A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 508: Tasting at The Ex

On stage at The Ex
On stage at The Ex

Monday, August 18: Wrote my On The Go column then settled down to some tasting.

  • San Raffaele Organic Pinot Grigio 2013 (Veneto – $14.95): pale straw colour; minerally, peach pit nose; dry, white peach and lemon flavour; nicely balanced with a crisp pear-like finish. Good value (88)
  • Calmel & Joseph Villa Blanche Chardonnay 2012 (Pays d’Oc – $13.95): golden straw colour; a nose of apples with a nutty note; well extracted apple and pear flavours with good texture; medium to full-bodied with nicely balanced lemony acidity. Good value. (88)
  • Riebeek Cellars The Royal Old Vine Steen Chenin Blanc 2013 (Swartland, South Africa – $13.95): pale straw with a lime tint; minerally, quince nose; dry, quince and green apple flavours; nicely balanced, medium-bodied. Sustains well on the palate. Good value. (88)
  • Chakana Wines Maipe Chardonnay Viognier Reserve 2013 (Argentina – $15.95): light straw colour; apple, peach with a floral note on the nose and evident oak; mouth-filling, sweet peachy fruit with a touch of spice, full-bodied but soft in the mouth, nicely balanced with citrus acidity. (88)
  • Blue Mountain Pinot Blanc 2013 (Okanagan Valley – $17.90): very pale colour with a lime tint; minerally, peach pit nose; medium-bodied, dry, white peach and lemon flavours, finishing crisply dry. (89+)
  • Wildass Riesling 2012 (Ontario – $16.95): light straw colour; petrol, grapefruit and lime on the nose; honey and grapefruit flavours. Medium-bodied. (88)
  • Masi Rosa dei Masi 2013 (Veneto – $14.95): deep salmon colour; watermelon and cherry pit nose; dry, medium-bodied, fresh, with a soft mid palate but enough tangerine acidity to give the wine length. (87)
  • Tinhorn Creek Merlot 2012 (Okanagan Valley – $29.99): deep plum colour; spicy oak and black cherry nose; richly extracted, sweet black fruit flavours with a chocolate note. A little hot on the finish (14.9% alcohol) but lovely rich mouth-feel ending on silky tannins. (90)
  • Chakana Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (Mendoza, Argentina – $13.95): dense purple colour; toasty, smoky oak, spicy vanilla below which you can detect the blackcurrant fruit; richly extracted, mouth-filling, chunky, chewy black fruit flavours; full-bodied, no great elegance and a little short but good value for the price. (88)
  • Château de Treviac 2011 (Corbières – $17.95): 80% Syrah, 20% Grenache. Dense ruby-purple colour; tobacco, cocoa and spicy cedar on the nose; full-bodied, sweet fruit, beautifully balanced, velvety mouth feel, dark chocolate and black fruit flavours. (89)
  • Dominio de Tares Mencia Cepas Viejas 2009 (Bierzo – $29.95): Vines over 60 years old. Dense purple colour; spicy, sweet wood and blackberry nose; dry, full-bodied, beautifully balanced, rich and compelling with a fine spine of acidity and supple tannins. (91)

Tuesday, August 19: Wrote my 680News wine reviews and sent a short story off to The New Yorker. Faint hope, but what the hell. Also dug out a children’s story I wrote about Pinot the Wonderdog. Thinking of finding an illustrator and submitting it to a publisher. Sean Rowland of Gradwell Wines dropped by with a bottle of wine he wanted me to try:

  • Cape Beach Club Off-Dry Blanc (NV) (50% Chenin Blanc and Muscato – $9.95?): light straw colour; minerally, quince nose; light-bodied with a faint fizz on the palate; off-dry, green pear flavour with a honeyed note. Soft on the palate and easy drinking with a fresh citrus finish. A true summer wine. (88)

In the afternoon, did some more tasting:

  • Equibas de Argento Pinot Grigio 2013 (Mendoza, Argentina – $11.85): very pale straw with a lime tint; minerally, peach pit nose; dry, crisp and lemony, peachy-melon flavour. Fresh, zesty finish. One of the better Pinot Grigio in this price range. (88)
  • Cellar Hand Free Run White 2013 (Okanagan – $15.90): A blend of Pinot Blanc, Viognier, Chardonnay, Muscat and Sauvignon Blanc; straw colour with a green tint; apple and pear aromas on the nose with a delicate floral top note; spicy, peach and pear flours, good mouth-feel with a honeysuckle note on the finish. (88)
  • Black Hills Alibi 2013 (Okanagan – $24.90): Sauvignon Blanc with 25% Semillon. Light straw colour; grassy, green plum nose attenuated with oak; dry, full-bodied and unctuous on the palate with gooseberry and green bean flavours. Lively citrus acidity. (89+)
  • Black Hills Viognier 2013 (Okanagan – $24.90): light straw colour; white peach and honeysuckle nose; elegant, dry, and full-bodied, lovely texture with melon and citrus flavours finishing satisfyingly dry. (90)
  • Black Hills Chardonnay 2012 (Okanagan – $24.90): straw colour with a green tint; apple with oak spice and a touch of forest floor on the nose; full-bodied, dry, beautifully balanced, peach, pear and pineapple flavours with citrus acidity and beginning to suggest caramel notes on the finish. (91)
  • Cellar Hand Punch Down Red 2012 (Okanagan – $19.90): A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Franc. Deep ruby colour; cedar, blackcurrant and blackberry nose; dry, full-bodied, fruity plum and black fruit flavours, ripe tannins with balancing acidity. Well made. (89)
  • Black Hills Syrah 2012 (Okanagan – $34.90): deep ruby-purple colour; peppery, smoky, blackberry nose with a herbal note; elegant, savoury-herbal flavours of blackberry and sage. Fine spine of acidity with background tannins that give structure but don’t compromise the palate. Very St. Joseph in style. (91)
  • Esquinas de Argento Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (Mendoza, Argentina – $11.90): deep purple-ruby colour; cedar, black cherries and chocolate nose; medium-bodied, dry, savoury, tobacco, chocolate and currant flavours. Firmly structured with a warm alcoholic finish. (87)
  • Argento Malbec Reserva 2012 (Mendoza, Argentina – $12.90): deep purple-ruby colour; spicy, blackberry nose; richly extracted blueberry and blackberry flavours, full in the mouth. Full-bodied, dry with evident tannins on the finish. (88)

Wednesday, August 20: Somehow the day slipped away under a welter of emails. In the evening, over to Joe’s in the west end for dinner with Geddy, Rick and Brian. I brought along a Château Chasse Spleen 1982. Geddy brought Latour 1982 and Margaux 1983. Joe opened Louis Latour Chevalier-Montrachet Les Desmoiselles 2003 as we sat outside and served it with the fish course. Lamb followed with the clarets. The Margaux was the star although the Latour has years to go. With the dessert, Malivoire Cabernet Franc Icewine 2008. A great meal. Geddy told us about his Ice Bucket Challenge and showed us the hilarious You Tube video of it.

Thursday, August 21: Down to The Ex today for two wine seminars, featuring four appassimento wines from Ontario’s Burning Kiln Winery: Cureman’s Chardonnay 2011, Tablegang Gewürztraminer 2012, Cabernet Frank 2012 and Pinot Noir 2011. (Frank is not a spelling error but homage to the man who grew the grapes.) Between seminars I wandered around the CNE grounds. Dinner at our neighbour Sally’s – chicken curry with Ringbolt Cabernet Sauvignon 2012.

Tony's wine seminar at The Ex
Tony’s wine seminar at The Ex

Friday, August 22: A Vintages tasting for the September release. Best wine I tasted: Grgich Hills Estate Chardonnay 2011. Dinner at home, baked salmon with Flat Rock Cellars Riesling 2013 (very pale colour with a green tint; a nose of lime, grapefruit and honey; off-dry, minerally, sweet grapefruit and citrus flavors with racy acidity on the finish (89)). The roses I bought Deborah for our anniversary on August 17th are still looking gorgeous and not dropping their heads.

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