A Wine Lover’s Diary, Part 572: CheckMate

White wine line-up at the Gourmet Wine & Food Expo (see Friday)

Monday, November 16th: Recorded my 680 NEWS reviews which I couldn’t do last week because of my cold. Tasted a couple of wines:

  • Quails’ Gate Chardonnay 2014 (Okanagan): straw colour; a nose of apples and warm straw; medium to full-bodied, dry, apple flavour with lively acidity and a lemony finish. (88)
  • Quails’ Gate Pinot Noir 2013: deep ruby colour; cherry and red meat nose with a light floral note; medium-bodied, dry and firmly structured. (89)

Tuesday, November 17th: Up early to catch a 10 am flight to New York for the Anthony von Mandl’s latest wine project – an Okanagan winery that specialises in Chardonnay, called CheckMate. The event was held at Vaucluse Restaurant at 63rd and Park. In his introduction, Anthony said, “The wine grape has become the canary in the mine shaft of agriculture.” He then gave the floor to wine climatologist Dr. Gregory Jones, who spoke about temperatures at which certain vinifera flourished. We then tasted through five Chardonnays from the new feather-light Gabriel Glas glasses (105 grams), four of the wines from single vineyards and one a blend of three vineyards, Each wine is named in the chess idiom.

  • CheckMate Capture Chardonnay 2013 (Border Vista Vineyard, Osoyoos East Bench – $90): straw coloured; lifted, floral nose of apple and almond; elegant, beautifully balanced, elegant and seamless with lemony acidity and a tangerine flavour. Great length. (91)
  • CheckMate Attack Chardonnay 2013 (The Barn Vineyard, Black Sage Bench – $115): straw colour; spicy, floral nose; full-bodied, creamy mouth-feel, soft on the palate but well balanced with a peachy flavour. (92)
  • CheckMate Little Pawn Chardonnay 2013 (The Barn Vineyard, Black Sage Bench – $110): straw colour; minerally, citrus, apple bouquet; rich, spicy, peach flavour with a floral note; lovely mouth feel, well integrated oak with precise acidity, ending on a butterscotch note. The most Burgundian in style of the five Chardonnays. (94)
  • CheckMate Fools Mate Chardonnay 2013 (The Barn Vineyard, Black Sage Bench – $80): straw colour; buttery, croissant nose; spicy pear and peach flavours, soft mouth feel but carried on lively acidity. (92)
  • CheckMate Queen Taken Chardonnay 2013 (Heritage Vineyard, Golden Mile Bench – $125): straw colour; minerally, smoky, white peach nose; ripe apple and peach flavours, elegant, mouth-filling peach and lychee flavours with a spicy note. (93)

CheckMate winemaker Phil Mcgahan

We then tasted two Napa Chardonnays to compare, Far Niente 2013 and Aubert 2013, which were weightier and more highly extracted, which speaks to a warmer growing season. Then lunch at which the five wines were paired with dishes.

Vaucluse menu for CheckMate wines – a world premiere tasting

After lunch I walked over to the Museum of Modern Art to see the Picasso sculpture exhibit and other works before catching the plane back to Toronto.

Several sculptures by Picasso…

Picasso sculpture

Picasso sculpture

Picasso sculpture

Picasso sculpture

…a Picasso painting…

Picasso painting

…a Chagall…

Chagall painting

…another Picasso…

Picasso painting

…Henri Rousseau…

Henri Rousseau painting

…and a Frida Kahlo self-portrait

Frida Kahlo self-portrait

Wednesday, November 18th: Spent the morning catching up on Grapes for Humanity business and then got down to some tasting after lunch.

  • Secreto Patagonico Chardonnay Limited Edition 2012 (Argentina – $18.95): straw colour with a green tint; spicy, oaky, tropical fruit nose; rich and mouth-filling, green pineapple flavour with nutty, toasty notes. Full-bodied with an acidic finish. (88)
  • Osborne Seven 2013 (Tierra de Castilla – Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon): deep ruby with a violet rim; earthy-spicy red berry bouquet; medium-bodied, soft mouth-feel, touch of sweetness with a finish of dusty tannins. (86+)
  • Osborne Solaz Tempranillo Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 (Tierra de Castilla – $11.45): deep ruby colour; cedary, earthy, leather nose with smoky notes; medium-bodied, dry, redcurrant and cherry flavours with a herbal tinge. (86+)
  • Osborne Bodegas Montecillo Tempranillo Crianza 2010 (Rioja – $11.95 until November 29th, then $14.95): deep ruby colour; sandalwood and strawberries on the nose; medium-bodied, dry, sour cherry flavour with oak notes; medium-bodied, dry with a firm tannic finish and fresh acidity. (86+)
  • Osborne Montecillo Reserva 2009 (Rioja – $18.95): deep ruby colour; sandalwood and plum bouquet; medium-bodied, dry, elegant, red plum flavour; nicely balanced, firmly structured with a minty note. A versatile food wine. (88)
  • Bodega Volcanes de Chile Cabernet Sauvignon–Syrah reserve 2014 (Rapel Valley – $9.95): deep ruby colour; cedary-herbal nose of black fruits; medium-bodied, dry and savoury, toasted herbs and blackberry flavours with lively acidity. Good value. (87)
  • Torres Altos Ibericos Crianza 2012 (Rioja – $16.95): ruby-purple colour; cedary-sandalwood nose of cherries with a spicy note; medium-bodied, dry, red berry fruit flavours with balancing acidity, Good length. Good mouth feel. (88)
  • Marques de Caceres Gran Reserva 2008 (Rioja – $29.95: Trempanillo and Garnacha): deep ruby colour; earthy, black plum nose; medium to full-bodied, black fruit flavours with vanilla oak spice notes. Lively acidity giving the wine a long finish. (90)

Thursday, November 19th: Began drawing up a list of potential judges for the Ontario Wine Awards next April. Then, a meeting with Sandy Kurbis to discuss the competition in a new format.

Friday, November 20th: A Vintages release tasting.

Saturday, November 21st: Conducted a Burgundy seminar at the Gourmet Wine & Food Expo with Jason Woodman, whose company, Woodman Wines, imports these wines. The line-up:

  • 2014 William Fèvre Chablis Champs Royaux
  • 2012 William Fèvre Vaillons 1er Cru Domaine
  • 2012 William Fèvre Bougros Grand Cru Domaine
  • 2014 Bouchard Père & Fils Macon Lugny St. Pierre $18
  • 2014 Bouchard Père & Fils Pouilly Fuisse $29
  • 2013 Bouchard Père & Fils Meursault Les Clous Domaine $50
  • 2013 Bouchard Père & Fils Bourgogne Reserve Pinot Noir
  • 2011 Bouchard Père & Fils Beaune du Château
  • 2012 Bouchard Père & Fils Beaune Grèves Vigne de l’Enfant Jésus


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