A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 544: Italy Uncorked

Saturday, May 2: Arrived back from London at 2:30 pm and Deborah picked me up at the airport. This evening is the annual fishing dinner, prepared by Steve Cohen (who cooks all our shore lunches on the fishing trips). Sadly I’ll miss this year’s week in the North West Territories. Managed to stay awake for a magnificent banquet with amazing accompanying wines:

29th Annual Fishing Dinner


Risotto w forest mushrooms & asparagus
Hot smoked salmon

Rack of lamb w king oyster mushrooms & pea sprouts
Potatoes au gratin

Cheese course w figs…10 year old Cheddar, 16 Acres Brie, Stevensons Stilton, Tomme de Grosse Ile semi-soft

Berries and coconut almond cake
Biscotti by Ellie
Breads by Roz

The best Chefs and Assistants:
Steve, David, Rose and Roz

Art Ellie Esther Sam Deborah Tony Sandy Harold Roz Steve









Monday, May 3: Wrote my 680News reviews and worked on the silent auction for Thursday’s Grapes for Humanity fund-raiser at the St. James Cathedral event space, Snell Hall and the outside terrace.

Tuesday, May 4: Spent most of the day on final arrangements for Thursday’s event. In the evening dinner with Russell and Jason Woodman and Elise Faur of Hall Wine in St. Helena at The Chase. I had visited the house of the owner, Kathryn Hall, many years ago and that’s where I saw my first infinity pool, a magnificent setting overlooking the valley. Elise had brought with her the following selection of wines:

  • Hall Sauvignon Blanc 2013: a lees-stirred, organic wine; rich and full-bodied with spicy, peach and citrus nose; sweet nectarine flavour. (91)
  • Walt Chardonnay La Brisa 2013 (Walt is Kathryn Hall’s maiden name) (Sonoma County): deeply coloured with a spicy oak, minerally and tropical fruit nose; mouth-filling and rich on the palate with pineapple and peach flavours; well integrated oak. (90)
  • Walt Pinot Noir La Brisa 2013: deep ruby colour with a spicy, Christmas cake nose; full-bodied, fleshy and sexy with sweet black raspberry and vanilla oak flavours; great balance and soft, tongue-caressing tannins. (92)
  • Hall Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2011: deep ruby colour; cedar, blackcurrant and vanilla oak on the nose; full-bodied, sweet fruit, well- structured and elegant. (90)
  • Kathryn Hall Cabernet Sauvignon 2011: dense purple colour; spicy, vanilla oak and blackcurrant nose; full-bodied, fleshy and full in the mouth with soft tannins. A joy to drink. (92)

Hall and Walt wines at The Chase

Wednesday, May 6: Recorded my 680News wine reviews and returned home for a tasting with wine importer Nicholas Pearce, who had brought along the following wines:

  • Gilvesy Bohem 2013 (Lake Balatonblend Riesling Italico, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc; $19.95): pale straw colour; minerally, apple nose; medium-bodied, crisply dry with green apple and green plum flavours (88)
  • Nicholas Pearce Prince Edward County Chardonnay Ashley’s Blend 2013 ($25): pale straw colour; apple and forest floor notes on the nose; very Burgundian in style, minerally apple and citrus flavours; well balanced and clean with good length. (90)
  • Domaine de Bellene Saint-Roman Vieilles Vignes 2011 ($35): pale straw with a green tint; minerally, smoky, stony nose of citrus and green apple; medium-bodied, dry and crisp, well-balanced with lance with good length. (91)
  • Leaning Post Chardonnay 2012 (Niagara Peninsula – $35): straw colour; minerally, apple with a forest floor note on the nose; mouth-filling, dry, citrus and caramel flavours with a touch of bitterness on the finish. (88)
  • Leaning Post Rosé 2014 (70% Gamay, 30% Cabernet Franc – $19): pale pink with a blue tint; wild strawberry and redcurrant nose; dry, redcurrant, rhubarb and strawberry flavour. Fresh and lively on the palate with mouth-freshening acidity. (89)
  • Stephane Aviron Beaujolais Villages 2013 ($19.95): ruby colour; peppery, cherry nose; light-bodied, fruity, dry, cherry and cherry pit flavours with a firm finish. (88)
  • Maison Roche de Bellene Chambolle-Musigny Vieilles 2001 ($70): mature ruby colour; lifted raspberry and violets on the nose; dry, elegant, with a thread of minerality, lively acidity and soft tannins. Great structure and still youthful. (91)
  • Domaine de Bellene Savigny Les Beaune Les Hauts Jarrons 2011 ($50): ruby colour; developing barnyard notes with mineral, raspberry notes; earthy, dry, red berry flavours; light on the palate with a firm finish. (89)
  • Leaning Post Pinot Noir Lowrey Vineyard 2011 ($38): ruby with an orange tint; minerally, cherry nose with a floral note; medium-bodied, dry, firmly structured with an earthy mid-palate and a dry, tannic finish. (88)
  • Clos del Rey Le Sabina 2013 (Cotes de Roussillon Villages, Grenache, Carignan, Syrah – $25): dense purple colour; struck flint, herbal, spicy, white pepper nose with vanilla oak; richly extracted and powerful blackberry and blueberry flavours; muscular and voluptuous, firmly structured. (92)

Spent the rest of the day writing up my report on the Canadian entries at the Decanter World Wine Awards. It will be published in their October edition along with all the results of the competition.

Thursday, May 7: At noon Marc Russell came by the condo in his trunk to pick up the wines for this evening’s “Italy Uncorked” fund-raiser for Grapes for Humanity – both for the pouring and the silent auction. We delivered them down to the La Salle Room of St. James Cathedral where the event started at 6:30 pm. Some 240 people in all. One of the live auction items was dinner with Chef Massimo Capra (Grapes for Humanity’s food and wine ambassador) for ten people with some great wines, including a 3 litre bottle of Ornellaia 2009. It sold twice for $10,000 a piece! The evening was a great success.

Friday, May 8: Did the wrap up on last night’s event and prepared for the Ontario Wine Awards gala dinner at Queens Landing in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Tony opening the 2015 Ontario Wine Awards gala

Chef John Higgins was the MC. John had cooked for the Queen at Buckingham Palace and told a hilarious story of the dinner for the Royal corgis was sent back to the kitchen because the meat wasn’t hand-chopped; John had put it through a meat grinder to save time. Emma Garner won the Wine Maker of the Year Award, Evan Saviolidis the journalism Award. Other major awards:

  • Appassimento Red Award –
    Pillitteri Estates 2010 Riserva Famiglia Cabernet Franc
  • Blended Red Award –
    The Foreign Affair 2012 Petit Verdot
  • Best Label Design Award –
    Sue-Ann Staff Estate 2013 Fancy Farm Girl Foxy Pink

Gold medal winners:

  • Sparkling Wine –
    Huff Estates 2010 Cuvee Peter F Huff
  • Dry Riesling –
    Thirty Bench Wine Makers 2013 Riesling
  • Semi-Dry Riesling –
    Flat Rock Cellars 2014 Riesling
  • Dry White Varietal –
    Inniskillin 2013 Reserve Viognier
  • Gewurztraminer –
    Trius 2013 Showcase Outlier Gewurztraminer
  • Pinot Blanc/Pinot Gris –
    Konzelmann Estate 2013 Pinot Blanc
  • Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon –
    Peller Estates 2013 Andrew Peller Signature Sauvignon Blanc
  • Oaked Chardonnay (under $20) –
    Flat Rock Cellars 2012 Chardonnay
  • Oaked Chardonnay (over $20) –
    16 Mile Cellar 2011 Civility Chardonnay
  • Unoaked Chardonnay –
    Konzelmann Estate 2013 Unoaked Chardonnay
  • Rosé/Blanc de Noir –
    Henry of Pelham Family Estate 2014 Rosé
  • Gamay –
    Vieni Estates 2012 Gamay Noir
  • Pinot Noir –
    Huff Estates 2013 Pinot Noir
  • Red Hybrid –
    Pelee Island 2013 Baco Noir Reserve
  • Cabernet Sauvignon –
    Trius 2012 Showcase East Block Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Cabernet Franc –
    Thirty Bench Wine Makers 2012 Small Lot Cabernet Franc
  • Merlot –
    Kacaba Vineyards 2010 Reserve Merlot
  • Syrah/Shiraz –
    Jackson-Triggs 2012 Delaine Syrah
  • Meritage and Cabernet/Merlot Blends –
    Thirty Bench Wine Makers 2012 Benchmark Red
  • Late Harvest –
    Peller Estates 2013 Private Reserve Late Harvest Vidal
  • Vidal Icewine –
    Chateau des Charmes 2012 Vidal Icewine Estate Bottled
    Sue-Ann Staff Estate 2012 Vidal Icewine
  • Vinifera Icewine –
    Inniskillin 2012 Riesling Icewine
  • Appassimento Red Award –
    Pillitteri Estates 2010 Riserva Famiglia Cabernet Franc
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