A Wine Lover’s Diary, 495: Ontario Wine Awards

Sunday, May 4: My son Guy and sister-in-law Suzanne came to dinner. When Deborah told Suzanne I was off to London for my annual judging at the Decanter competition, she said, “Is there much to judge every year about decanters?” For dinner, with shrimp lollipops, Santa Margerita Pinot Grigio 2013. I’m not a great Pinot Grigio fan but this wine was delicious: very pale in colour with minerally, peach pit nose; crisply dry with a white peach and lemon zest flavour (87). Then, barbecued steak with a bottle of Black Hills Nota Bene 2012 (57% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon dry, mouth-filling flavours of black cherry and chocolate wrapped in fleshy tannins (91)).

Monday, May 5: Wrote an article on the Decanter competition for Grapevine magazine. Picked up wines for Grapes For Humanity’s auction on May 15th at the Gardiner Museum. For dinner with grilled salmon, Jean-Max Roger Sancerre 2012 (straw colour with a green tint; minerally, grassy nose; green plum and passion fruit flavour; good intensity in the mid-palate (90).

Tuesday, May 6: Put together the list of wines for the event on May 15th and spent much of the day inputting my wine reviews for Vintages’ release this Saturday, a rather tedious job – but necessary to keep the website up to date. For dinner, shrimps in cream sauce on a bed of pasta, with Kacaba Unoaked Chardonnay 2012 (pale straw colour; minerally peach and apple nose; medium-bodied with green pineapple and peach flavours; well balanced, clean and lingering with good mid-palate concentration of flavour (89)).

Wednesday, May 7: Spent an inordinate amount of time trying to wire money to Verona to rent a flat there in September. Am taking the family to Tuscany (we’re renting a house for a week) and Veneto (the flat in Verona). Finished writing my article on the Decanter competition. For dinner pork ribs with a bottle of Beronia Reserva 2009 (purple-ruby colour; cedar, spicy raspberry nose; medium-bodied, dry, plum and raspberry flavours; silky mouth feel (89)).

Thursday, May 8: Attended the New Zealand in a Glass tasting at the St. James’s Cathedral Centre. A room had been set aside with 16 Pinot Noirs from seven regions. My favourite of the bunch was Ostler Vineyard Caroline’s Pinot Noir 2001 from Waitaki Valley (93). Other stand-outs: Waimea Estate Pinot Noir 2012 from Nelson(91), Saint Clair Pioneer Block Awatere Valley Pinot Noir 2012 from Marlborough (91), Pegasus Bay Pinot Noir Waipara Velly 2011 (90), Coal Pit Tiwha Pinot Noir 2011 from Central Otago (90), and Felton Road Block 3 Pinot Noir 2011 from Central Otago (90). I continued with Pinot Noir in the main room and enjoyed Akura Pinot Noir 2011 (Central Otago) (90), Villa Maria Cellar Selection Pinot Noir 2010 (Marlborough) (90) and Whitehaven Pinot Noir 2012 (Marlborough) (90).

My favorite New Zealand Pinot

For dinner with spaghetti bolognese, Match Book Tempranillo 2010 from California’s Dunnigan Hills (with 10% Tannat and 7% Graciano – dense purple colour, spicy, cedary nose, flavours of black cherry, licorice, pencil lead and bitter chocolate (89).

Friday, May 9: Tasting of new releases to the LCBO’s general list, about 40 wines. At 2:30, Deborah driving, we picked up Zoltan Szabo to drive down to Niagara-on-the-Lake for the Ontario Wine Awards gala at Queen’s Landing. With the traffic, it took us three hours to get there. This is the 20th anniversary of the awards and I was presented with a certificate by Dave Eke, the Mayor of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Brian Schmidt, Winemaker of the Year

Andy Brandt, the former CEO of the LCBO, was the Master of Ceremonies and amused the crowd by mispronouncing names and grape varieties and missing out words from the script. The Journalism Award went to Rick Van Sickle; the Winemaker of the Year was Brian Schmidt of Vineland Estates. Andy Brandt announced to the hall that I was turning 75 on Monday and a chocolate cake was brought out. Got home around midnight.

My birthday cake


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