Sunday, February 14th: Over to Michael Vaughan’s for tasting of sweet wines.
- Grand Pré Riesling Icewine 2013: amber, old gold colour; an unctuous nose of honey, butter and barley sugar; full-bodied, spicy, orange and honey flavour; sweet but beautifully balanced with mouth-freshening acidity; Great balance and great length. A triumph from Nova Scotia. One of the best Riesling Icewines I’ve tasted. (95)
- Château Filhot 2010: light golden colour; honey, leafy nose with botrytis notes; rich and full on the palate with engaging redcurrant, honey and burnt sugar flavours; thick and rich on the palate. (91+)
- De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon 2011: amber colour; intense barley sugar, burnt orange peel nose; concentrated sweet orange marmalade and toast; surprisingly medium-bodied for the intensity of flavour; beautifully balanced with great length. (94)
- Rustenberg Straw Wine 2011 (Chenin Blanc, Viognier, Crouchen): old gold colour; pried peach and warm hay nose with botrytis notes; rich, unctuous flavours of honey, peach and sweet tangerine with enough acidity for balanced. A tad short on finish. (91)
- Fleur du Cap Noble Late Harvest 2008 (58% Semillon 42% Rhine Riesling): deep amber-orange colour; high-toned, lilac, orange and barley sugar bouquet with botrytis notes; rich and full on the palate with honey and mango flavours well balanced with citrus acidity. (93)
- Château Doisy-Védrines 2007 (opened several months ago on Michael’s birthday at The Fifth): old gold colour; barley sugar nose; intense raisin and toffee flavours, beautifully balanced. (92)
Then a dinner of chili. Michael brought out blind a bottle of Magnotta Cabernet Sauvignon 1991 – remarkably still very much alive and could be mistaken for a red Bordeaux.
Magnotta Cabernet Sauvignon 1991
Monday, February 15th: Wrote my 680 NEWS wines reviews and worked on my book. For dinner, lamb chops with Château Guillou Montagne Saint-Émilion 2012 ($18.95): deep ruby colour; cedar, blackberry and vanilla oak nose with floral note; medium-bodied, dry, savoury finishing on a tarry note. (89)
Tuesday, February 16th: Selected Argentinian wines for a tasting at Hola in April and put together a blind tasting for a group of fund-raisers. In the evening Deborah and I went to the 70th birthday party of a friend at Pangea. The wines: Pol Roger 1996 Winston Churchill, Louis Latour Montrachet 2006, Leroy Romanée Saint-Vivant and Château d’Yquem 1990.
Wednesday, February 17th: Recorded my 680 NEWS reviews and worked on the book. In the evening our condo screened The Revanant.
Thursday, February 18th: Got the official press release that OWA is partnering with the Lieutenant Governor’s Awards for Excellence in Ontario Wines. Spend much of the day writing fiction (what a pleasure). Then got down to some serious tasting.
- Southbrook Vineyards Seriously Cool Chardonnay 2015 (Ontario – $15.95): light straw colour; apple, white flowers and a whisper of oak on the nose; medium-bodied, dry, un-buttered popcorn and green apple flavour. A touch hard on the finish but good value. (87.5)
- Henry of Pelham Family Tree White 2012 (Ontario – $17.95: 60% Chardonnay, 20% Viognier, 11% Gewurztraminer, 9% Sauvignon Blanc): medium straw colour; spicy, honeysuckle and peach nose; dry, aromatic, medium-bodied, spicy, lychee and grapefruit flavours with a firm finish. (88.5)
- Culmina Decora Riesling 2014 (Okanagan – $24.95): pale straw colour; spicy grapefruit with a petrol note; medium-bodied, dry, elegant, lime and grapefruit flavours, fresh and lively on the palate with bracing acidity and a mineral finish. (90)
- Meiomi Chardonnay 2014 (Sonoma County/Santa Barbara County – $26.95): straw colour with a green tint; spicy, honey and apple bouquet; full-bodied, richly extracted mango, pineapple, orange and toast flavours. Great length with a clove finish. (89)
- Joie Farm “En Famille” Reserve Chardonnay 2013 (Okanagan Valley – $38): bright straw colour; toasty, nutty, apple nose with vanilla oak notes; medium-bodied, dry, toasty, green pineapple and butterscotch flavours; rich and full on the palate with great length and balancing acidity. (92)
- Joie Farm Viognier 2014 (Okanagan Valley – $27.90): straw colour; spicy, honeysuckle, peach nose; medium-bodied, aromatic, dry, peachy-melon flavour with citrus acidity, well balanced with fresh acidity. (89.5)
- Joie Farm Gewurztraminer 2013 (Okanagan Valley – $27.90): straw colour; lychee, rose petal nose; medium-bodied, dry, perfumed, exotic, Turkish Delight flavour, beautifully balanced, elegant , perfumed. A very sexy wine. (91)
- Southbrook Vineyards Seriously Cool Red 2012 (Ontario – $15.95: Gamay, Pinot Noir, Zweigelt): ruby colour; earthy, red plum and cherry nose; light to medium-bodied, fruity and fresh, easy drinking with a lick of tannin on the finish. Chillable. (87)
- Henry of Pelham Family Tree Red 2013 (Ontario – $18.95; 40% Syrah, 30% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Baco Noir): deep purple colour; cedary, spicy nose of black fruits with a touch of vanilla oak; medium-bodied, dry, good mouth-feel with blackcurrant and black cherry flavours; well-integrated oak with cinnamon and white pepper notes on the finish. (89)
- Henry of Pelham Estate Cabernet-Merlot 2012 (Ontario – $24.95): deep purple-ruby colour; cedary, red and blackcurrant nose; medium-bodied, dry, well-extracted flavours of plum and currants, well-structured and very Bordelais in style with cocoa-like tannins. (89.5)
- Hogue Cellars Genesis Meritage 2012 (Columbia Valley – $18.95: 38% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Malbec, 5% Petit Verdot): deep ruby colour; cedar and vanilla oak, spicy black cherry with a hlight floral note on the nose; medium- to full-bodied, dry, cherry, plum and dark chocolate flavours with ripe tannins. (89.5)
- Tom Gore Vineyards California Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($17): deep ruby-purple colour; cedar, pencil lead, plum nose; medium-bodied, sweet flavours of cherry and currants with notes of coffee bean and mocha and a tannic lift on the finish. A good commercial wine with a warm alcoholic finish. (87.5)
- Ravenswood Lodi County Series Old Vine Zinfandel 2014 ($19.95): deep ruby colour; earthy, leather, plum and vanilla oak nose with a smoky note; full-bodied, dry, plum flavour with evident acidity and drying tannins. (87.5)
- Villa Mora Montefalco Sagrantino 2009 (Umbria – $24.95): deep ruby colour; cherry, white pepper nose with oak notes; medium-bodied, dry, savoury, dark chocolate and cherry flavours with a floral top note; mouth-filling and rich, well balanced but needs more time for the tannins to soften. (89–91)
- Château Mont-Redon Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2011 ($43.95): deep ruby colour; herbal, savoury nose of black cherries; spicy, cherry and red berry flavours marked with dried herbs; dry, elegant and fleshy with a warm alcoholic finish. Drinking well now but will hold for five years at least. (90)
Friday, February 19th: A Vintages release tasting this morning. Intrigued by one of the weirdest wine labels I’ve seen – Alexander vs The Ham Factory from Ribera del Duero.