Sunrise at Niagara Falls
Monday, February 23: Brutally cold today. Down to George Brown for a Zenato tasting conducted by Alberto Zenato. Winery founded by his father Sergio in 1960. They produce 3 million bottles.
- Zenato Pinot Grigio delle Venezie 2014 ($15.95): pale straw colour with a greenish tint; minerally, peach pit nose with a light floral note; dry, lemony, white peach, minerally, medium-weight. (86)
- Zenato Lugana San Benedetto 2013 (Trebbiano di Lugana – $16.95): straw colour; earthy, pear, citrus nose; pear and grapefruit flavours; nicely balanced with a minerally finish. (88)
- Zenato Veneto Rosso 2011 (40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 20% Corvina – $12.15): dense purple-ruby colour; inky, cherry, plum nose; richly extracted, sweetish cherry jam flavour, with a warm alcoholic finish. (87+)
- Zenato Veneto Rosso Parziale Appassimento 2012 (40% Corvina, 40% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon – $13.95): dense purple colour; spicy oak, white pepper and cherry notes on the nose; spicy, cherry, firmly structured, good mouth-feel with a tannic lift on the finish. (88)
- Zenato Valpolicella Superiore 2012 (80% Corvina, 10% Rondinella. 10% Sangiovese – $17.95): dense purple colour; inky, black cherry, spicy nose; dry, medium-bodied, firm, evident tannin. (87+)
- Zenato Ripassa Valpolicella Superiore 2011 (75% Corvina, 10% Rondinella, 5% Oseleta – $25.95): dense purple colour; smoky, vanilla oak, black cherry nose; medium-bodied, dry, cherry flavour, nicely balanced with a tannic finish. (89)
- Zenato Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2010 (Corvina, Rondinella, touch of Croatina and Oseleta – $49.95): dense purple-black colour; spicy, raisiny, cherry nose with chocolate notes; sweet cherry and chocolate flavours; full-bodied and fleshy on the palate with a firm finish. (90)
A plate of porcini risotto and lentils with Italian sausage was served following the tasting.
Then a short walk over to the Wine Conservatory for an Australian tasting conducted by Mark Davidson, entitled “History, Evolution & Revolution.”
Flight 1 – History
- Tahbilk Museum Release Marsanne 2007 (Nagambie Lakes, Victoria): straw colour; waxy, lanolin, peachy with a light petrol note; dry, full-bodied, fresh and driving acidity, good length, lemon rind, white peach flavour. (90)
- McGuigan Semillon 2004 (Hunter Valley, New South Wales): old gold colour; minerally, petrol and lanolin notes; ripe melon and citrus flavours with a woody note, great length. (91)
- Peter Lehmann 1885 Shiraz 2012 (Barossa Valley, South Australia): deep purple-ruby; minty, oaky, blackberry nose; rich and full, spicy, sweet black berry, nicely contained by sweet tannins. (90)
- Yalumba The Signature 2003 (55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Shiraz – Barossa South Australia): spicy, oaky, blackberry; earthy, dry, beginning to lose its fruit, tannic finish. (89)
Flight 2 – Evolution:
- Vasse Felix Premier Chardonnay 2013 (Margaret River, Western Australia): spicy, undergrowth nose, Burgundian style; medium-bodied, fresh and delicious, green apple and toasty oak. Great length. (91)
- Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch Shiraz 2012 (Strathbogie Ranges, Victoria): deep ruby colour; spicy, cinnamon, blackberry, elegant, fresh, Northern Rhone style, light peppery note. (91)
- Yabby Lake Pinot Noir 2012 (Mornington Peninsula, Victoria): deep ruby colour; spicy, black raspberry, violets on the nose; dry, firm, chewy tannins. Lively acidic spine. Needs time. (89)
- Jamsheed Garden Gully Syrah 2012 (Great Western, Victoria): dense purple colour; oriental spices, floral nose, orange peel nose; rich and full, savoury black fruits; great mouth-feel with a tannic lift on the finish. (91)
Terrific Aussie Chardonnay
Flight 3 – Revolution:
- Riesling Freak No. 5 Riesling 2014 (Clare Valley): pale straw colour; minerally, honeyed grapefruit, developing petrol notes; good tension between sweetness and lime acidity. Touch of bitterness on the finish. (89)
- Tom Shobrook Seppeltsfield Syrah 2012 (Barossa Valley, South Australia): dense ruby-purple colour; spicy, vanilla oak, minty red fruits on the nose; dry, lean and sinewy, blackcurrant with a lively spine of acidity. (91)
- McGuigan Montepulciano 2013 (Barossa Valley, South Australia): dense purple-black colour; fruity, black cherry with a smoky, minerally note; richly extracted, chunky mouth-feel, tannic finish. (88–89)
- Brash Higgins Nero d’Avola Amphorae 2013 (McLaren Vale, South Australia): dense purple colour; spicy, mincemeat nose, herbal-medicinal nose; dry, herbal, short with tannic finish. (87)
Tasted a few of the wines that had been set out on tables but the crush made it really difficult to make notes.
In the evening I took the TTC up to Milestones in the Sheppard Centre to taste the food prepared by the company’s executive chef Jason Rosso, whom I first met when he was in charge of the kitchen at Peller Estates. Treated to a variety of dishes from the menu along with Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2013 and Mitolo Junior Shiraz 2013. They offer 8 white wines by the glass and 9 reds. The dishes kept on coming: mango chili shrimp on an Asian green salad, dry rub chicken wings, goat cheese pita, chorizo and mozzarella fritters, burger with bacon, Montreal smoked meat on a milk bread bun, Portobello mushrooms, chicken and capellini (it’s been on the menu for 25 years), short ribs with caramelized onions and roasted garlic, seared Ahi tuna marinated in Japanese spices with a sauce of mandarin orange and Pommery mustard, Thai basil stir-fry of chicken and shrimp with a coconut and fish sauce, blackened tilapia filet with quinoa pilaf and salsa verde. Sampled the house cocktail – Devil’s Cup (Jim Beam with lemon meringue and agave foam). Finishing with a selection of desserts. Staggered out into the cold.
Desserts at Milestones
Chef Jason Rosso
Tuesday, February 24: Spent the morning going over notes on Cold Comfort Farm, as I’m leading the discussion this evening for Deborah’s book club meeting. Had to take Pinot to the vet because she is shaking her head and has an ear that seems to be bothering her. Before the book club ladies arrived I tasted the three wines we’re serving tonight with chili con carne.
- Casar di Burbia Godello 2011 (Bierzo – $16.25): medium straw colour; minerally, apple with a fragrant floral note on the nose; dry, medium-bodied, with a touch of sweetness in mid palate but finishing dry with a minerally, lemon pith note. (88+)
- Casar di Burbia Mencia 2010 (Bierzo – $19.95): deep ruby colour; minerally, cherry, vanilla oak with lead pencil notes. A cross between Chianti and Bordeaux. Great structure and balance with ripe tannins. Good value (90+)
- KWV Cathedral Cellar Brut 2010 (South Africa – $16.96): good active mousse; minerally, lemony nose; medium-bodied and dry with a creaminess on the palate. (88)
Wednesday, February 25: A meeting with Cathy Martin and Liz Gallery to discuss “Italy Uncorked” on May 7th at St. James Cathedral’s event space. In the evening, a corporate tasting for clients. A food and wine matching walk-around.
- Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc 2014 – Chevre + mushroom cone
- Waimea Chardonnay 2012 – Pulled chicken taco
- Mount Pleasant Lovedale Semillon 2007 – Juniper cured gravlax
- Spy Valley Pinot Noir 2012 – Crispy duck rolls
- Fowles Wines Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch Shiraz 2012 – Tandoori seared lamb loin
- Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz 2011 – Pepper seared beef
After the event I dropped into Opus to a winemaker dinner with Felipe Madiera and his Carm 2011s from the Douro.
- Carm White 2011 (Codegado Larinho, Rubigato, Viosinho): dry, medium-bodied, dry, peach, orange and citurs flavours; clean and elegant. (89)
- Carm Reserva 2011 (Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz): dense purple colour; spicy, leather and black fruit and vanilla oak nose with a floral grace note; dry and savoury with black olive and blackberry flavours and a firm finish. (90)
- Carm Grande Reserva 2011 (90% Touriga Nacional): ripe and rich, full on the palate; dry, black cherry and licorice flavours with a herbal note. Lovely mouth feel. (92)
- Carm Maria Lourdes 2011 (70% Touriga Nacional, 30% Tinta Francisca): deep ruby colour with a cedar and black raspberry nose and pencil lead notes. Lively acidity and a tannic lift on the finish. (90)
- Carm CM 2011: intense and oaky on the nose; dry and porty, thick on the palate. Spicy black fruits, muscular, bold and mouth-filling. (91).
Salt cod croquettes and charcuterie
Braised octopus and bean salad with chorizo and cilantro crispy porkbelly confit and clams with potatoes and kale
Paprika charred venison striploin and saffron rice on black olive and egg “risotto” with piri-piri sauce
Selection of cheese and Pasteis de Nata
Thursday, February 26: Spent the day inputting wine notes on the March Vintages’ release. At 5 pm David Beauroy came over with a bottle of Château Chérubin 2007, a St. Emilion Grand Cru. 67% Merlot, 33% Cabernet Franc (a rich and savoury wine with blueberry and black fruit flavours that opened nicely after decanting. Still needs time but a lovely drop of wine (91)).
American falls in Niagara
Friday, February 27: Drove down to Niagara for Cuvée. Changed into my tuxedo and found in the pocket the name tag from last year’s event! Presented my annual Tony Aspler Cuvée Award of Excellence to Laurie Macdonald, the director of VQA. Tasted around the room and enjoyed meeting the winemakers. The food was excellent. Had an amazing dessert at Giovani Del Priore’s Criveller Cakes booth – a semi-freddo that melted in the mouth.
Criveller cakes at Cuvée
Saturday, February 28: Drove to Brock University for the Experts’ Tasting. Four flights of wines served blind. In the evening Deborah and I drove up to Caledon to dine with friends Frank and Patti-Ann Daley.