A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 516: My Sassicaia Day

Sunday, October 12: Thanksgiving Dinner at Deborah’s niece, Nadine, in Caledon. Turkey and all the trimmings. I brought up the following wines and tasted them quickly before the meal.

  • Zantho Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Burgenland – $18): light straw colour with floral, herbaceous nose; medium-bodied, crisply dry with gooseberry and green plum flavours. (87)
  • Chateau St. Jean Fumé Blanc 2012 (Sonoma – $18.95): pale straw colour; grassy, pear nose; soft on the palate, medium- to full-bodied, pear and citrus flavours. (88)
  • Wolf Blass Gold Label Chardonnay 2013 (South Australia – $24.95): straw colour; smoky, toasty, barnyard nose; full-bodied, ripe melon and citrus flavours with great length. (90)
  • Silver Bay Cellars Pinot Noir (Ontario – $14.95): light ruby colour; medium-bodied, earthy, cherry and cherry pit nose; earthy, cherry and beetroot flavour with a firm tannic finish. (87)
  • François Labet Dame Alix Côtes du Rhône 2012 ($11.95): ruby colour; peppery, blackberry nose; medium-bodied, black raspberry flavour; light on the palate, acidic with a red apple finish. (87)
  • Wolf Blass Gold Label Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (South Australia – $24.95): deep purple-ruby colour; creamy, cedar and black currant nose; medium-bodied, well extracted fruit, firmly structured with soft, supple tannins. (88)

Monday, October 13: Wrote up my 680News wine reviews and then over to Geddy Lee’s house to discuss Grapes For Humanity’s Grapes Under Pressure tour by VIA Rail to Stratus on May 27th. I missed the event because I was in Barcelona.

Tuesday, October 14: My Sassicaia day. A pre-lunch tasting at Crush with Priscilla Incisa della Rocchetta of six vintages of Sassicaia. All the wines are 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc, whatever the vintage.

Priscilla Incisa della Rocchetta

  • Tenuta San Guida Sassicaia 2011: deep ruby with a violet tint; tight, cedar, licorice and blackcurrant on the nose with an earthy note; very elegant and well balanced with a lovely mouth-feel; firm and a little closed at the moment. (93)
  • Tenuta San Guida Sassicaia 2010: deep ruby colour; spicy, blackcurrant and vanilla oak, developing a floral note; light and elegant on the palate, well balanced with as firm tannic finish. (92)
  • Tenuta San Guida Sassicaia 2009: deep ruby colour; a nose of cedar, blackcurrant and truffles; very elegant and round on the palate, firm and ripe, almost plummy (from the hot year). (91)
  • Tenuta San Guida Sassicaia 2007: deep ruby colour; cedar and spicy oak with that truffle note and a touch green but still elegant. More of a red berry flavour. (90)
  • Tenuta San Guida Sassicaia 2006: deep ruby colour; dusty, very claret-like nose with a lilac top note; elegant and beautifully balanced. Just a delight to drink. (93)
  • Tenuta San Guida Sassicaia 2004: deep ruby colour; cedar, blackcurrant and vanilla oak on the nose; very elegant, dry with licorice and red berry flavours that linger to a firm finish. (93)

Lunch followed: Mushroom Bolognese porcini spätzle, parmesan + escarole, with Tenuta San Guido Le Difese 2012 (“difese” means wild boar tusk; 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Sangiovese): deep ruby in colour with a spicy, cherry nose. More Italianate in style that Sassicaia – savoury, sinewy, sour cherry and pencil lead flavours though silky on the palate with a tannic lift on the finish. A terrific food wine. (91)

Short ribs, parsnips, kale + carmelized shallot jus, with Tenuta San Guido Guidalberto 2012 (60% Cabernet Sauvignon (younger vines than Sassicaia + 40% Merlot): deep ruby colour; spicy, floral, licorice nose; dry and firm with flavours of cherries and blueberries with notes of tobacco carried on lively acidity; moderate length with evident tannins. Needs 2–3 years. (90–92)

In the evening I commented on the Sassicaia wines at a dinner at Opus for 22 people. A different vintage of Sassicaia was served with the following courses:

Seared tuna loin and sunchoke puree with Chinese artichokes and red wine-beet reduction, with Sassicia 2004: lovely ruby colour; cedar, tobacco and currant nose with a light floral note; very elegant red berry flavours with beautifully integrated oak. (93)

Atlantic lobster and black truffles with creamed corn and potato, with Sassicaia 2003: deep ruby colour; floral, baked fruit notes on the nose (speaks to the exceptionally hot year); stylistically different from other vintages, very ripe blackcurrant flavour, rich and full on the palate with cocoa powder tannins (90)

Veal and tomato with crispy sweetbreads and tripe ravioli, with Sassicaia 2002: lighter in colour than the rich 2003; a nose of violets and red cherry with a real sense of terroir; well integrated oak, lean and sinewy with raspberry and redcurrant flavours; very light on the palate with lively acidity. (91)

Wild boar and creamy polenta with beans and mushrooms, with Sassicaia 2001: deep ruby colour; meaty, cedary nose of blackcurrants with smoke and tar notes; rich and full on the palate, beautifully balanced with a silky texture. This is a wine for Burgundy lovers. (94)

Rack of lamb with cabbage, cauliflower and laurel, with Sassicaia 2000: deep ruby colour with a nose of cedar, truffle, lead pencil and blackcurrant; more oak influence here with red berry flavours; great mouth-feel with gripping tannins. More masculine. (93)

Selection of cheeses: Sassicaia 1980: still holding its vivid ruby colour; cigar box, malt and raspberry nose – the most Bordelais in style of all the Sassicaias I’ve tried today. Bright red berry fruit, so fresh and lively for its 34 years with tannins still giving the wine structure. (95)

Altogether, a sensational day of tasting!

Wednesday, October 15: Recorded my 680 News wine reviews and then down to Patria for a tasting of Navarra wines. Impressed by the wines of Bodegas de Monjardin, especially their Bodegas de Monjardin Reserva Seleccion 2008 (a Cabernet Sauvignon with 10% Tempranillo) and their great value Tempranillo Clasico. Impressive too were the wines of Bodegas Inuerrietta – Norte 2011 (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot), Cuatrocientos 2011 (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Garnacha) and Altos de Inurrieta 2009 (Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Graciano, Garnacha). They also make a delicious Inurrieta Orchidea Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (without oak). Also liked Bodegas Tandem Macula Reserva 2006 (a Merlot Cabernet blned). Best value: Bodega Principe de Viana Garnacha Viñas Viejas 2013 (100% Garnacha). In fact I would have like to have seen more varietal Garnacha at this tasting rather than the ubiquitous Cabernet/Merlot blends.

Beth Novak Miliken of Spottswoode

In the evening over to L’Avenue Bistro for a dinner with Beth Novack Miliken, the owner of Spottswoode Family Wine Estate. We started off with Escargot in cream sauce served with Spottswoode Sauvignon Blanc 2011: floral, spicy, green plum bouquet; medium to full-bodied, crab apple and green plum flavours carried on fresh acidity with a herbal note. Lovely mouth-feel. (91)

Spottswoode Sauvignon Blanc 2013: minerally, floral, creamy, leafy nose; broader than the 2011 with green fig and green apple flavours, crisp, rich and full on the palate, again with a great mouth-feel. (90)

Braised lamb shoulder en papillote, with Spottswoode Field Book Griffin’s Lair Syrah 2010 (4% Viognier): dense purple-black colour; a nose of iodine, blackberry, cream and vanilla oak; tarry, smoked bacon flavour, well balanced with charming blackcurrant fruit that shines through; great mouth-feel; bitter chocolate finish. (92)

Spottswoode Lyndenhurst Cabernet Sauvignon 2011: dense purple-black colour; cedar, blackcurrant and violets on the nose; firmly structured, brooding dark fruit; medium-bodied with a chocolate note. (90)

Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon 2001: unfortunately corked but the sweet blackcurrant fruit suggested that a clean bottle would be terrific.

Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon 2011: dense purple-black colour; cedar, blackcurrant and vanilla oak on the nose; supple, sweet fruit, creamy mouth feel, firm and seamless finishing on a savoury note. (93)

Thursday, October 16: Wrote my Lexpert column on appassimento wines. In the evening, down to East 36th restaurant on Wellington. It was raining and I was late. I crossed Wellington at the Yonge Street corner on a green light and suddenly I hear this voice shouting, “You’re crossing on an advance green light.” When I got to the curb it was a cop. He looked 15-years-old and began to lecture me and quiz me – where was I going? Was I late? Can I see your identification. I wasn’t aware that police were permitted to ask for identification just because you jay-walked but I wasn’t going to make an issue of it since I was late. Evenutally he let me go once I had shown him my driver’s license.

I was joining Nathan Waks and his wife for a dinner tasting of Kilikanoon wines. Nathan was the principal cellist at the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at the age of 19. He now owns Kilikanoon. Over a bunch of tapas-style dishes we tasted his wines, beginning with Kilikanoon Killerman’s Run Riesling 2014. Nathan told me that it’s the fashion in Australia to drink Riesling as young as possible. This one had a minerally, lime nose; crisply dry with a tart lime flavour and bracing acidity (89).

  • Kilikanoon Killerman’s Run GSM 2012: deep ruby-purple colour; spicy, floral, minty nose; sweet fruit with a light texture finishing on a savoury-herbal note. (90)
  • Kilikanoon Killerman’s Run Cabernet Sauvignon 2012: dense purple-ruby colour; cedar, dry red berry nose; medium-bodied, firm and sinewy, light on the palate. (88)
  • Kilikanoon Kelly’s 1932 Grenache 2012: deep ruby colour; smoky, black raspberry and cedar nose; soft mouth-feel, sweet fruit, seamless on the palate with imperceptible tannins and structure. A very graceful wine. (92)
  • Kilikanoon Killerman’s Run Shiraz 2012: deep ruby colour; spicy blackberry and blackcurrant nose with just a suggestion of oak; rich and full on the palate, nicely balanced with a minty-menthol finish. (89)
  • Kilikanoon Miracle Hill Shiraz 2010: dense purple colour; leather, cedar and blackberry with new oak and a floral top note. Full-bodied, plummy and soft on the palate; lovely texture with a firm tannic finish. (91)
  • Kilikanoon The Oracle Shiraz 2010: dense purple colour with a blackcurrant and vanilla oak nose; rich and full, plush and opulent on the palate; full-bodied, lovely glossy texture with a firm finish. Drinking well now but should last for ten years. (93)

Kilikanoon The Oracle Shiraz 2010

Friday, October 17: A Vintages tasting this morning for November 8th – so large they split it in two!

Saturday, October 18: Drove to Burlington to conduct three short seminars on wine and food matching with appetizers prepared by Chef Niall from Summer Fresh. It was a fundraiser to help purchase a digital mammography unit with biopsy attachment for Joseph Brant hospital cancer clinic. The wines:

  • Château des Charmes “Old Vines” Riesling 2012
  • Mike Weir Winery Unoaked Chardonnay 2012
  • Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery Baco Noir Reserve 2011
  • Konzelmann Estate Winery Merlot Reserve 2012


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