A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 506: A Quiet Week

August 4: Spent the day catching up on emails and writing my On The Go column and my 680News wine reviews. Some sample bottles have accumulated in my absence so I decided to do a tasting before I shaved off a week’s beard.

  • Bella Wines Sparkling Chardonnay 2012 (Okanagan Valley – $23.90; crown cap): very pale colour with a green tint and a very active mousse; yeasty, citrus and green apple nose; dry, apple flavour with moderate length. (88)
  • California Square Russian River Chardonnay 2012 ($18.95): straw colour with a green tint; vanilla oak and stone fruit on the nose; full-bodied, sweet pineapple and ripe peach flavours; mouth-filling, fleshy and broad on the palate. (89)
  • Bouchard Père & Fils Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2012 (Burgundy, $19.95): ruby colour; moist earth and cherries on the nose; dry, medium-bodied, light and easy drinking, lean and sinewy with a firm finish. (87)
  • California Square Red Wine 2012 (Paso Robles, $18.95): a blend of Merlot, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Syrah in a square bottle. Ruby-purple colour; black cherry and chocolate nose, powerful, sweet fruit, blueberry and black cherry flavour with enough tannin to give it structure. Full-bodied. (88)
  • Delicato Family Noble Vines 181 Merlot 2012 (Lodi, $16.95): ruby colour; deep ruby colour; minty, dusty, plum; full-bodied, dry, chunky mouth-feel, earthy black cherry flavour. (87)
  • Delicato Family Irony Small Lot Reserve Merlot 2011 (Napa – $19.95): ruby colour; cedary, currants with a vanilla oak note on the nose; richer and denser on the palate than the nose suggests – dark chocolate and black fruit flavours; full-bodied and fleshy. (88+)
  • Vinecol Bonarda Organic 2013 (Mendoza, Argentina – $15.95): dense ruby-purple with a nose of licorice and mulberries; richly extracted, fleshy and chewy, dark chocolate and black fruit flavours with evident alcohol. (88+)

For dinner, grilled salmon with Juno Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (South Africa – $11.85): pale straw colour; floral, green plum nose; medium-bodied, dry, grassy, gooseberry flavour. Good value. (88)

Tuesday, August 5: Wrote my Post City column and signed off on the invitation for Grapes for Humanity’s September 27th fund-raiser:

Saturday, September 27th, 2014
Grapes Under Pressure 3 – Geddy and Alex’s Excellent Harvest Adventure

Building on the phenomenal success and tremendous response from their first two extravaganzas, Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson team up again for the third installment of their “not so annual” Excellent Harvest Adventure.

Geddy and Alex will welcome you aboard our private train from Toronto’s Union Station as we enjoy breakfast enroute to Stratus Vineyards. Stratus, a 62-acre beautifully modern winery near Niagara-on-the-Lake, combines science with tradition and relies on the centuries-old method of “assemblage” to produce wines of amazing depth and complexity while maintaining a reputation of being one of the world’s most sustainable wineries. A champagne reception awaits you upon arrival at Stratus. As you tour this stunning property, guests can try their hand at picking grapes and learn about cutting-edge winemaking techniques while drinking and tasting the “The Best of Niagara” from a variety of local producers of wine, beer and food products. Award-winning Chef Michael Steh of The Chase will prepare a gourmet vintners lunch as special guest winemaker, JL Groulx, leads us through his handcrafted Stratus vintage selections. Participate in the excitement of a silent auction as well as other special surprises before the late afternoon train ride back to Toronto.

Grapes for Humanity Canada is proud to partner with Magna Children at Risk, and proceeds for this exclusive event will go directly to rebuild health care facilities in the Philippines which were damaged by the Haiyan Typhoon. www.grapesforhumanity.com


Round trip departs Union Station at 9 am* on Saturday, September 27th – return trip in the late afternoon.
*Attendees will be notified of any VIA Rail schedule changes

To reserve your spot for this unique adventure, please contact Deborah Benoit at benoit.deborah@gmail.com or at 416-488-9762

$1250 per person* includes transport by private VIA train, champagne reception, gourmet lunch, winery tours, tastings, gift bags, and more.
*Tax receipts will be issued to Canadian participants for an amount less event expenses
* Purchase 4 tickets for $4500 or 6 tickets for $6000 while quantities last

Special thanks to the generosity of the following folks – Pierre Santoni and VIA Rail Canada, Michael Steh and staff, Stratus Vineyards and Cumbrae Meats.

Wednesday, August 6: Recorded my 680News wine reviews. Selected wines for my wine talk at the CNE on Thursday, August 21st. Tasted Castello di Neive Barbaresco 2011 (ruby colour; earthy, cherry nose with a touch of wood and dried rose petals; medium-bodied, sour cherry flavour with fresh acidity; well balanced. Good value at $19.90. (89)).

Thursday, August 7: Worked on the auction wines for Geddy Lee and Aex Lifeson’s VIA Rail tour to Stratus. And settled down to a tasting in the afternoon.

  • Diamond Estates The Winery 1914 Valour 2013 (Ontario – Merlot, Syrah, Gamay – $14.95): deep ruby colour; cedar, cherry nose; medium-bodied, dry, firmly structured with a spicy black cherry flavour. Moderate length. (86+)
  • Wildass Rosé 2013 (Ontario – $17.95): deep salmon colour; minerally, strawberry and watermelon nose; dry and mouth-filling, full-bodied and powerful. (87)
  • Calliope Rosé 2013 (BC – Syrah & Viognier: $9.90): deep orange-pink colour; candied raspberry nose; full in the mouth with a touch of sweetness; raspberry and cherry flavours. (87)
  • Winzer Krems Sandgrube 13 Grüner Veltliner 2013 (Austria – $12.80): light straw colour; minerally, white peach and white pepper nose; slight spritz on the palate, dry, with a white peach and green pepper flavour, finishing freshly. (87)
  • Diamond Estates The Winery 1914 Honour 2013 (Ontario – Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay – $13.95): pale straw colour; aromatic, spicy nose of apple and lemon peel; spicy, lemony, sweet peach and apple flavours. (87)
  • Calliope Figure 8 2013 (BC – Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Pinot Gris and Riesling): light straw colour; aromatic, white peach nose with a subtle floral note; dry, fresh and clean, grapey flavour. Good acidity. (87)
  • Calliope Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (BC): very pale colour; green pea and apple nose; grassy, green plum flavour; dry, good varietal character with citrus acidity. (87+)
  • Calliope Viognier 2013 (BC): pale straw colour; minerally, peach pit nose; touch of residual sweetness here; full in the mouth with peach and apricot flavours. (88)
  • Strewn Chardonnay Barrel-Aged 2013 (Ontario – $12.95): light straw colour; apple with wood spice on the nose; full-bodied, spicy, oak-dominated fruit, creamy mouth feel with a butterscotch finish. (87+)
  • Strewn Two Vines Riesling Gewurztraminer Semi-Dry 2012 (Ontario – $11.95): pale straw with a greenish tint; spicy, lychee and grapefruit nose; off-dry, soft mouth-feel, with lychee and pink grapefruit flavours. Nicely balanced. (88)
  • Strewn Gewurztraminer 2012 (Ontario – $12.95): light straw with a greenish tint; aromatic and spicy but not expressing characteristic lychee notes on the nose; more varietal character on the palate with leafy, green peach and cardamom flavours. (87)

Friday, August 8: A Vintages tasting for August 30th release. A whole whack of Chardonnays coming out. Otherwise, a quiet week.

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