A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 518: Berlin Tasting Anniversary

Greeters at the Wines of Chile tasting

Monday, October 27: Voted for Toronto Mayor and Councillors this morning. Fingers crossed for John Tory. Delighted at night to see he won the election. Augurs well for Toronto. Went for a PSA blood test at Princess Margaret Hospital. Hate having blood taken. I usually pass out but fine this time although my arm is bruised and I look like a coke addict. In the afternoon, with an empty arm, I did some tasting.

  • Dominique Cornin Pouilly-Fuissé Les Chevrières 2011 ($43.95): bright straw colour; minerally, apple with a light barnyard note; medium-bodied, fresh, apple and lemon flavours; well-balanced with good length. (90)
  • Jean-Max Roger Pouilly-Fumé Les Chante-Alouettes 2013 ($28.95): minerally, green plum nose; medium-bodied, green apple, crisp with lemony acidity. (89)
  • Zantho St. Laurent 2011 (Burgenland, Austria – $18): deep ruby-purple colour; sour cherry nose; dry, medium-bodied, Beaujolais style, fresh and lively with enough tannin to give shape to the finish. (88)
  • Zantho Zweigelt 2011 (Burgenland, Austria – $18): deep purple; plum and cherry nose; dry, lean with a pruny note. (86)
  • Ciacomo Mori Chianti 2011 (Tuscany – $19.95): deep ruby-purple; floral, cherry nose; dry and savoury, medium-bodied, sour cherry with a firm finish. (87)
  • Torres Sangre de Toro Garnacha 2013 (Catalonia – $12.95): deep ruby-purple; cedar, creamy black raspberry; soft on the palate, fruity with a firm finish. (88)

For dinner with grilled tilapia, Zantho Grüner Veltliner 2013 from Burgenland: pale straw colour, sweaty, white pepper, parsley and white peach aromas; dry, light on the palate, easy drinking. (87)

Tuesday, October 28: To the ROM for the annual Chilean tasting, which was preceded by a seminar. The tasting of eight wines was preceded by an address by Hector Vergara, who used to be a sommelier at the Sutton Place Hotel – the first Master Sommelier in Canada. The wines:

  • MontGras Amaral Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (Leyda Valley): very ale lime colour; minerally, grassy, green fig and gooseberry nose; medium-bodied, flavours of grapefruit and elderberry with a long fresh finish. (89+)
  • Ventisquero Kalfu Sumpai Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (Atacama – “the driest desert in the world”): very pale lime colour; minerally, leafy nose with a note of white flowers; crisply dry, gooseberry and elderberry flavours, fades a little on the finish (young vines) to a salty finish. (88+)
  • Emiliana Signos de Origen White Blend 2013 (Casablanca – 65% Chardonnay with Roussanne, Viognier and Marsanne): straw colour with a green tint; immediate barnyard note on the nose followed by peach with a light florality blended with oak spice. Richly extracted and full-bodied with a fine spine of acidity. (90)
  • Via Wines Chilcas Single Vineyard Chardonnay 2013 (Itata Valley): light straw colour; minerally, green tobacco leaf nose; dry, caramel, apple with a mineral note; creamy and toasty, full on the palate. First release of this wine. (89)
  • Montes Alpha Pinot Noir 2012 (Aconcagua): deep ruby colour; raspberry candy nose with violets, wood spice and an earthy note; dry, medium-bodied, fruity, red berry flavour with fresh acidity: Old World meets New World. (90)
  • Errazuriz Single Vineyard Syrah 2012 (Aconcagua Coast): dense purple colour; floral, minerally, white pepper, vanilla oak and blackberry on the nose; elegant, red berry and green banana skin flavours carried on a lively spine of acidity. (88)
  • Santa Rita Floresta Cabernet Franc 2012 (Pumanque): dense purple-black colour; minty, blackcurrant with a floral note on the nose; dry, medium-bodied with blackcurrant an licorice flavours; firm tannic finish. Needs cellar time. (90)
  • Calcu Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (Colchagua Valley – 15% Carmenère): dense purple colour; the nose is still tight but the floral, blackcurrant aromas bode well. Light and fresh, more European in style with lively acidity. (89)

Hector Vergara

After the seminar, downstairs to the main room for a tasting of 26 Chilean wineries. I didn’t get to taste all 145 wines but my top points of those I did taste went to Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier 2014 (at $9.95. this is consistently one of the best buys at the LCBO), Pérez Cruz Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2012, Sanata Alicia Millantu 2012 (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Carmenère) and Volcanes de Chile Tectonia Red Blend 2011 (Grenache, Petite Sirah, Mourvèdre).

Dinner at L’Avenue with Doris Miculan Bradley (who brought along a bottle of Victoire de Martel Blanc de Blancs Champagne), Sheila Swerling Puritt and the owners of Vitkin Winery in Israel, Doron and Sharona Belogolovsky. Doron describes it as “a medium-sized boutique winery.”

  • Vitkin Petite Sirah 2009 (40-year-old vineyard, the oldest Petite Sirah vines in Israel): dense purple colour; vanilla oak, blackberry and blackcurrant nose with wood spice and a floral note; rich and full on the palate, dry and savoury with dark chocolate and herbal notes. (89)
  • Vitkin Late Harvest Riesling 2005 (with Viognier and French Colombard): amber colour; honey, peach and dried apricot nose; well-balanced barley sugar flavour with lively acidity. (90)

Vitkin Petite Sirah 2009

Wednesday, October 29: Wrote my “Wines of the Week” column and then down to the four Seasons Hotel to meet Liz Gallery and Cathy Martin, the co-chairs of Grapes for Humanity’s fund-raiser in May, 2015. The theme: “Italy Uncorked.” The event will be held at the Four Seasons on Yorkville on May 6th. In the evening, a reunion dinner for my annual wine tour participants – at Carbon on Queen Street East. Brought a long a bunch of Spanish and Portuguese wines (and ports) as a foretaste of next year’s tour.

Thursday, October 30: A meeting with a financial corporation to discuss “The Executive Wine Experience” seminars. In the evening to the Shangri-la Hotel for an Errazuriz dinner to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Berlin Tasting – at which Errazuriz Viñedo Chadwick 2000 and Seña 2001 were blind tasted against the icon wines of Bordeaux, Tuscany and California and placed first and second, respectively. The dinner:

Passed canapés with Viña Errazuriz Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2013 (90).

At table: Haida Gwaii Black Cod, white bean, chorizo, roasted pepper cassoulet, smoked paprika, with Errazuriz La Cumbre Syrah 2011 (dense purple; juicy, herbal, minty blackcurrant with lively acidity; beautifully balanced (92)) and Errazuriz Kai Carmenère 2011 (dense purple; creamy black fruit nose with an elderberry note; lively acidity and a firm structure (90)).

Brome Lake duck confit, leek & apple tart, huckleberry vinaigrette, with Don Maximiano Founder’s Reserve 1989 (dense purple colour; balsamic, leather nose; dry and elegant and still lively. Very Bordeaux with a note of chocolate on the finish (92)) and Don Maximiano Founder’s Reserve 2011 (dense purple-black; vanilla oak, blackcurrant nose; creamy mouth feel, ripe tannins. Needs time (90–92)).

Aromatic braised pork cheek, parsnip puree, red cabbage fondue, fall spiced reduction, with Seña 2011 (dense purple-black staining the glass; creamy blackcurrant and cedar nose; richly extracted, sweet fruit with a cocoa note and ripe tannins (92)) and Seña 2000 (deep purple-ruby colour; rich and full, beautifully balanced; blackcurrant and rose petal nose; succulent and elegant. A seamless wine and still youthful (93)).

Cumbrae Farms dry aged beef tenderloin, caramelized onion pain perdu, forest mushroom, cipollini onion, leek puree, natural jus, with Viñedo Chadwick 2011 (dense purple colour; rich blackcurrant and cedar nose, elegant and fresh on the palate with a fine spine of acidity (93)) and Viñedo Chadwick 2000 (the wine of the night! Dense purple with a smoky, tarry, blackcurrant nose; silky mouth-feel, tobacco and cassis flavours; great balance and length (94)).

Friday, October 31: A Vintages tasting this morning for the November 22nd release – so large they have to split in two again. For dinner with chicken pasta, Château Rigaud Faugères 2012 (deep ruby colour; raspberry nose; rustic and savoury with a lively acidic finish (88)).

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