Monday, March 24: Last night I broke a blood vessel in my left eye by coughing too hard. I look like something out of a horror movie. Went to see my doctor, who said it will clear up in a week or two.
The annual Burgundy tasting by Luc Bouchard of Bouchard Père & Fils and William Fèvre at the city headquarters of the RCYC. I always look forward to this tasting, which gives wine writers and sommeliers a real window on the vintage – in this case 2012. For my palate it’s a classic Burgundy vintage, the reds marginally better than the whites but a terrific vintage in Chablis (my favourites, apart from the always dependable William Fèvre Chablis Les Clos 2012, were Beauroy Domaine and Les Preuses). My top scoring reds were Bouchard Père & Fils Pommard Rougiens 2012, L’Enfant Jesus 2012, and the terrific Clos de Bèze. Of the whites, I liked Ancien Domaine Carnot Bouzeron Aligoté 2012, Puligny-Montrachet Village and Corton-Charlemagne.
My favourite Chablis at the tasting
At the tasting I ran into Otta Zapotocky, who owns L’Avenue Bistro on Avenue Road, and he invited me to a Louis Jadot dinner that evening at his restaurant. I sat next to Chuck, Otta’s partner in a new venture called Estrella Taqueria, a taco bar and restaurant on Yonge north of Sheppard. Otta describes himself on his business card as “Taco Whisperer.”
Jadot wine dinner
We started off with Jadot Bourgogne Chardonnay 2012 (straw colour; minerally, apple nose; nicely balanced with crisp lemony acidity, good mouth-feel and a little wood spice on the finish. (88)). With Emmenthal soufflé and corn cream sauce, Jadot Mâcon Villages Chardonnay 2012 (straw colour; smoky, flinty, green pineapple nose; fresh and lively on the palate. (88)). Sweet potato gnudi with parsley, fennel purée, roasted Vidalia onion, dwarf truffle peach, Marechal cheese, with Jadot Santenay Clos de Malte 2010 (the first time I’ve had a white wine from Santenay: minerally, green apple nose; high toned, tart green apple flavour with a surprisingly robust caramel and nutty finish (90)). Next, beef tartare with beet purée, beet chips, pickled beet salad, with Jadot Marsannay Clos du Roy 2011 (ruby colour; high toned, cherry and cherry pit nose; dry, lean and sinewy with a light floral note; light and elegant with moderate length and a touch bitter on the finish. (89)). Roasted quail in bacon, presillade, quail jus, herb risotto and fried shallots, with Château des Jacques Moulin-à-Vent 2010 (fruity, cherry and white pepper nose; easy drinking with a firm structure and a pencil lead note behind the dry cherry flavour (89)). Finishing with cheese tart (hazelnut, Thunder Oak Gouda and blueberry gastique), with Beaujolais-Villages Combe aux Jacques 2012 (deep ruby colour; cherry nose, light and fruity with a lively spine of acidity. (89)). A delicious meal by Chef Jeremy Dyer.
Tuesday, March 25: My bachelor fortnight ended this afternoon as Deborah returned from Vancouver with pictures of our new grandson, Declan. Wrote my Commentary for Quench magazine on travelling without a corkscrew and what I’ve learned in nearly forty years of chasing the grape around the world. Dinner – grilled salmon – with Wildass Riesling 2012 (straw colour with a hint of green; minerally, smoky, struck flint and citrus nose with a light petrol note; medium-bodied, crisply dry with a grapefruit flavour. (88)).
Wednesday, March 26: The day seemed to slip away with not much done. Wasted a lot of time on emails.
Thursday, March 27: Up at 5:30 am to drive my son Guy to the airport. He’s visiting with his sister to meet his new nephew. Worked on the Ontario Wine Awards and in the evening (when it snowed!) I did some tasting.
- Si Soave 2012 (Veneto – Garganega: $10.25): pale straw colour; pear skin aroma with a light floral and citrus note; light-bodied, touch of sweetness in mid palate with little bitterness on the finish. (85)
- Fleur du Cap Chardonnay 2012 (South Africa): straw coloured; smoky, struck flint nose, developing barnyard notes; pineapple and peach flavours with a strong spring of acidity. Flavourful but a little chalky and bitter on the finish. (86)
- Wildass White 2009 (Ontario – $19.95: Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, Gewurztraminer, Riesling): golden straw colour; the Gewurz sings through on the nose, aromatic and lychee-driven; off-dry, full-bodied, intense flavours of grapefruit, peach and lychee. A beautiful, fleshy, powerful blend with great length and a lovely mouth-feel. (90)
- McManis Family Vineyards Chardonnay 2012 (California): golden straw colour; creamy caramel, toasty oak nose; full-bodied, mouth-filling sweet peach and melon flavours with enough acidity to keep the wine in balance. (88+)
- Château des Charmes Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (Ontario): ruby-purple colour; cedar, blackcurrant nose; medium-bodied, sweet fruit, cassis and dark chocolate flavours, nicely balanced with spicy oak. Finishes firmly. (88)
- Umberto Fiore Barbaresco 2009 (Piemonte – $17.65): ruby colour; earthy, woodsy, cherry nose; medium-bodied, dry and savoury with a sour cherry flavour; ripe tannins and firmly structured. A good food wine. (88)
- Wild Ass Red 2011 (Ontario – $19.95: a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Gamay and Sangiovese): deep ruby colour; tobacco, cedar, spicy oak and red fruits on the nose; dry, medium to full-bodied, richly extracted, plum and cherry flavours backed by vanilla oak. No great length but a gutsy wine. (88)
- Patrick Lesec Beames de Venise Cuvée Suzon 2011 (Rhône – $19.95): deep ruby colour; port, alcoholic nose of plums and chocolate; a real heavyweight but voluptuously fleshy and firm. Not for the faint of heart. Warm alcoholic finish. (87)
- Château de Fontenelles Cuvée Renaissance 2010 (Corbières – Syrah, Grenache, Carignan and Mourvèdre: $18.95): dense ruby-purple colour; smoky, herbal, black olive, black tea nose; richly extracted sweet and savoury notes of dark chocolate and black cherries with a floral note. Good length and ripe tannins on the finish. (89)
- Evans & Tate Metricup Road Shiraz 2010 (Margaret River, Western Australia – $22.95): deep ruby colour; lifted, smoky, black fruit nose with a note of cedar; dry, medium to full-bodied, sweetish cherry flavour. The nose promises more than the palate delivers. (87)
Friday, March 28: A tasting this morning of 70 rosés at the Summerhill LCBO with fellow members of the Wine Writers Circle. Then a meeting with Magdalena Kaiser-Smit of Wine County Ontario to discuss the Ontario Wine Awards.
A roomful of rosés
Saturday, March 29: Picked up some wines from Geddy Lee that he has donated to Grapes for Humanity’s silent auction on March 15th at The Gardiner Museum. Then dropped into see Warren Porter’s new Irongate wine storage facility on Laird Drive. In the evening Deborah and I tried out Otta’s new Estrella Taqueria. I brought along a bottle of Laughing Stock Portfolio 2008 from BC. A blend of Bordeaux’s five grapes. A lovely bottle of wine, richly extracted flavours of cassis and plum, full on the palate (91). Really impressed by Estrella, very creative tacos and very reasonably priced. Also a lengthy Tequila list.