Bought bagels at the airport shop to avoid having to eat Air Canada food. Deborah made grilled salmon and I opened a bottle of Ara Single Estate Pinot Noir 2011 from Marlborough. Deep ruby colour with a nose of raspberries, sun-dried tomato, lavender and a mineral note; medium-bodied, dry with a sweet, almost candied raspberry flavour held in check by lively acidity (90).
Wednesday, February 12: Marzio Gallo from the Sicilian winery Possente came to see me to discuss the possibility of sponsoring a dinner for Grapes for Humanity in October. Deborah and I took Guy and his girlfriend Carlee to dinner at The Carbon Bar on Queen Street East (it’s his birthday tomorrow). Brought my own wine. I ordered hamachi tartar salad with clementine, pear, coriander and kombucha vinegar to start with, paired with Remoissenet Puligy-Montrachet Les Referts 2007 and beef brisket with Wolf Blass Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2004. Guy ordered a banana toffee cream pie, which came with a single candle. A terrific meal.
Wolf Blass Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2004
Carlee and Guy
Thursday, February 13: Wrote an article on wine in China for The County Grapevine. Then settled down to taste wines that have been mounting up in our second shower during our absence in Florida.
- Rockway Vineyards Fergie Jenkins Riesling 2012 (Twenty Mile Bench – $14.95): very pale colour; minerally, grapefruit and lime bouquet with a floral top note; dry initially with some sweetness in mid-palate – sweet grapefruit flavour, lemony finish with moderate length. (87)
- Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Riesling Block 12 – 150 2012 ($18.95): very pale with a lime tint; minerally, lime, grapefruit with a floral note and already developing petrol tones; off-dry, honeyed grapefruit flavour with a lime finish. Nicely balanced but a touch hard at the end. (88)
- Rockway Vineyards Small Lot White Assemblage 2012 (75% Chardonnay, 15% Gewurztraminer, 10% Riesling – $16.95): light straw colour; spicy apple nose; mouth-filling, richly flavoured, melon, lychee and tropical fruit flavours, lovely mouth-feel. Somewhere between dry and off-dry. Very satisfying. (89)
- Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Gewurztraminer 2012 ($19.95): pale straw colour; green tobacco leaf, lychee and grapefruit zest on the nose; off-dry, rich and unctuous cardamom, rose petal and honey flavours. Not your usual Gewurz but delicious. (89)
- Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Chardonnay Wild Ferment Block 12 – 110 2012 ($19.95): straw coloured; apple nose with a woodsy, white blossom note; richly extracted fruit with green pineapple and sweet lemon notes. Rich and full on the palate. Lovely mouth feel. (91)
- Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Red Assemblage 2011 ($16.95: 45% Cabernet Franc, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot): deep ruby colour; warm cedary nose of red berry fruit; medium-bodied, dry, very much in petit château claret style, silky mouth feel with ripe tannins. (88)
- Rockway Vineyards Small Lot The Outcast Syrah 2011 (with 5% Riesling – $19.95): deep ruby colour; tobacco and licorice nose with a spicy note; dry, medium-bodied with flavours of blackberries and bitter chocolate and a mouth-freshening acidic spine. (88+)
- Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Meritage 2011 (38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Cabernet Franc, 24% Merlot – $19.95): deep ruby colour; cedary, sweet tobacco and red berry nose; dry, medium-bodied, well balanced and firm, well-structured with good length and supple tannins. (88+)
- Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Cabernet Sauvignon Block 12 – 120 2011 ($22.95): dark ruby-purple colour; vanilla oak, cedar, plum on the nose; medium-bodied, dry, earthy, plum and blackcurrant flavours; sturdy and solid on the palate with a mocha note. (88)
- Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Cabernet Franc Block 11 – 140 2011 ($24.95): deep ruby colour; a bouquet of cedar, redcurrant with a leafy-herbal note; dry, light on the palate with red berry flavours and chalky tannins that dry the finish. (86+)
- Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Syrah Block 12 – 140 2011 ($25.95): deep ruby colour; peppery, blackberry with a toasted herb note on the nose; Northern Rhône style, medium-bodied, dry, with black raspberry and cherry flavours. Nicely balanced and lots of grip. A lot going on here. (90)
For dinner (stuffed peppers) opened a bottle of EastDell Malbec 2011: ruby colour; lifted savoury nose of herbs and blackberries; medium-bodied, dry with a spicy, floral note and fresh acidity. (87)
Friday, February 14: A general list tasting of some 35 wines down at the LCBO. For dinner, pasta bolognaise with Heitlinger Mellow Silk Pinot Noir 2011 from Baden. Ruby colour with a nose of raspberries, sun-dried tomatoes, rust with a mineral note; dry, elegant with a silky mouth feel and beautifully balanced. A steal at $16.95 (91).