A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 492: Passover Wines

Norman Hardie Pinot with matzoh

Sunday, April 13: Went with my friend Frank Daley to see New Jerusalem – The Interrogation of Baruch de Spinoza at Talmud Torah Congregation: Amsterdam, July 27, 1656 – a play by David Ives. Brilliantly acted.

Monday, April 14: Wrote my column for Lexpert on terroir, what it means and its expression in Burgundy and Ontario. In the evening the family gathered at the Park Plaza Hotel for the first night of Seder. I brought along the wines but couldn’t find anything kosher in my cellar. So we had to make do with Bachelder Niagara Chardonnay 2011 in magnum, Antinori Cervaro della Sala 2009 and a magnum of Marsannay La Paulée 2007.

Tuesday, April 15: Wrote my On The Go column on rosés and worked on the wines for the Grapes for Humanity “Chile Uncorked” event at the Gardiner Museum on May 15th. A second Seder tonight at Joe Bersani’s Cantine. Deborah and I were there last year. Great fun. I brought along a magnum of Norman Hardie Pinot Noir 2009 which I’m sure must be kosher.

Wednesday, April 16: Finished writing my Lexpert column on terroir. In the evening, down to La Maquette for dinner with Gérard Bertrand Bertrand. The restaurant is opposite St. James’s Cathedral, where the funeral for Jim Flaherty was taking place. Gérard told us that he made his first vinification when he was ten, since which time he’s made forty more. His father, Georges Bertrand, was a winegrowing pioneer in the south of France. Gérard says the 2011 vintage is the best in the south of France for 40 years.

  • Gérard Bertrand Aigle Royal Chardonnay AOP Limoux: deep straw colour; spicy, toasty, peachy flavour; full on the palate with lively acidity. (88)
  • Gérard Bertrand Domaine de Cigalus Blanc IGP Aude Hauterive 2012: straw colour; minerally, green plum with an oaky note, lively acidity. Full on the palate, good length with a clovey finish. (89)
  • Gérard Bertrand Grand Terroir La Clape 2011 (Syrah, Carignan, Mourvèdre): dense ruby; high toned nose of blackberries with a sour note. (87)
  • Gérard Bertrand Grande Terroir Tautavel 2011 (Côtes du Roussillon): dense ruby colour; smoky, vanilla oak, blackberry nose; full-bodied, licorice and black fruit flavours with lively acidity. (88+)
  • Gérard Bertrand La Forge 2011 (Corbières Boutenac – Syrah and Carignan): dense purple colour; meaty, perfumed, spicy and toasty. A majestic wine (89)
  • Gérard Bertrand Le Viala 2011 (Minervois La Livinière – Syrah, Grenache, Carignan): dense purple colour; animal nose, black olives, gamey, vanilla oak nose with a floral top note; rich and full on the palate. (89+)
  • Gérard Bertrand L’Hospitalitas 2011 (Coteaux du Languedoc La Clape – Syrah, Mourvèdre): dense purple colour; vanilla oak, cocoa, spicy nose; full-bodied, savoury, rustic, iodine notes with lively acidity. (91)

We finished the tasting with a 1944 Rivesaltes which tasted like a light tawny port – nutty, dried figs and red fruits. After the tasting Gérardand I talked rugby.

1944 Rivesaltes

Thursday, April 17: Pinot the Wonderdog went to the groomer for her spring cut. Looks like a shorn lamb. An appointment with my accountant this morning. Always a depressing event. Wrote up the Wines of the Week and worked on the Grapes for Humanity event wines. In the afternoon, tasted the following wines:

  • Joseph Drouhin Mâcon –Villages 2012 ($17.75): pale straw colour; minerally, green pineapple, with a spicy oak note; mouth-filling and round on the palate with green apple and green pineapple flavours. (87)
  • Domaine Jaeger Defaix Rully Mont-Palais 2011 ($41.00): straw colour; minerally, apple nose with a suggestion of oak; dry, medium-bodied, apple and lemon flavours, fine spine of acidity that gives the wine vitality and freshness. (89+)
  • Burrowing Owl Chardonnay 2011 ($25): light straw colour; minerally, tropical fruit with a forest floor note; full-bodied, spicy oak shining through the apple and peach flavours carried on citrus acidity. (89)
  • Bouchard Père & Fils Beaune du Château 2009 ($36.90): ruby colour; raspberry with a woodsy note; dry, medium-bodied, raspberry and beetroot flavours with a floral top note, well balanced with a firm finish. (89)
  • Domaine Daniel Rion Nuits St-Georges Vieilles Vignes 2011 ($53.75): bright ruby colour; spicy, floral, black raspberry nose; richly extracted, full-bodied, velvety flavours of raspberries and Bing cherries, beautifully balanced and harmonious. A joy to drink. (92+)
  • Burrowing Owl Pinot Noir 2011 ($30): deep ruby colour; high toned, black cherry nose with evident oak; full on the palate with plum and cherry flavours, dense and hefty on the palate. (87+)
  • Burrowing Owl Cabernet Franc 2011 ($33): dense ruby-purple colour; blackcurrant and coffee bean with spicy oak on the nose; dry, medium to full-bodied, redcurrant flavour, a touch green in mid palate with evident tannins that dry the tongue. Speaks to the vintage. (88)
  • Burrowing Owl Merlot 2009 ($39.95 in Ontario): deep ruby with a tawny tinge; on the nose, black fruits, chocolate, and spicy oak; ripe fruit flavours of plums and cherries carried on lively acidity; full on the palate with chalky tannins. (89)
  • Burrowing Owl Meritage 2010 ($59.95): dense ruby colour; cedar, vanilla oak, pencil lead, black fruit nose; medium to full-bodied, juicy fruit with balancing acidity and supple tannins. (90)
  • Burrowing Owl Syrah 2010 ($38.00): dense ruby colour; smoky, blackberry with a savoury-herbal note; well balanced, succulent flavours of blackberry and licorice. Lively spine of acidity giving the wine good length. (89)

Friday, April 19: Wrote up my 680News reviews and started to prepare a proposal for a book, Canadian Wine: A History. Tomorrow is the second day of tasting for the Ontario Wine Awards. Unfortunately, there’s a glitch in the computer program so we’ll have to enter scores by hand and average them out. Then on Sunday, the sweet wine tasting, after which I go to the airport to fly to Vancouver – and the first live sight of my grandson, Declan.


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